The better to see you, my dear
Reading progress update: I've read 285 out of 512 pages.
The Shuttle - Frances Hodgson Burnett

“When I saw you last you were a fierce nine-year-old American child. I use the word ‘fierce’ because—if you’ll pardon my saying so—there was a certain ferocity about you.”
“I have learned at various educational institutions to conceal it,” smiled Betty.

 *evil grin* Not the same as saying she lost it.

How Burnett enchants and engages me. I can't stop reading. The same happened to me with her previous books. The tide of the pages just carries me off.

Also, as she talked, it was plain that her habit of self-control and her sense of resource would be difficult to deal with. He was a survival of the type of man whose simple creed was that women should not possess resources, as when they possessed them they could rarely be made to behave themselves.

 *raised eyebrows* This guy is unrelentingly loath-worthy.

His personal theories concerning women presented to him two or three effective ways of managing them. You made love to them, you flattered them either subtly or grossly, you roughly or smoothly bullied them, or you harrowed them with haughty indifference—if your love-making had produced its proper effect—when it was necessary to lure or drive or trick them into submission. Women should be made useful in one way or another.

 Seriously, following his though-process is like reading an abuse manual

Review
4 Stars
Framing the question
The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas - Ursula K. Le Guin

Having known nothing of this tale but rumors that it was striking coming in, I would have preferred that the introduction had been placed at the end. I entered instead forewarned, spoiled, because I could deduce it'd be some beautiful Le Guin version of The Lottery. Then again, this is less a story than a question or a parable, as the author herself says in the after-word. It certainly left me thinking (particularly, of the photograph of the vulture by the dying child, but also of third world country people producing luxury items for paltry food and roof).

I loved this quote:

"The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain."

As for my thoughts on it (disjointed still)

Part of the beauty of the set up is that being contained, the possibility of denying the bargain and the way is clear. In practical terms, leaving does nothing for the child; it only assuages the personal sense of morals. Doing something for the child, taking the child from misery, condemns all others to it; morals wounded by the misery of one would not perpetrate same on many. Freeing the child would be the equivalent of a violent revolution by a minority. Each that leaves takes responsibility for their own choice. The hope is that at some point, nobody takes the bargain.

Quote
“There are a good many girls who can be trusted to do things in these days,” she said. “Women have found out so much. Perhaps it is because the heroines of novels have informed them.”
The Shuttle - Frances Hodgson Burnett

Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Shuttle

Reblogged
Harry Potter...

Reblogged from Hol
Reading progress update: I've read 65 out of 512 pages.
The Shuttle - Frances Hodgson Burnett

"It is really not exactly a fault. But she is not of his world.”
“But if he does not like that,” said Bettina coolly, “why did he let her buy him and pay for him?”

Mic drop.

 

I'm loving this chapter on Bettina. There was some commentary on how outsiders group foreigners, and how it irks those, and the phenomenon of feeling your birth-place is more important than what everyone else perceives it as that was as spot on if less savage.

 

On NY on the turn of the XX century, I find interesting the rosy tinted view of the underlying family politics. I'm more inclined to believe Wharton's take.

 

Edit: No, wait, THIS is the mic drop

“Well,” she went on. “What I see is that these things are not business, and they ought to be. If a man comes to a rich American girl and says, ‘I and my title are for sale. Will you buy us?’ If the girl is—is that kind of a girl and wants that kind of man, she can look them both over and say, ‘Yes, I will buy you,’ and it can be arranged. He will not return the money if he is unsatisfactory, but she cannot complain that she has been deceived. She can only complain of that when he pretends that he asks her to marry him because he wants her for his wife, because he would want her for his wife if she were as poor as himself. Let it be understood that he is property for sale, let her make sure that he is the kind of property she wants to buy. Then, if, when they are married, he is brutal or impudent, or his people are brutal or impudent, she can say, ‘I will forfeit the purchase money, but I will not forfeit myself. I will not stay with you.’”
“They would not like to hear you say that, Betty,” said her father, rubbing his chin reflectively.
“No,” she answered. “Neither the girl nor the man would like it, and it is their business, not mine. But it is practical and would prevent silly mistakes. It would prevent the girls being laughed at. It is when they are flattered by the choice made of them that they are laughed at. No one can sneer at a man or woman for buying what they think they want, and throwing it aside if it turns out a bad bargain.”

Holy shit, Betty is a Mary Sue to the hilt, but I freaking love her stance.

Reading progress update: I've read 51 out of 512 pages.
The Shuttle - Frances Hodgson Burnett

*whimper*

 

She's having a nervous break-down over discovering Nigel kept her family's proximity from her and everything hurts.

Reading progress update: I've read 25 out of 512 pages.
The Shuttle - Frances Hodgson Burnett

The impulse to knock her down surged within him solely because he had a brutally bad temper when his vanity was insulted, and he was furious at her impudence in speaking to him as if he were a villager out of work whom she was at liberty to bully and lecture.
“For a woman who is supposed to have been born of gentle people,” he said to his mother afterwards, “Aunt Marian is the most vulgar old beast I have ever beheld. She has the taste of a female costermonger.” Which was entirely true, but it might be added that his own was no better and his points of view and morals wholly coincided with his taste.

 

If I wasn't more or less forewarned of where this would take me by Portable Magic's progress posts, this quote would foreshadow it well

 

 

Edit end of chapter two (from Nigel's POV): .... right... The bastard is deliberate!

