Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Nessa's Adventures at Worldcon ~ Anticipation

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

She is a comin' around the mountain agian

Hi Everyone,

I am reading Black Rain by Masuji Ibuse. And will be posting soon enough.

Lots of changes in my life but things have settled down... its time to hit the books again.

Nessie

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Help!

Recently, I had the privelege to read Edith Wharton's Age of Innocence. I have no right to discuss this book it is truely beyond words, much less criticism.

Someone was kind enough to bring this article to my attention. Please consider giving a little. It is these works of art and history that survive for the next generation to teach them about the potential of humanity.

Save the Mount


Outside design circles, not many people know that Edith Wharton's first publication was a decorating manual. It's a perplexing fact. Our own American grande dame, author of more than 40 books, friend of Henry James and Theodore Roosevelt … bothered herself with wallpaper and sconces? (Actually, she loathed wallpaper.) But after the initial shock, perhaps you'll remember reading The Age of Innocence or seeing Martin Scorsese's film adaptation of it and realize that Wharton is fused in your mind with masterfully described interiors—at which point, your confusion will click into a satisfied "Huh!" If so, you might be moved, as I was, to rent a car and go visit the Mount, the only one of Wharton's many residences remaining. But act fast: If the Mount doesn't somehow acquire $3 million by April 24, the bank is going to shut it down. The interiors you're about to see may be lost to the public forever.





Slide Show: http://www.slate.com/id/2189098/

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Which is it?

Title: Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

aka The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
aka Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Author: Robert L. Stevenson who is known for other such works as Treasure Island and Kidnapped to name but a few.

Genre: Short Story, Horror
# of Pages: 81

Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
Premiere classics Edition

Began and Finished Reading: January 2008

The audience follows Mr Utterson and the dilemna he faces over the course of a year that concerns his friend and client Dr. Jekyll. The good-natured Doctor has left his entire estate to Mr Hyde, a man with a crude reputation. Slowly, the plot thickens till the "shocking" ending leaves the reader astounded - that the two men are in fact the same person. The transformation caused when a concuction is injected that the Dr discovered which seperates the good and bad elements of a person.

Though a mark of just how his work has penetrated the Western cultural stratosphere, the fact that the finale to Stevenson's work is common knowledge (so much so that it would be a 100$ question on Who Wants to Be A Million Air) kills part of the effect the author wishes to evoke. Rather than relate with Utterson in pursuit of uncovering this mystery, the reader is frustrated with him, urgining him on in their minds for him to discover what we already know. The aspect of empathy is broken which seems unfair to Stevenson and I personally curse the foolish Literature teachers that feel such spoilers are of no consequence. They rape the novel of their soul and the author of their sole divine right - to depict the story from the narrative that best suits their ends.

Recommend To: Of course, post Tresure Island this is a great night read. Not enough horror for the kiddos not to sleep... though they may request a nightlight ;)



Title: An issue for the Trivia lover - the volume I own has all three titles at different times (Cover, Cover page, and table of contents). Which is it?















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Thursday, January 17, 2008

“- cause fantasy is a genre that is flailing its way toward the nearest tar pit to become extinct if people don’t stop writing the same book over and over again.”

Series: The Braided Path (TBP)

Volume 1: The Weavers of Saramyr (2003)

Volume 2: The Skein of Lament (2004)


Volume 3: The Ascendency Veil (2005)

Author: Chris Wooding


Publisher: Gollancz

# of Pages: a lot!


Genre: Fantasy

Began Reading: December 14th, 2007


Finished Reading: January 14th, 2007

About: The Braided Path series follows the Empire of Saramyr which, for the past two thousand years, relies more and more on the talents of the Weavers, men who have the power to see and navigate within a 'fourth dimension'. Mostly used as a means to communicate, what began as an accessory found in every noble home soon develops into the pillar of Saramyr society. The Weavers fast exploit their position and a growing number of people – to avoid spoilers, let us call them the 'Anti- Weavers' – gather to rebel. The trilogy follows a vast cast of characters but the back bone of the story revolves around two strong females: Lucia, the Heir-Empress who is born with a talent that her mother hides from the world in fear for her child's life and throne and Kaiku, a young noble woman who fights to stay alive after everything she holds dear is taken away from her.

Jon C. Grimwood writes that Wooding is exploring "sexual politics" in his series (back of book cover Volume I). Though the main characters are female, Grimwood does not give Wooding enough credit for the intrigue he develops in the series. The tension in his characters is as strong as the plot - a characteristic not often found in typical fantasy. Whereas "sexual politics" may well apply to the Sword of Truth series (Terry Goodkind – a flop after volume 3), Wooding's heroes and villains are not so two-dimensional.

Best example would be the moments of reflection his characters often have. These moments of introspection are not only windows into thoughts but develop the character themselves. Much like Hamlet's monologues, the audience becomes aware of the personage in moments of solitude as much as in times of action. Odd yet involving for any novel, much less fantasy.

There are several instances throughout the series where characters actually take the time to contemplate – scenes that are in sharp contrast to the action packed moments. The selection read is one such instance that not only exemplifies this point but also demonstrates some of the riskier writing tactics Wooding uses. Kaiku for the past 100 pages has reluctantly been admitting to herself that she desires Saran. But the reader, having already become familiar with her from Volume 1, should be familiar with the fact that this is a half-truth. For Kaiku to respond and consider Saran in such a manner means she is willing to take this further than the physical level. Wooding never writes this explicitly until this scene when Kaiku confesses this to herself. The impact lies in the fact that we along with the author are conscious of her imperfection. This scene demonstrates one manner which the character develops and matures. I write "risky" because had anyone not been paying attention, the moment would have been lost and made useless. Wooding has faith it seems in us all... and expectation.

