This just in: Polish girls are hot -- really hot!;-)

Hey guys!

I'm coming to you live from beautiful Gdansk, Poland! This town on the Baltic seaside is a neat combination of Strasbourg, France, and Innsbruck, Austria. I arrived yesterday afternoon, and I'm really liking it thus far. I'll be visiting Westerplatte tomorrow, where WWII began on September 1st, 1939, when a German battleship began pounding the Polish garrison.

Warsaw was nice, though the tourist infrastructure leaves a lot to be desired. People in Warsaw get mad when tourists talk about how everything is better in Krakow. Well sorry, folks, but you have a long way to go to make the Polish capital user's friendly enough to rival Krakow. Still, although many people kept telling me to skip Warsaw, I'm really glad I began my Polish journey. While it's true that there is not that much to see and do, you can still fill up a good two days and have a great time. The weather was on my side, as it only rained during the evening while we were watching the soccer game. I visited every major sightseeing stop in the Old Town and along the Royal Way. Checked out the Palace upon the Water in Tazienki Park. Missed out on the Warsaw Uprising Museum because the fucking thing is closed on Tuesday. Felt like such a dumbass, but I'll get to go when I return to the Polish capital to catch a flight to Helsinki. I had to see the Warsaw Ghetto Monument (though it's nothing to write home about) and the Jewish Cemetery (the largest in Europe). If you're thinking of going to Warsaw, book a bed at the very cool Oki Doki hostel. The girls at the reception are so helpful, it's unbelievable. They deserve the kudos! And the 3,50 zl for half a liter of beer during the daily Happy Hour is a must!;-)

It took me 14 hours and three flights and a sleepless night to get to Poland, and now that I'm free of jetlag it's all good! Still one day to go in Gdansk, and then I'm catching an early train to Wroclaw.

I've been reading Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, and boy am I underwhelmed. Please tell me that something happens at some point. . . I'm about 350 pages in, and I've considered abandoning the book a few times thus far. This one I will leave at a hostel along the way, as I'm not lugging this brick around Eastern Europe with me, whether I finish it or not. . .

As for the whole "hype" thing, I reckon this story has reached proportions none of us ever envisioned. Well, that's the internet for you. All I'll add on the subject is that I don't ascribe a negative connotation to hype, as I feel that hype/buzz can be a good thing. I could write another post on the topic, but I don't have the time, the money, or the inclination to do so right now. I'm on vacation, after all!:-) I've tried to check the comments that were added, and now I'm told that this thing has been linked all over the place. I doubt that Simon Spanton had any idea of the can of worms we would be opening by posting our email correspondence.

Please don't spell-check me, as I'm typing as fast as I can! And enjoy my review of Butcher's Backup, which I really enjoyed!

Talk to you guys later! Gdansk awaits. . .

20 commentaires:

greg said...

Oh man, I'm so envious of you being in Poland! My dad's side of the family is Polish, and I fell in love with the country's history and culture growing up.

As for Jonathan Strange, I really enjoyed it, but I'll admit that it almost read like Charles Dickens writes a Gothic fairy tale. Kind of slow, very setting and detail oriented, but some pretty cool plot work as well.

Balerion said...

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell isn't a book about "what" happens, as "how". It's a lovingly-assembled pastiche of 19th century romances, and in a certain sense it, like a certain "chick lit" bane of yours, is a novel of manners.

Not all books appeal to all people, in the end.

Dave said...

As Balerion says, what made that book so good for me was the style and tone of the content rather than the pace of it, or any huge plot twists.

I didn't think the fairly sedate pace of the book detracted from my enjoyment of the story or the setting, but I think it may well be a book which you either love or don't enjoy at all.

ccr in MA said...

I started that book three times before I gave up. I wanted to like it, but I could not get into it.

My brother enjoyed it more, but then he was on a day full of delayed flights, which lends concentration on the only book one is carrying.

RobB said...

I thought Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell was one of the more over-rated novels of the past few years. I finsihed it and thought, that's what all the buzz* was about?!


Note: Buzz not hype. :)

Michael said...

I should have known it was a bad sign when I picked up Strange for free in HB for buying a used copy of the original PB for the gunslinger (ironically, because of your review, though I'd read it before). I'm not sure I got 300 pages into it though - I left off in London thinking maybe I *would* tackle that recarpetting instead of continuing after all...

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I tried to get into Jonathan Strange shortly after it came out. It really does just keep trudging forever. I think I gave up right around where you were. I think I personally need a bit more forward momentum to make me read such a large novel.

Brian Gibbons said...

My comment on Strange & Norrell was that it was an alright 800-page book with a really good 400-page book hidden inside.

This is, of course, missing the point--in a book like this, it's the journey, not the destination, and if you like books like that, this is an excellent example of that type. Unfortunately, I'm just not in that target audience.

Cutsnake said...

I have to agree with your thoughts on Strange and Norrell.

I actually finished the whole thing, but boy was it an effort. I kept thinking to myself, when is anything going to happen. I quite liked the Jonathan Strange character, but the novel dragged badly.

