Books, The Classics Club

Book 395: Tropic of Capricorn – Henry Miller

Miller, Henry - Tropic of CapricornI didn’t think it was possible, but I liked this one even less than Tropic of Cancer. Seriously, I was in no way a fan of this book. The amount of raunchy sleazy descriptions in Tropic of Capricorn, if possible out weight those in the first novel.

The only thing I can truly say I’m grateful for is that I got it off my shelf where it’s languished since the 2010 Boston Book Festival (it was the last one!). It also counts toward my Classics Club list so yay for that too!

I can’t even pretend it’s hard to say why I didn’t like this book, it really was just too much sex, misogyny, sexual assault and crass language. When you add in the stream-of-consciousness I’m surprised I even got through the book. It’s no wonder the book was banned in America (Wikipedia link) for 30 years. I don’t believe in book banning or censorship, but this really tested my limits.

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CRWMPodcast

CRWM #08: The Bell Jar

CRWM08For episode eight of Come Read With Me my friend Peter joined me to discuss Sylvia Path’s only novel The Bell Jar. Although his reasons for wanting to read it were questionable, it was an interesting read. Peter does tweet @peteantonellis, but be forewarned it is all politics and The Simpsons.

Aside from Peter’s ridiculous knowledge when it comes to British Naval Fiction, we discuss the reading list of Daria Morgendorffer; blurring the lines between fiction, memoir and autobiography; mental health and institutionalization; New York City and Boston; WTF are bell jars and diving bells?; modern adaptations of classics; manga vs. anime; and a plethora of other random subjects. You know how it works with these podcasts tangents pretty much are the podcast.  I’m embarrassed I couldn’t remember the name Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, I mistakenly called it Dr Strange and Mr. Norrell.

Download it here: CRWM #08 (Right Click and “save as.”) Or, better yet, subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher!

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ARC, Books

Book 348: In Youth Is Pleasure & I Left My Grandfather’s House – Denton Welch

Welch, Denton - In Youth is Pleasure & I Left My Grandfather's HouseThe publisher, Open Road Integrated Media, reached out to me with this book as I’d previously read Jane Bowles’ Two Serious Ladies, and she is even mentioned in this work.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hesitant at first as Bowles’ work was very well written but I just didn’t like the characters. Thankfully, Welch’s characters were a bit more accessible for me. This is two shorter stories so I’ve separated my response into two parts. The publisher provided a copy of this book and I received no compensation for my honest opinion.

The one over-arching them the two pieces have in common is the idea of sexuality, specifically homosexuality, before it was commonly talked about and/or accepted. I tried (aka did a brief google search) to find out about Welch’s sexuality, but again this was a long time ago before our out and proud mantras of today. Welch died young, he was only 33, and there is only speculation outside of his written works which in today’s society seem pretty explicit. Regardless, I enjoyed both of these snippets of the past for completely different reasons.

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Books

Book 303: Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence – Doris Pilkington Garimara

Garimara, Doris Pilkington - Follow the Rabbit-Proof FenceI know I say this regularly, but I can’t do justice to this book in my response. The more I think about it (I finished reading it last Wednesday), the more I realize I don’t know how to talk about it.

My local book group decided to do this book and movie, and it was an excellent choice even if I did miss the discussion! It was particularly relevant as Garimara died in April 2014 and is there a better way to honor a writer’s passing than reading their works?

I’m not sure, but if I had to guess I would say there are quite a few books out there about the Stolen Generations, but I’m not sure how many are first hand accounts. And that is where this story truly hits home. Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence is as much Garimara’s story as it is her mother and aunt’s. And to find out at the end that her mother made the journey a second time with one of her children and the incredible journey in the book and movie becomes that much more powerful.

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Book Group, Books

Book 254: Amistad – David Pesci

Pesci, David - AmistadThis is one of those books that make me glad that I participate in my local library’s book group! I would never have gone out of my way to read this book and I surprisingly enjoyed it. I’ve done like I did with Dances with Wolves and broken down this post into the book and movie sections. I don’t think I will add a book group recap unless something really bad happens like with Dances with Wolves.

The Book
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised anymore that I’m enjoying the books selected for book group. They’ve broadened my reading and helped me to branch out, not just because of the styles and subjects I never would’ve read, but because the film adaptations are older and they are really interesting!

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2013 Challenges, Books, The Classics Club

Book 248: War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

Tolstoy, Leo - War and PeaceAnd with this book I completed ALL of my reading challenges this year! I will do a wrap up post (year, challenge and month) on either the 31st or 1st, but for the record this was the 11th book of the Back to the Classics Challenge, the 6th book (but 8th counted – two were double) for the Tea and Books Reading Challenge and the 25th Mount TBR book!

But what is MOST shocking is how much I enjoyed this novel. There were portions I hated that I think were decisions of the translator and there were definitely parts that were beyond boring (the war parts, obviously), but overall I actually am glad I read this book and the investment of just over three weeks was definitely worth it. I’m not going to lie and say that I was excited about this novel and I won’t even say that it was easy, but I was a bit confused after reading this in the forward:

“The first readers of War and Peace were certainly surprised, but often also bewildered and even dismayed by the book. They found it hard to identify the main characters, to discover anything like a plot, to see any connection between episodes, to understand the sudden leaps from fiction to history, from narration to philosophizing. There seemed to be no focus, no artistic unity to the work, no real beginning, and no resolution. It was as if the sheer mass of detail overwhelmed any design Tolstoy might have tried to impose on it.” (loc. 140)

I didn’t think that the novel was that confusing. I can definitely see where the characters names are confusing! The introduction discusses the multitude of ways a character’s name can be modified and that did cause me to stop a few times but if I kept reading the context clues almost immediately told me who Tolstoy referred to.

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Books

Book 223: The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë – Syrie James

James, Syrie - The Secret Diaries of Charlotte BrontëAfter thoroughly enjoying The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen and The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, it will come as no surprise that I enjoyed this book as well! It also doesn’t hurt that I always forget how much I love the Brontës when I’m not reading about them and then as soon as I start reading about them I quickly fall back in love with them. I’m super excited that I’ve got Wuthering Heights to re-read again this year!

The only other Brontë fan-fiction I’ve read was Becoming Jane Eyre in February of last year. I remember enjoying it and of course there were overlaps with this book, as this book covers a lot broader swath of time than the last. This book covers a long period of time and through flashbacks even includes a lot of the Brontës’ youth. It is noteworthy, although not shocking at all, that there are many similarities in writing style and stories in the two books. We know a lot more about the Brontë siblings than we know about say Austen or the more reclusive female writers.

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