( My life. Ask yourself, 'how much do I care?' )
So I have read and watched a ton of stuff recently, and I was just blown away by a lot of it.
The Road, Cormac McCarthy
( Chalk another one up under 'things that make me sob in inappropriate places.' (I'm sorry, random man who had to sit next to a sobbing woman on an airplane!) )
I Am Legend
( Wow. )
3:10 to Yuma
( Oh holy god, the slashy vibe )
Yes, I am totally adoring the post-con J2 cuteness floating about the flist right now. I am so jealous, and so dead of cute! Here is a con-report of Samantha Ferris' panel. That woman WINS. Seriously. I am stunned at how bluntly she discussed the new girls this season, but it was completely beyond the pale the way she was bluntly booted off for young T&A and I totally back her there. As much as I am willing to like both Ruby and Bela in concept (and possibly Bela in execution), I dislike the casting of both on simple "You replaced the most awesome woman in the universe for THEM?" grounds. It is a crying shame that we will probably get a short season this year and so won't see Ellen come back (of course I support the writers, but I can still be sad), but I can only hope that means she comes back in a big way next season.
This cracks me up, and is completely why I'm so paranoid about Dustin reading my computer over my shoulder. Heh.
The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood
I adore Atwood. Frankly, I do not think any book has hit so many of my bullet-proof narrative kinks in one go since Absalom, Absalom, so I am in heaven here. Nested narratives! Unreliable narrators! Family secrets! Complete defiance of genre!
Oh god I love this book.
I know This Much is True, Wally Lamb
I am so glad I picked this up. The story of the twin brother of the paranoid schizophrenic trying to heal his own anger issues while somehow saving his brother sounds exactly like the kind of Oprah’s Book Club thing I would avoid, but it is beautiful. It ends up all wound up with issues of race in ways I didn’t expect, and it also ends up all wound up in family histories and lies and secrets, which hit me hard. It reminds me ever so vaguely of the things I like best about Faulker, in fact. In any case, it is exactly as sad as you knew it would be- because while Dominic, our narrator, is still capable of healing and creating a life for himself, there is no salvation for Thomas. Some bits might tend toward the overwrought, but I really found this beautiful.
Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco
This is something else. Is it a murder mystery? Historical fiction? An apocalypse allegory? A theology musing? A semiotics treatise? Damned if I know. Maybe one day I’ll be smart enough to understand this book; in the meantime, I’m just in awe. Eco plays with metatextuality in his, what, four different framing narratives. William of Baskerville is an amalgam of Occam and Holmes, and works beautifully as such. He is the mouthpiece for fascinating speculation on knowledge, what we can know, how to interpret signs, whether truth can be found. I have no words for the awesomeness of this book.
Animal Farm, George Orwell
Read with tutoring student Byron. Makes a great allegory. Some lovely topics there, especially about use of rhetoric. Good to have finally gotten around to it. I have Thoughts about the problems inherent in books that are primarily allegory, with lots of reference to Lewis and Tolkien, but now is not the time.
One of those things that I should have read a long time ago, and have read, and don't think I got as much out of as I should have. In any case, it does indeed have that particular feel of oral heroic epic, which appeals, and I'm going to read more and try to get into what I know I missed, and I'm glad I did. There's obviously some incredible play of language in the original, and I think the translation I read was good. The history is fascinating and the linguistics certainly would be if I had a clue, and the glimpses of heroic culture are both very familiar and in some ways quite foreign to a classical mindset.
Tales from the Expat Harem (Foreign Women in Modern Turkey) edited by Anastasia Ashman and Jennifer Gokmen
This was charming and wonderful and sweet and made me desperately, desperately long to see Turkey. More than that, it made me long to be a braver person than I am- to be the sort of person who travels the middle east alone and learns Turkish and lives in a stone house in the Cappadocian mountains and... a braver person than I am. Maybe someday.
Game of Thrones, George R R Martin
Ah, what delightful fluff. I re-read this one on a whim, and had forgotten how enjoyable door-stop fantasy can be, if it has any tinge
of originality. Martin's refusal to fall into the traps of an utterly black and white world with strangely invincible characters is
refreshing. This series might have more truly memorable characters per pound than any doorstop fantasy I've read.
What really makes it good, though, is the strange amalgamation of sources. The political struggle in the South is two-thirds War of the
Roses and one-third Hundred Years War. Daeny's struggle across the sea comes half Ghengis Khan and half Anne McCaffrey. And the Wall and the north is part Hadrian's wall but mostly Germanic myth. You never could have convinced me that these elements could come together for an enjoyable whole (in fact, they don't really come together, and I am still withholding judgment on whether Martin will be able to pull that off), but they sure do work here.
Clash of Kings, George R R Martin
Yea verily, more of the same. Martin can be brutal- he tears hard at your emotions, challenging you constantly to face what he gives you
without shutting it out. Many people think he is just too unpleasant to read- I think it's about damn time one of these high-fantasy
mideaval authors took a hard look at the historical setting they've chosen and face it.
The Crucible, Arthur Miller
Oh my. What an incredible and tear-jerking thing about honesty and integrity and hypocrisy and goodness. More than that, about community and hysteria and vengeance and repression and.. oh my. Quite something.
This book makes me squirm. It's very similar to Farenheit 911, in that one half of you wants to cheer wildly in desperate joy that someone finally has the courage to come out and SAY IT, but the other half of you cringes, realizing how many fence-sitters and moderates are alienated, not by the argument, but simply by the tone. That said, the guy is hugely influential, and he is rational, witty, charming, well spoken, and brilliant. It is good to finally read something of his, and it is good to not feel terribly alone in ones views, you know?
The Crossing, Cormac McCarthy
This book makes me feel stupid, in a big way. There's an immense amount going on here, emotionally, psychologically, and thematically, and I don't understand any of it well enough to articulate. It is, perhaps, a manifesto of existential nihilism, but the mail character, Billy, has too much love and pathos in him for it to be at all coldly clinical. It's a chillingly depressing book, with, at first glance, no overall shape or pattern or anything to give it any meaning whatsoever- and then, another level down, more and more functional structure emerges. I feel like a complete idiot, groping in the dark.
Christians as the Romans Saw Them, Robert Louis Wilken
I really like the basic premise of this book- an attempt to analyze early Christianity through the prism of pagan criticisms and analysis, as reconstructed through later Christian apologists responding to those criticisms. The conclusions revolve around Christians' retreat from civic, public religion (which I expected) and their apostasy from the more ancient and therefore more respected Judaism (which I didn't). He deals a lot with Porphyry and Julian, both fascinating. Overall, there's a focus on the sheer amount of communication and intellectual engagement shown between pagans and Christians in those centuries, quite the opposite of the normal picture. Quite good.
Mossflower (Redwall), Brian Jacques
This was a blast of nostalgia. I devoured Redwall books when I was.. 10? The writing style is, of course, more juvenile than I remember, with a few very annoying quirks, and the characterization is shallow at best, a bit over the top. But how fun! How sweet! It is really an accomplishment of world building on a very small and cozy scale, and the young age he aims for should diminish that, I think. A better job with interwoven legends and backstories than most other series. How fun!