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Search tags: perplexed-and-befuddled
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review 2018-11-26 21:14
Errrhhhh
Los Ojos Azules Pelo Negro - Clara Janés,Marguerite Duras

This one was one weird cookie. And for my first forage in Duras, not an auspicious one.

 

The premise, such as there is one, is interesting (when we finally get to glimpse wtf, but hey, if you made it to page 3, you know the writing is... hard to get used to would be my kind assessment), and some of the way it's approached rings true. But 90 pages of it in a weird literary flight and such a dreary tone? Big pass.

 

It's like taking a Nîn short story, stretch it 5 times it's length, take all the joy of it till the erotic label barely applies, add some strange (maybe theatric cues? Maybe meta? Who even knows!) paragraphs, and presto, depressing incomprehensible shit for you.

 

*sigh* We bought an extra book of hers this august. Wonder if I'll ever read it.

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review 2018-10-27 18:25
Since I'm not reading for spirituality's sake
The Divine Comedy - Eugenio Montale,Sandro Botticelli,Peter Armour,Dante Alighieri,Allen Mandelbaum

Done! *cheers* (and an abrupt end it was)

 

I confess I started to loose my enthusiasm by Purgatory, and Paradiso veritably dragged for me.

 

Inferno is indeed the most interesting, likely because it concentrates more on describing the poetic (and in many cases gruesome) justice inflicted there.

 

Purgatory gets a bit wishy washy because we are even more deluged with contemporary examples, which was exhausting from a "pausing to research WTF" whenever I needed context to understand the grade, and felt like self indulgent page bloating when I didn't. And then we get to Eden, pretty cavalcade of symbolism lead by the still much discussed mystery that is Matilda, and meet Beatriz. Ahhhh, the lady herself, that symbolizes theology. Maybe it is no wonder I found her supercilious and overly jealous.

 

I have to praise Dante's balls: first he aligns himself equal among Homer, Ovid and Virgil in that Limbo chat, and here he places his lady love highly enthroned in the Empireum, representing the Dogma by which he knows God.

 

If I could leave Paradiso just taking away that love has been his salvation and his way to heaven, we'd be good. But no, he had to insist on hammering until rigid conformity to scripture was reached. Thorough what felt like endless proselytizing (hey, I know it is my fault, because what was I expecting, right?) and pointing fingers of doom everywhere (the amount of eggs thrown the church's way! And his political enemies... you bet this got him the exile prophesied to him here).

 

Also, even considering some pretty descriptions, the spheres felt lame and boring reward (and here I'm reminded of Huxley calling happiness undramatic and boring, and Le Guin criticizing those that think "Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting"). Where is the imaginative poetic justice of the first third? Methinks Dante got too tangled in the discussion of virtues and splitting hairs on their display levels. So yeah, I get the whole "watching god and feeling his light is rapture beyond comprehension", I'm still contending that the theological got in the way of the literary, and there goes one star. Sue me.

 

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review 2018-09-09 10:20
Whut?
Heart of Darkness - Robert Hampson,Joseph Conrad

I did not get this one at all. Well, more or less.

 

The setting and atmosphere is excellently done and chilling. The whole vibe of everyone being a bit skewed from right in the head persistent and disturbing. The content on colonization, "civilizing" other cultures, and the measure of human vs savage highly quotable. Actually, for such a short thing, the amount of bits I marked and saved is staggering.

 

And for such a short thing, the amount of time it took me to read is staggering. It's the way the book is written I think, with the chronicler speaking with little pauses and running the happenings together, till you have no paragraph breaks to help you organize what the hell is going on, what's important, how you go from this to that. You are mentally bombarded with chaos in a way, which, OK, might actually be the deliberate genius of the author, making you feel what the character is talking about. But hell.

 

It was an interesting experience that I more or less enjoyed till a third in, and then I just wanted to end. I'm absolutely baffled by Kurt, or the point the character's existence was making in the story, beyond being some mcguffin reason to have our teller go in and go back, because knowing that Conrad liked writing about the fragility of morals, sanity and civilized trappings under the cover of darkness, it seems to me Kurt was pretty well touched BEFORE going to rob African's of their ivory (his cousin says he would have made an excellent party leader, any party, because he was in essence an extremist, and god, how that reminded me of parts of Invisible Man), so it's not like he would be a great example?.

 

This review is a mess, but this book is messing with my head because I can't quite grasp it, or even rate it. I'm thinking of raisin the stars on the fact that it's making me wreak my brains alone, since it already got the "pass" 2 on quotes and atmosphere alone.

 

It is an usual obligatory read? My condolences.

 

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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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