The Goodreads debacle
Well, hello. I don’t know if you’re aware of the whole Goodreads debacle and the new censorship policy. It’s been big, it’s been awful, but one of the consequences is that the masters of Goodreads had been deleting all posts talking about it—so many people haven’t got a clue. I have read dozens of posts and statuses on the subject, but I can’t find any of them anymore.
Basically, I’m writing this post to at least hint of what’s happening. I don’t know much myself, as I haven’t been affected directly, but I am appalled and completely furious at how things are being managed. I have recommended Goodreads to many people, but right now, what I’m telling you is: Don’t join. I have been looking at the alternatives, most people are going to BookLikes, and it’s pretty good. I still don’t wanna leave Goodreads, because it’s so useful and I wouldn’t know what to do without it. So I’m not saying you should stop using it, but you should at least know what’s going on, and then make an informed decision. I find that Ceridwen has explained it best in her blog, follow her Goodreads tag and I dare you not to be outraged when you finish.
—You mean I want to be blind?
—No, no. No, no. You are trying to make yourself invisible, on the childlike theory that if you can’t see, then you can’t be seen. Like a child who shuts his eyes and thinks no one can see him.”
I may or may not be repeating myself (spoiler: I am) but I moved to Wales mid-September, and as a consequence: 1) I tried to read physical books that I wouldn’t be carrying with me before I left, 2) I (almost) didn’t read at all once I got here.
The Other Typist had a premise that had me most excited (during prohibition era, two mysterious typist in a police precinct in NY? Yes), and it was beautifully written, but it still didn’t convince me. That is basically due to the constant repetition (the foreshadowing was too much to support its own ending) and its lack of subtlety (if the unreliability of the narrator was supposed to be questioned, it failed: something’s off with her since page 1). The similarities with The Great Gatsby (which the author herself mentions) were certainly there, and I like the fact that it was somehow subverted (a she-Gatsby, that’s cool) but not that it was exaggerated/simplified (you don’t need to spell things out that much!). They’re making a film, and I’m pretty sure it’s gonna be great (if only for the costumes).
I had been wanting to read this for a while (since I studied the WW1 poets in class),but right before I left I got a hold of a really cheap copy at a second hand bookshop (everything in English, in Barcelona! Really cool, check it if you have the chance). The book was perfect, a new favourite of mine. Despite not being against of the theoretical idea of war, the atrocities he’s seen during his time in the trenches, make Siegfried Sassoon stand against it. It shocks everyone that his reasons against war have nothing to do with fear or “pacifism” (in inverted commas, because for them pacifism is cowardice), but that are completely reasoned and, well, make complete sense. He is a condecorated soldier, most brave and admired by his men, so instead of court-martial him, they decide to send him (thanks to the intervention of lovely Robert Graves) to a mental hospital. The novel takes place during his stay in the hospital, and focus in Sassoon’s relationship with his doctor, also a real person W.H.R. Rivers (and amazing character). There’s also stories of other affected soldiers, some invented by Barker and some not (the love of my life Wilfred Owen). It’s so beautifully executed, I don’t know how to explain it. Everything flows magically: the language, the ideas, the characters’ progression (their inner doubts and self-recovery), and I can’t believe that something so beautiful manages to portray something so horrendous as the effects of a world war, but it does.
This one’s a short novel about a fictitious society of real artists at the beginning of the 20th century. Each chapter focus in an artist, or a theme, but they don’t follow a logical structure (nor chronological nor spatial). I didn’t know many of the artists, and at first thought they weren’t real—but they are, only very obscure. Vila-Matas mixes real life facts that are known about them and makes them fit in his fiction. The fiction of it, however, it’s obvious because it’s extremely surreal. I enjoyed the first part of the book so much, I started thinking of when I’d re-read it. The problem was, for me, that after a while it started to get too surreal. I had no idea what the narrator was talking about, I didn’t get many allusions and I just got lost. I feel ashamed to admit this, but I still plan on re-reading it. I just discovered it hasn’t been translated to English (French, German, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Swedish: yes), but Bartelby & Co has, and that’s the next one of his in my list.
Rainbow Rowell is such a good writer she could write about anything, whis is why it makes me incredibly happy that she decided to write about fanfiction. She does it in a way that both, people who are part of a fandom and those who aren’t, can get into the book and understand Cath’s motivations and fears (imo). And that is because Rowell describes real life, where characters don’t have only one hobby and manic pixie problems (I’m looking at you Stephanie Perkins). All the characters feel real, even the fandom she’s invented has a part in the book (Baz I love you!).One thing I think many readers didn’t get, though, is Cath herself (not that I hold the true about her, obviously), but I’ve seen many people say that they “are totally like Cath” and “Cath is me” and then people who say that they don’t “relate to Cath”, and I’ve been wanting to tell them: THIS IS NOT THE POINT. The book is so good at it, I don’t understand how some people didn’t get the point: Cath has issues, Cath has serious anxiety and a history of mental illnesses in her family—The book doesn’t need you to relate to her, it only wants you to understand and respect her! But yeah, basically, whatever Rowell writes, I’ll read.
I think I started a review of this one and I can’t find it. Well. The book has two parts, and there are 4 stories in each. Unlike The History of Love, where the story-lines mixed continuously, they are quite separated in this one. The connection, also unlike THoL, is apparent from relatively the beginning, and it’s a desk (which would’ve made a much more appropriate cover than Leah’s piano). Problem? I don’t think it’s a big enough connection: I kept waiting for a secret to be unveiled and a new connexion between characters to be revealed, but it doesn’t come. Nicole Krauss writes about things I don’t even want to think about it, the most scary, awful things in life (but that are, indeed, part of life). I hate when mediocre writers do that, but Krauss was born for it. She’s obviously very good at it: she puts words (and silences) into things I had never known how to express. It’s still difficult to read about them, however, and I felt that this book lacked the hopeful tone THoL kind of had. I thought it was too gloomy, and it had me waiting for something good to be uncovered amid the sadness—but no, there’s only sadness.
In the words she uttered, you know, she put, because she could not bear to say it, a feeling of nothingness.
I did know.”