Discussion

#CurrentlyReading

I haven’t been reading much these past few weeks what with Ramadan, fasting, and revising The Fire Within but I am going to make a concentrated effort to get back into it. I mean, I generally read a bit every day but not as much as I used to. Which is ridiculous because it’s not like my TBR got any smaller.

Here are the books I am reading:

  1. A Summer of Burning by John Burnside
    This apparently deals with huldras and I have never read a book that does so yay, I’m excited.
  2. Frantumaglia – Elena Ferrante
    I’ve got a little over a hundred pages left of this. I really appreciate the stuff she talks about where writing is concerned and how much the role of the writer matters.
  3. The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet – Becky Chambers
    I had to put this down because I needed to read something else but I am super enjoying it and will continue to do so hopefully once I pick it up again.
  4. A Conjuring of Light by V. E. Schwab
    I am sure this will be good. I just need to begin this brick of a book.
  5. The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There – Catherynne M. Valente
    This is as lovely as I had expected it to be. I just need time to immerse myself completely into the narrative.

I hope the books you’re reading are fun.

Discussion · review · Review Copy

The Impossible Fairy Tale by Han Yujoo, 한유주, Janet Hong (Translator)

Impossible

Paperback, 214 pages
Published March 7th 2017 by Graywolf Press
Source: Raincoast Books

This was a strange strange book. But first, the official synopsis:

The Impossible Fairy Tale is the story of two unexceptional grade-school girls. Mia is “lucky”―she is spoiled by her mother and, as she explains, her two fathers. She gloats over her exotic imported color pencils and won’t be denied a coveted sweater. Then there is the Child who, by contrast, is neither lucky nor unlucky. She makes so little impression that she seems not even to merit a name.

At school, their fellow students, whether lucky or luckless or unlucky, seem consumed by an almost murderous rage. Adults are nearly invisible, and the society the children create on their own is marked by cruelty and soul-crushing hierarchies. Then, one day, the Child sneaks into the classroom after hours and adds ominous sentences to her classmates’ notebooks. This sinister but initially inconsequential act unlocks a series of events that end in horrible violence.

But that is not the end of this eerie, unpredictable novel. A teacher, who is also this book’s author, wakes from an intense dream. When she arrives at her next class, she recognizes a student: the Child, who knows about the events of the novel’s first half, which took place years earlier. Han Yujoo’s The Impossible Fairy Tale is a fresh and terrifying exploration of the ethics of art making and of the stinging consequences of neglect.

To talk about this book with any clarity, I’m going to have to give some inevitable spoilers. I will try to avoid them if I can but I might find that I simply cannot evaluate the book without mentioning them. But we’ll see.

You should also note that it’s 3 am and I am fasting just in case this effects the tone and content of my review.

I can read and understand Korean (mostly with the help of a dictionary) so before anything else, I will say that the writing style in translation drove me absolutely nuts. I was very annoyed by the fragmentary narrative which worked in parts but got old pretty quickly because you cannot sustain the style for an entire novel–in English. I reckon that the book in its original language is wildly poetic, the repetitions make beautiful use of the Korean language and the effect is lyrical. In English, this style is, I’m sorry to say, nothing less than annoying.

Still, the style creates remarkable atmosphere and works wonderfully with the sections detailing the lives of the children and in particular the brutally sad life of the unnamed Child. However, as a writer, I cannot help but speculate how different the book would have been (in English) had the author utilized different styles in each of the two parts of the novel. The difference in the narrative styles would have delineated the adult character from the Child and given the book a more solid feel. But that’s just me as a writer.

The story itself is a bit like On a Winter’s Night, A Traveler by Italo Calvino in the way it is somewhat metaphysical in that the story is aware of itself as being a story, as being fictional. And I feel the style in the second part drowns out this important fact which would otherwise have been fascinating.

As it is, there is an  unsettling ambiguity about the Child whose name we never do find out and the adult narrator. I can’t say anymore because to do so would be giving away the story and I think the book is crunchy enough, for all its flaws, to be worthy of a reading. The Impossible Fairy Tale is eerie and reminiscent of a horror movie except a lot more intellectual in the way it approaches its story.

Discussion

#CurrentlyReading

It’s just after Suhoor on the 8th day of Ramadan and I am too full to sleep. So I’m going to talk about my most favourite thing ever which is reading…though these days I’m really into writing as well. I’m finally finding writing super fun. It’s still difficult, don’t get me wrong, but it’s something I seem to be able to do so I’m exploiting that…talent? Can I call it that? I don’t know.

Anyway, here are the books I’m reading (or lingering over for that matter).

  1. Strange the Dreamer – Laini Taylor
    I don’t know why I’ve still only read the prologue to this. I’m no longer as intimidated that her wordsmithery will mean my own abilities to write have been siphoned away. I don’t know.
  2. Culture and Imperialism – Edward Said
    Another one I haven’t read much (or at all) of since the last time I talked about reading. I want to read it but I can never quite get in the mood to continue.
  3. Men Without Women – Haruki Murakami
    You should all know that I am a Murakami fangirl and though I have only read the first story in this collection, I already love this book.
  4. The Impossible Fairy Tale – Han YuJoo
    This started off quite slow and ponderous and I worried that I wouldn’t be able to make my way through it but once I got used to the style, gosh darnit. This is creepy. I don’t know what to expect but I reckon some kids will die.
  5. The Possessions – Sara Flannery Murphy
    I need to pick this up and finish it. I only have a 166 pages to go but for some reason I am dragging my feet.
  6. Arena – Holly Jennings
    I’m only 37 pages in so I don’t know yet whether I like it or not. Ilona Andrews blurbed it so I hope it’s good. I trust them.
  7. Frantumaglia – Elena Ferrante
    I haven’t read any of Ferrante’s books but gosh, once I finish this memoir in letters, I will give on a whirl.

