i was underwhelmed. i might have had high hopes for this because of the previous Pulitzers like the epic Middlesex and The Hours that i took so much d...morei was underwhelmed. i might have had high hopes for this because of the previous Pulitzers like the epic Middlesex and The Hours that i took so much delight and passion in reading. or that's entirely not true, because i don't form expectations on books based on titles and accolades alone. i don't draw expectations, period (see how i both loved Her Fearful Symmetry and The Bluest Eye with equal devotion and fondness). it is based on affinity and personal connection with these books.
or maybe, i've read many authors with the same pattern as Breathing Lessons that have stronger plots and more relatable casts in them that by comparison, this novel is rendered less affecting and weak.
this novel is not bad, don't get me wrong. i was just striving to find a connection even with just a single character from the book (and just when i figured it's not going to happen, luckily, i did, with Jesse, only Jesse, in the latter part). but i had it so briefly that i was left starved. the first half of the novel dragged. it's when i'm halfway through reading that i only started seeing the light of the book.
having said that, i would still give another Anne Tyler books a shot, Pulitzer or not. i have The Amateur Marriage sitting on my shelf, and when i'm finally in the mood to read it, i do hope it's going to be entirely different. (less)
i shed a tear after the last paragraph, because i know i'm going to miss everything sad, beautiful and nostalgic Jack Kerouac has experienced and shar...morei shed a tear after the last paragraph, because i know i'm going to miss everything sad, beautiful and nostalgic Jack Kerouac has experienced and shared with me, again.
my hats off to this bum. my respect to this bhikku. this hobo with his 'all out confessional and bebop-inspired style he named "spontaneous prose"'. i'm smitten with the way he recounts the whole experience and translates them into lyrical, energetic prose without breathing, freely as one would pick a music instrument without ever stopping his wild desire to strum or blow it, and letting us dance to its beat and die with a smile. he puts no barrier or distance between him and the person reading with how he sincerely feels about the world around him, this tender and honest person with his tremendous love for music, people, nature and God.
this is easily the book i can see every hippie, every beatnik and hobo reading. this is all about searching truth the zen way while being half-drunk, almost naked, and singing Frank Sinatra while trying to flag a truck. this book is the autobiographical reincarnation of On The Road. they say, with the evocation of people and the way he depicts the experience and how he talks to you, the result Kerouac gives us is not art, but life.
i fell in love with The Dharma Bums the way i did with On The Road simply because i knew the people Jack Kerouac wrote about too well. i felt like they were my own friends, or myself, lobbying for the truer and grander meaning of life through the endless moving and hitchhiking, the series of drunk partying whilst reading poetry and dancing, and the pure communing with one's self, with nature, and ultimately with one's God.
if asked what is Nirvana, i would say it's Jack Kerouack's pen and his 1400 grams of alcoholic brain mass. (less)
Dennis Lehane, what can i say. he is such a substantial talent. he covers all genres and shows how it's done.
Gone, Baby, Gone floored me with its plo...moreDennis Lehane, what can i say. he is such a substantial talent. he covers all genres and shows how it's done.
Gone, Baby, Gone floored me with its plot. it was so smart. at one point in his life i think probably Dan Brown must have read this book. plot-wise, it's very Angels and Demons-ish, but has more unpredictable twists and affecting dialogues in it. the testosterone-filled yet evocative narrative was what did it.
what i like about this author is how willing he is to go deep into the darkness and evil of humanity, and shows us how everyone is driven by different motives to do such evil to attain a common good at his own end. and on that note it would be really really hard for a reader to decide who to hate and who to love among his characters in this novel. his villains are the inner heroes and his heroes somewhat the villains. it's conflicting reading a novel like this, which is pretty much a morality play, which constantly makes you ask what morally right and what morally wrong mean. cos as we know it, anything that tackles the topic of morality is such a grey area, because people are different from one another.
my first Kenzie and Gennaro of his series. my second Dennis Lehane, after Mystic River, which i equally worship. i'll keep you posted on how i'll adore this author all the more after i read Moonlight Mile for sure, which will be my third. (less)
"When I see a woman of thirty-six today, I find her young. But when I see a boy of fifteen, I see a child."
