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Girls: Season 1
Girls: Season 1
DVD ~ Various
Price: $20.98
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4.0 out of 5 stars Girl Power, March 28, 2013
This review is from: Girls: Season 1 (DVD)
Girl power is a female preoccupation. It has always been that way. The girls in this show have varying quantities of it, and understanding about its effect on their world. Hanna doesn't have a lot of it on a physical level. There are lots of camera shots of how lacking she is, but the show explores how Hanna deals with the lack, the compromises and assumptions that stem from it. Lena Dunham takes the issue on full bore in a way Hollywood, assumed we didn't want to acknowledge. Women read magazines. go to the movies are usually not interested in dealing with the lack, instead fantasizing the right medication, or the right make over or the right fairy godmother will give us the power to bend men to our will.
At the end of the series Hanna seems to own more of this girl power than she thought, or is she in the end deciding the guy in her life that she put so far above herself and therefore she was powerless in the relationship was actually much weaker than she thought? I'm concentrating on Hanna but the issue plays out for all of the other girls, typically for women it is the preoccupation of their lives.

At one point in the series Hanna goes home to see her parents, they too are put under the Lena Dunham scope, and they fair poorly in those ratings. Seemingly they hold or withhold the purse strings but, Hanna in this at least, can win that contest.

I like this show, but I can't think men or boys are going to be that interested in it. In all of these types of entertainments, they are the prey. Helplessly they become ensnared and weakly they loose their independence, even their lives to a tractor beam of female power. They have always been made powerless in the fantasy and they usually hate to see it re- enacted. Men in their fantasies usually prefer to see themselves as physically powerful, independent and immortal.

Building Stories
Building Stories
by Chris Ware
Edition: Hardcover
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Non-traditional, December 16, 2012
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This review is from: Building Stories (Hardcover)
When I bought this hard-copy publishing effort. I thought it was "cool". E-books are convenient and in-convenient at the same time. I have begun listening to books more than reading them because I can do other things at the same time. Building Stories requires giving your full attention to the stories. From the cool aspect of just owning it the bits of paper and varying sizes of the collection of artifacts, the idea of scraps, objects contained in a box appeals to me. This is just an initial impression having not actually read it at that point, but having examined the whole, it isn't just reading Building Stories, it is experiencing the contents of the box. When you do go through the contents, it isn't just an external "cool" it might be almost " anti- cool" and beyond that description, inapropriate to the experience. A warning to owners with children in their house who might be attracted to looking inside the box there are depictions of human genitalia. The experience is sad, but feels truthful. I thought it was the work of an original thinker and it couldn't have happened if there were no e- books nor audible books. The book as an object in it's self could have only happened in publishing because tradition has been up-ended. House of Leaves is another book-object. I'm looking forward to all of the experimentation in the future. It was an important experience for me, and if it isn't a model for publishing going forward, it is still an important marker in the chaos of the changes happening now.

The Devil All the Time
The Devil All the Time
by Donald Ray Pollock
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.09
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4.0 out of 5 stars The never ending battle for truth, justice and the American Way, December 9, 2012
This review is from: The Devil All the Time (Paperback)
I realize on the spectrum of experience of small town life, mine seems more relevent to Andy of Mayberry more than The Devil All the Time, and that experience made me want to deny the lives depicted by Pollock. Pollock probably explains that by also explaining women are sheilded by their men to the harsher realities. I had to admit that there is a society I don't see, so everything he writes is within the realm of the possible. There was, after all, a guy named Jeffrey Dahlmer, and in my own home town, I have read of real atrocities within the pages of my local paper. So I will not protest his insight. There are some warped people in this world. Religion plays a huge role in the small town experience, and how people view it can lead to some warped world views. The true believer might think he could raise someone from the dead, and they might also think that a blood sacrefice would be more powerful than a prayer in influencing God's will. Pollock isn't saying that Willard is ignorant, the flawed father in this story. He is very intelligent, but Willard also believes in the Bible. He believes in his own interpretation of the Bible, and it leads him to a futile slaughter of small animals, someone's pet, and finally a lawyer who he believes is so flawed he deserves to die. That lawyer deserves death because he makes Willard's life hard, because he isn't really a man, but a coward, a cuckold and he would have conspired (if he would have had the chance- to kill his two-timing wife.) Willard's sacrefices are pre-christian but always there has been an effort by humanity to do deals with God. In the end Willard teaches his son, Arvin, about the goodness of taking vengence into your own hands, because society's justice is too flawed. This story actually is a very ancient one, and so much a part of literature, that maybe it is embedded in our DNA. Every comic book character- Super Man, Bat Man Spider man, etc tells this story. The story of Arvin, a lone orphan, who is raised in an unjust world and who goes about creating his own justice. I know this is an extremely satisfying theme, because it is retold in thousands of different ways. They are really stories about tribe. They are about male honor that revolve around the purity and sanctity of their women. Lenora, who is homely and stupid and Arvin's adopted sister is dishonored by a preacher, so the preacher deserves his death, in the same way the lawyer must die. Most of the women in this book don't have the slightest idea about an evil world. Arvin gives up on that outside power, and finds his own god like powers to fight the devil. I found it a satisifying story. It is like that other iconic tale of the handsome prince who comes to sweep the young maiden away to his castle.

