Posts Tagged ‘Sonika’s books’
Yep. I did it. I went out and bought it in hardcover the first second I could. I scoured bookstores for the whole month of May (not knowing and being too lazy to look up the actual release date) anxiously awaiting the nanosecond when I could get TGWKTHN into my greedy little hands. I was even stalking TARGET. JUST IN CASE. It was on June 1st (a whole WEEK after its release!) that I found it in my local Borders and snapped it up. It certainly made that day redeemable as having an anxiously awaited book to read on the train makes going on said train up to Boston for a stupid routine doctor’s appointment that will only last ten minutes, yet you are on the train for an hour to get there – half hour on the T, which inevitably makes you motion sick – another half hour on the T back to South Station – and an hour on a rush hour train watching powerful women wielding TWO Blackberries simultaneously – it makes that day worthwhile.
I can’t say much without getting all spoilery, so I will just say that it was awesome. It was awesome and a corollary to its awesomeness is that I am now firmly pissed off that Steig Larsson is dead.
I kind of morbidly wonder if the Millenium trilogy would have been as popular if he’d been around. There’s a certain mystique to “… and then he DROPPED DEAD.” about the books. It’s also really amazing to think of how wildly they’ve been selling (the Borders clerk – one of my former coworkers – commented that they’ve been flying off the shelf) when the author of said books hasn’t been around to do book tours and interviews and shit like that. No one, NO ONE in the world has an autographed copy of these books. Kinda eerie.
And while I wouldn’t mind reading an interview talking about his inspiration for Lisbeth Salander, I’m really pissed off that he’s not writing more books. I expected TGWKTHN to kind of wrap up all lose ends, but it really ends rather ambiguously. The main plot line is resolved, but there’s no real sense of “finality” to the ending. There’s a lot more “And then?!” that could be explored in subsequent books.
Which, of course, could definitely go into the territory of “Should have quit while he was ahead.” But I’m pissed that WE’LL NEVER KNOW because he didn’t “quit.” He bit it. He wrote three amazing books and then had the audacity to die before they were published.
So, there you have it. I loved the book and Stieg Larsson is a jerk. A dead jerk.
UPDATE: According to Wikipedia, the Millennium series was supposed to contain up to 10 books!
Larsson left about three quarters of a fourth novel on a notebook computer in Gabrielsson’s possession; synopses or manuscripts of the fifth and sixth in the series, which was intended to contain an eventual total of ten books, may also exist.
YOU JERK. YOU DEAD, DEAD JERKITY JERKFACED JERK YOU JERKFACE AND YOU HAVE THE FACE OF A JERK.
I started Quicksilver a bazillion years ago. It was the first book I started in 2010! I took a hiatus to read Wolf Hall because I was only on page 300 (of 927!) and I COULD. NOT. WAIT. for some quality Tudor time. I’ll say this for Quicksilver: it was remarkably easy to pick it back up again. I thought I might have to start over or back track a lot, but no, it was easy to jump right back in.
Which isn’t to say that the book was always easy to follow. Especially in the Jack Shaftoe/Eliza sections, I’m still not entirely sure the details of who got involved with what and with whom and why and how in the hell they ended up THERE, but I just let it go and it was possible to move on without necessarily knowing how the hell THAT happened. (Kind of like Lost, in a way…but without the flashbacks. Or the island. Just in that “Ok, I’m just going to pretend I know what happened and leave it at that” kind of way.)
Neal Stephenson has absolutely been cemented as one of my favorite authors and I’m totally looking forward to books 2 & 3 of the Baroque Cycle. I’ll admit it: it’s because they’re big. I like big books and I can not lie. If I see an exceptionally large book, I am COMPELLED to read it. Part of the initial attraction to Stephenson is that Cryptonomicon was so effin’ LARGE. It’s also what got me to pick up Infinite Jest the first time. Stephenson is my kind of writer: a triology of books each clocking in at 800+ pages. Excellent.
800+ pages that never drag. I read this pretty much exclusively before bed, and it was consistent that each evening, I would have trouble putting it down. Every 20 minute chunk was as good as the last. Some chunks were so good that they got extended to 45 minute to 1 hr chunks and kept me up past my bedtime. Well worth it.
The book is divided into three “sections” following three inter-related main characters: Daniel Waterhouse (a scientist with the “Royal Society” of London), “Half-Cocked” Jack Shaftoe (a Vagabond), and Eliza (who is originally found in a harem, which is really all I can say without getting spoiler-y). My favorite sections were the Daniel Waterhouse sections – I’m really fascinated with science history and the antics of nerds. I live with an engineer and my life kind of resembles The Big Bang Theory, so the Royal Society seemed exceptionally realistic to me. Isaac Newton is an especially well written character – very believable “crazy genius.” I found the Eliza sections kind of hard to suspend disbelief at times that a lady was doing all of this stuff back in the seventeenth century. I’m all down with feminism, but this seemed a bit “revisionist” to think that she’d be that audacious and not get her head cut off. Her adventures are certainly compelling, but they do skirt the “willing suspension of disbelief” line. I’m pretty neutral on the Jack Shaftoe sections. Advanced the plot and rather hilarious at times, but I don’t feel much other than a kind of dull fondness for the character. I would read a whole book on Waterhouse, and would probably enjoy a book focused on Eliza as well, but wouldn’t pick up a novel solely focused on Shaftoe.
