Emma Watson's Book Club · Reviews

“The Color Purple” by Alice Walker

“So what you think? I ast.

I think us here to wonder, myself. To wonder. To ast. And that in wondering bout the big things and asting bout the big things, you learn about the little ones, almost by accident. But you never know nothing more about the big things than you start with. The more I wonder, he say, the more I love.

And people start to love you back, I bet, I say.”

I absolutely adore how approachable The Color Purple is. I adore how it reduces so many I-don’t-understands to dust, so many excuses to ashes, with its simplicity. One will only not see if one chooses to.

“Here’s the thing, say Shug. The thing I believe. God is inside you and inside everybody else. You come into the world with God. But only them that search for it inside find it. And sometimes it just manifest itself even if you not looking, or don’t know what you looking for. Trouble do it for most folks, I think. Sorrow, lord. Feeling like shit.

It? I ast.

Yeah, It. God ain’t a he or a she, but a It.

But what do it look like? I ast.

Don’t look like nothing, she say. It ain’t a picture show. It ain’t something you can look at apart from anything else, including yourself. I believe God is everything, say Shug. Everything that is or ever was or ever will be. And when you can feel that, and be happy to feel that, you’ve found it.”

If I had to choose one word to describe this book I would probably go with openness. There’s space to discuss God and religion, love, violence, homosexuality and racism… and the limit is how far Celie, our main narrator, wants to go, how far she allows herself to go. This, in itself, is a testimony to our capability of acceptance and understanding. It’s not always easy, sometimes it involves swimming against the tide, but we can reach as far as we wish to.

The Color Purple should come with a warning: read before you are sure of everything. Conviction has legs and sometimes we get lost staring at their shadow. If only we stared long enough to see that their size changes according to where the sun is shining, if at all, from…

Advertisements
Author of the Month

Author of the Month: Michael Cunningham

The Pulitzer Prize is one of the most significant awards an American writer can be honored with. Our author of the month, Michael Cunningham, was the recipient of the aforementioned grandiose praise in 1999 for his masterpiece The Hours.

“What lives undimmed in Clarissa’s mind more than three decades later is a kiss at dusk on a patch of dead grass, and a walk around a pond as mosquitoes droned in the darkening air. There is still that singular perfection, and it’s perfect in part because it seemed, at the time, so clearly to promise more. Now she knows: That was the moment, right then. There has been no other.”

If I had to choose just one word to describe Michael Cunningham’s novels I do believe I would go with honesty. There is no space for sugarcoating in his books. Don’t expect his characters to look out for your feelings, for your susceptibilities. They will be so blunt they will hurt you. They will make you think non-stop from sunset to sunrise and back again. They will whisper truths in your ear till you allow your eyes to open and see that change is nothing but acceptance, nothing but a step forward on the long path of discovering and accepting who you truly are.

The writing feels as though the words he uses were created and given such definition and meaning so that they could later on become the sentences that decorate the pages of his novels.

“How, after all, can such a turmoil of hope and fear and lust be inaudible? How do our skulls hold it in?”

You find yourself reading the same passages over and over again, for they are so effortlessly put together, and they convey so much emotion, so much feeling, so much life. They seem to reach out from the pages to caress your face, to wipe away your tears, while you just fall… in love.

“Love, it seems, arrives not only unannounced, but so accidentally, so randomly, as to make you wonder why you, why anyone, believes even fleetingly in laws of cause and effect.”

Reading Michael Cunningham is like being extremely afraid of heights and choosing to go on the world’s greatest and most frightening roller coaster, a roller coaster with such low downs that it makes you wonder whether there is any sense to the word bottom and floor. It’s like being extremely afraid of heights and choosing to go on the world’s greatest and most frightening roller coaster and finding out that the feeling of the wind caressing your face is worth the chills that go down your spine as you queue to go in. Everything loses reference but then suddenly everything makes so much sense…

Reading Michael Cunningham is discovering your zero, your middle, your ground. And then breaking it. And then finding it again.

Reading Michael Cunningham is getting in touch with your humanity. And it’s beautiful. Scary… but beautiful.

He always seems to find the path to the extraordinary, even when starting from the most ordinary spot. I believe that to be one of his many incredible talents: to find the extraordinary in the ordinary. And he invites us to do the same, to look at what surrounds us and what’s inside us, and find our extraordinariness.

