The better to see you, my dear
Reading progress update: I've read 40 out of 208 pages.
The Thin Man - Dashiell Hammett

Am I the only one that thinks this kid is leading them to the garden path, or is that my trope over-savvy self?

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 23 out of 208 pages.
The Thin Man - Dashiell Hammett

Nowhere and nothing

 

And then the papers bungle it up, and things get interesting fast, lol

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 5 out of 208 pages.
The Thin Man - Dashiell Hammett

Too early for breakfast, but the third time he asks for a drink.

 

Everyone said there is a lot of drinking, but this is... wow. A drinking game out of this book would take anyone to the ER

 

 

Review
5 Stars
Wholeness, duality, I and Thou
The Left Hand of Darkness - Ursula K. Le Guin

I did not want this to end. I feel a bit bereft, and very emotional, and somewhat fragile (even if Rokkanon's World had prepared me for the possibility). And in awe. Dazzled in awe of how Le Guin can weave this beautiful settings to address concepts, limitations, canons of society, give them new perspectives and lead into discussions well before their time.

 

She did warn in a way, in that introduction. Because, it might be that I had late access to the Internet, and so was somewhat cut out from the world-dialogue, but it looks to me that talk of gradients and varieties of sex and sexuality (beyond the ever polemical homosexual, bisexual or trans-gender, and those as isolated phenomenons at that), is pretty recent. Yet here it is, served as a "fait acompli" in the form of a world where gender has always been a fluid thing, when it's even a thing, and the protagonist just has to deal, get over and past it, once and for all. Let me tell you, I had some fun mocking the MC over his inability to accept, because at some point, it annoyed me. Which is exactly the point of the book, I think.

 

Tied to that, all the issues of friendship, love, miss/understanding, acceptance, and what have you, in an epic sprinkled with back-ground myths and wrapped up in a sci-fi package. And by all the literary muses, I loved it.

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 240 out of 304 pages.
The Left Hand of Darkness - Ursula K. Le Guin

it was necessary to keep the mouth closed and breathe through the nose, at least when the air was forty or fifty degrees below freezing. When it went on lower than that, the whole breathing process was further complicated by the rapid freezing of one's exhaled breath; if you didn't look out your nostrils might freeze shut, and then to keep from suffocating you would gasp in a lungful of razors.
Under certain conditions our exhalations freezing instantly made a tiny crackling noise, like distant firecrackers, and a shower of crystals: each breath a snowstorm.

 

*wince* This is making me ache with cold by proxy. Good summer read I'd say.

 

On a usual day we would have pulled for eleven or twelve hours, and made between twelve and eighteen miles.
It does not seem a very good rate, but then conditions were a bit adverse.

 

You don't say... (he's not even referring to the cold, the confident bastard)

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 210 out of 304 pages.
The Left Hand of Darkness - Ursula K. Le Guin

"In danger, honor," he said, evidently a proverb, for he added mildly, "We'll be full of honor when we reach Karhide…"

 

Estrevan is made of awesome.

 

A friend. What is a friend, in a world where any friend may be a lover at a new phase of the moon? Not I, locked in my virility:

 

There is quite a bit to address on the fallacy of this one. As in, not the author's, but our own society, which is reflected in the text: this expectation of binary, and how it messes up what would be consider friendship when it is not met, which is pretty stupid, and a throw back to the old "can man an woman be friends?". It's been subtly pointed out, every time Genly is repulsed when Estrevan exhibits what he considers feminine traits or though patterns. He can't be sexually attracted, but he can't consider the other a friend then. Sad, huh?

 

 

Review
4.5 Stars
Beast, monster, man
The Island of Dr. Moreau - H.G. Wells

This went places I did not expect it to go.

 

For so short pages, I though it'd make a straight story of what we know would be the subject matter, with a tension building, a reveal and a violent resolution. Those elements where there, after a fashion, but not in the order or at the page number a reader would expect. I was surprised, and pleasantly so. For me, it was a truly horrifying read.

 

It takes a bit to get to the Island, setting up the atmosphere, and the MC's seeming passiveness or detachment, but also raising some interesting questions with the aftermath of that shipwreck. Things come to a head early and the story follows from those into unexpected paths.

 

Moreau could have made fast friends with Megele. After that lengthy explanation, when I though I had grasped his cold evil, there were still little pockets of surprise horror to make me shudder, like:

 

He told me they were creatures made of the offspring of the Beast People, that Moreau had invented. He had fancied they might serve for meat,

 

Gah! Every time I read it I'm swamped with a wave of... Ick!

