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review 2017-05-17 00:23
Incoming Rant
The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway

You know, I'd read in some posh literary review that Jake and Brett were two of Hemingway's most lovable characters, but I really can't see how that could be. I get he was painting an era, but I had the same difficulties I had with Fitzgerald's "Great Gatsby": I was bored by the characters misery (first world high class problems, people, that's what you have!); and I was enraged by the chaos and destruction they sowed all around themselves with their callow carelessness. Stupid egotistical brats.

And that's the other thing: they ARE reacting like brats. "Our parent's culture and ideology crumbled down and betrayed us! Let's rage and get drunk, and screw everyone around!" Except, you know, they are in their middle thirties. I don't say you have to have your shit together by that time or any other, God knows you never really do, and life has a marvelous way of sucker punch you when you think you have it balanced, but the over the top woe-is-me shit you are supposed to learn to manage after the hormones of puberty stabilize.

Every generation has challenges, and I reckon those that were born around the turn of the 20th century had a suck-fest of a raw deal, but what I saw inside this book was not just depression and insecurity over lost direction and of self, but a total lack of care for other people. I saw the phrase "moral bankruptcy" around, and I think that's and exact description, but it was treated as an excuse for how these particular characters act, because apparently it was a pervasive thing all around. News-flash: if everyone is a terrible person, and you act like everyone, you are still a terrible person.

 

So no, I have no love for these characters. Now, do I have any use for this book? *sigh* Thorny issue. If it was an accurate representation of the generation, I have to loose any surprise at seeing them fall right back into war; they all felt suicidal to me, and self-centered enough to blow up the world along with themselves.

 

So here's what I think: maybe it's useful, but I did not like it.

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review 2017-05-02 05:31
Magical underside of city and genre
Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman

I've rediscovered urban fantasy. This is the urban fantasy I was wanting to read when I kept stumbling into that ossified  sub-genre full of vampires and weres. I love me some Hollows or Daniels like I love my fries and ice-cream, but every once in a while I want a different flavor, and it's been hard to find. Behold: Gaiman. I wonder if the man seats at his writing desk and thinks "Well, today I want to pick this genre. Now, how do I go about putting it on it's head/inside out/mashed-up with this other?"

So, urban fantasy about alienation, and tubes, filled with magic and action. Scary stuff of the adult bored with life variety. The unseen people that fell through the cracks... there is horror that feels close to home hinted in the concept. You may disregard it as cynical allegoric analysis. It comes to full fruition and in the open during the ordeal to sock you in the face: "this is what you were thinking was going on, even if you didn't want to admit it". The fantastic aspect makes it exiting and hopeful, and bittersweet.

Maybe not as happy, or a fluffy as I was going for, but it certainly was a change of speeds. I could not believe how much it was packing by the half-way point! Certainly a much needed contrast after Moby-Dick.

 

I loved it. It was a damned good book, and I want a hard-copy of my own.

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review 2017-04-26 20:46
Closing the circle.
Feversong: A Fever Novel - Karen Marie Moning

Heh. I'd wondered in the 5th volume, but we were turned around so many times, I'd dropped it. Nice mind-screw.

 

Like this whole saga, the book rating will be very subjective. I had a lot of fun, and enjoyed the twist and turns and ridiculous fits of mightiness; rolled my eyes at some of the drama (though I got itchy eyes at some points) and in-depth search inside the characters brain-process (get on with it! Ohhh, that's why!), and loved how it fucks with your suspicions and it's own worlds-building. The shifty morality of most the cast (a point that would stick to most readers craw) bothers me none at all

 

Lots fertile ground for off-shot stories, but mostly neatly tied.

 

I so have to re-read all nine books now I know.

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review 2017-03-06 06:01
You are what you do
A Little Princess - Frances Hodgson Burnett

Gorgeous introspective book. Reading this right after The Secret Garden, it's easy to be amazed and enchanted by Hogson Burnett's ability to transport the reader to that state in childhood where the mundane is made magical with barely a flick of the mind. I reckon that's one of the draws of these books for adults, and part of that lost essence we always try to come back to when reading the beloved volumes of our early years.

 

As for the story itself, it's a bittersweet monument to self-assurance. Sara is a lovely child, spoiled too like our previous leads in the Secret Garden, but of the sweet variety. In a way, her journey is foreshadowed by her wondering whether she's good, and whether she can ever know while the world insists on making her happy. Boy, does the world complot to give her that unstated wish to know.

 

And boy, does she prove herself.

 

I suppose"--to Sara--"that you feel now that you are a princess again."
(...)
"I--TRIED not to be anything else," she answered in a low voice-- "even when I was coldest and hungriest--I tried not to be."

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review 2017-02-23 04:13
Interior world
Silently and Very Fast - Catherynne M. Valente

This was so fucking weird. Gorgeous mind-screw. There is no way to really understand unless you walk the fine edge between paying close attention and just letting it flow. I can't even give a proper summary without diving into spoiler territory.

 

Dream-like and powerful in imagery, heavy on symbol, it draws a lot on traditional narrative devices and gives stark, analytical spins to them, (sometimes to such a violent degree, it becomes surprising or disquieting, and I've done my fair amount of research on the psychology of myth and fairy-tales; that's Valente for you). Monomyth is a concept that comes up a lot. Turing test too, to an ironic (bittersweet, vindictive, awesome) final mention.

 

It's a slow piece, patchwork style and complex. It demands you to think, about what you are reading and about things like the definition of feelings, of love, of being and self, of likeness and difference, of knowledge against imitation, and where the line is drawn. I had to reassess many of them in my mind as I read, and that's really something.

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