Lovely illustrations, but the bittersweet love story was a little to melodramatic for my taste. I kept thinking that the next page was going to be "anLovely illustrations, but the bittersweet love story was a little to melodramatic for my taste. I kept thinking that the next page was going to be "and then the goose ate the bug, because he was a goose and geese eat bugs." And I kept being slightly disappointed that the little fable took a more quietly tragic path....more
Maybe it was an issue of translation, but I found the first person plural to be a bit problematic. Like, usually Naoki seemed aware that he spoke onlyMaybe it was an issue of translation, but I found the first person plural to be a bit problematic. Like, usually Naoki seemed aware that he spoke only to his own experiences with autism; but sometimes it seemed like he was perpetuating a misunderstanding of the autism spectrum by implying a universal experience of it exists. Also, it was a bit repetitive with the "be patient and loving with us" message. But that was kind of part of the eloquence--the aching, stark beauty of Naoki's frank expression of his thoughts. And that story at the end. I want to read more of his stories....more
Too much twin-related creepiness, too much murder, too much dead children. The metafictional-element-having of many of the stories was enjoyable, butToo much twin-related creepiness, too much murder, too much dead children. The metafictional-element-having of many of the stories was enjoyable, but the unflaggingly dark tones of all these stories made reading them more arduous than it should have been. Diana Wynne Jones's story was a welcome respite from all the dark heaviness. Jodi Picoult's almost made me cry (and kind of reminded me of A Child in Time), Neil Gaiman's introduction was excellent (and his contribution was pretty good too), Joanne Harris's story was pleasantly evocative of American Gods....So, yeah, I guess there were high points. But the gimmicky formatting of Joe Hill's story wasn't to my liking. And I think I'd've liked Al Sarrantonio's "Cult of the Nose" if I hadn't just read "Catch and Release" (Lawrence Block's contribution, which comes much earlier in the collection, but I was jumping around out of boredom) and been feeling kind of nauseous and disgusted by the world (because Block's story was gross, not because of some other external factor). Roddy Doyle's "Blood" and Walter Mosley's "Juvenal Nyx" were interesting takes on vampirism, and "Parallel Lines" and "Fossil-Figures" had moderate success making twins into the creepiest-sounding beings to ever have supernatural deaths.
I wouldn't particularly recommend most of these stories, but they're not *bad* or poorly imagined. If someone gave the collection to me as a gift, I'd probably read a story or two at my leisure and enjoy it over the course of months/years. But checking it out from the library and attempting to plow through all these creepy-weird stories? Not recommended....more
Ishiguro's first-person narratives are interesting. Each one tells its own story, yet each one is connected by the motifs of love, nightfall, music, aIshiguro's first-person narratives are interesting. Each one tells its own story, yet each one is connected by the motifs of love, nightfall, music, and the associated sense of loss. Yet they're also all a bit funny. Not all the narrators are likeable (the two middle ones in particular struck me as downright unlikeable), and the characters are charmingly flawed, lovingly fleshed-out, and strangely easy to relate to, for all their specificity. I was quite fond of the overlap of characters/settings. And the way the final story feels tangentially related to the other stories' characters even though (as far as I recall) it's the only one where Lindy doesn't seem to pop up in some form, and how that story is fittingly in the first person plural. FIRST PERSON PLURAL?! THAT IS SO COOL....more
Stretches could be dry or fail to hold my interest due to the datedness of the Manifest Destiny-esque plotline, and the accompanying racist mindset (aStretches could be dry or fail to hold my interest due to the datedness of the Manifest Destiny-esque plotline, and the accompanying racist mindset (albeit a satirical one, involved in a complicated self-criticism along with the criticism of the "savage" native peoples the narrator encounters)....more
The way Henry James writes about women makes me think anachronistically about the MPDG trope...
underline-worthy bits: "He had a great relish for feminiThe way Henry James writes about women makes me think anachronistically about the MPDG trope...
underline-worthy bits: "He had a great relish for feminine beauty; he was addicted to observing and analysing it; and as regards this young lady's face he made several observations. It was not at all insipid, but it was not exactly expressive; and though it was eminently delicate, Winterbourne mentally accused it--very forgivingly--of a want of finish. He thought it very possible that Master Randolph's sister was a coquette; he was sure she had a spirit of her own; but in her bright, sweet, superficial little visage there was no mockery, no irony." (p 140) "She was very quiet, she sat in a charming tranquil attitude; but her lips and her eyes were constantly moving." (p 142) "...she was looking at Winterbourne with all her prettiness in her lively eyes and her light, slightly monotonous smile. 'I have always had,' she said, 'a great deal of gentlemen's society.'" (p 143) "'My dear aunt, I am not so innocent,' said Winterbourne, smiling and curling his moustache." (p 149) "'...Of course a man may know everyone. Men are welcome to the privelege!'" (p 162, Mrs Costello to Winterbourne) "'Whether or no being hopelessly vulgar is being "bad" is a question for the metaphysicians." (p 162, Mrs Costello to Winterbourne) "'I have never allowed a gentleman to dictate to me, or to interfere with anything I do.'" (p 169, Daisy Miller to Winterbourne) "He asked himself whether Daisy's defiance came from the consciousness of innocence or from her being, essentially, a young person of the reckless class. It must be admitted that holding oneself to a belief in Daisy's 'innocence' came to seem to Winterbourne more and more a matter of fine-spun gallantry." (p 184) "At last he [Giovanelli] said, 'She was the most beautiful young lady I ever saw, and the most amiable.' And then he added in a moment, 'And she was the most innocent.'" (p 191, to Winterbourne)
Regarding the other short stories: "The Last of the Valerii" was an interesting gothic-type tale, and the reference to the "poor little snakes" Hercules strangled struck me as an interesting reference, considering snakes were sent to kill the hero...weren't they? I think the remark was meant to reflect on the narrator's reliability. I liked the reference to a woman's "aesthetic toggery, which was conventionally unconventional, suggesting what he might have called a tortuous spontaneity" in "The Lesson of the Master" (p 82) and the general tendency for adverbs preceding verbs (e.g. "the young man sincerely sighed" on page 113) as well as the reference to "other, more cursory Junes" (p 126)....more
I'd read a few of these stories in Spanish ("Dos Palabras" and a couple others), and was pleasantly surprised to find that the translations preservedI'd read a few of these stories in Spanish ("Dos Palabras" and a couple others), and was pleasantly surprised to find that the translations preserved the beauty of the originals. I found myself skimming occasionally, and wishing I had the Eva Luna context that would make for an ability to fully appreciate the stories.
When I read "Letters of Betrayed Love" in Spanish, I don't think I'd read/heard of Cyrano de Bergerac. Having read the English translation of Allende's story with Cyrano de Bergerac in mind, I found a greater appreciation of the optimism underpinning the story, and the way that it was actually a complex voicing of an unvoiced perspective in the Cyrano de Bergerac tale......more