August fiction round-ups

It has been a habit to read fiction books in between my academic readings. It’s a well-deserved break from all the nosebleed concepts and theories I have to understand. Here’s a quick rundown-slash-review on the novels I finished this month.

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist
David Levithan and Rachel Cohen
Ever since I stumbled upon this book while idly surfing my Goodreads account, I was bent on getting a copy of it—paperback or ebook, it doesn’t matter. This, along Rob Sheffield’s Love is a Mixtape. I rummaged several book shops for a paperback of either Infinite Playlist or Mixtape but I end up brokenhearted. Good thing, my very able, uber resourceful and ultimate hacker downloader office seatmate found an ebook copy of Levithan and Cohen’s novel. Tada!

Because I’m done presenting my proposed seminar paper title for Tuesday class, I started reading Infinite Playlist. The novel was split in 10-13 chapters, alternately narrated by Nick and Norah. The plot is simple, both characters are moving on from break-ups and they may or may not end up as each other’s salvation after all. Nick is a bassist for a queercore punk band called The Fuck Offs while Norah is the only daughter of a record tycoon. They meet at a punk club with Nick asking Norah if she can be his girlfriend for five minutes, and then the rest is history. I finished the book this afternoon. Quite a record, no? I think so. Hahaha!

The story’s both nice and not. It’s nice because the story is fast-paced and there are several powerful lines scattered throughout the novel. I loved how the authors were able to stitch together a story with a lot of musical references—fictional or not. There are many instances when the story suffers from near-sappy/cliché lines which I felt can be enhanced to further elicit the necessary “kilig” factor. A good example would be the made up song lyrics—it’s ok and it’s cheesy on some levels. Hahaha! In terms of the main characters, Nick was the ultimate guy crafted by novelists—he’s into music and the creative stuff, doesn’t dress smartly but of course there’s that cool feel to it, and bordering hip-semi introvert-creepy-but-sweet all at the same time. In short, there’s a fat chance that he exists in the real world. Or well, I haven’t met him yet. Loljk. Norah, on the other hand, is also the usual nerdy-goody girl—she’s smart and kick ass but when it comes to subjects like love and boys, she suddenly becomes all frigid and stoic. In short, kinda like me and then not again. There.

So, did I like it? Sort of. It’s an easy read but the plot seems forgettable in the long run. Also, with the necessary changes in several elements like putting a twist or changing a bit of the conflict, the story can easily be replicated. Should you read it? Yes. If you need a feel-good filler for idle time, go ahead and read.

"I shouldn’t want the song to end. I always think of each night as a song. Or each moment as a song. But now I'm seeing we don't live in a single song. We move from song to song, from lyric to lyric, from chord to chord. There is no ending here. It's an infinite playlist."
Nick while trying to finish the lyrics of the song he made for Norah


Here’s the song list for Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist movie version. Listen to the complete playlist here.



1) Chris Bell – “Speed Of Sound”
2) Devendra Banhart – “Lover”
3) Bishop Allen – “Middle Management”
4) Vampire Weekend - Ottoman”
5) The Dead 60s – “Riot Radio”
6) Takka Takka – “Fever”
7) The Submarines – “Xavia”
8) We Are Scientists – “After Hours”
9) Band Of Horses – “Our Swords”
10) Army Navy – “Silvery Sleds”
11) Richard Hawley – “Baby You're My Light”
12) Shout Out Louds – “Very Loud”
13) Paul Tiernan – “How To Say Goodbye”
14) The Real Tuesday Weld – “Last Words”
15) Mark Mothersbaugh – “Nick & Norah’s Theme”



3 out of 5.


Slaughterhouse Five
Kurt Vonnegut
My copy—yellowed and musty-smelling—was given by a friend as a Christmas present. He apologized because he cannot find a new copy so he gave me his. I told him it’s ok. I have a penchant for old books—their smell and feel are different which makes it more enticing to read. And yes, I smell the pages of the book the same way coffee-drinkers relish coffee’s brewing aroma. Weird, yes? No, I know other people who do that too. Hahaha!

Anyway, after bringing it on several out-of-town trips and long drives, it was only last month that I really got the chance to open its pages and really read it. I dunno why. But I’m glad I finally finished it. It was totally a worthwhile and refreshing read. I’m willing to reread right after Gaiman and Pratchett’s Good Omens.


While I agree that Vonnegut’s classic may be categorized as science fiction, I felt that it is also a convincing satire. It satirizes a lot of things—death, the human concept of time and the inevitability of war—which makes it really interesting. The story was about Billy Pilgrim—he survived the bombing in Dresden, was taken by aliens called Tralfamadorians, and well, he was unstuck in time. The guy doesn’t have control over when and where he’ll be going next, all he knew was that he’s travelling through time. The story then, moves fluidly from events that happened in the past, present or future. He reminisces the pain of being a prisoner of war and even sees his own death.

I felt that the book’s non-chronological storytelling was its strength. It makes the reader feel that everything in Billy’s life is interconnected, the same way we felt with our own. And then of course, the fact that he was taken by aliens examining the life of human beings on Earth—they teach Billy that all moments are permanent and that death is just an unpleasant moment. From the many times he went back and forth through time, the author seems to be sending the message that everything is fleeting—we learn to say hello and goodbye to people and things we felt we’re so important to us. We become unstuck in time by using these memories to learn and relearn our own life lessons. Or so it goes.



5 out of 5.


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felix felicis: August fiction round-ups

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

August fiction round-ups

It has been a habit to read fiction books in between my academic readings. It’s a well-deserved break from all the nosebleed concepts and theories I have to understand. Here’s a quick rundown-slash-review on the novels I finished this month.

