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100 Greatest Books {Update}

Posted in Books

I came acros this list of what are considered to be the 100 greatest books of the 20th century, I decided that I would reach each of these books, here is the list of books I have read. The numbers in front of the title is the order they appear on the list. The * are a sort of 5 star rating system for how well I liked the book. I will also list if any the books I am in the progress of reading. 

TBA = To Be Announced 

 2.The Great Gastby * * * *

 10. The Grapes of Wrath * * *

 41. Lord of the Flies * * * *

 45. The Sun Alos Rises * * * *

 48. The Rainbow * * * *

 64. The Catcher in the Rye * * * * *

 78. Kim * * *

8 8.The Call of the Wild * * * * *

 93. The Maugs * * * * *

 21. Henderson the Rain King * * * *

 69. The House of Mirth* * * * *

 13. 1984 * * *

 20. Native Son * * *

 9. Sons and Lovers * * * *

 31. Animal Farm * * *

 3. A Portrait of the Artist As A Yong Man * *

 58. The Age of Innocence * * *

 15. To The Lighthouse * * *

 25. A Passage To India * * * *

 65. A Clockwork Orange * * * *

 34. A Handful of Dust * * * *

 84. The Death of the Heart * * * *

 7. Catch-22 * * * *

 27. The Ambassadors * * * *

 24. Winseburg, Ohio * * * *

 14. I, Claudius * * *

 79. A Room With A View * * *

54. Light in August * * *

 73. The Day of the Locust * * *

 36. All the King's Men * *

 5. Brave New World * * *

 49. Women in Love * * * *

 55. On the Road * * *

 38. Howards End * * * *

 74. A Farewell to Arms * * * *

 80. Brideshead Revisited * * * * *

 18. Slaughterhouse-Five * * *

 67. Heart of Darkness ****

66. Of Human Bondage ****

Books in Progress:

Invisible Man
Sister Carrie

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9:45 PM - 2/1/2011 - comments {0}

Green Man

Posted in Books
I have been quite eager to read this book and rather looking forward to it, for one thing because of the good things I have heard about Kingsley Amis' writing, and I have heard a lot about his book Lucky Jim and the humor of his writing, and for another when I first saw this book I was drawn to the name because of my interest in Irish myth, but I did not really know what to expect from the book itself.
 
Reading it now, I am having quite a hard time with it, as I cannot decide just what I think of or what to make of it. I do in fact quite enjoy Amis' writing style. I think the book is well written and it reads pretty quickly and I find the story to be interesting.
 
The problem is I do not like any of the characters in the book which makes it a bit hard to read when you don't really like anyone, thus you cannot quite care what happens to any of them and reading the book sometimes has the feeling of being in a roomful of obnoxious people. It is even worse being that the book is in first person narration and the narrator is no more likable than anyone else.
 
There are certain aspects of Maurice than can be sometimes charming and in spite of what I think of his general behavior, and that in many ways he is a despicable person, as well as being quite pathetic, I sympathetic with the way his family treats him, and I cannot stand how condescending all of them all towards him. Though I am repulsed by his infidelity to his wife I don't much care for her either and I don't like the patronizing way she speaks to him when he begins to have his "visions." Amy is the only the character who I find possibly likable, and now so far she has not really played a very predominant role within the story.
 
I do really enjoy the ghost story aspect of the book, and I find that part to be quite interesting, and I am intrigued to see what happens next as far as that is concerned, and regardless of my feelings for any of the characters I really do hope that Maurice gets to prove them all wrong and that the others start having like experiences and encountering things they cannot explain to shut their know it all condescending mouths.
 
At the same time if and when Maurice does bring up his wishes for a threesome with Diana I hope she kicks him out on his arise, and I would love to see him for once get caught red-handed in his indiscretions.
 
I want everyone in the novel to get exactly what they deserve.
 
So I have difficulty reading the book at times because I don't like being with those people, but I am still curious to see how the story develops.
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11:17 PM - 1/31/2011 - comments {0}

Reading List {Updated}

Posted in Books
Genereal Reading: the books within my normal reading cycle, and that I am reading purely for personal pleasure.
 
Monthly Reading: Book I am reading for online reading groups I belong to.

 
Non-Fiction: Self-explanatory, basically any non-fiction book I happen to be reading in addition to my other readings.

 

Reading on the Side: Any extra, miscellaneous books I happen to be reading in addition to my other reading.

 

Short Stories: Self-Explantory, for any collections of short-stories I may be reading

 

Reading list will be periodically updated.