 

I kept thinking back to Frankenstein. The moral burden is a lot less debatable here: Moreau is the indisputable monster. Actually, it's a bit like human nature is the monstrous part. Like the bit about the leopard?

 

It may seem a strange contradiction in me,—I cannot explain the fact,—but now, seeing the creature there in a perfectly animal attitude, with the light gleaming in its eyes and its imperfectly human face distorted with terror, I realised again the fact of its humanity.

 

And Prendick seems to subconsciously think it so too, given his sequels. I feel for the guy. Seriously, I was melancholy by the end. Talk about connecting.

 

Hats off to Wells for this one. Even if he need a synonym dictionary, because "presently" appeared more times than the characters' names combined.

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 64 out of 160 pages.
The Island of Dr. Moreau - H.G. Wells

“Not to chase other Men; that is the Law. Are we not Men?”

 

He finds this all grotesque and ridiculous. I think the implications are deeply ironic, and might turn interesting.

 

By the way, Wells seems obsessed with the word "presently"

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 32 out of 160 pages.
The Island of Dr. Moreau - H.G. Wells

What could it all mean? A locked enclosure on a lonely island, a notorious vivisector, and these crippled and distorted men?

 

*eye-roll*

 

He did point out that he had been starved and weakened by the whole boat ordeal, so he has a pass. Mostly because there were some awesomely dry observations before this, like

 

and to tell the truth I was not curious to learn what might have driven a young medical student out of London. I have an imagination.

 

And creepy descriptions, and this bit of existentialist paragraph

 

I was set apart from those nameless ones with whom I had fled down a dark road and whose lack of identity I had shared all night in a dark room. I was named, known, recognized; I existed. It was an intense relief. I followed my leader gladly.

 

Reading progress update: I've read 20 out of 304 pages.
The Left Hand of Darkness - Ursula K. Le Guin

Mother of all introductions!

 

LeGuin talks about what a sci-fi writer is supposed to be (she actually relegates that typical non-readers perception to a sub-field: "strictly extrapolative science fiction"), what a fiction writer is, and an artist, what sci-fi is about, truth, and words, and wow, lol.

 

I was about to add some bit of quote or other, and realized I have about ten from the intro alone.

 

Opening of the book then:

 

I'll make my report as if I told a story, for I was taught as a child on my homeworld that Truth is a matter of the imagination. The soundest fact may fail or prevail in the style of its telling: like that singular organic jewel of our seas, which grows brighter as one woman wears it and, worn by another, dulls and goes to dust. Facts are no more solid, coherent, round, and real than pearls are. But both are sensitive.

 

 

 

Review
4 Stars
Rapid fire farse
The Importance of Being Earnest - Oscar Wilde

About every-other line is a quotable observation, a stab at societal mores, a joke, or all of the above. Algernon's being the most egregious. Prime case would be

 

The truth is rarely pure and never simple.

 

I had fun, and I reckon the rising level of ridiculous would be even better watching it performed.

Review
4 Stars
Intense ride
In the Woods - Tana French

I have to say, this one really swept me on the undertow. My brain is a bit fuzzy after all those hours of intense reading. Classic book hangover.

 

The next thing I have to say, is that the prot is a huge egotistical dick. Funny, charming, engaging, likely quite intelligent, given his job. And in this cluster-F of a case for all around, the most fucked up person of all.

 

Which is a bit funny, given that his issues are the only ones that are not relevant to the case in the end.

(show spoiler)

 

I also though a lot about what I remember from my childhood, and how much gets lost in the years. I get this anxiety to start keeping a diary.

 

And kept sounding that King's quote in my head

 

I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was 12 - Jesus, did you?

 

There is a lot I'd like to comment on, but it'll be spoilers all around, so really, really, REALLY don't click if you have not read the book.

 

Going on what I was marking as I was reading:

 

- That first transition from third person to first was a wowzer. It's jarring because it's detached, and it implies a certain level of fucked up. And it aligns with the dancing around that he does throughout the case.

 

- Ryan about his college-mates, on his diary. Not a people person, huh?

 

“a herd of mouth-breathing fucktard yokels who wade around in a miasma of cliché so thick you can practically smell the bacon and cabbage and cow shite and altar candles.” Even assuming I was having a bad day, I think this shows a certain lack of respect for cultural differences."

 

- On regulation having excavations reporting human remains over the nine feet line, just because it still cracks me up:

 

"I suppose they figure that anyone who has the enterprise to dig down more than nine feet without getting spotted deserves a little leeway for sheer dedication."

