Whoah. It's going to be 2010 tomorrow?
What scares me is that a WHOLE decade has gone by. I mean, really.If I think about it, it's strange.
In 2000, I was five years old. I was living on the other side of the country. I was extremely loud and, yeah... illiterate. Basically, I was still a baby.
In 2009, I'm fifteen, living on this more westerly side of the country, pretty quiet by all accounts, and yay, literate. And hopefully less of a baby.
A lot has happened in those years. I feel old now. Teenaged and old. And I've done so much. I mean...
In 2000-2009, I've:
1)graduated from elementary school! Whooo! And middle school as well, yay.
2) learned how to read and write!
3) grown about two feet in height
4) learned to eat my vegetables (most of the time)
5) Uh...uh..I swear I've done something else this decade as well but I can't think of anything at the moment. [insert accomplishments here]
Okay, that was a fail.
So...New Year Resolutions (2010).
For thee blog:
1) Start interviewing authors. I've always been meaning to start interviewing authors, it's just...I'm scared since I think as authors as amazing people that I shouldn't bother. But I will definitely try to interview. Hopefully I'll start soon!
2) Include some discussion posts. On the publishing industry, the trends, bookish subjects, maybe less-bookish subjects, etc. etc.
3)Have more balance with reviews and other types of posts.
4) Have a survey for the blog on what you guys do and don't like about the blog, and make improvements from there.
1) Read LOTS more contemporary books. LOTS.
2) Read LOTS more literature. LOTS.
So as you can see I'm not so hot with reflecting or resolutions.
I hope you guys had a wonderful decade, a wonderful 2009. And an even more wonderful 2010 and following decade!
I am trying to put together a blog survey (extra entries for the contest) so that should be up soon too.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Hope you guys enjoyed it! I *sort of* did.
Here it is summarized:
1. The reasons I decided to hold a Literature Week.
2. Book reviews!
Day One: Animal Farm by George Orwell
My Opinion in Short (MOS): The allegory got quite ridiculous after a while, and Orwell really butchered Russian History. I mean, pigs, really?
Day Two: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
(MOS): One of the most powerful, emotional books I've ever read. You gotta love hating the characters. A true classic.
Day Three: This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
(MOS): Not as good as The Great Gastby, but still a good read. It's disjointed genius, and I love Fitzgerald.
Day Four: Margaret Atwood Selected Poems
(MOS): This book changed my life. It taught me to love poetry, and it was just so beautiful.
Day Five: The Piano Lesson by August Wilson
(MOS): Definitely my least favorite of the lot. I just found it very dull.
Day Six: The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
(MOS): My favorite book of the whole week. Quite possibly the most beautifully written book I've ever read. YOU'VE GOT TO READ THIS ONE.
Day Seven: Madeleine is Sleeping by Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum.
Most confusing book I've ever read. I'm still confused and even thinking about it makes me confused.And confused is sort of a confusing word if you think about word if...*shakes head* o.o Yep, still confused.
Well, this was a whole another experience. Exhausting. Quite traumatizing. BUT AMAZING.
I've learned so much this week.
And I've decided that I'm going to read more literature from now on.
Also,I'm making literature reviews a permanent fixture on this blog. Expect one every once in a while--after this week, I'm reading LOTS more literature.
AND...Guest blog on my experiences this week coming up. Keep your eyes peeled for the link. :D
Also, ask me questions:
If you have any questions about my experience doing Literature Week, ask away. I shall respond.
Or just questions about ANYTHING you want. I shall answer if I can, I eez bored. lol, have fun with it :D
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that spotlights eagerly awaited upcoming releases. It's hosted by Breaking the Spine.
This week's pick: Whisper by Phoebe Kitanidis
I’d love a cup of coffee. I wish she knew how pretty she was. I wish I could drop this kid in the dryer sometimes. I just want her to be happy. I hope she didn’t find out what Ben said about her. I wish I knew how many calories were in a bite of muffin…
Joy is used to hearing Whispers. She’s used to walking down the street and instantly knowing people’s deepest, darkest desires. She uses this talent for good, to make people happy and give them what they want. But for her older sister, Jessica, the family gift is a curse, and she uses it to make people’s lives—especially Joy’s—miserable. Still, when Joy Hears Jessica whisper: I want to kill my Hearing dead, and kill me too if that’s what it takes, she knows she has to save her sister, even if it means deserting her friends, stealing a car and running away with a boy she barely knows—a boy who may have a dark secret of his own.
Wow. I can't tell you how much I want to read this book, just based of that short description. I love the premise--mind-reading is always fun, and this seems like a fresh take on that. And I also love that Joy is out to save her sister.
And the cover is sort of haunting, in a good way. In the seeing-it-in-the-bookstore-shelf-would-make-me-want-to-read-it way.
Really looking forward to this one!
Release Date: April 2010
For my seventh (and FINAL!) book I read Madeleine is Sleeping by Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum.
When a girl falls into a deep and impenetrable sleep, the borders between her provincial French village and the peculiar, beguiling realm of her dreams begin to disappear: A fat woman sprouts delicate wings and takes flight; a failed photographer stumbles into the role of pornographer; a beautiful young wife grows to resemble her husband's viol. And in their midst travels Madeleine, the dreamer, who is trying to make sense of her own metamorphosis as she leaves home, joins a gypsy circus, and falls into an unexpected triangle of desire and love.
An extraordinary debut, Madeleine Is Sleeping received jubilant critical acclaim and was honored with a National Book Award nomination. Part fairy tale, part coming-of-age story, this "dream of a book" (Michael Cunningham) is an adventure in the discovery of art, sexuality, community, and the self.
Madeleine is Sleeping is perhaps the strangest, most bizarre book I've ever read. I'll be honest when I say it's going to be difficult for me to do this review because truthfully, I didn't understand 70% of it. This book is completely beyond me. I don't know if I need to perhaps reread it again before I can understand it properly or if I need to just give up now. It's the not fully comprehending part that makes it so difficult to sum up my thoughts--I'm not entirely sure what I did or didn't like, because I'm not sure of anything.
I am confused. This is the most confusing, mind-boggling book I've ever read.
I'm speechless. I don't know if it's because this book is so great, or because it hinds behind a facade of confusion in order to come off as great. That's the thing--it's almost like it's deliberately hard to grasp so that the reader is under the illusion that Bynum has created something ground-breaking. Maybe it is brilliant, maybe it isn't. I usually don't have too much trouble understanding books, so I'm suspect the lack of clarity is intended to wow the reader into abject awe instead of a rational state of mind. But I do have to give Bynum praise for creating something entirely experimental, fresh. That's what literary writing is in a lot of cases. A unique, breathtaking style. A plot that meanders and is difficult to comprehend. A novel that must be reread to understand it, that on each re-reading reveals something new that you hadn't noticed in the previous reading. And Madeleine is Sleeping possesses all those characteristics.
I'm still not entirely sure what Madeleine is Sleeping is about, plotwise. On one level, I understand that it's the story of a slumbering girl and her dreams. On another level I have no idea what it's supposed to say about the actual story--I suppose it's a coming-of-age? I really don't know. To me, the plot didn't progress at all. Just one fragmented chapter after another. I kept waiting for some powerful revelation, but I never got it. I read this novel in a daze, and nothing shocked me out of the daze. There were certainly some very bizzarre happenings in the novel--a "flatulent" man kept turning up. Madeleine kept stirring every few pages. Mother tells Madeleine she loves her. People sprout wings. Umm...I've already forgot a lot of the happenings. Forgotten like a dream. I think one of my biggest problems is that I couldn't grasp the underlying story. I could only read the lines, but not get a sense of where the book was going.
