Showing posts from 2015

Of death, and monsters, and swans and swimming

You know what my blog smells of? Neglect. I really have no explanations for it except for laziness. Just your everyday, average genral lack of drive to write down anything substantial about the stuff I've read. Even my reading has suffered, I mean quantity wise, if you compare it to last year. But who cares? No one! Okay, maybe I do care, a little bit. I wouldn't be writing this down if I didn't. But still, I am as chill as the cold breeze blowing outside today. Actually a typhoon is about to hit us, so yeah, I am not entirely "chill". I am making no sense so I am just going to stop now.
Below are some mini-reviews for the awesome four-five star rated books I read from October until today.      

1. Monstress by Lysley Tenorio - There is something "pop" about Lysley Tenorio's collection. I mean that in a good way. Monstress talks largely of the immigrant experience but told with a certain level of kookiness that reminds me of George Saunders. Althoug…

October 2015: Required Reading

September 2015 Required Reading Report:

1. Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee - (4/5 Stars) I can't help but marvel at Harper Lee's grasp of the South, and the simplicity and clarity of her writing. It's no To Kill A Mockingbird (because what is?) but it is a lovely way of extending time in an old familiar world and revisiting beloved characters. 

2. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe - (3/5 Stars) Things Fall Apart is compelling in the sheer amount of despair that comes with the story. A tribal life haunted by fears and changes and anxiety and aspirations. 

3. Stitches: A Memoir by David Small - (5/5 Stars) A harrowing account of childhood abuse that's equal parts raw and whilsical. 

October 2015 Required Reading:

1. Monstress by Lysley Tenorio - Our book club's book of the month. I just finished reading the titular story and I have a huge feeling that I will love the rest of the book. 

2. Drown by Junot Diaz -  Another short story collection which I think I will adore. No…

Supergods by Grant Morrison

Summary from Goodreads

Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Iron Man, and the X-Men—the list of names as familiar as our own. They are on our movie and television screens, in our videogames and in our dreams. But what are they trying to tell us? For Grant Morrison, one of the most acclaimed writers in the world of comics, these heroes are powerful archetypes who reflect and predict the course of human existence: Through them we tell the story of ourselves. In this exhilarating work of a lifetime, Morrison draws on art, archetypes, and his own astonishing journeys through this shadow universe to provide the first true history of our great modern myth: the superhero.

Supergods, chronologically traces the evolution of caped crusaders through four eras: The Golden Age, The Silver Age, The Dark Age and the Renaissance in what I think is a thorough approach. Grant Morrison covers everything from the characters, the writers and creators, the cover and panel layout, the societal and political infl…

September 2015: Required Reading

August 2015 Required Reading Report

1. Ubik by Philip K. Dick - (5/5 Stars) I now understand PKD's reputation as being among the sci-fi greats. Ubik is a story that can be interpreted in so many different ways, it's mind boggling.   

2. Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human by Grant Morrison - (4/5 Stars) The arrangement of ideas and topics is somewhat chaotic that one can get confused as to whether what kind of book Morrison is actually aiming for. But Morrison's passion for comic books shines through his writing.    

3. Fables by Bill Willingham (issues 41-48) - (3-4/5 stars) An old favorite of mine and one of those comic book series that has gone on for a quite a long time, wrapping up only this July. It has 150 issues compiled inside 22 volumes. Issues 41-48 brings with it a lot of revelations and some interesting of backstories for some of the lesser characters.  

September 2015 Required Reading…

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Summary from Goodreads:

Bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.

Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author's own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by Ellen Forney that reflect the character's art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.

I was largely unaware of the existence of Indian Reservations and the terrible amount of societal restrictions they have to live with. It's the 21st century but it feels like we are back in 1920s for all it matters. That's why I am terribly grateful when I get to read books like this…

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

Summary from Goodreads:

Tony Webster and his clique first met Adrian Finn at school. Sex-hungry and book-hungry, they would navigate the girl-less sixth form together, trading in affectations, in-jokes, rumour and wit. Maybe Adrian was a little more serious than the others, certainly more intelligent, but they all swore to stay friends for life.
Now Tony is retired. He's had a career and a single marriage, a calm divorce. He's certainly never tried to hurt anybody. Memory, though, is imperfect. It can always throw up surprises, as a lawyer's letter is about to prove. 

