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Tag Archives: Literature

Sometimes I Hate Being Right

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As I predicted, I’ve been wasting WAY too much time in the last few days playing Sims. Why is it so hopelessly addicting? I can’t seem to drag myself away even when it’s not that interesting. I suck at life.

I’ve been reading a couple of vampire books lately. First it was Dracula and now Interview with a Vampire. They’re both good. Go ahead and read them. On your nook if you’re as cool as me.

All this literature has been causing me to contemplate the pros and cons of immortality. Just think of all you could accomplish if you lived forever. You really could see every award-winning movie, read every decent book ever published, play Sims for as long as you want without feeling guilty. But would having to drink blood be a fair price for the privilege of infinite reading time?

I also wanted to know if vampires have to get haircuts. They’re not technically alive. They don’t age. Different novels have different rules about whether or not they even breathe or have heartbeats. Apparently Edward Cullen doesn’t have a beating heart, hence no blood flow, yet somehow he can still get an erection to have unfathomably amazing vampire sex. Oh, and semen to make half-vampire babies. Seems inconsistent, but whatever.

But I can’t recall any author ever addressing whether or not their hair grows. Does that mean they have to have the same hairstyle for all of eternity? That seems boring.

These are the thoughts that come out of my head. You know your thoughts are just as weird. Don’t lie.

Goth

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I’ve previously proclaimed my disdain for Dickens, and it’s no secret that I’m ambivalent toward Victorian literature in general.  I know a lot of people will be clutching their pearls when they read that I don’t particularly care for Jane Austen or the Bronte Sisters.  All that decorum and repression goes against my American rugged individualist sensibilities.  Just say how you feel, ladies.  Be free.  Sheesh!

Gothic literature, on the other hand, I adore.  The Victorian idea of love I find frustrating and borderline nauseating, but what Victorians found frightening is delicious.  From the first time I read Poe’s Tell-Tale Heart in the 9th grade, I knew I loved the more horrible aspects of this period.

I recently started reading Dracula on my Nook, which is awesome.  I haven’t had to charge it once since Christmas.  But that’s not the point.  The point is, this dark and creepy novel lives up to its reputation.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed following Jonathan Harker through Dracula’s castle and reading the Captain’s account of the ship crashing in to Whitby.

I’ve seen the movie several times, and love it.  But reading the book has been a completely worthwhile experience.  There’s much more subtlety in the novel.  And when you compare it to modern horror novels, it gives a sense of refinement rather than vulgarity, which makes it seem that much more tense.

When Victorians turn dark, somehow they become much more interesting.  This glimpse into the Victorian psyche is so much more fascinating than when they’re falling in love and trying to find husbands.  I don’t know what it is, but I just devour it.

Read Dracula.  Don’t wait until Halloween.  Just do it now.

Overstocked

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I have a lot of lists.  They keep me from making important decisions like what I should read or which movie I should watch.  The book list started probably ten years ago when I had a baby at home and was taking 23 credit hours a semester, doing a double major, and working two part-time jobs.  I was up to my ears in reading for school, but there were so many other books I wanted to read, so many other classes I wanted to take but didn’t have time for.  So I started keeping a list of them all.  It used to be in a notebook, but eventually grew so much that I had to put it on the computer.  My list currently stands at 261 books to read before I die.

I also believe one can never own too many books.  I tried to count all my books once before moving to Taiwan.  There were over 250.  And those were all books I’d actually read, not ones I just bought to keep around because they were pretty.  I also acquired quite a few books while in Taiwan, but once again found myself moving to another island with only what I could fit in my suitcase.  So only about half of them survived the cut.  Now I have one sad sparse shelf of books.  And my acquisition has been severely slowed down by my pledge to read books from the library rather than buying them.  Life on the islands is expensive.  I need as much free stuff as I can get.

The problem is, at my most recent visit to the library, three books that I had been waiting weeks and weeks for all arrived at once.  Now I have four books to finish in three weeks.  I’m a pretty slow reader.  This is going to be more like my college days.  Don’t expect to see me much.  I’ll be too busy with Greene, Ford, James, and Kerouac.  I love a challenge.  Not sure if I’ll be able to manage this one, but I’ll give it my best shot.

Adaptation

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Before we get started, let me rewind two minutes and tell you what just happened.

I scoff, “I got six views yesterday.”

Geoff replies, “You suck.”

And it’s true.  It’s really true.  And yet I’m still writing.

The library is thwarting me.  The book I requested has been “in transit” for like two weeks now.  Pretty sure it’s coming from Tahiti on the back of a turtle.  I finally finished my other in between book, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.  So I had nothing to read.  This, my friends, is a tragedy.  I skulked out to my shelf looking for something to re-read and chose The Hunger Games.