But I can confidently assess at least one aspect: Bynum's ability to play with a reader's mind. After reading this, it literally feels like my brain has been scrambled, altered somehow. I don't know how to explain exactly but Bynum manipulates the reader's conscious with her writing style. In Madeleine is Sleeping Bynum does not just narrate dreams--she literally recreates a dream for the reader. Reading this novel is like reading a dream. Insubstantial. Fleeting. Hard to understand. So quickly shifting and unpredictable, but so sure of itself.
It's masterful if you view it from that vantage point. A literary accomplishment, to recreate the inconsistencies of dreaming, the exact experience of sleep. It's like Bynum personally wrote down her own dreams--the random impossibilities, the half-truths, the grotesque imaginings and combined it into one book. I think a large part of the effect is in the form it is written in; Madeleine is Sleeping is structured how a volume of poetry would be. Each chapter is about the length and breadth of a poem--two pages at most, one line on a page at least. Each mini-mini-mini chapter has a title on top like a poem would. But this novel is not written in verse. It's written in prose form.
In that respect, I'm not sure if the prose rang true to me. Other reviewers have declared it to be "lyrical" and "beautiful". Certainly, it's well written. But it doesn't exactly match the form of the book--the brief half page vignettes are fragmented and disjointed, but the writing style is not exactly that. The syntax is pretty complex so it doesn't reflect the structure exactly. To me, the prose fell short--there are bits of beauty, but I really can't think of one instance where it completely blew me away. The prose just didn't fit with makeup of the book--it didn't feel quite right to me. But the writing does succeed in capturing a dreamlike mood and that is what is most important.
So, I'm not exactly sure if I'd recommend this book to everyone. It's a surreal reading experience, certainly. It's different. If you like literary fiction to begin with, if you're interested in experimental novels, than this might be worth picking up. Otherwise, I'd probably pass on it. I can only voice vague feelings of discontent, since I'm not sure what to criticize. I can only decisively praise the exactness of the dreamlike rendering of a novel.
Teenage Ignoramus Comment:
I am utterly bamboozled. Really. So glad I haven't yet had to write an analysis paper on this in Lit class, I'd definitely fail. Lol.
My Rating on the Classics Scale: I give it...a 7/10? I don't know. I'm so confused.
For my sixth book, I read The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy.
In her first novel, award-winning Indian screenwriter Arundhati Roy conjures a whoosh of wordplay that rises from the pages like a brilliant jazz improvisation. The God of Small Things is nominally the story of young twins Rahel and Estha and the rest of their family, but the book feels like a million stories spinning out indefinitely; it is the product of a genius child-mind that takes everything in and transforms it in an alchemy of poetry. The God of Small Things is at once exotic and familiar to the Western reader, written in an English that's completely new and invigorated by the Asian Indian influences of culture and language.
The God of Small Things is without a doubt a work of literary genius; books of such quality are one of a kind. I had the hardest time ever writing this review--I kept postponing it. I just plain can't give this book the justice it deserves.
It's because of the beauty. The beauty in every single line, in every single powerful word, is a microcosm of the overall beauty that is the very essence of this novel. It's enough to make me want to weep. This novel is powerful, moving, and richly emotional. And most definitely one of the best books I've ever read in my life. The God of Small Things is one of those novels that speaks to your soul and thus changes your life.
My newest soul book.
Within the first few pages, within the first few sentences, The God of Small Things demonstrates a sort of beauty that not many authors can create. Roy has this gift of completely disarming the reader with one gorgeous description after the next. Her style is utterly unique: sentence fragments, capitalized words, and stream-of-conscious musings abound. Because of this, it is a complete wonder to see the book unfold. Roy reveals each new layer with a subtlety, a bold beauty, an unflinching intent to create a world that rests entirely on her grasp of prose. This novel is so infinitely textured that each layer is rich with depth--a world of emotion in every word, every line of magnificently written prose, every wondrous paragraph.
The God of Small Things centers around one family--in particular the two "egg twins" Estha and Rahel, who were separated at the age of seven, and have finally been reunited at the age of thirty one. Their story is fraught with tragedy--in the first pages, they attend the funeral of their nine year-old-cousin who had drowned. As the novel progresses, it's soon revealed that their divorcee mother, Ammu, possesses a wild streak that will prove to be the downfall of them all. Their Uncle, Chacko, is an Oxford-educated Marxist who has returned from England after the failure of his marriage. And then there is Baby Kochammah, who had once attempted to become a nun because she'd fallen in love with an Irish priest. The God of Small Things is a story of all of these people, their small actions, the resounding effect it has on the people they love and are connected to.
Perhaps the reason it's difficult to summarize this book is because the plot is nonlinear--events that happened last are revealed first, events that happened in the middle are revealed last, and the scene breaks each signify the jump from one seemingly unrelated incidence to the other. Other readers might find this technique to be a source of confusion, but to me it was just another element of Roy's unique style. It created this almost dreamlike quality, and I suspect the reason some of Roy's words are so well crafted is that with this technique, she had the opportunity to focus on everything: every little detail, every sentence, every short but heart-wrenching scene. The end result is a book that is magnificent. Ingeniously held together by nothing but Roy's prose. Her words are mesmerizing. Magical. Brilliant. Wholly unchecked.Roy has such a way with words that she could write about paint drying and I'd be honored to read it. Her prose is like poetry, of the most finely written kind. It's got this amazing sort of rhythm, and each word is a gem.
I suspect I'm botching the explanation, so here are some examples of the prose that brought me close to tears.
"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing"
"She saw a wisp of madness escape from its bottle and caper triumphantly around the bathroom."
"They ran along the bank calling out to her. But she was gone. Carried away on the muffled highway. Graygreen. With fish in it. With he sky and trees in it. And at night the broken yellow moon in it."
"It was raining when Rahel came back to Ayemenem. Slanting silver ropes slammed into loose earth, plowing it up like gunfire."
"By then Esthappen and Rahel had learned that the world had other ways of breaking men. They were already familiar with the smell. Sicksweet. Like old roses on a breeze."
"As Estha stirred the thick jam he thought Two Thoughts and the Two Thoughts he thought were these:
a) Anything can happen to anyone.
b) It is best to be prepared."
"She thought of what would happen if the rope snapped. She imagined him dropping like a dark star out of the sky that he had made. Lying broken on the hot church floor, dark blood spilling from his skull like a secret."
As evinced by the quotes above, Roy pens a work of such fragmented, breathtaking beauty that it's wondrous to behold. The God of Small Things is wondrous to behold. I feel like I've read a book that deserves all the praise it receives, and more. It's literary, it's got merit, and it's quite possibly the most beautifully written book I've ever read.
Teenage Ignoramus Comment:
I sort of worship Roy now. She is my hero.
My Rating on the Classics Scale: 10/10. No, I take that back, I give it an 11/10. Whoah, I've given a book an 11/10? Is that even possible? With this book, anything is possible. If you haven't read it, you must go out and get a copy and devour it. It's a classic, it's momentous, and it's beautiful.
Special thanks to lovely ink for recommending me this book <3
Literature Week is an event occurring this week on my blog. Everyday, I will read a book considered to be a "great" classic and review it.
For my fifth book, I read The Piano Lesson by August Wilson.
Set in 1936, The Piano Lesson is a powerful new play from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Fences and Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. A sister and brother fight over a piano that has been in the family for three generations, creating a remarkable drama that embodies the painful past and expectant future of black Americans.
The Piano Lesson is the winner of the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. So apparently, somebody thinks it's a work of genius, an important contribution to literature. The back blurbs run the gamut of compliments from prestigious critics like the New York Times and The Washington Post, who have declared this play to be "lyrical," and "ebullient". What worries me is that these newspapers are supposedly harsh critics, and the Pulitzer Prize, I'm told, is pretty darn selective, but I can't say I'm very impressed by this play. I feel like I missed something--some secret, critical part of the book that was the "wow" factor that would've made me love it. Maybe I did. But as it stands right now, The Piano Lesson is dull. Very dull. Thin. Boring. All of the above. But thankfully, blissfully short.