The Sense of an Ending is unsettling. For a book that spans 167 pages, it sure packs a wallop that I did not quite expect. A huge portion of the story is Tony Webster's musings on the meaning of life. But I assure you it is more than a running journal of his thoughts. And yeah existentialist talk can easily brow beat me into exasperation. But Julian Barnes is a philosophical wordsmith that writes with amazi…

number9dream by David Mitchell

Summary from Goodreads:

David Mitchell follows his eerily precocious, globe-striding first novel, Ghostwritten, with a work that is in its way even more ambitious. In outward form, number9dream is a Dickensian coming-of-age journey: Young dreamer Eiji Miyake, from remote rural Japan, thrust out on his own by his sister’s death and his mother’s breakdown, comes to Tokyo in pursuit of the father who abandoned him. Stumbling around this strange, awesome city, he trips over and crosses—through a hidden destiny or just monstrously bad luck—a number of its secret power centers. Suddenly, the riddle of his father’s identity becomes just one of the increasingly urgent questions Eiji must answer. Why is the line between the world of his experiences and the world of his dreams so blurry? Why do so many horrible things keep happening to him? What is it about the number 9? To answer these questions, and ultimately to come to terms with his inheritance, Eiji must somehow acquire an insight into the…

August 2015: Required Reading

July Required Reading Report:

1. The Quite American by Graham Greene  - (4/5 stars) A wonderful personal examination of conscience, morality, neutrality, innocence, idealism, cynicism, and more big stuff. It sort of gives perspective on humanity. Or the different kinds of it. 

2. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes - (5/5 stars) How can such a short book be unsettling? It has so many insights about existence and death that sort of upended my own. That and because Barnes writes with so much flair. This is my favorite Man Booker read to date! (I realize that I say this everytime a read a Booker! Bookers can be terribly surprising!)

3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie - (5/5 stars) This book is so bouyed by hope, it feels like I don't know, like crowd surfing. There are times when humans can be terrible and mean spirited, but then there are also times when they have your back and love you and accept you. 

August Required Reading:

1. Ubik by Phil…

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

Summary from Goodreads:

Navigating between the Indian traditions they've inherited and the baffling new world, the characters in Jhumpa Lahiri's elegant, touching stories seek love beyond the barriers of culture and generations. In "A Temporary Matter," published in The New Yorker, a young Indian-American couple faces the heartbreak of a stillborn birth while their Boston neighborhood copes with a nightly blackout. In the title story, an interpreter guides an American family through the India of their ancestors and hears an astonishing confession. Lahiri writes with deft cultural insight reminiscent of Anita Desai and a nuanced depth that recalls Mavis Gallant. She is an important and powerful new voice.

Belonging and displacement in marriage and immigrant life. This is a prevalent theme in Interpreter of Maladies. Union and Isolation seem unlikely to converge. But to Lahiri there is isolation in union and union in isolation. My favorites among the nine are as follows:

July 2015: Required Reading

June Required Reading Report:

1. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett - (5/5 Stars) I enjoyed the audiobook too much. People doing voices particularly tough guy talk has always been a weakness. I do think the narrative holds as well. A solid crime noir.

2. Number9Dream by David Mitchell - (5/5 Stars) Mitchell is as impressive as always, what can possibly be a hodge podge of dreamworld mess in another's hands is masterfully interwoven in Mitchell's.

3. Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro - (5/5 Stars) Excellent pacing for a book that I feared would go too slow for me. And I never realized how heart wrenching this could be. And how funny. 

July Required Reading:

1. The Quite American by Graham Greene - TFG's book of the month

2. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes - My entry for Book Riot's challenge item: Man Booker winner from the last decade.

Have a great July!

The Whispering Muse by Sjon

Summary from Goodreads

The year is 1949 and Valdimar Haraldsson, an eccentric Icelander with elevated ideas about the influence of fish consumption on Nordic civilization, has had the singular good fortune to be invited to join a Danish merchant ship on its way to the Black Sea.

Among the crew is the mythical hero Caeneus, disguised as the second mate. Every evening after dinner he entrances his fellow travelers with the tale of how he sailed with the fabled vessel, the Argo, on the Argonauts' quest to retrieve the Golden Fleece.

