Eat Him If You Like, by Jean Teulé

13559431Tuesday 16 August 1870, Alain de Money, makes his way to the village fair. He plans to buy a heifer for a needy neighbour and find a roofer to repair the roof of the barn of a poor acquaintance. He arrives at two o’clock. Two hours later, the crowd has gone crazy; they have lynched, tortured, burned and eaten him. How could such a horror be possible? (from Goodreads)

Yes. That happened (although the eating part was never proved).
When I read the back cover of this book I thought it was purely non-fictional. The fact that it was novelized, I believe, certainly reinforces the atrocity of the facts as it humanizes the main character, making it easier to empathize with his desperate situation. On the other hand, it also permits certain “poetic licence”, reimagining and creating dialogues and relations between characters, to reinforce certain gruesome aspects of the story, that may have never happened.
One way or another, it was far from being a pleasurable reading, and by this I don’t mean that it’s not a good work. It’s just hard to read, definitely not for those of weak stomach, heart, impressionable minds, etc
Interesting enough, it has some transcripts from the judicial process that followed the slaughter. And, for those interested in a more business-like and less personal rendition of the affair, the French Wikipedia article is very good (and I recommend the French one because is the most complete and extense).

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The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson

38472788Eleven-year-old Gilly has been stuck in more foster families than she can remember, and she’s hated them all. She has a reputation for being brash, brilliant, and completely unmanageable, and that’s the way she likes it. So when she’s sent to live with the Trotters—by far the strangest family yet—she knows it’s only a temporary problem.
Gilly decides to put her sharp mind to work and get out of there fast. She’s determined to no longer be a foster kid. Before long she’s devised an elaborate scheme to get her real mother to come rescue her. Unfortunately, the plan doesn’t work out quite as she hoped it would… (from Goodreads)

A couple of years ago, my dad asked me what books he could gift to my little cousin, so I sent him a list of options, this book being one of them. I hadn’t read the book, but it seemed nice and was age apropiate. A couple of months back, my cousin told me very excitedly that there was a movie adaptation, ocation I seized to ask her to borrow the book, since I hadn’t read it.
Once I was at it, I did wonder if I’d recommended it if I’d read it first. I was a bit shocked by certain attitudes in Gilly, her fatphobic and racists thoughts, her general misbehaviour et al. I did corrected myself, in several ocations, reminding me that this was a neglected child, who had a less than optimal upbringing. But I did find a bit disheartening that, even though Gilly does improve her conduct and prejudices, at very few points is remarked that her previous attitude was disrespectful and hurtful.
Anyway… I was glad to realize that the movie adaptation was updated (the book was published in the 70s) for this day “sensitivities” and it may or may not have made me cry a bit, allegedly.

Night Flight, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

45017590Under the pressure of his boss, the intransigent Riviere, the airmail pilot Fabien attempts a perilous flight during a heavy night-time thunderstorm in Argentina. As conditions get worse and the radio communication with Fabien becomes increasingly difficult, Riviere begins to question his uncompromising methods, and his distress turns to guilt when the pilot’s wife comes to find him in search of answers. Based on Saint-Exupery’s own experiences as a commercial pilot, Night Flight is a haunting and lyrical examination of duty, destiny and the individual, as well as an authentic and tragic portrayal of the intrepid early days of human air travel. (from Goodreads)

This story was based in Saint-Exupéry’s experience as director of Aeroposta Argentina, an early pioneering airline established in the late 1920s, and a subsidiary of the French airmail carrier Aéropostale.
The nouvelle narrates the events of one night, while in Buenos Aires is awaited the arrival of three flight coming from Chile, Paraguay and Patagonia. While the northern route is quiet and clear, the flight coming from the Andes had a strong storm at its back, and the southern one fell straight into it.
These pioneering nocturnal flights might be entirely endangered if something goes wrong, an the presure is as much in director, as in the inspectors and the pilots, for the excellency in the service above all, to prove everyone that this is possible.
It’s hard to wrap my mind around these early moments of commercial aviation, before the second world war. It seems both so far away (almost 100 years) and yet very recent. It was an activity both risky and exciting, and the pilots seemed to be very aware at all times that they were making history.

