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review 2018-04-01 13:58
Your Neighbours Are Not Always Nice...
The Road Through the Wall - Shirley Jackson

Neighbours as we know it can be friendly or not. But in Shirley Jackson's The Road Through the Wall, neighbours as we know it is not what it seems to be. I had quite a number of days to read her first book, which turns out for me quite conflicted whether I like it or I don't. Never the less, I do enjoy her writings and even though there is much to talk about of its flaws, this is still a good read for me.


In Pepper Street, this neighbourhood seems 'perfect'. Neighbours greet each other, they are formal in their own way of being nice and courteous and they have their days of sharing a common hobby together like sewing. But within each household lies another reality - shallow thinkers, bullies, selfish actions and egoistical show offs. The children have secrets among one another, so are the parents. Everyone harbours lies that on the outside, they are superficial. Only one goodness remains - Caroline Desmond, a three year old little girl hardly spoken, hardly knew what is going on in this neighbourhod. There is a wall that divides one street to the next but when the bricks starts to crumble and a tragedy strikes, every thing else is an open secret and what was once consider a nice neighbourhood no longer matters.


Its a simple story really with a lot of characters being introduced in the first chapter itself. I do get a little confuse with one of the other but as I read its easier to know who is who. Still, this is a book that is difficult to rate for me. There are loop holes involve where its never explored at all. Some of these are as to 'why' the actions of certain characters of what they do were never explained completely. I had to make assumptions in order to fulfill them and its easier, as the setting does feel like the late 1940s and early 1950s. The dark part of the book are how each of them backstab each other in ways how superficial they are in front of the neighbours and the children, well, they shown their dark parts too. The writing on the other hand is, as always, pretty much how Shirley Jackson would write - clear, precise and straight to a point. What I enjoy most is how she hook me into the chapter of some of the characters, in a way development explain of who they are and then of course, reach to a point of a little surprise there that feels as if she wanted me to the ride that may keep me guessing. The ending on the other hand, is typical of her and since this is her first book in 1948, I am pretty sure her intentions of writing them is as real as her experience much like how neighbourhoods are in any place in the world.


For me, this is a hard rating to give. I like it but not that much to a point I love it. Its good writing, just not the story itself. Where else there can be much to explore here, I wonder what motivates her to write this story as her first book. I won't say it is bad or any thing but as conflicted as I am in giving a good rating, the best I can think of is a 3.5. I won't say I will recommend this but this story is much like a cautionary tale of what neighbours are (and even can be as an example for today) behind closed doors.

 

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review 2018-03-20 08:36
Short Stories of the Normal In An Extraordinary Way.
The Lottery and Other Stories - Shirley Jackson

Before, I did mention I enjoyed reading short stories. There aren't many books with short stories today and for a long time, I heard about The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, which is one of the reasons why I had been looking high and low for this collection. There are 24 short stories altogether and to my amazement, I really enjoyed reading all of them.

 

The Lottery and Other Stories is divided into 5 parts and to its own theme. Here's a short summary for each of these stories:-

 

The Intoxicated - When a drunk meets the daughter of the host of the party. The Daemon Lover - A girl looking for her future husband on her wedding day. Like Mother Used to Make - A man cooks dinner for his guest only to be thrown out of his house. Trial By Combat - A woman's apartment been robbed by another tenant. The Villager - A woman pretend to be a buyer of things. My Life With R.H. Macy - A man works in Macys. The Witch - A man tells a story of a scary witch to a child in gruesome details. The Renegade - When an owner's dog kills a farmers chicken. After You, My Dear Alphonse - A game played between two children. Charles - A boy shares his school days with his parents about a naughty student. Afternoon in Linen - A grandmother proud of his grand daughter of a poem she wrote. Flower Garden - A wife who fell in love with a cottage meets the new owner that the neighbors do not want to be friends with. Dorothy and My Grandmother and The Sailors- A trip to a town only to avoid sailors. Colloquy - A patient shares her problems with a doctor. Elizabeth - A day of a literary agent. A Fine Old Firm - A meeting of new neighbors. The Dummy - One night show of a ventriloquist. Seven Types of Ambiguity - A couple going into a bookstore to buy books. Come Dance With Me In Ireland - When three women shown kindness to an Irish old man. Of Course - Greeting a new neighbor. Pillars of Salt An experience trip to New York to remember by a couple. Men With Their Big Shoes - When an expected married wife gets a different view about husbands from a caretaker. The Tooth - When a married woman goes on a trip to New York to extract a tooth with devastating change. The Lottery - A lottery that is held with unexpected results.

 

There is a small poem as a companion to The Daemon Loverwhich can be read at the end of the book. This is my first time reading a Shirley Jackson book without any expectations. I never thought I would be amazed by her writing, let alone magnetize by her way of story telling. There is some thing about her writings that really makes an interesting read. These stories, some doesn't have an ending. Its like a pick out of the blue chapter from some where. Its plot isn't interesting but by way of reading, its something else. I followed to each of their own and to each of them, they are all good (for me any way). Usually I won't enjoy a short story if it lingers in the end but this is an exception for me because, its just the way she writes that I like about. I had invested in her other books (bought almost all of them I think) and I can't wait to read them all. The Lottery and Other Stories is a book picking up because of its writing but yes, it may not be anyone's cup of tea but still, I would highly recommend it for its weirdness, twist and unexpected spin of tales of the normal that makes it quite extraordinary.

