Pretender Readers

I am struggling a bit lately and I am unable to write a good review, so here is another opinion post, because I though I was in a bad mood but it has been a few months now so I guess this is who I am now, a hater with a blog.

There is something that has been catching my attention lately, and it is this particular type of people that do not read but pretend they do and go on about it. They love feeling like they know everything about something without having the slightly idea on the subject in question. They will tell you how they loved this book they read years ago, how they tried and make everyone they knew read it afterwards. They will tell you about this other book they did not read but searched reviews on and got their own conclusions on, how amazing it is, how touching, how interesting.

I find this really funny because more and more people read less and less nowadays, and so this works with and for all them. These pretenders are used to find non-readers, and so their strategy gets better, but what is interesting and equally entertaining is how they do not know how to react with a deep reader.

If you are a reader you will understand how you cannot be tricked anymore. You know your readings, you know your books, and what you do not know about you want to know, you want to read everything about anything and get your collection bigger and bigger. Now, when you happen to find one of these, let’s so call them, pretender readers, you get that grin on your face while they speak. You know what they are trying, and it does not work with you. They will talk about easy readings, books that have spread among the masses for the past few months, novels that lack of any depth, novels that you know everything about now and that are not interesting enough.

I have mastered a skill now, I have my tricks, and this is to follow them into their conversation. Be a bit like them, pretend you are interested, ask questions, get to know them. Once you know where they come from, start talking about real books, name Salinger and Bukowski and Franzen, find their weakness, and so show them how wrong they happen to be.

As I am writing this I am feeling like a “mean girl”, but to me this is something that we have to fight and eradicate. We have to teach people how to be real. Me myself, I do not really know what I am talking about most of the time, but I will be honest about it, I will not pretend I am an expert on a subject, I will try and learn more about something and share only what I do know for sure. We should get away from the “I am cool because I am a reader” that we sadly see more often on social media now. Since when did we start pretending to be readers to impress others?

My reading list is still growing and is very long, but I do not pretend I have read books I haven’t even heard of; instead, I find new books and get the time to read them, and then grow my own opinions on them. The world is already too unreal for us to praise this falsehood.

Short Story Review: The Story of Lucius Cane, by Vanya Ferreira

51MXFYPCahL._SX318_BO1,204,203,200_Lucius Cane is a Vampire. Jack the Hound is a half lycanthrope. They are both in London, 1794, and they both happen to have an encounter that does not end up very well.

There is not much more to say about The Story of Lucius Cane (it is 20 pages long), but it happened to be quite entertaining. It kind of took me back in time to my younger days as it reminded me of the type of fantasy novels I used to read back then. The way it is written matches the story and the characters fairly, and so do the descriptions of the events. These descriptions may seem grotesque at some points but the fights, though very realistic and specific, did not really shock me, they just seemed right for the story.

It is a short story that I assume was excerpted from book one, which is still to come, or at least that is what I hope, as the author career is definitely promising and I would not mind reading the whole story.

Vanya Ferreira was born in South Africa and currently resides in Serbia. He has been reading since he can remember and has a passion for writing; he simply finds the syntactical nature of language to be a beautiful and mesmerizing creature. Apart from his short story collection, Vanya is also currently working on a full length psychological crime thriller that should be released before the end of the year.

If you are not a youngster anymore but you used to love vampire stories back at the time, then you should entertain yourself with this story, it is good.

INFO: I have stopped accepting books for review. You can get more information on my Review Policy page.

Book Review: Five Thousand, Three Hundred Miles, by Cecily Knobler

28425192I am not really into romantic novels as most of the times I have tried and get into one, and I either don’t feel related to the characters or I don’t like the story, and so I end up leaving it midway. However, I was gladly surprised when all the contrary happened whilst reading Five Thousand, Three Hundred Miles.

To put you into situation: Beth, the main character, receives a three days trip to London from her sister for her birthday, and, as expected, she falls in love during her trip. Almost half of the story is set in London, and the main character is a simple American girl to whom everyone can feel related to quite easily (because of the setting and the character itself, I am obviously not American). The first Irish man she meets in the story is the perfect representation of one of plenty you could easily find here any evening out (sadly), and the second and charming man, Jack, is the proper stereotypical image of the English gentleman, who is a bit less easy to relate to (they are endangered species), but who is obviously the one Beth falls for, giving the story that “Hollywood rom-com” atmosphere, which will make any young girl fall for this book.

