This is not a perfect book. After reading many one-star reviews of "The Wise Man's Fear," I have to chuckle because, in a sense, I agree with them: KvoThis is not a perfect book. After reading many one-star reviews of "The Wise Man's Fear," I have to chuckle because, in a sense, I agree with them: Kvothe is irritating. His perfection is slippery, inconsistent, and obnoxious. His humility feel staged. His sexual prowess is, well, doubtful. I rolled my eyes repeatedly - I admit it.
Nonetheless, I loved the second installment of the Kingkiller Chronicles. Patrick Rothfuss has found his voice in "Wise Man," or at least his sense of humor. While the first book was equal parts charm and pretentiousness, the second felt looser and more sure footed, as if Rothfuss were a gifted runner who, nervous about showing off his talents in the first lap, held his muscles too tense and his back too rigid. In this second time around, he lightens up considerably and the result is an easy pace and a more comfortable stride. I laughed out loud at least a half dozen times, and I am not one to laugh at a book.
The real strength of this series is the very likely way he established the conceit of magic. It feels all too possible - scientific, almost. If I had read these books as a 12 year old, I would have spent countless hours trying to train my own Alar in order to fashion a simple binding. I would have been convinced that it could happen, and as an adult reader, I am almost just as sure. Rothfuss conjures a world that satisfies all the fantasy tropes without treading too-worn paths, and yet makes that world seem only a hair's breadth away from our own, as if we were reading a lost history rather than an alternate universe. His description of the Adem made me sorry I'd stopped studying tai chi. His addict-dragon reminded me of the bears that used to ransack our town dump. The Cthaeh is the devil's Cheshire cat. Rothfuss pulls us between the Fae and the real with the ease of stepping through a patch of sunlight in the forest - all we need to do is follow.
The story-within-a-story format does its job; the foreshadowing is powerful, and provides a foil for the relentless annoyance of Kvothe's youth. His obnoxiousness seems purposeful and conscious. My only concern now is that he will not be able to finish what he's started: Day Three is coming, and the story feels as if it has only just begun. I wish Rothfuss and his editor the best - there are a lot of us out here waiting with fingers and lute strings crossed. But I'm not going to hold my breath....more
Reading Haruki Murakami is like slipping into a warm bath. There is always a stripped-down, naked quality to entering his texts, and then the pleasureReading Haruki Murakami is like slipping into a warm bath. There is always a stripped-down, naked quality to entering his texts, and then the pleasure soaks in as if through the skin. The reader is cared for, pampered. The pace is leisurely. I still cannot tell whether Murakami succeeds at what he does because he is so adept at crafting worlds with slightly altered truths to our own, or if his skill is in the sleight-of-hand he employs to distract us from the mundanity of his subjects. As in most of his work, 1Q84 employs dreams, doubles, aging women, longing, and cats to populate his fantasy. The result is unsettling, sweet, and surprisingly suspenseful. The last section (or in the paperback version, the final book) is as gripping as any thriller, even as its characters drift ever more into the sublime....more
I was introduced to the work of Augusto Boal by a woman whom I admire greatly. She is a gardener, a writer, an activist, and a performer. She spent tiI was introduced to the work of Augusto Boal by a woman whom I admire greatly. She is a gardener, a writer, an activist, and a performer. She spent time in Brazil studying Theatre of the Oppressed techniques with landless workers there, and now has brought the techniques and skills she learned there back to the States, where she conducts workshops in the practice, among other things.
As an ESOL and writing teacher, I don't always make room in my syllabi for my political work. Many would suggest that I should leave those things at home; the classroom is for skills and content. However, the more I reflect on my convictions and beliefs, the more I come to consider radical practice a fundamental part of what I do, what I should do, what I aspire to do. I have recently been running up against this notion of "practice" - is it really "practice" when it is a way of life? It seems to me that practice, then, is something deeper. It becomes more like a "way," when we think of a "way" as a "Tao." It is one of the paths one can walk - either we walk that path, or we walk another, but we do not pick and choose when to be on it and when to get off, depending on the hat we wear. We simply stay on the path.
In any case, I think that radical practice - a radical path - for a teacher in my position means truly considering my students - in my case, students often considered "at-risk": immigrants, refugees, single parents, first-generation college students, minorities, individuals recently released from prison, workers without jobs - as humans, as valued, reflective, intelligent individuals with interests and a great capacity to teach and learn from one another. It means recognizing their various challenges, and celebrating and supporting their strengths. It also means trying new things.
