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Mar. 30th, 2013 @ 04:26 pm The Best of 2012: Part One: Gentlemen and Sundries.

Everyone writes their superfluous TOP TEN lists.

As I do love to make lists (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011),
even four months late!
So, here's part one of mine!


The eighth annual GoldenMoonRose awards of brilliant excellence, completely objective favoritism, and disgustingly gratuitous excuse to make up top ten lists…

The Best of 2012:
Music, Film, Books, Sundries, and Eye Candy:
Part One of The Goldies.

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Hurt Comfort
Jan. 19th, 2013 @ 06:48 pm Goldenmoonrose's Best Books of 2012

"This is a story about the color blue…How do you know, when you think blue--when you say blue--that you are talking about the same blue as anyone else? …Blue is beauty, not truth…Blue is glory and power, a wave, a particle, a vibration, a resonance, a spirit, a passion, a memory, a vanity, a metaphor, a dream. Blue is a simile. Blue, she is like a woman."
1. Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore
Moore has long been one of my favorite authors, with his brilliant, bizarre tales that somehow manage to hit the very essence of what makes us human. He is America's Douglas Adams of the fantasy genre. Lamb: The Gospel According to Christ's Childhood Pal and Fool are two of my favorite books of all time. So, imagine my delight when I heard of his latest project concerning the impressionists. OK, maybe not as great as a Moore treatment of Shakespeare, but, oh, so damn close.
Imagine, further, my crap-my-pants delight to learn that it wasn't just "about the impressionists", but a hilarious, poignant, fascinating, clever historical fairy tale wherein the color blue is anthropomorphized into the muse and sits as a tour guide for all of art history, and, furthermore, comments (hilariously and brilliantly) on the very nature of art itself.
My copy of the book was FULL of post-its notes.
Christopher Moore's comedic and imaginative genius. Plus the Impressionists. Plus color symbolism. Even better, anthropomorphized color symbolism! META anthropomorphized color symbolism!! Seriously, I almost died of literary ecstasy.
I loved every single page.



"My death. And yes, it does bring me comfort--but not as much as you'd think. Like just knowing a story has a happy ending alone doesn't make it a good story." (After Many Years, 249)
2. Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories About People Who Know How They Will Die edited by Ryan North, Matthew Bennardo, and David Malki!
The premise: There is a machine that will tell you how you will die.
That's it.
The rest is an anthology of stories concerning that premise. The greatest, most brilliant anthology of stories on a theme you've ever consumed.
Again, FULL of post-its.
Every possible way that you could approach this--from self-fulfilling profecy, to great tragedy, to great redemption, from nightmarish distopia, to idyllic paradise, from a commentary on how one lives and how one dies, to Frankenstein's monster--is covered in stunning brilliance in these stories.
Of course, being the lit nerd that I am, I had to love the Greekness of it all. That old Delphic Oracle. That old dramatic irony, all at play in the real world, with real people. Commenting on all that makes us mortal.
And, furthermore, that wonderful, glorious, candy that is meta done well. Done in the best way. Turning human life itself in a short story, into literature, into knowing the end of the story. Does it ruin the story? Does it change the reading? Does it change the readers? Does it change the characters?
Oh, brilliance.




"Why is it always the innocents who suffer most, when you high lords play your game of thrones?"
3. A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin
Everyone keeps looking for the elusive Harry Potter for Grown-Ups. Besides the fact that Harry Potter is for Grown-Ups, how come no one told me that it was already written, that it was Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series!? Yes, it's Tolkien meets The Godfather, but it's more than great fantasy epic with intriguing politics. This is a huge Dickensian soap opera (meant in the best way possible), that happens to be set in a fantasy-type world. It's the characters. Can't stop reading about this huge cast of characters, consisting of those you love, and those you love to hate, and their insanely complicated storylines. Oh, it's exactly what the fantasy genre should be.



"So long as this country is cursed with slavery, so too will it be cursed with vampires."
4. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahme-Smith
Grahme-Smith always comes up with these ha-ha gotcha clever mash ups.
Oh, funny, Jane Austen with zombies. Lincoln with vampires.
But, see, the thing is, I love them, sure, yeah, on that level, but, always, there's a deeper level.
And it's always two-fold.
There's the symbolic level. Here, that racism in America, in our history, is like a vampire that sucked out the very soul of the people that tried to form a better world.
But, along with that brilliant point, made in clever, hilarious, and entertaining comic book action-hero prose, is the meta commentary on the history genre/field (both historical fiction and historical biographies), in commenting on our American desire to turn historical figures into demagogues, into supernatural non-humans. In dissecting Lincoln by turning him into a comic book hero, Grahme-Smith has given us back the awe and wonder at the brilliant man that he was, a human being that did the impossible in fighting against the greatest, real evil of all: prejudice, slavery and persecution.




"At first I was scared to be alone. No routines. No rules. Just me. But I think… I think I was always in the jungle. Before. It was always there. I think I had to come out here to find the answer…I love myself. They make it so hard for us to love ourselves."
5. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
In both this book and Going Bovine (about a dying boy's hilarious and Dante-esque epic journey into a modern American version of Norse mythology), Bray has established herself as one of the greatest writers for young adults. She's sort of the Christopher Moore for teenagers, having a perfect sense of the poignant absurd.
Beauty Queens is about a plane of teenage beauty contestants that crash on a deserted island. Sort of Miss America meets Lost and Lord of the Flies. Kind of a cool premise. But what makes the novel utterly shine, and even transcend its audience, is how Bray at once shies away from absolutely nothing, wrings everything possible from the premise, and also writes one of the greatest, most refreshing, and true feminist novels of all time. It challenges not just how society and the media define young women, but how they define themselves. There are no clichés, no easy definitions, here. A must read for everyone.



"Our greatest goodness and our worst impulses come out of this missionary zeal, contributing to our overbearing (yet not entirely unwarranted) sense of our country as an inherently helpful force in the world."


"House are amazingly complex repositories. What I found, to my great surprise, is that whatever happens in the world--whatever is discovered or created or bitterly fought over--eventually ends up, in one way or another, in your house… Houses aren't refuges from history. They are where history ends up."
6. Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell and At Home by Bill Bryson
Sarah Vowell is my favorite historical writer. She writes as if she actually interviewed the people, actually went and witnessed it all. She writes of them with full criticism, but, also, with a deep love for them as human beings, understanding and never condoning their actions. She, in her history of Hawaii, perfectly captures the duality of America, of our best side and our worst side, our desire to help others and live by our ideals of freedom and equality, and also our utter self-centered and pretentious xenophobia.

Bryson is a very close second, as he lovingly and fascinatingly chronicles the minutiae that makes up human life, and how that always reveals the magnitude of humanity's history and presence on this earth. His history of domestic life, of all the little things we never think about, reveals the entire history of human life across the globe. Brilliant and fascintating.




"It's a fine poem but a deceitful one: We do indeed remember Shakespeare's powerful rhyme, but what do we remember about the person is commemorates? Nothing… (Witness also that when we talk about literature, we do so in the present tense. When we speak of the dead, we are not so kind.)"


"We all fall on the spectrum of behavior somewhere."
7. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine
(Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin)

The Fault in Our Stars was the first book of Green's I read. And what a book. A plot that seems clichéd (death, dying, cancer, teenagers, love, reclusive authors), is absolutely transcendent. Hilarious, powerful, and utterly thought-provoking, The Fault in Our Stars is incredibly addictive, deeply refreshing, supremely clever, profoundly deep, delving into the very nature of love, life, death, fate, and art (that is, books) itself. The book is pure poetry, layers of meta diatribes on life and death and art and meaning, with no easy answers or easy abandonment of answers. This is a book for people who think and feel; their age is beside the point. Amazing, brilliant novel that I read in one day and thought about forever. Also, my copy is completely and totally dog-earred to shit. I wanted to eat bits of it.

Mockingbird doesn't just magnificently portray the voice of a child with special needs, but it uses that very voice to describe the most horrific of human experiences: the tragic loss of a loved one, and therefore, with truth and utter beauty, illustrates how disabled all humans are in the face of such horror. Amazing young adult novel that transcends its audience.

Anything But Typical also portrays the voice of a spectrum child, but keeps the focus tightly on the the issues of adolescence, and that teenage desire of acceptance and love. The voice is powerful, wrenching, and ultimately triumphant. Empathetic and resonant.




8. Imagined Lives: Portraits of Unknown People (Fictional Character Sketches by various authors)
It's hard to determine which is more fascinating and enjoyable: the beautiful, elusive, enigmatic paintings of the long-forgotten, or the charming, dramatic, humorous, romantic, imaginary, and possible improbable literary sketches they inspired. Both are little snapshots, little slices of human life of long ago, but ever human. Wish this book were about 100 times longer.



"When the Dream ended in a nightmare, the material world lost its credibility and, for a moment in passing time, myth became reality. The Titanic's mystique is therefore a poetic realm, in which her maiden voyage expresses the blind justice of Greek Tragedy and the allegorical warning of the medieval morality play."
9. The Titanic: End of a Dream by Wyn Craig Wade
I read a Titanic book every year. There are only a few, though, that are truly great. This one, which focuses on the investigations after the sinking, is that.  This is the "land's" perspective of the ship and her tragic destiny. Here is the society, culture, philosophy, and people that bore the great ship and her disaster, and mourned her. The ship's greatest hero, the man that lead the investigations, William Alden Smith, not only brought everything we know about the disaster to light, but also created the greatest lasting monument to the horrible tragedy: regulation of the sea and forcing corporations to take responsibility for the lives of the society in which they rule. Brilliant, affecting, fascinating and refreshing book on the disaster that still fascinates us.





"He was determined to discover the underlying logic behind the universe. Which was going to be hard, because there wasn't one. The Creator had a lot of remarkably good ideas when he put the world together, but making it understandable hadn't been one of them."
10. The Sandman Volume 2: The Doll's House by Neil Gaiman and Mort by Terry Pratchett
I'm pretty sure that Gaiman has ruined me for all graphic novels.
The story is deeply engaging, but transcends being "just" an exciting, brilliant, and imaginative story due to Gaiman's trademark brilliant storytelling style and his ability to flawlessly and enchantingly weave mythology and fairy tale into creating his own brilliant story. He is a master storyteller, the likes of Poe, Hawthorne, and Melville, authors who also could blur the worlds of dream, reality, and literature. This volume of Sandman made me realize what everyone is raving over.

Always wonderful to read a brilliant book from one of your favorite authors. Mort, the story of Death's apprentice, from Pratchett is just that, just what I always want when I grab a Pratchett. The premise is clever, obviously, but, as always, it's Pratchett's masterful use of the English language and play with the fantasy genre. A comedic story of ridiculous proportions with charming characters, but that seems to run head long, incidentally, into a bit of truth.