Two for the Seesaw
Two for the Seesaw
DVD ~ Robert Mitchum
Price: $18.96
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A familiar story, October 8, 2011
This review is from: Two for the Seesaw (DVD)
I remembered watching "Sweet Charity" when I was just a teenager. I am now well into my fifties and I decided to revisit this movie. What I remembered was it's visual style, I couldn't remember the story, but after watching it again I had to conclude, that was really all it had. The story was a little story and the musical was too much, and all I can say watching the movie years later, I felt like I was wasting my time. Shirley MacLaine, made an early career of being a cute dumb sweet innocent, but by the time she performed in Sweet Charity, she seemed too old for the part. She managed her extremely energetic dance scenes , but the energy came from a work ethic, not from the exuberance of her youth. Her love interest played by Oscar Lindquist who, was just about perfectly cast, didn't help the movie in any way. It didn't draw me in although it still had great dance sequences and Edith Head outdid herself with the costumes; in the end all the extremes with the audio and visual elements just buried the story. Recently I saw the same little story again, in the movie "Two for the Seesaw". The director, Robert Wise, regretted that Robert Mitchum, was cast in the role of Jerry, the callow youth from the Midwest who runs away from his velvet cage, to try to become his own man. How old was Mitchum when he made this film? Obviously he was much too old for the part, too strong of a character, with a voice much too deep and powerful to say the words demanded from the script. I have read that MacLaine wasn't authentically Jewish enough although I loved her performance in this movie. I guess the characters in "Two for the Seesaw" are essentially at odds with the script, but what wasn't at odds with the script was an emotional story. The emotional story was that Shirley MacLaine, in this movie was a sweet young innocent, yet could create an empathic connection with a man, that was all wrong on a physical and cultural level for her. Robert Mitchum was a man who fell for a much younger woman from the wrong side of town, and the movie brings out the realities of why it can't work. The dialogue was all about Jerry's emotional inability to leave a twelve year marriage, but this could easily apply to an older man's inability to leave his wife of many years. He complains that his wife has over mothered him, but Mitchum's desire to take care of MacLaine seems authentic from paternalistic point of view. Mitchum's despair and loneliness, is something many older men experience as they confront what they have made of their lives, with real emotional regret. The casting of this movie should have made it unbearable to watch, but it was a delight to watch, and I have to conclude, the reason is because the emotional chemistry between Mitchum and MacLaine was telling it's own story outside of the lines of the script. Years later MacLaine confides she and Mitchum started an affair that lasted well past the filming of the movie, and that chemistry ultimately makes this movie succeed, and without it, makes "Sweet Charity" fail. "Sweet Charity" has MacLaine in the lead roll, but she is the wrong woman for Oscar Lindquist on all levels. It is very hard to believe that Shirley fell in love with Oscar, and so all Sweet Charity has is some grand dance numbers, and costumes.

