Wednesday, September 9, 2009

On Chesil Beach - Ian McEwan

on chesil beach
ian mcewan
c. 2007
203 pages
completed 9/8/2009

read for: tbr challenge

*may contain spoilers*

A newly married couple in 1960's England, Edward and Florence are both excited and terrified at the though of the duty they must perform on their wedding night. As they sit over their wedding dinner looking out their hotel window onto the beach below, both contemplate the events that led to this night and it's aftermath.

I'm pretty sure Ian McEwan is one of my favorite authors. I've read four of his books now, and I've LOVED them (with one exception). His books are often so simple, about almost mundane events (in this case, the wedding night and consummation of Edward and Florence), yet there is so much to the journeys that each character makes.

As for this book in particular, I was glad we got both Florence and Edward's point of view of that night. We saw both of their fears and insecurities, we saw how each of them made mistakes during their argument on the beach. The end of this book broke my heart, but after seeing how they got through their relationship and wedding, not knowing how to communicate their true feelings, I can see their was no other way for them.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

It's Tuesday, where are you?

Chesil Beach West Dorset, England

Mrs. Dalloway - Virginia Woolf

mrs. dalloway
virginia woolf
c. 1925
194 pages
completed 9/3/2009

read for: decades challenge, 100 greatest novels, 1001 books

*may contain spoilers*

Mrs. Dalloway spends her day getting ready for a great party she is throwing in the evening. She and others she encounters during the day reminisce about their pasts and what happens now that they're older.

Oh WOW did this take me a long time to read...about a month, for a book that was less than 200 pages. Sad. Very sad. In the beginning, I could only read this in very small increments. If more than ten pages went by, chances are I would have no idea what was going on. There were several occasions where I would even lose whose point of view I was reading. This drove me crazy. There were some clear spots, when Clarissa or Peter started thinking about their past together, that I could follow and enjoy quite well. But there were other bits, especially those involving Septimus and Lucrezia, that were just a blur. I realize that Virginia Woolf was supposed to have pioneered "stream of consciousness" literature (believe me, my sister the English scholar, who loved this book, told me this several times) which is supposed to be so great, but as my own stream of consciousness is so often incoherent to myself, how am I supposed to follow someone else's?

Last of all, I have to say, someone should have taken the time to introduce Virginia Woolf to the notion that run-on sentences are bad. There is no prize for having the highest count of semi-colons per page. I'm sure this is just another example of the greatness of her writing and I just can't see it, but I think in complete, concise sentences. So should Virginia Woolf.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Aleph - Jorge Luis Borges

the aleph
jorge luis borges
c. 1949
134 pages
completed 9/2/2009

read for: classics challenge, penguin classics

*may contain spoilers*

A collection of short stories.

First off, I don't yet know how I should review short stories. I don't read short stories very often. I don't tend to like short stories. I just feel like there's not enough time for anything to happen, for characters to become involved, and so the story is supposed to be more about the writing, the beauty of the prose, than the story itself. Which I don't enjoy.

As for this set of short stories...this was just not for me. I can appreciate why this is known as great literature, but I don't do well with surrealism and metaphysics and philosophy. I don't always understand what the author is trying to say. And I think that happened a LOT while I was reading this. So I got frustrated and in turn just kind of powered through the book not really caring whether I understood what I was reading or not.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

It's Tuesday, where are you?

London, England

The impossible dream...

I actually thought I'd have gotten through a lot more last month. Apparently not. So here we go, looking at my ridiculous monthly goal of books.

To Be Read by the End of September
Mrs. Dalloway - Virginia Woolf
The Aleph - Jorge Luis Borges
On Chesil Beach - Ian McEwan
Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Meaning of Night - Michael Cox
Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
The Big Over Easy - Jasper Fforde
The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
For Whom the Bell Tolls - Ernest Hemmingway
The Virgin of Small Plains - Nancy Pickford
To Siberia - Per Petterson
American Wife - Curtis Sittenfeld
Dandelion Wine - Ray Bradbury
The Crusade - Michael Alexander Eisner
An Artist of the Floating World - Kazua Ishiguro
Lady Audley's Secret - Elizabeth Mary Braddon
One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Road - Cormac McCarthy

This is my last month before school starts so I better get going!

To be read...

Death Comes as Epiphany - Sharon Newman
The Counterfeit Guest - Rose Melikan
The Nuns' Tale - Candace Robb (3rd in a series)
The Last days of the Lacuna Cabal - Sean Dixon
The Seamstress - Frances de Pontes Peebles
The Uncommon Reader - Alan Bennett
Bitter Sweets - Roopa Farooki
Into the Beautiful North - Luis Alberto Urrea
The White Queen - Philippa Gregory
The Traitor's Wife - Susan Higginbotham
Shadows and Strongholds - Elizabeth Chadwick
No Teachers Left Behind - HBF Teacher
In a Dark Wood Wondering - Hella Hassee
Shields of Pride - Elizabeth Chadwick
The Last Duel - Eric Jager
The Weight of Silence - Heather Gudenkauf
The True Story of Hansel and Gretel - Louise Murphy
The Polysyllabic Spree - Nick Hornby
Sacred Hearts - Sarah Dunant
The Red Tent - Anita Diament
The Queen of Shadows - Edith Felber
Flint - Margaret Redfern
Favorites - Mary Yukari Waters
The Luxe - Anna Godbersen
The Day the Falls Stood Still - Cathy Marie Buchanan
The Calligrapher's Daughter - Eugenia Kim
The Lace Reader - Brunonia Barry
Crossed - Nicole Galland
The Earth Hums in B Flat - Mari Strachan
Rooftops of Tehran - Mahbod Seraji
Tattoo Machine - Jeff Johnson
Slammerkin - Emma Donoghue
Every Man Dies Alone - Hans Fallada

33 new books including one new series. Too many good books to read!!