chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

Near the beginning of The Summer Book, little Sophia wakes up during a cold night and looks out the window into the dark:

Cut for excerpt )
chomiji: A cartoon image of chomiji, who is holding a coffee mug and a book and wearing kitty-cat ears (Default)

[personal profile] theskywasblue was kind enough to give me the letter T, for which I now have to name five favorite characters whose names start with that.

I have here four manga characters and one lonely person from mainstream fiction. (Actually, it's amazing that I'd have anyone from mainstream fiction!)

Tracy (real name: Eustacia) Quinn is the shy, brainy modern-day heroine of Rumer Godden's China Court, a romance in which the most prominent character is really China Court, the Cornish house in which the Quinn family have lived for the better part of a century. Tracy's only happy memories from childhood were the few years that she lived at China Court with her grandmother. The very ending is problematic, but I have always sympathized very much with Tracy's shyness and her love of the house and the garden.

Tenpou Gensui (Field Marshall Tenpou) is an ancient Chinese god who ends up on the wrong side of a political struggle in Heaven, in Katsuya Minekura's manga Saiyuki Gaiden. He's a brilliant man but also a slob and a bit of a space cadet. He has a keen sense of justice and right. In Minekura's main series Saiyuki (with its continuations: Saiyuki Reload and Saiyuki Reload Blast), Tenpou is reborn as Cho Hakkai. His lover Kenren Taishou (General Kenren) is reborn as Sha Gojyo.

Tokine Yukimura is the female co-lead of Yellow Tanabe's manga series Kekkaishi. She is a teenaged 'barrier master," the current heir of one family of skilled magicians who can protect others from demons by creating magical barriers. Tokine is intense, loyal, studious, and skilled, but the series constantly contrasts her finesse with her male opposite number's magical strength.

Tokito Minoru is a troubled and brash young man with a strange clawed and furred right hand and hardly any memory of his past. In Kazuya Minekura's Wild Adapter, he becomes the friend - and likely more - of the nihilistic young criminal Kubota Makoto. Together, they are trying to find out the secret of the strange drug Wild Adapter, which may have something to do with Tokio's weird hand. Tokito is frank, almost fearless, down-to-earth, and fiercely loyal to the very few people he trusts.

Taki Tooru is a middle school girl in Yuki Midorikawa's manga series Natsume's Book of Friends (or Natsume YuujinchŨ). She is able to draw a magic circle that will allow her and others to see youkai, spirits/monsters that are usually invisible to most. She becomes one of the closest friends of Natsume Takashi, a lonely boy who has been tormented by his ability to see youkai. Taki (usually referred to by her family name, as are all the school-age characters in the story) is remakably brave. At first she is quiet and withdrawn as a result of a curse that was placed upon her; later, she becomes lively and more talkative.

Let me know if you would like me to give you a letter too! (It may not be until tomorrow morning, though.)

chomiji: A cartoon image of chomiji, who is holding a coffee mug and a book and wearing kitty-cat ears (Yuan-LOL)

Acme This Week presents "Green Eggs And Hamlet"!

chomiji: A cartoon image of chomiji, who is holding a coffee mug and a book and wearing kitty-cat ears (shigure-book)

In the darkest depths of the Middle Ages - ca. 950 C.E. - two extremely unlike adversaries clash violently in a caravansery. One is a skeletally gangly Western European, young, blond, and glum; the other is a sturdily built African, middle-aged, very dark, and worldly wise. In the aftermath of this confrontation, the two companions - for that is what they are - gain a potentially lucrative commission: deliver the heir of a disputed kingdom to his sorrowing family. But the youth in question has no intention of cooperating, and assassins paid by the winning side of this monarchial dispute are on his trail. Soon gloomy Zelikman and sardonic Amram are neck-deep in the politics of Khazaria, the mysterious Black Sea kingdom whose ruler converted all his people to Judaism with the aim of avoiding political entanglements with the Christians of Europe on one side and the emerging Islamic empire on the other.

Your mileage may vary on this book. A good deal of it is not terribly original, and the prose can wax extremely purple. Almost all the characters are male. Grisly things happen. And the ending is not very satisfying.

I loved it anyway. Reading it reminded me of my teen enjoyment of Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser. I seemed to slip into the overwrought prose and manly camaraderie as though it were a well-broken-in pair of shoes: it was comfy, and it took me where I wanted to go. I mentioned this to my friend Kat, and she shrugged and said "Sometimes, familiarity breeds contentment."

One last factor in its favor (for me, anyway): in the afterword, which I also enjoyed, Chabon revealed that his own working title for this was "Jews with Swords" - for reasons that will become obvious by the end of the first chapter. Dude! I mean - Jews! With swords!

