Thursday, March 31, 2011

For Review: Lord of the Flies ~ William Golding

Until this past week, I'd never even opened a copy of Lord of the Flies. Cue gasping. So many people give the, 'Oh my God didn't you even read it in school?' speech. No, I didn't. But there's always such a buzz (if you'll excuse the pun) around this book. I didn't read it ten years ago, so why not read it now?

Why not?

My experience reading this would have been far better if I was an eleven year old boy. If I have a son one day, I will happily give him a copy to read. Maybe a bunch of young boys washed up on an island doesn't ping me, but I expected that. Lord of the Flies, I was lead to believe, wasn't just about the story.

Only it was. It was nice and all, and a cosy cute thing to read while I'm on the mend. But...Nobel Prize for Literature? I actually don't get it. Not that the book was bad, it just didn' anything. I felt like and sympathy for only one of the boys, and really couldn't have cared less about the others. And the writing? A couple of nice phrases here and there but no bpiggy. Have I missed something? Is it supposed to just be 'nice'?

That, and I haven't even heard of any of the other books Golding has written. Hrm. So, maybe the Nobel Prize for Literature isn't such a fun deal? Maybe it really just means, 'Cheers mate, that was a pretty decent book and we can teach it to kids at school and talk about themes and discuss whether or not they had guessed that very mediocre ending.'

Yeah, so it was okay and stuff but...underwhelmed.

[Had much more fun looking at artwork and pictures!]

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

We Got a Situation

My books have more moral integrity than that. 
Besides, even if I've lost 20-30 because of Jersey Shore viewings, I still have plenty left. I'm not worrying. Too much.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

When Broken Is Easily Fixed

Ssh. Don't break the silence.

Okay, but really, it has been pretty dead round here lately. So here's the news: basically, my blood is a mess. It's all up and down on what it's supposed to be and I've been zombified and glued to the couch - sleeping, sleeping, unable to concentrate on reading or writing, sleeping. All very unproductive, but rest is good for the sick, if it isn't useful for the wicked.

So there we have it - resident blogger has been zombified. But I'm on the mend, steadily making my way through Lord of Flies even though it's taken me a week now. Argh. Low iron isn't a fun game. Keep eating steak, kids.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

For Review: Prince Caspian ~ C.S Lewis

I'm trying to figure out, on a scale of 1 -10, how useful it is for me to continue reviewing the Narnia books.

It's Narnia. Prince Caspian. It's cosy (especially nice when one is unwell) and it's cute. What more is there to say?

Left wondering if fantasy books follow the narrative of the Narnia series. They seem to go like this: exposition, character building, more exposition, character building, obstacle, big battle, conclusion, end. I'm not big on fantasy, so I'm no expert, but my experience of the genre has been exactly that, thus far.

Monday, March 21, 2011

For Review: A Pair of Blue Eyes ~ Thomas Hardy

Put this book down approximately two minutes ago. And wow. That was a lovely good read! Just closed the cover and really in need to gush about this book with someone and, as it is, I am in the house on my own without even any 'pet' mice. So here goes.

Elfride Swancourt has pretty blue eyes, and they fall upon the boyish Stephen Smith. They fall in love, but his family aren't well-to-do like Elfride's so her dad denies. They run off to London to marry but she freaks out so they head back home. But then architect Stephen is offered excellent job in Bombay. Off he goes. But then...
     Enter Mr Henry Knight, Stephen's mature and well-read friend. He falls in love with Elfride, Elfride idolises him, and she forgets all about poor Stephen. But what happens when Stephen returns from India? Aaah~ I love love triangles, and Hardy does them so well.

Who would I choose? Stephen. Hands down. He's charming, and caring and full of ambition; an adventurer ready to explore the world and do anything he can for the woman he loves. Henry Knight? Don't even get me started. Elfride was an absolute fool to find herself infatuated with the man. Such a pompous, self-important, conceited, horrible man I have never come across in a work of Hardy's. Really, so many times I gave the book a 'oh-no-he-didn't' look. What an absolute idiot. I'm no feminist, but some of the crap he was spouting out was ridiculous. And men say that women are in love with ideas...Tsk, tsk. So yeah, he could get stuffed. As for Stephen - I cried for him. At a particular peak in his disappointment I genuinely cried because I was so moved by how awful he felt, and if anyone can render sadness it's the Hardy.

