felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
It's been a chaotic week, so I've had no chance to post since our Yule party, and we had a pretty good turnout.

[livejournal.com profile] rougemacabre got me a game called Martian Fluxx, which is very strange and a lot of fun. From [livejournal.com profile] montrealais I got some excellent books, as well as some decent clothes. [livejournal.com profile] jenjoou got me Mass Effect, which I've heard great things about and I'm looking forward to as soon as I've got a new motherboard for my desktop computer. [livejournal.com profile] maidenofirisa got me a Shin Megami Tensei game, which is the series I've been playing now, and really enjoying. And [livejournal.com profile] archdiva brought his stories, which are always a wonderful gift. Thank you to all ^_^

I was going to review Shadow Hearts: Covenant in this space, but I've got to call a taxi in five minutes to make my flight to Victoria. Maybe next time. But to the Montreal crowd, I hope you have a good holiday, and we have to get together when after I get home - January 3rd this time. See you soon!
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
I came very close to simply giving up and stopping in the middle of David Nimmons' The Soul Beneath the Skin. I'm glad I kept with it, though. It got better after that chapter.

Some thoughts:

Review continues )

I'm now reading Gentleman of the Road by Michael Chabon. I'm only a tenth of the way through it, but it's already a brilliant novel. No one does historical fiction like Chabon.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Last week, I finished Douglas Coupland's novel about lonely people, Eleanor Rigby. Overall, I liked it, but I thought it could've been much better.

A long time ago, Coupland was my favourite author. Gradually, he's waned on me. I'd read all his English-language novels up to Miss Wyoming, but after that last dull effort, I didn't really feel enthused enough to buy his later novels.

Eleanor Rigby looked interesting, though, and even if I hadn't gotten it as a gift, I'd have read it. Some thoughts (mostly criticism):

Review continues )

So, yeah -- I don't love Coupland as much as I used to, although I think he is gradually becoming a better writer, and I'll probably read more of his stuff in the future -- I already have JPod on my shelf. I'd also recommend Eleanor Rigby, for all its flaws.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Social Life

'Twas a marvellous party yesterday -- I think my most successful in 10 years. Last year, the highlight was the treats [livejournal.com profile] montrealais concocted, but greatly suffered from poor planning -- a two-day open-house ensured that no one arrived at the same time.

Things were pretty crowded last night, at least by the standards of entertaining here. I'm getting much better at dealing with crowds of people and loud noises -- I haven't had a panic attack in about a year -- so next year I might open it up not just to friends, but to friends-of-friends.

We'll see if we can fit that many people in this apartment, which is large but uses space strangely (the bedrooms are gargantuan, and the living room is tiny).

Thanks to everyone who came, and thank you for the gifts. I loved every gift I got, so maybe I'm not as hard to buy for as I thought I was.

Being inundated with manga is not a bad thing, the books were great (your friends really know you when you get the only two books by a favourite author you don't own, on the same night), and [livejournal.com profile] montrealais's homemade project was both thoughtful and beautiful. Also, I want the recipe for [livejournal.com profile] melting_penguin and [livejournal.com profile] bananality's Easter-egg-chocolate-chunk cookies.

'Course, no one's going to see me much for the next month, thanks to [livejournal.com profile] em_fish's and [livejournal.com profile] rougemacabre's gift. If you don't ever see me again, it's your own fault :p
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
The problem with stream-of-consciousness novels is that they tend to produce unconsciousness in their victims readers. It was a little interesting when Gertrude Stein tried it because it was still so new, but the lesson I took away from Stein is that all writing needs to be at least a little contrived because if you reproduce the way people really talk and think, the result is incredibly boring.

I'm muddling through The Sound and the Fury now, and thinking of all the better ways the story could've been written. There are enough hints about what's really going on under the surface of this wealthy Southern family to be interesting, but I really crave a fucking sentence right about now -- you know, subject, object, verb. Period.

