I really liked this book. In particular the emotionally detailed content was fascinating and delicious. I really love that sort of exploration when it...moreI really liked this book. In particular the emotionally detailed content was fascinating and delicious. I really love that sort of exploration when it's well done and regarding something I'm interested in. I also really liked his graspings around truth vs. what actually happened vs. stories - truth of content. That totally fascinates me, and I'm sure I'll want to read those parts again. The gritty physical details were, of course, horrible; but war is - I appreciated the honesty of it. (less)
Must read this again! After 'To Kill a Mockingbird', and being hemmed in to the one character's point-of-view, I've been very much missing a multi-pov...moreMust read this again! After 'To Kill a Mockingbird', and being hemmed in to the one character's point-of-view, I've been very much missing a multi-pov experience. This book was one of my first experiences of it, and one I really enjoyed. Also, the subject, WWII, is very current for me right now as well, and it's been well over 10 years since I read this last, so it will be perfect. Much as re-reading things when I have so many new things waiting to be read heightens my impatience for the rest, in this case I'm sure it will be worth it.
But now I can't find my copy, urgh! This is supposed to be one of the ones that's always right at hand. Not ok.. Then, M&Q, used books - no copy! Urgh! Soon though.. soon....(less)
A fascinating thing about this which I hadn't been aware of from my previous exposure to it is that is was one of Steinbecks's format/genre experiment...moreA fascinating thing about this which I hadn't been aware of from my previous exposure to it is that is was one of Steinbecks's format/genre experiments. In this work, Steinbeck created a new genre: the play/novelette. '"The work I am doing now," he wrote to his agents in April 1936, "is neither a novel nor a play but it is a kind of playable novel. Written in novel form but so scened and set that it can be played as it stands. It wouldn't be like other plays since it does not follow the formal acts but uses the chapters for curtains. Descriptions can be used for stage directions... Plays are hard to read so this will make both a novel and play as it stands." Anticipating postmodernists, Steinbeck was to declare wtih greater and greater frequency in the late 1930s and '40s that the novel was dead, whereas theater was "waking up," was fresh and challenging.' And in fact, he sent it to his publishers in late summer of 1936; it was published on February 25, 1937 (for $2 per copy); was a Book-of-the-Month Club selection in March; was performed as written by Theater Union of San Francisco with an opening on May 21, 1937; then performed as a modified version at Music Box Theater in New York opening November 23, 1937; and released as a film in 1939. It was very controversial, banned in Australia in 1940; one of the most frequently banned books by school board over the years. '"The first few pages so nauseated me," wrote the reviewer for 'The Catholic World,' "That I couldn't bear to keep it in my room over night."' "Morbid and degenerate" content was why another showing of it was condemned. And the reason for all the hoo-ha? The truth of it. The hopelessness and loneliness of the group of people Steinbeck gives life to - the landless white male agricultural workers of the 1930's. Also, he used actual dialect which was still new back then. Included in the dialect is racist language in use back then, as his characters would not have been honest without it. Probably some bannings were due simply to the use of the 'n' word, although most programs that use it now include context for that which is a response to it that contains the intended respect while also containing discussion that can be so useful to unlearning racism. Another interesting content item about race is a momentary scene in which a white woman brings to the attention of a black man her ability to get him lynched. It's brutal, and then it's over and the action continues and it fades into unimportance - all of which serves as a reminder of our shared history festering with racism; and how far we as a country have come. (i'm adding that scene to quotes for this book). It's a very quick read for all that, and very enjoyable actually just for the intensity of description. This felt to me like one of those quick-action films, only the super-short scenes are ones you create in your own mind, as written by Steinbeck. Somehow he packs in vivid visual content and well-drawn characters in an almost poetically pithy writing style. Highly recommend.(less)
Very harsh point of view, but understandable. I had recommended this to a German relative of mine, then I re-read it, and then retracted my recommenda...moreVery harsh point of view, but understandable. I had recommended this to a German relative of mine, then I re-read it, and then retracted my recommendation to him because I felt like the German-bashing parts were something that - for him - would offset the utility of it. I mean, we all know now, and those parts feel excessive potentially. At the time it was written though, the mainstream US population had not yet known (is one story, anyway.) Is crucial in-and-of itself, and for Vonnegut's trajectory as a great writer (IMHO).(less)
Had been hoping to read the whole Vidal serious, in keeping with my daughter's class this year on US History. Then 26/11 happened (the terrorist attac...moreHad been hoping to read the whole Vidal serious, in keeping with my daughter's class this year on US History. Then 26/11 happened (the terrorist attacks on Mumbai on Nov 26), and more important to me now is actively learning about Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, what the US has done, is doing and could best do. Hopefully will get back to this perhaps this summer, or .. later. Have other books as well.. including that Team of Rivals one. First things first though.(less)
This was the over-the-summer book for my teenager entering high school last year. I read it too of course. It was excellent.
At first I was reluctant,...moreThis was the over-the-summer book for my teenager entering high school last year. I read it too of course. It was excellent.
At first I was reluctant, as the subject matter (a man who has been sentenced to die, and what effect on him is possible from another man who has been given the assignment - against his will - to help him prepare for his imminent execution) is so heavy.
But I was excited also, that this piece of African-American literature had been assigned to the kids, that it deals overtly with race.
