Archive for February, 2010

Fantasy Friday: One for the Morning Glory

“King Boniface had always liked the Royal Witch. She was kind-hearted and laid curses that were easy to lift, and set quests anyone could complete. She–along with gunpowder, the printing press, and perspective drawing–had almost removed the fear of magic from the Kingdom.”

One for the Morning Glory by John Barnes was a surprise in a few ways. First, I had never heard of it and thus was surprised to find and read it. Second, once I had started reading it, I was surprised that so good a book had passed unnoticed in innumerable other libraries and had never been brought to my attention. And third, once I finished the book, I was surprised at what a dark turn it took somewhere about three-fourths of the way in and how the ending was purportedly happy but was also quite sudden and left many things unexplained. (more…)

February 12, 2010 at 12:00 am Leave a comment

Discussion Post: The Woman in White

Apologies again for the lateness of this post, but taking my time to finish this novel was so worth it. Where has Wilkie Collins been all of my literary life?!

Anyway, those interested in entering the drawing for the beautiful Penguin Clothbound Classic must participate in at least one discussion before February 25. Next week, our classic will be A Tale of Two Cities instead of The Picture of Dorian Gray, due to some issues with the post office. Ugh. But for now, onto our man Wilkie!

This is a book of so many doppelgangers and foils! Pesca and Hartwright, Laura and Anne, Laura and Marian…how are these relationships important? What is Collins trying to tell his reader?

Wow, the doppelgangers just kept on coming in this novel! In addition to the doubles, though, so many elements of The Woman in White center on the theme of duality. The house at Blackwater Park has two wings, one dark and decaying and one light and modern; Count Fosco is amoral, certainly, but his tenderness for Marian keeps him from being irredeemable; even Sir Percival’s name conjures up innocence, virtue, and the nobility inherent in a Grail knight, while his character proves to be definitively unsympathetic. (more…)

February 11, 2010 at 12:10 am 5 comments

Clip Show!

Time for another edition of the web’s finest offerings (or at the very least some of the things I liked reading this week) of literary news and clips! Feel free to add any articles that grabbed your attention this week in the comments section.

Hey, Universe, can you combine three trends that annoy me into one thing that super-annoys me? What’s that? You’ve made an anime-inspired Twilight graphic novel for teenagers? Perfect. Thanks, Universe.

In contrast, the Chronicle has an article about a library who wanted to banish its humanities holdings to an off-site storage facility and how the humanities fought back! I think it makes an interesting point about how libraries decide what is available, how easily, and to whom. Could this be considered a form of book censorship? (more…)

February 10, 2010 at 12:00 am 2 comments

Discussion Questions: Woman in White

You all should know what this is by now! If not, click here for background on the LT Classics Challenge. This week, we’re reading The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, a novel Sarah Waters said has the best plot in all of English literature. Here are the questions for the discussion post on Thursday:

This is a book of so many doppelgangers and foils! Pesca and Hartwright, Laura and Anne, Laura and Marian…how are these relationships important? What is Collins trying to tell his reader? (Forgive me if this is an obvious question — I haven’t finished the novel yet, but there are too many doubles and foils for this to be a coincidence.) (more…)

February 9, 2010 at 12:10 am Leave a comment

Weekly Geeks: Author Fun Facts

This week’s prompt was simply to compile a list of fun facts about a favorite author, then post links to the posts of other Geeks and their favorite authors. Easy peasy! The hardest part is deciding on a favorite author. Corey and I have a lot of “favorite” authors, but one I know we both love is Susanna Clarke, author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.


Susanna Clarke Fun Facts

* Clarke graduated from Oxford with a degree in philosophy, politics, and economics.

* Clarke made her big break when her partner, sci-fi writer Colin Greenland, showed her first short story to his friend Neil Gaiman.

* She spent 10 years editing cookbooks for Simon and Schuster, during which she continued to write short stories and work on her novel.

* Clarke taught English as a foreign language in Italy and Spain — and came up with the idea for Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell while teaching in Spain.

* Clarke currently lives in Cambridge, where she is working on a novel to follow Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.

February 8, 2010 at 12:10 am 5 comments

Rereadings: The Name of the Rose

This is part of our Rereadings series, which alternates Friday-duty with Fairy Tale Friday. For more background on the series, check out this post.

