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Search tags: base-building-and-classics
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review 2018-11-30 21:03
Fun romp
The Scarlet Pimpernel - Emmuska Orczy

Very easy and fast read. It would have been the type of book I would have adored as a kid in that liminal space where high reading skills put you beyond children's books but maturity does not really afford you adult reads. So yeah, classic adventures for the win.

 

The devise of telling the story from the third limited of a character other than the Scarlet Pimpernel allows for a show of his BAMF qualities that would have sounded boastful otherwise, so that's another good bit.

 

Most of my gripe comes from the ever moronic woman (I'll leave the political and racial alone this time). We are constantly told she's the cleverest woman in Europe, but either that's a huge fail of informed quality, or the author was taking the mickey on it by drawing a contrast of what the world says of a characters intelligence vs what happens behind curtains of a person's life. Still, the fact that she's absolutely useless and most times an obstacle, continued to bother me. I thought the story would redeem her when she decides to go to France, that we would be shown her being resourceful and clever and see her save the day right alongside the Pimpernel. Hell, for a bit there I was prepared to be blown out of my mind by a turn of the XX century female author writing a woman saving the hero. Alas, no dice.

 

The other bit that is a bit weak (beyond several un-reveals, duh), is the constant over explaining. Orczy does an excellent job of showing the pieces so that you can puzzle it out. It is a pity she wastes pages and belittle her readers intelligence by spelling it all out yet again in expository dialogues and what not.

 

Anyway, if you are not nit-picking like I've been, it is good entertainment.

 

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review 2018-10-28 01:45
Competition for survival
The Midwich Cuckoos - John Wyndham

This one went into and explored many of the points that I thought Chocky would, which is doubly great because creepy kids are disturbing as hell, and because I can give Wyndham props for not repeating himself in hindsight.

 

There are differences with the pop-culture classic movie, as it always happens. Beyond the distillation over our narrator and Zellaby (which I imagine stems from a wish to transfer all the BAMF quality from the seemingly absent minded old man to a younger MC), the big fact is that the mind reading is not part of the original book. There is enough flash and imminent danger with the will thing. The hive mind is the cherry that makes the eerie otherness cake.

 

I loved how things proceed slowly, and this insistence of going about business as usual. When the mothers bring the babies back to town, you immediately go "Oh, fuck", and in their heart of hearts, you know every character kinda does too, but they bury themselves in self denial. And as the book comes closer to the end, you start thinking back to Zellaby's wondering if civilization had not been a bad survival idea.

 

Seriously, for all the old man seemed to everyone as digressing from the current point, he was very much clear-sighted.

 

I loved the sci-fi call backs (and the niggling for none going into the morally ambiguous). Some of the doubts it tries to posit (specially on evolution) are a matter of "science marches on" but I always end up finding the idea of outside influence entertaining. The social commentary (outside the references to sci-fi, that is after all a commentary on society too) was a mixed bag, some insightful, some blithely chauvinistic, and there is what is clearly a lesbian couple never addressed as such, so maaaybe fair for its time.

 

At any rate, I had fun reading it. And that's a good way to wrap up my bingo card and get my reading black-out. Just to wait for the calls now.

 

 

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review 2018-10-27 18:25
Since I'm not reading for spirituality's sake
The Divine Comedy - Eugenio Montale,Sandro Botticelli,Peter Armour,Dante Alighieri,Allen Mandelbaum

Done! *cheers* (and an abrupt end it was)

 

I confess I started to loose my enthusiasm by Purgatory, and Paradiso veritably dragged for me.

 

Inferno is indeed the most interesting, likely because it concentrates more on describing the poetic (and in many cases gruesome) justice inflicted there.

 

Purgatory gets a bit wishy washy because we are even more deluged with contemporary examples, which was exhausting from a "pausing to research WTF" whenever I needed context to understand the grade, and felt like self indulgent page bloating when I didn't. And then we get to Eden, pretty cavalcade of symbolism lead by the still much discussed mystery that is Matilda, and meet Beatriz. Ahhhh, the lady herself, that symbolizes theology. Maybe it is no wonder I found her supercilious and overly jealous.

 

I have to praise Dante's balls: first he aligns himself equal among Homer, Ovid and Virgil in that Limbo chat, and here he places his lady love highly enthroned in the Empireum, representing the Dogma by which he knows God.

 

If I could leave Paradiso just taking away that love has been his salvation and his way to heaven, we'd be good. But no, he had to insist on hammering until rigid conformity to scripture was reached. Thorough what felt like endless proselytizing (hey, I know it is my fault, because what was I expecting, right?) and pointing fingers of doom everywhere (the amount of eggs thrown the church's way! And his political enemies... you bet this got him the exile prophesied to him here).

 

Also, even considering some pretty descriptions, the spheres felt lame and boring reward (and here I'm reminded of Huxley calling happiness undramatic and boring, and Le Guin criticizing those that think "Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting"). Where is the imaginative poetic justice of the first third? Methinks Dante got too tangled in the discussion of virtues and splitting hairs on their display levels. So yeah, I get the whole "watching god and feeling his light is rapture beyond comprehension", I'm still contending that the theological got in the way of the literary, and there goes one star. Sue me.

 

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review 2018-10-25 21:59
Unexpected
Chocky - John Wyndham

That ended in a place I did not expect before I started. It is disquieting indeed, but more from being guilty of emulating the mum than anything else.

And because almost every adult involved was ghastly.

(spoiler show)

I kinda loved that it veered so.

 

I'm discounting a star because this being my second read of a book of his, I noticed and got irked by Wyndham's penchant for making women the overcautious anxious frets (sometimes warranted) while the men are all calm, cool and collected (sometimes even when unwarranted). He does not say that each are not sometimes right in their approach, but makes those approaches kinda married to their sexes, and it grates.

 

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review 2018-10-22 00:10
I honestly tried
The Castle of Otranto - Horace Walpole

I don't know whether I read a satire written as a self-challenge to pack as much over-the-top drama in as few pages as possible, or an over-the-top dramatic tragedy on rocket fuel.

 

I feel a bit like when I watched Venezuelan TV novelas, only those tend to stretch, and barely come to the ankles of this... unholy (heheh) mess. So, pretty much the same reaction: either you unapologetically immerse in the guilty pleasure, or you laugh and mock with abandon. I might have canted for the first as a kid (hell, I was tempted for the beginning pages), but I confess that by Frederik's reveal and Theodore's story I just straight started giggling and could not take anything seriously any more.

 

And if it resembles history a bit too much at points, well, it comes to show that reality will always prove to be more ridiculous than any fiction, even this.

 

 

And double bingo for me! (not like I can really keep avoiding them at this point, lol)

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