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Showing posts from February, 2020

Book 10: Goldenhand by Garth Nix (scattered reading notes)

-The beginning chapters of this novel make it seem like "Nicholas Sayre and the Creature in the Case" may have been cut from Goldenhand prior to its publication, as it shows how Nick Sayre finally made it back to the Old Kingdom after he went back home after the events of Lirael . However, it wouldn't have added anything except to explain why Nick finally decided to return to the Old Kingdom and to show the meeting between Nick and Lirael from his point of view. It is therefore not necessary to have read the story in order to understand anything that happens in the novel - the events of the story have little bearing on the main plot. -I have started to notice a certain predictability in these books, but it's part of the fun to see how well I am able to predict future events. -I like that Nix isn't afraid to let his characters get seriously hurt. Lirael has already lost an arm and another important character loses a leg. Both losses are used as a device to s

Book 9: Across the Wall: A Tale of the Abhorsen and Other Stories (reading notes and digressions)

I read the first three books of Garth Nix's Old Kingdom series last year, after coming across an irresistibly priced boxed set of them in a charity shop. I loved them. I couldn't really say which was my favourite, but I knew I wanted more and the ending of Abhorsen suggested there were more, so I did my research and got my mother to buy a copy of Goldenhand for me on one of her trips abroad. I then came across a second-hand copy of this book, Across the Wall , a collection of short stories by Nix, and knowing it contained a story that takes place between Abhorsen and Goldenhand , I promptly bought it. However, it took me a while to start reading it. The stories are a varied collection and only the first, "Nicholas Sayre and the Creature in the Case" is an Old Kingdom story, so it was a fun introduction to Nix's other writing. Nix seems to be first and foremost a children's and young adult writer, and from what I've read about him, the Old Kingdom

Book 8: The Second Book of General Ignorance by John Lloyd & John Mitchinson (reading notes)

I love trivia, which is why I, while I still watched TV on a regular basis, enjoyed watching quiz shows. QI was no exception. For those who don't know what QI is and are loath to click on the link or don't trust Wikipedia, QI is a comedy quiz show on BBC television in which two teams of three comedians each are quizzed by a seventh comedian. Stephen Fry was its first presenter and later Sandi Toksvig, herself a regular panellist in the show, took over. The aim of the game is fun and this spin-off book gets its title from one of the rounds of the show: General Ignorance, which makes fun of the more common general knowledge round of other quiz shows. The questions in that round are ones that seem easy, as most people think they know the answer to them, but those "everybody knows" answers are in fact wrong, so the aim is really to set people straight in an entertaining way. Although it is tempting, I don't think I will say why I no longer enjoy watching QI, b

Book 7: Shadow of the Sun by Ryszard Kapuściński (reading notes)

-This reads like fiction - prose more beautiful than one has come to expect from non-fiction and many of the chapters are structured like fiction stories. There is little continuity between most of the chapters, although some of the narratives or stories spread over more than one chapter. This is therefore more a collection of short narratives than a cohesive entirety. You could pick it up and read the chapters at random and still get a good sense of what is going on. -Here is an author who is not trying to find himself, recover from a broken heart, set a record, visit 30 countries in 3 weeks or build a perfectly enviable home in a perfectly enviable location, which is a rarity within travel literature, but of course Kapuściński was in Africa to work, and not to travel for spiritual, mental or entertainment purposes (he was the Polish Press Agency's Africa correspondent for nearly 30 years). -I have no way of knowing how well Kapuściński knew Africa - I have never been there

Book 6: Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (reading notes and musings on Vonnegut's other books)

- My first introduction to the weird and wonderful world of Kurt Vonnegut Jr. was God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater , which I read as a teenager and can remember little about. Since Mr. Rosewater is mentioned in Slaughterhouse-Five , I really should go back and read it again, in English this time around. - I have since read Welcome to the Money House , Deadeye Dick and Cat's Cradle , and have Hocus Pocus and The Sirens of Titan on my TBR list. Cat's Cradle is the one that affected me the most and is the best apocalyptic novel I have read. -It was fun coming back to Vonnegut's sometimes biting humour and revisiting places (Ilium) and characters from other books (Eliot Rosewater, Kilgore Trout). - The mixture of realism and fantasy in this novel makes for an interesting and sometimes shocking juxtaposition, as protagonist Billy Pilgrim slides between different eras of his life, from war-torn Germany near the end of World War II, to different parts of his marriage and

Book 5: Erotica Universalis by Gilles Néret (review)

As the title suggests, this is a collection of erotica - paintings and drawings to be precise. The title is misleading - the imagery is nearly all of European or North American origin and almost exclusively pertains to heterosexual sexual acts by white people. Nothing universal about that. I would also call the "erotica" in the title misleading, as a lot of the imagery is, to my mind, pornographic rather than erotic. I know the two terms are used interchangeably by some and that other's definitions of them differ, but I associate erotica with beauty and sensuality and often also playfulness, being more suggestive than directly, in-your-face sexual. Erotica arouses one's sense of beauty as well as being sexually arousing, while porn has a cruder aesthetic and more directly appeals to the sexual appetite and shows sexual acts directly, leaving little to the imagination instead of giving the viewer leeway to imagine things Now, porn has its place just like erotic

Book 4 1/2: Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

I'm only counting this as half a book, as it's really a short story (there is also a novel, but I haven't read that). The only reason I'm writing about it at all is that it's such a poignant, though-provoking story. Actually, this isn't going to be a review, let alone a reading journal entry, because I tried to write down some non-spoilery reading thoughts about this story, and ended up with what amounted to a very spoilery summary, so rather than ruin the story for someone, I simply will leave off here with two questions: I remember watching, long ago, a movie or TV show episode about a similar experiment, but one that ends quite differently, with the Charlie-esque character going insane, escaping his body and going digital. If anyone remember such a movie/TV show, I would like to know the title of it. Note that I may be mashing up two different films here, so vague is my memory of this. Secondly, if you have read both the novel and the short story: does