Read on - spoilers! )

•  sovay mentions this book briefly

chomiji: A cartoon image of chomiji, who is holding a coffee mug and a book and wearing kitty-cat ears (shigure-book)

The cover blurb on this made the think that the book would concern itself mainly with "the Master, a writer pilloried for daring to write a novel about Christ and Pontius Pilate" and "Margarita, who loves the Master so deeply that she is willing literally to go to hell for him" (cover blurb, 1996 Vintage International edition). But actually, the Master makes his entrance in Chapter 13: 110 pages into a 335-page novel. And although he talks about Margarita a great deal in his first scenes, she doesn't show up until Chapter 19. The author is cheerfully self-aware about this: the title of Chapter 13 is "Enter the Hero." It's that kind of book: rather like a Terry Pratchett novel, if Pratchett were a repressed Russian writing in the 1930s.

Really, this is a story about the Devil taking a holiday. He arrives in Moscow with a small retinue, leaving behind Hell and presumably abandoning the onerous job of punishing the truly evil to his lieutenants, and instead goes a spree, extravagantly tormenting the merely unpleasant. The early parts of the books are taken up with showing us how nasty and petty and small-minded the Moscow literati of the time can be, and indeed how obnoxious and greedy and sneaky most of the Muscovites are. The Devil and his crew make merry mayhem among them by exploiting their weaknesses, especially greed. Greed for money, luxury goods, higher positions, and revenge on others causes person after to person to fall into the Devil's snares. Both the nastiness of the sinners and the comic cruelty of the Devil's rewards are described in fond detail. But when the Devil tempts Margarita, things go rather differently.

I can't say I liked this story. In fact, I found it mostly rather unpleasant. The only parts I really liked were the bits of the Master's novel that Bulgakov shows us, paralleling the main action. But the book was quite involving, and very literate, and I'm interested in continuing to make my way through the extensive notes provided by the translators at the end.

Read on - spoilers! )
chomiji: A cartoon image of chomiji, who is holding a coffee mug and a book and wearing kitty-cat ears (shigure-book)

I had meant to read this for some time now, because I enjoy the various "fantasy of manners" books that have come out in the past decade or so, such as Ellen Kushner's Swordspoint and Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stervermer's Sorcery and Cecelia. I felt I should read the acknowledged inspiration for these. I have to say that it was an uphill struggle for me. The early 19th-century writing style - where much is "told" rather than "shown" - didn't give me much pleasure, but I was actually somewhat prepared for it because Susanna Clarke did such an effective pastiche of it in Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. However, the fact that the story is completely dependent on a series of misunderstandings drove me crazy. I kept wanting to reach into the book, grab the chief protagonists forcefully by their shoulders, and shake sense into them: "Just talk to each other, already!"

Elizabeth Bennett, the lively and intelligent second daughter of a bookish squire with a rather revolting, materialistic wife, meets the wealthy Mr. Darcy at a ball and quickly dismisses him as arrogant and unfeeling. During the course of a great many events and mishaps surrounding the social lives of Elizabeth and her four sisters - sweet eldest sister Jane, would-be bluestocking Mary, colorless and empty-headed Kitty, and spoiled, impulsive "baby" Lydia - she begins to discover that her first impressions are wrong, and realizes that she has made a terrible mistake in her original judgment. Meanwhile, Mr. Darcy, who has dismissed Elizabeth because of her vulgar relatives, begins to realize that she's a worthy person despite her unfortunate connections. The resolution of the situation between the two is the heart of the story.

Read on - spoilers! )
chomiji: A cartoon image of chomiji, who is holding a coffee mug and a book and wearing kitty-cat ears (Default)

As I was browsing from LJ to LJ ... I found that it was poetry month (because cicer talked about it). Therefore - a poem!

For some reason this poem always strikes me as almost feverishly intelligent. It's a meta-poem - it's about the form of poem that it actually is: a sonnet.

I will put Chaos into fourteen lines
And keep him there; and let him thence escape
If he be lucky; let him twist, and ape
Flood, fire, and demon --- his adroit designs
Will strain to nothing in the strict confines
Of this sweet order, where, in pious rape,
I hold his essence and amorphous shape,
Till he with Order mingles and combines.
Past are the hours, the years of our duress,
His arrogance, our awful servitude:
I have him. He is nothing more nor less
Than something simple not yet understood;
I shall not even force him to confess;
Or answer. I will only make him good.

-- Edna St. Vincent Millay

I snarfed the text from The Wondering Minstrels, my favorite poetry site, which includes Tolkien along with the usual suspects.

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