So What?:

"The Braided Path trilogy took me about three years to write, but I had to get it out of my system. I'd always wanted to write an epic fantasy as they were the first books I really fell in love with; but of course I wanted to do it my way, because by the time I grew up I was pretty bored with dragons and wizards and was wondering why everybody uses stock monsters and the old Dungeons and Dragons system of elf/dwarf/goblin, instead of using five-headed acid-spitting photovores that can iridesce their way through space-time – ie, something faintly original. (I did have several better ideas than that, but I deleted them cos I want to use them myself later J) TBP is an attempt to do something original within the trad-fantasy structure, 'cause it's a genre that is flailing its way toward the nearest tar pit to become extinct if people don't stop writing the same book over and over again." -ChrisWooding (chriswooding.com)


How astute! The genre is oft times misunderstood even by its own followers. Too many believe the E/D/G ratio to be at the core of the genre. However, a villain does not a good novel make. Rather the heart in fantasy rests in how an author can leverage the style to cultivate a system of logic, reality, vocabulary and science which forces the reader to be humbled by their lack of knowledge. Like a babe, the audience must take their first steps in an unknown world and it is the author's responsibility to do so in a creative, intriguing manner. Why? Imagine that in these places and within these characters the words "nigger", "feminist", "prime minister" etc do not exist. These worlds may contain their own set of prejudice, legal system and history but it is one that ostracizes the reader. And with that, I would argue, one can construct the most objective of opinions/positions as humanly possible. We can be entertained by the novelty these worlds offer and still use these tales to further our discussions on philosophy, politics and ethics.

With that we have what I would call the "teach me" scene – moments where characters, and in turn the reader, learn more about the world.



Tolkien termed the concept of "application" in relation to the fantasy genre and his own body of work (Jackson's LOR Bonus Feature on DVD). Tolkien's own LOR trilogy was not meant as a parody of, as is often argued, World War II or the Christian faith but of both and more. His reason for writing his story in the fantasy genre was so that the audience can apply the work as a metaphor to many such events. Whereas Tolkien is relating the tale to historical incidents I would dare to take the concept another step further and argue that fantasy provides a neutral platform for discourse on theoretical topics as well.



Wooding's TBP leverages this with his characters and plot. He provides content in which the audience can discuss gender politics, war and ethics. Most resounding in TBP is how the characters at one point or another face a "Sophie's Choice", an ultimatum that is a guaranteed loss.











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Wooding doesn't stop there. He takes the classic love story and tears it apart throughout the story.











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Whereas it seems more and more fantasy plots revolve around the romantic couple, Wooding makes love a consequence of his plot. Refreshing because it allows him to add quirky twists which make them more realistic. No rival for Lan and Nynaeve (Robert Jordan) but close.


And there is of course, politics. Not usually something of interest for me but here his characters were so consistent yet unpredictable.











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Wooding's word choice when it comes to domestic affairs is precise and chilling. It is the sections that he has mastered and would dare say that The Wheel of time Series could do with.



Unfortunately, Wooding has not (yet) created an epic. He had the right characters and storyline but he is missing details. His Oriental influence is so glaring that it destroys much of the mystery. The exotic soon dies in his characters and it at times feels like TBP is a 'What if?" history work. Wooding states on his website, "Saramyr gained an oriental theme, based on a blend of ancient Japan, China, Persia and Renaissance Italy and not resembling any of them very much in the end." It's that last part that would have to disagree with! The Japanese and Chinese influence is so strong it overshadows the tale.
Bottom line is that Wooding's own metaphors are so connected with Earth that at times its even jarring. Perhaps if he had taken a bit more time, the details could have been accentuated and perfected.

What were they thinking? The covers need revamping. Volume 3 is so bad I added it to the Awful Book Cover selection to the left.

However, they did release a collection of the three volumes in one which is a significant improvement.


Of Note: The author in question published at the age of twenty-one. He is now thirty years old, lives in Madrid and has published twenty – yes, 20 - novels. You can visit his website at http://www.chriswooding.com/ and check the long list for yourself.





To Chris Wooding, the Writing Machine.

Since this is online and there is a small chance you may actually read this...


Why Flen? Anyone but Flen! One of the simplest yet truest characters that have ever encountered and you X him.. You seem to have a certain pleasure in axing - so much so that I thought you may have had tea with G. R. R .Martin himself!

That being said, it would seem you are one of the few people alive interested in fantasy. That's an open invite if you are ever in MTL. Get out of Madrid – the food there is bad!


And finally, thanks. Avant-garde is always refreshing. Am a bit jealous. The good kind though. - vgg







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Sunday, January 6, 2008

“...for his narrative mastery, which with great sensibility expresses the essence of the Japanese mind.”

Title: Meijin (The Master of Go)

Author: Kawabata, Yasunari

Published: 1951 for Shincho, a Japanese magazine (in serial). In 1954, Kawabata’s work was published as a novel.

Translation: Edward Seidensticker’s English translation was released in 1972 though not identical to the 1954 edition. This is due to the fact that Kawabata revised The Master of Go before it was published in book format. Seidensticker writes in the introduction that he used the shorter version because Kawabata preferred it.