So launched in, and at first it was slow going, but soon the detail drew me forward. And then other elements, in particular the exact workings of the racist behavior of some primary characters, and the behavior and thinking of the protagonist (the teacher). I really liked that part, it informs me so hugely. And the love story, of course.
It's been a while ago now, so to write a better review I'll probably need to refresh my memory.
But I just wanted to say, it's awesome. It shows how the human spirit can come forward when called upon, despite reluctance and a lack of particular knowledge and feelings of inadequacy.
And the resolution involves self-definition vs. definition-by-others, which is a favorite concept of mine.
I'm realizing now as I read through the synopsis - one of our local theaters - Penumbra - an awesome black theater - did a production called Gospel at...moreI'm realizing now as I read through the synopsis - one of our local theaters - Penumbra - an awesome black theater - did a production called Gospel at Colonus that invovled this story. I saw it and it was just amazing, mostly musically. I remember the gouging of the eyes and just that pinnacle of pain. Ok, now I'm all set to read with daughter's english class..
My edition is different, but doesn't seem to have an ISBN #, so oh well. It's got the Oedipus Plays of Sophocles - Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, and Antigone. By Plume. Translation by Paul Roche.
Ok, my daughter zipped through this already and is done with it, completely done, and there were no conversations in this case. It was fascinating to dip into it briefly, but to do it justice would take more time than I have right now. So, for now I'm marking it as past, rather than current. Will explore/read more another day.(less)
**spoiler alert** There are three different languages in this book. One, the black dialect speech, for which it is famous. Excerpt:
'"You was twice nob...more**spoiler alert** There are three different languages in this book. One, the black dialect speech, for which it is famous. Excerpt:
'"You was twice noble tuh save me from dat dawg. Tea Cake, Ah don't speck you seen his eyes lak Ah did. He didn't aim to jus bite me, Tea Cake. He aimed tuh kill me stone dead. Ah'm never tuh fuhgit dem eyes. He wuzn't nothin' all over but pure hate. Wonder where he come from? "Yeah, Ah did see 'im too. It wuz frightenin'. Ah didn't mean tuh take his hate neither. He had tuh die uh me one. Mah switch blade said it wuz him. "Po' me, he'd tore me tuh pieces, if it wuzn't fuh you, honey. "You don't have tuh say, if it wuzn't fuh me, baby, cause Ah'm _heah_, and then Ah want yuh tuh know it's uh man heah.
Two, the narrator's story-telling voice. Excerpt:
'To Janie's strange eyes, everything in the Everglades was big and new. Big Lake Okechobee, big beans, big cane, big weeds, big everything. Weeds that did well to grow waist high up the state were right nad often ten feet tall down there. Ground so rich that everything went wild. .. Dirt roads so rich and black that a half mile of it would have fertilized a Kansas wheat field.'
And three, the lyrical, magical poetic voice used to describe nature and emotions (often intermingled) and such of that sort. (Excerpt at the end, is a spoiler).
And, not being a literature student, I don't really have the proper means to talk about this, but it's interesting to me that there is such a big gap between the narrator's voice and the character's voices. Because the characters talk in the manner that they think, one supposes.. so the narrator thinks in a different way than her characters. The narrator speaks in the way that Hurston's critics believed black people should speak, all proper and so on. But that didn't satisfy them. That's something I'd like to learn more about in reading more of her work, when there's time.
Anyway, love this book; such a great story about a woman who does what she is told is the right thing to do, and notices though that the results are not what she expected. Which is surprising. So she tries to figure out, like, what then? And settles for what seems to be the best course of action in such a muddled world. Then, years later, she is given the opportunity to throw away that bad rule book, and live a whole different way. Of course wish that part was a longer part, but I guess the message of the excerpt below (the final paragraph) is that (spoiler) even though Tea Cake is dead, he is still with her and that time continues for her. But it's not the same of course.
This book, in short, is a luscious treasure!
final excerpt: 'Then Tea Cake came prancing around her where she was and the song of the sigh flew out of the window and lit in the top of the pine trees. Tea Cake, with the sun for a shawl. Of course he wasn't dead. He could never be dead until she herself had finished feeling and thinking. The kiss of his memory made pictures of love and light against the wall. Here was peace. She pulled in her horizon like a great fish-net. Pulled it from around the waist of the world and draped it over her shoulder. So much of life in its meshes! She called in her soul to come and see.'(less)
Wow.. goes from 'eww... way too familiar' to 'I've seen that scene already in the movies' to 'wow, I had no idea' to complete absorption in one paragraph so...moreWow.. goes from 'eww... way too familiar' to 'I've seen that scene already in the movies' to 'wow, I had no idea' to complete absorption in one paragraph sometimes. Glad to find out about this writer!
Multiple layers of powerfully uncomfortable reading. Sometimes slightly less uncomfortable.
After: Wow. I'm looking forward to the next time already, or when I read the next thing of Sherman's. I'll be stronger then, tougher, or more ok in some way and better able to deal with it all. This time through, it bothered me most of the time. I read fast, quickly as I could, and didn't pause at all to let impact's increase. Just kept moving. Like when drinking something I didn't like the taste of, like Ouzo, or beer for that matter. Just drink more. But next time I'll do better. It all is very simply intricate, and of course honestly powerful. Huge, really.(less)