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review 2018-10-10 00:45
Downer
The Bazaar of Bad Dreams: Stories - Stephen King

My PC heat-quited on me while writing my review, so take two.

 

This was a bit of a let down.

 

First of all, it's such a depressing collection. I looked forward to the horror bits because they were at least lively (and even those were a lot more scarce than usual).

 

Second, because I had already read some of the longer stories, and none was that worthy of a second pass. Well, maybe Morality, but hell.

 

If I had to list the ones I really liked, I'd go with Drunken Fireworks, because while predictable, it made me laugh and I needed it; Mr Yummy, because it touched an odd bittersweet chord; Green God of Agony was very neat; and Under the Weather because it was so gruesome to see it coming, even if it was another depressing one.

 

No, seriously, this is not a happy collection. Or even an exiting one. Pick another.

 

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review 2018-10-02 20:21
1K thrill ride
Under the Dome - Stephen King

That was a trip and a half.

 

For being such and unwieldy mammoth, the tension never lets up. Everything goes to shit fats and through infinite pages. Something to have in mind before taking a stab at it. Gave me quite the bit of anxiety (which is part of what I liked but, you know).

 

The set up had my mind working. I was raised in a small town, so I could more or less envision most of the human-failure troubles to come (though here they were running on a rocked fueled schedule), but some of the environmental issues I had not considered till I read about the stream. Then I knew that even in fairytale land everyone was fucked. And King does not write "friendship is magic" worlds. He likes to put the devil at the wheel.

 

There are many bit thoughts running through my head theme wise, like cooperation vs dictatorships, the cruelty of children, the old terrible memories of shame and guilt, that remark about how skewed the numbers between genders were (because who do you think gets scalded first, when the water starts heating? Duh), their positions (librarians, doctors, press, liberal priests, smart kids), guilt for bad deeds vs guilt for having enjoyed them. Also, the surprising bits that made me laugh (mostly bleak Gilligan's cuts that proved I have a very dark sense of humour) and the bits that made me suck my snot (most of Sammy Bushey, Ollie and Ames).

 

I don't know that it is a book for everybody, even King's fans, and many of the paths trailed are a rehash of The Stand in a way, but I actually liked this one's pace a lot better (grueling is not always my choice, but it's a good one when I go for thrillers or scares, so plus).

 

On the whole, there were no big surprises, but I quite like it. And I'm exhausted.

 

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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 2018-09-01 13:27
Nightmare and Paranoia Fuel
The Yellow Wallpaper - Charlotte Perkins Gilman,Elaine Hedges

*whines* It's still miserable, windy winter here!! How do I combat the chills this induced? *shudder*

 

Whenever I read stories like this, I remember that quote "novels win by points, short stories by knock outs". I know I was already whimpering one page in. I finished with a wiki-walk and... How come every interpretation is so... mild? compassionate? forgiving?... of the husband?

 

I get time and society marching on, and symbolism, but how come picking the barred, dreary, ex-nursery with mismatched furniture and a purposely for that visit nailed down bed makes any but malicious sense?

 

No monster, no gore, but hell, psychological mind-fucks will forever get me shivering

 

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review 2018-08-22 20:09
On Spousal Abuse
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall - Anne Brontë

Ok. Anne is my favourite Brontë now, hands down. Her social commentary was decades before the times opinions and all around relevant still (sadly for the most part).

 

There is nothing over the top or sensational here. There is a lot of spousal abuse and neglect going around, but the fact that it's not violently brutal is like the last cherry in a way. We have this mentality that abuse is really abuse only if it surpasses a certain level (good God, that sentence gives me the creeps), and this book spits in that (in a very lady like way) and calls it for what it is: unsustainable and inexcusable. There are several instances where different men try spout a variety of rationalizations, shifting of the blame or deferred promises of change. They are all classics and shudder inducing because... well, because they not only try to fool the women, but fool themselves. They actually believe they are not that bad.

 

"Not that bad" could actually be some kind of abusive anthem. One that this books seems to have taken arms to pulverize, and my kudos to it.

 

The other thing that is done marvelously is the depiction of how precarious the abused one's position is. Even beyond the context of the restrictions of the times. As the neglect started, and I could envision it getting worse, I had this terrible anxiety over how dependent these women are. It was nerve-wreaking, and it had a point: after accepting it is not right, that pride is not worth bearing it, that there are reasons to escape (oh, and there is another interesting bit: that she can not do it for herself, but raises the courage to protect her son), you need help. This is perfect. So well done, and again, so forward thinking. That one is something that still escapes many when judging an abused spouse.

 

Character wise, I had some issues with Helen's over-piety, but I get where that fits too: here is this paragon of virtue; she leaves her husband. In a time where that was terrible disgrace, maybe excused but not pardoned for the height of brutality, it threw in the face of everyone reading that a woman so estranged may very well be in the right. Besides, I imagine she might have the need to rely even more on religion and found solace there under her circumstances. I thought her judgmental and dismissive of others counsel too, but that works too, because not only brings her to her marriage, but carries her through it, with both proclivities magnified I imagine.

 

Gilbert sounded so painfully young to me the whole book. I don't quite feel the romance there, except to imagine that to her he is ultimately so harmless. Which... OK, I totally get.

 

Beyond the overarching theme, there a lot of things addressed to provoke thought, if all the bits I quoted as I progressed didn't make it obvious, so it's really a book to own, and savour, and take a pencil to (I'm such a savage).

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