Monday, August 6, 2012

The Brothers KaramazovThe Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ivan: "Do you understand why this infamy must be and is permitted? Without it, I am told, man could not have existed on earth, for he could not have known good and evil. Why should he know that diabolical good and evil when it costs so much? Why, the whole world of knowledge is not worth that child's prayer to 'dear, kind God" (page 266)

"I understand nothing," Ivan went on, as though in delirium. "I don't want to understand anything now. I want to stick to the fact. I made up my mind long ago not to understand. If I try to understand anything, I shall be false to the fact, and I have determined to stick to the fact." (page 268)

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Novels & Stories 1932-37: The Pastures of Heaven/To a God Unknown/Tortilla Flat/In Dubious Battle/Of Mice & MenNovels & Stories 1932-37: The Pastures of Heaven/To a God Unknown/Tortilla Flat/In Dubious Battle/Of Mice & Men by John Steinbeck
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

IN DUBIOUS BATTLE (dec 24 - jan 8)

'All the time at home we were fighting, fighting something - hunger mostly. My old man was fighting the bosses. I was fighting the school. But always we lost. And after a long time I guess, it got to be part of our mind-stuff that we always would lose. ... can you see the hopelessness in that?' (page 549)

OF MICE AND MEN (jul 23 - aug 5)

'George's voice became deeper. He repeated his words rhythmically as though he had said them many times before. "Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don't belong no place. They come to a ranch an' work up a stake, and the first thing you know they're poundin' their tail on some other ranch. They ain't got nothing to look ahead to."
Lennie was delighted. "That's it - that's it. Now tell how it is with us."
George went on. "Whit us it ain't like that. We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us. ..."
Lennie broke in. "But not us! An' why? Because ... because I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you, and that's why." ...

"Go on now, George!"


"we're gonna have a little house and a couple of acres an' a cow and some pigs and -"


Lennie shouted. "And have rabbits. Go on George! ... (pages 806-7)

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CoralineCoraline by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

'"Stay here with us," said the voice from the figure at the end of the room.
"We will listen to you and play with you and laugh with you. Your other mother will build whole worlds for you to explore, and tear them down every night when you are done. Every day will be better and brighter than the one that went before. Remember the toy box? How much better would a world be built just like that, and all for you?"' (page 119)


'Coraline sighed. "You really don't understand, do you?" she said. "I don't want whatever I want. Nobody does. Not really. What kind of fun would it be if I just got everything I ever wanted? Just like that, and it didn't mean anything. What then?"' (page 120)

'"Cats don't have names," it said
"No?" said Coraline .
"No," said the cat. "Now, you people have names. That's because you don't know who you are. We know who we are, so we don't need names." (page 37)

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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Pinball, 1973Pinball, 1973 by Haruki Murakami
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

‘I like wells, though. Every time I see a well, I can’t resist tossing a rock in. There’s nothing as soothing as the sound of a pebble hitting the water in a deep well.’ (page 10)

‘That’s this: if a person would just make the effort, there’s something to be learned from everything. From even the most ordinary, commonplace things, there’s always something you can learn. ...
Fact is, if it weren’t for that, nobody’s survive.

‘I think I see what you’re getting at, but’ - the Rat began, then swallowed the thought. But - the word was on his lips, there wasn’t anything more he could say. So he smiled and stood up, thanked J …’ (page 62)

‘On any given day, something claims our attention. Anything at all, inconsequential things. A rosebud, a misplaced hat, that sweater we liked as a child, an old Gene Pitney record. A parade of trivia with no place to go. Things that bump around in our consciousness for two or three days, then go back to wherever they came from the darkness. We’re always digging wells in our head. While above the wells, birds flit back and forth.’ (page 71)

‘“Good night”, said the Rat
“Good night,” -said J. “Oh, and one last thing. Somebody said it: Walk slowly and drink lots of water.”
The Rat smiled at J., opened the door, and climbed the stairs. Streetlamps brightly illuminated the deserted street. The Rat sat down on a guard-rail and looked up at the sky. And thought, just how much water does a guy have to drink?’ (page 94)

‘Everything was immersed in darkness. Not just a monotone black, but smeared on butter-thick in paints of all colors.
I kept my face glued to the taxi window looking at that darkness. It looked strangely flat, like the cut surface of some unreal material sliced off with a razor-sharp blade. A queer kind of perspective prevailed in the darkness.’ (page 98)

