Monday, 4 December 2006
i wanted to post a review but i'm halfway through a million books so i might just make a few random comments i.e. i'm reading great expectations at the moment and can i just say dickens is frigging hilarious?? is anyone with me? the man is a comic genius and i never knew...i read a tale of two cities a million years ago and i think the subtle humour was somewhat lost on me..obviously there is much sobriety and melancholy also - it's all very gripping and absorbing but entertaining as well i now find! i'm getting into it hardcore dickens is such a treat to read - and not very difficult either
i also wanted to post the opening section of 'lolita' by nabokov (thanks for the lend soph) because it absolutely took my breath away..i just had to read it really slowly and inhale the beauty of each line..please excuse the wankiness of what i just said but i hope you will think it justifiable when you read this:
Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.
She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted lines. But in my arms she was always Lolita.
Did she have a precursor? She did, indeed she did. In point of fact, there might have been no Lolita at all had I not loved, one summer, a certain initial girl-child. In a princedom by the sea. Oh when? About as many year before Lolita was born as my age was that summer. You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, exhibit number one is what the seraphs, the misinformed, simple, noble-winged seraphs, envied. Look at this tangle of thorns.
Sunday, 3 December 2006
Believe it or not, and despite all my best intentions, the general busy and exam-ness of my last few weeks has sneakily transformed my bedroom back to its secondary occupation as a landfill site or art installation, depending on how you see it. The fact a small hurricane has swept through my room was pardoned by my parents for the last few weeks firstly because of exams and secondly as I undertook several projects - namely making myself a liquorice allsorts dress and baking a large variety of apple based cakes. Fortunately I can avoid this task no longer without losing my basic freedoms, so here I am, tidying my room. Whilst re-alphabetising my bookshelf (always a pleasant and reassuring task) it came to my attention that Lighthousekeeping, by Jeanette Winterson, has somehow found itself not where it should rightfully be between Wilde and Winton but pride of place as a permanent fixture in my "artfully spontaneous assortment of books i'm currently reading" pile. As i further procrastinate cleaning up, sipping an organic green tea, i shall leave you with some of my thoughts on this book.
The fact is, considering how many times i've read it; this book does deserve to be in this pile. And why have i read it so many times? Firstly, it's really short. Once i even timed myself reading it (i was curious). It took one return train trip to uni, so less than 1.5 hours. Yet for a book that takes such a short time to read the content covered is somewhat amazing. She manages to tell the story of several lives, explore some themes and get all existential in the same amount of words any other author would spend on their introduction. I like her brief style; it's somewhat of a relief. Yet somehow her characters do have depth, even if we can't picture them in detail physically, and the story makes sense, even if it jumps all over the place. Yes, i know this is possibly the most obviously pretentious book. Examples like:
"A beginning, a middle and an end is the proper way to tell a story. But i have difficulty with that method."
are pure gold, but whatever, embrace it i say! Some of it's tacky, clichéd or possibly even stupid. But i like it. I do also enjoy the general nautical theme, and i like the cover!
"This is not a love story, but love is in it. That is, love is just outside it, looking for a way to break in."
I'm not going to describe the way "Lighthousekeeping is a way in to the rooms of our own that we secretly inhabit and the lighthouses we strive towards" as the blurb so eloquently puts it, or discuss her storytelling. But i will say, for a book like this, i find it has more integrity than most.
I'm assuming many of you have read Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, but has anyone read Gut Symmetries? I read it in April, and it's very similar to Lighthousekeeping, but gets quite science nerdy at times. It too has some awesome wanky lines: "Are your 23 feet of intestines loaded with stars?". Has anyone read it? Or else can recommend any good ones by her or by other similar authors, so i can get this book back on the shelf?
Monday, 27 November 2006
Okay people, now that you're feeling proud, get off your buts and post something. NOW!!!
As for me, I would like to contribute the pre-discovered fact that Artemis Fowl is awe-SUM (thanks cath for the lend!) and that anyone who hasn't read Gossip Girl is missing out on the best trash ever invented. And trust me I know trash.
Tuesday, 21 November 2006
Chronic Meanings - Bob Perelman
The phone is for someone. The next second it seemed. But did that really mean. Yet Los Angeles is full.
Naturally enough I turn to. Some things are reversible, some. You don't have that choice. I'm going to Jo's for.