The Grand Design
The Grand Design
by Stephen Hawking
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.63
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Grand Design, February 13, 2011
This review is from: The Grand Design (Hardcover)
I find myself often reading popular physics because I keep looking for God. I usually search for God in science, because I consider myself rational, but as Hawking points out in the Grand Design what is rational from the perspective of an earth centered human mind, is becoming less so as physicists tries to explain the inconsistencies of their observations based on Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. He starts with a discussion of models and that Gods and God are examples of an early model created by the human mind to understand his world. I understood most of this part of the Hawking discussion, but I have to admit that I have a very limited imagination, and even with glossy pictures and a seemingly simple text without the math, I still can't get my head around the ideas put forward in the book, because most of what is being talked about are imaginings that have never been observed. The analogies that are made don't quite describe anything I have been a witness to. I have read often about the curvature of space, and pictures are drawn to explain it but the pictures always depict the fabric of space in two dimensions when you have to extrapolate from the two dimensional figures printed on the page that in fact the space curvature is in three dimensions if you think also that space and time are the same dimension. Getting my mind around the full implications of what the reality means is just too advanced for my comprehension so even on the most elementary level what Hawking is saying in this book takes on a vague mushiness in my mind. The discussion on the behavior of an electron is all about uncertainty, and that uncertainty is front and center in my understanding that an electron is both a particle and a wave. The drawings of some of the possibilities of the path of a particle still left me confused. I had read about string theory previously and had imagined strings existed in multi-verse and that in the universe I inhabit the string appears as a particle. This I gather is not an accurate imagining. The idea of dimensions curled I suppose like a nautilus doesn't give me anything like an understanding of what that means. Science has it's rituals, and it's beliefs. Science at one time was about the truth and that truth came from observation. Physics was considered a hard science because it could be proved by mathematics, but all those old beliefs have flown by the wayside. Physics has become more about mind gymnastics, where observation is extremely indirect and usually only inferred, which brings physics back to a metaphysical realm.

I guess where I disagree with Hawking, is his extremely limited description of God as the creator. He takes some very old conceptions of God, and disproves them adroitly, but I think that in the same sense that our understanding of the universe is evolving, I tend to also believe our (or at least my) understanding of God is evolving. I speculate the order of the universe as God. When physicists search so diligently and relentlessly for the Grand Unifying Theory, Perhaps M Theory, that they are in fact discovering the mechanics of God, and the major reasons why these questions about the Universe are so compelling is to understand the purpose of our existence. My theory is that the drive, behind the quest is not to disprove the existence of God, but to understand the Grand Mystery; that the understanding the Grand Design will lead to an understanding of the purpose. Hawking does not speculate on purpose. He doesn't explain why he wants to learn more, but he does bring up the predictive aspects of scientific understanding. Once you know what is going on you can predict what will happen next because you are at some point of a process that leads to another point. Maybe that is a small step to the point of it all.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 26, 2011 9:27 PM PST

Until I Find You
Until I Find You
by John Irving
Edition: Paperback
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Edge, August 8, 2010
This review is from: Until I Find You (Paperback)
I can feel the hackles on the back of my neck rise as I read another sentence about Jack's penis. Right now it is mostly about how big it is, and since he is a small boy the penis doesn't get very large. Right now at the point I am in this book everyone he knows at least every female, is concerned about Jack's penis to the exclusion of anything else. Everyone wants to touch it, pet it, and at least see it. Jack lets anyone who asks him, have a look. The girls at the all girl's school he is going to, are all as obsessed with sex and in particular Jack's penis as Jack is. Every other sentence begins with Jack's penis did this or it did that. It got hard or it touched something. This is all going on when he is between the ages of five through ten. Why do I hate and resent the place where John Irving is taking me in his imagination? When we read novels we submit our thoughts to the will of the novelist, and most of the time we allow ourselves to be lead to whatever place he wishes to take us. In the first section of the book I was very interested in where John Irving was taking me, but when Jack starts school I find that Irving can't get off the subject of Jack's penis. I don't find it that interesting. I don't believe in Jack. Even in the beginning when Jack seemed overly precocious I found it difficult to believe in him, but I could suspend my disbelief, which is something I have often done in a John Irving novel. I was willing follower in " A Prayer for Owen Meany", "The World According to Garp" and "Hotel New Hampshire" but eventually I got tired of following Irving to the same New England boys prep school, the same wrestling team, and the obligatory taxidermy tale, and I stopped reading him until I picked up this book "Until I Find You". I had hoped the next part of the book when he goes to the boy's school in Maine would move to another topic, but so far there is no other topic in this book other then Jack's penis, and finally I have decided to revolt against Irving's leadership on my thoughts and put the book down and even write down that this book is sickening. Perhaps Irving wished to revisit Nabokov's foray into pedophilia, from another angle, but I just can't accept the premise that he begins with in this novel. Perhaps it will explain itself at some point and indeed this is one of the reason's I continued to read after it started going in such a tasteless direction, but I'm done with it.
I have followed Irving about as loyally as I have any author. Once upon a time long long ago, I worked for the State Highway Department during the Summer while I was going to college. While I was there I discovered a large stash of pornographic magazines at the garage where we gathered in the mornings to await direction from the higher authorities. I spent a lot of time reading these magazines, one of the more famous story tellers was Xaviera Hollander of "The Happy Hooker" fame tell enthralling tales of her exploits, but one story about a woman who gets captured by a weird rapist did not seem like pornography to me. Later I read the same story in "The World According to Garp" in which Garp writes this story and sends to a Pornographic publisher, because he says the story is awful. After reading this in "Garp" it was like I knew something intimate about the inner workings of John Irving's mind. I didn't think Irving had written a pornographic story, but Irving thought it might be. There was some confusion of understanding in John about where the boundaries exist about what is pornography and what isn't. I'm sure we all wonder exactly where to draw that line. I think he is exploring that line again. And still I don't think he has written anything of a pornographic nature for me, I am suspicious that he is trying to reach that person who is indeed as obsessed with the idea of little boy's penises as he, John Irving seems to be in this novel. All I can say is that I can't read any more of it, and I can't see how at some point that the novel or even John Irving can find redemption and so I give up. This just isn't my kind of read.

