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Hamlet

Hamlet

Joined December 2016

(he/him/his)
review
Hamlet
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Pickpick

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Its rich cast of characters develop naturally with the tide of events, & Tolstoy does portray so well the events of Russia‘s fight with Napoleon & his army. Tolstoy inserts essays of a sort throughout the narrative, his theory on what drives history. Pierre, Natasha, Prince Andrei, Nikolai, Marya, & their changes: these persons & their ideas are what I won‘t forget. The story matched the legend of this big book.

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Hamlet
Kindred | Octavia Butler
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Pickpick

This is a good story, more fantasy than sci-fi since there‘s no explanation nor interest in the means of time travel, just in the meaning & consequences of the trips. I had a more complicated reaction to it than pals of mine. Following a modern Black woman from the 1970s to the early 1800s in the American south is a harrowing journey. Saving a slave-holder relative must be so hard: it‘s humane, but it also permits his continuing (see comments…)

Hamlet …terrible acts. The set up makes the character & us come face to face with the human relation to slave & slave-holder. It‘s all horrific & removes any easy responses, even as the stark evils of slavery & their effects on all are laid bare. Dana‘s ability to teach so many enslaved persons to read seemed implausible, even more so since she acted with the tacit consent of Rufus. That‘s not much of a weakness, though, set against the tale‘s power. 9mo
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Hamlet
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Pickpick

A gripping book, understated & potent, this has none of the overwrought prose typical of antebellum American non-fiction. The bravery of F.D. & all those who suffered under slavery‘s grip astonishes me. He wrote of those planning escape, “We did more than Patrick Henry, when he resolved on liberty or death.” He‘s right. F.D. trenchantly noted of a once-kindly white woman turned cruel, “Slavery proved as injurious to her as to me.” Read his truths.

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Hamlet
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Pickpick

This is a powerful story Coleson Whitehead has crafted. The realistic opening chapters were stark & moving, especially Ajarry‘s story of her enslavement in Africa. I had my doubts when the fantastical elements began, but Whitehead‘s creativity here intensified & made fresh a familiar type of tale. Other changes to history were like Atwood‘s in A Handmaid‘s Tale: nothing that hadn‘t actually happened somewhere. Cora & Ridgeway stay in my mind.

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Hamlet
Young Once | Patrick Modiano
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Pickpick

Another lovely book by Modiano. This is a quick read, full of life: the hapless choices of youth amid friendly but darkly mysterious older pals in post-WWII Paris. From the vantage of their 35th birthdays, we see the past of Louis & Odile, merely 19 as they are buffeted by circumstance, listless as initial plans & aspirations fall aside. They do find each other. That unity gives meaning to the random events & persons that constitute their youth.

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Hamlet
The Lover | Marguerite Duras
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Pickpick

Beautiful writing & a heartbreaking story. I loved this sad novel‘s languorous & often cyclic prose, fitting for the heat of the Mekong. An older women‘s memories of her forbidden sexual liaison between her 15 year-old self & a Chinese man, this is a story of outsiders, of a union that‘s not really connection, of memory‘s interpretations. She is escaping a terrible home life, yet she survives, asserts self, even discovers desire. Unforgettable.

Hamlet That is a young Marguerite Duras herself in the cover photograph. 11mo
Leftcoastzen I remember loving this book 11mo
batsy I love this book ❤️ Difficult but unforgettable, I agree. 11mo
9 likes1 stack add3 comments
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Hamlet
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Pickpick

I really enjoyed this book about that short space — from 1929 when Talkies became the norm until July 1, 1934 when Joseph Breen & the Production Code Admin began censoring movies — that space when complex & liberated women and women‘s roles dominated Hollywood. The rehabilitated, full story of Norma Shearer‘s film choices & performances was wonderful to read. The final chapters on 1990s cinema were weaker, but that doesn‘t diminish my enthusiasm.