What also surprised me is that, even though the way it is written is nothing too exceptional, the author achieves to be pretty funny and close to the reader, which matches the story and the characters involved in it pretty well.

“I wanted to ask him everything about his life just because he had an English accent. The same went for the cabbie, the gentleman in customs and the lady who took my train ticket. I wanted to Facebook friend request every single person I came across, but I decided to tone down the Yankee in me, if only for a moment.”

The story is written in first person narrator, but it switches from Beth to Jack, the charming English man, from chapter to chapter, which makes the whole thing a bit more interesting having these two points of view. Why so? Because *spoiler alert* their ways are separated before they can swap details, due to an unfortunate situation right before Beth is leaving to the airport, and so they cannot find each other once she returns to America. This gives the author a great opportunity to explore both characters months after this happened, as the author does not stay in a simple love story, but narrates more realistic situations in their now separated lives, like the fears of being with someone unsure if they are the right ones, the uncertainty of love and the fear for the unknown future. Yet, the part I liked the most was the one set in London, but mainly because here is where the change happens, and where the story gains its intensity.

“His eyes, now looking as green as Hyde Park, lingered on me for a moment. They then expressed a sentiment that read: “Please forgive me, but I can no longer not kiss you”. If only there were just one word for that. I’ll bet the French have it. But English speakers don’t, so thankfully we can read eyes.”

It was a lovely reading. It was also refreshing to read a new author for once, not knowing what to expect. Recommended for any hinting people out there who is avoiding romance; you may fall for this one.

Book Review: The Vegetarian, by Han Kang

5fa98b3d-55de-498e-bc0c-4d568001aeb4_editedI have always believed that for a story to be good it has to have an interesting plot and it also has to be well written, and I try to found my inclinations on this. Therefore, and based on this, I will dare to say that I have not disliked a book this much since Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (oh yes, I did hate that one indeed).

I understand if some of you disagree. This book has great reviews, and it promised a lot at the beginning, and I chose it myself mostly because of the way it was written -or, at least, promised to be written:

“However, if there wasn’t any special attraction, nor did any particular drawbacks present themselves, and theferore there was no reason for the two of us not to get married.”

But before you even finish the first part, this greatness-to-be fades away and the book is just a quarter of what it could have been. It tries to tell the story about how a woman decides to stop eating meat and then everyone around her starts going nuts.The book is divided in three different parts, each part narrated by a different character, and all these narrators seem to be equaly unpersonal and noncredible, and as flat as the rest of the characters in the story.

For me, the reason why it does not make justice to its promise is mainly because there is too much going on and the author did not really solve the problem, and cahotically and barely put the story together, leaving the reader with that feeling of apathy towards the characters.

I hope you do not get me wrong, the “main” character Yeong-hye- “main”, as she does not really have a voice of herself in the story- is intense and surrealistic, and I do get why the book has got so much attetion, as it presents something new, but this character, a character one should be able to feel at least empathy for, simply feels emtpy and unreal. There are inclusions of dreams throughout the book, which aim to give the readers clues of what is on her mind, but to me they just seemed randomly placed and non-related, and, again, they did not comply their finality.

“Sleeping in five-minutes snatches. Slipping out of fuzzy conciousness, it’s back – the dream. Can’t even call it that now. Animal eyes gleaming wild, presence of blood, unearthed skull, again those eyes.”

The worst thing that can happen to you when reading a book is that the book conveys you nothing, and that is what happened to me with The Vegetarian. Easy and quick to read, not a pleasure.

New Purchases

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How many times have you heard “New Year, New Me” so far this new 2016? To me it is more like “New Year, New Reads”, and I am already planning what my reading list is going to include this year (open for sugestions as always).

So here are my picks of the month again, which are basically auto-christmas presents as I like to call them:

The Bachelors, by Muriel Spark

Interesting plot, intriguing idea, and good reviews all over the place, I will be very disappointed if I do not like this one. Set in London, it presents “The Bachelors” as its characters, and the torments these will too suffer, which means drastic changes and excentric situations, or at least that what I expect.

