Take it away, Lucky Jim.
Dixon was alive again. Consciousness was upon him before he could get out of the way; not for him the slow, gracious wandering from the halls of sleep, but a summary, forcible ejection. He lay sprawled, too wicked to move, spewed up like a broken spider-crab on the tarry shingle of the morning. The light did him harm, but not as much as looking at things did; he resolved, having done it once, never to move his eyeballs again. A dusty thudding in his head made the scene before him beat like a pulse. His mouth has been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum. During the night, too, he’d somehow been on a cross-country run and then been expertly beaten up by a secret police. He felt bad.
How brilliant is that?
The description of his mouth might be my favorite part. But I also love the close. “He felt bad.” Just a perfect, perfect description.
Lucky Jim is taking me longer than I’d like, but that doesn’t have anything to do with the quality of the novel. I’m enjoying it. This season is a little busier so I’m just not getting as much reading done as I want to.
Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan.
If you live in the U.S., you’ve probably heard a lot about the new Common Core standards recently implemented in our public schools.
If you live in England, some of the guidelines sound similar to what Michael Gove is doing in regards to cutting American literature.
Anyway, we’ve talked about the Common Core on here before, but I’ve never truly understood what it means in terms of books, literature and English. Most of what you see out there are some kooky math problems, but nothing about English requirements.
That is until the NPR released this fascinating piece about English requirements in Common Core. Read more
Today’s kind of a lazy post, but it’s relevant.
Many critics, and even A.S. Byatt herself, have acknowledged Possession is a response to John Fowles’ 1969 novel, The French Lieutenant’s Woman.
So before we jump into Possession, I thought it might be worthwhile to revisit The French Lieutenant’s Woman, the story that provoked A.S. Byatt to write her novel in the first place.
The French Lieutenant’s Woman currently sits at #27 in my rankings of the first 68 books I’ve read from the Time list. Before I read the novel, I thought I wouldn’t like it—thinking of it as a Victorian romance. And it is partly that, but to dismiss it that easily does a great disservice to John Fowles. The man was excellent at his craft.
So instead of me babbling on and on about a book I read nearly three years ago, I thought I’d just repost that review here today. It’s been awhile, so just reading this review again reminded me of why I enjoyed The French Lieutenant’s Woman so much.
And, hopefully, Possession will prove to be as interesting.
I’m taking my annual week-long summer hiatus this week, which means this is a “Best of 101 Books” week. I’ll return live on Monday July 8.
Today’s post originally appeared on the blog on April 4, 2011.
Unspeakable things happen in a labor and delivery room. I’ve been there. I’ve seen it. With my eyes.
June 16, 2010 was the day my wife and I welcomed our first child into the world, a little boy. On that day, I was certain, absolutely certain, that I would never again–or at least until we have a second child–experience what it means to be a woman like that. Lights. Voices. Blood. Fluids. Apparatuses. God only knows what else.
This whole giving birth thing is pretty intense, I thought. I could never do that. Thank God for women.
So I thought I had pretty much experienced the essence of womanhood. But, oh no. Dear Lord, no. Thanks to Judy Blume’s epic tale, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, I learned that there’s much more to being a woman than childbirth.
I hear this a lot: “I didn’t like [insert book] because it glorified [insert topic: extramarital sex, violence, drugs, etc].”
We all have different levels of comfort. That’s something we’ve talked about before. What happens, though, when we project our own discomfort about a certain topic onto the book we’re reading? So, when we read a novel that deals with a serious subject, we suddenly label said novel as “glorifying” that subject.
What does that even mean? And where’s the line? How does an author talk about a difficult topic, even in a graphic way, without being perceived as glorifying that subject?
I’m still not really sure what it means to “glorify” a topic, like violence. But, for what it’s worth, I would put movies more into the “glorifying” camp than literature. Some movies feel like they are violent just for the sake of being violent–and I guess that’s part of what people mean when they talk about this idea of glorifying. The rampant violence, in some cases, does nothing to advance the plot. It’s just kind of there–in order to get in the requisite number of decapitations and camera shots of splattering brains.
If you skip today’s post because the title sounds boring or you just don’t care about today’s subject, then I want you to take away one thing before you go: School administrators are stupid.
Well, not all of them of course. That would be a generalization. But the administrators who make decisions on literature? Yes, stupid.
This, recently reported by The Telegraph, is the basis for my opinion:
It’s Monday, which means you might be a little grumpy, which means you might need a good laugh to start off your day.
With that in mind, I present to you a compilation of clips about literature from The Daily Show.
And who doesn’t love The Daily Show? You’ve got to be able to laugh about politics and news or you’ll go insane from stress and anxiety.
I’ve spent an hour trying to embed this Comedy Central video into my blog. Nothing seems to work. Help WordPress!
So, because I love this video so much, I’m going to link to it, which means you’ll have to go offsite to watch it. You should.
Then, come back here and comment! Happy Monday.