From Pages to Screen · LGBTQA+

“Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe” by Fannie Flagg

I take notes while I read. Instead of writing them on the book itself, I have this journal that I carry around with me everywhere. In it, you will find some of my favourite quotes and some thoughts on whatever it is I am reading. The first note I wrote about Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe?

I could read this book forever.

It’s true. Honestly. This book is life. It will make you laugh, smile, giggle, cry, yell out in frustration… it will take you through the whole emotional spectrum. At the end? You will want more.

I don’t know about you, but I found Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe to be exceptionally well put together. Sometimes one gets lost when different voices across different times come together to tell a story, but Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe does it brilliantly. You can pick up on the different tones, and quite distinctively, and yet they blend together perfectly. It’s fantastic.

The characters, though. What to say about these precious gems? I truly don’t know where to start. I tried to choose a favourite but soon ended up realising that they are all my favourite, this novel is a favourite. Even Dot Weems, the author of The Weems Weekly, that you basically only get to know from her writing, is absolutely fabulous.

There are all these details, all these tiny puzzle pieces and Fannie Flagg just makes them all come together in this phenomenal novel. Even though you keep time-skipping and skipping in time, there is no disruption to the flow. I am in awe, as you might have felt by now.

I guess what I am trying to say is that this is an absolute treasure, a delicious treasure. You should find yourself a copy and meet these characters for yourself. I don’t think it’s possible to do them any justice. Once you’re done, do look for me in the kitchen so that we can discuss the wonder that is Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. I will be out there, trying some of the recipes that you will find at the end.

P.S. I fell in love with many quotes while reading Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, but there is one that absolutely killed me.

[Onzell] said, Miss Ruth is a lady and always knew when to leave a party, and this wasn’t going to be any exception as long as she was around.”

If you read the book you will understand.

P.P.S. I couldn’t be happier, or more grateful, for the way the relationship between Ruth and Idgie was written. There was no exploitation. They were truly just two human beings in love that had, as everyone else, ups and downs. Interesting way of looking at things, isn’t it? Evelyn Couch does question a lot of the so called social issues… One clever lady, that one.

From Pages to Screen · Reviews

“Brooklyn” by Colm Tóibín

“She almost smiled at the thought of it, then closed her eyes and tried to imagine nothing more.”

I must confess I was expecting Brooklyn to find its strength in the emotional roots of homesickness. Instead, I found myself reading a book that stayed true to its main character till the very end, closing its eyes and imagining no more.

I believe it’s no coincidence that the only time emotion seems to deliberately reach out to touch the reader’s heart is when Eilis herself becomes so overwhelmed that it starts to show. It’s as if by allowing herself to feel, for her pain to reach the surface and find the attentive eyes of some of the other characters, she’s authorizing the narrator to let us in as well. This voice, the one telling the story, seems to have a soft spot for Eilis, respecting her privacy, even though she’s the main character. I don’t know whether that was intended or not, but it comes across as beautifully romantic. The narrator tells this story with such dedication, such devotion…

“Some people are nice and if you talk to them properly, they can be even nicer.”

I found the writing style to be as quiet as Eilis while living with Rose and their mother. Almost invisible. However, the story seems to flow as easily as Eilis seems to navigate the world. There are up and downs, of course, motion sickness, homesickness and even grief… But otherwise, it’s the routine that brings the familiarity to a place before unknown.

All in all, I quite enjoyed Brooklyn. Having just returned from spending a couple of months abroad myself, I understand where she’s coming from. The seeming lack of emotion makes sense when you are out there and you feel like if you say it out loud it will become exceedingly true, eventually suffocating you.

I believe this book will work perfectly as a film. Visually stunning, most definitely. And Eilis played by the extraordinarily talented Saoirse Ronan! Must watch this one before the Oscars.



Este post será traduzido em breve. Dieser Post wird in Kürze übersetzt.

Giveaways

Giveaway: “The Snow Queen” by Michael Cunningham

“The secret of flight is this — you have to do it immediately, before your body realizes it is defying the laws.”

To honor our author of the month, we are giving away a copy of Michael Cunningham’s latest novel The Snow Queen*1.

