Recent Readings & Writings
Since my last update, I’ve done some reading. Written some articles. And all that. I find I don’t have the time or energy to write full reviews anymore. I’m not sure if or when this trend might change, but I do still want to post some thoughts on most (if not all) of the reading I do, for my own sake and for the interest of those who still pay attention to what I have to say. And I have, indeed, read some great books lately! Here’s what’s up since we last met:
Books Read Since April 22nd:
- Rethinking the Gay and Lesbian Movement by Marc Stein (4 out of 5)
- This was a solid and interesting examination of the origins of the gay and lesbian movement as well as a look at its current conditions and its future prospects.
- Jacob’s Room by Virginia Woolf (4 out of 5)
- This has probably been my second least favorite Woolf, after To the Lighthouse, but that’s not really a problem, because it was still an awesome book. This is one of Virginia Woolf’s earliest, and the rough edges show. It’s also her first real attempt at experimentation. An interesting story, truly fascinating to explore elements like narration and characters in this one.
- This is Water by David Foster Wallace (5 out of 5)
- My first DFW book (actually, this is a speech) and, boy, I fell madly in love. I read Vonnegut’s collection of speeches not too long ago (see the last monthly check-in post) and this one amplified those ideas and sentiments quite nicely. I will definitely be reading more David Foster Wallace.
- Deliverance by James Dickey (4 out of 5)
- I thought this one was going to be more of a mind-f*@# than it was, but I can see why people are so disturbed by it (and why it would have been particularly shocking and troubling at the time of its publication). The darker elements of human nature are explored, and Dickey is a fantastic writer – his prose is wonderful to experience.
- For the Pleasure of His Company by Charles Warren Stoddard (3 out of 5)
- Charles Warren Stoddard was primarily a travel writer, but he published this novel in 1903 and it is now considered one of the first gay American novels. Unfortunately, it’s not a great novel – not much happens, the plot seems convoluted, and you can sense the author’s trepidation. Still, it is a brave novel and had its champions, such as Rudyard Kipling. It’s also important as an historical artifact.
- The Book Thief by MarkusZusak (5 out of 5)
- I have too much to say about this one. Two things, primarily. First, I’m sorry that it took me so long to read it. Second, this book inspired me to write again. It was just that good. I know not everyone has loved it, but I found the writing, the subject, the approach to the subject, the moral and spiritual messages, everything about it so positive, so cleansing, so simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming. It’s hard to imagine a holocaust novel that manages to treat equally the human goodness in both the Jewish and German people. The narration was innovative, the characters were lovable, and the story was just damn good – a modern take on a deeply explored topic.
- Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (4 out of 5)
- Here’s another one that I can’t believe I hadn’t read sooner! It’s been on nearly every challenge list I’ve created for myself in the last four or five years, yet I always avoided it. I’m not sure why – probably because I thought it would be too much like a romance (I avoided Pride and Prejudice for a long time for that very reason, and I now believe that to be one of the finest novels ever written, so you’d think I would’ve learned my lesson, eh?). Anyhow, I loved this book – this was my first time with du Maurier, and boy does she know how to do creepy! I was reading this one and Salem’s Lot (below) simultaneously, and it was hard to say, at times, who was creeping me out more, du Maurier or Stephen King.
- Salem’s Lot by Stephen King (4 out of 5)
- I’m not really a fan of vampire stories, other than the original Dracula, which is just a brilliant book. I’ve read some Anne Rice and other things, but I’ve avoided Twilight and other “paranormal” types of books pretty much across the board. I just find them cheesy, I guess, and I think vampires, in particular, have over-saturated the market. That being said, Stephen King knows what he’s doing, you know? This was one of his first books, and it’s one of the best I’ve read from him (and I’ve read a lot!). Nobody knows how to kill off an entire town nor how to build completely flawed but inspired and lovable heroes like Mr. King.
New Articles Published on About.com Classic Literature:
- Armchair BEA (May 26 – May 31)
- Moby-Dick Readalong (June 1 – July 15) Sign-Ups Open!
- Austen in August (August 1 – August 31) Sign-Ups coming soon!