quarta-feira, 21 de setembro de 2011

Memoirs of a Gueixa

A student of mine once showed me a list of "50 books you should read before you die" and this book (Memories of a Geisha) was one of them. I had already watched the movie before (and LOVED it by the way) but was still apprehensive about how it would be; but after reading this book I declare: EVERYONE should read this book before they die. It's certainly a classic. The writer knows how to enter to the depths of your soul and make your imagination soar as he goes on describing the scenery, the characters, food, traditions, places and especially each person's inner feelings. 
Memories of a Geisha is the story of a little girl named Chiyo that is sold as a geisha to an okiya thanks to her unusual attractive grey eyes, while her older sister is sold to a prostitution house in the suburbs. Little Chiyo tries to escape with her sister to go back to her hometown but her plan fails and she soon finds out that her sister fled without her. Not long after she receives the news that both her parents died. Not having now anything to look back to she sets her hopes on becoming a beautiful geisha. The most touching part of the whole story is when she is yet a little girl and is found crying by a rich and prominent Japanese man called "The Chairman". He feels touched and gives her some money to buy ice-cream and tells her kind words. Through this simple act of kindness her whole outlook on life changes and she prays that she may one day in the future she may become a geisha. Throughout the whole story Sayuri (Chiyo's geisha name) concentrates all her hopes and wishes to win the love and affection of The Chairman. 
It's a beautiful love story which shows the hidden history of what so many women went through. As you read through the book you see how big and powerful love is and what people do if even for just a little token of it. Your heart goes out to Sayuri and your emotions become involved with all the characters of this enthralling story - it's a pity that it isn't a true story - even though the writer did interview one of the most famous geisha's in Gion for three whole days so I am sure the anguish, hard life, pent up emotions and longing to sincerely love someone out of your own choice are all true. 

Wikipedia on "Memoirs of a Geisha":

