All posts by Clio

Review: The BFG

The BFG
by Roald Dahl

Title: The BFG
Author:  Roald Dahl
Published: 1982
ISBN-13: 9780142410387
Publisher:  Puffin
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Puffin blurb:

The BFG is no ordinary bone-crunching giant. He is far too nice and jumbly. It’s lucky for Sophie that he is. Had she been carried off in the middle of the night by the Bloodbottler, or any of the other giants—rather than the BFG—she would have soon become breakfast. When Sophie hears that the giants are flush-bunking off to England to swollomp a few nice little chiddlers, she decides she must stop them once and for all. And the BFG is going to help her!

Such delightful word play.  And a story about unlikely friends who join forces to save the children of the word from those nasty bone-crunching children of the world.  There’s nothing more to say other than don’t deprive yourself of this wonderful little story.

Review: Who I Am

Pete Townshend
Who I Am by Pete Townshend

Title: Who I Am
Author: Pete Townshend
Published: 2012
ISBN-13: 9780062127242
Publisher:  Harper Collins
What’s Auntie Reading Now? picture
Harper Collins blurb:

From the voice of a generation:

…smashed his first guitar onstage, in 1964, by accident.
…heard the voice of God on a vibrating bed in rural Illinois.
…invented the Marshall stack, feedback, and the concept album.
…stole his windmill guitar-playing from Keith Richards.
…detached from his body in an airplane, on LSD, and nearly died.
…has some explaining to do.
…is the most literary and literate musician of the last fifty years.
…planned to write his memoir when he was 21.
…published this book at 67.

One of rock music’s most intelligent and literary performers, Pete Townshend—guitarist, songwriter, editor—tells his closest-held stories about the origins of the preeminent twentieth-century band The Who, his own career as an artist and performer, and his restless life in and out of the public eye in this candid autobiography, Who I Am.

With eloquence, fierce intelligence, and brutal honesty, Pete Townshend has written a deeply personal book that also stands as a primary source for popular music’s greatest epoch. Readers will be confronted by a man laying bare who he is, an artist who has asked for nearly sixty years: Who are you?

I entered Who I Am with trepidation.  Autobiographies can be dangerously self-centered, filled with rationale for bad behavior.  Often, they can be poorly written.  Neither is true with Townshend’s book.

At times it reads as a recitation of events from a calendar.  But what struck me most about Townshend was his honesty about the triumvirate of a rock god’s life, and his struggles with hidden memories of child abuse, his spiritual practice, and his love and devotion to making and writing music.

Process is one of those nebulous words which gets thrown around.  Reading about others’ processes helps me understand mine.  Townshend proudly discusses how much work went into his process, and how much joy it brought him.

He is also deeply honest about what an absolute horror he was.  And his struggles to come to grips with any of it while living the privileged life his music afforded him.  It’s also clear that without his music, Townshend’s life would have been one of complete and utter misery, with little hope for even a moment of joy.

Where would our world of music be without the influence of Pete Townshend and The Who?  I’m glad we’ll never have to know.

 

 

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Review: Edvard Munch @ SFMOMA

SFMOMA
SFMOMA

SFMOMA is simply gorgeous with large open spaces and lots of natural light.  Having now worked at a museum for over two years, I understand the fascination with becoming like SFMOMA.  If only …

The Munch exhibit Between the Bed and the Clock featured over 40 paintings.  All of them emotional and intense.  Weeks later, I’m still grappling with some of the more uncomfortable works dealing with death and great sadness.  Of course, about all I knew about him before this exhibit was The Scream which has a weakened impact since becoming an icon of pop culture, even having its own emoji.

Reading the catalogue helped me some.

An Icon of Emotion – article from SFMOMA

He was constantly drawn to the theatrical, the imaginary, the fantastic. Birth, death, love, and conflict, for instance, and tensions between male and female. This artist was not one to separate art from life.

A couple of my favorites:

https://i1.wp.com/www.nasjonalmuseet.no/filestore/Samlinger_og_forskning/Edvard_Munch_i_Nasjonalgalleriet/Natt_i_St_Cloud_1890/NG.M.01111.jpg?resize=281%2C339     Night in St. Cloud (1893)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://i1.wp.com/munchmuseet.no/assets/ekely/_952x535_fit_center-center_75/M0032_20160226.jpg?resize=285%2C343Starry Night (1922-24)

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Van Gogh’s Starry Night is one of my favorite paintings.  Van Gogh and Munch were contemporaries.

