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rowena

Rowena's Reviews

My true loves: Wilkie Collins, Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Anais Nin, George Eliot, James Joyce, James Baldwin, George Orwell, Oscar Wilde, bell hooks, Chinua Achebe, Langston Hughes, William Shakespeare... I'm falling for : Italo Calvino, Toni Morrison, Frantz Fanon, Wole Soyinka, Ralph Ellison, Zora Neale Hurston, Albert Camus, Margaret Atwood, Somerset Maugham, Junot Diaz, A.S. Byatt... And the lists continue to grow! I will read almost anything, as long as it's well-written. I always love to expand my reading horizons.

Currently reading

Orientalism
Edward W. Said
Infinite Jest
David Foster Wallace
Finnegans Wake (Trade Paperback)
James Joyce
The August Sleepwalker - Bei Dao, Bonnie S. McDougall Thanks to Goodreads I discovered a new poet. And it was a happy (nerdy) coincidence that I read "The August Sleepwalker" in the month of August. I found it brilliant but as I'm no good at analyzing poetry collections for reviews I will leave you with one of my favourite poems from this book.

A Perpetual Stranger

A Perpetual stranger
am I to the world
I don't understand its language
my silence it can't comprehend
all we have to exchange
is a touch of contempt
as if we meet in a mirror

a perpetual stranger
am I to myself
I fear the dark
but block with my body
the only lamp
my shadow is my beloved
heart the enemy
Hallucinating Foucault - Patricia Duncker “Even then, I saw the darkness I see now. But it was like a shadow in the corner of my eye, a sudden movement as a lizard vanishes behind the shutters. But in the last years I have felt the darkness, gaining ground, widening like a stain across the day. And I have watched the darkness coming with complete serenity. The door stands always open, to let the darkness in. Out of this knowledge too, I will make my writing. And I have nothing to fear.” - Patricia Duncker, Hallucinating Foucault

I loved Hallucinating Foucault. I love the title, the content, the language, everything about it. I really enjoy novels that are enriched with literary and classic references. This one also had a lot of mystery so it made my reading experience even more enjoyable.

The book tells the story of a young, unnamed English student doing his dissertation on the novels of an enigmatic gay French novelist, Paul Michel. Michel is a strange man who controversially believes that people choose their sexuality. He revels in being unconventional.Michel is obsessed with Foucault, who he stated as his only influence.

There are rumours that Michel has become mad and has been locked up in a French mental asylum. Pushed by his girlfriend, the Germanist,(who is herself very enigmatic and strange) the student takes off to France to look for the novelist.

The writing in this book is beautiful and thoughtful. The book raises interesting questions about the relationship between authors and readers. As Michel says, “The love between a writer and a reader is never celebrated.”

Paul Michel isn't even a real writer but I caught myself thinking how I'd love to read his books had he been real. He really came alive for me.

A great book that I would recommend to everyone!

Soul on Ice - Eldridge Cleaver This book is one of the several books I planned on reading to help fill in some of the woeful gaps in my knowledge of the Civil Rights movement. I now know more about Eldridge Cleaver through his collection of short essays, covering diverse topics such as Muhammed Ali, Malcolm X, the sexual politics of race, war and politics, from Soul on Ice.

Cleaver’s writing is extremely infuriating yet it’s hard to stop reading. Cleaver’s views are so old-fashioned, homophobic, and misogynistic and, at times, slightly crazy, but it’s impossible to ignore his masterful use of the language, as well as his unique vantage point of the American race crisis. And you know it’s important to read this book as Cleaver was such a pivotal player in the Civil Rights movement.

The first couple of essays absolutely shocked me. Cleaver is very candid about the rapes he “practiced” (that was the expression he used) on black women in order to ultimately rape white women, an act which he saw as being revolutionary. However, the language he uses in this section isn’t one of a lunatic but one of an eloquent man, which is disturbing in itself.

Cleaver's prison essays were the most poignant to me, as were his analyses of the living situation of blacks in America:

“Individuality is not nourished in prison, neither by the officials nor by the convicts. It is a deep hole out of which to climb.”

About American ghettos he says “In this huge cauldron, inestimable natural gifts, wisdom, love, music, science, poetry are stamped down and left to boil with the dregs of an elementally corrupted nature, and thousands upon thousands of souls are destroyed by vice and misery and degradation, obliterated, wiped out, washed from the register of the living, dehumanized.”