Iceland, I remember from an episode of Bizzare Foods with Andrew Zimmern, as this idyllic land with an abundance of natural wonders (and extremely bizarre foods). Hot springs, geysers, volcanoes, glaciers. They even gave it the name, the land of fire and ice (which is very appropriate because guess where they shoot parts of Game of Thrones?) So this land, I mistakenly assumed, would be populated by ice fishermen, or puffin hunters, or Lady Sif and the War…

Giveaway Winner!

First off, thank you for those who joined my first ever giveaway! It was great playing Dementor! (No, a gentleman dementor: Sir/Madame, may you please be so kind as to give me a happy memory? Haha. -> The Remains of the Day hangover.) I read all of your answers, nomnomnomnom. And the stuff that made you happy, made me happy! Yiiiiiii! :) 
But Randomizer has spoken and the winner is..............
Congratulations Lynai! Send me your mailing address with full name and contact number! 
And thanks again to everyone who joined!

Rabbitin turns 4!

It's customary during anniversaries to look back on the year that was. Nothing of particular import happened in terms of my blogging life. Same old, same old. I pretty much stuck to everything I used to do the year before. I do feel my blog is getting a little stale and stagnant, layout wise. I did attempt to tweak it, but the results were disastrous. I am not quite so adept at html and css things, that I had difficulty customizing the theme. I actually wasn't able to bring the blog back to it's original state. An item went missing, and a few got jumbled up. Nothing too noticeable though. I think. Anyway, enough rambling about boring stuff. If there is one thing, that's constant, that I am really thankful for, it's the readers. They aren't numerous, but really, they are all the readers I need. And I am glad that you stuck with me for yet another year. Thank you! I am also grateful for the handful of fellow book bloggers and TFG members who take time to write me…

June 2015: Required Reading

May 2015 Required Reading Report:

1. Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz - (4/5 Stars) A quiet coming of age story that speaks volumes on identity and sexuality, done in beautiful prose.

2. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri - (5/5 Stars) The stories have a clear eyed grace about them. Simple and eloquent but deeply affecting. 

3. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell - (3/5 Stars) I enjoy Rowell's writing, it is snappy and engaging and funny and she clearly knows her pop culture. But I had a hard time believing in Eleanor and Park, as real teens.

4. Sandman Vol 1: Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman - (5/5 Stars) So good! Haunting and detailed artwork, engaging story. This might just now be my number one favorite graphic novel. 

5. This is How by Augusten Burroughs - Unfinished at 26%. I am fine with Burroughs' humor. I think he does, in a way, lend something new to the self-help genre with this book. But I stumbled a bit on the wr…

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

Summary from Goodreads:

It has been said often enough that baby boomers are a television generation, but the very funny novel High Fidelity reminds that in a way they are the record-album generation as well. This funny novel is obsessed with music; Hornby's narrator is an early-thirty-something English guy who runs a London record store. He sells albums recorded the old-fashioned way-on vinyl-and is having a tough time making other transitions as well, specifically adulthood. The book is in one sense a love story, both sweet and interesting; most entertaining, though, are the hilarious arguments over arcane matters of pop music.

I think the first thing that calls attention in High Fidelity is Rob Fleming, and how he seems to fit the category of what they call an unlikable protagonist, a character who has been purposely made to have unpleasant traits and/ or a skewed moral compass, and to generally behave in a way that people find hard to swallow. And I think this can be tricky. Not …

It's Kind of A Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

Summary from Goodreads:

Ambitious New York City teenager Craig Gilner is determined to succeed at life - which means getting into the right high school to get into the right job. But once Craig aces his way into Manhattan's Executive Pre-Professional High School, the pressure becomes unbearable. He stops eating and sleeping until, one night, he nearly kills himself.

Craig's suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital, where his new neighbors include a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio. There, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety.

I heard this particular story about a teen being asked this: Why are you depressed? There is so much good in this world? To which he replied: Why do you have asthma? There is so much air in this world. (Teens can be absolutely brilliant.) This kind of lack of understanding is perhaps one of the causes of the stigma surrounding depression.…

May 2015: Required Reading

April 2015: Required Reading Report

1. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby - (5/5 Stars) It's funny, insightful, and a bit sad, for the most part. But it's still good fun.

2. The Whispering Muse by Sjon - (3/5 Stars) Beautiful prose, lyrical and poetic. Sjon tells Greek myth, as it should be told. But I think the story ended too abruptly.

