rebness: (Office boredom)

Oh, guys. What a week. The drama llama truly has visited, but it's too annoying to go into.

Anyway! I was tagged by [personal profile] hystree for that birth month meme, so shall do that instead: 

- Pick your birth month.
- Strike out anything that doesn't apply to you.
- Bold the five-ten that best apply to you.
- Copy to your own journal, with all twelve months under a lj-cut.
- Tag 12 people from your friends list.

JANUARY:
Stubborn and hard-hearted. Ambitious and serious. Loves to teach and be taught. Always looking at people's flaws and weaknesses. Likes to criticise. Hardworking and productive. Smart, neat and organized. Sensitive and has deep thoughts. Knows how to make others happy. Quiet unless excited or tensed. Rather reserved. Highly attentive. Resistant to illnesses but prone to colds. Romantic but has difficulties expressing love. Loves children. Loyal. Has great social abilities yet easily jealous. Very stubborn and money cautious.


Tagging: whomever. I can't keep track of everyone who has already done it!

Finally, I am still reading For Whom the Bell Tolls. I was debating (arguing) with this French guy, Ben, about Hemingway. He said that Hemingway is a very good read for someone without English as a native language as he had a very clear, concise style whereas my argument ran to a very well-considered "Well, he's not good for native English speakers because he's patriarchal and obsessed with bullfighting and stupid nur." I don't think I convinced Ben, but I did note that the blurb on the back cover states that Hemingway was "the greatest writer" of the twentieth century and did more to advance the novel than any other author at all during that century. 

That's a pretty big claim. And also annoying and wrong. The end.

 

Reading

Aug. 10th, 2007 01:02 pm
rebness: (Office boredom)

So, if nothing else, Spanish TV and its absolute bleakness means that I have managed to put a halt to neglecting my reading habits. For posterity, here’s a brief catch-up of reading this year:

 

 

The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger ***

 

This book had a really interesting concept: a man who is (unwillingly) dragged back and forward through his own life and the effects it has upon him but mainly the woman he loves. It had some evocative scenes and the ending in particular stays with me, but underneath it all it was basically a love story rather than sci-fi and…er… I didn’t much care for that. The good parts, though, made it worth the read.

 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – JK Rowling ****

 

Yaay

 

The Accidental – Ali Smith ***

 

I have a lot of goodwill towards Smith. Hotel World absolutely captivated me and this book gripped me right until the end. It’s one of those mysterious-stranger-shows-up-and-changes-everyone’s-lives kind of thing, but one full of literary jokes and an air of menace. I don’t know what happened towards the end, though. It was three-quarters a really, really good read, original, funny, dark and then just… not. 

ETA: Although the scathing account of Love Actually and its inherent dishonesty was for me one of the lulziest moments of any novel I've ever read.

 

The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon ****

 

Re-read. I love this book and loved it more upon the second reading. The end.

 

For Whom the Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemingway (unfinished)

 

I thought it was high time I read this book, so bought it on the flight back from America in April. It’s about something that deeply interests me – the Spanish Civil War – but I keep putting it down because something about the writing irritates me, possibly the fact that every time he refers to the protagonist, he uses his full name. It’s a small irritation, but one that drags me out of the narrative each and every time. 

Labyrinth – Kate Mosse (unfinished) 

I keep putting this one down and leaving it for weeks at a time. I don't know why; it's good and draws me in whenever I read it, but it's also easy to forget. Huh.

 

The Alchemist – Paulo Coehlo ***

 

I read Veronika Decides to Die a few years ago an came away thinking that Coehlo was a pretentious git. The Alchemist, though really evocative and thoughtful in some parts, did little to disabuse me of this notion. I know everyone loves this book and I suppose I can see why, but I still dunt like him. 


Birdsong
– Sebastian Faulks ****

 

Yet another novel about the First World War, but so very well-written that it stands out as one of the best books I’ve read this year. It’s about the life of young English soldier and his experiences at the time, but there are so many other strands to the story – his clandestine love affair with a married woman, his granddaughter’s quest to find out more about him, the fate of the people he fought with and so on. The war scenes were unrelentingly graphic; at times, it was hard to continue reading because Faulks doesn’t flinch from describing a man’s brains slopping out of the ruins of his skull when a paragraph earlier he had been joking with another character, so that I was relieved whenever the action cut to his granddaughter’s perspective years later. I managed to get so much from this book and I think it deserves the praise lauded on it by the press and public alike.

 

Manon Lescaut – Abbe Prevost

 

Still reading. Enjoying immensely.

rebness: (Default)


Finally, here is the first batch of my Rome pics. Enjoy! [livejournal.com profile] airiddh1, hope this is a nice teaser for Rome...


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Rome means dead gay poets, of course. )

rebness: (Master Riddle)


Second book of the dark, murky wasteland days of internet loss is Virgil's The Aeneid. Wow. Am so smart, and stuff.

Except for the part where, thus far, I've only managed to work out who the equivalent of Juno, Jupiter and Venus are. I have no damned idea who that guy is with the swirly winds. I thought he was Neptune, but then Neptune turned up. Perhaps Apollo? No, there's Phoebus Apollo right there. WOE.