The book also includes some love letters he wrote to his lawyer, a woman who represented several of the Black Panthers. The inclusion of these letters seemed so surreal to me, yet they appear to have been very heartfelt.

I was definitely disgusted by Cleaver’s homophobia; for one thing he equated homosexuality to child-rape, which is ridiculous. And his lambasting of James Baldwin, one of my favourite writers, was harsh and uncalled for. He believed that Baldwin’s homosexuality made him less of a man. Additionally he believed that Baldwin was a sort of “Uncle Tom” figure who hated his own people. Judging from those sentiments and more, it doesn’t look as if he understood much of Baldwin’s work.

As Ishmael Reed said in the introduction, Cleaver is an “ ’outside’ critic who takes pleasure in dissecting the deepest and most cherished notions of our personal and social behaviour; and it takes a certain amount of courage and a ‘willed objectivity’ to read him." I completely agree with this statement.


NW - Zadie Smith I loved Zadie’s first book, White Teeth, which she wrote when she was only 23 years old. I may be wrong but I feel that with this book Smith was trying to distance herself from her 23 year old self.

This book introduces us to several residents of the northwest of London. There’s Leah who isn’t content with her life despite her loving husband who desperately wants to start a family with her. There’s Felix, a recovering addict who decides he’s off the drugs for good and ready to embark on an adult relationship. And there's Natalie, nee Keisha, who is a married lawyer with two kids, trying to distance herself from her Caribbean heritage.The characters in this book,there are many, are flawed and unhappy. There are some tragic scenes, some interesting ones, some thought-provoking.

What I liked about the book is how Smith portrays the new England, the new London in particular. This is a London which is very culturally diverse, where Churches, mosques, synagogues are in close proximity; where you can easily find African markets and so on. There is no longer a homogeneous image of what it means to be English/a Londoner.

Smith incorporates the linguistics of London into her book. I think it may be hard for people who aren’t familiar with British slang to understand parts of the dialogue, I don’t know. It made me curious about whether the book would do slightly better in the UK than it would do in North America and elsewhere.

I’m not sure if the fragmentary structure of this book really worked in Smith's favour, although I found myself warming up to it as the book went on. Still, I think the stream of consciousness style that was present in much of the book was a bit much.


It’s a grim book; drugs, alcohol, poverty, council housing. Everything seems so stagnant.

I much preferred White Teeth.


Beloved - Toni Morrison “Darkness is stronger and swallows them like minnows.” - Toni Morrison, Beloved

“Beloved” is a beautiful, haunting story that is set around the time following the slavery emancipation declaration. It’s mysterious and supernatural, as well as being a love story, a tale of horror, forgiveness, loss and confusion. It’s very poetic and lyrical, full of metaphors and powerful imagery.

The book tells the story of Sethe, a runaway slave who has left her home in the South but is still living in the past. Her deceased two year old baby supposedly haunts 124, the house in which she and her daughter Denver live. Later, we find out the awful way in which the baby died and that makes the story even more tragic.

The house is an ominous character in the book; it had a life of its own. I felt the hopelessness of Sethe and Denver who had no place else to go:

“So Sethe and the girl Denver did what they could, and what the house permitted for her. Together they waged a perfunctory battle against the outrageous behaviour of that place; against turned-over slop jars, smacks on the behind, and gusts of sour air. For they understood the source of the outrage as well as they knew the source of light.”

The love story in this book is a different kind of love story, a love story that involves a couple,Sethe and Paul D, who were once slaves. How can people move on from being slaves to being in free relationships? As slaves they became accustomed to their loved ones, their parents, children and lovers being sold or running away. The past has left scar marks like the scars in the shape of a chokeberry tree on Sethe’s back.

“And then she moved him. Just when doubt, regret and every single unasked question was packed away, long after he believed he had willed himself into being, at the very time and place he wanted to take root- she moved him. From room to room. Like a rag doll.”

What I found very powerful was the term Morrison used “rememory,” which is remembering memories. I experienced it when I visited a slave memorial in Zanzibar and entered the dungeons where the slaves had been kept. Obviously the slaves aren’t there anymore but I felt a multitude of emotions and I felt as though they were still there in some form.