His books remind us of blue, of the immensity of the ocean. Do you associate any author with a specific colour or a particular imagery? Leave us a comment and take home one shade of our spectrum.

Our method of selection remains the same. We will be giving each comment a number, writing said number in a tiny piece of paper and then putting all inside a hat.

Best of luck to you all! May the wings always find you.

P.S. The winner will be announced on the last Monday of the month – February the 29th.

*1 Please be aware that the book will be in English.


Português


“O segredo do voo é este — tens que o fazer imediatamente, antes que o teu corpo se aperceba que está a desafiar as leis.”

Em honra do nosso autor do mês, estamos a oferecer uma cópia do último romance de Michael Cunningham A Rainha da Neve*1.

Os livros do autor fazem-nos pensar em azul, na imensidão do oceano. Associa algum autor a uma cor específica ou a uma imagem em particular? Deixe-nos um comentário e leve para casa um dos tons do nosso espectro.

O nosso método de selecção continua o mesmo, consistindo em dar a cada comentário um número, escrever esse mesmo número num pequeno papel e depois colocá-lo num chapéu.

A melhor das sortes para todos! Que as asas vos encontrem.

P.S. O vencedor será anunciado na última segunda-feira do mês – 29 de fevereiro.

*1 Por favor, tenha em consideração que o livro será em Inglês.


Reviews

“The Rest of Us Just Live Here” by Patrick Ness

“Not everyone has to be the Chosen One. Not everyone has to be the guy who saves the world. Most people just have to live their lives the best they can, doing things that are great for them, having great friends, trying to make their lives better, loving people properly. All the while knowing that the world makes no sense but trying to find a way to be happy anyway.”

I should leave it at this, but I don’t think I can…

I am an over-thinker and, as an over-thinker with quite a lot of free time on my hands, I find myself wondering about the meaning of life. You see, I have this feeling that somehow I am failing. At what, you ask? Well, at life. But what exactly is the purpose of life? What the hell are we doing here? Instead of answers I have, as one would expect, come up with quite a lot of other questions, one of my favorites being this: if we don’t know the purpose of life, then how can we tell whether we are failing or succeeding? And why do we have to succeed or fail? And how exactly can we fail or succeed when we know that we are all going to die, whether we like it or not? So what exactly is the point of worrying so damn much about having it all figured out when that’s not even a possibility? That said…

I am absolutely in love with the voice Patrick Ness has given to his main character, Mikey. There’s such a raw honesty to him. He’s all over the place. Everything is nothing and nothing is everything. With the help of his friends, family and doctor, Mikey tries to make sense of it all, even if that means accepting that nothing makes sense or that it is what it is.

I was surprised by the diversity in terms of characters. I like how these differences aren’t written in bold and yet are impossible to ignore. They are existing, unapologetically. I find that to be wonderful.

The way the book has been put together is beyond original. I like how the storyline one would expect to be developed is the one being told telegraphically, a simple introduction to every chapter of what appears to be just another ordinary life. And I adore how both reach the end holding hands, fingers intertwined.

“Sometimes you have to find the extraordinary in the ordinary.”

If you truly want to, you will.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here is a breath of fresh air. No one is perfect. It’s about seeing the little things for the immensity they carry within themselves. I believe this story is like a shadow. Its size depends on how much light there is and where it’s coming from. Your choice.

This was my first Patrick Ness, but it surely won’t be my last (hopefully, anyway).

P.S. The way the author deals with anxiety is, in my opinion, phenomenal.



Este post será traduzido em breve. Dieser Post wird in Kürze übersetzt.

Goodreads Choice Award · Reviews

“All the Bright Places” by Jennifer Niven

I walk into my closet and shut the door. Inside, I try not to take up too much space or make any noise, because if I do, I may wake up the darkness, and I want the darkness to sleep. I’m careful when I breathe so as not to breathe too loudly. If I breathe too loudly, there’s no telling what the darkness will do to me or to Violet or to anyone I love.

I think that quote pretty much says it all, but for some reason I am still adding a little something of my own. I wrote somewhere, while I was still far from finishing this book, that it didn’t ask for anything. While some stories almost beg your full and undivided attention, this one felt different.

