A Book Every Other Day

Reading mostly non-fiction pertaining to science, history, and culture. I also enjoy reading contemporary literature, but most of all anything that gets me thinking is the book for me.

I am posting this now since I just read a critique of Jame Salter's work and its perspective on women: In Salter's Novels, The Ladies ARE Lunch. I couldn't agree with this article any more, and it is refreshing to think I wasn't alone in this sentiment after only reading one of his books. Now knowing that the rest of his books, including his award winning books, I have officially decided that I probably won't be picking up James Salter in the future.


Personally I feel that the representation of gender is a very important topic, and I am very glad that discussions such as these are happening with the subject of literature and especially with an author who is held in such a high esteem. Criticizing people who are viewed as  the "best", "most brilliant", "highly underrated", and "genius" is a hard, but very brave thing to do. And maybe you might find out that you aren't alone in your sentiment of such a highly regarded author.


Also, am I the only one who think it is slightly odd that while reading for many is regarded as a more feminine, not exclusively but more feminine, activity, that male authors get more recognition than women? That writing such stunted female characters isn't viewed as a larger risk?


I am not saying that people can't write what every they want, or depict any demographic however they want. But I think discussing literature and sentiments that don't exist in a vacuum is very  important.


Has anyone ever looked at the transcripts of their videos? Either my pronunciation is poor or I am like that kid in Infinite Jest.

Reblogged from Bookloving author and publisher:

The Illumination: A Novel

The Illumination - Kevin Brockmeier It really lost steam around the middle. Sure the concept of pain being beautiful is a poetic and romantic concept, but all of the narratives didn't maintain that sense of wonder for me.

Who Was Dracula?: Bram Stoker's Trail of Blood

Who Was Dracula?: Bram Stoker's Trail of Blood - Jim Steinmeyer The information is interesting to a certain point, but it seemed like a large complicated description of Bram Stroker's social circle at the time. The timeline of many of these chapters is pretty confusing. Some early chapters are before Stroker has written Dracula and is being inspired by literature, people, and events. Then there is a chapter in which it discusses reactions to Dracula, and then later back to the when Stroker is being inspire and Dracula has yet to have been published.It seems like this book was a bit disjointed and there were a few chapters in which I expected to be intrigued and engaged but however the execution of the chapter left me bored and disconnected from what was being said. I honestly was bored with the Jack the Ripper chapter.And many times I would start a chapter not knowing why this particular person is being discussed and how it relates directly with Dracula, but then a few pages at the end of the chapter there is a quick tie-in. Almost too little to late, but the tie in I already was bored and mentally skipped over information not knowing if it was ever going to be really relevant. It would have been better to drop a hint to how this person or event is related to Dracula, wet the appetite, and then tie it all in at the end. But that didn't really happen. I was mostly waiting to find out why certain information was relevant.It seems like the author had fun researching and talking about Stroker's inspirations and contemporaries, but it felt a bit dry and disjointed at times.Perhaps if I had read all of the Gothic classics and have had literary love affairs with certain author's work, but I haven't so this book fell a bit flat for me.

I Don't: A Contrarian History of Marriage

I Don't: A Contrarian History of Marriage - Susan Squire This book is overreaching at times. Thinks of it self as witty when it is really crude. Author sounds angry and flippant most of the time, therefore when she is presenting factually accurate data, it immediately turned me off.Most of the book contains concepts that aren't entirely new, at least I wasn't blown away by the content. Yeah, we all know by now that originally Biblical marriage regarded women as property, what I came for is how that effects our concept of marriage today.While the history of marriage is true, but only to a point. It only looks at the historical Western concept of marriage, and all other marriage types and histories are completely ignored. Way to Euro-centric for me.Also, the narrative of marriage was not culturally consistent in time. First Biblical marriage, then jump forward in time (or in culture?), and now we are looking at marriage in Athens, then marriage in the Roman empire, now medieval marriage. It seemed like she picked and chose the cultures and periods of time where treatment of women provided the most sensational anecdotes. If she ever mentioned a culture that had a more progressive view of marriage, she had to pile with extra sarcasm all of the negatives that practically made any positive non-existent.Also, this is the first nonfiction book in which the word "fuck" is used so casually. After summing up some Bible passes "In other words: you fuck 'em, you own 'em. Vice versa." Jeeze, and don't get me starting on the spelling mistakes. Did an editor ever read this before this was sent to print? The whole tone of this book smacks of a angry but well-researched blog post which was sparked as a rant against the oppressive male pigs in society. Also this is the first time I have ever seen a block quote have a sarcastic remark inserted into it. Grow up!This ends up to be one of the books in which I am slightly embarrassed that I in principle agree with but definitely not with the delivery.With Squire's tone, Eurocentricism, and cherry picking she might weaken her argument she ultimately makes in stead of providing a point that can be taken seriously by someone who has yet been convinced.

