Author: parrarafael872

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

The Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz, 71/335 pages read.

This novel has several themes within it, such as, internal family problems, the pursuit of happiness in different forms, and the everlasting self-consciousness of people.

  1.   Internal family problems: The Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is partly comprised of internal family problems, the book has several paragraphs detailing how Oscar and his family struggle due to his mother having cancer and how it affects their daily lives, this leads to the point where his sister runs away because of the false promises his mother makes. The daughter and the mother are constantly fighting due to their family only having Oscar, the mother and Lola (the daughter), this doesn’t help Oscar very well because of his condition of being overweight which leads to the theme of self-conscious.
  2. Self-conscious: The book also implies the theme of being self-conscious, throughout the several pages that I have read, there is evidence that Oscar is self-conscious about his body and about his personal lifestyle of being a nerd. Its Oscar’s self-consciousness that prevents him from going outside and interacting with others, its also the reason keeps him from overcoming his weight problem. He constantly tries to overcome his self-consciousness of his body due to his family giving advice to him about his condition but in the end he cannot, because he is afraid to try.  It ties in with the book because it’s Oscar’s self-conscious that makes the pursuit of happiness very difficult.
  3. The pursuit of happiness: It’s also implied that there is the pursuit of happiness in the book, Oscar or other characters are constantly trying to find their happiness in the forms of having girlfriends/boyfriends, the risk of abuse within relationships or in other manners. The way this ties in with the book is that Oscar once had two girlfriends at the same time but ended with his bad luck with girls after he dumped one of his girlfriends and the latter dumping him. It’s this reason that Oscar is constantly trying to get a girlfriend but cannot, due to either his overweight or his limit of interaction with the outside world. There are several other themes within this book such as superstition but don’t have that much effect on the book just yet, but I would recommend this book to anyone interested in finding these themes within the book.
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“The Disappearing Spoon” Pt. 2

The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean, number of pages: 346, number of pages read: 346.

Some features that determine if a book is of literary merit is standing the test of time, the realistic characters, emotional complexity within the book, the originality of the concept of the book, and the concern with truth. The Disappearing Spoon may be a nonfiction book, but I wouldn’t consider that it has literary merit; the reason why, the book does have its original concept but its not enough to attract the entire population, although it does have realistic characters (even though its a nonfiction book) they have to have more “pizzazz” to them to keep the reader keep reading. Other reasons is that it needs some time to gain recognition from the general population and not just from one person, although it may not achieve the popularity from everyone there are certain parts in the book that may be recognized as being great. To sum it all up, the book could have needed a better foundation to at least make it gain some recognition and eventually a work of merit.

“To get around this problem, scientists invented the atomic number as a placeholder, which just underscored that no one knew what the atomic number actually meant.” (pg.100) This sentence fits into place with the story, the predicament is that scientists had a run in with cobalt (Co, 27) and with nickel (Ni, 28); the problem was that the weight of these elements had scientists wondering who would precede who, and so the atomic number was created but at the time no one knew what it meant until a fellow scientist figured it out. The syntax of this sentence is not really complicated, its more of a descriptive sentence of which people can understand what is going on; the author might have structured it this way so that the reader can understand the general idea that the sentence gives. On the other hand, the diction of this sentence is not bad either, the author has made the sentence easy to understand so that the reader doesn’t have to pull up a dictionary so that they can comprehend what it actually says; the sentence would have a good impact on the reader because it would make the reader realize that not every scientist knew about their discoveries and that time would pass until people would actually understand what it is. The sentence itself is good because it sometimes sums up what the book is mostly about: the discovery of the unknown and the pursue of the knowledge in chemistry.

 

“The Disappearing Spoon”

The Disappearing Spoon” is written by Sam Kean, the book is 391 pages but really ends at page 346 because past p. 346 are the acknowledgements and notes that explain more in detail about some topics within the book, however I have yet to finish the book due to my location at page 271.