It was just there, just there waiting to exist if only you ever bothered to peek in.

That’s all it takes for you to completely surrender to it. A smile. That’s it. Suddenly you find yourself thinking about all your places, all the places that you have come across and all the ones that have come across you. And there’s a new light to them. Suddenly you are reminded of their extra-ordinarity.

There’s a reason why you keep coming back, why something, someone, somewhere, has become a routine.

And you stop and you look around and you realize it’s not always the same place. You are changing at every breath and with it everything changes too. And suddenly you are facing all these bright new places without even having to reach for a map.

You are all the colors in one, at full brightness.

What does this have to do with Finch and Violet? Everything and nothing. As they tell you their story you end up writing your own. And at the end, after immense oceans of tears that might remain as unshed as the unsaid words that keep biting your tongue, you’re just… here. And you might start forgiving yourself for that just. After all, it’s just a matter of angle and they are infinite.



Este post será traduzido em breve. Dieser Post wird in Kürze übersetzt.

Books We Should Be Talking About

“We Should All Be Feminists” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

It saddens me to say this, to be acutely aware of how these speeches are still needed. But as Chimamanda says, there’s hope.

We Should All Be Feminists is a great introduction to a topic that runs very deep, having powerful roots in our language, in our way of seeing and living the world. I hope people don’t stop here, I hope they won’t stay trapped in these truths without looking any further, without looking at their own surroundings. I hope feminism doesn’t become an empty fashionable concept, a statement worn for being the colour of the season.

Truth is, law can be changed, it can be rewritten. But minds? They are hard to change because one has to question their own ideological foundations. It’s certainly not easy, but I believe it to be far from impossible.

The media feeds on what we digest and regurgitates it back to us.

And we keep devouring it. It’s a vicious cycle. I believe it’s time to intervene on how people are consuming and dealing with these symbols, these meanings. It’s time to make this a matter of literacy, which it truly is. Just because one can read, it doesn’t mean that one can understand. A bridge must be built. We can’t allow ourselves to be reduced to a list. We are first and foremost human. Being different is something we truly have in common. It should be celebrated, not weighted.

I wrote a thesis about gender and named it Zero Gravity. When asked about the title, I said that was what I thought we needed. Not the nonexistence of difference, but the acceptance of difference equally. “Wishful thinking?” If I don’t dare to even consider it a possibility, why am I even talking about feminism?

Reality is but a perception. We have a say on how we interpret what surrounds us. We should use that power for good.



Este post será traduzido em breve. Dieser Post wird in Kürze übersetzt.

Poetry · Reviews

“Why I Wake Early” by Mary Oliver

Languid.

The word reminds me of the early hours when there are no thoughts of rush, when every single thing takes its time. It feels as if the universe has been rehearsing this moment for perfection. Cue the sunrise. Cue the first singing voice of the day. Choir, you are up next.

Every little thing sounds so loud in the silence of the morning. Peace is palpable. There’s a sense of plenitude. Your breath falls in rhythm with the surroundings. The air smells of possibilities, of new beginnings.

It’s both breathtaking and reinvigorating. If you wanted to, you could reach out and touch the sky.

That is how Why I Wake Early made me feel.

“I

held my breath
as we do
sometimes
to stop time
when something wonderful
has touched us.“

The poems in this collection are longer when compared to the ones in Felicity. They seem more pondered, as if we are walking in the woods with Mary Oliver, eyes closed as we listen to what she sees, to how she sees. There’s no fear, only trust. She feels so gentle, so kind, so alive… so full of affection and gratitude.

“Some things, say the wise ones who know everything,
are not living. I say,
you live your life your way and leave me alone.“

A cry of joy that breaks the silence disguised as a deep breath of the morning air. It’s absolutely mesmerising.

“and what the soul is, also

I believe I will never quite know.
Though I play at the edges of knowing,
truly I know
our part is not knowing
but looking, and touching, and loving,
which is the way I walked on,
softly,
through the pale-pink morning light.“

Poetry of the closed eyes, I called it in my journal. A trip down a memory lane that becomes ours.


Português


Lânguido.

