Death at Intervals by José Saramago – Book Review

“The following day, no one died.” This is the first sentence and the overall premise of Death at Intervals (published in the US as Death with Interruptions), a novel by the Portuguese nobel winner José Saramago whos magical realism is already known, first released in 2005 in Portugal.

With his bold and courageous originality, Saramago uses diverse fantasy elements as a mean to convey his message. José Saramago does this brilliantly creating a story that is impossible to forget. Much like his other books, Death at Intervals manages to get the readers to think about their deeper selves. His rather controversial writing style is, in my opinion, brilliant and showcases how comfortable the author is with his own mind, creating something fairly similar to someone speaking their mind most fluently.

This work is informally divided into two parts when it comes to motifs/themes. The first is the most satirical and politicized, dealing with the practical aspects of the issue of the end of mortality: in this one, Saramago explores the hypocrisy and demagogy from booth the government and the church, the smugness of the king, the interests of entities in whose activity have practical implications, such as nursing homes, insurance companies and funeral homes.

The second part of the book details the particular, the sentimental, being Death the main protagonist (in this book death is female). It’s an interesting study of human love in its varied circumstances and consequences, managing to make important reflections on the concept of death on a more personalized level and contributing to the fantastic characterization of human nature. This characterization is always one of Saramago’s main goal, which always splendidly fulfilled.

Overall, and as you can probably tell, I really loved this book. I liked the way the author approached the subject: real, inevitable and natural; especially in the first part. It is so smoothly and effortlessly done that we can only stand back and appreciate the perfect fusion of what is said and the way it is said. In my opinion, no one writes quite like Saramago.

I gave it 5 out of 5 stars.
Bye, keep on reading.


Links to the book:
https://www.wook.pt/livro/death-at-intervals-jose-saramago/19943326
https://www.bookdepository.com/Death-at-Intervals-Jose-Saramago/9781784871789?ref=grid-view&qid=1612468086302&sr=1-1

The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House by Audre Lorde – Book Review

This book is a collection of essays on the power of women by the self-described black, lesbian, mother, warrior and poet, Audre Lorde.

The collection has four essays: Poetry is Not A Luxury, Use of Erotic, The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House, and Uses of Anger. Every single one of these essays touches on different topics that concern women, and black women in specific; focussing on issues of womanhood, black identity, the LGBTQ community, and the vital roles that art and community must play in overthrowing the patriarchy.

This little book is loaded with heavy, theoretical ideas but Lorde’s writing is amazing enough to draw most of us in, and I found myself nodding along to must of it. These essays remain true to this day and her judgement and criticisms are as sharp and insightful now as they were when she first wrote them.

My favourite essay was, without doubt, the Uses of Anger. I found it to be as important as fitting with the times, while also being unapologetic and brilliant.

Her urge to unity and intersectionality is flawless due to the assurance that these do not mean conformity but accepting everyone’s individual traits.

Overall, I would highly recommend this essay collection about feminism and intersectionality to everyone, but especially if you’re looking for intersectional texts.

I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars.

Bye, keep on reading. 

Small Gods by Terry Pratchett – Book Review

First of all, I want to thank my lovely friend Mónica for lending me her copy of this book. Terry Pratchett is her favourite author, so I asked her which of his books I should read from him, this was her recommendation. It’s all on her.

Small Gods is the 13th book in the Discworld series and it was published in 1992. It’s about Brutha, a novice priest of the God Om, who possesses a perfect memory. Brutha can’t read, he’s regarded as a bit dumb and it’s known that he will be a novice priest forever. However, unlike everyone else in the book, he is the only one that believes in Om. Everything in this book happens because of Brutha, who truly believes while still being a good and noble person.

Pratchett is an excellent writer, I found his style to be funny, touching, not to mention how great he was at making references to religions in our world and criticizing them as part of the book’s world.
The only negative aspect for me was the repetitiveness: Om’s lack of power and constant fretting about it, Brutha’s earnest but naive loyalty, and Vorbis’s malevolent determination are repeatedly pointed out and it gets quite annoying after a while.

As you can probably tell, the cons weren’t enough to make me dislike it and I found the book to be really well executed. The author brought light to problems in organized religion that need to be discussed and did so while making me laugh.

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars.
Bye, keep on reading.


