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review 2018-04-04 05:59
Middlesex -- So much better than I had imagined
Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides

Edit: I've been thinking about this since, and I've come to the conclusion this book couldn't be written today (in 2018) while it seemed daring and real just a few years ago. There's more to that conversation, but I'm still judging this based on the time in which it was written. And I'm still very glad it was written and I got to read it.

 

Back to your previously scheduled program:

 

I was rather shocked at how good this is. I couldn't wrap my head about the blurbs. The idea of a book about an intersexual person sounded like it would be a political or medical diatribe, or possibly a whiny "poor me" tale falsely disguised as fiction. I realized Jeffrey Eugenides was not writing his personal story, but I did have the idea that this was still somehow a disguised bit of biography -- perhaps it is. If I was a real book reviewer, I'd have to look that up, but I'm not. No matter its origins, it doesn't read like any of these usually disguised things, and it's really very good.

Funny as could be, almost every line is quotable. This is more of an historical novel than just one person's story. It's a family story that is more vital to the man telling it than most. Cal née Calliope Stephanides is proof of a family secret in his very being. It will take a trip across the ocean at the end of the Greco-Turkish War and the accidents of love in the close-knit Detroit community for the secret to reveal itself through three generations of Stephanides. Even then Calliope is a child and hasn't been educated to the multitudinous ways genetics and gender (nevermind sexuality) can play out. So this is a very original coming-of-age story, a medical history, the story of forbidden love and much more in just over 500 pages of stunning prose.

Marvelously detailed, interesting and well-researched, with decent and realistic portrayals of all genders, from the roaring twenties through the twenty-first century, love and marriage, Detroit, and America/Americans broadly, Eugenides is a smart writer with a warm, welcoming voice. The word most likely to describe it would be "charming." While occasionally I got sniffy about some of the ease with which Cal seemed to make his decisions, it would have turned into a fake memoir if we went through every painstaking detail. He seemed a bit naive at times, then Eugenides would have him say something about his upbringing or family to remind me that he, in fact, was naive. Kids were much more naive in pre-internet days, or if not naive, often just plain confused or wrong. Cal is clearly not the type who would pour out his feelings anyway. When I know a character well enough to know why she does or doesn't do things, it's usually a good sign the writer has gotten his story and his characters under my skin.

I can see why Oprah picked Middlesex for her book club years ago. The voices are all supremely individual and Cal is a charming narrator, but Cal - while being the main character - is almost incidental to the overall story in some ways. I wish I'd read this with a group, because the discussion could go on forever. This is one of those books I knew I "should" read, and I didn't really have much interest. It didn't sound appealing, but I passed it on a shelf at the library last week and obviously picked it up. A different copy will find itself in my home soon, because I will certainly want to read it again and urge others to do the same. So, hey you - if you've not read it, take the leap. It's so much better than it sounds.

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review 2018-01-30 21:37
Luxury cruises, snarky stowaways & human smuggling
Ship Out of Luck - Neal Shusterman

Fun and funny YA that weaves awkward mid-teen shenanigans, poverty, and immigration together in a light yet high-stakes tale that's unfailing entertaining. Great for the younger end of the YA spectrum, with just enough dating angst to make it a bit mature for some MG readers, but none of the explicit content that ages YA up into adult territory.

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review 2018-01-26 04:43
Rezension | Café Morelli von Giancarlo Gemin
Café Morelli - G. R. Gemin,Gabriele Haef... Café Morelli - G. R. Gemin,Gabriele Haefs

Beschreibung

 

Seit Generationen wird das italienische Café von der Familie Morelli in einem kleinen walisischen Örtchen geführt. Die besten Zeiten des Cafés gehören schon längst der Vergangenheit an als Joe, der vierzehnjährige Sproß der Familie, von der drohenden Schließung des Cafés erfährt. Um das Vermächtnis seines geliebten Großvaters doch noch zu retten setzt Joe alle Hebel in Bewegung. Mit seinem feurigen Temperament, kreativen Ideen und der Hilfe seiner Cousine Mimi aus Italien, die auch noch eine wunderbare Köchin ist, lebt das schon tot geglaubte Café Morelli langsam wieder auf.