Publisher: 1972, Alfred A Knopf

ISBN: 425026450

# of Pages: 186 (includes 2 pages of footnotes)

Began Reading: December 28th, 2007
Finished Reading: January 2nd, 2008

The "Beef": The Master of Go is the slight-fictionalization (shosetsu) of the actual Go match that Kawabata covered when he worked as a journalist for the Osaka and Tokyo magazine Mainichi. Kawabata describes it as a “faithful chronicle novel” and in fact many of the chapters are rewrites of his published articles (Kawabata v). The translator, Seidensticker, deduces in his introduction that Kawabata's work expresses his regret of Japan’s loss in World War II. Kawabata saw the post-war years as a time where he would only be capable of writing elegies, pieces that pay homage to times past. However, the deliberate yet graceful writing style of Kawabata emulates less of a regret than an uncertainty for the new era of Japan. With the war lost and the Emperor expressing defeat (his speech never mentions surrender), the Japanese faced a post-Hiroshima/Nagasaki world of pain, humiliation and, it can be said, dishonour. As a people, the social collective moved towards an adaptation of new (semi-Western) ways. This duality between old and new is articulated in the two opponents over the Go board. Kawabata examines the possibility in the Master’s younger opponent, Otake, whether or not there is not a necessity for the Japanese to adapt this “new approach” that can lead the nation to victory in the future. The character of the Master seems to have been reshaped from the cynical man in reality to a noble, wise figure who is accustomed to the older rules and manners of playing Go. Both players have a particular style and approach to their game that the narrator describes and analyzes throughout the novel. The Master who has always been victorious to date loses to the seventh rank player Otake, this being said in the opening pages so no need for concern on spoilers here.

"So What?": Like most things that concern Japan – sword fighting, drinking, the feudal system, the country’s literature is not an endeavour a Caucasian can expect to curl up with and enjoy. A certain amount of background and perhaps even a second read is required to fully comprehend an author’s intentions.

Consider this: plot. While reviewing the assignment of my Japanese language-exchange partner, Yoshiko, I suggested that she keep track of the plot by listing the key events with the page number beside. She was unfamiliar with the word "plot" and the dictionary's suggestion, arasuji, implies more summary than plot. When the difference between the two words was clarified, Yoshiko expressed surprise that English would even be concerned with “the order of events”. All elementary school attendees, past and present, recall the lesson of the ‘ ’. The beginning which introduces the characters and events that leads to the pivotal moment, also known as Climax, where the author’s point comes across at its strongest. From there, the reader is brought to a smooth end, usually a series of events that are of direct consequence to the previous key event. All this action concerns us, the Western reader (Americans and Europeans alike), to what end?, Yoshiko would ask directly... My (humble) guess is simply that, like an essay, Western culture has been given key templates to follow and we have done so without question, adopting the “plot” layout as a writing norm. Flip to Chapter II of any Jane Austen novel and you’ll see it for yourself – the Queen of English Literature gives detailed accounts of her characters at the precise time she is expected to. She introduces their personality, provides historical background and contextualizes them within the framework of their time and place.

This is not so for Japanese Literature (nor is it for Science Fiction and Fantasy genre but that is for another post). Let us consider the following passage:








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The tale of The Master of Go, and most other Japanese novels, do not quiet begin nor do they really end. When the reader has registered the last word on the final page of the novel, the tendency is to wonder whether perhaps there is not some misprint, some pages missing. In a Japanese novel, this "introduction of characters" where one is given history and context of the principal characters rarely happens if at all. The reading above summarizes all the events that take place - essentially the entire plot of the book - is given with this first chapter. The narrative for Japanese literature is focused more on the moments in which they have decided to express. This may sound like it is centered around a plot, but if so than it is o ne which bears little order or focus. It is not that the Japanese novel is a random series of events. Rather, it lacks a central focal point that everything revolves around. Overall, it can be said that Japanese literature is conscious of the fact that it gives a glimpse within a certain timeframe. A contrast to the more holistic feeling an English novel would provide.

Within the pages mentioned above, the audience is aware that the book covers the six month Go match played and lost by Master Syusai. His death less than a year later leaves the narrator with regret, he writes in those first pages, and yet the reader realizes that this event has brought insight on the character of the man the narrator so revered. The Master of Go’s short chapters are not a chronological account of the game. Rather, Kawabata discusses different moments that brought awe to the game, knowledge on the Master or his opponent or some social observations. Certain Chapters were so alive with thought and question yet nothing conclusive is written even though the narrator presents it as such on occasion. This is the magic that Japanese fiction holds that Western novels generally do not embody as well. And that is that the tale is more of a suggestion rather than a particular message. (This is where Mishima’s Patriotism provides an ideal counter argument but I have to leave something for the comments, don’t I?) Case in point: Chapter 28 explores the foreigner who plays Go. The narrator, Uuragami, becomes unsettled after the first game.


Recommendation: I recall reading that Snow Country (also by Kawabata) is the novel most recognized by the Western world and The Master of Go by the Japanese. Having now read both of these novels, the surprise was that this is the case simply because The Master of Go is more understandable to the Western reader. The characters in this novel are clean-cut with Kawabata providing a framework for us to work with. Snow Country and most other Japanese novels leave much of the characters personality, even when written in the first person (such as Oe’s The Silent Cry), unsaid. My recommendation for anyone who wishes to begin reading Japanese Fiction it would be this one.

Fun Facts: Kawabata (b. 1899 d.1972) was orphaned at the age of two and by the age of fifteen had lost his only sibling and his grandparent. He killed himself in 1972 by gassing himself though certain family members consider his death to be an accident.

In 1968, Kawabata was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. The only other Japanese author with such an honour is Kenzaburo Oe who received his award in 1994.

Kawabata was Mishima's mentor. Mishima is an author discussed in this blog many a time and happens to be a personal favourite. It is said that the Nobel Prize was originally issued to Mishima but when he learned of this, insisted that it be given to his teacher and mentor, Kawabata (source: Wikipedia. They provided no citation). Mishima was nominated three times but never won.
Amazon.ca Widgets

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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

New Year Resolutions out the window...

