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Archive for the ‘Lisanti Book Club’ Category

Where would we be in this life without books?  T’is a question I ponder often.  I for one would be completely lost if it weren’t for some of the great literary works of man.  Then I think how the majority of our population has completely discounted the act of reading for pleasure almost all together.  This fact saddens me deeply at the imbecilic future the masses are doomed to live.  If this is the case then it is a bleak future we all are to face.

For those of us who do still enjoy the written word and if you are reading this I would assume you must not hate it for this blog is still more content then visual or audio.  Every so often I like to share what I have been reading and what is worth your time.

Book XXXI: Fates Worse Then Death, Kurt Vonnegut, Putnam 1991, 240 pages.
“Why should they behave well, quite certain as they were that neither heaven nor hell awaited them? Virtue was its own reward.”  Kurt Vonnegut just may be one of the more important writers of the twentieth century.   Definitely one of the best to come out of the world wars camp. For myself this was actually my first reading of his and it so happened to be one of his last works.  It was enough to spark my interests.  Fates Worse Then Death was more of a collection of random thoughts and memoirs for the author looking back over his exceptional life and career then an actual novel.  The book reminded me of a more sophisticated and educated version of SurfingRuinedMyLife.net.  Its a fast easy read and worth the time.

Book XXXII: A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens, 1859, Wordsworth Classics Edition, 1993, 321 Pages.
Ah yes what may have been Dickens’ greatest novel and one of my all time favorites has been inspiring audiences for years.  If I had to pick three novels to be stuck on an island with this would surely be one.  The plight of one of literature’s infamous anti heroes, Sydney Carton is presented.  A man one can’t help but to both love and despise at the same time.  A man who despite all evil manages to love better then every seemingly decent character in the story.    In the end he redeems himself beautifully.  I have read this work 10 times and have at least another ten in me.  “When you see your own bright beauty springing up anew at your feet, think now and then that there is a man who would give his life, to keep a life you love besides you.”
taleoftwocities

Currently I am reading The Ambassadors by Henry James.  I am about half way through and at the moment have not had the most time for reading with all the usual distractions in my life.  Happy reading.

 

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I have recently gotten a few messages/comments about what happened to the book club.  Some even asked if maybe I have killed so many brain cells from all the drinking and black outs that I might not even have the capacity to read anymore.  Never fear my friends I have not turned into a blabbering idiot just yet.  (hmm…do I even read most of what I write here cause all this site is composed of is the rants of a blabbering idiot).  Anyhow for those who have been wondering what literary works have recently tickled my brain here is what I have read over the past few months since the last time I decided to write a book club entry. In chronicle order from when I read it.

Book XXVI: The Prince and the Pauper, Mark Twain 1882, Bantam Classic Edition, October 1982, 219 pages.

What can I say I love satire, fuck my life is one.  Mark Twain has never failed to write a satire I have not enjoyed.  His wit in my opinion is surpassed by few.  In this classic he takes on the absurdity of the English monarchy and rule in the mind 1500’s in a story of a case of mistaken identity.  The Prince of Whales inadvertently switches place with a common London impoverished youth whom he looked similar to.  The novels plays out the misadventures of both as they become accustomed to their new lives.  I wouldn’t call this the best Twain novel I have ever read, but it is a short andan enjoyable read.  Certainly good beach reading.  Ironically I pretty much finished this waiting for the tide at Emma Wood.

Book XXVII: Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin, 1956, 224 pages

“People who believe that they are strong willed and the masters of their destiny can only continue to believe this by becoming specialist in self deception.”  This was actually a Heather pick.  I make very few forays into modern literature on my own accord.  If someone in my life gives me something to read that was import to him/her then I make it the next book on my list.  I have found you can learn a lot about a person by what he reads or doesn’t for that matter.  Don’t ask me what I learned about Heather from this one cause I still can’t put my finger on it.  Giovanni’s Room takes place in 1950’s France and is the story of a bisexual early twenties male’s struggle to come to terms with his homosexuality, which eventually becomes him and his lovers undoing.  Baldwin does a masterful job of writing about the some what unpleasant and unsettling subject of homosexuality as it pertains to Americans in the 1950’s yet I would say still to an extent holds true today.   As for me the book reminded me of one two many nights at the Wild Cat.

