stapsreads: 'The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them' (Default)
A creepy and depressing novel about childhood trauma and gender roles. While it was cleverly done and kept me reading to the end, and while I didn't get the secret of the First Audrina (feel like I should have done, though...) I feel somehow unsatisfied.

Clever, but not going to stay with me.

http://www.bookcrossing.com/journal/9697475
stapsreads: 'The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them' (Default)
Another one in the BookCrossing Favourites of 2011 ring, and I'm in two minds about it. Set largely in a mission hospital in Ethiopia, the story of conjoined twins raised in an adopted family following their mother's death and their father's disappearance, moving and aggravating by turns. On the one hand, I really didn't need to read fifty pages of birth trauma (not to mention various other gory chapters through the book); on the other, it has left me feeling generally more hopeful about the world and (as often seems to be the case with my reading these days) has demonstrated to me how little history I know outside my own bubble.

It has some interesting things to say about family, race, nation and class, and some horribly unexamined assumptions about gender (I'm not sure how much of this is the narrator and how much... isn't). The more I think about it, I am really quite angry at how the infliction of FGM was gendered female, and the healing of fistulas was gendered male.

On the whole I would recommend it, but (and this is a significant 'but') only if you can stomach the narrative of men knowing better than women what ought to be done with women's bodies, and certainly not if you have a birth trauma or surgery trigger.

http://www.bookcrossing.com/journal/8497585/
stapsreads: 'The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them' (Default)
Re-read, for fanfic purposes. I love the way Woolf never explains anything; this is such a lighthearted - one almost wants to say 'romp' - adventure in the middle of all the SRS BSNS. And yet Orlando does deal with srs bsns; it's just done so delicately and skilfully that one needn't notice if one doesn't want to. Gender is fluid and has fluidity, yay.

http://www.bookcrossing.com/journal/8138552
stapsreads: 'The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them' (Default)
From BookCrossing.

A neo-gothic saga of missing heirs, secret codes, revolting relations and gender issues. A fairy tale set in that mythickal countrie of Olde Englande. (Seriously. The guy needs a good Britpicker. A 'baby carriage'. I ask you. And he seems to have spent a considerable portion of his life on our shores. I don't even know.)

This was a good read. I enjoyed the tale of Rose's adventures, and hir narration, and the happy (if predictable) ending. I had to persevere through some considerable irritation, though; apart from the britpickery concerns mentioned above (and srsly, I don't think anybody was fussed about the Empire in 1814, or, if they were, they didn't talk about it like that) there was some awful poetry and balladry, and some tiresomely Dan Brown codebreaking.

If you want a jolly country house story with a genderqueer central character... I would skip this and go straight to Orlando.
stapsreads: 'The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them' (Default)
This was my birthday present last year - [personal profile] countertony bought it for me on [personal profile] naraht's recommendation - and has possibly been regretting it ever since. I have been reading bits out, staring into space contemplating the resulting thoughts, and generally squeeing all over the place.

This is admittedly a somewhat specialist area. If you're not interested in early nineteenth century Italian opera, you won't be interested. Fortunately, I am. If you're not interested in women's voices, and the point where women's voices become men's voices, and the point where men's voices become women's voices, and so on, you won't be interested. Actually this point seems to be fairly vital to my identity.

And so I loved this book. It is not coincidence that, mid-way through it, I spent my Amazon gift code on Tancredi, Faust, and Dvorak's Stabat Mater (the one time in my life I was a tenor).

I must admit that it helps a lot that I can read a) music and b) academese. You may not love this book. But I did.

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