Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Monday, November 8, 2010
Friday, November 5, 2010
Reviewed by Jo Walton over on Tor.com. This is a retelling of the fairy tale of True Thomas, and it is just beautiful. It is set in the past - Scotland in the 1300s - and the story is told in four voices. First we have Gavin, an old farmer, telling us about Thomas, the brash young harper who has wandered into Gavin's heart and home on his travels. Then Thomas continues the story as he is taken into Fairyland and lives there for 7 years as the consort of the Queen of Fairyland. Then Meg, Gavin's wife, takes up the tale when Thomas returns from Fairyland and tries to learn how to live life as a man again. Finally we have Elspeth, in love with Thomas before he vanished, and coming to love him again on his return - although this isn't easy as they have both been changed by the passage of time and the events of life, telling the tale of his life as a man unable to lie - and with the ability to see into the future.
The story is beautiful, and the style in which it is told is just wonderful. I love that it doesn't end with Thomas returning from Fairyland, and that the world has not stood still while he was away. People have changed, and Thomas has changed, and adjusting to these changes is not easy for anyone. Elspeth certainly didn't sit around waiting for Thomas to come home. Gavin has a great deal of trouble accepting that Thomas has been in Fairyland and isn't simply making up a new story. The personalities of the four main characters are wonderful, and having them each narrate different portions of the story is wonderful. You get to know each of them, but without the discontinuity of changing narrators every chapter as most stories would do. Thomas's adventures in Fairyland are also fascinating, but not quite as compelling as the rest of the story, however the song he writes while he is there is fabulous.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Friday, October 1, 2010
Townsend's gift is to make you choke with laughter and tears at once, to create a nebbishy antihero who is both terrible and lovable, and to torture him mercilessly for our benefit and edification.
This is the sort of comment that I read and think "Yes, this sounds fabulous" and then I start reading and realize that in fact, I don't really like anti-heros, and it bothers me when they are tortured unnecessarily, especially when they are the ones doing the stupid things and not realizing it. But I think that the reason I don't enjoy it might be the same reason that I had trouble enjoying Seinfeld - I hadn't realized that Seinfeld was supposed to be satire (they're charicatures, not characters), and this is supposed to be humor, not torture. We're encouraged to laugh at Adrian when he's being stupid, and to enjoy watching him do the occasional non-stupid thing. I do have a lot of difficulty watching people do stupid things, I find it incredibly irritating, and yet there's a really loveable side to Adrian which mostly you just get to see through other people's reactions to him.
The story is written as his private diary, and he really comes off as insufferable at first. He's a teenage boy and definitely sees himself as the center of the universe, as well as way more intelligent than anyone else out there. He sure doesn't cut his parents any slack initially, but then as the story goes on, you realize that they definitely don't deserve it. He's laughably oblivious to the things going on in their lives, as children should be, but then he's forced to deal with the fact that neither of his parents actually have their lives together yet. His descriptions of his mother's interactions with the next-door-neighbor, Mr. Lucas, as the Lucases are going through their divorce, are totally hilarious because you can see exactly where this whole thing is headed, even though Adrian can't. His parents separation and his mother's descent into total self-indulgence is quite funny, mostly because of everyone else's reactions to it. Even though her behaviour is absolutely atrocious, it very clearly doesn't scar Adrian the way you might imagine if you were reading this story from any viewpoint other than his personal diary.
Adrian joins a club which is supposed to help the elderly for some very selfish reasons of his own, and yet once he gets used to Bert, his assigned person, it becomes clear that Adrian is actually an incredibly caring and unselfish person. He can be very self-aggrandizing when he wants to, and when he thinks it is going to get him attention or praise, but put him in a situation where someone is in need and he is able to help - and he just jumps right in and helps. For me, this was the turning point, once I saw how much Bert obviously liked Adrian, it became clear that Adrian wasn't just a stupid little kid who deserved my scorn...he just liked to think of himself that way.
And then there's Adrian's girlfriend, Pandora. She starts out dating his best friend Nigel (even though Nigel knows that Adrian likes her!), and then some other guy, but finally winds up with Adrian, and actually stays with Adrian for much longer than you might expect, especially considering that he got her deodorant as a Christmas present. The phone bills the two of them manage to rack up are quite hilarious.
On the whole, definitely not the sort of book I usually read, I did enjoy it (once I managed to start liking Adrian rather than just being irritated by him), and I think I might have a slightly easier time with it as Adrian gets older.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Monday, September 13, 2010
Monday, August 23, 2010
Then someone pointed out to me that the subject is love -- every possible kind of love. From romantic, to father/son, to friends-- all the way down to the love a guy had for his pet iguana!
Seth covered it all. All in sonnets.
Plus: the blurb was a sonnet. The author bio was a sonnet.
Which suddenly made everything much clearer. It let me understand why Seth had written the story he did...especially the parts that felt too rough. Possibly it is time for me to go re-read Hunchback of Notre Dame...I was so angry with Hugo when I finished that.
This is a vision of a part of “Africa” from the inside that could not simply be explained or documented in a textbook, biography, or traditional African novel.
Friday, July 23, 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Friday, May 28, 2010
Monday, April 26, 2010
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Monday, March 15, 2010
Material World is a beautiful book - Peter Mezel and Faith D'Aluisio, along with many other photographers and translators, went around the world convincing statistically average families in 36 different countries to empty all their possessions out of their houses, arrange them artistically on the street out front, and have their pictures taken. The results are stunning and quite beautiful. Included with each photo is an inventory - which was really useful because the pictures are so full of things that it is very easy to miss what you are looking at. Having a list really helped to realize what it was I was actually seeing.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Monday, February 22, 2010
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
The thing I've enjoyed most about both of these books is that they aren't the traditional 'Harlequin' romance. You know the one where the main characters fall in love at first sight on page 1, have a whirlwind romance, and then something truly stupid happens (usually just a misunderstanding) which splits them apart, and then they finally get back together in the last few pages? I get irritated by those. The people in those stories spend all their time being overwrought and despairing. The sort of romance that Robert Jordan writes, where you just want to put everyone in a room together and force them to explain exactly what is going on and then they can all be happy instead of miserable.