The Historian

30 10 2009

The HistorianThis is the story of how as a girl of sixteen, I went in search of my father and his past, and of how he went in search of his beloved mentor and his mentor’s own history, and of how we all found ourselves on one of the darkest pathways into history.

It opens simply and sometimes the simplest way is the best approach and foundation to an epistolary epic. From the first few words, it bolsters the extensive mammoth which is The Historian; a 909-paged debut novel written by American author Elizabeth Kostova. It is difficult to ignore and perhaps one of the most entertaining and enthralling post modern non-horror vampire story.

It will be most appealing to those who wish to revisit the tasty classic Gothic vampire (the kind that doesn’t glitter in the sunlight) fiction. Here, we meet the standard heroes who are garlic-toting travel addicts. Our villains on the other hand, are scared of the cross and sun but has a potent force to instigate utter fear and chaos.

The thing that most haunted me that day, however, as I closed my notebook and put my coat on to go home, was not my ghostly image of Dracula, or the description of impalement, but the fact that these things had – apparently – actually occurred. If I listened too closely, I thought, I would hear the screams of the boys, of the ‘large family’ dying together. For all his attention to my historical education, my father had neglected to tell me this: history’s terrible moments were real. I understand now, decades later, that he could never have told me. Only history itself can convince you of such a truth. And once you’ve seen that truth really seen it – you can’t look away.

 Our protagonist: Academics. Our antagonist: Dracula. It follows the recounting of a father and daughter’s dark meanderings after discovering a textless vellum. From here, they are torn apart by the need to find the truth in the disappearance of the people they care for and the cruel fate they’ve been forced into. We read vicious but clever events that stretch from Amsterdam, Budapest, Istanbul, Bulgaria and Philadelphia.

Although this is no Bram Stoker, looking at it via birds eye view can give you an idea that this is about exploring the infamous impaler of the 15th century; after his death and the disappearance of his body. It also puts together a great travelogue – like looking at old moving pictures – and detective story.

While I paced through The Historian, it came to me that this is a vampire equivalent of The Da Vinci Code. Which mostly means: facts, fiction, passports and melee. The thought played casually in my head, perhaps due to its primary genre which is thriller/ suspense. There isn’t much Bram Stoker-ish incidents in here but there is more than enough scare and blood for you to feel the need to flip its pages as your heart quickens with excitement. Suffice to say, it was difficult to put down. It was also very appealing that the novel provided memoirs and letters that offered personal and heartfelt considerations.

Upon realizing that this is about Vlad Tepes (or more famously known for his fictitious equivalent, Dracula), I’ve managed my expectations thinking it would be heavily laced with violence, hedonism and plenty of bitting. However, given that the character’s POV is purely academic, the plot is treated subjectively and if anything, it was outright intelligent. But note that the handful of frightening outcomes of certain events and seemingly harmless nights stimulate lingering fear and a dash of passion.

Despite its several mention of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, The Historian runs full steam with its own weight. And although Kostova has a flare for Victorian style of writing, she never loses her readers. She unceremoniously brings them along by intermingling research, intrigue and the occult. She also has a way of setting danger on a sort of foreplay that leaves you guessing if she will finally provide a climax or not. And if she ever does, there is a careful calculation of recant so you stay until she is ready to end the story.

It may be safe to say that it’s a timeless contemporary of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which concludes both triumphantly and sadly. But one thing is for sure, The Historian is a notch (or two) smarter than Ann Rice’s vampires. A must read for fang fans.

Notes:

Written By Elizabeth Kostova

Published by Little Brown in 2005

ISBN: 0-316-01177-0





Lodged In My Head

27 10 2009

I’m still upset about a book I just read. I’m trying to be okay because I know how pathetic it is to be disturbed by things that really didn’t happen; of stuffs that are lifted from fiction. But I can’t help it.

It struck a nerve, a nerve that’s too vulnerable – something I’ve been hindering almost all my life. Something that took me years to cover and then suddenly was jabbed by a story so sharp, jagged and filthy. For all its worth, I tried to unload by sharing my read with three people. They did like the story and one even asked if she can borrow the book. But while I provided them with an interlude and perhaps a recommendation for future reads, I could not withdraw the nagging feeling of lose.

Damn you Emily Maguire! Why did you have to kill Jamie? Why not Daniel or Sarah? Or even Mike? I don’t care who you kill … I don’t care if you kill every revolting character in your book. But why Jamie?! You’re such a genius!

I can’t get Jamie’s story off my mind; the perverted way he allowed Sarah to disintegrate his mind. The hopeless existence he had to endure with her. Sick. Sick. Sick.  

These reads thoroughly scare me.





This and That

26 10 2009

I read this book that was unbelievably gut wrenching … someone died in the end.

And although I’ve read plenty of books that had characters meeting untimely deaths, this one raised the readers ante for pain. A kind hero, too pure for a world that was so sick. He did not die a heroes death, instead he died in his own hands because of the depraved condition his foolish heart got himself into.

A suicide. And with all the goodness of his heart it won’t mean a thing because to hell he’ll go straight.

Love and life never gave him much clarity and in his time of vulnerability, the only girl he ever loved made a seemingly wrong choice which drove him to the edge. I’ll tell you more on November, I have one more book to review before that.

I shouldn’t read tragedy. I’m too weak.

***

I am thinking about him again! Why can’t I get him off my mind? I can’t help it. I know I should stop. I have things to do. I don’t like going crazy. He makes me forget things and he make me do things I shouldn’t.

Argh! He makes me blush just by staring into his deep dark eyes.

And that’s saying a lot. I haven’t blushed in a long time.

***

Hmm, that feels good. Just how I wanted it and just the right amount of what I need.

