May 10th, 2012


Books 10 - 16 / 75

10. Blindness - Jose Saramago, translated from the Portuguese by Giovanni Pontiero
            This is about people in a nameless city who suddenly begin to catch blindness: A sudden total white-out that has no warning, no symptoms, no outward signs, is contagious, but of unknown cause.  It begins with one man sitting in his car at a red light, and quickly spreads through the city, destroying friendships and families, commerce, law and order, and almost any concept of human decency and dignity. 
             I enjoyed this book insofar as it explored what would happen to one of our modern cities if this sort of unprecedented pestilence spread through it.  As an exploration of human depravity, selfishness, and irrationality, it's pretty depressing.  The one thing I really didn't like was the author's style:  I'm pretty conventional when it comes to punctuation and capitalization (e.e. cummings is all right, but he's a poet.  I like my prose to be prose.).
11. Dark Angel (The Night World, Book Three)[reread] - L.J. Smith
            Revisiting one of the favorites of my youth.  The funny bits still make me laugh, and I still feel a little swoony over the romance and dreamy male protagonists.  Those are probably just echos of my 12-year-old self, and I wouldn't really recommend these books to people over the age of 15.  Still, it was nice to regress for a couple of hours. 
            Also, I wouldn't mind if CW made this into a series, as it did with Smith's The Vampire Diaries.  I would definitely find time in my busy schedule to watch it!

12. Daughters of Darkness (The Night World, Book Two)[reread] - L.J. Smith
            See number 11.

13. The Marriage Plot - Jeffrey Eugenides
               This is about three Brown University students as they graduate during the recession of 1982 and struggle to make their relationships work:  Madeleine is a romantic English major who is in love with Leonard, who struggles with balancing his brilliance and mental illness.  Mitchell is a Religious Studies major who isn't sure if he believes in God, but who is sure of being hopelessly in love with Madeleine. 
                I thoroughly enjoyed the beginning of this book because Eugenides so perfectly skewers white, upper-middle-class, too-intellectual, expensive-university-attending twenty-somethings.  I studied Philosophy and English Literature at an expensive university populated by quite a few upper-middle-class, too-intellectual twenty-somethings, and the author has it all down perfectly.  I was laughing out loud at every other line. 
                I was less enamored with the rest of the book, but it was still enjoyable.  I thought the author did a fine job with his descriptions of mental illness.  I have heard criticisms from others about how uninteresting or unintelligible his bits about Brown college life were, so it's possible that you have to have had similar experiences to really appreciate it and see the humor.  I've also heard complaints that this isn't as good as his Pulitzer-winner Middlesex, but then, what is?  That book was fantastic.  The Marriage Plot is still worth reading.

14. Breakfast at Tiffany's - Truman Capote
            The novella that was made into the iconic movie with Audrey Hepburn.  I enjoyed it, there were some great lines, but I felt that the characterization of Holly Golightly was very different from the way Audrey Hepburn played her.  Understandably, since she pretty much whores around and they'd have some difficulty portraying that in a movie in the early '60's.  Reading it made me think that Audrey Hepburn, as fantastic as she is, was not the right person for this character.  Not that I'd want to change anything about the movie, since I love it.  Just saying.

15. Wolfskin - Juliet Marillier
            A fantasy novel set first in Scandinavia and then in what-will-be-Scotland, when the vikings first arrive, sometime before 1000 C.E.  It follows a wolfskin, a berserker warrior of Thor, named Eyvind, who travels there as part of a company looking to explore and settle there.  His life revolves around battle and being a warrior, until his psychopathic friend takes over their community and he begins to have reservations about the honor of killing the locals.  He falls in love with the native princess/priestess and this further divides his loyalties and complicates things.
            This was o.k.  It passed the time, but I probably wouldn't read the sequel if I didn't already own it. 

16. Heart of Stars (Book Three of Rhiannon's Ride) - Kate Forsyth
               Final book in the trilogy about Rhiannon, a half-human half-fairy woman who murders an important member of the king's guard and gets caught up in a centuries-old plot to resurrect a baddie from 1000 years ago and she's in love but he's ensorceled to love another and blah blah blah. That's how I felt reading it.  I didn't really care about the characters, even those I loved from the Witches of Eileanan series.  Even when a main character got killed off, I couldn't've cared less.  I probably won't read anymore of Forsyth's books after this.
Dead Dog Cat

(no subject)

Yesterday, I finished an odd book, Osprey Warrior #142: Blue Division Soldier 1941 – 45: Spanish Volunteer on the Eastern Front, about Spanish Fascist volunteers who fought against the Russians in WWII. Spain didn't directly participate in either World War, but some of their people did. A tome devoted to plausible deniability.

Book #30: The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett

I have decided to start reading the whole Discworld series again gradually – it was partly out of wanting to do it, and partly from meeting a random guy on a train who was doing the same thing.

The first Discworld novel I read was The Light Fantastic, which wasn’t a great choice to begin with, as it continues the story directly from this one. This book introduces one of the best Discworld characters, Rincewind the wizard who can’t spell “wizard”, as he is charged with showing the Discworld’s first tourist, Twoflower, around. The Discworld, for anyone not familiar, is a disc-shaped planet situated on the back of a turtle and four elephants.

The story is often hilariously funny, and sets the tone for the entire Discworld series, as Rincewind and Twoflower blunder from one awkward situation to another, and Terry Pratchett makes the characters entertaining, as well as sending up many typical fantasy conventions, just by having characters who are breathtakingly silly. My favourite part of the book actually involves Rincewind and Twoflower accidentally slipping into a parallel universe that appears to be Earth – so, definitely not a standard fantasy novel. Some of the humour is also very dark, as Rincewind is constantly pursued by Death, who wants him to die.

If you’re interested in reading the Discworld series, then this is a good place to start; it’s hard to believe that it was first published almost thirty years ago!

Next book: The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins