Monday, May 30, 2011

Catcher in the Rye

Catcher in the Rye, J.D Salinger

Bought the book on a whim to participate in the Young Adults Fiction book club at my local favorite bookstore. The book after this one is The Book Thief, which I'd love to sit in on, but I decided to test them all out with this one first.

I read the entire book on Sunday. There's such an amount of success that accompanies finishing an entire book in one day, even if it's technically a "kid" (young adult) book (although Wikipedia pointed out to me it's a novel that was originally intended for adults). When I started it, I remembered that it was the only (assigned) book I read between junior and senior year (I was an angsty high schooler, I'll admit), and my best friend expected me to really like the book. She thought it'd resonate with me, but instead it really irritated me. I couldn't explain to her why, at the time, though.

I think I can now, but first: this time through, I really liked it. Okay. Now I think back then i didn't because first off, the narrative style irritated me--I couldn't get into the stream-of-concious flow back then. Also, I couldn't lose the awareness that an adult wrote the book, and if felt strange to think an adult wrote that book, and from a kid's perspective. And lastly, the book did resonate with me--and that was part of the problem. I understood what he meant, about "phonies" and the masks people wear and how frustrating it is to watch people, even (especially) yourself, act so fake. I think the thing was that while he found certain people redeemable, I hadn't gotten to that yet. And because I resonated so strongly with Holden back then, the ending was so bitterly disappointing.

I haven't lost that perspective, and there are days where the Holden in me just can't stomach it, but I feel like I've rounded out a lot more since high school (thank GOD), so while his observations are right, it doesn't meant hey tell the whole story. And when the picture gets a little bigger, it includes happier (more acceptable, tonic-like) components in it.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

An Interesting Timeline of Russian Authors

So I was studying with my siblings (sister and brother in law, but I've known that guy since I was ten), and they kept distracting me and we kept joking around, and I ended up making this. I was super intrigued by the results.

Note the symmetry :-)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Book Review: Moby Dick

Moby Dick, Herman Melville
3.218.11 - 5.17.11

When I started this one, I was super intimidated. Having to actually record my "start" time was intimidating, since I knew it'd take me a while to finish. I should really be less cowed by these authors...

But I did it! I really did it! I felt so accomplished at the end. I took about six pages of notes, writing down references and words I didn't understand, and I feel like at the end of it, I did my best to get the most out of this one.

I think I liked it. His structure--the references--were really well done. The story line itself feels so classic it's impossible (for me) to critique, but I guess I'll try. Some plot points felt like they weren't carried through to the extent that they should have been. A if, after embarking on a 200-page tangent about whale physiology, he forgot the original point he was trying to make.

He sets certain characters up as main players, then it turns out others are much more poignant. I liked the sense of poetic, dark humour he maintained with the names of the chips. I feel like if I was raised at the time of his writing, with a Christian-religion upbringing, it would have been even more entertaining.

Oh and lastly, the footnotes gave a strong impression of not like Melville at all. There were comments that could almost be described as snarky. Some even so far as biting. Which I think skewed my reading a little, but nothing too damaging.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Book Review: My Boyfriend Wrote a Book About Me

My Boyfriend Wrote a Book About Me, Hilary Winston
5.13.11 - 5.15.11
*lent from a friend

Alright, so I hate when friends recommend books, because it usually feels awkward--as if they're asking me to validate their own literary choices. And 8.5/10 of the time, their recommendations suck (harsh, I know, but also true).

This book was funny on a mediocre level for the first 9/10s (I'm totally digging fractions today, can't you tell?). She's a good writer, but I didn't care a lot about her story. Then the last chapter happened, and she talked about her "exit interview" with the ex who wrote the book about her--how by writing it, he killed their future. She talked about being embarrassed by emotions she still had for him, and hopes and fantasies regarding him, and she did it in a way that made it okay.

My friend was right--I needed to read the book. Not so much for its literary value (it was a good book, don't get me wrong, it just wasn't my cup of tea), but for the message. I needed to hear that it's okay to fantasize about reuniting with exes, about wishing for happy endings. And I needed to read that even when those fantasies don't come true, even when reality sets in and your ex one-night-stands-you or tells you they've never liked your sister, or writes a mean book about you, or any one of a million things but mainly, when they don't fulfill their end of the fantasy, that it's still okay. And it doesn't take away from what you two had.

Not working out for forever doesn't make what was there any less special, or less meaningful.

It was a really good, comforting reminder, and as cheesy as it was, it made me feel a little less alone and ridiculous.

**Oh and also, she wrote the best description of testicles ever. EVER. Known to mankind. It was so spot-on! And still makes me laugh.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Book Review: Great House

Great House, Nicole Krauss
4.29.11 - 5.5.11
*library book

"And though I hadn't had more than three or four relationships, I already knew that each time the thrill of telling another the story of yourself wore off a little more, each time you threw yourself into it a little less, and grew more distrustful of an intimacy that always, in the end, failed to pass into true understanding" -134

I love when I can find a passage in a book that completely summarizes my attitude towards whatever I'm currently experiencing. The ability of books to universally speak without sounding trite is quite the talent.


There's a part towards the end where one of the main characters, an older gentleman, talks about re-reading his favorite books with the awareness that it may be for the last time. Lines like that make my awareness of my own mortality flicker brightly, if only for a moment.

I remember how caught up I was in The History of Love, the other book by Krauss that I've read, and this was no different. The only slightly sour note was the ending. I understand why she crafted it the way she did, but I felt like there were a lot of loose ends still needing to be cleared up. I think that to get the type of ending I wanted, she would have had to have written another hundred pages or so.