Homage to Catalonia / George Orwell

   This review is turning out to be difficult to write; this was such a good book and was so full that I am not sure how to correctly express my reaction to it and feelings about it. I finished it on Saturday and almost immediately pressed it into the hands of of friend with many a "you  must read this", and I sent texts to bookish friends telling them that Homage to Catalonia simply has to be their read, and I want to give it to people for Christmas and birthdays and hang over them until they read it. If that gives you any indication of my deep appreciation for this book, then maybe you too will find it and read it. The tone is conversational and gentle, and Orwell tries to be as even-handed as he can.

   Instead of several more paragraphs of gushing, I'll just put some quotes in here and call it a day:

"One of the most horrible features of war is that all the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting"
"If there is one thing I hate more than another it is a rat running over me in the darkness. However, I had the satisfaction of catching on of them a good punch that sent him flying."
"Smillie's death is not a thing I can easily forgive. Here was this brave and gifted boy, who had thrown up his career at Glasgow University in order to come fight against Fascism, and who, as I saw for myself, has done his job at the front with faultless courage and willingness; and all they could find to do with him was to fling him into jail and let him die like a neglected animal. I know that in the middle of a huge and bloody war it is no use making too much fuss over an individual death. One aeroplane bomb in a crowded street causes more suffering than quite a lot of political persecution. But what angers one about a death like this is its utter pointlessness. To be killed in battle — yes, that is what one expects; but to be flung into jail, not even for any imaginary offence, but simply owing to dull blind spite, and then left to die in solitude — that is a different matter. I fail to see how this kind of thing — and it is not as though Smillie’s case were exceptional — brought victory any nearer."
"The word 'shot' gave me a sort of inward shudder. A bullet had entered my own body recently and the feeling of it was fresh in my memory; it is not nice to think of that happening to anyone you know well."

   Honestly, I wish I could get across what this book is like, but I don't think I really can. Read it, please.  It's available online here.


Mini Wrap Uuuuuup! Word.

   And it's over! Oh boy, that was DELIGHTFUL. I am quite glad I took part. What mini things did I accomplish? Here's a list:
  • Drank (too much) mini coffee
  • Ate mini pizza
  • Finished Homage to Catalonia / George Orwell, everyone read this book ASAP, I'm not kidding, it is so good
  • Bummed around on the twitter
  • Picked up The Pearl and put it down again a few times
  • Read a bunch o' blogs! Said hello! You are all super charming!
  • Listened to a whole bunch of Inkheart
  • Went to an appointment which I was early for, SLAMMED my way through The Pearl. 
   At one point I took a break from painting my nails and listening to Inkheart to eat ice cream and  watch Inkheart, I think it's safe to say that I get Minithon. Also: how did I forget that Inkheart has everyone  in it? Brendan Fraser? Check. Paul Bettany? Check. HELEN MIRREN? ALSO CHECK.

   I really am charmed by you all, today has been a lovely day. Thanks so much, Tika, for hosting it and being so welcoming!


   It is 10:00 here in Alberta, and I am joining this readathon a wee bit late. One might say that my tardiness is MINI. Keeping with the theme! I have also just pulled my MINI pizza out of the oven and am drinking an espresso which one might call a MINI coffee and I'm not sure why I keep putting "mini" in all caps. So far those are all the miniature foods I have, but I have to go out later today mid-thon and who knows, some teeny foods might find their way into my home and heart (stomach) after all.

    The reading!
Did you know that George Orwell got shot in the neck? WELL HE DID.

   Admittedly, Homage to Catalonia is mini in neither concept nor execution, but I only have one chapter left, ergo: so mini. As a side note, OMGosh read this book it is amazing. 

Coins are mini? Pearls are mini? Fairies are mini? Lizards? Mini?