B00k XXVIII: Persuasion, Jane Austen 1818, Signet Classic Edition, 1996, 285 pages

“She Learned Romance as she grew older-the natural sequel of an unnatural beginning.”  Austen’s portrayal of 18oo’s England and its upper class is always so remarkably splendid.  I love the manners and the courtships.  All the little acts of politeness that has all but been forgotten in today’s crude society.   I can escape to Austen’s world any time I like just by picking up one of her books.  I am pretty sure at the time I read this I needed such.   Persuasion  was her last novel and was not published till after her death.  Anne the middle daughter of three from a falling yet good standing family is forced at an early age to break a love engagement with a Naval officer as he is not considered an appropriate candidate for a women of her rank.  Years later he is thrown back into her life except this time as a man who has made his fortune.  At the same time another suitor, a family relation who would make the perfect societal match also steps into the game.  Anne is torn between her childhood love and saving her family’s good name.  Like I stated earlier Austen is always a good read and I enjoyed Persuasion as much as any.  Totally worth a read if you feel in the mood for that romance thing.

Book XXVIII: As You Like It, William Shakespeare 1599-1600, Signet Classic Edition, 1998, 227

“With a priest that lacks Latin and a rich man that hath not the gout; for the one sleeps easily because he cannot study, and the other lives merrily because he feels no pain; the one lacking the burden of lean and wasteful learning, the other knowing no burden of heavy tedious penury.  These time ambles withal…With a thief to the gallows; for though he go as softly as foot can fall, he thinks himself too soon there.”  So do you notice the pattern here.  I got lost in Austen and then subsequently lost in my own turbulent love life (see “I Still Wear My Heart on My Sleeve” blogs, PART I, PART II, PART III).   Shit maybe I should have read Dostoevsky instead and my current state of things would be a bit more palatable.  Anyway with the state of things at this time in Lisanti Land Shakespeare made sense.  I chose As You Like It to get lost in the “Forest of Arden” for a while.   Orlando’s quest to find and win Rosalind’s heart seemed a perfect fit since I was sort of in the same parallel.  Actually a funny thing happened to me about two days after I finished the play.  I was playing my Saxophone down at Leadbetter Beach in front of my house, a common occurrence for me whenever I find myself in hard times of introspection, depression, or just plain boredom.  Those of you who complain I don’t perform enough find your way down to Leads after dark and you just may her me blaring hip jazz into the darkness of the night.  I had finished blowing and was walking back to my apartment when I was stopped by a woman who had been listening to me play for a bit.  We got to talking and turns out As You Like It is one of her favorite Shakespeare play of all time.  We ended up talking till nearly 5am.  She moved to Oregon or something like that directly after our conversation and is now engaged and doing well.  Crazy right?  The power of Shakespeare.  Anyway I know most people get down on him because of the language, but it really is beautiful and once you get used to reading it you find yourself engrossed in his amazing stories.

Book XXIX: The Scarlet Pimpernel, Baroness Emmuska Orczy 1905, Pocket Books Enriched Classic Edition, 2004, 356 pages.

“Strange extremes meet in love’s pathway”.  My life ended up leveling out into a sort of crazy semblance of its former self only completely different as I embarked on yet another very serious relationship and all the stupidity, anger and frustration that goes with such. Oh yeah and I suppose there were some good moments too, though I stress the word moments.  Wait, I am still stuck in it at press time.  “Stupid is as stupid does” classic Forrest Gump.  Who know we could learn so much from a retard.  The Scarlet Pimpernel is a swatch buckling good time (ok, it said that on the cover).  In all seriousness it is a really cool historical fiction work about a league of English gentleman who took it upon themselves to save French aristocrats who were destined for guillotine during the French Reign of Terror.  Its a roller coaster ride of narrow escapes and near encounters with death.  Throw in a little love story for good measure and you have a winner in my reckoning.  Definitely worth a read and is a very high paced novel that can easily be read in a few short sittings.

Book XXX: Two Years Before the Mast, Richard Henry Dana, Jr. 1840, Signet Classic Edition, 2000, 391 pages.