I had forgotten just how bleak this book is.  Every single sentence is filled with pain and tragedy.  But naturally, as I began reading, I started thinking about the film adaptation.  I think Jennifer Lawrence will be a fantastic Katniss.  I saw her in Winter’s Bone, and she was amazing.  She showed she definitely has the guts to play a cold, conflicted character.  I’ve seen promo photos of Gale and Peeta.  I have no opinion on those two actors.  I’m not familiar with either of them.  Elizabeth Banks drives me nuts, but so does Effie Trinket, so maybe it will all work out.  I am absolutely thrilled with the casting of Woody Harrelson as Haymitch.  I think he will be perfect.

My concern is how they will convey all of the exposition Katniss gives us in the first few chapters.  There’s a whole apocalypse to explain, followed by the development, rebellion, and suppression of a new civilization.  Not to mention the incident with Katniss’s father, and her mother’s subsequent debilitating depression.  It’s a lot to explain.  It’s done brilliantly through Katniss’s first person narration in the novel.  Yet I wonder how all of this is going to be accomplished on screen.    Will they have narration?  Katniss doesn’t really talk to anybody but Gale.  Will they do it through conversation between those two?  Will they have some sort of prologue?  I’ve noticed that they have cast someone to play Katniss’s father, so I’m assuming there will be flashbacks.

I really hope this movie is good.  The director/writer, Gary Ross, has some great credits including Seabiscuit and Pleasantville, and Suzanne Collins is also given a writing credit, so it seems that they’ve put a great team together.  The book definitely has a lot of cinematic potential.  I’m worried that they’re going to go too far and add in a bunch of things that didn’t really happen to make it more “exciting.”  I also hope they don’t skimp on the gruesome terror of the games themselves.  The stark horror is what makes The Hunger Games such an intriguing book.

I will see the movie, regardless, and I’m confident it will be worth my time.  If you haven’t read The Hunger Games yet, go get it right this very second.  And just go ahead and pick up the other two because you’ll want to pick up the next one the moment you finish the first.

Throw in the Towel

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It’s only October.  I still have three months to write every single day in this blog.  Absolutely nothing interesting is happening to me these days.  I have nothing exciting to report.  So why am I still writing?  I think it might be time to give it up.  Blogs should be interesting and well-written.  They should have cool pictures of cool stuff taken by cool people who are cool.  They should not be boring.  It’s time to quit.

Here’s the thing.  I’m a terrible terrible quitter.  I have a bit of a compulsive nature.  I can’t give things up.  I can’t let them go.  I’ve read thousands of pages of Dickens, each one of them torture, just because I said I would.  I’ve suffered through a lot of bad books and movies because of my inability to quit.  So the likelihood of me leaving the blogosphere before the end of the year is unlikely, unfortunately for you.

I’ve been reading Ruth Hall by Fanny Fern.  It’s sort of the American version of a Victorian novel.  Same period, similar style, but with a considerable amount of independent spirit thrown in, lest you mistake the characters entirely for British snobs.  After a series of tragedies, Ruth supports herself by writing for a number of local newspapers.  She quickly gains fame and finally collects her articles in a book and makes her fortune.  She discovers a talent in herself that she didn’t know she had, and it saves her family.

I also listened to an interview on Fresh Air in which Terry interviews an author about a book in which a failed rock musician continues to record in secret and creates and elaborate fantasy around his fake band.  Terry asks if a person isn’t really good at the art they pursue, should they even continue to pursue it.

Ruth was a naturally excellent writer.  I am not.  So should I continue to pursue this art?  Should I continue to devote my time to something that is of no ultimate consequence?  On the one hand, the audience is so small, its effect on others is rather inconsequential.    On the other hand, random strangers occasionally stumble across this blog and are exposed to it.  Perhaps it’s better to spare the world of my boring life.

I probably won’t.  I’ll probably keep writing.  Because I said I would.  And I can’t quit.  It’s not in my nature.

Magic+Food=Great Fiction

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With all the excitement of birthday phone calls and what not this morning, I nearly forgot to write my post.  Gosh, I’m getting so bad about that.

I recently started reading Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel.  I’ve been wanting to read this book for ages, and I finally got around to it.  I realize it was published in the mid  80’s so most of you have probably already read it, but in case you haven’t, you should definitely pick up a copy.  It’s absolutely delightful.

The book takes place on a ranch in Mexico.  Like nearly every piece of Latin American literature I’ve ever read, it’s set amidst a rebel upheaval.  Geurilla warfare seems absolutely pervasive.  What’s up with that?  It follows the sad life of Tita, the youngest daughter  doomed to serve her mother until she dies.  Tita spends most of her time in the kitchen, and her emotions have an astounding affect on the people who eat the food she prepares.

This book could not be more perfect for me.  It combines two things that I absolutely adore, food and magic.  It’s always so difficult to explain magical realism to people who don’t know what it is.  You really have to experience it to understand it.  Fantastical things happen in the everyday world, and people just accept it as normal.  It’s not spells or wizardry, more like supernatural elements permeating real life.  Nobody ever questions whether ghosts exist or that food cooked by someone with a broken heart could make the person who eats it ill.  That’s just how it is.

