quinta-feira, novembro 19, 2015

The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood

An interesting dystopian tale; I read because it was by a Canadian author and I don't know much about Canadian literature. The Handmaid's Tale depicts a hypothetical theocracy in a post- apocalyptic US, inspired by the Iranian model - it was written in the '80s - but nowadays reminiscent of the Taliban regime or the Islamic State. I don't think we run any risk of a Christian theocracy being implanted any time soon, but this is a good reminder of how it must feel in one of the Islamic theocracies, namely regarding the female condition, which is the main subject of the book. And because of that, I think it's worth reading.

domingo, novembro 08, 2015

Independent People, by Halldór Laxness

All the guides and books about Iceland said this is the Icelandic novel, so I bought it when I was there, and finished it now. I liked it very much, and it indeed evokes Iceland in a beatiful way - the harshness of the climate, the independence spirit, their relationship with poetry. It's a sad and harsh story, but it gives one the sense of the indomitable spirit of people in a harsh land.

domingo, setembro 06, 2015

Les Rois Maudits - Le Lis et le Lion et Quand un Roi perd la France, de Maurice Druon

These are the two final volumes of the Rois Maudits saga. Le Lis et le Lion finishes the story of the cursed progeny of Philippe le Bel, and Quand un Roi perd la France tells the follow-up, until the battle of Poitiers, one of the lowest points for France in the Hundred Years War. It's a well written historical novel, with plenty of intrigue and infamous characters, a very good read.

quinta-feira, agosto 13, 2015

The Silence of the Sea, by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir

This was one of the books I bought in Iceland; I had heard about Yrsa Sigurdardóttir before as the epitome of the Nordic thrillers and still hadn't tried it. I like Jo Nesbo very much, and Henning Mankell, not so much Stieg Larsson or Camilla Lackberg. The Silence of the Sea is a nice book, with a clever and often intriguing story, but it didn't thrilled me that much - the writing and the characters are passable but not very good, and the atmosphere is not particularly noir or engaging. Better than Camilla Lackberg, but miles behind Nesbo.

terça-feira, agosto 11, 2015

Inside the Dream Palace - The life and times of the New York's legendary Chelsea Hotel, by Sherill Tippins

I first heard about the Chelsea Hotel in the famous Leonard Cohen song. Later I read about it in memoirs, like Gore Vidal's Palimpsest or Patti Smith's Just Kids, and saw it in movies like Factory Girl. So, when I read somewhere a review of this book, I was curious, and ordered it on Amazon. It is a very good read, informative and entertaining. I didn't know the Chelsea had been built as a kind of experiment in urban lodging in the 1870s. Since then, it was the home of an incredible number of artists, from Mark Twain and John Sloan to Patti Smith and Dee Dee Ramone, with residents including Dylan Thomas, Virgil Thomson, Arthur Miller and so many others. The Chelsea Hotel was in the centre of the New York art scene, particularly after WWII until the 1970s. The book tells a lot of interesting stories, mostly interesting, and the author is very passionate about its subject. Sometimes it's a little boring, and it gives a lot of space to people like Andy Warhol - one of the biggest frauds in the art history, in my opinion, but then it was a big part of the Chelsea's history. And there are a lot of funny anecdotes, like when Christo invited someone for dinner and wasn't sure it the wrapped cutlery was a work of art...

domingo, agosto 02, 2015

O Lugar Supraceleste, de Frederico Lourenço

I have read most of Frederico Lourenço's books for many years. I like his writing - cultivated, clean and clear - and I think he's one of the few young(ish) Portuguese authors worth reading. And it's funny how I enjoy it even if I disagree of his opinions lots of times and have different tastes about lots of things. But still there are many issues where I feel he's telling it exactly how I would put it, and mostly I like the way he questions things, how he analyses himself and looks for his place / meaning in the world, which is something that always resonates with me. And I feel mostly in tune with his answers, if in a different key. It's one of those cases when even if the ways are different, the quest and the inner core are very much the same.

domingo, julho 19, 2015

Tales of Iceland, or Running with the Huldufólk in the Permanent Daylight, by Stephen Markley

One of the things I like to do when I travel is to buy books from local authors, or about the places I'm visiting. So, in Iceland last month, I bought a few Icelandic books at one of the Eymundsson bookshops, and as I was browsing the shelves, this little book about a trip to Iceland by a young American caught my eye. I bought it, read a few random pages as I was travelling across the country, and after coming back home read it from beginning to end. It's a nice book, an account of three young Americans' trip to Iceland and their impressions of the country. Loving to travel and to compare opinions, I found it mostly funny and entertaining, even if the twenty-something-ish kind of experiences and humour are quite far from my own. Maybe sometimes it gets a bit too silly, but all in all I enjoyed reading it. And through it I discovered the Give Live Explore project of one of the guys, Matt Trinetti, that is very uplifting and interesting, and to which I subscribed and plan to follow online. So many different things one can get from travelling!

So, website suggestion: http://www.giveliveexplore.com/

The Wire - Season 4 (and the other seasons are also great)

I don't remember when I last posted about a TV series - I watch a lot of them, and some are quite good, others just visual chewing gum or eye candy, but almost all forgettable. Then, in the last few months, I have been watching The Wire, after a friend highly recommended it to me, and I'm liking it immensely. It's great televised fiction, rough and poetic, realist and idealistic. I have liked all the seasons so far, but the 4th stroke me particularly - focused on education, it's really heartbreaking. The script is incredibly strong, the performances all top notch. It's so good to watch a series that is certainly not forgettable, like one can't forget other old series (Brideshead Revisited comes to mind, in a totally different key). I highly recommend it.