‘It’s like Tennessee Williams said. The past and the present, we might say, “go like this.” The future is a “maybe.”
Yet when we look back on the darkness that obscures the path that brought us this far, we only come up with another indefinite “maybe.” The only thing we perceive with any clarity is the present moment, and even that just passes away.’ (page 118)

‘I brewed coffee. And the whole day through I watched that Sunday pass by my window. A tranquil November Sunday of rare clarity shining through each and every thing.’ (page 119)

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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Hear the Wind SingHear the Wind Sing by Haruki Murakami
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

‘Sometimes, when I’d be killing time by reading a book, he’d peek at me curiously like a fly looking at a flyswatter.
- Why do you read books?
- Why do you drink beer?’ (page 9)

‘Whenever I look at the ocean, I always want to talk to people, but when I’m talking to people, I always want to look at the ocean. I’m weird like that.’ (page 16)

‘It’d been a long time since I’d felt the scent of summer. The smell of the ocean, the distant steam whistle, feeling the skin of a girl’s hand, the lemon scent of her conditioner, the evening wind, faint hopes, summer dreams …’ (page 70)

‘This pass us by. Nobody can catch them. That’s the way we live our lives.’ (page 77)

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The Calling (Darkness Rising, #2)The Calling by Kelley Armstrong
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

‘A shape-shifting witch. Crazy, huh? Except … I was. So were Rafe and Annie, who’d come to Salmon Creek looking for the girl who’d been another subject in an experiment to resurrect the latent skin-walker genes. That girl, apparently, was me.’ (page 22)

‘It wasn’t a stretch to think that the people responsible for this - and for setting the fire that got us out of town - were the scientists my birth mother had escaped sixteen years ago.’ (page 34)

‘Someone had pulled Serena under the water and drowned her. Someone had pulled me under, then and now. Someone had pulled Nicole under, too.
Sam hadn’t liked Serena. She hadn’t liked Nicole. Apparently, she didn’t like me much either, no matter how hard she tried to pretend otherwise.
Who did Sam like? Daniel. Who had been pulled under the water? His girlfriend, his best friend, and a girl who wanted to be his next girlfriend.’ (page 65)

‘I looked down at my hand. It was … wrong. Misshapen. My fingers were thick, my nails almost like claws. There was hair on the back of my hand. Thick tawny hairs. As I stared at it, my hip started to throb again. ‘ (page 88)

‘She planned this. There’s no loss of cognitive function. She’s an intelligent young woman in the body of one of the world’s finest predators. This is what we’ve been working toward. This is everything we’ve dreamed.’ (page 231)

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The Gathering (Darkness Rising, #1)The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

‘I could feel energy filling me. I inhaled the smells of the forest, the sharp tang of long grass, the sweet perfume of the trees.’ (page 40, location 608)

‘I don’t remember anything else. No, that’s a lie. I remember one more thing. I remember the cougar turning away and I remember what I saw on her flank. A dark patch of fur in the shape of a paw print.’ (page 105 location 1608)

‘Heard the scream of an eagle and my heart beat faster, legs pumping as I ran, the grass lashing me. Then - too late - I smelled it. Humans.’ (page 118 location 1808)

‘Skinwalker are evil witches who cast curses and take on the form of animals, usually canines.’ (page 133 location 2031)

‘Or, I said, turning to Rafe, if you want to skip the whole awkward meet-the-family social event, you could just submit your life story, including your views on politics, religion, and every social issue imaginable, along with anything else you think they might need to conduct a thorough background check.’ (page 148 location 2263)

‘I stopped. He was staring again - this time at the ground behind me. I turned to see what had caught his attention.
Don’t - he began.
Too late. Having stepped away from whatever Marv Had dropped, I could now see it more clearly through the long grass. Or see part of it. Fingers.’ (page 152 location 2329)

‘The cat jumped. Rafe shouted and this time I heard exactly what he said.
Annie!’ (page 178 location 2725)

‘Yee naaldlooshii.
Skin-walker.’ (page 179 location 2737)

‘Real skin-walker, like us, go back to before Columbus -discovered- America. It’s a kind of supernatural race. We’re born into a family of skin-walkers. We can change into mountain lions. We get our energy from nature. We have healing powers and some control over animals.’ (page 184 location 2814)

‘I was, apparently, a member of a formerly extinct race of supernatural beings?’ (page 192 location 2943)

‘Dreams of the forest, - he said - Of running. You wake up with a fever. You need to get outside. …
It’s the Calling. The start of the transformation.’ (page 218 location 3334)

‘I could stand in front of the mirror and mentally refuse to believe a person could change into an animal, but in my heart I knew it was true.’ (page 226 location 3455)

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Crime And PunishmentCrime And Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Audio CD
Published 1991 by Audio Adventures (first published 1866)

“Life had stepped into the place of theory
and something quite different would work itself out in his mind.” (Epilogue)

Raskolnikov is born in Dostoevsky’s mind and he’ll become the image of the modern hero (or the post-modern hero).
Beyond the Romantic hero, where individual thoughts (forgetting faiths, religions, etc.) leads toward winning results;
Raskolnikov’s character is beyond the will of power, beyond the good and the evil, he is looking for life without theories.