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist
David Levithan and Rachel Cohen
Ever since I stumbled upon this book while idly surfing my Goodreads account, I was bent on getting a copy of it—paperback or ebook, it doesn’t matter. This, along Rob Sheffield’s Love is a Mixtape. I rummaged several book shops for a paperback of either Infinite Playlist or Mixtape but I end up brokenhearted. Good thing, my very able, uber resourceful and ultimate hacker downloader office seatmate found an ebook copy of Levithan and Cohen’s novel. Tada!

Because I’m done presenting my proposed seminar paper title for Tuesday class, I started reading Infinite Playlist. The novel was split in 10-13 chapters, alternately narrated by Nick and Norah. The plot is simple, both characters are moving on from break-ups and they may or may not end up as each other’s salvation after all. Nick is a bassist for a queercore punk band called The Fuck Offs while Norah is the only daughter of a record tycoon. They meet at a punk club with Nick asking Norah if she can be his girlfriend for five minutes, and then the rest is history. I finished the book this afternoon. Quite a record, no? I think so. Hahaha!

The story’s both nice and not. It’s nice because the story is fast-paced and there are several powerful lines scattered throughout the novel. I loved how the authors were able to stitch together a story with a lot of musical references—fictional or not. There are many instances when the story suffers from near-sappy/cliché lines which I felt can be enhanced to further elicit the necessary “kilig” factor. A good example would be the made up song lyrics—it’s ok and it’s cheesy on some levels. Hahaha! In terms of the main characters, Nick was the ultimate guy crafted by novelists—he’s into music and the creative stuff, doesn’t dress smartly but of course there’s that cool feel to it, and bordering hip-semi introvert-creepy-but-sweet all at the same time. In short, there’s a fat chance that he exists in the real world. Or well, I haven’t met him yet. Loljk. Norah, on the other hand, is also the usual nerdy-goody girl—she’s smart and kick ass but when it comes to subjects like love and boys, she suddenly becomes all frigid and stoic. In short, kinda like me and then not again. There.

So, did I like it? Sort of. It’s an easy read but the plot seems forgettable in the long run. Also, with the necessary changes in several elements like putting a twist or changing a bit of the conflict, the story can easily be replicated. Should you read it? Yes. If you need a feel-good filler for idle time, go ahead and read.

"I shouldn’t want the song to end. I always think of each night as a song. Or each moment as a song. But now I'm seeing we don't live in a single song. We move from song to song, from lyric to lyric, from chord to chord. There is no ending here. It's an infinite playlist."
Nick while trying to finish the lyrics of the song he made for Norah


Here’s the song list for Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist movie version. Listen to the complete playlist here.



1) Chris Bell – “Speed Of Sound”
2) Devendra Banhart – “Lover”
3) Bishop Allen – “Middle Management”
4) Vampire Weekend - Ottoman”
5) The Dead 60s – “Riot Radio”
6) Takka Takka – “Fever”
7) The Submarines – “Xavia”
8) We Are Scientists – “After Hours”
9) Band Of Horses – “Our Swords”
10) Army Navy – “Silvery Sleds”
11) Richard Hawley – “Baby You're My Light”
12) Shout Out Louds – “Very Loud”
13) Paul Tiernan – “How To Say Goodbye”
14) The Real Tuesday Weld – “Last Words”
15) Mark Mothersbaugh – “Nick & Norah’s Theme”



3 out of 5.


Slaughterhouse Five
Kurt Vonnegut
My copy—yellowed and musty-smelling—was given by a friend as a Christmas present. He apologized because he cannot find a new copy so he gave me his. I told him it’s ok. I have a penchant for old books—their smell and feel are different which makes it more enticing to read. And yes, I smell the pages of the book the same way coffee-drinkers relish coffee’s brewing aroma. Weird, yes? No, I know other people who do that too. Hahaha!

Anyway, after bringing it on several out-of-town trips and long drives, it was only last month that I really got the chance to open its pages and really read it. I dunno why. But I’m glad I finally finished it. It was totally a worthwhile and refreshing read. I’m willing to reread right after Gaiman and Pratchett’s Good Omens.


While I agree that Vonnegut’s classic may be categorized as science fiction, I felt that it is also a convincing satire. It satirizes a lot of things—death, the human concept of time and the inevitability of war—which makes it really interesting. The story was about Billy Pilgrim—he survived the bombing in Dresden, was taken by aliens called Tralfamadorians, and well, he was unstuck in time. The guy doesn’t have control over when and where he’ll be going next, all he knew was that he’s travelling through time. The story then, moves fluidly from events that happened in the past, present or future. He reminisces the pain of being a prisoner of war and even sees his own death.

I felt that the book’s non-chronological storytelling was its strength. It makes the reader feel that everything in Billy’s life is interconnected, the same way we felt with our own. And then of course, the fact that he was taken by aliens examining the life of human beings on Earth—they teach Billy that all moments are permanent and that death is just an unpleasant moment. From the many times he went back and forth through time, the author seems to be sending the message that everything is fleeting—we learn to say hello and goodbye to people and things we felt we’re so important to us. We become unstuck in time by using these memories to learn and relearn our own life lessons. Or so it goes.



5 out of 5.


Labels: , , , , ,

2 Comments:

At August 16, 2013 at 9:09 AM , Blogger finyapol said...

where's the playlist? hahaha sama mo dito LOL! :)

 
At August 16, 2013 at 9:16 AM , Blogger kyemeruth said...

Wala. Can't find the better working one. Hahaha! Will look for it again.

 

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