Yes, am alive. Whether that's a good thing or not has yet to be determined...

The holiday did not live up to my hopes but met expectations. Therefore, all complaints and comments are reserved for a later date. Perferably never.

There are several reasons why did not write so much at the end of last year. Lets just say the joy in typing was sucked out when the words, "You can't write for shit" were uttered. Hmmmm, yes my own fault.

And no, it is not M. Good God, she is a cold hearted bitch but she would make sure she said that in-between the lines. If anything, that girl is cunning.

For the TBR Challenge, I got to Invisible Man. For my own challenge, I reached the fourth book of Proust. M and Contender 7 finished (in the Proust catagory). Cheers and hurrarys all around.

2007 will be remembered as the year Oscar Wilde was devoured. I just have three more plays of his to read but the crux was done - reread Dorian Gray and for the first time Importance of Being Ernest. Must reads that lol all the way.

At this moment am reading Yasunari Kawabata's THE MASTER OF GO. Expect post soon. Also, I recieved an E-READER for my birthday which has caused disorder among my intimate bibliophiles. More on this soon as well.

And yes, My Love & M, spell check and proof reading. Who said that writing is in the rewriting??? ;)

PS: I also read Age of Innocence and Atonement. Both of those books had me dying. Please read them. Won't even try to write a review (yet)... their words are more than enough.

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Sunday, September 9, 2007

See Details for M & N's Summer 7 Challenge & the hot button that goes along with it by clicking this link.

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

"Bad girl ! drunk by six"


Well, I haven't had a drink in ten months now (that story is for another post) so guess that the title isn't quite accurate but still appropriate. Just thought that I would check in with y'all since many emails have been coming this way asking if I was still alive and whether or not I was still apart of the blog world.

Turns out I am alive and kicking, though perhaps not with any aim. Right now, am one hundred pages into Volume 4 of Proust. The guy is truly amazing though I have had to take a few breaks this summer and read other 'lighter' books. A romance novel here, a Harry Potter there (Volume 5) and, of course, some fantasy.


I recommend Stardust - read and watch. Neil Gaiman's fairy tale is on the big screen and I loved it! Even M thought the movie was somewhat kick-ass... and we all know how critical M is.


Contender 7 was the first to read all of Proust - they finished in JULY! Check out all the details in www.contenderseven.blogspot.com


2 contenders pulled out and in 'punishment' have volunteered at their local community centre which is great for me.


Alright folks, keep your chins up! There is still time...

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Monday, April 30, 2007

Just so I can be up-to-date...

Having just finished The Darkness that Comes Before moments ago. Originally, the intention when logging on was to write a post on it but am feeling rather guilty if I would not write a little something on the other books that have read since In the Skin of a Lion. So they will get their moment of fame but not much else. Just wish there were 25 hours in a day, ya know?

Title: The Millstone
Author: Margaret Drabble

Began & Finished Reading:
April 4th, 2007


"Hi N."

"Hi. " M (no not our M; a whole other one) has never called me. In fact, I have known her for less then a year and have seen her less then 3 times.

"I heard that you have - um- written papers for people." Ahh, straight shot. I like that. Doesn't waste precious time that can be spent reading. "I was wondering if..."

The Milestone was one such book. Drabble is well known for her contribution to modern literature though I would classify her as a Alice Munro by any means. However, her short novel is touching. A wonderful one night read which tells the simple story of a single mother. Her mastery of the English language is AWE-ful... there are lines which make one weep to be certain. I am no mother (yet) but she really does create this bridge between the before and after 'worlds' that allows for the reader a glimpse of change.


Title: Saturday Night, Sunday Morning
Author: Alan Sillitoe

Began & Finished Reading:
April 5-6 2007


Once again picked up to write that English paper. Though not as 'well written', our protagonist is much more memorable in personality and life events. More daring, outspoken and wild, Alex is one of those misunderstood people that society has a tendency of catagorizing as 'menencing'. The accessment would be accurate on a surface level - Alex's inner thoughts and intentions allow even the most puritan of readers to relish this tale.

Title: Guardian Angel

&
Castles
Author: Julie Garwood

Began April 26th, 2007
Finished: April 28th, 2007

Quick romance reads by my favorite author in the genre. Though nothing like her highlander storylines, the tale of the Cainewood family is one that overshadows most other trashy romances. Thrill reads, they served their purpose in having me want, by the end, to pick up something of more substance. My strategy to get through Proust with a smile on my face is to read two romances between every volume. If anyone has any recommendations, please let me know. I have almost finished reading all of her works which is unfortunate but maybe it is time to move on. I have re-read Saving Grace about 80 times... trust me - it's begining to show. ;)


Shout Out: Lucy from www.BooksPrice.com sent me an email about her website. Though I have not yet tried their services I do appreciate the innovative, crisp, clean lay-out that they have. Check it out guys and let me know.

That's it folks! I am off to the park with M where we are going to read Proust outloud to each other. Oh, yes! M did make the observation just this morning that many of the details which I choose to divulge to you go unexplained. Should there be any occasion which any of you feel that further detail is needed an email or comment is more then welcome.

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Saturday, April 28, 2007


Title: In the Skin of the Lion
Author: Michael Ondaatje


ISBN: 0394281829
Page #s: 244

Began Reading:
April 1, 2007

Finished Reading:
April 2, 2007

"So what do you think?"

