Tag Archives: love story

Deciphered: Rolling in the deep

17 Feb

If you’re anything like anyone in the western world (and personally, I think you are), you’ve had an Adele song stuck in your head some time in the past few months. Specifically, Rolling in the Deep, Someone Like You or Rumour Has It.

While it’s kind of obvious what the last two titles mean, the former is a bit of a conundrum. Rolling where? What’s deep? Is this like John Williamson’s great hit, Crocodile Roll?

Luckily, Adele has cleared up any deep rolling confusion in an interview with Vogue:

“There’s a gang phrase in the UK, roll deep. That basically means having someone have your back so you are never on your own if you come into trouble. It’s a real gangster thing, but I think it’s really beautiful.”

So the next time you’re doing your best Adele impression in the car, shower or in front of the mirror, you’ll at least know what you’re wailing about – wannabe gangsters looking out for each other. Or something like that. All together now

“We could have had it all
Rolling in the deep
You had my heart inside your hand
And you played it to the beat.”

Untranslatable words of love and longing

22 Nov

The English language sure has a lot of nifty words. For example: Sandwich. Muleskinner. Iguana. Those are just three random words – they were the first that came to mind. I don’t know what that might mean, and frankly I don’t want to know.

But I recently read an article over at bigthink.com that pointed out some of the shortcomings in our language. The author listed 10 relationship words that have no equivalent in English – or that at least need more than one word to be explained. There’s mamihlapinatapei, a Yagan word for “the wordless yet meaningful look shared by two people who desire to initiate something, but are both reluctant to start”, through to ya’aburnee, Arabic for “You bury me” (not an order of assisted suicide, funnily enough, but a statement of wanting to die before one’s beloved does, so life doesn’t have to be experienced without them).

I was also really interested in the almost throwaway line referencing the Chinese proverb meaning “have fate without destiny”. The author pointed out the differentiation between fate and destiny, which are often seen as being interchangeable in our language. This proverb is said to describe “couples who meet, but who don’t stay together, for whatever reason”. Aww, bittersweet.

You can read the full list of words and their meanings over at Big Think.

And let’s start making up some of these words ourselves – it’s like a love-only version of Balderdash! I’ll start. Transchell: a fellow passenger on your regular public transport route that you have a crush on, but you don’t want to ask them out in case they say no and you’ll be so embarrassed you’ll have to change your public transport routine and it would be all really inconvenient, so it’s probably just better to keep quiet and dream from afar.

Catchy, no?

Dedication: the cover (and its four thrilling sequels)

8 Sep

Why does one book need five versions of the cover? Okay, once it hit New York Times bestseller status (WTF?) it could have used an update telling everyone how great (?) it was. But what’s the explanation for the others?

For the record, the copy I reviewed features the half-girl looking up while posing on an overstuffed suitcase.

Why so many covers, Dedication?

Sooo… which do you prefer?

Dedication

8 Sep

Dedication by Nicola Kraus and Emma McLaughlin, 2007

NB: This is the first post on this book – you can also read a note on its cover(s).Alternative text for alternative covers

You know the story. Girl meets Boy in early high school. Boy stuffs Girl around. Eventually Boy and Girl fall in love. Boy stands her up on prom night, leaves town and becomes international recording star. Girl spends next 10 years trying to get over him, not helped by the fact that Boy’s omnipresent songs are all about her, their sexual exploits, and her family secrets. Boy returns to hometown, Girl decides to resolve things with him. Things happen.

I went into Dedication with high hopes. I’ve often wondered what it would feel like to have dated A Famous Person before they hit the big time (specifically Brad Pitt. No reason, of course!), and this seemed like the book that was going to explain it all.

