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review 2018-06-15 06:35
Moan: Anonymous Essays on Female Orgasm
Moan: Anonymous Essays on Female Orgasm - Emma Koenig

Was this book occasionally repetitive? Sure. Did I find it fascinating anyway? Absolutely.

 

As with any essay collection there are going to be some pieces that are better than others (and this is no exception), but what makes this collection so interesting to me is the sheer volume and the way the voices both echo and contradict one another. With each essay around two to three pages in length (a few are longer, but this was pretty consistent average) there are a lot of perspectives in here. I find it interesting getting to hear women speak anonymously, and thus totally honestly, about their sexual experiences. There are plenty of pieces in here that are basically just women relating what works for them in the bedroom, but there are plenty more about what *doesn't* work, first experiences, ruminations on femininity, how things have changed for them, how they feel different, or just how they feel in general. These aren't stories you often get to hear, and even when I couldn't relate (although there were a few where I very much could) I was interested.

 

My biggest critique would be the apparent lack of variety in the essayists. Its hard to be sure, since it is anonymous, but the contributors did seem to come from fairly uniform backgrounds, which could have been improved. I'd have liked to have read more essays from queer women, assault survivors, and various age groups. There are essays from all of those groups, but not nearly as many as there are from 20-something college educated women. I suspect this is because many essays were collected online.

 

The foreword talks about how sexuality is part of what makes us human, and by denying women their sexuality we deny them the ability to be fully human. I truly believe this, and this book put a very human voice to the varied world of women's sexual experiences. A great book for anyone interested in sexuality, regardless of gender.

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review 2018-06-09 07:13
Teen contemporary/murder mystery
Because...Anonymous - Diana L. Sharples

I was impressed by how coherent and tense this story was. The author was kind enough to share a pre-publication ARC with me. I read her first book, Running Lean, and for some reason, I was thinking this was just a short novella spinoff, but it's a fairly substantial read in its own right. It takes a side character from Running Lean and heads off with him into what's basically a murder mystery with a side of new-kid and awkward budding romance. Some of the teen subculture stuff felt a little odd at the beginning, but I really settled into the flow of things after the first few chapters and enjoyed the characters. Does a good job of delving into insecurity and the fear behind teenage bravado. Great action writing. Realistically worn-at-the-edges smalltown America setting. Trigger warning for situations of child abuse/spousal abuse (mostly offscreen). Should be okay for younger teens.

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review 2018-03-17 00:34
Anonymous Sources by Mary Louise Kelly
Anonymous Sources - Mary Louise Kelly

A thrilling mystery set equal parts in Boston, Washington and Cambridge England, the story opens with a murder that attracts the attention of Alexander James, a reporter for the New England Chronicle.  Alex’s ingenuity leads her to the story of a lifetime as she starts to unravel the reason why the son of one of the most powerful men in Washington was murdered.

 

Not only is the mystery complex and well-written, but you can’t help but cheer for the lead character, Alexander James as she tries to solve the mystery and beat the bad guy, all the while drinking too much and falling into bed with a delightful sounding English Lord, Lucien Sly.

 

While there doesn’t appear to be a sequel - yet - I would happily read more of Alex’s adventures!

 