 

General Reading

 

Lord of Chaos

 Sarum

 River God

 Gather if Clouds

 Koko

 Stone of Tears

 The Agony and the Ecstasy

 The Quincunx

 People of the River

 The Running of the Tide

Invisible Man

 

Monthly Reading

 

Sister Carrie

Night of the Wolf

The Idiot

A Town Like Alice

The Adventures of Augie March

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

 

 

 Reading on the Side

 

The Treasure of Franchard

The Neighbors are Watching

 

 Non-Fiction

 
The Gangs of New York 
 
 Short Stories

 

Tales for a Midnight Hour

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11:06 PM - 1/21/2011 - comments {0}

The Most Beautifully Told Story in which Nothing Happens Ever Written

Posted in Books

I once heard someone remark "Can a book be both brilliant and boring at the same time?" They were speaking of Virginia Woolf's "To the Lighthouse" but the statement perfectly sums up how I feel about "Love in the Time of Cholera"

 

I have just finished reading this book, and I have to say I cannot quite state just how I feel about the book or what I make of it. On the one hand I could not in earnest say I did not like it, and honestly I cannot say that I did not enjoy it, and I certainly did not think it was a bad book, but it was a book that I found extremely difficult to get myself to read and it was not a book I looked eagerly forward to picking up again.

 

It is not the book I would normally read, and if I had just come across it on a shelf in a store and picked it up and read what it was about on the back cover, I likely would have put it right back down again. To say the least as we know sentimental stories of undying, unrequited love are not my cup of tea, but I loved 100 Years of Solitude so much I was intrigued to read more by the author and Love in Cholera (as I dub the book for short) was the only other book of his I had even heard anything about so I decided to give it a chance.

 

The book I thought was beautifully written, and I absolutely loved the first sentence, the prose had a poetic lyricism to them, and some of the passages were truly remarkable. There were certain aspects of the books which I did quite appreciate. There were touches of surrealism, and I do quite enjoy books which blend tragedy and humor together, and there points in the book in which I almost laughed out loud. I also really enjoyed the layers of symbolism within the book.

 

But on the other hand, the story was soooo slow, and reading the book was not the most engaging, and captivating of experiences. It is not what I would call a page turner. In fact it was a struggle to get through it without slipping into a comatose state at times. There were moments when I could only read a couple paragraphs at a time before I needed to seek distracting with more entertaining forms of entertainment. Virtually nothing happens throughout the entirety of the book. Pretty much the whole thing is just this guy moping about his everlasting unrequited love.

 

And though the book is intended to be this romantic story about this great undying love, and the power of love, and how it is eternal and blah blah blah, there were times when a part of me could not help but think that really in a way he was kind of a stalker and it would be at least a little bit disturbing to have this adolescent crush show up on your doorstep when he is like 70 years old trying to woo you like you are still teenagers again.

 

Though in spite of the fact that if this had happened in a real life situation I think the woman might be more likely to get a restraining order, I do think that Marquez did a wonderful job of making the end of the story make sense and fit in quite well and the very last page I thought was quite beautiful and it was one of those things where the ending of the story sort of forgave everything else, though I do still think that the last several pages leading up to that moment drug on a bit longer than was truly needed and I had begun to reach that point of feeling like I just wanted to be finished with the damned thing, and for those who watched Seinfield I was having my Elaine's English Patient, "Just Die Already!" moment where I was like ok, would you just get the point now because I have had as much as I can take and was ready to stop like 20 pages ago.

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10:57 PM - 1/21/2011 - comments {0}

Caught Between Worlds

Posted in Books

From Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse

 

These horrors were really nonexistent. A man of the Middle Ages would detest the whole mode of our present-day life as something far more than horrible, fare more than barbarous. Every age, every culture, every custom and tradition has its own character, its own weakness and its own strength, its beauties, and ugliness; accepts certain sufferings as matters of course, puts up patiently with certain evils. Human life is reduced to real suffering, to hell, only when two ages, two cultures, and religions overlap. A man of the Classical age who had to live in medieval times would suffocate miserably just as a savage does in the midst of our civilization.
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4:30 PM - 3/15/2010 - comments {0}

Animals Are More Right Than Men

Posted in Books
From Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse
 
How absurd those words are, such as beast, and beast of prey. One should not speak of animals in that way. They may be terrible sometimes, but they're  much more right than men.
 
Well look at an animal, a cat, a dog, or a bird, or one of those beautiful great beasts in the zoo, a puma, or a giraffe. You can't help seeing all of them are right. They're never in any embarrassment. They always know what to do and how to behave themselves. They don't flatter and they don't intrude. They don't pretend. They are as they are, like stones or flowers or stars in the sky.
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3:50 PM - 3/15/2010 - comments {0}

Steppenwolf

Posted in Books

I have found myself thrown into one of my obsessions again. Those that are such rare delights to be savored and burst within my soul, speaking to me upon such deep depths in which I feel a connection spark, and an understanding born within me. I am speaking of course of another one of my literary obsessions in which a book so suddenly, unexpectedly reaches out and grabs me by the throat and refuses to let me go. Which I consume with greedy hunger and yet never want it to end. Where I see a flicker of myself reflected back at me within the written words of the author.

 

I have recently started reading Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse, who I think is a fabulous author, I remember how deeply he spoke to me and touched me with Siddhartha, which for me was a highly influential and inspirational book and I think also a book I read just at the right moment in my life. Now he has done it again with Steppenwolf. I was transfixed by the very first sentence and drawn into this marvelously irresistible story. A book that every time I pick it up I feel I have come away with another burst of enlightenment. It looks within and speaks directly to me.

