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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 2019-08-29 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 2018-09-20 02:59
First half to see good, then the shots are fired
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil - John Berendt

When I was around two thirds in, I started idly concocting a review in my brain, about how the almost surreal elements and characters was what gave this narrative such a verisimilitude. Cue me over the 80% mark, just going to search for a detail, and finding out this is nonfiction. Sure, there are artistic licenses, but in essence?

 

I love it when knowing absolutely nothing about a book pays up in such ways.

 

As I mentioned previously in an update, the general tone reminded me a lot of latinoamerican writing. This has a lot to do with the conservative (and quirky) societies that brew in relatively small, isolated towns. You have the sedate and beautiful surface, and the decades/generations long ugly undercurrents. Everyone "behaves" in public out of a certain need for society and peace, and whomever "pops" may as well go the whole nine-yards and wear it like a flag.

 

So, that's basically the aim: to illustrate Savannah. The plot as it were serves the theme. We go into the deep ugly undercurrents. Almost every ugly you can imagine. Sometimes you are enraged and amused at the same time from the sheer hypocrisy rampant. I spent most of the book in some queer state of entertained stupefaction because it is so grotesque you almost can't believe it. But you do. You recognize it. It is your hometown.

 

 

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review 2018-04-19 05:23
New beginnings
Four Ways to Forgiveness - Ursula K. Le Guin

These are four loosely connected but independent short stories set at the start of Yeowe's independence from Werel, after 30 years of revolutionary war. They are the stories of people as different as they can possibly come, coming to terms. With loss, with cultural differences, with a place in society, with the past. They are all also big on starting anew. And, of course, feminism. The right to freedom, to a voice, to vote, to an education, to not be raped. These are all discussed and are an important part of the book, given the planet's recent upheaval and it's heavy history of slavery and male-dominated environment.

 

I found it bittersweet and lovely, and ended up with a huge bunch of quotes saved and a lump in my throat that I know not what to do with. There is so much wrong with this planet, so much hurt, and yet... it is so hopeful. I guess forgiveness is a kind of hope. Another chance. Much like love; another thing that permeates the book and is ever-present in every story.

 

I have closed it, as so many stories close, with a joining of two people. What is one man’s and one woman’s love and desire, against the history of two worlds, the great revolutions of our lifetimes, the hope, the unending cruelty of our species? A little thing. But a key is a little thing, next to the door it opens. If you lose the key, the door may never be unlocked. It is in our bodies that we lose or begin our freedom, in our bodies that we accept or end our slavery. So I wrote this book for my friend, with whom I have lived and will die free.

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review 2017-09-04 06:05
Better than I remembered
The Drawing of the Three - Stephen King

Second volume of this saga is sooo much better. Better than the first volume and better on second read.

Better than the first because it felt more grounded somehow. Despite the whole "magic doorway" thing, it was way less surreal than "The Gunslinger". The writing was more rounded too, and I connected better with the characters.

Better on second read because there was a dimension of meaning and character growth I could not appreciate first time around (having read it as a stand-alone), and because I'm older, and no matter how mature you think you are, there is a lot you can't really understand when you are a teen.

Despite remembering almost everything, I was not bored. At all. I actually sped through 3/4 of it before my brain revolted clamoring for sleep. That's a "good stuff" stamp, if there is ever one.

I'm full on board of this train now, and will be reading the next install soon.

 

 

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