Saturday, April 22, 2017

Bookshelf Part 4

Another bookshelf presented. As always, I don't include academic books because even though they can be fun, they are sometimes regional and no use telling about them.

Here it goes.
Valerio Massimo Manfredi - The Last Legion
I quite enjoyed this book; read it all in two days during Easter break. This novel is exactly this - enjoyable read without any pretenses to be anything more. The characters were well presented (especially the bloodthirsty Wulfila), we knew who was the bad guy and who was the good guy, even though the Author wanted to give Aurelius a dark twist of a traitor, he probably decided against it and explained the treason by deep personal reasons. Which is a pity, because I recently watched a movie The Siege of Jadotville about the Irish soldiers holding back the UN stronghold during the attacks of both French mercenaries and Congolese army during Katanga conflict in Congo-Léopoldville. And after days of heavy fighting, and no help from UN, seeing the fight is futile and to save his men, the commandant gave up the fight. It was a hard decision for a soldier, yet he took the blame and for next 50 years they were treated like cowards and jacks. However, I could not to think about such behavior while reading the book. It could be more challenging to give Aurelius such reason, and not the family one. But oh well, not my book. The language was not especially filled with complicated terms relating to the Roman army, in overall, a pleasant book for the weekend.

Anna Brzezińska - Wody głębokie jak niebo (Waters Deep As Sky)
A very sad and filled with bitter resentment eulogy to the dying world. The world where warlock-kings of Bronia could pull demons from the overlunary sphere and bind them with matter to create unmatched monuments, bridges, artifacts... The world where demons, bound by the spell, eternally hate people and only wait to break free and unleash their hatred. Like sirocco - a demon of the wind, covering the ships with waves and pushing them to their watery graves. And this world was dying, the powers of kings are diminishing and disappearing. And a new faith emerges - hostile to the magic and beauty it created.

Oleg Diwow - Wybrakówka
It's a Russian political fiction. It's about the system where the crimes are punished on spot, and so called brakarz can be judge, jury and executioner at the same time. The psychotropic drugs are used during interrogations, people who committed any crime are simply killed, and as one guy says to the newbie about the fact he has no chance to show off - because they killed everyone off. It's a bleak dystopian world, or maybe an alternate world, a Slavic Union under new law. The title is a word play on the word brak, meaning "lack", and the word ending points to a policy or a habit of doing something. This "lack" refers to people who disappear (they are lacking from the fabric of the society), therefore it's a policy of removing those who are deemed unfit. People who do the removing are called brakarz (singular) - causing the lack. They are unanimously hated through the whole Union. And sometimes they disappear too. 
Diwow's perverse talent to shatter the narrative comes within the very beginning. Before the first chapter there is a preface written by a critic and one more note from the publisher. This guy, Ivan Bolshakov, is an editor-in-chief of the newspaper supporting the human rights. And the preface is written decades after the main body of the book was written. Because the book that's Diwow's written was made to seem as written by someone else. The book is published in the year 2099. The preface was written in 2015. And the events take place around the turn of the century and the first decade of 21st. Bolshakov accuses the author of lies, fabrications and warns readers to not fully believe the events described. You see now how difficult this books becomes. There is no one truth, one narrative, one objective fact. There's no objectivity altogether.
I am not sure if there's an English translation, but if there is - read it.

Sebastian Junger - Tribe. On Homecoming and Belonging
A very reader friendly book on belonging. I couldn't stop reading it, partly because the Author's nice, flowing language and partly because of the fascinating topic. The Author tells about the accounts of white people who escaped to Native Americans and never came back, about those who were kidnapped, raised among the tribes and even if they were brought to the white man's world, they did not fit in and not rarely they took off to woods to disappear forever. There is also a comprehensive chapter on PTSD, explaining the reasons and mechanisms of the trauma.
Highly recommend.

Bernie Su & Kate Rorick - The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet
After a lovely review of this project by a wonderful Malita-san^^, I got the book to read, and sorry to say - I somehow did not like it. This is maybe because I am not a Pride and Prejudice kinda girl. The book had a fanfic feel. Maybe that was the point, but the fast, dialogue overloaded chapters somehow did not appealed to me. I do like my descriptive passages and relying on dialogues gives me the behaviorists theories feel and I shun such literature. Of course, too much description and we get the nauseating shishōsetsu feel, so...
It was fun and quick read, but I'm sorry, I couldn't be elated...

George R.R. Martin - A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms 
Picked this randomly because I like the stories widening the world of another story. Especially such light and fun like this one. This is actually one book made of 3 stories about the 18 years old (probably) gallant wandering knight Duncan The Tall, also known as Dunk "stupid as the mace". His squire is called Egg, and those who read/watched ASOIaF/GoT should know the nickname because Maester Aemon said it. The kid is his brother - Aegon Targaryen, one of the few kids in literature that didn't piss me off. He became Dunk's squire by chance and against the latter's wishes, but after some time, those two got close, linked by friendship.
And no, there are no tits in these stories.

Dee Brown - Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee
It took me months to finish this book and after I have, I can't find the words to describe it other than - harrowing. Every chapter is written following the same pattern (it probably mimics the oral tradition) and after first two, we get what will happen in the rest. This is an important book, widening the scope of the history, giving voice to those who were muted for so long. It was written in the 70's which is visible, but still, the raw recounting of the futile resistance and doomed people is a powerful image.
Highly recommend.