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Everything posted by Calliope

  1. Oh my goodness. After finally watching the end of Ashes to Ashes I was reluctant to let go so did some random googling and found this, on Youtube: Life on Mars - US ending For those who don't want to put themselves through it, this is how the yanks finished the show... I'm so gobsmacked I had to share.
  2. This is going to be one of those books that really divides people. I struggled it with a week before deciding that life's too short, I was going to move on to something else. But then, aside from Black Swan Green, David Mitchell has never appealed to me much any way.
  3. I really enjoyed the first section of this book, told from the perspective of "country girl" Maya as she enjoys the beginnings of her adult life in the big city. In some respects it feels like the start of a different novel to the one that it ends up being. London's prose is elegant, her characters believable... but she has some irritating ticks. One of these is the way she structures her time shifts (they're not exactly flashbacks, the story is set as much in the past as in the present) by having characters 'reminded' of things that happened a long time ago. The narrative is continuously broken up like this and whilst it's not unique or original, it is a bit distracting. Despite the title, this is more a story about erotic love than parental love. At just the moment when they could be welcoming their independence, Maya and her mother Toni before her fall in love with bad boys. Reading it, you can't help but wish they wouldn't - London's skill is that you believe why.
  4. On the contrary, I think the book is full of conflict. There's the obvious conflict between the mother and her captor, but more interestingly, there's conflict on the literary level - the level of words - that is, the irony created in the space between what the boy Jack knows, and what he is able to tell us. (Counting the creaking of the springs, for instance. The stains on the rug. A child narrator telling an adult story is a brilliant technique when it is done well - To Kill a Mockingbird, What Maisie Knew, for instance. Donaghue might not be up to the standard of those novels but that's hardly a criticism. I think she's pretty good and that this is - mostly - a worthwhile read.) I don't think the second half quite lives up to the first. But even there, there is the conflict between our familiarity with Jack's new word (the hospital for instance) and Jack's experiencing these things through the eyes of a newcomer to them. A stranger.
  5. It's one of the more memorable disappointments, isn't it? I mean, the novel starts off so well. I think it might be when the genre bit really takes over that the plot deteriorates. Perhaps Cronin was having writer's remorse about making the switch from litfic to scifi, and enjoyed establishing characters but thought the rest of it could just be colour by numbers. As a reader, it's a little bit insulting.
  6. This book has an amazing cover, which I have to confess is one of the reasons I bought it. I was also intrigued by stories of massive advances, and that the film rights were bought by a major studio for nearly $2 million, before the book was even finished. And I wanted to see what a good writer (Cronin went to Harvard and has won the PEN/Hemingway literary award)would make of a vampire novel. Vampires are everywhere these days. Perhaps it has something to do with terrorism? We are frightened of traitors in our midst and vampire legends - the scary other, the demonic, contagion - have a symbolic appeal? The Passage begins with a virus that is the subject of experimentation by the evil military industrial machine, and with a small girl who frightens the bears at the zoo. So far, so good. And the beginning of the novel, with its slow build up of tension really is very good. The problems for me began about a third of the way in. The vampires are on the prowl, the last remnants of North American humanity have spent several generations living in a state of siege... and I just started to get bored. It's a story that relies on a lot of reader's identification with the major characters. In the early sections, you can feel Cronin pulling a lot of emotional strings (mother love, ruined childhood, rescue from the evil state etc) but he just loses track of them in the second half. The imagined future world never comes fully to life and the characters who live there are never really believable. In the end, I just didn't care enough about what happened to them. Which for a book of this length and in this mode was somewhat disheartening. Apparently Cronin imagines this as the first book in a trilogy. I won't let a nice cover attract me next time.
  7. This is a lovely book, that I've seen in my local book store all year. I picked it up to read as the first of my Booker prize longlisted reads for the year and am very glad I did. There are already reviews about it aplenty so I won’t bother with any tedious plot summaries but rather say that what’s interested me almost as much as the story of Miss July is the way that the story is told. A lot of the books I’ve been reading recently have been as much about the process of storywriting, as about the story they’re telling. Sometimes these metafictional games annoy me. I like to be consumed in another world, it’s one of the reasons I like to read. But in The Long Song, those sections where July the narrator pauses to correct something she has just told, or because her son Thomas insists she makes the correction, actually reinforce the illusion of the world Andrea Levy is creating. It’s very cleverly done as well as being a very involving read. Very highly recommended
  8. Wow. Borrow some sugar?? Borrow a book now, and take it back? (Drive into the back of her car?)
  9. ....and it's Parrot and OlivIer
  10. I don't know about that, healy. I've read the ending a couple of times and wonder if maybe there's a chapter missing. I certainly didn't want it to end the way it did. On the back cover, author Tessa Hadley - acknowledged by Mackie as her 'mentor' but, I rather suspect, more properly Mackie's creative writing teacher - praises the book's 'slow reveal', which is something that has me very puzzled. The kiss that is the crux of the story is described very early on and we don't learn anything much about it as the story continues. Is the 'slow reveal' that the narrator is completely incapable of making sense of the material of his own life? I can't see it any other way, and it makes for a puzzling read that is more like a creative writing exercise than anything else. Not a boring book but puzzling and not terribly satisfying, either.