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Hamlet
Iza's Ballad | Magda Szabo
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Pickpick

This my second novel by Magda Szabó, & I am now a confirmed fan of her writing, her creations. I admire the insights into generational differences — in the country as well as the characters — and the richness & complexity of her portraits. When I had to put this book down, unexpectedly, for a long stretch, I found I could return to it easily, so vivid were the story & characters in my mind. Yes, this book was a satisfying and rewarding read. Brava

Suet624 Loved this one. 10mo
Hamlet @Suet624 I did too, but I think The Door is still my favorite so far. I have Katalin Street on my TBR pile. 9mo
8 likes2 comments
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Hamlet
Crime and Punishment | Fyodor Dostoyevsky
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Pickpick

I finally got to this one. Dostoyevsky offers some interesting psychological portraits here; his exploration of “the great man” theory of history (& its shedding of conventional morality) through impoverished, troubled Raskolnikov was intriguing. Other characters were fascinating too, as were questions of redemption & the ongoing nature of his punishment. I found the epilogue to be an abject failure, unworthy of the rest of the book.

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Hamlet
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Pickpick

If you want to get a handle on the conspiracy theory behind a good deal of the craziness in American politics and the American electorate, this book is a good guide. It‘s all just so absurd and fatiguing that I kept wanting to walk away, until I remembered the insidious effects of all this QAnon rot.

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Hamlet
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Pickpick

I heard that C. Nolan‘s movie “Oppenheimer” was largely based on this book, so I had to read it first. It‘s a thorough biography. I had hoped for more on the science of the Manhattan Project, but I find I must seek out another book for that. Oppenheimer is a compelling personality and a fascinating polymath in addition to his genius for physics. I found the incessant talk of FBI & Army worry about communists wearying, as Oppie himself must have.

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Hamlet
Steps | Jerzy Kosinski
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Pickpick

Kosinski is an excellent writer: spare, concise, intense. This book troubled me; vignettes are populated with a character (characters? …never named) alienated and often lost. There is frank conversation as the narrator moves in stark, sexual situations that sometimes shock and always disconcert. The novel is challenging & uncompromising & daring. I needed walks to ponder what I‘ve read, ideas of isolation & desperate need for connection. Striking.

Suet624 He is a troubled person. 1y
Suet624 Came by to see how you‘re doing. Miss seeing your reviews. 12mo
Hamlet @Suet624 Thanks for checking. I just took a break from social-media posting. I‘ll be back with a couple of reviews pretty soon. 12mo
Suet624 @Hamlet oh good. See you soon. 💕 12mo
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Hamlet
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Pickpick

This is an excellent short memoir by a Hungarian at the start of WWI; it was just published in 2014. News of the war declaration, the call-up of soldiers, training, and his experiences in battle come briefly & quickly. The largest part of the book is his recuperation from a head wound and his travels around Hungary, feeling alienated but also finding peace in art & nature. His naïveté about modern war & quick changes are compelling & unnerving.

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Hamlet
In the Caf of Lost Youth | Patrick Modiano
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Pickpick

What a lovely, gently told story this is. 4 voices in 4 sections give differing perspectives on a time in Paris, a time of youth for 3 of them. I was intrigued; it all seemed so light. Upon reaching the end, I was compelled to return to earlier parts. My understanding found its way, yet the mystery endured: “When we really love someone, we‘ve got to accept their role in the mystery.” Youth & a woman named Louki reside there: it‘s worth a visit.

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Hamlet
End: My Struggle: Book 6 | Karl Ove Knausgaard
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6 books, 3,600 pages, & many months: I‘m finally done. Scroll down for my review of book 1; this will have to serve for the rest. It was a worthwhile trip. He made the banalities of quotidian life valuable, while exploring the costs & sacrifices of the “I” & its freedom in the artist and the “we” of social community and its regulation/constraints. 50 pages analyzed Celan‘s poem “The Straightening” & 450 on Hitler‘s “Mein Kampf” well. It worked.