this is a HEARTBREAKING novel, not because...more "When I see a woman of thirty-six today, I find her young. But when I see a boy of fifteen, I see a child."
this is a HEARTBREAKING novel, not because of the obvious --of Hanna's deficit revealed in the latter part of the book, or of Michael's age at the start when he plunged and drowned with Hanna --but on account of witnessing that it's possible that two people could build this extraordinarily beautiful thing together despite some setbacks, watching this relationship grow and sustain the boy's memory even when and as they moved forward and grew in life apart, and in the end seeing it crumbled over time and reducing everything to a history. in the end, only a history. and scars.
this is an INTERESTING novel, not only because of the alleged sex involved (in my opinion there's barely any that is told in a detailed way and explicitly described), but also because, especially because of Hanna's nature, her lifelong lie, being revealed in the latter part of the book which brought shock and dilemma, and the age of both the protagonists at the time of the drowning, and the moral implications that it made. but more than anything, it's repulsively interesting in light of the things that happened in Germany during the 1940's and post-war, giving us glimpses of the horrors during the Holocaust.
what happened to Michael Berg here was every young boy's dream: falling in love at such a young age and being able to take on the world differently, with confidence, assurance and direction, because of that love. what happened to Hanna Schmitd here was every woman's nightmare, or maybe not: falling in love with a boy twice her junior who loved science and literature, and who is being read to by this boy because she could not.
but if anything, the affair is a minor detail. this book is in the same vein as Night by Ellie Weisel or The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen. this is a holocaust book. you always go back to that numbing sensation everytime you read a novel like this. you're always left to wonder what happened, and why did it happen. but the safe answer is always so that we could remember. i loved how Hanna's character was being built along the chapters. i loved how strong and unwavering the plot is. i loved how the book is profound and philosopical, despite the easy languange.
i felt apprehensive because there was a hype to this book and i thought it would be a drag finishing this one because i have this thing about novels being made more popular by their movie tie-ins to be overrated and ironically sucky. but surprisingly, i find this book very elegant and breathtaking due maybe to the fact that it is very very direct. there's the lack of using unnecessary devices in language which creates the effect of having this indelible voice left in your brain after finishing it.
having said that, this novel, alongside Mystic River and Middlesex, are the best that i read this 2012. (less)
i have read previous novels from Michael Cunningham before, and both i enjoyed so much. it's a blessing reading a novel so profound and moving like T...more i have read previous novels from Michael Cunningham before, and both i enjoyed so much. it's a blessing reading a novel so profound and moving like The Hours. Flesh and Blood is another thing. it is a product of unadulterated honesty which is the reason why the novel would simply just get to you. if anything, these two novels chronicled the various tragedies and throes of seemingly real individuals. it is the story of our random acquaintances, our family members, our neighbors and friends, ourselves.
in Specimen Days, although it shared the same formula with The Hours, the author brought the storytelling a notch higher by bringing in a cast of wildly imagined characters, but never losing the luster and poetry of his prose. it is original, fanatical at times, but very very human.
the novel has three sections, strung together by its common denominator: Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. in the novel, you will find a story of a boy who's in dire need of saving a woman at the expense of his own. there's the ancient bowl that can be bought at the sudewalks of New York that tells of a thousand history and speaks through to you even when the letterings on its rim are undecipherable. there are horses that stare at you with its beady eyes of a mannequin sensing danger. there's a woman who's in constant check of herself because the pressures of being in her own skin brings too much restlessness and self doubt. there's also a man who loves this woman and finds joy in his life by listening to her talk about how her day went when they go to bed at night before the sex. and then, there are the Nadians, who are a four foot tall lizards from another planet, and Simolos, which are basically humans that went an experementation that's gone awry, who felt this irrevocable connection with each other and ever reminding us that we are responsible forever for the lives that we save.
