December 1st, 2009

Dead Dog Cat

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Like space opera? Parodies? Well, Space Captain Smith by Toby Frost has it all. It's chock full of references to other SF idioms, and at the same time shakes up the Victorian image of the British Empire pulled into space. A fast and fairly funny read. I finished reading it yesterday...
did you know you could fly?

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Book #87 -- Robert Coover, Pricksongs & Descants: Fictions, 256 pages.

Ok, I have to admit, I didn't like this one very much. It was very post-modern and meta, and artsy, and half the time I couldn't tell what was supposed to be going on I think that was the point. It was very well written, and he did some interesting things with branching outcomes, but it was still a little to esoteric for me.

Progress toward goals: 335/365 = 91.8%

Books: 87/100 = 87.0%

Pages: 21984/25000 = 87.9%

2009 Book List

cross-posted to 15000pages, 50bookchallenge, and gwynraven
muse

My 50book Challenge

I tried starting this a few months back, but that didn't work out :P.
So I officially start today, and my challenge ends December 1st, 2010.
The first thirty books on the list are books I own. Half I have read and will reread, and the other half I never got around to reading, but I made a promise to myself that I would read all the books I have before buying and borrowing from a library.
My favorite authors are Milan Kundera, Fred Alan Wolfe and Allen Ginsberg (but have none of him on my list..hmmm).
I'm into psychology, mysticism, quantum physics, shamanism, sci-fi of which can be applied to life, the beatnik culture... the 60's especially, and classic works (if not only to be able to say...been there, read that...or swoon over the work like millions before me).
My list is as flexible as the books availability to me. I'm poor, haha. And have library fines (lame, i know i know). And I loveeee thrift store/used book store finds !!

Oh, and I enjoy interesting people, interested in similar things as me. Feel free to add me, I'm pretty friendly :)

~ Sarah Marie

P.S.
I'm trying to put the list behind a cut, if it doesn't work at first, I apologize and will work on it until it's hidden :). I don't have much luck with cuts !!

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42_ Miss Julie

42 MISS JULIE August Strindberg (Sweden, 1888)

Class: Theatre History Part II

Miss Julie is a young woman torn between society's expectations and her deceased mother's education. One evening she seduces (and is seduced) by her manservant Jean. But it is a situation that she cannot handle properly as she is confused and is never sure if she should act the way a woman is expected to act or if she should be the way her mother taught her to be and act like a man. The evening is a battle of power between the two sexes and the two classes.

Miss Julie is a typical naturalistic play as it deals with forces that are beyond the characters and that they are unable to escape. Because of the contrast between her education and society, we know from the beginning that Miss Julie will never find her place and is doomed to failure. The truth is I was not particularly impressed by the play when I read it and I couldn't understand the message but studying it made me change my mind completely. It is not openly dramatic but when we decide to pay attention to all the symbols then everything becomes meaningful.

3/5
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November books

Not a very productive reading month, but I've made my secondary target of 60 books for the year. I somehow don't think I'll reach my main target of 75, but that was always probably out of reach. Anyway, this last month I read:

#57: When the Lights Went Out by Andy Beckett. My fascination with recent British history brings me up to the 1970s, a decade I remember all too clearly. Beckett's one sentence reference to the Protestant Workers' Strike in Northern Ireland reminds me all too easily of reading Kant's Critique of Pure Reason by candlelight while studying for my finals. As history, it is interesting simply because so much of what it covers was stuff I lived through and remember. As a history book it is perhaps less satisfactory because it is about 30% journalism: many of the key players in the decade are still alive (or were when Beckett was researching the book) and rather too much of the book is taken up with descriptions of going to visit them, what they are like now, the character of their homes, and so forth. I don't think this provides quite the context for judging the decade that Beckett reckons it does.

#58: Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad. I have a rather tentative relationship with Conrad. There is no author I have started to read and given up on more than Conrad, including this novel which I first tried to read probably in the 1960s. Revisiting it now, I don't really see why I had so much trouble, except that the prose is rather denser than my usual taste and the story, for all its colour and exotic locale, is remarkably slow moving. I enjoyed it more the further I got into it, with the final section where Jim gains redemption but loses his life, the best of all for my money.

