book review

Book Fridays: This Is How You Lose Her

This Is How You Lose Her is a collection of short stories by Junot Diaz. Although each story can stand alone, each is linked by the common narrator, Yunior. The running theme is male infidelity. (These men can’t keep it in their pants.) Cultural machismo is definitely at play here but throughout I wanted Yunior to do better. Women were nothing but objects for most of the book. In the end I think Yunior was beginning to see them as something more. Regardless, he got little sympathy from me on this front. As a character he was both endearing and rage inducing.

Diaz’s unapologetic use of Spanish throughout his prose was refreshing. I especially liked the fact that there is no coddling of the reader. No explanations or definitions are given. You either know it or you look it up. I really liked that. As a reader, I appreciate feeling like the author respects my intelligence. His style of writing has me looking forward to reading more of his works.

Book Fridays: South of the Border, West of the Sun

South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami felt very much like a continuation of Norwegian Wood when I first began the book (but it’s not!). Norwegian Wood was my first Murakami book and I enjoyed it so much I decided to read more by this author. South of the Border, West of the Sun is a haunting read about a mid-life crisis. Hajime, a 37 year old man, is stuck in the past. Unable to let go of the love he feels for his friend, Shimamoto, whom he has not seen since they were 12 years old, he embarks on a journey that almost costs him everything.

The idea that our memories idealize our past relationships hits close to home for me. Not in a romantic sense, but I often think so fondly of friends that I haven’t really known since high school. All that ties me to them are the memories, and the occasional texts, but is there really a relationship there? Murakami explores this to a greater and more relevant extent. He is married with two children and runs two successful bars. His life, on the outside, seems idyllic but he’s lost in an internal turmoil that has him willing to throw it all away to give a future with Shimamoto a chance.

Shimamoto is mysterious and sometimes a little off kilter. She reveals very little about herself and I got the sense that Hajime was as confused about her as the reader. Hajime ultimately gives in and sleeps with Shimamoto once, but even though he cheated on his wife the sex manages to not feel dirty. Murakami manages to treat sex with a sort of purity and innocence.

In the end Hajime knows that he has to do and it doesn’t feel like a compromise. Not even a little.

For anybody that’s interested, all books that I review on my blog are either purchased by me (with my husband’s money :p) or borrowed from the library. I do not write sponsored posts or receive any form of compensation for anything that I write. I write this blog for fun. If this ever changes I will clearly say so at the TOP of my posts. 

Book Fridays – The Mists of Avalon

I recently read The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley and loved it. It was an amazing book with wonderful characters and story lines. While I was reading it I knew nothing about its author and now that I do I feel that it’s only right that I preface my review of this book with some unsavory facts about Ms. Bradley. When I googled Marion Zimmer Bradley I came upon this Entertainment Weekly article and my jaw dropped. She has been accused by her daughter of abusing her sexually and physically. To make matters worse, her father was convicted on child molestation charges 20 years ago and Zimmer Bradley knew him to be a pedophile and did nothing. So, her daughter was molested and abused by both parents. This information casts such a dark shadow over this book for me and grappling with this is difficult.

Of course, there are fans of Ms. Bradley that want to dismiss the daughter’s accusations because why come forward now after her mother has been dead a while? Well, precisely because she is dead! When people dismiss an abuse victim’s accusations they become the very reason many abuse victims stay silent. They fear retribution and dismissal. For victims of abuse talking about it can bring healing and it is our responsibility to listen. It is statistically extremely rare for accusations of abuse to be false.

If this information puts you off this book (first in a trilogy I believe) I completely understand. Had I known about it beforehand it would have definitely affected my reading experience, and who knows maybe I would not have enjoyed it as much as I did. My issue right now is accepting that this wonderful book was written by a despicable human being. She did unspeakable things to her own child as well as others. Should I throw the baby out with the bathwater? I’m having a lot of mixed feelings about it.

Madison Vain wrote, “I didn’t realize how much comfort I take as a reader in assuming that  I share a similar moral compass with an author. That doesn’t exist here, and adds a perpetual unease to the experience.” She wrote this in reference to discovering this sex abuse accusation and it really reflects my feelings.

Okay, so about the book. The feminist message is very compelling and the portrayal of young womanhood is elaborate and very well done. The Arthurian legend told from the point of view of the women of Avalon is a fascinating take.  The book is an epic tale complete with love, betrayal, magic and war. The men rule on the surface but it’s the women who plot and manipulate behind the scenes, setting things in motion that raise and topple kings. The book is over 900 pages long and so it is no easy read but it kept my interest throughout.

My favorite character was Morgaine (Morgan La Fay) she went through horrible things, did horrible things but you couldn’t help root for her. Even though the Goddess was a symbol of female empowerment she herself subjugated women and placed them in horrible situations that served her purpose.

I don’t want to say much more as I don’t want to give away any plot points. If you can get past the provenance of this amazing work you are in for a treat.

For in-depth analysis and summaries you should visit this site. It is basically a study guide.