Greetings from the Other Side

Hello everyone.  It’s been a while…I know.

They say you need three passions in life to keep you happy and healthy: one to make you money, one to keep you in shape, and one to keep you happy. My new job, fortunately, can fall into the most former, and books and music will always be my latter happiness. Of course, I’ll keep reading. Of course, I’ll keep making music. I just need to reshuffle time.

I started a full-time job in academia back at the end of March, so between balancing family things and the new job responsibilities, I’m left with little free time during the week when I would typically do the bulk of my reading and writing. So what does this mean?

Really, it just means this blog is on hiatus. Will I come back to it?  I’d like to. The blog helped keep me sane after graduating…kept my brain moving. I think that’s the key to feeling well. You need mental exercise as much as you need the physical sort.

I’m still surprised my blog receives views on a variety of posts. It’s cool to know it seems to be useful for folks, even if it’s not necessarily recent works.

Far more than that, though, I realize that I met some pretty brilliant people through book blogging, and I’m grateful for that. Thank you for stopping by. Thanks for the support.

Of course, if anyone needs to reach me (or would like to), you can always get to me via the contact page. MotionSickLit@Gmail.com.  I’ll still check it. There’s also Skype and all of that. Or find me on Facebook if you’re willing to do a bit of homework.

Be curious. Be happy. Be healthy.

How to Win @ The Weirdathon (Pt.2)

If you haven’t read Part 1, click HERE.

The Weirdathon goes on, and I’m back with part 2 of my suggestions of hit all of the challenges. I hope your last 48 hours since Part 1 have been weird. Let’s get right into it.

 

  • Read a Book With Magical Realism – The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka – I’m never really
    Metamorphosis.jpg
    One of the original covers.

    sure how to classify The Metamorphosis because it’s such a strange, surreal read. If I’m feeling that way now, I can only imagine how readers felt back in 1915. In short, Gregor Samsa wakes up one morning dreading going to work, especially when he realizes he’s late.  Follow so far?  Good.  But, get this–he’s a bug. Instead of a human being, he’s something like a big ol’ cockroach. Initially surprised (and who wouldn’t be?) his father chases his back into his room with a newspaper.  His life, obviously, changes dramatically as he tries to confront this new reality, and his family at first helps, but they gradually become more and more annoyed with his condition. Touching on themes of isolation, identity, man and nature, and all of those high school-esque thematic focuses, it’s probably Kafka’s best. If you haven’t read it yet, this is a classic for a reason, and I’m quite certain that you have seen some kind of reference to The Metamorphosis in pop culture. Also, it’s a novella, so this is pretty easy pickin’s for an entry.

  • Read a Book that Addresses the Reader – The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles – I’ll admit it–it took me quite a while to think of a book that really
    51C48NXWYGL._AC_UL320_SR204,320_.jpg
    For some reason, when I first saw this cover, I thought someone drew Jake Gyllenhaal and put it on there.

    addresses the reader in a way that was other than just something in passing. Fowles is a pretty renowned author, and I haven’t read any of his other works aside from this one, but what he does is pretty profound in terms of the postmodern. The French Lieutenant’s Woman is essentially a critique of the Victorian novel that centers around a relationship between the troubled Sarah Woodruff and the orphaned gentleman Charles Smithson. The narrator talks to the reader throughout, and he even appears at the end to present three possible readings to the reader in a real “what-the-fuck?” moment. You have metafiction, unquestionably, but the novel also builds on themes of meta-history, feminism, and a slew of others. There’s a lot to unpack in this novel, and it is absolutely worth a read. If you’re a fan of Victorian novels, well, this is up that alley even though it’s a bit more of a critique than a true Victorian novel. If you like the weird, well, did you read my description here?

 

  • Read a Book with a Cult – You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine by Alexandra Kleeman – dystopian-debut-novelist-alexandra-kleeman-body-image-1440528220.jpgHow do I describe this? When I first started reading, with its strange emphasis on food, I thought this novel would be a kind of reflection on female body issues in society. I wasn’t completely off the mark, but the novel ends up being a lot stranger once you’re introduced to a cult that subsists entirely on a kind of synthetic junk food called Kandy Kakes. Add in a game show, some very odd members of the supporting cast, and an overall sort of parody of current consumerist culture in the U.S., and you’ll have something of an understanding of what this novel is about. Honestly, it’s good, and even though it wasn’t a happy story, I found myself really wanting to delve into the world of the novel a little deeper, or at least the world of A. The novel features very skillful psychological development and reminded me quite a bit of Don DeLillo’s writing style, especially in White Noise.