Now I've heard everything, he. One time when I used. The amount of dissatisfaction involved. The weather isn't all it's.
You'd think people would have. Or that they would invent. At least if the emotional. The presence of an illusion.
Symbiosis of home and prison. Then, having become superfluous, time. One has to give to. Taste: the first and last.
I remember the look in. It was the first time. Some gorgeous swelling feeling that. Success which owes its fortune.
Come what may it can't. There are a number of. But there is only one. That's why I want to.
Does it make anyone angry that this is a really famous poem? It makes me smile. :)
Monday, 20 November 2006
Aside from The Blind Assassin, which I'm not even going to try and review because you guys will all say smarter things than me, the most recent book I've read was The Bright House, by Lyn Hughes. (I know. I'd never heard of it either). The book is set in South Africa in the "turbulent 1950s", and is basically the story of the Bierman family. But the Biermans are no 'ordinary' white South African family - Hermie (the dad) is a radical left wing lawyer, Anton (the son) is gay and Jessie herself falls in love with a black man. To quote Els, awkward.
Although this might sound like a checklist of everything you wouldn't want to be in 1950s South Africa and the book obviously does deal with inequality, poverty and injustice, Hughes manages to make the story more about the characters than the place and time they are in. This is NOT an expose on 1950s South Africa (society nerds I know you're disappointed) but rather a story of a girl, her family, and those around them. Somehow, this makes the underlying issues all the more touching. Although The Bright House left me with a profound sense of sadness, it was not in a hallmark "oh the poor deprived people it's just not fair" sense, but rather something deeper and closer to reality. I found the characters to be grippingly real, from headstrong Jessie and fiery, righteous Hermie (to tell the truth he reminds me of sal!), to haunted Lennie and lonely Anton...the list goes on. Hughes has created these characters to tell the story of South Africa in their own lives, as an undertone, an everyday presence of injustice and I commend her for it. It is beautifully, if simply, written, easy to read but still thought provoking. If this book is available anywhere but Lindfield Library (sometimes I think the books there are a completely different species whatsoever) I recommend you get your cotton picking hands on it asap.
Sunday, 19 November 2006
thought it was about time i contributed to this awesome little club we've got going on..elsa you are my hero for setting it up - immaculate work! and your peter carey wikipedia link to this thing is hilarious - let's spread the word/love!
my most recent read has been 'fictions' by jorge luis borges...was part of my 'great books of the twentieth century' uni course - apparently borges is really famous and quite seminal although i'd never heard of him before! he's often called a fore-runner of pomo lit e.g. with his destabilisation of truth, history etc..although you would contest this truth and relativism thing about postmodernism sal? (will have to discuss with you again later!) basically he writes these short stories, many of which begin in a really dry, essayistic style e.g. seeming like a boring book review or something...which then segue into these fantastic (meaning fantasy) totally bizarre stories - which are still written in an objective style as if they are fact not fiction..e.g. a man attempting to dream a son into existence, and then realising he is only someone else's dream (bit like chuang tzu and his butterfly dream!)...most of the stories reflect idealistic philosophy and if anyone is familiar with this i would love to discuss this and its flaws/lack thereof which annoy me no end and have done my head in! anyway they're a good read although quite odd and hard to explain! i have 'fictions' at home if anyone wants to borrow it..some wacky ideas in there but thought-provoking and gets a tick of approval from me overall..
also if you're after a light, yet really well written book definitely go the '44 Scotland Street' series by alexander mccall smith...about these quirky residents of an apartment building in edinburgh..very witty and charming and if you read it let me know so we can obsess about bertie and wanting to live in edinburgh and being an anthropologist like domenica and studyng pirates in equitorial guinea or somewhere! i have so much love for these books!
Thursday, 16 November 2006
I read The True History of the Kelly Gang and My Life as a Fake a couple of years ago, and after not being too impressed with either of them (i'm being pretty harsh here) i would have needed a good reason to read another. The combined circumstances of finding Oscar and Lucinda in a gutter (also meaning i could carry it around with me without the fear of blemishing it's already tatty cover), having recently heard it mentioned as brilliant, and the picture of the Crystal Palace on the cover, led me to naturally assume it was destiny that i should read it.
And it was good. It took a while to get into, some of the characters were so irritating (i just wanted to shout "tell him before he goes on a massive trip in which he will probably die!") but there were some passages so beautifully written i had almost changed my opinion of Carey. Untill i got to the end. I know not every story has a fairytale ending. But this is just so annoying! Gah! (A bit like the ending of Boytown for anyone as cool as Cath or i whose seen it.) But i'll move on...