Current Music:
The Best of 2012
What Do You Hate by Henry Jackman (from Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter)
The Rampant Hunter by Henry Jackman (from Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter)
Don't You Give Up on Me by Milo Greene
Silent Way by Milo Greene
1957 by Milo Greene
About this Entry
Kels TARDIS Read
Jan. 18th, 2013 @ 08:33 pm Books of 2012.
2012 Favorite Authors Check off
(italics=not finished, didn't read)

Jane Austen/Regency (Pride and Prejudice)
JKR (OOP)
Charles Dickens (Our Mutual Friend)
William Shakespeare (Sonnets
)
Carson McCullers/Flannery O'Conner
Mark Twain
Hawthorne/Melville


Sarah Vowell (Unfamilliar Fishes)
Nick Hornby (Not a Star)
Bill Bryson (Notes From a Small Island, At Home)
Laurie Notaro (Idiot Girl's Christmas)
David Malki! (Machine of Death)

Christopher Moore (Bite Me, Sacre Bleu)
Seth Grahmne-Smith (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter)
Diane Wynne Jones (Tough Guide to Fantasy Land)
Neil Gaiman (Sandman Vol. 2 The Doll House)
Terry Pratchett (Mort)
Gail Carson Levine
Libba Bray (Going Bovine, Beauty Queens)
Jane Yolen (Neptune Rising)
John Green (The Fault in Our Stars, An Abundance of Katherines, Looking for Alaska)
Jerry Spinelli
Shel Silverstein (A Light in the Attic, Where the Sidewalk Ends)

(series)
Jacky Faber (Rapture of the Deep)
Uglies
Oz (The Scarecrow of Oz)
Golden Compass
Kronos Chronicles
Holly Black
Rick Riordan series

Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones, Clash of Kings)

(topics)
Titanic/Gilded Age (Titanic: End of a Dream)
Civil War (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter)
Renaissance/Shakespeare/Arthurian Legend/Medieval Legend (Shakespeare by Peter Ackroyd, My Name is Will by Jess Winfield)
Joe Citro/Vermont History
Joseph Campbell/Literary Analysis (Women Who Run With the Wolves)
Science
Biography

Fairy Tales (English Fairy Tales)
Regency/Jane Austen
Poetry (Shakespeare's Sonnets)


Books Read in 2012
(bold =exceptionally good reads)

1. Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories About People Who Know How They Will Die edited by Ryan North, Matthew Bennardo, and David Malki! (454 pages)
2. The Sandman Volume 2: The Doll's House by Neil Gaiman (228 pages)
3. Going Bovine by Libba Bray (480 pages)

4. Wonderstuck by Brian Selznick (637 pages)
5. The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe (276 pages)
6. Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin (195 pages)
7. Bite Me: A Love Story by Christopher Moore (309 pages)
8. A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin (835 pages)
9. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (318 pages)
10. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green (228 pages)

11. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly (340 pages)
12. Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea (269 pages)
13. The Titanic: End of a Dream by Wyn Craig Wade (338 pages)
14. A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin (1009 pages)
15. The Help by Kathryn Stockett (451 pages)

16. Notes From a Small Island by Bill Bryson (324 pages)
17. Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (352 pages)
18. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahme-Smith (336 pages)
19. Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore (416 pages)

20. English Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs (296 pages)
21. Not a Star by Nick Hornby (69 pages)
22. Waking Beauty by Elyse Friedman (244 pages)
23. Rapture of the Deep: Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, Soldier, Sailor, Mermaid, Spy by L.A. Meyer (454 pages)
24. Neptune Rising by Jane Yolen (150 pages)
25. Imagined Lives: Portraits of Unknown People (Fictional Character Sketches by various authors) (95 pages)
26. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (396 pages)
27. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (479 pages)
28. At Home by Bill Bryson (497 pages)
29. Mort by Terry Pratchett (181 pages)

30. The Scarecrow of Oz by L. Frank Baum (288 pages)
31. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson (278 pages)
32. Looking for Alaska by John Green (221 pages)
33. Emperor of the Food Chain (Wondermark) by David Malki! (111 pages)
34. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein (170 pages)
35. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein (166 pages)

36. A Mystery for Thoreau by Kin Platt (162 pages)
37. Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell (236 pages)
38. The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien (317 pages)
39. The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones (234 pages)
40. An Idiot Girl's Christmas by Laurie Notaro (142 pages)

41. Monster by Walter Dean Myers (281 pages)
42. Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine (235 pages)

2012 Page Total: 13497

So, fail on the 50 challenge, fail on my 100 challenge. But, hurrahs for reading a lot of great literature during a difficult year. Also, read a lot of books I just didn't finish. So, there.
About this Entry
HP Kels writing
Jan. 18th, 2013 @ 08:11 pm Books 31-42 of 2012: Young Adult, Diana Wynne Jones, Sarah Vowell, John Greene, Shel Silverstein, Wo
31. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson (278 pages)
Lia and Cassie make a pact to be the skinniest girls in school. But their destructive eating disorders take their toll, and Cassie is found dead in a motel room. Lia, discharged for the second time from the clinic, must deal with her life: parents, school, step-sister, and the ghosts that Cassie has left behind. Anderson's poetic, semi-fairy tale prose perfectly and tragically captures Lia's emotional state, a tortured soul trapped in a tortured body. A subject not tackled enough in teen literature, Anderson writes strongly, painfully about eating disorders and cutting, capturing a lost voice trapped in addiction. Anderson provides no easy answers or adult didactic lectures, but just the voice of a tragic, flawed and broken character. Beautiful, sad, real, though, I wish the recovery/happy ending was given more than a couple pages. Grade: A-



"Religion is important whether or not we believed in one, in the same way that historical events are important whether or not you personally lived through them."
"It's not life or death, the labyrinth…suffering. Doing wrong and having wrong things happen to you. That's the problem…pain, not about the living or dying. How do you get out of the labyrinth of suffering."
"I am not a coward, but I am so strong. So hard to die."~Merriwether Lewis' final words
"It's very beautiful over there." ~Thomas Edison's last words.
"I'm bored with it all." ~Winston Churchill's last words.
"Turn up the lights. I don't want to go home in the dark." ~O. Henry's last words.
"At some point, we all look up and realize we are lost in a maze."
"We are greater than the sum of our parts… and that part has to go somewhere, because it cannot be destroyed."
32. Looking for Alaska by John Green (221 pages)
Pudge, obsessed with last words, goes away to boarding school, looking for the Great Perhaps, and makes friends with the Colonel and Alaska, the latter is a spunky, eccentric woman that quickly captures his heart and mind. After a fatal car crash, Pudge is left alone to contemplate the meaning of life and death. John Green always turns cliched teenage drama literature (the death of a friend, the unobtainable wacky chick) into beautiful poetry that actually has meaning. Rather than allowing the death of a tormented, brilliant soul like Alaska, to come at the end of the novel, as a sort of "gotcha", it comes in the middle, an epicenter to the whole book. Rather than sugar coating and spoon-feeding meaning to the readers, John Green presents the struggle with religion, philosophy, life, and death, without easy answers, but an appreciation of both the young reader and the world as it is. Not his best book, to be sure, but, still thought-provoking and powerful. Grade: A-



33. Emperor of the Food Chain (Wondermark) by David Malki! (111 pages)
Yet another hilarious collection of Wondermark comics, which are always a surreal ride into the bizarre, true, and hysterical. Furthermore, often poignant and intelligent. Best part is, the book is loaded with even more funny bonus crap. Best comic ever! Grade: A+





"I tried on the summer sun,
Felt good.
Nice and warm--knew it would.
Tried the grass beneath bare feet,
Felt neat.
Finally, finally felt well dressed,
Nature's clothes just fit me best."

34. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein (170 pages)
Brilliant, charming, sweet, silly, ridiculous, lyrical, profound, imaginative, and childlike poetry from the master, Silverstein. Chock full of word play and the illogical logic, full of depth and feeling, comedy and beauty. Loved them as a child, appreciate them even more deeply now. Grade: A+


35. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein (166 pages)
Brilliant, charming, adorable, ridiculous, grotesque, lyrical, enchanting, imaginative, and Wonderlandesque and in the tradition of Aesop, perfectly capturing the illogical nature of childhood, this is probably my favorite collection of Silverstein's poetry, but it is so hard to chose just one. Silverstein is not only the best children's poet of all time, not only one of the greatest poets of the 20th century, but, one of the greatest poets of all time. His silly, sweet, playful poetry utterly sings right to the profound nature of childhood, imagination, nature, and life. Grade: A+


36. A Mystery for Thoreau by Kin Platt (162 pages)
Sixteen year old Oliver, a reporter in Concord Mass in 1846, investigates a murder and missing woman, coming into contact with the town's famous residents (Thoreau, Emerson, Alcott, the transcendentalists). Though better than most young adult historical novels, it does fall into the familiar trap of being a catalogue of historic characters who seem to just randomly spout soundbites without having a personality, while also failing to have much of a storyline. The mystery and writing is not quite appropriate for young readers. Which is too bad, as the premise and history had such potential. Grade: C




"I suppose the double-sided way I see the history of Hawaii--as a painful tale of native loss combined with an idealistic multiethnic saga symbolized by mixed plates in which soy sauce and mayonnaise peacefully coexist and congeal--tracks with how I see the history of the United States in general… Growing up, I came to know America as two places--a rapacious country built on the destruction of its original inhabitants, and a welcoming land of opportunity and generosity built by people who shared their sausage and their cheese."
"Scrape off every irritating trait that mars [the missionaries]--xenophobia, condescension, spiritual imperialism, and self-righteous disdain--and they have an astonishing aptitude for kinship and public-spirited love."
"Our greatest goodness and our worst impulses come out of this missionary zeal, contributing to our overbearing (yet not entirely unwarranted) sense of our country as an inherently helpful force in the world."
"In Hawaii, where the sailors as well as the missionaries, most of them born within 150 miles of Boston Harbor, established a new front of America's time-honored culture was halfway around the world."
"But, if history teaches us anything, upper-class white guys can be exceedingly touchy about taxation."
"I wonder what [Queen Liliuokalani] would have thought if she had known, witnessing that inaugural parade, that 112 years later, the first Hawiian-born president of the United States would be inaugurated and in his parade the marching band from Punahou School, his alma mater (and that of her enemies), would serenade the new president by playing a song she had written, 'Aloha 'Oe'."

37. Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell (236 pages)
America's bizarre and problematic relationship with Hawaii, starting with the New England missionaries, continuing with the capitalist sugar and pineapple plantations, and ending eventually with the annexation of Hawaii by an increasingly imperialistic United States, is a microcosm of the complexities, tragedies, horrors, and greatness of America's history, particularly its relationship with the native cultures and peoples of the land it occupies. Vowell, as always, perfectly captures history with an engaging conversational, yet in-depth, way. Her greatest talent is her genius ability to make history so fluid and real. Historical characters become real people under her pen, people that are still alive and kicking us in the present, and from the deepest recesses of time. She writes as if she went on a trip and chatted with them all. Which makes their stories at once so heartbreakingly, aggravatingly, real. We cannot judge them, because we understand them, we see them as painfully human, painfully American, and, because of that, we also hate them. Vowell brilliantly, wonderfully portrays this oxymoronic nature of history in general and American history in particular. Here, it is the painful fact that Americans brought literacy and the hope of all the grand ideals of democracy to a country that was plagued by class and war, but Americans gave it at the cost of a beautiful culture that lived in harmony with its beautiful land. Grade: A






"We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty, disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!"