Then the structure intervened. The first chapter was set in the present; the second was set in the sixth grade, when aforementioned girl first lays eyes on the Future Megastar. The next chapter was again in the present; the fourth was in Year Seven. This alternating timeline continues throughout high school and into the uni years. But it wasn’t the structure itself that got on my nerves – it was the dialogue and scenarios created in those early high school years. Let alone the fact that these rural kids have a case of Dawson’s Creek-itis (what 12-year-old has a perfect comeback for every snide remark?), the main character actually stands on a table, in the middle of class, to declare that she likes the boy. She is then, apparently, allowed to live this down. What world do these people live in? Why was that event not made into a huge thing? Realism, where are you?!

Anyhoo, I was originally dreading every second chapter and its crappily crafted stories, but as the characters got older they grew into their sass and became much more believable. And then – gasp! – I actually started to enjoy the damn thing. There were some great passages – especially the descriptions of early love and lust, which just made me want to be a teenager in love. A teenager in love with a tortured boy. Who can sing beautiful songs he’s written just for me. Also, he has a really great body. Sigh.

It’s not all about the twists and turns of this relationship, by the way – there’s some family drama packed in there, and questions are posed about friendship, loyalty and growing up. Some of the subplots are a bit blah, but the big one just keeps pulling you back in. WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE COUPLE? I can’t tell you, obviously. Unless you really want to know – then you can contact me and I’ll tell you privately. I just don’t want to put it out there and ruin it for everyone because I know EVERYONE ELSE wants to read this now 😉

So what IS it like to go out with someone who became famous after you knew them? You’ll have to read it to find out. Yes, you may be gritting your teeth to just get through those early high school years… but isn’t that a lot like real life anyway?

BTW: This was the second book in my MS Novel Challenge.

XVI

13 Apr

XVI by Julia Karr, 2011

XVI julia karrIn case you didn’t know, there’s a bit of a dystopian trend happening in the literary world at the moment – well, in the young adult literary world anyway (if you don’t believe me, you can read all about it in a NY Times debate). And that’s the excuse I’m using for reviewing two books in a row that depict a very bleak future for our world (the last being Super Sad True Love Story).

The narrator of Julia Karr’s XVI is Nina, a 15-year-old who’s dreading her next birthday. Why? Because when girls turn 16 they’re considered fair game for every man who wants to have a crack at them – whether it’s one guy in an alley, two guys on a bus or a pack of guys at a party, the girl has to go along with whatever the men want. And on their 16th birthday, the girls are forced to have their wrists tattooed to show their eligibility. They’re also trained to look forward to this “sexteen” experience. Nice, huh?

There’s more to this world – everyone’s implanted with a GPS tracker, there are Governing Council spies all over the shop, troublesome citizens are lobotomotised – but as a teen, Nina is most freaked out about the whole sex-slave thing… especially when she starts to – wooo! – actually like a boy, and realises sex mightn’t be as evil as she’s always thought. And then, even more especially, when it turns out her family has a big anti-government anti-sexteen secret that has her fearing for her life (dum dum DUM!).

I wanted to really love this book. I loved the premise, and Nina’s a cool chick. But, at the risk of showing my pedantry, there’s some shoddy editing. For one, a whole chapter has a heap of quotation marks that face in the wrong direction (eg, ”Hi“), or weird double marks (eg, “Hello, is anyone proofreading this thing?”“).

But worse than that is the occasionally questionable dialogue. Yes, it’s set in the future so there’s some odd slang (transport = “trannies”, every swear word = “shiv”), but teenagers will also apparently become a lot more selfish in the next 150 years. Case in point: at one stage, Nina thinks her pre-teen sister has been kidnapped by a man who will keep her as a sex slave, and Nina was making out with her boy interest when it occurred. So Nina cries:

“I don’t want this body. I don’t want it to feel so good when you kiss me, when you touch me. It’s not fair.”

That would totally be my first comment if my sister was stolen by a rapist, too.

Overall, though, I did enjoy XVI. This future world may be creepy – and I sure as hell wouldn’t want any of my future family members to live in it – but it’s pretty damn imaginative, and the teen love scenes are a bit swoony. AND I like the idea of driving a hover car, dammit.

Read it when you want to consider the future of sexual politics, or to remember what it felt like (or learn what it would have been like!) to fall in lurve at 15.