As we all know, I am a fan of fiction and most often write about it in this blog, well I decided to give this book a try knowing that it’s not fiction at all. “The Disappearing Spoon” talks about chemistry (*gasp*), I never thought that I would be reading a book about chemistry but it turned out to be interesting. The author writes about the periodic table and how it influenced some parts of history, since the creation of the periodic table up until now in the twentieth-first century. Reading this book taught me some things, such as why Gandhi hated iodine (I, 53) or why scientists go to gallium (Ga, 31) for pranks. But seriously, the author did put some effort in writing this book (since he was able to research most of the information due to his master’s degree in library science), the amount of facts found in this book is astounding, each topic leads to others but eventually comes back to the original subject. The reason Sam Kean wrote this book is that there “were great stories out there about elements that” people “never got to talk about in chemistry class. “There were hidden and lost stories out there about elements like gold and aluminium (aluminum, the naming situation is complicated) that everyone thinks they know so well.”

The book is still going to be relevant in several hundred years because, its about the periodic table, and as we all know, new elements could be found which could mess up the sequencing of the periodic table again and again; elements could have interesting stories behind them and no one would know, this the reason why “The Disappearing Spoon” was written, to show us that some elements have cool or tragic stories behind them. On the other hand, discoveries of new elements in the near future could create more content for books about the periodic table that could be written in the near future. Chemistry may be changing but the periodic table may be the one changing the most in the near future.

 

I Am Number Four

Book Info: I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore, 440 pages, book finished

I didn’t get to finish reading Fast Food Nation because it just kept driving me crazy with the amount of facts and unnecessary paragraphs, so I decided to read I Am Number Four because it was the only book that I could read within the limited time (1 day to be exact) and once again I was able to finish the book. Now a letter to the author.

Dear Pitticus Lore,

I understand that this is a name used for publishing also known as a pseudonym, however I am not going into detail about who you are, I would like to say that this book was quite fun to read, it left a feeling of wanting more. On the other hand there were some parts to understand but these error could be easily fixed but that would somewhat affect the amount of books that are already published, don’t worry about it, there are a lot of comments I could say about the book itself and the style it is written, of which I would give but cannot due the amount of comments that I have. In the meanwhile, let me talk about my comments about the book.

The style of the book is very amazing, the style is very casual with a little hint of seriousness in some parts of the book, the style ties the entire book together, the way in which you describe how the main character, John Smith (or Four), uses his Legacies to protect and save those around him was magnificent. Although I do have a question, was it necessary for Sam to come to the conclusion that he needed to kill John and eventually saying that the gun didn’t have any bullets at the end of the scene? That kinda left a sense of dread because if John were to be killed, then the Mogadorians would be able to go after Five, but it was just the style that left that sense of dread. This also leads me to another thing, the plot of the story was perfectly sequenced in the beginning with the death of Three and eventually the encounter with Six and the massive cliffhanger at the end of the book. The plot had points in which something would lead to another such as John’s eventual resistance to heat leading him to save Sarah Hart from a burning house, this is an example of how the story just kept leading to more problems or solutions depending on the scene.

The book itself was amazing, I cannot wait to read more books of the Lorien Legacies series, I hope that my letter helped you understand that there are some ups and downs within the book but the main focus is the quality of the book. I hope that you keep writing more books in the series and that you have my support.

Your fast reader,

Rafael

 

 

The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser is a somewhat fascinating and appalling book, the author tells certain facts about the rise of fast food and the components that support these mischievous companies and how each company such as McDonald’s tries to outsource its competitors by advertising and by false hopes.  The great thing about this book is that there are quite the number of fascinating and sometimes weird facts about the companies that run these fast food chains and how they manage to make profits and sacrifice little to achieve it. However, there is a downside, the amount of facts present in the book, my mind tries to process what is going on while trying to figure out how it shaped today’s fast food chains, and another thing, the author talks about processing  plants in Iowa and ends up talking about ranchers who end up in debt and often give up; seriously, someone needs to slap this author on the head and show some sense into him (no offense Eric Schlosser, I don’t mean it).