 

- Fast tracking through the archaeological site:

 

“Fair enough,” he said, and started pointing. “Neolithic settlement, Bronze Age ceremonial stone, Iron Age roundhouse, Viking dwellings, fourteenth-century keep, sixteenth-century castle, eighteenth-century cottage.”

 

*snort* Your run of the mill little town, then? And of course, the shitty politic-economical reality

 

"the fucking government is going to bulldoze this whole site and build a fucking motorway over it."

 

- Sam's toast. I was snickering over the part he didn't know. It's magnitudes grimmer humor after all is done.

 

- Ryan has this moment (over Rosalind, of course)

 

"I wanted this girl who was like no girl I had ever known,"

 

I'm really starting to HATE that line. WHAT are all the girls like? How is any girl DIFFERENT FROM ALL OTHER GIRLS? WHY should being different make you BETTER. It implies that a woman, a common woman, a normal woman (whatever that means) is NOT good enough. AND FUCK THAT!!

 

At any rate, by this point, I didn't know whether to tear my hair out, shout, or thump him with his own book. Cassie warned him. He was so concentrated on his own, he did not realize she was not showing him her soul scars just for a lark.

 

- As we wrap up:

 

"I am intensely aware, by the way, that this story does not show me in a particularly flattering light."

 

Ya think?

 

But before you decide to despise me too thoroughly, consider this: she fooled you, too. You had as good a chance as I did. I told you everything I saw, as I saw it at the time.

 

Nice try Ryan. No dice. Maybe I'm too jaded. I pray I'm never played by psychopath (I confess over the years I've had some serious doubts about one woman I was casual friends with, the memories still make me fidget sometimes) graduated to the homicide leagues, and his pile of reasons are neat, weighty and high. And still. Man, you blew up you life yourself. Systematically.

 

This was, in the end, the most hideous realization of all: Rosalind had not, after all, implanted a microchip behind my ear or drugged me into submission. I had broken every vow myself and steered every boat to shipwreck with my own hand. She had simply, like any good craftswoman, used what came her way.

 

- The two trio parallels, of course.

 

- Sophie's verdict (I cackled)

 

After a few dates, though, and before the relationship had really progressed enough to merit the name, she dumped me. She informed me, matter-of-factly, that she was old enough to know the difference between intriguing and fucked up. “You should go for younger women,” she advised me. “They can’t always tell.”

(show spoiler)

 

The thing is, for all the personal vs character stuff (which sounds ranty but actually enriched the experience for me, lol), I had a grand time. I could not put it down. It is strong in voice. It has hilarious passages, and lovely ones (specially on friendship, as adults and as children), and of course, disturbing ones. And it is absolutely gripping.

 

Whew! Done. Sleep now.

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 300 out of 429 pages.
In the Woods - Tana French

This poor fool... this stupid bastard. He's burning all his bridges, and letting the devil lead, and doesn't even realize it. I want to beat his thick head with the book to see if he wises up before all goes to hell. It's getting harrowing because I suspect he'll have that cold water-bucket coming down on him too late.

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 270 out of 429 pages.
In the Woods - Tana French

I though I'd leave what was left for tomorrow some 50 pages behind. I get why no one could stop. I can't either. Help!

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 173 out of 429 pages.
In the Woods - Tana French

“You’ll find a way,” I said. The idea of her as a secretary was ludicrous; what the hell was Devlin thinking? “A scholarship or something. It sounds like you’re good.”
She ducked her head modestly. “Well. Last year the National Youth Orchestra performed a sonata I wrote.”
I didn’t believe her, of course. The lie was transparent—something that size, someone would have mentioned it during the door-to-door

 

Man! You are being a naive moron! Dicing on other women? Disliking them if they are secure, or have another male's attention? Saying her sister told lies, and then telling them herself? Painting herself as a victim? You are suffering from male blind-spot.

 

 

 

And shit, my theory is off, and it's looking like it's a lot more uglier than doing the clean-up for little sis.

(show spoiler)
Reading progress update: I've read 130 out of 429 pages.
In the Woods - Tana French

“Cheers, lads. Thanks for inviting me over. Here’s to a quick solve and no nasty surprises.”

 

Oh, Sam. I'd say that wish is already down the drain, and you are the only one that doesn't know it.

 

A few pages later, Cassie is doing a bit of profiling. Given all the chat about the rock beating vs the bag, trowel (those kids were talking about a missing one) and the posing, and the theory of a schizophrenic having a break-down, I think the twin was the rock, and protective big sister did the rest as clean-up. Or mama and papa.

(show spoiler)

 

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