Posts tagged ‘reading’

March 26, 2012

Dystopia-Palooza

The Hunger Games hit theaters Friday and rabid fans lined up for hours to get in. The film is based on the wildly popular book by Suzanne Collins. The post-apocalyptic novel’s popularity  has the dystopian novel on the rise again and Good Reads has charted it out in a clever way.

It also asks the question, Could The Hunger Games become more widely read than Orwell’s 1984? And, while we’re at it, where’s a mention of We by Yevgeny Zamyatin? His book was the  grandaddy of dystopian literature!

March 20, 2012

My Reading Hang-Ups

I’ve often said that life it too short to drudge through books that don’t grab you. I already I have a pile waiting to be read and can’t be bothered forcing myself through a book if it’s not making me feel something. Then there are those books that make me feel too much, in a bad way. Over at The Guardian UK book blog, Imogen Russell Williams writes about the books she’s ashamed to admit she just couldn’t finish because the subject matter was too painful. These literary hang ups include the rape of Tess in Hardy’s classic and the injustice delivered in To Kill a Mockingbird.

While I don’t have exactly the same reading hang-ups (To Kill a Mockingbird remains one of my all-time favorite novels), I do have my own. Anything that targets animals or children turns me away. Before I became a mother, I was able to read a lot of books that included child abuse like Maxim Gorky’s My Childhood (I loved it) and the horrific, twisted, and incredible The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks that involved burning dogs and tortured children.

There was one book, however, that I could never get through, before I was even a parent. That would be The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kozinski. It’s hard to believe the man who wrote the wry, witty, and often hilarious Being There wrote this book, filled with such brutality aimed at a little orphan boy that it still makes me shudder. And I get it – the book is a metaphor for humanity’s cruelty, war, etc. but I just couldn’t finish it. I tried though, because Kosinski is a fantastic writer. I even got about fifty pages in, but then had to put it down. I think it was when the ravens started pecking at the boy’s head when I decided enough was enough.

Don’t get me wrong, I love dark, but there’s a line for me and Kosinski crossed it. Now as a parent, I’m a lot weaker. I have a harder time than I did before with innocents being harmed, namely children and animals. Of course, it’s all in the way the writer tells the story, crafting it so it’s palatable (hence Gorky). However, it’s a matter of taste and there are always those weak spots that some of us possess.

The can be said for films. I still marvel that my husband loved Wolf Creek and Battle Royale. I’d rather sweep the kitchen with a toothbrush than go near either one of those.

January 16, 2012

My Towering Pile of To-Reads

This is what my “to read” pile looks like at the start of this year. This is just the starting pile and is in front of the bookshelf that I have of books to read in the upcoming year.

So far, I’m reading the two on the top – A Moveable Feast by Hemingway and Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O’Nan.

Last night at the Lobster is a great little book about the closing of a Red Lobster and the people who work in it. I got it as a gift because it takes place in the area I grew up in and at the mall I used to work at. O’Nan does such a fantastic job of capturing that area and that mall parking lot, in particular, that I felt like I was back there, ready to get out of my car and open the store I used to work at. He begins the book with:

Mall traffic on a gray winter’s day, stalled. Midmorning and the streetlights are still on, weakly. Scattered flakes drift down like ash, but for now, the roads are dry. It’s the holidays – a garbage truck stopped at a light has a big wreath wired to its grille, complete with a red velvet bow. The turning lane waits for the green arrow above to blink on, and a line of salted cars takes a left into the mall entrance, splitting as they sniff for parking spots. . . 

The characters who work at this doomed “Lobster” are sympathetic and real. The mood of the book is somber, but enjoyable and I look forward to reading the rest.

A Moveable Feast is a both geographically and atmospherically a world away from the dirty-snow-packed mall parking lot in O’Nan’s book. Every time I pick it up, I’m transported to Hemingway’s Paris, quaint cafes, and Gertrude Stein’s apartment crammed with artwork. The worlds of these two books couldn’t be more different, but they are both filled with engaging characters and wisdom on being human, whether working a shitty mall job or writing in Paris.

After I finish these two, I intend to change worlds again, this time traveling to the ’70s landscape of teen hookers and trashed out pimps in the long lost Steffie Can’t Come out to Play.

 

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