The novel begins with an introductory note by the fictional translator, a New York University professor named Jakob Haarhuis, who is the fictional author of the novel and has interviewed the retired geisha Nitta Sayuri. She narrates in a flashback format with continuous references to the time between her career and the present.
Born Sakamoto Chiyo into the poverty-stricken fishing village of Yoroido on the coast of the Sea of Japan, she is sold into an okiya (a geisha boarding house) inGion, the most prominent hanamachi (geisha district) in Kyoto when she is nine years old. Her mother is dying of what she suspects is bone cancer, and her father is very old and also believes death is coming. To Chiyo's dismay, her older sister Satsu is not sold into the Nitta okiya with her. Determined to run away, Chiyo remains in the okiya to begin training as a geisha, along with another young girl her age living in the same okiya, whom she (and everyone else) has nicknamed Pumpkin. The okiya is run by three women: the elderly and grumbling Granny, the money-obsessed Mother, the okiya's mistress, and Auntie, a failed geisha who trained alongside Mother as her "sister" and the only one of the three who is generally nice to Chiyo. It also houses just one geisha, the malicious Hatsumomo, who is also one of the most popular in Gion. Everyone is willing to overlook her cruelty (in particular towards Chiyo) because she serves as breadwinner for them, and Hatsumomo even uses Chiyo to her personal benefit, at one time blackmailing her by withholding her sister Satsu's whereabouts. She makes Chiyo swear her loyalty to her, letting her take the blame for a ruined kimono and even accusing her of stealing a brooch. These add to Chiyo's debts considerably, on top of the fees paid for her acceptance into the okiya, her lessons and food among others. This only strengthens Chiyo's desire to leave, and she manages to find her sister, who has been sold as a prostitute and is also desperate to run away. Days before her escape, however, Mother learns (from Chiyo) that Hatsumomo has been hosting a boyfriend in the okiya for some time now – something that is forbidden among geisha – and the okiya doors are locked at night as a consequence. Chiyo decides to escape via the roof, but fails and ends up breaking her arm, as well as immediately ceasing to be a geisha-in-training for dishonoring her okiya, reduced to being a maid.
A few years after this, Chiyo, crying in the street, is noticed by a man whom she immediately never forgets, giving her his handkerchief and money to buy shave ice. Despite the change being enough to facilitate her escape once and for all, she donates it to the Gion Shrine, praying to become a geisha in the hopes of seeing him again. Several years pass and Pumpkin becomes a geisha on her own under Hatsumomo's tutelage, while Chiyo remains a maid. However, she is unexpectedly taken in as a protégé by Mameha, the owner of the kimono Hatsumomo previously made Chiyo ruin and one of the very top geisha in all of Japan. Mameha persuades Mother to reinvest into Chiyo's training, and Chiyo becomes the geisha Sayuri, with Mameha as her "older sister" (mentor).
After she embarrasses Hatsumomo in a joke during an informal party, the latter uses her influence to sabotage Sayuri by spreading rumors and trailing her and Mameha from party to party. Mameha insists that she must create a plan to keep Hatsumomo out forever lest Sayuri's career ultimately die, and so arranges for her mizuage (portrayed as a deflowering "ceremony" for maiko as a step to becoming full-fledged geisha) to be bidden upon by several influential men, namely Nobu Toshikazu, the president of the Iwamura Eletric Company in the novel; and reputed mizuage specialist "Dr. Crab", dubbed so by Sayuri due to his appearance. From Sayuri's point of view, the Chairman does not recognize her, but treats her with kindness; and as he is Nobu's business partner with a relationship known across the country, he would never bid against him for her mizuage. Unfortunately, Hatsumomo somehow learns that Mameha has something going on (although Sayuri herself is still unaware at this point of the plan), and ruins the image Dr. Crab has of her. It takes some amount of convincing from Mameha and Sayuri's combined efforts to enlighten Dr. Crab on this matter. Ultimately, he wins the bid for Sayuri's mizuage, paying a record sum that is enough to more than repay all of Sayuri's debts to Mother. This leads the latter, who had already been considering adopting Pumpkin as her heiress, to adopt Sayuri instead, ultimately destroying the two girls' friendship – Pumpkin was looking forward to the adoption so that she could have some kind of security in her old age. Hatsumomo, on the other hand, starts to spiral downward, now that she is no longer in favor, and is eventually thrown out of the okiya.
Nobu, on the other hand, bids to become Sayuri's danna (principal patron with a role akin to a husband), but loses to an army general. This, Mother believes, is because of the current political climate – Japan is on the brink of entering World War II. When the war breaks out, Sayuri is evacuated to another city to work in the factories. This is as good as a death sentence, as the factories require hard labor and are targets for bombs. Also, subsequently, the General is demoted and is unable to use any influence to send Sayuri to a safer spot. However, help unexpectedly arrives in the form of Nobu, who sends her far north to a kimono maker. Nonetheless, Sayuri and those close to her must endure a life of hard labor during the war that follows. After the end of the war, Nobu visits Sayuri and asks that she return to Gion, whose doors have opened again, to help entertain the new Deputy Minister Sato, whose aid can be instrumental in saving Iwamura Electric, the company the Chairman founded and Nobu runs, which was all but destroyed during the war.
Sayuri, Mameha and Pumpkin entertain the Minister together regularly. Some time after, Nobu formally begins proposals to become Sayuri's danna, leaving her in despair because this would mean the end of any hopes to a relationship with the Chairman. On a weekend trip to the Amami Islands with Iwamura Electric, Sayuri devises a plan to humiliate herself with the Minister in front of Nobu, who, she is sure, will never forgive her for being with the Minister (whom Nobu despises despite his need of help from him). She arranges for Pumpkin to bring Nobu to a place where he will "stumble" upon Sayuri and the Minister making love. However, Pumpkin still harbors resentment towards Sayuri's adoption, and knows she is fond of the Chairman. She brings the Chairman to the theater instead of Nobu. Humiliated, Sayuri believes that her dream of being with the Chairman is lost forever, but afterwards, she receives a call to meet with Iwamura Electric. She is saddened as she anticipates meeting Nobu and discussing his patronage, but is surprised when the Chairman shows up rather than Nobu. Sayuri reveals that her acts in Amami were for personal reasons. The Chairman, in turn, expands on his feelings of debt toward and friendship with Nobu, and how he was not able to take away the woman his friend showed so much interest in. When he learned through Pumpkin that Sayuri's intention was for Nobu to see her with the Minister, he decided to tell Nobu what he had seen. The latter refuses to ever see Sayuri again, therefore freeing the Chairman to advance. She and the Chairman kiss, Sayuri's first kiss of true love.
The story ends with Sayuri recounting her subsequent life with the Chairman as her danna, and her eventual retirement as a geisha. She never freely admits that she has a son with the Chairman, but speaks of moving to New York City in order to avoid complications regarding inheritance of Iwamura Electric. The story concludes with a reflection on her life in New York and the important people in her life.

