Category Archives: Artistic

The kite runner, Khaled Hosseini

I was going to start this review by saying that I think everyone in the west ought to read this book. But as I started writhing it, I realized that’s not true. I think everyone ought to read this book. Even the people of Afghanistan  – especially the people of Afghanistan. Not because I think they don’t know what their lives are like, but because Hosseini has something quite unusual: the ability to see the Afghan society both from the inside (having grown up there) and from the perspective of Western citizens (having lived for a long time in America).

Through the eyes of a troubled boy-then-man, us western folks get a (hopefully authentic) glimpse at Afghanistan’s history and culture. A depressing matter: Hosseini spares little effort in painting the a picture of a deeply dysfunctional society, of a country that could have become great, but was seized by the Taliban, of a culture in ruins and a people in despair.

Yet at the same time, the story has more than sorrow. There’s always something – his subtle humor, an expression of love, a waft of roses – that prevents me from just shutting the book and resort to crying. This makes the storytelling touching and emotional, but sometimes a bit too sentimental.

I’ve got this song playing in my head…

Why are some songs played to exhaustion, everywhere and always until everyone hate them? It’s not as if the world is deficit of talented musicians who dream of nothing but to be heard.

1984, George Orwell

It’s been a while since my last post… Apologies for everyone! I haven’t had a lot of time for blogging, and not that much inspiration either. My reading schedule has been mostly school related, and thus would be very boring to review. (near the end, there is a plot twist: X comes into the picture! Which completely changes how we viewed the previous information, and force us to think of Y as a mere percentage of the price…)

I choked down one book though! 1984.

It’s kind of like my civics book. It contains a very important lesson, but reading… Well.

It has all the potential! Written shortly after the war, it’s a dystopian novel that takes place in an imaginary 1984. The world as we know it (or, rather, the world as Orwell knew it) has collapsed, and what remains is three monster states with similarly awful governing.

It’s scary how relevant the book still is. While democracy is – luckily – getting more common, to say that lots of people still have little influence over their lives would be an understatement. With internet, there are great conditions to create a control society.

Even if it wasn’t relevant, 1984 could still have been an enjoyable read.

The dullness, though. It would contradict the whole idea if Airstrip One was anything but grey, thus it’s grey. It would contradict the whole idea if Winston was used to thinking for himself, thus he doesn’t. It would contradict the whole idea if Ingsoc was a humane way of governing, thus it is. It would contradict the whole idea if the characters found it easy to express their emotions, thus they don’t. However, it would NOT contradict the idea to let the characters have some emotions. It would NOT contradict the idea to throw in some details and adjectives here and there, spice up or shorten some environmental descriptions, let Winston feel AND think.

Basically 1984 wasn’t very fun to read. Unfortunately.

Divergent series

I want to say that I loved the Divergent series (trilogy by Veronica Roth) but it wouldn’t be true. I loved Divergent, whereas Insurgent was too “slow” and had a few to many plot twists. I was shocked, then sad, when [SPOILER REMOVED] near the end of Allegiant – smart move, Veronica.

Starting from the beginning. In a dystopian future, Chicago is isolated and its citizens are split into five personality based factions. At the age of sixteen everyone go through a test to see which faction will suit them best, and thereafter choose where they want to live the rest of their lives. A person (such as our protagonist, Tris) who don’t get univocal test results, but are partly suitable for more than one faction is seen as a threat to society and is forced to keep their divergence hidden.

That makes well needed social criticism – the world has a sad habit of sorting people into narrow compartments, and those who don’t fit are miserable outcasts. In order to make this spoiler-free I can’t tell you how – at the very end of Insurgent – this allegory is given a new layer, one that I don’t entirely understand.

Love, friendships and enmity add new layers to the story, making it a whole lot better.  Throughout the books these relationships develop, and as we get to know the characters better more complications occur. We loose characters we love, and we realize that those we hate aren’t all that bad.

Roth has a way of writing, that through surprises and cliff hangers keep me constantly  on tip-toes and longing for more. It’s a common technique and she is a master.

Chocolat

Whe I read, I tend to think a lot about the writer. For example, I have come to the conclusion that Nicholas Sparks is a dog lover. JK Rowling is not a big fan of obesity. John Green is a very observant person. Enid Blython loves to eat, and so does Joanne Harris.

With the title chocolate it’s no surprise that this sweet sin has a major role, but all food is described with tender affection, that is sometimes inspiring and sometimes silly. 

The french small town isn’t as charming once you get to know it a bit. Or, rather, its inhabitants – because characters drive the story far more than the course of events. Also the minor characters are allowed space, interesting personalities, and development. 

It would be unfair to write about this book without a mention of Vianne Rocher, the single mother who – despite the villagers’ disapproval – settles in Lansquenet-sous-Tannes. She starts a chocolaterie, and little by little begin to change her surroundings with a force that is slightly supernatural. 

Of course, no story would be complete without a bad guy. In this case, obsessive purity seeking, self denial and discipline – personalized by le comte, Francis Reynaud.

L’ecume des jours, movie

A while ago, I reviewed the book that this film is based upon.

My impression was essentially that it was a good book, but it took a while to understand. With the movie, I was a little more “prepared” and my expectations were mostly correct.

It was weird. Just like the book, only not at all similar. More straightforward.

I did notice something I hadn’t before. The setting, “world” is not entirely surreal. It obviously isn’t this reality, it is – sometimes – a metaphor (on another note, I’ve been extremely fascinated by metaphors recently. It really is a wonderful thing to get your point out, but with more elegance and less obtrusiveness).  Jean-sol Partre… seems now like the exact same thing as Fall Out Boy’s “sunshine” or Sixto Rodriguez’s “sweet Mary Jane”. And the water lily… would be cancer.

αφρος-των-ημερωνSkilled actors can enhance any movie quite a bit… Beautiful dresses do something too.

I like reading the book first. Seems that wasn’t necessary this time though, because my friend enjoyed it too, without having read it. I don’t recall either of us touching the bowl of chocolate during the movie. Instead, we sat quietly, absorbed. And that’s saying something.

Against me!

I have a new obsession: Laura Jane Grace.

I found the band browsing around my Spotify suggestions. The tune of Thrash unreal caught me… It didn’t take long before I realized that the band is more than just catchy songs and punk spirit though.

In cosmopolitan, singer Laura Jane Grace talks about growing up as a transgender boy in the 80’s and 90’s. Coming out and transitioning. And my god, it’s a miracle that I didn’t cry. I cried when I read her Wikipedia article though, which is strange because Wikipedia language is boring even for the nerdiest of the  nerds. Although perhaps that’s precisely why I cried – the objective, emotionless descriptions of her divorced parents, gender dysphoria, confusion, that she began experimenting with drugs at the age of thirteen… It broke my heart.

I’m not transsexual, but I kind of imagine these songs would feel very solacing for someone who is. I don’t know the first thing about transitioning, but I can understand the pain Laura must have felt. Or rather, I understand that there was a lot of pain. “One night, a couple of weeks into transitioning, as I was putting her to bed, she said she didn’t want me to be a girl anymore—she wanted me to be a boy again. I had never felt more self-doubt in my decision than at that moment.” she says about her daughter, Evelyn. I mean…

If you read this blog, you probably have something in common with me, and that means you will probably love this song.

(sometimes I wonder if any of the lyrics are written by other band members)