My review is the same of the print as it was of the audiobook when I listened to a few years ago, same favorites even! But I re-read this because I goMy review is the same of the print as it was of the audiobook when I listened to a few years ago, same favorites even! But I re-read this because I got to see the author speak at an author series at the University of South Carolina.
This book is a bit of a mess, honestly. It introduces (only) twenty elements of storytelling that contain quite a bit of redundancy, and then providesThis book is a bit of a mess, honestly. It introduces (only) twenty elements of storytelling that contain quite a bit of redundancy, and then provides examples that use various elements in combination (or claim to... what is a "story" is so wide-ranging you could turn the page and expect practically anything). The fonts are numerous and varied and often gigantic, although I'm not sure they serve to make the points any clearer.
I think they should have either gone farther toward the direction of writing a book about storytelling or toward a coffee table book with pictures that tell stories. The mishmash in between renders it neither instead of both....more
"As the music rose up, it also vanished. Sometimes it is like this, listening to music: the steady bars let you separate from your body, slip your ski"As the music rose up, it also vanished. Sometimes it is like this, listening to music: the steady bars let you separate from your body, slip your skin, and you are standing before the shuttering slides of memory."
I loved this book! I came across it by accident but was surprised I hadn't heard of it, seeing as it won the Giller Prize in 2014. I'm always a sucker for novels with music in them in some way. In Us Conductors, Sean Michaels takes the basic story of the inventor of the theremin and turns it into a fictionalized account with spies and romance and science!
This might be the only novel I remember switching frequently into the second person, something I like in creative non-fiction quite a bit, and I liked it here too.
Halfway through, I went to Naxos Music Library to look for theremin music to accompany the rest of the book. To my surprise, the first two results were recordings of Clara, the Clara of the book, the love of his life, playing the theremin. It was a strange, wonderful soundtrack to accompany my reading.
The author includes a lot of research into the historical figures of Lady Godiva and surrounding characters that gets pulled into this novel, along wiThe author includes a lot of research into the historical figures of Lady Godiva and surrounding characters that gets pulled into this novel, along with some imagined motivations and relationships that aren't documented. Despite some bodice-ripping scenes that pull this more toward the historical romance side than I usually read, I enjoyed the story of these Anglo-Saxons holding firm to their land in the face of severe Viking threat. I had never heard of Leofric, Godiva's husband, although I should have since he is the one who sent her on the legendary ride.
I also learned that "Peeping Tom" comes from a 16th century account of this story.
I realized that I never really thought of Lady Godiva in a historical, living sense. In my head she was a mythical creature from a story similar to Gawain or Canterbury Tales. But she can be found in actual historical records of land owners and tax payers. Those details kept me interested to the end. And a few romps with the powerful Earl of Mercia....more
I got a review copy of this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I normally save poetry to April but this was expiring prior to that dI got a review copy of this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I normally save poetry to April but this was expiring prior to that date!
All the poems in this book are in glosa form, something I hadn't heard of before - you take a stanza from a poem by someone else, and use one line in each of your own poem's stanzas. I thought it might be too formulaic but I love what the poet did with the lines. They allow her to be in dialogue with poets such as Gertrude Stein, Adrienne Rich, Leah Horlick, and others that were less known to me - and either magnifying or twisting their meaning.
There are themes here - of queer identity first and foremost, but also mental illness, family, and love.
My favorites include:
-Queer Infinity "Never confuse hold fast with hold still"
-Queer Grace "Fisting the forsaken mystery right out of each other."
-Sandra Anna's Baby Book "You've asked me to forgive, and maybe this is how"
-Together Six (partly because it turns the glosa upside down) "our love made us fabulists"...more
I read this because it looks at several groups from Papua New Guinea while exploring the differences between "modern" and "primitive" societies. SinceI read this because it looks at several groups from Papua New Guinea while exploring the differences between "modern" and "primitive" societies. Since the author spends 7% of his life in Papua New Guinea, at least half the examples of primitive societies come from that area, and he fills in the concepts with research (his own and others', current and historic) from other traditional societies around the world.
There is a lot here - warfare, language, diet, disease, family units. I was most intrigued by the suggestions in the parenting and elderly chapters for what we might want to consider adopting again because of the benefits to personal and societal health. The economic implications were interesting as well, in fact the author suggests that major mistakes like the Harvard endowment debacle of 2008 may have been stalled if they thought more like Papua New Guinea sweet potato farmers.