 

The very premises of the book is a concept of which I cannot help but to find irresistible and fascinating, for it portrays almost a sort of psychological Lycanthropy. It is a philosophical and psychological way of examining that aspect within us where we are torn between our rational mind and the baser natural instincts, which werewolf lore stems from. The difference between the "beast" and the "man." In which the narrator of the story is the Steppenwolf, which means "Wolf of the steppes" which is a lone wolf character who is isolated from the rest of society because of his awareness of the fact that he is different, that he is divided into these two selves, the man and the wolf, and yet he cannot find harmony between these selves which torments him and leaves him completely alone feeling like he does not belong, where there is no place for him.

 

But beyond that, the truth is even deeper. Hesse spent a great deal of time studying the Eastern Philosophies and religions, and so this concept of the Steppenwolf is only a fraction of the truth, only a sliver of seeing through the illusion the fact we are in fact made up of many several "selves" that we consist of countless different identities, though most of us can only see in the singular, while the Steppenwolf is aware that there is more than one self within him, he is unable to embrace the enormity of the truth and so he sees himself as being divided only between two different halves.

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7:40 PM - 3/8/2010 - comments {0}

Is it just me or is it you?

Posted in Books

I first started reading Mario Puzo when I was in high school and became a fast fan of his work. Part of it was driven by my interest within the Mafia which developed during high school after my discovery that the Mafia is part of my own family history, but beyond that I became captivated by his writing.

I find Puzo to be an engaging and talented writer. Fools Die was a marvelous book, one of my all time favorites of Puzo's. A captivating reed and extremely well executed that had me hooked from start to finish.

 

The Last Don was also quite a brilliant work and comes in closely behind Fools Die. Another work of great skill and depth.

One of the things which does provide through Puzo's work is the complexity and depth of his characters, the interesting and intricate plots, as well as his skillful prose work which grabs the reader by the throat and doesn't let go.

 

Well I recently started reading Omerta, which was published the year after Puzo died, and I instantly could tell something was drastically wrong.

At first I was conflicted with myself, as it had been a long time since the I have read Puzo, could my memory have failed me? Or could my future reading ventures have changed my perception of good writing?

 

I could not convince myself that my memory and my taste could have been so drastically deluded and wrong.

 

But Omerta was nothing like what I remember from Puzo's past works. Omerta comes off as shallow, the characters are not as well carved out and brought into full flesh and blood. The plot it fairly simplistic and lacks a certain believability. It just was not flushed out with the usual skill, talent, depth, expected. It reads like a cheap thriller.

I had began to have growing suspicions that Puzo never actually completely the manuscript and in fact it was completely be someone else after his death. I researched his subject but could not find much information to support the idea. I only found one review written by someone who seemed to hold the same opinion as I did.

 

I am left quite disappointed and baffled by the unfortunate result of this last book by Puzo.

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9:22 PM - 2/11/2010 - comments {0}

100 Greatest Books {Updated}

Posted in Books

I came acros this list of what are considered to be the 100 greatest books of the 20th century, I decided that I would reach each of these books, here is the list of books I have read. The numbders in front of the title is the order they appear on the list. The * are a sort of 5 star rating system for how well I liked the book. I will also list if any the books I am in the progress of reading.

TBA = To Be Announced

 

2.The Great Gastby * * * *

 

10. The Grapes of Wrath * * *

 

41. Lord of the Flies * * * *

 

45. The Sun Alos Rises * * * *

 

48. The Rainbow * * * *

 

64. The Catcher in the Rye * * * * *

 

78. Kim * * *

 

88.The Call of the Wild * * * * *

 

93. The Maugs * * * * *

 

21. Henderson the Rain King * * * *

 

69. The House of Mirth* * * * *

 

13. 1984 * * *

 

20. Native Son * * *

 

9. Sons and Lovers * * * *

 

31. Animal Farm * * *

 

3. A Portrait of the Artist As A Yong Man * *

 

58. The Age of Innocence * * *

 

15. To The Lighthouse * * *

 

25. A Passage To India * * * *

 

65. A Clockwork Orange * * * *

 

34. A Handful of Dust * * * *

 

84. The Death of the Heart * * * *

 

7. Catch-22 * * * *

 

27. The Ambassadors * * * *

 

24. Winseburg, Ohio * * * *

 

14. I, Claudius * * *

 

79. A Room With A View * * *

 

54. Light in August * * *

 

73. The Day of the Locust * * *

 

36. All the King's Men * *

 

5. Brave New World * * *

 

49. Women in Love * * * *

 

55. On the Road * * *

 

38. Howards End * * * *

 

74. A Farewell to Arms * * * *

 

80. Brideshead Revisited * * * * *

 

18. Slaughterhouse-Five * * *

 

Books in Progress:

 

TBA

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9:16 PM - 1/31/2010 - comments {0}

A Fallen Hero

Posted in Books
I have just discovered that one of my literary icons has died today. As many of you may know from some of my past writings, J.D. Salinger ranked among my favorite authors and always held a very special place within my thoughts and literary pursuits. Like many of you I first read "Catcher in the Rye" in high school, and I was gripped instantly by the story. I fell in love with Holden as he pulled me long through the trails and experiences of his life. I felt a personal kinship with him, I could relate and identify with him and ever since that has remained one of the most memorable as well as influential books I have read, that has not in all this time since been shaken from its place in the high rankings of my favorites.  

