“Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.” -P.J. O’Rourke
I’m sorry that I haven’t posted in a while. I have been working on Nick Offerman’s Paddle Your Own Canoe, but I got a little distracted by the Black Sheep Gathering here in Eugene. So I’ve been practicing spinning my own yarn and I’ve been knitting a Harry Potter themed sweater. So at least part of my distraction has been literary themed. I will be sure to post pictures when the sweater is finished I’ve put the picture from the magazine where I got the pattern below (The Unofficial Harry Potter Knitting Magazine). I’m crazy excited to have learned so much bout spinning and knitting at the Gathering so please forgive me if there is a little more space between posts than there normally is. I am reading just at a much slower pace.
I recently got in touch with one of my cousin’s in Sweden. Her name is Viktoria and she’s awesome! I honestly can’t believe we didn’t get in touch sooner because we both have a passion for reading. Since graduating from college I have been reading a lot of young adult fiction, because that is what my 8th graders like to read, and I like to be able to recommend books and get them interested. So when Viktoria said that one of her favorite authors is Franz Kafka, I jumped at the opportunity to challenge myself in a way that I haven’t since college. I am new to Kafka so I decided to tackle one of his most famous stories first: The Metamorphosis.
The basic plot of this story is that a young man named Gregor wakes up one day to find that he has miraculously turned into a bug. This shocking transformation puts Gregor’s family under great strain, because they heavily relied on Gregor to support them. There are a great many changes that take place in their household because of these strange turn of events.
The title applies to more that the obvious metamorphosis of Gregor into a giant insect. The title also applies to the rest of his family who, up until this event, have been lethargic and completely reliant on Gregor’s ability to make money. Now that Gregor is incapable of supporting the family, all members are forced to make changes and sacrifices. His father becomes more fit when he takes a job, his mother takes more responsibility in the house when they are forced to dismiss most of their staff, and his sister becomes a working woman to help support that family. By the end of the story, Gregor is completely isolated from humanity while his family seems to have rejoined society as functional, successful and independent members.
Apart from the thematic elements of the story, what makes it particularly interesting is the tone of the writing. The very first event is something that most people would find alarming and horrifying, but the narration takes a tone that is quite opposite. Kafka describes the events in the story in a tone that is very straightforward. The sober narration of extraordinary events helps set the mood as chaotic and absurd. I was drawn into the story form the very beginning and found the writing style to be as strong as the plot itself.
I am eternally grateful for this suggestion and can’t wait to read more from such a brilliant author!
Kafka, Franz, and Nahum N. Glatzer. “The Metamorphosis.” The Complete Stories. New York: Schocken, 1988. 89-139. Print.
Jojo Moyes blew my mind with Me Before You. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about the sequel, After You. I was beyond excited to see how Louisa’s life would change after her experience with Will Traynor, and Moyes manages to layer drama, on top of drama, on top of drama, and it was exhausting.
I could have dealt with a couple plot twists, but she managed to squeeze more than I can count into all 350 pages. In the end it came off like she was trying too hard to top the first book by making Louisa’s life more difficult than believable. Between a dead end job, a terrible accident, long lost relatives, friction between her parents, a complicated grief counseling group, and relationship struggles I found the plot to be stressful and not in a good way. I plowed through the book very quickly mostly because I just wanted it to end.
The only satisfying part of the whole book was Louisa’s relationship with the cute paramedic Sam. Had Moyes condensed the plot to focus on Louisa’s struggle to find love with just a couple added bits of drama, I would have been much happier with the book. I found myself longing for scenes where the cute couple are together. Louisa and Sam understand each other in a way that most people don’t. They have been through similar struggles that bring them closer together and they manage to stay strong through even the most ridiculous plot twists. It is because of this couple that I found the end of the book very satisfying. It seemed like Louisa was finally breaking out of her shell to find some true happiness.
This book had too much going on. Too many layers that made the plot complicated and exhausting. And even though I was pleased with the final outcome, part of me wishes that I hadn’t read the sequel. I wish that that I had just let the first book be the end of it, so that I could come up with my own happy ending for Louisa.
Why do authors insist on hurting me? How dare books make me… feel! Ugh, All the feels! Me Before You is intense and I definitely liked the book more than I liked the film. I saw the movie a few weeks ago with a coworker and she unfortunately spoiled the end for me so I entered both the film and the book knowing exactly how miserable I would be when I left.
What made this book special is watching the characters grow and develop as they get to know each other. A, previously very active, Will Traynor is now confined to a wheelchair as a quadriplegic and hating every second of it. That is until the very colorful and energetic Louisa Clark enters his life as a caretaker. Their adventures change how both of them view life and each other. Both of them had lives that were once full of possibility until one event changed them forever. Louisa is forced to become adventurous as she tries to convince Will that his life has not ended because he’s in a wheelchair. There is vulnerability in both characters that drew me in and made sure that I was completely committed to their stories.
As much as I loved the film (I will definitely be purchasing it) it only scratched the surface. The film adaptation whitewashed a lot of the characters, making them far less complex than they were in the novel. In the film you don’t fully understand why Louisa has confined herself to the small town. In the book she is hiding dark secrets that only Will can help her come to terms with. Even Will’s parents are portrayed differently. In the film they seem to have a strong marriage in spite of what has happened to their son, while in the book they also struggle with demon’s that put a strain on their relationships with those around them. Like many film adaptations, the movie is like the tip of the iceberg. One triumph was the films depiction of Louisa’s style. The book only briefly described exactly how colorful she is while the film make her FABULOUS! I want all of her clothes. When I told my coworker this she laughed and said “Of course you do… SHE IS YOU!”