Links to the book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15798103-small-gods
https://www.wook.pt/livro/small-gods-terry-pratchett/1500093

Poems to Night by Rainer Maria Rilke – Book Review

Poems to Night is a poetry collection of twenty-two poems by the Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke.

To be honest, I don’t think this was the best to start with Rilke’s work, but since it was sent to by Pushkin Press in exchange for a review, I went with the flow.

I truly loved most the poems however, there were a few which I found difficult to connect with a bit. All things considered, I can’t know if this is because of Rilke’s writing or due to the translation, we all know poetry is something hard to get right when translating. 

Rilke does not bother us with useless long verses which the only use is to fill pages, or with unnecessarily complicated rhymes. He gives the reader an insight into the connection one has with the world around themself and one’s mind. As you can see in the following verse:

“Is pain – as soon as the ploughshare,
labouring, naturally reaches a new layer –
is pain not good? And what can it mean, the last
interrupting us in the depths of such affliction?”

I think that given the year we have had; there are certain feelings brought out in these poems that we can relate to today, those of isolation and loneliness, which we can track to the author’s time during WW2. These are the things many of us have to deal with at night before we drift off to sleep.

All in all, this is a beautifully written book collection with a good translation, as fas as my translation knowledge goes. I recommend it to anyone who likes poetry as well as to anyone in search of a book to get in tune with their feelings and emotions.

I gave it 4 out of 5 stars.

Bye, keep on reading.  

Why She Wrote: A Graphic History of the Lives, Inspiration, and Influence Behind the Pens of Classic Women Writers – Book Review

First of all, I want to thank Chronicle Books for the ARC.

I found the premise for Why She Wrote by Lauren Burke, Hannah K. Chapman and Kaley Bales to be super interesting, the introduction made me super excited to read the rest of the book and I thought this book was a neat take on a biography.

It’s such a unique idea, and honestly one of the most informative books I’ve ever come across. However, I found the transition from written biography to graphic novel mode was often disorienting. Within the illustrated sections, I found that the script font used was difficult to read and the font used in the rest of the book quite unattractive. The images themselves I liked, they were cute but nothing out of this world.

I found the stories of the women interesting, but the writing of the stories not so much, which is sad. More often than not, I was reading just in hopes to see if the chapter on the next writer/author was any better. 

With that being said, I think this book has a place on a shelf of a child with interest in literature and whose parents/teachers are enlighted enough to want their kid/student to read about the power of female authors. 

To sum up, I ended up liking the concept more than the actual book itself and maybe it was just not that well executed. I think the book has potential but needs significant editing and changes before being published. I think it is also very important to mention that the book is very euro-centric and I think it’s time to stop associating classics exclusively to white authors. 

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway – Book Review

If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” – Ernest Hemingway

A Moveable Feast is Ernest Hemingway’s memoir of his time spent in Paris after the war and beginning of his writing career. He was living alongside other writers such as Gertrude Stein, Joyce, Pound, Madox Ford and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

One day, I was roaming around a book shop, as one does, and came across this book. I felt this unspeakable urge to buy this book knowing nothing about it whatsoever. Once I got home and searched it on Goodreads, I saw it had more than four stars I thought to myself: “Nice to know this was not a waste of money”. It sat on my bookshelf for about a year, I picked it put this month and simply could not put it down for a second.

In this book, you read about someone becoming a writer and romanticize about it overlooking the fact that Hemingway describes going hungry somedays so that his wife and child could eat. I loved reading about the friendship between Hemingway and Fitzgerald and getting to see the perception the author had of him as both a person and a writer. It was just so heartwarming.

Every chapter in A Moveable Feast is sort of a little story from his life. You get a varied idea of what he was up to and came to realize that he had kind of a problem with gambling, most likely because he thought it was the only way he had to make money.

I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars and highly recommend it.

“I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, ‘Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know.’ So finally I would write one true sentence, and go on from there.” – Ernest Hemingway

Women, Race & Class by Angela Davis – Book Review

Woman, Race & Class is a non-fiction book about the connection between racism, class prejudice and white feminism.

Having read Angela Davis before (Freedom Is a Constant Struggle) I had already been introduced to the political activist’s narrative. However, this book was a pleasant surprise. Freedom Is a Constant Struggle is a collection of interviews and speeches, so it ended up being a bit repetitive, whereas Woman, Race & Class was objective, concise and exactly what I was hoping from it.