Crime and Punishment’s alchemy: Dostoevsky gathers together his characters to create a scene where people, like chemical substances, react involving a transformation.

Crime and Punishment reflects the classical elements: Earth, Water, Air, and Fire.
An idea: Raskolnikov is the image of the Earth; Sonia suggests Water; Razumihkin Air; and Crime Fire.

Crime working as Fire is an element that destroy, change, and it’s the root of a new life.

Razumihkin is the element who brings freshness to the other characters, and works like the air intruding in a stifling room.
Sonia suggests water , more heavy than air. Like Razumihkin Sonia brings cleanness, and works like the water of a river carrying Raskolnikov towards a new life (as before, without theories).
Raskolnikov reminds Earth: Dostoevsky was an adherent to the current ‘pocvennicestvo’ (a word coming from ‘pocva’, which means soil or earth). The main idea of pocvennicestvo was the bond between pocva / earth and Russian people; a bond with the return to popular principles rooted in the soil.

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Oryx and CrakeOryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oryx and Crake
by Margaret Atwood
Seal (2004), Mass Market Paperback, 464 pages

“To stay human is to break a limitation.” (page 362)

Snowman is an hermit who lives among the Crakers, a bio-genetic modification of human-like creatures. The Crakers are also called The Children of Crake.
Snowman, a man once known as Jimmy, tells to the Crakers about Oryx and Crake: a woman and a man of the past.
Snowman invents for the Crakers a religion based on Oryx, the guardian of the animals, and Crake, the creator God.
In flashbacks, Snowman reveals his past: Jimmy and Crake were friends since their childhood. Their favourite pastimes was to play computer-games: one of these is called Extinctathon, a game which requires an immense knowledge of extinct animals and plants species.
Surfing on the web, Jimmy and Crake find an Asian child website where both friends are affected by the eyes of a young girl.
After finishing school, Jimmy becomes a writer, and Crake a bio-engineer.
Although many years had passed, Crake haunted by the girl of the Asian website, finds her, and she takes the pseudonym of Oryx.
Jimmy and Crake become Oryx’s lovers.
Crake creates a virulent genetic disease that kills most humans, except for Jimmy (he was unknowingly vaccinated by Crake).
Crake’s project was to create a world of intelligent life: the Crakers. He wants to replace all Homo Sapiens with the Crakers, a peaceful and environmentally friendly human-like creatures.
Crake also wants that Jimmy acts as a Guardian of the Crakers.
When Crake meets Jimmy they talk about the disease, already spread throughout the world. The meeting ends up with Crake killing Oryx, and Jimmy shooting Crake.
Jimmy, now Snowman, reminds his promise to Oryx and becomes the Guardian of the Crakers.
Jimmy’s job with the Crakers could be hopeless: “Hopeless, hopeless.
What is work? Work is when you build things
What is build? - or grow things
What is grow? - either because people would hit and kill you if you didn’t or else because they would give you money if you did.
What is money?
No, he can’t say any of that. Crake is watching over you, he’ll say.
Oryx loves you.” (page 436)

Margaret Atwood gathers from all around the world suggestions about genetics, diseases, and ideas about present and future of the world.
“Maybe that’s the real him, the last Homo Sapiens - a white illusion of a man, here today, gone tomorrow, so easily shoved over, left to melt in the sun, getting thinner and thinner until he liquefies and trickles away altogether. As Snowman is doing now.” (page 271)

Snowman wears a watch (not-working) suggesting that the world-time has stopped, or better the time works like a circle:
every a while returns the Genesis.

The main character of Oryx and Crake is Snowman (the Yeti, the abominable snowman: an ape-like creature), maybe Atwood is referring to Darwin’s idea about the humankind coming from the apes. This time Snowman is a witness (as Guardian) of the new race (the Crakers).

