"The word is the making of the world." - Wallace Stevens

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Life in Medieval Times-Marjorie Rowling

Okay, before I can concentrate on anything else I have to share something with you. THIS recipe. Jhenn, you are a genius and thank you for sharing this. These make a great snack to go with hot tea or homemade tomato soup while you're enjoying your book. And now...for the latest book. I found this in the dollar bin of Half Price Books while I was living in Dayton, Ohio a few years ago and had never gotten around to reading it. So now is a great time since I'm working on Medieval Bookworm's challenge. It's a quick overview of the daily lives of medieval men and women of various classes, professions, and interests. Pretty straightforward. I'm enjoying how structured her writing is; each chapter is broken down into a specific set of people and gives you the basic rundown. It reads pretty smoothly, with the occasional sketch or drawing to illustrate a point. Enjoyable, with a great chronology and bibliography. Geez, I sound like I'm at a wine tasting or something.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Penelopiad-Margaret Atwood

I love Margaret Atwood. I read The Handmaid's Tale as a teenager and was hooked on her instantly. The Blind Assassin, The Robber Bride, Alias Grace, Surfacing, Wilderness Tips, Oryx and Crake, I have read and reread and loved them all. I was running late this morning and grabbed the first random book off the shelf on my way out the door to make sure I'd have reading material at work. Lo and behold, it was The Penelopiad. I managed to finish it before I left work. This reread made me want to eat my words in my last post; the reworking of certain stories certainly can work and work well. And, I admit, I love the chance to hear a woman character's side of the story when she's been left out. Sorry for being a doubting Thomas, Mr. Maguire, I loved your Elphaba too. Penelope's voice is loud and clear in Atwood's novella. And it's just so damn satisfying to hear her address the double standard present in The Odyssey. There's Odysseus, off fighting, adventuring, and philandering with goddesses, sirens, and who knows who else. And there's patient, clever Penelope, fending off aggressive suitors, raising a rebellious Telemachus, maintaining the homeplace in Ithaca, and expected to stay chaste and faithful to her whore of a husband, even when she has no certainty that he is actually going to return to her. I definitely don't have that kind of patience myself; after almost 2 years, I'm still trying not to be annoyed by my boyfriend's lifetime subscription to Playboy in our bathroom. As you can see, we like very different...um...reading material. But I'll take that over him running off to rescue Helen of Troy anytime. And speaking of clever, Ms. Atwood brilliantly uses the Greek dramatic technique of the chorus to help Penelope's Maids tell their story. I can't WAIT to get my butt over to Borders to use my gift card and get me a copy of The Year of the Flood!

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Week of Rereads

Every once in a while, I love a good reread. I know not everyone out there is a fan, but for me there's something so comforting about rereading a good story if you're in the right mood. With about 3 weeks left in Ohio, getting ready to move across 5 states away from the fam and getting ready to be unemployed in a strange place, I'm enjoying zoning out with some childhood favorites whenever I get a minute to myself.

I actually started last week's rereads with Son of a Witch. When I first read Wicked, I wasn't feeling too open minded about the idea of one author (Gregory Maguire) reworking another author's (L. Frank Baum) characters. But Mr. Maguire's writing is subtle and thoughtful. Anyone who reads this can find a way to identify with Liir. Everyone makes mistakes and has regrets, but it's part of growing up and the price you pay for experience. Liir, like Elphaba in Wicked, reminds you that your mistakes are part of what makes you YOU.

Next, it was The Cricket In Times Square. I loved this book as a kid. I remember having to look up what "liverwurst" was. Who wouldn't be comforted by the adorable story of Chester Cricket, Tucker Mouse, and Harry Cat? Hee hee!

And lastly, on Saturday I reread Mrs. Piggle Wiggle stories. Where I grew up, the town library had all of Betty MacDonald's stories on the goofy grandmother character and I ate them up. Mrs. Piggle Wiggle's Farm was my favorite of course! ^-^ I especially love The Bad Table Manners Cure chapter in Mrs. Piggle Wiggle's Magic, where Lester the Pig is recruited to instruct proper table etiquette. All in all this week, it was a good read down memory lane, so to speak.

Coming up next, I'm going to find some new medieval literature to read for the Medieval Bookworm's challenge! I think a phone call to the Mommy Bear is in order.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Language Older Than Words-Derrick Jensen

This is some seriously heavy, insightful honesty. This book has been on my mental reading list for almost three years, what the hell took me so long?! It really is brutally honest, and while I love it, it's a lot to look in the face. I had to wake up Deedee the Grumpelupigus to give her a beep on the nose to cheer myself up after the last chapter. Want to try it? It'll make you smile. Go ahead, beep the Grump's nose.

Thank you, Mr. Jensen. You are a wise one. I was afraid I was going crazy too, until I read your book. (As I write this, I'm being nudged on the leg by an elderly houserabbit with a huge sweet tooth, begging for a bite of trail mix. Communication at a very simple level, but interspecies communication nontheless. Her favorite part of the mix is the dried bananas.) Just so you know, I picked up on the irony of my earlier post, when I compared your book to money burning a hole in my pocket. *AHEM*

(I coincidentally came across this article earlier today, and it upset me so much I was really glad to be reading this book at the same time, it helped to give me some perspective. This incident is sad on so many levels, I didn't know which to cry for first. The obvious fear and anger on both sides of this situation are horrifying. That an elephant mother killed a human mother and her child...who know's what the real full story is? Why could this have happened, has she lost other babies to poachers before? Was she acting out of rage and frustration against human people who've hurt her before? Wouldn't the human mother who was killed have killed the elephant in defense of her own child, if she'd been able? You have to ask yourself, what brought this situation about, what made it possible? What can we do to make sure this doesn't happen again? I'm currently digging through the web for more information on this story. I'll share it with you if I find anything.)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Like wind in a bamboo flute

Has anyone ever read this book? Or watched this movie?? That's Raise the Red Lantern, by Su Tong? I have this flute solo STUCK, STUCK in my head! Curses!! Wonderful book, actually three novellas (little novels). I think the movie is pretty well done, I've watched it a bunch. Check them both out, if you haven't already!

Jumping right in!

Well, having just finished The Shadow Rising earlier today, I've decided to procrastinate for a bit before starting on the next in the series. Liked it just fine but after the first four in a row, I'm not in the mood for it at the moment. There is such a thing as too much fantasy and drama; burning farmsteads, bloodythirsty Trollocs, Perrin getting shot with arrows. Besides, if Derrick Jensen's A Language Older Than Words was money, it would be burning a hole in my pocket. So, up next, my b-day present to myself......