Posts tagged ‘fiction’

January 20, 2011

Revolution, by Jennifer Donnelly

by f

Since I mentioned I couldn’t write book reviews, I’ve been doing nothing but writing book reviews. I’m going to crosspost this with another blog. I won’t make that a common thing. Obviously I don’t want my identity catching up with me, but this was too much to resist. Besides, it took me forever to write; I might as well get my bang for my buck.


As soon as I saw Revolution, I knew I had to buy it. There’s something haunting about both young women featured on the cover. (Whomever the cover artist was, they did a bang-up job.) Jennifer Donnelly previous YA novel, Northern Lights,  was based on the same real-life events that inspired Dreiser’s An American Tragedy.  Donnelly’s prose prose is very emotional and rich. I had high expectations for Revolution as a result, and the first few pages — hastily glimpsed at the Union Square Barnes and Nobles — didn’t disappoint.

Revolution’s protagonist is a damaged young woman, Andi.  Threatened with expulsion after an uninspired performance at her fancy-pants Brooklyn private school, her absentee father comes home from Paris to take her back there with him. He plans to supervise Andi as she writes her senior thesis, the one thing that stands between her and total scholastic ruin. She plans to write about the (fictional) French guitarist Mahlerbeau, with an emphasis on his connection to contemporary music.

Andi stays her father’s friend, G, in his Parisian loft. G, a historian, asks Andi’s father to investigate an urn he believes might contain the heart of King Louis XVI’s son, Louis Charles.

As Andi explores G’s loft, she finds two treasures: a priceless guitar, and a locked box containing a two-hundred-year-old diary.  The diary belongs to seventeen-year-old Alexandrine Paradis, an actress suddenly thrust into the politics of the revolution and royalty. From the moment Andi starts reading the diary, she feels a deep bond for its author.  The consequences of her find runs deep, and compose most of what is so wonderful about this novel.

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October 28, 2010

NaNoWriMo Approacheth

by d

November is coming.

That’s nice, D, you’re thinking, but I already own a calendar. Or, more snidely, Yeeees, because -November- comes after -October-, which comes after…? September! Good girl!

Ah, but something special happens in November. Does your calendar know that November is National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo? Well, it is! Every year, tens of thousands of people across the globe (yeah, I know, it’s actually INTERnational…) attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in just 30 days. They are all more than a little insane, and you should steer clear of anyone you see at a coffee shop frantically jabbing away at a laptop with an ever-growing mound of empty coffee cups around them.

This is relevant to you, the reader, because several members of Subterfuge will be attempting it this year. Some of us have done it before, some of us have won, and some of us have never tried it. Either way, we’re going to have a lot of fun. This might mean some delays in the Subterfuge editorial process, as F and I are both involved.

We’ve also signed Subterfuge up for NaBloPoMo, the challenge to blog every day in November. It runs every month, and we’ve signed up previously and mostly succeeded. It’s a tiny motivating factor to make sure there’s a post every single day.

BUT. In November, they give away actual, physical prizes. So, stretch your fingers, gang! If we win (anyone who completes the challenge is in the raffle) we will split the spoils with whoever publishes the most posts, thus contributing to our total. 

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October 8, 2010

Girls’ Fiction

by f

I love children’s books. Even now, at twenty-three — almost twenty-four — I instinctively go to the kids’ section first. I can’t help it. Much of the best fiction is there, hidden between tales of boogers and underpants. You’ll find the evocative gems like Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson, The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, and the beautiful When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.

The Guardian’s Arlene Phillips writes (excellently) about the dearth of good fiction for young girls, blaming the lack thereof on the publishing industry’s habit of churning out packaged stories about ballerinas and “tutu triumph”.

When I grew up, I was surrounded by girly literature. Everything I encountered was about one of four topics: dance, horses, gymnastics or princesses. Everything! I felt left out, so I tried reading Misty of Chincoteague . That was a failure and I drooled all over the book by page sixty. Horses are eating and shitting machines. My emotionally abusive ex-best-friend was into horses.

I must also be one of the few girls I know who never dreamed of being a princess. What do you do as a princess? Pop out blue-blooded babies? Host coked-out orgies? Sit around and mildly patronize the arts? Feed the city indigent once a year? Give me a break. Aspiring to a life of idleness and indolence wasn’t attractive to me at a young age and it’s certainly not now.

(You’ve got me at the gymnastics. Tons of girls wanted to be gymnasts but, again, I never understood the appeal.)

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July 15, 2010

Attack on Taslima

by f

Taslima Nasrin

note: I posted this on Subrosa on April 10, 2008.

I visited the library today and found Taslima Nasrin’s Shodh sitting on the used book sale shelf. I bought it immediately. When I began to read it, the memories flooded back.

On August 10, 2007, I woke up to the news that Taslima Nasrin was assaulted at the launch of the Telugu translation of her novel Shodh. (It was published in the original Bengali in 1992,) I was staying not a mile from where the assault occurred and I read it fresh off the press that came along in with the milk.

I mention this because during Contemporary Europe today the class discussed Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the radlcal secularist Somali-Dutch politician. She’s also a perpetual refugee, bouncing around from one party to another, shrill but nevertheless dogged. Like any other politician, her motives are pretty tainted and stained, but her life and the threats on her person hurt to read. Recently, she came/left the US via the American Enterprise Institute, wrote a few pretty vitriolic books and papers and went back to Denmark.

Taslima Nasrin is different from Hirsi Ali in the sense that she’s never had political aspirations — it is worth noting activists are not necessarily good politicians. Unlike Hirsi Ali, who left when she was younger, Taslima was already employed as a government doctor. She became a gynecologist. Her initial experiences in feminism or straying away from what she saw as the “demons of her faith” was from constantly having to treat rapes of young girls.

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