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text 2017-08-21 13:02
Reading progress update: I've read 34 out of 210 pages.
The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't - Robert I. Sutton

"People who persistently leave others feeling de-energized undermine their own performance by turning co-workers and bosses against them and stifling motivation throughout their social networks."

Hm. Yes.

 

So far, not much info that surprises me, and not much in the way of specifics for dealing with what the author calls "certified assholes."

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review 2017-08-21 06:15
Ring by Koji Suzuki, translated by Robert B. Rohmer and Glynne Walley
Ring - Robert B. Rohmer,Glynne Walley,Koji Suzuki

Warning: This book includes multiple mentions of rapes and a main character who is likely a rapist. Also, one of the main characters deliberately misgenders another character.

Kazuyuki Asakawa is a reporter who got into a bit of trouble in the past. From what I could gather (it was a little confusing), he wrote an article that exacerbated oddly widespread public reports of supernatural sightings. That’s why his boss is reluctant to okay his most recent project: an investigation into several disturbing simultaneous deaths. One of the victims was his niece, who tore out her hair as she died. Her death, like the others, was ruled “sudden heart failure,” but would that really cause a teenage girl to rip out her hair like that?

Asakawa’s investigation leads him to a difficult-to-get-to cabin, where he watches a mysterious videotape that warns him that all who watch the tape are fated to die exactly one week later. Those who do not wish to die must follow the tape’s instructions...except that the instructions were taped over. Asakawa would laugh it off it weren’t for those four simultaneous deaths.

In an effort to save himself, Asakawa enlists the help of the one man he knows who'd actually enjoy this strange task: Ryuji Takayama, a creepy and gross philosophy professor with a grating personality.

This was a reread, but all I could remember about it, at first, was that it was pretty different from the American movie (I’ve never seen the Japanese one). A few chapters in, I regained a few more memories about the story, enough that certain lines and phrases stood out to me that I’m pretty sure I overlooked during my first reading. However, I had forgotten a lot more than I expected: although I remembered what Asakawa had to do in order to survive, I completely forgot several details about Ryuji and Sadako.

For me, the first third of the book, before Ryuji’s introduction, was the strongest. Sure, it took a long time for Asakawa to get far enough into his investigation to track down the tape, but the spooky atmosphere was excellent, and I enjoyed seeing his investigative process and anticipating the events to come. I didn’t really like Asakawa, who so rarely took care of his own child that his wife found his insistence on putting her down for a nap himself suspicious, but I was okay with that. When it comes to horror novels, I don’t necessarily need to like the main characters, and sometimes it’s even better when I don’t (less to mourn when/if they die).

Then Ryuji entered the scene. I know I just said that I don’t always need to like characters in horror novels, but Ryuji was really pushing things. Near the end of the book,

one character said that much of his behavior was a lie and that he was actually a very good man, but I happen to think that character was just deluding herself. I snorted when Asakawa decided to believe her on the basis of her woman’s intuition - if woman’s intuition was all that it took to convince him, what about his wife’s deep hatred of Ryuji, which he had never asked her to explain?

(spoiler show)


I personally think Ryuji was the man Asakawa saw, the one who’d admitted to raping multiple women and who once said that this was his wish for the future: “While viewing the extinction of the human race from the top of a hill, I would dig a hole in the earth and ejaculate into it over and over.” (117) I believe that Asakawa was so quick to change his mind about Ryuji because part of him knew he should have told someone when, back in high school, Ryuji admitted to him that he’d raped someone. The thought that Ryuji might have

lied about all of that

(spoiler show)

made him feel less guilty about having done absolutely nothing.

Okay, now that I’ve vented some of my anger about slimeball Ryuji and enabler Asakawa, on to the rest. The investigation continued to be pretty interesting, although the spooky atmosphere all but disappeared, overshadowed by Asakawa’s increasing panic over his approaching deadline. Unfortunately, the more he panicked the less he used his brain, giving Ryuji more opportunities to talk and be smug about his own intelligence.

I had forgotten most of the details of the later part of the investigation and was completely hooked, wanting to see how things would turn out. One particular revelation about Sadako took me completely by surprise, and not in a good way. So many things about that one scene bugged me. As much as I enjoyed this book in general, it was absolute crap when it came to

gender issues. Also, I did not appreciate the use of rape as a plot device.

(spoiler show)


When I first read this book, I wasn’t aware that it was the first in a series. I own the second book, Spiral, and plan to read it soon.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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text 2017-08-21 03:59
At least one of my reads for Halloween Bingo
Brat Farrar - Josephine Tey,Robert Barnard

While looking through some of my previous reviews, my interest was jogged by an earlier project, that "personal canon" of the books that shaped our reading -- and/or writing -- tastes.  I had a lot of fun rereading and analyzing Lord Johnnie a few months ago, but then never followed up with any of the other books in the personal canon.