I cannot wait to pick up the sequel and only hope that Moyes gives these characters a happy ending.
Look at her! She’s so freaking cute! I want her wardrobe so badly!
Moyes, Jojo. Me before You. New York, NY: Pamela Dorman /Viking, 2012. Print.
So I have been doing one hell of a lot of driving lately so I’ve been getting into audio-books to help pas the time. So far I have driven between Phoenix and Flagstaff about four or five times (2.5 hours each way) , from Phoenix to San Francisco (it was supposed to be 11.5 hours but I managed to turn it into 14 hours cause I’m SO talented) and from San Francisco to Eugene, Oregon (8 hours). I love my music but I can only listen to The Book of Mormon soundtrack so many times before I start to resent it. So I trekked to Bookmans, raided Librivox, and started an Audible account. So far this has been an excellent distraction from the endless amount of driving I’ve been doing.
The first book I listened to was Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. I distinctly remember when the film adaptation came out because I scoffed at the poster and acted super snobbishly as I criticized the current state of out film culture. Of course I ended up seeing it in spite of my pretentious attitude and I ended up absolutely loving it. It quickly became my guilty pleasure movie and when I saw the audio-book, I grabbed it in the hopes of repeating the experience. I’m a little bummed out to say that I was not as captivated by the book as I was by the film. This is an opinion I rarely hold so I am extremely surprised.
The book was a little boring for me. Which is shocking since it involves a young Abraham Lincoln repeatedly decapitating vampires while also becoming a well-respected and admired member of society. The thing I like most about both the film and the book is the idea. The basic plot is that Lincoln becomes a vampire hunter because of revenge there is a secret society of vampires that use the slave trade as a marketplace for their meals. In this book the Civil War is less about North Vs. South and more about Vampires vs. Humans.
Lincoln eventually joins a secret alliance between the humans and a select few vampires in the hopes of driving out the southern vamps whose eventual goal is a hierarchy in which vampires rule over the white men who rule over the slaves. Unfortunately this interesting idea wasn’t enough to hold my interest. The books simply failed to reach the level of awesomeness that the film did. Though it is difficult create something more awesome than Abraham Lincoln blowing the head of a vampire using an ax that miraculously turns into a shotgun. I’m starting to think that my standards were too high.
Grahame-Smith, Seth. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. New York: Grand Central Pub., 2010. Print.
I’m just going to take a quick moment to repeat what I said in my first post: JENNY LAWSON IS MY HERO! Now that I have read her first book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir), I have a far deeper understanding of Lawson’s background and why she is the way she is. She had a rather unconventional upbringing that helped cement her as a wonderfully random force of nature in the blogging community. Her book is full of stories that make you laugh make you cry and will probably offend more than one person.
I desperately wish that I had read this book before tackling Furiously Happy but no matter which order you read them in both are definitely worth it. The main difference between the two books is that Let’s Pretend… does not revolve around mental illness nearly as much as Furiously Happy. in her first book she mostly focuses on her struggle with anxiety while in her second book she focuses on the long list of other illness’s she also battles. You get a much more complete picture of Lawson’s childhood, which is why I recommend reading Let’s Pretend… first. Believe me when I say that her second book makes a lot more sense now that I’ve read the prequel.
Lawson’s constant, unapologetic enthusiasm for life is inspiring, and hilarious. I can honestly say that I have never laughed at a book this hard. Even during her saddest stories, like when she discusses her struggle to get pregnant, she displays an optimism that really puts things in perspective. She also has a weird thing for taxidermy that she probably inherited from her father (a professional taxidermist). I personally find taxidermy creepy but after hearing her describe her rather eclectic collection of animals I find myself desperately wanting a Mouse dressed as Hamlet. Those of you that have witnessed my irrational obsession with The Bard will understand (though I would probably be happier with a stuffed animal than with a taxidermy one).
Lawson has once again inspired me and I know she will continue to do so. Since beginning this blog I have become a devoted reader of The Bloggess and I know that if I ever hear about a book signing I will probably camp out in order to get a signature. Like I said in my first post I want to be her best friend and I can only hope that she will read this and see how much she has inspired me.
Lawson, Jenny. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: (a Mostly True Memoir). New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2012. Print.
So my computer has crashed. After rushing to best buy and paying an obscene amount of money for geek squad to install a new hard drive I am officially computer less. I am also paifully close to finishing my next book. Let me illustrate my current mood:
Thank you Alan Rickman. I am now fully relying on my phone for everything. This includes netflix, email, any and all Internet searching, and of course blogging. So please be gentle and forgive the typos that are inevitable in my next post. I am terrible at typing on my phone because my nails are too long, my fingers too wide, and auto correct clearly has a grudge against me. So will do my best to proofread on this tiny screen but I’m pretty sure mistakes will be found in my next post. Thank you for your patience.
Also, I’m super proud of myself for figuring out how to put a gif in this post from my phone. 🙂