BarbaraBB I loved these series and the 6th installment made a perfect final! 2y
batsy Great, succinct review of this series! I really need to get to it. 2y
Hamlet @batsy Thanks so much! It was quite readable and compelling. 2y
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Hamlet
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Pickpick

This book is enjoyable reading. The notions she explores about ordinary living in the Old English period in Britain are fun & surprising. Women in early medieval Britain could rule; they could own, inherit, & sell land… news to me! I enjoyed finding origins of words, such as lufu=love, sōth (spelled with a “thorn”)=truth, source of our “sooth,” as in soothsayer. It‘s light on language history, but works as a foray into an old tongue & its mindset.

EvieBee Sounds fascinating! Checking the library. 2y
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Hamlet
The Stone Diaries | Carol Shields
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Shields is a good writer. I enjoyed this chronicle of a family from Canada & the upper Midwest. The story centers on Daisy Goodwill as a child, mother, botany columnist, and old women. Shields uses more than an unreliable narrator to keep things lively: letters, multiple viewpoints in short narrative bursts, voices chiming-in when Daisy raises a subject but doesn‘t ask for any opinions. Lovely turns of phrase & moving insights make this a winner.

Suet624 I read that soooo long ago! Jeepers. All I remember is the main character‘s first name. When was it written? 2y
jlhammar Great book! I loved it. 2y
Hamlet @Suet624 I was reading the 15th anniversary edition, but it was really published much further back than I had realized—1993! (edited) 2y
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Hamlet
I, Asimov: A Memoir | Isaac Asimov
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Mehso-so

I read a book or set it aside, but this book induced me to skim for long sections. I enjoyed the story of his early life, & even his self-praise and boundless confidence seemed honest rather than just egotistical… for a while. I most enjoyed his portrayal of the 1930s sci-fi scene where pulp mags ruled before novels had much chance of success. I welcomed his short descriptions of other writers and editors, too. He wrote the book in (see comments)

Hamlet 1)…. short 1-3 page chapters for the most part, chatty and informal; it‘s easy to tell that he just wrote as things came to him, relying on his structured mind rather than an outwardly structured, tight plan for the book. I had to skim many chapters on his own life that were boringly self-serving or that added little to my understanding of him as a man or writer. Still, I found enough commentary on his work, the publishing business, & other …. 2y
Hamlet 2)… writers to make the book worthwhile, even with all the fast skimming I had to endure. Asimov wrote hundreds & hundreds of books, hitting every category in the Dewey Decimal system except Philosophy. It‘s no wonder his editors gave him so much freedom after a lifetime of successes, too much freedom in this, one of his last books. I generated a list of sci-fi authors I now want to explore, and that alone makes me grateful for this book. 2y
12 likes2 comments
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Hamlet
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Pickpick

I quite enjoyed this book, especially because of the history it touched upon. We zoom from the Library of Alexandria to Bell Labs in the U.S., from medieval scriptoriums to 20th C newspaper offices, from the birthplace of the typewriter to the office where the first email jumped from one computer to another. It‘s a rewarding journey, well researched. He could delete the entire last chapter & improve the book, in my opinion; the rest is great fun.

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Hamlet
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Pickpick

I quite liked this intriguing novel, one inspired by a true story. I must say that I was not a fan of the writing, but the story of the young, teenage girl living with her father secretly in the woods and what happens when they‘re discovered was fascinating and troubling. The real pair were named Frank and Ruth; I‘ll leave it for those interested to discover where the book and actual events part ways. The whole thing is worth exploring.

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Hamlet
The Middle Parts of Fortune | Frederic Manning
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Pickpick

This British novel by a veteran is an excellent account of life in & near the trenches of WWI. Manning gives an unsentimental description of all aspects of a Private‘s life: its tedium, small pleasures, intensity to nerve-shattering proportions, & stoic camaraderie. Bourne is the focus with his two pals Shem & Martlow. I felt the rhythm of their lives more than in other WWI books, & it breaks my heart. I‘m grateful he found a way to write it.

Hamlet The title comes from Hamlet, and the quotations before each chapter are selected from Shakespeare‘s works. 2y
Suet624 While this sounds intriguing, the war in Ukraine is breaking my heart and I think this book would keep me in bed for days. 2y
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Hamlet
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Pickpick

This collection was as informative for me as it was entertaining. The author was born and raised in China and is now a professor at Princeton. The stories have a great range, from imperial eunuchs and the early days of Mao to tales set in America with insights about thinking in Chinese versus English. The writing (in English) is clear, direct, & unsentimental. I enjoyed all the stories and was moved by many. I recommend this collection.

AliceCullen Intriguing. Adding to my list! 2y
Hamlet @AliceCullen Oh, I‘m so glad something caught your eye! Hooray! 2y
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Hamlet
My Struggle: | Karl Ove Knausgaard, Don Bartlett
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Pickpick

This six-part novel has been on my TBR list for some time; it‘s been called one of the first great works of the 21st century. I was amazed that it sold a half-million copies in his native Norway, a country of only 5 million. I found this first volume to be a very fast read. Critics call it “auto fiction,” which is much closer to a memoir than most novels based on one‘s life. There is much controversy about it. I found that he renders(see comments)

Hamlet (Review continued #1)…beauty and meaning out of everyday events the way Melville renders philosophy from whaling-ship details or (a more apt comparison) the way Proust derives memory analysis and social critique from everyday banalities of French life. I‘m reading it with a book-club pal, and we have both captivated. It‘s his complete honesty and candor that makes the work of presenting truth as he sees and discovers it somehow sing. (Continued..) 2y
Hamlet (Review continued #2) This first volume focuses on Karl Ove‘s youth, leading to the death of his father; some English editions subtitle it “A Death in the Family.” He hates his father but can‘t shake his influence and lasting effects. Brutal honesty makes for a writer I admire but a character who shocks and who can be unsavory but still fascinating. Everything arising from his minute attention and candor is both straightforward and… (continued..) 2y
Hamlet (Review continued #3)… quite nuanced; it demands conversation after reading, I found, and the conversations I have had about the book have been rewarding. The novel may not be for everyone. I suggest you read some critics‘ reviews before you decide to add or reject it from your TBR pile. I will definitely read the other volumes. 2y
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Leftcoastzen I adored the series, but I agree, not for everyone. Lovely review! 2y
Suet624 I liked this one until about halfway through. I think it reminded me too much of an ex-hubby. 2y
Hamlet @Suet624 That‘s a good-enough reason to just drop it and walk away… good for you to take such self-care! 2y
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Hamlet
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Pickpick

Although there are newer translations with a more accurate title in English, I heard that this Moncrieff & Kilmartin first translation makes up for any liberties in English wording with lovely, flowing prose. It worked for me. I very much enjoyed this monster of a first volume, more than I had anticipated. The famous scene of the madeleine soaked in tea provoking unrealized memories led to intimacies and beauty. (Continued in the comments.)

Hamlet (Continued review #1) The language was flowing and wonderful to behold. Yes, sentences can go on for much of a page, but they‘re easy and enjoyable to follow… if you keep track of the subject way back at the start of the sentence. It all starts with the detailed emotional life of a young boy before switching to his family, Monsieur Swann and his quest after a woman, and much more. Proust lays out the minutiae of French life toward the end of …. 2y
Hamlet (Continued review #2) … the 19th century, and his understanding is vivacious and personally generous, even as he lays out insightful social satire and critique. I was startled by how funny Proust can be; I hadn‘t expected that for some reason. Let me just say that it was a pleasure to read the first volume of this longest-of-all novels. I will start Volume Two when the warm weather comes, I think. This hoariest of old, long classics is a treasure. 2y
BarbaraBB Well done! You‘ll love when he travels up the French coast- also when the warm weather comes! 2y
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Hamlet
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Mehso-so

Smith does a good job giving a taste of Appalachian culture, and the family dynamics are intriguing. Mostly I appreciated stand-alone scenes that were pretty or moving rather than the novel as a whole. It was an okay book, but I won‘t be reaching for more of Smith‘s work unless I receive a strong personal recommendation from someone.

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Hamlet
Sense and Sensibility | Jane Austen
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Pickpick

What a wonderful novel this is! It was a pleasure to read about controlled Elinor and uninhibited Marianne again. Austen weaves the differences of the sisters from an underlying critique of the Romantic poets and their valuing emotion and personal experience over social proprieties and old English self-control. (I‘m simplifying too much, of course.) Col. Brandon seems duller than actors portray him, but the rest of the book is glorious Austen.