#59: The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe by D.G. Compton, which I re-read because I'm writing a chapter on the film adaptation for a book, but it's such a good book I should return to it more often, as I explained here.

#60: Brain Thief by Alexander Jablokov, reviewed for The New York Review of Science Fiction. A comic caper that is so thoroughly plotted that it feels hermetically sealed. There's a lot of clever stuff in the construction but it feels totally lifeless.
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Salman Rushdie - The satanic verses



Salman Rushdie – The satanic verses

A book that causes religious leaders to call a fatwa must be special. And contrary to my belief that one has to read the book in its original language if possible, I did read a translation this time. A hard back cover special cheap edition made me buy it, I guess that reading it in Dutch wasn’t a bad choice actually.
09054a
Several months this book was next to my bed, a few pages every night. At times I considered giving in. In the end I didn’t. Several chapters really dragged me in. Most didn’t. I am sure my basic knowledge of the Islam was way too short to completely understand the book.

And I’m not even talking about the controversy. I have tried to understand why people would consider the book offensive. I couldn’t. I don’t see the key role for Mohammed, not even after I found out he is renamed Mahound. Regardless if I did or didn’t understand it, I don’t think a fatwa can be an appropriate answer to a book. No book can be so bad/controversial/offensive that that author should be killed. Next to that I firmly believe that 99% (and that’s a low estimate) of the offended Muslims have not read the book. I personally don’t know anyone who had read it. Another guess: I think that many readers have bought the book because of the controversy, but still haven’t read it or haven’t finished it. Some people (like me?) like to show that they are open minded, like to show this book on their shelf. But reading it is a different story.
09054b
To me, the episode of Hind dragging a whole village across the desert on her way to Mecca was the best part of the story. For the first time I was really eager to continue reading, to find out what would happen next.

After more than three months I finally managed to finish reading the satanic verses. Disappointed mostly. With myself, for not understanding it. With the book, for not being interesting enough. With the world, for allowing a book to be this controversial. With Muslims, for being offended by a book and without thinking following some idiot Persian religious leader who wants to see Rushdie dead. With Rushdie, for writing the worst book I have read by him.
09054c

Quote: “For are they not coinjoined opposites, these two, each man the other's shadow? – One seeking to be transformed into the foreigness he admires, the other preferring, contemptuously, to transform; one, a hapless fellow who seems to be continually punished for uncommitted crimes, the other called angelic by one and all, the type of man who gets away with everything. – We may describe Chamcha as being somewhat less than life-size; but loud, vulgar Gibreel is, without question, a good deal larger than life, a disparity which might easily inspire neo-Procrustean lusts in Chamcha: to stretch himself by cutting Farishta down to size.
What is unforgivable?” (page 400 in my Dutch edition)

Number: 09-054
Title: The satanic verses
Author: Salman Rushdie
Language: Dutch (Orig.: English)
Year: 1988
# Pages: 511 (11216)
Category: Literature
ISBN: 90-250-0001-0
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Book 86

86. Just After Sunset, by Stephen King. Stephen King's latest compilation of short stories is a great read. Most of them are horror, and all have horrific elements, but there's a lot of variety. There's The Gingerbread Girl and A Very Tight Place, which have no supernatural elements but are probably the freakiest stories because there are no "unexplained phenomenon" -- just human nature at its worst. Mute is probably the closest to non-horror, but it does pose some interesting moral dilemnas. Some are bittersweet, like Willa, where a young couple finds a new life (literally) in an old honkytonk bar, and The Things They Left Behind, a haunting tribute to the September 11 terrorist attacks. The New York Times at Special Bargain Rates also falls in this category, when a recently widowed woman gets a phone call that gives her not only a chance at closure but later saves her life. The most frightening story in my opinion was "N." This reminded me in some ways of The Ring. Probably because of it's spooky repeating-pattern nature, if that makes any sense. All in all, very enjoyable.