NaBloPoMo: Daniel Handler’s Adverbs

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Stephen King was right: ADVERBS are not your best friend.

This book pisses me off.

For one thing, it announces that it is a novel, but it is not. Nnnnnnnnnnope.

I finish chapter one with the expectation that chapter two would be a detailing of what happens to the characters introduced in the first, which, if I may add, was not the best story to lead with because it was just too weird to wrap my head around. Chapter two, as I soon found out, was COMPLETELY unrelated to the first. At that point I remember thinking that this could be like Nicole Krauss’s The History of Love, which starts out with three seemingly unrelated stories but which turn out to be crucial and relevant to each other. Alas, Adverbs once again shattered my expectations when I had moved on to the fourth chapter and found that all chapters I had by that time read were completely unrelated to each other save for some names that apparently recurred.

I honestly didn’t notice it until I gave up nearly halfway through and just went online to find out what the deal was with this novel.

Turns out that the “novel” is more like a collection of 17 short stories that apparently are SOMEHOW connected to each other. Also, that the names are recurring and that the characters may or may not be the same character mentioned in a different short story.

Confusing?

Yes.

Is it worth your time?

Prrrrrooooooooooobably not.

Don’t get me wrong. There were a few lines there that got to me and made me think, but I found myself grunting in frustration at the lack of development in each story or the absolute mundaneness and triviality of everything. NOTHING was happening.

It’s like he sat down one time and looked outside his window and merely recorded what his neighbors were doing. Or what people in a diner were doing. And then he threw in some Lemony Snicket-ish magical-ish weird things like the search for a Snow Queen in San Francisco. And he says this book is about LOVE?

This book is about patience. About how far it can stretch yours.

 

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J.Didz and her blue nights

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I am currently reading Joan Didion’s Blue Nights, and my thought right now has gone from Why am in reading this? to Why would people want to read about other people’s memories?

The answer to the first question is because I saw a friend reading it and was curious about the book especially since I had been seeing her name on bookstore shelves and book lists. I actually thought it was fiction, and when I realized it wasn’t, I just pushed through with it anyway, hoping for some great realizations the same way after I had finished Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.

So far, yes, I’ve come across lines that made me shudder, made me think and reflect and made me nod my head in agreement with. But mainly I was bored and depressed.

Which brings me to my second question: Why would people bother reading about someone’s memories? AHEM… Sad memories?

I’d say it has something to do with profound realizations, but I’m not quite sure.

I’ll write again when I’m done and when I’ve figured it out.

NICK JOAQUIN’S POP STORIES FOR GROOVY KIDS

In the spate of planning sessions we had in preparation for our upcoming Literacy Month activities, I got to thinking about reviving Nick Joaquin’s Pop Stories for Groovy Kids, which is made up of two collections, the Green and Red series. I remember growing up that we had the Red series, and my favorite–the one that I would keep going back to–is The Amazing History of Elang Uling, which is a retelling of the classic Cinderella story.

Here, Cinderella is called Ela, and because she had soot caused by the coal (uling in Filipino), she was called Elang Uling. Her pumpkin was a miniature car from her father’s collection, her fancy dress from a doll in her doll house, and her fairy godmother, well, all I remember is that she had a very magical doll house (a replica of her own home “usurped” by her stepfamily) that provided her with everything she needed.

It was one of the stories that solidified my fanaticism for that fairy tale. I loved how Joaquin had been able to translate it into the Filipino context, which, at the time I had read it, was in my belief and knowledge completely non-existent. I loved how I could relate to the dollhouse element because I never had one even though I badly wanted one. I understood the uling, I understood the cultural elements, I understood and loved the entire thing!

Now, as I sit here recalling all five stories in that series, I am saddened that these books are almost extinct. Our copy of the Red series has been misplaced or possibly just hidden in one of the many boxes that remained unpacked ever since we moved to the south more than ten years ago. My friends’ copies had been destroyed by the flood that ravaged our country years back. And now people are clamoring to have this book reprinted so that the younger generation can also enjoy the beauty of these stories and the brilliance of Joaquin’s storytelling.

I’m trying to get my friend, who works at a publishing house, to find a way to get this reprinted since the publishing house that printed this book almost 40 years ago has shut down already. I join many people in their cry to have this book reprinted and rereleased. We NEED this in our country.

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday

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Got this from Broke and Bookish.

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday has to do with the most difficult books one has read, and boy, were there TONS for me.

  1. The Iliad (translation by R. Fitzgerald). We had to read this for Western Lit I class in college and dear lord book 2 was just horrible! It was basically a catalogue of ships, a record of who rode which battle ship. And then the prose just got too difficult to translate into contemporary English in my head so I skipped some parts.
  2. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, and Emma by Jane Austen. I’m lumping these two together because the lead characters were just way too annoying for me to have kept reading in one sitting.
  3. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. I’m still not done.
  4. 1984 by George Orwell. I couldn’t put the book down, but I had to force myself because I couldn’t fathom a world where I wasn’t allowed to even THINK. 😦
  5. Every Day by David Levithan. Just. Tears. All. Over. The. Place. And anger and wonder and hope and then just general wtf.
  6. The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series. Read my review here.
  7. El Filibusterismo by Jose Rizal. While I am fluent in conversational Filipino, the written version has always been a weakness of mine. I cheated with Noli Me Tangere because I remember looking for chapter summaries or asking people what happened in each chapter or skipping to the Q&A portion of each chapter in our textbook BEFORE reading each chapter. All these things helped me plow through Rizal’s classic. THIS one, however, I didn’t even bother to finish anymore.
  8. Shopaholic Book 3 by Sophie Kinsella. I hated this book so much I can’t be bothered to look up its actual title. While reading this book I realized how all of the books in this series just follow the same predictable plot.
  9. Son of A Witch by Gregory Maguire. B-O-R-I-N-G. But I finished it.
  10. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie. I remember staying up all night in Mcdo, Katipunan with MA classmates trying to decipher this novel for our final paper. I have a love-hate relationship with this book.

I think I have more, but these are the first ten (ahem) that came to mind.

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

AHA!

(I just wanted to say that)

When my friends and I decided to do start a book club the first thing that we agreed on was to do Jane Austen books and that we’d do it chronologically, so we started with Northanger Abbey. I’m no Austen scholar so I don’t know if it was the first published work or the first written work, and I honestly don’t want to bother myself right now to look it up when the information will be there anyway later when I finish this post.

ANYWAY.

It was literally a drag to read the thing, so I decided to get the movie (the one with J.J. Feild! :D) to help me along. Honestly, it didn’t help much.

Nevertheless, you could see Austen was showing her preference for a strong female lead. Catherine had a tentative type of strength about her; she was unsure of how to act around other people, but she would always do what is right or what she thinks is right no matter how stupid she can be.

And with that statement came the realization that while Austen’s female leads may be strong and outspoken, they really can be annoyingly stupid at times, don’t you agree?

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

I heard there was a BBC radio series of this one. I wish I could listen to it.

I barely remember the story, but I remember that this was one of the first Gaiman stories I’ve read and I was enthralled by the depth of detail in the story so much so that I felt like I couldn’t breathe in some parts because it was getting too claustrophobic for me (they were underground and in confined spaces…sort of). Very few authors have managed to send me chills down my spine whether they were happy chills or creepy chills.

Was Cumberbatch in that radio adaptation?

I am talking to myself now. Excuse me.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

I’ll cut to the chase:

The resolution was pretty anti-climactic for all the trouble that the protagonist had to go through to solve the “mystery.”

There’s too much geek-speak for me to appreciate this fully, but yes, I must concede that it is well-written.