Angela Davis breaks down how misogyny, racism, and classism have shaped our society. She pays special attention to how white-dominated middle-class social movements have repeatedly forsake solidarity with both working class and black people in behalf of political convenience, as well as displaying how the biased goals of white reformists have allowed capitalist oppression throughout history.

This book moved through the atrocities of slavery, lynching and, overall, racist discrimination, especially by the feminist movement of the 20th century. Reading it, I felt outraged and angry towards my very own privileges.

Women, Race & Class is organized in such a way that everything you read sounds like new information even though we know it’s all connected which was exactly the book’s intent. The biggest take from this book is an extremely important one: INTERSECTIONALITY MATTERS, and sometimes we forget how much.

I gave this book 5 out of 5 starts.

Paris, Texas (1984), by Wim Wenders – Film Review

Paris, Texas by Wim Wenders is the story about family and loss. The director uses themes of both brotherly relationships and fatherhood as a metaphor for man’s quest for personal identity, and he does it magically.

The fi out rst time we see Travis he is walking in Terlingua, a barren and dusty region of Texas. He isfilm-paris-texas-263 wearing a filthy suit along with a ragged red baseball cap. A bit into the film Travis reunites with his brother Walt Henderson, we know four years have passed since Walt and his wife Anne took responsibility for raising Travis’s young son Hunter. The story takes on from there.

The cinematography is poetic and there is a visual sense that contextualizes the characters’ feel of looming, present and past loss. Wenders shows us that his storytelling finds truth and poetry in the mundane. The film doesn’t need gimmicks or cliches to escalate emotional reaction from the viewer or create interest. This result is obtained simply by making the characters feel human.

All I can say is after I finished watching this masterpiece I was feeling everything and nothing at the same time. I don’t exactly look for this in a film, but once this feeling comes along, it’s hard to look at the art form in the same way ever again.

It’s a 9 out of 10. Please go and watch it now!

Me and White Supremacy Workbook by Layla F. Saad – Book Review

“I think whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege, as males are taught not to recognize male privilege.” – Peggy McIntosh

Me And White Supremacy Workbook by Layla F. Saad is a pioneer, anti-racism book for people holding white privilege to begin examining and dismantling their complicity in the oppressive system of white supremacy.

Far too often, I see white people blaming other white people and declaring them as the problem that causes racism, to distance themselves from the problem. I was happy to see that being addressed in the book.

If like me, you were always taught that racism is bad and that people should all have the same rights and opportunities, this book still serves as an excellent tool for digging out internalized messages regarding race that you might not have been aware of.

The only negative aspect I have to point out is that the book starts with multiple separate chapters about the author when the intent of the book is not to get to know the author but to critically analyse your privilege, which to me felt slightly off.

Needless to say, I have learned a lot. The questions didn’t allow for any hesitation, and I know that, though I have a lot of work to do, I now have basic knowledge on how to continue the work.

I recommend it as a tool for anyone who is or wants to be anti-racism. (and if you don’t want to what are you doing reading this)

I gave this book 4 out of 5 starts.

Given the current social climate, instead of telling you to keep on reading, I’ll provide you with a website which has both petitions and donations for you to take part in. Remember that what is happing right now in the US is not a US problem, there is racism in every country and our responsibility is to take action.

Stay safe and resist the oppression!

Link: https://biglink.to/forBLM

She Represents: 44 Women Who Are Changing Politics . . . and the World, by Caitlin Donohue – Book Review

She represents is a non-fiction title written by Caitlin Donohue. It brings light to 44 powerhouse women around the world.

First of all, I’m glad African and South American women were mentioned, however, in my opinion, the book would have had more impact if the approach had been even more global (more Asian and European women) since it focused mainly on women in the United States. The author gives us a summary of these diverse and interesting women in less than 3 pages per person. Not to mention, I was extremely happy to see a wide range of political ideologies represented.

The background stories come to life as a result of the references to their personalities or personal anecdotes. Those make the woman in power feel more relatable. I found the artwork to be both inviting and full of life (and I believe there might be more artwork to come, given it was only an arc).

I reckon this book would be nice for those seeking to learn more about women in politics, current political circumstances.

Thank you to Caitlin Donohue, Zest Books, and Netgalley for providing me with a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Don’t forget that She Represents releases on September 1, 2020.

I give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars.