January 12, 2017

A Single Man

by Christopher Isherwood

I read A Single Man based on good reviews from friends, and as the first book for a reading challenge/team bingo that I joined over at the book club this year. I was expecting that it would be similar to Andre Aciman's underrated novel, Call Me By Your Name, but A Single Man was a gem all on its own. 


The story of A Single Man runs through an entire day in the life of George Falconer, a middle-aged professor in a California university whose partner, Jim, recently died in a car accident while visiting family in Ohio. Jim’s family, apparently, are not aware of his relationship with George, and George merely learns about his death through a cousin’s phone call. George is not invited to the funeral service, and so he is left to cope with the loss on his own.

January 4, 2017

The reading year that was 2016

I have no excuse for the lack of posts for the past couple of months except to say that I didn't have a lot of time on my hands then to sit myself down, open Blogger, and write something decent about my latest readings. The last quarter of every year is always a busy time for me, what with my birthday month, my daughter's birthday, as well as the holidays all coming in, compressed in two short months. Add to that book club activities, get-togethers, and work, and that's the blog taking a backseat for a time.

But now I have time to do this! Well, it's really me finding time for this because if I let this idleness continue, I don't know how I could pull myself back up. After reading What Light, the book club's book for December, last month, I went through the rest of December without finishing a single book. Lincoln in the Bardo sits patiently by my bedside table, waiting to be picked up again, but always, there's still something else that I end up doing. To be fair, it was also our first holidays at the new house, so I spent a lot of time puttering about and decorating and attending to stuff that needed attention around the house.

So anyway. How was my reading for 2016? Goodreads has been kind enough (as always, every year) to summarize it for me.

October 19, 2016

SHORTS: Poems and Essays

Last month, I read two wonderful works of non-fiction: a collection of erudite poems by Irish poet Eavan Boland and a book of essays by Australian writer Clive James. This is the first time I encountered these writers, whose works were recommended by good friends from the book club. I must admit that I wouldn't have read them were it not for our current book club reading challenge, the TFG Bingo, but I'm thankful that I've had this chance.

Domestic Violence: Poems
by Evan Boland

I liked this collection of poems that spoke about marriage, the home, relationships within the family, loss, and love of country and patriotism. What resonated with me most were the poems about mothers and daughters, particularly "On This Earth." I also liked the titular poem, "Domestic Violence," for its haunting yet powerful voice. I read these poems aloud because I found that hearing the words being spoken out loud gives them even more texture than when they are being read silently, and the meaning behind them comes at you full force.

October 12, 2016

A Woman In Berlin

by Anonymous; attributed to Marta Hillers

Historical novels have always interested me, and a favorite sub-genre that falls under the "historical" umbrella is war books. A Woman In Berlin is one such book, but distinct in the fact that it is a diary written by a German woman who witnessed and lived through the fall of Berlin at the end of the Second World War.


The diary entries were written in a detached, matter-of-fact manner. Perhaps it was the diarist's way of disconnecting herself from the atrocities that the Russians were committing right and left: mass rape, pillaging, among others. One can only speculate on her intentions for writing the diary: was it cathartic for her to record her experiences on paper, or did she intend for it to be an objective account thereof, for purposes of future public consumption? Again, this is subject of intelligent speculation.

Delta of Venus

by Anaïs Nin

Delta of Venus is a collection of erotic short stories, and by "erotic" I mean hard-core, detailed descriptions of the sexual act and deviant behavior, done in various positions and with certain peculiarities. I've read Little Birds a few years back, so I knew, more or less, what to expect from this compendium.


What is there to say about a collection of short stories that speak of nothing but sex, sex, and more sex? Books like this can only be read up to a certain point; after that, it can only get tiring and/or boring. How many stories can you make up about the same subject and its various forms anyway? There are total strangers giving each other the eye in a cafe or in a public place and then having sexual congress a few minutes later; voyeurism, necrophilia, incest, pedophilia, and bestiality; homosexual sex; women with huge breasts and men with giant penises; cunnilingus and fellatio, anal sex... Those are just a few of the themes I've read about, off the top of my head, and I think I haven't covered everything yet.

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.