Let's not pretend that we don't all know that I'm a Thomas Hardy fanatic. My immense love of his writing has not change - and A Pair of Blue Eyes so early on in his career. Once again, it is so delightful to read his work backwards, to note words exchange and scenes played out that are then borrowed and redrawn for later books. Looking for some pretty Hardy romance without the tragic elements? Go for it.

P.S Without spoiling anything, the term 'cliffhanger' is believed to have orginated from this novel. Get that in yr pub quiz!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

How Do You Like Your Eggs in the Morning?

I can't lie:

There's something delicious about reading poetry for breakfast.

The words taste so good!


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

For Review: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn ~ Mark Twain

Once upon a time I had a selection of abridged classics. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was one of them. I wish I could remember how it was abridged, because the book is so stuffed full of so many important things that I wonder what it left out. Either way, I'm happy I read the full version as Mark Twain intended it.

Huckleberry Finn follows, funnily enough, the adventures of Huckleberry Finn. He escapes from his alcoholic father and meets runaway slave Jim. Together they cruise down the Mississippi River with a raft, and that's when the adventures begin. They meet all sorts of rapscallions on their way to their freedom, and it really is all very exciting! I'm not sure what I expected from this, but Huck and Jim's plans are always very clever, at least reasoned at length. Huck fakes his own death, encounters thieves, dresses up as a girl, pretends to be several different boys with several different scenarios, and ultimately ends up in a rescue mission with Tom Sawyer.

It's so easy to see why Huckleberry Finn is considered a great American classic. This one novel considers slavery, the relations between black and white, the difference between rich and poor, the role of morality and God, the place of women and men; a huge spectrum of all sorts of things that were going on in America. But Twain doesn't present these as simply black and white (if you'll excuse what is not intended as a pun). Everything is considered as a huge grey area.

Huckleberry Finn is a coming of age novel in many ways - Huck is left to his own devices to decide what course of action to take. He's spent time with an abusive father, and with a woman who tried to 'civilise' him. So Huck comes face to face with all of the above listed and has to make his own mind up. Does he do the 'right' thing and return Jim to his owner? Or does he do the 'wrong' thing and set him free? Told from Huck's perspective, the narrative follows his views of the world, and it's interesting to see how his mind develops from start to finish - especially obvious in his friendship with Tom Sawyer.

All aboard the Mark Twain - I do declare myself a fan.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

For Review: The Horse and His Boy ~ C.S Lewis

...huh. Well, I can really understand why this one hasn't made it into the recent film remakes.

It was cute and all but, beyond page forty I struggled. ~yawn~

Most certainly wouldn't have held my attention as a young girl. Ah well!

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

For Review: Never Let Me Go ~ Kazuo Ishiguro

It's no secret that the film industry have been relying heavily on fantastic fiction to make their latest blockbusters. In saying that, I'm sure you can think of one or two that come to mind instantly. Never Let Me Go is a recent venture into the movie world. The book has been on my TBR for a couple of years now, and I figured it was best to read it before I had any chance of being influenced by filmdom.

Kathy grows up as a student at Hailsham along with her friends Ruth and Tommy. Their version of reality is almost a dystopian one; they're destined for mysterious lives as carers and donors. Much of what goes on beyond their relationships is kept quiet for the majority of the novel - small clues revealing themselves along the way. But more than this world, Never Let Me Go is about friendship and love. Kathy narrates her story at the age of thirty-one and presents both her views of the world as a child and the way that she perceives things as an adult in retrospect.

The result is an emotional, but not sentimental, account of Kathy's life. She narrates naturally, often going off at tangents, reality one incident with another even if it doesn't make sense, considering her friendships, the people she knew, and how they have changed or how they might have changed. Essentially, memory plays a crucial part in Never Let Me Go. Ishiguro plays around with the idea, testing even the way that the reader remembers life, and how certain flashbacks occur, and perhaps for no reason.

