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review 2020-04-10 21:31
Charming and warm
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer,Annie Barrows

It is odd, but for all this book made me cry, I laughed too, and it left me happy. It very much IS a feel good book.

For all the bleak things that the anecdotes in these letters tell you about, there is warmth and humanity underpinning them. Through bombings, gun enforced curfews, children sent away for years, captives and capturers starving alongside, and concentration camps, there are books, and there is friendship, and dignity, and courage.

 

I don't know that it is a perfect book, or even that the plot is that tight (what plot), but there is a bunch of lovely and strange, and even ridiculous, characters being good friends and sharing the good and the bad, all because of books and one absent woman. And that's good. It feels cathartic, and lovely. It's... restorative.

 

I quite enjoyed the experience and I'm glad I took the recommendation.

 

And hey, I got a new favorite poem, because of this first stanza quoted (and I don't usually even enjoy poetry much, but this one resonates)

 

IS it so small a thing
To have enjoy'd the sun,
To have lived light in the spring,
To have loved, to have thought, to have done;
To have advanced true friends, and beat down baffling foes;

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review 2020-03-23 03:55
Comforting Space Opera
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet - Becky Chambers

That was such a cute comforting read.

 

At first, I was a bit "meh", but it grew on me as I read. There is nothing groundbreaking or uniquely though provoking here, but more of a hodgepodge-crew-as-family gone on a long job, told in chapters of a more or less episodic nature. It's a bit like watching a half-season series in book form.

 

I liked that it was kinda corny, that there were a lot of different types of relationships and love forms, and that on the whole, it was positive and hopeful. A bit naive, a bit anvilicious, but exactly the cheery soup that you need sometimes.

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review 2019-08-29 10:28
A tale is a tail
Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel García Márquez,Edith Grossman

Several stray thoughts I had while choosing the tags for this one:

 

It's not really romance-done-right. While the title is scrupulous, there is little romance to all the types of "loves" (because there is always that doubt, of what is and is not love, what is selfish use, or abuse, and whether that frontier is concrete) weaved into the tapestry of the story. Most are too real or too fantastical, or grotesque (and still real, maybe more so), and the ways they happen are written just so; with all the anxiety, the terror, hesitation, thoughtlessness, doubts, crudity or day-to-day boredom that merits the occasion.

 

Wanted to tick better-than-expected but I still don't know why I am surprised by his writing.

 

This one is not magical-realism. Actually, leaving aside One Hundred Years of Solitude , I don't know that any of his other books would fit that one. Might be the grandiose, nearly mythic proportions of the stories he pieces together in his novels.

 

 

It is an odd and frankly ambitious book. It immerses you into the story by way of an octogenarian last chapter no less, and after it wraps you in, tells you how two seventy-somethings traveled through 50 years of other loves to re-meet as lovers. It meanders through the years and the relationships, and the depictions when gathered turn into a tapestry that is nothing less than epic in scope.

 

I can't say that I truly liked any of the characters, and yet, maybe I loved them all, in their terrible intensities. They are certainly memorable.

 

As always, I take off my hat to his opening and closing sentences, to the strange feats and acrobatics he manages from the language, to the way he depicts the shiny and the rotten side by side, making something amazing and nostalgic of a nature core of reality.

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review 2019-05-09 00:12
Corny as all hell
Pollyanna - Eleanor H. Porter

But frankly, corny is good for the soul, even if jaded me felt like rolling eyes sometimes.

 

It surprised a lot of laughter out of me (specially her Annesque steamroller-chattering and the romance tangle) and quite some tears, so even if it goes to the preachy/edifying/anvilicious grouping of Heidi and An Old-fashioned Girl, I liked it better than those.

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review 2019-04-23 05:21
I was a feminist before I knew what that meant
Mujercitas: Eran Las de Antes? y Otros Escritos: (El Sexismo En Los Libros Para Chicos) - Graciela Beatriz Cabal

I loved these essays when I was 12, and I loved them all over again 20 years later. Part of it is that I've never read something of this author that I did not love. Part of it is that I happen to agree with much of what she present here.

 

Mostly, is how she writes this: The subtitle is "Sexism in children books"

 

She proceeds to write about her primary school experience, interspersing it with textbook and the accompanying "pseudo-literature" (that's what she calls it) quotations and bibliography. She never says "this was sexist", "this was racist", "this was unfair". But boy, does it come across. At points it's so ridiculous, you can't help but laugh.

 

She talks about the roles of women in fairy and traditional tales. She talks about explicitly (and sometimes either horrifyingly or hilariously, or both, missing the point) tacking on moralizing end-lines to fables. There are also among the pages pictures of old advertising posters geared toward women. OMG, those posters.

 

The last essay is one that is dear and near to my heart (and my mom, as a die-hard librarian): this pervasive idea (that needs to be killed with fire) that children literature is "a women thing", because it is more about children (clearly, a province of the female) than about literature, and on this triple insult of "women write badly" "children do not understand much" "bad literature produced by women is therefore a perfect match".

 

It is a very short book. It can be read in an hour. But is a powerful one, that charms you as you read, that stays in your mind, that makes you squint your eyes at what you read after (and oh, boy, did I tear though some fairy tales collections afterwards).

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