‘ahems and ahahs’

Literature, & Etc.

Posts Tagged ‘review

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I have a large collection of books and my library is constantly overflowing: onto the floor and off of the shelves. I have a pretty good memory when it comes to the books that I own and the memories associated with those books. I know that certain books are gifts from certain people and this is a pleasant thing. There are some books that go beyond a simple association with a friend or relative and this then is one of the pleasures of owning so many books and collecting them in a personal library. I’ve had people ask me why I insist on owning books and there is a very simple answer. I collect books because they are very much like family to me.

It’s amazing how I can look at my library and see certain periods of my life: that was when I was obsessed with fantasy, that was my science fiction age, that was only a few years ago when I was all about biographies, etc.

I thought I’d share one book in particular that is bound up in memory.

Dune by Frank Herbert

Sadly I do not own the actual book that is associated with this memory, as I most likely gave it away, something I tend to do as a result of my need to share passion of literature with all I meet. I must have been about 11 or 12 when my Aunt, my Massi (mah- seee) and her family took me on a trip to Yellowstone National Park. At some point on our way from Dallas to Utah we ended up at a small airport waiting for a transfer onto a smaller plane and I did not have anything to read, so my cousin said that she would let me pick any book in the airport book store. I think the cover of Dune is what caused me to pick it up.

dune2l

Let’s be honest, that is an intriguing book cover and if you saw that on a rack you would pick it up and at least consider it.

I am so very glad that I picked this book up as it was my first introduction to the power of science fiction. Dune still resonates with society today (extremist faith and ideology, economic dependency on a single product, war, revolution, justice, etc.). I was unable to get my face out of the book for the rest of the trip. Anytime I see Dune in a bookstore this memory jumps right into my head and makes me smile.

Written by thebeliever07

June 21, 2009 at 8:58 am

“Live long and prosper.”

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poster_star_trek_xiThis is one of the most amazing films I’ve seen in a long, long, while. For those who doubted J.J. Abrams, I feel bad about you and your lack of faith. This is just the (re)boot that Star Trek needs. The film is fast paced full of action and ends perfectly. My only complaint is the way that certain cliche quotable lines were inserted into the film. I understand why they were used, they were necessary as a type of homage to the original and the influence of all previous Star Trek franchise related media, still they felt forced and simply for the sake of making fans realize that this new film acknowledges the past. But considering all that could be wrong with this film, I’m very pleased with the result. The casting was perfect and dead on. Once the first action scene starts, it does not let up. The pacing was perfect and well executed, worth your time and your money. (Haha). Enjoy. Cheers.

Written by thebeliever07

May 10, 2009 at 9:30 pm

Posted in film, reviews

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Lush Life by Richard Price

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Lush Life by Richard Price reads exactly as you’d expect from someone who has written for HBO’s The Wire. The strength of this book rests in the characters that are given to the reader.  A wealthy restaurateur who may or may not be connected with the wrong people, a young bar-tender who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, inner city youth who lack options, a grieving father; all of these characters who live in our world, the world outside of fiction and that as I’ve said is the strength, real characters that just happen to be placed in a world of fiction. lush-life1

By the time Eric made it around to the front of the store again, Fenton Ma had been spelled by an older cop, his shield reading LO PRESTO.

“Can I ask you something?” Eric said lightly, not knowing this guy. “Have you seen her in there?”

“Who, the Virgin?” Lo Presto looked at him neutrally. “Depends what you mean by ‘seen’.”

“Well, I’ll tell you.” He looked off, palming his chest pocket for a cigarette. “About eight this morning? A couple of guys from the Ninth Squad went in there, you know, curious? And kneeling right in front of that thing is Servisio Tucker, had killed his wife up on Avenue D maybe six months ago. Now, these guys had been turning that neighborhood upside down looking for him ever since, right? And this morning alls they did was waltz on in there and there he was, on his knees. He looks right up at them, tears in his eyes, puts out his hands for cuffs, and says, ‘OK. Good. I’m ready’.”

