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Thursday, August 3rd, 2006
11:39 am - Well water, popcorn, and rice balls

I'm disgusted with myself. I've not been reading much lately. Well that's not entirely true. I just the other day read something by ... Dannielle Steele *gasp!!!* I really don't like her books, but when the well is dry you'll... I don't know drink something else I guess. Someone gave me the book, so I read it.

It's the popcorn-iest of popcorn novels. No nutritional value, smells good, tastes ok.

Other than that I've read a book by Haruki Murakami called The Wind-up Bird Chroncles. It was sent to me by a friend in England, who heard I was bemoaning my lack of good reading material. I have to say it was excellent. It's not exactly my style. Had a few too many naughty bits. But the author is truly original. It reminded me of The Time Travellers Wife. Another book I didn't like, but I do respect the authors ability.

I've also been reading some Japanese Manga. I'm completely hooked on Fruits Basket. It's a guilty pleasure. I'm ashamed to go into the bookstore to buy it. What on earth is a 34 year old woman doing buying "comic books". Does it deter me. Until the whole Kyo/Tohru/Yuki thing gets resolved, I shall persevere!

Boy it's been a long time since I've written in this journal.

current mood: bored

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Thursday, November 17th, 2005
9:43 am - Library Thing

A new website all about books! In fact it is a way for you to catalog which books you have, and share the listing with your friends. I just started, but I'm having so much fun!

Library Thing.com

If you get one please share your username so we can browse each others shelves. :)

current mood: cheerful

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Tuesday, November 8th, 2005
10:01 am - Schlegel or Wilcox?

I just bought three new books.

Well technically only one is new. I've read these two:

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthurs Court by Mark Twain
Howards End by E.M. Forster

Both of them are wonderful books. Yankee is hilarious. A "modern" man is accidentally sent back in time to the days of King Arthur and winds up changing civilization. It's a real treat, as well as biting social satire. Can we expect any less from Mark Twain? :)

Howards End is a wonderful book, which is explained by the first two words. "Only connect". Connect woman and man, people to one another, Materialism and Intellectualism. Which survives and which dies? Ultimately, I think they find a kind of peace with one another. But still maintaing their own bubble of existence, not allowing themselves to be touched by the other.

Margaret (played by the glorious Emma Thompson in the movie) and her sister Helen are english/german intellectuals who believe fervently in personal responsibility, kindness, and the need for striving continually for self improvement. The Wilcox family is athletic, upper class, rich and largely unaware of anyone or any cause that does not touch them personally. However, both are somewhat .. darn I can't think of just the right word .. powerless(?) when dealing with a world that is larger than all of us. Funny, I just realized how often when I think of action or inaction I see hands in my mind. I picture how the hands grip a thing. And that tells me what word I'm looking for ... or doesn't as in the present case lol. Inadequate? futile? Ahhhh my kingdom for a thesaurus!

Anyway, this is england before the World Wars. Before thought and contemplation became superfluous. People are too busy, to think. I think in fact that they (in general) have lost the desire to think, to stretch their minds.

Or is it just that they don't stretch their minds on the things I think they should? lol I suppose that might be the case.

Oh yeah, the third book I bought is Daisy Miller and Washington Square by Henry James haven't read it before, so it should be fun.

If you get the chance to rent Howards End. Do so. Not just because it has Emma Thompson, who rules!!! But also Anthony Hopkins as Mr. Wilcox, who I had an enormous crush on when I went to see this movien in the theaters so long ago. And Helena Bonham Carter (ho) as Helen Schlegel.

I'm such a Schlegel, never been a Wilcox, and can't imagine I ever would be.

current mood: contemplative

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Sunday, October 30th, 2005
9:51 pm

Anyone doing NaNoWriMo?

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Thursday, September 29th, 2005
10:38 pm - "All right then I'll go to hell"

Sorry to my friends who already read this on my journal. I thought I had posted it here. :D

I watched a thingy on PBS last night about Mark Twain. (second part to air tonight). He's been one of my favorite authors for a long time. What a wit. I'm quite sure though I wouldn't have liked the man much in real life. It's one thing when you're reading sarcasm, and quite another to deal with it in your face.

In particular they of course talked about his best work Huckleberry Finn. I personally can't stand that book anymore, maybe because I've read it far too often. Maybe (and I think this really is the case) I'm to impatient to sit through the dialects, and I don't appreciate what a gem it really is. What I do appreciate though is the quality of this book.

It brings up some very difficult subjects, which is the reason why it's been banned so many times from so many reading lists. Ultimately, it is a chronicle of the changing views of americans about the issue of slavery. Here is a young character, schooled in bigotry. Who through his experiences with Jim the slave comes to realize by bits and pieces what an awful thing this is to do to another person. And there's the real issue some people had with this book. Jim is a person. Not a stereotype, not an exaggeration. A man who is running towards freedom, all the while weeping over his fate, and mourning the loss of his family. How is it possible to see THE MAN Jim and still dehumanize the race he comes from?

The moment Huck makes the decision to leave his own beliefs about slavery behind is wonderfully simple. He has been feeling the pangs of a stricken conscience for some time. Believing he should return the slave to his rightful property, he writes a letter informing Jims owner of his whereabouts. But then he pauses. He reflects on it, struggles with his belief that he is actually doing what is "right" in the sight of God. If he lets this slave go, he will be disobeying society and religion (as he knows it). And he decides simply, quietly and clearly "All right then, I'll go to hell, and I tore the letter up." What courage!

How do you pack so much weight into that simple little sentence? That my dear friends, is why I could never be an author. And why I respect them so much. True creativity.

In contrast I watched an episode of Actors Studio this weekend. Jodie Foster was the guest, and as usual they asked the questions they always do at the end of the episode.. one of which being "If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you enter?" Her answer "Your way was the way."

I found that incredibly presumptuous, egotistical. I'm sorry but, you require God to vindicate you and will be happy only when He admits that you were right? Isn't that a little backwards? Shouldn't we be a little more concerened with doing it God's way to begin with?

Why do I find that display to be egocentric, and not Huck Finns? He was also in a sense defying what he thought Gods direction was.

I think its because he in fact was not defying God. He was, albeit crudely, like the Boereans, examining his belief system and refusing to accept something he knew was wrong simply because the authorities had told him it was right. Ok that was confusing, but I think you know what I mean.

Anyway, I saw the parallel and feel the need to think on it.

current mood: contemplative

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Tuesday, September 6th, 2005
12:28 pm - Louis L'Amour

Since lostinagoodbook says this community is about our reading and not necessarily only serious literature, I think this post will be kosher. ;)

I've started re-reading Louis L'Amour. In my youth, I'd read the majority of his books. But this time, I'm reading them in the order he wrote them to see if and how his writing may have changed over the years. So far, I'd have to say they did change a bit. But I'd say this is because his first books were written for the 50s pulp magazines and were a little more juicy.

I like reading his descriptions of nature. You can tell they are written by someone who has actually experienced what it feels like to be out alone in the wilderness. He has a very spare descriptive style which I really like, although sometimes it's almost lyrical.

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Sunday, August 28th, 2005
11:48 pm - Deep thoughts

Anyone read Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey? I'm looking for something light to read during my vacation, and I've heard it's funny.

Or if anyone has any recommendations for something fun, I'm all ears. Or eyes. Or whatever. :)

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Thursday, August 25th, 2005
3:38 pm - "This one will be a poet"

I have just found (belatedly) a program on PBS called the American Masters. It is short, 90 minute, biographies of exceptional artists and the ways that they affected society and the times they lived in.

Last night they focused on Ralph Ellison, author of The Invisible Man. No not that invisbible man, that is by H.G. Wells. This was an incredible book about a young black mans search for identity and meaning to life.

I remember reading this book in high school. I was fortunate enough to have a Mr. Chaney for my AP English teacher. He was interesting, slightly caustic, incredibly intelligent and in some strange way I couldn't define, lived in a different world than any other teachers in my school. Of course they hated him for it, and the feeling was mutual. I learned two important lessons from him:

1. Think for yourself. Just because a teacher, official, authority figure tells you a certain viewpoint is right, doesn't make it so. Test it out and see for yourself if it's truly right, and then don't be afraid to lay claim to it.

2. I am a smart cookie. He was the first teacher to verbalize to me, that there really was something good going on in that brain of mine, and no amount of pressure from the other students was going to change it. Is it easier for me to write a grade A paper than they? Well they could just get over it, but don't you dare dumb yourself down because someone else is afraid.

3. (and this one should have been obvious) Not all good thinking comes from Anglo/America. In his class we didn't read the usual English literature ... Shakespeare, Chaucer, Steinbeck. We read Ellison, Wright, Dostoevsky. Voices from other places, other races, almost a different universe than the one we'd been sampling from all the rest of our school life. Like I said, this should have been obvious, but how can you know whats out there 'till someone shows you?

I didn't GET most of the things I read in his class, but the ideas were left to germinate.

So back on my own topic (lol), I found the program last night about Ellison to be very interesting. I hope you all can watch

American Masters on PBS

Coming Schedule:
F. Scott Fitzgerald: Winter Dreams August 31
Willa Cather: The Road is All September 7
Ernest Hemingway: Rivers to the Sea September 14

x-posted to the_proseportal

current mood: contemplative

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Wednesday, August 17th, 2005
2:17 pm - For cheap books...

for those of you who love the classics... Barnes and Noble has these neat editions of the classics that are nicely put together and very cheap. I just bought Robinson crusoe by Defoe, The Jungle by Upton Sinclair and Far from the maddening crowd by Hardy and for less than 20 dollars.

And they aren't those god awful tiny paperbacks that shed all their pages if you push the pages back too far.

I'm currently reading The Jungle, which is starting out to be very interesting. You know, all about the meat packing industry in turn of the century Chicago. It brought about a great deal of social change, this little book did. And yet, strangely enough, I can see that lot of immigrants that I know here in California live in some of the same conditions. (not quite so bad, but similar). How far have we come? Dunno, I haven't finished the book, so that will have to go in another post.

current mood: happy

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11:57 am - Welcome to The Prose Portal

Yay! I have my very own community! You know we all have to try it at least once, and here's mine.

Please feel free to join, post, comment about whatever, in particular books! Magazines, newspaper articles, poetry, etc. Whether it be published or not is also accepted and welcome. Have fun!

current mood: accomplished

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