"My birthday present! It came to me on my birthday, my precious."
"The sort of rage that is only seen when rich folk that have more than they can enjoy suddenly lose something that they have long had but have never before used or wanted."

"If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world."

38. The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien (317 pages)
The book that defined a generation of fantasy and fantasy clichés, though deeply rooted in a rich literary history of heroic journeys, concerns the quest for treasure of a little Hobbit, 13 dwarves, and a wizard. Though it lacks the powerful poetry of Lord of the Rings, its prose is that of a charming bedtime story, but with all the cleverness and antiquity of Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia. Bilbo is a wonderful character, now a cliché of the genre, the unwilling, comedic, yet wise and brave hero. And, though Tolkien falls into flat characters based on race, many of his characters, particularly Thorin (a flawed, yet heroic, character), defy classification. Bilbo and Gollum, are in fact, very childlike; two sides of the child: the greedy, selfish child, and the selfless, adventuring, heroic child. One grows up through adventures; one horrifically stagnates. Many of the scenes, particularly the Riddles in the Dark and the final ending, are the quintessential Tolkien: thoroughly engaging, deceptively simple, and totally, utterly brilliant. A fairy tale, hero tale that is a classic for a reason, even if it is just a book to curl up with with a cup of tea and a quilt. Grade: A-


39. The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones (234 pages)
Jones (one of the greatest fantasy writers of all time) pulls a Pratchett in her dictionary of the Fantasy genres tropes, but with her own unique and clever sense of humor. A nonfiction version of her Darklord of Derkholm, which is a satire of the fantasy genres. A funny must-read for all fantasy readers and writers (or those that pretend to be such). Grade: A-


40. An Idiot Girl's Christmas by Laurie Notaro (142 pages)
Read this book so many times, but it's still hilarious. Notaro is the best at being real and hilarious, the absolute Queen of Hyperbole. Perfectly captures the hilarity of the season.


41. Monster by Walter Dean Myers (281 pages)
Steve Harmon is on trial for his life, and, the only way he can deal with it is so record it all as a film (thus the novel takes the form of a screenplay). Harmon is accused of being the lookout in a drugstore robbery that went bad. Great young adult courtroom drama (similar to 12 Angry Men) that is a character study in at-risk youth, racism, and the legal and prison system. Great, engaging, accessible book for young readers, particularly those that are at risk. Grade: A-



"We all fall on the spectrum of behavior somewhere."
"It's easier when things are black and white."
"I put the sketchbook on my lap and open my new box of colors. Now I'm ready to use them because I figured out how I'm going to draw the whole complete picture."
42. Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine (235 pages)
There are a lot of brilliant and beautiful books out there that capture to perspective of children with autism and/or Asberger's (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Anything But Typical), but this book--though it does this well--goes way beyond that, and uses the medium of a child with special needs to illustrate the special needs within all of us. Reminding me more of Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury than route didactic young adult fiction, Mockingbird works on so many levels, but, most fundamentally, the difficulty of the human mind to comprehend tragedy and loss. It encompasses the entire spectrum of human experience when it comes to something so deeply and horrifically tragic as a school shooting, all through the "distanced", but all-so-involved voice of a child with Asberger's. Caitlyn, as she tries to find "closure", uses poetry and a system of metaphor and allegory (the truest power of literature and knowledge), to make sense of and heal her world. A book that English teachers will love and will bring tears to everyone. More profound and necessary now than ever. Thank you so much for this book. Grade: A

2012 Page Total: 13497
About this Entry
Kels TARDIS Read
Sep. 22nd, 2012 @ 08:46 pm Books 21-20 of 2012: Pratchett, Austen, Hornby, Oz, feminism, Jack Faber, Unknown Portraits.
"If you think that something might be funny, looked at in the right way, then look at it in the right way."
21. Not a Star by Nick Hornby (69 pages)
A mother discovers that her son, who's never really done anything much with his life, has a super special talent. He's a porn star. Hornby's short story is a microcosm of his brilliant writing: ordinary people dealing with hyper-realism, and finding a powerfully beautiful, yet incredibly normal and simple happy ending. Only complaint is that it's so short and Hornby, I think, works best when his characters grow through the course of a novel. Grade: B+

22. Waking Beauty by Elyse Friedman (244 pages)
I read this book years ago, when I weighed close to 300 pounds. I decided to read it again, at 160. Hmmm.
Allison Penny, ugly and fat, a lonely, angry cleaning lady, wakes up one morning to find herself in the body of a supermodel. Everything in her life changes. She has power and confidence; she gets a job and the man she wants (not, of course, without trials and tribulations). Friedman's fairy tale is refreshing, in that it doesn't make the point that it is what's on the inside that counts. Rather, she shows that society reveals how much beauty matters, for better or for worse. It affects how people perceive us, and, therefore, affects our identity.
The thing is, as I have faced the real world equivalent of "waking up beautiful", I don't think Friedman captures it quite well. Allison's new beauty is much more of a gift, rather than a burden. She instantly abuses and uses it, feels little to no turmoil. Furthermore, Friedman's prose (focusing on painfully boring and long descriptions) is just as shallow as her ultimate message.
Grade: C+

23. Rapture of the Deep: Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, Soldier, Sailor, Mermaid, Spy by L.A. Meyer (454 pages)
Jacky Faber, just about to be married to her beloved Jaimy, is forced into His Majesty's service to salvage the treasure of a wrecked Spanish ship in the Caribbean. Naturally, adventures, romances, and intrigues ensue for one of the greatest female characters in all literature: the courageous, spunky, strong, sexy, brilliant, wily, heroic Jacky Faber. As with all the Jacky Faber adventures, the book is full of high action and adventure, refreshingly strong characters, and fascinating history (refreshingly lively, not bogged down in didactic details, which is unique both for its audience and the genre). Meyer also throws in clever literary and pop culture references (such as Gone With the Wind and Casablanca) that place Jacky in a literary and historical fantasy world. This series is clever, refreshing, mature, and fun, a great beach-read that stands out as the very best of the young adult and historical genre. That said, the plot of this one is a bit weak, and the cast of characters has become so large that many have become very two-dimensional. Which is a shame. Still, brilliant. Grade: A-

"Why are there so many stories of the seafolk? Because the sea is around us and in us. Because we live on a planet that is mostly water, Because we begin our own lives floating for nine months in a watery sac. Because we live out our years in bodies that are more that 90% water. How could we human do otherwise than think and dream and tell of the sea?"
"Water is changeable, female, mutable. The gods of the sea are male, but the sea herself female. Beautiful. Restless. Changing."
"New England spinsters are so full of righteous fortitude they might be mistaken for mules."

24. Neptune Rising by Jane Yolen (150 pages)
A collection of sea fairy tales, concerning selkies, merfolk, proteus, and the hypnotic, tempting lure of the sea, from ancient times to our technologically driven modern times. Beautiful tales by the magical storyteller, Yolen, make for a great beach read, but the changeling and animal bride tales are a bit redundant and follow the same form and have no twists on old tales. Grade: B+



25. Imagined Lives: Portraits of Unknown People (Fictional Character Sketches by various authors) (95 pages)
Absolutely fascinating collection of portraits of unknown people from the National Portrait Gallery, matched with fictional character sketches by various authors (including Julian Fellowes, Tracy Chevalier, and Terry Pratchett--Pratchett's, naturally, being the shinning star of all of them). It's hard to determine which is more fascinating and enjoyable: the beautiful, elusive, enigmatic paintings of the long-forgotten, or the charming, dramatic, humorous, romantic, imaginary, and possible improbable literary sketches they inspired. Both are little snapshots, little slices of human life of long ago, but ever human. Wish this book were about 100 times longer. Wonderful, fascinating book. Grade: A+



"I'm a wild girl from a cursed line of women. I paw at the ground and run under the moon. I like the feel of my own body. I'm not a slut or a nympho or someone who's just asking for it. And if I talk too loud it's just that I'm trying to be heard."
"'Maybe girls need an island to find themselves. Maybe they need a place where no one's watching them so they can be who they really are.' …There was something about the island that made the girls forget who they had been. All those rules and shalt nots. They were no longer waiting for some arbitrary grade. They were no longer performing. Waiting. Hoping. They were becoming. They were."
"Do you think my new feminism makes me look fat?"
"The curse was in allowing yourself to be shamed. To let the world shape your desire and love into a cudgel with which to drive you back into a cave of fear."
"Maybe it's not me who's screwed up. Maybe it's this whole crazy notion that we're supposed to do nothing but shop, have makeovers, and chase after some unattainable idea of romance or settle for some jackass rather than figuring ourselves out and living life to the fullest that's wrong."
"At first I was scared to be alone. No routines. No rules. Just me. But I think… I think I was always in the jungle. Before. It was always there. I think I had to come out here to find the answer…I love myself. They make it so hard for us to love ourselves."

26. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (396 pages)
A plane load of teenage beauty queens crashes on a deserted island. And Bray takes the catchy idea for everything its worth. This brilliant, campy, feminist version of Lord of the Flies contains a wonderful cast of complex and unique characters (bimbos, terrorists, capitalists, beauty queens, feminists, nerds, warriors, lesbians, romantics, cynics, transgender beauty queens, pirates, bastards, heroes, princes, princesses, interior decorators, and secret agents) navigating a Lost-like Mystery Island, but, more importantly, navigating not only their own identities and psyches, but the identities and roles places upon young women by society and the media. Libba Bray's book is daring, refreshing, empowering, challenging, ingenious, entertaining, engaging, thought-provoking, moving, charming, beautiful, and a must-read for women ages 14-114. Bray takes on sexuality, body images, careers, psychology, femininity, masculinity, gender, beauty, identity, strength, and soul. It challenges not just how society and the media define young women, but how they define themselves. There are no clichés, no easy definitions, here. Not only one of the best books written for young women, but one of the best books ever written for young adults. Loved this book so much. Grade: A+



"If Elizabeth is in love, it is with her individuality, not the wrong man."
"Romantic love makes individual happiness both the motivation and the goal of moral and social change."
"Austen's post-revolutionary achievement in
Pride and Prejudice is to put Wollstonecraft's revolutionary femininity at the service of the Burkean 'family party' by writing what is still one of the most perfect, most pleasurable and most subtle--and therefore, perhaps, most dangerously persuasive--of romantic love stories."

"Do not consider me as an elegant female intending to plague you, but as a rational creature speaking the truth from her heart."
"Next to being married, a girl likes to be crossed in love and little now and then."
"Is not general incivility the very essence of love?"
"Stupid men are the only ones worth knowing, after all."
"Adieu to disappointment and spleen. What are men to rocks and mountains?"
"Not a day went by without a solitary walk, in which she might indulge in all the delight of unpleasant recollections."
"Nothing is more deceitful than the appearance of humility. It is often carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast."
"One has all the goodness, and the other all the appearance of it."
"One may be continually abusive without saying any thing just; but one cannot be always laughing at a man without now and then stumbling on something witty."
"For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?"
"Were it for nothing but his love for you, I must always have esteemed him."
"I am very sorry, Lizzy, that you should be forced to have that disagreeable man all to yourself."
"You might have talked to me more when you came to dinner." "A man who had felt less, might."