South of Broad: A Novel
South of Broad: A Novel
by Pat Conroy
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.03
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars News Junky Soup, August 1, 2010
"South Of Broad" is a book I read for book club, and I think that Pat Conroy must be a very nice man.
What I like about "South of Broad" well, kind of like about it, is the lush descriptive language Conroy uses to tell us about Charleston SC. I've been there and I think it is a town that deserves that kind of romantic language to describe it. I like the father, because he was a sentimental sap who loved his last remaining son, and wanted him to know it. I liked the first section of the book and it is easy to see that Pat Conroy is the kind of storyteller that can engage your attention and make you turn pages. I felt a shivering redemptive quality to it, but even in that first part. Part 1 of the book, I found the masked mugger a jarring element.

Going on into Part 2 was the beginning of a downward spiral. This is a story about for the most part deviant sexual behavior of all kinds. I think we could have just used one deviant sexual act to tell a story, but this one had all of them that was in the news today. There was incest, pederasty, AIDs, I won't call homosexuality deviant, but it is topical. It was a magnum opus of a novel on sexuality. It has a group of loyal friends a la "The Big Chill" There was the saintly Toad, who despite being a saint did suffer from serious psychological problems. He had a mother, who was supposed to be a Joyce scholar, but I can't see how such an autocratic character could have been a lover of Ulysses. I think Conroy must have thought that only such a character would have the fortitude to read the book endlessly for the rest of her life. This character was so formal and so rigidly religious it seemed she could not have known what she was reading. Perhaps Conroy is alluding to Joyce because he conceives of South of Broad as his Odyssey. This book has segregation, issues, it has homelessness, it incorporates the feudal vestiges still playing out in the South. It has a story about a triumphant racially diverse football team. It includes a nod to feminism. It has a hurricane. It has a murderer. There is adultery. Is there anything that Pat neglected? If only he could have thrown in the election of the country's first black president.