And after that I devoured everything by Salinger that I could get my hands on, and was never once disappointed by the experience. There are many who criticize Salinger's writing, particularly for the reoccurring angst which provides though many of his characters and stories, some find it too simplistic, or immature, shallow and lacking in depth, but it was of course that cold biting cynicism which warmed its way into my soul and touched me at the very core speaking to me on very personal levels. I was enchanted by his characters, and I hungered for more of them. They spoke to me directly, touched some imperative cord within my soul. Within the capacity of the author-reader relationship I always felt we had a connection, and understand with each other. In fact many of my own poetic femme fatales were inspired by the works of J.D. Salinger. 
 
At times I would tell my friends that I sometimes felt as if I was one of J.D Salinger's characters come to life. There were moments when I felt like a creation of his. Perhaps he was not the most brilliant write ever, and perhaps his works were not pursue great, philosophical, complicated depths and maybe they are not relatable to everyone, but all the same he was a light which illuminated within the dark reaches of this cold heart, and for that he will always be a treasure I cherish.
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12:10 PM - 1/28/2010 - comments {0}

The Unexpected Book

Posted in Books
I found myself reading a book that under normal circumstances I never would have even thought to pick up for a couple of reasons. For one the truth is I just don't read a lot of non-fiction, though I do try and altar that from time to time, which brings the 2nd reason, that it should go without saying that when I do read non-fiction it is about a topic of personal interest to me and usually something history related and the book in question happened to be about a subject of which I would not consider to be of any particular personal interest to me. It was quite by chance that I ended up reading it.
 
The book is a memoir by Brandon Novak, and many of you might have the same question I first had......just who the heck is Brandon Novak?
 
Well apparently he is something of a minor celebrity in the skating world.
 
The book belongs to my 19 year old cousin who was down visiting over the holidays and he is a part of the whole skateboarding counter-culture. He is a skater and follows the world of skating, and so he knew all about this Novak dude. And when I first saw him with the book there were a few things which immediately stood out to me before I even had any inkling of just what it was about:
 
1. Seeing my cousin with a book. Outside of comic books he had never been much of a reader, and I cannot recall an occasion before when he was reading a book voluntarily.
 
2. The title "Dreamseller" stuck out at me as being rather catchy and sounded intriguing.
 
3. The cover art which had a certain appeal to me.
 
4. Upon the front cover it said that it was a memoir of addiction and for personal reasons of my own I have a certain fascination with the world of addiction. I loved the movie Requiem for a Dream, and upon reading the back cover, it was all about Novak's struggle with his drug addiction and so that sort of peeked my interest. 
 
So we had to go to this little family part, get together type thing that has been a tradition in the family for the Eve of the Yuletide. But one thing me and my cousin have in common is the fact that we are not much for mingling around and socializing. The two of us found a couch in the back to crash on together. After we had finished eating and such, and there was not much going on he brought out the book and being as I was siting right next to him and hadn't anything better to do I started reading over his shoulder.
 
I was first struck by what an easy and fast read the book was. I am accustomed to works of non-fiction being tedious and at times a bit dull to read, which is why I don't pursue them much, but this book was fast and easy, and proved as entertaining as a novel and so it began to draw in my interest.
 
At one point my cousin ended up getting distracted with something else and he knew that I was reading along so he just handed over the book to me to let me keep reading and ultimately ended up loaning it to me and told me I could go ahead and keep it until I was finished with it.
 
I am now within a few chapters of finishing it and I really enjoyed and one of the things that I think is really good about this book is the fact that, the truth is drugs and the skating lifestyle often do tend to go hand in hand, and I think this story could prove quite beneficial particularly to teenagers who embrace the skating culture.
 
While there are always going to be those whom are going to get into drugs no matter what, I think this book could have a positive influence. For one thing it holds nothing back, it shows the brutal, ugly, filthy truth about drug use and strips away any veneer of Hollywood glamour and romantization that the world of drug use might have from a distance.
 