As a book on Papua New Guinean culture, this isn't where I would start because it includes bits and pieces in a larger context. I only say that since that is why I included it in my (now) three months of reading books from and about New Guinea. But for a book wide in scope about traditional societies, I doubt you'll find anything better! Just don't be surprised if you find yourself having conversations about breastfeeding while you're in the middle of it. It's really inescapable....more
I received a copy of this in exchange for an honest review
England, 1255: Sarah is only seventeen when she chooses to become an anch
I received a copy of this in exchange for an honest review
England, 1255: Sarah is only seventeen when she chooses to become an anchoress, a holy woman much like the one who taught Saint Hildegard of Bingen, shut away in a small cell, measuring seven by nine paces, at the side of the village church. Fleeing the grief of losing a much-loved sister in childbirth as well as pressure to marry, she decides to renounce the world—with all its dangers, desires, and temptations—and commit herself to a life of prayer. But it soon becomes clear that even the thick, unforgiving walls of Sarah’s cell cannot keep the outside world away, and her body and soul are still in great danger.
I didn't know much about the anchoress life, and I feel like I learned a lot about that from this book. Church mystics who withdraw and have ecstatic experiences are pretty fascinating, and I think the author felt the same way. I do wish the writing had varied a bit more - in around 200 pages the word "throb" was used 16 times, to such excess that I noticed it and went looking. There are some questions raised (in my mind) of the line between mental illness and spiritual devotion/ecstasy. I thought the connection of the church to the village was interesting too. So much depends on how a person survives, and that makes it more complicated than a person shutting herself up in a room....more
I probably would not have read this book if it hadn't been selected for the Sword and Laser book club for March 2015, and in the same month get announI probably would not have read this book if it hadn't been selected for the Sword and Laser book club for March 2015, and in the same month get announced as one of the Nebula nominees.
It's not my normal fare, in other words. It was described to me as a steampunk-fantasy court drama novel, but I would characterize it more as a coming of age, fish out of water, court drama novel. The steampunk is far in the background and as much as I don't geek out about those kinds of details, I think more of them would have made the world more interesting - more magic too, please! It's there, but so far in the background.
The other parts of the world, from the elaborate family names to the complex kingdom rulership borders, to the elfin-goblin conflicts, were interesting and didn't feel like many other things. Actually I did keep thinking of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin but I'm not sure others will see the parallels.
The best part, in my opinion, is the character of Maia the goblin emperor. I think the author writes him very compassionately, although flawed. He has quite the wardrobe.
I am surprised this isn't the first in a trilogy or series because it feels like everything just gets settled by the end, and after all of this world has been created, it might be nice for the author to keep writing in it.
You would think this fulfilled my fantasy reading for the year, but no. My usually post-modern literary book club has selected a fantasy novel for our next read, one I never would have read.... well here we go....more
Some of my skimming moments seemed to fall into two categories - too much meander in the writing. This happens a lot in personal stories such as in the one about the high school car accidents. The other is the second-person employed in an essay about a traumatic or catastrophic event - you you you - I didn't like the combination and it felt confrontational somehow. So I didn't finish the tsunami essay for this reason.
My favorites seemed to be more about pleasant subject matter, which surprised me because it seems harder to write in a captivating manner about happy topics. But I think this is where Paterniti shines, rather than the Khmer Rouge.
Highlights: "He Might Just Be a Prophet" - I never tire of reading about Ferran Adria, and now that he has closed El Bulli, it felt nostalgic to read this piece. Paterniti does not just eat there and write about it, he spends more time with the chef. The tone captures Adria's spirit and the descriptions are the best attempt I've seen to try to give someone the experience of the cuisine without having it in their mouth.
"The Giant" - about the tallest man in the world, Leonid Stadnik. It isn't putting him up as a hero, bearer of woes, but it does portray the good and the bad of having an incredibly large body. I spent so much time looking at pictures and reading other stories about Stadnik after reading the essay, I knew he had me hooked.
"Holding my hand, he ceased to be a giant at all. Rather, in his world now, I became the dwarf."
"Driving Mr. Albert" - a bizarre story where he is driving around with a doctor who stole Albert Einstein's brain (and with the brain itself). This didn't seem real. Does it have to be real? A bizarre thing happened where he mentions the Asmat of "Irian Jaya" (now called West Papua) and what they believed about consuming someone's brain... just a bizarre connection to all of my recent New Guinean reads, completely unrelated to the rest of the essay. (Well, not completely, but you know what I mean.)
"Never Forget" - this is the one about the Khmer Rouge and S-21. Phew. Any time you read something about this, it's bound to be emotional, but he explored an aspect of it I didn't know anything about. 3 people surviving a prison that held 15,000. A person responsible for most of those deaths being given only a 19 year sentence. The connection between this genocide and the others, and the unclaimed American responsibility.
"Or in other words, our own genocide forever comes next."
"The Last Meal" - Oh my goodness. He writes about food best when it is slightly off-kilter and this is the story of the French President, François Mitterand, and his legendary last meal. The story is stretched to include the author also consuming the ortolan, complete with hood to block the noises from the others/God. What a fascinating, disturbing tradition that I thought only belonged in a fantasy novel! ...more