Wholesomeness in “The Secret Sharer” by Joseph Conrad

Perhaps I’m too biased to properly write about this short story: male dominant sea stories are my least favorite (My peers get a good laugh when I say that I love Moby Dick up until they get onto the water) . But I did it; I read it. It is a psychological adventure tale, simple enough to understand. It definitely had moments of suspense and certain pages had me hold my breath in fear for its characters. Overall, I’d not recommend it as a challenging read.

This story is about a young man Leggatt, who committed a murder upon the ship Sephora, a previous ship to which he felt he did not belong anyway; he was an outsider. Naked and cramped, he floated by the ladder, clinging for his life, and asked for the captain. The captain had already been engaged in conversation with him, and identified himself.  Thereon, the Captain (nameless, featureless, and narrating in first person) calls Leggett his other self. Continue reading “Wholesomeness in “The Secret Sharer” by Joseph Conrad”

Magical Disenchantment in “Boy, Snow, Bird” by Helen Oyeyemi. Review.

If vanity could kill, this book would be murder. Oyeyemi’s tale is winding; the plot twists and turns in every direction. The characters are full of evil and charm. There is a specific darkness to the retelling of this Snow White tale that allows certain themes to shine so brightly. In a subtle and disorienting manner, a way I could only describe as magical disenchantment, Oyeyemi addresses themes of vanity, gender, parenting, race, and education.

Boy is abused by her terrible father, the rat catcher, who would “accidentally” let pans fall on her or worse, seduce her with food only to later tie her to a chair and let the blind rats chew at her face. Having had enough, Boy runs away, runs to the station, and buys any ticket that is far away enough. She lives in a boarding house but is shunned slightly for not having any skills or talents.

She has a gentleman caller, Charlie, her true love, write to her. But it is Arturo Whitman who ultimately gains her hand in marriage. Whitman has a little girl Snow, whose beauty enchants everyone, even Boy. Boy loves Snow and if only she had let herself, would be the mother she always wanted and never had. Snow loves Boy and welcomes the new baby; in fact, she chooses the name: “Bird for a boy and Bird for a girl.”

Bird is born and immediately Boy gets accused of cheating on her husband. Continue reading “Magical Disenchantment in “Boy, Snow, Bird” by Helen Oyeyemi. Review.”

Sorry to Bother You, White Isn’t Right

I saw this film with my political and “woke” boyfriend who still couldn’t seem to understand what this movie was about. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be understood. Maybe it’s something that defies logic purposefully. My response to his search for meaning: maybe, this movie is about Cassius Green (Lekeith Stanfield) and Detroit (Tessa Thomson) navigating a world not built for them.

Cassius feels as if his life has no meaning and feels inadequate compared to his girlfriend, Detroit: an emerging performance visual artist and sculptor. She sleeps, eats, and breathes political resistance (even down to her fashion: she wears different earrings the size of my palm, sporting different messages like “Murder, Murder, Murder,” and “Kill,Kill,Kill”). She loves Cassius because he’s “real” and has a keen moral compass (which he doesn’t seem to understand)………..at least until he starts working at the tele-marketing company. Continue reading “Sorry to Bother You, White Isn’t Right”

Jonathan, A Complex Question

Cast: Ansel Elgort, Suki Waterhouse, Patricia Clarkson
Director: Bill Oliver
Screenwriters: Peter Nickowitz, Bill Oliver, Gregory Davis
Venue: Tribeca Film Festival (Spotlight Narrative)
100 minutes, Science-Fiction

Jonathon was introduced as a movie that should have no introductions. The only insight to this Tribeca Film Festival feature before watching it, was that it belonged to a science-fiction genre. “Great”, I thought, “I hate sci-fi.” If you’re anything like me, sit tight; it isn’t what you think.  I warmed up to the film when the facilitator announced that like me, he jumped into the movie with two feet blindly, not knowing at all what it was about. “Keep going,” I thought. Though it was technically a science fiction movie, it lived in a common and familiar setting that makes it feel all too real. He was right. It was defyingly relatable and as one who struggles with the duality of mind and passion, it hit unforvingly close to home. Continue reading “Jonathan, A Complex Question”

Lolita

Is a haunting tale that crept into my siesta and grabbed hold of my heart. Playing with the borderline of reality and dreamland, the emotion lingered and tore me slowly, patiently, and gently. I had experienced waking up, both the feeling of fear and sadness.

Frankly, the plot is pointless to follow. Reported speech–liberally drenched in fantasy—makes it difficult for to really understand the gravity of any given event. Some slight details are exaggerated; some great events are offhandedly casual. Perhaps this is an element of beauty, as we entertain the possibility that we are within a deranged mind, in which values are mixed and skewed. Morality takes a different form through the narrator’s account.

The most beautiful part of this story is its writing. I admire any writer that maintains a strong friendship with punctuation and syntax. Nabokov paints with words. His word choice is of the highest grade, if not a bit effusive.

Some kitsch remarks above the novel: its repetition of the color blue and its frequent use of French is eye-roll worthy. I won’t bother with the basely symbolism of colors but without it, we wouldn’t get the full impressions of manic obsession which brings about unapologetic and revealing characterization. Secondly, there is a sufficient amount of French with no translation (in the advent of online translators this is no issue). Comprehension commentary aside, it reminds the reader of a different time where knowledge was self-contained and not as easily accessible and a great deal of detail would have been omitted if one was not able to speak French.