[edit]References to actual locations

Much of the novel is set in the popular geisha district of Gion in Kyoto, and contains references to actual places frequented by geisha and their patrons, such as the Ichiriki Ochaya. Part of the story is also set in the Amami Islands, and Sayuri narrates the story from her suite in the Waldorf towers in New York City.


After the Japanese edition of the novel was published, Arthur Golden was sued for breach of contract and defamation of character by Mineko Iwasaki, a retired geisha he had interviewed for background information while writing the novel. The plaintiff asserted that Golden had agreed to protect her anonymity, due to the traditional code of silence about their clients, if she told him about her life as a geisha. However, Golden listed Iwasaki as a source in his acknowledgments for the novel, causing her to face a serious backlash, to the point of death threats.[1] In his behalf, Arthur Golden countered that he had tapes of his conversations with Iwasaki.[2] Eventually, in 2003, Golden's publisher settled with Iwasaki out of court for an undisclosed sum of money.
Iwasaki later went on to write her own autobiography, which shows a very different picture of twentieth-century geisha life than the one shown in Golden's novel. The book was published as Geisha, a Life in the U.S. and Geisha of Gion in the U.K.

quinta-feira, 15 de setembro de 2011

Hitch Girl - La Baronne

As a student of mine put it: "Self-help books only help one person and that person is the author because of all the money he makes out of it!" I wouldn't say I totally agree with my student as I have read many self-help books and quite a few helped me a great bunch in many instances of my life though I also can't attest that every self-help book worked wonders. 
Nevertheless as I was reading this book the above phrase my student once told me popped into my mind and I must say that when it comes to this book my student was completely correct!
To start off "La Baronne" is highly self-centered and instead of actually helping you out, giving you concrete tips, stating what and what not to do and making you get somewhere all she does is either tell you how you should loose weight, go shopping and get totally in dept (because that will be just the secret to help you feel better and make your self-esteem soar! righhtttttttt...!!!) and pour all your time and energy into your body and looks to make everyone around you feel terribly jealous. 
After getting the "importance of being a hot blond with perfect boobs and a bouncing ass" mentality into your head she then goes on to step 2. Well I don't know really what step she wants you to take but she personally goes on and on describing the horrible, monstrous, fake, deceptive, false, mean, rough, bastards men are and how great she is in making them go after her and then "breaking their hearts". When you think the book can't get any worse La Baronne then goes on to describe the PERFECT man....and she actually does a real good job on this one but sadly forgets to mention at the end of a long, never ending chapter that this PERFECT man doesn't even exist - opps!!! And even if he did...where really are her tips and solutions for making this man fall head over heels for you??? Ohhh...she forgot that part as well. 
Honestly I don't know what made her sell so many books as not even her style of writing is all that great - okay fine, she can get some laughs out of you when describing how men are assholes - but other than that not only is the book completely lame but it also leaves you with a feeling of frustration becasuse you know that you will never be able to have the perfect body or ever afford the Jimmy Choo shoes she claims is a "must have" to find the perfect man; not to say that since all men are deceiving jerks then what's the use, right?! 
My advice: Darling, don't waste your time! Dump this book inside the nearest wastebasket and then run to the nearest book and buy Marie Forleo or Sherry Argov's latest book!!!

