Saturday, January 24, 2009

#4 The Fairy Godmother - Mercedes Lackey

This was my very first time reading a book by this author, so I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. I liked what I read in the synopsis on the back of the book, so I started reading. Turns out I really liked the book. Lackey is a good writer, very imaginative and detailed in her story-telling. I had a very good movie playing in my head the whole time I was reading, which is a great sign.
I really like fairy tales, a lot. Mercedes Lackey managed to incorporate just about all of the major ones, so I really enjoyed this book. There was also a really good romance element to the story, that I really liked also. There was one passage that I thought was particularly intriguing, mostly due to the subject matter being so similar to real life at the time it was written (2004). There were strong allusions to the political environment of the Bush years, and I was impressed.
I would definitely suggest this book to anyone looking for a good fairy tale.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

#3. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz- L. Frank Baum

This was the third book I've read this year, and thankfully it was quick. I wasn't sure what I was expecting when I read this book. I mean that I wasn't sure how much would be familiar, how much I wouldn't recognize at all, and everything in between. I was interested to find that there were some interesting differences between the book and the 1939 movie.
This is a children's book, of course, so there are the obvious moral lessons, like be kind to others, don't judge others. Dorothy seems to be a simple character, but in truth, she is more interesting that you'd think. The reader doesn't get to see much of her environment other than an abounding "grayness" and a brief glimpse of Aunt Em and Uncle Henry before she is whisked away to Oz by a cyclone blowing through the countryside. All we know about her life is that everything is gray; literally everything she describes is gray in some aspect, even her aunt and uncle. And yet, when she gets dropped into Munchkin land, all she wants is to go back home, even though she is, here, surrounded by bright and beautiful color. Apparently, despite the lack of color, there really is "no place like home."
I also like her companions much better now that I have a fuller view of their character. The Tin Woodman, Scarecrow, and Cowardly Lion are all more detailed and three dimensional, so you can understand their motives and goals so much better. There are also some interesting disconnects within the story itself that have nothing to do with the film; the Tin Woodman thinks he needs to take even more care in his actions when he doesn't have a heart to "guide his actions." He makes sure he doesn't step on any kind of bug, so he doesn't have the death of anything on his conscience, but he will kill a wildcat who is chasing a mouse with no thought, even though the wildcat is doing what cats do naturally.
I really did like this story, and will one day definitely be reading it to my future kids.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

#2. A Room of One's Own- Viginia Woolf

I finished this yesterday afternoon. It made me think about what Woolf would say about Women and Fiction today. Her theory was that women could only become really great writers if they had at least 500 pounds a year, that they didn't have to work for, and a private room of their own. Her thinking was that until female writers had those two things, they couldn't write they way men write, which she describes as free from maleness or femaleness, if that makes sense.
But I started to think about how Woolf would feel about women authors in our time. What would she say about Toni Morrison, or Stephanie Meyers, or Charlaine Harris? How would she view their novels? Would she say that there is too much "femaleness" in them? I really wondered what she would have to say about all the romance novels we have now; in my opinion she would consider them as being complete failures in literature, because they are almost entirely focused on "femaleness." But maybe I'm wrong.
What do you think? Would her theory hold up today? Does a woman now have to have money and a private place to write in this age of the Internet and self publishing?
I did really like this essay. I thought, for her time period, it was absolutely correct. I admired her for trying not to get bogged down in fighting a feminist battle, but solely trying to identify one connection between Women and Fiction.

Monday, January 12, 2009

I meant to have finished A Room of One's Own already, but I just wanted to sleep last night, and could not make myself stay up and read. There was also a doggy trying to sleep with me in my very small bed, and I think that had something to do with it. Anyway, I'm almost half way done with it, so I should finish it by tonight. I see if I can get something up tomorrow about it. I also started to read Madame Bovary this past weekend. I haven't gotten very far in to that one yet, but as soon as I finish the Woolf, I will get more serious about that one.
So far, I really like A Room of One's Own. She's a feminist, but not a femi-nazi, as some people like to say. She does write a lot about the unfairness of the time period; women were not allowed to go into fields where they could earn decent money, were only given menial kinds of jobs. The money that women could earn was given over to their husbands to do what they wanted with it. She also talks about how difficult it is to write intellectually when you have to work to survive. Hard work seems to drain the intelligence out of one, so that you no longer have genius ideas if you once had them, or you are just so tired from toiling or hungry from lack of food, that you don't want to think about anything other than your empty stomach, or your nice warm bed (if you managed to have one like that.) I tend to agree with her on that. She also knew from experience; Woolf had to work odd jobs to live in her earlier years. She was a kindergarten teacher, a sometime reporter, and she read to an elderly lady for a time, among other things. She was lucky enough to have an aunt pass away and leave her 500 pounds a year for the rest of her life, so she no longer had to worry about working.
Okay, thats it for now, till I actually finish the book. Probably tomorrow, but we'll see.

Friday, January 9, 2009

#1Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

I just finished this yesterday evening and I loved it. Its about a modern young black woman in 1976 Los Angelos who gets pulled into early 1800 Maryland in order to save one of her ancestors from drowning. Turns that her ancestor is a slaveowning white man.
I had a hard time putting this down. The characters are so well fleshed out, that is was very involving. Every time something happened to one of them, I could feel it happening. Butler's language invokes all her images beautifully, and many a night I stayed up till 1am or later cause I did not want to stop reading. When I came to the end of this book, the turn of evens was actually heart wrenching to me; I wanted to jump in and say it would get better, but that is what is amazing about Butler's books. She wrote mostly science fiction, but its the kind of science fiction that doesn't put you on another planet. She looked at our own society, made it seem unreal and foreign, but pulled so much truth in the story, that you couldn't deny that it could actually happen if we let it.
Amazing story and one that everyone should read.