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review 2018-08-18 16:38
The examination of others that leads to the self
Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison is another title from the list of 100 books compiled for the Great American Read. (Have you voted today?) I feel somewhat chagrined that I had never heard of this classic until I checked out this list. The reader follows a nameless narrator who tells the story of his days in college while living in the South to his move to New York City. As this is set in 1930-40 the racial/social divide is still quite stark even in the North and the author doesn't pull any punches in that regard (i.e. expect violence). The beginning starts out with our narrator underground and in hiding although we have no idea why. In explanation, he weaves a story full of brutality, bigotry, backstabbing, and political machinations. He leaves college and goes to NYC where he is recruited into the Brotherhood which purports to strive for equality among all men regardless of race. Events unfold quickly and he fully believes and embraces the cause. The fomenting of racial riots are underway in Harlem (his district) and at this pivotal moment he is pulled out of his district and sent on another assignment downtown. The reader is kept on their toes and always wondering (as the narrator is) just which side is the "right" side and what is truly motivating the men he has come to trust in this (to him) foreign city. What is the "true" self and how does one embrace it? Invisible Man chews this question over while telling a story of one man coming to terms with the racism (both overt and covert) of society which is told so convincingly that you'll forget it's a work of fiction at times. This is a dense book and took me far longer to read than I expected. Several interesting points were made and quite a few powerful passages but overall it doesn't rate higher than a 6/10 for me.

 

A compelling and thought provoking point:

"For history records the patterns of men's lives, they say: Who slept with whom and with what results; who fought and who won and who lived to lie about it afterwards. ...only those events that the recorder regards as important that are put down, these lies his keepers keep their power by." - pg 439

 

There are quite a few covers but I like this one best.[Source: National Book Foundation]

 

 

What's Up Next: Comics Squad: Recess! by Jennifer L. Holm, Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Dan Santat, & Raina Telgemeier

 

What I'm Currently Reading: ???

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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url 2018-08-07 12:14
Leonardo's "To-Do" List
Da Vinci's Ghost: Genius, Obsession, and How Leonardo Created the World in His Own Image - Toby Lester

(Source)

 

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review 2018-08-01 18:45
THE AUCTIONEER by Joan Samson, narrated by Matt Godfrey
The Auctioneer: Valancourt 20th Century Classics - Matt Godfrey,Valancourt Books,Joan Samson

 

 Evil in a small town is one of my favorite horror tropes and books like this are the reason why!

 

Harlowe, New Hampshire is a small town surrounded by small farms. It's a tightly knit community, or at least the townsfolk believe it is, until an outsider comes to town and things begin to unravel.

 

Perly Dunsmore is an auctioneer. Taking over a recently available old mansion in town, (due to the death of the previous owner), Perly sets about "improving" Harlowe by holding auctions to benefit the police department. These auctions are funded by the generous donations of the townspeople. Until they're no longer able to do so, (eventually there's nothing left), in which case they are gently and quietly threatened to come up with more donations, or ELSE. Will Harlowe survive these auctions or will it rise up against Perly in protest? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

I've been thinking about what this novel was really about and I'm still not quite sure. The strongest feeling I have about it relates to that old poem: "First they came for the Socialists...", but that's not quite right. Then I was wondering if it was really about fascism-the auctions after all first funded a police department, to the point of having almost as many officers and deputies as there were citizens in the entire town. But that doesn't quite fit the bill either, especially in light of the finale. Then I finally gave up the analyzing and endeavored to enjoy this novel for the yummy, atmospheric piece of horror fiction that it was.

 

If this is the type of story that usually works for you, (quiet, small town horror a la Tryon's HARVEST HOME, or maybe Michael Rowe's ENTER, NIGHT), I highly recommend you give this book a shot! I listened to it on audio, narrated by Matt Godfrey, whose voicing of Ma Moore I will never forget.

 

Atmospheric, full of tension and palpable fear, THE AUCTIONEER still holds up as an excellent tale, even now, 40 years later. I give it my highest recommendation!

 

*I received this audiobook gratis from the narrator in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it! Further, I consider Matt Godfrey to be a friend, although we've never met in person. This has not affected the content of this review.*

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review 2018-07-17 18:23
STRANGER IN THE HOUSE: Examining War's Impact Upon Women & Families
Stranger in the House: Women's Stories of Men Returning from the Second World War - Julie Summers

"STRANGER IN THE HOUSE: Women's Stories of Men Returning from the Second World War" is made up of multi-layered stories spanning generations of the adjustments women in Britain had to make upon the return of their husbands or sweethearts from war.   Many of these men had served in the military in places as diverse as France, Italy, India, Singapore, and Java during various stages of the war.   Indeed, a large majority of these men ended up as POWs of the Germans (most of them ended up in prisoner-of-war camps in Germany and Poland for almost 5 years) or the Japanese.   The ones who were prisoners of the Japanese suffered the worst in terms of physical and psychological abuse.

 

Many of these stories I found deeply moving.   Julie Summers is to be commended for her research into an aspect of the war and its impact on families that has been little explored by historians.     It is my hope that a similar book will be written, detailing the impact of the Second World War on returning American veterans and their families.

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review 2018-06-26 18:57
A love story you won't soon forget
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer,Annie Barrows

I struck gold because I didn't think I'd fall so deeply in love with a book so quickly after finishing up The American Way of Death Revisited but then along cameThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows & Mary Ann Shaffer. GUYS. This book was a joy to read from start to finish. I gobbled it up in 2 days and then felt absolutely bereft when it was over. If you enjoyed 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff (this is the reason I picked it up) then you will love this book too. Told in letters and telegrams this is the story of a group of people living in a small town in the Channel Islands called Guernsey and their interactions with a Londoner (and writer) named Juliet. Juliet had made her name (except it was actually not her name but a pen name) writing a popular humor column during WWII but at its close (and the beginning of our story) we find her in a bit of a writing rut and looking for her next challenge. This is when she receives a letter from a man in Guernsey who has found a book about Charles Lamb with her name written inside the front cover. This is the beginning of her interest in the place, its people, and its creation of a literary society which saw them through the war and their occupation by German soldiers. While it starts with correspondence between Juliet and Dawsey (the man with the book) it soon blossoms into back-and-forth communication with the other members of the Society (and a few Islanders hellbent on its dissolution). A common thread runs through much of their remembrances of the occupation and the start of the Society and it seems to center around Elizabeth McKenna who while not an Islander came to play a pivotal role in so many of their lives. There were quite a few "WHOA" and "THAT explains it!" moments while reading this book (as well as quite a few tears I ain't gonna lie). I think it's impossible not to fall in love with this book and its characters. 10/10 and absolutely gutted there won't be more books written by Shaffer in the future.

 

PS Someone informed me they adapted this for film and I AM LIVING FOR IT. (Lily James is one of my faves so ya'll know I'm gonna be watching this at my earliest convenience.)

 

What's Up Next: Short by Holly Goldberg Sloan

 

What I'm Currently Reading: I don't even know anymore

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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