Stonemouth

Stonemouth – Iain Banks

Scotland

The book is set in north Scotland; this is what I imagine of the landscape, a cold hazy little township with rolling greens, hills, etc etc. A corner of the country that kids grew up in, played together, fought together, drank together, and experienced so little yet so much. Slow quiet conversations, slow quiet sentences, some drunken revelry, some young relationships. ‘Tender’ was the word one of the reviewers used, and I gently agreed with that – Iain Banks (non-M) has this tender streak, yet mixed with a huge dose of illicitness and wildness, a type of raw wildness that you’d find in Scotland’s northern shores and weather. Haven’t read like this in awhile. Still prefer his Culture novels of course, but this is nice too.

/spoilers
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Stonemouth

N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season

“This is what you must remember: the ending of one story is just the beginning of another. This has happened before, after all. People die. Old orders pas. New societies are born. When we say “the world has ended.”, it’s usually a lie, because the planet is just fine.
But this is the way the world ends.
This is the way the world ends.
This is the way the world ends.
For the last time.”

Also, her second book in the series The Obelisk Gate. and a third book yet to be published.

A pretty good effort at science fiction. The first book was enrapturing. It could be more detailed, and could be even more eloquent (like how Ada Palmer’s Too like the lightning was downright amazing), but this was good enough, and also a lighter read.

The second book was too much of a filler, and dropped the ball significantly. Hoping the last book in the series would properly fill out the storyline.

N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season

“We didn’t think it was important.”

4d869a3760c6a7e7969a458a9fb9c8ddTerry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman (or the other way round)
Good Omens – The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter Witch.

Preface: “…We were just a couple of guys, okay? We still are. It was a summer job. We had a great time doing it, we split the money in half, and we swore never to do it again. We didn’t think it was important.”

The book is delightful, funny, entertaining, and in a sense beautiful. Kudos for two good writers to come together and produce such a piece of work. The story is about The Armaggedon, that end of the world thing, yeah. But it is also about humans, it is also about England, about the British, about the world, about us, about how we see the bible, the religion, the gods, the devils, the hells, the end of the worlds, the children, and an amusing smattering of everything from here to there to everything you might possibly know about everything.

It seems pretty difficult to quote and share the jokes in the book – too much context is needed. Yup just go read it.

“It’d be a funny old world, he reflected, if demons went round trusting each other.” funny whimsical irony.

“The Great War, The Last Battle. Heaven versus Hell, three rounds, one Fall, no submission. And that’d be that. No more world. That’s what the end of the world meant. No more world. Just endless Heaven or, depending who won, endless Hell. Crowley didn’t know which was worse.

Well, Hell was worse, of course, by definition. But Crowley had remembered what Heaven was like, and it had quite a few things in common with Hell. You couldn’t get a decent drink in either of them, for a start. And the boredom you got in Heaven was almost as bad as the excitement you got in Hell.”

“DRAMATIS PERSONAE

God (God)

Metatron (Voice of God)

Aziraphale (An Angel, … )

Death (Death)”  [by death himself. lol.]

This book is beautiful because it, in 2009 A.D. after the year of Jesus Christ as recorded in our puny little books in the grand Universe in this time dilated dimension of string theory and relativity, packs in what two possibly above average educated englishmen would have contained in their neurons about the state of the human inhabited world (in the physical as well as metaphorical sense). Whether heaven is thus, whether hell is thus, whether humans are thus, whether armaggedon is thus, are merely endless stories and stories told by us unto us, and a wealth of all other knowledge distilled into a few hundred pages of summer time foolery and light hearted beer laden chicanery. Summer is a lovely time, life on here is a lovely time and we ought to laugh and joke and play and tell stories of what is, what was and what could have been. The more we learn about ourselves the more we can laugh about ourselves, about our own follies, about the traffic, about the governmnet, about the people, about our idiosyncracies, and about life and death itself.

The ability to laugh at it is, perchance, the only true measure of whether you have truly understood it.

“We didn’t think it was important.”

books I thought I would like

“The dividing line between books I liked, books I thought I would like, books I hoped I would like and books I didn’t like now but thought I might at some future date was rarely distinct.”

via YMFY.

You know, it’s true. There are lots of books, lots of different stories, there have been books that I picked up and tried to like/read (War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy), that I looked at and wished I bought (Remembrance of Things Past, Marcel Proust), books that I didn’t like, books that I started reading and put down, books that I bought because they were pretty but couldn’t understand it (Milan Kundera), books that I read through like drinking water if for the heck of it (Harry Potter etc.), books that I hadn’t thought I would like, books that I liked and didn’t buy, books that I don’t even remember reading, books that I keep picking up and telling myself I should read, and books that I bought but didn’t read, and books that I want to get rid of, and books that I thought I had but couldn’t find, and I still find things to read.

books I thought I would like

‘Siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell’

“The only position that leaves me with no cognitive dissonance is atheism. It is not a creed. Death is certain, replacing both the siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell. Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: we stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more; but I want nothing more.”
— The Portable Atheist by Christopher Hitchens

via BooksActually

What a LOVELY excerpt. “the siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell.” Oh I love words.

