quarta-feira, 28 de março de 2007
5. The Haunted House (and Other Stories), by Virginia Woolf

The Haunted House (and Other Stories), by Virginia Woolf (1944)

Virginia Woolf. Yet again, the things I know about the author are a bunch of factoids that are in no way descriptive of her style. She was depressed, had a couple of lesbian affairs, ended up drowning herself in a river with rocks on her pockets - that's what I've gathered so far. I saw "The Hours" but, knowing next to nothing about her books, I probably didn't enjoy it as much as I could have.
This book compiles half a dozen short stories with nothing in common apart from the being written by the same person. To be honest, I only liked half of them. Stories like "The Duchess and the jeweller" and "Monday or Tuesday" proved to be as unremarkable as "The Fisherman and his soul". They just didn't appeal to me, a certified simpleton. Then again, this whole blog thingy is for my personal enjoyment only and isn't trying to be a source of wisdom or...something even sillier. Anywho, my favorite one was "Lapin and Lappinova", a story about a girl who, after getting married, perceives her life as terribly dull and pointless. Then, out of nowhere, she realizes that her husband looks a bit like a...rabbit. Yes, a rabbit. She then devises a story in which her husband the King Lapin and she was Queen Lappinova, and they had lots and lots of rabbits. This went on for a while and each time she panicked in a social situation, her husband would mimic a rabbit and all would be fine. This worked until the day that King Lapin got tired of the story. Lapin and Lappinova were no more and the couple divorced. I feel empathy towards Lappinova, since situations like this frequently occur to me. I use my imagination far more than I should when things get too dreary. Instead of coping, and like Lappinova, I transform them into something fun. I also enjoyed "Haunted House" and "The mark on the wall". The last was particularly entertaining, since it started as a sort of diary of a normal afternoon but then evolved into a dissertation about...everything, really. Yet again, I found myself reflected in that story.
Could have been better, but who cares if it wasn't.


posted by black__cherry @ 06:47   0 comments
4. Lord Arthur Savile's Crime, by Oscar Wilde

Lord Arthur Savile's Crime
, by Oscar Wilde (1891)

Yet another short story, but the longest of the 3 books (the Woolf book is a compilation of short stories, and even so I think it was smaller) I amicably borrowed from the library. I have explain the Oscar Wilde fascination, so I don't take much time in this opening paragraph, which has established itself as a sort of introduction, explaining why I have actually read the many-paged buggers. Either that or writing inanely until I recall what I originally intended to say. Enough of that.
This is, by far, the earliest black comedy I've read. I don't think it's classified anywhere as such, but it very well could be. Or should. Lord Arthur Savile's Crime is about a man who, unfortunately, believes in a chiromancer who tells him, at some society party, that he has a very dark future ahead. He will kill a distant relative. Knowing his destiny, Lord Arthur then chooses what some may call the insane way of dealing with such information: he decides to fulfill his duties as a murderer. He believes that if he does so, he can then live happily and marry his fiancee. Quaint option, but a very amusing one. From this point on we accompany Arthur's plans which always seem to fail. Distant relatives of his die, but of natural causes. Some others - and this is in the final part of the story, where he starts to use gadgets provided by a young revolutionist, Herr Winkelsomething, out of despair and frustration, since his other attempts have failed - don't even come close to that. His constant failures anger the bride's family, not because they know what he's up to, but simply because he delays the wedding further each time his plans don't succeed. Lord Arthur is constantly nervous and we can really feel that throughout the book, making the read even more fun. In my mind, he's the second largest font of profit to the makers of Nervocalm. His final solution, however, is rather cunning and denoting of a certain composedness that we hadn't seen before. Sure, he was a calculating, crafty bastard, but he always seemed somewhat ashamed of what he was doing, even if it wasn't with bad intent, as he constantly remembers us. The problems ends up being solved in the most ironic of ways, giving his new found happiness at the end of the book a rather amusing twist.
Really fun book - the author has a really great sense of humor. Maybe it wasn't supposed to be funny, but to me it was, so there. I hope to read some more of Wilde's short stories before I pinch Dorian Gray from someone.


