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review 2017-08-08 21:24
'The Hours' well spent
The Hours - Michael Cunningham

This short book was winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1999 and takes as its start point the graphic suicide of Virginia Woolf. The tragic loss of one of the leading lights of the 'Bloomsbury Group' in 1941, finally succumbing to the fatal depths of recurrent depression at the age of just 59, conferred a profound loss on the cultural health of a nation, yet posterity has rightly lauded the author's legacy. In his homage to Woolf, Michael Cunningham interweaves the thoughts and experiences of three female characters: Mrs Woolf (Virginia), Mrs Brown (Laura) and Mrs Dalloway (Clarissa), Located in 1923 London, 1949 L.A. and 1990s New York , respectively. Virginia is mulling over ideas for the fictional character yet to inhabit her most famous novel, while Clarissa and Laura are spending a day in preparation for a celebration in their respective times and place. Successive chapters rotate between the discrete storylines  culminating in an unusual cross-over in the end, but the snapshots also draw on some common themes, which beset each of the protagonists, irrespective of the prevailing social norms in 'their' time.


What rescues the book from a sense of cerebral indulgence on the part of the writer though, is the moving beauty of the language and as the reader quaffs down the pages like a smooth, warming liqueur, it is good to savour the interplay of quite sumptuous tones. It also remains consistent with the 'stream of consciousness' storytelling deployed by Woolf in 'Mrs Dalloway' (published 1925), albeit this example is not entirely satisfying, given its fragmentary nature and slightly bitter aftertaste


Still, the takeaway theme for me from this book is the individual capacity, indeed responsibility, to create and shape one's life, within the context of the prevailing time and to weigh the personal sacrifices and gains that attend our choices. Some of the metaphors were also interesting, for example, some mistakes such as cake-making are retrievable, others require stoicism to deal with the consequences, but when it comes down to it, life and love is fundamentally fragile...and fickle.

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text 2017-02-14 16:16
Ama Alchemy of Love Novel Website
A-Ma Alchemy of Love - Nataša Pantović Nuit

Ama is the Bodhisattva of our story, she is materialized in a female body, during 16th century Macao (China), with a life of an ordinary person, she represents a female that sleeps in every one of us, Yin of Creation, a wisdom guide that with her purity extinguishes thirst of our souls’ longings.  She lives at a time of amazing changes within Macao that is in the center of this spiritual spiral that is to influence generations to come.


Ama Alchemy of Love about enlightenment



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text 2016-12-23 02:10
Reading progress update: I've read 40%.
Rape: The Politics of Consciousness - Susan Griffin

Reading this a little at a time: I meant to blow through it all, but I'm too heartbroken at times.   This moves from factual - which I can deal with better - to poetical.   I weep at the times when she describes how rape can affect a woman, and I weep when she describes the road to recovery.   I just want to weep a lot now that we're in one of the more flowery parts - I mean the poetical language and talking in broader terms rather than using statistics here.  


It's become a much rougher read for me, and I read until I feel I can stomach no more, and then I read something else.   I'd feel cowardly, except the coward's way out - for me - would be to push through past my comfort zone too  hard and fast.  I know myself to know that my brain is fantastic at repressing when I do this. 


I want to take my time, I want to let this sink in and settle, and I want to remember this book.

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text 2016-12-18 22:09
Reading progress update: I've read 13%.
Rape: The Politics of Consciousness - Susan Griffin

I'm not giving up on this: far from it.   It's just I'm spending time with my family and I find that it's more upsetting reading this with them present.   I don't know if I can pinpoint why, but I suspect that the vague sense that it's unsettling comes from them being the best people I know - and this book describing some of the scum of the Earth.   It feels battling to them, in a way, to read this in front of them. 


Does it make sense?   No, not really.   But I feel that way and I don't like reading it in front of them.   As important as this book feels, and is, spending time with my family is more important - so I'm putting it aside for tonight. 


We're watching the football game for those interested. 

I do like this book so much I went back and got the one book of hers I hadn't grabbed in the freebies.   (There are three up there up until tomorrow.)

I also grabbed a whole bunch more of their nonfiction because I really, really love how this is written.   It's an excellent book, but very rough to read. 

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text 2016-12-18 20:48
Reading progress update: I've read 11%.
Rape: The Politics of Consciousness - Susan Griffin

Absolutely fascinating look at the politics of rape.   This doesn't focus on the psychology behind why men rape, but rather the cultural allowances that encourage rape, and how women are blamed for their own rapes.   


It talks about how the double standards where men are allowed to be promiscuous, and women are not, also make it allowable to hold a woman's sexual past against her when attempting to prosecute her rapist, while allowing the men to be spared the interrogation of if they've raped before. 


I'm pretty sure at least some of this has changed, because this was written, as far as I can see, in 1979.   I picked it up as a freebie during the Open Road Media giveaway - 5,000 books, this amongst them - and thought this would be too depressing to get through in one go.  


Instead, I find myself fascinated because of the way the author writes: she's frank, even when talking about what she imagined rapists looked and sounded like before she'd had a boy a couple years older try to rape her.   She's very factual, describing what has happened to women - using details when they're relevant to the point she's making - but not so much so that this is dry, or worse that it lacks compassion for the women.   It is slightly depressing that so many things are the same, but I find myself bolstered by the community of women the internet has created, where we're allowed to talk about these double standards.   (Although these double standards leak to the internet: men are allowed to 'troll' with a 'boys will be boys' attitude.   Primus forbid we speak out against this, or are snarky about works of arts and literature, because then we're bitches, though.   However, as the author described with passivity, women were once both preyed upon by men, and also forced to go to them for protection.   It heartens me to see women encouraging and bolstering other women, especially online where this same double standard is being trotted out in a different form.)


I can't help but think about a certain man who white-knighted for women, while trashing them if they dared criticize him, or anyone he liked, or was rude.   We were either 'good' girls to be protected or 'bad' girls to be punished.   If we were bad, well, we got what we deserved in the end, with a little winky face.   (The author talks about 'bad' girls and 'bad' victims and how if you're not a virgin, you can't be defiled and you deserve what you get.   No, it's not exactly the same, but a lot of the same mindset comes into play.   And proves that the double standards for women are alive and well.   Boys will be boys, but women are either nice or bitches.   They must just have some bigger *replace sexual with mean-spirited* need/urges/whatever word you use for it, amiright?)


I haven't been sexually assaulted.  I haven't even had a man really attempt to sexually assault me, although I haven't been spared sexual harassment.   Not at all, guys.   I'm still incredibly lucky and this book makes me realize how lucky I am with a sharpness I haven't felt.  And it makes me angry, too, that our culture allows this kind of mindset to continue on and on and on.   And to show it's about culture, the author uses an example from another woman's work, where she talks about a culture in which rape is mystifying because they don't raise their boys to be men who will think that they need that kind of violence to show power.   It's almost inconceivable because so much of our culture glorifies this attitude, but dammit, it makes me angry. 


And, you know what?   Men who use aggressive, sexual language, who joke about wanting people to be raped, who describe how they want women to suffer physically because of something they've done?   You're encouraging this.   You're telling people it's okay, because the thought of a woman's physical torment is less important than your freedom to terrify and humiliate her.  I think 'you disgust me' is not strong enough here. 


It's all tied into the ideas of masculinity - strong, aggressive, and also protectors of those they commit those aggressions against - and femininity which is passive.  And which the author also talks about a great deal. 

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