It really does pay to plan your weekend. Mine, although it’s not as eventful as the previous, it was what I needed. I sat to write and lounged around to read a book. I ate what I wanted (had McDonald’s deliver) and I napped until my head felt a twinge of ache for over sleeping. I also got to watch a bit of t.v. which has become a rarity since September 26.

I should be set for another long hectic week, studying numbers, passing exams and working to lead a team of twenty one.

I’m hoping to get more peaceful weekends like this.

Currently listening to Shattered by OAR via 96.5 TIC Chicago





Respite

24 10 2009

This time let’s make it a little more peaceful.

The last two weekends have been crazy as a twister and I need to make it a little more organized and calm. I’ve been faring through busy weekdays and I think I won’t be able to continue if I allow my weekends to bustle frequently and endlessly.

This weekend is for writing and reading. A therapeutic interlude after my organized chaos. First, sleep off Saturday so by Sunday I have enough brain cells to write a piece for The Historian. As soon as I finish that, an hour or two of tv for break. Then I’ll cap it off with the 4th book I’ve been reading about Greek Mythology (with a modern twist). I went to the grocery yesterday and I’ve stocked on chips, candies and yogurt … just because I am spending it wise doesn’t mean I’ll eat smart too. Although yogurt is healthy, it would still end up on the bad side if you consume a pint in one seating. Why? Well, just a little reward for being a good girl. I’ve stuck with my chosen diet (of two full meals a day and zero food five hours before going to bed) for months now and I’ve lost a considerable weight. I think a day of sinful pigging out won’t hurt. Just a little treat – no biggy. It’s like un-bogging the old non-conformist in me … if that makes sense.

I’m crossing my fingers that it goes as planned because Halloween will be hectic again. The weeks following that will also be trailed with endless things to do.

Come find me luck.

Currently listening to The Boys Of Summer by the Ataris via Launchcast





10:36

21 10 2009

Have I told you I’m awful in math?

Ugh, I am telling you now. I suck a whole lot.

But you know what? I made a discovery that if I was calculating money, I tend to be quite okay. Not superb but okay. Believe me, that is a considerable improvement from my astonishing lack of mathematical chutzpah. Don’t make me calculate triangles, planes, tangents and all them alpha numerics … but money, I’d be more than happy to sit, listen and perhaps answer a few problems.

I’ve been lifting hefty amounts of numbers in my head for the past few weeks and so far I’m surviving without tearing my seatmate’s hair off. Those numbers translates to money. Somehow I found myself a little more attentive and careful. Quite the capable student.

Maybe because I love money. I think there’s no need to be reminded that.

***

I wore stilettos last Tuesday, I felt sexy but the shoes are a murder. It hurts.

My New Charles and Keith ShoesI haven’t bought any for several months now (save for the Chucks I bought a week before); perhaps the lack of anything that was tasty to my eyes challenged my love for shoes. So the moment I saw one that I really like, although it was close to breaking the bank, I grabbed it and made a beeline to the cashier.

This one was extra thin so I had to be careful. No running – I can do that with my other heels – and I need to be conscious that I am wearing a delicate shoes. Not so much a delicate ankle.

Pain is almost always a part of feeling pretty.

I’m wearing it again together with my skinnies. Strut, strut, strut.

***

I have a pimple as huge as Jupiter. This means I have to meet with my dermatologist again.  Hate it!

My calendar is already full so with the appointment date, plus my resting period of three days, it’s a little difficult to squeeze all my activity in. Ugh.

Currently listening to Duffy via Launchcast





Reads and Crossroads

19 10 2009

I’ve been reading a lot lately and I have more than half a dozen new books that still needs finishing. I still haven’t written my review for The Historian – which is a contemporary classic, if I should say so myself – and I’m looking in my calendar to see where I can squeeze it. So far, I still see that as a challenge. So many things to do, so little time.

By the way, last two Saturday’s ago an old manager of mine called offering me a job. Not that I didn’t have one but he just wants me in his team… so bad that this was the second time he called me for the same job.

My current company has a set plan for me and if I’m a good girl something great will happen by April. What bothers me is: what if I can get twice the pay with half the work? If that is the case, then it’ll be smart to take his offer. But wait, I’m jumping ahead of myself, I still would have to negotiate my price.

I want twice what I’m getting now, plus over time pay (because when you’re a member of the Management you don’t get overtime pay), plus hmm what else … ?

For sure, I want more. If anyone wants me to join their team this much I must get the good end of the bargain. Giving up what I have right now to leap into the void is tricky so I’m going to need all the cover I can get.

But truth be told, I like where I’m at right now. The plan that will take effect on April 2010 is unbelievably tangy and many would say I’d be stupid to jump ship right now.

Pirating is such sweet sorrow.

Currently listening to Notion by Kings Of Leon





Going…

15 10 2009

I’ve been uber busy lately. Apart from work, I’ve also been running errands. A couple of books, letters to write, a handful of calls to return and putting my apartment the right side up have been stacking the list.

Let’s also not forget I’m putting together my Christmas shopping – mostly gifts. 

My life is such hard work, I need a footrub.

***

You know that book Cirque du Freak?

I read that, around 2003 (if I remember it right) and I went as far as the fourth book. I just found out that they made a movie. And as usual I was disappointed. I looked around for a trailer and bit my tongue… John C Riley and William Dafoe is there! Woah! Sorry if I jumped to conclusion. I think even just for these two actors I will still go see the film.

 

I sure hell hope they do it justice.

***

I saw the very boring interview of the New Moon cast in Comic Con. I thought the kid playing Jacob Black has a bit of Matt Damon in him. Don’t you think?

I should go to sleep now.