Archive for the ‘books’ Category

Oh! How I could fly on the viewless wings of Poesy!!!

November 20, 2007

I have just been allocated an Extension English class for next year! Wooo!!!
I get to teach solid texts from the canon and I’m very excited about it.

My first task is to choose a theme or a character that has been represented in literature throughout the centuries. I have a few ideas. For example we could study ‘Heroes’ and look at Beowulf, The Odyssey, Ulysses as represented by Joyce in Ulysses and then I would need some contemporary texts including poetry and film. Or a closely related theme we could study could be ideas of ‘Saviours’ in literature throughout history. Or we could study the theme of ‘Redemption’ and look at Cry, the Beloved Country

Ooooh! There are so many good options my mind is all a flutter! What theme would you study – either one of mine or of your own invention – and which film, poetry and fiction texts would you choose?

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A Thousand Splendid Books

November 4, 2007

Well, that’s how many I hope to be reading anyway.

I have joined a book club! Hoooray!!! I’m very excited about this because the club that I have joined freely acknowledges, nay, embraces the fact that many of its members have children who love to read and be read to as well and has freely included them in the literary leisure. Usually the members of the club will choose two books to read over a two month period and will then meet to discuss them on a Saturday night at some appointed time. This time the book club has decided to choose a book that will interest parents and children as well as a grown-up option. The books they have chosen are Dragonkeeper and A Thousand Splendid Suns. At our next meeting – which will be my first – we plan to discuss Dragonkeeper with our children – who have read it with us- and then send them off to watch the movie version of the book while we discuss A Thousand Splendid Suns. How fantastic is that?!! Discussing books with children and grown-ups!!! I love it!!!

I bought A Thousand Splendid Suns yesterday and am already half way through. It is not becoming one of my favourite books, however, I am drawn to the pathos that pervades the lives of these Afghani women and the beautiful language with which this is communicated. Their pain, although more pronounced because of their terrible circumstances, is tragically universal though not overstated and my heart cries for the characters. Here are a sample of quotes that have left me sighing in woeful recognition:

On losing her best friend and barely acknowledged love Laila feels that one day “she would not miss him as she did now, when the ache of his absence was her unremitting companion.” I love how Hosseini masterfully describes the absence of someone as an “unremitting companion.” Sigh.

And on hearing of yet another death, after having already lost so much, we are told Laila:

could hardly move. She could hardly move a muscle.

She sat on the chair instead, hands limp in her lap, eyes staring at nothing, and let her mind fly on. She let it fly on until it found the place, the good and safe place, where the barley fields were green, where the water ran clear and the cottonwood seeds danced by the thousands in the air; where Babi was reading a book beneath an acacia and Tariq was napping with his hands laced across his chest, and where she could dip her feet in the stream and dream good dreams.

Sigh.

The novel is not this beautiful all the way through. There are snippets of wonderfully crafted sentences where imagery assaults the reader in powerful ways. It’s enough to draw me in. Gotta go read…

“[she] sat with clenched thoughts on a very hard chair”…

August 4, 2007

…were the last words I read in The Book Thief before stirring from my frozen place in the winter sun and walking inside.

The words were like a mirror reflecting exactly how the book was making me feel. I put the book down. I’m not sure that I can read it right now. I’m drawn to the book mainly because of the title. The idea of a young girl being a book thief appeals to the bibliophile in me. However, the narrator is repulsive. Soul stealing is not my cup of tea. When I read, I don’t want to feel like I am sitting on a cold chair with clenched thoughts, no matter how well crafted some of Zusac’s sentences may be. Not today. Sometimes it seems the world is full of death and I need a book to escape it.

Last week my brother rang me and told me that my ex-husband’s brother in law had died. Of AIDS. AIDS?! When I found out I sat with “clenched thoughts” wondering why I felt nothing. My heart was hard. Maybe because he was related to my ex. Maybe because I hated that it meant he had cheated on his wife. Maybe because it fitted with the selfish and indulgent lifestyle he lived. Maybe because I am bitter and unforgiving. Maybe because I secretly thought he deserved it. For whatever reason, I felt nothing except horror at my cold unfeeling heart.

Until a student walked into my class joking about people dying of AIDS. Then, I felt. Then, I almost lost it. My cold heart fumed with a red hot anger at the callous manner in which this student who was completely oblivious to the horrors of AIDS was joking in such a light hearted manner. He was obviously completely unaware of the devastation that a wife would feel at discovering that her husband has AIDS… that in all likelihood she now has AIDS. He had no idea of the emaciation a once robust – some would say overly robust – man would undergo, the destruction a family would experience, the shame, the pain, the isolation. I was so mad. But my anger was misdirected. The student shouldn’t have to know about such terrors. I’m glad he doesn’t.

