On Sunday, I planned to read 3 books. I asked my subscribers on YouTube to look through my TBR stack and pick 3 books for me to read in a day. If we’re saying a day is a 24 hour period, then I succeeded. I got a late start on Sunday but once I started reading, I read the 3 books that were randomly selected from the list and was done early Monday.
Click to watch my vlog style video
and below, you can read more complete thoughts on each of the 3 books
This is a story of a man named Arthur, abbreviated Art, whose relationship has just ended and his ex, Charlotte, has hacked into his Twitter account and is parodying all the one liners he was saving for his “Art in Nature” blog. Since it’s Christmas and he’d promised his mother to bring Charlotte home for the holidays, he hires a replacement, this one a no nonsense girl, Lux, who connects with his family in a way Art never did before, bridging the gap between Art and Sophia (nicknamed Philo, maybe short for philosophy ) and Iris (the apple of one’s eye as well as the tool for seeing).
Author Ali Smith uses puns generously and connections to other literary and artistic works to offer commentary on past and present political issues. Characters’ names foreshadow their roles in the story and the author breaks the wall between her and the reader to tell us stories about the characters even though the characters themselves are resistant to share. In this way, she isolates the middle man and compromises his nature, much like the isolation that occurs in several scenes in the book. Smith writes cleverly about Winter and with it, Christmas and snow and family reunions. She also links these ideas with Dickens’ Christmas Carol and the ghosts that are present with us as well as the ghosts of Christmas past and future, and how those spectral interactions change us.
But I don’t think I loved Winter as a novel. There was a lot of groundwork to get through before the point of the book became clear, and some of the characters felt a little caricatured and incomplete. As it was difficult to relate to a novel that was neither plot driven not character driven, the moments, although quite poignant individually, then assembled like a collage instead of a complete story.
But I might change my mind about all this the longer I mull over this latest installment in Smith’s seasonal quartet so don’t hate me if I revise everything later.
In this very real depiction of a city overrun by a epidemic of white blindness, Nobel Prize winner Jose Saramago challenges the reader to confront his deepest fears.
The first blind man, as he is referred to throughout the novel, stops his car at a traffic light but when he starts to drive again, he cannot see. At his request, someone drives him home to wait for his wife who takes him to the eye doctor. Within hours, the doctor has also lost his sight, so too, all the patients in the waiting room and everyone they’ve been in contact with. As it becomes apparent that whatever this malady, it is highly contagious, the Ministry rounds up and quarantines the victims, giving them basic food rations along with strict instructions to remain contained within their borders. As the days and months pass, their numbers grow as more and more people are struck with this unexplained blindness and the walls fall.
Blindness is a dystopic adult fiction that elicits every fear and panic you’ve ever harbored and then adds to it, as the unnamed characters live out their horrors in a mental hospital and then on the streets when the epidemic claims the lawmakers and those who would have enforced the laws. The novel explores basic human principles pitting trust against vengefulness, fear against hope, but most of all, strips everything to show that what remains at the core must be in support of basic survival. Several times, the author pierces the veil and addresses the reader directly to tear down tenets we expect and show why they no longer exist in this hell he has created.
This was a haunting story, made more so by lengthy paragraphs of prose sans dialogue, free of the burdens of names but brimming with descriptions so vivid it is a wonder these characters remained blind so long.
In this flash fiction collection, the author offers sometimes humorous, some times deeply introspective glimpses into mundane everyday moments, to show how people are affected by the presence of others in real life and dreams.
Because of the sheer number of stories, it was difficult to establish a theme for each section but most were entertaining to read even if all the musings didn’t feel like bursts of genius.
I love a good challenge, especially when it involves something I already enjoy – like reading. If you’d like to join me in my next reading sprint, check out my Youtube channel and subscribe so you’ll know when I try this experiment again or another one like it. Most people who watched the video liked the idea so I think I might do a slightly different version again next weekend.
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