It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? (Oct. 18)

Read:

The Banquet of Esther Rosenbaum by Penny Simpson (reviewed here)

The Steamypunk Collection — (reviewed here)

#1 A Man of the Waste by Margaret Killjoy; #2 A Pirate of Both Day & Night by Margaret Killjoy; #3 Emerson & Adalia by Dimitri Markotin; #4 Chaos Theory by Dimitri Markotin; #5 Emerson & Adalia Rob A House by Dimitri Markotin

Reading:

Shimmer #11 —  The Clockwork Jungle Book

—>  And How His Audit Stands, by Lou Anders is a great story with an interesting concept at its core. Set in the American South, the Railroad barons have found a new way to enslave men.

Horns & Wrinkles by Joseph Helgerson — so far this is cute.

Blogs:

Mentioned over at STEAMED! ….I joined this Steampunk Writing Online Writing Workshop. It starts in November.

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading is organized by Sheila over at Book Journey. Be sure to stop by her site and read the great blogs of the other participates.

( On a personal note I’d like to thank St. Jude, St. Rita, the Blessed Mother, and Heavenly Father for all the prayers they’ve answered in the last month and to continue to ask for their help and blessings.)

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Review: The Banquet of Esther Rosenbaum by Penny Simpson

The Banquet of Ester RosenbaumThe Banquet of Ester Rosenbaum by Penny Simpson

This is an odd novel, though I was fascinated by it. Time plays very funny within its pages and I don’t think I truly understood why until I got to the end. It was something I should have suspected from the beginning, but I guess I was a little slow. My whole approach to this book has been slow. I saw it first listing in the Advance magazine, then when I actually purchased it, I left it sitting on my shelf for exactly a year (the recipe was tucked into the front cover) before I every picked it up.

At the heart this seems to be a novel about story telling through many media. There are story-recipes, clock-work stories, ballads, plays, pamphlets, and love notes. There is all sorts of language in the book too, while written in English, it is peppered with foreign words German, Yiddish, and more. None of it will put off your understanding of the book, but it gives it texture and it adds to the sense of time and place.

This book is set during WWI-through the beginning of WWII, with its epilogue in 1946. The majority set in Berlin during the Weimar Republic. There is lots of talk of war and revolution, and every chapter give a year, but the history challenged you’ll have to piece the extra conflicts together yourself. There is mention of Bavaria, which I never could figure out if it was part of WWI or some separate conflict in this great time of turmoil.

Turmoil both internal and external is what sets these characters spinning. They are an eclectic assortment. Our narrator is a Jewish chef, who is 7th tall, with two different color eyes. She is often the subject of fear and superstition because of her looks, and later celebrated because of her talent with food. But, in these times attention is not always a good thing. There are her friends who are a used clothes seller, a seamstress, a Auntie Mame like woman who drives a motor car badly, gambles, and conspires with revolutionaries, there are more revolutionaries, playwrights, chefs, restaurateurs, artist, actresses, and clock-makers. They are all struggling against a world that doesn’t make sense anymore, and struggling with one another over love and fame and ideas.

The book moves fast and it as if you are just catching snatches, we’ve barely gotten over a fight and we’ve landed into something new. Having said that, it is not confusing. I’d have liked to read more of Esther’s cooking and less of Kaya and Thomas relationship, but it made sense giving how Esther was so emotionally tied to them.

As to the ending, well without giving anything away, all I can say is, I guess I was naïve to believe it could conclude any other way. There were clues right from the beginning, but I didn’t pick up on them. This book wasn’t a tear-jerker for me. There was certainly tragedy throughout, but there was distance in the writing. Not the kind of distance that is off-putting, but that made the action feel slightly less immediate. I understood at the end.

I recommend this book. It is different from my normal genre reads and given that my last venture into literary fiction was disappointing, I am glad this one was not.

 

side note: third book in a row to use the word ‘pinion’

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? (Oct. 11)

Read:

The Women of Nell Gwynne’s by Kage Baker — loved this, see review here!

Beauty and the Beast: Human-animal Relations as Revealed in Real Photo Postcards, 1905-1935 by Arnold Arluke — I can’t say I really finished this one. I got a little squeamish at some of the pictures in the middle and sort of did a skim and scan until I had enough. I’ve reviewed the parts I did read here! There are some neat thing in here so should not be dismissed entirely.

Reading:

The Banquet of Esther Rosenbaum by Penny Simpson — so far, this is a recommend…. I’m hoping it stays that way.

Acquired:

I raided the library and have a ton of books — mostly for skimming and scanning, but who knows what will catch my eye. There is:

The Steampunk Trilogy by Paul DiFilippo; The Most Powerful Idea in the World by William Rosen; The Victorians by Aidan Cruttenden; Eminent Victorians (Illustrated Edition) by Lytton Strachey; Magnificent Dreams (Burne-Jones and the Late Victorians) by Frances Spalding; The Steampunk Style Jewelry by Jean Campbell

I also got several books by fellow member of the Northshore Literary Society, Liz Scott

Never Heave Your Bosom in a Front Hook Bra and Never Sleep with a Fat Man in July – both written under the name Modine Gunch.

→ Her new book Never Clean Your House During Hurricane Season is out.  All the proceeds will go to charity, including The St. Bernard Project, a program that helps those affected by Katrina and the BP oil disaster in New Orleans’ neighboring parish of St. Bernard.

Blogs:

♦ For those of you last week who weren’t too familiar with Steampunk and for those of you who just want to know more. In the Blogs this week there was an interesting article on one of the more common archetypes in Steampunk fiction. Check it here.

♦ Here is an interesting blog post that mentions the idea of Blogger as Translator. It is a concept that I’d not run across before. What do y’all think about the idea?

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading is organized by Sheila over at Book Journey. Be sure to stop by her site and read the great blogs of the other participates.

( On a personal note I’d like to thank St. Jude, St. Rita, the Blessed Mother, and Heavenly Father for all the prayers they’ve answered in the last month and to continue to ask for their help and blessings.)

flavor of words

The Banquet of Esther Rosenbaum —

“We barter words and I feel like a wine taster, rolling his words on my tongue and finding rare subtleties in their many flavourings.”

Penny Simpson, p51