And because part of the skating lifestyle is about this idea of rebellion and getting back at the man, fighting authority, I think teenagers would be a lot more receptive to this figure who is "one of them" sharing their story about the negative effect drugs have had on their life, than they would be just to parents or some other authority figure lecturing to them why drugs are bad.
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1:08 PM - 12/30/2009 - comments {0}

What it means to be human

Posted in Books

I have recently devoured The Road by  Cormac McCarthy. A deliciously bleak novel, it is quite ironic in a way. There is much talk of this author and his works, and this novel has been made into film which is currently out in theaters as we speak. Well I have heard a lot of talk of this book and the strong impressions it has left upon readers and how many people love it, and while I did very much enjoy it as I was reading, I had not felt at the time of the reading of it that strong impact, and yet, it seems I cannot resist speaking of the book whenever I get the opportunity to do so. There is something about it which seems to seep slowly into the blood stream and make you think and turn it over in your mind even days after you have read it.

 

There is one point in particularly in which I wish to focus upon in the discussing of this novel. First to say a few things about it to set up the scene. It is set in this post-apocalyptic sort of setting, that is to say, that the world for all intent and purpose has come to an end, through means not outwardly stated, but alluding to nuclear warfare, now only a few scattered survivors reaming in this bleak gray world, food and resources are scarce.

 

Now, naturally, it should go without saying whenever you have a post-apocalyptic, world-end, anarchist type of setting, what is the one thing that is never missing from this scene?

 

Yes, of course, there has to be roving gangs of cannibals.

 

I personally find that in the given setting and conditions cannibals are rather unfairly portrayed. They are set up as the villains of the story, and demonized in various ways to make them appear to be completely deprived and nothing more than slaves to utter and complete uncontrolled and thoroughly unleashed carnality. They are portrayed in the most animalistic sense possible.

 

Of course this sort of thing does go back to such things as the Minotaur myth, and werewolf legends and other similar things. It is a playing upon that fear that has existed within man since the very earliest of what we consider to be "civilization" the fear that man has of that animal that does lurk inside of him. It is Jekyll and Hyde all over again. The old "what if" if man did let go of those things of which he thinks truly makes him human and sets him apart from the beasts.

 

The idea of what would happen if man reverted back to his natural instincts and let reason give way to that instinct. It was the Greeks who had first established the crucial importance of this idea of reason within man, and the need to set reason above all else and use it to control what is viewed as our baser impulses.  It is reason that is believed to be the building block of society and civilization.

But not too get too carried away with these archetypes and philosophical ideas, and to bring things back around to the initial point at hand. It is natural to understand why people would be given to such a strongly adverse reaction against cannibalism, it does go against what is considered to be natural.

 

Yet, considering the circumstances, in a world when all resemblance of civilization has collapsed, there is nothing left but the preservation of the self, and in fact it is only the logical and natural progression when all other food sources have been so several depleted to turn to the only other available food source. It may seem gruesome and morbid, and there are some whom might argue that in such a world to hold onto ones "humanity" is the only thing left. But to help others see through my eyes a bit at least to understand where I come from upon this point, and what may appear to be my abnormal acceptance of cannibalism, from my perspective man is not a superior species and does not have some special right to live more so than any other living creature, thus from where I sit, there is in truth little difference between killing of an animal for ones sustainability and killing of a human for the same purpose. I do not view the human life of  more value the life of any other living creature.

 

So if a person would be willing to eat the flesh of another animal, there is no reason why they should not also be willing to feed upon the flesh of another man. Cannibals are not horrible monsters that have somehow become perverse or vile, or something near demonic. They are self-preservationists, and that is in fact a very natural and in fact logical human characteristic.


 

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11:49 PM - 12/2/2009 - comments {0}

Connecting the Dots

Posted in Books

It is always quite interesting and sometimes a little eerie when threads of connections start to pop up, as I am sure most have experienced this to some degree or another. If one sees a movie which might happen to for example make mention of the holy grail, and than all of the sudden, you will be watching a TV show which is completely unrelated to the movie that may make mention of it, or it will show up in a book you are reading, or happen to hear someone else mention and so forth, or come across by chance some other topic that relates to it, and so forth. Perhaps these things are just pure coincidence, and there are others whom would make the case that they are physiological, that the connections were there all along but you simply did not notice it until it was drawn up to your conscious mind, and than you find yourself actively seeking these connections even if you are not aware of looking for them.

I have found myself in just such a situation, rather by random chance and quite without any intention, there appeared to be quite a common theme that threaded throughout the books, or at least many of them which I had been reading over this month. There appeared to be some inter woven ideas throughout each of the books of which I had begun reading at various different times and for various different reasons. The whole idea of Justice/Punishment seemed to be a vast part of much of my reading.

After reading The Gargoyle last month which revolved a good deal around Dante's Inferno, to say the least I was then quite put into the mood to wanting to re-read Dante again, as I was reading Dante, The Fall by Camus was selected as the November book for one of my reading groups, and while I was reading The Fall I could not help but to draw some for similar themes between it and Dante, and than I just started reading Crime and Punishment which I had planed to read a few months ago, and just had to finish up a couple other things. And well the title itself should be quite self-explanatory, to say the least, it also had a lot of parallels to The Fall, though approached the topic in quite a different way. In addition, I have been reading New Arabian Nights for sometime now, by Stevenson, which is a book that has a collection of different stories within it, and the next story within which I had recently started reading, at the start of it, deals with a thief who is then left to contemplating over his theft and the motives and consequences surrounding his actions.

