I’m doing weekly round-ups now, which will include any media I consumed for the past week, from Sunday to Saturday. I’d be glad if you end up getting some recommendations but I’m only doing this as a form of a media journal (to make it easy to write reviews later on). And fine, an actual journal too. Here goes! Continue reading “Weekly Round-up (5): August 27 – September 2, 2017”
So I thought of doing weekly round-ups from now on, which will include any media I consumed for the past week, from Saturday to Friday. I also aim to talk about them, especially kdrama episodes I’ve seen for the week, all in one post. I’d be glad if you end up getting some recommendations but I’m only doing this as a form of a media journal (to make it easy to write reviews later on). And fine, an actual journal too. Here goes! Continue reading “Weekly Round-up (1): July 29 – August 4, 2017”
There will be spoilers for Gone Girl because I just have to discuss something about it HAHAHA. But don’t worry, no spoilers for The Girl on the Train. (I’m assuming everyone has read or even watched Gone Girl).
Title: The Girl on the Train
Author: Paula Hawkins
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Date of Publication: January 13, 2015
Source: purchased (paperback)
EVERY DAY THE SAME
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?
I’m always looking for another Gone Girl, another book that will literally make my jaw drop from the shock. While The Girl on the Train is riveting, it is no Gone Girl, and maybe I should stop looking for Gone Girl-esque books and try to appreciate books as they are. I mean, I should know better, right? But I just can’t let go. (In that manner, Damage Done by Amanda Panitch is Gone Girl-esque in my opinion.)
Which made me realize that the reason why Before I Go to Sleep and The Girl on the Train did not come to Gone Girl levels to me is because we are always looking for the criminal or the perpetrator and you know that it is not the protagonist. There is the compulsion to trust the narrator and in both cases, the narrators are people searching for the truth. It’s a simple whodunnit. Unlike in Gone Girl, wherein the narrator is the psychopath or the criminal or the perpetrator. Which is also why the film adaptation failed because you are geared to trust the narrator and that was Nick Dunne so you don’t get as shocked about Amy’s crazy plot.
As a basic whodunnit, The Girl on the Train was still compelling. Once again, we have an unreliable narrator in Rachel as she frequently blacks out and forgets what happened, due to drinking. She’s an alcoholic and even the police deemed her as unreliable and just a rubbernecker. Which, she actually is too. She hasn’t turned her life around even after two years of being divorced and she actually was spiraling down even more.
She gets embroiled in a police investigation and here’s a woman who, for the first time, feels like she has a purpose. So she ends up lying at times just so she can be involved in the investigation. It’s so hard not to talk about the plot of thrillers, ack!
My first hunch was correct but I let it go and damn, I really regret that. HAHAHA This novel had three perspectives, by the way, but Rachel still tells the majority of the story. I love how dynamic the characterization of these three women are as well.
While I didn’t end up a big fan of Paula Hawkins, I’d still recommend this book for fans of psychological thrillers and I’ll be sure to pick up Paula’s future books too because I know I’ll be in for a wonderful storytelling.
A club of two is still a club, right?
I have this friend who’s such a voracious reader like moi. Although, while I read mostly young adult novels, he’s more into sci-fi and literary. We once read THE MARTIAN on a weekend and subsequently discussed it when we saw each other. It’s quite surprising how we thought of making a book club of the two of us only now. Makes sense too though since we don’t usually read the same books.
But I want to read more literary fiction. More adult novels. I still love YA and I still mostly read YA but I wanna diversify my reading. To learn more, to feel more, to challenge myself. So HERE WE ARE!
This April, we’re reading something by Sylvia Plath, most likely THE BELL JAR. This decision was spurred by me sharing this quote to him: “I like people too much or not at all.” A quote I related to so much that I needed to share it to him and discuss. And then I’m like, I wanna read Sylvia Plath and I asked him if he wants to have a book club with me!
I added some interesting rules to the book club though.
1. We pick turns choosing the book for that month. But I already chose Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See for May because I seriously need the push to finish that book. Hahaha! The other has veto power.
