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Search tags: magical-realism
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review 2020-05-21 15:24
The Water Dancer
The Water Dancer - Ta-Nehisi Coates

So, this started off so good and then around the 30 percent mark started to flounder. Coates is a great writer, the story just drags. I started to get impatient while reading and then the story felt like it was stuck at a certain point. The ending is abrupt as well. 

 

"The Water Dancer" follows Hiram Walker. A son of a slave and the master of the house, Hiram dreams of being "Quality." Hiram also dreams of his father looking at him the way he looks at his half-brother Maynard. As Hiram gets older and is being groomed to take care of Maynard, a tragedy unfolds leaving Hiram realizing that he needs to get away and get freedom in the Underground. The book follows Hiram as he goes through trials and tribulations along with some magical realism thrown in. 

 

Hiram was an interesting character, but I started to grow bored with him towards the end of the book. The book flip flops around regarding freedom and the Underground and then weirdly sticks on a romance for the the last 40 percent of the book. I really wish we had gotten more of a glimpse into the character Sophia's mind.  

 

Not too much to say about other characters, they don't seem very developed. Hawkins and Corrine just talked like riddles and I got tired of reading their dialogue.


The writing at first evoked a lot of feelings in me, but once we get to Hiram's escape and then capture again the book just dragged from then on. Also the whole Underground that is described in this book made zero sense to me and I started to get irritated while reading.


Not too much to say here besides feeling disappointed. Maybe tighter editing could have helped smooth things out. 

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text 2020-05-19 21:36
Reading progress update: I've read 10%.
The Water Dancer - Ta-Nehisi Coates

How does Coates always gut punch you while reading? This book follows a young boy who is a slave in VA.

 

We find out about how his father is the master of the house and how his mother is sold. Now he (Hiram) is being tasked to be the manservant of his half brother while being told he is lucky he is not being sold since any coloreds with brains are worth more. Shudder. Thanking God again I was born when I was not that things are great, but considering the alternative, I am grateful. 

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review 2020-05-14 15:19
Neverwhere
Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman

by Neil Gaiman

 

I've got the definitive authors preferred edition of this and the advantage of not having seen much of the television series, so I'm experiencing this Fantasy world as Neil Gaiman intended it should be.

 

It starts out introducing two main characters; Richard from London above, who seems like a very ordinary person and Door from London below, who has the ability to open doors, including doors that weren't already there. Pretty nifty trick! Naturally their paths cross and nothing will be ordinary again.

 

Door is from an alternative world where the laws of Physics are altered and magic is a part of their reality. Richard wants his life back in London above, but he will have to go through some adventures in London below to attain that. There are cut throats, supernatural creatures, intelligent rats who run much of the underground sewers and a floating market that might show up anywhere and frequently does.

 

This was an amazing and original Fantasy world, even for Gaiman who has built some fantastic worlds before. Thugs with changing loyalties, political intrigue and unexpected abilities keep the suspense high and the plot moving at a fast pace. An interesting spectrum of characters with a heavy dose of whimsy populate London below and are surprisingly likable.

 

I wasn't quite satisfied near the ending with some things that were just a little too convenient without explanation, but the ending itself was what it needed to be, although it could have been made just a little harder for a last emotional pull. Overall though it is certainly one of Gaiman's best.

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review 2020-05-03 23:59
The Righteous One
The Righteous One - Neil Perry Gordon
Moshe is a cobbler in 1960's Manhattan.  He runs the same cobbler shop that his father began as a immigrant and where Moshe discovered that he was a tzaddik. In Judaism a tzaddik is a righteous person who is given powers by the Almighty.  Moshe had the ability to comfort people in times of great pain, but hasn't felt the connection for awhile.  Moshe's skills as a tzaddik are called upon one day by a man named Gray who works for city councilman Arnold Lieberman.  Arnold has come upon a rasha, the enemy of the tzaddik who uses their powers for evil.  The rasha is Solomon Blass who uses his prophetic dreams for his own benefit and has become part of New York City's crime ring.  As Solomon ages he seeks to put his son Myron in control by making him mayor.  In order to stop the rasha, Moshe begins training in the dream world in order to destroy the rasha's soul.  
 
The Righteous One is a follow up to A Cobbler's Tale. While it is not necessary to read A Cobbler's Tale first,  it does help to understand how Moshe's gift originated.  The Righteous One creates an intersection between the organized crime of New York City in the 1960's and Jewish magical realism or the tzaddik, rasha and the dream world.  It did take me a little while to get into the story as the points of view bounced between Solomon and Myron and Moshe and Arnold.  I felt more grounded in the story as Moshe learned more about the dream world with Noa and Gray.  I would have loved to learn more about these two, especially Noa's lineage.  I also enjoyed the character development of Myron's character.  Through Myron, the effect of organized crime on New York City's infrastructure becomes apparent.  His character was also one who went through a lot of transformation and I wish his story wasn't cut short.  Moshe's revelations as a tzaddik and his abilities in the dream world were intriguing and I would have loved to spend some more time there.  
 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 
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review 2020-03-30 20:47
Empire of Wild by Cherie Dimaline
Empire of Wild - Cherie Dimaline

Well known in Canada, Metis writer Cherie Dimaline is set for big U.S. debut with this novel in July, but since it has been published in Canada to acclaim, I'm posting now.

 

'Empire of Wild' begins with the story of the movement and isolation of the Metis from their original lands to unwanted territory outside of Western settlements. The town of Arcand is stubborn and poor, but some cling to old traditions. Joan of Arcand has been searching for her missing husband for over a year. It was struggle to get him, an outsider, to be accepted by her family, but after a minor fight, he vanished.

 

Joan is without hope until she finds him in a Wal-Mart parking lot preaching in a Revival tent. The problem is, he claims to not recognize her and has a different name. Is this abandonment? Or is there something more sinister going on?

 

Dimaline uses the legend of the Rougarou to tell a story of love and family, but also to highlight the continued exploitation of indigenous people. Reading this sparked memories of a few stories of the "loup-garou" I remembered hearing in childhood from my father. My family has a drop or two of first nations blood, but I had thought assimilation and time had done its work and nothing had been passed down to us. I like the idea that something survived.

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