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Hamlet
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Pickpick

I was thinking about Sense and Sensibility one day, and remembering Marianne running around that London townhouse hoping for a letter from Willoughby. That made me start looking up info on the penny & two-penny post. This is the only book I could find that is exclusively focused on the subject. It‘s not great, but it had the info and many of the stories I had hoped to find; thus, it‘s a worthwhile read.

Hamlet When the Royal Mail was first extended to all the people, the recipient of a letter had to pay the postage, not the sender. Can you imagine?! 2y
12 likes1 comment
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Hamlet
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Pickpick

This collection of stories was my first foray into the writing of Lahiri; when I neared the end, I headed to my favorite Boulder book store for more by her. These tales of immigrant families are humane, complex, & riveting. This book became a book-club pick because there is so much to discuss: a richness of relations & moments that made me set aside other story collections I was reading as dun colored in comparison. I enjoyed every page.

IuliaC Stacked! I read "Interpreter of Maladies" by the same author and loved it 3y
Hamlet @IuliaC I‘ll put it on my TBR list! She‘s a wonderful writer. 3y
Suet624 This is going to sound super-goofy because I know Boulder is large, but you wouldn‘t know Ellen Orleans would you? 2y
Hamlet @Suet624 No, not goofy… it‘s fun to question and imagine far-off connections! But sorry, no, I don‘t know her. 2y
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Hamlet
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Pickpick

I‘ve heard about Ferrante‘s writing prowess for a long time, and this offering did not disappoint. Two very different girls in a small Italian village become friends, with the adventurous and mercurial Lila pushing, defining, & challenging our reminiscing narrator, Lenú. I became immersed in the world of their childhood & adolescence each time I picked up the book, so rich is Ferrante‘s storytelling & character development. It‘s a rewarding book.

IuliaC Great review! I liked the entire tetralogy 3y
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Hamlet
Salvage the Bones | Jesmyn Ward
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Pickpick

Ward‘s story moves quickly with bloody dog fights, candid (even upsetting) sexuality, & a Black family‘s struggles with poverty. The honesty of the author‘s insights propels the story as powerfully as the threatening hurricane surging towards the gulf coast. Ward is an author with a strong voice and loads of potential. The protagonist Esch lingers in the mind when the story ends. This is a fast and worthwhile read.

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Hamlet
To the Lighthouse | Virginia Woolf
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Pickpick

In a quiet summer-home setting, Woolf paints a portrait of inner character and relationship dynamics through the language of thought. Sublime work! How can distinct, limited persons find unity, love, & buried purpose? Woolf shows the way in her greatest novel. The “Time Passes” section is daring and transcendent. The portrait of a struggling artist moves me with its truth. This is one of my very favorite books: kind, trenchant, artful, beautiful.

IuliaC I read this one many years ago on a vacation by the sea and I remember I enjoyed it very much 👍 3y
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Hamlet
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Pickpick

Imagine a pile of stones, Tolkien once suggested, with great minds measuring & analyzing them, speculating on their origins. Yet they miss the key notion that they once made a tower from which one could glimpse the sea. I usually turn from the closet industry of origin speculation. If I were to select one such book, it would be this one. Garth did his homework, discounting popular notions while offering the complexity of ones worth considering.

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Hamlet
Mrs. Dalloway | Virginia Woolf
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I think Virginia Woolf is one of the best and most important half-dozen writers ever to have written in the English language. Mrs. Dalloway is a masterpiece: moving, complex & nuanced, rich with ideas & insights, humane & heartfelt. I love this novel. It‘s both immediately accessible and yet rewards endless rereadings. One can see the book also as her response to Joyce‘s Ulysses & its novel-in-one-day modernism, and she gloriously bests his best.