– Your Fathers, Where Are They? And The Prophets, Do They Live Forever?, by Dave Eggers

I mean, who is not attracted by that title? I am sure the “weird title” and the bright cover are a very well done marketing strategy, but I am certainly sold. Thomas and Kev, abductor and abducted respectivelly, find themselves in an abandoned military base, a perfect place for them to have “a conversation”, so high expectations for this one.

– How To Be Both, by Ali Smith

Not sure if I have the “camera” version or the “eyes” version of this book, but either way I am expecting something interesting and moving. It involves art and changes of time, mirrowing two different eras with different characters. Thanks to my friend Vivi for letting me borrow this one,  I have a feeling I am going to like it coming from her.

And I may be repeating the repeated now, but Happy New Year everyone, hope you have a good start and a better ending to this 2016, and please, read a lot.

Book Review: Bark, by Lorrie Moore

3170385-9788845279096I love compilations of short stories. There is something really intense about them, a fixed moment on a bigger story, a memory, filling up the gaps with your own conclusions, and Lorrie Moore has proved to be pretty amazing at them.

The basis of the stories put together in Bark are nothing you could ever expect. You get easily trapped in them from the start, and when they come to an end you just want to know the rest of the story, where those characters come from and what happens next in their lives.It feels like finishing a meal whilst thinking what you are going to have for dessert.

I will also dare to say that the combination of the stories’ themes and the way they are written is close to perfection. Somehow Lorrie Moore has managed to transmit the characters’ feelings and thoughts through their actions, something that is already hard enough to achieve in novels, and this is another reason why I am so impressed by this work.

“At this my heart sickened and plummeted down my left side and into my shoe. My appetite, too, shrank to a small pebble and sat in stony reserve in the place my heart had been and to which my heart would at some point return, but not in time for dessert.”

To be fair, she is basically good with words. The combination of words is outstanding, and she does not fall in the routine of using literary jargon just for the sake of it, the words are simple and pure, and so the message gets transmitted smoothly, and, of course, she does not forget about giving the stories a touch of irony and humour as well.

“You could lose someone a little but they would still roam the earth. The end of love was one big zombie movie.”

“The plastic panel where the number should show was clouded as if by a scrim, a page of onionskin over the onion – or rather, over a picture of an onion. One depiction on top of another.”

The stories are intense and touching, easy to read but nonetheless perfectly put together. A book anyone would enjoy and no one would regret reading.

Book review: Imperial Bedrooms, by Bret Easton Ellis

images  I am sure you all have watched American Psycho, and Bret Easton Ellis is the person we should all thank for such a master piece. Written with same satiric tones, Imperial Bedrooms will also play with your mind. Set in Hollywood, Clay is a current script writer who moves from New York to LA for the production of his new movie, and here is where everything gets complicated.

It is supposed to be a sort-of-continuation for Less Than Zero, although I skipped this prequel and went straight to the older Clay, but after reading Imperial Bedrooms I truly believe reading the first part would have helped me understand the character a bit better, which is not something easy to figure out through such an eccentric first person narrator.

From the beginning you can already tell it is going to be an intense story. Money, sex, drugs, you have all of those in this fiction, and it could not be any other way. The eccentricity of the work gives the plot and the character a tint of lunacy that will make you doubt throughout the whole thing.

The representation of the Hollywood society is what I loved the most. Bret Easton Ellis is a master in the art of “not saying anything but saying everything at the same time”. The background is explained by the actions of the characters themselves. Furthermore, the lack of punctuation marks and the overuse of the conjunction “and” will get you into the paranoiac of the situation, and the amok of the narrator’s mind.

“The movie was very different from the book in that there was nothing from the book in the movie.”

“She could be twenty. She could be thirty. You can’t tell. And if you could, everything would be over.”

If I had to choose one word to describe this work it would be chaos. If you can get easily offended and you dislike works with abundance of strange encounters and people that seem to be crazy, then you might want to skip this one, but I must say it is a sterling representation of the ostentatious life of Hollywood and the consequences of the greed for fame, and I do not regret reading it.