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4thace

4thace@books.theunseen.city

Joined 11 months, 2 weeks ago

I try to review every book I finish. On Mastodon: noc.social/@Zerofactorial

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Crying in H Mart (Hardcover, 2021, Knopf Publishing Group) 4 stars

A memoir about growing up Korean American, losing her mother, and forging her own identity. …

Death brings up emotions about a shared family culture

5 stars

I like reading books about the second generation immigrant experience, especially when they talk about Asians growing up in America. This book was a sensation when it came out. The author was the daughter of a Korean mother and a Caucasian father growing up in Oregon and going to college in Pennsylvania. A few years after her graduation, she suddenly found out her mother was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. The themes of guilt, identity, individuality versus community, and problems with communication mix in this case with grief, anger, and acceptance, making it a compelling read. It's all expressed in a very forceful style that isn't afraid to go to uncomfortable places.

Growing up between two cultures can be confusing for a teenager. It's as though the misunderstandings and the baffling rules are just too much on top of trying to make your way through adolescence. That's the way it's …

Saving Time (Hardcover, 2023, Vintage) 4 stars

Our daily experience, dominated by the corporate clock that so many of us contort ourselves …

Nature and life and community all have something to say about how time works

4 stars

This author writes books a little way between personal essay and nonfiction exploration of a topic. I read her book How To Do Nothing in 2020 not long after it came out. She refers to what it was like to have that book come out in this new book and how the emerging Covid-19 pandemic then affected the way she was thinking. This book is about her conception of time as a technical and scientific term, about social and cultural takes on it, about ways it is expressed in art, about the struggle between management and labor over it as a workplace resource, and about a measure of change in the natural world. Philosophically it can be taken to be either an almost tangible and uniform object to be measured precisely or as one tied to the passage of events in whatever fashion they take place. The first of these …

The Fortress of Solitude (Paperback, 2004, Vintage Contemporaries) 3 stars

The Fortress of Solitude is the story of Dylan Ebdus growing up white and motherless …

The main character tries making the best of what he's given

4 stars

I consumed this as an eighteen and a half hour long unabridged audiobook, so the last section is clearer in my memory than the earlier parts. It is mainly composed of long sections told from the point of view of Dylan Ebdus, starting when he was a twelve-year old boy on Dean St. in Brooklyn and ending with him in his thirties. It focuses primarily on his struggles, his friends and enemies, the various identities he tries on, his love interests, and the ways he was affected by different role models. Dylan is raised by a hippie mother and an artist father in a tough neighborhood, and is defined as an outsider by his race unavoidably. The novel's plot arc shows just how he gets himself in trouble and manages to squirm out of the worst of the danger. By the end, however, he is still fighting to work out …

Lives of the wealthy under the microscope

5 stars

In the United States most people might know the author Colette through the musical Gigi based on a story she wrote, which was filmed as a musical directed by Vincente Minnelli. This pair of novels is not that, although it is also set in the same kind of demimonde French society at the turn of the 20th century. In her native France Colette is well known as a recipient of the of the prestigious Prix Goncourt and the Legion of Honor, a peer of her contemporary writer Marcel Proust. In the two forwards to this audiobook we learn about how difficult it is for the English reader to get an accurate sense of what it is like to read her writing in previous translations. The present translation by Rachel Careau preserves the syntactic innovations Colette introduced as much as possible, a kind of a punchy stripping down of the language …

Blue horses (2014) 4 stars

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of American Primitive presents a new collection of poems that reflects …

Mastery of the craft is evident

4 stars

This is the first book I have read by this poet even though I have been inspired to write by individual poems of hers before. I knew that she focusses on a number of different concerns, not just nature and animals but also thoughts on mortality, passion, loss. This is a late collection which includes all of these themes along with some of a very different sort which all come through her facility with poetic expression. The diction is easy on the ear most of the time but will throw in a slightly unusual choice of words at a spot where a pause needs to go, such as when the poem takes a turn. What can I say about the devastating closing lines some of these have? It feels as if the author relishes having a reader reset their conceptions and have to start over again when these happen, a …