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review 2018-02-20 08:34
Where Politics Today Can Be Found In Animal Farm
Animal Farm - George Orwell

When I first heard of Animal Farm, my curiosity peaks to a point if I should read it. This was in fact in the 1990s when I heard about it. Of course, I didn't read it at all and never even go further and didn't even know there was a TV live-action movie that was released in 1999 or even the 1954 animated featured as well. Straight to 2018 and finally, I read the book. After so many years and I bought it last year, I finally read it for an upcoming book discussion and as it turns out, I didn't really enjoy it nor hate it a lot. I just felt indifferent.

 

I am sure many have read Animal Farm before. It is this book that George Orwell, besides 1984, he became successful compare to his early writings during his journalistic days. In many ways, Animal Farm is a political book. Reading it on the other hand, it is what transpire of what is happening today. I mean, there isn't any thing I do not know about that will give such value on this book that I do not know of what is happening in today's politics. In fact, I look at all angles and it is a straight-forward adult fairy tale... one that doesn't have a good ending. To me, its more of 'this is what happens when you become ignorant' and 'you don't blame anyone when you support loyally to a greedy swine' than just a story with a good ending. Its an awareness book that was meant as life in totalitarian ruling of the old Russia, when it had its revolution and the rise of Joseph Stalin (I am not sure how many younger generation knows this) and the degeneration livelihood of Russia then. But reading it I can see its almost similar to the world's politics today even in certain countries (I don't think I need to mention which one, if people aren't ignorant on reading news). To me, its nothing exceptional but rather, a representation of what the world was then in politics, its the world that it is now in politics.

 

Although I had not much complains on the writing, as it is clear and simple and easy to follow, I can't say I do enjoy the book. I mean, I like the writing but not the tale itself. Still, I can understand why it took such difficulty for George Orwellto publish this book but only after
the World War II he was able to, but by that time itself, after his death it became even more popular, although not among critics, read by many and even introduced in literature classes as well. Animal Farm is a book that whether to read or not, it doesn't matter. All around us are... well, we are living in a huge animal farm of our own. As I quote the famous line 'All Animals Are Equal But Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others' is now part of life we are living. We still have, in fact, ignorant people that believe in words of Napoleon of such (we have lots of Napoleons, that swine reincarnates!) every where, this book to me... doesn't make much difference but it can be a discussion worth debating.

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review 2018-02-16 03:30
A Man Detached From The Living That Is Rich In Writing
The Outsider (Penguin Modern Classics) - Sandra Smith,Albert Camus

Detachment. Misunderstood. An outsider. The first time I read Albert Camus's The Outsider (also known as The Stranger for U.S. publication), I was recommended that this was his best work. With over a little 100 over pages, divided into two parts, this is a story of Meursault, a man that doesn't connect with the world of the living.

 

The book opens with a funeral of Meursault's mother. He doesn't feel any sadness of his mother, let alone feel anything at all. He shares a cigarette with a caretaker as his mother's friends attend and watch him, he doesn't shed a tear. After a few days, he met a girl named Marie and they became intimate. He made a friend as well with a colleague of his (Raymond) and soon they embark on a beach where one choice change the life of Meursault that leads him a destination he accepted, even he feels nothing towards the world of the living.

 

The Outsider in many ways speaks in volumes. The right to judge someone, the absurd condition of humankind and the right to challenge one's belief. There are many parts of this book that speaks well of people who many do not understand. I felt Meursault is not a tragic character but a character, in general, people do not understand. I for one... do. There is so much richness in this book that if read between the words, I understand that a person as simple how Meursault thinks about the world itself, its deeper than it covers the depths of a simple book. In fact, there is so much to explore and even discuss the meanings as much as how incredible and carefully written this book where its not meticulous and yet, well written in many ways. I truly enjoy the book as much as I understand the world Meursaultthinks he is in. Where one is forced to believe in God, he doesn't. Where one believes he had no attachments to his girlfriend Marie of love, but he would do what she wants him to. He did love his mother, but in his own way that nobody understands. In a point where how Meursault live his life, he felt indifferent towards what is in front of him.

 

I enjoy reading The Outsider. To me, I would recommend anyone with an open mind to read this. This is truly a book I consider a classic and its a rare thing to enjoy this much. I should have taken more time to finish this since its a short book but in the end, its worth finishing it.

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review 2018-01-21 06:40
A Personal Semi-Autobiography of Anna Kavan In A Post-Apocalyptic Dystopian Future Science Fiction Novel
Ice - ICE -

Post-apocalyptic dystopian stories are some thing I enjoy most. When I pick up Ice, it was a read I never thought I would enjoy, mainly because the setting is a character itself. While the story revolves around narrator who is in love with a girl that is pale as ice and hair that is silvery that it sparkles when she turns her head, its a story of love that is personal to the author herself - Anna Kavan.

 

The world is ending and ice is forming in almost every where. As the world is near frozen, one man travels from place to place to seek out a girl, held mysterious captive by a man known as the 'warden'. Where society on the brink of self-destruction and no government officials to control the chaos, the man had to travel through harsh ice and snow to save a girl who hardly knows him.

 

There is so much to enjoy in this book. Its my first time I heard about Anna Kavan (a pseudonym she use from one of her book characters; her real name is Helen Emily Woods) and when I pick up this book, it was just the theme I was looking for to read. I never knew that Ice was also a personal journey of her life experiences. Yes, there are some autobiography elements of her life in this book, one that truly shares the deepest depths of her unhappy life. As it may be weird in reading, this is a science fiction novel that truly has a unique voice. For me, this is by far one of my favorite reads this year.

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