So as you would assume, i did not have any great plans to read the rest of his works. And my life would have continued on Carey free except for the single most frequent reason i read a book: A BOY. (Probably not statistically true, but it seems like it.) Just so i don't sound like the crush slut that i am, let me clarify that he read a book i said i liked (i didn't even say "you should read this") so when he recommened i should read Theft i thought i'd return the gesture.
And i must say it's the best book by him i've ever read. Firstly it was funny and i didn't want to scream at all the characters. It's written from the perspective of an artist Butcher Bones, who just got screwed over from his divorce and lost his son and his paintings (Carey’s ex-wife had a whinge that the book was too autobiographical as it was published shortly after their divorce, portraying her as the evil woman and he as the wronged artist) and is forced to live in the country and care for his mentally disabled brother, Hugh. The parts written from the brother’s perspective are the most interesting. Basically it's about art, fraud and love. To use my favourite highschool line: it questions the nature of “what is art?”. But to be fair it does raise some insightful questions into who should own art and who determines it's value. And for us cognoscenti there are some cute art jokes in the way Hugh perceives the art world – such as the “Bower House” – without becoming tacky or condescending. The book is well-written and tackles the use of the various perspectives without being pretentious. Despite the fact Carey continues his obsession with certain themes from his previous novels in Theft (his characters always seem to get themselves dragged into obvious situations where they can’t see what’s going on) and that it received much less literary acclaim (he’s won the Booker Prize twice previously), i found it much more satisfying. Probably its just my lack of taste, but for anyone interested in the art world, i definitely recommend it as a pleasurable and worthwhile read.
As you can probably tell i’m procrastinating, hence the fact this review is so epic! Get back to work elsa!
i just wanted to say
WHY THE HELL HAS NO ONE EVER FORCED ME TO READ THE BLIND ASSASSIN?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!
i have just started reading and am in love. are you with me?
Firstly if anyone has any name suggestions or objections raise them... this current name is possibly a bit year 12 hsc for my liking.
Secondly if you want to invite other people to contribute tell me and i'll invite them (i think only my account can do this). Also you can go back and edit your own posts, and sometimes it's better to make a comment on someone else's post (eg if you read a book they reviewed) rather than start another post. And when i figure it out/ have time i'll change the layout so its original and awesome.
Wednesday, 15 November 2006
Joan Didion - Crouching Towards Bethlehem. (anthology of short stories).
Read it people. I'll admit it, technically the aforementioned (crouching towards bethlehem) is 'postmodern' which may initially turn off a few people (or all but me, seeing as some people actually have a taste in literature). But i must say, this is one postmodern book that isnt. It actually makes some attempt at a storyline (though, not not much of one, but there are actual characters that have semi-defined personalities, which is very rare in the world of the PM); its language is not just stream of conciousness (beleive it or not, there is actual dialogue, and lots of it); and it is one of the most impacting books I have ever read. The actual genre of the book is officially 'creative non-fiction journalism', which is where the author tells completely true events that she witnessed and does not alter any fact or occurence in any way, but of course can (and does) add hyperbolic authorial opinion through the positioning of facts (rather than through self-conciousness or other devices that people would think of as typically postmodern).
The anthology is about the protagonists trip throughout the USA in the 1970s', as she witnesses the drug and sex revolution that hit most of the first world around this time. Perhaps the most impacting scene is where she writes of a five year old on acid. There is no sensationalism, no overly flowery bullshitting - only the postioning of a culmination of really sad scenarios to make for an overwhelmingly depressing, yet simultaneosuly page-turning book.
As was the common 1970's attitude, just do it: read to your hearts content :)
can i just say i think elsa is an immaculate, epic, ccCool hero for establishing this. Bringing this nonexistent book club into the twenty first century deserves an award!
Also, I am a semi employed bum now so i tend to read a lot....if everyone could post or comment a couple of their favourite books ever (minus harry potter, lotr and tamora pierce!) it will make my day! looking forward to skidaddling off to the library and letting you know what i think :D
peace out my book loving bruvvers
ps. soph what was that book you told me yesterday that i've forgotten about already?
Tuesday, 14 November 2006
jump on the bandwagon and this will be immaculate babes!