Saturday, August 14, 2010

More recent distractions

This Charming Man
By Marian Keyes

Is an entertaining book about four women who each have their problem with the same charming man. The plots isn't particularly plausible, but certainly not boring. The book however suffers from an overdose of drama and parallel storylines - it combines everything from quitting smoking over domestic violence, cross-dressing and cancer to alcoholism. Not to forget the obligatory love-stories. Keyes is one of these authors that I guess have an almost exclusively female readership.

Black Swan Rising
By Lee Carroll

A mediocre fantasy-story about a women fighting the return of the evil. Involves a collection of fantasy creatures including a dragon and a vampire, as well as demons possessing humans, creatures made of fog or water, and lots of mysterious spells and objects. Upon closer inspection the "author" of the book turns out to be a pseudonym for a husband-wife team, which maybe explains why I found the writing style somewhat clumsy. It's an averagely written book with an average plot. It's not even bad, I just had the impression I've read it a dozen times already.

The Ice Cream Girls
By Dorothy Koomson

A well-written and well-told story about two girls who in their teenage years were charged for murdering one of their teachers. The story is told when they are in their mid 30s, at which time one of them is being released from prison while the other one is fighting psychological problems and trying to save her marriage. This line of the story is interrupted with the events back when they were teenagers. The characters are well-developed and the plot is interesting. Only shortcoming is that the ending is entirely obvious all the time, simply due to lack of characters introduced.


The Time Traveler's Wife
By Audrey Niffenegger

A lovely, yet incredibly sad story about a man who involuntarily jumps through time. It is written partially from his point of view and partly from his wife's. It is the one and only time-travel story that I can recall having read that stayed truthful to its own logic. I didn't see the movie, but the book is well-written and definitely worth reading.





Thanks For the Memories
By Cecelia Ahern

Is an incredibly dumb, annoying and foreseeable story about a women who receives somebody else's memories with a blood transfusion. Obviously the guy whose memories she now has is nice, good-looking and single. Guess what happens. Don't waste your money on that.






19 comments:

Phil Warnell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,


”Is an incredibly dumb, annoying and foreseeable story about a women who receives somebody else's memories with a blood transfusion.”

I’m disappointed to hear that such a potentially interesting plot device is squandered as you describe. That is in line with your previous discussion of collective intelligence it could have been used to make quite an interesting science fiction story. I’ve often wondered what it would be like to wake up one day with all the thoughts of another, perhaps say for instance Einstein, Descartes or Plato or even someone more infamous then famous. Then again to have the thoughts of a woman as opposed to a man’s may prove to be the most enlightening of all, so I might better wish for those of Emmy Noether, Madame Currie or to take a walk on the wild side Catherine the Great:-)

Best,

Phil

Alyssa said...

Great reviews! I loved the Time Traveler's Wife too, but heard the movie is not nearly as god (though I haven't seen it!).

Plato said...

Cellular memory? Must be the plot of the book?

Cellular memory is the hypothesis that such things as memories, habits, interests, and tastes may somehow be stored in all the cells of human bodies, not only in the brain

Best,

Plato said...

Just thinking out loud.

I mean really, what is consciousness, or the soul, which can inhibit a body?

If the body dies, the soul dies?

Can a soul live in another's body that the original vacates?? Can a soul live on?

Best,

Bee said...

Hi Phil,

Yes, I too thought the idea has potential, but then the realization was disappointing. To begin with, if you want to transfer memory, a blood transfusion is not a very plausible medium. Blood transfusions are very common and even leaving aside that it doesn't make a lot of sense you can transfer memories in single cells, hundreds of millions of people would have noticed. At the very least you'd expect an attempt of an explanation why they didn't, but nothing is offered. I suspect the reason why the author chose a blood transfusion and not some rarer and less well understood medical process is half laziness and half the wish to advertise blood donation. In any case, there is then this woman who obtains memories from a man who happens to have a PhD (Art and Architecture) and suddenly she knows all sorts of things about his speciality, plus she speaks Latin, French and Italian. You'd think she was thrilled, but no, actually it plays hardly a role except that she frequently annoys her friends and relatives with elaborations about the architecture of Dublin's buildings, paragraphs that, frankly, sound like copied from a tourist guide. Far more interesting is of course that she knows how he lost his virginity.

In any case, I wouldn't mind waking up with somebody elses knowledge, but I really don't want somebody elses memories. Best,

B.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,


”In any case, I wouldn't mind waking up with somebody elses knowledge, but I really don't want somebody elses memories.”

