Cloud Atlas

As we watched Cloud Atlas, I thought to myself “I bet this is based on a book, and it makes a lot more sense as one.”  I was right!  I am debating whether to read the book now, simply because it looks like it does a lot of fairly clever things, but I’m not sure I agree with the message of the story enough to want to bother.

The movie is actually six different stories, each set in a different era.  Each story is being told by someone in a subsequent era, as they either recount or discover the story (they might be telling the story around a campfire or reading a journal, things like that).  Not knowing any of this before going into the movie was… interesting. Actors are reused for each era, with some interesting results (Hugo Weaving in drag is fantastic), because one of the messages of the story is that people live on in new lives.  Themes to look for involve how each character(/actor) changes as they move from era to era… do they become a better person, or worse?

I don’t think I will say much more than that because it risks getting into far too much philosophical discussion.  I’m not particularly interested in reincarnation, but I enjoyed the movie primarily because it was so unique. Without having even read it I do think the book probably did a better job of it, so if you’re going to pick one I would go for print.  If you’re looking for a challenge, you might like the movie though.  There are blogs out there that say “Go watch the movie, and then we’ll explain it to you”, which, naturally, I found while trying to figure out the details of what the fuck I just watched… and that’s about all you need to know to get started.

Breakfast of Champions

Breakfast of ChampionsBreakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really enjoy Vonnegut, but I have a lot of trouble with his completely unstructured style of writing. This book was the worst example of that yet, so I had a lot of trouble getting into it. The actual writing was excellent, and the humour was spot on, hilarious and thought-provoking at the same time. The illustrations were great. Trying to figure out the reason for the book to exist beyond Vonnegut’s random and vaguely connected humour-injected opinions on things was a challenge, and it really hurts my rating of this book.

Despite that, I am still tempted to boost the number of stars. That is how you know Vonnegut was a good author…

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Flowers for Algernon

Flowers for AlgernonFlowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Holy shit. That was amazing. I wish I could give it 6 stars. Or 10. Masterfully constructed and thought provoking. I don’t know how I managed to avoid reading this for so long… the title was familiar but I only vaguely knew of it, and then I was like “Oh hey I should read that.”

I’m not even going to disgrace it with a review. Just read it.

On another note, I also vaguely recalled that the book was famous for being banned, which is probably why I knew the name but not really the plot. I finished it and was like “…why was this banned???” so I had to go look. Banned for sexually explicit scenes! /facepalm.
This book has gone through so much strife while offering such a valuable story, when things like The Windup Girl (featuring self-indulgent graphic rape and slave fetish scenes that carry on much longer than they need to…) run around freely today. Kind of disgusting, really.
Although when I tried to see whether it was still currently banned, I did discover that in 2010 someone issued a challenge against the novelization of Star Wars: A New Hope, with no explanations attached. But not any of the other ones… hrm!

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