I saw a lot of retarded book reviews all glorifying this book but the only one which I felt did this book justice is the one I am adding below (unfortunately it's in Portuguese. Sorry!): 

Deparei-me com este livro casualmente, nas Lojas Americanas. Nunca havia ouvido falar dele ou da autora. Como gosto de obras que tratam sobre relacionamentos e fiquei atraída pela sinopse, resolvi adquirir e, claro, ler.

Inicialmente, o título em Português engana bastanta. Basta olhar a contracapa do livro para se ter uma idéia do que ele realmente trata (ou deveria tratar). Conforme o texto da contracapa, a escritora ensinaria seus segredos, com técnicas tendentes a tornar qualquer mulher capaz de revolucionar seus relacionamentos, transformando-a, por meio da adoção de atitudes positivas e felizes, em alguém muito interessante e, consequentemente, realizada.

Tal objetivo, como tudo o que representa esta obra, é um engodo. A autora vai para os "fins" sem indicar os "meios". Ela não expõe claramente qualquer técnica e nem lança uma análise ao menos profunda o suficiente sobre o comportamento de homens e mulheres nas conquistas e relacionamentos. Tudo o que é de bom no livro poderia ser resumido a umas 15 páginas.

Na maior parte do tempo, "La Baronne" se ocupa a enaltecer sua pessoa, mostrando-se como uma salvadora de mulheres, enorme conquistadora, riquíssima e usuária das grandes grifes. Ah, as grifes... quanta menção desnecessária! A autora ou uma cliente ou a leitora é sempre visualizada usando vestido da marca X, sapato Y, bolsa W, etc. Chega a ser pedante e irritante! Para quem essa mulher escreve? Para as grã-finas? Só esse tipo de pessoa mereceria seus "preciosíssimos" conselhos e deveria mudar de atitude? Só a ricaça deve ser feliz? Ah, faça-me o favor...

Em um dado momento do livro (para mim, o mais "pérola" de todos) a escritora, como parte do programa de mudanças, propõe que a leitora se lance a um bom dia de compras. Transcrevo o texto com todas as suas "sublimes" lições: "Pensar em dias de compras, inevitavelmente, é pensar em dias para se revigorar e ter orgasmos. Idéias que gostamos de associar, e não é por menos, pois nesses dias você pode encontrar o seu eu, demonstrar seus talentos, sonhar, viajar, se estimular e se gabar pensando que outras mulheres estão presas em um escritório, submetidas às críticas do chefe, enquanto você... Ah, Você está no reino da felicidade, deleitando-se com alegria e mais alegria, provando roupas e prevendo os olhares que elas atrairão para você e seu sucesso garantido! Nesses dias, é você e só você, ou melhor, é você e seus cartões de crédito (ou talão de cheques, se os seus cartões de crédito forem cancelados por causa do limite estourado - coisa que acontece bastante com muitas de nós). Você e seus desejos realizados; você e as peças hit da estação: sandálias Jimmy Choo, sapatos Manolo Blahnik, bolsas Gucci, tailleurs, jeans, saias, lingeries finas e 'incidentalmente' acessórios...".

Ou seja, pobre da mulher que precisa trabalhar e não tem essa grana toda! Aliás, economia e bom uso do dinheiro parecem passar longe!

