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Search tags: i-m-ambivalent
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review 2017-09-01 07:16
I didn't need it pointed out to see it
Caín - José Saramago

So, Saramago goes trolling through the old testament.

I really liked "The Gospel according to Jesus Christ", and have read some very interesting takes on the Cain and Abel story (like Unamuno's Abel Sanchez), but I didn't much care for this one. After the first quarter, I had trouble staying engaged, and had to power through to finish.

It was choke full of dry or ironic humor, and of particular stylistic prose, and it made some pointed observations. And yet...

The Old T has some hugely objectionable, harsh, or down-right insane acts from god and it's devotees. I remember lifting my eyebrows at several points during my read as a teen. This book tours us through and addresses the problems with most (but not all) of them, in an attempt to... what? Discredit god? Because I can't even call this atheism, it is SO bitterly anti-god.

*shrug* It didn't live up to my expectations for the author.

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review 2017-07-30 16:12
And the cover is so pretty...
Realms: The First Year of Clarkesworld Magazine - Jeff VanderMeer,Sean Wallace,Elizabeth Bear,Caitlín R. Kiernan

... which is not a word I would use for what's inside.

 

This is not to be read in one sitting. For the most part, the tales in this collection are  upsetting, full of triggers, dark, squicky or all of the above, with some beauty thrown in for flavor. I found about half of the stories very interesting, immersible, though provoking; half I did not quite get; about a quarter were absolutely disgusting; maybe a tenth were just mind-blowing awesome. And almost none could be ascribed to just one or two of those categories.

I'm not totally sure of my rating, I don't know that I really liked experiencing these in a couple of days. But the independent shock value of each piece is really something.

- A light in Troy: Gutting. Specially because it's left there. But maybe for the same, a bit hopeful.

- 304 Adolf Hitler Strasse: Sickening. Take-that to slash too. Recursive. My brain hurts a bit.

- The Moby Clitoris of his beloved: first, WTF is that title (same as above, actually). It was... ick

- Lydia's Body: Well, that was uncomfortable *grimace* You can see it going wrong, and then it turns a 180 and goes worse.

- Urchins, While Swimming: It's Valente. Beautiful and bittersweet.

- The Other Amazon: Meta. A readers' wet dream.

- Orm the Beautiful: Jewels, dragons. No possible loss. But damn was it beautifully bittersweet.

- Automatic: grim

- Chewing Up the Innocent: The agony of the (creepy) artist and mid-life crisis. Little good can come out of it. And it is still oddly hopeful.

- Attar of Roses: Creepy like the smell of wilting flowers at cemeteries

- Clockmakers Requiem: I did not understand that one at all, but I liked the strange world it painted.

- Something in the Mermaid Way: AH! God!

- The Third Bear: That was pointlessly cruel.

- The First Female President: Well, talk about cruelty.

- There's no Light Between Floors: Sad and claustrophobic. Those that forget history and all that.

- Qubit Conflicts: I don't know that much about programing for this, but it IS heavily ironic.

- The Oracle Spoke: That's a terrifying concept.

- Moon Over Yodok: It doesn't say it, but, Oh, my God. She's the rabbit, and she made him her soup. So sad.

- I'll gnaw your bones, the Manticore said: Loved it, for the questions it raises, and for the departure from the all around dark cast.

- Transtexting Pose: Wait, what? Also, squick.

- The Taste of Wheat: Mystical, but ew!

- The Beacon: "Ant's life" and Armageddon and drastic changes in social mores. Awesome-sauce.

- The Ape's Wife: Nightmarish collection of might have beens and excellent exploration. Bonus point for putting me to search for "The thunder, perfect mind"

- Lost Soul: I admit I though it would go deeper. Still:

Are you surprised?” Bela said. “You ought not to be. Did you not know that every woman has a soul that belongs to her alone?

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review 2017-07-05 23:04
Five for one
Las Armas Secretas - Julio Cortázar

I understand now why this one is classified as European lit all the time. I haven't researched it, but I'm pretty sure this one was written after Cortázar left Argentina, because the five stories in this volume are all set in Paris.

I was not that dazzled by this too much at first but then, my bar with Cortázar is "Bestiario", and that's a hard one to upstage in the wow (weird, awesome, uncomfortable, puzzling) factor.

Cartas de Mamá, leaving aside the historical parallelism that some scholar or other wants to saddle on it, was an excellent exercise on revealing the past through the present. Many authors could learn a thing or two about how to do back-story. Of course, back-story is the whole issue here: sins and regrets that turn into silences, and that end that is half fantasy, half delayed acknowledgement. And the great opening line:

 

"Muy bien hubiera podido llamarse libertad condicional."

 

Los Buenos Servicios was a very scathing look at how moneyed people use "the help", many times frivolously, and often callously, and how hollow the "throw money at it" approach is, which is more jarring  (and ridiculous) from the poised view of Francinet. She had more class than any of the cast.

Las Babas del Diablo is a POV nightmare. As it tends to happen when I read magical-realism, I enter a weird state where I'm paying close attention, but at the same time relax my mind and just go with it. Like suspension of disbelief, but I just suspend logic and sometimes even grammar. I find it pays off with many complex or weird plots, or speculative fiction too. Triggers galore in this one, and one VERY uncomfortable suspicion.

"El Perseguidor", now here is the jewel of the book, and the point where I started to love this collection. It was absolutely engrossing. I understand why it has been known to be edited as "El Perseguidor y otras historias". This one got to me, emotionally-wise, and I'm not even quite sure why. I guess it's that desperate search.

"Las Armas Secretas" you know how it's going to go almost from go. Or maybe it's that I've read enough Cortázar to understand the clues he leaves. Or, maybe more, this sense of having read one of his before, about a big house in San Isidro, that has similar elements, but I can't remember to which collection it belonged to contrast.

You know, the more I write, the higher I want to star this. I realize it made my brain jog, and my thoughts come back to it whenever I wasn't reading.

Not his best, but for "El Perseguidor" alone, so worth owning it. I predict re-reads.

 

And there it goes my 4th of July extra. I devoured it, lol

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review 2017-06-19 02:18
Pilot bait
City of the Fallen - Diana Bocco

I went into it looking for a short fast candy.

 

It was all that, but I'm not convinced.

 

Beyond the issues I have with the insta-lust/love, heavy enough to make a gal betray her species, and all the hypocrisy going on here, I do not like cliff-hangers. Specially of this type, because it makes the purpose of the book little more than foundation for a hook.

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review 2017-06-13 17:41
Lovely if a bit heavy handed
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader - C.S. Lewis,Pauline Baynes

This was a lovely read. A great opening line, lots of magic and adventure, and Reepicheep, a character that has shot to my favorites list.

 

I have issues with the fact that Aslan was mixed up with turning around every bad habit or decision, because it says redemption or improvement is impossible without religion to me. I like the concept of free will, and I like to think we can pick the right path without constant divine nudges, so a start docked for the heavy handedness.

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