In Barbara Ehrenreich, English, Nonfiction on 2011/06/24 at 12:49
The subtitle for Bright-Sided is “How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America” and Ehrenreich builds a solid case to support this idea. Like her previous books, Nickel and Dimed and Bait and Switch, her writing is compelling and effortless, carefully and confidently guiding the reader to all the important points in her argument.
The book starts off on a personal note as Ehrenreich tells us about her breast cancer and how it brought her face-to-face in a rather alarming way with the cult of positive thinking. The first encounter comes before “the mother of all mammograms” in a changing room filled with pink ribbons, poems and a list of the “Top Ten Things Only Women Understand”. She tells us, “I didn’t mind dying, but the idea that I should do so while clutching a teddy and with a sweet little smile on my face—well, no amount of philosophy had prepared me for that.” She then gives an overview of current and past cancer treatment and the growth of positive thinking in the world of cancer. In her search for information and options, she grows more and more isolated, noticing that no one is asking hard questions, like why breast cancer is so common in industrialized societies or why the death rate had changed so little over the past eighty years or so, and instead, that the women were instead going so far as to embrace their cancer as a gift. When she dares to express anger at the frustrations of treatment and battles with insurance companies, the others in the forum are quick to call her out for her “bad attitude”. Read the rest of this entry »
In Dexter Palmer, English, Fiction on 2011/06/17 at 09:36
First off, I should say that I feel like I would’ve gotten more out of this book if I could remember more about The Tempest than the names of the characters. But the last time I read that play was at least twenty years ago and I have only the vaguest memory of how the whole thing went down. A quick look at Wikipedia has reminded me of the basic plot, which does illuminate my reading of The Dream of Perpetual Motion somewhat, but probably doesn’t get down to the heart of things.
Fortunately, it doesn’t really matter if all those references fly over my head. The story in this stands strong, even if you’ve never heard of the work it plays off of.
The cover is quick to tell me this this book is “steampunk”, a term I am very much tired of hearing since it seems that anything with a machine in it qualifies these days. But there are some actual steampunk-y bits to this story of greeting-card writer Harold Winslow: the tin men invented by Prospero Taligent (which Wikipedia [yes, I spend too much time reading Wikipedia] tells me was the name of an operating system back in the days when Mac computers were still Apples, a portmanteau of “talent” and “intelligent”, and I am wondering now if that was deliberate because if it was, it adds a whole new layer of interesting things to think about); the zeppelin on which Harold is doomed to live out the rest of his days flying high above the city with only the disembodied voice of Prospero’s adopted daughter Miranda to keep him company; the mechanical playroom enjoyed by Miranda and Harold as children, which is reset every night to be some other fantastic, hyperreal location. Read the rest of this entry »
In Fiction, Haruki Murakami, Japanese on 2011/06/10 at 08:56
Can I get some virtual high fives? I have finished this monster! And it is a monster in more ways than one. I almost gave up on it, disgust and frustration building up over the course of these more than 1600 pages, and there was a part where I really did not care how it ended. But you already know how irritated I have been with this book in so many ways (and if you have not been following along these last couple of months, find my previous rants here), so let’s take a blissful minute to talk about the good things. And yes, there be spoilers ahead.
The story. Yes, the story that I nearly gave up on, but so glad I didn’t. It continued to twist and shift throughout the book(s), so that I couldn’t get a firm grasp on it until about halfway through Book 3. I had already read somewhere that it was a love story of the strangest sort before I even started reading it, so the ending was somewhat of a foregone conclusion, but that did not change the pleasure I felt when grown-up Aomame was finally holding grown-up Tengo’s hand. And the moment when she finds him on top of the slide is just perfect and beautiful. “Open your eyes,” she whispers. “You can see the moon.” Which sounds sort of cheesy out of context, but is one of my favourite moments of the whole book. The pacing, the wording, the silence between the words, it all works here. Read the rest of this entry »
In Atsushi Kaneko, Japanese, manga on 2011/06/03 at 09:16
I’ve been reading this series since I happened across Volume 1 on the shelf of a bookstore that stocked a lot of off-the-beaten-path manga way back in 2004. I was poking around looking for something else published by Beam Comix and the cover caught my eye. I hadn’t read Kaneko’s previous series BAMBi, but there was something about how the faces were simultaneously attractive and somehow grotesque. And the obi promised me a “twisted mystery”. So obviously I had to buy it.
After reading the first book, I realized that yes, the mystery was twisted and yes, if I followed it as it was serialized, I would go crazy with the waiting for how it all ends. So I bought subsequent volumes and let them sit on my shelf, waiting patiently for the series to end so I could devour it in one gulp. That end finally came with Volume 11 this January. For those who could get the book, a thing I was having trouble doing. But finally, two weeks ago, it was in my hands, the end, the answers to all the questions. Read the rest of this entry »