Han Kang–Human Acts

From the internationally bestselling author of The Vegetarian, a rare and astonishing (The Observer) portrait of political unrest and the universal struggle for justice.

In the midst of a violent student uprising in South Korea, a young boy named Dong-ho is shockingly killed.

The story of this tragic episode unfolds in a sequence of interconnected chapters as the victims and the bereaved encounter suppression, denial, and the echoing agony of the massacre. From Dong-ho’s best friend who meets his own fateful end; to an editor struggling against censorship; to a prisoner and a factory worker, each suffering from traumatic memories; and to Dong-ho’s own grief-stricken mother; and through their collective heartbreak and acts of hope is the tale of a brutalized people in search of a voice.

An award-winning, controversial bestseller, Human Acts is a timeless, pointillist portrait of an historic event with reverberations still being felt today, by turns tracing the harsh reality of oppression and the resounding, extraordinary poetry of humanity.

This book.

Deep Exhale.

This book is a ghost story. To read this book is to experience the mass casualty that overcomes a city in war. We see both sides–from the living and bereaved–trying to find closure in a city building overcome with overflowing death. We see, too, through the blind eyes of a trapped soul, panicking under the press of rot and gore, unable to release himself from the body that no longer lives.

And that is only the beginning.

This book is a ghost story–and there are so many ghosts. There are only 218 pages, but I could not read this for more than a few minutes at a time without putting my bookmark in and just breathing. I could not cry because I felt like every emotion I had was sucked right out of me.

I’m not sure how to describe this book–beautiful? amazing? great? All of those words could fit but mostly it just tore me to shreds. This short book is exhausting to read and in literature that is the exact opposite of a negative review. Just be prepared when you go into this. Han Kang does not need to waste 500 pages on dramatic world-building, she can do it in a whisper. You will be haunted by Human Acts. This book is a ghost story.

This book was provided by Blogging for Books and Hogarth for an unbiased review. This post contains affiliate links.

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Something Wicked This Way Comes

I’ve touted my love of horror on this blog before:  Stephen King, Joe Hill, Thomas Harris. I did not expect to find it when I picked up Ray Bradbury, but I sure did. Something Wicked This Way Comes is old school horror at it’s finest.

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Set in quiet, classic little town, Bradbury’s novel is creepy from the very beginning. We have two young best friends, with birthdays at midnight on Halloween. A storm is coming quick, so says the lightning rod salesman, got to prepare!

Except that storm isn’t thunder and lightening. It’s a circus that comes in the middle of the night–which made me want to don my black and scarlet. Unfortunately, this isn’t Morgenstern’s circus, but something much more sinister.

There is a lot of philosophy in Bradbury’s book–most of it surrounding the concept of Death. The moral of this story is all about how you live your life, saving each moment in time. Death is nothing, an idealistic myth we’ve created so we don’t have to think about now.

It was interesting to read this immediately after reading Blackford’s book, because they were so closely related. I unintentionally gave myself a course in mortality philosophy. Funny how that works out sometimes, huh? And now I’m going to go play a little more George RR Martin’s game.

Dirge Without Music

We have lost many a talented artist this year. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine a world without their creativity. Just this week, we have lost Mickey Rooney and John Pinette. And those are only the famous deaths that everyone knows. Somewhere out there, there are people grieving over losses that only a few know about. Beauty snuffed out. I read this poem the other day and it almost made me weep. Millay portrays grief so perfectly.

 

Dirge Without Music

 

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.

So it is, and so it will be, for it has been, time out of mind:

Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned

With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

 

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.

Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.

A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,

A formula, a phrase remains,–but the best is lost.

 

The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,–

They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled

Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.

More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

 

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave

Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;

Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.

I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

 

–Edna St. Vincent Millay, Completed Poems