What am I saying? I'm going against the Times and the Post and the sparkly, all-knowing Pulitzer? I should be writing a glowing review right now, shouldn't I?
Well, I just can't.
The Piano Lesson centers around piano of the Charles' family, which has engravings of scenes of their family and the faces of their relatives. For whatever reason, it lies neglected in Beatrice Charles house, and Boy Willie, Beatrice's never-do-well brother, formulates a scheme dependent on the piano. He plans to sell the piano off in order to help pay for the purchase of lands where their family had once toiled at as slaves, but Beatrice resists and the decision of whether to sell the piano creates much friction between the siblings. The lush history of their family is revealed, and the history behind both the piano, their ancestry, and their culture is also touched upon throughout the course of the play.
I'll be honest: the first ten pages were interesting, the last ten pages fraught with excitement and climax and action. But the middle was boring and rambly and held nothing to interest me. I nearly fell asleep reading it--and I know I was sleepy to begin with, but still. I have good attention span for reading most of the time; unfounded patience for the most egregious errors in writing and plot and character development--and I always finish a book no matter how much I hate it. But it was hard for me to finish The Piano Lesson. It was probably one of the quickest reads I've come across for literature, but it was hard for me to finish because my eyes were glazed over, my fingers cramped around it's thin spine, the lines blurred into a endless black hole of boredom. I'll summarize this play in one word: dullness.
I just didn't care about the characters, their conflict, or anything. I don't know if I'm right in my analysis, but The Piano Lesson did come across as a retelling of the Faustian Bargain to me--what with Boy Willie desperate to sell the piano for financial gain--in effect selling the soul of the family. But again, I could care less if the piano was sold, if anything happened to the characters. Perhaps it's because I didn't have enough of a time to get acquainted with them, but I just plain didn't care, at all. Such apathy with me towards a book is sort of shocking, so I guess this just proves that The Piano Lesson was lacking in many aspects.
Another thing is that I'm usually in love with any sort of history element in a book, but with The Piano Lesson, the history of the family and the piano bored me to tears. I have to wonder if it was just the day I read it or if I' d always be bored by reading it. I think a big part of the problem was the language Wilson chose--while realistic, I'll have to admit the short, ungrammatical sentences became tiring after a while. I had a hard time picturing the scenes, hearing the dialogue. The dialogue, the character's actions, pretty much everything just fell--flat.
All in all, I'd say that The Piano Lesson may be more enjoyable to others, more strident in it's literary merit. But I just couldn't get into it. I know it's bad when my favorite element in a book--in this case, the ghost that supposedly haunts the piano--only appears briefly once or twice in the whole work. I'm really struggling to find ways to praise this play. I'll just say that others may find the torment over the piano, the conflict between the siblings, the rich history of the family alluring, emotional and powerful. But I'd be lying if I said I did.
Teenage Ignoramus Comment:
Zzzzz. Boring, boring boring. Worse than my AP Bio class, and now that's something--really it is. Zzzz. Very good bedtime reading for insomniacs, if you're looking for something that will put you to sleep.
Rating on the Classics Scale: I'd give it a 4/10. There's nothing awful about this book, but I just don't understand why it's considered a work of genius. To me, it wasn't. I don't know why it's considered significant literature. It's just...okay, nothing magnificent or breakthtaking, like I'd expect a Pulitzer prize winner to be.
I'm taking a bit of a break for the holidays, so I'm not posting a review on Christmas Eve or Christmas. Don't worry, I'll still be reading for my Great Literature Week, but I know that during the holiday season reading reviews will be probably the last thing you want to do.
Enjoy your holiday! Hopefully you'll get lots of wonderful presents (ahem, books) and cookies and family time :D
Literature Week is an event occurring this week on my blog. Everyday, I will read a book considered to be a "great" classic and review it.
For my fourth book, I read Margaret Atwood Selected Poems 1965-1975.
Celebrated as a major novelist throughout the English-speaking world, Atwood has also written eleven volumes of poetry. Houghton Mifflin is proud to have published SELECTED POEMS, 1965-1975, a volume of selections from Atwood's poetry of that decade
Well, this is sort of a nasty surprise, isn't it? Me doing a review on poetry. I may be breaking rules here--but rules are made to be broken, and with what better author than Margaret Atwood? I'll tell you something straight right now: Atwood is the most amazing woman alive. I've loved everything I've read by her, and Selected Poems was no exception. It was wonderful. Amazing. Genius in poetic form.
Wait, am I praising poetry?!
Yeah. That thing.
I'll be honest: the truth is that I've never, ever in my life understood poetry. I just plain don't get it, I really don't. I don't enjoy reading it, I tried once in my eighth grade poetry slam to write poetry and received one of the lowest grades in the class, etc. etc. [insert almost constant nightmares and horrible experiences with poetry stretching from elementary school right up to now here]. For a person whose pretty much in love with words, poetry is the one thing that I've felt like escapes me.
In the last month or so I've been going through this sort of literary epiphany. I've started to realize that there's more beauty in individual words, the unique way authors string sentences together, the power of paragraphs. As a result, I now admire authors who put painstaking attention into every word they write, whose prose drips with beauty, whose writing is perfection in itself. So I guess I'm in the right point in my life to be more receptive of poetry--I'm right at that brink where I could love poetry. I just needed this one book. To change it all.
This book was the one.
I think I can love poetry now, mostly because I've realized poetry is the epitome of careful consideration of every word, striking beauty in each line.
Who made me realize this?
With one book, Atwood has taught me to love poetry. Every page holds lines, words, sentences that are magnificent, wonderful, remarkable. Atwood has this talent for creating the most vivid, impossible images in a reader's mind, for creating beauty, for striking at emotion.
Some favorite lines from different poems:
"He left himself on my doorstep,
abandoned in the shabby
basket of his own ribs.
My heart wept custard: I took him in."
"It was like enticing whales with a bent pin."
"On this vacant winter
plain, the sky is a black shell;
I move within it, a cold kernel of pain."
"The moving water will not show me
The rocks ignore.
I am a word
in a foreign language."
"What suns had to rise and set
what eyes had to blink out
what hands and fingers had to let go of their heat
before you appeared on my desk
black light portable and radiant..."
God, such beauty! This book brought me close to tears, I'll tell you--the beauty in every line was just so encompassing that it struck me deep down past the cold iron critical reading heart I've developed, past the special part dedicated to chocolate. Struck me in the soul. I'm not being melodramatic. This book really had this life-altering impact on me.
Atwood writes what poetry should be. Emotion. Beauty. Power. Soul words.
This volume of poetry has changed my life. In that, from now on I'm going to read poetry. Seek out poetry. Maybe even *gasp* try to write a poem or two (no, I am not sharing it on this blog, and it will never see living daylight even if you bribe me with chocolate).
This is a classic--it resounds in me. To other people it might just be a "good" book, but to me I it's more important because I feel like this is the beginning of something. Like I'll be able to start exploring the world of poetry now. That's not to say that I still don't despise some forms of poetry--but now I know there's poetry out there I can fall in love with.
This volume made me weep--on *sob* the *sob* inside, of course! *sob*. Because I'm *just* about crying now just thinking about it. Because I'm just realizing what I've been missing out on all these years.
Teenage Ignoramus Comment:
I have a literary girlcrush on Atwood. Seriously, I love her.
