It was so much fun to read this again, even as an adult. I really enjoyed it when I was young, and it's easy to see why. The poetry (particularly theIt was so much fun to read this again, even as an adult. I really enjoyed it when I was young, and it's easy to see why. The poetry (particularly the Jabberwocky and The Walrus and the Carpenter) is such fun, and the silly, whimsical word play and twisting of logic are imaginative and exactly the right sort of thought-provoking for kids.
My favorite part in the first book is Alice's ridiculous conversation with the Mock Turtle. A sample:
'They were obliged to have him with them,' the Mock Turtle said: 'no wise fish would go anywhere without a porpoise.'
'Wouldn't it really?' said Alice in a tone of great surprise.
'Of course not,' said the Mock Turtle: 'why, if a fish came to ME, and told me he was going a journey, I should say "With what porpoise?" 'Don't you mean "purpose"?' said Alice.
In the second book, besides the two poems named above, my favorite part is Alice's conversation with Humpty Dumpty. He explains many words to her (including the ones in Jabberwocky) and gets her mind twisted in knots with his silliness:
"Alice was too much puzzled to say anything, so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. 'They've a temper, some of them—particularly verbs, they're the proudest—adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs—however, I can manage the whole lot of them! Impenetrability! That's what I say!'
'Would you tell me, please,' said Alice 'what that means?'
'Now you talk like a reasonable child,' said Humpty Dumpty, looking very much pleased. 'I meant by "impenetrability" that we've had enough of that subject, and it would be just as well if you'd mention what you mean to do next, as I suppose you don't mean to stop here all the rest of your life.'
'That's a great deal to make one word mean,' Alice said in a thoughtful tone."
I look forward to revisiting this again when I have young children. What Carroll does so well is lift up and glorify the witty and imaginative ways that children think about words and logic as they grow and learn. He gives credence to what seems silly and absurd, and offers the puns, riddles, jokes, and even nonsense that children love and adults tend to groan about. He refrains from preaching or infantilizing, and an authentic sense of child-like wonder at the world pervades the book.
This book meant a lot to me when I was younger, and it was such a pleasure to revisit it. I remember previously being very affected by the struggles aThis book meant a lot to me when I was younger, and it was such a pleasure to revisit it. I remember previously being very affected by the struggles and unfairnesses in Francie's life - particularly her father's drunkenness and the fact that she loses him, the parent who loves her best.
Now that I've lived another decade and a half or so of life, I have less of a demand for life to be 'fair' and was able to focus instead more on Francie's optimism and drive: "Dear God," she prayed, "let me be SOMETHING every minute of every hour of my life." She's absolutely an inspiration, even still.
I also had a strong response to Francie's first heartbreak, something I didn't even recall from before. Francie's mom tells her that she'll be happy again and fall in love again but it will never be the same as the first time, she'll never forget, and any future man she loves will share a commonality with that first man. Thinking back on my own experience, this strikes me as somewhat true but also far less negative than it sounds. The first person I loved is unforgettable in ways that subsequent loves are not, but it's pleasant memories, despite the heartbreak, that rule.
I look forward to revisiting this novel again in another decade or so. The story is embedded in 1910s impoverished Brooklyn but its messages about the cycle of poverty, the importance of education, and the power of family and love will never lose their shine.
Themes: 1910s, Brooklyn, Irish, family, bildungsroman, love, education, poverty, women
I read this in fifth grade - possibly three or four times! It was the first book of it's kind that I had read (utopia/dystopia) and the possibility stI read this in fifth grade - possibly three or four times! It was the first book of it's kind that I had read (utopia/dystopia) and the possibility stunned me. Gave my kid self a lot to think about!...more
This is a re-read but there was actually very little I remembered from the first time I read it at 16 or 17. The themes of writing, lust, and man as bThis is a re-read but there was actually very little I remembered from the first time I read it at 16 or 17. The themes of writing, lust, and man as both protector and criminal and how this affects women are very interesting. The idea that women are objectified sometimes, whether they are being protected or assaulted, is very thought-provoking. The repeating motifs of disability, fear of impending tragedy, violence, and untimely death are also more clearly for a purpose to me this time around.
I appreciate that Garp's writings are included. Since they are discussed in such detail, it's useful to have read them, and they give good insight into Garp's mindset. The first chapter of 'The World According to Bensenhaver' was especially interesting because it gave me a better sense of how Garp was coming to terms with what happened in the driveway than anything else could have.
Despite the tragic ending, I wasn't as sad as I would have anticipated. after all, this novel makes clear that death is very much just a fact of life, and the whole point of the epilogue is to show that everyone dies anyway, eventually. The last part of the book (once the 'under toad' takes over) was less engaging for me. There are fewer 'scenes' from then on and it feels like the beginning of the end - there's a lot of 'wrapping up' going.
Themes: sex, lust, infidelity, feminism, family, writing, wrestling, death, fate/omen (under toad), accident and blame, guilt, 'personal vision', fame protecting vs. victimizing women and family ...more
This is a re-read for me, and I loved it just as much this time around. However, I remember when I read this book about 8 years ago that I identifiedThis is a re-read for me, and I loved it just as much this time around. However, I remember when I read this book about 8 years ago that I identified very much with Langston, I really loved her. This time around, I felt much more intrigued by Amos and even a little irritated by Langston. I suppose this means that I'm no longer the semi-rebellious but mostly idealistic college student I was before.
The backgrounds of the characters in this book are fascinating; Kimmel excels at building characters who are shaped by the histories she gives them in realistic ways. This novel succeeds as a character study while also being very plot-driven - something that The Used World was less successful at. This is interesting to me because The Solace of Leaving Early is Kimmel's first novel and you'd think she'd only improve.
I thoroughly enjoyed the internal philosophical and religious struggles that both Langston and Amos have, as they read, write and think. I love characters that have fantastic inner lives, and who think as much as they act and Kimmel is not afraid here to focus the reader's attention inward.
I am curious to read more of her work, though my mom told me that nothing else she's read of hers compares to The Solace of Leaving Early. Kimmel has a new novel that will come out in 2012 though that I'll probably pick up.