Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Bad Girl by Mario Vargas Llosa

This is the first novel I have read by Mario Vargas Llosa and I have to say he has found himself a new fan. I enjoyed reading this novel, particularly his descriptions of swinging London in the sixties. This novel questions the effect love has on us and how we sometimes do things in the name of love that may not be healthy. The protagonist, Ricardo, first falls in love with Lily, who claims to be from Chile, when they are teenagers in Peru. Her lie is revealed and she disappears from Ricardo's life. Several years pass and Ricardo is now living in Paris as an interpreter where he is friends with a revolutionary group that has plans to overthrow the government in Peru. Through this group he meets a new recruit, Comrade Arlette. She is the Lily he once knew in Peru. He spends a short amount of time with her before she is sent to Cuba for her revolutionary training and thinks that is the last he will ever see of her. A few years pass and he meets her again in Paris but this time she is married and goes by the name of Mrs. Robert Arnoux. This is repeated over the course of the novel with Lily taking on different identities. She drifts in and out of his life with the only constant being his love for her. In the end he is the man she turns to when she needs help.

I wasn't sure how to feel about the characters. Ricardo is a sympathetic character but I did not feel sympathy for the bad girl until the very end of the novel. The character of the bad girl was not developed as well as Ricardo's which I think hinders how much the reader invests into the character emotionally. The only time I felt any type of emotion for the bad girl was in the last quarter or so of the book when she is finally shown as having a vulnerable side to her personality. Despite feeling ambivalent about the characters the story was intriguing enough for me to finish the book.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Is there such a thing as too many books?

I was asking myself this question as I cataloged my books last week on Goodreads and found that I own 955 books! I had an idea I owned that many books but when I look at my bookcases it seems like I have a small collection. I find myself always wanting more books for my collection knowing that I have not read half of the books I own. Working at a bookstore for six years contributed to most of my collection as I have not been buying as much since I stopped working there. With that said I have decided to join the TBR challenge to help make a dent in my unread books. These are the books I've selected to read from my shelves:

  1. The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe
  2. Hopscotch by Julio Cortazar
  3. Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
  4. Kafka was the Rage by Anatole Broyard
  5. Everybody was so Young by Amanda Vaill
  6. The Rainbow by D.H. Lawrence
  7. The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald
  8. The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford
  9. If on a Winter's Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino
  10. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  11. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  12. Atonement by Ian McEwan

The alternates:

  1. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
  2. Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch by Dai Sijie
  3. Come to Me by Amy Bloom
  4. The Mandarins by Simone de Beauvoir
  5. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  6. What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt
  7. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
  8. The Feast of Love by Charles Baxter

I'm also thinking of joining another challenge but I may just stick to the two I've joined. Happy reading!

This song is catchy as hell!

I cannot stop listening to this song!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Insomnia...friend or foe?

I had insomnia last night and was able to finish reading The Bad Girl by Mario Vargas Llosa. I haven't had insomnia in a long time. I didn't go to bed until 6:30 in the morning and now I feel like crap. I slept a whopping 3 hours...just a short nap really. On the bright side of things I was able to finish the novel so I guess you can say insomnia was my friend in that aspect, but it will be my foe later on today when I fall asleep flat on my face. More about The Bad Girl tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

It's been a while...

but I'm still here. A lot has been going on hence my absence from blogland. My friends came to visit us for a week. We had such a great time. We went to Asheville and the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was so beautiful! I'm originally from Miami and let me tell you it was so exciting for me to see mountains. Miami is so flat and blah. It's the same season all year round...personally I like to call summer there hell. The humidity is unbelievable but the beach is fantastic. F. and I moved here in August but have decided to go back to Miami. It was a tough decision but we feel going back home is the best place for us. We miss our Cuban food too much!

We're moving in two weeks so not much reading is going on. I started Great Expectations for the reading challenge My Year of Reading Dangerously. I'm only about 25 pages in because I'm distracted by The Bad Girl by Mario Vargas Llosa. I feeling torn about this book. The story begins in Peru when the main character, Ricardo, is a teenager. He meets a girl named Lily and falls hopelessly in love with her. Lily claims she is from Chile but her lie is revealed and he does not see her again...or so we think. It is years later and Ricardo now lives in France as an interpreter for UNESCO. He meets a girl in France who turns out to be Lily but using a different name. This theme is repeated over and over again. They meet each other over a period of years and she always ends up leaving. Her character is interesting because she seems cold and calculating but she always somehow goes back to him. How can a man be in love for 30+ years with the same woman who constantly leaves him for men who are wealthier and more powerful than he is? This is my problem with the book but I am so curious to how it ends. I'm about halfway through.

On the music front I've downloaded (via http://www.emusic.com/) and purchased some great music recently. I finally got my hands on the new Radiohead and it is fantastic! The opening song on the album gave me chills in just the first few notes. I highly recommend this album. Run out and get it! From emusic I downloaded the following albums:

The Sea and Cake: Everybody
Au Revoir Simone: The Bird of Music
The Chromatics: Night Drive
Coconut Records: Nighttiming
Janelle Monae: Metropolis Suite I "The Chase"

F. also gave me Feist's The Reminder for Christmas. I can't get My Moon My Man out of my head. "My moon my man such a changeable lamb such a lovable lamb to me." I love that line!

Well I'm off to start packing! I don't look forward to packing my books again but oh well...