Wednesday, October 5, 2016

A Literary Discussion, Part Three

Can you believe how fast this year is flying by?  Here are links to the full challengepart one, and part two.

#9.  The Divine Comedy by Dante Alleghieri

There are some books in which you know that while you may get the gist of it when you read it for the first time, you probably won't get all of the complexities of it, The Divine Comedy falls into that for me.  Scholars spend their whole careers studying this book;  I spent a week and a half reading it....

So, here is my take...  It's basically a mid life crisis book that ends up giving us a guide for life.  Dante has reached the mid point of his life and is asking and pondering some pretty deep questions.  He is taken through Hell, and gives a pretty gruesome and gory vision of it and some say, our idea of hell,  Purgatory and Heaven.  I found things to take from each section to incorporate into my life...

Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown (a book club's selection)

This book robbed me of sleep!  What a fun, light, yet never lame summer read!  A chef is taken hostage by a female pirate....the bad guys turn out not to be such bad guys and as for the 'good guys' just read and find out...

#30 . The Stories of Anton Chekhov by Anton Chekhov

A collection of absolutely amazing short stories!  You are taken to Czarist Russia and given glimpses into everyday life with mastery of plot and the execution of words.  Some stories are only a few pages long, but others are 20.  He knew how to stop, not give to much, but at the same time, not to have a story feel incomplete.  Ironically, I had meant to read a couple of stories a night and then read something else, but I inhaled this collection of Anton Chekhov's....

#40 . Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

For the first little bit of the book, you feel like you are on a merry-go-round with characters jumping on and off and feeling a little lost, but then you see through the chaos and once again the brillance and gift of Virginia Woolf shines through.  Simple moments, like a walk through a park, can trigger a thousand and one memories and choices taken or not taken.....

The Food of a Young Land:  The WPA's Portrait of Food in Pre-WWII America
           (a food challenge item) by Mark Kurlansky

Did you know that FDR's New Deal had a provision in it to help writers get back to work as well?  It was know as the Federal Writer's Project (FWP).  Their first task was to complete guidebooks about the entire United States and some of them are still in use today.  Their second was never completed, a documentation of what Americans were really eating in 1940, not the flashy, trendy food, but what they were having dinner every week.  The organizers sent writers out to find out but the beginning of WWII ended the project and it was lost to oblivion until the author stumbled upon a box in the Library of Congress.....


#43 . Collected Fiction by Jorge Luis Borges

Another collection of short stories for this challenge, but this one I did not speed through, but slowly absorbed and contemplated.  Jorge Luis Borges is a master of words and of the short story.  I would only read one a night because they took all of my concentration and I didn't want to miss a word.  There were some stories I liked better than others, but I think that is the case in most collections....

#4.  Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Call me Ishmael, nope, I'll call you someone who ignores all signs and warnings.  Captain Ahab, take some advice from Elsa and 'Let it Go!!'.  The Whale, maybe you could take some anger management classes.  I read the true story last year that inspired Melville to write Moby Dick and enjoyed it soooooooooooooooooooo  much more than this.  I was actively cheering for the whale....  Moral of the story, vengeance never ends well, pay attention to signs, and if you're a whale avoid big boats...


#26 . Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner

Pull up a chair, relax, sip an iced tea or a cocktail on the porch and enjoy this Southern masterpiece.  There are multiple narrators with varying degrees of fact, but each tell their own truths and isn't it interesting that a person's truth may not always be fact.  Faulkner's gift (or the thing that drives non Faulkner fans crazy) is his ability to tell a story in an non linear sense...you jump all around the time line of this story of a man who wanted to build an empire without learning from not only his mistakes from the the past, but a collective community's .


#31 . The Red and the Black by Stendhal

A tale of a young man who doesn't fit into his family, he is teased for reading, and has ambitions for a different life.  He is taken in by his town's mayor as a tudor and proceeds to make some questionable decision, like starting an affair with the mayor's wife.  There are times you are very angry at the main character, but as the book progresses you become more sympathetic, even as he commits a very surprising crime, because you see that the rules of the life he wants don't apply to him because he wasn't born into that life.....

I have to admit that reading these classics one right after another has been more challenging than I thought....it has slowed my reading down quite a bit.

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