I found it nearly impossible to read large chunks of the book at a time; I had to take breaks. Toni Morrison stands in a class of her own.This book was beautiful yet tragic; a true masterpiece.
Mo' Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove - Ahmir Questlove Thompson, Ben Greenman “Music has the power to stop time. When I listen to songs, I'm transported back to the moment of their birth, which is sometimes even before the moment of my birth. Old songs, rock or soul or blues, still connect with me because the human emotions in them, whether jealousy or rage or hope, are recognizably similar to the emotions that I'm feeling now. But I'm feeling all of them, all the time, and so the songs act like a chemical process that isolates certain feelings at certain times: maybe one song helps illuminate the jubilation and one helps illuminate the sorrow and one helps illuminate the resignation. Music has the power to stop time. But music also keeps time.” - Questlove, Mo' Meta Blues

I have to admit that I don’t know much about The Roots. I did see one of their former members, Rahzel the Human Beatbox, perform at the University of British Columbia some years ago but I would be hard-pressed to name a Roots song. However, I think that everyone knows Questlove with his easily recognizable afro (which he seems to have had since he was a baby)!

Questlove mentions in the first chapter of this book that he didn’t want this to be a traditional memoir. It definitely does seem to be unique; to me it’s more like a scrapbook filled with playlists, pictures, interviews, conversations, anecdotes, footnotes etc. It's very engaging and for all music lovers it will have you feeling a sense of nostalgia for the good old days of music.

I knew this autobiography was going to be fun. Having finished reading it, I have nothing but admiration for Questlove. He's probably not what one would expect a hip-hop star to be like; I would never have guessed he was quite shy at times, for example. I found him very likeable and wanting to be true to himself. I doubt whether there are many people in the music world that have as much passion, enthusiasm and knowledge about music, hip-hop in particular, as he has. I enjoyed seeing him chronicle not only his development as a musician and a connoisseur of music, but also the historical evolution of music.

Questlove also outlines how music has evolved since the 70s, especially how the acquisition of it has changed due to skype and the internet.It made me reminisce about recording music off the radio during my early teens, though I do not miss having to wind up cassette tapes with loose ribbons!

I like the fact that Questlove talks about how people have been surprised by his eclectic music taste due to his appearance.I find that people do tend to judge a person's music taste based on their appearance, at least this has been my experience. I was glad that he addressed this because after all, music is music:

“And even though people like to furrow their brow like they suspect you’re not being honest about yourself, the truth is that they worry that you’re not serving their idea of you.”

The book is thoughtful and at the same time funny, philosophical and candid. It's clear when reading it that music is Questlove's life. I can't help but admire someone who is so dedicated to his craft. A great book for music lovers.

“And why has society been allowed to accelerate beyond the point where it makes sense to most of its citizens? The quick pace, without regard for the people caught up in it, risks destroying values, whether in food or art or music or human relationships.”

Possessing the Secret of Joy (Mass Market) - Alice Walker "There was a boulder lodged in my throat. My heart surged pitifully. I knew what the boulder was; that it was a word; and that behind that word I would find my earliest emotions.”- Alice Walker, Possessing the Secret of Joy

Tashi, an African woman from the Olinkan tribe, marries Adam, an American man, and spends most of her life in America. Witnessing her sister, Dura, die from a botched female genital mutilation (FGM) surgery, as well as undergoing FGM herself, Tashi becomes traumatized and has to be treated by psychotherapists who try to find the root of her mental instability.

This was an extremely tough read but any book about FGM is bound to be. The book questions the patriarchal societies that encourage FGM and other such restrictive practices. FGM is compared to foot-binding in China, another patriarchal practice that was used to control women.In Lisa See’s book Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, the sister of the main character dies due to a bungled foot-binding procedure. It’s quite disturbing that in both cases brainwashing is in effect and women are told that these practices will make them more desirable to their husbands AND will also allow them to become welcome members of society:

“Even today there are villages where an uncircumcised woman is not permitted to live. The chiefs enforce this. On the other hand, circumcision is a taboo that is never discussed. How then do the chiefs know how to keep it going? How is it talked about?”

The book is made up of several short chapters, each concentrating on one character narrating their thoughts. It shows how everyone: spouses, friends, children, can be affected by FGM, not just the woman who undergoes the surgery.

This book is very Jungian in its approach, Jung even makes several appearances as Mzee (Swahili honorific for an elderly man), Tashi's first psychotherapist.

The most horrifying thing about this book is that FGM is still practiced in many countries. However, this book makes a statement; Alice Walker gives a voice to the women who have experienced FGM and have no voice. Walker shows how tradition can sometimes be oppressive. I was impressed by how Walker tackled such a controversial topic and with cultural sensitivity as well. I think her Jungian approach while delving into symbolism was extremely interesting. Because I've only recently gotten into Jung I feel I need to re-read this book once I've read a bit more Jung.

