Thursday, October 21, 2010

Musing on Books Recently Read

I know, I haven't posted in forever.  And now that I am going to post, it's just a little rambling about books.  I started it about a month ago, so about time I finished it, I guess!

It's very snippety, but here it is (such as it is-- the type of thing no-one will care about except possibly myself):

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I'm on my last Lucia novel, slowly reading my way through it. (Present Day Me:  Actually, I've finished it, now.  ...Not that I have anything more to add because of that, really...) It's funny how much those characters have grown on me.  Some books you love instantly, but these took a little longer, I'll admit.  Now, that world of characters feels like a cozy retreat from the little troubles of everyday life. 

I found (and watched) a small snippet of the old (1980s? 1990s?) BBC adaptation of the novels and was not exactly enthralled.  Maybe the series is better in other parts, but even the affected accents were a bit of a put-off.  Yes, of course I knew the characters are British, but when I read they don't sound quite that "snobby British" in my head. (Great, now I've offended the one British person who'll happen to find this on a Google search. Sorry!  I'm sure you don't sound snobbish. (g))

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Donald and I read Ronia, the Robber's Daughter a while ago.  It was... ok.  It's one of those books that I think I would've liked more had I read it as a child, but as an adult reading it for the first time... it was a little too simple for my taste.  (And why bother creating fantastical creatures in a book if you're barely even going to use them?)  I couldn't help feeling exasperated with some of the characters, since it was so clear that most of their problems could have been solved by just talking.  That's probably more irritating to me now than it would've been when I was eight or nine, though, and goodness knows, plenty of adult books and real-life situations are just as frustrating for the same reason.  (Note of dubious interest:  Apparently the book was adapted to film at some point.  I think Donald said he went to see it on a school trip-- what we would've called a "field trip".)

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The "Jeeves & Wooster" P.G. Wodehouse (I almost typed "Wodestock"! which would be a great name for a Wodehouse convention, if such a thing existed... and maybe it does...) book we're currently reading (er, make that were currently reading)--Much Obliged, Jeeves-- is much what you'd expect, if you're at all familiar with Wodehouse and/or the Jeeves books.  So far, what has most impressed itself upon us is the increased frequency with which Wooster (our narrator) mentions his old school-days prize for Scripture Knowledge.  (g)  Poor guy, he must need an ego-boost.

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What we're actually reading now is something by Jerome K. Jerome, author of Three Men in a Boat (which I highly recommend to people who like to laugh)-- a collection of essays titled Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow.  It's not completely even in quality.  The first essay, for instance, "On Being Idle", I seem to recall as thoroughly hilarious and insightful.  Then later on there was a bit that was just too, too flowery... and somewhat unflattering to women, I must say... and that a certain professor I once had would definitely have labeled as "trite".  Unfortunately, that style has popped up a couple of times, so far, but there's still plenty to enjoy.  It's surprising (thought it really shouldn't be) how little human nature and thought has changed since this piece was written in the late 1800s.  

(Why does that still feel surprising?  However, maybe it's not so much the fact that it's still true after so much time that's a surprise.  It's just that odd sensation of, "now, how did he know that about me?!"-- which can happen with books from any era... and which can be either unsettling or comforting, depending on how you choose to look at it.)
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My last read was Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro.  This is my first experience with this author, though we already have two more of his novels (thanks to one of the big library book sales).  I probably wouldn't have started with this one if it weren't for the movie adaptation that's coming out (already come out?).  I saw it mentioned on TV and thought I'd better read it before spoilers began proliferating.

On that note, I should mention that there will be spoilers for the novel, from here on out.  So if you don't want it ***SPOILED*** by ***SPOILERS FOR NEVER LET ME GO***... I repeat BIG BAD SPOILERS DEAD AHEAD... then you might want to avoid the rest of this entry.

...There.  If I wasn't all alone before, I am now.  ;o)

Points of interest:

- Some of the story was given away in the blurbs on the cover-- and (as I mentioned before) now there's "entertainment news" chatter about the film adaptation to avoid, as well.  I wonder how the experience would've been different without any of those spoilers... As it was, since I already knew the children were clones, there weren't any shocking revelations I can recall.  I'm not sure if there were even meant to be any, though...  I like it when authors give me the chance to figure at least parts of the story out on my own, but in this case, I wish I'd been stunned at the end.  I kept hoping I'd be wrong about the novel's conclusion.  Unfortunately, not this time.

- Again we have the old "why didn't they just TALK??" issue (repeatedly). I mean, I guess it's a reflection of what frequently happens in real life, but it still irritates me beyond all get-out.  Maybe more than it does in real life... Also irritating:  Why did Cathy let Ruth walk all over her, so much of the time?  I'm annoyed with Ruth for being such a bossy you-know-what, but then I can't help but feel angry with Cath for not standing up for herself.  And then there's Tommy, who is also annoying because he's so needy-- too weak to express his feelings for Cath-- and just plain kind-of-stupid.  (Sorry, dude, but you're not the brightest bulb.)  Yes, yes, I still feel desperately sorry for the characters, but I still manage to find them annoying.  It's this special talent I have.  Maybe I'm trying to distance myself from the emotional drain of reading the novel by being miffed at every single character in it... Or maybe I'm just mean.  Draw your own conclusions, but please keep them to yourself. ;o)

- It seems that everyone asks this question-- except those who appear to be mortally offended by it, for some reason:  Why didn't they run away??  I guess the answer is that it simply doesn't occur to them, as they've been raised to blindly accept their allotted role as organ donors.  Then there's the practical thought that even if they had, there wasn't anywhere for them to have gone.  They had little-to-no real-world skills-- no money-- few possessions--  no family or friends to turn to for help (outside of the system of donors, carers, and clinics/"centres").  There was nowhere for them to run, I suppose, but the absolute hopelessness of the situation-- sensing from the beginning that they wouldn't escape, but still reading on and hoping that maybe they'd at least try, even if it meant only a week or two of comparative freedom... It was a painful, "heavy-heart" read.

The story certainly makes you grateful for the opportunity and freedom you've had in your own life (and also makes you question how you've used those opportunities and just how free anyone ever really is... and then there's that whole, "oh yeah, we're all going to die, someday" thing!), but I can't see myself re-reading this one.  Once was enough. 

After that heart-wringer, I'm ready for something familiar and comforting... Either Jane Eyre or some L.M.M., maybe...