The Wood Wife - Terri Windling

I really enjoyed this book. The cover claims that it is a story about desert magic, but in the first 100 pages or so, there is maybe 1 page of total "magic." But while it starts as an unremarkable story, it quickly becomes quite surreal, and totally compelling.

My only complaint is that the ending reverts back to a common love story. It just seems to me that people who live through a magical contest with supernatural creatures and learn to view time in a non linear fashion don't go back to a normal life after. It seems to me it would change them.


Two Books

I finished "A Passage to India" and "Wise Blood" in the last week. Passage was slow but decent. It basically went to the point that everyone sucks. So if you are in that kind of mood, have at it. Wise Blood on the other hand was just weird. You would think that a book that had larceny, murder, religion, self mutilation and a whole slew of crazy people would be good. You would be wrong. In all likelihood, I just didn't get it. But I really don't care.


Play it as it lays - Joan Didion

This is the story of a woman's descent into psychological unwellness after her decision to get an abortion. To me it felt a lot like fear and loathing in las vegas, but without as much drug use to get to the feeling that everything was messed up. (If you are a hunter thompson fan, dont worry there is still drug use. It is just not entire cars full.

The weirdest thing about the book was that there was no point, it was just a story. I didnt seem anti or pro anything. Nothing matters. nothing is important. what i take away from the novel is that life really sucks for some people and they make it worse through their own decisions.

Unfortunately in my copy, a previous reader had annotated it with their own thoughts. Living in one of the most conservative places on earth, you can imagine that the comments were along the lines of, "thats what happens when you kill unborn children." But i completely disagree, there was nothing in the book that would lead me to believe that had she not had the abortion she would have been any healthier or ended up any place but in a sanitarium. in fact, the book insinuates that the mental imbalance started at the death of the main characters mother (and the subsequent eating of the mothers corpse in the desert).

All in all, a very quick read, and weird. If you like weird books maybe worth a read, but no promises from me on if you will like it or be offended by it or anything else.


The Naked and the Dead - Norman Mailer

I had high hopes for this book. Best book about World War II and other hyperbole made me think it was going to be great. It was only OK. I believe it was Mailer's first book, and that showed in the lack of polish to the thoughts. But at the same time, you can tell that he can really write. My biggest problem with the book was the continual (in some parts it felt like every 10 pages) descriptions of a character's motivations for some action ending in some form of the thought, "even if he wouldn't admit those reasons to himself." If the book had been about how people lie to themselves, then maybe this would have been effective. But instead it felt like a crutch he used to explain more of the characters' back stories and how they related to this part of the war, even though the stories didn't really relate.

I liked less, though it is more a criticism of his view of human nature than of his writing, his (in my opinion) simplistic view of the people he was writing about. There were only two or three motivations for any action in the book, sex, loyalty, and fear. Indeed, the last two were identical many times. He may have been saying that when in a long drawn out war, a person is stripped to just his most basic instincts. It is an interesting thought, but I disagree with the premise.

All in all I am glad I read it, and will be definitely interested in reading more of Mailer's books. This was an ambitious book and idea, but even though it was over 700 pages long, I think it needed to be much longer to fully do justice to the concept of the book.