posted by black__cherry @ 05:56   0 comments
terça-feira, 27 de março de 2007
3. The Smile at the Foot of the Ladder, by Henry Miller

The Smile at the Foot of the Ladder, by Henry Miller (1948)

Ah, the wonders of the "short story" section. I hadn't "properly" gone to a library in years. Since I've moved to Lisbon, I've always been able to find things without going to libraries, so I didn't even have a card. Intrigued by the new found love of the numerous libraries spread across Lisbon my friend vigorously expressed, I decided to finally visit and use one. The limit for having the books had always scared me. I'm a lazy person, and even lazier reader. I take too much time with most books I read - either because they don't draw me in as much as they do to other people or simply because I grow bored rather fast. This worry stays with me as I ponder reading the Gormenghast trilogy. I'll probably take years and years. But, because of that, I decided to read more short stories between my "bigger" books, which probably aren't as large as I picture them to be. That's the main reason why I now love libraries as much as my friend does. Especially the ones with a large "short story" section. On the book.
Having Tropic of Cancer in my Pile O' Books made me notice this book. It was probably a satisfying way to find out more about Miller without delving immediately into what my brother thinks is a kink I simply cannot resist. Sure, the thought of my mom - the owner of the book - reading it, being...16, I think, amuses me. Sure, I know - if only judging it by its cover - that the thing will probably be stacked in the "adult fiction" part of most libraries. I know all of that, but most of my choices are exceedingly scattered or awkwardly paired because I collect books from my house, friends and libraries with the sole criteria of...being readable. As I don't have any preferences, I want to create them - and I think it's quite reasonable of me to do so. The Smile at the Foot of Ladder was, baring all that in mind, an interesting read. It's about clowns and I have a feeling that its style is a bit far from Miller's more famous works, but, as always, I may be wrong. It tells the story of a clown who, in one horrendous day, realizes that he hates his life and simply leaves the stage, spending the next days wandering around, trying to figure what he really was and what he wants to do with his life. Quite the introspective book, The Smile at the Foot of Ladder is one of those reads that makes you thing about the "real meaning of things", as cheesy as it may sound. It's interesting to observe the motivations of the main character changing and his choices throughout the story. He seemed to have noble intencions, but they all backfire, leaving him even more troubled. The style in which the story was written, as crazy as it may sound, reminded me of Virgilio Ferreira and his book Aparição. It was enjoyable, and that's all that matters.


posted by black__cherry @ 23:04   0 comments
2. The Canterville Ghost, by Oscar Wilde

The Canterville Ghost (& Other Stories) , by Oscar Wilde (1887)