I am not really a non-fiction reader though at the moment it seems that has been the bulk of my reading, soon to change.  This novel is basically Dana’s first hand account of his own personal sea going voyage as a common sailor after he had dropped out of Harvard due to health related issues.  His journey took him around Cape Horn to trade for cow hides in California during the 1830’s.  As a new Californian myself I found his descriptions and commentary on California coast rather intriguing.   It is also a perfect historically accurate look at what a sea fares’ life during that time period was like.  Dana spares no detail in his descriptions and insights making the book a bit of a slow read though very interesting.   Eventually the book was responsible for the early US settlement of the state.  Its not the most thrilling read but if you ever wondered about California or sailing during this time period you will be hard pressed to find a more thorough account then Two Years Before the Mast.

Well there you go, every book I have read over the last six months or so.  Normally I would have read double that amount, but I have been crazy busy and my life super hectic.  Currently I am reading Fates worse then Death, by Kurt Vonnegut.   Wow this was exhausting.  I need to try and stay on top of this blog more.  Thanks to John Mauriello who on my recent San Francisco trip mentioned that I had not wrote about what I had been reading in quite some time.

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Yes I have become one of those crazy book people. At my current rate I will be dead before I get to read all of these novels.

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Book XXV: The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins, 2008, 374 pages

“You don’t forget the face of the person who was your last hope…I wonder if she will enjoy watching me die.”  These two lines should set the tone and mindset for the entire novel.  In The Hunger Games Collins tells the tale of a dark future for man kind in which the divisions between the haves and have nots are great and control is instilled with fear.  Just like its predecessors, 1984 by George Orwell and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, The Hunger Games paints a picture of complete class control with little upward mobility for those of the lower ranks.  I for one can never get enough of these tales of warning of future Utopian societies based solely on the disappearance of the individual for the good of the whole.   Collins designs on paper what is to look like a rather civilized society. that is until the reader finds out that once a year an event takes place that involves children from age 12-18 fighting each other in an arena to the death until only one remains for the entertainment of the entire civilization.

For me the novel plays with the age old idea behind a mob killing.  The atrocity of taking a human life and especially that of a child is naturally appalling, but work it into a popular entertainment format and instill fear into the people who oppose it and all of a sudden it becomes a yearly celebrated tradition.  If one should take anything from The Hunger Games it is that if something seems inherently wrong to a person then that person should do everything in his power to stop it even if it costs said person’s life.   I have read way too many of these works and have traced them all to a future we are all headed to if changes are not made soon.

As far as the work itself goes I must say that I found the story to be written at a very easy level of literacy.  Since the book was geared to a younger audience and a less educated reader then myself I will let it slide.  On another note considering the narrative is written in first person from the mouth of an impoverished, poorly educated 16 year old girl the wording makes perfect sense.   My final thought is that it was 1984 meets “The Running Man” only with out a bad performance by Arnold Schwarzenegger.  I guess Hollywood produced from what I heard a pretty shitty movie of the same title on this book.  All things considered it was a fast read that I did enjoy.  If you want some good beach reading The Hunger Games is just that.

For our next book, XXVI lets go back to some higher order literature and enjoy The Prince and the Pauper, by Mark Twain.  Happy reading everyone.

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Book XXIV: The Sea-Wolf, Jack London, 1904, 284 pages

“Life is a mess.  It is like yeast, a ferment, a thing that moves and may move for a minute, an hour, a year, or a hundred years, but that in the end will cease to move.  The big eat the little that they may continue to move, the strong eat the weak that they may retain their strength.  The lucky eat the most and move the longest.”  London is by far one of my favorite American authors second maybe to Thoreau.  His own personal struggle for survival and thirst for adventure translates right into his writing making for some of the most realistic and insightful fiction I have ever laid eyes on.  In the Sea-Wolf he challenges the reader with idea of Darwinism and civility as applied to the human spirit.  Basic plot line is that a well to do gentleman dandy finds himself stranded aboard a brutish sealing schooner and is forced by the hand of a ruthless captain to work as the ships cabin boy in order to earn his keep.  He must cast away all of the morals and teachings of a civilized society to survive.  I am not going to tell you any more.  Sea-Wolf will take you on an epic journey and harsh look at the human animal as a whole.  I highly recommend giving it a read.