Enfim, para a resenha não ficar mais longa, trata-se, na minha opinião, de um emaranhado de futilidade e auto-promoção. Dei duas estrelas por causa das pouquinhas sacadas boas e também porque a leitura é dinâmica. Mas, não recomendo.

segunda-feira, 5 de setembro de 2011

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days

Okay so here is the truth of what I did on a very stressing and sad day: ran to the bookstore in the shopping mall and plopped myself down on a chair, "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" in my hand and a lot of onlookers staring at me as I cracked up until I was holding onto my sides.
Jeff Kinney is a total genius in writing down the thoughts, feelings, ideas, quirks and all the crazy imaginations of a young boy reaching puberty. No wonder he made so much success: He knows just how to make you connect and sympathize with poor Rodrick and at the same time make you remember your own retarded childhood memories and experiences.
I don't know if I would reccomend parents to let their children to read this book though because it puts a somewhat negative light on some values and character building stones that are very high in my conception and which I wouldn't want my kids to have second thoughts on. Some examples: watching horror movies is "cool", getting away with not having to pay for anything but just counting on mommy or daddy to fork in the money, his absurd compulsion for staying indoors all day playing video games and watching movies, not having a close connection or rapport with his father (and not wanting to as well), etc. Yet I loved the part that he gets into the "lifesaver girl" and has his platonic love affair - I just couldn't control my laughter!!! So in the end you see, since I am not yet a mother I won't bother myself worrying about it but will instead run to the bookstore, grab another "Wimpy Kid" volume and watch the whole store puzzle themselves watching me laugh my stress away!!!

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days is a realistic fiction novel written by American author and cartoonist Jeff Kinney, the fourth book in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series [1] It was released on October 12, 2009 in the USA and October 13, 2009 in Canada. The book continues right after the previous book, The Last Straw, and is about Greg's summer vaction. A film of the same name is currently in production and will be relesed in August 3, 2012


The book opens describing Greg's worst summer ever beginning with Greg Heffley and Rowley Jefferson going to Rowley's country club after school closes for the summer, but Greg is kicked out because he complained of even the smallest predicaments. Then the beach trip that he was looking forward to is canceled because the Heffleys don't have any money; the Heffleys resort to going to the town pool, which Greg dislikes because of its open showers showing large, hairy men.
Later, Greg and Rowley have a sleepover together, and watch a horror movie taken from Rodrick's room. After the movie, Greg and Rowley soon became paranoid on account of a muddy hand that might kill them, which was in the movie. Soon, Susan starts a reading club in which Greg is the only participant after two days, because she found out about Greg watching the horror movie. The reading program, however, is put to a stop when Mr. Jefferson arrives with a huge bill that Greg and Rowley spent on fruit smoothies at the country club, and he forces Greg and Rowley to pay it off.
Greg and Rowley decide to do a lawn care service to pay the debt, but they can only make one flyer after Mr. Jefferson told them they cannot use his computer. Their first customer is Mrs. Canfield, who lives on Greg's grandmother's street. Unfortunately, the job ended as a fiasco when the boys never used a lawn mower before. When Greg tells Rowley he has to do most of the work while Greg counts the money, that made Rowley annoyed and he quits. Greg mows Mrs. Canfield's lawn by himself, but she refuses to pay him because he didn't mow all of her lawn. The money is paid off, however, when Susan convenstates Greg's money earned at his birthday
The Jeffersons later invite Greg to go to the beach with them, which is where Greg had wanted to go, but he realizes it wasn't what he expected, where he begins to have a breakdown from no electronics, almost got jumped by teenagers he pulled a prank on, and especially the Cranium Shaker, a ride Greg really wanted to go on, however it makes him sick. The first night Rowley and Greg both refuse to sleep on the nasty floor, so Greg tries to sleep under Rowley. Greg tries to entertain himself, but he is sent home after he snaps a rubber band at Rowley.
Susan later tries to get Greg's dad and Greg together, but both of them realize that they should keep their distance. She even got them tickets for a baseball game, but Greg thought Frank was trying to get rid of him for the incident that happened earlier, and calls the police on him using his Ladybug, (A birthday gift that Greg got earlier) only embarrassed to discover the truth, Sweetie (The Heffley Dog Frank brought earlier in the book) is to be given to Greg's grandmother for company after her old dog Henry died. To get out of the game they gave the two cops their tickets. However, they both hate much of the same things, such as a comic named Li’l Cutie, where the writer has retired and passed it on to his son and has made the comic even worse. The book ends with Greg looking in Susan's album, titled "Best Summer Ever", which is an inaccurate record of Greg's summer, but he says that the person who takes the pictures is the one who gets to tell the story.