2. Aside from reading and discussing books, there’s one thing we also like and that’s DRINKING TOGETHER! So we’ll discuss the book during the first week of the next month while drinking so we also get to meet and hang out.
3. Lastly, if someone ends up not finishing the book, he/she will pay for the bill during said discussion night. Hahaha! We needed a punishment so we’d read our books.
He agreed right away at the mention of drinking. Hahaha! I know my friend so well.
SO SO EXCITED FOR THIS YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW HOW MUCHHHHH
*gif has nothing to do with the post but it’s rami malek so it’s there
“Four hundred billion suns spiraling through space together. Our solar system just one grain on that galactic carousel. The carousel itself a speck in the cosmos. And here I am in this small clearing, on the surface of the earth, as transient and unnoticed to the universe as the dry blades of grass that are poking into my shirt. It’s too much to comprehend up there, too enormous, and I’m so small when it’s on top of me. It frightens me, like I’m being crushed.”
–Plus One by Elizabeth Fama
If anyone felt that the picture I featured above is familiar, *high-five* to you, my fellow Ubuntu user.
For my last quote discussion post, I featured a quote from Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater. This time around, I’m gonna spotlight one from her The Raven Boys aside from the one already featured by Elizabeth Fama. Is it still not obvious how much I love this series and how it is life??? Anyway, here it is.
“She recognized the strange happiness that came from loving something without knowing why you did, that strange happiness that was sometimes so big that it felt like sadness. It was the way she felt when she looked at the stars.”
–The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
These quotes about stars struck me big time when I read them because that’s how EXACTLY I feel when I see stars. I love stargazing but it is a surefire way to make me melancholic and for me to think and overthink about everything. To make my doubts take centerstage. It is so the reverse-meditation technique I don’t need but honestly? Overthinking while under a blanket of stars doesn’t stress me out. Overthinking at 3AM in my bed while I’m trying to sleep stresses me out so much I sometimes cry. But under the twinkling beauty of stars? It’s actually pretty calming. One of the reasons I love home is because I get to so many stars.
How about you? How do you feel about stars? Do you have any quotes about stars that you love?
“There is no good word for the opposite of lonesome. One might be tempted to suggest togetherness or contentment, but the fact that these two other words bear definition unrelated to each other perfectly displays why lonesome cannot be properly mirrored. It does not mean solitude, nor alone, nor lonely, although lonesome can contain all of those words in itself.
Lonesome means a state of being apart. Of being other. Alone-some.”
–Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
Admittedly, I haven’t read Blue Lily, Lily Blue. What a fan, right? I was binging on the series and I was so ready to scratch my eyes out waiting for The Raven King when I got stumped just by the second chapter. It was because of the quote I featured above. About being lonesome.
I tried to continue reading but that passage gutted me so much that I ended up just staring into space. It resonated with my entire being that I couldn’t continue reading. I remember taking a picture of the quote and posting it on Instagram, wishing that’d be enough to dispel all my ~emo~ feelings. But no. So I ended up chatting one of my friends abroad who’s my go-to person for existential feelings and lonesome feelings. Final result: me curling like a ball on my bed. I couldn’t do anything for the rest of the night but wallow and feel yes, lonesome.
I always said that being alone does not make lonely. You can be alone but not lonely. You can be happy while being alone. I was so sure of this. Until I read this passage and realized, but you could be lonesome.
Sure, you can still be happy while being lonesome. Early on, back in high school, I noticed that I didn’t have the same tastes and/or hobbies as my peers. Even before listening to jpop and kpop and watching jdramas and kdramas have been quite the norm, I’ve been doing exactly that. My email address is an ode to the Japanese actor I was so obsessed with back then. I was happy, by and with myself, but I admit, it was pretty lonesome. I didn’t have anyone to share it with and you know how being a fangirl equates having to shout and rave about everything with the world. That is essentially when I started blogging.
Fast forward to college, I decided that I’ll start getting into American TV shows because that’s the only way I can relate to people. It worked though and eventually, I lost interest in my Asian dramas and music. I’ve lived my life in phases so you could say that my Asian phase was over. With American TV shows, I never felt different because I can always talk to anyone about it.