I took this book on vacation with me last week, I was initially very worried about reading it as it isn't exactly cheerful reading. I can't say I enjoyed reading this book but it's the type of book I'm very glad to have read.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian - Sherman Alexie, Ellen Forney "Reservations were meant to be prisons, you know? Indians were supposed to move onto reservations and die. We were supposed to disappear."- Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

I rarely enjoy YA books but I really liked this one. Narrated by Junior (Arnold) Spirit it tells the story of the life of a young Indian boy on and off a reservation

Junior, an unlucky boy living on an Indian reservation in Spokane, Washington,was born with too much cerebral spinal fluid in his skull and this brought about lots of physical problems. Poor Junior is already unpopular on the reservation but becomes even more so when he opts to transfer to a "white" school off the reservation.

I read the book in one sitting;I felt so much sympathy for Junior who has so many trials to deal with at such a young age. Even as a 14 year old, he manages to show us the problems that Native Americans face, for example the poverty, the alcohol, abuse. However, he also manages to show the positive aspects of the culture.

"But we reservation Indians don't get to realize our dreams. We don't get those chances. Or choices. We're just poor. That's all we are.'

"It sucks to be poor, and it sucks to feel that you somehow deserve to be poor. You start believing that you're poor because you're stupid and ugly. And then you start believing that you're stupid and ugly because you're Indian. And because you're Indian you start believing you're destined to be poor. It's an ugly circle and there's nothing you can do about it."

I saw a lot of parallels with how American Indians were treated and what colonialism did to Africa. As Junior's teacher said: "We were supposed to make you give up being Indian. Your songs and stories and language and dancing.Everything. We weren't trying to kill Indian people. We were trying to kill Indian culture." Very tragic.

It was a sad book but it was also quirky and funny. Highly recommended.
The Edible Woman - Margaret Atwood What an unusual story. Marian is newly engaged and then discovers she can't eat certain foods, first meats and then almost everything else. What is her subconscious trying to her?

Atwood is a writer who amazes me every time I read her; it really is hard to categorize her writing. Her writing style on the other hand is exquisite, intelligent and witty at times.

The main theme of this book is relationships and how they can transform you. I enjoyed the first half of the book a lot more than I did the second. The second half seemed a bit too rushed to me.

One thing I found interesting was how different things were in the 1960s, when this book was written. There is absolutely no way that a woman conducting door-to-door surveys would even consider going into a male survey participant's home these days. Also, feminism has changed the ways in which women think; for example, after marriage, a woman isn't expected to quit her job and stay home. Also, having a child out of marriage isn't considered terrible anymore either.

White Nights - Fyodor Dostoyevsky 3.5 stars

I guess I didn't really connect with this story. Dostoevsky's beautiful writing raised my rating to 3.5 stars but to be honest I found the story to be forgettable, and I didn't really like the characters.
Cultures of Fetishism - Louise J. Kaplan
I was actually researching racial fetishism when I came across this book. It doesn’t really touch much upon that subject but it’s full of interesting information nonetheless.

It turns out that most people’s definition of fetishism is too narrow in that it’s usually taken to mean sexual fetishism. However, according to Dr. Kaplan, a psychoanalyst, “any excessive activity of heightened devotion could be referred to as a fetish.”

Kaplan goes on to list 5 principles of fetishism. Number 2 was the most interesting to me: “Fetishism transforms ambiguity and uncertainty into something knowable and certain and in doing so snuffs out any sparks of creativity that might ignite the fires of rebellion.” In that case, fetishism is used to dominate. Terrifying stuff.

Kaplan also explores footbinding in China, a topic that interests and horrifies me at the same time. What was different in her approach was that she considered Chinese women who had had their feet bound while it was still in vogue and then had had to live with the social stigma of having bound feet once it was no longer a fetish.

Kaplan’s dissection of fetishism in film was very interesting. She discussed Marilyn Monroe, the movie Eyes Wide Shut, and a Jude Law and Vivian Wu movie I had never heard of before and have no desire to ever watch because it sounds too bizarre (The Pillow Book).

“Whether in medicine, art, psychology, politics or religion, it has been a longstanding tradition to employ the enigmatic body of a woman with its mysterious desires and perplexing unpredictable movements as a fetishism emblem. Of course that’s not new but the way she dissects it in her examples is enlightening.”