"Well, N," M said. She sighed holding the binder that held my (humble) 'first' book which only to date has been in print via my laser jet. I had a feeling this was going to be bad. "Your writing... it needs work. I mean there was not a single word in there that I stumbled over. ..." And on & on.

Its not that I can't take criticism (I think... I hope...) but what I hate most of all - and what I told M - is that everyone and anyone can say 'this is good'/'this is bad' . But constructive crit - oh yeah that word!- is more about guiding someone is a general new direction rather then a rant and rave. Much to my benefit she kinda took my advice when she showed up at the cafe a few days later and dropped this book right in front of me. "I think this is how you should write it. His style, the way he describes the things around him..."

Who said friendship - even a somewhat one - isn't about give or take? Retard.
Plot: Ummm. Ummmmmm... that's one of the things with this book. I don't think there is much of a plot. Yes, there's a bridge being built in Toronto and tons of immigrants slaving away constructing this new city. Some guy into placing bombs, wants to get back at those who exploit the toil of foreigners in Canada... there's a nun who gets pregnant after flying off the bridge and a tunnel digger who falls in love with an actress. Truly, there is little character and definitely barely any plot.

So Why Bother? Sometimes, while reading this I did ask myself this question. I wanted to hold onto something and carry it with me when not reading a book and this one left me little to no room to do that. However, it was beautifully written. Not that it read like a poem or lyrics but because there is this inherent illogic to the dialogue and prose which mirror that of the everyday.
"You don't want power. You were born to be a younger brother." page 124

"His breath is now almost whisper, almost language." page 205

Pretty incredible, aye?

Best Part: The way Alice dies. Amazing. Oh, and Caravaggio. Just because of his name, of course.

Worst Part: Blah, the disappointment. My expectations were high considering that M actually handed it over for study. It does need a second read just to further examine technique and his use of analogy but it won't be like reading Gatsby for the second time - not by a long shot.

Recommend To: Well, this is great Canadian lit in the sense that one can see the birth of the city if not the country in the modern era. And the multi-cultural aspects of Canada - how we are praised for being so excepting. Books like this and Obasan are necessary to show that its not about the place but the who. Canada has skeletons in its closet like any other country (though don't get me wrong. This IS, in comparison, the best country to live in today). This is one of Ondaatje favored books so I think that maybe I am being a little harsh - it could have not been the right time perhaps (that happens sometimes. Like the first time I read Hume... definitely not the right time). It has been given the CBC Radio Canada Reads 2002 Winner among others and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize which he lost to A Dream Like Mine by M. T. Kelly.

Factoid: Its the prequal to The English Patient.
The title, you discover as you read, comes from a line in The Epic of Gilgamesh.

I have 6 other books that I have read after this to write reviews on. Yes, it was a semi-productive month. Right now I am reading The Darkness that Came Before for the Once Upon a Time Challenge. Its great so far... promise longer and more reviews to come.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Some Stories Are Worth Retelling...


Title:
The Gospel According to Jesus Christ
Author:
Jose Saramago
Translator:
Giovanni Pontiero
Portuguese to English

Number of Pages:
377
ISBN:
0156001411
Genre:
International Fiction

Challenge:
TBR Reading Challenge
4/12

Began Reading:
April 6th, 2007
Finished:
April 9, 2007

Even before blogging, my 'books-to-be-bought" list has been forever on my mind. Still, of late, I have purchased volumes usually on recommendation from a teacher, respected colleague, neighbour or fellow blogger.

However, I do ensure that when walking into a bookstore with a specific purchase in mind that I spend at least 10 minutes caressing each book with my eyes if not with my hands. My little cousin has always giggled in embarrassment on the occasions she has accompanied me (with Starbucks in mind of course), a by-stander while I flipped to a random page of a tomme I happened to pick up and smell. Deep breath. Taking in the smell of the ink pressed on paper. The fresh crack of the spine. The potential. These cheep trills I dive into at least once a week and would argue with any MD that its works greater wonders then any apple a day business.

Of course, there are negative consequences such as the effects to my wallet. On the day I picked up Saramago's volume, I was purchasing Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (which is still on my TBR Pile). The title caught me off guard having been someone who believed that they knew pretty much all the important title if not all of this Nobel prize winner. My shame of course propelled me - no obliged - to make the purchase. I quickly signed it up as an April read for the TBR challenge hosted by Miz Books because I thought it would suit the Easter weekend with more lamb then even Jesus would expect.

Story: Well, it seems a little silly for me to relate to you the story of Jesus' life. No matter your faith or religious position - post-Dan Brown era means having some idea of what this man's life - at least in major events such as being born, dying and resurrecting - comprises of.

However, Saramago spends the majority of his piece devoted to the beginnings of Jesus life and even before, as he focuses on the couple Mary and Joseph as they struggle before their first son is born.

What this is however is a depiction of a man. A human who fucks and shits and swears. Who feels pride and shame, hurt and betrayal, love and confusion. Disturbing to say the least that Jesus didn't necessarily WANT this... that the fame post-partum was not of his design.

Is it worth it?: I don't know if the book really produced something effective or reviving. Though keeping in mind that this was written in 1991, it may be that all the news headlines of having found JC's bones and Mary Magdalene's grave has de-sensitized. The Church calls the book 'blasphemous' which is ridiculous considering it is clearly marked as Fiction but then maybe they forgot to read that part. If furthering your knowledge on multiple interpretations is what you are looking for then pick up this book. There is no great adventure or scheme as in Da Vinci Code. Its more like a humble memoir of how a miracle would have been carried out and later written about.

Best Part: When God comes to Jesus at the lake with the Devil and they talk for a while and JC asks why does the devil have to be there. God replies, "My son, never forget what I'm about to tell you, everything that concerns God also concerns the devil." page 310

I'll let you discover for yourself what was meant by that remark.