"Jane Austen composed a novel in which the most important events are the fact that a man changes his manners and a young lady changes her mind."
"She will put truth to self above truth to role."
"He knew that there are feelings of such intensity, directness, and tenacity, that they reduce language to tautology when it attempts to evoke them."
"In
Pride and Prejudice she shows us energy and reason coming together, not so much as a reconciliation of opposites, but as a marriage of complementaries."

27. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (479 pages)
Next to the Harry Potter series, my most favorite book ever. Ninth time reading it, since I first met her in 1999. Which is appropriate, as, this book is 99.9% perfect. Every word is magical candy. Yes, it's a simple, light fairy romance that has since become clichéd. But. BUT.
First of all, it is utterly hilarious. Jane's comedy and dialogue is as fresh and hilarious today as 200 years ago. It's not just the humor, though, it's the characters and situations that are still so fresh and funny and identifiable. We all know Janes and Lydias and Miss Bingleys and Mrs. Bennets and Lady Catherines and Mr. Collinses and Charlottes and so on and on and on. Jane's characters are so real because she was a brilliant psychologist and sociologist long before the sciences were even invented. Second of all, because she is so real, her writing is more powerful. Her characters are as charming and wonderful as Dickens', but they are more real. Their dramatic situations are real and true, even as they are still dramatic and mysterious. Because she never resorts--like those emo Brontes--to melodrama or overt displays of emotion. Because her characters constrain themselves by society and morality and psychology, they simultaneously are more real and their emotions are more deep, more powerfully felt.
But, oh, it's so much more than just the most beautiful and endearing and real love story of all time--between two of the greatest characters of all time: it's a universal and truly deep story of psychology, sociology, sexuality, female empowerment, character, drama, and wit, observation, irony, and humor. And, best of all, it is writing is perfection itself. God, I love this book.


"House are amazingly complex repositories. What I found, to my great surprise, is that whatever happens in the world--whatever is discovered or created or bitterly fought over--eventually ends up, in one way or another, in your house… Houses aren't refuges from history. They are where history ends up."
"It is remarkable to think that we have had electric lights and telephones for about as long as we have known that germs kill people."
"Cro-Magnons…among these new people was some ingenious soul who came up with one of the greats, most underrated inventions in history: string…'the weapon that allowed the human race to conquer the world.'"

28. At Home by Bill Bryson (497 pages)
Bryson's addicting, fascinating, and thoroughly engaging historical/science/linguistic books A Short History of Nearly Everything, Made in America, The Mother Tongue, and Shakespeare: All the World's a Stage are four of my favorite books, so I was excited to read his latest, which turned out to be an enchantingly random and meticulous Western human history, sort of focused on the mundane world of the domestic home. Of course, our homes and history is anything but mundane. Perfect example is when Bryson investigates why we have salt and pepper shakers. The answer concerns human physiology and the entire history of the Western hemisphere. Nearly every aspect of humanity, from its greatest discoveries and inventions to its international and interpersonal relationships is reflected in our homes. This book is fascinating, enlightening, charming, and utterly brilliant. Just as addicting as his other books. Though, as its first pages concern the Great Exhibition of 1851, my single favorite event in all of history, I was biased from the start. Grade: A


"Scientists have calculated that the chance of anything so patently absurd actually existing are millions to one. But magicians have calculated that million-to-one chances crop up nine times out of ten."
"He was determined to discover the underlying logic behind the universe. Which was going to be hard, because there wasn't one. The Creator had a lot of remarkably good ideas when he put the world together, but making it understandable hadn't been one of them. Tragic heroes always moan when the gods take an interest in them, but it’s the people the gods ignore who get the really tough deals."
"Reality, which can't usually afford to pay poets…"
"History unravels gently, like an old sweater. It has been patched and darned many times, reknitted to suit different people, shoved in a box under the sink of censorship to be cut up for the dusters of propaganda, yet it always--eventually--manages to spring back into its old familiar shape. History has a habit of changing the people who think they are changing it. History always has a few tricks up its frayed sleeve. It's been around a long time."
"Sodomy non sapiens." --"Buggered if I know."
"Too many young women leap into the arms of the first young man to wakethem after a hundred years' sleep."

29. Mort by Terry Pratchett (181 pages)
Typical Pratchett genuis. It's not so much his stories--though, who could resist Death taking an apprentice--it's his mastery of the English language and his play with the genre. Every one of his books is pure candy, and Mort is definitely one of his best. It's typical Pratchett: a comedic story of ridiculous proportions with charming characters (like my favorite, Death), but that seems to run head long, incidentally, into a bit of truth. And many, many profound lines that should become idioms of the English language. Grade: A

"All magic isn't in fairyland. There's lots of magic in all Nature, and you may see it as well in the United States, where you and I once lived, as you can here. [You never did] because you were so used to it all that you didn't realize it was magic. Is anything more wonderful than to see a flower grow and blossom, or to get light out of electricity in the air? The cow that manufactures milk for us must have machinery fully as remarkable as that in Tik-Tok's copper body."
"Those as knows the least have a habit of thinkin' they know all there is to know, while them as knows the most admits what a turr'ble big world this is. It's the knowing ones that realize one lifetime ain't long enough to git more'n a few dips o' the oars of knowledge."
"When you are older, you will realize that a young lady cannot decide whom she will love, or choose the most worthy. Her heart alone decides for her, and whomsoever her heart selects, she must love, whether he amounts to much or not."
"I can do lots of clever magic, but love is a stubborn thing to conquer. When you think you've killed it, it's liable to bob up again as strong as ever. I believe love and cats have nine lives."

30. The Scarecrow of Oz by L. Frank Baum (288 pages)
Trot and Captain Bill find themselves in the magical land of Oz and Baum's typical, weird and imaginative adventure whisks them to Jinxland, where a cruel King has usurped the throne from the beautiful and kind Princess Gloria, freezing her heart. The Scarecrow joins Trot, Bill, Button Bright, and the gardener boy Pon to save the kingdom. Baum's prose is light and charming, and often profound. Though this is far from the best of his Oz books (Ozma, Road, and Tin Man are my personal favorites), Baum is a treasure of American literature with his ability to infuse the bizarre and ordinary with absolute magic. Grade: B



2012 Page Total: 10944
About this Entry
Kels TARDIS Read
Aug. 9th, 2012 @ 05:54 pm The Artist: The Best Meta Film of All Time.



There is nothing I hate more than bad meta fiction.

But there is nothing I love more than good meta fiction.

The Artist is quite possibly the best meta film ever made.

And, it just also happens to be a silent film.


read my meta about great metaCollapse )
ch
About this Entry
Chaplin
Jun. 6th, 2012 @ 07:25 pm Books 16-20: Bill Bryson, Peculiar Children, Christopher Moore, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

"The way I see it, there are [two] reasons never to be unhappy. First, you were born. This in itself is a remarkable achievement…Second, you are alive. For the tiniest moment in the span of eternity you have the miraculous privilege to exist. For endless eons you did not. Soon you will cease to be once more."
"What a joy it is to arrive after dark at a snug-looking house, its windows filled with welcoming light, and know that it is yours and that inside is your family."

16. Notes From a Small Island by Bill Bryson (324 pages)
An early work of Bryson's is a travel log of his farewell tour of the United Kingdom. Though there are glimpses of Bryson's characteristic wit and engaging ability to tell history, science, and other intellectually-stimulating yarns, the book is mostly just a log of his complaining about the architecture of British cities while eating at pubs. He does well to capture the unique culture of the British, but this is definitely one of his weaker works. I much more prefer his Short History of Nearly Everything, Made in America, The Mother Tongue, and Shakespeare: All the World's a Stage, to his travel writings. Still, Bryson is always a good read, especially when he so perfectly illustrates the very meaning of Anglophilemania. Grade: B



17. Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (352 pages)
When Jacob's fairy tale-spinning grandfather dies in a gruesome attack, Jacob ventures to England to unravel his dying words. Following a trail of hauntingly bizarre "trick" photography, Jacob finds himself in 1940 and the house of a magical headmistress and her collection of super-powered children, who are under attack by invisible monsters. The plot is nothing original (Harry Potter, X-men, Percy Jackson, etc. etc. etc. ad nauseum), and the haunting photography, while clever and beautiful in and of itself, isn't quite used to its full creative potential nor integrated seamlessly into the story. For instance, the crowned girl levitating on the cover is just a little girl who can fly. Her picture is in a box that Jacob inherits, nothing more. Characters stay sadly flat; the plot predictable and unoriginal. Refreshingly, though, the book is written at a high-reading level. Though not with the artistic or emotional or suspenseful skill of Harry Potter or the charming humor of Percy Jackson, the language is well crafted, particularly when it blurs the edges between psychology, history, personal history, and fantasy (particularly concerning the horrors of World War II and the play with time travel). The first book in a series, one can hope that, like Philosopher's Stone, it being so jam packed with exposition, it's potential will be allowed to soar in a sequel. And, man, who can resist those hypnotic pictures? Grade: B+



"There are but two types of men who desire war: those who haven't the slightest intention of fighting it themselves, and those who haven't the slightest idea what it is."
"Again I wondered why a Creator who had dreamt such beauty would have slandered it with such evil."
"So long as this country is cursed with slavery, so too will it be cursed with vampires."
"It had become intolerable to be a vampire in Europe. They wanted freedom. Freedom from persecution. From fear. And where could such freedoms be found?" "In America." "In America, Lincoln! America was a paradise where vampires could exist…"

18. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahme-Smith (336 pages)
Grahme-Smith, author of the clever and hilarious Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, pens an action-packed, gory tale of vampirism in American history, with the bad-ass epic hero, Abraham Lincoln, at its center. Though Grahme-Smith is once again heavy on the action, light on the plot, his hilarious mash-up is insanely clever on so many levels. Perhaps it's just my luck that the man who so brilliantly played with my favorite author Jane Austen now turns his attention to my favorite time period of American history and one of my favorite historical figures, and does so with a brilliant play of folklore-turned-symbolism (another favorite of mine). (And, man, I do love a great juxtaposition of surreal and ridiculous proportions!) Vampirism, naturally, takes on the symbol of the draining aristocracy that transferred into the Americas, preying on the lower classes, particularly African-Americans, in the form of systemic racism (slavery, Jim Crow, and oppression). Grahme-Smith, though not flawless in his writing, perfectly captures the melodramatic, flowery prose of the Victorian age (similar to Poe or other macabre and gothic writing), woven flawlessly in biographical/historical nonfiction form, melded together to blend the horrors of vampire fantasy with the very real horrors of history (both the battlefields of the Civil War and the disturbing nature of slavery itself). It is not a far jump for the mind to see that the buying and selling of people, is as horrific as harvesting them for food; is just as horrifically parasitic. Furthermore, to have Abraham Lincoln, a man who has been elevated to folk hero status, a man that dances on the border of history and mythology, to play the action hero, I mean, that's just bitching. Best. Action. Hero. Ever. Grahme-Smith has even managed to make a commentary on history itself, and our human ability (perhaps, need) to turn history into folklore, to see the past in terms of story, to turn men into heroes and monsters. How else could we possibly understand that a country would go to war to protect so evil an institution as slavery, without turning such human beings into monsters? How could a mortal man who faces such adversity and tragedy keep a country together and free an entire race-- without being superhuman? Through placing two things so seemingly at odds-Abraham Lincoln and vampire folklore--Grahme-Smith has made a profound, clever, entertaining tale of American history, and one that comments perfectly on the promises made during the Revolution, and kept by Lincoln during the Civil War. Grade: A



"This is a story about the color blue…How do you know, when you think blue--when you say blue--that you are talking about the same blue as anyone else? …Blue is beauty, not truth…Blue is glory and power, a wave, a particle, a vibration, a resonance, a spirit, a passion, a memory, a vanity, a metaphor, a dream. Blue is a simile. Blue, she is like a woman."

