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text 2018-08-13 15:52
Reading progress update: I've read 70 out of 438 pages.
Stranger in a Strange Land - Robert A. Heinlein

Oh man, Science Fiction from the 60's... So. Much. Sexism.

I am having a lot of Logan's Run flashbacks.

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review 2018-08-08 18:32
Not About Free Love: "Stranger in a Strange Land" by Robert A. Heinlein
Stranger in a Strange Land (Remembering Tomorrow) - Robert A. Heinlein


“Dr. Jubal Harshaw, professional clown, amateur subversive, and parasite by choice, had long attempted to eliminate 'hurry' and all related emotions from his pattern. Being aware that he had but a short time left to live and having neither Martian nor Kansan faith in his own immortality, it was his purpose to live each golden moment as if it were eternity—without fear, without hope, but with sybaritic gusto.” 

In "Stranger in a Strange Land" by Robert A. Heinlein


I believe it was Spider Robinson who once wrote "There's a special word that authors use to describe someone who thinks that every character is speaking for the author himself. That word is 'idiot'. " An actor isn't the role he plays. Most people understand that. Why do they assume an author necessarily agrees with everything his characters say in his books? The trouble with trying to nail down the politics of a prolific writer of fiction is the tendency to forget that writers of fiction explore themes, not necessarily manifestos. What Heinlein set forth in any one book would have been an exploration of one of a variety of ideas that would have informed his entire philosophy.

 

 

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

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review 2018-08-07 09:48
Unholy Land - Lavie Tidhar
Unholy Land - Lavie Tidhar

Not really sure where to begin with my review for Unholy Land, which I picked up as an uncorrected proof on Netgalley - as a result, knowing little about the book and also missing the fact it was labelled as 'literary fiction' (a category which really does very little for me), I wondered if the things that didn't quite mesh together right at the beginning were just errors on the part of the author, only to discover later they were probably stylistic choices. 

 

Anyway, on to the plot. Initially, Unholy Land is alternate history - in this case, a history where instead of settling in Israel, Jews fleeing from Europe settled an area of central Africa and made for themselves a land called Palestina. For anyone who knows something of the current situation in the Middle East, there's something a little ironic about the fact that, as a result, the Jewish community in this scenario call themselves Palestinians. Anyway, our main character is a writer of pulp detective stories called Lior who is returning to Palestina after living in Germany, having recently suffered a terrible loss. 

 

However, as we discover throughout the book, there is more going on here than initially meets the eye and Lior himself begins to have trouble sorting out his own memories from what everyone else seems to think has happened. Landing in Palestina, where the inhabitants are busy building a massive wall to secure their ownership of the land, Lior finds himself involved in the murder of an old friend and that's just the beginning of the difficulties he faces.The spaces between the different realities are wearing thin. 

 

This isn't the easiest novel to read and half the time I'm pretty sure I had little idea exactly what was going on, not helped by the number of points of view that get used along the way. I was also a little thrown by how autobiographical it is - having read some of the author's comments before the story itself, I could see where his experience was cropping up as Lior's, though it's quite possible given the nature of the story that this was again a deliberate choice. It's just a little too much work to keep track of what's going on and I'm left feeling glad that I picked this up where and how I did, as it's not something I'll want to read again. 

 

 

I received this book as an uncorrected proof from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

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review 2018-07-09 00:31
ARC Review: Stranger In A Foreign Land by Michael Murphy
Stranger In A Foreign Land - Michael Murphy
*sighs*

I hate writing negative reviews. 

Unfortunately, in the case of Stranger In A Foreign Land, there isn't a whole lot of good I can say. I liked the blurb, and the premise sounded promising.

The execution however left much to be desired. 

My first issue was with the amnesia itself, I suppose. While I completely bought the part where Patrick loses his memories, wakes up and doesn't know who he is, where he is, or how he got there - I bought that. I also agreed that it is likely extremely scary to wake up in a strange place with no memories of what got you there, and that you might fear for your life.

However, that does not mean that the loss of your memories also means the loss of your personality, or that a grown man suddenly becomes no more than a child in his actions and reactions. Limiting him to short sentences, with dialogue that felt stilted and unrealistic, didn't do him any favors. His actions didn't make a whole lot of sense to me either. 

Similarly, Jack is also not clearly defined beyond being Australian and having lived in Thailand illegally for 16 years, after having run away from Australia for some unclear reason, possibly related to his being gay, though how Thailand is better in that aspect, I don't know. While Jack rescues Patrick/Buddy and gives him a place to stay, and tries to figure out who Buddy really is, I never really got to know Jack either, outside of his easy-going nature, and his ethics. 

There is some sex as Jack and Buddy/Patrick have to share the one bed in Jack's ramshackle house, though it doesn't happen right away, and thankfully did not feel icky, as if Buddy felt obliged to repay Jack with his body for being fed and clothed and sheltered. Still, I felt as if Buddy clung to Jack only because there was no one else who spoke English, and no one else he felt somewhat safe with, so the romance was limited for me. While I didn't get the feeling that Jack was using Buddy for sex, I also didn't feel that Buddy/Patrick was in full control of his emotions and mental capacity to make the decisions he did. 

The 2nd half of the book, when Jack finds Patrick's brother, and Patrick reluctantly flies home to LA to meet the parents of whom he has no recollection, and the rude and aggressive behavior displayed towards these people he admittedly doesn't remember, really turned me against Patrick, and I no longer had any real sympathy for him. 

The ending, reuniting Jack and Patrick, left much to be desired. There was no mention of Patrick regaining his memories. There was no mention of how they can logistically be together, or any resolution of the issues they are still facing. It just ended. 

The writing itself isn't terrible, though dialogue is stilted and inorganic, and the sentences are somewhat choppy. What I did enjoy were the descriptions of the tropical locale, the seemingly authentic views of Bangkok and the surrounding areas. I though that the author did a fine job with those. 

This book didn't work for me. YMMV. 


** I received a free copy from the publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **
 
 

 

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text 2018-06-27 16:31
A Land More Kind Than Home ★★★★☆
A Land More Kind Than Home (Audio) - Wiley Cash,Mark Bramhall,Lorna Raver

A Land More Kind Than Home is wonderful storytelling, dark and tragic, with delicious atmosphere. Much of the mystery derives from the non-linear structure and the reveal coming in slow dribs and drabs from the point of view of three different characters of varying ages and levels of involvement. This adds to the tension and the fun, but ultimately was a little unsatisfying as I didn’t feel fully connected to any of them, although there were moments that were deeply touching.

 

This is the second book I’ve read by Wiley Cash, and I’ve enjoyed both. I’ll keep looking for books from this author.

 

Audiobook, borrowed from my public library via Overdrive. The audio used three different performers to represent each main character and all were terrific, especially the voice for the sheriff and the old woman.

 

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6/24/18 – 25%

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