‘ahems and ahahs’

Literature, & Etc.

Posts Tagged ‘english literature

The Debt to Pleasure by John Lanchester

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“To like something is to want to ingest it, and in that sense is to submit to the world. To like something is to succumb, in a small but content-full way, to death. But dislike hardens the perimeter between the self and the world, and brings a clarity to the object isolated in its light. Any dislike is in some measure a triumph of definition, distinction, and discrimination–a triumph of life.”

5083_meat-painting…thus writes Tarquin Winot, the protagonist and narrator of his life as told through food in John Lanchester’s The Debt to Pleasure. The novel is set up as a series of menus that interweave various autobiographical factoids of Tarquin as he relates his passion for all things food related. As the story progresses the reader gains more and more insight into the life of this self professed epicure. The book starts off rather slow which I found to be a bit frustrating but quickly finds an enjoyable pace. If you enjoy food and literature, this is definitely a book to experience. The pay off at the end is most satisfying. One of the joys of the book is that the various menus that are presented to the reader can be served and enjoyed. Tarquin goes through a step by step process, ingredient by ingredient so that the reader can also create the same meal being presented. A rich history of various foods, particularly french cuisine is weaved into the narrative of his life and obsession with food. If you’re a “foodie”, then this book is for you. I learned quite a bit about wine, cheese, mushrooms, and how these items were used historically and the reasons behind why they retain the significance in our dietary lives. A book I found at Brock laying around on a bench the one day, definitely glad I picked this one up. Cheers.

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The Years by Virginia Woolf

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I’m currently engaged in a battle with Virginia Woolf’s The Years. The book is amazing and the way in which Virginia draws focus on one particular family as it confronts birth, death, joy, and sorrow through various ‘years’ at the turn of the century is amazing.  It is written like a literary soap opera.  The various ups and downs of a family that deal with jobs gained and lost, marriages, etc. It is a slow read though and I find myself wondering why I really care about this family. Virginia has created a large cast of characters in such a way that focus is not given on any one single character. Just as you find yourself starting to become wrapped up in one character, she changes focus onto someone else which is both enjoyable and yet frustrating.  It is a slow book but one that allows you to sink your teeth into the text. Virginia also deftly weaves the changing face of society and time in the background of these characters lives.  Small scenes that step outside of the the characters point of view and glance at men and women walking down the street, railways, trams, trolleys, carriages, etc. Well worth picking up. Will write a proper review soon. Cheers.

Written by thebeliever07

April 16, 2009 at 8:29 am

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

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The beauty of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth-Grahame-Smith is the way in which he seamless integrates zombies into the original source text. I wonder though what the reading experience is like for those who have never read the original. I find that it is much better having read the original, as the ridiculousness and the sheer fun of it hits home even more. I think that it will be an amazing best-seller and I look forward to more in the series. And if it gets people reading some classic literature then so be it. My only fear is that this will spawn a whole new sub-genre of imitators that poorly integrate and simply troll through classic literature for fan-fiction style zombie integration. If people can write and retain the original quality and tone of the text, then I’m all for it, but to simply insert zombies into random literature for the sake of zombies, not sure how well our market will respond….

Written by thebeliever07

April 6, 2009 at 6:40 pm

Recent Acquisitions:

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The Complete Plays by Anton Chekhov trans. Laurence Senelick

I’ve been enjoying a fair bit of drama this past year: Ben Jonson, Ibsen, Stoppard, and largely thanks to Erin. She has helped renew my interest and love for these works of fiction. Based on her recommendations, Chekhov will be consumed these next few months.

The Steel Remains Richard Morgan

He primarily writes science fiction, a particularly freaky science fiction in which consciousness is transplanted in the near future through technology, rendering bodies and genetics a consumer item. This is his first forray into fantasy and I am eager for this old world sword and sorcery tale.

Philip Roth: Novels and Other Narratives 1986-1991

I read the first of Roth’s Zuckerman Bound Trilogy, “The Ghost Writer” early in the summer and I’ve been a fan of Roth ever since. He writes on the subject of writing and what it is to be an author in the most brilliant fashion. Figured since I have one Library of America collection from him, I might as well start in on the others. Only three more to go.

Spent a fair bit of money today, but sometimes you need to treat yourself to a world of fiction and today felt like such a day, especially after the lousy week I’ve been having. Getting over a serious cough/cold, a family death, and tons and tons of work. Ugh, life is harsh, but at least I have good friends and good books. Cheers.

Written by thebeliever07

October 23, 2008 at 10:00 pm

The smart bibliophile.

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Should I be blogging? No. Should I not in fact be reading Silent Spring by Rachel Carson? Of course. Am I going to blog regardless of the fact that I have theory and environmental creative writing? You got it.

I don’t know about you, but I always feel much smarter when I’m reading some non-fiction. Let’s face it, as much as we all love our literature, fiction, and the occasional (genre) or “culture trash” text, nothing labels you as a cultured or mature as when you’re carrying around a nice non-fiction text. Biographies in particular help to establish you as a person of intellect.

One non-fiction text, a biography that I’ve found to be very fascinating is James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon – by Julie Phillips. For those unaware, James Tiptree Jr. is the pseudonym of Alice B. Sheldon, one of America’s great Golden Age Science Fiction short-story writer.

This biography gives a very nice picture of her complete life: from her early childhood days hunting in the African Savannah with her mother, to the very end when she finally revealed who she really was. Her writing is filled with her attempts to break down the gender barrier, being neither focused in a particularly male or female way.

I’ve only read a few chapters into the book, but I was thinking of the way in which this book provides me with some extra cultural capital. Society tends to look down upon certain types of fiction, but whenever a person is reading a biography or a history book or some other such non-fiction, there is this inherent attitude that seems to pervade: “Oh, you’re reading a biography of Andrew Carnegie, how FASCINATING!

It makes me wonder if some people really are interested in the non-fiction books that they’re carrying about, or if they simply wish to appear smarter than they are.

Dr. Allard, my Romantics professor from a few years ago remarked on something similar in one of his lectures.

We always carry two types of books when we travel on airplanes. A) The first book being the one we want to impress people with. We like to sit in our seat with our small cup of ice and tiny can of soda and have people notice us, pay attention to the fact that we’re reading about Nineteenth Century Medical Trauma. B) And then there is the book we have in our backpack that we pull out when we get to the hotel, or late at night at the end of a long day of travel. “Ahh…now I can sit down and read my John Grisham in peace. Ohh, this one is about a lawyer who works pro bono to save a deaf, blind, retarded German Shepherd from an evil corporation bent on world domination…I wonder how this will turn out!”

For what its worth, I realize that you’re thinking now….”But G? How do I know you’re not doing the same thing? Easy, I’m an English Literature major, everything I read is more important and better, along with my attitude and opinions on all things of this nature.”

Cheers friendos.

Written by thebeliever07

September 12, 2008 at 11:28 am

It begins…

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…another school year friendos. For those interested, this first term I’ll be taking four courses.

Structuralist & Post Structuralist Theory, Writing the Environment, Old Norse, and Medieval Collections & Social Control.

It’s a fair bit of work, but I think I can manage to stay afloat. While I will be working a full work week the way I’ve been working this past summer, there is some good news. I will only occasionally *knocks on wood* have to take the night audit shift. Last year I was working night audit every weekend and a full term of courses as well, so things have improved, at least this year I shall be able to achieve some normal sleep cycles.

As far as this week goes, I’ve already been given some assignments: yay for Nietzsche and “On Truth and Lying in a Non-Moral Sense”.

I will probably be posting in a more relaxed manner as the school year begins, maybe not as regularly, but with occasional moments of fervor and energy as blogging for me is a release of stress, so as horrible as it is, I’ll probably blog more when my readings and assignments really start to thicken as this is a nice and convenient way of avoiding that work.

Well, see you around kiddos. Cheers.

Written by thebeliever07

September 7, 2008 at 8:48 am