"Imagination is a burden to a painter. Painters are craftsmen, not storytellers. Paint what you see."

"How did you know I was a painter then?" "…You're looking at the paint, not the picture."

"He doesn't know what it is to laugh with a fat girl, but we do, don't we? …Love them all… That is the secret, young man. Love them all… Then, even if your paintings are shit, you will have loved them all."

"They always think we are trying to say something with the paint; they don't know the paint itself speaks to us."

"To be a woman at all, in these times, was to be treated like an object, of either scorn or desire, or both."

"It was for art, you know? I'm not a monster."

"I am a creature of awesome power and divine aspect. I am the spark of invention, the light of man's imagination. I raise you drooling monkeys from rubbing your own pathetic shit on the rocks to bringing beauty and art to your world. I am a force, the fearsome muse of creation. I am a fucking goddess!"

"Sometimes, it turned out, art was what you had to say, not how you said it."

"Yes. Write, write, write, Oscar, it's what men do when they can't make real art."

"They are not telling a story, they are invoking the gods."

"That's the secret, Henri. I am nothing without materials, skill, imagination, emotions, which you bring…You obtain beauty. I am nothing but spirit, nothing without the artist."

"She had found, through the millennia, that being the inspiration, passion, and abject lesson in suffering for so many imaginative, whining narcissists made for long periods of suffering a neglect visited back upon her. She loved all of her artists, but after a time, after she'd endured enough sulking, paranoia, withdrawal of affection, moody self-aggrandizement, berating, violence disguised as sex, and beatings, the only way to clear her head was to occasionally murder some sons-a-bitches."

"He made painting his only muse, his only mistress, his sole and sufficient passion… He looked upon woman as an object of art, delightful and made to excite the mind, but an unruly and disturbing object if we allow her to cross the threshold of our hearths, devouring greedily our time and strength."

"For instance, if you know that it is dangerous for you to have colors near you, why don't you clear them away for a time, and make drawings? I think that at such moments you would do better not to work with colors." --Theo van Gogh to his brother, Vincent

19. Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore (416 pages)
I love when I read a book and it ends up full of post-it notes, and, upon completion, I have to have a violent battle with myself as to whether it is my new favorite of a favorite author's. Better than Lamb or Fool? Bah! I can't decide. No question, though, Sacre Bleu is Moore once again at his brilliant best.

Well, come on. Christopher Moore's comedic and imaginative genius. Plus the Impressionists. Plus color symbolism. Even better, anthropomorphized color symbolism! META anthropomorphized color symbolism!! Seriously, I almost died of literary ecstasy. Moore weaves a beautiful, hilarious, fascinating art-history fairy tale about the romance between the painter and the paint, the artist and the muse, about the very nature of inspiration, where it exists in the medium, the model, and the man. The madness of love, life, and art. All are a big cycle and ball of self-feeding power, of creation and destruction, dancing the border realms of reality and art. Moore layers art with history with fantasy with a brilliant meta-commentary on art itself. And, of course, I loved every single page. Grade: A+


20. English Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs (296 pages)
I always include a healthy dose of fairy tales in my reading diet. They are the first stories, the universal dreams, the psychological consciousness of humanity. And, they're fun. The adventure, the cleverness, the romance, the horrors, the imaginative elements. This collection (just an old book I picked up at a yard sale) contains the English versions of many classic tales, and quite a few odd ones I'd never read before. I found quite a few to add to my storytelling repertoire. Grade: A



2012 Page Total: 8091
About this Entry
HP Kels writing
May. 4th, 2012 @ 08:48 pm Books 11-15: Titanic, The Help, Clash of Kings, young adult
"It is better to travel with hope in one's heart than to arrive in safety."
"It's funny that girls have to be pretty. It's the boys that have to be pretty in Nature."

11. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly (340 pages)
It's 1899 and the South, and Calpurnia Tate is the only girl in her high society family, with seven brothers, and a distinct lack of abilities in the female arts of cooking, cleaning, or crafts. But Calpurnia is a passionate, budding scientist, and begins to form a deep friendship with her grandfather, also a scientist. Evolution is a sweet, episodic story of a clever, charming girl trapped in roles dictated by society. The book is well-written, refreshing and intelligent. Unfortunately, it is long, and, although realistic in its storytelling, lacks cohesion or drama. Grade: B

12. Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea (269 pages)
Told from the perspective of seven very different kids (the troublemaker, the overachiever, the artist, the farm girl, the troubled loner, the queen bee, and the girl from the other side of the tracks) is the story of a young, cool, and inventive fifth grade teacher that gives his students responsibility and freedom, but perhaps a bit too much. The book's characters, particularly the unique, refreshing kids, are its greatest strength. Kids and schools are often shown in far too simplistic a way, and these kids and their lives are far from simplistic or clichéd. The plot tends to be illogical and simplistic, but, still, it's sweet. A good book for a low reading level. Grade: B

"The International Exhibition of Industrial Arts, thereafter called the Great Exhibition [of 1851], had been the dream of Britain's Prince Consort. The colossus that housed it, the Crystal Palace, was a monstrous greenhouse…beyond sheer size, part of its sensation lay in its paradoxical union of steel and glass--England's most durable and most transient products. Even the temple of the exhibition was a testament to the wily ingenuity of this new age of industrialism, an age of paradox materialized."

"The gravity of the damage to the Titanic is apparent, but the important point is that she did not sink. Her watertight bulkheads were really watertight…she kept afloat after an experience which might well appall the stoutest heart…Man is the weakest and most formidable creature on the earth. His physical means of protection and offence are trifling. But his brain has within it the spirit of the divine, and he overcomes natural obstacles by thought, which is incomparably the greatest force in the universe."~Wall Street Journal

"It seems to me that the disaster about to occur was the event, which not only made the world rub its eyes and awake, but woke it with a start, keeping it moving at a rapidly accelerating pace ever since, with less and less peace, satisfaction and happiness… To my mind, the world of today awoke April 15, 1912."~ John B. Thayer, Titanic passenger

"Mysterium tremendum et fascinans--that stomach flipping mix of awestruck fear and entrancing fascination."

"In maritime history, the Titanic's sumptuous accommodations and wealth, her beauty and bounty, had never before been seen. All this, plus her human cargo representing a panorama of civilization in its social extremes, would never be equaled. The image of this superb gigantic vessel racing over the North Atlantic to her chilling rendezvous at midnight would create the first enduring archetype wrought by the twentieth century."

"Harriet Stanton Blatch, president of the American Political Woman's Union [suffragette], had the best rejoinder. Ms. Blatch states that since men had drafted the laws that governed the ship, they should have been the ones to go down with it. Asked what her position would be should women receive the vote, she replied, 'Then we would have laws requiring plenty of lifeboats.'"

"[The investigations were] becoming something of an autopsy on the Gilded Age."

"The Titanic not only embodied a lofty dream; its presumptuous innocence was akin to a fairy tale. And it had taken a 'fool' to look into the floating palace and declare that the emperor had no clothes."

"The pleasures of the Gilded Age existed for the very few. They rested top heavy on a social structure ready to crumble. Luxury and excess were justified on assumptions of limitlessness, both in fuel and in human suffering. This wasn't fulfillment, but the illusion of fulfillment wrought by the oppression of the lower echelons of society who labor materialized it."

"When the Dream ended in a nightmare, the material world lost its credibility and, for a moment in passing time, myth became reality. The Titanic's mystique is therefore a poetic realm, in which her maiden voyage expresses the blind justice of Greek Tragedy and the allegorical warning of the medieval morality play."


13. The Titanic: End of a Dream by Wyn Craig Wade (338 pages)
Although this book is dated (1977, and therefore before the Titanic wreck was even discovered), it's a fascinating, engagingly written account, not of the Titanic itself (which is done very well in Unsinkable by Butler and Titanic: An Illustrated History), but on the "land's" perspective of the ship and her tragic destiny. Wade describes the society, culture, philosophy, and people that bore the great ship and her disaster, and mourned her. He sings the praises of the ship's greatest hero, the man that lead the investigations, William Alden Smith, the man that not only brought everything we know about the disaster to light, but also created the greatest lasting monument to the horrible tragedy: regulation of the sea and forcing corporations to take responsibility for the lives of the society in which they rule. The man that fought for the victims, not only of those icy waters, but of the society that built a caste of wealth and power. This book is a brilliant, fascinating, refreshing perspective on the tragedy, going where other books that treat the disaster fail to go, into the world that created the Titanic, caused its disaster, and then reacted to its loss: the Gilded Age. The Titanic was an embodiment of that age, and her sinking was the death song of that era. And that is why she still affects us so deeply. Grade: A

"Is there any creature on earth as unfortunate as an ugly woman?"
"It is not what we do, so much as why we do it."

14. A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin (1009 pages)
The sequel to Game of Thrones concerns the war between the Starks of the North, the brothers of Baratheon, and the Lannisters, while overseas the only surviving Targaryen mothers her dragons, and the Nightwatch faces problems beyond the wall. The characters are just as brilliant and fascinating in the sequel, though the plot is much more action-heavy, and therefore a lot less engaging and a lot more predictable. Gone, mostly, is the political intrigue, and the characters seem to stagnate rather than change or evolve (except for that nitwit Theon Greyjoy). A necessary sequel, and one that lives up to the first in keeping the pages turning. Still a wonderful, refreshing addition to the genre. Just, far from exceeds the first book in terms of brilliance or ingenuity. But, can't help loving returning to Martin's brilliant saga. Grade: A-

"No, white women like to keep they hands clean. They got a shiny little set a tools they use, sharp as witches' fingernails, tidy and laid out neat, like the picks on a dentist tray. They gone take they time with em."
"And I know there are plenty of other 'colored' things I could do besides telling my stories…I don't care that much about voting. I don't care about eating at a counter with white people. What I care about is, if in ten years, a white lady will call my girls dirty and accuse them of stealing the silver."

