Posts Tagged ‘Literature’

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 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 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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Book XIV: Measure for Measure, William Shakespeare, 1604, 205 pages

“Some rise by sin and some by virtue fall”.  Finally a new book. Those Hemingway short stories took me forever to read. Talk about the most depressing collection of writings I have read since Oliver Twist (see blog Chris’ Notes, Oliver Twist).  At the time I was in the mood for such.  Being its summer now and feeling rather nostalgic for NYC’s Shakespeare in the park free play series I thought why not read Measure for Measure.  I actually have never read this play.  I scored it for a quarter at a garage sale a few months back.  Its time.  The last book took me nearly 7 months to read, which in my opinion is completely disgraceful.  My goal is to finish this one by the end of the month.  Feel Free to pick up a copy and read a long with me.

If you missed the Book XIII The First Forty Nine Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway click this link.  I will not be doing a Chris’ notes entry on this book cause it was a collection of fifty stories and I am not about to take that on.  There were some really insightful entries and serious introspection to be had.  I think it is definitely worth picking up for a read.  There are few authors as powerful as Hemingway.

I don’t even know.

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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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This weeks UCB makes a winner of John Mauriello who inadvertently made a suggestion on yesterday’s book club blog and spurred on an entire new segment I would like to call Chris’ Notes.  You remember back in high school and even in college when you would pick up those twenty page summaries of classics and used them to cheat with instead of reading the actual book.  I know I did.  I love reading, but when you have to read a novel or two a week it gets hectic.

So as most of you know in the Book Club portion of this blog I always write a summary of my feelings on the former book each time there is a new entry.  John had asked just recently with the Oliver Twist that I write a summary about the actual story.  I got to thinking that would make a most splendid new segment.  Instead of Cliff’s notes which may actual enhance your literary enlightenment of a novel we will have Chris’ Notes that will for sure cause you to fail if you use it as your primary resource.  John gets 2 points since his suggestion will become a new segment.

Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens

Oliver Twist is about this orphan who is born in a Christian workhouse, a bastard child from an unidentified mother.  She dies in child birth leaving him at the mercy of this corrupt place of charity that over works and starves the poor, while the parish heads rape the system.  Upon his mother’s death she bestowed one of the nurses with a locket and some other proofs of Oliver’s birthright, which get stolen and pawned by another nurse.

From infancy to kinder years Oliver is reared by the forceful and neglectful care of this bullshit despicable old lady who profits on starving orphans. He comes of age and is brought back to the workhouse where his life just mildly improves. The modus operandi of the house being to slowly starve the poor while working them to the bone.  Nothing but good wholesome Christian values being dished out there.

One day after being forcefully threatened by an older boy Oliver asks for seconds of the meager gruel that is dished out during lunch time.  “Please sir may I have some more?” For this heinous act he is sternly beaten and a ransom is put out to any tradesman who will apprentice the boy.  He gets picked up by the local coffin maker who sees in Oliver’s eyes a kind gentle soul.

Oliver is very happy to be put to a useful cause and gives his all to his new trade.  Unfortunately the coffin maker’s other apprentice this douche bag Noah Claypole feels threatened by Oliver’s eagerness to learn and winning of the boss’ favoritism.  Claypole frames the poor boy claiming he beat him up and the cleaning girl, Charlotte, even though Noah is twice the size of Oliver.  Twist is severely punished for his misdoings and decides to escape and make a run for London first chance he gets.

On his way to London he meets up with a boy around his age, John Dawkins or better known as the “The Artul Dodger” for his impeccable feats as a pickpocket.  Dodger recruits Oliver, by making him think he is going to a good home.  In reality it is basically an 18th century London version of a Detroit crack house where Oliver is unknowingly taught the trade of thievery by the ringleader of the gang, a Jew who goes by the name of Fagin.

Deciding Oliver is ready for the streets, Fagin sends him out with Dodger and another pickpocket, Charlie Bates.  When Oliver observes what is really going on he is appalled (a result of his predestined genuine quality) that his new friends are ruthless thieves.  In his shock he is mistaken for the actual perpetrator.  He flees the scene and is chased by an angry mob insinuated by both Bates and The Artful.  He is caught up with, tackled beaten then arrested.

Beaten so bad he can hardly walk he is taken in front of the magistrate.  The gentleman he is the victim, a Mr. Brownlow sees in Oliver’s eyes that he could not have been the one who robbed him and decides not to press charges, instead taking the boy home with him where he is nursed back to health.

Meanwhile Fagin, heartbroken with the loss of his new apprentice sends a pickpocket turned prostitute Nancy out to find the kid.  Once cured of his illness/injures Brownlow seeks a meeting with Oliver to procure his story, being that Oliver resembles the likeness of a close childhood friend of his.  Before getting the entire story, Brownlow sends Oliver on an errand to return some books to the Library and get some bread as a show of his trust.

In the process Nancy the little whore she is kidnaps Twist and brings him back to Fagin.  This other sinister Gentleman, Monks appoints Oliver along with this bad ass criminal Bill Sikes and his gang to go rob these rich people in the country.  The owners of the house are suppose to be in the country on holiday.  Turns out the whole thing was a set up and Oliver gets shot in the chaos of the fudged robbery.  Sikes drags the kid with him for a few miles before leaving him for dead in a ditch.  Some how Oliver survives and manages to make his way back to exact house he was forced to rob.

