strange and intriguing books

20 August 2020

You ever read those books that are just so amazingly written, but the whole time you read there is a purposeful sense of distance and obscurity - like the narrative indulges in the actions and thought of the characters yet there's still an anonymity?? They're just strange books, and not particualry enjoyable to read yet they are compelling and weird and often feature a commentary on something that is rarely spoken about, which I think is where some of the lack of enjoyment comes from. Or in some it comes from a disjointedness within the text. Either way, I've really been vibing with those sort of books lately, they're interesting because they are paradoxical; they cause discomfort yet its difficult to beat the compulsion to read them. 

The Vegetarian - Han Kang

This novel is about a woman named Yeong-hye who after a nightmare turns vegetarian. Continuous images of meat haunt her and prompt her to will a transformation and adapt to a fully plant-like existence. It is set in south korea, where societal norms are (implied within the novel) to often be adhered to; Yeong-hyes desicion to turn vegetarian goes against this norm. It affects her familial relationships, creating scandal, abuse and an emergence of trauma. Its a three part novel, each part dips into different perspective of those affected by Yeong-hyes descion of turning vegetarian.

Can we discuss how intriguing a synopsis of this text is! When I first read about it on good reads I thought it sounded absurd and ridiculous but I had to buy the book because how the fuck could turning vegetarian inspire an entire novel to be written?

This novel is cool because you go inside yeong-hyes mind, and of her families minds yet never get a feeling of complete understanding, the writing is explorative yet remains mystifying. It's also super interesting to be presented with a depiction of mental illness from a different culture that doesn't seek to villanise mental illness or the struggle of those who have to experience the mental breakdown of a loved one. Also you get a non-explicit portrayal of how accepting societal norms as rules for life are damaging - I find a lot of the time in texts it is always so obvious, yet it is multifaceted in this text, but I can not say more without giving a lot away. It's also super interesting because of the differing perspectives on the attempts of disengaging body and soul.

ps - if you google this after, a lot of reviews talk about turning vegetarian which made me think this was a whack book just about difficulties people face when turning vegetarian. Ignore such reviews, your own dietry choices don't impact a reading in the slightest, nor will this novel change your desicions. It is a wonderful, interesting book exploring mental health, the effects of a simple life and effects of secrecy- don't let the title or reviews misguide you. 

The Oxygen Thief 

I found this book absolutely wild to read- not because there was a lot of goings on, but because I was disgusted yet compelled by the audacious narrator, the acknowledgement of his behaviour yet the continuation of it. I can't lie, I read it a while ago, wrote a banging review, lost the review and now can't fully remember what was in the review, however I shall try to do the book justice. I think half the intrigue of this novel comes from the anonymous writer because it just creates a new dimension to the text, a definitive distinction between fiction and autobiography can't be drawn. Plus, the whole text is just really human and raw, it is not droused in beautiful description but is factual, the limit on depth given to those who appear in the text and everything else continue to create a difficulty in understanding the reason of the anonymity of the author. Also, despite the lack of beauty in the writing, the explanation behind the title just was so real and something recognisable in life but it isn't something you want to be able to recognise. The text is just fucking uncomfortable, at times funny and at times horrible which builds into the realism and reflection of life in its account of the treatment of by people by others

A lot of reviews call it an awful book, but it depends in what way you read it. If you read this book with the expectations of a normal novel that follows a plot and contains well developed characters, you will be dissapointed. It's more psychological than that and there isn't a sense of progression, its mainly an indulgence in misery and contains reflection on the manipulation of women for the sake of personal satisfaction.

disclaimer - this book made me uncomfortable in many ways. but that's what made it get on the list, it was so uncomfortable to read and at times made me so angry, never once happy, yet I could not stop reading despite the awareness and intimdation it caused. 