The Virgin Suicides, by Jeffrey Eugenides

85618The five Lisbon sisters are brought up in a strict household, and when the youngest kills herself, the oppression of the remaining sisters intensifies. As Therese, Mary, Bonnie and Lux are pulled deeper into isolation by their domineering mother, a group of neighborhood boys become obsessed with liberating the sisters. But what the boys don’t know is, the Lisbon girls are beyond saving. (from Goodreads)

I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while, at least since I had watched the movie adaptation, if not before.
Even though it’s been several years since then (curiously, despite that I liked it very much, I didn’t re-watched it, not even once), it left a vivid impression in my mind, not as much that I was able to remember every event in the story, but several scattered plot points and, above all, a vivid visual aesthetic that exuded a deep feeling of nostalgia.
It was very pleasant to realize that that feeling of nostalgia was very present along the entire book, and that the movie (or what I remember of it) was a great job of adaptation.
I do wonder if I’m just acommodating my memories to fit, so I hope to rewatch the movie soon, to have a more exact opinion, not just based on evocations.

Pequeños delitos abominables, by Esther Tusquets

13411570[Small abominable crimes]

This book is a compendium of little petty attitudes, selfish actions, and related “crimes”, basically a very abarcative list of things certain people do having absolutely no regard for other people. Like having a loud cellphone conversation on a public space (i.e.:, trains, restaurants, waiting rooms), being always late, general lack of empathy, beign unable to accept a favor or a present, useless and endless work meetings, parent/teachers meetings,  always having a bigger and better anecdote then the one you’re listening to, etc etc etc. The list is too long. Of some things I declare myself guilty, with others, I’ve been in the receiving end and I agree with the author, and there were even some I don’t consider relevant at all.
I honestly thought this book would be more entertaining, but  more often than not I found myself just bored of reading a peroration of complaints. Coincidentally, “Complaining too much” wasn’t part of the list. I guess this is book to read little by little, one item of the list at a time, instead of reading for long periods… But I just wanted to get over with it .
Who’s fault is it, then?

El amor y la mujer nueva, by Aleksandra Kollontai

38108551[Love and the new woman]

Aleksandra Kollontai was a Marxist revolutionary. After the Russian Revolution, she was the most prominent woman in the Soviet administration. She was a champion of women’s liberation, but she firmly believed that it “could take place only as the result of the victory of a new social order and a different economic system”, and has thus been regarded as a key figure in Marxist feminism. She believed that true socialism could not be achieved without a radical change in attitudes to sexuality, so that it might be freed from the oppressive norms that she saw as a continuation of bourgeois ideas about property. Kollontai believed that, like the state, the family unit would wither away once the second stage of communism became a reality. She viewed marriage and traditional families as legacies of the oppressive, property-rights-based, egoist past. Under Communism, both men and women would work for, and be supported by, society, not their families. Similarly, their children would be wards of, and reared basically by society.

This book gathers some of her writings where she exposed all these ideals. In many ways, her words are incredibly current, and I honestly can’t believe we still have to fight for these things.
I found her thesis about how the concept of family we have today correlates to an entire economic system, and how it’s been imbued into society as something completely “natural”, very interesting.
Even though I don’t fully agree with all of her ideas, there’s a lot to take and learn from her lifework.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman

16065736Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.
Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what. (from Goodreads)

In a very recent group swap, in which we talked about podcasts and audiobooks, I publically declared my undying love for Neil Gaiman’s voice. So Cindi asked, “Hey, have you read this?” and no, I hadn’t, so I dived right into it because I have no selfcontrol.
Thank you, Cindi, for the recommendation.
I really liked this book! The supernatural characters nonchalantly living in our terrenal realm reminded me of American Gods, although the overall tone of he story is quite different. I spent a very cozy couple of afternoons listening to it, and I do highly recommend it 🙂