i was surprised Michael Cunningham was able to outdo himself again. this is a daring and out-of-the-box novel. he strayed from the domestic drama this time, and introduced to us his new characters with the same attitudes and hung-ups. i have yet to read A Home at the End of the World, and By Nightfall. and Michael Cunningham is yet to disappoint. (less)
so i have been reiterating, that some of my favorite authors include Margaret Atwood, Michael Cunningham, Audrey Niffenigger, Jeffrey Eugenides, Toni...moreso i have been reiterating, that some of my favorite authors include Margaret Atwood, Michael Cunningham, Audrey Niffenigger, Jeffrey Eugenides, Toni Morrison, among the few. and you probably already know who i'm going to say next.
these authors have the same sense of space, lyric flair, and terrible honesty. and maybe, the interesting thing is that because these authors are flawed too in real life. it's always struck me how these books from these authors can contain all these emotions you have been feeling in your own life. and these books don't come by so often and easily. that's why you have to shove all clumps and pieces of other books and really dig down deep, inside the racks and mountains of books from second hand bookshops maybe, and search hard for these titles. and once you find them, hell, you got to thank the crumpled 50 bucks in your pocket because you found a treasure. in my case, they've always found me.
in the case of Mystic River, i frequently find myself rereading the beautiful passages just to experience the emotions all over again. there are times where i find myself warm up to certain sad and beautiful parts and suddenly notice the tears sitting under my lids and i try to hold them back each time, in a way cos it's both embarassing and uplifting. but the feeling is always good because there's a need to know that you aren't singled out.
only a few authors could do this as far as a reader like me is concerned. Dennis Lehane made me feel like i'm reading a novel like Ordinary People by Judith Guest back in highschool for the very first time again, or The Hours, or Cat's Eye, and made me remember how moved and devastated i felt back at the time when i read them. because there's so much honesty, humanity, and searing dialogues on the pages. he kept tranforming individuals into forces and gut-wrenching feeling -these characters who share the same pains, needs, dreams, failures, heartaches, aspirations, and joys with us readers. it's as if this book conveys whole human lives.
it's a book that evokes certain feelings and emotions in a nostalgic way, like on a random day when you were cleaning your room and decided to arrange your books in your shelf or cabinet and saw it, you just can't help but sniff the inside of it and reread the lines in the hope of wanting to relive that extraordinary yet commonplace feeling. Mystic River is that kind of book. it holds a special place in my heart after i read it. it exposes the dark side of life but brings out what it's really like to be there, living, being human.
it could be true, Lehane is the kind of author other novelists wish they could be. he just keeps superimposing these emotions in his plot that are just too hard to translate into words, but he did it. it's just too beautiful. (less)
we have here Briony Tallis. finally! a protagonist and antagonist combined. a character who plots. a little girl who i...more"Publication equals litigation."
we have here Briony Tallis. finally! a protagonist and antagonist combined. a character who plots. a little girl who is on the verge of changing the people and the world around her by her fondness of words, languange. quite simply, because she is a writer.
i have lots of what if's to ask. if Briony behaved differently, if she confined her thoughts only to her skull, if she, halfway across staging her play The Trials of Arabella with her freckled cousins, had not decided to be a novelist at the age of 13 and chronicle the demolishing things she saw, could she have prevented all the troubles of her family and change its history? if she did, that would mean supressing the creative juice in her. that would mean cramping her style. that would mean we won't be having a poignant love story between her sister and their servant's son. that meant she couldn't have that crippling power over destiny (not that we liked how it actually turned out, we could be prefering otherwise in fact). we wont have Atonement, her brainchild. and who would want that? Briony could just not sleep during her existence.
i couldn't blame her. i could have done worse. i couldn't blame her not because she is 13, but because she is only held by her ideals and motives that stirred in her heart as a writer, and just decided to be true to them by converting them into literature. only, her ideals and motives are lacking a grown-up's grasp of reality. so yeah, heck, we go back to age. because it is necessary to preserve its innocence and for it to be spent on the fields picking flowers or silently whispers to the imaginary fairies. that's how it should be. because we do not want destruction.
what would we have done, being not Briony Tallis, if at such age we discovered a succession of lascivious acts between our sisters and their boyfriend? would we clam? would we turn to our pillows and fantasize about it, or would we do exactly what she did, tell things in a writer's vantage point of telling things, which means distortion and presumptions of a story are included to serve a 13 year old's precocious imagination.
again, there's this ingredient of war romance that i really really like. how life would simply waste because of it. the story is tragic, the way i always like stories to be.
we now begin to choose whether we love or hate Briony Tallis. we now begin to wonder how many World War II love stories were designed exactly like that of Cecilia and Robbie's. finally, we grapple the concept of forgiveness, and why certain people won't just give them.
like his magnum opus The Hours, this is a novel that tugs at my soul and makes me feel present and really...morei have no words, and so many, for this book.
like his magnum opus The Hours, this is a novel that tugs at my soul and makes me feel present and really there, and experience the elegiac and the fierce chaos of life. if it has joys, which is possible, you will find it in the shadows cast by a flower pot on the windowsill or by taking a book in a park in a warm summer day of March, something as iridescent as that. Cunningham exposes his characters' deepest inclinations and their bottomless pain and despair. again, a huge pang of honest unsentimentality will lick your bones and you would grasp the concept of parallel lives with these characters that he's created.
this could very well be a universal truth about families of the world, of humanity, right in this novel.
it shows you how bad and beautiful it can get. it shows you what and how life and living is. how difficult it is to wear the outfits of everday life and show people how you cannot collapse. it's funny, how the words we said to someone we most loved are aimed at hurting them, how the people we most loved are the same people prone to our misgiving and unforgiveness, and it's becoming pretty much the most basic human condition isn't it? it is regretable, but it happens. it happens. on some cases, we live to die, and not. some of us stay here to suffer, wait for a long life of, i dont know, just living and constantly outliving our mistakes and bending the past. but in the end, owning them. so that we have something to be proud of. the back seat of a car has become our most favorite place in the world, with a gin and tonic on our hand while a friend drives, drunk with alcohol and blinding reality. we hope to chase something and die there, call it a Car Ballet, but life would simply not permit us to. we have our futures ahead of us. we still have relationships to fail. because there is a daughter whose job it is to die, and not us. the beatnik, the crazy sibling in the family, who will get it as a sort of consolation. and what happens to us? we stay at the back seat of a parked car. we pass a joint, curse our fathers, get a hard-on, and make long exasperated exhalations on the windshield that say a lot about us. the tired breaths that hang like question marks in the air that will trail the shadows of our adult lives forever. we continue to live.
and this is supposed to be a book review, right? i'm sorry. never mind my sentimental bullshit because the book is not at all like that.
having said that, it is the exact antithesis of ticklish. because this book is written by Michael Cunningham. and he doesn't demand respect for every word that he says because you will give it to him generously anyway, spontaneously. that's the magic. because he is never the one who impresses.
i would read this book the second time, third, and i would get that same feeling of a hot bubble resting and extending inside me, reaching through my fingertips and the strands of my hair, and i would call it, i dunno, electricity, or maybe inspired consciousness, and i'm going to ask myself relentlessy and hard: what have i been doing in my life?
(and i was there, reeling, with a Kleenex on a bedside table while holding this book.)
and it became one of my favorite books to date. this runs partially separate from the movie in my opinion, although props to Sofia Coppola as she did...moreand it became one of my favorite books to date. this runs partially separate from the movie in my opinion, although props to Sofia Coppola as she did such a beautiful job of creating a good panorama for the book. while the movie is just as creepy, it wasn't as melancholic and abrasive like the book. both you would enjoy i must say, but the book you would enjoy better.
i don't know, but it has evoked the same feeling as when i read The Hours, which is on top 5 of my all time faves. although the topics are different, it has the same ingredient of satiating all your deep feelings and zest for life, no matter how both plots are depressing and how the characters are all depressed and constantly want to flee from life. but this i know: that all of it has something to do with the ardent languange of both authors (Michael Cunningham for The Hours). this book is so damn beautifully written.
