Tag: Books: Short Stories


Review: Strange Pilgrims

Posted 8 August, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Strange Pilgrims
By: Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

In Barcelona, an aging Brazilian prostitute trains her dog to weep at the grave she has chosen for herself. In Vienna, a woman parlays her gift for seeing the future into a fortunetelling position with a wealthy family. In Geneva, an ambulance driver and his wife take in the lonely, apparently dying ex-President of a Caribbean country, only to discover that his political ambition is very much intact.

In these twelve masterly stories about the lives of Latin Americans in Europe, García Márquez conveys the peculiar amalgam of melancholy, tenacity, sorrow, and aspiration that is the émigré experience.

Hehehe, you could say I’m on a bit of a roll getting around to Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s books (either revisiting or new books altogether). I heard good things about this collection so I decided to pick it up next 😀 Plus, it’s a nice change of pace; I was curious to see how Gabriel Garcia Marquez reads when it comes to short stories.

Well, this was certainly an interesting collection of stories featuring Latin American characters in different parts of the world. The stories can be surprising, sad, hopeful, some with a touch of magical realism, other stories a tale of living in foreign lands and struggling with everyday life. These stories may seem like everyday occurrences but they nonetheless are told with such a wonderful narrative and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ own way of conveying a story. Some stories of course stuck out more than others, like “Bon Voyage, Mr. President”, “Sleeping Beauty and the Airplane” and “‘I Only Came to Use the Phone'” but short or long, each story was wonderful to read.

There’s not much else I could say except they were interesting to check out and definitely worth checking out if you’re interested in reading something by this author for the first time or are already a fan of his works.

Rating: ★★★★☆

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Review: The Summer Book

Posted 4 August, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

The Book of Summer
By: Tove Jansson
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

In The Summer Book Tove Jansson distills the essence of the summer—its sunlight and storms—into twenty-two crystalline vignettes. This brief novel tells the story of Sophia, a six-year-old girl awakening to existence, and Sophia’s grandmother, nearing the end of hers, as they spend the summer on a tiny unspoiled island in the Gulf of Finland. The grandmother is unsentimental and wise, if a little cranky; Sophia is impetuous and volatile, but she tends to her grandmother with the care of a new parent. Together they amble over coastline and forest in easy companionship, build boats from bark, create a miniature Venice, write a fanciful study of local bugs. They discuss things that matter to young and old alike: life, death, the nature of God and of love. “On an island,” thinks the grandmother, “everything is complete.” In The Summer Book, Jansson creates her own complete world, full of the varied joys and sorrows of life.

I had been eyeing this book for ages (I’ve been saying that a lot with some of these books, but it’s true!). Her Moomin comics are popular but I wanted to read her fiction as the premise of her books sounded quite interesting. Well, I finally got my hands on this book and thought it would make a perfect summer read.

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Two Book Reviews

Posted 1 August, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Read and wrote two books some time ago that weren’t long enough to warrant their own posts but weren’t many enough to compile a mini reviews post so here we are 😛

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French Love Poems
Format/Source: Mass market paperback; my purchase

Filled with devotion and lust, sensuality and eroticism, fevers and overtures, these poems showcase some of the most passionate verses in the French language. From the classic sixteenth-century love sonnets of Louise Labé and Maurice Sceve to the piercing lyricism of the Romantics and the dreamlike compositions of the Surrealists, French Love Poems is the perfect, seductive gift for anyone who makes your heart flutter.

Sort of picked this book up on a whim back in Victoria Day because it was such a cute little volume. Plus, what the heck, I haven’t read much French poetry, really.

It’s a great collection of poetry, introducing me to a number of French poets I either heard of in passing or just never heard of period. Talk about the embedded eroticism and sensuality present in these poems, I guess I don’t read enough of those to warrant knowing what reading those poems are like, but the love poems as a whole do capture the intensity and the feeling of love and longing quite succinctly. This collection is also very cool because it does have the original French on one page and the translated English facing it. Definitely worth checking out!

Rating: ★★★★☆

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A Nervous Breakdown
By: Anton Chekhov
Format/Source: Mass market paperback; my purchase

“I did have hallucinations, but did they harm anyone? Who did they harm, that’s what I’d like to know!”

From the supreme artist of the short story, three disturbing tales of supernatural hallucinations, hysterical obsession and moral decay.

I’m always up for reading a bit of Anton Chekhov. This collection of three stories was interesting as it weaves in a variety of social issues ranging from helping your family and family status to prostitution and mental illness. The first two in particular tie in especially well with the subject of mental illness and how society and medical specialists treated the issue at the time, but also the personal ramnifications, how is it perceived by the self, is it a force of clarity. The third story, “Anna Around the Neck”, ties in less so on the subject but it’s nonetheless touches on a number of issues and was also sad in its own way. Of the three “The Black Monk” was the only story I read previously and I have to say, the title story was the one that stuck out in my memory afterwards moreso than the other two. Nonetheless it’s an interesting book to pick up, especially if you’ve never read anything by Anton Chekhov.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Learn more about the author on Wikipedia || Order this book from The Book Depository

Review: Norse Mythology

Posted 9 June, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 6 Comments

Norse Mythology
By: Neil Gaiman
Format/Source: Hardback; my purchase

Neil Gaiman has long been inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction. Now he turns his attention back to the source, presenting a bravura rendition of the great northern tales.

In Norse Mythology, Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon: Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki, son of a giant, blood brother to Odin and a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator.Gaiman fashions these primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and delves into the exploits of deities, dwarfs, and giants. Once, when Thor’s hammer is stolen, Thor must disguise himself as a woman, difficult with his beard and huge appetite, to steal it back. More poignant is the tale in which the blood of Kvasir, the most sagacious of gods, is turned into a mead that infuses drinkers with poetry. The work culminates in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods and rebirth of a new time and people.

Through Gaiman’s deft and witty prose emerge these gods with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to duping others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.

I was pretty excited when I heard that Neil Gaiman was going to tackle Norse mythology through his own narrative. Norse mythology is a fascinating body of work, the characters intriguing and powerful yet very human, and their concept of the world and its structure just intriguing. I’ve read the Elder Edda and some of the other works associated to Norse mythology but of course there’s so many different Eddas out there that as Gaiman mentioned in his introduction his take it just another voice to its body of tomes.

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Review: The Accusation

Posted 5 June, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 6 Comments

The Accusation
By: Bandi
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

In 1989, a North Korean dissident writer, known to us only by the pseudonym Bandi, began to write a series of stories about life under Kim Il-sung’s totalitarian regime. Smuggled out of North Korea and set for publication around the world in 2017, The Accusation provides a unique and shocking window into this most secretive of countries.

Bandi’s profound, deeply moving, vividly characterized stories tell of ordinary men and women facing the terrible absurdity of daily life in North Korea: a factory supervisor caught between loyalty to an old friend and loyalty to the Party; a woman struggling to feed her husband through the great famine; the staunch Party man whose actor son reveals to him the theatre that is their reality; the mother raising her child in a world where the all-pervasive propaganda is the very stuff of childhood nightmare.

The Accusation is a heartbreaking portrayal of the realities of life in North Korea. It is also a reminder that humanity can sustain hope even in the most desperate of circumstances — and that the courage of free thought has a power far beyond those who seek to suppress it.

I first heard about this book and the story around its eventual publication on The Guardian (see article). I was immediately intrigued–there’s no fiction coming out of this country, let alone dissent literature from a writer still living in said country, so after reading the article I immediately pre-ordered a copy for myself to check out.

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