Does anyone know what happened to Paris? I didn't find out from The Illiad and I'm not sure I will from Virgil. The Odyssey is currently in hiding, or Jack finally defeated Odysseus.

Also, every time Dido speaks, I imagine her to use a North London accent.

Postmodernist mindsets suck.

rebness: (Blase)



Throughout the weekend, I found out that I had bags of spare time, just, y’know, floating about. Yes, still, the Computer Says No.

I finally picked up Night Letters, by Robert Dessaix, again. I hadn’t heard of him, either. Well, not until [livejournal.com profile] saffronlie sent me a copy of the antipodean writer’s Corfu, and then this book. 90% of the literature I have read thus far has been northern-hemisphere centric, and of that, most of it is Euro-centric.

Granted, this is because I’ve spent the last few years labouring through the classics to become OMG Sooper Sekrit Litry wunder!!1! and being a snooty reader means wallowing through The Illiad by way of Greece, getting lost in Venice with Thomas Mann and reading about selfish horrid people in France through Bonjour, Tristesse.

There have been diversions along the way, in the forms of American and Canadian greats such as Salinger, Jeffrey Eugenides, Douglas Coupland and…er…ah…Anne Rice. Indian literature rocks, and I fell for the charms of The Death of Vishnu and the seminal God of Small Things.

But Australian literature? Why are we often so snobby about it?

Before Robert Dessaix, the only Australian story I remember reading was that one about the bunyips, which scared the hell out of me. (I was about eight, you know.) Perhaps this has been a mistake. There’s a clarity in Dessaix’s writing. He regards Europe with that cool but knowing way. I loved how he summed up so much about hell-island Corfu in the book of the same name, but this book just… I adored it. No jaded narratives, alarmingly evident in a lot of things I read these days, but a new, fresh, exciting perspective. I'm actually pretty damned upset that I finished the book last night and now must return to Cervantes.

At one point in the narrative, he says that being Australian means that people treat him as a kind of blank canvas, a nationality to paint their own identities on. I suppose that’s true, in a sense. However, at the same time, his narrative brings something new and refreshing to the tales of long-dead Venetians and Irish blue-bloods living on strange islands—a sense of enthusiasm, not weighted by the European trappings of class and status.

That sentence wasn’t very clear. Let me explain. My super amazing free time also meant that I finally sat down to watch Keep the Aspidistra Flying, which was taped for me a little while back by the sublime [livejournal.com profile] pandorasblog.

It was a great comedy, superbly acted, funny lines, etc… but it was so preoccupied by class. Undoubtedly, this was the point of Orwell’s comedy, but class has always been something that makes me feel haughty, inferior, superior—always at a certain unease with myself, knowing that it defines me in Europe like no other place on earth. Stamped before I even open my mouth. Actually, open my mouth and the idiot assumptions about my status and the verity of my Englishness start up. It’s ridiculous, I know, but there it is. There it always is—and nobody can understand that who has not lived in Europe. More specifically, Britain.

My point is this: Europeans always have, and always will, have hang-ups about class and history and culture. We’re always vying with one another, with our own countrymen, to better ourselves. Sometimes I think we’re as bad as the peacocks in Dessaix’s novel who strut past Camilla’s window, weighed down with gold and fur. It’s interesting to get the perspective of an outsider once in a while. Ann Coulter can still shut her stupid mouth, though.

P.S Also, yes. I totally do rely on my friends for new cultural and literary experiences.

ETA: Rest in Peace, Hunter S. Thompson. You never did fail to shock, you literary wonder, you.

rebness: (Reves Epanoui)


Midwinter spring is its own season
Sempiternal though sodden towards sundown,
Suspended in time, between pole and tropic.
When the short day is brightest, with frost and fire,
The brief sun flames the ice, on pond and ditches,
In windless cold that is the heart's heat,
Reflecting in a watery mirror
A glare that is blindness in the early afternoon.


T.S Eliot - Little Gidding

It’s still technically the most rubbish season of them all, but spring is grappling with winter. These things have happened in the last couple of weeks:

· Daffodils have started to come out
· Birds are now singing as dusk falls
· I don’t go home in that accursed BLACK, but to the backdrop of a rosy sky
· There is the comforting smell of freshly-cut grass everywhere, allergies be damned
· I see the sun with my own eyes, not just in pretty pictures in books
· The new season of floaty, dreamy clothes is out
· I can see the rabbits in the field opposite when I get home

How on earth can something so simple and eternal as the turning of a season make a person feel so good? I don’t know, but I’m certainly not complaining.

There shall be no odes to daffodils in this journal, by the way.

rebness: (Default)


Last night, I stayed up to watch a pretty innovative documentary on BBC2 about George Orwell. They used fake footage with an actor speaking his words, giving already powerful or amusing thoughts on everything from the death penalty to the Spanish civil war to patriotism to making a cup of tea.

One part of the documentary focused on his days spent with the British police in India when it was controlled by the Empire. He mused at one point that it struck him how inherently wrong, and how hypocritical it is, for a power to force itself on another country and then presume to police it with force and expect the inhabitants to be grateful.

I wish we had a writer as powerful as Orwell around to record the events of today.

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