On to Vol. 2 – The Confusion! Maybe I can finish this one in less than three months… Stay tuned.
Oh man, I read Wolf Hall about a million years ago and haven’t written it up because I haven’t really solidified what I want to say about it. But now I’ve (finally) finished another book (in my defense, it’s 800+ pages, and while I’m a speed demon when it comes to reading, I’ve only been reading before bed and so it’s been 800+ pages in 20 minute chunks) and if I don’t write about Wolf Hall now, I never will.
First, I can’t see Thomas Cromwell except played by James Frain. I can picture Henry VIII as more his likeness than as Johnathn Rhys Myers, this isn’t a universal thing, but sometimes even without having seen a filmic adaptation of any kind, my mind just settles on one actor to play the part of a character in a novel and that THAT is the image in my head. Thinking about Thomas Cromwell as played by anyone other than James Frain just doesn’t work for me. I’ve cast entire “movies” in my head in the course of reading. I blame this on the fact that I’m entirely a visual thinker, so the process of reading is reading “the movie” that is the action of the novel. And movies need casts. Anyway, reading Wolf Hall with James Frain as Cromwell works really well. Much better than most of the casting of The Tudors. (Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn? Really? I mean, she’s beautiful, but Anne Boleyn was not classically beautiful. I haven’t definitively cast Anne in my mind yet.)
I’m way obsessed with all things Tudor and as a fictional history of the time, Wolf Hall is stunning. Thomas Cromwell is far and away one of the most intriguing characters of the era and his life makes for an incredible story. His point of view navigating the political alliances of the court as a “nobody” was nearly ruined with Cardinal Wolsey’s fall – the only thing saving him being his own innate cunning – gives a clear view of what was at stake in falling out of favor at any given moment. There’s not much point in my recounting the plot of the novel – if you know Tudor history, there aren’t any spoilers. It doesn’t deviate into speculation in the way that The Other Boleyn Girl, for example, does. It pretty much sticks to the story as it played out. If you don’t know Tudor history, this book is a good intro.
My one complaint with Mantel’s writing style is that she continually refers to Cromwell simply as “he” or “He,” which got HELL OF confusing when another male character was referred to in the same sentence. I had to go over some sentences two or three times to tease out which “he” was which (“He told him what he thought.” That sort of thing, only more detailed.), which seriously interrupted the flow of the novel. Just say “Cromwell told him what he thought.” or “He told him what Cromwell thought.” I’m not sure where the stylistic choice came from to use the third person singular pronoun rather than the dude’s NAME when referring to him, but at least she’s consistent. I kind of got the hang of it after a hundred or so pages, but it still tripped me up on occasion all the way up to the end.
And speaking of the end… is there going to be a sequel? This reads a bit like a part one of a larger work, which might just be because I WANT more. Always an endorsement.
No, I haven’t stopped reading. I have, however, started a new job. So, my life has been work. And sleep. And only now am I able to bring blogging back into the mix. Oh yeah, and reading, but that’s really in the category of eating and pooping – Things I Do Because if I Didn’t, I Would Not Biologically Be Able To Survive. I am lucky in that my job provides some structured reading time (that would be nap-time for the kiddos) and some unstructured moments when the kids veg out with Bob the Builder and I veg out with a book.
So, I have read quite a bit the past week or so. And to be a total jerk, I’m going to dump it all here. Perhaps eventually I will be a better blogger, but for now, I kind of suck.
The Forgery of Venus by Michael Gruber: I read this as soon as I got back from Portugal, but with the umpteen hundred other vacations I took this summer (honestly, I needed to start a new 50hr/wk job to recover from my vacations) and starting a job, blogging about it hasn’t happened yet. I really liked The Book of Air and Shadows by Gruber, and I picked this one up at South Station for the train ride back from Boston to PVD since I had finished my book on the flight from Madrid and I can not survive without a book. Seriously. It is honestly problematic that I am not only a voracious reader, but I’m a very fast reader as well. (No, I don’t skim, I just have mad speed reading skills.) I can finish a 400pg. novel in six hours. Eight if it’s particularly dense. Forgery of Venus took me approximately four and a half, considering I was more than half done with it by the time I got home an hour and change later. I wouldn’t really classify it as a “thriller,” though it certainly moves at a fast clip. For a “mass-market” book, I underlined an overwhelming amount of this book as it is one of the most accurate and insightful books about art that I’ve ever read. Truly, Gruber gets what it is to struggle as a visual artist. Really well done. Two thumbs up.