Except with Homeland in recent time. I have so few people I could talk to about it that I treasure them so much. (Stop me from going on a tangent about Homeland.)
With music, I hold on tight to people with similar tastes as me. My best friend and I, when I think about it, don’t really share a lot of hobbies, which makes me have to seek out other people to talk about what I need to talk about. Twitter helps. So much.
But then recently, Twitter’s been making me feel ~other~ too. For example, I repeatedly tried crowdsourcing for some great Polish films but no one ever replied to me. Now, I know, not everyone watches Polish films but the realization that maybe out of all the people who could have read my tweet, no one knows or has watched one made me feel like IS NO ONE LIKE ME?
I know, in the grand scheme of things, this instance and some other more I won’t list here, aren’t exactly big deals. Everyone feels lonesome at some point. I am not playing the woe-is-me card and I know that there are people out there who are suffering way more crippling sadness than this but I just couldn’t help blogging about it.
Anyway, have you ever felt lonesome? When? Why? What did you do about it?
SUDDENLY ADULT by Jack Gilbert
The train’s stopping wakes me.
Weeds in the gully are white
with the year’s first snow.
A lighted train goes
slowly past absolutely empty.
Also going to Fukuoka.
I feel around in myself
to see if I mind. Maybe
I am lonely. It is hard
to know. It could be
hidden in familiarity.
I feel like even after a week from finishing it, it’s still too early to talk about WOLF IN WHITE VAN. That I might not be able to discuss the full breadth of how and what it means to me because I don’t even know all the ways it has affected me or made me realize things yet. But I’ll still try. (I tried not getting into any spoilers but I just have to discuss some symbolism and shit so there might be spoilers? Not plotwise though. Ack, just tread carefully?)
Title: Wolf in White Van
Author: John Darnielle
Date of Publication: August 1, 2015 (paperback)
Source: Gifted by Jean!
Welcome to Trace Italian, a game of strategy and survival! You may now make your first move. Isolated by a disfiguring injury since the age of 17, Sean Phillips crafts imaginary worlds for strangers to play in. From his small apartment in Southern California, he orchestrates fantastic adventures where possibilities, both dark and bright, open in the boundaries between the real and the imagined. As the creator of Trace Italian – a text-based, roleplaying game played through the mail – Sean guides players from around the world through his intricately imagined terrain, which they navigate and explore, turn by turn, seeking sanctuary in a ravaged, savage future America. Lance and Carrie are high school students from Florida, explorers of the Trace. But when they take their play into the real world, disaster strikes, and Sean is called to account for it. In the process, he is pulled back through time, tunneling toward the moment of his own self-inflicted departure from the world in which most people live.
Brilliantly constructed, Wolf in White Van unfolds in reverse until we arrive at both the beginning and the climax: the event that has shaped so much of Sean’s life. Beautifully written and unexpectedly moving, John Darnielle’s audacious and gripping debut novel is a marvel of storytelling brio and genuine literary delicacy.
It took me two chapters to immerse myself into John Darnielle’s WOLF IN WHITE VAN, this dark, self-aware, and existential read. I was quite lost at first but then I realized that the beauty of this book is in not knowing everything right away. You gradually get to know Sean from his thoughts, opinions, and feelings, interspersed with his memories, and what is currently happening in his life. It unfolds like a mystery, the reader thrust into Sean’s mind without a prologue, and we get to our grips and find our footing slowly but surely, helped by Darnielle’s prose that succinctly yet vividly nails depression and feeling lonesome. I didn’t want to put it down as I had questions I needed answers to now now now. But I had to put it down on many occasions just so I can mark all the passages that struck me. Yes, it’s that kind of book.
I thought this book would be more about Trace Italian and as I play Dungeons & Dragons, I was definitely interested in that. While I’m surprised that there wasn’t as much about Trace Italian as I foresaw, instead it was more introspective in nature, focusing on Sean’s psyche, I welcomed the unexpected. I embraced it and I loved how it was completely about Sean. While sure, it made me want more from the book (probably why it didn’t garner all the stars and all the love from me), I also acknowledge that narrative choice by the author so all is well.
It’s so hard for me to discuss this book as it has so many facets that we can mine for endless discussions. In fact, after I read the book, I immediately had to discuss it with Jean and we ended up going at it book-club style, pointing out different events in the novel and probable meanings and symbolism. Aside from tackling depression, having dark thoughts, feeling lonesome, and being isolated and alone, it also showed that our parents and upbringing affect us both in the littlest and the biggest ways. Grown-up Sean paints his parents as kind and understanding but as we go back in time, back to the moment that resulted to his disfigurement (you can probably guess how it happened), we find that his parents were not great. They were present but absent. As Sean tells his friend Kimmy at some point when they were seventeen, cool parents are parents who know nothing. His parents were cool, they let him do whatever, but it might probably because they don’t care much.
And oh gosh, the meaning of the title. I didn’t get it right away but after discussing with Jean, it all came crashing down on me and I had chills. Fucking wolf in white van. Here’s the full quote.
“But at that moment all I could see was the wolf in the white van, so alive, so strong. Hidden from view, unnoticed, concealed. And I thought, maybe he’s real, this wolf, and he’s really out there in a white van somewhere, riding around. Maybe he’s in the far back, pacing back and forth, circling, the pads of his huge paws raw and cracking, his thick, sharp, claws dully clicking against the raised rusty steel track ridges on the floor. Maybe he’s sound asleep, or maybe he’s just pretending. And then the van stops somewhere, maybe, and somebody gets out and walks around the side to the back and grabs hold of the handle and flings the doors open wide. Maybe whoever’s kept him wears a mechanic’s jumpsuit and some sunglasses, and he hasn’t fed the great wolf for weeks, cruising the streets of the city at night, and the wolf’s crazy with hunger now; he can’t even think. Maybe he’s not locked up in the back at all: he could be riding in the passenger seat, like a dog, just sitting and staring out the open window, looking around, checking everybody out. Maybe he’s over in the other seat behind the steering wheel. Maybe he’s driving.”
By my (and Jean’s) understanding, it’s a symbolism on what makes us tick, what pushes us to think dark thoughts and act on them. The reason why we do bad things. It’s hidden or maybe asleep. But then maybe, just maybe, someone lets it out and since the wolf’s crazy with hunger now, he can’t even think and just wreaks havoc in its wake. But maybe it’s not even hidden, it’s riding in the passenger seat, always with us. Or it’s behind us. OR MAYBE IT’S DRIVING US. Chills, man. I had this phase where I researched about psychopaths and sociopaths and that’s what crossed my mind when I reread this passage. Or when we just break and all our bottled up anger or frustrastion blows up and gets the best of us. He can’t even think. GAH. John Darnielle, you are bloody awesome.
I heavily empathized and sympathized with Sean in WOLF IN WHITE VAN because he says these things that I just see myself in him. I knew I’ve been depressed some time ago but reading this makes me question that maybe I’ve been depressed for a long time? I just saw myself a lot in Sean, his being lonesome and that universal need and want for human connection. His difficulty in opening up and expressing, his building of walls around his heart, Sean is just a guy I could completely relate to. Reading this novel was such an immersive experience for me but at the same time, it was difficult too. I mean, this line!
“I didn’t feel like I’d really won anything, but I had come through the day no worse off than I’d come into it, which, as I have been telling myself for many years now, is a victory whether it feels like one or not.”
MY HEART. And this:
“Here and there, alone, reflecting, I’d bump up against what felt like a buffer zone between me and some vast reserve of grief, but its reinforcements were sturdy enough and its construction solid enough to prevent me from really ever smelling its air, feeling its wind on my face.”
“I didn’t have a whole lot of friends anyway, so I didn’t feel abandoned so much as reminded.”
I JUST CAN’T. MY FEELINGS. Yeah, Sean, you wouldn’t get hurt as much if you didn’t have a lot of people that can hurt you.
