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text 2020-05-24 15:49
Invisible Man - 29%
Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison

Well, OB was definitely right about this one. My attempt to read the text version was not nearly as exciting as listening to Joe Morton angrily declaiming in my ears. So I'm back to the audio, but it is slow going, because there is so much emotion that I can only take it in with very small sips. 

 

I wish I could find a clip of him on one of the rants, but you can get an idea of his cadence and emotion in this sample of him reading Ellison's explanation of invisibility

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text 2020-05-11 15:57
Invisible Man - 21%
Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison

I started this audio during my long drive this weekend and MY GOD my jaw was dropped through most of it. Everything about Joe Morton's performance just floored me. 

 

The downside is that it's so dense with ideas and imagery and emotion that there is no way I can continue it solely on audio, since I'm normally listening while I multitask doing other things, so I won't have the luxury of staring blankly at a highway while spending 90% of my attention on what's soaking into my brain through my ears. Plus, I want to be able to stop and consider what I'm reading, and to look up some of the references. 

 

So I've put the ebook on hold at the library, and will suspend the audio until my hold comes up and I can both read and listen to this together. Hopefully it'll only be a couple of weeks. 

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review 2019-09-29 21:15
Gilead
The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood,Claire Danes
The Testaments - Margaret Atwood,Mae Whitman,Ann Dowd,Bryce Dallas Howard,Tantoo Cardinal,Derek Jacobi

Well, that was as soul-drenching as any double bill ever was (even though The Testaments is marginally more optimistic than The Handmaid's Tale). 

 

It's not always a good idea for an author to revisit one of their standout classics decades later, but in this instance it clearly worked.  Atwood stays faithful to the original tale while supplying additional depth to the world she created there.  (Now it remains to be seen whether the TV series, in turn, is going to stay true to the story as set out in The Testaments, which is set a decade and a half later.  Though I'm not sure Atwood herself considers more than a few basic facts from the TV series "canon" as far as her novels are conscerned.) 

 

And Atwood has clearly done her homework on dictatorships, theocratic and otherwise -- which is, of course, a large part of what makes Gilead come across as so goddamned credible (and hence, so goddamned frightening).  Like the authors of other dystopias (Orwell's 1984, Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, Du Maurier's Rule Britannia) -- and also like Terry Pratchett in the first Night Watch novel, Guards' Guards! -- she points out that once a country's democratic foundations have been allowed to weaken, it doesn't even take a violent toppling of government for a dictatorship to take root -- and while she may have been inspired by recent events to revisit Gilead and write The Testaments, this clearly is at the heart of The Handmaid's Tale as well, as it is there that the notion is presciently first given voice.

 

I'm glad I went through both novels back to back, and Halloween Bingo couldn't have ended on a bigger exclamation mark.  I also fervently hope the world doesn't even get within the equator's total length of Gilead, however; or rather, the actually existing theocracies will eventually be rooted out once and for all and no new ones will be added, anywhere on earth.  Most especially and for the immediate future I hope the Western world will come to its collective senses and manage to make a U-turn from the course that it started to take somewhere around the mid-2010s.  Heaven knows what the participants of late-22nd century historical conferences will otherwise have to say about us.

 

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review 2019-09-28 05:46
“Poo-tee-weet?”
Slaughterhouse-Five - Kurt Vonnegut

Took some pages for the book to grab me. If I'm honest, I'm pretty sure it was the chat with his war-buddy's wife, and as it happens, it is something of a key for the whole book. There was a promise there

 

If I ever do finish it, though, I give you my word of honor: there won’t be a part for Frank Sinatra or John Wayne.
“I tell you what,” I said, “I’ll call it ‘The Children’s Crusade.’”

 

It was kept, in sub-title and spirit.

 

There is nothing that could ever come close to glorifying war inside these pages. The theme is how absurd a beast it is, the little and big tragedies, how far in time the damages travel (and who was that said that wars die only with the last soldier that fought in it dies?). Hell, the whole way it's constructed is thoroughly trafalmadorian, which we would call hell of a PTSD outside any sci-fi bent mind.

 

It's also so bittersweet and human. There was also this other bit near the beginning that caught me

 

And Lot’s wife, of course, was told not to look back where all those people and their homes had been. But she did look back, and I love her for that, because it was so human.

 

Because... well, I guess because it kind of encapsulates the thing, and how it feels. It's horrible, and terrible, and pretty disgusting, and so are almost every character in one aspect or another, but you are compelled to look. The dead demand to be witnessed and acknowledged and war sucks.

 

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text 2019-09-28 01:52
Reading progress update: I've read 185 out of 275 pages.
Slaughterhouse-Five - Kurt Vonnegut

The blue fairy god mother rocks.

 

This is... wow, is this a book about war that delivers on what promised in the beginning.

 

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