Worst Part: I got a bit annoyed at times of the characters. God was a 'cool dude' but a little too full of -self and that was frustrating; when you read pages and pages of the great wonders that are capable through -. In no way is Saramago using this text as some religious propaganda. Let us just say that when God spoke I had echo's of Nietzsche's discourse on the Old and New Testatment God in my head.

Style: Classic Saramago = means no quotation marks + very long paragraphs + sarcastic humour that makes one laugh out loud. He is, like Stendhal, TELLING a story to you. He acknowledges your presence and your knowledge of JC's life, using it to his advantage. I do prefer The Cave to this text and am told that Blindness is even better but everyone should experience one volume of Saramago sometime and discover for them self why he won the Nobel when he did.

Parting Words: Bla! I am writing another essay for an acquaintance. I am reinvesting the money into a HD DVD player but not with that Blue Disk coming out I am unsure whether I should or not.

I finished reading In the Skin of a Lion and the Milestone, neither being extraordinary but happy to have them under my belt if only for diversifying.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2007

A Promise Once Made Never Forgotten


Title: Gardens of the Moon
Author: Steven Erickson
Genre: Fantasy

Series: Book 1 of the Malazan Book of the Fallen

# of Pages: 494
ISBN:

Challenge: Chunkster, 2/3

Began Reading:
March 5 2007
Finished Reading :
April 5th 2007

Ok, so what a disgrace I am. Does it make a difference that for 2 weeks I did not touch this or any other book for that matter? Does it make a difference that this project am working on is due this Friday for an investor who may, just may, be investing well... a lot into this 'idea'?

See, even I can't convince myself.

There is no reason. Not having 2 hours sleep. Not eating. Not anything. When I went to the toilet I could have read but I didn't which is a bad, bad thing.

So in punishment I am signing up for a million challenges which are forcing me to keep me on my toes and thus ensure my tbr pile remains low ( relatively). Now back to important matters.

In high school, I was introduced to the fantasy world by W, the older brother of my then best friend D. W has my everlasting gratitude for introducing me to the world of the Wheel of Time. Though there were others in my social circle who picked up Jordan's epic, it was he who literally shoved it into my hands and said, 'Read it.'

Now one thing about fantasy that you should all know is that it creates a family. For example, for 2 years of my life I rode the bus reading my Jordan books in the morning. Another bus rider would carry his large hardbacks and do much the same as me. We never exchanged words and our identities remained anonymous until 600 days later we discovered that we have both been reading the same thing. A well of conversation began and we both regretted having lost the time of enjoying such conversations. He was in his 50s and then I was not even 17. But that did not matter of course. With Rand and Perrin and Matt and Nynaeve... age, race and status just don't fit in the equation.

What does this have to do with Erickson? Am getting there. Because fantasy is such a 'family' oriented genre, my fellow peers in class who realized that I too was becoming a 'member' began to approach me with suggestions. Most earnest of them all was N, the fellow who had the unfortunate fate of sitting behind me in Mrs. Woolgar's English class and thus listening to my every anecdote (*blush* am still that way). He begged that I read Erickson saying that he far surpassed Jordan - which I found to be an impossibility. This conversation continued for about a year and well soon after I forgot.

I did bump into him and another friend of ours from the days of youth and bliss in Indigo - the dreaded employment I had - and they reminded me that I had an obligation to fill by reading Mr. Erickson's series.

It was when I came across book 1 Gardens of the Moon in hardcover for 4.99 at Chapters that I picked it up and said to myself, 'Ok, N, gotta get back into the game.' Fantasy makes you obsessed. Case in point: last series I got into by Jacquline Carey Kushniel's Dart. Each tomme is 1000+ pages. there are 3 books. I read all of them in four. I did not work, sleep and only peed once a day... with my book as a companion. Taking N & G's words to heart, I have been scared recently - with so much on my plate - that I would be sucked in... this one being 10 volumes with 3 more editions to come.

Of course, I am sucked in because I feel madly in love with Crokus who is so chill and tomorrow am off to Chapters for a latte and Volume 2 as added weight in my bag.

The Plot: The Malazan Empire has been in Rule for a little under 200 years. The Empress has been in rule for over a decade and her stern, cold manner is how she has slowly but surly taken over city after city. She has also had intentions of destroying any trace of her predecessors rule by sending many of his garrisons that are still in duty on 'suicidal' missions. One such she is paying particular attention to is Whiskeyjack and his crew... for it seems that his newest recruit - a young girl from a fishing village - is not as innocent as one so young would be. It seems that the Shadowlord has somehow gotten involved but why? and for what reasons?

Gardens of the Moon introduces a dozen characters that you fall in love with and hate and want to throttle because they are so stubborn. It is but an introduction in a long epic that will keep you on your toes.

The Narrative: The work is written in third person but what Erickson does is weave the tail so that every few pages you change perspective if not scene. Usually, you have to read an entire chapter - as with Jordan or Martin - before you can move on to the next character. With Erickson its maximum 6 pages, usually 3 and your onto the next character. Its amazingly fast pace. One other consequence I realized was that it never made me dread any up comng chapters. I knew that if a passage did not interest me I would soon be on to the next.

Erickson, naturally, has a lot of military terminology which he seems to feel quiet comfortable with. It may be jarring at times but nothing that forces you to seek out the definition.

Favorite Part: Ouch! Is it bad when I say that Crokus decides to leave with Sorry. I literally whooped out load in public at that part.

Also, you have no clue who the good/bad 'guys' are. That definitely tickled my fancy.

