How do you describe waking from a dream so delicate, spending the entirety of your day nostalgic, for tonight maybe the night you step into it once again. ONE COULD NEVER HAVE ENOUGH LAVENDER.
Let's be objective shall we, this is not a review this is praise, fangirling if you may. I wish I could erase my own memory to have the pleasure of reading this delight again.
This is how I looked when I was 2 pages in, half way in, and finished and regretting it.
I'm not going into what the story is, which was magnificent, magical realism at its best, it's about love and scars and lives spent with the ghosts of your pasts trudging mindlessly around (both figuratively and literally).
She is the glorious reincarnation of every woman ever loved. It was her face that launched the Trojan war, her untimely demise that inspired the building of India's Taj Mahal. She is every angel in Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel.
But the true beauty in this book, is how every line will leave you in awe, the tears will prickle behind your eyes at how every emotion is portrayed both so fleetingly and infinitely. If I were to put in this review quotes, I would start rewriting the whole of 320 pages this book was. I know I know I already wrote a few, I just can't be helped!!
And now I'll bid you good night and perhaps my own sleep will be eventful, Only then could she sleep, a dark sleep of empty hallways and locked doors.
PS: I knew from the start this was for me if not for anything it was for this sign:Born on March first in 1904, my grandmere was the first of four children, all born on the first day of the third month. That's MY BIRTHDAY! signs, signs everywhere ;)
I wasn't sure that Looking For Alaska would stand up to a reread and I mostly wrote this review before I did, but it did stand up to that and that makes me happy, and demands for the second time those 5 rare stars.
This lovely will always have a certain place in my heart as it was the first book I ever to take beyond face value, the questions that it raised still haunt me to this day. But first I want to defend the YA genre, and in specific John Green.
And so one of the criticisms his books get, is that his characters are these too intellectual and sophisticated beings that happens to be 17, right? But THIS IS FICTION. I mean who wouldn't want to have the choice to be too smart for their age if they can't help it? because if I have that choice or that criticism, oh well I could live with that!!
I heard that once in every 5 years or so you look back on yourself and you'll think Man oh man! I was such an asshole, and that's kinda true, but these characters, these people, these too smart adolescents? they would say GOD, WE WERE PERFECT!!
Now, into the actual review...
This book is sort of the example of what foreshadowing is, separated into halves, the BEFORE and the AFTER, with this "um thing?" in between that changes the course of events and the lives of everyone involved.
You have this kid, intelligent and gawky Miles that only reads the biographies of famous people and memorizes their last words.
My personal favorite was:
“Thomas Edison's last words were 'It's very beautiful over there'. I don't know where there is, but I believe it's somewhere, and I hope it's beautiful.”
But the one that imprints on Miles is :
“Francois Rabelais. He was a poet. And his last words were "I go to seek a Great Perhaps." That's why I'm going. So I don't have to wait until I die to start seeking a Great Perhaps.”
and for his search, Miles goes to Culver Creek boarding school, where he's suddenly surrounded by these wildly, intensely smart and well-read people, including A Girl.
And by girl I mean the force of nature that is Alaska Young, the girl that shatters the whole manic-pixie-dream-girl-stereotype and builds it up again, right from scratch. That breeze that would enter life changes it, completely, and then you're left there wondering if she was ever there at all in her wake. Actually no Alaska is no breeze, she's as wild as the wind! she's the girl that when you go into her room you'll find stacks and stacks of books, everywhere. She calls them her life's library and may be read a third or so, but she does plan on reading the rest. IMO she's one of the most fascinating characters I've read, and not only because she's utterly unpredictable, but also because she has stopped living on those pages and came alive in my mind.
But again don't be fooled by all those appearances, because in fact as bold and brilliant and compelling as she is, she's almost as disturbed and unhappy as a person could possibly be.
Alaska will seduce you and break your heart.
And beautiful sadness is a myth.
For their first encounter, Alaska shares her favorite last words with Pudge, which are:
“He—that's Simon Bolivar—was shaken by the overwhelming revelation that the headlong race between his misfortunes and his dreams was at that moment reaching the finish line. The rest was darkness. Damn it," he sighed. "'How will I ever get out of this labyrinth!'
"So what's the labyrinth?" I asked her.
"That's the mystery, isn't it? Is the labyrinth living or dying? Which is he trying to escape—the world or the end of it?”
“She said, "It's not life or death, the labyrinth."
"Um, okay. So what is it?"
"Suffering," she said. "Doing wrong and having wrong things happen to you. That's the problem. Bolivar was talking about the pain, not about the living or dying. How do you get out of the labyrinth of suffering?... Nothing's wrong. But there's always suffering, Pudge. Homework or malaria or having a boyfriend who lives far away when there's a good-looking boy lying next to you. Suffering is universal. It's the one thing Buddhists, Christians, and Muslims are all worried about.”
Plenty more of this topic is discussed throughout the span of the story, mixed with guilt and grieve and lastly understanding and as much transcendence as teenagers could ever hope to be, because at that age you get to ask those questions,(view spoiler)without sounding like a complete cliched prick, and that age will be the last time you'll think and ask and realizing that life is horrible and death isn't some abstract thing that will never touch you.
