I finally finished listening to George Saunder's Lincoln in the Bardo, after working my way back to the top of the library wait list, a month and a haI finally finished listening to George Saunder's Lincoln in the Bardo, after working my way back to the top of the library wait list, a month and a half later. I'd been a little iffy about wanting to finish it, but the last 20% turned the whole book around for me. I have to say, though, the audiobook works much better than print for this story. Flipping through the paper book in the store, the jumping from voice to voice didn't work as well in print as it does when dealing with a full-cast recording. I definitely recommend the audiobook for the story, which ended up completely different from what I expected. In the end, it was a lot less about Lincoln and his dead son, and more about the afterlife and what it might be....more
Nostalgia was a book that I started out wondering just why it had been selected for Canada Reads 2017. The concept, at least aSee my review on my blog
Nostalgia was a book that I started out wondering just why it had been selected for Canada Reads 2017. The concept, at least at first, seems pretty basic. In the not-so-distant future (although there is a single reference to space colonies, so it’s a little further into the future than I initially thought), the rich, at least, have the option of rejuvenation. In theory, you could live forever. However, the human mind cannot go that long without problems. As a result, when a person undergoes rejuvenation, their memories are wiped and replaced by a new, fake life (referred to as fictions). But for some people, old memories start sneaking through; a condition called Leaked Memory Syndrome, but more commonly ‘Nostalgia’. Sounds harmless, but eventually it causes catastrophic failure, and potentially death.
The main character in the book is a doctor who treats patients for LMS. His latest patient has strange images popping up, but he doesn’t seem to want to be treated to remove these stray images. As well, a government agency is intensely interested in the man. Meanwhile, a reporter who travelled to the last remaining ‘third world’ area (probably Africa, although never fully identified), and was apparently killed there, only to turn up later as a member of a terrorist organization that takes a bus of tourists hostage. She comes across as very Patty Hearst.
For the first half of the book, everything seems pretty straightforward. Even the journal entries that the doctor writes, imagining what happened to the young reporter, with constantly evolving stories, don’t really seem all that deep.
But then things take a turn, and it really started me thinking. How well could these rewritten pasts work in the long term? After all, while the new person remembers a past, they don’t really have a family. They are all faked, so you can never meet them. It seems very isolating. And then there’s the resentment of the young. There are protests from G0s (never rejuvenated) who can’t find jobs and will never inherit money or homes. Then there’s the poor who could never afford the process. And what about religion when you don’t have to think about reincarnation or afterlives?
Combine those questions with the questionable behaviour of the first world towards the third world (seal them off, let them rot, but let tourists go ogle them), and the story started feeling more and more relevant as time went on.
By the end, I was seeing all sorts of parallels to contemporary life and the ‘real’ world. It became very intense, and while I never might have picked up the book on my own, I am glad that I read it. ...more
Fifteen Dogs is a book that I considered when it originally came out, but never got around to reading. The fact that it is part of thPosted on my blog
Fifteen Dogs is a book that I considered when it originally came out, but never got around to reading. The fact that it is part of this year's Canada Read's contest finally got me to pick it up. I just finished reading it, and I am really not sure how I feel about it.
The book starts with the Greek gods Hermes and Apollo in a bar, which affects the people around them in interesting ways that really does fit in with the pettiness that Greek mythology portrays them with. They get into a bet about whether another species would be happy with human level intelligence. They head out and end up at a vetinary clinic, and they give the fifteen dogs inside intelligence. The parameter they set for the bet is whether or not one of those dogs would die happy.
(view spoiler)[Note the part about die. In the end, every single dog dies. Some die within a day or two, others live for years. Some die violently and in other unpleasant ways. If you didn't like A Dog's Purpose, you really should avoid this book. (hide spoiler)]
Much like humans, some of the dogs are good, and some are bad. One is a poet, one is a philosopher, one is pretty weasely. On the other hand, they react as *dogs*, not humans in dog bodies. They were given human *level* intelligence, not *human* intelligence.
As well, the gods interfere in various ways, wanting to influence the outcome of the bet, the way the gods do (remember the story of the Trojan War?).
In the end, I'm not sure I enjoyed the book, but it definitely affected me. I was impressed in how alien the minds of the dogs could be. The last couple of chapters did make me cry (which is a pain, since I am an ugly crier, and it leaves me with painful sinuses and a headache). I'm not sure I would vote for it to win Canada Reads, but it definitely deserves the consideration....more