Meine Meinung

 

Der Jugendroman “Café Morelli” von Giancarlo R. Gemin spricht mich mit seinem romantisch, verträumten Cover, dass die Lust auf eine schöne Tasse Kaffee weckt, schon auf den ersten Blick an. Dem Königskinder Verlag ist es einmal mehr gelungen, meine Fantasie bereits durch die hübsche Buchgestaltung zu beflügeln und meine Neugierde auf die Geschichte hinter den Buchdeckeln zu wecken.

 

Gemin erzählt die bewegende Geschichte des vierzehnjährigen Joe, der vor allem an seinen italienischen Wurzeln und seinem Nonno (Großvater) hängt. Joes Herkunft lässt sich nicht leugnen, denn er ist tatsächlich sehr temperamentvoll und setzt sich für seine Herzensangelegenheiten mit Haut und Haar ein. Schnell wird klar, dass das seit Generationen von der Familie betriebene Café Morelli das Herzstück des Romans bildet – doch dieses lockt schon lange keine Katze mehr hinter dem Ofen hervor. Joe liebt das geschichtsträchtige Café und weiß zudem um die große Bedeutung für seinen Nonno. Die genauen Hintergründe erfährt der Leser gemeinsam mit Joe, denn Nonno nimmt Bänder über die Vergangenheit und die Bedeutung des Cafés auf. Es fließen Aspekte über die italienische Immigration in Wales ein und wie sich der Zusammenhalt eines Stadtviertels über die Entwicklung des zweiten Weltkrieges stellt. Auch die Versenkung des Schiffes Arandora Star spielt eine Rolle.

 

Giancarlo Gemin erzählt die Geschichte mit so viel Gefühl und haucht mit Kaffeeduft, gutem italienischem Essen sowie den Klängen der Oper sogar in dem trübsten walisische Städtchen italienisches Charme ein, dass man wie gebannt an den Zeilen kleben bleibt. Dieses Buch ist mir von Seite zu Seite immer ein Stückchen mehr an’s Herz gewachsen. Giancarlo Gemin hat mit Joe einen einmaligen Hauptprotagonisten mit sehr viel Herz und Temperament erschaffen – man muss ihn Dank seinem untrügerischen Sinn für Familie, Tradition und Oper einfach mögen. Den Originaltitel “Sweet Pizza” finde ich, nun da ich die Geschichte kenne, etwas zutreffender – denn dieser Titel ist ein Symbol für die Botschaft des Romans: Man kann einfach alles schaffen wenn man will.

 

Wer gerne einen Roman mit authentischen Charakteren, geschichtlichen Hintergründen, gewürzt mit einer Prise italienischem Charme lesen möchte, der ist bei “Café Morelli” genau an der richtigen Adresse!

 

Fazit

 

Einfach wohlfühlen, genießen und die tiefgeheden Wurzeln auf sich wirken lassen.

Source: www.bellaswonderworld.de/rezensionen/rezension-cafe-morelli-von-giancarlo-r-gemin
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review 2017-10-10 16:40
Historical anachronism happens fast
This is the Way the World Ends: An Oral ... This is the Way the World Ends: An Oral History of the Zombie War - Keith Taylor

This poor novel had the bad sense to be published in August, this year of our Lord 2017, though, presumably, it was written earlier. EVEN SO, at the very moment of publication, it was already woefully historically anachronistic. I'm going to blame this, like so much else, on the Trump administration, and the unbelievable chaos and unprecedented violation of governmental, social, and ethical norms that we've seen in this fine country, the US of A, since then. Writing near future science fiction is an unbelievable bitch.

 

This is what got me. So, This is the Way it Ends is avowedly a love letter and a riff on Max Brooks' World War Z, which is also glossed with the subtitle An Oral History of the Zombie Wars. The writer here, Keith Taylor, notes in his introduction how taken he was by the retrospective and documentary feel of World War Z, and how, after expecting a raft of novelists to take up the style, he decided to fill the gap when no one did. This is the Way it Ends is successful in this Brooksian ventriloquism for the most part, and it you like this sort of thing, then this is the sort of thing you'll like. (Well, other than a metatextual spin wherein Keith Taylor, current novelist, inserts himself inside this fictional narrative as "Keith Taylor," the documentarian for the novel. His intro dragging on fictional zombie narratives was way too clever-clever. It's the kind of thing that's fun to read to your wife after you write it, but shouldn't make it into the final draft.)