 

  • Read a Book with a Talking Animal – Animal Farm by George Orwell – It’s entirely 314agQyvEQL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgpossible that you’ve read this novel already. I would honestly be surprised if your high school curriculum didn’t mandate you read this and leave half your school chanting “Two legs bad, four legs good.” One of the definitive dystopian novels, Animal Farm is a thinly-veiled criticism of communism utilizing animals, who usurp humans for control of a farm. You have your secret police, your slimy advisers, and your proletariat. Of course, the use of animals made it that much more powerful, and, at times, absolutely laughable. Orwell really zinged ’em. As the animals decide to run something of a communist state, life is initially great, but it then starts to head downhill once all of the rules go out the window and disparities start to become more and more apparent. I’ll never forget Boxer the horse. Damn you, Orwell.

 

  • Read a Book in an Experimental Format – The People of Paper by Salvador Plascencia 41NkdZjJpYL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg– The People of My Paper was my selection for the Weird-Off, and the strangeness of both format and story are probably the only reasons I won because Cass destroyed me in the rebuttals with some barbed wire wit, and I’m still applying burn cream daily because of it. Still, even with my grizzled veteran status, I can do nothing but recommend this book with every fiber of my being. There are weird characters who, at one point, exit the book into the world of the omniscient narrator, who is based on the author himself. The novel blends fiction, memoir, magical realism, and a long list of other elements that I could write a thesis on here. The format itself is strange in that much of the novel comes in columns in which the narrator and the cast of characters give their own perspectives on events. It’s a really powerful work for an author’s debut, and it sure is damn strange.
  • Read a Sci-Fi Book –  We by Yevgeny Zamyatin – Have you read 1984? How about 671b6acad6c319290bff8b16554ebe65Brave New World? Before both of these, there was We. The novel follows D-503, one of few remaining humans following the Two Hundred Years War that reduced the human population to .2% of its numbers. Nature exists beyond the green wall, citizens live in glass houses and work in glass offices under the leadership of The Great Benefactor, and they march in sync and wear identical clothing. There is no creative thought, only logic and mathematics. There are no names, and sex is scheduled. D-5o3 is an engineer working on The Integral, a spaceship in the process of being built in order to colonize other planets. The novel is, essentially, D-503’s journal in the weeks preceding the launch. But then a mysterious girl named I-330 enters the picture and ooh-la-la–everything changes. Read my original review and thoughts HERE.

How to win @ the #Weirdathon (Pt. 1)

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This month is Outlandish Lit’s Weirdathon where we really dig into books that are…well…strange.  Maybe you’re new to weird literature, more comfortable in the world of realism and the Bröntes. I don’t mean that in a bad way, because Jane Eyre is one of the best novels ever written.  Sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you.  Let me start again.  God, this is going like my typical date…

So Julianne has a list of achievements for the Weirdathon, and for everyone that is completed, you get a bonus entry into a drawing for a free book (up to $15) from The Book Depository. I’m here today with part one of an achievement guide to help you get the maximum number of entries. Join me after the jump.

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Thrifty Thursday (3/10)

thrifty thursday

(Graphic made by Julianne @ Outlandish Lit)

Join me after the jump!

Hello everyone, and welcome back to Thrifty Thursdays!

The rules are simple and are as follows:

1. Each week’s link-up will be posted on Thursday.

2. Post or talk about a book you found used (preferably in a book store or thrift shop).

3. The book must cost less than $5.

4. Return for the link-up!

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Ideally, we all would be exploring authors, books, and genres that we never would have considered otherwise. Some of us may find new favorites. Others may just find some laughs. Either way, we’d be supporting independent booksellers who are the backbone of what we do as bloggers. Of course, these books cost money, and posting each week isn’t required, though you’re certainly welcome to do so.

My pick for this week?

 

Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney

Cost: $3.97

Total saved thus far compared to new prices: $97.36

Where did I get it? eBay… =\

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The Book: This was one picked up in pursuit of Julianne’s (Outlandish Lit) Weird-a-thon challenges for the “Read a book in the second-person” achievement. Bright Lights, Big City was one of the first titles to come up when searching for a novel of this particular style, so I was pretty interested to see how it is written. My favorite novel in the second-person is probably Edouard Leve’s Suicide, but as I’ve already read that, well, let’s get into this one.  From what I had read, it was a pretty big seller back when it was released, and it was made into a movie starring Michael J. Fox in the 1980s as well as an off-Broadway play in the late 90s. It was named for a Jimmy Reed blues song of the same name. How’s that for collaboration across different media?

