Tuesday, April 14, 2015

High Fidelity

by Nick Hornby

High Fidelity is about Rob Fleming, a guy in his mid-thirties who owns and operates a vinyl record store called Championship Vinyl for a living. He likes listing top fives of just about anything: recording artists, albums, films, dance music, anything. He has just broken up with his girlfriend, Laura – rather, Laura has just broken up with him, on account of which he decides to list down his top five most memorable split-ups, remembering the girl, the relationship, and the break-up. What follow after that are pathetic attempts to get Laura back, unexceptional efforts to keep the record store running, and a juvenile, cringe-worthy endeavor to understand why he keeps getting dumped: by getting in touch with the women who make up his top five most memorable split-ups.

Oh, Rob.

No, he’s not very likeable, Rob. Laura was pretty much justified when she dumped him. At his age, he ought to have been set with his priorities, been more or less settled with his life and comfortable in his own skin. Put simply, he ought to have already been established at that stage in his life. Unfortunately, he is immature, insecure, and confused. How else would he be expected to live a decent life not only for himself, but with a partner?

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Dept. of Speculation

by Jenny Offill

Dept. of Speculation is a fragmented depiction of a marriage in all its stages and aspects: first meeting, courtship, wedding, domesticities, conception and child rearing, the inevitable troubles in paradise. It is a novel with a theme that hits close to home, because there is no perfect marriage. Perhaps on the surface, yes, I would concede. But those who claim that theirs are a picture-perfect marriage are terribly deluded.

The novel is so short that it can be actually finished in one sitting, if you have the luxury of time. The first parts are told in the first-person point of view of the Wife, one half of the marriage, as she articulates her thoughts about her husband, her marriage, her colicky child. The narrative is peppered with quotes, proverbs, and pieces of life and domestic advice, intelligent or otherwise.

Stefan Zweig. Rilke. Hesiod. Kant. Ovid. George Eliot.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Reading List 2015: April

Olaf would be happy where I am now because it's summer! And wow, are we feeling the heat already.

March went well and pretty quickly, and I'm happy to report that my most recent book club discussion went all right. The book club is now in the middle of discussing our April selection, the offline discussion of which will coincide with our fifth anniversary. Looking forward to that, as I'm sure everyone else is.

Anyway. March report card!

  • Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill - Marriage in fragments. 4/5
  • The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy - Third and final reread. 4/5
  • The Known World by Edward P. Jones - currently on page 206 of 388. 
  • High Fidelity by Nick Hornby - Technically part of my April reading list, but since I finished reading it on the last day of March, I'm including it on this list anyway. 3.5/5

Without further ado, here is my reading list for April:

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Third time's the charm!

Not that the first and second were flops; they weren't. But it's the third time I've done it in our four years of discussing books, and I think I did fair enough for this particular discussion.

Let me explain.

Every month, my book club meets up to discuss a designated/chosen book from a particular genre. Discussions are done not only face-to-face, though: an online discussion thread is also set up for the benefit of those who are geographically unable to make it to the actual discussion. A volunteer discussion moderator (usually) facilitates both online and offline discussions, scouts for a suitable venue for the face-to-face (F2F) discussion, etc.

We've been doing this for the fourth year running, and I've already volunteered to moderate two discussions in the past: The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova in 2012 (F2F11) and What We Talk About When We Talk About Love: Stories by Raymond Carver in 2014 (F2F26). This year is my third time to volunteer, and we talked about The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (F2F39). The discussion was held last March 21, 2015 at the Om Lifestyle + Cafe, a very charming Indian cafe and lifestyle store owned and operated by the mother-daughter team of Suman and Anjie Gogna in Greenhills, San Juan City.

The genre for The God of Small Things is literary fiction, and the other nominated books are The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides (moderator's choice) and A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. My initial take on The God of Small Things was mediocre, and I thought that perhaps I should give it another try. So I put it out there for the members to consider; I’m glad they voted for this, otherwise I wouldn’t have the chance to reread it and appreciate it for its real value.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Perdido Street Station

by China Mieville

Perdido Street Station, the first book in the Bas-Lag series, is my second China Mieville. I started reading this last month and progressed easily because the plot intrigued me, but then I had to put it aside in the meantime to give way to book club duties. But now that I have more time to spare, I finally managed to finish reading it, and I am blown away.

Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin is a renegade scientist who lives in New Crobuzon, city of concrete, filth, connecting train stations, and Xenian creatures. Yagharek, a garuda (or a half-bird, half-man creature) from faraway Cymek, bereft of his wings as penalty for a crime he committed in his own country, approaches Isaac with the following proposition: Isaac should make him fly again in exchange for gold. Isaac accepts, and as he embarks on his research and experiments to help Yagharek, he unwittingly unleashes a powerful, predatory force that compels him to rearrange his priorities and takes him and his companions to a world full of danger, betrayal, death, and loss.


Monday, March 2, 2015

Reading List 2015: March

The month of love is past, and it was quite a busy month for me. Aside from being host of back-to-back biweekly memes over at the book club's homepage at Goodreads, which concluded over the weekend, I was also busy (still am, actually) preparing for my third stint as book discussion moderator also for the book club. This month, for our 39th face-to-face discussion, we’ll be discussing Arundhati Roy’s Booker-winning novel, The God of Small Things.

So, how did I fare in February? Terrible.

  • The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy – In preparation for the book discussion, a reread. 4/5
  • Love Walked In by Marisa Delos Santos – Our book club’s book for February, a reread. 4/5
  • Perdido Street Station by China Mieville – A buddy read with some bookish friends which I had begun with an intensity and fervor that lasted all of 2 weeks, when I had to let go of it at the moment to focus on TGoST. Currently on page 316.

I have a valid excuse, I know, but I still think I have to make up for it this March. Even if the book discussion happens in three weeks.

Hello, March books.

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