Rating on the Classics Scale: 10/10. This book has changed my life. 'Nuff said. As a matter of fact, I don't feel like going to sleep. I think I'm just going to read this poems over again. Plus, I've stayed up past midnight to post this--that should tell you something. Grr. Freezy, virusy computer :(
For my third book, I read This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
This Side of Paradise, F. Scott Fitzgerald's romantic and witty first novel, was written when the author was only twenty-three years old. This semiautobiographical story of the handsome, indulged, and idealistic Princeton student Amory Blaine received critical raves and catapulted Fitzgerald to instant fame. Now, readers can enjoy the newly edited, authorized version of this early classic of the Jazz Age, based on Fitzgerald's original manuscript. In this definitive text, This Side of Paradise captures the rhythms and romance of Fitzgerald's youth and offers a poignant portrait of the "Lost Generation."
I recently read and fell in love with F. Scott Fitzgerald's literary masterpiece, The Great Gatsby. The beauty of the writing and just about everything in The Great Gatsby made my soul sing--within the first twenty pages, it had skyrocketed to one of my all-time favorite books. So it was with some expectation that I picked up This Side of Paradise, Fitzgerald's debut novel.
Frenzied expectation is almost never a good thing--and I suppose mine did a disservice to this book. In short, I have mixed feelings about This Side of Paradise. There are parts that I loved, parts that made my eyes glaze over, parts that had such beauty in them that it was wonderful, and parts that were distinctly purple in prose but at the same time self-consciously great.
This Side of Paradise chronicles Amory Blaine's early adolescence and college years, and ends with his disillusionment in the post-Great War years. Amory is arrogant, privileged, handsome, and not quite likable. But Fitzgerald's study of his character is so in-depth and true that Amory is alive. It's well known that Fitzgerald based Amory off of himself--which is touching since Fitzgerald had the wisdom, at the tender age of 23, to realize his own faults, embellish them, and spin them into a narrative worthy of praise. This novel is just so self-conscious--where Amory is aware of his "greatness," his potential, his intellectual superiority, Fitzgerald is aware that he pens a novel that is literary to the tee.
This Side of Paradise has a wandering, intangible plot--with no clear physical obstacle. In this aspect, it's a bit like Catcher in the Rye (Salinger believed himself to be the next Fitzgerald). Instead, this story is a bildungsroman, a coming-of-age story in which Amory grows both emotionally and intellectually, first falls in love, and experiences the world. In this aspect, Fitzgerald is utterly triumphant--This Side of Paradise is a flawless vignette of American youth, of the Lost Generation, and of the social years of change that characterized those times. This book has a historical air to it--readers get a glimpse of a Princeton that held nothing but men of privilege, the snobbery of the elite, and the making of the Flapper.
It's a marvel to catch a glimpse of Fitzgerald before his prose has fully matured to what it was in The Great Gatsby. That is not to say that This Side of Paradise is not well-written--but it lacks the lyricism and utter beauty that blew me away in the later Fitzgerald's work. There are glimmers of the beauty throughout the book--not quite there, hidden almost, but enough is in there to make it worthwhile.
This Side of Paradise is disjointed, but purposefully so. Half of it's in narrative form, other bits are interspersed with almost-entirely tedious bursts of poetry, there are a few letters cobbled in, and twenty pages or so are written entirely in dramatic form. I can see some readers having problems with the utter lack of unity, the parts where the narrative skips to focus on specific incidents that prove to be important in Amory's life. But I didn't have a problem with it--in fact, I think it's one of the best aspects of the book, and it's wonderful how the disjointness is a reflection upon Amory and his journey. However, I will say that some of the philosophical meanderings of Amory were insufferable--these were the parts that interfered with his actual story. However, I'll say that I loved this part:
"It's true," Burne agreed. "The light-haired man is a higher type, generally speaking. I worked the thing out with the Presidents of the United States once, and found that way over half of them were light-haired--yet think of the preponderant number of brunettes in the race."Bits like the above caused me to really think, to admire Fitzgerald's insight. At the same time, he fell into the trap of trying to be too philosphical, too literary. The prose however is well-crafted, and this words were beautiful at times. One of my favorite, admittedly purple passages:
"People unconsciously admit it,' said Amory. "You'll notice a blond person is expected to talk. If a blond girl doesn't talk we call her a a 'doll'; if a light-haired man is silent he's considered stupid. Yet the world is full of 'dark silent men' and 'languorous brunettes' who haven't a brain in their heads, but somehow are never accused of the dearth."
"The February streets, wind-washed by the night,, blow full of strange half-intermittent damps, bearing on wasted walks in shining sight wet snow plashed into gleams under the lamps, like golden oil from some divine machine in an hour of thaw and stars."
I don't think I'd have had half the patience to soldier through if I hadn't read The Great Gatsby beforehand. I wouldn't recommend this book to someone who hasn't read The Great Gatsby first--but I think that once you fall in love with Fitzgerald you can endure just about anything. What I think is horribly ironic is that in Fitzgerald's time, This Side of Paradise was regarded to be his ultimate success, and The Great Gatsby his failure. I don't know what was going on in the psychology of the people in the 20's--it's unimaginable how that came about. Perhaps it's because it was such a dynamo during that time period, exposing how woman were coming into their own--but viewed from the 21st century, it's lost many of it's charms.
Teenage Ignoramus Scoop:
I labbbs the flappers :D
Rating on the Classics Scale: I'd give this a 7.5-8/10. While flawed and dull at times, there a bits of true literary genius that make it a classic.
Literature Week is an event occurring this week on my blog. Everyday, I will read a book considered to be a "great" classic and review it.
For my second book, I read Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.
The dark, wild gypsy orphan Heathcliff loved only one person on earth, beautiful, willful Cathy Earnsaw. But Cathy's brother Hindley--the cruel, drunken master of Wuthering Heights--hated an abused the orphan; their rich neighbors at Thrushcross Grange, Edgar Linton and Isabella Linton, reviled the the boy. They all conspired to force Heathcliff and Cathy apart, first as playmates, then as lovers, and at last to drive Heathcliff away.
Years passed. Heatcliff returned a rich man--and found Cathy had married Edgar. Like a sullen demon, the gypsy vowed to rule Wuthering Heights and the Grange, to plague his tormentors, to relentlessly hound and ruin the Earnsshaws, the Lintons, even their children--until he won back the woman he loved.
Which would never be.
Wuthering Heights is a gothic novel that has the distinction of actually living up to the extent of it's "literary merit." Skillfull, dark, and obsessive, this novel is both a classic and entertaining.
The main characters, Cathy and Heathcliff, are both vile, repulsive, and horrible. In short, there's nothing likable about them, or for that matter, about any of the other characters in the whole novel. Bronte has a talent for rendering characters that will rouse reader's disgust and horror--but the important thing is that it is a talent. Her characters are so well-developed and just so convincingly terrible that it it's a wonder to read the story that unfolds in Wuthering Heights.
Heathcliff is the gypsy boy that Cathy's father takes under his wing--and designates as his favorite. Cathy and Heathcliff grow up together, wild and petulant, while Cathy's brother Hindley does his very best to torment Heathcliff. When Cathy's father dies, Hindley degrades Heathcliff to the status of a lowly servant, and Cathy becomes haughty enough that she hesitates to marry Heathcliff. When Heathcliff overhears her utter the sentiment that it would lower her to marry him, he storms off, and doesn't return for three years. During this time, Cathy marries her wealthy neighbor, while Heathcliff mysteriously turns into a gentleman of wealthy means. Upon his return, he vows to do anything to get Cathy back--and the ensuing events provide the fodder for a haunting tale that is filled with nothing but despair and unconsummated love.