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini: Awesome book, but man, this is like the Feel Bad Book of the Year. I don’t think it is actually possible for this book to be any more depressing. There’s a certain kind of Murphy’s Law quality to it: Is it possible for one more awful thing to happen? Yes? Well, it totally will. A lot of this book felt eye-rollingly formulaic to me: there’s becoming a trend in Describing Life in A Muslim Country to Westerners novels (yeah, there are a bunch of these) where the women have unfulfilling lives except for this one secret light of sexy sex, and that one night which has all sorts of “electricity” and other stupid metaphors, forms a central part of the plot. Maybe it’s just reading this on the heels of The Roses of Tehran, which has a similar kind of issue makes me kind of jaded, but do we really have to do this? We’ve got barely two dimensional women set up to educate us Westerners about how Things Are Different, can we at least get more than one dimension in the plot? For all of my whining, I did like and would recommend this book, but only if you’ve got plenty of vodka or Prozac on hand. Or both.
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman: Ah yes, YA lit about death. This is a genre unto itself that I am loving. I don’t really like typical YA lit all that much, but I do like death. I really loved The Book Thief and this is also a fast favorite. I think if you like one of these two, you’ll like the other. They’re very similar in feel without being the same at all in terms of voice or plot. I’ll admit it that I’m developing a real boner for Neil Gaiman. I unabashedly love everything I’ve read that he’s ever written. I’m re-reading Anansi Boys now and it feels just as awesome as the first time. The man has got some serious skill: smart novels that feel lighter than they really are. His work is not fluff, but it reads quickly and I find myself holding back giggles should I be reading in a public place. Great stuff.
In fact, I read even MORE on vacation than I normally do, which puts me way the hell behind on my updates. I’m just going to write little blurbs as if I try to write actual entries, I’ll procrastinate from THE PRESSURE and then I’ll never update again and you will never, ever know what I’ve been reading. Think of how sad you’ll be then. (The correct answer is: VERY.)
It Sucked and Then I Cried by Heather Armstrong: I liked this more than Kat did, but I think that might be because I wasn’t expecting much more than your typical dooce-fare in book form. Also: I started reading dooce late (read: like, two years ago) and so I went back from the very beginning and read the entries chronologically, so since I wasn’t waiting in between “episodes,” it felt kind of book-like. It’s funny and sometimes insightful and was just the thing to keep me busy but not having to exert more than five brain cells while finishing my job and moving.
The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje: Since this is Kat’s favorite book, I HAD to read it. I don’t know what took me so long, really. And holy effin’ hell, it’s amazing. It’s the sort of book where I was very upset that there was an ending to the story because I just wanted Ondaatje to keep writing forever, damnit. I guess this means maybe I should read some of his other books. I’m also going to watch the movie, which I have from NetFlix, perhaps tonight. Maybe. I’m way worse about watching my NetFlix than I am about reading. Way, way worse.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson: Ah, Swedes. My people. I read this book while I was in Portugal and didn’t have the wherewithal to read Infinite Jest (yes, I’m doing that Infinite Summer thing) while jetlagged. It was comforting to read a book with my people while being in a place that bore no resemblance whatsoever either physically or culturally to Scandihoovia. Did you know that the Portuguese don’t speak in subtext? Yeah. What’s with that? I can tell you that this book is about eight pages of subtext for each paragraph of dialog, because that’s the Swedish way. It’s very well written and the plot is intense and pretty much perfectly done. And man, the ending. I laughed my ass off at the last two pages for just how PERFECTLY SCANDINAVIAN it was. If you want to know anything about Swedes, read those two pages. That’ll do ya.
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman: This book reminded me of what a Terry Pratchett book would be like if ratcheted up about 50 IQ points. “Sci-Fi” in that “alternate universe” sense and not the dragons and wizards sense, very very smart, and hilarious as hell. I honestly LOLed. In public. Amazing, amazing book.
Pattern Recognition by William Goldman: I read this book on the plane, and not only was it the perfect book for such a thing being as it deals extensively with travel and jetlag features prominently into the character of the protagonist, but it was so compelling that I found out that I can read an entire book in six hours. I’ve always been a fast reader and since I read for at least two hours a day at this point in my life, my reading speed is about Mach III. This isn’t skimming either, this is “notes in the margins” reading. With a break for lunch. Six hours. The downside of this is that I only brought one book on the plane and it was an EIGHT HOUR flight. TWO HOURS sans book. I nearly broke out in hives and immediately bought a book in South Station for the train ride home. And proceeded to read 100+ pages in an hour. Again, notes in the margins and everything. I win in Olympic speed-reading. So, yes, this is an excellent book and if you’re not me, you can probably make it stretch through an entire trans-Atlantic flight.