 

He had seen at an early stage of their acquaintance that Rosy was greatly impressed by the superiority of his bearing, that he could make her blush with embarrassment when he conveyed to her that she had made a mistake, that he could chill her miserably when he chose to assume a lofty stiffness. A man’s domestic armoury was filled with weapons if he could make a woman feel gauche, inexperienced, in the wrong.

 

Horror story, here I come. 

Review
4 Stars
Left me melancholy
Eugenia Grandet - Honoré de Balzac

The title for the grouping of these Balsac's novels is proper indeed. There was this mix of drama and farce, character study and social critique that entertained as it pained me.

 

I quite liked the style, and found it easy to read. I shall be attempting Pere Goriot soon, and might add Scenes from a Courtesan's Life to my tbr pile (yeah, it never shrinks *grin*)

Reading progress update: I've read 140 out of 248 pages.
Eugenia Grandet - Honoré de Balzac

The grain of gold dropped by his mother into his heart was beaten thin in the smithy of Parisian society; he had spread it superficially, and it was worn away by the friction of life. Charles was only twenty-one years old. At that age the freshness of youth seems inseparable from candor and sincerity of soul. The voice, the glance, the face itself, seem in harmony with the feelings; and thus it happens that the sternest judge, the most sceptical lawyer, the least complying of usurers, always hesitate to admit decrepitude of heart or the corruption of worldly calculation while the eyes are still bathed in purity and no wrinkles seam the brow.

 

 

That paragraph would just as well have fitted in The Picture of Dorian Gray.

 

I don't know where all these characters will drive the plot to end. I have this sense of doom, but I'm wondering how spread it'll be. I'm refraining from refreshing my knowledge on some history bits so as to not spoil myself.

Reading progress update: I've read 60 out of 248 pages.
Eugenia Grandet - Honoré de Balzac

This cast is savage! I'm having a blast. I did not expect it to be this easy to read

Reading progress update: I've read 40 out of 248 pages.
Eugenia Grandet - Honoré de Balzac

That's some dreary and ominous set up. I'm reminded of Oliver Twist, and Difficult Times; Madame Bovary too.

Review
3 Stars
Words fail me
A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess

Alright, there is a lot going on in this little piece of poison dripping, mind-fuck of a story, and I don't know that I'm up to the task.

 

First of all, because it's the immediate, I call bullshit on that end (I'm talking of the 21th chapter that was cut-out of the USA version; if you've not read it, this paragraph will make little sense). I read the author's introduction and explanation, and I more or less agree that our empathy and sympathy tends to grow as we mature (and we are more or less savages as kids and teens), but having read the book, I don't believe this level of inner cruelty and utter disregard for other people, or the length it was self-indulged and brought out onto the world can be called "a folly of youth" and hand-waived like that. I do not believe that level of monstrosity is something that can be redeemed, worked out, grow bored out of, and the person just go on to be some well adjusted adult.

 

I also do not know what is to be done with such a person to be honest, even if my knee-jerk reaction if I was the victim would be to kill them. Brain-washing into effectively loosing their free will does not seem to be the answer though.

 

Next: There is a very strong undercurrent of the battle of the generations going on here. The way money is treated, those articles in the diary, and the mention of day hour and night ours, and whom the street belongs to, and even, who has the power in the first part vs. the second, and what it consist on.

 

Actually, the three parts are distillate poison on abuse of power: young hooligans for first, then the police and other punishing/correctional institutions for second, politicians in the third. Everyone screws everyone over, and in the end I hated the lot, little Alex, and his little followers, and the police, and the jailers, and the priests, and the doctors, and the politicians, and the social fighters, and even his victims.

 

Shit, I wouldn't recommend this one, even if I found it oddly compelling *shudder*. It is interesting, and effective, but a vicious way to provoke thought, maybe unnecessarily.

 

Done. Onto "I am Pusheen the Cat", ice-cream and a helping of crack fics for the soul.

Reading progress update: I've read 150 out of 213 pages.
A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess

I'm still reading. Oh, my God, I'm still reading.

 

If the first part was trigger fest and violence slide-show (I almost wrote horror-show and then decided it was too twisted), and some bits (and not even the most violent, mind you) gave me real anxiety (it was how close to life some of the situations, initial set ups and general descriptions felt), this second part was the sickening counter-push, just as violent and disturbed, only in a different manner.

Review
3.5 Stars
Scrupulous title
Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King
  • 1922: Three quotes to define it:

 

"And is there Hell, or do we make our own on earth?"

"The dead don't stop"

“Poison spreads like ink in water.”

 

  • Big Driver: The post reaction was full truth, from the confusion, pain, wound-licking, hiding, weighting paths, shying from the future shame to rage and wanting to get back, all the steps. The gun-totting revenge a real pipe-dream.

 

  • Fair Extension:

"This isn’t some half-assed morality tale."

Said the devil.

 

  • Good Marriage: Holy Molly, this one was disturbing and twisted and awesome. My favorite of the collection.
Reading progress update: I've read 260 out of 368 pages.
Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King

I’m a businessman now, but at one time I was a humble salary-man. Got fired before striking out on my own.

 

*snicker* Well, that's one way of putting it (since I'm pretty sure it's the devil spouting the line).

 

I'm leaving my thoughts on Big Driver for later (personal trigger special, yay!)

Reading progress update: I've read 135 out of 368 pages.
Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King

Wow... That was disturbing on all levels, start to finish. Full dark indeed.

 

Two bits on this novella are what I'm thinking on, but I'm too lazy to find the quotes: That we make our own hell right here; and that the dead don't stop.

currently reading

Progress: 100/304pages
Progress: 189/366pages
Progress: 360/608pages
The Book of Illusions - Paul Auster