Gone Girl

Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn It contained the things that I love. Fucked up characters. Twists. Ending I couldn't have anticipated. Well done Gillian Flynn.

Beautiful Creatures (Beautiful Creatures Series #1)

Beautiful Creatures (Beautiful Creatures Series #1) - Just so boring for me. I always find it annoying when they try to make the protagonist relatable, smart and unique, and their default to communicate that is that the character reads books and thinks and all of the the character's teenage peers are shallow, vain and cliquish. I am sorry but that is the lamest attempt to make the protagonist in any young adult novel, unique. All teenagers think, so to paint all teenagers except one as thoughtful, considerate and actually interested in literature is insulting to teenagers everywhere.It seems like it reflects all teenagers inflated egos that they are the only ones out of all of their peers that is thoughtful, intelligent and considerate."I am so much more considerate than the rest of my dumb sheep like peers. Oh a character who reads books like I do! That character is so special... like I am..."I just couldn't muster a care about anyone in this book. And this insta-love is annoying as hell. Most teenage relationships start out with infatuation but are almost guaranteed to fail. Quit feeding into their delusions that their high school crush will be their eternal love.Ugh. I just couldn't stand this book.

Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas

Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas - Elaine Pagels This book is a bit more subdued, in my opinion, from her other works. But it goes into more detail as to the early Christian discussion and debate on what is orthodox, what would eventually be considered canon, and what would ultimately be included in the New Testament. Which I guess the subject matter lends itself to a more subdued book.

The Ordinary Acrobat: A Journey into the Wondrous World of the Circus, Past and Present

The Ordinary Acrobat: A Journey into the Wondrous World of the Circus, Past and Present - Duncan Wall This book should have decided early on what it should have been. This should have been either a memoir about the author's introduction to circus life and culture. But it also wanted to be a book about circus history which is not the same as circus culture which is really where this book lost me.I am typically very intrigued about history but sadly the history aspects really distracted from what the book introduced itself as first, a memoir. Like there were moments where he was working a particular skill set, and then it will insinuate that he is about to meet someone that turns the concepts of that skill on its head. But then immediately it goes into the history of juggling or equestrians that just really takes you out of the memoir. Also the whole searching for the grave of the "Father of the Circus" kind of seemed very unnecessary and pretentious. I am sure his need to pay homage to that figure was genuine but how it was presented in the book really made me roll my eyes and wonder why I am supposed to care.That is one big failing of the book. It is obvious that the author is passionate about the circus, especially its history. But it fails to make the reader interested in it. Which made all of the reverences towards the art of being a circus performer seem ridiculous and overblown.I am sure that there is great care and mastery in being a circus performer. There is a great intelligence associated with it, but this book did very little to communicate that.

The Wolf Gift

The Wolf Gift - Anne Rice This book is absolutely horrible. I wanted to quit so many times. The characters are not only unbelievable, but this plot doesn't really make much sense. It seemed like to much had happened or was happening in the background for it to ever make sense.This book really violates what makes supernatural transformation narratives appealing.Typically, when a character is either transformed into something else, may it be a vampire, werewolf, coming of age realizes that they are half-whatever, there needs to be a contrast between the human life of the character and the non-human life of the character.For example, in Teen Wolf, the main character's life isn't all that great. He is on the bottom of the social totem pole, he longs after a girl who doesn't know he exists, and he is not physically impressive. But when he turns into a werewolf, his life is suddenly on the upswing.On the flip side, take the show, Big Wolf on Campus, in this scenario the main character is having an awesome life. He is on the top of the social totem pole, great athletically, and his romantic prospects are rosy. But when he turns into a werewolf suddenly his idealistic life has a wrench thrown into it.Either one of those scenarios work. There needs to be some kind of tension and transformation not only to the circumstances of the character but to the character themselves. However in The Wolf Gift, this character who comes from a rich home, don't argue that he isn't rich his family gave him a Porsche as a gift, everyone dotes on him. "Oh how handsome" "Oh how charming" "Oh how young!" His life is honestly a bed of roses. So what happens when he turns into a werewolf? His life is even more awesome. He has no troubles controlling himself, no ethical, emotional, or moral struggles, even with each transformation he practically orgasms. He is even able to maintain his family connections without all that much drama.There is no real downside for this guy, who seems like a werewolf version of Peter Parker, since he starts reporting on himself. And based on his background his vigilante passion really makes no sense since I doubt he has personally experienced all that much strife in his short existence. Now if his older brother had become a werewolf, after seeing poverty, abuse, and crime in his day to day job. That would make a bigger emotional impact for the reader. But reading about a handsome, wealthy, charming, essentially flawless character fight for justice while sacrificing nothing made me want to throw this book at a wall.Also what the hell was up with Laura? How many flannel nightgowns did she have? And who in the world upon finding a creature, in which media probably has thoroughly reported has been tearing people apart, decides to not run away, but instead sleeps with it?! Just... what?

