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Search tags: perplexed-and-befuddled
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review 2017-12-12 12:55
Casting your brain into big questions
Stories of Your Life and Others - Ted Chiang

I went in all big eyes and heavy heart and cheating, starting with the story I was curious about after watching the movie. It was sadder in it's determinism, but it was all that (and it had emotion, lordy, did it have emotion).

 

About half way through this book (and with my brain much hurting, I get so immersed into these Big Question explorations), LeGuin's introduction for The Left Hand of Darkness (I was very much taken by them, book and intro) kept popping into my thoughts. The part where she says taking a concept to it's maximum expression is like concentrating any chemical element: it causes cancer.

 

The stories vary in nature and theme, they are interesting, and unique. And in a sense, bleak. Lacking in hope, some in sentiment, some in... something. I can't quite put my finger on it, but while amazing, thought-provoking explorations that filled me with wonder or questions, each tale left me with this vague sense of depression. Which had little to do with whether they had happy ending or not (most are a dagger), since Le Guin does that, you blubber like a fool, and still makes you love it and leave bittersweet hopeful. So, not the presence of pain. Maybe more like a general lack of joy to balance them (for the most part).

 

Anyway, it is a really good book to think about or discuss, and it delves into some interesting territories (I'm itching for some looong research and reading on some things that went over my head). Different and exhausting. Will read more of the author.

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review 2017-09-05 08:26
Magnificently Unnerving
The Haunting of Hill House - Shirley Jackson,Laura Miller

By the way, I went looking into the publishing date, and in typical wiki walk style, ended up learning about the difference between horror and terror. I need a new shelf, because this one goes into the second without question.

 

Points I can praise without spoiling (much):

 

The way everyone chats and snarks, cool as cucumbers while all the shit is going down. At times it made me laugh, at times I would tilt my head and wonder whether everyone was just crazy, and at times I would go back a paragraph wondering if I had miss-read

 

about the freaking blood/writing/thumping.

(spoiler show)

 

The dialogue (again), and how it crosses, goes over each others lines, interrupts, repeats, mixes conversations. Very natural. And sometimes confusing. You have to be engaged, because it goes fast.

 

Eleanor's thought process. Yeah...

 

All the commentary on social interaction. Jackson is a scary observant woman.

 

"She knew, of course, that he was delighting in exceeding his authority, as though once he moved to unlock the gate he would lose the little temporary superiority he thought he had—and what superiority have I? she wondered; I am outside the gate, after all. She could already see that losing her temper, which she did rarely because she was so afraid of being ineffectual, would only turn him away, leaving her still outside the gate, railing futilely. She could even anticipate his innocence if he were reproved later for this arrogance—the maliciously vacant grin, the wide, blank eyes, the whining voice protesting that he would have let her in, he planned to let her in, but how could he be sure? He had his orders, didn’t he? And he had to do what he was told? He’d be the one to get in trouble, wouldn’t he, if he let in someone who wasn’t supposed to be inside?"

 

Not able to comment on without spoiling:

 

The deep uncertainty that comes from viewing this story from Eleanor's head. Was she just that deranged, lonely, needy and possibly in-denial-lesbian? Or was she not deranged (the other are more or less foregone) and the house gave her a last push? There is also the opening, that if I were take on the context of Eleanor's situation, could mean that when all her illusions and daydreams were ripped from her, she had no avenue left but suicide. She could not cope with her absolute reality.

(spoiler show)

 

At any rate, an excellently written spook.

 

“God God—whose hand was I holding?”

 

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review 2017-07-22 21:00
British and Zanny in Space
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams

I would call this sci-fi on mushrooms. Funny, but very weird.

On a side note: I've never been afraid of rats, but I might reconsider.

 

 

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review 2017-04-30 18:24
Run! It's too late after you embark
Moby-Dick - Andrew Delbanco, Tom Quirk,Herman Melville

It's not often lately that I find a read that threatens to leave me clueless as to what I'm reading. I'm not talking content here (I'll get to that later), but sheer language. Between the heavy intertextuallity, the word usage and sentences structure, I found myself having no idea what the last paragraph or three meant, and have to backtrack, more than I liked. I though I was over that shit. Conceit corrected.

 

Next, the characters feel like ghosts. Even the narrator sometimes loses substance, becoming something airlike and almost omniscient. They are Ahab's crew. If you want to get all metaphysical, traits of humanity that are driven by one over-consuming. It goes just as well as you could expect.


Last, the story. The thing itself could be spun in a third of the length without loosing anything from the plot. But, and here is where the ambitious bastard trips you, most of the meaning, theme and depth is stored in the fat. All those hazed-eyes inducing chapters? They actually have a point. Damned all those lit analysis classes, much of an overarching understanding of the novel hinges on the Jonah's sermon and the whiteness chapters.

So, is it worth it? Hell if I know. I powered through the thing, even liked it to some extent, and I'm still unconvinced. There is a certain brilliance in what it attempts. To me, the whole idea (and what it feels like to read it) can be encompassed in one passage in ch16: Ishmael goes to Peleg to ask to go whaling for a "desire to see the world" and Peleg tells him to look across the bow of the docked ship. There is nothing but water, says Ishamel, and Peleg answers that's the world he'll see a whaling. You can read a summary of the book as you can see the sea from the shore.The wisdom of going whaling is seriously challenged after all.

 

But it's not the same.

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review 2016-12-14 05:45
This is not that book
Insomnia - Stephen King

I reckon I'll have to come back to this one after I've read the whole Dark Tower saga. Knowing the broad strokes of King's over-arching mythos I got most of what was going on, but I don't think I enjoyed it as much as I might.

 

That said, it was not what I expected. I thought it would explore a failing mind by sleep deprivation into scary country, with some supernatural thrown in. This is not that book. Just letting you guys know, if you come with the same hope. Because that stuff in the hands of King would be freaking amazing.

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