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review 2017-07-14 08:49
Treatise and character study
Anna Karenina - Larissa Volokhonsky,Richard Pevear,Leo Tolstoy

The foremost impression I'm left with, since I have the last part very present, is this literary symmetry: Anna takes about sixty pages to come in, by train, and leaves the book sixty pages from the end, also by train (yes, I know, some dark humor).

Next, also with the end very present, this sense that in the end, Levin and Ana essential difference is that when doubt harasses them, Levin goes back to what feels natural to him and trudges on, and Anna gives into despair.

For all that it's name comes from the woman, larger than life in the outside, and deeply uncertain on the inside, it was Levin the vehicle for most of the author treatise on... well, everything: agrarian reform, women's education, religion, politics, war, ideologies... At first I was interested. Passing the middle point, I just wanted the author to get on with it. I've gone over this many times: I have little patience for authors trying to educate or reform me through fiction.

While the Levin/Kitty side of the novel carries the most heart-warming bits, it's also choke-full of opinions, so whenever we got to it, instead of feeling like I was resting from Anna's turbulence, I started to feel dread at the amount of pages Tolstoy was about to bore me with his "insight". I totally get why the movies gloss so much over this side of the equation.

And it is some type of equation, or coin. I wonder if the author was trying to make Anna into a personification of reason, given the stab he takes at it in relation with faith in the end, with Levin as this second, him being unable to properly express himself, but finding peace with his own being at the end; Anna all poise, yet false, forever uncertain inside, speech coming out pleasant while thoughts looped and spun in place without answer. Also, passion vs. love. And romantic feeling against filial.

As for characters (beyond the two protagonist, because, you know, so mired into the theme), they were all so damned well fleshed out:

Vronsky with his honorable selfishness: I know it sounds like a contradiction, but the guy truly does not realize the damage he does, and in his own way, he follows a code of conduct strictly. It's horrifying.

Karenin... *sigh* Anna calls him a robot. At first, it looks like she's just over-reacting to her new feelings, ascribing the worst to her obstacle. It turns out she is over-reacting, but she's also somewhat right. The guy is a wonder of self-discipline, in his life and even where his feelings and though process is concerned. The way he twist and rearranges facts and ideas to suit himself is a thing to read. While writing this, I also wonder if his influence wasn't arresting much of Anna's internal disorder, if she didn't loose what little was keeping her peace when she left him, or if it was the other way around: a wild mare kept in tight reign, that suddenly tasted freedom and galloped non-stop into the abyss, with Vronsky spurring her.

Kitty with her innocence; Vronsky breaks her heart, but after some false steps, she comes on the other side just as sweet, and wiser.

Dolly and her big heart. Stiva forever on the rope by the miracle of his social nature. Sanctimonious Lidia. Betsy, so liberal but in the end unwilling to forsake societies constraints. Sergey and his empty rhetoric. Nikolay and his nihilism. Varenka.

I guess there was much more in all those many pages than proselytism. You can disregard this whole paragraph, I'm claiming that Levin ruined me, but really? Last night I went to sleep, and kept wondering: how much of these explorations impulse change? Much of what is disused in dialogues here feels like sides talking to hear themselves, not to seek understanding, and I was left thinking about social change, and whether writing heralds it, or just meanders over what society has already started to accept or war upon. I noticed many of the topics expounded on came and passed, discarded by history, yet things that are barely touched upon, like womens rights and education became an issue not long after that endures. What I'm trying to say, and I'm treading on deeply personal and weird territory here, is that I started to doubt how much social commentary in literature looks forward, and how much it's just a soap box for the author.

So, *wheoo!*, that's a looong commentary on a loooong book, and I'm still unsure what I'll rate it. No, I do know. It's really good, and as a character study is great, but I don't think it perfect because, for me, if you are going to fill a novel with ideology, it has to age well, and it has to engage even on those bits. So 4 stars.

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review 2017-06-21 20:16
Coriolanus, William Shakespeare
The Tragedy of Coriolanus - R.B. Parker,William Shakespeare

Fierce warrior, great general, total prat.

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review 2017-05-30 13:32
Three Act Tragedy by Agatha Christie
Three Act Tragedy (Hercule Poirot, #11) - Agatha Christie

Series: Poirot #11

 

*Applause.*

 

I feel a bit as if this was Christie’s response to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles. As in that book, our detective disappears near the beginning only to reappear halfway through. Instead of Poirot, we get to witness the sleuthing talents of Sir Charles Cartwright (an actor), “Egg” Lytton Gore (a young-ish woman), and Mr. Satterthwaite (no idea how to pronounce it, but he seemed like a male, less confused version of Miss Marple).

 

I’ll admit I was completely taken in and I loved how the solution to the mystery unfolded. We saw less of Poirot, admittedly, but you know how he hates doing legwork so it’s just as well that it was other people running around investigating at first. I quite liked Mr. Satterthwaite, and Mrs. Dacres’ continual use of “penetrating” to describe a dress style for Egg was amusing. Honestly, I’m continually surprised by some of the vocabulary used in the 1930s and how modern-sounding it is. Of course, in this case my amusement stems from the use of the word rather than any modern connotations but the style of the character is pretty timeless. For context, she’s a fashionista dressmaker.

 

I read this for booklikes-opoly square Main Street 11 “Read a book that takes place between 1945 and 1965 or that was written by an author who was born before 1955”. Agatha Christie was definitely born before 1955. At 272 pages, I’m awarded another $3, which topples me over the $100 mark to give me a bank balance of $101.

 

Comment/question on the number of pages:

The print edition of this printing is listed as 272 pages while Kindle/Kobo list it as 224. It felt really short though, and my ereader claimed I finished it in less than 4 hours (I’m not sure I trust its accuracy although it’s been better behaved in the last few days). So should I be using the 201-400 page bin or should I be using the 101-200 page bin? Apparently it’s only 65k words. I feel that perhaps I’m overestimating the funds I should be receiving.

 

In contrast, Fortune Like the Moon (my last read) is listed as 252 pages and 73k words at Kobo.

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review 2017-05-23 20:46
The Better Story
Life of Pi - Yann Martel

Defiantly funny in the face of total devastation, but more than that, ever hopeful. I guess that last is the best part of strong faith. The important part. Inner piece and enduring hope.

 

Here's the deal: I'm an agnostic. We get roasted inside *grin*. I could go a long while about the difference between religion and spirituality, between faith in god and the faith in the future that makes you stubbornly plod forward. I wont. My mom says "there are no atheist in the trenches". I have no idea what an ordeal like this would do to me.

 

But here is the other side, the thing about being an agnostic: I can accept both stories. I can love and believe in the tiger, and I can forgive the killer boy. The tiger is the better story, but to me, disregarding the second feels like hiding from a horrible truth too hard to accept. Just as disregarding the tiger feels like the cruelty of denying absolution, or the company of hope.

 

Good book. The movie did it amazing justice, tight and beautiful and with lovely, memorable music, so I highly recommend it.

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review 2017-05-12 20:33
Toni FGMAMTC's Reviews > Blaze
Blaze - Stephen King,Richard Bachman

Blaze is the lead character. The story current story of his criminal undergoing unfolds alongside the filling in of his personal history. I found my feelings toward him ever-changing. He's simple-minded and has had a hard life and is caught up is a major crime. For me this was engrossing and sad. It makes you wish for the impossible ending.

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