What impresses me the most about this novel is the fact that this was written in 1847 by a 28 year old preacher's daughter who managed to make a novel--if viewed free of the clout of old-fashioned prose-- edgy, at least compared to the time period when this was published. Heck, compare it to something like Pride and Prejudice, which is tameness and propriety to the utmost degree. In contrast, Wuthering Heights is scandalous. This novel is the story of all-consuming passion. Obsession. Lust. Hatred. Cruelty. Revenge. Despair.
But most of all, emotion.
Nestled in between the lines of prose, the endless subordinate clauses, and Bronte's inexplicable fondness for ridiculous words such as "ejaculated", is a story of such resonance that I can honestly say I've never encountered the like before. Wuthering Heights is, without a doubt, the most vivid and intense book I've ever read. The love, the obsession, the hate, and the revenge will not fail to have an effect on the reader.
Bronte conveys the relationship between Heathcliff and Cathy so effortlessly that readers will never question the cruelty that is the very essence of their love--readers may be disgusted by their actions, but the important thing is that the readers react to the characters. There's a huge difference between creating totally unlikeable characters that make a story unpleasant to read, and creating deeply flawed characters that make a story compelling and resounding. And in Wuthering Heights, Bronte succeeds in the captivating readers throughout the test of hundreds of years. I have such tremendous respect for Bronte--a novel full of such life, such passion, could not have been penned by anyone that was not fully alive and passionate herself.
Because of this, Bronte's novel transcends time and still has important literary significance. And just importantly, it's a amazing novel in it's own right, with believable characters, haunting description, and striking dialogue.
But as in all books, Wuthering Heights is not without it's flaws. Most of the problems I had were due to either personal ignorance or my own inability to understand parts of the novel--so I can't exactly blame Bronte, but I can do what I do best, which is complain. I found the dialogue of certain servants to be largely intelligible, which caused me to skip over those parts. I mean, does anyone in this room understand what this is supposed to mean?
"Aw woonder hagh yah can faishion tuh stand theor i' idleness un war."
I ask of you, is that gibberish or English? I'm not sure myself.
Also, I have to say that Wuthering Heights could have had a better story structure. The point of view is just so, so odd--the story is narrated by the family servant Nelly in a series of flashbacks. Which wouldn't be so bad, if Nelly didn't then converse with another character, who would relate their story, who would converse with another character, who would converse with another character, who would then [repeat, repeat repeat]...and, on top of that, the original narrator Mr. Lockwood occasionally broke in with his own incessant chatter. This makes for a very confusing novel. Half the time I had no idea who was narrating, so I'd flip back a few pages, flip back more, and the narration had shifted multiple times within those pages. Why, oh Ms. Bronte, could you just not use omniscient? Why?
But complaints aside, I'd say Wuthering Heights is a wonderful novel. I had a great time reading it--and I had an even more enjoyable time hating everyone in the novel, half-wishing they met whatever fate they deserved and half-wishing that everything would end happily. While I'm not exactly sure that it came to a "satisfying" conclusion, I won't deny that Wuthering Heights has made a lasting impression on me. This novel deserves all the praise it receives.
Ignoramus Teenage View:
I don't know if I got confused by the old-fashioned prose, or I wasn't paying attention, or what, but seriously, I would be reading...and BAM. Married. Reading, reading, reading...and BAM. Baby! I didn't even know the character was pregnant but...yeah.
And...it has to be done! Heathcliff is a 6 on the hawtness scale. I mean, he's not exactly described as attractive, especially in the beginning what with his sullenness, coarseness, and idiotic air. But when he comes back...well, that's when I really started rooting for him, especially since he loved Cathy enough that he tried to better himself. I liked him until he did something that made me hate him. And zOMG, he may or may not be more delicious than Heath and Cliff bars combined, depending on whether they have chocolate in them. Hehe.
Rating on the classics scale: 9/10. This is exactly what a classic "great" literature book should be, and honestly, I think everyone should read it.
To kick things off, I read Animal Farm by George Orwell.
Mr Jones of Manor Farm is so lazy and drunken that one day he forgets to feed his livestock. The ensuing rebellion under the leadership of the pigs Napoleon and Wellington leads to the animals taking over the farm. Vowing to eliminate the terrible inequities of the farmyard, the renamed Animal Farm is organized to benefit all who walk on four legs. But as time passes, the ideals of the rebellion are corrupted, then forgotten. And something new and unexpected emerges...
Animal Farm – the history of a revolution that went wrong – is George Orwell’s brilliant satire on the corrupting influence of power.My Opinion:
With his satiric fable Animal Farm, Orwell weaves a tale that is both clever and painfully ludicrous. Although this novella is generally heralded as a masterpiece by anyone who isn't a disgruntled teenager forced to read it in English class, I'm afraid Animal Farm is lacking in many aspects.
Events in this book unfold rather quickly, and Animal Farm is a blessing in that it's tolerably short. Any longer, and I would've throw it across the room in frustration. But for the first thirty pages or so, I admired Orwell's cleverness and the extent of his allegory. The satire is a clear player and the setup is actually quite ridiculous if you really think about it: full-out, intelligent animal rebellion. Orwell takes symbolism too far, but all the same his story is oddly compelling.
After the wise pig Old Major's inciting speech, the animals are rallied to rebel against their human overlords. What follows is a tale of animal rule: an attempt to build a Utopian society where all animals are equal and humans, their mortal enemies, are powerless. The Seven Commandments are inscribed upon the wall, chief among them "All animals are equal" and "Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend." But as time goes on, the animal's ideal society disintegrates. The pigs, as the smartest animals on the farm, soon take advantage of the "lower" and stupider animals. Corrupted by power, the pigs eventually become cruel, slave-driving leaders that profit from the hard work of the other animals.
Things just keep getting worse and worse, and just when it seems that Orwell's imagination has run out, he throws in an event even more absurd than the previous one. At one point--I kid you not--the pigs become drunk.
Keep in mind, Napoleon is a pig. Now, I know that this is a satire and this made me laugh, but I am still amazed by how heavy-handed Orwell is. If I had to summarize this book in two words, I'd say blatant propaganda.
"That night there came from the farmhouse the sound of loud singing, in which, to everyone's surprise, the strains of Beast of England were mixed up. At about half-past nine Napoleon, wearing an old bowler hat of Mr. Jones's, was distinctly seen to emerge from the back door, gallop rapidly round the yard, and disappear indoors again. But in the morning a deep silence hung over the farmhouse."
It's ironic that Animal Farm is a crusade against Soviet propaganda, but since it's so all-encompassing and one-sided it's in effect propaganda of it's own kind. Orwell's attempt to deliver his message has all the subtlety of a flying brick. I can see little kids mistaking the book for a criticism of pigs, or being shocked to find that pigs are really such cruel animals and consequently taking too much delight in their peperoni pizza from then on . Orwell should be dubbed O' Grand-Writer-Who-Encourages-The-Young-To-Eat-Pork. To anyone over the age of 10, it's clear that this book is a mirror of the Soviet Union at the time, but I do have to give him props for how well imagined everything is. No element of Soviet government is spared--from the embodiment of Lenin in Old Major to Napoleon and the pigs as Stalin and the Communist party, respectively, to the"lower" farm animals as the Russian populace. Perhaps my biggest problem with this book is the way Orwell continually portrayed the "lower" farm animals as idiotic, useless, easily fooled, and all in all, the dumbest things that ever existed. If they're supposed to represent the Russian people, all I can say is...ouch.
Animal Farm is a watered down version of Soviet regime--even the major battles, the political events, are mimicked. As a history nerd, all I can say is: if I wanted to know about it, I would've read it in a textbook. Russian history conveyed by the medium of pigs is just so ridiculous. And it's not that I have anything against allegories: I wasn't bothered by it at all in Narnia, but this just had me snorting in disbelief. Orwell had entirely too much fun writing this book, and I can't say that I had as much fun reading it.