I was very interested in the section on fetishism in biography writing. I have been reading a lot of biographies recently and was a bit surprised to learn that French philosopher Jacques Derrida actually calls biography writing “archive fever.” Virginia Woolf goes further to say that the duty of the biographer “is to plod without looking to right or left, in the indelible footprints of truth; unenticed by flowers, regardless of shade, on and on methodically till we fall plump into the grave and finis on the tombstone above our head.”

Other topics touched upon were reality television, tattoos, commodification of children, and robots. All in all, this book was very thought-provoking and I learned a lot from it.
The Novel of the Future - Anaïs Nin “I stress the expansion and elaboration of language. In simplifying it, reducing it, we reduce the power of our expression and our power to communicate. Standardization, the use of worn-out formulas, impedes communication because it does not match the subtlety of our minds or emotions, the multimedia of our unconscious life.” - Anais Nin, The Novel of the Future

It’s quite a happy coincidence that I picked up this book at the same time that I was reading Carl Jung’s "Memories, Dreams, Reflections." Both books deal with psychoanalysis, symbolism and the subconscious. Anais Nin goes further than Jung did in that she discusses how psychology can enrich literature, and indeed how psychoanalysis is needed in literature. In general, she is quite disappointed by the path that the novel has taken. In her opinion, literature is too sterile, too linear, too cold. She wants more experimentation in novels, to include more psychology, science and so on:

“The old concept of chronological, orderly, symmetrical development of character died when it was discovered that the unconscious motivations are entirely at odds with fabricated conventions. Human beings do not grow in perfect symmetry. They oscillate, expand, contract, backtrack, arrest themselves, retrogress, mobilize, atrophy in part, proceed erratically according to experience and traumas. Some aspects of the personality mature, others do not. Some live in the past, some in the present. Some people are futuristic characters, some are cubistic, some are hard-edged, some geometric, some abstract, some impressionistic, some surrealistic!”

Nin is very passionate about the novel, even more so about the future of the novel. She pays homage to several poetic authors such as Woolf, Proust and Djuna Barnes, James Joyce, Kafka, all writers I personally admire, so it made me accept her claims of the future of the novel more readily.

I think that people who aren’t completely sold on diary-writing might reconsider when they read Nin’s chapter about the merits of the diary:

“Another lesson I learned from diary writing was the actual continuity of the act of writing, not waiting for inspiration, favourable climate, astrologic constellations, the mood, but the discipline of sitting at the typewriter to write so many hours a day. Then when the magnificent moment comes, the ripened moment, the writing itself is nimble, already tuned, warmed.”

As always I was impressed by Nin’s beautiful writing. Reading excerpts of books she had written, and having her explain what she was aiming at doing in those passages was really enlightening. It made me understand her more as a writer. I was impressed by her dedication to the trade. An extreme case of that dedication was her taking LSD to write about her experience (not that I’m advocating drug use at all but it was an interesting point).

This is a must-read for any writer or aspiring writer. I learned so much from it.

Memories, Dreams, Reflections - Aniela Jaffé, C.G. Jung “The meaning of my existence is that life has addressed a question to me. Or, conversely, I myself am a question which is addressed to the world, and I must communicate my answer, for otherwise I am dependent upon the world’s answer.” – Carl Jung; Memories, Dreams, Reflections.

I know very little about psychology but it’s a subject I’m very interested in. A friend recommended Jung to me when I began writing down my dreams some months ago and started noticing some patterns.

I think this is a great introduction to Jung. Jung takes us through his psychic life from a child to an old man, and explains how his experiences, his dreams and interpretations of dreams shaped his life and brought him to self-realization. It also goes into his doomed friendship with Freud, his interest in symbology, and his travels (to India, Africa, New Mexico etc).

This is one of the most fascinating books I have ever read. I loved Jung’s approach to psychiatry. His quest to understand the human psyche is nothing short of admirable, and it’s clear that so many have been helped by his work. His dedication into his research and understanding is remarkable.

Although Jung’s views on alchemy and religion were definitely a bit out there for me, I still respect him for articulating his beliefs in an intelligent and thoughtful manner.

I recognized a lot of Jung’s thinking patterns in my own, and was quite surprised I wasn’t the only one who’d had those same thoughts. As Carl Jung put it, ““I was going about laden with thoughts of which I could speak to no one; they would have been misunderstood.” A lot of what Jung said greatly resonated with me and I wonder whether his Myer-Briggs typography was similar or the same as mine (INFJ).