Meanwhile the book does have its ups and downs, but there are some amazing facts (not this specific one) such as carmine, which is made out of the “dessicated bodies of female Dactlyopius coccus Costa, a small insect harvested mainly in Peru and the Canary Islands.” This “bug feeds on red cactus berries and color from the berries accumulated in the females and their unhatched larvae. The insects are collected, dried, and ground into pigment. It takes about 70,000 of them to produce one pound of carmine, which is used to make processed food look pink, red, or purple.” Think about it, the yogurt that people eat contain ground up bugs…that is appalling,  but what’s the risk? There is none. On the other hand, there are certain hilarious facts (if you take out the dying part) such as the “slayings of three teenage workers and a female manager at a Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurant.” Anyone want to guess where this happened? The same place where there was a massacre of people in a movie theater, that’s right folks, Aurora, Colorado.

I could go on and on saying certain facts about fast food and how it impacts our lives daily, but I’ll leave that up to the reader, I “would” recommend this book to anyone who has the guts to read a nonfiction book about fast food, and that each topic leads to another one and another one, etc, etc…. However, there is something that someone can learn from this book, but it takes a lot of courage to go through a series of unrelated topics. I’ll end it here but there is a question I would like to ask to the reader, is there a dark side of the all american meal?

“Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out”

The novel that I read was “Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out” by Mo Yan. The entire premise of the story revolves around a landlord called Ximen Nao who is punished by the king of the underworld, Lord Yama, to be sent back into the realm of humans but not as a man, but instead as an animal beginning as a donkey, then an ox, a pig, a dog, a monkey and finally a large headed boy. However, there is a time when someone’s life (or animal in this case) has to end; when Ximen Nao dies he sheds his old animal body and is reincarnated into a different animal with the exception of being born as a large headed boy at the end of his reincarnation cycle. Along side the narrator, Lan Qiansui, there is a second narrator called Lan Jiefang who is the son of Lan Lian, the last independent farmer in China and was Ximen Nao’s farmhand before he died. Overall the book was hilarious, heartbreaking, and serious in some scenes but the only bad thing was the amount of “interesting” language in this book, however that did not stop me from reading this novel. On page 248 there is a scene that made me crack up because Mo Yan’s family make fun of his talents and annoyance, “Mom,” his sister often asked their mother, “is he really your son? Couldn’t Father have found him abandoned in a mulberry grove when he was out collecting dung?”

Since the novel has 2 protagonists I will mostly describe Ximen Nao because after his death as each animal a new part begins that describes his new life in the reincarnation cycle.  The author characterizes Ximen Nao as an arrogant animal in some parts or a kind obedient (mostly obedient) animal that listens to his master unless something bad happens to Ximen Nao or his previous human family. An example is “If that bothers you, then let’s see what my donkey has to say.” He let go of my reins and said, “Sic him, Blackie!” (p.72) This shows Ximen Nao as Ximen Donkey following Lan Lian’s orders to attack someone else meanwhile he doesn’t hesitate to do so. Another example of his obedience is on page 407 when he is a dog, “Little Four, listen carefully…At six thirty get Kaifang up. At seven thirty, after you’ve had breakfast, start out for school.” This shows that no matter what reincarnation Ximen Nao is in, he is still obedient to his master and will follow their directions because he still retains his human emotions and memories in his animal form.

The novel has no central conflict as it is set in Mao Zedong’s communist China, but I would say that the conflict is that Ximen Nao is proving his innocence but Lord Yama is not allowing him to return as a man due to the hatred feelings in his heart, but instead returning him as part of the animal kingdom. This gives Ximen Nao a reason to rid his heart of hatred feelings and see the results and aftereffects of his death. An example would be on page 510, “My hatred is gone, Great Lord!” “No, I can see in your eyes that traces of it remain so I will send you back once more as a member of the animal kingdom. This time, however, you will be reborn into a higher species, one closer to man, a monkey, if you must know, and only for a short time – two years.” The reason behind all this reincarnation cycle is to teach Ximen Nao a lesson, and if he were to complete his task then he would be able to reborn into the realm of man. Eventually Ximen Nao dies as the monkey and eventually is reborn into the realm of man, however, I will not spoil who is he really is and leave that part up to the reader.

