sarahmichelef: (Default)
The first Garrison Keillor fiction I'd read.  Overall, amusing but not earth-shattering.  Read more here.
sarahmichelef: (Default)
I'm sure some of you (sid) will be aghast at the fact that The Road to Samarcand was the first Patrick O'Brian novel I have read.  I quite enjoyed it.
sarahmichelef: (Default)
It was a good trip - conference was overwhelming, as they always are - met tons of famous Internet people - ate good food in a way to big group at Steamworks Brewery - went to Seattle to see Laura, Brian, Pat, and jennybeast - read a weird book - came home - now it's Monday again and I have to do progress reports on a bunch of students which means grading their midterm essays.
sarahmichelef: (numb3rs)
Book review here.  Spoilers.
sarahmichelef: (Default)
It took me several months, but I finally finished reading Snow by Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk.  It's a very dense book, and I don't think that's just because I was reading it in translation.

Snow deals with many of the political issues facing modern-day Turkey, of which I am aware from paying attention to the news, but I'm certainly not well-versed in the history or the contemporary problems in Turkey.  It's part love story, part murder mystery, and part political commentary.  Tensions between Turkey and the West, between Turkey and the Kurds, between Christians and atheists and Muslims all factor into this story.  The book is set primarily in Kars (which you won't be able to find on Google maps - I looked it up in my parents' trusty National Geographic atlas), which is in extreme eastern Turkey, close to the borders with Azerbaijan and Iraq.  In Kars, a number of Muslim girls have committed suicide rather than go to school without their heads covered.  Expatriate poet Ka Bey has come to the city, ostensibly to report on the "head scarf girls" suicides, but in actuality he's there to woo Ipek, a girl he knew in his youth and believes himself to be in love with.  Ka arrives in a snowstorm that shuts down all transportation into and out of the city soon thereafter.  Almost immediately upon his arrival he finds that his muse has returned, and during the four days covered by the main plot of the book, he writes something like 19 poems.

After that, the plot gets a bit hard to follow... Ka stays at the hotel where Ipek lives with her father and sister, Kadife.  There's a coup, and machinations by the Islamic fundamentalist Blue, and machinations by a washed up actor who was once maybe slated The whole thing is quite confusing.  It's narrated in the past tense by a friend of Ka's named Orhan (Pamuk, one would assume), with occasional flashes into the present day (roughly five years after the events described in the main plot).

I think that if I had been able to read this over a shorter span of time, I would be much less confused about it.  Overall, I did enjoy it, but it's not easy reading and the ending left me feeling rather ... at loose ends.

Originally posted on

sarahmichelef: (numb3rs)
Mirror, Mirror.  Snow White and the Seven Dwarves à la Gregory Maguire.  It was definitely interesting; I didn't feel sucked in but then, before I knew what was happening, I was nearly done reading it.And, as I said... before I knew what was happening, it was over.  At the same time, I was left feeling vaguely unsatisfied.
sarahmichelef: (Default)
When I was in the library last week I noticed the name Chris Bohjalian on one of the racks up front and knew it looked familiar. The book was Trans-Sister Radio and I picked it up. I realized right away why the name was familiar - I read Midwives about this time last year and really enjoyed it. So of course I brought this one home with me, too. no plot spoilers here, just reflections on writing )
here are the plot spoilers )
sarahmichelef: (Default)
*love*  I plowed through this faster than I've read anything since Wicked.  Review is not very coherent, for which I apologize.
So, yeah.  Fans of historical fiction of any period should read it.
sarahmichelef: (Default)
So I'm sad to admit that, before this week, I'd never read Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. I'm not sure why, it'd always existed on the periphery of my consciousness, but was never something that I'd have picked up off of the library shelves, and I'd never been in a class that required me to read it. I knew that my friend Lee required it for his Drugs & Society class. And so when my friend Rhys (who TA'd for Lee last semester) was going to put it upstairs on the free shelf, I figured I'd grab it. I brought it along to the ASAs to entertain myself, knowing that I might have a fair bit of time to read between sessions. As it turned out, I was right, because I never did succeed in finding any of my friends besides John - I think that they were all cruising around Atlanta rather than going to sessions. So I finished it this morning.

I'd have read this book a long time ago if anybody had told me that it was a science fiction novel.

Thoughts on the book )

Now I need to go find a copy of Brave New World, Revisited.


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