If Animal Farm wasn't so short, I'd see no point in reading it--but since it is such a quick read, it might be worth reading just to see what all the hype is about. It would've been painful if it had been any longer than 150 pages; at 140, it's just about manageable. The allegory is about beaten to death over the course of these pages, and begins to get tiring after the first half of the book. I can see some people actually enjoying it--Orwell did very well in capturing the fable "voice" but at the same time this had the downfall of far too much telling. There were points in the book where my attention was completely lost. But I won't say that reading this book wasn't fun. I laughed quite a few times, in the I-can't-believe-he-actually-wrote-this way.
Ignoramus Teenage Scoop: Let me just say that I don't appreciate having the fact that COMMUNISTS, ARE VERY, VERY BAD shoved down my throat--I get it, you don't have to write a whole novella about it. And honestly, this book reminded me of a Charlotte's Web gone wild. Talking pigs? Check. Lol. And the whole of this book was just so, so silly, I mean c'mon, intelligent animal rebellion?! Holy crap, Orwell. You've picked something that will never, ever happen. You might've had the decency to do something more plausible, like I dunno...robots!!! If you'd written about intelligent robots rebelling against humans and titled it ROBOT FARM I might've actually liked it, who knows? Actually, that sounds like it'd be a really interesting book. Tired of doing all the real work, EVIL TRACTORS AND DISHWASHERS TAKE OVER THE FARM! Or ooh, ooh! ALIENS LAND FROM SPACE AND TAKE OVER THE FARM. Think how many more teenage boys would be interested. :p
Rating on the classics scale: Definitely overrated. Not horrible, but assuredely not "great." I'd give it a 6/10 for actual merit. If you have it lying around your house and a few spare hours and are curious, by all means, read it. But don't go out of your way.
Nobooksnobooksnobooks! the walls cry at her.The whole house is filled with a malignant whispering...READ DA SPARKLY WUNS! READ DA SPARKLY WUNS!
"No!" choco cries as she wipes the chocolate smears from her face. "On the name of my reading honor, I will not!"
READ DA SPARKLY WUNS!
"I WILL NOT READ THEM" she howls heroically into the dark moors of the trembling bookstacks. She raises the might of her chocolate swordpen against the treacherous whispers.
(choco slices of the arm of MALIGNANT WHISPERING)
Choco: Now stand aside, worthy adversary.
MALIGNANT WHISPERING: 'Tis but a scratch.
Choco: A scratch? Your arm's off.
MALIGNANT WHISPERING: No it isn't.
(MALIGNANT WHISPERING resumes whispering)
IF YOU DON READ US, WUT YOU READ?
An idea sparks in choco's head, sparkling like a beacon of auburn, marble-chested hope.
"I WILL READ LITERATURE!"
/end failed attempt to be funny, which has since morphed into a Monty Python steal fest *
Ahem. Perhaps I shouldn't write blog posts right after I've just woken up.
Okay, in case I haven't scared everyone away...
I have a sparkly idea! Deprived of both transportation and new books, sans parents, plus empty house, and this equals...I have nothing to do. Except read the literature I've never had a chance to get to, that has been moldering around for anyone to take
A quick survey of
1. Animal Farm by George Orwell
2. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
3. All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
4. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
5. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemmingway
6. The Secret Agent by Joesph Conrad
7. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
8. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
9. Light in August by William Faulkner
10. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (holy crap, this is a lot of Faulkner)
11. Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham
12. Oxygen by Andrew Miller
13. Madeleine is Sleeping by Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum
14. The Metamorphosis and Other Stories by Franz Kafka
15. An Equal Music by Vikram Seth
16. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
17. The High Window by Raymond Chandler
18. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
19. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
20. Native Son by Richard Wrigth
21. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemmingway
22. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
Ooh, and some books actually from my bookshelf:
23. The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood (I swear I have a literary girl crush on this woman :p)
24. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte ( I'm going to read this one for sure)
25. The Poisonwood Bible by Barabara Kingsolver
26. The Piano Lesson by August Wilson
UPDATE:Pilfering of le parents bookshelves has unearthed these books:
27. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
28. Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier
29. A Yellow Raft in Blue Water by Michael Dorris
30. Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
31. This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald (I <3 Fitzgerald. <3)
32-35: This is where I would say I had Lolita, anything by Tony Morrison, 1984, Push, and all manner of other books I've been wanting to read, BUT DEAR, BOOKISH SISTER has FAILED to purchase these books. *le sigh*
So here is the idea:
Here's what it entails:
Starting Sunday, I read a book everyday, and review it.* I'm not sure if I want to do a more teenaged viewpoint of literature to make it more relatable, or to just do regular reviews.
Teenaged view: LIKE, OMG Heathcliff earns a 10 on the hawt scale! He's as delicious as heath and cliff bars COMBINED!
Regular: The writing in Wuthering Heights is beautiful.
Perhaps a mixture of both?
The bottom line: [insert book] may be called great literature, but it's in essence sentimental drivel. Definitely not worth your time.
Now, I'm not 100% I want to do this. So that's why I'm asking you to vote in the poll (quickly!It closes on Sunday!) niftily located on the top right column.
Also, if you really, really want me to read/review one of the books mentioned, please say so in the comment below. I still haven't decided which ones I want to read. Or if you have any suggestions from the ones listed?
AND IF YOU HAVE ANY OBJECTIONS, SPEAK NOW! I wouldn't want to waste my time with or chase all my followers away with book reviews about books they're not interested in. It's okay, I do have a backlog of a YA reviews that I could write up for this next week, I just don't have any new reading material. I just thought this would be good motivation for me to read those books, and perhaps offer a viewpoint on whether a novel of "great merit" actually is worth reading.
So, in the comments, please tell me if this is something you'd would or wouldn't like to see. Don't be afraid to say it's not. Or ANONYMOUSLY in the poll you can select the "ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?!" option in protest.
*Oh, how I love that movie!
*This is why War and Peace isn't on the list. Can you imagine reading that BEAST in one day?
I have officially returned from the dead, awards, lots of stuff about me, and other needless ramblings
School is over. Crazy horrible insanity of the last two weeks is over. As far as I know, everything on the this-might-send-me-over-the-edge list went well*. And I wasn't sent over the edge.** Really.
And luckilyluckilyluckily, it wasn't strep throat! Just a bad case of something else that was gone within a week.
I am so happy right now. Literally grinning ear to ear. It's like this great burden has been lifted off of me. I am now free to wallow. Lay in bed and do nothing but read. Read, read, read.
And in reading news, I've only managed to read one book in two weeks. But this one book is worth a hundred books. A thousand books. It has skyrocketed to the very top of the favorite books list.
THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald has stolen my reading-heart away. Really. I don't get favorite books often, but this book...it just made my soul sing.
Perhaps I'll write up a review some day, although I doubt I can do it justice.
Also, I've been lucky enough to be given a few awards in the last few weeks.
And who am I awarding these awards to?
Anyone who comments on this post can consider themselves an awardee. Because I love comments. Comments are everything in blogging. And don't be shy. I'll edit this post accordingly so you'll HAVE to take the award.
First off, the Over the Top Award from the amazing Ah Yuan of Gal Novelty. Thank you!
Here are the rules for this award:
1.) Thank and post URL to the blog that gave the award.
2.) Pass the award along to 6 brilliantly over the top blogs (blogs you love!) Alert them so they know to receive the award.
3.) Copy and paste this quiz... Change the answers, ONE word only. (2 are acceptable!)