Private Life
Private Life
by Jane Smiley
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.53
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Growing Conviction, August 1, 2010
This review is from: Private Life (Hardcover)
Most reviews says that Jane Smiley's latest novel "Private Life" is about marriage, and yes it is about a marriage. It is about a particular marriage, the one the character Margaret Mayfield found herself in. Margaret, I gathered from my reading has almost no interest in men. The book begins very early and it goes on into her young girlhood in Missouri, but the thing that is clear and unusual is an unknowing innocence that she has about men. She never at any point in the story seems to make an attempt to attract a man nor does she feel the need to be married. She never suffers a broken heart from an unrequited interest. Her mother and her grandfather, and various other ladies desire that Margaret find a husband, and I who am attuned to romantic interest in characters in books do not discern even the slightest wish on Margaret's part to fall in love, only in the sense that it is an emotion she is supposed to feel and she is hoping that nervousness might be mistaken for some sort of emotional feeling of love. This seems to be an exceptional characteristic of Margaret's, because to my way of thinking that romantic idealism in the hearts of young women is actually a biological imperative that cannot be easily circumvented. I think that sometimes it might take on unusual forms, for instance a lesbian interest, and perhaps Smiley is indirectly indicating this because Margaret seems much more interested in women then she is in any man, and all men in the novel she is suspicious and distrustful toward, even Pete is a good hearted but unreliable liar. Eventually she meets a woman named Mrs Early, who she perceives to be uncommonly intelligent. She notices that the lady when playing poker counts cards and is brilliant at math. Margaret admires intellect. This is perhaps why she eventually accepts the approach of Captain Andrew Early, Mrs Early's son. She knows even at the beginning there is something odd about him. When she meets him the first time, she has no interest in him only to note that he wears his hat square on his head, that he is very tall, and that he doesn't feel the cold. One of the things Margaret doesn't do that most people do, is search in the faces of others to see how she herself is perceived, one of the many ways that she is blind. She makes no effort to meet him again, but later she finds out that Captain Early is accused of falsifying evidence in Chicago and has been fired from his job, so he has come back to town. This is not an introduction that leads you to think Margaret would have chosen him. No, he has been chosen for her, and she is an obedient girl who knows she is supposed to marry, and so at the age of 27 having felt not a single twinge of interest in the opposite sex, Captain Early seems as good as any of them. He comes from a prominent family in Saint Louis, and her mother and his mother have arranged it. Captain Early has equally as much interest in sex, and women as his soon to be wife, and in this Margaret should be thankful for small mercies, or perhaps it helps to keep Margaret so unaware. As the book progresses we learn that Andrew is a strange odd ball kind of genius. That he knows he is very smart but he is unable to gain the recognition he thinks is owed to him, and part of this is because he believes what he wants to believe. This is a failing of all of us, but it is something scientists are supposed to fight. If science was a religion, with its own morality code, and scientists were the practitioners of this religion, then Andrew is a terrible sinner in his world. They are supposed to make a hypothesis and test to see if it is correct, but it is human nature to make a wrong hypothesis and become disappointed and feel foolish for entertaining an erroneous idea. If you think about it, if you come up with an idea and your testing provides no proof to back it up, you might have a desire to pretend you didn't even contemplate the idea. Sometimes we can get an erroneous idea in our heads spend a lot of time chasing down proof, when in fact we should be holding off on making any sort of judgment on the idea. Captain Early, is enamored with his ideas and cannot accept any evidence that comes around that is counter to his intuition. Even Einstein was capable of dismissing evidence that did not agree with his intuition. Einstein it turns out is one of Captain Early's obsessions. Einstein is his arch rival in his own mind. Margaret and Captain Early are two unworldly misfits. The difference between Margaret and Andrew is that eventually she becomes aware. The awareness comes to her slowly, and finally at the end there is a new realization that her blindness was a protection. She had spent a life living in books, and not seeing, not remembering, and not learning. Perhaps this is why Jane Smiley gave her the name of Mayfield. By the end of the book, Margaret regrets her willful blindness. One of the interesting points that Jane Smiley puts into her book, is that sometimes Captain Early is unusually prescient. Sometimes his conclusions are correct, and not just crazy, even if for the most part he is far off the playing field. Margaret eventually finds herself completely at odds with her husband. Throughout her marriage she never conceives of herself as in love with him. They live in the same house and she is no more then his secretary. She is aware that he is a brilliant fool, but she has no compassion for his foolishness. She only becomes more disconnected from him because she finds nothing about him to admire. She contemplates the idea of divorce but doesn't see it as a possibility, because in fact he hasn't done anything that would make divorce possible under the eyes of the law. Smiley does seem to say that this is what marriage is about, because the ladies of the sewing circle tell her that men are difficult to live with but women must resign themselves to it. Late in her life Margaret becomes keenly aware of her imprisonment, and that Andrew's paranoia is dangerous. Is this the trajectory of every marriage, and is this what Jane Smiley is trying to say about marriage? I think that for most women and probably for most women who fall in love and get married, they get married to a dream of the man or woman they wish the other to be, and then slowly over time all of our foibles are revealed. In some of these cases a terrible disillusionment and bitterness sets in for both wife and husband. I think Smiley is pointing out that sometimes you can't be the loyal wife. That accepting blindly a husband who is destroying others is making yourself complicit in his wrong doing. She is also telling us an interesting tale about people who are geniuses. The egos of these geniuses, and their fallibility. Sometimes a person of the most mundane intellect is more worldly conscious. That crazy people are not always wrong. She is telling us about the effect events can have that can retard us. It is a cautionary tale. I have read any number of books that have ended at the marriage because nothing interesting was supposed to happen afterward, but the fact is the only thing that is interesting in these tales are what happens afterward, and it is complicated. This is when we find out what life is really about, what being married and in love is really about, or being married and not in love.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 7, 2013 6:55 AM PST

