In her newest novel Shafak explores many of the themes she has already touched upon in previous novels in an innovative manner as the★★★★✰ 4.25 stars
In her newest novel Shafak explores many of the themes she has already touched upon in previous novels in an innovative manner as the narrative bridges the gap between the life and death of its protagonist. There is something about Shafak's prose that really resonates with me. She can address serious and complex issues without jeopardising the creativity of her story or the nuances of her characters.
After she is killed Tequila Leila is not quite dead-dead. Her consciousness seems to 'survive' long enough for her to revisit some of her memories. In each chapter Leila remembers a certain event in her life, however mundane it might be, and the narrative beautifully conveys the feelings, smells, and landscapes that make up these memories. On the one hand, through these memories, we get to know Leila and watch as she forms relationships outside of her familial ones, on the other, we glimpse the city of Istanbul, some of its history and its many different faces. Ultimately, in spite of the tragedies and traumas that Leila or her friends experience, there is love and hope to be found in this beautiful book. The story brims with empathy and humanity, depicting the distressing yet beautiful life of Leila....more
As with A Closed and Common Orbit I find myself liking her scientific discussions however the conversational narrative makes for a very dumbedDNF 30%
As with A Closed and Common Orbit I find myself liking her scientific discussions however the conversational narrative makes for a very dumbed down content. Although the title does include the word 'taught' I wasn't expecting such a condescending narrator. And similarly to A Closed and Common Orbit adult characters are portrayed as being rather infantile (they remind me of the teletubbies). If you are the type of reader who loves terms such as 'safe-space', 'comfortable', and 'hot chocolate' you might actually end up enjoying this. ...more
Blood Orange left me feeling...not much at all. It might be because of the narrative, which is propelled by a protagonist★★★✰✰ 2.5 stars (rounded up to 3)
Blood Orange left me feeling...not much at all. It might be because of the narrative, which is propelled by a protagonist who is the embodiment of a train-wreck, or it might be because of Tyce attempting to gross readers out trough lazily nauseating scenes, but this novel just seems to hit the one note. It focuses on three or four equally frustrating characters who behave or say things that are almost excessively—if not goofily—unpleasant. While the elements of the story are standards of the domestic thriller, the writing offers them in a very graphic way. Combining vivid imagery with a taut prose not only does Tyce bring Alison's experiences to life but she also gives a transfixing edge to her narrative. While reading this I felt an almost inevitable dread. Reading about Alison...it was like watching a car-crash in slow motion. More than once I was fooled into thinking that Alison could not sink lower than what she already had...well, she showed me! For the most part of the novel Alison keeps drinking herself stupid, engages in an affair with a colleague who keeps treating her liker crap, and promises her husband that she will 'do better'. For some obscure reason Alison is good at her job. She is a criminal law barrister who has just received her first murder case. This case takes is on the sideline of Alison's narrative. The story is more concerned with Alison's affair, her marriage, and the vulgar texts she has started receiving than her case. Although the story tells us that Alison is good at what she does...well, I found that hard to believe. I couldn't even really think of her as a 'workaholic'. Most of the time she just wants an excuse to hang out with Patrick. I get that she is meant to be pathetic and spineless and just a sort...of a walking trashcan but at a certain point I started wondering just how thick can person be. A lot of what she does is motivated by immature desires ('I want Patrick', 'I want to be a good mum', 'I want to work on this case' ). She thinks things in a very simple manner, and to begin with I thought that she was being 'ironic' but no, she actually thinks like child. Alison's voice is so monotone. She is not a nuanced portrayal of a married woman who is cheating on her husband and drinks too much. If you are looking for a layered and believable character...look elsewhere. There is this half-hearted attempt to make her seem like she knows just how terrible her marriage is by making her identify with the case she is working on (a case in which a wife has stabbed to death her husband) but it is done in such a blatantly matter-of-fact way that I never believed that Alison possessed the awareness and or perspective to notice the strong similarities between her marriage and the one of her case. Not much happens but I did find myself almost hypnotised by these horrible people. Alison is so passive that a lot of the time I actually hoped that someone would slap or harm her. Her solipsistic drives cause her to be in a miserable situation and I think that the epilogue tries to paint her immaturity, selfishness, and dangerous behaviour as being someone else's fault...
Ultimately the novel fails to be dark. There are weak attempts to make the story bold ranging from description of gross things (there was an almost an excessive amount of scenes revolving around Alison stepping on 'piss', touching 'shit', getting covered in 'puke', cooking food that looked like 'sick') or having characters degrade themselves and or others. Although Tyce's prose could be rather compelling her characters were almost laughably dislikable and her story leads to simplistic resolution.
Initially, I was torn between reading the English and the Italian translations of « Arrête avec tes mensonges ». I settled for the Italian★★★✰✰ 3.5 stars
Initially, I was torn between reading the English and the Italian translations of « Arrête avec tes mensonges ». I settled for the Italian because —to my mind at least— it seems closer to the original French language (at least they are both Romance languages ). Anyhow, I found this a very personal and intimate portrayal of first love. Besson's elegant prose could occasionally become too impressionistic for my liking but the latter part of this autobiographical work was deeply moving. Besson's examination of his own first love depicts a really distinctive picture. With a few carefully chosen words he singles out the loneliness, contrition, and jealousy experienced by his teenage-self. The few sex scenes included in his otherwise delicate and poignant remembrance have an almost jarring effect. Sometimes Besson could get lost in his own language. There are moments that border close to being stream of consciousness...which do not always 'work'. Overall, I enjoyed this. The latter part of this short 'memoir' had a lot of beautiful and painful moments. If you don't mind reading of the somewhat abstract meanderings of one's mind, « Arrête avec tes mensonges » might be your perfect cup of tea.
I don't mind plotless novels or meandering stories but there has to be something that holds my attention. Some of my favourite books feature★★✰✰✰ 2 stars
I don't mind plotless novels or meandering stories but there has to be something that holds my attention. Some of my favourite books feature characters with little to no backstory, and simply focus on a time of their life or certain feelings that they experience throughout the course of their life. What I am 'getting at' is that I started Walking on the Ceiling knowing that I wasn't going to get a straightforward story. However, even if I was prepared for a more 'metaphysical' type of novel, I wasn't expecting such a pointlessly self-indulgent narrative. The nonlinear timeline makes the story all the more irritating. There is this narrator who could as well be nameless given how boring she is. Her only characteristic is that she lies or acts in obscure ways for no reason whats-over. Although she is presented as this deep and complex character who is grappling with her past, she is a self-pitying and singularly uninteresting individual. A few months ago I read The Far Field which featured a very 'remote' main character, but there her self-restraint worked well. I believed her and why she was unable to express herself to others characters and the readers. But here....the protagonist comes across as detestably obnoxious whilst claiming that she is a selfless and 'lost' person. To top it all off she is extremely judgemental towards others and provides no explanation for her 'remoteness'. The advantages she had in life are swept aside to focus on her 'sad' parents. Boo-hoo. The different timelines are confounding and all this background adds little emotion to the narrative. The chapters tended to end rather abruptly, often cutting through the flow of the story or interrupting the narrator's contemplation or thoughts. The thing I did enjoy was the way Istanbul was portrayed. The city seemed far more nuanced than anything else in this novel. Overall, this was trying too hard to be something abstract and introspective. It would have worked with a compelling narrator; regardless if this character had likeable or dislikable attributes, as long as they were believable and fleshed out their story could have been a cohesive and thoughtful introspective journey, rather than this patently elusive mess.