Quotes I particularly enjoyed:

Select Cafe

It is cold and lightly drizzling. Vignesh offers three places: “There’s Jack’s Wife Frieda, Grey Dog, and a little up the street is Fondue, which doesn’t serve fondue,” he said. We were standing just next to JWF. So rationally I thought of my options: a place i’ve been to right here that’s pretty good, a place i’ve been to over there, or a new place that may or may not be good.” We ended up at Fondue. Actually, it’s name is Cafe Select but they haven’t bothered to change the name over the door: why?  Was it to inspire dialogue to friends by word of mouth? The world may never know

We checked JWF but the wait was 15 minutes and we were (I was) starving. Another charm about Fondue that I forgot to mention was that it was a gratuity included restaurant. Tip is already calculated into prices; extra tip is welcomed but unnecessary. We were trying to figure out the cuisine type by its menu which offers rosti (swiss hash browns) but also helloumi. The food is slightly overpriced but it’s good and the ambiance is better. The waiter was good but the hostess had questionable judgment.

Empty, Vig and I (okay, just I ) requested the corner table. (I like corners!) She said no, it’s for a party of three. A. the table could never fit three and B. there was no one there and plenty of seating in the back. “Fine, can we sit in the other corner?” I requested. I’d have to clean it, she responded.  The table that was dirty was not the corner table; the corner table was clean and unused. Whatever, and I let it go.

Food was good. Soup of the day was tomato and basil oil. Ordered the rosti. Secretly desired the coconut milk cereal bowl full of chia seed coconut and fruit. Viggy ordered the kale salad with the poached eggs, pine nuts, avocado, and bacon. Coffee was good too.

The atmosphere I would say is the highlight. The lighting is perfect: If you get the chance, sit in the window bar facing the back of the restaurant. The person you are sitting in front of will be the focus of your eye, and with the background light out of focus, the effect is stunning. Truly there is no better way to describe the effect other than magical. It is truly a sight/experience to be felt. Decor is luxurious but tasteful, splendid without being gaudy. It has a foreign touch without being kitsch. Strong recommend but a caution on the service. Wouldn’t frequent here.

 

Macaron Cafe

Macaron Cafe is a little place near me that I often feel semi-guilty (not really) going to so often. In New York there are so many incredible places, I want to go somewhere new every time. But it’s just SO close I can’t help it.  To boot, it has one of the best macaroons around town, especially on the east. What’s so fun about this store is that it’s got a long selection of tastiness. Just when you think you’ve seen plenty of macaroons over the glass counter, you realize said counter goes around the room! Little gems of coconut, earl grey, and many others are just around the corner. The front displays its constantly updated items (they had matcha & chestnut a few weeks back, pumpkin cinnamon too, and now their newest addition is strawberry smoothie.)

Perfect for a gift or a small treat for yourself, there’s definitely occasion to have a taste here. The macaroons are perfectly wispy, light, and properly flaky. After having failed miserably to make them on my own, I have a new found respect for macaroon makers. At Macaron cafe, they’ve got it down. The creams inside vary by flavor and day. I once bit into an espresso macaroon and thought the filling was so airy that it was closer to a mousse than a paste. The coconut was a bit stickier and had some flakes rolled onto its side. Flavors vary from rich nutella to light rose petal, chocolate raspberry to honey lavender.

The decor is a bit overwhelmingly pink but in a charming way. A retro feel, the furniture is white and the light glows pink all around. Theres great natural light at the front window (where there’s a bar), marble tables and black chairs.

Staff is mostly Latin, from Colombia and Peru and service is warm and friendly. The clients are happy and frequently engage them in chit chat—a testament to how they make one feel like home— waitresses are respectful and efficient, though by no way appearing to be rushed.

They serve food here too: healthy (and not so healthy) breakfasts, salads, and sandwiches. I’m a light eater so to me, it’s a proper meal. However, they don’t have anything heavy if you’re planning on having something more filling. There’s a soup/sandwich combo for lunch (french onion and any half sandwich). Thoroughly enjoyable meal whenever I do come here to have a quick eat, but I still would come here mostly for the coffee and macaroons. Most people come here dressed from work but there’s an atmosphere where laptop work could be done. Wifi is available. Frequently come here due to proximity but if a quick dessert treat is what you’re a’fixing for, it’s worth a trip.

Grey Dog

i finally ended up at grey dog and i was excited to sit outside but decidedly its still too cold for that nonsense. plus inside was a good vibe, i didn’t want to be too away from the people. i went to order at the coffee bar but i was stunned right in my tracks. the barista was plainly handsome in a magnetic way. His eyes and skin were too much like those of Alptug (Alp- like the Swiss Alps, and too, because the g is silent) a student at a university I worked at, in Turkey.

I had that little flashback and i think i must have blushed scarlet, I’m not sure. I stood there mouth agape, laughing nervously in little bursts—a ‘he he’ kind of laughing, nothing crazy. Crazy would have sounded like this: HAHAHA WOW! OH MY GOD! YOU LOOK JUST LIKE THIS GUY! Instead I sounded like this: “Oh my, you look just like someone I know.” I couldn’t help being terribly quiet and could do little more than try to begin a sentence three times. When my awkward could not be further contained, I apologized: “i’m sorry you look just like him” and he smiled, perhaps flattered. I started, “He was”…but I had nothing to say; between emotions and acute aphasia the only words i did manage to say (again) were…. Continue reading “Grey Dog”

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