from the first page you would emphatize with the narrator. you'd get involved in the first person plural, watching across the Lisbons' house as you plot and try to desperately grapple and explain the lives of the Lisbon girls, but always end up failed and entranced. this novel is streaming with so much dark humor, heartache, and symbolic allegories. you are constantly drenched and embalmed with the unexplicable depression of Cecilia, the first Lisbon to take away her life. and then you become a girl, drawn under the spell of the idiosyncratic instability of the remaining Lisbon sisters. the monolithic evil that paralyzed them were somehow contracted by you, and you could smell the unmistakable odor that issues from the Lisbons' house and identify it forever with the deterioration of the world sorrounding them, and point it as the cause of the suicides. the narration is that haunting, and hypnotic.
the case of the boys is entirely interesting. and it is good to know how they remember everything, although they know deep inside their bones that their lives are never the same. in the course of their entire lives, it is through these boys's difficulty in getting out of the black wasps of the Lisbons' spell that you rallied with them, hoping that you too as a reader would get yourself back because you are that broken and scarred as well. after there's no Lisbon girl left in the world to fathom and decipher, you felt lost and changed. you would put your lighters up like what they do in rock concerts, in memoriam. the book is that affecting.
now, Middlesex is waiting on my shelf. and someone is very excited to turn its pages to get acquianted with Jeffrey Eugenides even more. (less)
"Our only skills are oral sex and restraining agitated psychotics."
exactly the book parents should keep their children from reading. by far, Running w...more"Our only skills are oral sex and restraining agitated psychotics."
exactly the book parents should keep their children from reading. by far, Running with Scissors is easily the book with relentless cast of lunatics and doofuses. this book would make you appreciate whatever level of normalcy is left in you as a human being.
i'am kind of floored that these people really exist in real life (this book is a memoir btw). it's a life story of a boy living with a deranged poet of a mother and an alcoholic father, and follows his wincing exploits as he was made orphan and live with a totally strange family: The Finches.
the book is mad, as in jaw dropping slap-in-the-knee kind of hysterics. The Finches is like a more ballistic and out of this world version of Malcolm in the Middle, only Malcolm here is Augusten, the orphaned 13 year old boy having sexual relationship with a 33 year old man, the father a psychiatrist who keeps a Mastorbatorium and interprets the future by searching and reading for hidden meanings in his shit from the toilet bowl, a mother who sweeps the living room carpet way past midnight as a way of handling stress, and the siblings, God! i don't even want to start with the siblings!
it is a funny and horrifying coming of age of a boy who's being caught up in his own dysfunctional family and recounts his way of faring with life as he's thrown to a more dysfunctional family when he was adopted by the psychiatrist's family. you'd flinch with horror at all the unheard rules from the household. you would feel icked with grossness and the unconventional nastiness and mental instability of nearly all characters. you would reflect on your own self and ask yourself whether your life would qualify as normal after all. but here's the upside: you'd be informed that Queen Helene Cholesterol is good for anal sex. you would be tempted to grab the holy book and do the bible-dips as a fun way to pass time. that venting anger, as in screwing-your-elders-and-spitting-on-their-face kind of venting anger, is supposed to be super healty. and there's a brush up on pschology facts like how you should not be oral but anal. see?
it's a book so wacky, disturbing, and rated 18 no matter how the protagonist is only 13. i won't recommend it to anyone except for the nitwits and dipsticks like me. :p(less)
this has been my first Bret Easton Ellis, and the fact that i got it from a second hand book shop makes it extra golden. no, actually it's the story t...morethis has been my first Bret Easton Ellis, and the fact that i got it from a second hand book shop makes it extra golden. no, actually it's the story that makes me want to not reach the back cover and finish. the 13 chapters -13 short interrelated stories, feel like having 13 different novels in one spine. here are some fine points why i dig this book.
the author speaks raw and fearless stuff. this is a dark teenybopper. no matter how it's the disaffected youth of L.A. he depicts here, it doesn't feel like the emotion and the experience are exclusive only to them. as a matter of fact, it's pretty normal and universal. at one time you figure you can be that person who stares at space not because you lack thoughts but because you are being consumed by human emptiness by the minute, and you'd just maybe pop a Valium to cover and ease things up. you realize you're one of Bret Easton Ellis' characters.
