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review 2017-07-23 05:51
Nothing happy about it, yet...
The Gunslinger - Stephen King

Well, I... Shit. This is ambitious as fuck, in the fiction and existential department.

I don't like Roland, and I get that lofty ideals are useless from his position. But it's... He reminds me of that adage, the third part of which is that a man with only one reason to live is the most dangerous man in the world. His type of drive, his dogged pursuit, puts me in mind of a slow going bulldozer, and also of persistence hunting. All scary concepts. And his name, wasn't there an old poem...

It was dreary, and weird, and heart-breaking. And I'm puzzled and will continue reading.

 

This finishes my BLopoly double roll, and puts me almost halfway the 24 in 48 readathon.

 

 

The seven hour stretch was this book in almost one sitting. I had to take a break after Jake.

 

I'll roll again in a bit and maybe continue onto the next book. The neighbor is having a loud party with karaoke.

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review 2017-07-21 07:17
Other-Wordly
Other-Wordly: Words Both Strange and Lovely from Around the World - Kelsey Garrity-Riley,Yee-Lum Mak

I'm a sucker for words; especially unusual words, or foreign-language words that have no straight translation into English, and the beauty of this book's cover made it impossible to resist it, even though I already have similar books.

 

Luckily this small but beautifully illustrated collection of words are almost entirely different from those found in the books I already have and the author also included English words that are rarely used or hardly known (Deipnosophist, n, someone skilled in small talk or in conversing around the dining table).

 

Bonus points to the author and publisher for including not only an index of the words themselves, but an index of the words by language.  Demerit points because once again nobody thought to include a pronunciation guide, and figuring out how to pronounce cwtch (Welsh, n, hug or cuddle; a safe place; the cupboard beneath the stairs) is beyond my meagre abilities to even guess.

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review 2017-07-05 23:04
Five for one
Las Armas Secretas - Julio Cortázar

I understand now why this one is classified as European lit all the time. I haven't researched it, but I'm pretty sure this one was written after Cortázar left Argentina, because the five stories in this volume are all set in Paris.

I was not that dazzled by this too much at first but then, my bar with Cortázar is "Bestiario", and that's a hard one to upstage in the wow (weird, awesome, uncomfortable, puzzling) factor.

Cartas de Mamá, leaving aside the historical parallelism that some scholar or other wants to saddle on it, was an excellent exercise on revealing the past through the present. Many authors could learn a thing or two about how to do back-story. Of course, back-story is the whole issue here: sins and regrets that turn into silences, and that end that is half fantasy, half delayed acknowledgement. And the great opening line:

 

"Muy bien hubiera podido llamarse libertad condicional."

 

Los Buenos Servicios was a very scathing look at how moneyed people use "the help", many times frivolously, and often callously, and how hollow the "throw money at it" approach is, which is more jarring  (and ridiculous) from the poised view of Francinet. She had more class than any of the cast.

Las Babas del Diablo is a POV nightmare. As it tends to happen when I read magical-realism, I enter a weird state where I'm paying close attention, but at the same time relax my mind and just go with it. Like suspension of disbelief, but I just suspend logic and sometimes even grammar. I find it pays off with many complex or weird plots, or speculative fiction too. Triggers galore in this one, and one VERY uncomfortable suspicion.

"El Perseguidor", now here is the jewel of the book, and the point where I started to love this collection. It was absolutely engrossing. I understand why it has been known to be edited as "El Perseguidor y otras historias". This one got to me, emotionally-wise, and I'm not even quite sure why. I guess it's that desperate search.

"Las Armas Secretas" you know how it's going to go almost from go. Or maybe it's that I've read enough Cortázar to understand the clues he leaves. Or, maybe more, this sense of having read one of his before, about a big house in San Isidro, that has similar elements, but I can't remember to which collection it belonged to contrast.

You know, the more I write, the higher I want to star this. I realize it made my brain jog, and my thoughts come back to it whenever I wasn't reading.

Not his best, but for "El Perseguidor" alone, so worth owning it. I predict re-reads.

 

And there it goes my 4th of July extra. I devoured it, lol

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review 2017-06-21 08:46
Even the title is layered
A Room with a View - E.M. Forster

I feel like I read a book twice as long as this was, not because it was heavy or difficult, but because it was so tightly woven. There were layers of meaning, and so much that could be inferred, and for such short pages, many characters get well fleshed out. No line is wasted. There is this... English brevity, I guess, that makes me recall the meandering tone of "Passage to India". Says something about what must characterize each people in Forster's mind, huh?

It is also a quiet way to depict a fast and turbulent romance, which feels weird in a "still waters run deep" kind of way. There is this three-way war going, between mind, heart and manners (or is it pride?, self-image? calcified indecision?), it is evident when you get to the lying chapters, and the weather tends to illustrate it, but before then, before Lucy looses her temper at Miss Bartlet at the beginning of them out of revelatory fright, it's all so sedate. On the outside; Lucy's facing the exterior gets a companion chapter on "The disaster within". She's running from love: it is scary, exiting, something unknown, and unrecognized, and social mores don't help her in disentangling from the muddle.

On the side, we get some awesome darts thrown into time old hypocrisy, such as how emancipated women are perceived or "accepted"; how men think women think about men; people abroad; obligation as it pertains to favors out of honesty (Emerson) or self-serving humbleness (Charlotte); and bunch of stuff I either posted already, or have marked down and can't speedily condense here. In case the main course wasn't enough.

Seriously, this guy had a way with words.

 

Note: I have to get another copy. Mine was abysmally translated. I turned to a digital version in original English after 20 pages or so. If you read in Spanish, avoid translator Marta Pessarrodona. She's a menace and a beast. Word confusions (she translated kitten instead of kite, for example), wrong conjugations (translated "would have" as present simple), change of punctuation, which changes pace drastically and unnecessarily (specifically, Cecil's entrance is most egregious), change of meaning of whole paragraphs (to the point of reading as the opposite). And it ts only what I caught just searching for the paragraphs I wanted to mark down as memorable while reading the digital copy! Much of this I could not understand of someone supposedly getting paid. It would have been more difficult to invent as she did.

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review 2017-05-31 01:20
Review: Scientific Secrets for Self Control (The Great Courses)
Scientific Secrets for Self-Control - Professor C. Nathan DeWall

Quick review for a quick read. This isn't the first "Great Courses" audiobook I've listened to, but it was one of the ones I was most disappointed by. A shame because the topic is very fascinating in terms of how self-control is regulated by the brain. It touches on several topics with support from several studies: brain injury and how it affects self control, mental energy and fatigue, dietary influences in brain energy, making decisions, how fatigue factors into difficult topics, self control and finances, etc. I found that I wasn't really the biggest fan of the audio lecturer. His dictation didn't feel immersive/enthusiastic about the topic and the transitions between topics weren't as smooth from lecture to lecture as I would've hoped. I did have a few takeaways for the knowledge base and topics this series of lecture covered, but not enough for the time and energy that it took for me to move through this audio course (which was well over 3 hours).

Overall score: 2/5 stars.

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