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text 2018-09-07 08:00
Friday Reads - September 7, 2018
Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets - Svetlana Alexievich,Bela Shayevich
The Siren - Kiera Cass
An Affair with Mr. Kennedy - Jillian Stone
A Touch of Midnight - Lara Adrian
Black Rose - Nora Roberts
Wolves at the Door - Skye Jones
Something Wicked This Way Comes - Ray Bradbury

This week I watched as my daughter (my youngest) went into her first day of Kindergarten. Now that both kids are in school, I have some time for myself which means going back to the gym and volunteering at the library again. 


I read more books this week than I did for all of August. Seems Halloween Bingo is the cure for my reading slump. But now I have to review a bunch of books. For non-Halloween Bingo reading, I am working my way through Secondhand Time. For H'ween Bingo reading, her is what I am reading this weekend and into next week:


1. The Siren by Kiera Cass (Fear...Deep square)

2. An Affair with Mr. Kennedy by Jillian Stone (Darkest London square)

3. A Touch of Midnight by Lara Adrian (Relics and Curiosities square)

4. Black Rose by Nora Roberts (Ghost Story square)

5. Wolves at the Door by Skye Jones (Cryptozoologist square)

6. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury (Creepy Carnivals square)

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review 2017-12-21 19:15
Chernobyl Prayer
Chernobyl Prayer: A Chronicle of the Future - Svetlana Alexievich,Anna Gunin,Arch Tait

I went into the Zone from the very beginning. I remember stopping in a village being struck by the silence. No birds, nothing. You walk down a street … silence. Well, of course, I knew all the cottages were lifeless, that there were no people because they had all left, but everything around had fallen silent. Not a single bird. It was the first time I had ever seen a land without birds, without mosquitoes. Nothing flying in the air.


Chernobyl Prayer consists of monologues from people, who in one way or another has been affected by Chernobyl. People, who have been evacuated from their hometowns. Clean up workers. People, who have returned to their contaminated home stead. Children, who are suffering from various diseases. Scientists, who know what to do, but doesn´t stand a chance against the decisions made by the government.


I guess I don´t have to mention that a lot of these voices have died by now. This book is such a powerful, heartbreaking, agonising, infuriating and maddening read and it gives you an insight into the mindset of the Soviet people and their dependence on the state back then. It´s hard to grasp what has happened back then. This book provides a look into the lives of the people, who have been affected by this disaster.


It´s one of the best books I have ever read and I will let a few quotes speak for themselves:


The fear didn´t set in for a long time: for almost a month everyone was on tenterhooks, waiting for them to announce that, under the leadership of the Communist party, our scientists, our heroic firemen our soldiers have once again conquered the elements. […] From all the textbooks and other books we´d read, in our minds we pictured the world as follows: military nuclear power was a sinister mushroom, cloud billowing up into the sky, like at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, incinerating people instantly; whereas peaceful nuclear energy was a harmless light bulb.


People are always comparing it to the war. War, though, you can understand. My father told me about the war, and I´ve read books about it. But this? All that is left of our village is three graveyards: one has people lying in it, the old graveyard; the second has all the cats and dogs we left behind, which were shot; the third has our homes.

They buried even our houses.


And just a few people could kill us. Not maniacs and criminals with a terrorist plan in their heads, just ordinary operators on duty that day at an atomic power station. They were probably quite decent men.


We told all these jokes. They send an American robot up to work on the roof. It operates for five minutes, then breaks down. Then a Japanese robot lasts nine minutes before it breaks down too. The Russian robot works for two hours, then, over the walkie-talkie, “Okay, Private Ivanov, you can come down now for a cigarette break.” Ha Ha!


What was needed was potassium iodide, standard iodine. Two or three drops in a half glass of fruit jelly for children, and three to four drops for adults. The reactor was burning for ten days, and for ten days the people should have been taking that.


Book themes for World Peace Day: Read a book by or about a Nobel Peace Prize winner, or about a protagonist (fictional or nonfictional) who has a reputation as a peacemaker.


Svetlana Alexievich won the Nobel Prize in 2015.



