Aug. 21st, 2010

abigailnicole: (delirium)


the first thing I want to say is that I <3 Evian Jane

I am blogging from a corner of the kitchen while she gets ready to make us enchiladas for dinner, drinking free Vitamin Water they gave us at Winn-Dixie because it is move-in day, which means local stores are giving out promotions to students. Hurray! Moot is the fact that I moved in a week ago. I have never drunk Vitamin Water before and if this flavor ('revive'? fruit punch?) is any indication I never will again.

We are fully moved in; us, our upstairs neighbors, and I even have cords to connect computer-to-TV and spent most of yesterday watching The Next Generation with Evian (and later Kelsey and Leah. I feel like I am bad at hosting parties, but there is a fair warning of this ahead of time). Between that, grocery shopping, sewing curtains, and cooking, I have become a thirty-year-old housewife. My last two impulse buys were an aluminum water bottle and bacon (both good decisions). I don't even have the drinking to excess thing going to prove me a college student. OH YOUTH, WHY HAVE YOU LET ME DOWN.

Aside from all that--which is entirely about living up to other people's expectations--I am doing all right. Reading books outside for hours every afternoon is amazing, watching TV at night with Evian, going to Winn-Dixie and spending more money than I have all summer, even impulse-buying bacon are good ways to spend your time. Being here, like this, is strange for me because I have never lived in New Orleans without (the same) significant other, and living in a city where you fell in love without the person you love is hard. Especially when two of my three roommates are gone, working or whatever, and when they're here they spend time with their boyfriends. I don't begrudge them that, but this is the reason I <3 Evian Jane. For being single too and being here with me so we can do fun things.

and then school starts in two days. I'm not taking physics and chemistry and biology all at the same time, so I might have an easier semester! :D
abigailnicole: (Default)


I picked this up on a whim; I've only ever read Isabel Allende in Spanish before, and while my proficiency in Spanish is better than it was, it's still not quite good enough to get a sense of someone's narrative voice (and since I've ceased taking Spanish, it is halted there). This book is historical fiction, in that Ines Suarez and her fellow Chileans were real people and the events portrayed were real, though obviously Ines Suarez did not write this book as her memoir.

The books I've been reading up to this point are not known for their fast pacing and I was a bit shocked at how quickly this moved forward--she was born, grown, married, and her first husband gone within the first fifteen pages. The story slows down a bit once she gets to South America, but it doesn't really hit its stride until we get to Chile, which is the focus of the story. Her charm is her ability to capture a real voice so well: the pauses Ines makes to speak of aging, and how she can feel herself at death's door and the arms of her dead husband around her, interrupt the narrative well and give it a good sense of flow. Ines tells the passages first-hand but through the curtain of age, so the horrors she recounts are softened by the years that pass between her telling the story and its events. Even starvation, mutilation, and torture are given enough distance that they can be read without pain to the reader.

Perhaps that's a weakness of the book, though: there isn't enough emotional punch. When Ines describes how Pedro de Valdivia cut off noses and hands of defeated Mapuche and sent them back down the river to their leader, it seemed like just another atrocity committed by conquistadors, no different than reading it in a history book. Even Valdivia's being-roasted-alive death, when Valdivia shares screentime with Ines for a good half of the book, feels distant enough that I was unaffected by it.

I liked this book: it was engaging, fast-paced, and I now know a lot more about the founding of Chile than I ever thought I would. The character of Ines, lone Spanish woman in a world of men and Yanaconas, is brilliantly painted and I love her ruthless determination to be happy. It is perhaps the strong-woman book I've been wanting all summer, which was why I wanted the details to be a little richer.
abigailnicole: (books)


I read John Kennedy Toole's The Neon Bible all in one day (it's very short). I picked up this book because a.) Arcade Fire! and b.)Confederacy of Dunces guy! I didn't even know he alum'd from my college.

Neon Bible is a coming-of-age story you don't see very often anymore: a kind of actual account of Why I Had It Harder At Your Age, with a bizarre twist ending and colored with the ways in which a religion harms a community. There's the omnipresent element of how poverty destroys a family as well, though this takes a backseat to the rest of the story of family strife, mostly affecting David's social life. I loved his escape at the end.

He wrote this at fifteen, and you can tell he wrote it at fifteen--there are very powerful symbols that need to be tied into the rest of the book, and events could be polished to give them more symmetry and add more depth to the book. I assume when I read Confederacy of Dunces these elements will be present. Some of the characters are better-done than others: seeing Aunt Mae through the child's eye was very well-done and fascinating, but his mother never develops enough of a personality that we miss her by her insanity. Perhaps that's a reflection of David's age when she starts to crumble, but that excuse doesn't hold up for Aunt Mae.

I'd love to do an in-depth CD/book comparison because I'm fascinated in the ways people pay homage to as well as blatantly rip off (another form of homage?) books. Maybe later!

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Nicole

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