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review 2016-08-07 20:09
Classic top 100 novel!
Catch-22 - Joseph Heller

Classic satirical take on the futility of war and the chasm between the accompanying rhetoric and the reality of conflict. Wonderfully witty and thought-provoking, Heller serves up one of the top 100 novels of modern literature, a 'must read' book, which has the quality to remain significant over time, if not to be viewed as quite profound.

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/1521167286
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review 2016-05-05 11:00
A Woman’s Misery in a Male World: The House of Ulloa by Emilia Pardo Bazán
The House of Ulloa (Penguin Classics) - Emilia Pardo Bazán,Paul O'Prey
Los Pazos De Ulloa - Emilia Pardo Bazán

As I already remarked two years ago, when I wrote a biography of Emilia Pardo Bazán (1851-1921) on my main book blog Edith’s Miscellany (»»» read her author’s portrait there), the important Spanish author unlike her male counterparts from English-speaking countries and France began to fall into oblivion rather soon after she gained considerable fame for her work. Several of her books have been translated into English. Two of them are her most famous novel The House of Ulloa from 1886, which has been reissued in English translation only in 2013, and its often overlooked sequel Mother Nature from 1887. As an example of Spanish Naturalist writing above all the first deserves a closer look.

 

The House of Ulloa is set towards the end of the reign of Spanish Queen Isabel II, more precisely just before the liberal revolution of 1868. Father Julián Alvarez enters into service with Don Pedro Moscoso who has a remote country estate in Galicia and is generally known as marquis of Ulloa although in reality the title belongs to a cousin living in Santiago. The young priest is supposed to take care of the marquis’ affairs sorting papers in the library that are in a complete mess, but to his great dismay he finds that his private life is in disorder too and the estate threatened by ruin. In fact, his employer turns out to be a man of loose morals who openly consorts with his mistress Sabel working in the kitchen and treats his illegitimate four-year-old no better than his hounds. Moreover, his daily life is filled with little more than hunting and drinking. When pious and naïve Father Julián asks Don Pedro to change his ways, he admits that he can’t because his steward Primitivo, the father of Sabel, would never allow it and has the power to turn all peasants of the region against him. Nonetheless, the priest hopes to lead his employer back on the path of virtue and suggests that he passes some time in Santiago to choose a wife from his Cousin Manuel’s daughters. Thus he marries Marcelina, called Nucha, and brings her to the house of Ulloa as his wife and new mistress of the estate, but the discreet young woman soon realises that she isn’t accepted and that her husband goes on with his life as if she weren’t there. She suffers and makes Father Julián her confidant. The priest, though, is powerless and can only watch what is going on. Meanwhile, Don Pedro gets involved into politics which at the time is inseparably linked with corruption and risks his estate…

 

In this naturalist masterpiece the nineteenth-century author Emilia Pardo Bazán skilfully interweaves the main story of predominantly male decadence and corruption in politics as well as society with a feminist critique of a patriarchal world that submits women of all classes to a sexual double standard, violence and abuse in the name of Catholic religion and often with the help of clerics. Although the novel touches very serious topics and has a not less serious plot, its tone is not only gloomy like the wintry landscape of Galicia but also full of wit and clever irony. Moreover, it’s a timeless work of literature that has lost none of its power and meaning in this modern world. In other words, The House of Ulloa is one of those almost forgotten classics that deserve being read more widely outside its country of origin Spain.

 

Nota bene:

The original Spanish versions of Emilia Pardo Bazán’s work have long entered into the public domain and many of them as well as some older translations are available for free via the Virtual Library Miguel de Cervantes, on Feedbooks, on Project Gutenberg, on Wikisource, and several other sites of the kind.

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review 2016-04-07 00:40
Another Enjoyable Read by Lynn Galli
Clichéd Love: A Satirical Romance - Lynn Galli

I admit it, I'm a sucker for Lynn Galli books so when I got an email that this one had been released I immediately bought it.  I like her books.  I like her easy style of writing.  I tend to like the main characters.  I also enjoy the fact that characters from prior stories tend to pop up in current ones.  When they do they are in a supporting role and don't detract or distract from the main story, but it's fun to catch a glimpse of characters I've enjoyed and liked.

 

In this particular story the three main characters are Iris, Vega, and Lane.  Vega is a free lance journalist who is writing about how couples met and fell in love.  Oh, and she's pretty cynical and I could completely relate to her mental snark as some of the women talked about their love stories.   

 

My favorite line in the book was "Adorable did not fit a thirty-something woman who looked like she'd been around the block so many times she couldn't remember which house was hers anymore."  I'm fairly certain the people on the plane thought I was insane as I was laughing to myself.

 

It's during these love story interviews where a number of past characters show up. They provide some color and a backdrop to the main story and I was reminded of their quirks and in some instances how annoying they could be as in "if I was friends with them I would have smacked them".

 

Once again I was not disappointed with the final product.  This is an easy, enjoyable read with interesting and likeable characters.  My only complaint, which is the same every time I read one of Lynn Galli's books: Now I have the urge to go back and re-read some of my favorites of hers and I have so many other "To Read" on my list, but I know I'll be re-reading "Finally" and "Life Rewired" again.  This means I'll also probably re-read "Mending Defects"

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text 2015-07-02 07:14
June Roundup
Gilead - Marilynne Robinson
Citizen: An American Lyric - Claudia Rankine
The Secret Lives of Buildings: From the Ruins of the Parthenon to the Vegas Strip in Thirteen Stories - Edward Hollis
Land of Love and Drowning: A Novel - Tiphanie Yanique
A Modest Proposal and Other Satirical Works - Jonathan Swift
Hunger - Knut Hamsun,George Egerton
Honey in the Horn - Harold L. Davis Honey in the Horn - Harold L. Davis
Tiny Houses - Mimi Zeiger
Early Warning: A novel - Jane Smiley
Truesight - David Stahler Jr.

Total books: 10

Fiction: 7

Nonfiction: 2

Poetry/essays: 2

 

1001 list books: 2

Pulitzer winners: 2

 

Not bad, a good mix of things.

 

Favorite read of the month: Land of Love and Drowning

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review 2015-06-13 06:26
A Modest Proposal and other satirical works
A Modest Proposal and Other Satirical Works - Jonathan Swift

This small collection contains 5 of Swift's satirical pieces. "A Modest Proposal" is definitely the best of them. It is strong, the writing is deadpan, and it is also the easiest for a modern reader to understand. It is excellent. I do know that people read it and don't understand it is satire. It is satire! Swift is not actually suggesting people eat children. (The ridiculous policies for Ireland's poor came during the potato famine--and even then the eating of children was not a policy.)

 

Other essays in this collection:

The Battle of the Books (sections are missing; references many of Swift's contemporaries, who are generally unknown now)

A Meditation Upon a Broomstick (short and clever)

A Discourse Concerning the Mechanical Operation of the Spirit (not my cup of tea, but I am not sure I have the background needed to fully understand)

An Argument Against Abolishing Christianity in England (this was my second favorite and is very tongue in cheek; I am not clear how Swift actually felt, or if it even matters)

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