He is found passed out on the front lawn and is taken in by the Maylie’s.  At first the gentlemen of the house wish to turn him over the police till they are convinced otherwise by Rose and her Aunt that the boy was too gentle to ever commit a crime.  They nurse him back to health and then bring him with them to the country where he is educated.  In the process Rose is taken ill and nearly dies.  Upon her survival she is proposed marriage by Harry Maylie, whom she rejects in order to save his bright political career, being of an illegitimate birth herself.

Time passes and all the while Oliver is getting well groomed and educated by his new benefactors.  Him and the Maylies end up in London where Oliver searches for Brownlow to make known to him the particulars of his unfortunate disappearance.  At the same time Nancy the slut who captured Oliver from Brownlow finds news of some misdoings towards Oliver by Fagin, Sikes and Monks.  Unable to live with herself for the wrongs she brought to Oliver, she seeks out Rose and explains to her that Monks destroyed some artifacts that proved Oliver is of noble blood and entitled to an inheritance.

With this knowledge Rose and Oliver call upon Brownlow who is overjoyed to be reunited with his young countenance.  Brownlow hears the story and immediately puts the mystery to pasture.  As it turns out Monks is Oliver’s half brother and owed half his fortune to Oliver when his being alive was made known unless Oliver had turned to a life of crime.  This is the reason Monks set up Twist and Sikes at the Maylie house in the first place.  It also turns out Rose is Oliver’s aunt and Brownlow was entrusted by Oliver’s father to make sure he go his share of the inheritance that was to be split between him and Monks by a letter sent to him shortly after Oliver’s father’s death.

With the fear of being brought to the gallows Monks signs a confession and agreement to pay Oliver half his fortune and leave England all together.  In the meantime while all this was happening.  Sikes brutally murders Nancy when Fagin has Noah Claypole (that’s right the old apprentice, now turned thief) follow her to disclose the information she gave Rose about Oliver.  As a result the whole gang gets busted.  Sikes accidentally hangs himself in attempt to escape an angry mob.

Fagin is hung for all his wrong doings, Dodger is hung as well although a few chapters earlier.  Harry Maylie denounces his position in life, opting to take up a parsonage at a small church in the country thus Marrying Rose.  Brownlow adopts Oliver and he moves there as well.  The tale ends with all of them happily passing their days in each other’s company.   I thought reading the book was exhausting, but summarizing a 600 page novel in less the 1500 words is just plain Masochistic.

Speaking of Masochism...

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Book IX: Peer Gynt, Henrik Ibsen, first published in 1867, 169 pages

I feel like I have been on a world tour of literature lately.  I went from British lit, to French, to South American and now with the addition of the play Peer Gynt find myself taking a stab at Norwegian literature.  Written primarily in verse Henrik Ibsen takes the reader on a lyrical journey with main character Peer Gynt.  Supposedly the play is based on an old Norwegian folk tale of the same title.  Its rather easy to read and the form flows quite nicely and this comes form a person who is not a fan of poetry.  I am about half way done with this play already considering I have not had a chance to make this entry here yet.  Never the less I implore you to pick Peer Gynt up and give it a read.

Summary of Book VIII: Chronicle of a Death Foretold

Garcia Marquez has yet again managed to captivate me in another of his novels.  I rather enjoyed Chronicle of a Death Foretold although a bit disturbing.  The whole book is written knowing the main character is going to be brutally murdered from the first sentence.  In  Marquez’s usual style there is plenty of sex, scandal and moral upheaval one has come to expect from his works.  I definitely suggest if you missed this book when I first entered it into the book club to give it some look.

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Book VII: Boule De Suif & Selected Stories, Guy De Maussant, Stories published from 1880-1890, 283 pages

Taking a break from English Literature I picked up this collection of short stories by Guy De Maussant.  I cant remember the last time I read anything from the French and the last time I gave short stories a run was last December.  I get a kick out of short stories and French writing is so erotic, even back then.  Maussant was the protege of the renowned author of Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert.  Madame Bovary being one of my all time favorite books I figured I had to check out the works of Maussant.  Im about half way through already considering I started the book before my long trip home and did nothing but read for most of it.  So far I am enjoying it.

Summary of Book VI: Great Expectations

For whatever reason Dickens is an author I have read very scarce.  Considering he is one of the greatest of his time that is rather sad.  That being said I found Great Expectations to be an enthralling read.  I could not put the book down.  The characters are all so unique and the plot amazing to the last sentence.   If you have left this book out as I did for so long it is time to pick it up.  You wont be sorry.

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Book VI: Great Expectations written by Charles Dickens, First Published in 1861, 442 Pages

Believe it or not I have never read Great Expectations apparently everyone else has back in high school yet none I have spoken to can remember much about it.  It seems to me to read a work and have it beyond one’s recall is rather sad, but who am I to judge.  Other ingenious commentators expressed their thoughts in the form of “Isnt that a really old book”?  Idiocracy aside Charles Dickens is an author I have  not read all that much of.  I just began this one and am only on page 35 so feel free to join in the fun of literacy.

Summary of Book V: Wuthering Heights

So going into this book I did not know what to expect considering the book jacket deemed it as one of the greatest love stories ever.  As it turned out the tale was one of anger, revenge and hatred, three of my favorite themes.  It may just be one of the best vengeful plot novels I have ever read.  I would say it is a must read for everyone.  You think Im a despicable human being the main character has me beat by a million.

Here is an artist rendering of Dickens. What a crazy beard.

This has nothing to do with Charles Dickens at all but I found it ever so amusing.

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