As pretty much every poetically inclined girl, I've always been interested in Oscar Wilde. Not that his name his a synonym of angsty girl poetry, but we all know half a dozen names of writers who led romantic lives - even if they had nothing romantic in them - , who inspire us to live through our words. The only things I knew about him, having done a sort of biography in 7th grade, were common facts about his life - until now, I'd never read anything he'd done. In my mental - and here "mental" means more than a list I keep in my mind - list, I had established that I would at least read one of his books. One of my best friends loves him, and she (I wonder if, apart from Stephen Fry, we're all girls) spoke wonders of him, particularly of "Portrait of Dorian Gray". To my surprise, my house, in its fairly meek collection, had a book called "The Canterville Ghost".
A small note: I read this in portuguese, and the translation wasn't as clear as it could have been.
Mr. Otis, a rich american man, has just purchased a house for him and his family, said to be haunted. Despite many warnings, the family moved to Canterville Chase and found out that a ghost actually lived there. Mr. Otis informed himself as much as could about how to deal with ghosts and, without any shed of bemusement, dealt with the Canterville ghost "in the american way", you could almost joke. He and his family treat the ghost like he's a real person with odd habits and help him, to the ghost's surprise. For instance, when the family tires of hearing the chains the ghost has tied to his hands and feet, they leave him a lubricant so he can walk around without making any noise. And all the other hauntings are dealt in much the same manner. There's always a miracle product, straight from America, who can wipe any stain, stop any noise, cure any cold. This is why I enjoyed the Canterville Ghost: it's extremely fun to watch the ghost's frustration with the family. But, on the other hand, there's a softer side of things, which is materialized in Virginia, the shy girl in the family. She helps the ghost overcome his sadness, leaving us admiring her maturity, although at first we are puzzled by her actions. Since the family moved in there has been a blood stain in the kitchen flood. Every day it was promptly removed with some Clean-o-Fabulous and in the next it would have a slightly different color. On the morning that it was an emerald green, Virgina looked at it and cried. We later find out why, and amuse ourselves with the ghost once more. There isn't much more to address, as this is a short story but I'll comment on the other two.
The version of the book I have comes with two other short stories: The Fisherman and his Soul and The Sphinx Without a Secret. Both of them, to my chagrin, are rather forgettable. The first one reminds me of just about every children's book I've read to this date, mainly due to the fact that it has very a repetitive manner, and could have ended about 20 pages earlier but also it's one of those stories with obvious metaphors. It's about a fisherman that falls in love with a mermaid, cutting his soul - because that's how it's done; you stand in the moonlight with a dagger and then cut your shadow - so he could join her, for it was the only way. His soul then tries, over a number of years, to win the fisherman back and eventually does so. Each time the soul travels, we are treated to much the same block of text about how it finds this and then and then shows it to the fisherman, to which he replies that love is greater than everything. Didn't touch me. Not even in that mildly funny way. The story ends with everybody dead, which is always a happy thought.
The Sphinx Without a Secret is a very very very short story, but because it's so short, I guess, it doesn't leave any sort of impression. I've read it 5 times, trying to see if I could gather any kind of emotion from it, and didn't. I'd sum up the story, but then I'd be giving the plot away.
posted by black__cherry @ 22:50   0 comments
1. Native Tongue, by Carl Hiaasen

Native Tongue
by Carl Hiaasen (1991)

When I started this insane "ooo, I read books now" thing, I knew exactly who to come to. I have this friend, you see - who we shall call Mr. Black...for, uh, tax purposes - , that lives somewhere in a cave. A very special cave it is, mind you. Not only is it fully equipped with a bathroom, internet connection, and silly aunt, but it also is flooded in cds, dvds, videos, magazines, bits of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and books. Lots, and lots of books. If he wanted, he could put a sign on the door - of the, uh...cave, of course - inviting people to visit the "Mr. Black's fabulous explosion of guts and Mel Brooks movies"...slash library. It would be a treat. At least to me, because I could just rummage through his collection without any silly social contact with said dark lord.
But, as I was saying, I sent him a message asking him for books. He, grinning - I should imagine, because it was a text message - , replied promptly with threats of making me carry his weight in books. Which, even if he doesn't weight a lot, is a bit much. A few weeks later, we met and I almost jumped out of my pants (but I didn't, because I have respect for common folk) when I saw the huge bag he had. Not because there were a lot those damn many-paged creatures, but simply because they seemed huge to me. I have a history with books, albeit a ghastly one. Sometimes I'd take 3 months to read a book with 200 pages. Not even a historical romance, science-ficitiony...difficult, monsters in my brain kind of thing, but a normal, straightforward book. I get bored, and yet watch loads of britcoms like a whore. And I feel terrible. And incredibly ignorant next to most of my friends. However, as he took each one out of the bag he started on them as if they were the only books on earth. They all sounded so interesting. And usually, I never mean this. I just say it to get out of a conversation about a book that X is reading. "It's about a girl who falls in love with a boy. It's about love, you know? The human condition. They live in Tibet, so they know a shitload lot about the human condition."
Mr. Black's books - I like to believe - were different. Because of his - rather erroneous - notion that I'm exactly like him when he was my age, he picked books that he read at that time. He also picked ones that "suited me". I shall comment on this again later on. We even had a couple of moments when Mr. Black would vanish from the world and...start reading. I felt myself floating there, waiting for a pedicure - he looked so immersed! I ended up asking if he didn't want to take the books home with him: "It's like taking candy from a child". He probably answered something mildly rude about how I actually *am* a child, adding that his role is to torture me with images of middle aged naked men, not to make me grow as person, but simply because it would amuse him a great deal. Like usual. Where was I, anyway? Oh, yes, uh...books! Words and the sort.
I got home and as I am one for rituals (I have a lucky pen, which is telling) I went to sleep thinking which one should I read first. I had asked him this, but, as I expected, he was no help at all. Looked like an overexcited child, remembering the stories. "They are all so good, how I can decide which one to go with first?", she wrote, thinking she knew a lot about how he thought. He was probably making anagrams as he "read". Nah, that'd be me. Oh, yes, tangent. I never was any good with decisions - nasty little things -, so when the next day came I still didn't know where to start. "Fuck that", I thought, in my unnecessary expletive manner, "I'll just choose it by the cover". In the end, it helped that he had given me a summary for each book. I chose the one "about rats". It was called Native Tongue, by a guy called Carl Hiaasen, which I believe is the only author - from the books he lend me - I'll end up remembering the name. It has two "a"'s in it. How could I not. And after a quick run to Wikipedia, I found out that he wrote Striptease, and some "young adult" novels, which I, being me, obviously took the wrong way. Oh, the things that amuse me. Let's get on to the book itself.