 

Like Brooks' novel, this one takes place a dozen odd years after the initial zombie outbreaks, after humanity has gone through the meat grinder of a full on zombie apocalypse and come out on the other side, shaky, diminished, but still standing. This is the section that got me: a centrist Republican, one who shepherded the US through the zombie wars, tells a story from mid-2019. Apparently, there are outbreaks happening all over Europe, and there's more and more worry about the zombie threat. At a bipartisan meeting, a reporter asks if maybe the US should close its borders. A democrat steps up, and in an act of partisan showboating, begins reciting the Emma Lazarus sonnet that is carved into the statue of liberty. "Give us your tired" etc. At this point everyone goes nuts, freaking that closing the borders is evil, and certainly no sane (or not evil) person would suggest such a thing. The Republican president is rueful: if only those stupid liberals knew better. 

 

So here's the problem with this. First, let me tell a joke: at an intersection with four corners, on each corner stands an individual: Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, a centrist Republican, and an alt-right nutjob. Someone drops a case of money into the center of the intersection. Which individual gets it? The alt-right nutjob, because the rest of these beings are purely fictional. Second, Trump already tried, and has been moderately successful, in implementing his Muslim ban, just recently adding to the seven Muslim-majority countries he's put on the shit list. Though the courts have put on the brakes a little, public outcry was nowhere near uniform. In fact, I think I was in a minority for thinking that was self-defeating and cruel, in addition to racist. The Trump administration is working hard at curtailing literally all immigration, legal and illegal, and we don't have anything near a zombie fucking outbreak to point at, though you wouldn't know it from some Brietbart articles, boy howdy. No one reads sonnets anymore; those are for effete liberals and they are decidedly not in charge. Third, what is this word, "bipartisan"? I do not understand this strange concept. 

 

In some ways, this anachronism is adorable, and it dovetails into some blindspots Brooks had in WWZ. The farther Brooks gets from his worldview, the less compelling his narratives get -- the American housewife one is a big fucking mess, but then I have a whole thing about the housewife in fiction. Ditto with Taylor. As a native Brit with a Mongolian wife who spends a lot of time in Mongolia and Thailand, his grasp on pan-Asian politics is pretty great. Americans? Yeah, not so much. I'm not picking on him here though. I'm not sure I understood (even as someone who purported to at least a modicum of wokeness) how unbelievably racist and isolationist the United States is until the last election. And that election technically didn't involve zombies! 

 

Except it totally did and we're all going to die. The horror of reading horror fiction for me these days is in how unscary it all is. It's nowhere near as terrifying as considering a malignant narcissist who considers Nazis "fine people" starting World War 3, the one that will kill us all, while tweeting on the shitter one Sunday morning. In the words of Mira Grant, rise up while you can. 

 

 

 

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review 2017-09-16 00:07
Self-deprecation at its best
One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter: Essays - Scaachi Koul

I first heard about Scaachi Koul's One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter several months ago on BookTube (I will continue to sing its praises) and added it to my TRL as I felt the need to read more Canadian authors. This book is a collection of essays about Scaachi's life growing up as a child of Indian immigrants in Canada. There's a focus on body positivity, feminism, and the endemic racism she and other people of color face in that country. She discusses her family and how she is the direct product of two disparate parenting philosophies. (Each chapter begins with an email conversation between herself and her father. He's quite possibly the funniest man on planet earth.) She's deeply afraid of going outside of her comfort zone and yet she's in a relationship with a man who seems to do nothing but push her to do just that. (I thought I had travel anxiety until I read about her experiences flying.) It's a look into a family as different and yet somehow the same as mine or yours. There's always going to be some neuroses in any family. It's about self-discovery, self-love, and ultimately self-acceptance. It was a lot of fun but judging from the fact that I had to refresh my memory by looking up the blurb it isn't the most memorable book I've had the pleasure of reading this year. So I'm gonna give it a 6/10. 

 

A/N: I really need to start making detailed notes about the books I've read immediately after reading them because my backlog of book reviews is getting more and more lengthy. Stay tuned for a special post on Tuesday by the way. ;-)

 

Source: Amazon

 

What's Up Next: Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Woolly: The True Story of the Quest to Revive One of History's Most Iconic Extinct Creatures by Ben Mezrich

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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