There is close to 800
Thoughts on things, mostly books.
There is close to 800
There are people out there, and I bet you know at least one, who believe that fantasy fiction is simply genre fiction. That it is, to borrow a phrase that appears in movie reviews by people who do not read or watch fantasy very often, little more than magic and Morris men. (I've only ever seen Morris Men in Terry Pratchett, btw). These people are stupid. But you knew that. What you should do is direct them to this book.
LaValle's novel is on one level about marriage, about parenthood (fatherhood in particular), race, and class. It is an example of literature, of pointed societal conversation, of a love of books. On the surface the story is about Apollo and how he becomes a man and eventually a father. It takes a bit for the plot (and title of the novel) to kick in, but when it does, it does. The build up is, in fact, excellent writing. Reminded me a bit of James Baldwin.
When the title takes hold, the book becomes literature and good fantasy. LaValle does not disregard or drop the issues that he raises in the beginning but incorporates them in the fantasy narrative, which is what good and excellent fantasy does. Apollo's pain and uncertainty as he struggles to find meaning or sense out of what has happened are real, are heart rending.
Seriously, just read it.
Dickens is well known for his shining his light on the working class of London. But Gabrielle Roy did the same for the working class of Montreal. The drawback with Dickens is that he never bothered or even thought about women; perhaps because she was a woman Roy does. The focus of the story is on the family LaCosse, in particular the eldest daughter Florentine and mother Rose-Anna and how the women have to negotiate lack of money and society as Canada enters the Second World War.
While there is focus on men – in particular Rose-Anna’s husband and the character of Jean, who becomes a man of interest for Florentine, the heart of the novel is on the struggles of the women. There are the long descriptions of Rose-Anna’s struggle to find hearth and home. Her anger about the family’s inability to afford things for her children – new clothes, school, a tin flute.
And that is the pathos of the novel, the struggle to achieve to become more. Whether or Florentine achieves it is left to the reader, but the book is about the restriction of options that poverty brings as well as how those who say the will buck the system are actually those who perhaps make it worse, who lack caring.
It is not a hopeless book but it in some ways it is a braver book than any of Dickens work.
I do not know if this is also outside the US, but
Edited to add - Librarything is offering free memberships as well.
Haymarket books is offering ten free ebooks for two weeks.
Verso books is offering five six free ebooks until April 2. (They added another one)
Sesame Street books have several free listings on Amazon for the kindle editions.
Children's Books (I think for online only)
Scribd is offering 30 days free.
Mim's House (kids, ebooks only)
science (I think online access only)
Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley
The question of whether or not there was a Trojan War has occurred for some time. Was there a Paris, Achilles, Menelaus, or Helen? What about that horse? Was it really a horse? Alexander the Great supposedly stopped at the tomb of Achilles so the hero worship has been going on for quite a bit.
Castleden’s book, a scholarly work, offers historical evidence and context for a real Trojan war, if not quite the version that Homer recorded, though Castleden does address the areas where Homer and truth coincide, such as the place names and helmet types just to name a couple places.
The book is less a discussion of Mycenae and Hittite history and culture as well as conflicts between the two societies. There is the question of the letter to the Hittite king about a certain runaway prince with a woman.
The book is scholarly but not dry. There are discussions about siege strategies, the role of the generals on the battlefield and such. You do not have to be an expert on the ancient world or even ancient Greece for the book to be readable or concise.
It does help to have familiarity with the story of Troy itself, and to be fair, at one point there is a bit too much play by play. But this was an interesting book.
I heard about this book because the author was part of a panel about the arts in Montreal on a BBC Arts and Culture show. The book traces the lives of two orphans in the Montreal of the turn of the century and depression.
O’Neill’s two central characters are Rose and Pierrot, both of who’s birth is less than wanted By rights, both should have died. By tracing their lives, O’Neill looks at how gender can affect the outcome of life. At first, it seems that Pierrot is going to have the easier life but, well things change.
O’Neill’s novel is blunt, very blunt, when it comes to describing sex, and the blunt non-romantic passages contrast with the almost fairy tale quality of the novel. O’Neill transforms Montreal of the 1900s-1930s to an almost magical place with the description. There are some beautiful passages –like the Montreal rat worrying about New York rats.
It is O’Neill’s use of language and humor that carries the book. The magic that Rose and Pierrot install in their audience is what O’Neill does to the reader. The book makes the real world feel fake. It is like reading a slight less gothic Angela Carter book. The language draws the reader into the story and keeps the reader imprisoned. And it isn’t a bad imprisonment.
The book is something like a fairy tale and something like a fable. There is magic but it is the magic of life.
So there is a book called Songbird at Midnight whose author has been commenting on reviews, including telling a reviewer that she didn't know about italics. The reviewer wasn't me, and I don't believe in giving such authors more free press (also why I'm not adding the book to Booklikes), but just so we are clear:
1. Italics are not used when reporting on the wording of slogan or on someone's shirt.
2. Italics are used for emphasis but too many italics used that way make your characters take weird.
3. Author needs to review basic comma usage. There is not legit reason to have perfume and anti-perspirant in one group.
4.stage manager/sound engineer not "stage manager slash sound engineer"
5. Apparently coffee trays have hands.
6. Can we talk about how often white men overuse the name "Running Bear" because I really think we should?
7. semi-colons and commas are not interchangeable.