  11. I'm perplexed to be the only person I know or read about who really didn't get anything out of this novel. I'm not one of those naive readers who thinks I need to identify with characters or any guff like that, but I just found, about a third of the way into The Lacuna, that I wasn't getting anything out of reading it at all. I couldn't imagine any of the characters as real people - once again, I know not all novels are realistic, but I couldn't get interested in them in any sense, not even as ideas. This was particularly true of characters who I thought should have been interesting ideas - eg Frida Kahlo. Everyone else, here, reviewers, Orange judges, looooves it. So I'm doing some head scratching. But I'm not going to finish the book. Life is too short, and it isn't.
  12. They are not long, the weeping and the laughter, Love and desire and hate: I think they have no portion in us after We pass the gate. They are not long, the days of wine and roses: Out of a misty dream Our path emerges for awhile, then closes Within a dream.
  13. Not in vain the distance beacons. Forward, forward let us range, Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change. Thro' the shadow of the globe we sweep into the younger day; Better fifty years of Europe than a cycle of Cathay. Mother-Age (for mine I knew not) help me as when life begun: Rift the hills, and roll the waters, flash the lightnings, weigh the Sun. O, I see the crescent promise of my spirit hath not set. Ancient founts of inspiration well thro' all my fancy yet.
  14. Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife, Their sober wishes never learn'd to stray; Along the cool sequester'd vale of life They kept the noiseless tenour of their way. Yet e'en these bones from insult to protect Some frail memorial still erected nigh, With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture deck'd, Implores the passing tribute of a sigh. Their name, their years, spelt by th' unletter'd Muse, The place of fame and elegy supply: And many a holy text around she strews, That teach the rustic moralist to die.
  15. WHENAS in silks my Julia goes Then, then (methinks) how sweetly flows That liquefaction of her clothes. Next, when I cast mine eyes and see That brave vibration each way free; Oh how that glittering taketh me!
  16. I think I'm always the last person on the planet to start watching TV shows. Except maybe for all of the UK which seems to have missed out on Seinfeld (not that there's anything wrong with that, yadda, yadda, yadda...) Anyway... I've just been watching the first series of Spooks. It's really fun!!
  17. I'm having a leisurely recovery from a nasty cold that I caught from my five year old who caught it from my mother when we were all visiting her last week. Took all the joy out of going home, really. The week before that I suffered a corneal abrasion when a balloon I was blowing up for my son's birthday (a tough one with double-dipped rubber ears) blew up in my face. Lots of pain relief needed and various eye drops, and those certainly took the joy out of reading! I've listened to a few audiobooks. Oryx and Crake keeps sending me to sleep. Now my eyes are just watery rather than sore, I'm watching trashy DVDs and catching up on trashy TV shows on my computer.
  18. Are these serious questions? Conventional plot? Who used it before her? Literary merit is largely connected to originality, in my opinion. What Jane Austen has is the aura of the original, hack writers have been copying her without her sense of irony, of understanding, of embroidering on the same square of life over and over again until she had the details just perfect - ever since.
  19. Well, here's an irony. I received the email in my inbox -- but Canongate won't let me request the book because I'm not in Europe
  20. I started the 'readers' survey' as I have read a couple. However there seems to be an error with question 7. My answer to where I'd bought them was 'other, please specify'. However - after specifying - when I tried to go to the second page, the program said I needed a different answer. Then I found the second page just too daunting. The images are huge and the questions too involving. Sorry.
  21. I've read a couple of Mills and Boon, from a couple of their different lines. So I'm probably in a better position to say I don't like them than most people who don't like them but all the same... I don't like them. Maybe they're relaxing in a time of stress, but mostly I think they're just predictable and formulaic and ultimately disposable. They even smell and feel like newspaper. I'm interested in the idea of a dissertation on them though, and I certainly don't have any objection to any kind of book or to people being free to read whatever they like. A lot of the racier lines are a bit like porn for women - you'd have to be a bit of a wowser in this day and age to actually complain about them. I just have too many books to read where I don't already know the ending Can I ask what particular topic area you're covering, and what field you're in?
  22. I don't know if anyone else has seen the Nicholas Cage flick Knowing, that I referred to above. It starts off with a little girl who knows the dates and death tolls of all major disasters. She has put them in a type of mathematical code on a piece of paper which has been buried in a time capsule. Nicholas Cage obtains and decyphers the code. The little girl is right with her disaster predictions. At the end of her list of dates and death tolls she has written a particular date and the death toll as, so as you can see it has distinct similarities to this book. Mad little girl predicts Armaggedon. Knowing ends with It's so very much sillier than Rapture that Rapture's conclusion almost looks good in comparison.
  23. I'm often disappointed by the ending of books. Sometimes I wonder if this has anything to do with the 'high concept' premise that seems really fashionable with fiction at the moment. The author starts out with an idea - or an issue - and doesn't really know what do with it. Tagesmann, can you think of an ending that might have been more satisfying? perhaps the narrator could have turned out to be completely unreliable, engaged in a weird sort of folie a deux with the prophetic child? (Only, that would not have allowed for the apocalypse the author seemed to want...)
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