Friday, July 31, 2015

Little Libraries: A Gallery

     Little libraries are so damn cute!  The books inside are usually kind of eh, but I still love them and whenever I see one, I stop to take a picture. These pictures have been accumulating on my phone for quite a while now, so I thought I'd share them with y'all.
     You're welcome!  Unless you had your heart set on reading a nice book review.  In that case, sorry?

Spotted at Harvard University
We found a Book of Mormon at this one.

I think this was by Prospect Park?
Admirably tidy.
My bookshelves don't look this nice.

Awww, they painted it

     - Carly

Monday, July 27, 2015

Book Review: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison


     The best part of this book was its structure.  I've never read a book whose structure served its message so perfectly. The narrative of Bluest Eye is built around Pecola Breedlove, a young African-American girl living in Ohio in the late '30s, early '40s.  The story is never told from Pecola's perspective, however.  It is told from the perspectives of the people around her who destroy her.  I won't say how she is destroyed or what these people do to her.  But I will say that they are ordinary people, neighbors and friends and family members, whose acts of racism eventually tear her apart. Many of these acts are not drastic or unusual, and their very ordinariness forces the reader to reflect on the effects of his or her own actions and prejudices.
      Morrison chose to write each chapter from the point of view of a different character.  Only one narrator, one of Pecola's friends, recurs in multiple chapters, and she also happens to be the only first-person narrator in the book.  The first person narration of a young girl forces the reader to see how racial self-hatred seeps into a child over time.  Another interesting structural choice is the inclusion of snippets of a Dick and Jane book at the beginning of each chapter.  Dick and Jane books were popular in classrooms during the period in which this book is set.  They were simply written and focused on the activities of a content white suburban family.  The snippets included in Bluest Eye provide an ironic contrast to Pecola's troubled family life.
     I could also tell you all about the beautiful writing style, the brilliant and sympathetic characterization, and emotional power Morrison employs in this book, but that would take way too long :P  Read it for yourself if you're curious!

     - Carly

Friday, July 10, 2015

Book Review: Quesadillas by Juan Pablo Villalobos

Starring aliens, cow inseminators,
and children named for ancient scholars!
     I know this book is good because I shook with silent laughter while reading it on the subway.  I was so enraptured that I did not mind the silent judgments of my fellow passengers - all that mattered to me was the madness I was reading.  
     Quesadillas is called Quesadillas because that is all that the protagonist, Orestes, and his impoverished family can afford to eat.  The setting is Mexico during the 1980s', a time of economic and political turmoil for the country.  The endless inflation, corruption, and poverty which Orestes's family is forced to endure is so extreme (though true) that it seems absurd.  But instead of trying to piece together a traditional narrative with this absurdity as a backdrop, Villalobos gives the absurdity free reign and allows it to run the story.  UFOs, hysterical pilgrims, a Polish cow inseminator, a universal remote control, and pretend twins all wreck random havoc in Orestes's life. 
     This book's primary goal seems to be to destroy any romantic notions Western readers may have about Mexico and to replace them with outrage at what the Mexican people have suffered at the hands of their government.  But Villalobos fulfills this goal in a way that is as funny as it is enraging.

     - Carly