The Slap (Australia)

I have heard romuers that they made The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas into a movie or a TV show. I can see why it is a very compelling story. It is a very interesting story that has the potential to bring up a lot of discussion and hard feelings.

I do not want to give away the plot but as it is on the back of the book it is fair game. A man, Harry, slaps a child who is not his at a family/friends BBQ. Did he do the right thing in trying to protect his child or was it out of anger? I think this is for the reader to decide. I am not able to make that call for anyone else. As, for my opinion as a mother well, that would be telling.

While my partner does not read all of the books that I do we discuss then greatly. This one led to an interesting discussion on who we are and who others are. In this book there is a lot of talk about casual drug use. In fact one of the mothers when she finds out her 17 year old is doing drugs says;” I guess you’re all grown up.” Now I do not know if this is the standard feeling toward drugs in Australia, or not. I do know that the people that we associate with are not into the drug culture. I have never had the desire to try drugs.

One thing that I did have to do when reading this book was look up some slang words. One that is used over and over in the book happened to be defined as something that is racist. Now, some people may call me a prude for this but I did have a hard time with all the swearing in the book. I swear, but it is used as an exclamation, or as shock value to what I am speaking on. In this book many times it is used as a descriptor. Again my partner and I talked about this and we both came to the conclusion that it is who one hangs out with that is reflected in speech, and writing.

One of my notes on the book said that Rosie needs counseling-seriously. It also took a long time into the book for me to find quotes. I do not pick them at random they mean something to me at the time that I had read them.

QUOTES

“Getting old was a chore, a misery indeed, but it did have its concessions.”

“He believed he had glimpsed a truth, a possibility: equanimity, acceptance, a certain peace- in old age, all men were equal.”

 

Asleep in The Sun (Argentina)

I still have no computer, so there is not going to be a picture to go with this post.

For Argentina I read Asleep in the Sun by Adolfo Bioy Casares. What an odd little book. The outside said that it was a humorous novel I think my sense of humor is not like everyone else. I did not find this amusing in definition of the word.

First there was the old lady Ceferina, why did he keep her around? She did not like Diane the wife, she was mean to everyone who came over. What was her point in the story?

Reading this book was like trying to read someone’s slow decent into madness, without there being a madness involved. It was some what like Invasion of The Body Snatchers (great movie). It was not until I was driving home and talking to my partner about the book that  she pointed out some things to me.

This was set at the time of Evita and that this might have been the authors way of coping with the dissaperances that were occurring.  Imagin waking up and finding your neighbors gone. Just gone, and someone new living in their home. She pointed out to me that in some weird twisted way, this might be what the author was trying to write about. While trying not to get “disappeared” himself.

QUOTES

“I’m amazed at the way people loathe pity.”

‘”Didn’t you ever realize that one loves people for their shortcomings?” I shouted at him like a wild man.

 

The Good Muslim (Bangladesh)

The Good Muslim by  Tahmima Anam was the book that I chose for Bangladesh. I honestly do not know much about the country, and I had to google it to find where in the world it was. But that is the whole point of my reading project to find and discover and learn.

There is a lot of stuff in the news about Muslims these days, and this is not about that.

In the book there is a war where a Dictator has won freedom for the country. Soon after that Maya returns home, hoping that life will go on has it had before the war. Told in two different decades it shows how choices can change and effect lives.

While I felt for Maya, her brother and her mom the character that I was most interested in was a little boy named Zaid. Oh, did I feel for this child. At age 6 he had no friends, no mother, and his father at best was at a lose on what to do. He was pushed aside to be dealt with later. It was Zaid, that brought me to tears. That and the realization that there are many more children like that in the world. I do not give out spoilers, and I only talk about how the book affected me. This is one that I will not soon forget.

One of the notes that I wrote about this book was that I had to “come up for air.”

QUOTES

“Her broken wishbone of a country was thirteen years old.”

“They put their memories away as best they could, and they wipes the traces of blood from their hands and from the hems of their saris.”

“But she could not bring herself to step inside, because of the boys on the roadside, and all the things she had witnessed, committed in the name of God.”

Swords of Ice (Turkey)

I have found out what is wrong with my laptop, the motherboard is fried. That means until I have the money to get a new computer I am going to be using public ones, or borrowing one where I can. My partner said that I can use hers but I seem to have a problem logging on to that one.

There is not a link to this book as I could not find one on Powell’s site.

Swords of Ice by Latife Tekin is the book that I read for Turkey. She is one of their most popular authors. From my point of view I am not sure why. I should be a bit more kind as this is the only book of hers that I have read. It is just not in a style that works for me, and what does not work for me can work for someone else.

When I read up on this book it said that it was about a man Halilhan and his Volvo. The car was to be the starting point for his company, and that this book was bout getting that company to be a working one. I am not sure if that happened or not. To be honest I am not sure what happened in the book at all. I know that Halilhan chased women, he thought his car had a soul, and his friend Gogi was looking for love. I don’t know if any of the goals were reached.

When my Partner asked me what reading the book was like I said “it’s like reading an abstract painting, painted by an impressionist.” As a side note I have always thought that impressionist needed glasses.

I did not find any of the characters in this book to be likeable, that might be because I could not understand what their goals were. I would welcome an explantion if someonse has one.

QUOTES

‘”Jealousy drives people to create an imaginary werewolf in the family,” Halilhan told Gogi.’

“The overhauling of the Volvo crated a tension that bode ill for the whole neighborhood.”

“The souls of the poor know and understand each other as no others can.”

The Coyote Kings at the Space-Age Bachelor Pad

First off I need to apologize that for this book there is not a photograph to go with the review. My laptop has died and is currently in the hands of a Techno-Cleric to see if it can be resurrected. If not then he is going to try and do a memory swap, so I can clone the information later. Translated-it is in the repair shop, hopeful it can be fixed.

This book was read for Canada, and I got it before I realized that to do Canada justice I would have to read a book for each providence.

The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad by Minister Faust, was such a fun book to read. I would sit and giggle as I read this one, and if I were in a coffee shop or at work people would look at me strange. Then I had a hard time telling them what I was laughing about.

Each of the main characters in this book has a character sheet, and if like me you are a nerd or have played an RPG before you know what one is. I loved this, it gave a brief overview of each person, and what their voice was like. Character development in this book was amazing. The plot was a little on the odd/weak side but the characters more than made up for that. One thing that took me a bit to get my head around was that the chapters would switch voices. There would be there or four chapters from Hamza’s point of view then a few from Yehats.

Other than saying this was a fun book I did not learn much about the culture in Canada but that is OK. I am going to need these fun book as so many books seem to be focused on war.

QUOTES

“I mean, that is simultaneously amazing and depressing. Monuments defaced by fossils.”

“I’m not saying Hamza’s cheap but if the only thing standg in between our solar system and a fleet of intergalactic en slavers was Hamza’s wallet crunched inside his fist, we’d all be drilling methane wells on Pluto right now.”

“But out here, no one hears it anyway. Not even the stars.”

“Human History is nothing but a pyramid of pain, topped with the capstone of ecstasy and epiphany for the most highly evolved.”

 

Yesterday

Last night I can to the conclusion that if I am going to be able to get though the world in a year, I need to quit goofing off and get busy. So far my reading has been sporadic, and when I finally realized how hard it was going to get books I decided to get serious.

What I did was make a list of all of the countries that start with the letters “A”, and “B” this was the easy part. Then I started book hunting, I do not have contacts with publishers so I do not have the ease of setting off an email and asking for advice. Nope, I had to Google it. It took about 5 hours to pick out all of the books that I want to read from Albania to Burundi.

So now I have a master list, and can work through this in a much more organized manner. I am still going to have to do a lot of inter library loans, and buy some of the more obscure books, but now I have a place to start.

I have four coming from my local library and four coming from the inter library system. That should give me a good start here for the next two weeks.

It is a BIG world

When I started this little project of mine, I knew that there were going to be some challenges. Deciding on what country to read, picking a book, reading the book, and then blogging about it. There were a few things that I did not take into account. One that totally surprised me and one that I should have thought of.

The one that surprised me was the library. I knew I would have to do inter library loans and I knew that these would take a while to get to me, IF it was even possible to borrow the book I wanted to read. What I did not realize, and I should have looked into this, is that there is a number limit on the holds and loans I can get. That limit is four. What this means is that I can have three inter library books on hold, and one checked out. That is my four. This is putting me behind in my reading. I can and sometime read a book a night at work, and I only try to read at work. This is three books a week. Sometimes I only have one book to read, because that is all that has come in to the library. Just one, then sometimes I have a week where nothing comes in or all four at once.  In the words of Charlie Brown ‘AAARRRGGHH!!”

The one that I should have thought of are big countries. Africa is not a big country it is a continent. The big countries are Australia, Canada, and the US. I am currently reading  a book for Canada, and I will pick one for Australia, however I will not be choosing one for the U.S. I have lived all over the U.S and I know that each region while the same is very different, I am going to assume that is the same with Australia and Canada. So for next year I will read one book for each state or province. More reading!!

Tonight while I am awake I am going to try and plan out my next 20 books. That way I can get them ordered, and if need be purchase them.

Gaurdian of the Dead (New Zealand)

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When I started reading Gaurdian of the Dead by Karen Healey the only thing I knew about Maori culture was what I saw in the movie The Whale Rider. When I found out that this book involved the myths of the Maori I wanted to read it and learn more.

In some cases this was true, there is a bit about the creation of the world and New Zealand in there, and them some about the Patupaiarehe.  For an authors first book this one is not bad, some plot lines do get lost, and parts of the book kind of lag, but it is a first book.

One thing that struck me on reading this was that some of the myth stories are similar to other parts of the world. I have always wanted to know if the stories all came from the same place. Who started them?

There is also enough of a difference to keep them interesting and going. While she was not in the book much my favorite character was Hine-nui-te-po, I felt so sorry for her and what she went through with her Father\husband. She chose to be the guardian of the dead and to sleep to protect them.

For many parts of the book it could have been set in any developed English speaking country. What kept the story in New Zealand for me was the bit of slang, and the use of Maori words as common language. The last quote also struck me for the location of the book. I know that summer is Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere, but this quote just struck me as how natural it is from them, and how odd it is for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere.

QUOTES

“She’d plucked out her own eyes to give her son the best chance she could.”

“‘Summer will be here in six months, and I’ll be home for Christmas. Lots of long, bright days. Barbecues. Walks on the beach.”

Street Without a Name (Bulgaria)

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For Bulgaria I read Street Without a Name Childhood and Other Misadventures in Bulgaria by Kapka Kassabova. This book made me glad that I grew up where I did. The author of this book is just a few years younger then I am and so we grew up in the same time period. What a difference location makes.

She grew up in Bulgaria before the Berlin wall fell, I grew up in the United States, and we both faced growing up with Propaganda. The propaganda we grew up with amazingly was just the same. Our country\way of life is the best, and the rest of the world is wrong, but I think that all kids are taught that.

I knew from history books about the food lines, and how strict the schooling was. I just never thought of it involving children, I think that has to do with the media and what images that they show. They hardly ever show children.

The other thing that I found interesting is the defining points of history for her. I remember when the Berlin Wall fell, and how huge a news story that was here in the west. To her it was just a side note. Her defining point was Chernobyl. There was a definite before and after Chernobyl. While it was a worry here, for her it was a reality. She got sick, and people that she knew died.

In the second half of the book she goes back to Bulgaria. For me this part of the book seemed like it did not fit the rest. It was more history, and I think she was looking for some type of closure that never came about.

QUOTES

“Lies, big and small, nibbled at the fabric of our lives like moths.”

“Youth was not a city. It was citizen storage.”

“Beauty might be important to the ego of countries, but truth is more important to me.”

“Because how can you truly know yourself, and how can you know other places and people, if you don’t even know where you came from?”