Fortunately, the Milk – Neil Gaiman

fortunatelythemilk1The Ocean at the End of the Lane (click for my review) is about the child’s mind telling a story to that of the adult. It reaches back through memory and speaks in a language that children know much better, and many adults have forgotten. Fortunately, the Milk does the exact opposite of that. Cory Doctorow sums it up neatly in his review over at Boing Boing: “a magnificent tribute to the fatherly art of trolling kids with straightfaced, outlandish tales”.

Doctorow’s review does a great job of presenting the book, which is short enough that you could read it in less than an hour, anyway. Unless you are reading it to your kid, which will inevitably get you entangled, I imagine, in serious existential discussions, thus prodding you to contribute to the perpetuation of the art of kid-trolling. Continue reading

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Moon Palace – Paul Auster

MoonPalace2I read Moon Palace about four months ago. I really wanted to write something about it, even though its trace is no longer as fresh in my mind as it was then. This text is not a review. The book is wonderful, possibly the best Auster novel out of the three I’ve read (the others being The New York Trilogy and Timbuktu), and I’d recommend it heartily to anybody. This text isn’t an attempt at an exhaustive analysis either – I’m too far detached from my reading experience at this point. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, but a degree of immediate entanglement with the text is essential to such a project. I’d like to think of it rather as a key or sorts; one that would allow me some day, when I revisit the story, to open more of its doors. It does contain some spoilers, and though I’ve tried not to reveal that much, it’s probably better to read it after the novel itself. Continue reading

Doctor Who: Harvest of Time – Alastair Reynolds

doctor-who-harvest-of-timeDoctor Who: Harvest of Time is a novel about the third Doctor, played by Jon Pertwee between 1970 and 1974. Now, I’ll admit it from the get-go – I’m not a dedicated fan of the TV show. I like it quite a lot, but I haven’t seen a single episode of the old series and I have watched less than two seasons of the new. Some episodes I loved as a child loves, others bored me senseless. OK, it’s out there, whew. Harvest of Time is also a novel by Alastair Reynolds. I love Alastair Reynolds novels. So my thinking was as follows: if I absolutely love the best parts of the show, then a writer whose work has not let me down has a damn good chance of hitting just the right notes with this one. Continue reading

Quicksilver – Neal Stephenson

quicksilver2Quicksilver is a book that defies with ease any attempts at writing a pithy and flashy review. Swatting-a-lame-old-fly is the kind of ease I’m going for here. Read the blurbs if you are looking for that, a review of this type just wouldn’t really be a review, but rather an extended blurb.

Quicksilver, the first part of the Baroque Cycle trilogy, is vast and winding. It spans decades and continents, its subject matter is difficult to pin down, its method is an even more elusive beast. Perhaps the most apt definition I have arrived at comes from the novel itself:

“It seemed that Jack, here, had blundered into the fourth or fifth act of a drama – neither a comedy nor a tragedy, but a history.”

And although the sentence refers to somebody else’s historical drama, it self-consciously echoes the structure of the novel. Which, like history, maintains only the illusion of such a structure. As some proponents of New Historicism would have it, historians and document-makers are part of the historical process they are untangling and seeking to document and explain. They are just as much embroiled in the material practices and texts of their time, as are the agents of their narratives. Continue reading

The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman

ocean-at-the-end-of-the-lane-neil-gaiman“Memories were waiting at the edges of things, beckoning to me.”

 When I was a little boy – I must have been six, or seven, or eight – I would sometimes get these very odd flashes of… I’m not even sure how to call it. “Feeling” is too general a word, no, this was disembodied and physical sensations, memories and premonitions all bundled together in an indivisible whole. It came when I was alone and felt like a place, somewhere, somehow. One moment I would be in my room, or wherever I was, the next I would be there. And it would last for just a second or two, but those seemed ominously stretched. It was a scary place, to be sure, mostly because I didn’t understand it and didn’t know how and why I was being taken there. And I knew it was probably a place in my head, little that I was, but it felt vaster than that. It felt like all the knowledge of the world was there and also all the things that I would love and lose. It might have been a good place, but it scared me every time. Continue reading

The Long Ships – Frans G. Bengtsson

thelongships1It is time to engage in a little bit of blog resurrection. My reading has been somewhat haphazard in the last few months, so choosing a book to review is not an easy task. The Long Ships by Frans Bengtsson is a novel I finished more than half a year ago; maybe I could have written a proper, detailed review in the beginning of 2013, but that’s not the case now. I feel, though, that I must write something about it. For this is the sort of novel you discover unexpectedly, like a hidden treasure buried in the piles of rubble you were distractedly raking through. Such gems must not remained unmentioned. The distance of time may not permit me analytical sharpness, but effusive enthusiasm I still have aplenty, so I will focus on that and try to tone down the effusive bit as much as possible.

In the introduction to the book Michael Chabon calls it a work of fiction that “stands ready, given the chance, to bring lasting pleasure to every single human being on the face of the earth.” What a way to negatively bias the readers. And yet, if Chabon’s impossible breed of a book ever existed, The Long Ships has its genes. Continue reading

2012 in review

Here’s a pretty report on the blog’s first year. I’m quite happy with the way it’s developing, I just hope I have more time to read and write here, and elsewhere. Happy 2013!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 4,300 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 7 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.