A palavra lembra-me a aquela madrugada que se constrói à margem de pensamentos apressados, quando toda a pequena coisa leva o seu tempo. Parece que o universo vem ensaiando este acordar para a perfeição. Entra em cena o nascer do sol. Depois uma voz, a primeira do dia, que se quer cantada. Coro, és a seguir.

Os pequenos sons soam tão alto no silêncio da manhã. A paz é palpável. Vive-se plenitude. A respiração entra no ritmo do que a rodeia. O ar cheira a possibilidades, a novos começos.

É revigorante. Se quisesse, conseguiria alcançar e tocar o céu.

Assim me achei depois de Why I Wake Early.

“Eu

sustenho a respiração
como fazemos
por vezes
para parar o tempo
quando algo maravilhoso
nos tocou.”*1

Os poemas nesta coleção são mais longos quando comparados com os de Felicity. Parecem mais ponderados, como se caminhássemos nos bosques com Mary Oliver, de olhos fechados enquanto ouvimos o que ela vê, como ela vê. Não há medo, apenas confiança. Ela sente-se tão gentil, tão amável, tão viva… tão cheia de afeição e gratidão.

“Algumas coisas, dizem os sábios que sabem tudo,
não são viver. Eu digo,
tu vive a tua vida à tua maneira e deixa-me em paz.”*1

Um grito de alegria quebra o silêncio, disfarçado de uma inspiração profunda de ar matinal. É absolutamente encantador.

“e o que a alma é, também

penso que nunca irei realmente saber.
Embora brinque nos limites do saber,
verdadeiramente eu sei
o nosso papel não é saber
mas olhar, e tocar, e amar,
que é a forma como eu caminhei,
suavemente,
através da luz rosa pálida da manhã.”*1

Poesia dos olhos fechados, foi como a apelidei na minha sebenta. Uma viagem por uma avenida de memórias que se torna nossa.


Deutsch


Schlendernd.

Dieses Wort erinnert mich an die frühen Stunden, wenn es keine Gedanken an Eile gibt, wenn jede einzelne Sache ihre Zeit braucht. Es fühlt sich an, als ob die Welt diesen Moment für Perfektion geprobt hat. Stichwort Sonnenaufgang. Stichwort erste Singstimme des Tages. Chor, du bist als nächster dran.

Jede Kleinigkeit klingt so laut in der Stille des Morgens. Frieden ist spürbar. Da ist ein Gefühl von Fülle. Dein Atem passt seinen Rhythmus der Umgebung an. Die Luft riecht nach Möglichkeiten, nach neuen Anfängen.

Es ist zugleich atemberaubend und neu belebend. Wenn du wolltest, könntest du die Hand ausstrecken und den Himmel berühren.

Das ist wie Why I Wake Early mich fühlen lässt.

“Ich

hielt meinen Atem an
wie wir es manchmal tun
um die Zeit anzuhalten
wenn etwas Wunderbares
uns berührt hat.”*1

Die Gedichte dieser Sammlung sind länger als die in Felicity. Sie scheinen erwogener zu sein, als ob wir mit Mary Oliver durch die Wälder streifen, mit geschlossenen Augen, während wir dem lauschen, was sie sieht, wie sie sieht. Es gibt keine Angst, nur Vertrauen. Sie fühlt sich so sanft an, so gutmütig, so lebendig…so voller Zuneigung und Dankbarkeit.

“Einige Dinge, sagen die Weisen, die alles wissen,
leben nicht. Ich sage,
ihr lebt euer Leben wie ihr es wollt und lasst mich in Ruhe.“*1

Ein Freudenschrei, der die Stille der Morgenluft durchbricht, getarnt als ein tiefer Atemzug. Es ist absolut faszinierend.

„und was die Seele ist, obwohl

ich glaube, dass ich es niemals wirklich wissen werde.
Obwohl ich am Rande der Erkenntnis spiele,
weiß ich wahrhaftig,
dass unser Part ist, es nicht zu wissen,
sondern hinzuschauen, und zu fühlen, und zu lieben,
welches der Weg ist, den ich gegangen bin,
langsam,
durch das blass-pinke Morgenlicht.“*1

Poesie der geschlossenen Augen habe ich sie in meinem Journal genannt. Ein Schwelgen in Erinnerungen, die zu unseren werden.



*1 Tradução livre/ Freie Übersetzung