  ALSO not very mini, BUT it features Meggie who is 12, she's a veritable teacup human and is therefore mini. It's about the power of reading and when you read you are looking at words on a page and they are small? What? It also prominently features Dad/Daughter Feelings and the movie stars none other than Brendan Fraser sooooo...I love it. It also reminds me that the amount of books I will read in my lifetime is mini in comparison to the amount of books there are in the world. Depressing.


   I don't even need to reach for this one! 87 pages, baby. I read Steinbeck's short books in an attempt to assuage my guilt over not having read East of Eden.

   I also have several articles for my Contemporary Feminist Theory class and a few days from my One Year Bible which I am sadly behind in to read, so the mini readings are waaaaay more bountiful than the mini snacks. So much reading! I already feel the need for more espresso and/or a nap. Let the reading/tweeting/snacking begin! Oh! And! My twitter handle is @olyvianne



this book vortex I couldn't find credit for represents my life
   We've gone over this before, but it is no less of a problem for me now than it was previously. I have several books on the go, some might say I have too many in the process of being read. Maybe I have book-commitment issues, maybe I'm expressing to my full capabilities, maybe it's just the way I read.

   Here's a (non-complete) list of the books I am part-way through at the moment:
  1. HHhH / Laurent Binet. I put this book down for a long time, because suddenly I was reading more than one book about Reinhardt Heydrich and if you want to be unhappy, you can try reading more than one book about war criminals at once. It's a recipe for curling up sadly on your bed. But I'm far enough removed, and I decided to stop reading the extensive history of the SS I was working on, and have come back to HHhH. 
  2. Homage to Catalonia / George Orwell. I have long since known that my knowledge of various European wars is lacking, especially when it comes to the confusing and convoluted Spanish Civil War. Much to my relief, I came across this conversational tome by one of my favorite authors, and I can say that everyone should read this book. It's informational, it's easy to read, it's detailed and even-handed, it makes as much sense as it can of a confusing situation.
  3. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich / Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn. (I am looking at this list and thinking that the explanation for my general outlook on life might be found in my reading material.) I was part way through this small book about life in a work camp when I put it down and it disappeared into thin air. Where is it? Does my sister have it? I want to finish it. 
  4. Oryx and Crake / Margaret Atwood. I have very purposefully been giving Atwood a large chance to impress me this year, after finally deciding that maybe my deep dislike of Handmaid's Tale wasn't representative of what my reaction would be to all of her work. So far, Oryx and Crake is quite good. 
  5. Herland / Charlotte Perkins Gilman. I usually have at least one book on the go on my phone, in case of emergencies (like long lines) and this one is my current one. 
  6. Hunger's Brides / Paul Anderson. I look at this book and feel bad about my life because it is nearly 1500 pages long and what am I doing with my life? Why haven't I written anything of note? Why haven't I put the required effort into reading this thing? I started it and it was so good and then my arms got tired (because it weighs 40 tonnes) and I got intimidated and now it exists to make me feel inadequate. 
   This isn't even all of them, and some of these are the same as many months ago when I talked about this issue before. Sometimes people ask "what are you reading" and I give them a bit of a blank stare. If I do this to you, please know that I'm not judging you or something, I am just trying to suss out the answer. Do I say the book I read bits of most recently? The one I'm farthest in? The one I'm enjoying the most? There are too many questions. 


The Yellow Wallpaper / Charlotte Perkins Gilman

   If you live anywhere near where I do (i.e. THE TRUE NORTH STRONG AND FREE) you know that it is really, truly, winter. When the first real snow comes I react like King Theoden looking over the valley in front of Helm's Deep, with many a "so it begins" and a "this is your life now."

we understand one another
      All this to say that the season that I am on the lookout for spooky scary reading is past (and I read The Shining / Stephen King and it was plenty scary so I got my fill) and it was purely by chance that I stumbled on this short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Someone on the world wide web mentioned it, saying something like "1892 story about postpartum depression" so naturally I needed to read it, unaware that it is also extremely creepy. Ladies and gentlemen it is so short, and since it was published way before 1923 it is on Project Gutenberg and you can read it for free here: The Yellow Wallpaper. It is a mere 6,000 words. Go read it.

