Tag Archives: life

Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card; A Moral Dilemma

  • Title: Speaker for the Dead
  • Author: Orson Scott Card
  • # of Pages: 254

In the aftermath of his terrible war, Ender Wiggin disappeared, and a powerful voice arose: the Speaker for the Dead, who told of the true story of the Bugger War.7967

Now long years later, a second alien race has been discovered, but again the aliens’ ways are strange and frightening…again, humans die. And it is only the Speaker for the Dead, who is also Ender Wiggin the Xenocide, who has the courage to confront the mystery… and the truth.


I first read Ender’s Game in 2011. I was (almost) fifteen years old. It was brilliant. And when I closed the book I remember thinking to myself how completely and utterly pointless life is. That feeling was overwhelming, and the memory of it has stuck with me to this day.

Afterwards, it turned out that Orson Scott Card was homophobic. Not just homophobic, but very outspoken about it, and also on the board of directors of the anti-LGBT organization “National Organization for Marriage”. It was very strange to find out that someone who was able to write in a way that affected me so deeply, to truly reach out and touch my heart, was also someone whose personal views were so different from my own. I still find it hard to comprehend how a person whose stories reflect such a deep understanding of humanity and human beings is also a person who, in my opinion, has some serious blind spots.

I found myself grappling with the contradiction, wondering how it should affect my feelings and opinions about the book I loved so much. It’s the age-old question: are an artist’s personal views ever relevant? Should they affect our choices in which art we choose to consume and how? In 2013 I tried to give a fair answer (Reading Is Not Just A Habit But A Way of Life or That Time I Told You Why I Don’t Buy Orson Scott Card Books) so I’ll leave you with that, and with the fact that Card left NOM in 2013, and that when, in 2013, people called for a boycott of the Ender’s Game film, he said “With the recent Supreme Court ruling, the gay marriage issue becomes moot. Now it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute.” (source) A quote, by the way, that only further exposed his deep misunderstanding, but that’s for another time.

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Why We Write About Ourselves (edited) by Meredith Maran

  • Title: Why We Write About Ourselves: Twenty Memoirists on Why They Expose Themselves (and Others) in the Name of Literature
  • Editor: Meredith Maran
  • # of Pages: 254

For the many amateurs and professionals who write about themselves—bloggers, journal-keepers, aspiring essayists, and memoirists—this book offers inspiration, encWhy We Write About Ourselves: Twenty Memoirists on Why They Expose Themselves (and Others) in the Name of Literatureouragement, and pithy, practical advice. Twenty of America’s bestselling memoirists share their innermost thoughts and hard-earned tips with veteran author Meredith Maran, revealing what drives them to tell their personal stories, and the nuts and bolts of how they do it. Speaking frankly about issues ranging from turning oneself into an authentic, compelling character to exposing hard truths, these successful authors disclose what keeps them going, what gets in their way, and what they love most—and least—about writing about themselves.


I love memoirs. Short, long; old, young; essay style or full-fledged story; it doesn’t matter. I read memoirs by people I know and memoirs by people I’ve never heard of (and probably never will again). Sometimes I’m drawn by the story they tell, sometimes I just like their way of telling it. I’m fascinated by the ability to turn a personal experience into a universal one, an experience strangers, who have never met you, want to listen to, even feel a part of. We don’t always have to escape into fiction; sometimes plain old reality already has the brilliant characters and gripping plot. (And let’s all admit it, it’s always exciting to look up these people on Facebook afterwards and see all the characters commenting on photos in real life!)

The format here is simple: a chapter per person. There’s an introduction written by Maran, a quick summary of said person’s personal life and publishing history, and then a sort of freestyle, not exactly interview yet not exactly essay section written by the memoirists themselves. There are no leading questions which gives each one the opportunity to discuss whatever they want to, although most cover the basics: how I started, why I started, what the future holds for me. Every chapter ends with a “Wisdom for Memoir Writers”.

I picked up Why We Write About Ourselves in order to understand a bit more about the genre, about how those who write it do it, and why. I recognized a few of the twenty contributors, I’d actually read only a few. I wasn’t bothered much by that since, as I said, the “who” doesn’t matter to me. If someone has a good story, it’ll be good even without a proper background check and Wikipedia review. That theory definitely proved true.

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Year In Review: 2017

Hello, folks. Another year gone, time for new goals to fail and new resolutions to forget about. A clean slate. But first – a quick flashback.

This year I technically failed my reading goal. I actually stopped going onto Goodreads in order to avoid their constant “You are nine books behind!” shaming. I had to overcome a broken ankle, a crazy exam, but more importantly – really long books. Like, reeeeally long. In 2016 I read 24 books that totaled to about 9200 pages. In 2017 I read 16 (!!) books that totaled to about 8500 pages. That’s an average book length of 572 pages (because, as we all know, Goodreads doesn’t only like shaming, they also like providing you with very detailed statistics about everything you do). That’s a difference of eight books between the two years but only 700 pages. Allow me to be impressed. Sixteen is a new low for me, and one I hope to never sink down to again, but if you go for sixteen, at least do it with style, ya know?

So what did we have?

