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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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review 2018-09-20 02:59
First half to see good, then the shots are fired
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil - John Berendt

When I was around two thirds in, I started idly concocting a review in my brain, about how the almost surreal elements and characters was what gave this narrative such a verisimilitude. Cue me over the 80% mark, just going to search for a detail, and finding out this is nonfiction. Sure, there are artistic licenses, but in essence?

 

I love it when knowing absolutely nothing about a book pays up in such ways.

 

As I mentioned previously in an update, the general tone reminded me a lot of latinoamerican writing. This has a lot to do with the conservative (and quirky) societies that brew in relatively small, isolated towns. You have the sedate and beautiful surface, and the decades, generations, long ugly undercurrents. Everyone "behaves" in public out of a certain need for society and peace, and whomever "pops" may as well go the whole nine-yards and wear it like a flag.

 

So, that's basically the aim: to illustrate Savannah. The plot as it were serves the theme. We go into the deep ugly undercurrents. Almost every ugly you can imagine. Sometimes you are enraged and amused at the same time from the sheer hypocrisy rampant. I spent most of the book in some queer state of entertained stupefaction because it is so grotesque you almost can't believe it. But you do. You recognize it. It is your hometown.

 

 

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review 2018-08-24 22:03
POV's and unheard voices
The Penelopiad - Margaret Atwood

For such a short thing, it certainly packed a punch.

 

Between the unreliable but scathing narrator and the creepy chorus, I found myself running the whole gamut of reactions, from laughter to shudders.

 

It was an interesting way of taking a stab at all the bits of the Odyssey that make you look askance and wonder.

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review 2018-08-10 10:51
Big character
The Princess Diarist - Carrie Fisher

I laughed, and I grimaced, and I ran a gamut of other emotions, from surprise, to disbelief, to pain and sympathy.

 

I started to follow a print while listening because at first I did not always catch what Fisher was saying. There was much pausing, and after a while I kept doing it because there are minute differences here and there.

 

This is a very interesting lady. What astounded me the most is her capacity to write her 19-year-old self, with all the embarrassment and self-doubt. It's powerful enough to make you uncomfortable by proxy.

 

Back then I was always looking ahead to who I wanted to be versus who I didn’t realize I already was, and the wished-for me was most likely based on who other people seemed to be and the desire to have the same effect on others that they had had on me.

 

She writes an almost nude picture of herself, the good, the bad, the WTF (and there were many, many instances where I went WTF), the petty, the shy, the self-aware, the painfully young. There is this sense of "I'm at the last part of the slide, and I have little fucks left to give" mixed with the "still want to be liked".

 

There is a lot about her relationship with the character, a lot mixed feelings that in the end, amount to mostly positive.

 

“You were my first crush.” I heard it so much I started asking who their second one was. We know what a first crush is to a teenager, but what does it mean to a five-year-old?
“But I thought you were mine! That I had found you—I was the only one who knew how beautiful you were—because you weren’t beautiful in that usual way women in film are, right?”
He realizes that I might take what he’s saying wrong. He doesn’t mean it that way. I reassure him, touch his arm; why not give him an anecdote? “I know what you mean, it’s fine. Go on.”
He checks my face to see if I mean it. I do. He continues, “So my friend, when I tell him about my crush, he goes, ‘Oh yeah, she’s awesome! I have a total crush on her, too. Everyone does.’ I got upset. I coulda punched him.”
“Why?”
“Because you were mine and I wanted to be the one who loved you. Me, maybe even help you . . .” He got embarrassed. “Anyway—I wanted to tell you.” He shrugs, then adds, “Thanks for my childhood,” and walks off. Wow, what a thing to be given credit for, to be thanked for! Because he didn’t mean his whole childhood—he meant the good bits. The parts he escaped to.

 

It was a weird and nostalgic ride.

 

If you can find a common language that runs from five to eighty-five, you’ve got yourself something, and Star Wars fans have something.

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review 2018-06-20 06:40
Difficult
Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison

On various fronts. The overarching subject, the sense of hopelessness, helplessness and despair, the long-winded, meandering way the story is told (which is on par with the idea that it is a stream-of-conscience recount), and the purpose way in which this guy's obliviousness is made plain (and cringe-inducing) for the reader (and the teller).

 

Found it brilliant, at points boring and quite maddening.

 

Oh, and I leave it with a feeling akin to what Catcher in the Rye left me.

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