3. Mythology Class by Arnold Arre - (5/5 Stars) Great story! Amazing illustrations! The chase sequence in particular is exciting and gripping!

4. I Don't Want to be Crazy by Samantha Schutz - (4/5) An honest account of anxiety disorder but the prose could have used more music. 

May 2015 Required Reading:

1. Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz - TFG book of the month. I am a little more than halfway through already and it's pretty character-centric. And Ari and Dante are shaping up to be interesting ones.

2. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri - This has been bestowed upon me by The Oracle for t…

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

Summary from Goodreads:

"They all crossed into forbidden territory. They all tampered with the laws that lay down who should be loved and how. And how much."

The year is 1969. In the state of Kerala, on the southernmost tip of India, fraternal twins Esthappen and Rahel fashion a childhood for themselves in the shade of the wreck that is their family. Their lonely, lovely mother, Ammu, (who loves by night the man her children love by day), fled an abusive marriage to live with their blind grandmother, Mammachi (who plays Handel on her violin), their beloved uncle Chacko (Rhodes scholar, pickle baron, radical Marxist, bottom-pincher), and their enemy, Baby Kochamma (ex-nun and incumbent grandaunt). When Chacko's English ex-wife brings their daughter for a Christmas visit, the twins learn that things can change in a day, that lives can twist into new, ugly shapes, even cease forever, beside their river...

The first thing that caught my attention about The God of Small Things i…

What have you GoT on your playlist?

I have been having trouble coming up with book reviews lately, nothing beyond a measly 5-7 sentence containing words like I like it, I wasn't into it, it was great, It was slow. Nothing of substance is coming out of my brain. It has lately been harboring too many songs though, as a result of our High Fidelity (by Nick Hornby) discussion. And I have taken to Spotify-ing and YouTube-ing more often than usual. And the thing with these two, is that it brings up suggestions, recommendations, based on those you have been listening to. You click one and a bazillion other music videos pop up for you to consider. It is endless. It is sinister. So what am I leading to? Today also marks the start of HBO's Game of Thrones Season 5. Music plus GoT? Why not?

Also credit needs to be given to Meliza of Mecanism for perpetuating the idea of a Game of Thrones inspired post. Check out hers HERE.

Okay so, after doing an introduction that seems to be as long as The Long Night that descended upon t…

April Required Reading: 2015

March 2015 Required Reading Report:

1. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy - (5/5 Stars) Beautiful prose that evokes sadness and viciousness and youthfulness and innocence and more.

2. Van Gogh by Pascal Bonafoux - (4/5 Stars) Tackles both the art and the artist with passion and ardor.

3. It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini - (4/5 Stars) Funny and honest and captures how crippling mental illness can be. 

April 2015 Required Reading:

 1. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby - TFG's book of the month. Very hipster. Haha. But loads of fun. (And I get to brush up on my British slang! Bollocks! Rubbish! Wanker! Shag! Arse!)
2. The Whispering Muse by Sjon, Translated by Victoria Cribb - This book is endorsed by my crush, David Mitchell and discovered via Bennard of The Book Hooligan. (BR Task 19: A book that was originally published in another language)

3. Mythology Class by Arnold Arre - A Christmas present (with a scheduled buddy read) from Meliza of Mecanism! (BR Task 20: A graphic n…

Van Gogh by Pascal Bonafoux

Summary from Goodreads

The artistic career of Vincent Van Gogh streaks across the history of modern art like a flashing comet. When Van Gogh arrived in Paris in 1886, at the apogee of the Impressionist revolution, he associated with Pissarro, Cezanne, Signac, Toulouse-Lautrec, Emile Bernard, and explored with them such new forms of painting as divisionism and cloisonnism. But Vincent, fascinated though he was by Gauguin, knew that he carried within himself a message, a genius, that was his alone. He left Paris and in a few years - he was to commit suicide four years later - in Arles, in the psychiatric asylum of Saint-Paul-de-Mausole, near Saint-Remy-de-Provence, and finally at Auvers-sur-Oise, he accomplished his life's immense work. 

The Starry Night has enjoyed immense popularity. It's on Barbie dresses, and sneakers, and mugs, and tile mosaics and cakes. And I can see why. I was enthralled by it the first time I was introduced to an image of it. It's a beautiful, chaot…