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Reading War & Peace #12.5: One Woman’s Journey to Healing a Broken Leg

* translation: Louise and Alymer Maude, WORDSWORTH EDITION (for page # references)

“Many people start to read War and Peace for the same reason as others climb Mount Everest: because it’s there.” – Johanna Trew

Two and a half years ago I started my way up the mountain. After four months I set up camp and sat down, refusing to get down but not trying to continue. Three months ago I quickly packed up my stuff, jogged my way back to base camp and then started my way back up. Two and a half months after that I finally settled down on the tip, slightly confused because of a certain second epilogue, but with a smile on my face and an immense feeling of pride. The kind that lasts for like a week straight, unwavering, painting the world a very attractive shade of pink. It was fabulous.

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Reading War & Peace #12: One Woman’s Journey to Healing a Broken Leg

* translation: Louise and Alymer Maude, WORDSWORTH EDITION (for page # references)

It’s a wrap, folks. I finished the book on Friday, and then it took me a couple of days to get over the shock. I’d technically been reading this book since 2015 because I’d never really admitted to myself that I had quit, so for the past two years I’ve had it shaming me through my “currently reading” Goodreads list. And now it’s over.

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Reading War & Peace #11: One Woman’s Journey to Healing a Broken Leg

* translation: Louise and Alymer Maude, WORDSWORTH EDITION (for page # references)

Two weeks ago I teased an Andrew tribute post and he died, so I refocused my energy on Kutuzov. And… now he’s dead. Leo? Are you there? Got yourself a little WordPress? Also, what’s with the Game of Thrones business going on? Prince Bolkonski x2, Helene, Kutuzov, Petya. I mean, there really were a bit too many characters, but is this the best way to go about solving that problem? Can people still die in an epilogue?

And yes, if you had a double-take at that last sentence – you read correctly! WE’RE DONE-ish. I read fifty pages today, which might not sound like much, but with this book and my level of laziness, it’s a record-shattering achievement. Now we only have the two epilogues left, which I recently read a very angry Goodreads review about, basically recommending to just slice off that bit and burn it, so that should be interesting.

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Reading War & Peace #10: One Woman’s Journey to Healing a Broken Leg

* translation: Louise and Alymer Maude, WORDSWORTH EDITION (for page # references)

I’m starting to think last week’s desire for a tribute post was not my best idea, because now Andrew is actually dead. Didn’t really mean for that to happen. I was actually rocking my invisible #Team Sonya shirt this week, the #team that promotes not dying so that you can marry your past lover and prevent her brother from marrying your sister. Or, in other words, Nicholas Rostov, five weeks ago you said “suppose I loved a girl who has no fortune, would you expect me to sacrifice my feelings and my honour for the sake of money?” [pg. 407] and now you’re all “Mary this, Mary that” and that was not the plan, young man.

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Reading War & Peace #9: One Woman’s Journey to Healing a Broken Leg

* translation: Louise and Alymer Maude, WORDSWORTH EDITION (for page # references)

I thought Prince Andrew Bolkonski was dead, but then it turns out he’s still alive. So much for the tribute post. Prince Nikolas Bolkonski is actually dead, but he doesn’t really deserve a tribute post so that’s no use either. If this were a different book, written in different times, maybe we would’ve gotten a special episode following Mary as she discovers herself and becomes an independent women who doesn’t need no man now, that her abusive father is dead, but it’s 1812 Russia and Moscow is burning so no has time for that.

In 2011, during Hurricane Irene, I was in New York. I got to experience something unheard of – empty Manhattan. It was unbelievable. Deserted. Silent. This past week, that memory took on a new form, with some fire and some French.

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Reading War & Peace #8: One Woman’s Journey to Healing a Broken Leg

* translation: Louise and Alymer Maude (for page # references)

War is a big thing where I live. It happens way too often (2014, 2012, 2008, 2006, to name a few) and involves way too many people we all personally know (since Israel has mandatory conscription: three years for men, two for women). The obsession with the Holocaust, and its occurrence being the main reason for founding a Jewish state, has formed a violent, angry, and quite terrified society, that lashes out at everyone and anything without distinction, room for constructive criticism or rational thought. The religious concept of “the chosen people” has not helped much either.

There’s a big agreement here that every war that takes place is necessary, framed by a phrase that would roughly translate into “no choice war”. It’s never a choice. It’s never our fault. I had a friend who once said to me, “the problem is that between one ‘no choice war’ and another, there’s never any attempt to prevent the next one.” Hopefully, one day, that will change. Hopefully, one day, people will realize that in the end everyone just wants to live their life, and that dying is not the only way to achieve that.

I will never know what Tolstoy thinks of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but this week, in between tales of the rich and the famous, and philosophical musings on individuality and human will, someone finally stopped to consider for a moment what this is all for.

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Reading War & Peace #7: One Woman’s Journey to Healing a Broken Leg

* translation: Louise and Alymer Maude (for page # references)

As Bon Jovi once said “OHHHHHHHH WE’RE HALF WAY THERE OH-OHH”. I admit I wasn’t around when Jon said it, but I have this feeling deep inside somewhere that he was talking about hitting page 541. Just a hunch.

“Better stand tall when they’re calling you out”, Emperor Alexander wrote, with slight rephrasing of my own, in his message to the Russian people. “Don’t bend, don’t break, baby, don’t back down”, they all shouted back. It’s 1812. Time for war. Except this time everyone seems to have switched places.

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