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review 2020-04-27 23:25
It's foggy and rainy and this made me sad
Amigos por el Viento - Liliana Bodoc

This collection was so sad and melancholy. There are some tales calling hope (though I have some issues with "Ancient hunts" that I have trouble verbalizing; I think I'd end up with an essay on subtle ways of racism, and race guilt, and so much soapy hot water), and "The lover and the other" is pretty positive, but it's difficult to offset the tragedy of "Fruit candies and grey eyes".

The writing is lyric as always with Bodoc; at some points it works and at others it read to me as a bit too plainly florid or forced, but I had this sense that I would have loved it as a tween.

There seems to be an underlying theme of duality, or duets, in all the things where you need two, be it struggle, friendship, love, family, support, example to follow. The afterword, talking about how a story written is a half of it that gets completed when it's read by the reader, seems to give credence to it.

The presentation and illustration in the volume gives it an extra bump up. Extra kudos for the editor for the whole arrangement, specially in the order of stories. "Bridge of sand" is the best of the lot and is a good way of closing the collection on a positive note.

In the whole, I'm pretty ambivalent, and damn depressed so, eh.

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review 2020-04-04 08:22
Silence, privilege and opression
Purple Hibiscus - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This book is terrible. It hurts like a bitch in a very quiet, understated way, it does not have the grace of tying the themes in any of the expected or more hopeful ways, and does so in a excellently written way. "Beat me while I love you" much?... Feels like a meta-theme.

 

There are: parallels between the government and Kambili's father's tyranny, between her aunt dithering on leaving the country while urging her mother to leave her father, the friend's questions on what is to be done if the strong leave, the children as reasons for leaving, where to go as the mother asks.

 

There are: commentaries about privilege, and the amount of issues it conceals, about the difference between public and private image, about having for others to see but not enjoying, about compassion not being something deserved, or related to station.

 

There are: questions about internalized colonization, the way religion opens paths for oppression and culture erosion (I raged so hard at the baptism and confirmation names thing), how a nation's identity gets eaten.

 

The motto of a university being "to restore dignity", like dignity has been lost, and higher education is what "gives" it... I have so many issues with the pretentiousness of that motto even while I think education does empower a people.

 

There is frankly a lot, and it left me so sad.

 

The first tenth is a mastery of the ominous. There is no overt violence, but the atmosphere itself is violently oppressive, and you can feel how the silence was bred into this girl. There is a moment where Jaja talks about another girl that saw her father murdered just starting to talk after 4 months, and he says she'll never heal from that, and it stayed with me that none of this characters ever will. The mother drank the love sips and was grateful that there was no second wife. Jaja paid heartily for his inner guilt. Kambili still yearns for her father's approval in her dreams, and that's how terrible and binding this twisted mockery of love is. They still do not talk. But maybe they have some hope of laughter.

 

I'm not touching that other priest with a ten foot pole because she's freaking 15.

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review 2019-09-20 11:10
I would have been happier without the romantic plot tumor
Sapphire Flames (Hidden Legacy #4) - Ilona Andrews

For all that three years passed, 21 years old Catalina feels so much younger than Nevada at 23 did on that first volume. Mostly because she got so derailed by Sagredo.

 

And I know; hormones mess with you, and so does passion, and 21 is very young and perfect time to be stupid about those things (and really, crushes and love makes idiots out of everyone at any age). But: Sagredo.

 

I have ZERO likes for those dangerous, maybe-bad, likely-bad-for-you, Cassanova-wanna-bes with tortured backgrounds that enjoy teasing and baiting, then hide under all the angst to not commit, and leave the damsel paying while telling themselves they are being all selfless for not dragging her all the way in. That's... so much disrespect for the girl, her feelings, and her capabilities.

 

I did like most of the periphery though: the one-scene-wonder Venenata coming back (though her brother could get stuffed... and I just realized almost every male made me rage at some point, and the exceptions would be Heart and Sgt Teddy, like, wow); the family interactions; what happened in the interim with the fallout of previous volumes; that chat and decision with Victoria (terrible, stupid, and still very interesting) and... that's it.

 

Yeah, doing a recap, I realize that although it was a fast fun ride, it was not awesome like I'd expected.

 

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review 2018-11-26 21:14
Errrhhhh
Los Ojos Azules Pelo Negro - Clara Janés,Marguerite Duras

This one was one weird cookie. And for my first forage in Duras, not an auspicious one.

 

The premise, such as there is one, is interesting (when we finally get to glimpse wtf, but hey, if you made it to page 3, you know the writing is... hard to get used to would be my kind assessment), and some of the way it's approached rings true. But 90 pages of it in a weird literary flight and such a dreary tone? Big pass.

 

It's like taking a Nîn short story, stretch it 5 times it's length, take all the joy of it till the erotic label barely applies, add some strange (maybe theatric cues? Maybe meta? Who even knows!) paragraphs, and presto, depressing incomprehensible shit for you.

 

*sigh* We bought an extra book of hers this august. Wonder if I'll ever read it.

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review 2018-10-21 06:10
Surprised me
The Witch of Blackbird Pond - Elizabeth George Speare

I was not expecting to find such a flawed, three-dimensional cast and a sad grim tone in a short, children's book. I don't know why, really, since I've come across both of those separately often enough in them (Dark Materials, Little Princess) paired with the big questions too. Specially given the fact that I've been a heavy reader since my tweens, and a firm believer in that Cabal's quote "when I want to write something that I think adults will have trouble understanding, I write children books" (I'm paraphrasing, I don't have that good a memory, and she likely borrowed too).

 

Here is the deal: this was way dramatic than I expected. And when I say dramatic, I mean angst, grief, homesickness, the loneliness of being an outsider. Really sad. Also maddening.

 

It is maddening because human nature is maddening. And because everyone, MC included, are flawed people with some good qualities and reasonable ideals and opinions and stances, and some appallingly wrong mixed in, so even with the best intentions they rub the wrong way and clash, misunderstand, work at cross-purpose. And there is always a little bitch witch shit ready to hate.

 

It was an interesting read even before the context of publishing-time kicks in (though I suspect there were some interesting witch-hunt related things coming out then... wasn't The Crucible a contemporary of McCarthyism too?)

 

At any rate, it was a really good book (totally deserves those awards), and it ended all sweet, happy and neat.

 

Hey! I keep missing my read for making another bingo. At this point, I'm not even pretending to curve my mood-reading. (There is also the bit where there is no magic here, but I'll let the title excuse my being misled)

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