Branwen This is my favorite book of all time! 💕📚💕 3y
Cathythoughts On my shelf .... must read 👍🏻 3y
EvieBee Must resolve to read this summer! 3y
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Hamlet @Branwen I‘m so glad to hear you love it too! 3y
Hamlet @Cathythoughts you‘re half way there by just having it on your shelf! 3y
Hamlet @EvieBee It‘s set in June, so your timing is great. But even if you read it much, much later, I hope you‘ll enjoy it when the moment comes. 3y
SamAnne I agree. I‘m planning a reread of her books this fall. 3y
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Hamlet
Lacuna | Barbara Kingsolver
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Barbara Kingsolver is a talented writer. I was more interested in the historical characters & depictions at first than with the narrator, which seemed to be by design. The detail and sensory appeal in this story; the connections between Mexican, U.S., & international history; the inventive layers of storytelling; and the shifting notions of identity all work together seamlessly through meditations on art. My first Kingsolver read won‘t be my last.

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Hamlet
Music at Long Verney: Short Stories | Sylvia Townsend Warner
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Much as I enjoy & admire the novels of Sylvia Townsend Warner, I think I like her stories even more. The characterizations are rich, the ideas thought-provoking, the writing elegant & economical. Five tales of Mr Edom & his antiques gallery center the collection. It‘s a fertile place for story-telling, but STW goes much further. Stories of childhood, passionate romance, & old age complement tales of artists & non-ordinary regular folk. Wonderful.

Bookwomble I love Sylvia Townsend Warner just from reading Kingdoms of Elfin (and a bit of poetry). I've got Lolly Willows on the old TBR mound, which I'm determined to read this year. 2y
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Hamlet
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There‘s a certain kind of pleasure in the work & discovery of reading Ulysses, & I found it. Don‘t be daunted by the density of Stephen‘s thinking in the opening 3 chapters; the story‘s focus is Bloom, an ordinary, kindly man full of fetishes & faults. This epic of the body (oh yes) dishes up new styles for each chapter of Bloom‘s journey around Dublin as he avoids heading home to his wife, Molly, having an affair that afternoon. (See comments)

Hamlet (1) It can be tough reading because of the many references to Irish history, Dublin landmarks, and 1904-&-earlier events, not to mention the wild word play & cross referencing of Joyce. It‘s also quite a satisfying arena of language play, & the characterization of Bloom is as rich as your understanding of Dublin & Irish concerns will be. The combination of lofty ideas & base, even crude sexual & bodily function portrayals is strange but works. 3y
Hamlet (2) In the end, I think Joyce paints a bleaker picture of human nature and a particular marriage than he wants to confront himself. The darkness isn‘t in any quirky sexuality (do what you want); it‘s in how bleakly they can punish themselves & how coldly power, control, & transactional sex are rooted deep in the psyches here. I just came away with that sense, though ostensibly things are more hopeful, especially in the famous ending. For history.. 3y
Hamlet (3)...of literature in English, this book is one you should know. It was groundbreaking in style, subject matter, & legal challenges. Published in 1922, it‘s part of the experimentation across the arts in the early 20th C. I suggest holding off reading it until one one is full of life & reading experience: over age 40 or 50. It was work to read, but a rich experience in the hands of a word lover & stylist. For accessible Joyce, read Dubliners. 3y
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BarbaraBB Great review and kudos for actually finishing it! 3y
TiminCalifornia Excellent review of this book and I agree on the value of reading it later into one‘s life. Or re-reading if one is up to tackling the book more than once! 3y
Hamlet @BarbaraBB Thanks! Reading it took me several months. (edited) 3y
Hamlet @TiminCalifornia Thanks. I did attempt it in my college days. I see now that my understanding then was so cursory that it didn‘t shape my 2021 reading at all. 3y
Suet624 Great review!! 3y
Hamlet @Suet624 Thanks so much! 3y
Nute Excellent review! Way to go, getting through it! 2y
Hamlet @Nute Thanks! I like a challenge. 2y
16 likes11 comments
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Hamlet
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Pickpick

If you only know Ursula K. Le Guin‘s great fiction, I suggest you treat yourself to some of her essays. Rather late in life she decided to try blogging, and many of the pieces in this collection began on her blog. From essays on literature like “Papa H” about Homer to the more frequent musings about language, traditions, & experiences, Le Guin‘s candor and charm convey her thought-provoking insights with swift surety. I enjoyed the collection.