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4:23 PM - 11/24/2009 - comments {0}

The Fall

Posted in Books
Camus is truly a fantastic and amazing writing. I absolutely loved The Stranger, and found it instantly engaging and a true page turner, a marvelous and moving story that spoke so true within me, and now I am reading The Fall, while it is not as titillating as the stranger was, and does not have the same masterful prose, the philosophy within The Fall strikes so close to home within me. It is as if Camus is within my mind, and his thoughts and words, may be reflections of myself.

I am left absolutely struck by his arguments regarding personal reasonability and the way in which mankind refuses to be held accountable for their own choices and the way in which they seek to lay the blame for their own actions on circumstances outside of themselves, and still want to claim their right to "innocence" while not putting the effort into doing the right thing.

These passages were just stunning and made me scream Yes! Yes! Yes! at the book as I was reading, it is refreshing to see that at least someone else understands, even if they are a dead french writer.
 
 
Each of us insists on being innocent at all cost, even if he has to accuse the whole human race and heaven itself. You won't delight a man by complimenting him on his efforts by which he has become intelligent or generous. On the other hand, he will beam if you admire his natural generosity. Inversely, if you tell a criminal that his crime is not due to his nature or his character but to unfortunate circumstances, he will be extravagantly grateful to you.
 
Yet there is no credit in being honest or intelligent at birth. Just as one is surely no more responsible for being a criminal by nature than for being a criminal by circumstance. But those rascals want grace, that is irresponsibility, and they shamelessly allege the justifications of nature or the excuses of circumstances, even they are contradictory. The essential thing is that they should be innocent, that their virtues, by grace of birth, should not be questioned and that their misdeeds, born of a momentary misfortune should never be more than provisional.
 
This is true that we rarely confide in those who are better than we. Rather, we are more inclined to flee their society. Most often, on the other hand, we confess to those who are like us and who share our weaknesses. Hence we don't want to improve ourselves, or be bettered, for we should first have to be judged by default. We merely wish to be pitied and encouraged in the course we have chosen. In short, we should like, at the same time, to cease being guilty and yet not to make the effort of cleansing ourselves. Not enough cynicism and not enough virtue. We lack the energy of evil as well as the energy of good. Do you know Dante? Really? The devil you say! Then you know that Dante accepts the idea of neutral angels in the quarrel between God and Satan. And he puts them in Limbo, a sort of vestibule of his Hell. We are in the vestibule, che ami.
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8:36 PM - 11/11/2009 - comments {0}

Salesmanship

Posted in Books
I am currently reading from this collection of stories called Stories Selected from the Unexpected and I just read the first story within the selection "Salesmanship" and though the story was not a thriller, or bone-chilling and terrifying, there was a beautiful and almost poetic subtly to it, in a way it was a story of the grotesque, and it is the kind of story which can sink into you and be filled with deep and thoughtful meaning when you ponder over it.

There was something within the story that was reminiscent of James Joyce's "The Dubliner's" and while all in all I am not a big fan of Joyce, "The Dubliner's" is a good collection of his, and has some quite intriguing little stories, there is something of a stark realism within the stories, and in their own way a suggestion of the gothic you might say. There was also a little something of Winesburg Ohio, by Sherewood Anderson within the story, which is a marvelous collection of intertwining stories that each shudder with something disturbing in unveiling the lives of the members within a small town, a sort of deromanticsization of small town life, looking behind their locked doors.

"Salesmanship" was a story about misunderstandings which can derive from are brief encounters with other people, and what may become when people see each other out of context, if you will and how their own minds fill in the blanks to try and come up with an explanation. It is a story which can question the perceptions we come up with, on such little information that we are often given.

I loathe to give the story away, less by some chance someone might happen upon the story, or decide to look into and want to read it for themselves, but it is the tale of a salesman who has a rather strange encounter with a pair of costumers, and he is just upon the eve of his positive outlook upon his career to have his skills as a salesman tested, and after the curious episode he learns by chance something of his former costumers which completely changes the entire interaction he had with them.
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5:49 PM - 11/10/2009 - comments {0}

The Mystery Behind Mysteries

Posted in Books
I am not a big reader of mysteries but I have been known to read a few in my time, I particularly prefer historical mysteries, but when I was in high school there was this mystery series I really enjoyed about a woman who wrote for a dog magazine and had a couple of malamutes she showed.
 
The thing that always gets my about mystery books though, the ones which feature a civilian protagonist, opposed to an actual detective, is how is it these people like once a week seem to find themselves suddenly involved in another murder, what kind of like that they live, where finding a dead body is as common as going to the grocery store. Anyone they happen to know or come into contact with suddenly ends up dead under questionable circumstances. I can say in my entire life, I have not found myself tangled up in one single murder case, but every time they blink someone dies.
 
