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Search tags: gorgeous-writing
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review 2017-08-19 21:09
Great take on the Cycle
Norse Mythology - Neil Gaiman

It was gloriously awesome. How much of the merit goes to Gaiman and how much always belonged to the myth compendium has little bearing in my enjoyment.

The stories are tall tales indeed: huge, fun, magical, gruesome. The characters are as great as flawed: Odin lies, cheats, seduces and steals; Thor is a block-head to which every problem is a nail (hah); and Loki is the charming psychopath. All this is more or less merit of the Edda.

The book is a fast read, very approachable, very engaging, and the order of presentation and building makes it easy to follow the names and elements. The text is cheeky, and has many little asides that had me in stitches, turning wistful and lyrical as we come to the bittersweet end. All this, plus some nuances to the dialogues that made them hilarious (or creepy, or bittersweet), was Gaiman I reckon.

It is a book I want to buy. I want to re-read it, whole and by pieces. Have it as a reference. Read from to my children. Also, as an object, it is a beauty. Full stars.

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review 2017-06-21 08:46
Even the title is layered
A Room with a View - E.M. Forster

I feel like I read a book twice as long as this was, not because it was heavy or difficult, but because it was so tightly woven. There were layers of meaning, and so much that could be inferred, and for such short pages, many characters get well fleshed out. No line is wasted. There is this... English brevity, I guess, that makes me recall the meandering tone of "Passage to India". Says something about what must characterize each people in Forster's mind, huh?

It is also a quiet way to depict a fast and turbulent romance, which feels weird in a "still waters run deep" kind of way. There is this three-way war going, between mind, heart and manners (or is it pride?, self-image? calcified indecision?), it is evident when you get to the lying chapters, and the weather tends to illustrate it, but before then, before Lucy looses her temper at Miss Bartlet at the beginning of them out of revelatory fright, it's all so sedate. On the outside; Lucy's facing the exterior gets a companion chapter on "The disaster within". She's running from love: it is scary, exiting, something unknown, and unrecognized, and social mores don't help her in disentangling from the muddle.

On the side, we get some awesome darts thrown into time old hypocrisy, such as how emancipated women are perceived or "accepted"; how men think women think about men; people abroad; obligation as it pertains to favors out of honesty (Emerson) or self-serving humbleness (Charlotte); and bunch of stuff I either posted already, or have marked down and can't speedily condense here. In case the main course wasn't enough.

Seriously, this guy had a way with words.

 

Note: I have to get another copy. Mine was abysmally translated. I turned to a digital version in original English after 20 pages or so. If you read in Spanish, avoid translator Marta Pessarrodona. She's a menace and a beast. Word confusions (she translated kitten instead of kite, for example), wrong conjugations (translated "would have" as present simple), change of punctuation, which changes pace drastically and unnecessarily (specifically, Cecil's entrance is most egregious), change of meaning of whole paragraphs (to the point of reading as the opposite). And it ts only what I caught just searching for the paragraphs I wanted to mark down as memorable while reading the digital copy! Much of this I could not understand of someone supposedly getting paid. It would have been more difficult to invent as she did.

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text 2017-06-17 12:46
Reading progress update: I've read 25 out of 240 pages.
A Room with a View - E.M. Forster

Much like with "Passage to India", this is a book to savor for the way it's written and the highly quotable dialogues. So far, in less than two chapters

 

“He is rather a peculiar man.” Again he hesitated, and then said gently: “I think he would not take advantage of your acceptance, nor expect you to show gratitude. He has the merit—if it is one—of saying exactly what he means. He has rooms he does not value, and he thinks you would value them. He no more thought of putting you under an obligation than he thought of being polite. It is so difficult—at least, I find it difficult—to understand people who speak the truth.”

 

Love how he establishes both old Emerson's and Beebe's characters through the later's judgment.

 

“About old Mr. Emerson—I hardly know. No, he is not tactful; yet, have you ever noticed that there are people who do things which are most indelicate, and yet at the same time—beautiful?”
“Beautiful?” said Miss Bartlett, puzzled at the word. “Are not beauty and delicacy the same?”
“So one would have thought,” said the other helplessly. “But things are so difficult, I sometimes think.”

 

“Look at him!” said Mr. Emerson to Lucy. “Here’s a mess: a baby hurt, cold, and frightened! But what else can you expect from a church?

 

“My dear,” said the old man gently, “I think that you are repeating what you have heard older people say. You are pretending to be touchy; but you are not really. Stop being so tiresome, and tell me instead what part of the church you want to see. To take you to it will be a real pleasure.”
Now, this was abominably impertinent, and she ought to have been furious. But it is sometimes as difficult to lose one’s temper as it is difficult at other times to keep it.

 

More establishing of old Emerson (I'm half in love with the old man) and some prickly observations on society too. Forster really likes to point hypocrisy, and that's part of why I've loved what I've read by him so far.

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review 2017-05-02 05:31
Magical underside of city and genre
Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman

I've rediscovered urban fantasy. This is the urban fantasy I was wanting to read when I kept stumbling into that ossified  sub-genre full of vampires and weres. I love me some Hollows or Daniels like I love my fries and ice-cream, but every once in a while I want a different flavor, and it's been hard to find. Behold: Gaiman. I wonder if the man seats at his writing desk and thinks "Well, today I want to pick this genre. Now, how do I go about putting it on it's head/inside out/mashed-up with this other?"

So, urban fantasy about alienation, and tubes, filled with magic and action. Scary stuff of the adult bored with life variety. The unseen people that fell through the cracks... there is horror that feels close to home hinted in the concept. You may disregard it as cynical allegoric analysis. It comes to full fruition and in the open during the ordeal to sock you in the face: "this is what you were thinking was going on, even if you didn't want to admit it". The fantastic aspect makes it exiting and hopeful, and bittersweet.

Maybe not as happy, or a fluffy as I was going for, but it certainly was a change of speeds. I could not believe how much it was packing by the half-way point! Certainly a much needed contrast after Moby-Dick.

 

I loved it. It was a damned good book, and I want a hard-copy of my own.

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review 2017-02-23 04:13
Interior world
Silently and Very Fast - Catherynne M. Valente

This was so fucking weird. Gorgeous mind-screw. There is no way to really understand unless you walk the fine edge between paying close attention and just letting it flow. I can't even give a proper summary without diving into spoiler territory.

 

Dream-like and powerful in imagery, heavy on symbol, it draws a lot on traditional narrative devices and gives stark, analytical spins to them, (sometimes to such a violent degree, it becomes surprising or disquieting, and I've done my fair amount of research on the psychology of myth and fairy-tales; that's Valente for you). Monomyth is a concept that comes up a lot. Turing test too, to an ironic (bittersweet, vindictive, awesome) final mention.

 

It's a slow piece, patchwork style and complex. It demands you to think, about what you are reading and about things like the definition of feelings, of love, of being and self, of likeness and difference, of knowledge against imitation, and where the line is drawn. I had to reassess many of them in my mind as I read, and that's really something.

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