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review 2020-04-04 08:22
Silence, privilege and opression
Purple Hibiscus - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This book is terrible. It hurts like a bitch in a very quiet, understated way, it does not have the grace of tying the themes in any of the expected or more hopeful ways, and does so in a excellently written way. "Beat me while I love you" much?... Feels like a meta-theme.

 

There are: parallels between the government and Kambili's father's tyranny, between her aunt dithering on leaving the country while urging her mother to leave her father, the friend's questions on what is to be done if the strong leave, the children as reasons for leaving, where to go as the mother asks.

 

There are: commentaries about privilege, and the amount of issues it conceals, about the difference between public and private image, about having for others to see but not enjoying, about compassion not being something deserved, or related to station.

 

There are: questions about internalized colonization, the way religion opens paths for oppression and culture erosion (I raged so hard at the baptism and confirmation names thing), how a nation's identity gets eaten.

 

The motto of a university being "to restore dignity", like dignity has been lost, and higher education is what "gives" it... I have so many issues with the pretentiousness of that motto even while I think education does empower a people.

 

There is frankly a lot, and it left me so sad.

 

The first tenth is a mastery of the ominous. There is no overt violence, but the atmosphere itself is violently oppressive, and you can feel how the silence was bred into this girl. There is a moment where Jaja talks about another girl that saw her father murdered just starting to talk after 4 months, and he says she'll never heal from that, and it stayed with me that none of this characters ever will. The mother drank the love sips and was grateful that there was no second wife. Jaja paid heartily for his inner guilt. Kambili still yearns for her father's approval in her dreams, and that's how terrible and binding this twisted mockery of love is. They still do not talk. But maybe they have some hope of laughter.

 

I'm not touching that other priest with a ten foot pole because she's freaking 15.

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review 2020-03-21 02:57
That was pretty perfect
Emergency Skin - N.K. Jemisin

I loved the concept, I found the way we never read the protagonist's thoughts or words, yet we can perfectly infer them, very interesting, but most of all I loved how the full journey includes coming back to free the rest. That's putting the example he's been shown into it's final implementation, and it tied a knot into my throat. Beautiful.

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review 2019-09-28 05:46
“Poo-tee-weet?”
Slaughterhouse-Five - Kurt Vonnegut

Took some pages for the book to grab me. If I'm honest, I'm pretty sure it was the chat with his war-buddy's wife, and as it happens, it is something of a key for the whole book. There was a promise there

 

If I ever do finish it, though, I give you my word of honor: there won’t be a part for Frank Sinatra or John Wayne.
“I tell you what,” I said, “I’ll call it ‘The Children’s Crusade.’”

 

It was kept, in sub-title and spirit.

 

There is nothing that could ever come close to glorifying war inside these pages. The theme is how absurd a beast it is, the little and big tragedies, how far in time the damages travel (and who was that said that wars die only with the last soldier that fought in it dies?). Hell, the whole way it's constructed is thoroughly trafalmadorian, which we would call hell of a PTSD outside any sci-fi bent mind.

 

It's also so bittersweet and human. There was also this other bit near the beginning that caught me

 

And Lot’s wife, of course, was told not to look back where all those people and their homes had been. But she did look back, and I love her for that, because it was so human.

 

Because... well, I guess because it kind of encapsulates the thing, and how it feels. It's horrible, and terrible, and pretty disgusting, and so are almost every character in one aspect or another, but you are compelled to look. The dead demand to be witnessed and acknowledged and war sucks.

 

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review 2019-08-29 10:28
A tale is a tail
Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel García Márquez,Edith Grossman

Several stray thoughts I had while choosing the tags for this one:

 

It's not really romance-done-right. While the title is scrupulous, there is little romance to all the types of "loves" (because there is always that doubt, of what is and is not love, what is selfish use, or abuse, and whether that frontier is concrete) weaved into the tapestry of the story. Most are too real or too fantastical, or grotesque (and still real, maybe more so), and the ways they happen are written just so; with all the anxiety, the terror, hesitation, thoughtlessness, doubts, crudity or day-to-day boredom that merits the occasion.

 

Wanted to tick better-than-expected but I still don't know why I am surprised by his writing.

 

This one is not magical-realism. Actually, leaving aside One Hundred Years of Solitude , I don't know that any of his other books would fit that one. Might be the grandiose, nearly mythic proportions of the stories he pieces together in his novels.

 

 

It is an odd and frankly ambitious book. It immerses you into the story by way of an octogenarian last chapter no less, and after it wraps you in, tells you how two seventy-somethings traveled through 50 years of other loves to re-meet as lovers. It meanders through the years and the relationships, and the depictions when gathered turn into a tapestry that is nothing less than epic in scope.

 

I can't say that I truly liked any of the characters, and yet, maybe I loved them all, in their terrible intensities. They are certainly memorable.

 

As always, I take off my hat to his opening and closing sentences, to the strange feats and acrobatics he manages from the language, to the way he depicts the shiny and the rotten side by side, making something amazing and nostalgic of a nature core of reality.

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review 2019-04-23 05:21
I was a feminist before I knew what that meant
Mujercitas: Eran Las de Antes? y Otros Escritos: (El Sexismo En Los Libros Para Chicos) - Graciela Beatriz Cabal

I loved these essays when I was 12, and I loved them all over again 20 years later. Part of it is that I've never read something of this author that I did not love. Part of it is that I happen to agree with much of what she present here.

 

Mostly, is how she writes this: The subtitle is "Sexism in children books"

 

She proceeds to write about her primary school experience, interspersing it with textbook and the accompanying "pseudo-literature" (that's what she calls it) quotations and bibliography. She never says "this was sexist", "this was racist", "this was unfair". But boy, does it come across. At points it's so ridiculous, you can't help but laugh.

 

She talks about the roles of women in fairy and traditional tales. She talks about explicitly (and sometimes either horrifyingly or hilariously, or both, missing the point) tacking on moralizing end-lines to fables. There are also among the pages pictures of old advertising posters geared toward women. OMG, those posters.

 

The last essay is one that is dear and near to my heart (and my mom, as a die-hard librarian): this pervasive idea (that needs to be killed with fire) that children literature is "a women thing", because it is more about children (clearly, a province of the female) than about literature, and on this triple insult of "women write badly" "children do not understand much" "bad literature produced by women is therefore a perfect match".

 

It is a very short book. It can be read in an hour. But is a powerful one, that charms you as you read, that stays in your mind, that makes you squint your eyes at what you read after (and oh, boy, did I tear though some fairy tales collections afterwards).

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