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review 2018-02-01 00:00
Ο εκκλησιαστής
Ο εκκλησιαστής - Anonymous,Θάνος Σαμαρτζ... Ο εκκλησιαστής - Anonymous,Θάνος Σαμαρτζής,Μαριλένα Καραμολέγκου
Κατόπι είδα τα έργα μου,
όσα φτιάξαν τα χέρια μου,
όσα δώσαν οι κόποι μου.
Και είδα: όλα ανώφελα·
κυνήγι του ανέμου.
Στο βάθος του έργου υπόκειται το memento mori, η πανταχού παρούσα παροδικότητα του ματαιότης ματαιοτήτων, τίποτα δεν αντιστέκεται στο θάνατο και στη φθορά που επιφέρει. Ένα άκρως υπαρξιακό κείμενο που φέρνει στο νου την Ερωφίλη του Χορτάτση και τον πρόλογο του Χάρου:
[...]ποιος εκ τσ' ανθρώπους τσι μικρούς να ελπίζει
πλιό τυχαίνει
σε δόξες, πλούτη και τιμές, κι οπίσω τως
να πηαίνει;
Φτωχοί, τ' αρπάτε, φεύγουσι, τα σφίγγετε,
πετούσι,
τα περμαζώνετε, σκορπού, τα κτίζετε, χαλούσι.
Σα σπίθα σβήνει η δόξα σας, τα πλούτη σας
σα σκόνη
σκορπούσινε και χάνουνται, και τ' όνομά σας
λειώνει
σα να 'το με τη χέρα σας γραμμένο
σ' περιγιάλι
στη διάκριση τση θάλασσας[...]
Η δυναμική της αστάθειας της ανθρώπινης μοίρας, της προσωρινότητας, είναι σύνηθες θεματικό κέντρο και νομοτελειακό, από κοινού με τη μπαρόκ εμμονή στο θάνατο και τη ματαιότητα της ύπαρξης, ωστόσο ο Εκκλησιαστής βρίσκει το νόημα παρόλο το ανώφελο της ζωής, η ίδια η χαρά απαλύνει τον εφήμερο βίο.
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review 2018-01-13 02:07
Beowulf: A New Verse Translation
Beowulf: A New Verse Translation - Seamus Heaney,Anonymous

The oldest epic poem in English follows the feats of its titular protagonist over the course of days and years that made him a legend among his clan, friends, and even enemies.  Beowulf was most likely orally transmitted before finally be written down several centuries later by an unknown Christian hand in Old English that today is readily accessible thanks to the translation by Seamus Heaney.

 

The epic tale of Beowulf begins in the mead hall of King Hrothgar of the Danes which is attacked by the monster Grendel for years.  Beowulf, upon hearing of Hrothgar’s plight, gathers fourteen companions and sails from Geatland to the land of the Danes.  Hrothgar welcomes the Geats and feasts them, attracting the attention of Grendel who attacks.  One of the Geats is killed before the monster and Beowulf battle hand-to-hand which ends with Beowulf ripping off Grendel’s arm.  The monster flees and bleeds out in the swamp-like lair shared with his mother.  Grendel’s mother attacks the mead hall looking for revenge and kills one of Hrothgar’s long-time friends.  Beowulf, his companions, Hrothgar, and others ride to the lair and Beowulf kills Grendel’s mother with a giant’s sword.  After another feast, the Geats return home and fifty years later, Beowulf is King when a dragon guarding a hoard of treasure is awakened by a thief and goes on a rampage.  Beowulf and younger chosen companions go to face the fiery serpent, but all but one of his companions flees after the King goes to face the foe.  However, the one young warrior who stays is able to help the old King defeat the dragon though he his mortally wounded.  It is this young warrior who supervises the dying Beowulf’s last wishes.

 

This is just a rough summary of a 3000 line poem that not only deals with Beowulf’s deeds but also the warrior culture and surprisingly the political insightfulness that many secondary characters talk about throughout the poem.  The poem begins and ends with funerals with warrior kings giving look at pagan worldview even as the unknown Christian poet tried to his best to hide it with references to Christian religiosity.  Although some say that any translation deprived the poem of the Old English rhyme and rhythm, the evolution of English in the thousand years since the poem was first put down in words means that unless one reads the original with a dictionary on hand, this poem would not be read.  Heaney’s translation gives the poem its original epicness while also allowing present day readers a chance to “hear” the story in their own language thus giving it new life.

 

Beowulf is one of the many epic poems that have influenced storytelling over the centuries.  Yet with its Scandinavian pagan oral roots and Christian authorship it is also a melding of two traditions that seem at odds yet together still create a power tale.  Unlike some high school or college course force students to read the Old England or so-so translated excerpts from the poem, Seamus Heaney’s book gives the reader something that will keep their attention and greatly entertain.

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