Short Story – “Lifeguard”

1. Examine the diction used in the story, and write a well-developed paragraph about the diction.  Discuss specific words from throughout the story: why did the author choose these specific words rather than other, similar words?   What do these words connote that other words might not?  How does the author’s diction enhance the story and contribute to the tone of the story?  Be sure to use text evidence (quotes!) to support your analysis.

The diction in this short story is quite interesting, the author uses synonyms of the words that we know and cherish, however, some words were quite interesting thus forcing me to use a dictionary to look up each of these words, putting that aside lets now get to the fun part. Some of the words in this short story were quite interesting such as, hirsute, miasmic, chiaroscuro, unguents, antimacassar, and platitudinous but I will not necessarily cover all these words. Hirsute is a word that I did not expect to see in a short story, the author placed this word in a good spot, “My slightly narrow and gingerly hirsute but not necessarily unmanly chest becomes brown.” By using this word, the author shows us the image of a human with a somewhat shaggy “but not necessarily unmanly chest,” this word is an excellent choice because it doesn’t necessarily say “oh he has a hairy but not unmanly chest,” the author’s use of this word is good because it sounds more formal that saying that its hairy. Platitudinous is another word that somewhat caught me off-guard because I did not expect the author to place it before a word that does not deserve to be dull, “our most obvious possession, our most platitudinous blessing,” the author here is saying that to some people a blessing can mean nothing or that it’s just dull. Unguents is another word that is really one those words where only the most educated know, “true, a red cross, signifying bandages, splints, spirits of ammonia, and sunburn unguents.” At first when I read this part I was asking myself what “unguent” meant but as I looked it up on a dictionary, it literally meant a type of ointment or salve for wounds or sores, the author here made a good word choice because one might not expect unguent to replace the word sunscreen. This short story has excellent diction because the way the narrator is using these words gives the story a more formal style and mood.

2. Examine the punctuation and syntax (sentence structure) used in the story.  Choose a few (3-5) sentences with interesting punctuation and/or structure, and write a well-developed paragraph analyzing the usage and effect of the punctuation. Be sure to use text evidence (quotes!) to support your analysis.

The punctuation and syntax in this short story are quite interesting, such as the following sentence, ” Swimming offers a parable. We struggle and thrash, and drown; we succumb, even in despair, and float, and are saved.” This sentence is the quite an interesting one, due to the semicolon the sentence describes the before and after of being in the water, one that does not swim thrashes and struggles which leads to drowning, however, there is the part where the person succumbs in despair but saved at the last moment. The punctuation here is good because it joins together the two sentences that the narrator would’ve said had it not been for that semicolon. Another example of an interesting sentence would be, ” Young as I am, I can hear myself the protein acids ticking; I wake at odd hours and in the shuddering darkness and silence feel my death rushing towards me like an express train.” The author’s use of punctuation here is good but it could’ve used more to give more suspense, but the use of punctuation here is enough because the narrator does not pause between “…silence feel my death…” and that gives an extra feeling of death being closer than one might expect. This story has many good sentences of which I will show such as, “Is it maiden, matron, or crone that the females will be eternalized? What will they do without children to watch and gossip to exchange? What of the thousand deaths of memory and bodily change we endure – can each be redeemed at a final Adjustments Counter?” This sentence is another one the interesting ones, usually by the fact that the narrator is asking himself these questions about these young women that he sees earlier in the story, the punctuation here is very good because he is just asking himself these questions and ends with wondering if each woman can be saved. Overall the punctuation used in this short story is good though it could’ve been more interesting if there was more use of punctuation although the syntax of each sentence is fine, if this short story had more use of punctuation then it would’ve been even better.