Dog Days is the fourth book in a six book franchise. The first book, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, was released April 1, 2007 has sold in its top 150, peaking at number 8, for 141 weeks as of April 4, 2010. The sequel, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules was released February 1, 2008, and has been on the list for 117 weeks (peaking at number 4). Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw was released January 13, 2009, has been on the list for 65 weeks (peaking at number 1). Dog Day's sequel, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth was released November 9, 2010. The upcoming sixth book, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever will be released November 15, 2011.

[edit]Major Themes


Some parts of the book, show details in Greg's disfriendship with Rowley.[2] A plot point in Dog Days is when Greg and Rowley go to a video game tournament, and Greg decides to play a trick on Rowley, by crawling his choclate - covered hand inside the tent they set up. Rowley, however, grabs a mallet and smashes Greg's hand, because he thinks it's the Muddy Hand. When Greg and Rowley do a challenge for the tournament, Greg loses because of his smashed up hand. Greg is so mad, he stops being friends with Rowley, and this serves as a major plot point in the following book, The Ugly Truth.[3]

[edit]Family Togetherness

Family Toegtherness is what Susan, Greg's mom and the main antagonist, looks positivley into, however Greg looks negativley into it. Susan's "highlight" for the summer, was the family going to Slipside Water Park, however, Greg and Rodrick have bad memories of the place. While, they're there, Slipside Water Park closes due to it starting to rain. Greg does agree once, however, but only to meet Heather Hills, a girl he has a tiny crush on.

[edit]Pet Care

In the book, the Heffley family is shown taking care of pets. Greg and Rodrick buy fish, and Manny buys fish food (Greg thought Manny wanted to feed the fish, but Manny ended up eating the fish food instead). Rodrick never cleaned his fish's bowl, and Rdorick's fish was feeding on the agale growing on the bowl. After the family came back from Slipside Water Park, Greg finds his fish gone. Susan dumped Rodrick's fish in Greg's bowl before they left. And by the time they came back, Rodrick had eaten Greg's fish.
Frank buys a dog after going to Leisure Towers for Fathers Day, because Grandpa told him the story of how their dog, Nutty, got ran over by Grandpa on accident. Then, Frank drove away, and by the time the rest of the family went home, a dog was there. They decide to name the dog at dinner. Greg wanted names like, "Shredder" or "Ripjaw", but Susan declinded, saying they where too violent. Manny wanted animal names, like "Zebra" saying, "Zeeb for short". Rodrick agrees, and wanted to name the dog "Turtle", saying "Turd for short". Susan finally decides on the name "Sweetie Pie" or "Sweetie for short" even though Sweetie was male, not female, acordding to Greg. However Frank is constantly trying to get the dog's attention, after a while, but dosen't like him. He is fond of Susan and Rowley. He is also ruining Greg's life. While Greg was drawing a comic strip to replace Lil' Cutie, acordding to an ad shown earlier in the book, but Sweetie was constantly snoring. He also snores on Greg's bed, leading to one point where Sweetie uses Greg's face as a launching pad while getting up, leading to Greg chasing him, because Sweetie went out of the house. One point was lead to where after Greg was sent home after snapping rubber bands at Rowley, Rodrick convinced Greg that Frank was so mad (because Frank had to drive Greg from the cabin he was staying in, and back making a four-mile drive) that he was going to sell Greg. He was even more worried when he heard Frank talking with someone on the phone, saying "I'll give him food and water for a week". However, they were talking about Sweetie, and they were giving him away to Gramma, because her dog, Henry, died a couple weeks before.


At the time of Dog Days publication, The New York Times Best Sellers had the book peaking at #1 for all 25 weeks of publication, making Dog Days the #1 Best Selling Book of 2009. [4]