As my mom summed it up, "I feel like I’m reading a bunch of disjointed Facebook posts about what people did, ate, saw today, except that there is no c...moreAs my mom summed it up, "I feel like I’m reading a bunch of disjointed Facebook posts about what people did, ate, saw today, except that there is no cleverness whatsoever to the writing. It just sounds like a bunch of bored rich kids."
There were some beautiful passages when Hemingway actually got around to describing the setting of Spain and the bullfights, but I still didn't enjoy reading it.(less)
I’ve been afraid of Steinbeck’s classic novel for so long; the title alone always put me off because I never could see the connection between the two....moreI’ve been afraid of Steinbeck’s classic novel for so long; the title alone always put me off because I never could see the connection between the two. Yet, when I went to retrieve Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath from the library, I was completely surprised to see how short Of Mice and Men really is. Right then and there I decided my fear was completely irrational — after all, I’ve read novels that 1,000 pages — and added it to my stack of books.
The novella follows Lennie Small, a large, brawny man who is also mentally slow, and George Milton, the opposite of Lennie in every way, as they travel from farm to farm during the 1930s looking for work, looking to make enough money to get their own slice of land where they can be their own boss and Lennie can take care of the rabbits. Lennie, though, manages to get into trouble everywhere they go, which forces them to flee under the cover of darkness. At their newest place of employment, George tells Lennie not to speak to anyone, especially not to Curley’s wife. But, just as before, Lennie gets in trouble.
The title stems from Lennie’s obsession with petting mice; he’s too strong and often his affection for the animal causes them to die. And the novel as a whole reminded me of a cross between My Louisiana Sky and Flowers for Algernon. The mother in My Louisiana Sky was so enthralled with hugging her kitten that she squeezed it too tightly and killed it; in Flowers for Algernon, Charlie is mentally slow and yet loves the mouse, Algernon. Of course, Of Mice and Men (1936) was written before any of these other novels, but the feelings I get from it are similar to the ones I get from the others.
Anyways, the novella examines what friendship really means and the role dependency plays in our lives. Lennie’s dependency on George causes neither of them to learn what it means to be independent, and their interwoven dream of owning their own farm places a strain in their relationship throughout their time together. These characters, though, are perfectly written, perfectly formed. The characters are what propel the plot forward, and that is the most beautiful part of this heart-wrenching novel.
Of Mice and Men is clearly a classic for a reason.(less)
I've wanted to read Cather's classic novel for quite some time, but was scared off when a friend said it was the most boring book they had ever read....moreI've wanted to read Cather's classic novel for quite some time, but was scared off when a friend said it was the most boring book they had ever read. Okay then. Moving on. And then Rebecca of Rebecca Reads posted a favorable review of the novel that really peaked my interest; I just had to read the book that has been on my list forever.
Told from the point of view of Jim Burden, the novel traces Jim's interactions with Ántonia Shimerda, an emigrant from Bohemia, as they both grow-up in pioneer-era Nebraska. Jim moved to Nebraska from Virgina at the age of ten following the death of his parents and quickly becomes friends with the Shimerda children, who have moved in next door to his grandparents. The death of Ántonia's father in January drives a wedge into their friendship, which is seemingly unrepairable, and, as the two grow older, they find their friendship falling to the wayside completely because Ántonia is a working girl and Jim is heading off to college. Jim still thinks of her, though, and muses over the impact she has had on his life as the novel comes to a close.
My Ántonia is divided into five books with each book covering an important chunk of time in Jim's life -- meeting Ántonia, relocation from the farm to town, time in college. The plot meanders along, which reflects the simplicity of Jim's thoughts, and Cather's writing style smoothly unfolds the story, which is supposedly based on her own life. The dialog is wonderful; everyone speaks in a distinct voice. And I enjoyed the evolution of Ántonia herself as she goes from new immigrant to student and back to Czech farm wife, but I really struggled to enjoy the fourth book in the novel. Some much of it referred to Ántonia in the third person (ex: Grandma said Ántonia did such and such) and I really missed the interactions between Ántonia and Jim and Jim's subsequent thoughts. This section is the reason why I think so many people find My Ántonia to be boring because I found this section to be boring. I found it interesting to "watch" the evolution of all the characters as they grow and change, but there where a few moments when I was wondering when it was going to end.(less)
In my humblest opinion, “The Tempest” is the most confusing play written by Shakespeare. I actually saw a production of the play long before I was tem...moreIn my humblest opinion, “The Tempest” is the most confusing play written by Shakespeare. I actually saw a production of the play long before I was tempted to pluck “The Tempest” off my shelves that left me befuddled and wondering what in the world was going on. I was afraid it was the acting and how far away I was from the stage that contributed to my confusion, so I decided to revisit Shakespeare’s play.
