September 30, 2011

I’ll be skipping this weekend in the post-a-day. Back on Monday! 🙂

Favourite romance book

September 30, 2011

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Bazinga!

A little Middle Ages humour there for all of you.

Seriously, though, it’s a good read. I liked it.

My favourites are the books and movies that are both good, but due to minor changes, tell very different stories. One of these is Fight Club; my favourite is probably The Shipping News.

A book that disappointed me

September 28, 2011

When books do that, it’s usually their endings:

Exhibit A: Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner.

And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. This is what I am and what I am about. I can understand why a system built on a pattern must try to destroy the free mind, for it is the one thing which can by inspection destroy such a system. Surely I can understand this, and I hate it and I will fight against it to preserve the one thing that separates us from the uncreative beasts. If the glory can be killed, we are lost.

p. 132 of the Penguin ed. of East of Eden.

The Misanthrope

September 26, 2011

This play was a gem! And sadly under-attended. I think part of it might be a great number of misconceptions about the play–that it would be stuffy, or silly (or, as the ladies behind us suggested, that it was written in the 17th century, about the 18th century[??]). And there are stuffy and silly characters, at least at first. But the verse is so well-constructed (adapted for English by Richard Wilbur) and here, so well-delivered, that even the stuffiest and silliest characters (except perhaps Kelli Fox’s devilishly good Arsinoe) have an admirable depth of feeling.

Philinte and Eliante, the second couple in the play, feel too good to be true, but Juan Chioran and Martha Farrell imbue them with a reality and a gravity. Sarah Topham as Celemine broke my heart, first when we see her pain at having caused her lover pain, and then when she has to refuse him to stay in the society she (I think reasonably) loves.

Ben Carlson has adapted very strongly to comedy and is brilliant here, leaving us with the play’s conundrum: is the misanthrope a hero, or a fool?

Favourite female character

September 26, 2011

Why are most of the most memorable characters and books the ones we encounter in childhood? I reread her book so often, it’s like this character became a part of me as a young person, and is, still, now.

Vicky Austin and her family are in a series of books by Madeleine L’Engle. I liked them better than the Murry family from the other major series of books; the Murrys always seemed more like types to me, perfect even in their imperfections. Vicky has the same joys, sorrows, strengths and imperfections that I think we all do, and the writing is more believable, maybe because in my favourite book (A Ring of Endless Light) the narrative is more closely aligned with Vicky’s perspective.

Besides, what teenager doesn’t want 3 boys after her and to swim with the dolphins? As I got older Vicky’s story showed me (aside from its spiritual dimensions) that we’re never as awkward as we feel; there are always more boys, and more grand opportunities for living, than we think.

Favourite male character

September 25, 2011

I could make all kinds of noises about my favourite male character being Dexter Morgan or Winston Smith…but the fact of the matter is for sheer memorable-ness and love…

It’s gotta be Gilbert Blythe.

It’s been a few years since I read it, so I can’t go into detail, but I know that East of Eden is my favourite book by Steinbeck. It’s painful to read–the recognition that a person can be evil and the dissolution of bonds of father- and brotherhood are terrible. But there is redemption in the closing pages and it is another book that left me crying and breathing hard.

My favourite author

September 23, 2011

Drumroll please…..

It’s Steinbeck.

I’m a lover of the short story, and that’s where I started. I think The Pearl was probably the first. When I loved that, my teacher recommended Of Mice and Men. Then my mother bought me a 40s edition collected short stories, and a first edition Grapes of Wrath. In between, as I’ve said, I loved In Dubious Battle.

I think his style suits my taste–somewhere between the concise-ness of Hemingway and the poetic-ness of Lawrence. I love the way he always brings the immediate story of the characters together with a broader story of the human condition (most obviously in the structure of Grapes of Wrath). And I love tracking his development as a writer through the early, more mystical novels and stories, to the novels and stories concentrating on the working poor, back to the more interior world of East of Eden and Winter of our Discontent (and I love the layers of meaning added to the stories through his use of classical titles).

I was told by someone once that they had “outgrown” Steinbeck. If that’s something that can happen, I hope it never happens to me.