Llew's Reviews

Archive for the 'Lit List' Category

Book #35 The Autobiography Of An Ex-Colored Man by James Weldon Johnson

Saturday, June 24th, 2006 by Miss Laura

“My love for my children makes me glad that I am what I am, and keeps me from desiring to be otherwise; and yet, when I sometimes open a little box in which I still keep my fast yellowing manuscripts, the only tangible remnants of a vanished dream, a dead ambition, a sacrificed talent, I cannot repress the thought, that, after all, I have chosen the lesser part, that I have sold my birthright for a mess of pottage.”

Nothing like a novel full of shame for being embarassed about who you are to kick start a weekend!

Book #34 The Moviegoer by Walker Percy

Friday, June 23rd, 2006 by Miss Laura

“The search is what anyone would undertake if he were not sunk in the everydayness of his own life… To become aware of the possibility of the search is to be onto something. Not to be onto something is to be in despair.”

I’ve been meaning to read this novel for around seven years when it was first recommended to me as being quite excellent. However, you can’t just rush into a book with a main character by the name of Binx Bolling, you know.

I’m quite thankful I waited as well because I connect much more to a 29 year old Binxy boy much more now than I could have when I was 22. Although I suppose the wayward ennui and the dalliances with secretaries are things I could ALWAYS relate to. Such is the southern life.

Do I even need to say that I adored this book? I loved the descriptions of the long drives in fear that malaise would somehow seep out of the car into the atmosphere and narrator. Of course, the uncaring desperation and detached shiftlessness of Binx is exactly the kind of thing I would have smitten with seven years ago. Good thing I waited – otherwise I would have had to develop one of those terminally unrequited crushes on it that I was so fond of at the time.

Book #31 The White Guard by Mikhail Bulgakov

Wednesday, June 7th, 2006 by Miss Laura

This is the second title which I’ve taken from the Lit List in the past month, and it was just the luck of the draw as to which arrived to me first that I read it before Bulgakov’s “Master and Margarita”.

First off, I have absolutely no knowledge about the background of this story which is the Russian Civil War between the White and Red. Evidently, it was a brief time immediately following WWI and before the Bolshevik Revolution. The main characters are a middle class doctor’s family in Kiev who join the White Guard to help defend their home.

It was good, although I find the book description on the used marketplace where I bought it which said it was, “lovely” quite laughable. It’s your typical war horror novel with all of the bloody horrors and disturbing leaders so how “lovely” fits in there is beyond me. Calling The White Guard “lovely” would be like describing a hunting trip with Dick Cheney as “delightful and heart warming.”

Book #30 The House On Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

Saturday, June 3rd, 2006 by Miss Laura

My second summer reading list book was assigned to students who also have to read “The Scarlet Letter” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”

It’s quite different than those two as it is a coming of age novel of a young Mexican woman in Chicago that is told in short little literary sketches rather than chapters. It’s quite well written, and I’m definitely happy that I picked this one up. Plus, like all Mexican related things it’s a shorty!

(I’m going to hell for that, aren’t I?)

Book #29 The Writing LIfe by Annie Dillard

Saturday, June 3rd, 2006 by Miss Laura

I always try to at least try to keep up with the local schools’ summer reading list books which students buy here at the bookstore. Most I’ve already read, but every once in a while a teacher will be daring and sway from the normal “Scarlet Letter” and “1984” choices. This summer I have three on my own personal list, and this was the first. It was assigned to an AP Language and Composition class along with, “Into The Wild” by Jon Krakauer. Interesting choices, yes?

I adored Dillard’s “Pilgrim At Tinker Creek” and in this book she goes into a little of where she was (both physically and what kind of state of mind) when she wrote it. She also delves into other writers in sometimes amusing and in sometimes insightful ways. It’s at times both inspiring and discouraging.

An example of a paragraph that both encourages and discourages me:
“Faulkner wrote As I Lay Dying in six weeks; he claimed he knocked it off in his spare time from a twelve-hour-a-day job performing manual labor. There are other examples from other continents and centuries, just as albinos, assassins, saints, big people, and little people show up from time to time in large populations. Out of a human population on earth of four and a half billion, perhaps twenty people can write a serious book in a year. Some people lift cars, too. Some people enter week-long sled-dog races, go over Niagara Falls in barrels, fly planes through the Arc de Triomphe. Some people feel no pain in childbirth. Some people eat cats. There is no call to take human extremes as norms.”

Book #23 To Each His Own by Leonardo Sciascia

Monday, May 22nd, 2006 by Miss Laura

For the first time in years, I decided to take a gander at the literary list I compiled three years ago. At the time, I was more or less bed-ridden and was completely bored. So, I asked people to recommend me their favorite life changing book. Then, I compiled them to a list with every intention of reading as many as I could. And I did, but somewhere along the way I got sidetracked and stopped before reaching my goal.

Lately, I’ve been wishing I had a friend with similar taste who would suggest some books for me. I used to have an over abundance of them, but they’re no longer around. This list seems to be a very handy replacement for such. Thus, “To Each His Own” marks my return to The List.

And, I LOVED it. It was this unconventional (at least to me – perhaps it’s old hat to Sicilians) detective novel which subtly dissected how the Mafia works without glamming it up Hollywood style. There was no Sharon Stone. There was no, “Meet My Little Friend.” There probably were characters who talked as if their jaws had been wired shut, but I couldn’t hear it so it was okay. And I thoroughly loved it.

Oh, and with all of the New York Review Of Books editions, save that introduction for after you read the actual novel. As usual, they RUIN the plot for you.

Book #18 Snow by Orhan Pamuk

Saturday, May 6th, 2006 by Miss Laura

This was the first Turkish novel I believe I have ever read, and it was simply intriguing. It made me want to move to a Cappadocian cave house. Well, spending a thousand dollars on my car and having the “service engine soon” light come on the very next day makes me want to move a cave house. The book just pointed out Turkey as a general destination of interest.

I’ll just have to be sure not to fanatically support any foreign team playing a Turkish one in any sport and not refuse to remove a head scarf. Nor can I fall in love with a beautiful Turkish woman who is the former lover of a militant Islamist idealist who promises to run away to Frankfurt with me until she discovers I just had him killed by giving away his secret hiding place to the police. Other than that it should be a lovely vaction!

Book #14 Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

Monday, March 13th, 2006 by Miss Laura

After being so enchanted with Robinson’s “Gilead”, I decided to read her other fictional work. It doesn’t compare to such an extent that it took me months to finish reading it even though it’s quite a slim novel. However, it then picked up at the end with such a lovely weave of words that it made me like the book more than I would have ever guessed from the first half.

Also, I adore the cover art. I don’t know who you are Nina Laricchia, but I’m blowing you kisses.

Book #7 Night by Elie Wiesel

Saturday, January 14th, 2006 by Miss Laura

It will take me longer to upload the picture on dial-up than it did for me to read this entire book. Such a slim little book which I should have read ages ago, but for some reason always overlooked it.

So so sad that it seems that words are but trivialities when it comes to talking about it.

Book #18 Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata

Saturday, May 7th, 2005 by Miss Laura

What is it with these Japanese authors killing themselves? If they commit suicide right after writing a book what’s to keep me from thinking of doing the same after reading it – especially when they compare a woman’s lips to a row of leaches?

By the time I got into Snow Country it was halfway finished. Not to say that it wasn’t good. It’s just that at first I wasn’t smitten by the writing style as I’ve never been a fan of short choppy sentences. I believe this is what the book blurbs on the back call, “Beautifully economical”. Oh Times Literary supplement – how you make everything so poetic!

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