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blythe025


Joyful Girl

Andrea Blythe's blog about writing, reading, and everything else


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Books Read in March
andrea reading
blythe025
1. Lola: A Ghost Story, by J. Torres
2. 20th Century Ghost, by Joe Hill
3. Tropic of Cancer (audio book), by Henry Miller
5. Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories About People Who Know How They Will Die, edited by Ryan North, Matthew Bennardo, and David Malki
6. Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon: Selected Poems, by Pablo Neruda
7. Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded, edited by Ann & Jeff Vandermeer
8. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick


Reviews:
1. Lola: A Ghost Story, by J. Torres
Jesse sees ghosts and has visions, just like his grandmother. After his grandmother dies, Jess travels to the Philippines for her funeral. There, he is haunted by the past and begins to learn to make peace with it when his cousin finds out his secret.

The story relies on Philippine folklore and has a lot of good creepy moments. It has a steady pace to it, allowing each scene to unfold from frame to frame without needing to explain too much or rush the process.

The one bad thing was that there was not enough of it. Having become so attached to Jesse and his family, I wanted the story to continue. But it ended at a point where it seemed to be just getting started. I have no idea if the author plans to continue the story, but I sure hope he does.


2. 20th Century Ghost, by Joe Hill
20th Century Ghosts is a collection of short stories. Not all are ghost stories, not all are horror, but all of them are fascinating and fabulous. They are beautiful, weird, surreal, or eerie, or sometimes all of the above. You could have a boy who is made of air, a woman who haunts a movie theater, a kid who turns into a giant locust, or a network of cardboard playhouse tunnels in which you could get lost forever. These are character centered stories; people breathe in them. Most of these stories are in some way are haunting in the way a good story lingers and settles into your skull. A fabulous collection with many memorable stories.


3. Tropic of Cancer (audio book), by Henry Miller
Basically an expatriate, living in Paris, louses around while often dirt poor, mooching off his friends, visiting brothels, getting drunk, and so on. Despite the poetic and rather beautiful language, there was not much to endear me to this book. The narrator is cynical and scummy and degrading to women -- in other words, not very sympathetic (all of which is made worse by the fact that this novel is semi-autobiographical). His entire outlook is pessimistic about the world and the human race, and while he has moments of supposed enlightenment and peace, they tend to come at the great expense of someone else. I read horror stories all time, full of guts and gore and darkness and violence, but none of them has left me as mildly disgusted and feeling dirtied as reading this supposedly literary classic.


4. Creating Poetry, by John Drury
Discussed elsewhere.


5. Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories About People Who Know How They Will Die, edited by Ryan North, Matthew Bennardo, and David Malki
Discussed elsewhere.


6. Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon: Selected Poems, by Pablo Neruda
Discussed elsewhere.


7. Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded, edited by Ann & Jeff Vandermeer
Discussed elsewhere.


8. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
Following a devastating nuclear war, the earth has begun to be emptied of life. Many died in the blasts from the bomb, while others died as the poisonous began to drift over the surface of the planet. Those left behind made the choice to either evacuate the earth, journeying to colonies on Mars and other planets with the promise of highly engineered androids to help them and keep them company, or to stay on the dying earth with the risk of being changed by the irradiated dust. People on earth, terrified of the loneliness, cluster together into cities and prize above all the ability to keep live animals as pets.

Rick Deckard feels lost and hopeless when his pet sheep dies. The artificial replacement, though nearly exact in its duplication and requiring the same amount of care, leaves him feeling empty. His one hope is to "retire" enough androids to be able to purchase a new animal. As a bounty hunter, it is his job to hunt down androids who have fled the off-planet colonies and try to gain freedom by passing as humans on earth. The new series of Nexus 6 androids are the hardest to spot and hunting them may cost him his life.

The mystery and the threat of the androids, the noir-ish tone, and the fabulous writing launched me into the story from page one. I could have read it in one sitting if my time had allowed me.

More than the realistic array of characters and the well plotted story, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is also deeply layered, with its biggest question being, What makes a human human? If an android is indistinguishable from a living, breathing human, then what is the point of being human? And all the while your questions what is real and what is manufactured, you begin to wonder does it matter what is real?

The book provides no solid answers. The book tricks you several times, reality seeming to effectively slip, the ground unsettled -- as it should be for a world slowly fading out. I often cared as much for the androids as I did for the humans in this story and often found my loyalties lying with both humans and androids.

I closed the final page with a smile on my face and the desire to just sit and think for a while. Then I wanted to immediately read the book again.
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