2. Your hair? Cavemanish
3. Your mother? At airport
4. Your father? At airport
5. Your favorite food? Chocolate
6. Your dream last night? Uneventful
7. Your favorite drink? Green Tea
8. Your dream/goal? Happiness
9. What room are you in? Mine
10. Your hobby? Procrastinating
11. Your fear? Spiders
2. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Europe
13. Where were you last night? Mall
14. Something that you aren't? Organized
15. Muffins? Chocolate chip
16. Wish list item? Books
17. Where did you grow up?
18. Last thing you did? Eat chocolate
19. What are you wearing? Pajamas
20. Your TV? Old
21. Your pets? Dogs
22. Friends? Crazy
23. Your life? Boring
24. Your mood? Exuberant
25. Missing someone? Mom & Sister
26. Vehicle? None
27. Something you're not wearing? Shoes
28. Your favorite store? Barnes & Noble
29. Your favorite color? Green
30. When was the last time you laughed? Today
31. Last time you cried? Last week
32. Your best friend? Funny
33. One place that I go to over and over? School
34. One person who emails me regularly? Friend
35. Favorite place to eat? In-N-Out
Honest Scrap Award from the awesome Stormi at Books, Movies, Reviews, Oh My! and also from the brilliant Sharon O'Donell at Book Dreaming. Thank you!
List ten honest things about yourself and then pass this onto ten other bloggers.
I'll do 20, I guess, since I got the award twice. Sorry if this goes on and on! I know I already did 10 facts earlier, so now you guys know everything about me there is to know:
1. I love alternative/indie music. Favorite bands: The Last Shadow Puppets, Franz Ferdinand, The Killers, Arctic Monkeys, Death Cab for Cutie, The Bravery...I could go on forever.
2. I'm asthmatic. Back when I used to be crazy-soccer & volleyball-playing girl (sometimes as much as four hours of practice a day), this sometimes made it really tough on me.
Go, choco go! Get the ball!
*wheeze, wheeze!* I'm trying coach!
3. I've sprung my ankle so many times I can't even keep count any more. Earlier this year, I was in crutches. More crutches. Then a bit of cast time as well. Fun fun! Part of the reason I had to quit sports--ankles just wouldn't hold up.
4. My mind works in really strange ways. If you knew me, there'd be no denying this. It's okay though. It's not the creepy-weird kind, don't worry. :) You'll probably get a glimpse of it as these facts go on.
5. I want to learn photography so badly. I'm hopeless at drawing. Photography might be something I actually have a chance at. I spend so much of my time surfing the web and looking at beautiful photography, or art ( love Impressionism). I want to be able to do something like that. Create something beautiful. Look at it. Feel my soul sing. Make other people's souls sing.
6. To me, creativity is the most important trait (aside from basic human decency). If you've got it, I can't help but admire you. It's the trait I want to nurture, let grow. It's so important to me to have ideas of my own, explore them, better them.
7. I have the most glorious memories of Europe and China. Insubstantial, mostly. Bits and pieces of beauty, shattered. I like to sit and close my eyes and try to remember, piece it all together. Patchworked buildings. Misty fjords. The Colosseum at sunset. The chocolates under pillows in Hungary. The Great Wall, crowded.
I'm lucky to have even pieces of memories, but I can't help wish for more.
8. I'm the biggest history geek. I get obsessed with time periods, and then I just can't stop. I've got to know anything, everything about them, enough so I can picture myself there.
9. I want to travel so badly that I go on these little fake-travel escapades on Google Earth/Maps. <3 Google Earth. The option where you can go through the streets and see the buildings and everything is about the coolest thing ever invented.
10. My middle sister, who is 3 1/2 years older than me, often gets mistaken for me. We look very similar--exact same hair color, similar height, etc, etc. My oldest sister always says she's adopted since she doesn't look a thing like us. U).
11. I'm lucky to live where I do. I know I complain and complain about the year round heat, the cage of boring surburbia, the lack of seasons. But I live in a cultural melting pot. Everyone is so tolerant---and I know that in a lot of other places in America, it isn't like that at all. 1
2. I'm a workhorse. I'm starting to realize that. Once I commit myself to something, I can't stop. It has to be the best it can be. This is not to be mistaken for perfectionism. Perfect scares me. But not putting a 110% into something I'm committed to is hard for me. I think it's part of the reason I procrastinate so much--I have to shield the workhorse within me so it doesn't destroy myself.
13.I love to take long walks. I get these wonderful ideas during them--fresh air really does do you good.
14. I've run out of bookshelves. There are all these book stacks around my room, teetering unsteadily, ready to come tumbling down at the slightest disturbance. Oh crap, there goes another one! *catastrophic crashing in background* RUUUUUUUN FOR COVER! *book comes flying forward and hits me on forehead* Ouch.
15. I love dogs. I'm a dog-person. Awwwwwwww. PUPPIES! 16.
17. I'm a saver. I still have the money I started saving when I was in elementary school. The only time I spend money is when I buy books. I try not to buy too many books now, because I can just RIB them. It makes me feel sort of guilty sometimes, but reading can get to be an expensive habit, and I try to make sure it's not.
18. I'm shocked that I still have no need for glasses. Perfect 20/20 vision, despite countless hours of squinting at tiny words on books and computers. And everyone else in my family has glasses. I'm the oddity. I hate going to the optometrist because I think it's always going to the year they tell me I need glasses.
19. I still have stuffed animals and dolls in my room. I haven't redecorated since I was eight and we moved here. Ick. And you know what? I never even played with dolls, according to my Mom. My room is the dumping place for all the junk and toys and things my sisters got embarassed with as they got older. Britney Spears CD? Check. Barbie House? Check. Scary puppets? Check. Oh gosh, typing it up makes it sound even worse than it is. (ps most of it is in the closet, so it's really not that bad). OKAY, I REALLY NEED TO REDECORATE!
20. I've played piano since I was three. Crazy, I know--it's mostly because my sisters started and I started too. I don't take lessons anymore, but I like to learn pieces on my own. AND I LOVE CLASSICAL MUSIC, SO THERE! Chopin is my favorite. And Beethoven and Mozart and Bach and Debussy are such fun playing as well. Lovely, all of it.
One Lovely Blog award from the lovely In the Hammock. Thank you!
Here are the rules: Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.
All three of these awards are awarded to:
1. Shannon O'Donnell at Book Dreaming
2. Cleverly Inked
3. Kirthi at Pages
4. Emilia at Punk Writer Kid
5. Amna at Amna Writes
6. Steph at Steph the Bookworm
7. Inkspatters at Ramblings of a Writer
8. Raven at Love Letters to Forever
Annnd....WHOEVER ELSE COMMENTS :)
Lastly--I know this blog post is GINORMOUS--I wanted to share a song that I'm in love with currently: My Mistakes Were Made For You. Please click and listen :) THE LAST SHADOW PUPPETS = win!
*this obliviously happy belief might come crashing down when I see my final Calc score
1. School finals*
2. Calculus finals**
3. Newspaper deadlines: after spending 8 hours at school yesterday designing my layouts and fixing everyone's articles, I will have to write and design everybody's elses*** stuff on Mon/Tue/Weds of this week.
4. Yoga finals/essays: I know, this is just plain wrong.
5. Assorted other extracurriculars
6. An horrible amount of projects/homework/various other methods of torture compounded into a two-week period.
7. Christmas preparations
8. General life
In summation, the next two weeks will be the definition of insanity. I have a HUGE backlog of reviews I haven't had time to write yet, as well as books I definitely won't have time to read.
As much as I love blogging, I think I will have to take a bit of a break for the next two weeks, just so my brain doesn't explode and the world doesn't come to a fiery, crashing end. As long as I don't:
a) go crazy
b) end up in a insane asylum because of craziness
c) end up dead
I WILL BE BACK.
But expect things to be slow around here until around...Dec 18th. December 18th =winter break= freedom= more book time!
