The final part of an extended love letter to the worlds of childhood fantasies. Bittersweet but satisfying. Definitely read like the trilogy had beenThe final part of an extended love letter to the worlds of childhood fantasies. Bittersweet but satisfying. Definitely read like the trilogy had been planned as such (i.e., without forced, shock-value-only complications a la GoT). Unpredictable enough, but not too much random subplot development or too much forced tidiness.
One (non-plot-related) complaint, though. The immediately-datedness of the slang (e.g., "FTW") sometimes irked me. Because it popped up outside of characters' speech. I get that the third person narration was adopting the voice/perspective of the people it was focusing on at any given time (is there a word for this? not quite free indirect style...). But sometimes it came off more as "look how hip I am" than "look at my realistic characters." I'm generally not a fan of writing that demands this kind of back-patting from its readers...but I indulged it in all the metafictional "books are so great" moments, and overall it was cohesive and set an appropriately sardonic-yet-reverent tone.
The sometimes-distracting/fanfictiony narration was pretty much my only complaint, though. I was happily immersed in Grossman's magical storytelling, and I enjoyed the slightly more optimistic (but still pretty gritty/emotionally-real) tone of the trilogy's conclusion....more
I need to own this book so I can flip through it when I want to remember the coolest facts about memory as narrated by the man who is my new hero. (IrI need to own this book so I can flip through it when I want to remember the coolest facts about memory as narrated by the man who is my new hero. (Ironically, I can't retain this much awesome information in my head, so I require a non-library copy to remain in my possession for reference.)
Yup, Mr. Fernyhough, you're my new hero. You're British, and you write thoughtfully and in depth about memory (which is like my favorite subject ever), and you interviewed your ninety-three-year-old grandmother about her memories (which was like my favorite hobby during the seven months I lived down the street from my own 92-year-old grandmother, though I never recorded the discussions for transcription like you did). You referenced A.S. Byatt and Bruno Bettelheim, and your life and the lives of others, and scientific facts...You made me feel thoughtful and hopeful and a little nostalgic. And you named your daughter Athena....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
Published around the same time as Twilight* and similarly dealing with a normal(ish) young woman who forges an unlikely connection with modern-day vamPublished around the same time as Twilight* and similarly dealing with a normal(ish) young woman who forges an unlikely connection with modern-day vampires, it’s hard not to see Sunshine as a literary precedent that Twilight failed to live up to…
Important points of comparison**: First person narrative of an almost-painfully-normal young woman. She loves her mother, her mother has remarried, she’s not noticeably brave/special. (Unlike Bella, though, Rae isn’t wallowing in self-pity about her mother’s remarriage. She gets along just fine with her stepfamily, thankyouverymuch.) Cue vampires. (Unlike Twilight, where the sparkling immortals have managed their centuries-long reign among humans in relative secrecy, demons/magic are common knowledge, part of the political and social landscape of the alternate world in which the story takes place. McKinley does a nice job of letting her narrator unobtrusively fill you in on the details of this landscape as her experiences increasingly veer outside of the realm of even this supernatural “normal,” leaving some details and implied differences between our and Rae’s worlds go unexplained in a way that is actually more satisfying than frustrating.) Instead of a shallow love triangle between a werewolf and a vampire and a normal-girl (who smells like particularly yummy blood), there’s a network of relationships, and the romantic elements are duly confusing. The vampire never stops being scary and threatening (and centuries-older than the protagonist and non-human, things that Meyer conveniently forgets because she’s not *really* writing about vampires, she’s writing about sexy soulmates and their sexy chastity), and when the vampire watches the protagonist sleep it cues the *appropriate* reaction: utterly-creeped-out-ness. Cue sexual tension (every vampire story is a sex story), adventures, magical revelations about the protagonist, a confrontation with bigbads…and an ending. A (realistically) untidy** ending.
I know it’s silly for my favorite part of a vampire novel to be its realism, but it kind of is. This is like the anti-Twilight: no heavy-handed messages about chastity and abstinence and destiny and not-having-abortions, no poorly-written religious doctrine cloaked in a corrupted vampire lore. Just a good story.
*Sunshine came out a couple years before, close enough together so that nobody can really accuse either author of having read/been influenced by the other, but also close enough together that you kind of want to ask the universe why it was so cruel as to make Meyer’s version the commercially successful one.
**Other than the titles. Which both refer to...vampiric lighting.
***I can't help feeling like some of what makes Sunshine better than Twilight is the fact of McKinley's British-ness (contrasted with Meyer's American-ness). The British strike me as less idealistic, more apt to accept the harsh realities of life rather than trying to force-feed themselves an (ultimately unhealthy) version of perfection....more
Frustrating and depressing and hopeful and romantic and intelligent and hard to read but easy to get lost in. Art is paradox, right?
I'm glad I took mFrustrating and depressing and hopeful and romantic and intelligent and hard to read but easy to get lost in. Art is paradox, right?
I'm glad I took my time reading it, letting myself put it aside when I was just too...full. It was a lovely experience. Full of literary allusions and religious insights and young people just out of college making the young-people-just-out-of-college mistakes that I'm all too familiar with.
I wish I could more eloquently express how I just can't bring myself to give it five stars. Maybe I need some distance......more
The repetition and dullness and rambling and this-is-true conceit could be hard to get through at times. But it was often beautiful and funny and insiThe repetition and dullness and rambling and this-is-true conceit could be hard to get through at times. But it was often beautiful and funny and insightful, and felt particularly resonant as I read it to keep awake on my commute to my tedious (financially-concerned) office job.
Repeated phrases that irked me a bit: "shoe-squeezing" "in toto" "it's hard to explain"/"does this make sense?"(mostly in 22)
Favorite chapters (or whatever the appropriate word is for the numbered sections), kind of in order: 25 46 notes and asides 5 22 15 3 36 35 26 24 9...more
"You know, I'm really starting to think the whole world is just a patchwork quilt of crazy little cults, all with their own secret spaces, their own r"You know, I'm really starting to think the whole world is just a patchwork quilt of crazy little cults, all with their own secret spaces, their own records, their own rules."...more
An immensely accessible introduction to Cummings, full of insights into his life and poetry as well as interesting analysis (and criticism) of his poeAn immensely accessible introduction to Cummings, full of insights into his life and poetry as well as interesting analysis (and criticism) of his poetry. Definitely made me appreciate Cummings, but also place him in context of his literary and artistic peers (like his friend William Carlos Williams)...ultimately I think I prefer Emily Dickinson's nursery-rhyme readability (which still includes some of the capitalization and punctuation trends that make Cummings intriguing) and Williams's straightforwardness, and Plath/Frost/Rilke/Browning/Shakespeare/Donne/Blake's conventionality. Just my personal taste. I still kind of love Cummings, though. I think. But I don't think I would've been able to like Cummings nearly so much if it weren't for Marks....more
I think I wanted to make a comparison to Borges. Something along the lines of Coetzee doing the inverse of Borges's short stories (stories that wouldI think I wanted to make a comparison to Borges. Something along the lines of Coetzee doing the inverse of Borges's short stories (stories that would include essays expounding on epic unwritten fictions). How Coetzee's repeated meditations on authors and authorship come interwoven in stories, in an oeuvre of literariness that depends upon the internal essays and speeches of its characters.
I'm too saturated with Coetzee-ness at the moment. So I can't help being a little pretentious. I'm not a fan of Elizabeth Costello (the character) because she is so ranty and so proud. And because the Coetzee I read just before this included her as a kind of antagonist. But I think her book was interesting. Increasingly so nearer to the end.