“Huh.” Lo Presto finally fired up, exhaled luxuriously. “Did I see her? Who’s to say. But if what I just told you isn’t a fucking miracle, I don’t know what is.”

The city of New York comes alive with Price and if you have not had the joy of watching The Wire and are worried about getting involved in a long show with many seasons you cannot afford, then at the very least pick up this novel and give yourself a treat.  Price allows you to get frustrated along with the detectives that have been assigned to the case in question. The politics and bureaucracy of the police and their worries of how crime is perceived by the larger public, these are all issues that Price lays bare for the reader.  The novel is quick and fast paced (455 pgs) and I was tempted to quit half way through, not out of any lack of interest but because Price frustrates you as a reader. It is hard not to get involved with the characters and become upset at the walls that keep on popping up as the detectives struggle to figure out the crime. That is what Price is wanting to happen though, for you as a reader to become involved and annoyed at how frustrating it is to solve the crime, to put every little piece together in order to lay out a proper case for the district attorney.

Check it out, and in case my recommendation is not good enough. [ As if! ]. This book is number 3 on The 2009 Believer Book Award Reader Survey.

READER SURVEY RESULTS

  1. 2666—Roberto Bolaño
  2. Unlucky Lucky Days—Daniel Grandbois
  3. Lush Life—Richard Price
  4. The Lazarus Project—Aleksandar Hemon
  5. Netherland—Joseph O’Neill
  6. Vacation—Deb Olin Unferth
  7. Unaccustomed Earth—Jhumpa Lahiri
  8. Arkansas—John Brandon
  9. A Mercy—Toni Morrison
  10. Indignation—Philip Roth
  11. Death with Interruptions—José Saramago
  12. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle—David Wroblewski
  13. Bottomless Belly Button—Dash Shaw
  14. A Heaven of Others—Joshua Cohen
  15. So Brave, Young, and Handsome—Leif Enger
  16. How the Dead Dream—Lydia Millet
  17. Personal Days—Ed Park
  18. A Fraction of the Whole—Steve Toltz
  19. The Drop Edge of Yonder—Rudolph Wurlitzer
  20. Ghosts of Chicago—John McNally

Enjoy.

Next up on the chopping block: The Years by Virginia Woolf

Written by thebeliever07

April 12, 2009 at 3:19 pm

Purchases, Susan Sontag, etc..

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  • Reborn: Journals & Notebooks 1947-1963 by Susan Sontag
  • If He Hollers Let Him Go by Chester Himes
  • After Dark by Haruki Murakami
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
  • Candide by Voltaire

susansontag1As I leaf through the personal journals of Susan Sontag I feel myself become instantly smaller and less poetic. Is it even possible for me to display the power and energy that is evoked from her thoughts and words, I wonder.

“I know now a little of my capacity…I know what I want to do with my life, all of this being so simple, but so difficult for me in the past to know. I want to sleep with many people–I want to live and hate to die–I will not teach, or get a master’s after I get my B.A…..I don’t intend to let my intellect dominate me, and the last thing I want to do is worship knowledge or people who have knowledge! I don’t give a damn for anyone’s aggregation of facts, except in that it be a reflection [of] basic sensitivity which I do demand…I intend to do everything–does it cause me pleasure or pain, and I shall be very cautious about rejecting the painful–I shall anticipate pleasure everywhere and find it, too, for it is everywhere! I shall involve myself wholly..everything matters! The only thing I resign is the power to resign, to retreat: the acceptance of sameness and the intellect. I am alive..I am beautiful..what else is there?” 5/23/49

Such possibility and future is written there and all of it is hers, she ‘takes’ what she wants from life and I respect the fuck out of that. I aspire to be this passionate about my life and the things I do [intend to].