For me Looking for Alaska and Paper towns are kind of the same book but with different perspectives, in Alaska you have that unexplored girl that will forever remain a mystery, and in PT that illusion is shattered and the reader is shown that all this had been an act, a facade, as the man himself said that the manic pixie dream girl type proves to be a figment of the adolescent male imagination. I get that and I still love Alaska, but the fact that I lie in that section of the adolescent male is undoubtedly unflatteringly HILARIOUS! :D
How could I forget to mention! I love me my john green books and me john green's writing, funny and thoughtful with that knowing edge that make you forget you're reading books from the young adult section! *ducks her head and make a graceful exit*
My favorite Human Of New York post! :)
"And though the darkness sometimes lifted just enough so I could construe my surroundings, familiar shapes solidifying like bedroom furniture at dawn, my relief was never more than temporary because somehow the full morning never came, things always went black before I could orient myself and there I was again with ink poured in my eyes, guttering around in the dark."
Someday, someday I'll write something so devastating and heartwarming describing how beautiful June's story is, but until then this will have to do.
June Elbus is a 14 year old girl, her only friend is her uncle Finn, they're fans of the medieval era, any boots, candelabra, and leather-bound books really. Only problem is Uncle Fin is dying of AIDS in 1987.
This is essentially a relationships book, June and her family, June and her friends, June and the universe. She's such a sensitive beautiful person and for those 360 pages you see her worlds through her eyes, she's heartbroken and grieve struck but also too oblivious to what she still have and you wait for her to catch up to you figure out. And June doesn't disappoint..
And name the character.. I don't know.. Mr Darcy.
1. Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace 5/5 stars
2. Just One Day - Gayle Foreman 1/5 stars
3. Throne OF Glass - Sarah J. Mass 2/5 stars
4. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown - Libba Bray 3/5 stars
5. This Is Water - David Foster Wallace 4.5/5 stars
"I am without a face among men. I am not seen. I speak and am not heard. I come and am not welcomed. There is no place by the fire for me, nor food on the table for me, nor a bed made for me to lie in. Yet I still have my name: Getheren is my name. That name I lay on this hearth as a curse, and with it my shame. Keep that for me. Now nameless I will go seek my death. "
So this story revolves around Celaena, the world most deadliest assassin. She falls asleep while talking to people, doesn't hear them approaching and ate candy that made her teeth red. Now I wanna meet their average assassin or may be a mediocre one, imagine the entertainment!!
This is a message to future wiser older me from a clueless 21 year old, here goes...
So to borrow from a great comment once on youtube, "Any motherfucking hipster think they got this, is motherfuckin lying!!"
Now that is out of the way, this is a massive 1079-page book with 200 pages of endnotes in tiny font and passages that goes on for ages. First time I started it it was last March I read the first 17 pages, closed the book, took a nap and woke up as good as new. Second time around took me 3 months to get past the first 250 pages and it was still this dense-I-have-no-idea-what-you-want-to-say, but then around like 320-350 page magic happened and I was hooked. It was still hard don't get me wrong specially to my english-isn't-my-native-language-self, but it was worth it. The first book i ever took a pen and kept writing in the margins all relevant and irrelevant ramblings. Good news is I'll read it again and again and again, bad news is I have to! you feel compelled once you hit the 981 page (yes the last 200 pages are endnotes i wasn't lying you know...) to go back to page 1! it's a dis-ease.
and for the second reading may be:
To me it felt like two people have wrote Infinite Jest, this magnificent brilliant, messy, over detailed, beast. There is the pretentious Wallace that wants to write a hard book that is for the reader that actually reads (not the type that reads and runs according to Salinger), one of the best writers/voices of his generation and whats not. And then there is the DFW that is telling simple stories and observations about the world around him. Where everything is only vague and implied, some kind of a whisper in your ear and you're not entirely sure whether you heard it or not. His unique style of telling a story, his wicked sense of humor, all of his characters (there are dozen of them) that are so perfectly portrayed to show how imperfect they truly are, they are cruel and grotesque, nice and humble, they are able to make you lose your faith in humanity, and restore it in the same page. The way he tells a story is he finds the most complex way to tell it, he'll shove a simple situation down your throat, leave it there, hangs you to dry, goes and does his thing, drawn you in personalized descriptions, tells you their family history, going back and forth, mathematical equations, chemical expertise, some more family secrets, goes back to base touch up some details, by that point your own imagination of the scenes and those ridiculously humanized characters and his own subtle telling are so intertwined they are inseparable, like you both have built it from scratch, and you're emotionally attached to them all you wanna do is jump in and say it'll all be okay knowing full well it won't. And it changes the way you look at people, how much we don't actually know about all those who surround us, like what could be their stories and how much can you know someone, like really know someone.
So what is it all about? it's about entertainment and addiction and desire, desperation, witty, genius, and fart jokes(too many perhaps...), it has a plot, and subplots, and sub-subplots, a maddening conclusion. All in all it's a sad book about sad people, brutally honest, genuine and personal, by a brilliant writer, that knew about sadness himself (after all he eliminated his own map), that was too smart for his own good, which makes me really sad to even start to think about him.
What it kept coming back to (in toto), what all this was about, for me it was about empathy. how you are thrown into the back row of denial, with cigarette smoke in the air and an addict on the podium sharing their story, and it's teleportation you're no longer here holding a book and reading fiction, you are there, either sitting your face covered in linen in the back rows, or pore-range close, you take their stories and you sit their and you do, empathize. and it makes me think of Holden Caulfield asking the cabbie where do the ducks go when the pond freezes over?!
I read this book because of Jesse and Dean from Liberal arts (2012), and the raving reviews on Goodreads, but still mainly Jesse and Dean.
I will be seriously trying to finish this before the end of the year, it was kinda the year's actual challenge.
The characters and story are starting to merge, but MAN that is one DYSFUNCTIONAL family!