I wonder if one can really have one without the other? Besides, I would think a lot of what a person is, as to who they become, has much to do with how they think as to have it interest them. For me I would find such awareness to be as interesting as what they know of a more practical sense. That is can we truly know the mind of an Einstein, Plato or anyone for that matter, if we don’t know what served to inspire and motivate them.

What might be as equally interesting are thoughts or experiences that you have that were never had by another and consider what difference that makes if any. For instance perhaps one could discover what has some to be primarily conceptual as opposed to rote learners as I mentioned before or why some people seem to become saints while others demons, even though their life experiences and environment may not present as much different. That is I find how it is people think to know what they do more interesting than simply what they’ve come to know.


As for a bad premise for a plot device I think this one no less ridiculous than that of the Matrix films, where people were kept only as a source of energy as the war had them block out the sun. That is I always wondered what was feed to them if this had the planet now barren of other life? It always seemed like a careless error for a plot line that was otherwise quite well thought through. Then again I suppose that’s why it’s all called fiction to begin with :-)


Best,

Phil

GW said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phil Warnell said...

Hi GW,

You wrote: ” Man, you read crappy feminist books for summer reading. I am reading I, Claudius, which is fascinating.”

I would agree that I Claudius is a fascinating bit of fiction, although i would point out it greatly depends on the development of strong and intelligent female characters such as Livia, Drusilla along with others who are clearly presented by the author Robert Graves as being the true power and source of direction behind their men’s inspirations, policies and actions ; then again what else is new :-)


Best,

Phil

Bee said...

GW: Nothing "feminist" about these books. I think you have a confusion of vocabulary there. Best,

B.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

Yes as I pointed out to GW I Claudius has stronger feminist overtones then anything you reviewed. I wonder if he also considers “chick flicks” as being feminist films. Now there’s an interesting question, do some men fear the thought of them recognizing femininity as a distinct aspect of culture more than female empowerment?

Best,

Phil

Steven Colyer said...

Hi Bee and Phil,

WHY are you talking so much about a guy who deleted his comment?!

He had every right to do so, but since no comment truly dies thanks to e-mail, and Bee has his original comment thereby, would it be asking too much to share it such that we all know what you and Phil are talking about, Bee?

Bee said...

Huh? Oops, didn't even notice he deleted it. You see, I get a notification for a comment submission, but not for a deletion.

Steven Colyer said...

Hi Plato, you wrote;

Just thinking out loud.

I mean really, what is consciousness, or the soul, which can inhibit a body?

If the body dies, the soul dies?

Can a soul live in another's body that the original vacates?? Can a soul live on?


I think all discussion of "soul" is off the table, as is all discussion of "consciousness."

The reason? We don't know enough about physics yet to even begin to ask the relevant questions. Indeed, the best minds in Biological Brain Science have as many opinions re same as there are scientists specializing in Brain Science, regarding "Consciousness."

My own take is we each possess the greatest machine/computer on the planet: the Human Brain. It sure ain't immortal, and each has its flaws, but each is also incredible.

But whatever, each is a massively parallel-processing electro-chemical supercomputer, each and every one of them, and who knows what the morrow shall bring?

Phil Warnell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phil Warnell said...

Hi Steven,


Sorry as Bee I had responded from my email feed of the post and didn’t notice when it had been taken down. If they had taken it down before or after my posting I’m not aware. None the less I had previously quoted just about all that was said except them ending in “The TV series was great”. I agree that everyone has the right to retract what they post, yet if was the result of reconsideration rather than correction to me an apology would have been the more transparent way displaying some degree of integrity. For me this just further serves to show many that choose to be anonymous are not familiar with either of those concepts.


Best,

Phil

GW said...

Yes, I should have said "chick books"--the sort of books you would have to pay a male to read :)

Bee said...

Yeah, right, I read chick books :-) I also paint my toenails. The prime reason I read these books is that everything else seems to be either murder stories or historical stuff, and I can't bring up much interest for either. Been reading plenty of science fiction at some point, later fantasy, but this becomes very repetitive. (There's only so many really interesting ideas out there, and then they get recycled endlessly.) In any case, I sometimes appreciate if you can forget about a book the moment you close it. When on vacation, I like that sort of story. Best,

B.

M*P*Lockwood said...

"Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" is also a time-travel story which stays truthful to its own logic. No, I'm not kidding!