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review 2017-05-17 00:23
Incoming Rant
The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway

You know, I'd read in some posh literary review that Jake and Brett were two of Hemingway's most lovable characters, but I really can't see how that could be. I get he was painting an era, but I had the same difficulties I had with Fitzgerald's "Great Gatsby": I was bored by the characters misery (first world high class problems, people, that's what you have!); and I was enraged by the chaos and destruction they sowed all around themselves with their callow carelessness. Stupid egotistical brats.

And that's the other thing: they ARE reacting like brats. "Our parent's culture and ideology crumbled down and betrayed us! Let's rage and get drunk, and screw everyone around!" Except, you know, they are in their middle thirties. I don't say you have to have your shit together by that time or any other, God knows you never really do, and life has a marvelous way of sucker punch you when you think you have it balanced, but the over the top woe-is-me shit you are supposed to learn to manage after the hormones of puberty stabilize.

Every generation has challenges, and I reckon those that were born around the turn of the 20th century had a suck-fest of a raw deal, but what I saw inside this book was not just depression and insecurity over lost direction and of self, but a total lack of care for other people. I saw the phrase "moral bankruptcy" around, and I think that's and exact description, but it was treated as an excuse for how these particular characters act, because apparently it was a pervasive thing all around. News-flash: if everyone is a terrible person, and you act like everyone, you are still a terrible person.

 

So no, I have no love for these characters. Now, do I have any use for this book? *sigh* Thorny issue. If it was an accurate representation of the generation, I have to loose any surprise at seeing them fall right back into war; they all felt suicidal to me, and self-centered enough to blow up the world along with themselves.

 

So here's what I think: maybe it's useful, but I did not like it.

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review 2016-09-08 02:31
The sinking and the after shakes
Hearts in Atlantis - Stephen King

Damned tearjerker. To paraphrase Bobby's mom "life is unfair". And boy, do I have mixed feelings about her character. Most of my screaming-at-the-page moments came thanks to her. Anyway, the first story ripped my heart out, and I loved it. 

 

The second was a mix. Kinda' like the characters, their age and the era. Jumbled and confused, almost angels and petty devils. Liked it. Not as much as the first.

 

The third was the puzzler. Interesting bridge, but wtf. Also, he has a good life, life isn't fair. Maybe.

 

The fourth took time to hit it's stride, but really got to me on the last two to five pages. Had my waterworks well primed and going. Ready for the last story.

 

The fifth was  the coda. Full circle. And maybe life is unfair, but sometimes is kinder than we expect.

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review 2016-01-22 02:49
The unstable bridges
A Passage to India - Pankaj Mishra,Oliver Stallybrass,E.M. Forster

What a beautiful piece about the sad limitation of humanity when bridging cultures. It's uncomfortable, poignant, lovely, and human.

 

I don't know how much more I can say, since there is actually little plot to the work itself, the pages being driven by description, be it of places, of people and their relationships, of mundane clashes of two cultures emulsified. And by dialogues. God, those meandering dialogues. There is no other word, even if it sounds like I got bored by them, because not only I wasn't, I found them so... so... well beautiful. Right there with the end page, from over which I'm still sucking up my snot, because...

 

I give up. I can't do it justice. If you are into long worded, slow paced classics, just read.

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review 2015-11-11 22:35
The local spirit in the outsider's eyes
The Viceroy of Ouidah (Vintage Classics) - Bruce Chatwin

This was a surprising little thing. It was was a beautifully written account of the history of a family, of a time, of two places, of tragedy on the heels of fortune or more tragedy.

 

Beyond the exquisite evocative quality, what came as a surprise was how it reminded me of  Latin-american writing in general and Gabriel García Marquez in particular.

 

Like "100 años de Soledad"'s opening:

 

"Muchos años después, frente al pelotón de fusilamiento, el coronel Aureliano Buendía había derecordar aquella tarde remota en que su padre lo llevó a conocer el hielo"

 

Then, we have a paragraph down the middle in Chatwin's that's eerie in it's similar air.

 

I admit I had to stop for  bit and try to find more about the history of this book then. I don't yet know more about a deliberate attempt at homage.

 

There was also the twisting-in-time narrative, the magic-realism feel of the whole, the overblown characteristics of the places and people. I'd never thought I'd find such writing from a foreigner. Then again, he did write an insightful book about my Patagonia, so maybe he's got a very permeable soul.

 

At any rate, It was awesome.

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review 2015-04-20 03:09
One should pay attention to titles
Gone with the Wind - Margaret Mitchell

*sigh* Well... I'm depressed.

 

Way nostalgic, incredibly biased, yet a mammoth that deserves to be tackled.

 

The pace is slow and full of description and social commentary yet it gets you into the swaying rhythm easily. The main characters reminded me of Wuthering Heights, so compelling despite their heavy flaws. The story takes us through the Secession War and the reconstruction while we follow Sacrlett's downward spiral.

 

I can hear all the complains: immoral characters, bias, hypocrisy, racism, historic apology. I can see how anyone touchy about any point would chuck this one to the wall. I read it as the characters view of the world, and it worked. I regarded Scarlett as I did Kathy Earnshaw, and it worked too.

 

Scarlett is a selfish, sociopathic creature, shined with the southern belle coat her mother fixed on her. She's a naive, spoiled kid whom the war forces to take great burdens, and it so happens that she has the strength in spirit to carry them, even if she crosses every moral line in the process (not that she ever cared much about those, just the appearance).

 

Rhett is the educated, male version of Scarlett. He's more aware of himself and the world, and so succeeds better in many a point that trips Scarett, social graces and political foresight being the very obvious. He can not only see the futility of social  trappings (which he teaches Scarlett), but their use (which she forgets), and can don them if motivated, though he tires fast.

 

Their mix is an inevitable tragedy. Both of them tend to spoil any they touch, even in help; their combination is ruination.

 

Actually, out of all relationships, the only one that really works is Melly's and Sacrlett's (despite Scarlett too), the first taking care of society, the second of the practical aspects. While there is no man around, their teaming manages very well. It actually reminds me of a married couple's classical roles.

 

Anyway, I'm rambling. I have a lot of little thoughts about this one, and I think I posted most of them as I was going, but the gist is that I really liked it. It's sad and harrowing, and will push many peoples buttons, but it's beautiful too, and funny: every exchange between Sacrlett and Rhett always hit hilarity while ruining the gamut of emotions, and there were so many situations that made for dry or hypocritical humor.

 

An almost five stars for a different read.

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