‘Siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell’

Reads

Skimmed quickly through a book by Donald Miller – A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I learned while editing my life. Yes I suppose it was as rambly as the title.

I saw it as a book largely focused on the concept of a story. A story as some meaning, purpose, direction, project that you are taking with your life, that you identify with, that you align your path, character along with, that you use to spur yourself on, start yourself off. Something, anything, a meaning. People without a strong or meaningly or enticing story then latch on to another, or feel dispirited and lost.

He also mentions how to write a story, how to make it enticing, attractive, exciting, emotional. He mentions how characters need to have flaws, need to be perceived as good, need to overcome obstacles to read a goal, and to make it better, need to Sacrifice something or sacrifice themselves for a Purpose. True blue elements of storylines. Perhaps not all storylines, but the simple ones. Always works. Always tears-inducing.

Maybe life isn’t always so simple. Maybe it can be so simple. Maybe we just need to follow this formula.

And then there was the amusing Avery Monsen’s All My Friends Are Dead. A great kiddy book. It is so funny. These books have such straight up humour.

Reads

Firefly

image

That photo, is the book im currently reading – Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman. By Murakami. (Isn’t it lovely to be famous with even just your last name).

So why this book, why this photo? Because I’ve been folding pages as I come across favourite lines – its too disruptive to write them down immediately, and I don’t have a pen or sticky notes on hand.

The book’s a collection of short stories. That cluttered section with an abnormally dense bunch of folded pages is Firefly. It shocked me. Firefly is actually the root of Norwegian Wood. One of the beginning bits anyway.

I.., well, haven’t picked up that book in awhile. It’s just like how I accidentally stumbled upon Norwegian Wood at an opportune moment. And now this. Hell, I don’t know why it happens. It’s like reading Norwegian Wood all over again.

It hurts.

It saddens. It stirs up emotions that perhaps should better be buried and hidden. If I could quote that entire book here, but it is much too painful to force everyone to read. I will probably end up quoting part of it anyway. But just… oh well.

So this book, Blind Willows, Sleeping Woman, contains fifteen, twenty short stories. Each one short, concise, poignant. Largely culminating in one intense emotion. You know, the kind that is so precise and deep that it is so difficult to express in one sentence or one paragraph, and instead requires one entire short story. Firefly was one of them. But Firefly was special. It was longer than the rest, there were many emotions. I could tell it was one of Murakami’s favourites, and there was more on it. More, which he eventually wrote into an entire novel. And there was another, which reminded me of Dance Dance Dance. Hah. It’s like how Ender’s Game started off as a short story.

Sigh.

I’m in this mood again.

Norwegian Wood.

Firefly

book

[Perks of being a Wallflower]

“I just need to know that someone out there listens and understands and
does not try to sleep with people even if they could have.”

“so, this is my life. and I want you to know that I am both happy and
sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”

“I just kept quiet and looked around. and I noticed things. The dots on
the ceiling. Or how the doctor’s face looked rubbery. Or how
everything was a deafening whisper, when he said that maybe I should
start seeing a psychiatrist again. It was the first time a doctor ever
told that to my parents with me in the room. And hid coat was so
white. And I was so tired.”

book

pills

Dear Dr. Adler,
That test that you asked me to take knew how I felt. I did feel blue. I did feel sad. I did feel bored most of the time. But here is what I need to know: when I feel happy, what color will that be? Because I know that the red pills were supposed to make me feel better. But I stopped taking them because they were red and they made the whole world blurry. [Jonathan]

Dear Dr. Gregory,
I know that I wasn’t supposed to stop taking my medication, but I didn’t think that those little pills were big enough to fix everything that was wrong with me or save me. They were so small. [Jonathan]

I wish that Jonathan had always taken his medication. I wish that he were still alive. I wish that he were still my husband and that I were still his wife. [Jonathan’s wife, Sara]

[Dear Everybody]

pills

“Dear Mom and Dad,

I put up such a fuss about moving away from our house on Ionia Street because I thought that you were going to leave me there. You hadn’t packed me up inside a cardboard box like you had nearly everything else and I didn’t think that you were going to move me with you and all of your other stuff.”

[Dear Everybody]

“Dear Mom and Dad,