This story is told through the traditional family recipes that Tita prepares.  Each chapter is based on a certain recipe, and the preparation of that recipe and the ensuing action are what moves the story forward.  It’s romantic and heartbreaking and delicious.  Get lost in Like Water for Chocolate.  You’ll love it.

Never Quite As Good

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SPOILER ALERT!!!  If you haven’t seen Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2 yet, and you don’t want to hear anything about it, turn back now.  But please come back and read this later.  I’d love to hear your opinions on the film.

Overall, I’d say the film was pretty damn good.  A fitting tribute to such a complex, well-loved, and enduring work of literature.  However, there were some changes that I thought were just ridiculous, and some moments where I felt like the filmmakers were overindulgent with the special effects.  That being said, there were some absolutely brilliant scenes in this film.  Alan Rickman took my breath away.

I’ve only gotten to see it once so far, so I didn’t quite have the chance to absorb every detail.  I found the character of Griphook to be intensely chilling.  They did so many creepy close ups of him.  It was very ominous.  I also thought Helena Bonham Carter was brilliant as Hermione polyjuiced into Bellatrix.  It’s amazing how posture can affect a persons demeanor so much.  You’d think it would be hard to speed up the pace from what it is in the book.  Everything from Gringott’s on happens in one day, but they still managed to fly forward through time, skimming over vital information.

I loved the abused and defeated look of the dragon.  However, Hermione would NEVER ever in a million years suggest riding a dragon.  She hates flying.  She would never be the first to jump on the back of a huge flying, fire-breathing, angry beast.

I did really appreciate Harry’s line after coming out of the lake that every time they spend months making plans, they never work.  That’s so true.  It’s time Harry finally acknowledged it.

Aberforth really did resemble Dumbledore at first glance, which I found surprisingly heart wrenching.  But because of the total lack of internal conflict for Harry about Dumbledore potentially using him as a pawn, that scene lacked poignancy.  It was stirring when Harry said “I trusted the man I knew,” but I knew what was really supposed to happen.

Neville was fantastic, apart from that completely ridiculous monologue he gave when he thought Harry was dead.  Much like Ron’s ball of light speech, it just made me roll my eyes.  Sentimental hogwash.  But otherwise, I loved this new take-charge, lead the pack Neville Longbottom.  I also loved the bit they added about him having a thing for Luna and running off to tell her before it’s too late.  See, I don’t mind changes if they add something to the film.  There have been quite a few moments throughout the films that I’m sure Jo Rowling wishes she would have thought of.  Anyway, I thought that was a hilarious and touching moment for Neville.  I also loved it when Seamus got to blow up the bridge.  So perfect for his character.  I wanted to give somebody a high five.  Oh, and Dean Thomas is huge, right?

The siege of the castle was pretty spectacular.  I loved the bit where the teachers and Order members were putting all the protective spells around the castle.  I also thought the giants were really scary.  I didn’t mind seeing more of the fighting happening during the battle.  I thought it was visually appealing and added to the story.  In the books, we only get to hear about the aftermath of the battle because Harry isn’t really involved, so it was exciting to get to see it.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Kelly McDonald as The Grey Lady.  I think I had read once that she was playing that role, but I forgot until I saw her face.  I love her.  Not sure why they decided to make her so scary, but it worked fine for me.

The fiend fire scene was intense.  It looked just like I imagined it would.  Anybody know why Crabbe wasn’t there?

My favorite part of the film was the moments with Snape.  He has to be one of the most complex and layered characters I’ve ever read, and I was so pleased that Alan Rickman finally got to show a bit of range.  He played it so cool to the very end.  Even when he knew he was going to die.  And the way he died was so horrific.  When he looked into Harry’s eyes one last time…  And all his scenes in the pensieve were fantastic.  When he finds Lily’s body, it tore my heart out.

The scene in the forest makes me sob every time I read it, and I admit, when he saw his mother’s face, I shed a tear.  I think it makes me wish I could see my own mother again.  And King’s Cross was excellent.  They left out so much from earlier in the story that there wasn’t much left for Dumbledore to say, but I thought this was Michael Gambon’s best performance as Dumbledore.  The tone was just right.

The fight between Voldemort and Harry, I thought, was a bit overdone, I’m guessing for the sake of 3D.  (I saw the normal version.  I don’t care for 3D).  If I had come to the movie fresh, without the knowledge and expectations of multiple readings of the book, I might have enjoyed it more.

I also thought the epilogue was just right.  The tone was sweet, but not overly sentimental.  To see the trio as adults, happily sending their own children off to school, knowing that Hogwarts had returned to the way it should be was the perfect ending.

It’s Harry Potter.  Of course I loved it, and I’ll see it a hundred times.  Even with all the changes, I still had a great time.  I apologize for writing so much.  It was a long movie, and my love for Harry Potter is deep.  So, what did you think?