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  01:57:00 am, by Airycat   , 250 words  
Categories: Book Reviews, Fiction

Jew Girl by EminemsRevenge

If you don't mind a sometimes difficult, quirky (and sometimes annoyingly so) book that will make you think, this might be it.

The Fabric of Life

This book is not for someone looking for light escape fiction. It exposes the everyday reality of life with it's lack of connections and unpredictability while at the same time showing the threads that connect all of us just because we're human. We see how each of us lives in our own world, affected by the world outside and things we can't control, never really knowing what we think we know about someone else and his world.

Ian Odamench sees Reuven as a potential messiah. Some of the women who work with Reuven's mom think he's special, too. Reuven just wants his mom to get well. He's looking for a savior for his dying mom, Eileen. He thinks Jonah is who he is looking for. Jonah has gone through life only barely aware of how he has affected others. Though once part of Eileen's life, he's just looking to get through each day.

For all the connections of the main characters, all the lesser characters have their impact too. No one has a truly minor role. Sometimes it's the character the walk-on role who provides the most significant catalyst. These characters are real whether or not they live on your patch of the fabric of life. This book can be startling, annoying or difficult but ultimately, it reveals the true pattern of the whole.

Jew GirlJew Girl


  01:51:00 am, by Airycat   , 199 words  
Categories: Book Reviews, Fiction, Short Stories

Setting Suns by Elizabeth Donald

Elizabeth Donald's collection of short stories rather deliciously makes a point against the adage that shining a light on our fears makes them go away.

What I liked (??) about this collection is that some of the stories ["Gauntlet," "Memoir," and "Our Turn" from her first (unpublished) novel, Sanctuary] touched the fears hidden within my own soul. Growing up when I did (early cold war), I have a latent fear of the "enemy" attacking. The enemy in these stories is as unknown as the one I feared as a child, and perhaps more worthy of fear. The fear is the same, though not as buried.

Another story that I particularly liked was "Symphony of the Woods." The young heroine of this story has a lovely ability that is apparently both her burden and her salvation.

"Wonderland" takes a look, with a classic science fiction stance, at the fear many have of any new technology -- even some of us who embrace it.

Each of these fifteen stories held my attention and even compelled me to continue. I appreciated the diversity of stories -- from present day psychological tensions to futuristic science fiction, with a dash of fantasy, and not a little adventure.

Setting SunsSetting Suns


  02:56:00 am, by Airycat   , 418 words  
Categories: Book Reviews, Science

Hyperspace by Michio Kaku

I finished Hyperspace by Michio Kaku today. My mind is kind of swimming in it all and not focusing on any one idea presented.

I can't speak to the accuracy of the science. He's my teacher, not my peer or my student. It doesn't sound crazy, so I believe he is accurately depicting the state of physics as of the time the book was written.

The first time I read about superstrings, I thought it was a wonderful theory. It just "clicks" for me. This may have something to do with Kaku's ability to write clearly. I think it was in his book, Beyond Einstein where I first heard of the theory.

I'm more a metaphysicist than a physicist. (Not that I'm actually either.) I'm always trying to relate physics and religion and philosophy (and psychology and everything else!). A lot of that can be done with superstrings. Kaku addresses some of it. Scientists dismiss some things because they can't be repeated experimentally. Those are often the kinds of things I like to think about.

Some people in the past used the theory of multiple dimensions to explain where heaven was. Until and unless we find that particular dimension, of course the scientists will question it. It's their job (and nature) to question everything. But from the metaphysical point of view, it a very good thing to think about.... even if we don't get the right answer. If we have beliefs, they will definitely influence our conclusions.

This book feeds thoughts like this. Lots of "What if?" ideas come to me, too. I don't know the strict science or the math necessary, but I can think. I believe I have some powers of reasoning. A book like this also helps me keep on track because it tells of the paths that didn't work, the theories that didn't stand up to the experimentation, didn't fit the real world.

I wonder if I'm merely a child of my generation, one which has always seen rapid discovery and changes, or if I'm just one of the wild eyed dreamers of the world.

I like the idea of ten dimensions. I like the idea that those six extra dimensions, which are now curled up to Planck size (tiny!) may possibly, in the very distant future, provide the means of human survival. Assuming, of course, that we survive long enough to discover how to use them. I also like the idea that everything will come together one day and prove all to be inter-related.