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Review: Ghachar Ghochar

Ghachar Ghochar
by Vivek Shanbhag

Title: Ghachar Ghochar
Author: Vivek Shanbhag
Published: 2013
ISBN-13: 9780143111689
Publisher:Penguin Random House
Twitter: @VivekShanbhag0

What’s Auntie Reading Now? picture

Penguin Random House’s blurb:

A young man’s close-knit family is nearly destitute when his uncle founds a successful spice company, changing their fortunes almost overnight. As the narrator—a sensitive, passive man who is never named—his mother, father, sister, and uncle move from a cramped, ant-infested shack to a large new house on the other side of Bangalore, the family dynamic starts to shift. Allegiances realign, marriages are arranged and begin to falter, and conflict brews ominously in the background. Before he knows it, things are “ghachar ghochar”—a nonsense phrase meaning something tangled beyond repair, a knot that can’t be untied.

Driving home after work one evening, I caught Maureen Corrigan’s review on NPR.  So taken with it, I ordered it the next day.  And I was not disappointed.  My summation comes to this, “Money changes everything.”  And when you don’t have it, and all of a sudden get it, life changes in unexpected ways.

In 118 pages, Vivek Shanbhag spins the story of how money changes everything for one family in Bangalore.  Of most interest to me were the emotional changes sudden riches wrought.  From the overspending, possessively jealous women to the carefree narrator who simply doesn’t understand why his bride finds pride in earning her own money, when he doesn’t need to work at all.

The ghost of no money hovers over this family like a foul-smelling cloud.  Money does not bring peace, the way many of us think it would/should.  In Ghachar Ghochar, all it does is bring chaos.

I love this little book so much that when our CEO announced his departure, I knew he needed a copy.  From someone who loves great stories to someone who also loves them.  This is a book I wish I could buy for all my readerly friends.

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Review: Metatropolis

Metatropolis
edited by John Scalzi

Title: Metatropolis
Author: edited by John Scalzi
Published: 2009
ISBN-13: 978076532710-9
Publisher:Tor
Twitter: @Scalzi

What’s Auntie Reading Now? picture

Tor.com’s blurb:

Five original tales set in a shared urban future—from some of the hottest young writers in modern SF

More than an anthology, Metatropolis is the brainchild of five of science fiction’s hottest writers—Elizabeth Bear, Tobias Buckell, Jay Lake, Karl Schroeder, and project editor John Scalzi—-who combined their talents to build a new urban future, and then wrote their own stories in this collectively-constructed world. The results are individual glimpses of a shared vision, and a reading experience unlike any you’ve had before.

A strange man comes to an even stranger encampment…a bouncer becomes the linchpin of an unexpected urban movement…a courier on the run has to decide who to trust in a dangerous city…a slacker in a “zero-footprint” town gets a most unusual new job…and a weapons investigator uses his skills to discover a metropolis hidden right in front of his eyes.

Welcome to the future of cities. Welcome to Metatropolis.

The reason I don’t read book reviews, or listen to book podcasts, etc. is simple.  They lead to adding to my already never ending want to read list.  And, as I get older I realize, I have enough books to last the rest of my life on hand.  I have this same squeamishness with anthologies.

And yup, as often happens, two more authors go on to the list.  It should go without saying, by now, that John Scalzi is one of my favorite authors.  His name is the reason I read the book.  And his story is my favorite, having to do with pigs and pig shit and politics, and a slightly lighter take on the dystopian themes that run through the book.

Elizabeth Bear‘s story “The Red in the Sky is Our Blood” about a counterculture which offers its protagonist, Cadie, a safer life caught my attention almost immediately.  Then the words Ukrainian mob got me.  I need more please.

I also need more Tobias Buckell.  “Stochasti-city” features a bouncer who becomes a military strategist for a group of people aiming to build a better community right under the existing power structure’s nose.

My fondness for subversive protagonists and complex emotional situations was satisfied by the stories in this anthology.  And, in my mind, it’s never wrong to want more.

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Review: The Blind Assassin

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
The Blind Assassin
by Mararet Atwood

Title: The Blind Assassin
Author: Margaret Atwood
Published: 2000
ISBN-13: 9780385720847
Publisher: Anchor Books

[My bones] ache like history:  things long done with.

An elderly lady writes her memoirs, revealing dark family secrets.  Within those secrets is the book The Blind Assassin, a science fiction novel.  Surrounding this novel within a novel is that tale of two lovers who meet surreptitiously and spin yarns.

Margaret Atwood is one of my favorite authors.  I often feel like there’s something just skimming below the surface in her stories, but if I look too hard it will skitter away.  And the sheer perversity of this outlandish science fiction tale in the middle of a story of two mystery lovers wrapped in the memoirs of an elderly lady looking back can be fascinating at times.

This was my second read, and found it didn’t hold as well as the first.

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