September 28, 2016

March

by Geraldine Brooks

If you've read Louisa May Alcott's beloved classic, Little Women, this novel is for you. March is a novel told from the point of view of "Father March," Marmee's husband and Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy's father who went off to join the American Civil War. So, except for a brief homecoming, Father March was largely absent from Alcott's novel. In this work, he tells of how he and Marmee first met and eventually married, their struggles and beliefs as they joined the abolitionist movement and served the Union, and how his work as a Union chaplain in the frontlines of the war nearly broke him and his family apart.


It has been many, many years since I read Little Women. I also remember watching the film adaptation, which I liked. Little Women was basically about the March sisters and their mother, Marmee, so this novel narrated from the perspective of the only male March family member read like the final piece of the huge puzzle that is the life of the Marches.

September 21, 2016

MIBF 2016

Earlier, I was looking for my MIBF post for 2015 – I always write about my “loot” just like everyone else – and realized that I never got around to posting one. The last MIBF post I wrote was in 2014. As the most recent MIBF just wrapped up over the weekend, I thought it might not be too late to catch up (yeah, it’s a year later, so what).

MIBF 2015
Last year, I went by my lonesome, as I usually do, and on a weekday. (It’s important to stress the day of an MIBF visit because it will save your life. Heh.) I made a beeline for the Adarna booth because I wanted to get a LOT of books for my daughter, and I also had the idea of getting duplicate copies for giving away to her classmates on Christmas. The Adarna dual language books are my favorite local children’s books and I always make sure to get Allie the new ones.

Scouring the shelves, I saw that we already had several of the titles, but there were still a lot of new ones that we didn’t have yet. So these are what I got for her:

September 19, 2016

The Lover

by Marguerite Duras

This year, I picked up a lot of books I wouldn't have otherwise read were it not for a bingo challenge at the book club. The Lover is one of them. Originally, I picked this one up for the "erotica" box but realized that I had been operating under the wrong assumption. I've read erotica, and this isn't one. The book's classification under erotica is, perhaps, due to the fact that the film adaptation focused largely on the sexual aspects of the story. But when you read this, you'd know. Instead, I put it in the "novella" box because it qualifies as one, having only a little over a hundred pages.

But I digress.

image from Goodreads

The Lover is an autobiographical work. Marguerite Duras was born and raised in the French colonial Vietnam, and this is supposedly the story of her life. I say "supposedly" because there was much issue later on about whether The Lover was an accurate depiction of her life in Vietnam. But she did say that it was autobiographical, and so the work reads like a memoir, with shifting POVs and jerky narration. She talked about her mother and brothers, who all apparently had no love for her, and her relationship - at 15 years old - with a rich Chinese man who became her lover. She did not love him, but he gave her comfort, and stayed with her until she departed back for France.

September 6, 2016

Mrs. Dalloway

by Virginia Woolf

I read To The Lighthouse a couple of years back, and I didn't expect that I would like it but I did. I loved it, in fact, and much credit goes to the discussion that we had at the book club. Led by one of our book club moderators, we deconstructed the book chapter by chapter, and I think that everyone's insights and opinions allowed me to appreciate the novel properly. So, I was excited to read my next Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway. Although it was written in the same stream-of-consciousness, lyrical voice as Lighthouse, however, I found that this one simply wasn't of the same caliber.


But that's not to say that Mrs. Dalloway was a bad or awful book, because it isn't. It has its own merits; it just simply didn't live up to my expectations.

August 19, 2016

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

by Milan Kundera

I've heard many things about The Unbearable Lightness of Being but I've always shied away from it. I remember a time when I browsed a copy and got intimidated by the first chapter, which talked of philosophical stuff. I obtained my copy from a book club friend during our club's Christmas exchange gift some 2-3 years ago, and since then, it had always sat on my shelf, begging to be picked up.

Thankfully, I have a bingo square for "Philosophical Fiction" so this time around, no more excuses reading this book.


Contrary to my initial perception, the novel isn't all about philosophy. Of course, Nietzsche was mentioned, there's stuff about past and future lives, lightness and being, heavy stuff. But there was also the story of Tomas, his wife Tereza, Tomas's mistress (among many) Sabina, and Sabina's lover Franz. Also, there were underlying political themes in the novel, regarding Russia's occupation of Prague. It was deftly interwoven into the story of the main characters, which I appreciated.

August 3, 2016

Brave New World

by Aldous Huxley

Curiosity is what made me read this book. I liked the idea of a "brave new world" with genetically-engineered humans, a society made up of individuals and not families, test-tube babies, drug-induced happiness, and every manner of convenience within reach. It all sounds fascinating, doesn't it?


Recently, some book club friends and I discussed speculative fiction short stories, and our conversation veered towards Huxley and this book. We talked about how genetic engineering has evolved and is being performed nowadays that you can actually get to choose your child's future traits. It came up that Huxley, through this book - originally published in 1932 - foresaw the future, how genetically-engineered embryos and test-tube babies would someday be actually, genuinely real. Indeed, less than a century after Brave New World was first published, here we are cloning animals and picking blue eyes and blond hair for our babies.