Jan. 8th, 2011

stapsreads: 'The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them' (Default)
A novel of gay life in New York, published 1978. The action spans the previous couple of decades, I suppose, and is book-ended by a series of letters between two onlookers - the nameless narrator in New York, and a friend in the South. These put me off a bit, being both lurid and confusing, but once I'd fought my way through them and got to the novel proper, I was hooked. This is a rather beautiful book, explicit but not coarse, sad but not depressing, serious but not preachy. I'm not sure, though, that I really enjoyed it.

I did feel that things ran out of steam about three quarters of the way through, at which point I really stopped caring about any of the characters. I had stopped liking most of them some while previously. And I got very, very tired of hearing about beautiful Puerto Rican men.

Here, have an extract:


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stapsreads: 'The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them' (Default)
I used to be very into ballet stories, not so much because I was keen on ballet, but because they tended to be about people knowing what they wanted, and getting it. Though this is a true story, it's no exception. Firstly, it's about Jin Xing's ambition to be China's greatest dancer. Secondly, it's about her identity as, and journey to become, a woman. Two interlinked destinations, and a route that takes in the People's Liberation Army, Korea, America, Rome, and Belgium, an array of lovers, and a (mostly) supportive family.

I enjoyed this one a lot; one gets a real sense of the force of Jin Xing's personality, and it's interesting from the dance perspective, too. My only complaint is that some all but insurmountable challenges get passed over in a couple of sentences, and I would really like to know more about some of them.


Extract:

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stapsreads: 'The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them' (Default)
Subtitle: 'Classic Lit signs on to Facebook'

This is a harmless enough waste of an evening: the premise is that various characters from the canon of English Literature have joined Facebook, and their stories are told through status updates. Very funny if you know the stories, not so much, of course, if you don't. Happily I have a degree in Eng. Lit. for just this sort of eventuality.

My favourite was the amalgamated Shakepeare's comedies, of which I quote a very little:

Antipholus of Syracuse, Orlando, Oliver, The King of Navarre, Berowne, Longaville, Dumaine, Lucentio, Viola, Olivia, Gratiano, Proteus and Claudio fell in Love at First Sight! with Luciana, Rosalind, Celia, The Princess, Rosaline, Maria, Katherine, Bianca, Orsino, Cesario, Nerissa, Silvia and Hero.

Oliver, Orlando, Duke Senior and Duke Frederick are in Blood Feuds

Egeon, Emilia, two Antipholi, Viola and Sebastian were Shipwrecked.

And so on. The jokes wear a little thin after a while, as is the way with these things, but it's good for a giggle.


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