The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: A Book Review

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Along with her The Blind Assassin, this is one of the most convoluted and elaborate novels I have ever read. The story is too cloudy to understand that it requires your powers of concentration, especially if you are not analytical enough to grasp its complexity, the style I have proven Atwood bears the hallmark of.

Instead of analyzing it in a broader literary context with intellectual bravado since everyone can turn to Wikipedia, I’d rather review it in a manner of  what I found out in her writing styles: I’m envious of her skilled mastery for turning into beautiful prose her train of thoughts or whatsoever plays  in the figment of her imagination. Furthermore, she is an unfathomable female writer who can be as genius as any writers mostly celebrated in world literature.

This novel from the first pages to the last is strewn with vivid, beautiful, elegant, graceful, sumptuous sentences which I enjoyed reading rather than   gripping its main idea. The sentences are so lyrical that I chanted them again and again. They melt in my tongue like sweet, dark chocolate, or smell good like a garden,  full of a variety of colorful flowers hovered  above by a swarm of butterflies.

Under an unlikely scenario, if there were still such a world that men were superior to women over skills in writing stories or any literacy pieces, and Atwood were into such a literary show-off ,surrounded by supercilious writers looking down on her feminism, I bet my life that Atwood could dominate or catch up with them at any cost of literary bouts. Don’t dare her write one because this her The Handmaid’s Tale has proved me   wrong that there is something Atwood could make her rather genius. Her novels may appear complex, much more if she writes a simpler or more intricate one. In other words, there is nothing to find fault with her more; it’s crystal clear that she is an extraordinary writer. Roll down the red carpet and pay homage to Her Majesty.

Now, I freely  acknowledge that reading another Atwood’s books could be challenging since I have now the clearest idea of her writing style. Sometime in the future, if I have a great deal of time, perhaps when I reach my mid-life , no longer preoccupied with how to embellish my life with youthful experiences, hers would be one of those books I want to read again and again.As American musician and filmmaker, Frank Zappa put it , so many books, so little time to read.There are still thousands of  books in the world I haven’t read yet.

Also, the best course of technique I should use when I happen to read Atwood’s other books  and others books which have little resemblance to her style  would be a matter of full concentration ( regardless of  how poor my reading comprehension skill is .) Then, I will seat myself at a coffee table with a voluminous dictionary and colorful highlighters scattered around , par for the course in my reading repose. Ho-ho!

P.S . It is now being adapted for a TV series  broadcast live on  Hulu.

Rating: 4/ 5 stars ( I really liked it. )

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The BFG by Roald Dahl:A Book Review

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Oompa-loompa, everlasting gobstopper, snozzberry, whangdoodles, hornswogglers, snozzwangers, vermicious knids, scrumdiddlyyumptious, eggdicator: These are some of the examples of the wonderful words  in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that Google helped me jog my memory about, my first experience in  discovering Roald Dahl’s leanings for inventing new nonsensical words. At that time, I had to turn to a stack of different dictionaries in my house , or to the internet as the last straw to grasp their meanings. I wonder if native speakers who have read it have the same cognitive trepidation.

 The BFG , short for The Best Friendly Giant , is  another one  I was boggled at.  It is definitely   more rabid than the former one in that I almost wanted to toss it up in the air. It is riddled with many, many  nonsensical  words Dahl coined himself. My student and I since   it was part of our reading class called it TGL short for The Giant Language. Thus, the biggest challenge for us was how to understand it   because we are not native speakers . Our knowledge of English   vocabulary is limited.  In this case, we just try to guess with the context  clues  hidden  not anything but near the other sentences,  or as usual  with  my  comrade in time of   nasal hemorrhage  or  with a dictionary app  installed in our android phones.  However, most of the time, we just skipped them , for in doing so was a waste of time.

For  the newbie, to understand what I have been blabbering about, try to guess the meanings of the  following words  and  sentences.

Buckswashling

“Upgoing bubbles is a catasterous disastrophe!”

“Delumptious fizzy frobscottle…”

Gruncious

Hopscotchy

Propsposterous

Rotsome

Sqiubbling

“I cannot be squibbling the whole gropefluncking dream on a titchy bit of paper.”

You will be coming to an ucky-mucky end if any of them should ever be getting his gogglers upon you.”

“How whoopsey-splunkers! How absolutely squiffling! l is all of a stutter.”

To  the  readers who have read it, you may be pleasantly  squinting at the words  until now.  For me,  my favorite words  that my student and I made fun of were “ I watch telly telly bumkin box”, and “ scrumdiddylicious” which was also spoken in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. ^^

If you are such a logophile, maniac for  patting  down  all the words  in the book, you could  serve as  an interpreter  for  TGL.

Apparently, the   nonsensical words are the mainspring of having a hard time enjoying it to bits as to what I went through in Matilda or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Such literary device   may deaden or spice up   the excitement of the story depending on the   taste of the reader. In a metaphorical situation, I was like a stranger, lost in a lost world, fear-stricken of the thought that I would not be able to get back to where I came from because of the strange things, needless to say TGL , I had to be inured to until I was part of this “disgusterous, sickable, and rotsome” world of the giants.  But the truth is I don’t want to enter this story anymore, especially during witching hour: I am scared to have met the giants and talked to them in their language anymore; it would just put me in a nose bleeding and bone-crunching position.

Despite that the world I entered is creepily “disgusterous”, I found it amusing because of The BFG. He is such a naive but amusing character. I was like Sophia, the main character , enjoying his company because of  his funny hobbies and stories. I would hate but try eating his favorite food “snozzcumbers” which taste is beyond recognition. I would for sure enjoy his ejaculatory whizzpopper, a drink resembling a soda drink, but equivalent to farting reaction in our world.  I would not get tired of his thousand jars of dream collections. I would be fascinated by his elongated ears which have the ability to listen to sounds  a million times  far  away, and could serve as a hideout for  a small human bean  from human-bean eaters. Indeed, The BFG is not a giant everyone should be intimated by.

If I survived the world of the giants in that I was neither crunched nor gorged on , I would not just bear in mind the memories I spent with the BFG but also his sophisticated character. You might not realize that the BFG   has a literary symbol. For me, he is the anathema of the desire to change the old ways. Little did I realize that Dahl may have suggested that his story is about civilization and barbarism.Only the BFG has the willingness to be weaned on the currently revolutionary life , keeping behind the   old ways of the other giants. He exerts a lot of effort to educate himself by reading books, especially Charles Dickens’ works. Likewise, he does not want to eat human beans because of his “civilized conscience.” As a matter of fact, the story  indicates  that we can learn break our  uncivilized habits  like what happened to The BFG and other giants who have eventually been taught to lead the life civilized  people do. Now, this could be a question for a social science scholar: Is civilization a learned development?

The BFG is another book to reduce me to awe for Dahl’s mastery in storytelling although I am now at the stage of cognitive development when everything is no longer beyond a child’s understanding. Rather, I can cringe at the juvenile and puerile stories because such things can be deduced with logical explanations. However, I reckoned that we are dictated by society when we should act our age. In other words, there is no limitation to what books a reader should   read.  Thus, Roald Dahl is now my favorite children book writer. 🙂

Rating: 3/ 5 stars ( I liked it.)

 

 

In My Own Words by Henri Nouwen :An Advanced Birthday Gift

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I am sure that one  of the things a bookworm would love to receive on his/ her birthday is a book. What else ? He/she  is a full-time reader, a book lover, or a bibliophile, whatever names or slang  you can make up , all he/ she wants  on any special occasions is a book. So, although a few days off before my  30th birthday, a special friend of mine has already sent me  her  love with an advanced gift recently. It is another work by Henri NouwenIn My Words compiled by Robert Durback.

Book Description: 
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published September 5th 2001 by Liguori Publications

Synopsis: 

This is a thematic collection of memorable writings of Henri Nouwen inviting readers to share spiritual intimacy with this popular writer about prayer, depression, friendship, peace, and other topics.
His works connect to or touch the lives of people in a language they can understand, and lead them to places where they need to be. Henri J. M. Nouwen, a Dutch Roman Catholic priest who died in 1996, was one of this century’s most popular spiritual writers. His accounts of his experiences as a leader in the civil rights struggle of the 1960s and in the antinuclear movement are models of balance between the political and personal aspects of Christian faith.

Portrait of Henri Nouwen  in the 1990s taken by Frank Hamilton (Photo: Wikipedia)

Nenri Nouwen was a Dutch Catholic priest, professor, writer and theologian.He had deep passion for psychology, pastoral ministry, spirituality, social justice and community. In fact, he authored 4o books on spiritual life.

He caught the attention of the world  for his working with mentally and physically handicapped people at the L’Arche Daybreak community in Richmond HIll, Ontario.

As far as I remember , I learned of Henri Nouwen when my Korean nun student brought  him up in our class and told me that she wanted to follow him. Thereafter, I started to be obsessed with his works, curious about his  strong passions for others, how the man made a difference to her. At that time, I was still religiously bothered and agitated as how I  looked up to Thomas Merton a lot. So, I had access to one  of his works when one of my other nun students  lent me the  Aging: The Fulfillment of Life. You can read my  simple review here .

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Given the fact that I am now an advocate atheist, reading such a book   still piques my interest, especially I find Henri Nouwen an influential person, a la Thomas Merton or Mother Theresa. Besides,  I love reading people’s works which give a profound impact upon the world .

Thanks Sister Clara. 🙂

I  wonder what is the next gift someone will give me. 🙂

Age is a number and mine is unlisted. –Anonymous–

 

 

 

 

 

Book News:The 37th Manila International Book Fair

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Maybe, among the book fairs,  The Manila International Book Fair is the only one I really can’t wait for . This special event  is considered as a godsend  to us book lovers because, aside from the fact that it has many booths  of books you can  drop into, you can have the opportunity to meet and greet  some famous  Filipino authors who will be launching their new books. As a matter of fact,  one of them I would love to meet is Edgar Calabia Samar,  famous for his  award-winning novel Walong Diwata ng Pagkahulog. He will be launching his  book three  for Si Janus Sílang at ang Tiyanak ng Tábon and Si Janus Sílang at ang Labanáng Manananggal-Mambabarang. Also, I hope to stumble upon one of my favorite Filipino children book writers, Genaro Gojo Cruz.

By the same token, you may  have the chance to make new friends as well as meet  your invisible friends you  hold a conversation with in  the social media like Goodreads. Let’s see. 🙂

The Manila International Book Fair is usually held in September yearly.  It is considered as  the country’s biggest and longest-running book fair. It exhibits various large collection of literature from fiction and nonfiction best-sellers, to academic books, to graphic novels, and so on.

For more information  , visit its  website here , or  its FB fanpage  here

So,  book lovers, you still have time to scrimp and save to buy all the books you might grab there.   See you there. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Book News: BOOKS for LESS Warehouse Sale

Filipino book  lovers, get a load of this!  BOOKS for  LESS  will be having  a Warehouse Sale in August.

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Thousands of books cost 20 pesos each.Good for those  bibliophiles who have a lot of money to burn. Yahoo!

I hope I’m  able to go even though the place is a bit far from our office and  expected to be jam-packed with the book lovers or book sellers who will take advantage of the  dirt cheap price.Besides, I have never been to such a grand sale event  yet, so I want to jump at this chance in a million. Hohoho

Its official Facebook account posted some directions on how to get to the  warehouse and  helpful tips   before going there.

For more information, visit  the  official book store’s facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/bflbookstore/

Good luck!!! 🙂