This book needed a good mystery writer to pinch-hit for Faulkner -- one who'd present the family's surface, then peel away the layers like an onion. Right now we're getting bits and pieces of the horror in Tourettes-like spasms and it's just not a worthy style.

It's a shame. I really liked Faulkner's Light in August, one of the best novels ever written about racism. It was much better constructed, better crafted, well-built.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
a meme about popular novels, yanked from sugar_spun )
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
You know, I know lots of wonderful, open-minded Catholics. But the Catholic Church itself seems to be one giant machine for spewing evil. It was only a matter of time before they'd take a break from their homophobia, anti-safe-sex tirades, and sexist tirades, and rear their ugly head towards the environment:

"But in a speech to US Catholic business leaders, [Archbishop of Sydney, Australia, George] Pell said Western democracy was also suffering a crisis of confidence as evidenced by the decline in fertility rates. "Pagan emptiness" and Western fears of the uncontrollable forces of nature had contributed to "hysteric and extreme claims" about global warming.

'In the past, pagans sacrificed animals and even humans in vain attempts to placate capricious and cruel gods. Today they demand a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.'"
There's definitely an emptiness here, but it's not a Pagan one.

Meanwhile, I was considering reading The Da Vinci Code. My experience with Harry Potter taught me not to snobbishly despise popular literature. Some things really are popular becuase they're genuinely good. Plus, I was familiar with the Holy Blood, Holy Grail conspiracy theory.

So I read excerpts. Mad albino monks? Who is this Dan Brown? Horace Walpole? And the French people talk like rejects from an Inspector Clousseau movie. I think this time, my snobbery has been confirmed :)
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
I broke down and bought One of the Boys, the book about gay and bi men in the Canadian military during World War II.

My excuse is that'll help with the novel, which is true. But that's not as compelling as a reason as the fact that this historical stuff is like heroin to me :)

So many books I want to read. I should probably spend the holidays getting a head start on my two courses, but I think I'm actually going to read those two books of Jung, One of the Boys, and this book of archaeology and Norse mythology I keep getting out of the Concordia library, then never reading.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
I got tagged again for the book meme by [livejournal.com profile] ubergreenkat. I did it about three months ago, so here's a quick summary, with a few changes:

cut for length, geekery, admissions of literacy )

As for who to tag, I think most of my friends' list has done it, by now, since this is an aging meme. I doubt there are a full five who'd want to do it again.

I'll pass the torch especially to [livejournal.com profile] melting_penguin, since she's new enough in LJ space that she hasn't been passed a single meme, much less one on books.

Anyone else who wants to take it up is welcome to :)
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
So, lurking on the much-renowned SDMB boards, I stumbled on to this list of 100 books that have been banned or that people have tried to ban in Canada in the last 21 years.

Some were no surprise -- Christian fundamentalists objected both to Harry Potter and to Margaret Atwood's A Handmaid's Tale. The Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro wasn't surprising either, seeing as how it has an unflinching look at sexual abuse. Madonna's Sex, Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, and Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye always make these lists.

But Laura Ingalls "Little House on the Prairie" Wilder? And the Goosebumps series for kids?

Some amused me. Four antigay passages from the Bible were officially declared "hate speech," when used in an advertisement in a newspaper in Saskatoon. The the paper and the guy who took out the ad were each forced $4,500 in fines.

Andrea Dworkin was also a funny one. This woman's attacks on pornography prevented Canada's "obscenity laws" from going the way of the dinosaur. Thanks to her, Catherine Mackinnon, and LEAF, the courts gave Canada Customs free reign to censor whatever the hell they felt like coming over the Canadian border.

Turns out Dworkin's books Pornography: Men Possessing Women and Woman Hating were themselves declared "obscene" by Canada Customs.

I'm also amused that my idiot creative writing teacher, W.D. Valgardson made the list. Maybe now, someone will read his work.

In other literary news, only 12 days, 4 hours, 25 minutes, and 50 seconds to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.


felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)

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