June was amazing! I travelled, went for coffees with my friends, enjoyed the last weeks in Brussels, moved back to Prague, visited my relatives. And I read, read and read! Six books are waiting for you in my June Atelier. Have you come across any of them?
Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur - I have preferred prose over poetry since high school. And although I have some favourite poets, such as Simon Armitage or Jacques Prévert, I always reach for novels. But when I heard about the success of Rupi Kaur, a so-called Instapoet, I wanted to change my usual repertoire and read Kaur's "bestseller" collection of poesy Milk and Honey. I absolutely love that she does not use a difficult language to express her thoughts. On the contrary, some of her poems have no more than two lines. With simplicity (but not bluntness), she manages to address themes which are rarely reflected in literature, at least not all together in one book. Kaur herself says that her poetry is about love, loss, trauma, abuse, healing and femininity. The book is divided into four chapters (the hurting, the loving, the breaking and the healing), each one heals a different pain. Kaur does not use the capital letters nor any punctuation, which allows her reader to set his own reading pace. You can read it in order or you can skim through it and pause whenever something captures your attention. Personally for me, this collection is a breath of fresh air in the world of so often stiff or pretentious poetry.
you must / want to spend / the rest of your life /with yourself / first Milk and Honey
Atonement by Ian McEwan - I finally got to read this book praised by so many, and although I finished it in the beginning of June, I am still not sure how I feel about it after all this time. McEwan uses very long, descriptive sentences, focusing on every little detail. The story is narrated from three different points of views - two sisters and one gardener, which could be interesting (and often it gets really gripping), if only the writer knew when it is better to cut some bits out. The main protagonists have definitely something to say, yet, I do not need to know about everything that happens in the youngest one's head, who appears to be nothing but a selfish, spoiled child. Of course, McEwan needs to build up the plot before a tragedy in the form of a terrible lie strikes at the end of the book's first part (after which it finally becomes interesting and quick to read). However, by that time I had to force myself to keep going. Beautiful story, beautiful idea, yet certain parts are simply too long to get through.
Come back, come back to me. Atonement
We Should Be All Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - I am usually very careful about reading books about feminism, as some of them have a tendency to misunderstand the meaning of the actual word. However, this very thin book is on point. Originally, Adichie gave the speech about feminism as a part of the Ted Talks, and this written version sums it up for everyone who has missed it. The talented writer provides powerful examples, addressing her words to everyone, regardless of his gender, race, sexuality or eating preferences. In other words, no matter how you feel about the whole feminist movement, this book is not written to become a sensation, but to raise a question in every reader's head.
The problem with gender is that it prescribs how we should be rather than recognizing how we are. We Should Be All Feminists
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara - Oh well. Where to begin? Firstly, this little book has about 700 pages! The last time I read a book of this length I was a little bit disappointed in the end, as the story turned out to be interesting, yet, with too many details, which could be easily cut out to make the plot more gripping (I am talking about The Secret History by Donna Tartt). And once again, I had the same problem with this novel about four friends who come to New York to define their futures. Their college friendship is put to a test through thirty years of their lives. JB, a talented artist, Malcom, an aspiring architect, Willem, a handsome actor, and Jude, a successful lawyer whose childhood remains a mystery to most of his friends. Yanagihara uses a beautiful language to set the story, describing everything in her own, original way, creating interesting characters. Rich, poor, unknown or dead parents, different political and personal opinions, a wide range of characters' personalities, sexualities and hobbies - you can always personify yourself with at least one of them. Yet, once Yanagiahra introduces the main themes of the story - a sexual abuse, trauma, and the physical possibilities of human body - the book quickly changes its tone. Whenever you feel like there is nothing you can be surprised by, the writer comes up with a new motif, which resonates through your body while you are trying to recover from the previous pages. The author is very detailed, openly describing physical and psychical abuses. She has definitely a lot to offer to her reader. On the other hand, sometimes I struggled to get through certain parts of the book as they were too long and slightly repeating themselves. But thumbs up for bravely dedicating 700 pages of the book to the topics such as child prostitution, self-harming or sexual trauma, themes which are usually not seen in one place. (Btw, yes, I am well aware that some parts of my review could be also cut out to make it quicker to read...)
What he knew, he knew from books, and books lied, they made things prettier. A Little Life
The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde - I feel that recently I have been reading so many depressing books! So to change it, I reached for this classic by Oscar Wilde, the famous author of the book The Picture of Dorian Gray. This comedy of manners makes fun of the society back in the 19th century, and all its strict and nonsense rules. Get ready for love, tricks, food (which serves as a hidden symbolism of sex and last, according to my dear friend), and dialogues that seemingly make absolutely no sense. Easy and funny to read.
Pardon me, you are not engaged to any one. When you do become engaged to some one, I, or your father, should his health permit him, will inform you of the fact. The Importance of Being Earnest
Glass Melange by Tennessee Williams - One more
play before wrapping up my June Atelier. Glass
Melange is in certain way Williams' autobiography. The hero, a young man, desperately tries to escape from the tight grip of his over controlling mother,
and his brittle and timid sister. The dialogues express the suffocating household's
atmosphere, while sister's glass melange stands as a symbol for the fragility
of the entire system. This play stands behind Williams' fame, and after reading
it you will understand why.
Go, then! Go to the moon - you selfish dreamer! Glass Melange