The Body Artist - Don DeLillo 
I had to read this book for my degree, but oh my fucking god- I think it may be one of the coolest, most well crafted books I have ever read. It's the sort of novel that always leaves you with questions, as everything that happens feels so distant from reality. It is about a womans grieving period after the news of her husbands suicide. It is not a heavy book though in that sense; it does not dote on the suicide but instead how time and reality can separate during periods of grief. It is about the construction of identity and is just a really fucking strange but good book. Also, the novellist writes in a way that so much can go amiss, but if you read with a critical eye you may see why I think Don DeLillo is one of the most intelligent writers in the 21st century.

I feel a bit too passionate about this novel to give it a good review. All I will say is, read it if you want to busy your brain up a bit. It wouldn't be a fun book to read for pleasure.

i have a quick few questions before I go, if anyone can help me out it would be much appreciated
-how can i add a star rating system thing on posts? i wanted to rate these novels out of five stars but couldn't figure out an HTML code that would let me do that. 

That actually is it, my one and only question. peace!

northern adventures

1 August 2020

long time no post! Despite the stillness of lockdown, life has felt busy. Days were initially filled with writing essays and long walks, then once deadlines were met I moved back up to Leeds where fun and adventures with housemates were rife. Then on the long awaited 4th July, I was informed my place of work would open again and days since have been filled with being an excellent barista and fleeting days off which are used to satisfy my constant cravings for aperol spritz. Writing did not feel right for a long time for a plethora of reasons, but after having a wonderful day in York with Katie I remembered how many great things I have experienced because of this blog and to abandon it for a reason as lame as 'a prolonged writing slump' is ridiculous.

apologies for the poor quality, I used an odd photo editing online site. just trust me when I say I have never so deeply enjoyed the magnifigence of nature as I did during some of these hikes. 

things I've been up to:
- I read an incredible book called Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It is about a woman who immigrates to the US from Nigeria and I could not insist you read it enough.
-I also read a really cool book called The Vegetarian by Han King. It follows a family in South Korea whose lives become upturned when one of the members decides to become a vegetarian. Cool read, but also an uncomfortable read
-I saw Katie in York and we had delicious tapas as a poor replication of the holiday in Spain we were supposed to have
- I went to Manchester and solidified a friendship, making it no longer simply be a 'uni friendship' but (hopefully) a forever friendship
- I have enjoyed going to work. Last year I had to quit a job I was content with my managers suddenly became quite cruel and moved on to do some agency work instead, however the male managers were, quite frankly, disgusting. So to not only enjoy my new job but to love the people I work with is a very special thing and I am so grateful we were able to open back up after lockdown.
-I went to a waterfall and paddled in the water on one of the hottest days of the summer
-I went swimming alongside some ducks in a lake
- Said farewell to my home of second year, ending a great year with bevs and a boogie (making the actual move out day incredibly horrendous)
-I played Irish Snap in the sun
-I learnt a new drinking game
-I watched some very good films. BlackKklansman is now on netflix, as is Da 5 Bloods; both I highly recommend.
-I spent many rainy afternoons emboridering whilst my housemate did a puzzle with podcasts on in the background
-Hikes in the yorkshire dales
-Lazy days in the park, using sips of hooch and smirnoff ice to cure persistent hangovers
-Decided on a rough direction for my dissertation, crazy!!
-Moved into a new university home and christened it with a seemingly continuous game of Ring of Fire in attempts to get to know our new housemate better
-Watched Animal Kingdom on Amazon Prime - an excellent TV show
-Had a delightful morning wtih coffee and croissants
-Made some great meals (I'm talking pad thai, I'm talking chickpea pancakes, I'm talking the most excellent low fodmap vegan mash potato, I'm talking sweet and sour tofu)

So yes. Days have flickered between slow and busy and I wish I could find my film camera so that I could share with you all some of the hazy photographed memories I had captured, but alas, I am a mess. Although the uncertainity of covid-19 is still there, I find that the days have a little more hope in them and am ready to begin some work for third year. It feels beyond mad that I am going to be a final year university student already. Things are not going as planned, but it is not all bad.

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