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text 2018-06-20 09:52
Reading progress update: I've read 74%. - I've been here before except I REALLY haven't
Illuminae - Jay Kristoff,Amie Kaufman

I'm rationing this book now as I have real life things that I need to do today. So much for, "I' can only take one hour at a time".

 

Right now I'm at a part that ought to be making me yawn. I've seen all the "Resident Evil" movies (now there's a confession). I know all about having a kick-ass heroine shoot her way through rabid used-to-be-people killers in a confined spaces with alarms sounding in the background, red warning lights flashing and severed high-voltage powerlines arcing. 

 

I've so been there,

 

But never like this.

 

Never with a smart brave heroine who cannot bring herself to kill.

 

Never with rabid used-to-be people that I feel deeply sorry for.

 

Never with an understanding that, when this isn't a first-person shooter game but an atrocity in which everyone is the victim, that winning isn't possible because surviving can cost too much.

 

Never with so much damned intensity and not a single line of prose.

 

In my work life, there's a lot of focus on disruption as something that changes the rules in commerce, opening up new opportunities and challenging established ways of working.

 

The structure of this novel is fundamentally disruptive. It's like the leap from "Tristram Shandy" to "Pride and Prejudice" in terms of form. This is the bloom of an almost post-literate generation that has freed itself from linear text and the straight-jacket of grammar that keeps writing on the ground and has taken to swinging through the trees with the confidence of those who've grown up comfortable with Kanji/Emoli/Gif ideography. To an old guy like me, it's astronishing and wonderful.

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review 2018-06-20 02:25
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine -- she really actually is gonna be just fine
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman
I liked this because I could relate to a lot of parts, but I don't think my star rating should count as a recommendation for just anyone. It's pretty much like a "beach read" - an easy book where everything is obvious, but it got to my heart. I saw every single plot point coming from a mile away, and the only reason I kept reading is I found her charming in the way that something horrible becomes funny ten years after it happens. (This is a coping skill of mine: "Right, life is falling apart, but in ten years, this will make a really funny story." That's sort of how you have to take Eleanor.)

Thanks, Book Club - because I'd not have touched this without you guys outvoting me once again! And I just made the cut-off for actual discussion time too. 

Seriously, this is a decent look at trauma through a non-victim lens. Eleanor Oliphant can be a difficult woman. She's sure she's right about everything, so has no clue why you might be irritated with her lack of tipping, total candor, rudeness, judgmental attitude, etc. It's clear she has some "issues" and the book is basically about how just a little human contact can go a long way toward healing even horrific damage. She really will be completely fine I'd bet.
 
(Yes, of course that's simplistic - that's why it's a beach read and not a psych textbook.)
 
 

 

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text 2018-06-19 17:45
Reading progress update: I've read 54%.just met the AI and...
Illuminae - Jay Kristoff,Amie Kaufman

WOW

 

No other word for it.

 

Six hours in to something good and suddenly a switch is flipped and I'm  six hours in to something great.

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review 2018-06-19 17:15
Dora Doralina / Rachel de Queiroz
Dora Doralina - Rachel de Queiroz

"What kills you today is forgotten tomorrow. I don't know if this is true or false because all that's real for me is remembrance." In her old age, Dora reflects on the major influences in her life: her mother, her career in the theater, and her one true love. Set in Brazil in the early part of the century, Dora, Doralina is a story about power. Through her fierce resistance to her mother and her later life as a working woman and widow, Doralina attempts to define herself in a time and culture which places formidable obstacles before women. Married off by her mother to a man she does not love, told what to wear and eat, Dora's reclaiming of herself is full of both discovery and rage. For her, independence is the right to protect herself and make her own choices. From a life confined by religion and "respectability," even her passionate attachment to a hard-drinking smuggler contains an act of free will previously unavailable to her. Dora, Doralina is an intimate, realistic, and vivid glimpse of one woman's struggle for independence, for a life in which she owns her actions, her pleasure, and her pain.

 

I read this book to fill the Q position in my quest to read women authors A-Z in 2018. I will honestly tell you that it is not a novel that I would naturally pick up so I probably didn’t appreciate it as much as someone who regularly reads literary fiction.

This is a character driven story which reads very much like an autobiography. It is basically a window into the world of women in Brazil in the first half of the twentieth century. Brazilian society, as in many societies at the time, is extremely macho and women don’t have all that much latitude.

The book is divided into three sections, representing three stages in the life of our narrator, Dora. The first section is Dora growing up and struggling with the control of her domineering mother. Dora refers to her as Senhora, not mother, and seems to be one of the only people in the household who longs for freedom. Dora ends up in a marriage which was more-or-less engineered by Senhora, and while she doesn’t mind her husband, she’s not desperately fond of him either. When he is killed, Dora takes a page from her mother’s playbook and uses her widowhood to give herself more freedom in the world.

The second section is Dora’s adventures in the world outside her mother’s farm. She finds employment and eventually ends up on stage, despite her shyness. She is both fiercely independent and highly reliant on her friends in the acting company, a duality that she freely acknowledges. And it is during her travels with the company that she meets the love of her life.

Part three is her life with The Captain. He reminded me of her first husband in several ways (his drinking, his macho possessiveness) but Dora’s feelings for him make the marriage an altogether different experience from the first.

Documenting women’s lives is an important pursuit, filling in the blanks of previously ignored reality. The novel also shows the particular barriers that many South American women are up against culturally.

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text 2018-06-18 15:18
Reading progress update: I've read 86 out of 281 pages.
Dora Doralina - Rachel de Queiroz

 

And now for something completely different.

 

This Brazilian author gives us a window into women's lives in the early 20th century.  Published in 1975, when the feminist movement in North America was really getting going, it is an exploration of a Brazilian woman's search for independence and the right to run her own life.

 

 

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