 

Though I'm not sure which bingo square I'll use it for, I've decided to reread Josephine Tey's Brat Farrar, one of the first adult books I ever read.  I still own that copy, purchased through the school book club when I was in the eighth grade.  Yeah, thirty-five cents!  Some of the pages have fallen loose, but none are missing.  I treasure that book.

 

 

At some point I'm sure I've written a review somewhere, but I sure as heck can't find it right now. 

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review 2017-08-20 05:26
Guter Roman aber nicht grandios
Die Vertreibung aus der Hölle - Robert Menasse

Der Roman von Robert Menasse beginnnt in einer grosssartigen Ausgangskonstellation: Bei einem 25-jährigen Klassentreffen konfrontiert der Schüler Viktor - mittlerweile habilitierter Historiker - seine Lehrer mit ihrer Nazivergangenheit, indem er von den jeweiligen Mitgliedern des Lehrkörpers die NSDAP Mitgliedernummern vorliest. Das das gemütliche Beisammensein natürlich auf Grund dieser Aktion beendet ist, versteht sich von selbst. Dann erzählt der Autor aber bedauerlicherweise nicht diese Geschichte, die ich sehr gerne gehört hätte,  sondern eine völlig andere. In zwei unterschiedlichen Handlungssträngen wird zuerst eine Lebensgeschichte aus Portugal und Amsterdam konzipiert, die sich als jene von Viktors Vorfahren herausstellt, und weiters wird das gesamte Leben von Viktor bis zum Klassentreffen aufgerollt.

Dabei wird es stilistisch sehr mühsam. Der Switch zwischen den beiden Handlungssträngen ist mitunter derart abrupt, und wird auch nahezu jedesmal beim Wechsel angewandt, dass man sich als Leser oft gar nicht auskennt. Zuerst dachte ich noch an einen Fehler bzw. ein Stilmittel des Verlages, der einfach die Zeilenumbrüche nicht ausreichend zwischen Vergangenheit und Gegenwart gesetzt hat. Aber dann wurde es klar, dass dies vom Autor beabsichtigt war, denn einmal wurde die Gegenwart nur durch zwei Zeilen eingeschoben (S.86) und ein anderes Mal ging der Satz direkt ansatzlos vom Amsterdam des 17. Jahrhunderts über und wurde in der Jetztzeit beendet (S.479).
Was das bringen und wie dieses mühsame Stilmittel den Inhalt unterstützen bzw. vorantreiben soll, ist mir komplett schleierhaft, offensichtlich dürfte es die Analogie der Lebensbiografien in der Familie demonstrieren, die aber nicht wirklich vorhanden sind. Mich hat es nur genervt, da es so sinnentleert appliziert wird.

Ansonsten kann er ja sehr gut erzählen der Herr Menasse und präsentiert uns eine gute Geschichte vor allem von Viktors Ahnen aus Lissabon und Amsterdam im 17. Jahrhundert, aber auch das triste Wien der 60er bis 70er Jahre wird sehr punktgenau charakterisiert und seziert. Einige philosophische und reale Auseinandersetzungen in der linken Studentenszene sind auch sehr spannend zu lesen. Insbesondere die Opferung von Viktors Ruf in der Bewegung durch Renate als "Der Mann - das Schwein" schlechthin - stellvertretend für alle Männer.

Am Ende im Finale verpufft sowohl die Geschichte des Rabbis, der irgendwie zu plötzlich stirbt um seine Probleme zu lösen, als auch jene Nazi Story Viktors mit den Lehrern, die sich als Fake,  als Finte herausstellt.

Fazit: 3,5 Sterne aufgerundet auf 4 erstens wegen der Erzählkraft des Romans - obwohl ich perönlich eine völlig andere Geschichte vom Autor hören wollte - wegen der Leserquälung ohne Ziel, Sinn und Verstand beim Switch zwischen den Handlungssträngen und wegen des unausgegorenen Endes. Ein ganz gutes Buch - möglicherweise eines der besten des Autors - das kann ich nicht beurteilen, denn dies ist mein erster Robert Menasse. Ehrlich gesagt, gefällt mir das von seiner Schwester Vienna wesentlich besser. (Nachtrag auch sie ist stilistisch ein bisschen eigen und übt sich in der Leserverwirrung, was ihr bei mir die 5 Sterne gekostet hat ;-).

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quote 2017-08-17 08:15
Nikt, kto słucha swojego sumienia nie postępuje źle(...). Konsekwencje mogą być inne niż się spodziewaliśmy; z czasem może się okazać, że popełniliśmy błąd. Ale to nie oznacza, że postąpiliśmy źle. Jedyną wskazówką na to, że wybieramy to lub inne postępowanie, jest nasze sumienie, bo to we własnym sumieniu najwyraźniej słyszymy głos Boga.
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