Per Amazon:

With the publication of Bright Lights, Big City in 1984, Jay McInerney became a literary sensation, heralded as the voice of a generation. The novel follows a young man, living in Manhattan as if he owned it, through nightclubs, fashion shows, editorial offices, and loft parties as he attempts to outstrip mortality and the recurring approach of dawn. With nothing but goodwill, controlled substances, and wit to sustain him in this anti-quest, he runs until he reaches his reckoning point, where he is forced to acknowledge loss and, possibly, to rediscover his better instincts. This remarkable novel of youth and New York remains one of the most beloved, imitated, and iconic novels in America.

Loft parties? Night clubs? Drugs? Is this The Wolf of Wall Street?

What have you picked up on the cheap lately?

Thrifty Thursday (3/3)

thrifty thursday

(Graphic made by Julianne @ Outlandish Lit)

Join me after the jump!

Hello everyone, and welcome back to Thrifty Thursdays!

The rules are simple and are as follows:

1. Each week’s link-up will be posted on Thursday.

2. Post or talk about a book you found used (preferably in a book store or thrift shop).

3. The book must cost less than $5.

4. Return for the link-up!

wpImg

Ideally, we all would be exploring authors, books, and genres that we never would have considered otherwise. Some of us may find new favorites. Others may just find some laughs. Either way, we’d be supporting independent booksellers who are the backbone of what we do as bloggers. Of course, these books cost money, and posting each week isn’t required, though you’re certainly welcome to do so.

My pick for this week?

barnes2

A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters by Julian Barnes

Cost: $3.97

Total saved thus far compared to new prices: $92.17

Where did I get it? eBay. eBay. eBay.

 

The Book: I know nothing about it. The name caught my attention, the cover looked pretty good, and the plot on the back of the book seemed interesting enough. The promise of the title was enough to goad me into spending the $4 it cost to add it to my library. Well worth it no matter how it turns out.

Per Amazon:

A revisionist view of Noah’s Ark, told by the stowaway woodworm. A chilling account of terrorists hijacking a cruise ship. A court case in 16th-century France in which the woodworm stand accused. A desperate woman’s attempt to escape radioactive fallout on a raft. An acute analysis of Gericault’s “Scene of Shipwreck.” The search of a 19th-century Englishwoman and of a contemporary American astronaut for Noah’s Ark. An actor’s increasingly desperate letters to his silent lover. A thoughtful meditation on the novelist’s responsibility regarding love. These and other stories make up Barnes’s witty and sometimes acerbic retelling of the history of the world. The stories are connected, if only tangentially, which is precisely Barnes’s point: historians may tell us that “there was a pattern,” but history is “just voices echoing in the dark; . . . strange links, impertinent connections.” Fascinating reading from the author of Flaubert’s Parrot , but not for those wanting conventional plot. – Barbara Hoffert, “Library Journal”

Sounds pretty weird, no? Let’s take a walk through world history and see what happens.

What have you picked up on the cheap lately?

On Irony (Part 1)

February was a rough reading month. Work, an online Coursera course for the hell of it, and a health dose of music took up a chunk of the time, but I have high hopes for March.

I was listening to the radio on the way home from work the other day, and 101.1 started talking about a thief who had stolen well over a thousand dollars worth of Rogaine products from area pharmacies. Laughing hysterically, the on-air personality says, “And the most ironic thing?! Surveillance tapes showed he was bald! How ironic!”  She went on to state, several times over, how ironic the entire situation was. All I could think was “how is that ironic?”

Irony…what is irony? Are “#1 Dad” shirts on a 20-year-old ironic? Not really so much these days with Teen Mom and every major network in on the craze. Why is listening to Taylor Swift ironic?  Her music is popular and catchy. Just because someone is a pretentious, cynical coxcomb, it doesn’t make listening to pop music ironic.

Let’s take a look.

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On Translators

I’ve read a fair number of books, and I don’t mind thinking about them critically, be it Twilight or David Foster Wallace, but sometimes I like to go behind the scenes a bit, to delve into the things we don’t often think about when it comes to literature.  I’ve touched on reading speeds,  reliance on the internet and social media, and the mechanics of the Villanelle.

And now I want to talk about translators.

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Thrifty Thursday (2/18)

Yes…I’m back. Work, life, family…things get hectic sometimes, but there’s always time for books.

 

thrifty thursday

(Graphic made by Julianne @ Outlandish Lit)

 

Hello everyone, and welcome back to Thrifty Thursdays!

The rules are simple and are as follows:

1. Each week’s link-up will be posted on Thursday.

2. Post or talk about a book you found used (preferably in a book store or thrift shop).

3. The book must cost less than $5.

4. Return for the link-up!

wpImg

Ideally, we all would be exploring authors, books, and genres that we never would have considered otherwise. Some of us may find new favorites. Others may just find some laughs. Either way, we’d be supporting independent booksellers who are the backbone of what we do as bloggers. Of course, these books cost money, and posting each week isn’t required, though you’re certainly welcome to do so.