The techniques outlined in Games for Actors and Non-Actors transformed my understanding of how to relate to a group of people. I have tried several of the games in my classes, and have had nothing but outstanding positive results, ranging from puzzled introspection leading to insight, to shrieking delight and the mad joy of freedom that comes from doing some that feels both very new and very, very natural. I am grateful for the constant reminder that, as a teacher, I must always continue to learn....more
Jaime Hernandez' work has been part of my consciousness ever since my brain emerged from childhood. I think if I had paid more attention to Love and RJaime Hernandez' work has been part of my consciousness ever since my brain emerged from childhood. I think if I had paid more attention to Love and Rockets when I was in my teens, I would have become a very different person. I loved it, of course, but always refused to latch on to the weird yearning it ignited in me, probably for fear of where it would take me. Now, as a woman in my thirties who reads things like Hopey Glass while sitting on the couch in her jammies, trying to ignore a football game, I realize exactly how powerful his illustration and storytelling is, and how he can - with a single panel - refresh my entire take on what constitutes beauty and sex and relationships.
The book is divided between two characters: I far prefer the Hopey stories to the more melodramatic Ray's, but both convey a rich subtext and create an incredibly believable, familiar cast of people. Readers who were devoted to the Locas characters from Love and Rockets(Latinas from the L.A. punk scene) will be spending time with old friends....more
Ah, Murakami. My first challenge in writing this review is finding one of my esoteric little cyber-shelves on which to place this. Poetry? Almost. LifeAh, Murakami. My first challenge in writing this review is finding one of my esoteric little cyber-shelves on which to place this. Poetry? Almost. Life-changing? Hardly. I hesitate over "arty-art-art" and skip it over in exchange for "heart-breaking," which is almost true. How to categorize his works?
Just like The Wind-up Bird Chronicles, a number of themes (re)emerge in the lovely, poignant, lucid-sleepwalk that is Kafka on the Shore: an efficient, neatly dressed young man of indeterminate sexuality acting as assistant to a mysterious and elegant middle-aged woman; lost cats; people having sex together only in dreams; accidental clairvoyance; deep, dark wells. This is the stuff Haruki Murakami's dreams are made of.
"Riveting" seems like a word best left to courtroom dramas and spy fiction, not to surrealist tales of precocious 15-year-old runaways and libraries, yet Murakami's mastery of fiction is so complete, the most abstract and vaporous of events becomes seat-of-the-pants storytelling in his hands. Credit should go, too, to his translator, Jay Rubin, who turns the endless cultural references of his subject into flawless English phrase without missing a beat, making Japan seem as natural and accessible as the reader's own thoughts.
While I don't share the fanatical interest his work often inspires in readers, I find his realities are quickly becoming one of my favorite vacation sites. He is in complete control, which is more than I can say for most writers of fiction - and his reveries incite longing in the most unexpected ways....more
A charming little thought-experiment conducted by a writer of rich yet limited imagination. This book has received rave reviews in a number of journalA charming little thought-experiment conducted by a writer of rich yet limited imagination. This book has received rave reviews in a number of journals over the past few months, and I was on a waiting list at the library for weeks before I had a chance to check it out myself.
Clearly influenced by the structured, dreamlike musings of Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities, Sum: Fory Tales from the Afterlives dances neatly through a series of post-life possibilities. Some are clever, some are odd, but few manage to be more than a change of curtains on what is clearly a window into a Judeo-Christian background. There is always a God (capital G), always a mention of sinners and a "you guys get to go one place, and you all go over here." Unfortunately, this book is a missed opportunity for something a bit more mystical, creative, or even simply adventurous.
Eagleman's strongest moments are when he flows inward and touches some of the raw points of sadness we each carry in secret, and when he succumbs to a pantheistic vision that explores natural systems for their own intrinsic miracles....more
This text should be required reading for participation in the planetary exchange of resources; i.e. breathing, drinking, eating, excreting.
What LynasThis text should be required reading for participation in the planetary exchange of resources; i.e. breathing, drinking, eating, excreting.
What Lynas has provided here is a comprehensive summary of international research on climate change and carbon emissions from a variety of perspectives and methodologies. The result is a harrowing projection of the kinds of shifts in ecosystems around the world - water tables, weather patterns, food production, biodiversity, ocean acidity - that are likely to occur if the average temperature of the earth goes up by as much as 6 degrees C. In each successive chapter, degree by degree, Lynas walks the reader through the gradual changes humanity can expect to experience, based upon a combination of state-of-the-art computer modeling, statistical probabilities, current observable trends, and historical precedence. The end result walks a fine line between igniting profound motivation for change and tripping the wire of paralytic despair.
A major criticism I have of the work is that, in all but the sketchiest senses, Lynas fails to make the connections between the emissions/warming circumstances and the sociopolitical systems that have precipitated them. Only once or twice does he point directly to global capitalism and consumption at both the industrial and individual levels, and then to predict that - at the point of societal collapse - popular political theory may shift to point blame where it is "deserved." His intention is only to provide an accessible reference for the scientific research as it exists - a moral choice that, given the severity of the circumstances he describes, seems to me cowardly and untenable. Nonetheless, an important book....more