To my surprise, it has been seven years since I first read The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. Seven years since I first fell absolutely in love with the book and Eco himself. Seven years of insisting various people read it. And seven years of not reading it myself. I remained steadfast in my love of The Name of the Rose for most of those seven years, until this past October when my lovely co-blogger read it. And hated it. (more…)

February 5, 2010 at 12:00 am 5 comments

Discussion Post: Nine Stories

Welcome to the Nine Stories discussion post! Remember, those interested in entering the drawing for the beautiful Penguin Clothbound Classic must participate in at least one discussion before February 25. Next week, our classic will be The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, but for now, let’s discuss the Salinger:

Salinger has a distinct style to his writing, the most prominent features of which are abrupt endings and the frequent use of italics. Are these techniques distracting for you, or do you feel as though they enhance the reading experience? What do you think Salinger was trying to accomplish through these techniques?

Anyone who has read The Catcher in the Rye has probably experienced the frustration of the total lack of closure on the ending; Salinger’s characters always seem to leave the stories just as broken, if not more so, than they entered them. Salinger may, of course, be using this abruptness as a way to make the reader sit up and pay attention.

Take, for example, the ending of “A Perfect Day for Bananafish.” Seymour’s suicide almost seems to come out of nowhere, and a reread is almost compulsory in order to piece the elements of the story together in a way that makes sense. I’ve read this story almost ten times over the years and I still don’t know what it means — but you can bet that I have spent a lot of time trying to figure it out, and I think that’s what Salinger intended. (more…)

February 4, 2010 at 12:10 am Leave a comment

Libraries and Bookstores

Since I got a job, I have become something of a bookstore addict. When I first started blogging at Literary Transgressions, I admitted my addiction as my transgression/introduction to the blogosphere. Bookstores are great in terms of building a personal collection, but not so great for the local library or the ole pocketbook.

Recently, in an effort to afford graduate school, I’ve once again begun frequenting my local branch library (delightfully called the Ottendorfer!). And I’ve got to say, it has been a dream. There are few things that can equal the pleasure of browsing the library shelves with nothing particular in mind. There are new worlds you don’t even know about and then come around a corner and must face. There are books and authors and things you’ve never heard of, but which you will grow to love. For some reason, the sheer multitude of books published and available strikes me most vividly in libraries rather than bookstores. Libraries are remarkably full of possibilities and I am currently reveling in discovering as many of them as I can before I leave for graduate school.

What about you? Where do you go to get your books? And does that place offer you something more than just something to read? (more…)

February 3, 2010 at 12:00 am 10 comments

Discussion Questions: Nine Stories

Welcome to the first Discussion Questions post of the newly revamped LT Classics Challenge! These questions are meant to guide your reading and to ensure that we’ll all be discussing the same things in Thursday’s post. Feel free to use these questions in your comments.

If you have no idea what I am talking about, please wander on over to the LT Classics Challenge Page. Remember, those who participate in at least one discussion during the Challenge are entered in February’s drawing for a Penguin Clothbound Classic.

Salinger has a distinct style to his writing, the most prominent features of which are abrupt endings and the frequent use of italics. Are these techniques distracting for you, or do you feel as though they enhance the reading experience? What do you think Salinger was trying to accomplish through these techniques? (more…)

February 2, 2010 at 12:10 am 1 comment

Weekly Geeks: Winter Reading

For many of you reading this, the weather outside is blustery, cold, and generally gloomy. Temperatures are in the teens or even below, and you dread the very thought of facing the world without a wool scarf and several layers of socks. Even though I live in California for the moment, I remember very clearly the white-outs and blizzards of Buffalo and the constant freezing slush I sloshed through last winter in Dublin.

Weather that miserable requires a special kind of book. No chick lit or beach-reading will do; Jodi Picoult and Nora Roberts must be shelved until another, warmer day. What books would I suggest curling up with on a cold winter’s night? Here’s a short list of some of my favorites:

The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder: If you’re ever feeling bitter about the length of winter, read this book about a prairie winter that lasted from October until May, with constant three-day blizzards punctuated only by one or two days of respite in between. This book my favorite of the series; I love how you can almost feel the warmth of the Ingalls cabin (until they run out of fuel), how exciting the scene is where two young men dash across the prairie in order to buy wheat for the people in town before the next blizzard hits, and how happy everyone is when the long-awaited train finally brings their Thanksgiving turkey. (more…)

February 1, 2010 at 12:10 am 4 comments

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