   Hopefully you've read it now because OH MY GOSH, AM I RIGHT? Was the "creeping" as terrifying in your head as in my head? How much is your rage roiling against her physician husband? The poor woman! The poor baby! The poor man! Surprising insight into the effects of depression on the side of CPG! I looked her up, and she also wrote a short book called Herland which is also written from a feminist perspective and is also free online so of course I am going to read it. Wikipedia says that she was a "prominent American feminist, sociologist, novelist, writer of short stories, poetry, and nonfiction, and a lecturer for social reform" to which I say, "sounds like my kind of historical lady, minus the racism which becomes evident upon further reading." Also: TURNS OUT The Yellow Wallpaper is semi-autobiographical. AND she taught herself to read when she was five.


"Mind if I go in and watch television?"

   Here are the titles of the movies in this post:
  1. Anastasia (97)
  2. Interstellar (14)
  3. Les Miserables (12)
  4. The Phantom of the Opera (25)
  5. Secondhand Lions (03)
   Watch all of these movies, and love them.

   Anastasia includes such rousing numbers as "In The Dark of the Night", which leads to the question: WHY are villian's songs so dang catchy? Take, for instance, the delightfully sing-along-able "Be Prepared" from The Lion King, and let's not forget Ursula's belted tune "Poor Unfortunate Souls", which I have sung, with bravura, to/at my sister on more than one occasion.  And how can I even talk about this without mentioning the equally dastardly and infectious "Kill the Beast"? This problem is rampant. Rasputin's song makes me want to get up and dance, and it's about putting a curse on Anastasia, who I am cheering for. What in the world. I wasn't allowed to watch Anastasia when I was a wee bairn, too much weird Rasputin stuff, so I watched it with relish (sorry, mom).

   When I sat down to watch Interstellar I turned to my friend and said "how much do you bet that this was filmed in Iceland?" and he said "I think they filmed it in Alberta, actually." Turns out we were both right: the earth scenes are definitely Alberta and at least one of the space locations is definitely Iceland. We are all winners. Some people have expressed disappointment in this movie and Christopher Nolan, but I like it just fine. Exceptional performances all around. Just suspend your disbelief for the inaccurate science, as one is wont to do while consuming science fiction. It's mostly about Space Dad Feelings, how can you go wrong.

   Do I even need to talk about Les Mis? Every time I watch it I try to steel myself and every time I shed at least a tear at the end when Jean Valjean is in the chair and he's dying and Fantine comes and sings and oh my gosh, so beautiful. Also: I get that people are all agog over them singing live but let's put this into perspective: musicals usually run eight shows a week, all live singing (duh) and without the luxury of re-doing a take. It's cool, but it's not that cool.

   My plans for All Hallow's Eve were "do nothing" UNTIL a friend of mine alerted me to a showing of the silent Phantom of the Opera accompanied by live organ music and folks: it was mind bogglingly amazing. Please be a new Halloween tradition, I beg of you. It's the way silent movies were meant to be watched and it was a most excellent experience. As an added bonus, silent movies are hilariously over the top and dramatic. Side note: if you have a friend who suggests things like silent movies with organ music, hold on to that friend.

    Do you want more movies with more Dad (or Dad Approximate) Feelings? Then after you get home from watching Interstellar you can toss Secondhand Lions into the ol' laser disc machine and ka-blammo, you got it. Also features: lions (obvi), sleep-walking, a pig that thinks it's a dog, story-telling, the Foreign Legion, and much more. Also: Michael Caine! Have you seen the video of Michael Caine doing an impression of people who do Michael Caine impressions? It's great.



   OMGosh, I've only got 12 slots left in this year's viewing allotment. There's less than two months left of the year though, I think I'll be fine.

   Anyways: guess what these are! So fun.