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review 2018-05-18 00:52
Good Morning, Midnight
Good Morning, Midnight: A Novel - Lily Brooks-Dalton

I'm sure there are plenty of people who will find this a beautiful and meditative read about the nature of loneliness and connectivity. I was not one of those people. Not by a long shot.

Maybe it's the result of years of studying literature and writing, but I could not stand the way this book was written. I know a lot of people enjoyed the prose, but again I was not one of them. There was no developed voice, and the style of the writing feels very much like the product of a writing program rather than an author developing a distinct voice. The metaphors were often tortured and the language repetitive and rote. More damning, I found the characters unbelievable, especially the astronauts (and cosmonauts). I did not believe these people and I did not like them. And the twists? I called them Very Early in the book (maybe page 20?), and they were aggravatingly pat. Perhaps I've read too many stories in workshop, or too many books in general, but I found the story laughably trite and predictable.

Here's the thing: I feel like Brooks-Dalton wanted to write a story about the nature of loneliness and the human condition. Which is great. The mistake is that she decided to shoehorn this story into a sci-fi genre and she totally dropped the ball. You can write literary sci-fi, but it's a tricky beast. You need to understand both literary trappings and genre trappings, and make them work in tandem. In this book they were fighting against each other. For example, the book kept pointing at science, and trying to make it a core part of the story, without ever understanding it. Science isn't a magic system you can just slot into your story to make it more interesting. It became evident that the research done was only very surface level, and the discrepancies became distracting. (Don't even get me started on all the errors made in regards to space and the space program.)

Not a science nerd? Maybe it won't bother you. Then again, an awful lot of people are going to enter into this book expecting at least some answers to basic questions set up by the premise, like what caused the apocalypse, and those questions are not answered. There really isn't much plot to speak of, and there is absolutely no world building. These are things many folks appreciate and expect in their narratives.

Look, here's the thing, if you're intrigued by the idea of a post-apocalyptic narrative, or you're interested in a duel narrative where a scientist and an astronaut work to solve a problem, this will disappoint you. It is neither of those things. This book is about isolated people navel gazing about how they came to a point in their life where they are alone. That's it. And a lot of people will enjoy that. Which is totally fine. Unfortunately I for one found it insufferable.

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review 2018-05-10 18:31
Brilliant
The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus - Margaret Atwood,Laural Merlington
The Penelopiad - Margaret Atwood

Irreverent, insightful, funny, deeply humane and empathetic.

 

The myth of Odysseus is one of my favorite parts of Greek mythology: in telling it from the perspective of Penelope -- with a good bit about Penelope's childhood and youth, and her and Odysseus's marriage thrown in for good measure, as well as with her 12 slain maids acting as a very Greek chorus -- Atwood turns it inside out, gives it a feminist spin, and puts it together again in her very own way.  And Laurel Merlington's narration is sheer genius ... if you're into Greek mythology and audiobooks, get the audio version now.  (If you're not into audiobooks but into Greek mythology, still get the edition of your choice.)

 

Absolutely loved every second of it.

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text 2018-04-29 07:53
A Tale of Two Cities and a tale of my day (not a book review)
A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens,Stephen Koch

I LOVED this book.... aside from the beheading, starving, and taxing people.  That wasn't nice.  I really enjoyed the story though and I'm so glad I finally read it.  I gave it to my husband and insisted he read it too.  I hope he will but he doesn't seem willing.  

 

I totally cried at the end.  I tried to pretend I was a tough old broad and not a sissy crybaby but I failed.  I bet my husband cries more than I did if he reads it.  He is a bigger sissy than I am (but don't tell him I said that.)

 

I ordered a nice hardcover book copy on ebay today that has 3 of Dickens books, including this one, and it will look nice on my shelf.  It also has Great Expectations and Oliver Twist.  I hope I'm happy with it when it comes.  There are never enough pictures on ebay listings.  I also find it annoying that they don't give you any idea of size.  I want to know I'm not going to end up with a tiny book with text I can't read.  I think that should be automatically provided in the listing so I don't have to ask every time.  

 

My husband said I should get a book of the complete works of Charles Dickens.  LOL  Wouldn't that be one HUGE book?  

 

I did buy a paperback copy of The Old Curiosity Shop today.  It looks brand new but I got it at a used bookstore for $2.75.  I saved a whole $2.25 off the listed price!  I love deals no matter how small.  

