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review 2017-12-12 12:55
Casting your brain into big questions
Stories of Your Life and Others - Ted Chiang

I went in all big eyes and heavy heart and cheating, starting with the story I was curious about after watching the movie. It was sadder in it's determinism, but it was all that (and it had emotion, lordy, did it have emotion).

 

About half way through this book (and with my brain much hurting, I get so immersed into these Big Question explorations), LeGuin's introduction for The Left Hand of Darkness (I was very much taken by them, book and intro) kept popping into my thoughts. The part where she says taking a concept to it's maximum expression is like concentrating any chemical element: it causes cancer.

 

The stories vary in nature and theme, they are interesting, and unique. And in a sense, bleak. Lacking in hope, some in sentiment, some in... something. I can't quite put my finger on it, but while amazing, thought-provoking explorations that filled me with wonder or questions, each tale left me with this vague sense of depression. Which had little to do with whether they had happy ending or not (most are a dagger), since Le Guin does that, you blubber like a fool, and still makes you love it and leave bittersweet hopeful. So, not the presence of pain. Maybe more like a general lack of joy to balance them (for the most part).

 

Anyway, it is a really good book to think about or discuss, and it delves into some interesting territories (I'm itching for some looong research and reading on some things that went over my head). Different and exhausting. Will read more of the author.

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review 2017-09-24 07:23
Ode to momentous summers
Dandelion Wine - Ray Bradbury

*pleased sigh* So gorgeous.

 

Dandelion Wine is a beautiful, whimsical love letter to those memories of summer that are so vivid, so powerful, we can feel the baking sun, the weight and smell of the air, the joy and lassitude when we recall them.

 

It goes from one episode to the next fluidly and with little warning, connecting and weaving them. Add in Bradbury's style and the result is a bit like dreams, a bit like memories, introspective, nostalgic and at points philosophical.

 

There were episodes to pull every shade of emotion, and I loved so many of them I'd have serious trouble picking a favorite. Grandma's cooking made me so hungry and also miss my grandfather very much. Colonel's Freeleigh's bits and John's departure made me tear a bit. I laughed out loud with the witch debacle. Lavinia's had me switch between cheering on and wanting to thump her, and scared me quite a bit. And the lime-vanilla ice-cream one! So many tangled feels!

 

It was an excellent read to savor, and one I'll revisit.

 

 

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review 2017-09-22 04:20
Excellent theme collection
El santuario y otros cuentos - H.P. Lovecraft

Two encompassing themes to this collection: primarily, the evil of solitude, or how solitude equates with or drives one to madness; then boundaries, blurring and pushing them (of reality, knowledge, perception, life and death, even geography)

Celephaïs: Gorgeous in spite of the cold reality. From Kuranes dreams to mine... yeah, that's not disturbing at all.

From Beyond: The type of story one expects when one hears "Lovecraft". And it's freaking good.

Hypnos: *blink* Erh... OK. Like this wasn't disturbing, a final twist. I would have said it bore serious homo-erotic tones, but then... Begs for a second read. Or a tenth.

The Temple: That's what I call a bit of Karma for a stubborn nationalist.
Note: for some reason (and what I mean is lazy translation), it's titled as Santuario (sanctuary) in my Spanish copy instead of the closer Templo.

The Tree: Did not take the expected turn. And sent me on a wiki-walk that ended landing me on the seven wonders. Pretty imagery.

 

Actually, the whole collection, for all the horror elements, is powerful on beautiful and vivid imagery. The kind that plays as a magic-movie on your mind, fills you with wonder as you read and stays with you.

 

 

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review 2017-09-15 05:19
Wholeness, duality, I and Thou
The Left Hand of Darkness - Ursula K. Le Guin

I did not want this to end. I feel a bit bereft, and very emotional, and somewhat fragile (even if Rokkanon's World had prepared me for the possibility). And in awe. Dazzled in awe of how Le Guin can weave this beautiful settings to address concepts, limitations, canons of society, give them new perspectives and lead into discussions well before their time.

 

She did warn in a way, in that introduction. Because, it might be that I had late access to the Internet, and so was somewhat cut out from the world-dialogue, but it looks to me that talk of gradients and varieties of sex and sexuality (beyond the ever polemical homosexual, bisexual or trans-gender, and those as isolated phenomenons at that), is pretty recent. Yet here it is, served as a "fait acompli" in the form of a world where gender has always been a fluid thing, when it's even a thing, and the protagonist just has to deal, get over and past it, once and for all. Let me tell you, I had some fun mocking the MC over his inability to accept, because at some point, it annoyed me. Which is exactly the point of the book, I think.

 

Tied to that, all the issues of friendship, love, miss/understanding, acceptance, and what have you, in an epic sprinkled with back-ground myths and wrapped up in a sci-fi package. And by all the literary muses, I loved it.

 

 

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review 2017-07-16 09:16
Some are Eventual
Everything's Eventual: 14 Dark Tales - Stephen King

This is a very well put together collection. What I mean is, almost a third in, it was good, but not awesome. Too much male perspective, maybe. But then it kept getting better an better, and I finished it very satisfied. Not as good as "Nightmares and Dreamscapes", but better than "Skeleton Crew" in my love vs meh stories ratio.

Autopsy Room Four: Weird mix between humorous and harrowing. Likely most of the laughs were out of sheer adrenaline.

The Man in The Black Suit: Childhood nightmare. That dialogue was... *shudder*

All that you love will be carried away: Dreary. Reminded me of Road-work, and his Bachman's writing.

The Death of Jack Hamilston: I guess this one goes in the same bunch with "The Fifth Quarter", but even more "The Wedding Gig". Not my thing.

In the Deathroom: Lots of testosterone on this one too, but it was awesome.

 

It occurred to Fletcher that in the end there might only be one way to tell the thugs from the patriots: when they saw their own death rising in your eyes like water, patriots made speeches. The thugs, on the other hand, gave you the number of their Swiss bank account and offered to put you on-line.

 

And that great line. I'm sure I've read it before, but I can't remember where.

The Little Sisters of Eluria: Bitter-sweet spoiler. Another reminder that I have to get this saga once and for all. And a big time *Ick!*

Everything is Eventual: So disturbing, to read what the young guy says, but to also read between the lines, waiting for the other shoe to drop for him too. "Firestarter" world?

Theory of Pets: I almost busted something laughing. Then it turns on you. Loved it.

Road Virus Heads North: Revisited themes.

Lunch at the Gotham Café: It misleads you very nicely. It was great.

That Feeling, You Can Only Say What it is in French: Jesus! (yeah, terrible irony). This one was the best and most disturbing for me.

1408: King going Lovecraftian on you.

Riding the Bullet: Starts disturbing, gets harrowing, ends... bittersweet?

Luckey Quarter: That was depressing. I also kept wondering if she was an addict.

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