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Hamlet
The Door | Magda Szabo
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Pickpick

A troubling, important book. Peasant worker Emerance beats her dog & in parallel berates, belittles, & insults the writer Magda. E & M don‘t understand each other, but for once the working-class person has the upper hand. In a bizarre dance of frustration, they come to accept each other & open up, bringing love but little understanding. The crucial door is the one Szabó opens for us to E, respecting & not patronizing a harsh, pitying laborer.

BarbaraBB Such a good book. If you want more Szabo, I thought this one was even better 3y
Hamlet Thanks for the Szabó recommendation! 3y
Suet624 Great review of this book. I agree with @BarbaraBB‘s book recommendation. It‘s quite good. 3y
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Hamlet
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Pickpick

I‘m a bit mixed in my responses to this one. It‘s a charming, descriptive look at Cotswolds life after WWI; I liked reading the idioms & slang of the era & tales of his eccentric, troubled mother. Heavily nostalgic, this memoir keeps from being too rosy-colored by revealing darker events & impulses of everyone. It gets brutally honest at the end with a failed assault on a girl, the valley‘s “in house” acceptance of incest & manslaughter.

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Housekeeping: A Novel | Marilynne Robinson
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Robinson‘s writing had me calling my niece (who read this novel with me) to swoon over passages. It‘s elegant and luxurious prose, like moving at dusk through long garden walks. Long scenes feel short; they resonate & leave me musing. 2 orphaned sisters welcome an itinerant aunt to their house. Trust, belonging, & memory all come into question. Ruthie feels pulled between her clashing sister & aunt. The language entranced me as much as her story.

Suet624 Read this book when it first came out. Such a great story. Have you seen the movie? Here‘s a trailer from 1987. Looks goofy but I saw it in the theatres when it was released and it was great. https://youtu.be/XJ80uKQdIYU 3y
Hamlet I just the film version on the Criterion Channel. While the magic of the prose and its musings couldn‘t transfer, I really liked Sylvie & especially the actor who played Ruthie. 3y
Suet624 Yeah, that‘s the bummer of books turned to movies, but I loved the actors. 3y
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Hamlet
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Pickpick

Agnes has spent most of her life as Father Damien, living on an Ojibwe reservation. I love how Erdrich uses this premise to explore notions of gender, identity, spirituality, friendship, & more. The pronouns for this character switch back & forth; he & she enjoys having both Ojibwe beliefs & Christian ones give him & her fulfillment & understanding. It‘s a great story, too, with fascinating characters, actions, & mysteries. I‘ll seek more by L.E.

Tamra In my top 10 of novels! 😍 3y
Hamlet @Tamra I‘m glad to hear of another appreciative fan! 3y
Suet624 Erdrich can do no wrong. 3y
Hamlet I can‘t believe I‘ve come to Erdrich so late! What an enormous talent... your comment makes me even more eager to read more of her work. 3y
Outermostslp1 Love Erdrich. She was married to Michael Dorris, they had a fascinating relationship. 3y
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Hamlet
Underland: A Deep Time Journey | Robert Macfarlane
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Pickpick

Sometimes life feels like the hurried pace of an errand one isn‘t too interested in doing anyway; but in Underland, Macfarlane invites us to step onto nature‘s path, slow down, breathe, and look around. The writing is beautiful and heartfelt. He takes us through catacombs, tombs, mines, tunnels, through time, memory, mythology, and spirit, through explorations of subcultures, trips with friends, meetings with characters. I really enjoyed it.

Suet624 I have this stacked already, but your review would have certainly inspired me to do so. 3y
12 likes1 comment
review
Hamlet
All Among the Barley | Melissa Harrison
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Pickpick

The book portrays in details, tone, & language life on an English farm in the 1930s. 14 year-old Edie works more on the farm just as she‘s becoming aware of her body, finding her voice, & exploring what could be a maternal witch lineage. Enter Connie, a forthright city women writing about the fading rural traditions of England, but with a more insidious agenda lurking in her enthusiasms. Lovingly portrayed but unsentimental, the tale delighted me.

