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review 2018-08-07 17:18
Last Call / Tim Powers
Last Call - Tim Powers

Set in Las Vegas, Last Call concerns the fate of Scott Crane, former professional gambler, recent widower, blind in one eye--and also the lost natural son of the man who is determined to kill him. In this novel, Crane is forced to resume the high-stakes game of a lifetime--and wager it all.

 

I wanted to like this book much more than I did—there was much in it that appealed to me, but as with Powers’ The Anubis Gates, I found myself somewhat underwhelmed. Much of this reaction will be due to my lack of familiarity with both tarot and (especially) poker. I fooled around with tarot cards in my late 20s, but never really committed myself to learning the art. And I think the kids at the back of the school bus tried to teach me poker during my high school years, but that was many decades ago and my memories are hazy at best.

There is a lot going on in this book and it speaks to Tim Powers’ skill as a writer that he managed to successfully weave it together into a cohesive story. Here are some of the elements he incorporates: archetypes & Jungian psychology, mythology of Egypt, Greece and Rome, the Arthur Legend and the Fisher King, T.S. Eliot, Bugsy Siegel, Las Vegas and Lake Mead.

As in The Anubis Gates, there is a body-snatching element to deal with as well. These are the only two books of Powers’ repertoire that I’ve read, so I found it interesting that they both had this esoteric characteristic in common. Come to think of it, poetry featured prominently in TAG as well, so it is obviously a great interest to this author.

Book number 292 in my Science Fiction & Fantasy Reading Project.

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text 2018-08-02 17:50
Reading progress update: I've read 104 out of 535 pages.
Last Call - Tim Powers

 

This is a really weird mix of poker and tarot cards, with the cards causing threatening things to happen.

 

I'm a hundred pages in and I still don't have any idea what exactly is happening (but that's parr for the course with Powers' writing & me).

 

But it certainly isn't boring!

 

 

 

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review 2018-06-19 17:15
Dora Doralina / Rachel de Queiroz
Dora Doralina - Rachel de Queiroz

"What kills you today is forgotten tomorrow. I don't know if this is true or false because all that's real for me is remembrance." In her old age, Dora reflects on the major influences in her life: her mother, her career in the theater, and her one true love. Set in Brazil in the early part of the century, Dora, Doralina is a story about power. Through her fierce resistance to her mother and her later life as a working woman and widow, Doralina attempts to define herself in a time and culture which places formidable obstacles before women. Married off by her mother to a man she does not love, told what to wear and eat, Dora's reclaiming of herself is full of both discovery and rage. For her, independence is the right to protect herself and make her own choices. From a life confined by religion and "respectability," even her passionate attachment to a hard-drinking smuggler contains an act of free will previously unavailable to her. Dora, Doralina is an intimate, realistic, and vivid glimpse of one woman's struggle for independence, for a life in which she owns her actions, her pleasure, and her pain.

 

I read this book to fill the Q position in my quest to read women authors A-Z in 2018. I will honestly tell you that it is not a novel that I would naturally pick up so I probably didn’t appreciate it as much as someone who regularly reads literary fiction.

This is a character driven story which reads very much like an autobiography. It is basically a window into the world of women in Brazil in the first half of the twentieth century. Brazilian society, as in many societies at the time, is extremely macho and women don’t have all that much latitude.

The book is divided into three sections, representing three stages in the life of our narrator, Dora. The first section is Dora growing up and struggling with the control of her domineering mother. Dora refers to her as Senhora, not mother, and seems to be one of the only people in the household who longs for freedom. Dora ends up in a marriage which was more-or-less engineered by Senhora, and while she doesn’t mind her husband, she’s not desperately fond of him either. When he is killed, Dora takes a page from her mother’s playbook and uses her widowhood to give herself more freedom in the world.

The second section is Dora’s adventures in the world outside her mother’s farm. She finds employment and eventually ends up on stage, despite her shyness. She is both fiercely independent and highly reliant on her friends in the acting company, a duality that she freely acknowledges. And it is during her travels with the company that she meets the love of her life.

Part three is her life with The Captain. He reminded me of her first husband in several ways (his drinking, his macho possessiveness) but Dora’s feelings for him make the marriage an altogether different experience from the first.

Documenting women’s lives is an important pursuit, filling in the blanks of previously ignored reality. The novel also shows the particular barriers that many South American women are up against culturally.

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text 2018-06-04 21:17
Just in via ILL: The Shape of Water novel
The Shape of Water - Guillermo del Toro,Daniel Kraus

I largely disliked and was disappointed by the movie (a link to my review, if you want to know why), but I decided I was still curious enough about the book to give it a shot. The illustrations are nice, at least.

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text 2018-06-01 22:18
Book club
To Siri with Love: A Mother, Her Autistic Son, and the Kindness of Machines - Judith Newman

I miss the book club I was part of before I moved to my current town. I've known for a while that there's a book club at the local public library, but I've always found out about their current reads way too late, only a day or two prior to their next meeting. Also, they have a tendency to choose books I wouldn't in a million years pick for myself.

But I'd love to go to book club meetings again. So I sent the public library a message, asking about the book club's next book. They have, unfortunately, chosen To Siri With Love by Judith Newman for their August meeting. Do I want to read a book in which the author states her wish to sterilize her autistic son when he turns 18? Not particularly. But I requested it via interlibrary loan anyway and will probably be giving it a go. ::sigh::

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