Whatcha reading?

Whatcha reading?

Friday, June 26, 2015

Dracula; Bram Stoker

This was my second time reading this book and since I read it for a class this time I got a lot more out of it. I was interested in one small sentence in the book from Seward's journel 'He is safe now at any rate. Jack Sheppard himself couldn't get free from the strait' Jack Sheppard was a real person that excaped jail multiple times and seems to be the actual "Renfield" of the story " the devil that comes in person" and assists Dracula. Bram Stocker wrote Dracula in the epistolary form in order to build suspense and pace the novel. Stoker had to compete with other gothic novels of the day and needed to make his memorable by being scarier and more horrific. He chose to play with the delivery of the story by telling it through multiple documents written by several characters. The reader has to comb through the documents, provided out of order and told in different tenses, to make linear sense of the story. Each document has a different tone creating a choppy narrative style. Stocker also played with the story by the narrator choice. Jonathan Harker is a lawyer who we expect will keep a calm head and stick to the facts, which make the scary parts even more powerful being told through the voice of reason. The dread builds from the unknown since only bits and pieces of the story are revealed at a time. It is not immediately clear why Harker is making this journey, which adds to the suspense. The story is told out of order to create in the reader a sort of confusion that the characters feel when trying to figure out the Count's intentions. Mina and Lucy are emotional narrators whose naivety and hysterics build the story in ways that Harker cannot. For example, Lucy takes the time to write a memorandum while her mother is lying dead on the floor. Dr. Seward, a man of learning believes in the science of ailments and is a foil for Van Helsing. He believes Lucy's ailments are mental while Van Helsing believes in the folk tales. Both are men of learning, but have very different views and voices in building the story. Together they are able to tell a story that appeals to any reader since they have a character to relate to and tell it in a way that makes it mysterious and sensational. notes:Idea of little death- Dracula gives to mina and lucy, 3 “wives” go after Johnathon Harker they visit in the night like lovers- in French sex means “little death Lucy has the liquids of 4 men by the end- 3 suitors blood transfusion and Van Helsing. Mina needs the men to help her find Dracula- they all confess their love for her. Funny puns- “isn’t there more at stake for him then us?” van helsing “ whiley, while” speech. Why write like this for self- diary entries? Asks us what it is to believe what is written- faith/ folk lore vrs science “Vampyre” goes back to a word meaning witch- wise woman, -being a “vamp”- charming a male w/ sexuality D. Defoe, The History of the Remarkable Life of John Sheppard (1724). Defoe's accounts are regarded as the principle source on Sheppard. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/14065/14065-h/14065-h.htm

The Narrow Road to the Deep North: Richard Flannagan

This was a sad Story. It followed several people during WWII and the effects the war had on everyone. The main character, Dorrigo Evans falls in love with his uncle's young wife, Amy, and they have an affair. When he becomes a POW the uncle tells his wife that Dorrigo died thinking they could go back to how they were before she met his nephew. Later the uncle dies in a house fire. Dorrigo comes back from the war after beheading people and watching a fellow prisoner get beaten to death (which took an entire day) An old girlfriend is waiting for him, she had Dorrigo believe both his aunt and uncle died in the fire, so they would get married. They have a loveless marriage and have children, then one day Dorrigo and Amy pass on a bridge and neither of them turn back to talk, Amy because she doesn't understand why he never came to find her if he was alive all this time. Amy also has cancer and only a short while left to live so she doesn't think it is worth it. Dorrigo is in disbelief and can't believe she is alive, but realizes the chance is gone. The story makes you numb, which is meant to show how life is after losing everything and becoming someone different than you thought you would be.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Alice through the looking glass: Lewis Carroll, Helen Oxenbury

This book was very difficult to read, it was even sillier than the first. Reading as an adult I finally say the adult humor with the pokes at death. Life is a game, in this one it is chess. The story begins with Alice looking in a mirror and finding a parallel world, it ends with her being awakened by her cat and the following poem in hopes Alice Liddell will live forever. A boat beneath a sunny sky, Lingering onward dreamily In an evening of July-- Children three that nestle near, Eager eye and willing ear, Pleased a simple tale to hear-- Long has paled that sunny sky: Echoes fade and memories die. Autumn frosts have slain July. Still she haunts me, phantomwise, Alice moving under skies Never seen by waking eyes. Children yet, the tale to hear, Eager eye and willing ear, Lovingly shall nestle near. In a Wonderland they lie, Dreaming as the days go by, Dreaming as the summers die: Ever drifting down the stream-- Lingering in the golden gleam-- Life, what is it but a dream?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Children's and Household tales: Brothers Grimm

