June 20, 2004
There And Back Again
That's right, the last leg of my trip is coming up. The day after tomorrow I will be heading back to the States. I'll be hanging out in Hippyville, Oregon for about a month before reporting back to duty at Atti for a few months, if all goes well. I've spent the last few days reading. I'm sure when I get back there will be many more demands on my time, so I'm getting it in now while I can. I've read two really interesting books, plus one that was just entertaining.
I had heard rave reviews about the first book, The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. "Oh, it's changed my life!" sort of comments. I had been avoiding it due to hype, but when I saw a copy in my guesthouse I figured why not. At first I was annoyed at how simple a story it was, but after a while, I realized that was the point. It's a fable about following your dreams and fulfilling your destiny, written from the point of view of a young sheppard who takes off to see the world. I liked it because it wasn't too condescending but still made some good points. It was in general feel good book.
The second book was downright disturbing. I remembered my sister had read a bunch of Margaret Atwood books for some class she took so I decided to give the one I had heard of, The Handmaid's Tale, a whirl. What a horrifying book. I couldn't stop reading it, but I was afraid of what I was going to learn on the next page. I don't know how to even describe it without giving anything away about it. The author is very cryptic and lets information out bit by bit, obviously to allow you to feel as helpless and clueless as the main character, whose name you never really know. I'll say this: imagine in the future a male dominated army of uber-zealous Christians came to power via a violent government overthrow and what would be the fate of a "shameful" (average) woman would be. Downright terrifying. I had chills reading it. I'll definately be reading more Atwood.
The final book, Girl With the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier, was alright but paled in comparison to the other two. I read it so when I saw the movie, I would know what they changed. It was a quick read and I was done in a few hours.
After having done all these reading the last few days, I looked back at the list of books I've read over the last 11 months. There are close to fifty of them. I wonder if I would have been so lucky to have read fifty new books while I was at home. Probably not. I'd have read some of my favorites over (Anne Rice, Lord of the Rings, etc) and a couple new ones. Being away has forced me to read new authors and read books I might not normally have picked up (such as that shit book Shanghai Baby by Wei Hu that shouldn't have even been published it was so bad). I suppose that's just another bonus of being away and a way of trying new things! Cool beans by me.
Posted by Claudia
on June 20, 2004 05:06 AM
Hey.. Yep i am alive and in one piece. My knee is a nice shade of purple... my fav color actually. Dont ever let the travel bug die, i know it wont. I sure am looking forward to my UK trip now.BTW if you can get your hands on the Da Vinchi code, do read it. I loved that book, it was gripping. Take care and keep in touch. It was nice actually meeting up with you and Ant
You wanna see hippyville? You just wait until we go to the Oregon Country Fair. *That* will be hippyville. Luckily it only happens once a year. Just you wait - you'll soon see there's more to Eugene than hippies, m'dear.
Dusty - glad you got back in one piece! What happened to your knee?
Oh, and we found Da Vinci Code in Kathmandu. We tore through it in about a day each, couldn't put it down. I just may have to re-read it...
Atwood is an absolutely fantastic author. Read "The Robber Bride," and others, of course. I also found "Handmaid's Tale" scary and depressing in the I'm-glad-this-is-a-book and not my life mode.
Put "The Alchemist" on my "to read" list. Sounds great. Thanks, Claudia.
Ant, I couldn't put "DaVinci Code" down either, but didn't find it very literary. Read some of Elaine Pagel's books on the gnostic gospels, the secret gospels of Thomas, Mary Magdalene. Fascinating and believeable because at the beginning, the church had to exclude in order to solidify and grow. And those exclusions take another perspective, one we haven't had the privilege of reading and assimilating.
You have to read some more of Paulo Coelho's books to put the Alchemist into perspective. And the perspective is that Paulo Coelho sucks... I absolutelly hate him, as his writting is quite poor, in terms of literature itself, relying on the feel-good /life-changing blurb. Alchemist was the first one, and as you read some others you may come to the realization that it's all the same yada yada yada.
I don't mean to be arrogant or anything, it just makes me sick that he is the best selling Brazilian author.
Lets, I have no interest in reading the other Coelho books. I had heard about this one a million times and thought I'd give it a whirl. I think it got a simple point across, simply. That's all.
Sorry if what I wrote came accross as angry. Nothing at you! I also think the Alchemist has a point, and I have to say I did like it as his first book. It's just that I thought I had a different context to offer, since there has been a lot of discussion on him and his books within Brazil that does not go outside.
I know you weren't trying to be hostile. :)
If you have not read the DaVinci Code yet (as suggested by others) I would recommend reading Angels & Demons by (Dan Brown also) I read both of them and I think Angels & Demons was far better. Although I loved the Code.
You know what i have been reading recently? "How to buy real-estate with no money down" and "How to break the bonds on traditionalism in strength training." Interesting and all... but they almost make me yearn for my communist zionists. ':)
when i first arrived back in SF.. i had to overcome 2 strange sensations: 1. greenbacks in the wallet and 2. being able to eavesdrop on everyone! I never knew how much I missed it.
have a safe flight and welcome back to the US.
Helga da Viking,
You are on the ball. I'm not sure I want to hear how stupid fat hick Americans are though. Ignorance of any Asian language was often a blessing. I had some MAJOR shot tonight about the cost of dinner... $19. I nearly shit a brick.
I just finished Angels and Demons and I liked it, but not as much as DaVinci Code. All the Illuminati stuff was interesting, but not nearly as detailed as TDC's art history.
'Alias Grace' is another fantastic Atwood book... it's about a murderess in the women's prison in Kingston, Ontario. It takes place in the nineteenth century, and many of the characters are actual historical figures. Strangely written, as all of Atwood's books are, but engaging.
I read The Handmaids Tale for my last semester independent study class and thought it was really disturbing also..which is the whole point right? i read the Cat's Eye too but it was kinda too whiny for me. atwood is a really huge feminist. i couldn't imagine being only on the earth for my ovaries....wasn't it only in the united states that was like that? now, you could sell an ovarie for a lot of money! hmmm......i don't think they would accept mine!
I remember reading an article about people selling their eggs and it was a big sham. The women would only get paid (and much less than they were originally "offered") if the eggs was actually fertilized or something. It's supposed to be super painful as well. Funk that. Basically, you could go through the whole thing and come out with no money.