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Posts Tagged ‘American Literature’

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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 XIII: The First Forty Nine Short Stories, Ernest Hemingway,  1938, 499 pages

Earnest Hemingway is one of my favorite authors.  The guy knew how to write and everything he wrote had some deep hard meaning to it.  Right now in my life I finally understand why he was able to write so passionately and for that I commend him.  Here was a man who went to war in Europe, got injured.  While in the hospital he met a female nurse he feel in love with and visa verse, who subsequently left him for something she thought was better.  “The major of the battalion made love to Luz and she had never known Italians before, and finally wrote to the States that theirs had been only a girl and boy affair.  She was sorry, and she expected, absolutely unexpectedly, to be married in the spring.  She loved him as always, but she realized now it was only a boy and girl love.  She hoped he would have a great career and believed in him absolutely.  She knew it was for the best.”  Hemingway.    This is a decent collection of short stories.  I am about two hundred pages in and at my current slow rate of reading you can easily join me in this one.

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