it's interesting to note the quiet desperation each character of each chapter must be feeling, that it flows seamlessly from one chapter to the next. some characters want to desperately say something but just shrug it off because it's easier that way, while others revert to the relentless sex and drugs because the desperation to connect and find meaning is immence. this is a nihilistic book where girls fall prey to boys, vanity and vices and boys go fuck other boys and make relationships with them and possibly, fall prey to vain and stoned girls at the same time like it's the most normal thing.
that being said, we get to see L.A. here at that exact moment of time the author wants us to experience its glamour and decadence, and yet, deglamourazing it by way of its characters. i remember a line from a dude in one chapter that goes like "You're fucking an abyss. A beautiful girl, but an abyss nonetheless." or something like that, and i can't help feeling that the author must be speaking of L.A in a way of a girl. it's the early 80's and the abyss are dark and the people are horny and people are watching endless MTV while doing coke in the couch or touching themselves in the bed drunk and stoned so yes these people must be sick and highly demoralized and lost but they are real so real you have to laugh sometimes at the realization.
that the author is nihilistic but makes us see the whole point of it all makes this novel beautiful.
the characters, each one of them, cries for something and the fact that they didn't even bother to call and shout out for help and just rather lie and die there makes them extra special for me. these denizens of L.A., these lost souls, disaffected youth, are undespicable for me.
and ok, the fact that i got this book for only 50 pesos makes it sulit and rewarding. hehe. i just can't wait to lay my hands on Less Than Zero and Imperial Bedrooms and admire Ellis the second, or third time around.
to begin this novel is to focus your attention solely to the English patient. but after having finished it, the English patient has become only second...moreto begin this novel is to focus your attention solely to the English patient. but after having finished it, the English patient has become only secondary because this book is the story of the mingled histories of its four damaged characters.
i always am drawn to stories that involve people consumed by war: the soldiers being enlisted, the sappers who were made witnesses to the horrible and the gruesome. there's this excruciating reality of war that makes these people different when they come back. somehow there's a permanent sadness there in the eyes, as if all the spirit contained in them are gone. there used to be this pulsating energy in every twitch of their mouths when they talk and smile, and with the way they walk, or how they lift their arms in the air pre-war, and these are suddenly stolen and they are dramatically aged after, even if they are only 24 or 25. their once animated souls are now oscillating with regrettable glum. they are scarred forever. robbed.
this book is a collection of these people. how their fates are intersected in an old Italian villa overlooking the statues of saints and angels that echo the casualties of World War II. elegiac in nature, and pouring with philosophy, poetry and wisdom, each character traces his and her departed past and analyzes how destiny brought them together here to create new bonds and wreckages.
every annal of the English patient is illuminating. he brings us in a different world, a world of smokes and foreign winds and oases. he introduced us to the deserts of the world. to the Gypsies and the Bedouins. to Katherine Cliffton, the oasis of his life, and how he fell in love for the first time. and as this burned patient tells his tales of passion and regret, there is Hana, the brilliant nurse who enthusiatically listens to him tell his stories. who reads him books on the bedside table under the 12 midnight lamp and thunders, and injects him morphine and watches him sleep. there is also David Carravagio, the wounded thief, and Kip, the Indian sapper, who among the four of them is most damaged by war. and who among them, is the one loved by Hana.
together, in a place called the Villa San Girolamo, these characters are bonded and destroyed by time. each personal history, with its telling, opens up a cave and sucks you in and traps you. only then will you feel the sand dunes touching your feet. the intricate yarns of wires inside a bomb felt by your fingertips before it explodes, as it ticks with your own heartbeats. and the clumps of hair touching your neck as you make love to a woman in a tent in one of the many hills of Italy. all these, and more.
Michael Ondaatje is a prolific poet and novelist. he left me feeling as if i'm watching the world he created through smokes and tinted glasses. this is just good literature.