. . . a photo of my Portal books, which is replacing a photo of my Last P.I. books. Note that Home is larger than the other two. Despite my best efforts, it appears to have taken growth hormones.
This is Haruki Murakami’s latest novel. I’ve liked Murakami’s work in the past, but not this one. Am I tired of him and the weird worlds he creates, or is this really a bad novel? It’s got something to do with the artistic process and the power of metaphors and such. A bell rings in a hole where no one can be ringing it. A character in a painting comes alive. A painter saves a girl by going on a journey to a strange underworld.
Well, that all sounds promising, doesn’t it? But none of it worked. I kept waiting for explanations, even dream-logic explanations, but they never came. Why did the painter have to go to the underworld? Don’t know. The girl was hiding in a neighbor’s house the whole time, and she snuck out when the cleaning people left the gate unlocked.
And the author leaves no stone unturned when it comes to using cliches. Did Murakami use them in the original Japanese, or was this the fault of the translators? I don’t really care. The novel was painful to listen to, although the narrator was great.
I’ll stop this soon. I promise. Here’s one 5-star review:
This is book 3 in the Portal series. It is readable as a stand alone novel, however it will be less confusing and more enjoyable if you read Portal and Terra (books 1 and 2) first. This is a good addition. Where it really shines is the multiverse. Lots of fiction tries to tackle the whole multiverse thing, but few do it well. This book does it well. Makes it well worth the read. The plot and characters are also well written and interesting. They aren’t why I would pick up the book, but they carry it. Great addition.
And here’s another:
This is such a fun story overall that it is very hard to not find yourself completely immersed with the feeling that you are literally walking alongside the characters themselves. “Home” may sound like it is yet another “futuristic” story that is like so many out there, but this one is really so different and so well-written that you will find yourself not wanting to put this one down. It is a great read that will leave you wanting so much more. I really hope to find myself reading some more of these stories, I couldn’t have hoped for anything more than what “Home” gave me.
If you still don’t want to read it, I’m not sure what I can do to convince you…
This one is titled “A Fun and Grand Adventure”:
This story is so much fun! I love historical stories and getting to explore places of the past. This book takes it a step further and has created alternate histories that our hero, Larry, can visit through a power to make portals. In this book, Larry is in ancient Rome, trying to save Affron who has disappeared from Terra. The story is just complex enough to keep it interesting, but I never got confused. While I really enjoyed Elysium and the mysteries that it held, my favorite part of this book was the relationship between Larry and his best friend Palta, forced apart during the book their bid was interesting and full of depth. The story is fun, action-filled, and really interesting. I loved the alternate world that Richard Bowker has created. I would definitely recommend this book.
And here’s one titled “Super Entertaining”:
It seems like authors and audiences are obsessed with futuristic tales with alternate worlds colliding or fighting for power; I began HOME a bit skeptical, thinking there would be no original premise. I was utterly wrong.
The multi-universe created by Richard Bowker is just marvelous. In the story, Larry our hero has a unique power that allows him to “jump” from universe through universe via a portal. After attempting to follow and save a priest with whom he shares this gift, he needs to leave his soul mate Palta behind.
I struggled a bit at the beginning, connecting the dots –lots of names to learn- and figuring out who was whom; once I got accustomed to the names and terms, I enjoyed the book much more. I love the pondering question, that brought some self-reflection on humanity: where is home?
So, um, what are you waiting for?
Thanks for asking.
It’s going great! Wish I could practice more. Here’s what I’ve found:
- Memorizing is harder than when I was a kid but not impossible. If I practiced more, I’d have a lot more stuff memorized.
- I don’t have the attention span to work on long, difficult pieces. If I had more time…
- Balancing between mastering pieces and sight-reading is my biggest challenge. I could spend a lifetime just working my way through this book:
- Nobody cares that I play, and that’s fine. It’s not like every house I visit has a piano, and people are dying to hear a little Bach. That might have been the case 80 years ago when Cooke wrote Playing the Piano for Pleasure, but not anymore.
- I’m definitely expanding my repertoire — more Brahms, more Schubert, more Debussy, more Lennon & McCartney.
- I bought a book of scales and chords with a firm purpose of improving my technique and my music theory. Can’t say I’ve made much progress, though.
It mainly involved cleanup of the significant changes I made in the second draft. The biggest change was choosing a different point-of-view character for a chapter. Not too bad. Except…
There’s one thing about the novel that bugs me. Is it a problem or not? I can’t quite decide. Fixing it (if it needs fixing) would require a bit of rejiggering. I may need to put this to a vote of my writing group. We live in a democracy, after all.