Atwood suggesting her secular version of the Genesis abandons the unanswered questions of the Bible, recovering, resuming, and telling about a new ape (Snowman) picking up broken pieces so to start again the circle of life.
Like the apes, Snowman has to abandon the stage: “Time to go.”

Although Oryx and Crake reminds other ‘bleak’ books (such as The Road by Cormac McCarthy), the second part of the book (when Snowman starts the journey searching for food), is narrated under a new light: the light of knowledge, knowing the future means knowing where the circle of the time has to start again.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe

The Mysteries of UdolphoThe Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Mysteries of Udolpho was published on May 1794. The book introduces to the readers the Gothic genre: terror, castles, supernatural events, and many pictures of landscapes: cliffs in moonlight, or beneath the shade of tree (obscurity), or the Power of Nature.

Description of landscapes:

‘The deep repose of the scene, the rich scents, that floated on the breeze, the grandeur of the wide horizon and of the clear blue arch, soothed and gradually elevated her mind to that sublime complacency, which renders the vexations of this world so insignificant and mean in our eyes, that we wonder they have had power for a moment to disturb us. Emily forgot Madame Cheron and all the circumstances of her conduct, while her thoughts ascended to the contemplation of those numbered worlds, that lie scattered in the depths of aether, thousands of them hid from human eyes, and almost beyond the flight of human fancy.’

Supernatural events:

‘Dark power! with shuddering, meek submitted thoughts. Be mine to read the visions old which thy awakening bards have told, And, lest they meet my blasted view, Hold each strange tale devoutly true.’


‘A fresher air came to her face, as she unclosed the door, which opened upon the east rampart, and the sudden current had nearly extinguished her light, which she now removed to a distance; and again, looking out upon the obscure terrace, she perceived only the faint outline of the walls and of some towers, while, above, heavy clouds, borne along the wind, seemed to mingle with the stars, and wrap the night in thicker darkness.’

Towards light:

‘But soon, even this light faded fast, and the scenery assumed a more tremendous appearance, invested with the obscurity of twilight. Where the torrent had been seen, it was now only heard; where the wild cliffs had displayed every variety of form and attitude, a dark mass of mountains now alone appeared; and the vale, which far, far below had opened its dreadful chasm, the eye could no longer fathom. A melancholy gleam still lingered on the summits of the highest Alps, overlooking the deep repose of evening, and seeming to make the stillness of the hour more awful.’

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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Flow my Tears, the Policeman Said by Philip K. Dick

"The exclusiveness of space, we've earned, is only a function of the brain as it handles perception. It regulates data in terms of mutually restrictive space units. Millions of them, trillions, theoretically, in fact. But in itself, space does not exist at all." (page 40)

"Do you now see what happened to Taverner? He passed over an universe in which he didn't exist. And we passed over with him because we're objects of his percept system. And then when the drug wore off he passed back again." (page 842)

"No nights are black enough for those that in despair their last fortune deplore." (page 736)

John Banville, La Notte di Keplero

"Com'era innocente, com'era inutilmente amabile la superficie del mondo! Il mistero delle cose semplici lo assali'. Una festiva rondine sfreccio' attraverso una scompigliante folata di fumo di lavanda. Avrebbe piovuto di nuovo. gli giunse il suono di una corda pizzicata. Sorrise, in ascolto: era forse la musica delle sfere?" (p. 71)

"Cosa aveva guidato suo padre? Quali voglie impossibili si erano agitate e avevan dato calci dentro di lui? E che cosa? Il pestare di piedi durante le marce? il puzzo penetrante della paura e dell'attesa sul campo di battaglia, all'alba? il calore bruto e il delirio di qualche locanda lungo la strada? Era possibile amare la mera azione, il brivido di un fare incessante? Dinanzi ai suoi occhi tristemente meditativi ricomparve la finestra. Questo era il mondo: quel giardino, i suoi figli, quei papaveri. Sono una piccola creatura, il mio orizzonte e' ristretto. Allora, come una improvvisa inondazione di gelida acqua, venne il pensiero della morte, essa stringeva in pugno un mondo di spada arrugginita." (p. 108)

"Il cerchio e' il portatore delle armonie pure, le pure armonie sono innate nell'anima, e cosi' anima e cerchio sono una cosa sola. Che semplicita', che bellezza." (p. 192) "La ragione per cui certi rapporti producono un accordo ed altri una dissonanza non e' comunque da ricercarsi nella aritmetica, bensi' nella geometria ..." (p. 193)