So just wanted to write this up so you guys aren't left wondering what happened to me.
And I apologize if this post is either nonsensical or crazy-sounding. I'm running a high fever, and I suspect I'm slightly hallucingenic. OOHH BLUE FLYING BUNNY! Erhmm. NEON CHOCOLATE COMPUTER. Yummy.
Yeah, 98% sure I have strep throat, yet again. asfsdasfasfassfgaesh! Grr. Like, 4th time this year already. If I'm sick, I have strep throat, and I'm sick.
Perfect timing :((((((
To wrap it up, so SORRY for my future absence and I can't wait to be able to get back to blogging! I'll be around occasionally, and if you need to contact me for any reason shoot me an email at chocowrites [at] gmail [dot] com
*reaches for 990th cough drop* Goawaystrepthroatnownownownow!
* somebody just shoot me now. PLEASE.
**this deserves a numbering on it's own
***What a nightmare. Grr. End up having to do everything myself :(
Bought: used copy of Wuthering Heights
1. Prada and Prejudice by Mandy Hubbard: This seems like a cute, fun book and I really like Pride and Prejudice! I think I'll enjoy this one--always been a fan of time travel :)
2. Impossible by Nancy Werlin: The cover is so beautiful that I couldn't resist. Another retelling, this one of Scarborough Fair.
3. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte: I LOVED Jane Eyre--one of my all-time classic favorites--which is by her sister. I had a copy of Wuthering Heights but never got around to reading it--the typeface is better suited for munchkins than my much-abused eyes. So I bought this normally-sized font one for next to nothing, in the hopes that I'll finally read it.
Twelve-year-old Mosca Mye hasn't got much. Her cruel uncle keeps her locked up in his mill, and her only friend is her pet goose, Saracen, who'll bite anything that crosses his path. But she does have one small, rare thing: the ability to read. She doesn't know it yet, but in a world where books are dangerous things, this gift will change her life.
Enter Eponymous Clent, a smooth-talking con man who seems to love words nearly as much as Mosca herself. Soon Mosca and Clent are living a life of deceit and danger -- discovering secret societies, following shady characters onto floating coffeehouses, and entangling themselves with crazed dukes and double-crossing racketeers. It would be exactly the kind of tale Mosca has always longed to take part in, until she learns that her one true love -- words -- may be the death of her.
Fly by Night is astonishingly original, a grand feat of the imagination from a masterful new storyteller.
Fly By Night is the debut of British author Frances Hardinge and was published in 2006. Since then, it has occupied three years running as one of my all time favorite middle grade fantasies. And it just made my review late.
You see, I was paging through my copy in search of quotes to incorporate into this review. Before I knew it, I started re-reading this book. I couldn't help it. I couldn't stop.
I reread it again tonight in one sitting, while the blank blogger new post screen glared at me accusingly. But I don't regret it; it was about time I reread Fly By Night. I haven't for about a month or so, and for me that's been far too long. *
While I was reading this time around, I dogeared every page with something quotable or well-written on it. I had to stop after I'd dogeared 25 pages in a row. The truth of the matter is that Fly By Night is so extraordinarily well-written that I wouldn't hesitate to call it a work of literary genius. It's a classic, it's a monumentally amazing, and it's 483 perfectly-wrought pages that occupy a special place in my reading-heart.
The main character Mosca Mye, a "ferrety-looking girl with unconvincing eyebrows" is both irrepressible and sharp-tongued, defiant and canny. Perhaps best of all, she harbors a love for the written word. As readers, we know that Mosca never intended to burn down her Uncle's mill. In fact, all she remembers is "seeing the wretched lamp sketch a faint letter in white smoke shortly before the dry stems around it started to black and a hesitant flamed wavered first blue, then gold."
But the burning of the mill is not what's important to the story. The significance of that event is that on her way out of town, Mosca Mye attaches herself to one Eponmyous Clent, a flamboyant con-artist who loves words as much as she does. Clent is "plump, in a soft, self-important way" and he talks in a manner that suggests he rather enjoys the sound of his own voice. As far as I'm concerned, I love his dialogue. The words that come out of his mouth are both mesmerizing and wonderful.
I'd like to present A Portrait of Eponymous Clent in his own words: "I am master of the mysteries of words, their meanings and music and mellifluous magic."
Since Mosca is determined to do anything she can to learn words, she does everything she can to stick with Clent. Mosca thinks of words as something to be treasured; "She did not know what they meant, but words had shapes in her mind. She memorized them, and stroked them in her thoughts like the curved backs of cats. Words, words, wonderful words." Clent is her way into the world of adventure, and although he is untrustworthy and unscrupulously dishonest, the two make a a great duo as they traverse around the countryside, involving themselves with gloved felons, a bad-tempered ship captain, an under-the-weather highwayman, the Duke's sister, and the high-powered guilds that hold all the power in the realm. Mosca and Clent tread a fine line between conspiracy and capture.
But what a duo they make! Actually, not a a duo. I nearly forgot to mention Saracen, who I'd like to kidnap from the velvety pages of this story and make my pet. Saracen is a goose and Mosca's only friend. He also happens to be nothing short of devilish. I practically died from laughing when Saracen single-handedly commandeered a boat--captain and sailors still aboard--and when he won a fight against a civet. Saracen is priceless comic material--what's more funny than a deadly goose?--and much like other elements in this book, adds to the humor. For Fly by Night is quite a funny book, along with hordes of other charms it possesses.
Through it's entirety, Fly By Night holds such beauty in between it's pages that it's startling and wondrous and devastatingly brilliant, all at once. This book is so complex, so carefully crafted, that every plot line integrates seamlessly into the story. The Fractured Realm, the name of the world Hardinge creates, is so three-dimensional and inventive that readers will be transported into a world that's based of 18th century England; a world that's so intricately detailed that there is no doubt in my mind that it exists somewhere, if I could just find it. Hardinge has created something with elaborate political intrigue: three guilds vying for supremacy and a Parliament that has been debating over the next king for decades. The religious mythology of Beloved gods who occupy such niches as "She Who Keeps the Vegetable of the Garden Crisp" and "She Who Frightens the Harelip Fairy from the Childbed" is endlessly imaginative. The culture and customs of this invented world are frankly amazing: floating coffeehouses, a town where water bleaches everyone's eyebrows, and a world where books are regarded with such caution that people are afraid to touch words that have not been approved by the guild.
Here are some favorite quotes--I can find no other way to express Hardinge's genius:
"Everybody knew that books were dangerous. Read the wrong book, it was said, and the words crawled around your brain on black legs and drove you mad, wicked mad."
"The world is like a broken wrist that healed the wrong way, and will never be the same again."
"You, sir, are a romantic, and I'm afraid the condition is incurable. "
"If wits were pins, the man would be a veritable hedgehog"
"To the east and west rose two spires, the city stretched between them. Behind a long pie crust of crumbling wall clustered a mosaic of roofs, and a great dome that seemed in the dull light to be glossy and ethereal as a soap bubble. To the west along the waterside unfinished ships bared rib cages of stripped wood the sky. The creak and crack of the shipyard was a faint as a cricket orchestra."
If there's any book that's a "reader" book, this is it. It's clear that Hardinge has a love affair with words herself, much as her starring duo does. Every effortlessly crafted paragraph, every sentence, every word, is evidence of this fact. This book will be a joy to anyone who revels in beautifully crafted language.
I'll say this now--as you've no doubt tired of my incredibly long-winded, rambly review-- it does not matter what age you are or what genres you like to read. It does not matter. If you are a reader--someone who delights in the art of the written word, who wants a book that will wow you, read Fly By Night. Read it and love it, as I do.
*I'm one of those obsessive readers that once I get a favorite book, I reread it constantly.