Now I’m angry at this man – my ex-husband’s brother in law. I’m angry, sad, and guilty. How is it that as someone dies, as an ex-sister in-law grieves and perhaps dies, I feel relief and think”Thank God it was not me!”? ‘Cause it could have been. My ex – with all his philandering – could have given me a death sentence. He could have. “Thank God it wasn’t me!” These things are not supposed to come so close. And so I sit with clenched thoughts on a very hard chair.

On Characters I Would Like to See, Be or Flee x Three.

May 4, 2007

The beautiful Islandsparrow tagged me for this meme some time ago so finally I have some answers for her. Now I couldn’t find anywhere that said these characters had to be out of novels so some of mine are out of epic poems because I love and hate the characters in those poems! And one of my characters is out of a short story. See what you think…

1. Three characters you wish were real so you could meet them.

Tom Bombadil from The Lord of the Rings.

Aslan from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

The Selfish Giant when he is not selfish anymore from Oscar Wilde’s short story by the same title.

Oh! Why must I only choose three? I also want to meet Selima, the cat, in the poem Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat Drowned in a Tub of Gold Fishes by Gray, but it was a real cat so I’m not sure that counts…?

2. Three characters you would like to be.

Laura Ingalls from Little House on the Prarie. I soooo wanted to be her when I was little!

Emma from Jane Austen’s novel because I love matchmaking!

Abdeil in Paradise Lost because he stands alone against Satan and his rebellious horde fiercely and remains loyal to God in a mighty battle. He is awesome!

“…the Seraph Abdiel faithful found,

Among the faithless, faithful only he;

Among innumerable false, unmoved,

Unshaken, unseduced, unterrified,

His loyalty kept, his love, his zeal;

Nor number, nor example with him wrought

To swerve him from the truth, or change his constant mind

Though single.”

3. Three characters who scare you.

Grendel in Beowulf

Poseidon in The Odyssey

(Actually any characters in Beowulf or The Odyssey. Even the good guys are scary!)

The Vicomte de Valmont in Les Liaisons dangeruses. Sinister!

Now I need to tag three more people so, Radagast, Beck and Paul – if you haven’t done this you’re up. I would tag John and Andrew but you two still owe me some interview questions! Bah! If anyone else wants to play, join in. Let me know in the comments.

Enjoy!

Absorbed: me not the falling rain which lies in deep puddles all around.

April 25, 2007

While it rains outside I’m snuggly and warm reading The Lord of the Rings Part 1, pretending to be a hobbit going on a long journey through enchanted forests and long grass…

hobbit-grass.jpg

I’m hoping to be surprised by elves.

But it seems the day is too wet for hobbits too.

Do you ever read and feel so completely absorbed by a book? So absorbed that even the weather seems to be directed by the narrative? It happened today when I read Chapter VII of The Fellowship of the Ring:

Water dripped down from the leaking gutters above. Before she had finished breakfast the clouds had joined into an unbroken roof, and straight grey rain came softly and steadily down. Behind its deep curtain the Garden was completely veiled.

As she looked out of the window there came falling gently as if it was flowing down the rain out of the sky, the clear voice of children singing above. She could hear few words, but it seemed plain that the song was a rain-song, as sweet as showers on dry hills, that told the tale of a river from the spring in the highlands to the Sea far below. Missmellifluous listened with delight; and was glad in her heart, and blessed the kindly weather, because it delayed her from departing. The thought of going had been heavy upon her from the moment the holidays ended; but she guessed now that she would go no further today.

The upper wind settled in the West and deeper wetter clouds rolled up to spill their laden rain on the bare heads of the flowers. Nothing could be seen all round the house but falling water. Missmellifluous stood near the open door with a book in her hand and watched the stone pavers in the path turn into a little river and go bubbling away down into the garden. Tom Bombadil came trotting round the page of her novel, waving his arms as if he was warding off the rain- and indeed when he sprang over the threshold he seemed quite dry, except for his boots. These he took off and put in the chimney-corner. Then he sat in the largest chair and called the hobbits to gather round him.

‘This is Goldberry’s washing day,’ he said, ‘and her autumn-cleaning. Too wet for hobbit-folk – let them rest while they are able! It’s a good day for long tales…’

missmellifluous agreed and drew near, listening in anticipation.