Worst Part: The middle of the book... it was building up the final 200 pages of the book but there was a good 100 pages that was a little tiny bit dry.

Recommend to: Not for the fantasy novice at all. There is much left unsaid and unexplained in the book and most probably I predict throughout the series. Unlike Jordan where the inner workings sourcing the (magical) power is revealed this is not the case with Gardens of the Moon.

this book is on the Summer 7 challenge I am hosting. this summer. So feel free, after reading ********* this to jump on or off the band wagon*****

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Sunday, April 1, 2007

What F*&k am I thinking?

Guys- I am a bad, bad girl.

After spending oh-too much time on a business plan with less the four hours of sleep a night, I haven't had enough time to read. I actually have gone an entire day without reading a word of my Erickson novel. Sacreligious! I don't think that has ever happened to me. My room mate had to calm me down and the next morning I did squeeze in 20 pages before returning to the drawing board. But still...

So not only have I like created the challenge thats so challenging only the crazy bloggers are joining (see link above) but also am joining other challenges. Hell, so far I am still on top of my challenge reading and these are TBR books anyways.

The Non-Fiction Challenge

is hosted by Thoughts of Joy and is something that I find to be a great idea. Literature we tend to stay niche but when it comes to Non-Fic, more and more when reading others' lists a hybrid appears. We all want to read a little bit of everything. As do I...

Orientalism by Edward Said is one of the most important texts I have ever read. In university, the first 3 chapters were required reading and I ran - literally - outside the next day to purchase it. Never before have I ever been so touched by the knowledge and passion. Said examines the consequences of Post-Colonialism - namely the idea that we define ourselves not by what we are but by what we are not. This is the first in a trilogy and by far the book Said is most known for though he was an active writer.

Will Ferguson has been an author that I have been dying to read for such a long time. I always caught snidpits of his books while at work but I never read anything sitting down. That is until I saw Hitching Rides With Buddha. It's his tale about his journey across Japan. A book about my fav place written by a fellow Canuk? Who could ask for better?

The Truth about Stories by Thomas King is another CBC Lecture put in print. A loved one gave me this for my b-day which I have not gotten to yet. I did my final high school project on oral tradition so to say that I have a passing interest would not be fair. This book discusses Native storytelling - a topic I know nothing about but should.

David Eggers's Pulitzer Winner A Heartbrecking Work of Staggering Genius I am reading to improve my writing style. And of course because EVERYONE is telling me to read this.

Finally, Elie Wiesel's Night. I wanted to read it for the reading group has chosen over at Heather's but alas alas the vote went the other way. So I thought to 'bump' it here. I saw him on Oprah and it spiked my curiosity. For whatever anyone wants to say about the lady, she has great taste in books.

I hope this is ok with you Joy!

The Challenge runs parallel to my own -May to September. Crazy!
Reading this with Proust. Thats why you guys are not seeing any Michel Foucault. I think I will make History of Sexuality a challenge of its own next year. If I'm insane enough.

*******

March 22nd to June 21st Stainless Steal Droppings is hosting a Fantasy challenge. I had to join since when all is said and done, this is my favorite genre.

Peter Pan - I have always loved. When I was a kid, I nailed a poster on my roof telling Peter Pan to come get me. I even had a suitcase all ready to go just in case. Therefore Barrie's classic is number one on my list.

InkSpell - am soooo excited to read. Funke's first book was so great and inspiring that when I saw the sequel my hands couldn't stop themselves. I am gittery just thinking about reading this one.

The Darkness That Comes Before is book one of R Scott Bakker's The Prince of Nothing Series. I have been eyeballing this one for some time. The author is a philosophy major and rumor has it that he has implemented many of this into his texts. How could I resist? Really.

Another series first is Terry Brooks' First King of Shannara. I have to get off my ass and read this series. Its not that it interests me per say but I have to read this - its a classic. I hate people who say they read fantasy but don't know what LofR stands for. Even after the bloody movie!

Last but not least AT ALL is the second volume of Eric Van Lustbader's Ring of 5 Dragons series. This I ended up reading on a bet. In reality, I won even though I lost. Why I was ever reluctant to read this epic is beyond me. I just found Book 2 & 3 in hardcover which was a sign that I had to stick them in here. Had to... Carl - This one I seriously recommend you read if you have not. It boggles the mind.


That's my five. I have to get back to writing a business plan now but I

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Monday, March 12, 2007

M & N's Summer 7 Challenge

***********UPDATES AT THE BOTTOM OF POST***************

a challenge is:

A test of one's abilities or resources in a demanding but stimulating undertaking.



Get ready guys.
This isn't going to be easy.
But it is definitely going to be rewarding.

Mission: To complete an entire series from start to finish of one of those listed below.

Time frame: May 1st to Septemeber 1st 2007
No, you can't start earlier.

Reward: Gift certificates to an online bookstore for those who complete the challege. Some may receive goodies such as books, booksmarks, etc.

The Catch: If you agree to take this challenge and do not complete the task you are REQUIRED to make a donation to brainwash books in the form of book or money. (a place that provides cheap books for university students. We act as a pseudo-library where you can buy the books for $, trade or borrow. And if you wish to encourage reading, regardless of your performance during the challenge, please feel free to do so. We love books - especially classics. ) I will be posting the logistics of this further along in the challenge.

Pre-reqs: You must have read no more than one of the books in the series (and yes, I will check your blogs, people!)

This way you're rewarded if you win.

And it hurts if you don't.

Now that's a challenge.

Who Is Doing it: So far, M and I are the only ones crazy enough to do this.