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text 2017-12-20 20:35
Reading progress update: I've read 294 out of 294 pages.
Chernobyl Prayer: A Chronicle of the Future - Svetlana Alexievich,Anna Gunin,Arch Tait

If I could give a ten star rating, this book would have deserved it. It´s fantastic.


A full review will follow.








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text 2017-12-18 19:35
Reading progress update: I've read 60 out of 294 pages.
Chernobyl Prayer: A Chronicle of the Future - Svetlana Alexievich,Anna Gunin,Arch Tait

 I´m on page 60 and two things might very well come true with this book:


  1. It might become my best book of the year.
  2. It might utterly destroy me.



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review 2017-11-27 00:00
Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets
Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets - Svetlana Alexievich,Bela Shayevich
I used to understand our way of life… The way we lived used to make sense to me… Now, I don’t understand anything anymore… None of it makes any sense at all…
Προφορικές διηγήσεις νοσταλγίας, στέρησης, υπερηφάνειας και ντροπής, απομυθοποίησης, εθνικισμού• οι ιστορίες υφαίνονται από εκατοντάδες συνεντεύξεις, από ένα παλίμψηστο φωνών και παθών λαϊκών ανθρώπων και δημιουργούν ωμή συγκίνηση, χωρίς ωστόσο να αποφεύγεται ένα μούδιασμα και μια αίσθηση επανάληψης προς το τέλος του βιβλίου.
Our idea of freedom was purely theoretical… We wanted to live like they do in the West. Listen to their music, dress like them, travel the world. “We want change… change…” sang Victor Tsoi. We had no clue what we were hurtling toward. We just kept on dreaming…
Το παρόν των ανθρώπων που μιλούν στην Alexievich, των guides όπως η ίδια τους χαρακτηρίζει, βρίσκεται σε συνεχή διάλογο με το παρελθόν, χωρίς αυτό να σημαίνει πως το τώρα είναι ιστορικά ακυρωμένο. Η Alexievich προσέρχεται στη λογοτεχνία χρησιμοποιώντας τεχνικές ιστοριογραφίας, ισχυριζόμενη πως
History is concerned solely with the facts; emotions are outside its realm of interest. In fact, it is considered improper to admit feelings into history. But I look at the world as a writer and not a historian. I am fascinated by people.
Στο κέντρο του κόσμου που στήνει η Alexievich, λοιπόν, βρίσκεται η ιστορία, όχι ως παράθεση συμβάντων και ιστορικών γεγονότων, όχι ως πίνακας της μεγάλης Ιστορίας, αλλά ως εμπειρία, ως βίωμα μέσα από την καθημερινότητα της αυστηρά υποκειμενικής αίσθησής της. Ως εκ τούτου, η προσωπογραφία της Alexievich είναι από κάτω, η συγγραφέας δεν ενδιαφέρεται καθόλου για μια ιστορία γραμμένη από μεγάλους άνδρες ή αφιερωμένη σε μεγάλους άνδρες, δεν ασχολείται με τους μεγάλους πρωταγωνιστές. Στη κοινωνική της τοιχογραφία ο φακός στρέφεται στα βουβά πρόσωπα, στους ασήμαντους δευτεραγωνιστές που ανασύρονται από το περιθώριο της ιστορίας, από τις υποσημειώσεις. Κρυμμένες φωνές που αίφνης γίνονται οι φορείς του ιστορικού γεγονότος, μέσα από τους οποίους διαμεσολαβείται η Ιστορία.
In writing, I’m piercing together the history of “domestic”, “interior” socialism. As it existed in a person’s soul. I’ve always been drawn to this miniature expanse: one person, the individual. It’s where everything really happens.
Η τέχνη θεωρείται μόρφωμα κοινωνικών σχηματισμών, εργαλείο απεικόνισης της κοινωνικής πραγματικότητας στην πλήρη μορφή της κι η Alexievich δίχως να στρατεύεται στην κοινωνική αλλαγή καταδεικνύει την διαρκή ιστορική κίνηση και τον αντίκτυπό της στον άνθρωπο που θέλησε να αλλάξει την ιστορία, με την προσπάθειά του διαρκώς να ακυρώνεται από τα γεγονότα.
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