The rightful Duke of Milan, Prospero, and his daughter, Miranda, have been stranded on an island for twelve years because of Prospero’s jealous plot with the king to rid the dukedom of Propsero. They aren’t alone, though, as the two have a deformed slave named Caliban and the spirit, Ariel, that Prospero commands to do his bidding. Upon discovering that that his brother, the king, and a couple of foot-solders will be sailing past the island, Prospero creates a massive storm and causes the cast of characters to be shipwrecked on the island.
This is no “Gilligan’s Island,” though, and reading “The Tempest” compared to listening and watching wasn’t any better. I had an extremely hard time following along and although some scholars say this is Shakespeare’s masterpiece, I have to say “absolutely not.” I couldn’t get into it, and therefore just couldn’t see what others have.(less)
I saw a production of “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” when we arrived in Montana that was set during the nineteenth century and unfortunately was lost i...moreI saw a production of “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” when we arrived in Montana that was set during the nineteenth century and unfortunately was lost in translation. I picked up my copy of the play because I wanted to flesh out something of the things that were confusing — scene changes that didn’t happen, voices that where muddled due to a lack of microphones — and give this comedy of errors a second chance.
Two friends, Valentine and Proteus, begin this tale with a farewell in Verona; Valentine is off to improve himself, while Proteus stays home with his love, Julia. However, Proteus’ father decides to also send his son off to Milan, and an unhappy Julia and Proteus confess their undying love for one another. Upon arrival in Milan, Proteus immediately falls in love with Silvia, whom Valentine plans to elope with, and plots to do anything he can to steal her from Valentine. He tells the Duke, Silvia’s father, of Valentine’s plan, which earns Valentine a banishment from court. And so with Valentine gone, Proteus immediately sets into a motion a plan to win Silvia’s affection, not realizing that his former love, Julia, has disguised herself as a man and indentured herself into his service.
I liked the play — especially because of the character of Launce and his poorly trained dog, Crab — until Valentine, Proteus, Silvia, and Julia are all lost in forest. Up until then the play felt very real, but once the characters wind up in the forest the whole things turns into junk. The storyline is wrapped up very quickly with the characters all forgiving one another with no hard feelings, despite the fact that there was betrayal, broken hearts, and even an attempted rape. Valentine, the wronged man, especially takes a turn for the worse when he saves his love, Silvia, from being forced by Proteus but then turns around and gives Silvia to Proteus in the name of friendship.
This, this right here is the reason why I am so against abandoning books because, honestly, I probably would have given up on To Kill a Mockingbird ha...moreThis, this right here is the reason why I am so against abandoning books because, honestly, I probably would have given up on To Kill a Mockingbird had it not been summer required reading for my freshman year of high school. Blasphemy! It’s a book that won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961, it’s one of the most challenged books of all time, and one Yann Martel sent to Stephen Harper, the current Canadian Prime Minster.
Despite all this praise, To Kill a Mockingbird also starts out very dry making it a struggle to trudge through the first few chapters. And then I got the crime and court case, the central plot of the novel. Forget Scout wanting to be like her older brother, Jem, their adventures with Dill, a boy visiting the small town of Maycomb, or even their relationship with the reclusive Arthur “Boo Radley, although that storyline still plays a part in why I like To Kill a Mockingbird so much. It’s the character of Atticus Finch, Scout and Jem’s father, and his attempt to defend Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a young white woman, that really catapulted this novel into adoration for me.
A accurate account of race relations in America during the Great Depression (and an incident that continues to find a place in the American justice system), To Kill a Mockingbird deserves a place in the shelves of great American literature. I love how the story is consistently told through the eyes of a six to nine-year-old girl; we learn things at the same pace and in the same manner as Scout does. It’s jumpy and at times juvenile because that’s who our narrator is.
Looking back now, the dry beginning serves as an introduction to the Southern lifestyle — meandering, simple, slow — and really sets the stage. Without Scout’s adventures with Jem and Dill and her attempts to understand the misunderstood Boo, we would never realize how powerful Atticus standing up to injustice and Scout’s new understanding of the world is.(less)