How We Came Up with This God Forsaken Idea:

N: I always wanted to read Proust.

M: Me too.

N: Bet you you can't read all 7 volumes in the summer.

M: Yes, I can.

You can figure out the rest of this overly intellectual dialogue.

The Series you can Choose From:

1. In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
- Total 7 volumes.

This early twentieth century text is packed with love, art and social criticism. Filled with characters of all shapes and sizes, it is considered one of the most influential and important works of fiction.

Most however stop after having read the second volume. Only PhD students, thesis writers or ambitious laymen like ourselves bother with reading the entire 7 volumes that make up Proust's masterpiece.

They are:
Vol 1 - Swann's Way
Vol 2- In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower
Vol 3- The Guermantes Way
Vol 4- Sodom and Gomorrah
Vol 5 - The Prisoner
Vol 6 - The Fugitive
Vol 7 - Finding Time Again


Originally written in French, though I'll be reading it in English. However, after finishing this work, you'll always have something to say at a party.


2. Malazan Book of the Fallen series by Steven Erickson


- total 7 volumes
(note that the series will have 10 books total but as of this year 7 have been released.)


This fantasy series is considered to be one, if not the best, in the genre. As you learn the eccentric traditions and customs of the different cities, you fall in love with your characters. It's better then being on a beach and cheaper.

  1. Gardens of the Moon

  2. Deadhouse Gates

  3. Memories of Ice

  4. House of Chains

  5. Midnight Tides

  6. The Bonehunters

  7. Reaper's Gale

3. Complete Novels of the Bronte Sisters (Emily, Anne, & Charlotte)


- total 7 volumes

Talented but frail, these siblings died very young - before they could possibly flourish in their literary talents. Though they were given some recognition when alive, they could not foretell the impact they would have on the canon of great books.



* you can choose your own which I gotta approve by email. Prereq is that it has to be an ACCOMPLISHMENT to brag about.



***Do You Dare Take the Challenge?***
just leave a comment at the end of this posting
w/ your selection choice
and blog address




end date for submission:
April 30th


UPDATES:

Hey Guys! So People are Actually crazy enough to do this. Who would have thought. Hats off for being taken under the influence of the M - she can definitly get under ones skin. Drum Roll please:

Contender 1& 2: founders and forefathers M & N

Contender #3
Heather
from Orange Blossum Goddess, & several author of several other book blogs, was the first! Perhaps its because I staulk her on Facebook... who knows. She decided to inovate and take on Lord of the Rings & company. Yes, Tolkein wrote more then just the Hobbit as add ons to his classic.

Contender # 4

Sarah is a devoted brainwash customer with, alas no blog for me to link here. She is on facebook and has great taste in profile pics. This recent McGill alum has many a time shared a great cup of coffee with even better book talk. Sarah is taking the Bronte sisters this summer as her challenge. Right on girl!

Contender #5

Tanabata
is a Canadian living in Japan and this my friends gives her the unfair advantage as being a personal fav of mine. Its the pics guys and my infatuation with a country that has more similarities to Italians then you would first assume! (yes, I tell you, I have thought this one out).Her blog definitly has the BEST landscape pics. Anyways, I let her off 'easy' with the 7 Harry Potters, another series I had considered taking for my own.

Contender #6

Christopher
lives in TO and we met through a mutual friend. I simply sent him an email about a week ago saying how I had heard he loved to read and the rest is history. Christopher is talented to say the least and therefore in order to make this an actual challenge, he signed up for both the Brontes and Proust. He speaks Ancient Greek, Latin, Russian Italian and English most of which are self taught. Now do you get why?

Contender #7

Nessie-ite has signed up for Proust but has not gotten back to me with the blog address. I am waiting.... anxiously. Did I mention I wasn't patient? Please don't do this to me...

www.contenderseven.blogspot.com
this is my kind of humour guys check it out!

Contender # 8

Loose Baggy Monster
happened to be perusing blogs, came accross my own humble one, saw the challenge and just 'could not resist'. Thanks babe. It makes me feel wanted which is always a nice warm feeling - the kind that warm milk can give you. LBM is going for the Proust while keeping an eye on the Brontes. Good job girl!

Contender # 9

Dolce Bellezza has come on board with the fantasy. The only one so far who choice this series. GREAT JOB! I am reading Erickson now and it is soooo amazing. I decided I am doing all three of my series choices. I can't help it - they are all sooo good.

Contender # 10

Kailana has decided to do Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files which I have no clue what that is but hell they look interesting enough and can't wait to read a little more.

Contender # 11

Think Pink Dana is, to M's everlasting shame for not having thought of this before signing up for Proust, is the complete works of George Elliot. M just finished reading Middle March for the second time and is itching to get her hands on others but will have to be satisfied this summer with Dana's reviews.

George Eliot?
Adam Bede, 1859
The Mill on the Floss, 1860
Silas Marner, 1861
Romola, 1863
Felix Holt, the Radical, 1866
Middlemarch, 1871-72
Daniel Deronda, 1876

Contender # 12

Natalie is reading the complete works of Jane Austen. I love it! I know tons of people will be visiting your blog even if it is just to read the words Mr Darcy yet again.

Contender # 13
Country Girl has joined and will be the entire Anne Rice Vampire series people. Crazy. Though easy to read its a challenge to keep up with Rice. I look forward to reading the reviews.


Contender # 14
Ashleigh has joined right on board with the hardest of the hard - Proust! Welcome ~ and I look forward to lamenting this with you. ;)

Potential Contenders

Lisa at Brecking the Fourth Wall
Bookish Lore at Literary Craving

note: Cry out to all ~ put a little peer pressure on these girls already!





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