I hope you’re reading fun things.

Discussion · Roundups

May Wrap Up

Months fly by, don’t they?

Here we are, yet again. And I read some interesting books this month. Not a huge number but I am fine with that. I did read a variety of genres though and that’s always awesome.

The titles I read:

  1. Becoming Unbecoming – Una (graphic memoir)
  2. The Clothing of Books – Jhumpa Lahiri (Short, nonfic)
  3. The Fog – Kyo Maclear (PB)
  4. Exit West – Mohsin Ahmed (Lit-Fic/Spec-Fic)
  5. Saints and Misfits – S. K. Alit (YA)
  6. The Crystal Ribbon – Celeste Lim (MG)
  7. 100 Works of Art That Will Define Our Age – Kelly Grovier (Nonfic)
  8. Men Explain Things To Me – Rebecca Solnit (Nonfic)
  9. This Impossible Light – Lily Myers (YA)
  10. The Good Immigrant – Nikesh Shuka (Nonfic)
  11. Books Do Not Have Wings – Brynne Barnes (PB)
  12. Night Sky With Exit Wounds – Ocean Vuong (Poetry)
  13. Sacrifice – Cindy Pon (YA)
  14. Etched in Bone – Anne Bishop (Urban Fantasy)
  15. Kamala – Ethel Johnston Phelps (Short Stories)
Discussion

#CurrentlyReading

I started writing this but went with another post instead so now I’m back to this post but now the books I said I was reading are books I have already so. So.

Sigh.

Let’s begin again. I am currently reading too many books at the same time but I got hit by this sense of transience last night, especially where life and living are concerned. So I’m going to gorge on words while I still can because, you guys, thing change so easily and quickly.

There are the titles I’m reading:

  1. The Clothing of Books – Jhumpa Lahiri
    This is a musing on book covers and not especially startling or insightful. However, I really like Lahiri’s writing and her style comes across even in this translated form (she wrote this originally in Italian). I should finish this quite soon since it’s a tiny little book.
  2. 100 Works of Art That Will Define Our Age – Kelly Grovier
    Well, I reckon this should have been 100 Works of Art that Will Define Our Age In My Opinion by Kelly Grovier because art is subjective and what she thinks is not necessarily absolute and unanimous. You know what I mean? I’m no art connoisseur but my friend is and reading out of your comfort zone is always a good thing, right?
  3. The Impossible Fairy Tale by Han Yujoo
    This is incredibly bleak and not going to lie, difficult to read because of this bleakness. So far, I haven’t yet found any verve in the prose. I am only at 29 pages though and I will plough through this because I feel it will be more profound as a whole than midway through or in parts.
  4. Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla
    I have yet to start this but it’s on the list because I intend to quite shortly.
  5. The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan
    I know Ausma from Twitter and I have always intended to read this. I’m only one chapter in but so very intrigued.
  6. Saints and Misfits by S. K. Ali
    Sajidah is also a friend and I have been wanting to read this book for a while. I’m about five pages in and yep, I see how important this book is going to be.
  7. Sacrifice by Cindy Pon
    My library took forever to process this. I put it on hold last August so it has been a while. Stone and Skybright. I’m not sure if they’re going to be OTP but I have hopes. And well…I want Skybright to come into her own. I’m curious.
  8. Culture & Imperialism by Edward Said
    It’s so important in this time and age to be aware and educated and I’ve always meant to read more Said. I’m reading this super slowly because it’s very dense and requires attention to parse through and understand. So like 5 pages/day. I will finish it one day, iA.
  9. A Crown of Wishes – Roshani Chokshi
    Roshani’s prose is so beautiful. I’m enjoying this immensely so far.

 

Discussion · Roundups

April Reading Wrap Up

April was a time of tumult and madness. Not really. It was just not my favourite month but it has passed and I read a lot of good books.

They are:

  1. A Short History of Fantasy by Farah Mendlesohn
  2. Paper Girls vol. 1 – Brian K. Vaughan
  3. Paper Girls vol. 2 – Brian K. Vaughan
  4. The Cold Eye – Laura Ann Gilman
  5. Underground – Haruki Murakami
  6. Animal Ark – Kwame Alexander
  7. Colette’s Lost Pet – Isabel Arsenault
  8. Take It As a Compliment – Maria Stoian
  9. The Gauntlet – Karuna Riazi
  10. NewsPrints – RuXu
  11. Arabella of Mars – David D. Levine
  12. A Perilous Undertaking – Deanna Raybourn
  13. Heartstone – Elle Katharine White
  14. Fuzzy, Furry Hat – Etienne Delessert
  15. Do Not Bring Your Dragon to the Library – Julia Gassman
  16. Miss Muffet or What Came After – Marilyn Singer
  17. Shrill – Lindy West
  18. Dear Ijeawele – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  19. Reflections – Diana Wynne Jones
  20. The Door in the Alley – Adrienne Kress
  21. Dream Fossil – Satoshi Kon
  22. Compass South – Hope Larson
  23. The Island – Alison Croggon (short story)
  24. Cast in Flight – Michelle Sagara