The Miracle Cures of Dr. Aira

The Miracle Cures of Dr. Aira - César Aira, Katherine Silver Interesting at points, but reminded me of philosophical ramblings of someone smoking pot. Just... so random.

The Satanic Verses

The Satanic Verses - I absolutely loved this book. I think it is quite unfortunate that this book is infamous while at the same time has gone unread by so many. Also I think it is unfortunate that the demographic that have the greatest chance of understanding and appreciating the book, are those who are more likely to be offended by this book.This book with its cultural and religious references and allegories alone, cannot be understood by anyone. The characters, the spelling, the sentence structures that don't meet standards of English grammar a lot of it doesn't make much sense when someone expects literature written in English should follow the English or American standards. And it seems like from a Western perspective, just knowing about Indians from a stereotypical standpoint like the Simpson's Apu, or Big Bang Theory's Raj, simply aren't enough to understand where this book is coming from. It is writing as an Indian perspective, not a perspective of Indians from the outside which is why I think this book is not enjoyable for so many.Also, coming into this book with only the knowledge that it offended some Muslims and Indians, I was pleasantly surprised that it was so much more. It was whimsical, witty, absurd, profound, thought provoking, and touched on subjects that sadly the controversy about the religious references overshadowed. The topics of cultural roots, self identification, racism, how some cultures treat and disregard immigrants, and the irony of seeking justices and acceptance for one's self while being stubborn to give it to others.It seemed to me that this book was in a related vein as the Monty Python movie, Life of Brian, but with darker humor, encompassing many more themes, and was more introspective.I can understand why some people are offended with this book, but at the same time, many times the tone of it doesn't seem to lend it self to being taken so seriously so the fatwa seems a little over the top. But I can also see why it was banned in India.I will definitely read this again and again. It seems like is just filled with buried treasure waiting for me to uncover and analyze. However, I don't think that I would recommend this book to many people, unless I think that they can understand the cultural and religious perspective that this book has.

Inez: A Novel

Inez - Carlos Fuentes The beginnings of the first and second chapters were good. But they quickly dived after that and the rest of the book never recovered.If I had to describe this book in one word it would be: masturbation.It is obvious that the author is really enjoy himself writing out how passionate/obsessed the main character is about Inez and the opera, but it I am not having fun.Yeah, I get it. The main character was obsessed with the crystal seal, but that doesn't mean that the narrator also needs to be obsessed with the seal. One can write about how obsessed a character is without being obsessed one's self.Also at times it seems like the main character was a caricature of the passionate Latino. So much FIRE! and PASSION! and a lot of DESIRE! but it just never was directed in any real coherent way, rambling about a non-existent person in a picture and don't get me started on that weird Adam and Eve narrative done in second person.I just don't understand what he was going for. It seems like the author just got some ideas in his head and ran with it without ever thinking if it made sense or if it would ever translate to the reader. So that is why I call it masturbation since this novella seemed to be for the benefit of the author, not necessarily for the reader.This is my second attempt at enjoying a Carlos Fuentes novel, and both times he has let me down. Sure I have heard that The Years with Laura Diaz was good, maybe his earlier work is much better since I have only read his more recent work, but I don't know if I want to waste any more time with this guy.

Vampires in the Lemon Grove

Vampires in the Lemon Grove - Amazing. This collection of short stories are powerful, whimsical, hilarious, profound, creepy and off-kilter. Personally having had read Swamplandia! I think Karen Russell's real strength is in short stories, but for this I will read any novel she rights.Seriously how can you think of this stuff? I can't imagine. Former US presidents reborn as horses, who knew that was pure genius. Who knew? Russell did.


Vlad - Carlos Fuentes, Ethan Shaskan Bumas The first Carlos Fuentes novella I have read. A very inventive re-imagining of Bram Stoker's Dracula. The language wasn't as rich and descriptive as I have come to expect from Spanish authors, but it might be the translator.The plot seemed a tad bit rushed to me. And the conclusion at the end didn't really have enough foreshadowing for it to really impact the reader. Also a few parts that were heavily emphasized seemed slightly pointless at the ending.Overall I enjoyed the novella, but the plot and characters seemed a bit cobbled together a bit too quickly.

Currently reading

Golden Boy
Abigail Tarttelin