Results tagged “England” from kwc blog

London

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I was disoriented this morning when parakkum told me of the attacks in London this morning. I had stayed up late last night finishing Gentlemen's Game, a Greg Rucka novel that starts off with a coordinated attack on the London Underground.

We live in era where the terrible attacks that our fiction writers imagine become reality. I hope that amidst today's attacks the good that we imagine comes to life as well.

I know that several of you reading this have strong ties to London, and my thoughts and feelings go out to you, the ones you care about, and the city you cherish.

Book: White Teeth

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I was a bit let down by White Teeth. I expected too much from a novel with this much praise, though I should have lowered my expectations by noting that the praise was generally couple with "potential" and/or "first novel." It is a bold novel for a newcomer, but I also felt that it feel short of its goals and, while there was cleverness and wittiness, it was spread out enough that it stood out instead of blending into the fabric of the narrative. Perhaps I was more disappointed having just read Midnight's Children, which made it clear that White Teeth is a good, but not great novel.

There was one passage I really enjoyed, which is in the extended entry (page 384), where Smith took the idea of Zeno's paradox and related it to how her characters moved through life (by constantly reliving the past). Putting aside the actual notion of the paradox aside, I found it interesting to extend the idea that "if you can divide reality inexhaustibly into parts... you move nowhere." Similarly, if we look back on the past and constantly relive it, subdivide it, expand it, we turn it into an infinite space that is like Zeno's paradox: no movement through it is possible.

(see the Invisible Man entry for connections between this book, Midnight's Children, and Invisible Man).

Book: The Picture of Dorian Gray

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Am I right in feeling like this book is an episode of the Twilight Zone, only extremely literate and set in 19th century England? The similarity to modern-day sci-fi enticed me, though it also made it easy for me to guess exactly how it would end, which made some of the plot progression rather tedious.

If you read through the quotations that I have selected, it may become obvious that the sections of the book that I enjoyed most were Lord Henry's epigram-filled rants and his rapid-fire dialogue battles with the Duchess of Monmouth (Gladys).

Strangely, Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver is proving a useful introduction to this book, even though it is set a couple centuries prior, as I actually caught some of the references to courtly figures and places.

Book: Beowulf

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I finished Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf during my flight to and from Boston and enjoyed it greatly. I think it will stand up to multiple readings, as there is the Beowulf story, the poetic style of Heaney, and the side-by-side comparison of the translation and the original Old English. Heany also writes a good introduction to the text, that gives insight into the influences of the text as well as the guidelines he followed in the translation.

Apparently, you can order CDs for the "Electronic Beowulf," which contains scans of the original manuscript. From the few images that I have seen, I think it would add a lot of character to see the text in that form, even though I would be unable to read it.

If you are a fan of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, you might want to read this book; at least in my reading, it seems to me that Tolkein took a lot of his influence for those works from this poem. Perhaps this is an obvious fact that I was previously unaware of -- it helped that Heaney's introduction mentioned Tolkein's paper "Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics," but it seems even without this setup the similarities are striking enough to come through.

Book: Good Omens

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I liked this book, though I haven't disliked anything I've read that Neil Gaiman has been involved with that I've read or watched, so perhaps I'm biased. Imagine a really British version of the Apocalypse, where the Four Horsemen of the Apocalpyse are bikers and the snake from the Garden of Eden drives a Bently. It's downright ridiculous, and plenty funny for it. I was a bit let down by the ending, but such is the way of the Apocalypse.

DISCLAIMER: read no further if you haven't read the book, outline/quotes below.

Book: Pattern Recognition

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I liked this book a lot. It's not my favorite Gibson book, but it's definitely in the top tier (along with Idoru and Neuromancer). Thematically, this feels like one of Gibson's strongest efforts, as he manages to create a novel within the grief of 9/11, without the overbearing sentiment, shrillness, or hackneyed emotion that is characteristic of nearly every other effort that we have long become desensitized to. It helps that 9/11 is more of a small piece in the backdrop of the novel, but the thematic parallels are still very strong.

Gibson also manages to create a novel that leaves the cyberpunk roots behind and strikes out in the present day, summer of 2002, in a world that is very nearly our own. The Web browser in the book seems a little strange, but the most sophisticated machine in the book is no more than an iBook. Web bulletin boards and e-mail are the important communication tools in the book, and Gibson captures the obsessive, investigatory nature of fan sites.

The rest of this entry are notes that I took, and should be ignored by the casual visitor. I have broken them down into several sections: themes, outine, footage/dig, and people. The "themes" section benefitted greatly from multiple postings on the williamgibsonboard, which has a section on Pattern Recognition.

WARNING: Massive SPOILERS ahead! Usual disclaimer: these notes are of little use to anyone who has not read the book, and probably not even useful to people who have, as notes tend to be useful only to their creator. I post them here, because I find it convenient to be able to search my notes online.