Nov. 15th, 2009

keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
How are you keeping track of your personal library? I've been cataloging with Libra, but it's long out of active development and the new Amazon search changes make it really impractical. I have some limited experience with AACR2 standards and am willing to use those for my personal collection, if I could find a free program to do it in. Are there any open-source library cataloging programs, casual or professional, out there?
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
The Remains of the Day
by Kazuo Ishiguro
245 pages (trade paperback)
Genre: Fiction/Literary

Stevens is an English butler of highest repute and ability now serving a modern American employer, Mr. Farraday, who inherited Darlington Hall after Lord Darlington's (untimely?) death. The tale is structured, like Ishiguro prefers, as a rambling first-person narrative. Stevens reminisces at length, through convoluted verbal hedges and self-denials, about his long time in Lord Darlington's service and his complicated relationship with Miss Kenton, the housekeeper.

This was mandatory reading for me, and I had high expectations of Ishiguro. It's important to note that narrative structure is about the only similarity between Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go (his wonderful dystopic SF novel); still, I did enjoy Steven's distinct voice.
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
The Dark Reaches
by Kristin Landon
292 pages (paperback)
Genre: Fiction/SF/Romance

I picked this up from the library on pure whim. It's pulpish soft SF--fluffy to the max, but more to my taste than equivalently pulpish hard SF. Landon skims over space battles but doesn't shy away from gore (Exhibit A, the captured Cold Minds pilot). I'm vaguely interested in the worldbuilding, though not enough to seek out Landon's other books. The romantic relationship was interesting, not compelling.

Sorry I don't remember anything else... it's been a few months, and it was quite a forgettable tale. Warning for some serious backlog spam up ahead.
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
Bless Me, Ultima
by Rudolpho Anaya
290 pages (trade paperback)
Genre: Fiction/Literary/Fantasy

More required reading, my least favorite of the five I had to read. Anaya is a wonderful writer with a talent for landscapes and symbols; I just wish he was less brusque with Meaning and Theme and This Is an Important Bildungsroman. The sub-subgenre, Chicano (as differentiated from Latino) magic realism, does not interest me much more than Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude, a brilliantly written masterpiece that I can't bring myself to like very much.

Plot, you ask? Well, Antonio Márez is a young boy (age 6, I believe?) born to a happy but divided family--his father is a Márez wanderer of the llano, his mother is a Luna farmer who wants him to become a priest. Ultima, a wise old curandera or healer (Anaya mostly avoids the inherent pitfalls in this characterization), comes to live with them, bringing mystic if not magical events with her. Antonio's religious struggle throughout the novel was the most/only interesting part to me. For example, he secretly admires Florence, a schoolfriend and declared atheist who later meets a significant end. His devout Catholic mother is almost a cariacture of blind faith, while his father's subverted agnosticism feels natural. It's certainly a novel worth exploring further on issues of faith and belief, in the supernatural or otherwise; but I can't say I liked the book much. [/Keix's never-ending search for entertaining works of literary merit, Module 496]
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
A Wild Sheep Chase
by Haruki Murakami
353 pages (trade paperback)
Genre: Fiction/Literary/Fantasy

On first glance, this novel just seemed dang weird. Then I met a dear friend who adores Murakami and assured me that he was indeed dang weird, in a good way. Then I read A Wild Sheep Chase and personally confirmed that Murakami writes dang weird stuff--in a very good way.

The nameless narrator works in a small advertising agency, has a normal ex-wife and a strange girlfriend, and is one day sent upon a quest: to find the sheep with the black star on its back, as depicted upon a postcard from an old friend. What happens after that doesn't make much sense, but it's so glorious that I don't care. I mean, there's a picture of a sheep man. Murakami is at the epitome of both Japanese mainstream popularity and Japanese magic realism; I, of course, loved his existentialist themes.

That said, many of my friends are just bewildered by this book. Read it with an open mind; being familiar with magic realism conventions helps a lot. I am reminded of A Hundred Years of Solitude without the emphasis on folklore or family, or for that matter the sheer density.


keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)

January 2011


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