11 likes1 stack add
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Hamlet
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Pickpick

I took a shine to this author right away. She‘s no-nonsense & unsentimental in the kitchen, filling each chapter with anecdote and tale that lead to a recipe. Her tiny apartments & kitchens (once only a burner) and her lack of kitchen devices harken back in my memory to a grand-aunt‘s minuscule kitchen and the delights that she sent forth from it. I so enjoyed her voice each morning that I was taken aback & grieved to find she had died in 1992.

Hamlet This book was recommended by a dear friend of mine new to Litsy: outermostslp1 3y
Outermostslp1 So glad you liked it! 3y
Suet624 I keep thinking I‘ve read some of her novels, but my records don‘t reflect that. I know I own some and they‘re probably tucked away in one of my many boxes of books. 3y
11 likes3 comments
review
Hamlet
A Mercy | Toni Morrison
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Pickpick

This is a complex book that addresses, starting in the 1680s , the history of labor & human trafficking (slavery, indentured servitude, ‘buying brides‘); the cruel history of capitalism in America; and the partnerships & sacrifices many make to endure. The characters are vivid & diverse; female bonds & the degradation, the displacement of not being valued are at the heart of the story. Complex & rich, this novel would be great to teach & discuss.

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Hamlet
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“Toni Morrison, his fellow Nobel Laureate, wrote that she read Faulkner to ‘find out about this country and that artistic articulation of its past that was not available in history, which is what art and fiction can do but history sometimes refuses to do.‘” (Quotation from an 8/25/2020 NYTimes review by Ayana Mathis of a Faulkner biography. The picture is by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders for Morrison‘s novel “A Mercy.”)

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Hamlet
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Pickpick

I decided to reread this book after noting Toni Morrison‘s comments on it. It portrays the dissolution of white-persons‘ plantation mentality through the decline of one family. The experimental writing has circling, layered mysteries. I admire his attempt to show the mind of a mentally handicapped man. Faulkner has his own racism though, & a troubling lack of focus on Black characters & (ironically) the female lead. A troubling, important book.

Suet624 It‘s sitting on my shelf waiting to be read. 3y
10 likes1 comment
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Hamlet
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Pickpick

Fun book: I jumped around a lot. Along with the romance and nostalgia comments, Polt emphasizes that 20 & 30 year-olds love typewriters for rebellion against today‘s norms, for feeling unplugged. I enjoyed the guides to brands of typewriters and their strengths, & the inroads presented to this and other analog communities (type-ins sound like fun.) I‘ve written untold papers & letters on my typewriter, the clatter redolent of childhood memories.

Suet624 I use the typewriter at work whenever possible. And I‘m pretty darn old. 😀 3y
Hamlet @Suet624 Three cheers for those of us old enough to know their value! 3y
Outermostslp1 *ding!* 3y
4 likes3 comments
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Hamlet
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“Put a computer in front of people and they‘ll probably gravitate to their usual sources of messages, updates, and entertainment. Put a typewriter in front of people and they‘ll want to write from within. The typewriter doesn‘t push ‘content‘ at them; it draws words from them.”

Suet624 Lovely quote and lovely typewriter. 3y
JuniperWilde Lovely typewriter 🇫🇮 2y
Hamlet @JuniperWilde Thanks! My brother put the flag on the typewriter after a trip to Finland. I‘ve never been there, but I‘m a big fan of The Kalevala, so that‘s a start. (I still have the typewriter in regular use.) 2y
8 likes3 comments
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Hamlet
Great Plains | Ian Frazier
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Mehso-so

This book was interesting & troubling. Published in 1989, it has some cringe-worthy assertions & some racist generalizations. The author alternates stories of his own travels with the sort of old yarns by whites that he disparages in his notes. I suspect he‘s trying to be clever & deadpan, but often I‘m just put off. Still, it has its merits and it prompted me to seek more works on this fascinating part of America & its rather ugly history.