Never Let Me Go was a lovely read and I can imagine, with its images of idyllic England, that it'll look delicious on the big screen - if it's done properly. But do read it before you go see the film. I can't speak for the film, but the book is charming and offers a lot to think about.


Monday, March 07, 2011

Happy Birthday Blog!~

252 Google followers
310 RSS subscribers
31,514 page views

My tiny little baby blog has grown! I'm so proud of my baby and all that it has achieved!

Thanks to everyone who has helped to nurture and entertain her, and I hope she brings you happiness for years to come!

Today I feel like I have achieved.

Happy Birthday Subtle Melodrama!

Friday, March 04, 2011


Can literature be funny? What is your favorite humorous literary book?   

There seems to be some kind of misconception around literature. Just because something's really very clever doesn't mean it can't be funny. That's like the assumption that the kid that does best in school must therefore obviously be boring and dull. Why? Who the hell made these rules? Some of the most intelligent people I know are also the funniest. In fact, the more intelligent a person is, the more likely they are to be general funny.

To be really funny, a person has to understand people, has to understand the world that they live in, and has to be able to communicate ideas in a way that they know people will respond humorously to. Regardless of the genre. Who wants to step up and claim that Leo Tolstoy was stupid? Who wants to step up and claim that he was actually very funny?

Anna Karenina. Some people think trains, some people think tragic, but really, I found it pretty hilarious. I have honestly never laughed out loud so much while reading a book. The man knew people and society - he was really able to reveal human relationships for what they really are. The dialogue between his host of characters is witty, satirical, and just down right hilarious.

 So yes, literature can be, and is, funny. End.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

For Review: Tamburlaine Must Die ~ Louise Welsh

What a jaunt!

Tamburlaine Must Die is a fictional account of the last few days that lead up the death of Christopher Marlowe. The circumstances surrounding his death are still somewhat a mystery, and Welsh really lets herself have fun with this.

Elizabethan England - sword fights, squalor, loyalty, God, atheism, whores, wine, homoeroticism, hedonism. Essentially, Tamburlaine Must Die is a very sensuous snap shot of its day. The story is incredible vivid, and very graphic. So if Elizabethan nitty gritty isn't your thing, then turn your attention to the boring Romantics.

Fast-paced, bright, and gruesome; this is a fantastic little read.

Pay good attention to the dialogue - it reads like poetry itself.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

For Review: The Girl on the Landing ~ Paul Torday

My first novel was written on the theme of relationships and mental illness. It also uses the point of view of both the guy and the girl. So when discussing this with my tutor, she recommended that I read The Girl On the Landing: running theme of mental illness and chapters from both the husband and wife's point of view.

Elizabeth marries Michael because he's a safe bet - dependable, loyal, and rich. But after ten years of marriage, Michael's behaviour changes radically, and Elizabeth finds herself falling in love with this new man. Behind this spontaneous and passionate man is, however, a mind that Elizabeth doesn't know, or understand.

Their relationship is quite fascinating to watch - how they fall into a monotonous marriage, how Michael's change in behaviour both frightens and excites Elizabeth. The reader is given both sides of the story, quite literally. Some chapters are from Elizabeth's POV, while Michael's are steady and measured; giving reason behind his madness. Really, though, Michael's narrative reads very much like a man of sound mind. He's clearly very intelligent. The Girl on the Landing is an interesting dialogue on what mental illness can really mean, how it can affect a person and those around them. More than that, is dilemma and the various choices that have to be made in treating mental illness. If one breaks his leg, he doesn't sit around wondering whether or not he should go and see a doctor, of if it'll just go away. If one starts hearing voices, he has to consider where they come from, what they mean, how real or not they are, what consquences they might have. It's a tricky business.

Torday's portrayal of their relationship is honest. While I can't possibly understand how two people can be married for ten years and one can't notice/know that the other takes medication, I don't know. I was constantly wondering what kind of relationship it really was. How could a woman like Elizabeth stick around so long? But we all get used to our comfort zones, and it's breaking free from them that takes guts and courage. The Girl on the Landing offers so much scope for thought, but almost disguises it in what is essentially a story about human relationships. Both clever, and very enjoyable.