For our next book, XXV lets embark on The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins.  I know its rare that I buy into popular reading.  Especially those that have been hyped up by both the media and made into a movie.  Luckily I live under a rock, by choice and rarely go to the movies.  Mauriello recommended it to me and being a person who’s literary opinion I truly respect I am giving it a read.  Also I scored at a thrift store yesterday for fifty cents.  Got to love a bargain.

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Book XXIII: Rebecca, Daphne Du Maurier, 1938, 457 pages

“I am glad it can not happen twice, the fever of first love.  For it is a fever, and a burden, too, whatever the poets may say.” Folks all I can say about this novel is WOW!  It was that good.  It is rare for me to pick up a piece of modern literature, but it was modern British literature and  came very highly recommended.  Ironically this pick proceeded Othello which set the tone for Rebecca quite nicely.  My hat is off to Du Maurier as a writer her descriptive style and articulation was off the charts for me.  It has been a while since I have not been able to put down a book.  I almost could have housed it in one sitting.  From the very first page I was taken by it.  Usually I am not a big fan of writing done in first person, but at times I was so in tune with the main character I may have well been her.  Mystery or thriller I am still not sure, maybe a little of both.  All I can say is if you have not yet done so, get a copy right now and read it.

For Book XXIV lets go back to American Literature and keep things in the 20th century with Jack London’s The Sea Wolf.  I was very impressed by The Call of the Wild and since have considered London one of my favorite writers.  Here is to another great literary experience.

This was Hitchcock's version of what Manderley was suppose to look like.  I had never heard of the movie till after I read the book and it was pretty much how I envisioned the estate too.

This was Hitchcock’s version of what Manderley was suppose to look like. I had never heard of the movie till after I read the book and it was pretty much how I envisioned the estate too.

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Book XXII: Othello, by William Shakespeare, 1604, 127 pages

“Forth of my heart those charms, thine eyes, are blotted.  Thy bed, lust stained, shall with lust’s blood be spotted.” Ah there are few works more disparaging then a Shakespearean tragedy.  It seems every four novels or so I find myself picking up a work by the master playwright.  Othello is considered by many critics to be one of Shakespeare’s greatest of his tragedies.  Somehow our great public education system allowed me to fall through the cracks on this one, never reading in either high school or college.  Luckily I found  a copy at a thrift shop a while back for 75 cents.  It seems almost a crime that a Michael Connelly work was going for $3.  Then again no one reads anymore anyway.

A story of love, deception and honor Othello does not fail to appeal to one’s own struggles in life on some level or another.  For me it was the lesson of always trust your own personal feelings and instincts over those of another and do not be rash to act until all the facts have been laid out.  Overall I found Othello to be a rather entertaining work although far from my favorite of Shakespeare’s.  That being said it is a decent read and well worth your time.

For Book XXIII lets move back in to modern British literature with Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.  The book was gift from a dear friend of mine in an early edition hard cover no less and was also highly recommended by the special lady in my life.  So if you missed Othello pick it up and give it a read or grab a copy of Rebecca and read along with me.  Or just turn on the TV and watch some pointless trash.  The choice is yours.  Don’t buy into the hype.
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Book XXI: Mrs. Dalloway, Written by Virginia Woolfe, 1925, 197 pages

“Here he was walking across London to say to her in so many words that he loved her.  Which one never does say, he thought. Partly one’s lazy; partly one’s shy.”  How can one not love the elegance of the written word and Woolfe is a master of such.  She has always been one of my favorite writers along the lines of character development, sentence structure and flow of content.  Plot on the other hand has always been one of those tough ones for me to stomach with her and Mrs. Dalloway did not change my opinion.  The entire novel took place in one day and night and focused on a party.  Yes the novel is suppose to be a satire/expose on the British upper class society, but give me a break.  It took me nearly four months to finish this book cause it was like watching paint peel off the wall.  At least in the case of the latter some little kid might walk by and eat a piece to give a mild bit of entertainment.  If she intended to show how dry and boring society life is in London then she certainly did prove her point.  Its not a terrible read, but I just couldn’t get into this one.

For Book XXII lets go back to Shakespeare who for plot rarely went wrong.  I think I could use a little drama in my current monotonous life so why not Othello.  Happy reading everyone!   

 

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