Native Tongue--I must start counting the times I wrote tongue with an extra "u". Maybe it's to sound british. Colour. Favourite. But Native Ton - 2 times - ...gue starts out with a family on vacation. Typical american family: they rent a fancy sports car (LeBaron, I think it was) for their holiday in Florida. Being from Florida himself, Hiaasen - I'm starting to sound rather serious, but after thinking about it for a while he's too cool for one of my standard, unfunny nicknames, so we'll leave it at that - often writes about that particular region. After a short while, the Whelpers, our typical american family, are greated with a rat. A vole, if one has to be precise. The creature was thrown from a truck where two thieves, Bud Schwartz and Danny Pogue had just stolen, for no apparent reason, a couple of voles from the Amazing Kingdom. A kind of ratty - no pun intended - , smaller and greasier version of some Disney park. There, we find Charles Chelsea,the submissive, boot-licking boss of Joe Winder, an ex...journalist, I think. He punched someone at his last job. Needless to say, he has a bit of an attitude, which is extremely fun to read. At first I thought the book would be about the family and their possible encounters with the thieves, but I'm glad it turned out the other way. The story unfolds itself in such a way that we end up with sufficient background on each of the...10 (?) characters, which is quite a feat. Sometimes we don't even need any kind of adjective to feel something about a character. From the moment Charles Chelsea is presented, I understood his type perfectly. I wasn't wrong. Ooo, get her! I use such a cliché manner of writing, sometimes. Anywho...the book is fantastic. One of its great virtues is its pacing. I'm guessing that a lot of the reviews about the book say things like "it keeps you on the edge of your seat", "thrilling adventure", "roller-coaster that will leave you wanting more"...because it really does. There's not much I can see about it without using one of those silly little expressions. It's *that* exciting. Aside from that, the climax is simply one of the greatest things I've ever read. So much going, I felt like I actually was there and didn't know where to look first, it was all so amusing. And that's another thing. This friend of mine, Mr. Black. He...he...he's...I like him. He's just...he picked this, you see, and was sure I'd like it. How couldn't I? Joe Winder's humor is deliciously devious. At any given situation, he'll deliver amazing quips - even if he's bleeding to death, he's funny. Reminds of my friend, for some reason. I love him, but he can be so funny when he's miserable. I'm just miserable when I'm miserable. And I'm never funny, so that amazes me. Joe's constant ennui with routine and a steady job lead him to incredibly insane solutions, which I shall remember for years. Adding to that, he quite the distinct touch of dirtiness. I shall forever remember a passage about "convenient holes" (pg.205) in a fishnet dress. Kinky and pleasing. And to think Mr. Black read this when he was much, much younger than me. That brought some interesting images. 14 year old, mostly innocent...err...book, yes. But the book may be about bad guys with guns but it also has my favorite form of "romance", which is non-corny, lots of sex, romance. Romance away, people...it pleases *me*. It just goes to show that it can range from the most horrid images (i.e. any scene involving Pedro Luz) to Joe's relationships all the while demonstrating a solid environmental concern over the interests of people like Francis X. Kingsbury. It's interesting how the "heroes" of the story are complete lunatics, in the best possible sense of the word. They are just...out of this world. Right in the first time we meet Molly McNamara, she shoots one of the thieves for no reason. Or maybe she had one, I don't remember, but it was surprising, that much I recall. One other thing that amused were the character names - even there we could find lots of personality. They seemed to have come out of limericks. Strange thought, I know.
All in all, this was a great way to start the 50 books in a year thing. I have since added 2 or 3 of his books to my list.
posted by black__cherry @ 21:14   0 comments
List of books by date read:


1. Carl Hiaasen - Native Tongue [19]
2. Oscar Wilde - The Canterville Ghost (& Other Stories) [15]
Henry Miller - The Smile at the Foot of the Ladder [14]
4. Oscar Wilde - Lord Arthur Savile's Crime [15.5]
5. Virginia Woolf - The Haunted House (and Other Stories) [14]
6. Agatha Christie - The 13 Problems [15]
7. Arthur Miller - Homely Girl [14]
8. Robert Louis Stevenson - Treasure Island [16]


List of audiobooks:

1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone [14]
2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets [14]
3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban [15.5]


Official Huge Pile O' Books™:

Agatha Christie - The Big Four
Agatha Christie - Death in the Clouds
Agatha Christie - Halloween Party
Aldous Huxley - Admirável Mundo Novo
Al Berto - Lunário
Árthur Golden - Memoirs of a Geisha
C. S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
C. S. Lewis - The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
C. S. Lewis - The Horse and His Boy
Camilo Castelo Branco - A Queda dum Anjo
Carl Hiaasen - Tourist Season
Carl Hiassen - Stormy Weather
D. H. Lawrence - A Princesa
Douglas Adams - Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series
F. Scott Fitzgerald - O Grande Gatsby
Goethe - Werther
Henry James - Daisy Miller
H. G. Wells - A Ilha do Doutor Moreau
Henry Miller - Trópico de Câncer
Henry Miller - Trópico de Capricórnio
Jack London - O Apelo da Selva
José Saramago - Memorial do Convento
James Joyce - Dubliners
Joseph Heller - Catch 22
Leão Tolstoi - Ana Karenina
Leão Tolstoi - A Sonata a Kreutzer
Larry Beinhart - American Hero
Mark Twain - Tom Sawyer Detective
Mario de Carvalho - Era bom que trocassemos umas palavras sobre o assunto
Milan Kundera - A Insustentável Leveza do Ser
Mary Higgins Clark - A Clínica do Terror
Manuel Vázquez Montalbán - Os Mares do Sul
Neil Gailman - Anansi Boys
Paul Bajoria - The Printer's Devil
Paul Bajoria - The God of Mischief
Robert Rankin - The Greatest Show off Earth
R. S. Thomas - A Choice of Wordsworth's Verse
Thomas Mann - Morte em Veneza
Truman Capote - A Sangue Frio
Vergílio Ferreira - Cartas a Sandra
Yukio Mishima - Confessions of a Mask
William Faulkner - A Luz em Agosto

Notes: Not sure if I'll read them all. There are about half a dozen that I half "plan" not to read or simply expect to put to the end of the list until I have no choice. Saramago is a prime example of this. Others, like Goethe, I've tried to read before, but found awfully dull and gave up.

Also, the colors note the following:

::Yet to be bought/borrowed
posted by black__cherry @ 20:58   0 comments
One has to have to have a title

Cool: the first option given when trying to type 'cool' in a text message using t9

Ex: That chick thinks she's book, but she's totally hacked.
posted by black__cherry @ 19:59   0 comments
About Me
Name: black__cherry
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
9 / 50
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
1,404 / 7,000
Previous Post
Currently reading

╔╝ Terry Pratchett - Guards! Guards!

╔╝ Al Berto - Lunário