And yes I know it is fiction, and that is what makes the story, but still it is an amusing concept, particularly considering they are completely casual about it, it is like, oh hey someone else I know has been killed I guess I better find out what happened. Plus no one else they know ever mentions it to them, that it might be a bit unusual to say the least, no one is like...hey umm you know, don't you think it is kind of odd that people you know have a habit of ending up dead, and they themselves never get freaked out about it or need therapy.
 
It is like the joke about the lady from Murder She Wrote (I cannot recall her name) at least the joke we had in my family, that she herself was obviously guilty sense people kept ending up getting killed around her, and yet she was never even questioned. You would think the authorities would be at least a little suspicious if the same person kept finding themselves involved in different murders over and over again.
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7:57 PM - 8/3/2009 - comments {0}

Upon discovering and rejecting "Chick-Lit"

Posted in Books
When I first came across the term chick-lit, it was at one of the literary sites in which I partake, and I had never seen that term before, and at first I thought it had meant women who where into literature and I generally dislike anything which is categorized as being male or female in nature, but I just shrugged it off and did not think much of it, and I kept seeing the term start to pop more within literary communities, and I had began to think that it referred to things along the nature of Jane Austin, Pride and Prejudice, Charlotte Brontte, Jane Eyre, etc.. that sort of thing, that Victorian, Romanticism, Gothic literature that was written by women writers of the day and does aim more at toward women, but I found the term quite obnoxious and grew to rather dislike it.

Eventually primarily because of having nothing better to do, I decided to officially look up what the term meant, sense it seems it has become something of an accepted contemporary genre of fiction, and apparently Chick-lit are books that are usually written by women for women and contain a woman protagonist. While granted there might be some books that in general to tend to attract women then men, in my point of view this sort of categorization is more Anti-Feminist then Pro-Feminist, and it brought me back to mind to the words of a notes female poet, though I cannot recall just off the top of my head her name, but upon being questioned about being a female poet her response was "I do not know what it means to be a female poet, I do not consider myself a female poet, I am simply a poet, and wish that my works would be judged on their merit alone and not be judged based upon gender." She wanted her works to be able to rival and stand along side the works of men purely because of her skill and talent and not simply because she was a woman who had a talent for writing.

So I found this whole thing quite annoying, and so I looked up to see just what kind of books were considered to be "chick-lit" and upon seeing this, well I decided that I had rather have such trash be given its own special little genre and the "chick-lit" could have their shit. I know it is harsh but seeing those works, I wouldn't want them anywhere near anything that I might read, and I do not think any truly studious, intelligent, intellectual woman would seriously read any of that nonsense. Even though they try to claim they are not just a sub-genre of romance, in a why that is exactly what it really is. Some people might be so inclined to read such things because they gain some passing entertainment or amassment from it, I have my own reading guilty pleasures if you will, but really chick-lit is just the book version of the poplar pop phrase of a chick-flick.

Now I am only offended by the fact that they are using an abbreviation for the word literature, of which it is not anywhere close to being.
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1:52 PM - 7/12/2009 - comments {0}

If only they truly could see the light

Posted in Books
I have just started reading Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris, who is an atheist, and EVERYONE!!! needs to read this book. It just completely blows me away. Everything he says is just so spot on. Virtually every single paragraph in this book I want to quote. While there are many who would disagree with the things he says (Naturally being the Christians) as much as they might not like it, and want to huff and puff about it, there is really no logical or reasonable argument that can be made against Harris' position within this book (Of course Christians as we know do not need reason or logic for any of the things they do) his position is rock solid, though some might say it is biased or propaganda, that does not change the simple facts, he intelligently analyzes passages from the Bible as well as drawing from plain and simple hard evidence, solid real life facts.

The whole basis behind the book is challenging the so called morality of the Bible and pointing out the fallacy in using the Bible as a moral guide, as well as showing the way in which the Bible can lead to misguided morality, and how morals can stand on their own completely without God.

He juxtaposes the Bible to the dogma's of other ancient religions, for example, he talks about Jainism and the way in which under Jainism, there is no way an inquisition could be started, and then justified through their religious teachings, the way in which it can with Christianity. The other thing I really like, is the fact that it is common among many Christians to try and use the argument that the New Testament cancels out all the bad stuff of the Old Testament, but Harris shows the way in which this is a misconception, and the New Testament, often actually supports the Old Testament, and at any rates does not clearly flat out deny it.

And I love his arguments in approaching the abortion issue, in which he points out that Christians are more concerned with offending God with nudity and with sex itself then they are with alleviating human suffering. The way in which sex in itself is not a true moral issue, but Christians make it so, while people dying of HIV, and other sexually transmitted diseases, and the need for education on safe sex to help prevent abortions in the long run our true moral issues, but the Christians don't really care about helping people who are suffering from these diseases, and in fact in some cases try and actually prevent vaccines, as well as go into 3rd world countries to preach against condom use, where people do not have access to any other information, because they think these things will promote premarital sex, and they rather condemn people to suffering, illness and death, even though it is proven statistically that abstinence only does very little to actually prevent premarital sex.