This was the first time I had read so many of the Grimm’s tales; I have previously only read the ones that made it into popular culture. I was surprised by the violence throughout the stories, not only between different classes but of parents towards their children, sacrificing them was viewed upon kindly. I hadn't realized in Hansel and Gretel, they were cast out of the house because the parents couldn't afford to feed them, so they hoped they would perish in the woods. One idea that stood out to me was that these stories were supposed to warn children, of lower working classes, of the dangers in life, but it seemed like the only people who survived the stories were beautiful or princesses. I guess that prepared children for the harsh reality of their future. I find it interesting that fairy tales always deal with animals, in Disney's fairy tales the animals are furry and adorable, In Grimm’s the animals behave, but will still help out. Imagination in Grimm’s is much darker and the tales are often centered on work, spinning, hunting, sewing etc. The idea is that you are born, you work, you die- unlike Alice in Wonderland, which I am also reading, which is all over the place and centered on fun and games.

Alice in Wonderland: Lewis Carroll, Lisbeth Zwerger

This is the first time I have read this story as an adult and it was much different then I realized. The disjointedness of the story where it is all over the place was distracting to read. The Animals were as absent-minded as the story which seemed to add to the mystical-ness of the rabbit hole world. I liked to look at the story from the perspective of class where this story was geared toward upper-class. There was a lot of interest in what the working class was doing and the story was centered on fun and games, cards, crochet, storytelling, tea parties etc. At the end the mock turtle evens talks about a game and then they dance. There are even games with words used in the books; puns, homophones, and rhymes. The idea was that "life is an adventure" and if one has time to dream, anything is possible.

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Buried Giant: Kazuo Ishiguro

I didn't like how this book ended, I like to make my own interpretation, but if this didn't end happily (I don't interpret it as doing so)the book seemed pointless to read. The story follows a Briton couple who are having problems with their memory. They decide to visit their son whom they haven't seen in years and prepare for the journey. Along the way they meet up with a Saxon warrior and a Saxon boy who had been bit by dragon. The Warrior has a secret plan to find and slay the dragon. They meet up with Sir Gawain who we find out at the end of the book is the dragon's protector. The warrior and Sir Gawain fight to the Gawain and the dragon's death. The old couple finally gets to the ferryman what they believe to be the final leg of their destination, then their memory returns. Here the dragon was responsible for the mist that had settled on people's minds. The couple remembers that their son had actually died from disease and that the wife had been unfaithful. The Ferryman is to judge if they can both be carried across to the island and asked them both questions. He tells the husband he will take the wife first and come back for the him. The wife thinks everything will be ok, but the husband knows if his wife goes without him, he will never see her again. The boatman starts the journey with the wife while the man wades out to see. The book ends. I took the island to be "death" and that the man would swim there rather than stay alive without his wife.

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Gospel of Loki: Joanne M Harris

This was an amusing take on Norse Mythology from the point of view of Loki, the trickster. I loved how it tied in everything, how he got his children, why he played the tricks on the gods though he was supposedly living among them. It was very clever and enjoyable. There is a lot of tongue in cheek humor. Much different than what I usually read.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Relic: Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

I really enjoyed this book until the very end. The story starts on an expedition years ago in South America where some scientists are looking for answers about a lost tribe. The entire expedition dies, but the loot makes it back to the United States. Oddly enough everyone on the boat that brings the goods into New Orleans is missing. We come to modern day in the Chicago Natural History Museum where people begin to be disturbingly murdered. The Hypothalamus glad is removed from each of the victims. This begins to happen as the museum is planning for a "superstitions" exhibit. We find out there is a monster living in the museum that was feeding off of the packing material from the ill-fated expedition in South America, and once the crate was moved the monster finds the hypothalamus has the same hormones as its primary food source. I was enjoying the story at this point, there have been references that it was similar to Jurassic Park, and I did agree with that. The ending however loses me. We are to believe this Monster boarded the ship with the boxes the scientists packed and then wandered to Chicago from New Orleans without being seen. Then we find out that the monster is actually one of the scientists from the expedition that ate a plant which had a virus and turned him into this "super being". The story was interesting and a fast-paced read.