My pick for this week?

red-dragon-book-cover
Red Dragon by Thomas Harris

Cost: $3.97

Total saved thus far compared to new prices: $77.03

Where did I get it? Everything has been eBay lately…low prices are very easy to find, and I still feel okay knowing I’m keeping books out of landfills, offsetting carbon footprints in shipping, and contributing to world literacy through Better World Books. Their prices are good, and they typically have a buy 3, get 1 free deal. I’ve been looking into them more and more, and I suppose they’re something of a polarizing company, but I’ve never had a problem, personally speaking.

 

The Book: I was never too big on horror movies, but a film-student-friend from Russia recommended that I watch The Silence of the Lambs as well as the other films in the Hannibal Lecter series. The Silence of the Lambs was a movie I enjoyed. Of course it’s dark, violent, and pretty damn twisted, but the psychological processes explored really added to the atmosphere and made it a thriller. I wasn’t as big on Hannibal or Hannibal Rising. Those really upped the gore factor in the Hollywood way, and it took a lot away from both the development of the character and the films themselves. Red Dragon, based on Thomas Harris’ first Hannibal Lecter novel, seemed like a return to the psychological aspects behind The Silence of the Lambs, and, being the first novel in the series, seems like the logical novel to start with. I’ve heard good things about it, so I’m excited to really dig into the prose.

As usual, we’ll take a look at the Amazon description for the gist. Per Amazon:

 

Lying on a cot in his cell with Alexandre Dumas’s Le Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine open on his chest, Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter makes his debut in this legendary horror novel, which is even better than its sequel, The Silence of the Lambs. As in Silence, the pulse-pounding suspense plot involves a hypersensitive FBI sleuth who consults psycho psychiatrist Lecter for clues to catching a killer on the loose.

The sleuth, Will Graham, actually quit the FBI after nearly getting killed by Lecter while nabbing him, but fear isn’t what bugs him about crime busting. It’s just too creepy to get inside a killer’s twisted mind. But he comes back to stop a madman who’s been butchering entire families. The FBI needs Graham’s insight, and Graham needs Lecter’s genius. But Lecter is a clever fiend, and he manipulates both Graham and the killer at large from his cell.

That killer, Francis Dolarhyde, works in a film lab, where he picks his victims by studying their home movies. He’s obsessed with William Blake’s bizarre painting The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun, believing there’s a red dragon within him, the personification of his demonic drives. Flashbacks to Dolarhyde’s terrifying childhood and superb stream-of-consciousness prose get us right there inside his head. When Dolarhyde does weird things, we understand why. We sympathize when the voice of the cruel dead grandma who raised and crazed him urges him to mayhem–she’s way scarier than that old bat in Psycho. When he falls in love with a blind girl at the lab, we hope he doesn’t give in to Grandma’s violent advice.

This book is awesomely detailed, ingeniously plotted, judiciously gory, and fantastically imagined. If you haven’t read it, you’ve never had the creeps.

Even though I’ve already seen the film, it’s the prose and the subtleties that I’m excited to get in on.

What have you picked up on the cheap lately?

Review: Inherited Disorders

cover81317-medium.pngNote: A review copy of Inherited Disorders was provided to me free of charge by the publisher through the NetGalley system for an unbiased review.

Adam Sachs’ Inherited Disorders is build around a very simple idea–father and son relationships. The idea is simple, but the reality is anything but clear-cut.

In over one hundred different ways, Sachs examines the ways in which fathers and sons relate to one another–in terms of personality, genetics, and the idea of an “inheritance.” Some argue over their physical inheritance of wealth. Some struggle with legacy, either to carry it on or to ultimately fulfill it. In one instance, a father literally removes his skin for his son to wear.

Hilarious and undeniably original, Adam Sachs circles around the idea of father-son relationships again and again. Inherited Disorders was a quick and enjoyable read, but it can get a little repetitive. Of course, this is somewhat the point. In each story, I was looking forward to the twist that Sachs would put on the story. In my opinion, the most memorable instance occurs when a son talks to his father’s frozen head while asking a friend to read a screenplay that his father never approved of.

Sachs looks at the father-son dynamic in interesting ways, but I can’t help feel that I can relate to Inherited Disorders as a male reader. I would be interested to see how a female reader responds to the text. In some ways, mother-daughter relationships are no different, undeniably, but in terms of more “classic” expectations of what we can likely admit is a patriarchal society, these relationships can be quite different.

Needless to say, as a fan of unconventional literature, I’m looking forward to Sachs’ future work.