Trotsky: Downfall of a Revolutionary
Trotsky: Downfall of a Revolutionary
by Bertrand M. Patenaude
Edition: Hardcover
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Trotsky: Downfall of a Revolutionary, July 22, 2010
I think this book deserves a wide readership. I'm not a scholar and I would like to preface the review by saying this book does not seem to have been written with the scholar in mind. I have no comment on the book's accuracy nor on Patenaude's conclusions as to the character of Trotsky, all I can say is that having read many biographical tome's on the topic of various famous men in history this one was a page turner. I found myself very interested in the people the author writes about, and he does it in a way that kept me wanting to read. He limited his book to a short period in Trotsky's life and that enabled him to go back and flesh out some of his history to give a better understanding to his character and to some of the quarrels Trotsky involved himself during the period covered without making the book overly long. Coincidentally I also read a novel called "Lacuna" by Barbara Kingsolver a good portion of the book covering the period of Trotsky's life when he lived in Mexico, the same period as Patenaude. The problem with Kingsolver's version of the events is that she fails to create an interesting character in her book. It seems odd that she a novelist could not present Trotsky as a real person. Admittedly Trotsky is not the protagonist but he is not a realized character, and to Patenaude's credit he brings to the reader a detailed portrait of Trotsky that is something besides the blandness that is achieved by Kingsolver. Kingsolver on the other hand has stated that she writes with a political purpose, and perhaps it fit her purpose to make Trotsky into a paternalistic fuzzy bear, even if she does admit that Trotsky was involved in an affair with Frieda Kahlo. Patenaude is not trying to make Trotsky into a cardboard hero or even a kindly old grandpa, he is trying to let his reader know who Trotsky was with all of his talents and all of his serious flaws. The true life tragedy of Trotsky's death is a great read, stylistically speaking. It flows well and the writing style, plotting arrangement, makes this a great story worth reading for the pure pleasure of reading.

by A. S. Byatt
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.61
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A triple Lutz with a Back Flip Twist, October 5, 2009
This review is from: Possession (Paperback)
The romantic writers of the Victorian age looked back with nostalgia at the middle ages. They fell back in love with overwrought Gothic architecture and the mythic tales of Celtic and druid tradition. They rejected the arid classical mannerisms that had come from the age of reason, the rigid society that disfavored the folk tales and fantasies of the village for pure science and observable facts. A.S. Byatt knows her subject, and she knows it like an academic. She no doubt, has read innumerable critics on the subject of Victorian authors and so she sets about making fun of them-- not Victorian writers, no-- she is laughing at the critics. She does this with lovely prose, and poetry. She creates two characters, that I want to go back and figure out who they are modeled after Christabel LaMott, might be Christina Rossetti and who might R.F. Ash be? I haven't managed to look back in time and find him. He certainly isn't one of the earlier romantics like Shelly, Keats or Byron. They neither one exhibit the repressed Victorian sexuality that Ashe exhibits. Who ever they were modeled on, Ashe and LaMott, Byatt creates an ingenious fictitious archive of their work and letters. I find it all amazing the way she inhabits the age and recreates it's language. This in itself is something I haven't seen done often, and when it was attempted the results were often embarrassing. So while reading this book I am thinking A.S. Byatt is brave to make this attempt. She is writing poems that are not her poems, she is writing poems that would be written by a Victorian Man, and they must seem to be the authentic thoughts of a real writer, and I do think she succeeds. There are two stories in this novel, the Victorian and the modern story, that surrounds the Victorian tale. I find it clever that Byatt turns the stories inside out. So often when there is a modern telling of an older story the older story is mythologized. Who would think to mythologize the modern story, but this is what Byatt decides to do. She creates devilish characters that intend to rape England of it's treasures. The characters evolve into the icons of all romances, where good triumphs over evil. I admit, I took my time reading this book, it isn't a page turner, but few good books are anymore. Maybe its because I'm too old to fall for those old fables. Sometimes I think of music or art when I read a book, and I think if this were art, it would be figurative art. Joyce's Ulysses would be abstract, or perhaps something of Charlie Parkers work. A.S Byatt isn't trying to do that to us. She is writing an old fashioned story in an old fashioned narrative form, but she does it perfectly with a back twist added to the end, and she lands it sturdily.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 14, 2010 12:23 PM PST

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