  02:41:00 am, by Airycat   , 106 words  
Categories: Book Reviews, Fiction

Farewell, My Concubine by Lilian Lee

This is the book one of my very favorite movies is based on. I was looking for a rich text that the movie implies to me. I didn't find it. Lee's writing style is very simple, even a bit more "telling" than I like.*

Nonetheless, I found the book enjoyable. It is enough the same as the movie see what she doesn't describe. I also like the ending better than the movie's ending. The ending in the movie is perhaps more dramatic, but in the book the ending is more real.

*It is possible that it is the translation that is flat, rather than Lee's style.

Farewell My ConcubineFarewell My Concubine


  03:05:00 am, by Airycat   , 810 words  
Categories: Book Reviews, Fiction

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson is nothing I expected it to be. I thought it would be an out and out horror story. I didn't expect to like it and I didn't really, but for totally different reasons. I can't exactly put my finger on any one reason why. I found it annoying right from the start. The constant word games became tiresome. Both Luke and Theo seemed rather cold to me. Dr. Montague was practically a non-entity. I never really cared about any of the characters. At the end, I can see that since it was mainly from Eleanor's point of view, that the disassociation makes sense, but as a reader I felt cheated.

That's one of the things I didn't like. It didn't start out from her point of view. It was the omnipotent narrator, at first, then we get pulled into her POV and never really get out. Considering where the story went, it should have been 100% her POV, in my opinion. It would have been stronger/clearer.

I don't know... I don't get that the author was trying to say anything with this, other than tell the story. I didn't know what was going on half the time. Maybe Jackson wanted the reader to be confused. I certainly was. Even within the framework of the story, some things still don't make sense to me.... like the problem with Theo's clothes. What was the point of that? What was wrong with the Dudleys? They seemed so wooden or robotic. I can see why they wouldn't want to spend time in a haunted house, but why so unfriendly? And then abruptly with Mrs. Montague, Mrs Dudley seemed more human than she had to anyone else. I don't see any point in that. Why did the cold spot go away for Mrs. Montague? I don't see where these things served the story. Everything in a story should mean something or serve to move the story along. None of these do either, that I can see.

Mrs. Montague's arrival served no purpose for me. If anything had actually been scary, maybe it would have served as a bit of comic relief, but as it is, she and Arthur were just more stereotype characters in a stereotype cast... Just that one teensy hint of reality with Mrs Dudley.

I find the premise that the house itself was insane to be somewhat ludicrous. I think houses can have human properties, but the house itself is an inanimate thing, so those properties must be reflections or echoes of the people who lived there -- or actual ghosts, if such exist. I don't think the house is what drove Eleanor over the edge (no pun intended). She was already beginning to lose it before she ever left her sister's and she felt that guilt about her mother's death. The situation probably had a strong hand in her madness. Everything was so superficial, but it's hard to say what was part of the story and where the story simply failed. In any case, nothing in the story, from beginning to end, made me believe the house was mad.

Maybe it was because it was from her POV, but no one seemed real to me. Everyone, even Eleanor, seemed to be a cardboard cutout stereotype. Eleanor was the most rounded character and she was still flat. The situations didn't seem real. The book was written in 1959, so I don't expect today's sensibilities, but it felt very Victorian and or/1930's most of the time. One of the caveats I hear all the time, as a writer, is "show, don't tell." I don't feel Jackson really did this, despite all the description. The phrase doesn't mean description, but rather drawing the reader into the world of the story. I didn't feel anything as I read. I wasn't drawn in.

I just finished reading To Kill A Mockingbird before getting to this book. It's possible that it was just the difference between the books that made this one so flat to me, but I don't think so. I often go from one kind of book to something very different without this sense of being cheated. In TKAM I was drawn in so much so that I thought about the story between readings. I was there. I was then. I knew the people. With HHH I never thought about it between readings, was hardly ever in the house and didn't know or care to know anyone there. I was always on the outside, slightly irritated with the sense that she was trying to create a mood and not doing it.

I finished the book because I hoped there would be some really interesting twist at the end to make up for the boring beginning. It didn't happen. Had it been any longer, I'm not sure I would have bothered finishing.

The Haunting of Hill House

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