A note of caution. If you're up to page 350 it doesn't get any better, so don't hold your breath.

I can understand some people saying that it is not so much what happens as how etc etc, but that is no substitute for an interesting storyline. I enjoyed the feel of the book and the language, but that can only hold your interest for a certain time if the plot doesn't draw you in as well.

Paul D said...

Jonathan Strange is probably my favourite fantasy novel of the past 10 years, which is strange for me, since I'm usually a plot first guy, and this is a book that wanders and meanders through its plot. That said, I just loved what Clarke did with the language, world, characters and setting so much that I lost myself in it.

Peter said...

Dear Pat. I'm getting quite annoyed of your determined slide into TOTAL mainstream. I'm also getting the distinct feeling that you're so busy being full of yourself and whoring yourself in "G.R.R.M. said I should get the Nobel for blogging" posts, that you're exceedingly losing what actually used to make this blog really worth reading - the deep understanding of the books you read. I'm becoming more and more disappointed in the way you write your reviews. I honestly can't imagine that the person who praised the magnificent Vellum could actually post such a shallow and superficial opinion on one of the most ambitious works of fantasy ever written.

And no, I'm actually not a fan of Clarke, but "Strange & Norrell" is so amazingly rich in style and world-building that I just couldn't contain myself after reading this.

But to your question - NO, nothing changes, you should STOP reading the book. It's obviously not for you.

ediFanoB said...

Hi Pat,

I started to read Jonathan Strange several times. Finally I give up because I always fell asleep. This book has been definitely not written for me.

Roland said...

I have to agree with Peter, even if he's a lot sharper than I'd have said it.

Pat, I can recognize that you aren't impressed by Clarke's amazing style or her slow pacing, but I find it a little sad. The book didn't get the WFA for nothing and it might not be for every taste, but it's so far away from "overhyped" as the Earth is from Pluto.

Anyway, I suggest you accept this book isn't your thing and leave it in a hostel as you said you would. Then there's a chance someone else will find it and enjoy it as much as I did...

kekec said...

I hope Poland is not the only Eastern European country that you're visiting cuz all girls from EEurope are hot, just ask donald trump ;)

Adam Whitehead said...

Oddly enough, I just found a review I did Strange and Norrell pre-blog, which I may tidy up and reprint.

In short, slow start, sensational middle section, overlong, drawn-out and miserable ending. There are sensational moments in there, but the book is too long to sustain its tale.

Anonymous said...

Peter: You're entitled to your opinion, that goes without saying, but I feel that this bit was a tad uncalled for.

I've been reading this blog for about 2 years now and I never got the feeling that the review changed at all in style and tone. Also, I never felt that Pat is full of himself. Quite the contrary, the guy always seems to feel a bit uncomfortable about his growing popularity. His down-to-earth and casual approach is what keep me coming back for more. So I wouldn't want him to change at all...

Like many, I never could get into Clarke's novel. I can see why some readers love it, but to call it one of the most ambitious works of fantasy ever written is quite a stretch, no?

I will agree with you on one thing: Pat, stop reading that book. If you've gone this far and you don't like it, nothing that happens is likely to change your mind at this point. You're just headed straight for a particularly negative review, something that your detractors will be happy to use to rip into you...

Go for the Stephenson!

So those Polish chicks are that nice, eh!?! Lucky bastard!!!;)

Greg

Roland said...

I don't want to involve myself in a Pat-related argument, but concerning Clarke, I have to say I too find her book one of the most ambitious works of fantasy. To be able to tell a story in such detail, with such rich world and characters, WITHOUT ever slipping into modern talk, with every word in its place... I find such accomplishment to be of Olympic proportions.

Ellestra said...

As a Polish girl - Thanks.
I think we should put it on posters - foreigners keep saying that :P

And when it rained I thought of you - what perfectly behaved weather we had for your visit - it only rained at night.
Hope it didn't rain too much in Gdańsk today.

Did you see just Gdańsk or Sopot too?

I know you plan to go to Wrocław now but if you like open air free concerts - there are Wianki in Krakow tomorrow. It's annual and goes back to pagan traditions for celebrating the shortest night. There will be also concerts in Wrocław Wrock for Freedom (scroll down) - to draw attention to the plight of Belarus and Tibet - but you'd have to pay to get in there.

I'm glad you have fun.

NeoConstant said...

Jonathan Strange is one of my favorite fantasy novels of all time--I agreed with Neil Gaiman's review, that it is the finest work of British fantasy in the past fifty years, or something to that effect.

The prose is absolutely haunting, and the characters are complex, interesting, unpredictable. The concept of Faerie and the type of magic that Clarke weaves into her story is extraordinary. I've read it twice actually. It's the sort of book you simply soak up, full of mystery and depth, and utterly unlike anything else.

Perhaps you need to read it from a different angle--not for action, but for mystery and that strange, haunting wonder that creeps through every page....

Stumbling, Falling, Dreaming & Flying said...

yep, polish girls are VERY hot.