 

Anyway, I will have to write a review another time.  I had a big day and I'm exhausted.  I will probably have to pay for it tomorrow.  I guess we will see.  There was a small fair type deal at a place call Calypso Farm up in the hills here.  It is in a small community called Ester.  It was a bit of a drive but I enjoyed it.  They had Shetland sheep and were shearing them so those wanting to learn could watch.  I watched the first one.  They had several people selling wool roving and yarn, spinning kits and knitted and crocheted garments.  Several people were spinning yarn.  They also had food, including pizza baked on a wood stove.  We are both dieting so we decided to pass.  It was also very, very muddy and the food was up hill through the mud.  We had to park on the side of the road and walk up this steep, sloppy muddy driveway (at least a block long) with water running down from the snow melt.  I didn't think to wear my mud boots since it isn't that muddy at my house and we have a lot less snow.  I had my wedge heeled faux suede ankle books on and hope they aren't ruined.  Walking up there was not fun at all.  I enjoyed talking to the people showing their wares and bought some turquoise blue yarn.  I got a little over 6 oz and saved 50%.  My husband went up to look at the food place to scout things out while I was looking.  He was a pretty good sport since he had ZERO interest in anything there (poor guy.)  He said there was a lot of dangerous food items for dieting folks there.  I wanted to go check it out but when I looked up and saw the way was still steeply uphill through 4 inch sloppy mud I decided to pass.  We went somewhere else and I ate a salad with grilled chicken that was much lower in calories.  So, I got some exercise, ate healthy, and got 4 new books!  I say that is a good day.  You can see some pictures I took on my instagram.  I still have a few pictures I need to add so hopefully I'll get that done soon.  I'm so exhausted I can hardly move.  I know I will be hurting tomorrow but at least it will be worth it.  I'll just chill out and read if I'm able.  

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review 2018-04-22 16:51
Onvermijdelijk geweld
De Metsiers - Hugo Claus

Voor De Metsiers had ik nog nooit een boek in Vlaams gelezen, behalve stripboeken zoals Guust (die in Vlaams uitkomt omdat ze in België uitgegeven zijn, of vergis ik me?).  Maar ik had geen last dit boek te begrijpen.

 

Het was een uiterst meeslepend verhaal. Recht vanaf de eerste pagina zit het vol met geheime relaties en potentieel geweld. Veel spannend.

 

De Metsiers uit de titel zijn een boerengezin uit Vlaanderen die weinig contact met zijn buren hebben omdat ze een slecht reputatie hebben. Daardoor is de famile van de meest van de wereld uitsluiten.

 

Dit is voornamelijk een groot probleem voor de jongere familieleden. De dochter wil trouwen maar dat is bijna onmogelijk. Zij had een aanhouding met een van de weinig mannen in de buurt met wie het gezin kunnen praten. Maar hij wijst haar af en nu is ze zwanger.

 

Dan ontmoet het meisje een Amerikaanse soldaat. Hij wil haar beter kennen (en ook met haar vrijen - dit boek bevat veel seksscènes). Maar dit gezin zit al vol tot met barsten met drukte en spanningen. Het lijkt onvermijdelijk dat iets gevaarlijk zou gebeuren.

 

Echt goed. Ik wil graag meer boeken van deze auteur lezen. Misschien "De Verdriet van België". Dat lijkt ook een veel geprezen boek te zijn.

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review 2018-04-22 10:22
Sortes Vergilianae: "The Inferno of Dante" by Dante Alighieri, Robert Pinsky (trans.)
The Inferno of Dante: A New Verse Translation by Robert Pinsky - Robert Pinsky
What I love about Dante is how he doesn't invoke the Muses, unlike Homer, or Virgil, and that he goes straight to the heart of the matter, and straight in to the poem, i.e. "In the midway of this our mortal life, I found me in a gloomy wood, astray, gone from the path direct". In the middle of his life Dante is lost in a dark wood, the man he most admires, a fellow poet, takes him by the hand and leads him through hell and purgatory, but when they reach the entry for Paradise, Virgil must give way to Beatrice, love is greater than wisdom, Dante's love for Beatrice, his desire for wisdom, what follows is exquisite poetry, and both Botticelli and Dali make an effort to capture the genius that resides there, as words, Virgil's trade, and Dante's, cede to inner knowing, as they ascend, then transcend, life, and reach beyond star and sun into the vast blue. TS Eliot wrote that Dante and Shakespeare "divide the world between them-there is no third." But is it exquisite poetry in English translation? I very much doubt it. The 1970s Penguin verse translation I read by Mark Susa was rubbish. Now I listened to an Audiobook with a translation by Robert Pinsky. Think I'll take T.S. Eliot's advice: use a prose translation if you must but learn Italian if you're serious about getting anything out of Dante's poetry (Portuguese and Italian both came from the same mold, Latin, but they're two very different languages).
 
 
If you're into Medieval Literature, read on.

 

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