When we think of Rome, the first thing that comes to mind, of course, is the English poet John Keats, who died there in 1821 of tuberculosis at the age of 25. Here is his grave in the Protestant cemetery in Rome, with the epitaph he wrote for himself:
Odd that the gravestone doesn’t even mention his name. On a wall next to the grave we see this:
Next to Keats’s grave is that of his friend Joseph Severn, who accompanied him to Rome, since Keats was too sick to travel by himself:
There are worse things to be remembered for, I suppose, than being the friend of John Keats.
A couple hundred yards away from Keats are interred the ashes of Percy Bysshe Shelley, who died in a boating accident in Italy at the age of 29:
The quotation is from The Tempest.
Here is a painting of Shelley’s funeral pyre:
Many of the details of the painting are apparently made up. For one thing, Shelley’s body was in bad shape by the time he washed up on shore. (The only way they recognized him was his clothing and the copy of Keats’s poems in his back pocket.)
Keats died in a tiny apartment at the foot of the Spanish Steps in Rome. This is now the site of the Keats-Shelley Memorial House, which contains letters, books, and other memorabilia of English poets. Via Wikipedia, here’s what happened to the contents of the House during World War 2:
During World War II, the Keats–Shelley House went “underground”, especially after 1943, in order to preserve its invaluable contents from falling into the hands of, and most likely being deliberately destroyed by, Nazi Germany. External markings relating to the museum were removed from the building. Although the library’s 10,000 volumes were not removed, two boxes of artifacts were sent to the Abbey of Monte Cassino in December 1942 for safekeeping. In October 1943, the abbey’s archivist placed the two unlabelled boxes of Keats–Shelley memorabilia with his personal possessions so that they could be removed during the abbey’s evacuation and not fall into the hands of the Germans. The items were reclaimed by the museum’s curator and returned to the Keats–Shelley House, where the boxes were reopened in June 1944 upon the arrival of the Allied forces in Rome.
I didn’t have time to visit the Keats-Shelley House, but here’s what it looked like at 23:00 on a Roman night:
And this gives me a chance to reprint this final fragment by Keats, written as he confronted the certainty of his coming death.
This living hand, now warm and capableOf earnest grasping, would, if it were coldAnd in the icy silence of the tomb,So haunt thy days and chill thy dreaming nightsThat thou would wish thine own heart dry of bloodSo in my veins red life might stream again,And thou be conscience-calm’d–see here it is–I hold it towards you.
My brother reminds me of the great Easter hymn from the opera Cavalleria Rusticana. Here it is from the movie by Franco Zeffirelli, with plenty of over-the-top Zeffirelli imagery.
Anyway, Happy Easter, everyone!
Some guy has come up with a spin on being a Patriots fan that got published in the Washington Post. He felt sorry for Atlanta fans last year, and he thinks Patriots fans have been made miserable by their success.
The typical Patriots fan, on the other hand, was miserable with success by then, our blood long since curdled and our spines crooked with the glut of good fortune. Anything less than a Super Bowl win last year, as this year, would be considered a failure.
Being a fan is an interesting psychological condition. For me, as with most people (I don’t know about the Post writer), it’s tied up with my childhood. For most of my Boston childhood, we didn’t even have a football team. We saw the Giants play on TV every Sunday, and that turned some kids into Giants fans. But what did I care about Frank Gifford and Y. A. Tittle?
Then we got a team in the American Football League, so I had to root for the Patriots, and the league. I saw them play at Fenway Park. I saw them play at B.C.’s Alumni Field. But the Patriots were no good. They were never any good. They played in the AFL championship game in 1963, and they got clobbered. After the merger with the NFL they still sucked. Finally when I was in my thirties they made it to a Super Bowl, and they got clobbered yet again. When I was in my forties they returned to the Super Bowl, and the clobbering continued.
Meanwhile coaches and owners came and went. Now it’s 2001 and I’m middle-aged, maybe beyond middle age, and my team has never accomplished anything.
Then came the Tuck Rule Game, and the football gods finally started to smile on the Patriots–40 years after I became a fan. It was about time. Seventeen years later, the gods are still smiling on the Patriots. Do I feel sorry for Atlanta fans and Philadelphia fans and Buffalo fans and all the rest? A little, I guess. Not enough to change my ways, though.
I’m afraid I’m getting ready to add a new sub-plot.
Stop me before it’s too late.