Friday, October 31, 2008

The beginning is always today.-Mary Wollstonecraft

I finished reading Lost by Gregory Maguire on Tuesday night, it was pretty good. I was surprised though, because many of the reviews I read said it was better than the previous books, but I actually liked all of them better than this one. I think though that it’s because none of the other books were set in modern times, and because they weren’t it made it much easier to believe the fantastical things that happened. Also, I think I enjoyed the others more because they all had their basis in previous stories, i.e. Wicked and Son of a Witch (and consequently the newest book A Lion Among Men, which I haven’t read yet) have a basis in L. (Lyman, hehehe) Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (and subsequent sequels), Mirror Mirror is a retelling of Snow White, and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister is based on Cinderella.

While there are a few references to Scrooge, from Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, being based on a member of the main characters family and a couple of references to Jack the Ripper, this one really isn’t based on any other previous literature. I thought it would be, and so I guess that is the real basis for my disappointment.

I also found that there were a lot of loose ends that weren’t tied up, and the novel ended up seeming untidy in consequence. Maybe that’s why it was called Lost…hmmmm. As always though with Gregory Maguire it was well-written, and considering the fact that it took me less than two days to read, I really have no other faults to nitpick.

I’m currently just finishing up Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen by P.G. Wodehouse, and will be done shortly. Of course I’m enjoying it because it’s Jeeves and Wooster!

On a side note I bought (for $1.00) an uncorrected proof copy of Irene Gammel’s Looking for Anne…now I own three copies…dude, I have a serious problem.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Poetry is what gets lost in translation.-Robert Frost

So since I'm not finished The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egyptians to Quantum Cryptography by Simon Singh, and I'm also currently reading Lost by Gregory Maguire, I thought that today I would mention some of my favourite poets/poems. Here ya go:

Robert Frost: Acquainted with the Night

Lord Alfred Tennyson: Crossing the Bar

Edna St. Vincent Millay: What Lips my Lips have Kissed

Dylan Thomas: In my Craft or Sullen Art

Gregory Orr: Insomnia Song

William Falconer: The Shipwreck

Heinrich Heine: Die Lorelei (The Lorelei, or The Siren)

Omar Khayyam: The Rubaiyat (Edward FitzGerald translations)

Monday, October 20, 2008

When words are scarce they are seldom spent in vain.-William Shakespeare

Okay, so it’s basically been forever since I’ve written, mostly because I have no time now (just got a new job two weeks ago) and because my home computer is broken so I can only write while I’m at work.

Frankly, and this is odd for me, I’m really in no mood to write about the various books I’ve read since I last wrote. I’ve actually read a few, I might not even remember them all, but I’m at least going to give it a shot.

I was just finishing up Looking for Anne: How Lucy Maud Montgomery Dreamed up a Literary Classic by Irene Gammel when I last wrote. I really enjoyed the book, and thought it was fantastic. As I mentioned before, Dr. Gammel writes in a highly accessible way, and even though the book is rather scholarly, it is still thoroughly absorbing and an “easy” (not the right word, but my brain doesn’t want to work that hard) read. I did not agree with all of her observations, and at times found some of them reaching, but overall I thought it was brilliant. You could tell that she had spend a lot of time doing research (10 years I think it was actually), and she found some really interesting things. Actually, one very interesting personal part of this is that before my Mother knew that I had bought the book for myself she had already ordered the American version for me (different dust jacket). It was my birthday a couple of weeks ago, so my Mum sent the copy she ordered off to Dr. Gammel, who signed it and send it back. She also sent me a birthday card, both of these I received last weekend. So now I have two copies of this book – very cool.

I also reread The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. It probably is my favourite book out of all of them. I’ve mentioned it before (wandering the Muskokas with Valancy), and I just love it. It’s considered one of Maud’s “adult novels”, versus the juvenilia title that is usually attached to her writings (totally the wrong tag by the way, I don’t think they’re juvenilia at all). Anyways, it’s the only one of Maud’s novels that is entirely set in Ontario and actually is meant to reference Bala, where Maud spent a family vacation. A great companion book is Lucy Maud Montgomery and Bala: A Love Story of the North Woods, which was written by (KS) acquaintances of mine, Jack and Linda, who own and operate Bala’s Museum. I received Jack and Linda’s book as a gift last year and it is absolutely wonderful. The Blue Castle makes me believe in love, I know it sounds lame, but it’s true and that’s all there is to it.

Then, I believe, I read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I really enjoyed the descriptive nature of Coelho’s writing, and I thought the story was very simple, pure and true, but, even giving all that, I don’t really understand why this book is as big as it is. I’m not knocking Coelho here at all, like I said it was very well-written, but it didn’t really grab me. Although I also didn’t like The Da Vinci Code or The English Patient, so maybe it’s just me, or maybe I’m just a little too cynical (a side of myself I really don’t share with others).

Okay, then I read The Mating Season by P.G. Wodehouse; it’s one of the Jeeves and Wooster books. I love the Jeeves and Wooster books, and although half of the time I don’t understand the mid-century British slang, I find them hilarious and they always make me smile. I didn’t find this one quite as funny as The Inimitable Jeeves, but I still really liked it and have another that I bought left to read, Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen. There are actually tons of Jeeves and Wooster books, but I’ve been finding them hard to find. Wodehouse actually wrote something like 99 books during his career (not all J&W of course).

I just finished The Book of Air and Shadows by Michael Gruber, and I really don’t know whether I liked it or not. The story and concept were interesting, but it was just so overdrawn and I hated half of the characters. I think Gruber was trying to write characters that were anti-heroes or the opposite of those normally seen, but he really only succeeded in writing characters that were unbelievable. Or, conversely, he was trying to make it difficult to class people into the “good guy” or “bad guy” categories. However, the story itself was very good and engaging, but the book would definitely have been better if Gruber had fought against the urge to write as if he were getting paid by the word. I know, that was a little mean.

I’m currently reading The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egyptians to Quantum Cryptography by Simon Singh, and it’s really interesting so far. I like cryptography and ciphers and am enjoying learning more history about them. It’s very math-based and I think it’s interesting.