This is a book I think everybody should read. Reading it has definitely enriched my life.

“I am astonished, disappointed, pleased with myself. I am distressed, depressed, rapturous. I am all these things at once, and cannot add up the sum.”- Carl Jung
The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley - Malcolm X “I’ve had enough of someone else’s propaganda. I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.”- Malcolm X

In High School my history syllabus covered just a few pages on African-American civil rights heroes. The majority of those pages were on Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X was barely mentioned. After reading this book I was perplexed! I wonder why Malcolm X hasn't been given the same respect as Dr. King; he contributed so much to the civil rights movement as well, yet my knowledge on this man was very minimal.

How did Malcolm Little become Malcolm X aka El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz? This is what this book is all about. His transformation was remarkable especially as he spent time in foster homes and was a hustler in Detroit. He lived in an America where smart black kids were discouraged from being lawyers etc, and thus dropped out of school at young ages. It made me think for the umpteenth time just how can society malign and vilify black people, especially black men, when society itself is responsible for restricting them in the first place?

Among the many things I admired about Malcolm X was his thirst for knowledge. He is a great advertisement for autodidactism and how effective and transformative self-education can be:

“I have often reflected upon the new vistas that reading opened to me. I knew right there, in prison, that reading had changed forever the course of my life. As I see it today, the ability to read awoke inside me some long dormant craving to be mentally alive.”

It was hard for me to read this book and not compare Malcolm X’s philosophy to Dr. King’s. I always thought I would adhere more closely to Dr. King’s peaceful, nonviolence philosophy, but after reading this book I do agree with Malcolm X’s ideology as well. Not that I am advocating violence, but radicalness and action is sometimes needed, as are anger and indignation. As Malcolm X said, ““So early in life, I learned that if you want something, you had better make some noise.” I feel there is so much to learn from both men so I won’t say I prefer one doctrine over another. At the same time I wonder, how can people not become militant and revolutionary after having experienced so much cruelty and discrimination?

Another thing I found interesting in this autobiography was Malcolm X’s religious transformation; from having been raised Christian, to entering the Nation of Islam (NOI), he finally found his spiritual home in “mainstream” Islam. His depiction of his trip to Mecca in particular was very enlightening and a turning point in his life. His adoration of Elijah Muhammad, the founder of the NOI, was quite sad, especially as Muhammad seems to have been a bit of a weirdo. Muhammad said something along the lines of too-short women marrying tall men and vice versa is ridiculous. Also, he said that a man should ideally marry a woman half his age plus 7 years.


Malcolm is unapologetic about his views in this book and that's what I love best about this autobiography. His writing is very candid and so informative. This is an important book for all to read. The prevalence of eurocentrism in the world is astounding and I don’t think we really realize just how established it is. Malcolm X dissected the race problem so well, I felt inspired.
The Secondary Colors: Three Essays - Alexander Theroux Another greatly impressive book by Alexander Theroux. I enjoyed it just as much as I liked Theroux's The Primary Colours. This essay collection talks about the secondary colours orange, purple and green. Like in the last book, it goes into what these colours symbolize, and how they are represented, in a wide range of subjects, such as art, history, linguistics and literature.

It's actually delightful to read Alexander Theroux's essays as it's obvious that he loves words, and his enthusiasm shows.

Some quotes:

“There is a weirdness, a vagueness, an otherworldliness- a kind of lunar numinousness- to the colour purple, from pounce paper to the violet-tinged nimbus of gaslight to the closed, hothouse vibrations of Prince’s “Purple Rain” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze”…"

“Green is power, nature’s fuse, the colour of more force and guises than are countable…”

“Orange is a bold, forritsome color. It sells, it smiles,it sings, it simpers…”


A Little Larger Than the Entire Universe: Selected Poems - Fernando Pessoa, Richard Zenith Fernando Pessoa is brilliant! It's been a while since I've enjoyed a poetry collection as much as I did this one. He's my new favourite. I loved his snarkiness, his nonchalance, and how accessible his poems were.

Nothing- Fernando Pessoa

Ah, the soft, soft playing,
Like someone about to cry,
Of a song that’s woven
Out of artifice and moonlight…
Nothing to make us remember
Life.

A prelude of courtesies
Or a smile that faded…
A cold garden in the distance…
And in the soul that finds it,
Just the absurd echo of its empty
Flight.