Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
"The thing that made the twins peculiar was hard to define. People were uneasy when they saw them together without knowing exactly why. They were not merely identical: they were mirror-image twins. The mirroring..involved every cell in their bodies. They were still essentially one creature, whole but containing contradictions."
Audrey Niffenegger's follow up to the Time Traveler's Wife will be arriving in stores sometime next month, but I was lucky enough to snatch an advanced copy. Niffenegger seems to like to incorporate intimate relationships with the supernatural. Her Fearful Symmetry replaces true love with sisterhood and swaps time travel for ghosts. The result is what I expected from Niffenegger (after reading Time Traveler's Wife) -- a wonderfully crafted, beautifully written story.
Her Fearful Symmetry tells the tale of Julia and Valentina, mirror image twins who inherit a London flat from their estranged aunt Elspeth (their mother's twin). The twins have never been away from home for very long, and they've never even entertained the notion of being apart from one another for a second. Julia is thrilled about moving overseas and having an adventure, while Valentina is more apprehensive and nervous about the change. When they move in, they meet Robert, Elspeth's grief ridden lover who lives downstairs. Their upstairs neighbor, Martin, is a sweet man whose severe OCD has made him unable to leave his home for the past few years. Each of these men develops a very influential relationship with one of the twins, causing at least one of the twins to begin to ponder what life on her own would be like.
Also, there's ghosts! But that's my favorite part, so I'm not giving anything away.
The central theme of the novel is an examination of relationships; what's healthy and at what point they can become toxic. Robert's relationship with Elspeth and the relationship between Julia and Valentina are written so well, I'm certain that every reader will be able to relate to most aspects of them. It's a beautiful story about love and its potential toxicity, the inability to let go, and how these things affect us in both life and death.
I loved it. I can't wait for other people to read it, so we can discuss it. After some humdrum novels on the 100 list, I needed a break, and this novel got me excited about reading again. It has a laydown date of 9/29, so keep your eyes peeled (? eww.)
(Sis you can borrow my copy, cause I think you'll really like this one!)
Thursday, August 13, 2009
The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow
Some adventure, Augie. The universe gave our friend Augie several chances to be wealthy and happy, but he chose to be overly existential about life and make it through the hard way. This essentially leads him to marry a girl who wants to move to Mexico and train an eagle. Basically, his life sucks because he was too stubborn to be gracious about the opportunities he was given earlier in life. This nonsense continues for a whopping 557 pages and at the end we are left with no resolution and Augie has done nothing useful with his life. Good call, Time Magazine.
This was the first book I chose to read off the list and I immediately began to regret my decision...
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
Yes! Mr. Chandler renewed my faith in the list. This book was awesome. I am firmly against modern mystery novels because they're usually too easy to figure out or the resolution really makes no sense. Also, they tend to be too cheesy. Not The Big Sleep. This book is sexy, captivating and incredibly well written. 5 stars!
Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
I started off thinking this was the funniest book I'd ever read. I was laughing out loud and having a grand old time. But then....it just kept going. And the jokes get kind of old. And while you appreciate Yossarian's plight, and the brilliance with which the book is written and Heller's point is brought forth, one has to wonder why, at the end of the day, is so damn hard to get into this book? I kept thinking I should want to read it, but I could never muster the strength to do it unless I forced myself.
So, it's not an easy read, despite it's obvious brilliance. I'd definitely say it's worth challenging yourself.
The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen
What. The. Heck. This book had some funny parts, but for the most part it was terrible. Everyone was selfish and childish and their behavior was detestable. Poor little Portia. Will no one love this poor child? Matchett, the snarky maid, is there to bring some heart to the story, but not enough to redeem the novel overall.
The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles
This is a goodie. Sarah Woodruff, our protaganist, is also known around town as the "french lieutenant's whore" or for those of us who have more feeling hearts "Tragedy". She is the most complex heroine I've ever come across and I thought she was written brilliantly. At time you sympathize with her and other times, as her character unfolds, you come to realize that you may hate her just a little bit. The structure of the novel is interesting as well, as Fowles sort of discusses through the novel his difficulty in controlling the characters. He also offers three different endings to the novel.
A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh
No. This book is terrible.
Lolita by Vladimir Nabakov
While I was reading this, I felt dirty. I wanted to tell little Dorothy Haze to run the other way. When I would discuss this with people who had read the book, they would all say the same thing "just remember, it's a love story".
Is it? Because I read it in its entirety and I never saw the love story part. I mean, Humbert really does think he loves Lolita. Maybe he does. But is it real love if she's 12 and is scared and confused and all too aware of her sexuality? All in all, I thought this novel was horribly depressing. Possibly more depressing for me than most, because I expected it to be strangely sexy and it was just terribly sad.
But I feel compelled to say that it was really good and you should read it too!!
1984 by George Orwell
How I went this long without reading this book, I'm not sure. I'm also not sure how to describe it other than brilliant, terrifying and much too relevant for comfort. Everyone should read this book.
Watchmen - Alan Moore
This is the only graphic novel on the list, and the first graphic novel I've ever read. It took me much longer than it should have, because I would just skip over the pictures half the time, not realizing how important they are to the story. (Example: when the movie was coming out, Andrew was complaining about how they weren't using the giant squid and i said, "what giant squid?). The story is great, the artwork is pretty cool as well and it really opened up my mind to the fact that graphic novels are actually an option for me. (I've since started reading Buffy and Angel graphic novels...)
I haven't read a book on the list in a while. I've started both Gravity's Rainbow and The Moviegoer and quit about 20 pages into each. I'll need a study guide for Gravity's Rainbow and The Moviegoer will just need another attempt when I'm not in the middle of moving.
So that's that. I'm currently reading an advanced copy of Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger (who wrote Time Traveler's Wife), and will definitely share my thoughts once I'm finished...but I'm not sharing the book.
I hate sharing.