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Search tags: soul-pains
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review 2020-06-14 00:38
Inheritances sellable and not
The Telling - Ursula K. Le Guin

I don't know what it is with Ursula Le Guin, but every one of her books, whatever the rate I end up giving the whole, have at least one instance where she emotionally wreaks me, and it's always exquisite. It's like looking at the page and feel like telling her "Damn, that's one beautiful dagger you are stabbing me with"*

I feel like pointing it out just because in this case, since it happens to clear my 3stars Le Guin base bar with ease to nestle by World is Forest, Forgiveness, and Left Hand. Maybe even like a caveat. Just so I can qualify that I'm biased and it's all emotionally stabbed city here.

And what stabs ME particularly, beyond the punctual sad, is the theme. While at first sight the theme seems to be religion and spirituality vs technologic advance or consumerism, what it's actually about is culture and all the infinite components that make it, and all the ways introducing an outsider element, even with the best intentions, can fuck it up enough for it to devour itself, or at least severely up-heave and endanger, what it's about is balance, and fanaticism, and dogmatic corruption. The Telling is the passing of cultural information. In it's basis, it's words, stories, oral and written, and funnily enough, when it comes down to it, science and religion are part of it, right along with dances, meals, music, rites, customs, history.

That is my interpretation for this book. As a person that loves books, and myths, and folklore, that seats to watch movies and series as a bonding activity with my family, that cleans while blasting music, that was taught religion formally even if never practiced, that learnt my regional dances from my grandmother and uncles, to cook from my grandfather, to love reading from my mother, and science from my father, this is like a love letter received, and like a verbalization of all that strange juggling or balancing act one does inside with all the pieces that make home/root/culture and seem incongruous, or even like they'd require alternate suspense of disbelief and double-though. Culture is a mess, and it's incongruous, and unfathomably vast, and it's made of big and little pieces that sometimes contradict, and it does never really make sense. But it's the ground you stand upon; to try to erase it is to loose your step. And its life-blood is the word.


*(and if you get internet in heaven, I hope you get this... from my catholic raised, agnostic leaning towards atheism ass... which is a bad joke that only makes sense in theme)

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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 2020-01-25 16:27
That's one hell of a ghost
Beloved - Toni Morrison

I don't really know what to say about this book, literature-wise. What I know is that it touched me. I left a comment over halfway through, about crying to the beat of the lifting bits, and negative spaces, and I don't know if I'm capable of doing it more justice.

 

There was a lot that kept crashing over and over, in the echoes of lines and themes through the ages, and stays with me: Freedom as owning yourself. Freedom being necessary to be able to love. What can't be borne, what breaks you, the sequels, the need sometimes to leave the past buried. This idea:

 

“You your best thing, Sethe. You are.”

 

And this idea:

 

For years Paul D believed schoolteacher broke into children what Garner had raised into men. And it was that that made them run off. Now, plagued by the contents of his tobacco tin, he wondered how much difference there really was between before schoolteacher and after. Garner called and announced them men—but only on Sweet Home, and by his leave. Was he naming what he saw or creating what he did not? That was the wonder of Sixo, and even Halle; it was always clear to Paul D that those two were men whether Garner said so or not.

 

But over all, this:

 

“Here,” she said, “in this here place, we flesh; flesh that weeps, laughs; flesh that dances on bare feet in grass. Love it. Love it hard. Yonder they do not love your flesh. They despise it. They don’t love your eyes; they’d just as soon pick em out. No more do they love the skin on your back. Yonder they flay it. And O my people they do not love your hands. Those they only use, tie, bind, chop off and leave empty. Love your hands! Love them. Raise them up and kiss them. Touch others with them, pat them together, stroke them on your face ’cause they don’t love that either. You got to love it, you! And no, they ain’t in love with your mouth. Yonder, out there, they will see it broken and break it again. What you say out of it they will not heed. What you scream from it they do not hear. What you put into it to nourish your body they will snatch away and give you leavins instead. No, they don’t love your mouth. You got to love it. This is flesh I’m talking about here. Flesh that needs to be loved. Feet that need to rest and to dance; backs that need support; shoulders that need arms, strong arms I’m telling you. And O my people, out yonder, hear me, they do not love your neck unnoosed and straight. So love your neck; put a hand on it, grace it, stroke it and hold it up. And all your inside parts that they’d just as soon slop for hogs, you got to love them. The dark, dark liver—love it, love it, and the beat and beating heart, love that too. More than eyes or feet. More than lungs that have yet to draw free air. More than your life-holding womb and your life-giving private parts, hear me now, love your heart. For this is the prize.”

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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 2018-10-21 06:10
Surprised me
The Witch of Blackbird Pond - Elizabeth George Speare

I was not expecting to find such a flawed, three-dimensional cast and a sad grim tone in a short, children's book. I don't know why, really, since I've come across both of those separately often enough in them (Dark Materials, Little Princess) paired with the big questions too. Specially given the fact that I've been a heavy reader since my tweens, and a firm believer in that Cabal's quote "when I want to write something that I think adults will have trouble understanding, I write children books" (I'm paraphrasing, I don't have that good a memory, and she likely borrowed too).

 

Here is the deal: this was way dramatic than I expected. And when I say dramatic, I mean angst, grief, homesickness, the loneliness of being an outsider. Really sad. Also maddening.

 

It is maddening because human nature is maddening. And because everyone, MC included, are flawed people with some good qualities and reasonable ideals and opinions and stances, and some appallingly wrong mixed in, so even with the best intentions they rub the wrong way and clash, misunderstand, work at cross-purpose. And there is always a little bitch witch shit ready to hate.

 

It was an interesting read even before the context of publishing-time kicks in (though I suspect there were some interesting witch-hunt related things coming out then... wasn't The Crucible a contemporary of McCarthyism too?)

 

At any rate, it was a really good book (totally deserves those awards), and it ended all sweet, happy and neat.

 

Hey! I keep missing my read for making another bingo. At this point, I'm not even pretending to curve my mood-reading. (There is also the bit where there is no magic here, but I'll let the title excuse my being misled)

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