But even though this book made me sad and melancholic, it was also hopeful in a way that even though Sean had been suffering from depression, he’s here. He’s living and he feels normal. Who are we to judge that he isn’t in fact living at all, just holed up in his apartment? He’s here and he’s living. And he’s content, in his own way.
Dare I say do read Wolf in White Van if you loved Catcher in the Rye or if you’re in the mood for something like it. I do hope you end up picking up WOLF IN WHITE VAN so we can discuss! And if you’ve already read it, please talk to meeeeeeeeeeeee. I highly recommend this book, with its profound and beautiful prose. I mean, duh, John Darnielle of Mountain Goats wrote it and have you heard the lyrics to their songs? Yeah. Imagine that being a novel. (And Wolf in White Van is yet another proof that I love anything written by musicians!)
Once on a yellow piece of paper with green lines
he wrote a poem
And he called it ‘Chops’
because that was the name of his dog
And that’s what it was all about
And his teacher gave him an A
and a gold star
And his mother hung it on the kitchen door
and read it to his aunts
That was the year Father Tracy
took all the kids to the zoo
And he let them sing on the bus
And his little sister was born
with tiny toenails and no hair
And his mother and father kissed alot
And the girl around the corner sent him a
Valentine signed with a row of X’s
and he had to ask his father what the X’s meant
And his father always tucked him in bed at night
And was always there to do it.
Once on a piece of white paper with blue lines
he wrote a poem
And he called it ‘Autumn’
because that was the name of the season
And that’s what it was all about
And his teacher gave him an A
and asked him to write more clearly
And his mother never hung it on the kitchen door
because of its new paint
And the kids told him
that Father Tracy smoked cigars
And left butts on the pews
And sometimes they would burn holes
That was the year his sister got glasses
with thick lenses and black frames
And the girl around the corner laughed
when he asked her to go see Santa Claus
And the kids told him why
his mother and father kissed alot
And his father never tucked him in bed at night
And his father got mad
when he cried for him to do it.
Once on a paper torn from his notebook
he wrote a poem
And he called it ‘Innocence: A Question’
because that was the question about his girl
And that’s what it was all about
And his professor gave him an A
and a strange steady look
And his mother never hung it on the kitchen door
because he never showed her
That was the year Father Tracy died
And he forgot how the end
of the Apostle’s Creed went
And he caught his sister
making out on the back porch
And his mother and father never kissed
or even talked
And the girl around the corner
wore too much makeup
That made him cough when he kissed her
but he kissed her anyway
because that was the thing to do
And at 3am he tucked himself into bed
his father snoring soundly.
That’s why on the back of a brown paper bag
he tried another poem
And he called it ‘Absolutely Nothing’
Because that’s what it was really all about
And he gave himself an A
and a slash on each damned wrist
And he hung it on the bathroom door
because this time he didn’t think
he could reach the kitchen.
**Thank you to The Perks of Being a Wallflower for introducing me to such a poignant poem. I had to force myself not to cry and just read the novel because I wanna finish it asap (so I can study for an exam). The poem was really simple but it captures depression really well. Even the tone at the start of the novel does not bode well for the guy in the poem. Gah, this poem just teared my heart out. I felt like my heart’s been taken away and that I watched it getting smashed into pieces. Ugh. Expect more Perks-related posts on my blog because I don’t think I’d get over it easily.
I think I read more the busier I get. To escape things, to procrastinate, definitely to procrastinate. So against my impossible schedule, I was able to read a lot. I think I should change What I Read to What I Finished Reading since I started some books in July that I finished this August but oh well, details, details. So click on the cover to check out the Goodreads profile of the books. Enjoy!
I also read three short stories!
and The Crib, which has no cover picture in Goodreads. Do not bother checking it out, it is not worth your time.
Most Guys was good though. 🙂
I reviewed The Book of James, All the Doors to Hollywood and How to Open Them, Mindscreens, On the Island, The Accidental Movie Star, Pushing the Limits and Chaste. Hope my reviews will help you! I will be posting reviews for all the others as soon as I feel like it. Haha!
To more books in August! 🙂