Written by thebeliever07

February 10, 2009 at 8:35 pm

A Passage:

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Every once in awhile you stumble upon an image or scene in a novel that makes you smile. The passage below has kept me smiling all morning. Enjoy.

Feel free to share a passage from something you’re reading right now or have read in the past that has affected you in a similar way. Cheers.

As Calvin Tomkins writes: As a wedding present for his siter Suzanne and his close friend Jean Crotti, who were married in Paris on April 14, 1919, Duchamp instructed the couple by letter to hang a geometry book by strings on the balcony of their apartment so that the wind could “go through the book, choose its own problems, turn and tear out the pages.”

[…]

As Duchamp later told Cabanne, “It amused me to bring the idea of happy and unhappy into readymades, and then the rain, the wind, the pages flying, it was an amusing idea.”

[…]

According to Tompkins: Duchamp told one interviewer in later years that he had liked disparaging “the seriousness of a book full of principles,” and suggested to another that, in its exposure to the weather, “the treatise seriously got the facts of life.” – 2666 – Part II: The Part about Amalfitano – Pg. 191 – Roberto Bolano –

Written by thebeliever07

December 19, 2008 at 11:16 am

The Lady from the Sea

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Edvard Munch

The Lady from the Sea Painted By: Edvard Munch

I just finished Henrik Ibsen’s The Lady from the Sea” and WOW is all I can say. A most impressive play and a vast improvement upon one of his earlier works, “A Doll’s House”, my only other interaction with his works. I urge everyone to go out and find a copy of this work, you will not be disappointed. The story focuses on a young woman who feels torn between two worlds, between two different men. I won’t say much more than this as I’d rather not spoil the plot.

One thing to note while reading this is the way in which Ibsen portrays the ego/id and subconscious as a natural and demonic force. The story is set in a small town by a fjord in northern Norway and Ibsen brings the mythology of the sea and of this area into the story, often times creating a sense of fantasy or fairy.

As I expected, Ibsen has presented a passionate and vibrant woman who is consumed by her place in society and the many constraints and restrictions imposed upon her status as a woman.

While the situation that Ellida is placed in is much different from that of Nora’s in “A Doll’s House” I am hoping that his other plays branch out into other areas as this focus on the home and the feminine place in the home, despite its importance and relevance during the turn of the century and now; could easily become a tired convention that is all to common in his work. But I will not know this until I read more of his plays.

According to the introduction to this play written by Michael Meyer, this play most accurately depicts Ibsen’s own biographical interactions with the various women in his life. The play touches on many relationship subjects: the marriage proposal, expectations of the role of the wife, the “marriage contract” and what does that entail all of which Ibsen had some rather soap opera like experiences with.

Well worth your time and money. A brilliant playwright, it is no wonder that Jim felt the urge to learn Norwegian and write a letter to this aging master.

Written by thebeliever07

September 4, 2008 at 12:42 pm

Bookstore Adventures

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Just returned from a delightful visit to the bookstore. Met up with Erin and Emi and had a wonderful time, a perfect way to enjoy the pleasant labour day weather we’re having, sitting out and enjoying the breeze.

Picked up a new book which I’m excited about reading.

Paul Auster’s latest novel, Man In The Dark, a story about a father who lives with his daughter and grand-daughter, both dealing with relationship trauma, set against a post 9/11 world as he struggles to deal with his growing insomnia. Looks to be a sad read, but I’ve been reading lots of sad stories lately and enjoying all of them. But I guess this is one of the reasons we read: tragedy, pain, drama, suffering, etc… all of these subjects are important to us, we can empathise and relate to such issues. We’re attracted to those around us who also share the same world we inhabit, a world filled with all of these melancholy subjects. That’s not to say that the world is lacking in positive subjects, of course there is love, happiness, joy, but these are only given value because of those darker subjects that we so often encounter.

Will review the book soon, as it is a fairly short read at 180 pages. Cheers.

Written by thebeliever07

August 30, 2008 at 10:51 pm