11.29.05

Brideshead Revisited: Third Post (Cordelia)

Posted in Adults, Fiction at 10:17 pm by web

Part One of the book ends with Cordelia having dinner with Charles. Within their conversation, she basically completely explains both Sebastian and what is happening to the family. She is probably my favourite character, certainly the one I find most interesting. She can see and understand what is going on throughout the whole book, but because she is a child through much of it, no one realizes how much she sees. She alone, of the family, can see what and why it is happening to Sebastian. And yet, her own story is all but absent from the book. Everyone else’s story is told – Julia, Brideshead, even Rex – but we never know much about Cordelia’s life. In some ways she is the heart of the family, but she is completely invisible in many ways as well. I am certain she sees and appreciates every twitch of the strings that hook the family members (and Charles too) to the manor house, Brideshead. She is very interesting. I think the book would be lacking something vital without her.

11.28.05

Not in Kansas Anymore: Second Post (Good and Evil)

Posted in Adults, Sociology, Spirituality at 2:34 am by web

In general, I feel like this book is rather unfocused. I am over halfway through and I still feel like I haven’t gotten to the point yet. It still feels like intro stuff with little direction.

Nevertheless, Miss Wicker does make some interesting observations. One chapter focuses a great deal on the dichotomy of good and evil, or the lack thereof. This is a very interesting idea. I like the idea that things aren’t black or white, but a mix, and that a little evil doesn’t negate a little good. The idea of just looking to make a balance and focus on the good is one that is comforting. I don’t know. I’m a little unfocused right now and my thoughts aren’t terribly well organized. I think it’s an interesting idea, but I don’t know were to go from there at the moment. Maybe tomorrow I’ll be better able to think about it.

11.27.05

Brideshead Revisited: Second Post (Wine)

Posted in Adults, Fiction at 11:34 pm by web

I liked this quote:

“For centuries every language has been strained to define its beauty, and has produced only wild conceits or the stoke epithets of the trade.”

It is discussing our inability to describe wine.

Have I mentioned that I adore how Waugh uses language in this book? It’s wonderful!

I’m deep into the story about Sebastian’s alcoholism. It’s sad and Lady Marchmain reminds me a little of my grandmother in this section, which is somewhat depressing. Oh well, it is very realistic and human. It’s part of why the book is so very good. Even if it is very sad.

11.19.05

Brideshead Revisited: First Post

Posted in Adults, Fiction at 8:50 pm by web

Well, I finished the awful Knights of the Silver Dragon book and just had to read something I *knew* was really good. So I picked up “Brideshead Revisited” by Evelyn Waugh. It’s a really good book. I’m constantly amazed by the way Waugh used language. It’s exquisite. The books sounds so wonderful that I can’t help but read it out loud! The words flow so beautifully. They have a wonderful, flowing elegance, but they also have a very casual movement to them, as though the author spoke that way and thinks nothing of it. I don’t know much about Waugh and haven’t read any of his other books, so I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I do love the way this books sounds. Michael thinks I’m kind of crazy, but he hasn’t stopped to listen to me reading, so he doesn’t understand.

This book also has Aloysious, one of my favorite literary teddy bears ever. He’s right up there with Winnie-the-Pooh and Paddington Bear. He also reminds me a great deal of my own teddy bear, Fuzzy Wuzzy. They share many personality traits. I just think the inclusion of Aloysious in the book is wonderful. He adds a whole new dimension to the story and to Sebastian’s part of the story in particular.

This book is wonderful. I’m only one chapter (and the prologue) in, but the magic is already reweaving itself in my mind. The description of the house and of Sebastian’s lunch party have made me remember exactly why I loved this book! It’s just so wonderful! A work of art.

11.18.05

Figure in the Frost: Fourth Knights of the Silver Dragon book

Posted in Childrens, Fiction at 1:18 am by web

This is the fifth Knights of the Silver Dragon book. This is a series of Dungeons and Dragons novels that WOTC is publishing in an effort to draw kids into gaming. The first book, Secret of the Spiritkeeper, was great, as was the fourth. The second and third books were sub-par. This book sucks. It doesn’t remotely feel like D&D (one of the selling points of the series), the characters don’t at all feel like the same people from the first four books, and the author has clearly decided that not only are the main characters stupid (a trait they never exibited overly before), but the audience is too! I may not be the target audience of this book, but I would have been kind of offended by it even if I was twelve!

It doesn’t fill me with confidence that the author, Lana Perez, claims to be the author of teen books. But not under the name Lana Perez. That’s a pen name. Ok, that’s strange, if you ask me. Pen names aren’t unusual, but why take one just for this and the other few books written for WOTC if you aren’t embarassed by them or something? Otherwise, what would be so wrong about letting these books be associated with her “real” work? Of course, given the quality of this book, I’d probably avoid her “real” books if I knew what they were. On the other hand, if they are teen books, maybe they are better. Maybe she doesn’t have the same problem with totally underestimating teen agers that she clearly has with kids (largely 9-13 year olds is my guess).

Regardless, the plot makes little sense and the characters are just plain stupid. I’m mostly done with the book and feel pretty confident saying this is *easily* the worst in the series yet. I hope not to see any more of this author from the series. They can do far better. The first and fourth books were wonderful. They felt like D&D, real kids, and real adventure. And the rogue character was a rogue! And there weren’t pixies *everywhere*! And the kids had far more than three brain cells to rub together between them! I may write a letter to the editor of the series about this one. I have her email address somewhere. Oh well. Hopefully none of the others will be this bad (assuming I can get up the courage to read them at some point).

11.16.05

Not in Kansas Anymore: First Post

Posted in Adults, Sociology, Spirituality at 10:53 am by web

One of the books that I am currently working on is “Not in Kansas Anymore: A Curious Tale of How Magic is Transforming America” by Christine Wicker. It’s interesting thus far, but I’m not actually sure how I feel about it. She brings up some interesting ideas, but I have no idea where she is going with them at this point (if she is going anywhere with them). I’m about four chapters in (not quite a quarter of the thickness of the book). Her writing is excellent and the book is very easy to read, meaning I don’t want to put it down or fall asleep or anything. The ideas and stories are generally interesting and entertaining. I have really enjoyed learning some of the things this book has taught me about American history and culture.

However, I still have no idea where all this is going (I mean, besides the general idea you get from the subtitle of the book). The information is there, but not as well organized as one might like. The fourth chapter was better in that respect than the first three, but it’s hard to say if that will continue at this point (and if it will, why wasn’t it there to begin with?). Sometimes she gives information without then explaining the ramifications or coming to any kind of conclusion. Sometimes she gives facts that I draw a clear conclusion or parallel to something else from, but she never acknowledges or uses any of that. Sometimes that is frustrating.

I am enjoying the book, but I’m going to have to reserve any real judgement on how much I liked it for when I finish it, I guess.