 But knowing that there is a likelihood that teenagers especially may very well engage in intercourse, and just telling them not to have sex, probably won't be enough to prevent them from doing so, Christians would rather have them have their lives ruined by the possibility of HIV, or cervical cancer, or other STD's or possibly becoming pregnant, which could directly lead up to having abortion, rather then just saying, well you shouldn't do this, but if you are going to, at least you some preventive and protective measures.

Of course as much as this book is brilliant, and behind it has a certain sardonic humor to it, it is also maddening, because you know the plain, sad, simple truth, as well constructed as it is, the people like me will naturally always agree, because we already think that way as it is, and the Christians, even if they don't have a leg to stand on, will still continue to obstinately disagree because they cannot give over themselves and their own ignorance, and their demented ideas about morality.
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11:01 AM - 7/8/2009 - comments {0}

On the Road

Posted in Books

I have recently just started reading On the Road by Jack Kerouac, and it is all about the Beat generation, and it is quite different from anything I have read before. With the exception of some Beat Poetry, of much of which I admitidly do not care for all that much, I haven't really read anything coming from the Beat generation, and Kerouac is thought as being one of the "kings" of the Beat's and in fact cridited with coming up with the term, Beat. The book is in a tone and style that is quite unlike the things I have read before, as it does have a very "hippy" feeling to it, because the Beats were very akin to the hippies, in thier attitudies, in a way they are like hippies of the liteary world. As most the Beats were writers, poets, and other artists.

 

While I am too soon into the book, to really know what I think of it, right now I do have certain ambigious feelings about it, so far it is not really drawing me in, but it is quite a new experince, but I did think this passage was really quite marvelous. Something about it just really struck me.

 

I woke up as the sun was reddening; and that was the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all, when I didn't know who I was--I was far away from home, haunted and tired with travel, in a cheap hotel room I'd never seen, hearing the hiss of steam outside, and the creak of the old wood of the hotel, and footsteps upstairs, and all the sad sounds, and I looked at the cracked high ceiling and really didn't know who I was for about fifteen strange seconds. I wasn't scared; I was just somebody else, some strange, and my whole life was a haunted life, the life of a ghost. I was halfway across America, at the dividing line between the East of my youth and the West of my future, and maybe that's why it happened right there and then, that strange red afternoon.


 

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10:08 AM - 7/2/2009 - comments {0}

To J.D. With Love

Posted in Books
I have rediscovered an old lover, and my whole body ached with anticipation while my mind flew back to our stolen movements of the past, how I yearned once more to get my hands upon you, now that we were faced with each other again. Never before have you failed me, you were always there, in your cold, distant, aloofness which shudders through my soul and speaks of unspeakable, undefinable depths. Whatever others may say. I know there are those that fail to understand, that look at your through harsh judging eyes, and do not realize the beauty, cannot touch it or imagine it, fail to be moved into your world, but you are mine, and have always been, we share in something, we understand each other.

Yes! I recall when we first met, in the days of my early youth, when then you were a strange, a great unknown force. It was of course The Catcher in the Rye are first unforgettable encounter. Holden captured me, he emersed himself within my blood, I was fascinated with him. I was Holden, he was me, we were united by a sacred bond. I eagerly devoured him as I trembled through the pages to unveil all those hidden depths. We were both two lost souls, who were not meant for this world, how I needed him then, and you, you gave him to me. It still lingerers, how I could never forget those first defining moments that would fate us together.
 
But alas for a time we had come to part from each other, you slipped through my fingertips, when by luck, by hope, by destiny I found you again, and I craved more of you, I took all which I could lay my hands upon, and you gave to me Seymour. Oh Seymour, how he moves within me, captivating, unescapable, that beautiful cold bitterness, that lustful cynicism. I readily, eagerly, took Seymour in. He would haunt me more then once through the pages and how I longed for it, how it touched the depths of me. He is my tragic hero, and we both need him, he linked us together again, in an unbreakable union.

There are countless other shades which you have brought to life, to slip through my blood stream, to fill my anticipation, to move me beyond myself. I drink them all in, I become drunk upon them, they touch me, reach inside of me, in many ways, they are me. Yes! It is true, I feel as if I could be one of your creations. Every more, I become as they are, and identify with them. Never once have I smoked in my life, nor ever had the least desire to do so, and never intend to start now, but in the depths of the back of my mind, there I sit, a throw back from the 40's smoking french cigarettes, with a terse smile, and brittle laugh, bursting with cruel insincerity while watching the world through beautiful jaded eyes.

You will never be forgotten, even once I have had all from you there is to have, you will still live within me, pulse throughout me, have a lingering place within my subconscious mind, move me, and tingle through my blood. Because we understand each other you and I.
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2:00 PM - 6/25/2009 - comments {0}

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For though All are not able to write books, all conceive themselves able to judge them. ~The Monk

 

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