Super Sad True Love Story

5 Apr

Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart, 2010

When you walk into work, a board flashes your mental state to all your peers: “meek but cooperative”. You wear an apparat, a smartphone-like device on social media-overload that broadcasts your ‘HOTNESS’ and ‘F*CKABILITY’ ratings to everyone who owns an apparat (ie, everyone in the country). When shopping, credit poles scan your apparat to broadcast your credit rating to shop owners. Girls wear Onionskin jeans, which, given their name, are pretty much exactly what you’d imagine them to be.

This is the world Gary Shteyngart has created in Super Sad True Love Story – and if you haven’t got my point yet, it’s one crazy dystopian place. Set in the sometime-near-future in the US, when the dollar is pegged to the yuan as the government struggles to repay its international debt, it’s actually not so weird that you can’t imagine any of it happening. Which is really pretty alarming.

But, as the title implies, there’s more to this book than just a social media/possession-loving country in political crisis. It’s also about love. LOVE!

The plot follows Lenny Abramov and the object of his affection, Eunice Park. Lenny is a balding, overweight, somewhat-clueless guy; Eunice is a Korean-American 15 years his junior who scores 780/800 on the HOTNESS scale. Lenny’s hotness is 120/800. Ouch.

The chapters alternate between Lenny’s old-fashioned diary entries (he’s one of the few who still uses a pen and paper) and Eunice’s slang- and profanity-ridden apparat exchanges with her immigrant family and friends. Through their eyes, we learn how they got into this relationship in the first place, and what’s keeping them together as New York crumbles into a police state around them.

As a romance, Super Sad True Love Story is a solid story about lonely people making a connection. As a sci-fi depiction of what may lie ahead in our tech-obsessed world, it’s a damn good tale. In fact, I really love this book – I finished it months ago and still think about it at least twice a week (well, for one, the mental image of Onionskin jeans is pretty hard to get out of your head). I haven’t done it justice here – it’s hard to describe such an amazing story without messing it all up for you. Just read the damn thing, will you?

Read it when you want to read about love in this crazy world… or about a crazy world that still happens to have love in it.

[BONUS: For a ‘trailer’ about this book, featuring James Franco and some actual authors – and a dachshund! – check this out. Hint: it’s satirical.]

Benny and Shrimp

3 Feb

Benny and Shrimp by Katarina Mazeti (translated from Swedish)
Short Books, 2008

Benny and ShrimpBenny was hot, smart, and had his choice of girls in the village. Then his parents died, leaving him to work the family farm alone from pre-dawn to post-dusk. His life is a shambles: when he’s not milking his cows he divides his time stressing about becoming the local old bachelor and visiting his parents’ graves in town.

Desiree used to be married. Now a widow in her late thirties, she lives an orderly life, one punctuated by her “taking the occasional lover at bedtime to keep the system ticking over”. When she’s not working at the library or reading in her quiet apartment she’s sitting by her late husband’s grave.

So far, so meet-cute. Woo, meeting in a cemetery – wacky!

But this quirky little love story is so much more than that. Desiree (aka ‘Shrimp’ – long story) and Benny are such an adorable couple – all cute in-jokes and sexy, sexy moments – but we soon discover they’re doomed by their town/country mouse ways.

Or are they? Well, maybe. They take a while to decide – after all, what they have together is bringing her closer to quietening her biological clock in the most natural way possible, while he gets the companionship and warmth he really needs. Neither is so lonely anymore, and they really do have something special.

But in spite of their persistence in trying to get past their Odd Couple ways, the whole ‘real life’ thing gets in the way…

I really liked this book. Like, a lot. I raced to find out what happened to the likable duo. I enjoyed the way the story was told – the two characters took turns narrating the chapters, and each one had such a distinctive, realistic voice. I can’t say any more (are all my reviews going to contain that line? How do other reviewers do it?!), but here’s a hint: the ending was great.

Read it to believe in falling in love again, regardless of what happens next.