15. The Help by Kathryn Stockett (451 pages)
The rare bestseller that everyone has read and is raving over for a good reason. The meta novel of African-American maids in Jackson, Mississippi in 1963, the height of the Civil Rights Movement, is refreshing because it is as though this story takes place at once on another planet, so far removed from my own, and also a world right beside mine, where the most disturbing cruelty is that of women wielding their discreet brutality. This is the story little told of the strength and power of the everyday, "invisible" women that served everyday, invisible women, and the horrific, and sometimes moving, relationship and stories. Though the book has no real plot, though it is predictable, and even lags many times, the characters are so hugely engaging and the situation so fascinating, I couldn't stop reading it. The story and characters transcend their time and place, to both the situations of "queen bees" in high schools and colleges, to the inner world--both heroic and villainous--of women. Powerful, engaging, uplifting, horrifying, original, fascinating book. Grade: A-


2012 Page Total: 6367
About this Entry
Kels TARDIS Read
Mar. 9th, 2012 @ 07:19 pm Books 6-10 of 2012: young adult, John Green, Game of Thrones, Christopher Moore
Current Music: Windowsill by Arcade Fire




6. Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin (195 pages)
This book is an English teacher's dream. The voice of Jason, a middle school boy with Autism, is powerful and poetic, not to mention, full of meta literary allusions. Jason describes his lonely world from the viewpoint of a sympathetic, relatable, though possibly alien, outsider. Like any young person, like any person, Jason just wants to fall in love, to find a connection with someone, to be understood. He thinks that perhaps he has found that person in Rebecca, whom he meets online while writing stories. Instead, though, Jason just might find what everyone really needs: to accept and love themselves. A story that everyone can relate to, and needs to. Beautiful, powerful, engaging book, full of voice, empathy, character, style, and emotional resonance. Grade: A+

 


"The City of San Francisco is being stalked by a huge, shaved vampyre cat named Chet, and only I, Abby Normal, emergency backup mistress of the Greater Bay Area night, and my manga-haired love monkey, Foo Dog, stand between the ravenous monster and a bloody massacre of the general public. Which, isn't, like as bad as it sounds, because the general public kind of sucks ass."
"…and I don't have super powers and my evil is totally speakble. Fucksocks!"
"She'd been the first girl he'd had sex with while sober. She was the first girl he'd ever lived with. She was the first to take a shower with him, to drink his blood, to turn him into a vampire, and to throw him broken and naked through a second-story window. She was his first love, really. What if she sent him away?"

"My heart has been torn asunder, and I am faced with the revelation that my most awesome-haired mad scientist of passion may in fact be an uncaring assbag who has sullied my innocence and whatnot and then cruelly cast me aside. So, that sucks."
"I have found that if you roll up screaming like a madwoman, hair on fire, guns blazing, no one is going to mention the zit of your forehead."


7. Bite Me: A Love Story by Christopher Moore (309 pages) What I wouldn't give for a literary death match between Abby Normal and Bella Swan. I think we all know who'd win that fight.

The third and best in Moore's vampire Love Story trilogy finds Abby and Foo tracking down a herd of vampire cats, while their masters are trapped in bronze. But, not for long. And three very old, very pissed vampires are on their way to clean up the mess. Moore's trilogy is the weakest of all his books, particularly in terms of plot, but Moore is never a waste of time. His characters are hilarious, real, and entirely loveable, particularly that treasure of a narrator, Abby, whose sections are a completely golden. His stories are so original and refreshing, and, without a doubt, the best vampire books out there among a sea of vampire literary crap. Best of all is just his one-liners--both the profound ones and the hilarious ones, which are not exclusive to either superlative. Grade: A-
 




"The things we love destroy us every time."
"W
hy is it always the innocents who suffer most, when you high lords play your game of thrones?"
"Love is the bane of honor, the death of duty…we are only human, and the gods have fashioned us for love. That is our great glory, and our great tragedy."

8. A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin (835 pages) This book was described to me as being Lord of the Rings meets The Godfather. True enough. It is all the subtle beauty of the epic fantasy of Lord of the Rings, with the engaging and fascinating intrigue, family politics, and the conflicts between love, duty, and honor of The Godfather. But I'd also toss in that it also contains a Dickensian/Harry Potteresque cast of fascinating, brilliant, real, characters--torn, tragic, corrupt, evil, noble, beautiful, ugly, warped, innocent, pathetic, hilarious, sympathetic, and horrific--that pull the reader into the story because they either love them or love to hate them. Game of Thrones is an utterly brilliant, and tragically rare, fantasy novel that is the perfect combination of engaging, surprising, and intricate storytelling and fascinating characters. The term "page turner" is overly used, but, here, apt as all hell. Grade: A

 



"Neither novels or their readers benefit from attempts to divine whether any facts hide inside a story. Such efforts attack the very idea that made-up stories can matter, which is sort of the foundational assumption of our species."
"Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book. And then there are books… which you can't tell people about, books so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection feels like a betrayal."

"I liked being a person. I wanted to keep at it."
"But it is the nature of stars to cross, and never was Shakespeare more wrong than when he has Cassius note, 'The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars/But in ourselves.'"
"What a slut time is. She screws everybody."
"It's a fine poem but a deceitful one: We do indeed remember Shakespeare's powerful rhyme, but what do we remember about the person is commemorates? Nothing… (Witness also that when we talk about literature, we do so in the present tense. When we speak of the dead, we are not so kind.)"
"There are about fourteen dead people for every living person."
"Come quickly, I am tasting the stars."--Don Perignon after inventing champagne, to his fellow monks
"I find the reality of readers wholly unappetizing."
"The child who believes there is life after a novel ends."
"You have a choice in this world, I believe, about how to tell sad stories, and we made the funny choice."
"I believe the universe wants to be noticed. I think the universe is improbably biased toward consciousness, that it rewards intelligence in part because the universe enjoys its elegance being observed. And who am I, living in the middle of history, to tell the universe that it--or my observation of it--is temporary?"
"You don't get to choose if you get hurt in this world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you."

9. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (318 pages) Hazel is dying of cancer of the lungs when she meets Augustus Waters, whose cancer is in remission. Together, they attempt to visit and talk to the reclusive author of their favorite book in order to find the answers, not only left by the book's abrupt ending, but the answers to the meaning of life, particularly life that ends so early and abruptly. A plot that seems clichéd (death, dying, cancer, teenagers, love, reclusive authors), is absolutely transcendent. Hilarious, powerful, and utterly thought-provoking, The Fault in Our Stars is incredibly addictive, deeply refreshing, supremely clever, profoundly deep, delving into the very nature of love, life, death, fate, and art (that is, books) itself. The book is pure poetry, layers of meta diatribes on life and death and art and meaning, with no easy answers or easy abandonment of answers. Though the book happens to be about and written for teenagers, and though it is probably one of the greatest novels written for that age group (right along with The Outsiders, Speak, Diary of a Part-Time Indian, and Stargirl), it far and away transcends the age group. This is a book for people who think and feel; their age is beside the point. Amazing, brilliant novel that I read in one day and thought about forever. Also, my copy is completely and totally dog-earred to shit. I wanted to eat bits of it. Grade: A+

 

"Mysterium tremendum et fascinans--that stomach flipping mix of awestruck fear and entrancing fascination."
"…wondered only how something that isn't there can hurt you."
"You can love someone so much. But you can never love people as much as you can miss them."
"…but he always had books. Books are the ultimate Dumpees: put them down and they'll wait for you forever; pay attention to them and they always love you back."
"You're so goddamned scared of the idea that someone might dump you that your whole fugging life is built around not getting left behind. Well, it doesn't work, kafir. It just--it's not just dumb, it's ineffective. Because then you're only thinking they-might-not-life-me-they-might-not-like-me, and guess what? When you act like that, no one likes you."
"Dumpers are not inherently worse than Dumpees--breaking up isn't something that gets done to you; it's something that happens with you.
"Stories don't just make us matter to each other--maybe they're also the only way to the infinite mattering he'd been after for so long."
"And he was feeling not-unique in the very best possible way."

10. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green (228 pages) Colin is a child prodigy who will never be anything but a smarty pants when he's dumped by his nineteenth girlfriend named Katherine. Hit hard, he embarks on a road trip with his best friend, overweight, cool and not socially-retarded Hassan. They make it all the way to Gunshot, TN, a small town where they find work recording the stories of the elderly residents and hanging with Lindsey, a girl who has made it her life work to be popular. As Colin works on his genius mathematical theorem of relationships (in relation to being dumped), he naturally begins to see what really matters. A brilliant, thought-provoking, heart-wrenching (because it's so tragically true for all of us) novel about intelligence and the heart that unravels it all, a novel about human nature and the human heart, whether you're sixteen or sixty. Not as great as John Green's The Fault in Our Stars, but, still, a brilliant, intelligent, clever, refreshing, hilarious, pensive, beautiful novel that transcends the audience it was written for. Grade: A-

2012 Page Total: 3960

About this Entry
HP Kels writing
Feb. 22nd, 2012 @ 06:55 pm My Favorite Fandom Romances (2012 Update)

I'm not really in the mood for love this Valentine's Day.

But love stories? That's a whole other story.

Because, even when love bites--in a good love story--it's good.

And that's because good fandom love stories have an intelligent, clever author that makes things make sense, and have some sort of meaning.

That's why fandoms are better than life.

So, here's my annual love letter to my favorite love stories.


I'm a fangirl, the very definition of a fangirl. I'm also a Literature major, the very definition of a Literature major. And, those two identities love to come together when I'm geeking it up, even when I'm squeeing over my favorite pairings.

Sure, a good love story isn't exactly at the top of my favorites list, coming after lightsaber battles and crying men and identity-quests and the eternal conflict between good and evil and symbolism. But, yeah, I'm a chick, and I dig a good love story. Especially when that love story is integral to all those other things I love.

Particularly a hot dude.
 
A good ass-kicking, tear-stained confessions, followed by some more ass-kicking, tossed with juxtaposing symbolism and spirit-journey motifs, stirred with enigma and theme, a labyrinthian soap opera plot, sprinkled with some making-out... oh, I'm totally squeeing, my friends. 


Ussually my favorite characters, the ones I find the most fascinating and complex, are not only male, they tend to be so screwed up that they are incapable of having anything resembling a functional relationship. And so, I demand a lot out of the romances that are taking time away from the sexy guys crying and the ass-kicking. 

"Amy and Rory, I know it's your wedding, but go away. 11's wearing tails and a top hat."

That kind of thing.* 


But there are a few ships that I will gladly hop aboard and sail the Geeky Coast with. Especially when the wind in their sails is made out of all that great literary crap I love so much.

Because, best pairing ever is GoldenMoonRose/Literary Analysis.



Yeah, this fangirl loves her the theme and symbolism as much as the hot guys.

In my humble opinion, what really makes a great fandom/geeky love story is best illustrated by the Yin-Yang. It’s two forces or opposites, containing just a dash of the other, coming together. It works even better when these two forces reflect the forces/themes in the story as a whole, and therefore, the romance brings meaning to the greater piece. I love nothing better than an unconventional pair getting together, something fundamental in their natures clicking. A great fandom romance is one part character, one part plot, one part theme/symbolism, and one part that indescribable chemistry. The stories get so good, the banter funny and sweet, the plots complicated and clever, the drama heightened, that both of the characters (and the themes) improve by it. It’s just delightful to watch complicated and opposite characters hook up, and somehow make a complex and great relationship and story out of it.

Now, that’s what makes the overly-analytical, literature-major, geeky fangirls squee!

And, so, I present without further ado... 

GoldenMoonRose's Favorite Fandom Love Stories...


Read more...Collapse )
*Once in too-great a while, along comes a chick that is just interesting and complex and autonomous enough that she’s just good enough for the guy I like. And they make a great couple. I call this the Tonks-Appeal. It’s like the chick is a good enough of a character that I’m not going to be jealous. But the root of my liking her really just comes from the fact that her best quality is her taste in men. For instance, Eowyn of Lord of the Rings has Tonks-Appeal; she's a great character, but not really noteworthy until she falls for Faramir. This is not to belittle them. It’s just that I have more important things to be paying attention to. Like Remus Lupin being tied up by Severus Snape in the Shrieking Shack. 

Now, when a chick like that comes along and grabs someone that likes to run around in a long coat and a bow-tie, oh, holy, hell, watch the fuck out, people. The squeeing might reach decimals of pain.

About this Entry
Doctor Who magical tux
Feb. 3rd, 2012 @ 08:19 pm Books 1-5 of 2012: Machine of Death, Wonderstruck, Going Bovine, and Sandman
Current Music: Farewell to the Fairgrounds by White Lies

"There was one time out in Asia, though, when I thought that all the emphysema in the world wasn't going to save me." (Firing Squad, 107)
"It's hard to decide what you want to do with your life until you know how it's going to end." (Not Waving But Drowning, 161)
"My death. And yes, it does bring me comfort--but not as much as you'd think. Like just knowing a story has a happy ending alone doesn't make it a good story." (After Many Years, 249)
"What good is knowing the future if you can't do anything with the knowledge?" (Friendly Fire, 267)
"The speck of my soul floating in all this meat." (Loss of Blood, 319)
"It's just words. It's just the end of the story." (Heat Death of the Universe, 404)
"You can't just say what's going to happen ahead of time. That's not how physical law works. That's narrative. And when reality is twisted to fit narrative, that's not natural. That's someone making stories happen." (?, 422)

1. Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories About People Who Know How They Will Die edited by Ryan North, Matthew Bennardo, and David Malki! (454 pages)

Based on an idea proposed by that dinosaur comic (that there is a machine that, like the Oracle at Delphi, will cryptically and enigmatically tell you how you will die, vaguely), this is a brilliant collection of short stories that approach such a basic idea from every possible angle. And, in doing so, explores the very nature of mortality, humanity, destiny, tragedy, triumph, love, joy, hatred, fear, and ecstasy. I don't think I've ever read such a strong collection of stories, nor one that was so very thought-provoking on so many levels.

The big question, of course, is, would you use the Machine of Death? Logically, as a literature major, I know that it is never a good idea to know the future, much less how you die. It always ends badly. On the other hand, how could you possibly, as a human being, restrain yourself from obtaining that kind of information? To be human is to open Pandora's Box, to climb Mount Everest, to eat of the Tree of Knowledge. The maddening thing is that, even as such information could totally ruin the rest of our life, it could very possibly be the best thing to happen to our life. It could be as freeing as it could be constricting. It could cripple us with fear, or release us completely from it.

Even worse, could the knowledge of how we die, like with every Greek hero ever, cause that death? In running from fate, would we run right into it? Would this be self-fulfilling prophecy? Would we be like Sleeping Beauty, in being protected from the spinning wheel, run to prick our fingers on it? 

Would the very existence of the Machine, the very ability to have this knowledge ruin life, mortality, and death?

If you were the one to invent the Machine, could you release it on the world? Would you feel responsible for the outcome? For the deaths? Would you be a savior, or a monster?

Would knowing affect everything? Is this a question of fate and destiny, or of human psychology, the self-fulfilling prophecy? Do we fight against the dying of the light or do we accept fate and die with a whimper?

Furthermore, is the Machine accurate? If it spits out "JOY" or "SUICIDE" or "ALMOND", is the truth in the fate what the Machine meant, or does the human psyche make it so?                                                          

Then we get into the meta part of this. Isn't modern medical technology essentially Machines of Death? Do we have any ability to try to face or change fate? Can we?

Moreover (and here we get literary), does the manner in which we die reflect the way we live? Does the end of our story reflect the beginning and middle? Is our death, the end of our story, random or determined? Is it a reflection of who we are as people? Does our manner of death reflect our manner of life?

Furthermore, could humanity ever possibly live with such divine (or meta) knowledge as the ending of our own stories? Would is save our lives or destroy them? Make us worse or make us better? Could humanity ever cope with certitude? Is hope a curse or a blessing? Can humans ever be human without hope? Would we ever strive to know or fight or do without hope?

If we (both as a human character in this alternative world and as the reader of these stories) know the ending of the story (the death), how does it affect the reader, the writer, the characters? Oh, fuck, do I love that double layer!

Because, death gives life. Death affects life.

My favorite stories: Suicide by David Michael Wharton, Almond by John Chernega, Starvation by M. Bennardo, Killed By Daniel by Julia Wainwright, Cocaine and Painkillers by Daivd Malki!, Loss of Blood by Jeff Stautz, and Miscarriage by James L. Sutter.

This collection is highly addicting, incredibly absorbing, comprehensive, clever, imaginative, thought-provoking, and utterly brilliant. Grade: A+

 


2. The Sandman Volume 2: The Doll's House by Neil Gaiman (228 pages)

I'm pretty sure that Neil Gaiman is going to ruin me for all other comic books/graphic novels. Holy crap.

As Dream/The Sandman regains control of his realm, he realizes some of his minions are missing, that there is a living Vortex named Rose Walker, and that his little sister, Desire, is up to no good. The story is deeply engaging, but transcends being "just" an exciting, brilliant, and imaginative story due to Gaiman's trademark brilliant storytelling style and his ability to flawlessly and enchantingly weave mythology and fairy tale into creating his own brilliant story. He is a master storyteller, the likes of Poe, Hawthorne, and Melville, authors who also could blur the worlds of dream, reality, and literature. Grade: A+

 



"We're in English class, which for most of us is an excruciating exercise in staying awake through the great classics of literature."
"If there's anything I'm starting to learn about people it's (a) that they are fundamentally suspicious and afraid of anyone who is "different" and (b) that fear makes them do and say asinine things."

3. Going Bovine by Libba Bray (480 pages) Part Norse mythology, part The Odyssey, part Dante's Divine Comedy, Going Bovine is the epic journey of Cameron Smith, apathetic 16-year-old, who is diagnosed with terminal mad cow disease. With his best friend, a hypochondriac dwarf named Gonzo, and a garden gnome that is the Norse god Balder, Cameron is charged with saving the world from the dimension-hopping Doctor X by a punk angel, which sends him on a picaresque journey across the United States. Hilarious, full of character, unabashedly accurate in its portrayal of high school and teenage life (i.e., contains sex, drugs, and alcohol), packed with intelligent literary references, this young adult book is so very refreshing, original, and thought-provoking. Cameron is a likeable, disingenuous, irreverent and observant character who subtly and perfectly changes throughout the book as he faces life and death. If the book has a fault, it is its picaresque nature, which is disjointed and moves too quickly, with little detail. But smart, clever, and witty readers of all ages should adore this refreshingly brilliant tale. Grade: A

 


4. Wonderstuck by Brian Selznick (637 pages)
Rose, living in 1927 and deaf, runs away from home to New York City. Her story is told through illustrations. Ben, orphaned and living in 1977, is struck deaf by lightning and runs away to New York City in search of his missing father. His story is told in narrative. The two stories intertwine sweetly, though predictably. Selznick may not be the most gifted storyteller, but he pushes the boundaries creatively and refreshingly. Form brilliantly follows substance (a tale of two, lonely, lost people who cannot hear, told in pictures and words, constricting and simultaneously widening the senses of the reader), packed with enchanting details (the Natural History Museum, Cabinets of Wonder, silent film, etc.). Quick, beautiful, charming tale. Grade: A-

 

"All love that which they destroy."
"Weak people believe what is forced on them. Strong people what they wish to believe, forcing that to be real."

5. The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe (276 pages) Neil Gaiman called this book the greatest fantasy of the past century, and I'm sort of wondering what he was thinking. Particularly because, as Neil Gaiman, he must have read his own books.

A Torturer is expelled from his order because he mercy killed a woman he fell in love with. And that's pretty much it. The book is beautifully written, creates a fascinatingly bizarre, original, complex, and dark world, but it is confusingly written with awkward vocabulary and the details bog the story down, never allowing the characters to become real or interesting. The worst thing is that it's just plain boring. Potential is there, but it's just not worth it. Very disappointing. Grade: C


2012 Page Count: 2075

About this Entry
Kels reading candle
Jan. 14th, 2012 @ 10:07 am The Best Music, Film, Books, Sundries, and Eye Candy of 2011
Current Music: Blood Buzz Ohio by The National


It's that time of year again,
that time when everyone writes their superfluous TOP TEN lists.

 

As I do love to make lists (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010),
here's mine!


The seventh annual GoldenMoonRose awards of brilliant excellence, completely objective favoritism, and disgustingly gratuitous excuse to make up top ten lists… 

You know, basically, the best thing that happened to me this year was the music, movies, books, and junk.

 

The Best of 2011:
Music, Film, Books, Sundries, and Eye Candy:
The Goldies.


someday I'll make a list of all the best lists I've madeCollapse )
About this Entry
Kels TARDIS Read
Dec. 31st, 2011 @ 01:04 pm Books 66-70 of 2011: Jane Austen, Shel Silverstein, Terry Pratchett. Plus, complete 2011 List.
(Bold means I recommend)
1. The Sandman Volume 1: Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman

2. Catching Fire by Susan Collins (391 pages)
3. Mockingjay by Susan Collins (392 pages)
4. The Double Life of Pocahontas by Jean Fritz (96 pages)
5. Jane Austen: The Girl With the Magic Pen by Gill Hornby (90 pages)
6. There Once Lived A Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's Baby Scary Faurt Tales by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, selected and translated by Keith Gressen and Anna Summers (206 pages)
7. That Was Then, This is Now by S.E. Hinton (159 pages)

8. Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer (337 pages)
9. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents: Earth (The Book) A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race (245 pages)
10. Tex by S.E. Hinton (194 pages)
11. The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians Book Five) (381 pages)
12. The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis (210 pages)
13. Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones (517 pages)
14. The Golden Goblet by Eliose Jarvis McGraw (248 pages)
15. Rumble Fish by S.E. Hinton (122 pages)
16. Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself by Alan Alda (239 pages)
17. Green Angel by Alice Hoffman (116 pages)

18. The Wave by Todd Strasser (138 pages)
19. Behavior Support for Education Paraprofessionals by Will Henson (100 pages)
20. Drive By by Lynne Ewing (85 pages)
21. The Giver by Lois Lowry (180 pages)
22. Lyddie by Katherine Patterson (182 pages)
23. The Arabian Nights Illustrated by Maxfield Parrish (344 pages)
24. One Enchanted Evening by Lynn Kurland (369 pages)
25. Durango Street by Frank Bonham (190 pages)
26. Pretties by Scott Westerfeld (360 pages)
27. When the Astors Owned New York: Blue Bloods and Grand Hotels in a Gilded Age by Justin Kaplan (196 pages)
28. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (377 pages)
29. Distant Waves by Suzanne Weyn (330 pages)
30. Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman (400 pages)
31. In the Wake of the Plague: The Black Death and the World It Made by Norman F. Cantor (245 pages)
32. The Total Tragedy of the Girl Named Hamlet by Erin Dionne (290 pages)
33. The Outspoken Princess and the Gentle Knight Edited by Jack Zipes (237 pages)
34. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer (A Retelling by Peter Ackroyd)
35. A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L'Engle (278 pages)
36. A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore (400 pages)
37. Shadow by Jenny Moss (377 pages)
38. Jayhawker by Patricia Beatty (214 pages)
39. What This Cruel War Was Over: Soldiers, Slavery, and the Civil War by Chandra Manning (350 pages)
40. Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen (350 pages)
41. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling (223 pages)
42. My Bonny Light Horseman by L.A. Meyer (436 pages)
43. Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett (183 pages)
44. The Celestial Globe (The Kronos Chronicles Book II) by Marie Rutkoski (293 pages)
45. Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby (404 pages)
46. It Looked Different on the Model: Epic Tales of Impending Shame and Infamy by Laurie Notaro (218 pages)

47. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (251 pages)
48. The Lacemaker and the Princess by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (200 pages)
49. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson (276 pages)
50. Ironside by Holly Black (323 pages)

51. Sovay by Celia Rees (404 pages)
52. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (317 pages)
53. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (636 pages)
54. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (600 pages)
55. The Wish by Gail Carson Levine (197 pages)
56. Cart and Cwidder by Diana Wynne Jones (222 pages)
57. Flapper by Joshua Zeitz (338 pages)
58. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking (248 pages)
59. The Universe in a Nutshell by Stephen Hawking (216 pages)

60. Savvy by Ingrid Law (342 pages)
61. Stories and Occasional Prose by Flannery O'Connor (169 pages)
62. The Romeo and Juliet Code by Phoebe Stone (300 pages)
63. The Partly Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell (196 pages)
64. Take the Cannoli by Sarah Vowell (219 pages)
65. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (317 pages)



66. What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew by Daniel Pool (416 pages)
Excellent reference book about the life and times in Victorian England (the 19th Century), which allows readers of Victoria literature (the Brontes, Austen, Dickens, Trollope, Hardy, and Elliot) to understand cultural, historical, sociological, and physical references. Although most Victorian novels are highly accessible, this brilliant book fills in a lot of the gaps that modern readers have. For instance, I particularly found the class ranks and household-running chapters very illuminating. Brilliant insight in the 19th century England. Second half of the book is an extensive glossary. Grade: A-




"Maybe that's why a broken machine always makes me a little sad, because it isn't able to do what it was meant to do."
67. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (533 pages)

Selznick's picture-chapter book is an enchanting story about an orphaned boy Hugo that secretly works the clocks of a train station while trying to repair a mechanical man his father left him, hoping for a clue or message from his father. Instead, Hugo begins to unravel the mystery of a great magician, dreamer, artist, and silent film director Georges Melies. Beautiful book whose medium of a combination of word and pictures perfectly captures its magical spirit and clever subject matter of the realms of the imagination and the mechanical mind. Clever, imaginative, engaging, mysterious, beautiful book that is the literary equivalent of a silent film. Utterly charming and refreshing. Grade: A


"Everything starts somewhere, although many physicists disagree…But it was much earlier than that when most people forgot that the very oldest stories are, sooner or later, about blood. Later on they took the blood out to make the stories more acceptable to children, or at least to the peple who had to read them to children, rather than the children themselves (who, on the whole, are quite keen on blood…)"

"I thought you said people see what they expect to see." "Children don't. Too often they see what's there."

"One of the symptoms of those going completely yo-yo was that they broke out in chronic cats."

"If [Death] really picked up things from humans, had he tried insanity? It was very popular, after all."

"It's not better to give than to receive, it's just less embarrassing."

"The sun would not have risen… a mere ball of gas would have illuminated the world… Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape."

"Dullness. Only humans could have invented it. What imaginations they had."

68. Hogfather by Terry Pratchett (354 pages)
I love this book. It's like a comic genius fantasy satire of Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus, an entire hilarious thesis on the very meaning of the fantasy genre for the very psyche of humanity. One of my favorite books of all time.




"We have neither of us any thing to tell, you because you communicate, and I because I conceal nothing."
"She could not believe them good-natured; and because they were fond of reading, she fancied them satirical: perhaps without exactly knowing what it was to be satirical."
"But that was not enough; for when people are determined on a mode of conduct which they know to be wrong, they feel injured by the expectation of anything better from them."
"Elinor agreed to it all, for she did not think he deserved the compliment of rational opposition."
"For though a very few hours spent in the hard labor of incessant talking will dispatch more subjects than can really be in common between any two rational creatures, yet with lovers it is different. Between them no subject is finished, no communication is even made, till it has been made at least twenty times over."

"But there is a much more important kind of secrecy which Jane Austen makes us aware of--the secrecy of everything the heart may not enforce with the hand, display with the face, or express with the voice; that is the secrecy of those things within, which are struggling to get out and meet with different kinds of restraints or suppresions."

69. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (409 pages)
2011 is the two hundredth birthday of my very-close-second favorite novel of my favorite author ever, Jane Austen. Although Pride and Prejudice is a masterpiece of epic comedic, psychological, and literary proportions, Sense and Sensibility is the one that means so much to be personally. It might not be Jane completely on her game, but it's damn close. Hilarious, clever, real, brilliant.

Woah, Jane, I love you. I always say that I connect so personally with S&S, that divide between the head and the heart, between love and thought, between emotion and rational thought. Maryanne and Elinor are two sides of a divided self. Oh, the tragedy of Marianne, to be taken in by a man like Willoughby, the worst of liars and assholes, who perverts the intellect and art and Romance (with the capital R) for his own gain, without really understanding the Real (again, with the capital R) reason for them all. This is Jane all over again, the need for balance and dichotomy. Because, on the other side is Elinor, who chooses only with the mind, and also nearly fails to actualize love.

The fact of the matter is that sensibility-the heart-is internal, selfish even. Sense is outward and giving; it makes use of the inward, the intellectual, giving it life and action by being real and connect to others. We need art for art's sake, intellect, wisdom, and beauty for their own sakes, but we also need the practical side.

I hate no other Austen villain like I hate Willoughby. And Col. Brandon is only surpassed by that masterpiece Darcy. And, Brandon is much more the hero. He is the embodiment of the romantic soul. Willoughby puts Marianne on the pedestal, and never sees her as a human being. And how can true romance ever survive without the respect and acknowledgement that a person is real and not a dream or a toy to play with? Edward and Marianne are perfect counterparts to the ideals of romance and art, one down on earth, and one off in another world. And, I hate Willoughby's apology scene, mainly because we're supposed to suddenly forgive him, and it makes me hate him all the more.

But, yeah, S&S, I love you.



70. Every Thing On It by Shel Silverstein (195 pages)

I jumped back into my childhood when I read Silverstein's silly, ridiculous, surreal, grotesque, and poignant collection of poetry published posthumously. Clever, hilarious, and profound, Silverstein's poetry is brilliant in rhyme, meter, form, and style, a playground of childhood imagination, warped reality, burbling details and imagery, play and even sadness. Silverstein is a king of genius, comedic, and even meaningful punch lines/reversals. His poems are completely, utterly charming, sweet, and silly. His simple, line drawings are the perfect accent to his poetry: part childlike dream, part hyperbolic cartoon. Every child, every adult, needs a good healthy dose of Shel Silberstein in their library. Grade: A+


2011 Page Total: 19803
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Kels TARDIS Read
Dec. 5th, 2011 @ 06:14 pm Books 61-65: Flannery O'Connor, Sarah Vowell, young adult fiction
"Meanwhile the hen goes about her business, diligently searching the ground as if any bug in the grass were of more importance than the unfurled map of the universe which floats nearby."
"I am always having it pointed out to me that life in Georgia is not at all the way I picture it, that escaped criminals do not roam the roads exterminating families, nor Bible salesmen prowl about looking for girls with wooden legs."

61. Stories and Occasional Prose by Flannery O'Connor (169 pages) The last bit of Flannery O'Connor's work for me to devour. Most of the stories were either rewrites or rough drafts of earlier or later works, but that doesn't diminish any of her amazing skills. Her stories are so full of character that they nearly burst with it. O'Connor is the queen of grotesque writing because she isn't merely grotesque, but grotesque with an illuminating, radiating, graceful beauty that no other short story author ever captured.

Her prose/essays were also fascinating. I particularly enjoyed her piece about her flock of peacocks. Her essays on the Catholic writer and the Southern grotesque certainly show her brilliant and original view of literature, religion, philosophy, and the world itself. She never shied away from the horrific, the grotesque of the world, and in it, she saw the beauty through the possibility of its opposites. No wonder I love her.

62. The Romeo and Juliet Code by Phoebe Stone (300 pages) Flissy is sent to live with her strange American relations while her parents do mysterious work during World War II. While Flissy adapts to her bizarre relatives, each one seemingly nursing a broken heart, she begins to unravel a tragic and complicated past, while dealing with her own first love with orphaned polio victim, Derek. Lovely, touching story that truly captures the complex voice of a young child in a complicated world. Stone captures a young voice confused by the adult world around her and trying to make sense of her own emotions. A beautifully well-told, engaging, sublime coming of age story. Excellent novel for fifth through seventh grades. Grade: A-

 

"The teachers taught us to like Washington and to respect Jefferson. But Lincoln--him they taught us to love."

"The more history I learn, the more the world fills up with stories."

"We as a people have gone through a grand tectonic shift in the way we think about national parks. Basically, we don't believe in putting crap in the middle of nature anymore."

"That's what we Americans do when we find a place that's really special. We go there and act exactly like ourselves. And we are a bunch of fun-loving dopes."

"I prefer the pen to the sword, so I've always been more of a Jeffersonhead. The words of the Declaration of Independence are so right and true that it seems like its poetry alone would have knocked King George III in the head."

"I think it's one of the reasons I'm so fond of President Lincoln. Because he stared down the crap. More than anyone in the history of the country, he faced up to our most troubling contradiction--that a nation born in freedom would permit the enslavement of human beings--and never once stopped believing in the Declaration of Independence's ideals, never stopped trying to make them come true."

63. The Partly Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell (196 pages) Vowell's earlier work is a collection of essays about American life (contemporary and historical) told with humor, anger, enthusiasm, love, and passion. Deeply poignant and thought-provoking, Vowell writes about historical tourism, the Civil War and Lincoln, Salem, patriotism, football, holidays, American culture, families, nature, Roosevelt, and existentialism, all with a passionate, loving, and critical eye that is both engaging and humorous. Wonderful writer. Though, I have to say, I prefer her Wordy Shipmates and Assassination Vacation. Grade: A-

 

"The mysterious equation of whiskey plus music equals what can only be called happiness."

"When I think about my relationship with America, I feel like a battered wife: Yeah, he knocks me around a lot, but boy, he sure can dance."

64. Take the Cannoli by Sarah Vowell (219 pages) A collection of Sarah Vowell's essays/stories about her various travels, both internally and externally. The best are her history-travel writings, about Chicago and the heart-wrenching Trail of Tears. Vowell is a lover of America, its culture, history, past and present, and writes like she's having a lover's quarrel with America. The most thought-provoking, humorous, educated, passionate, and justifiably angry lover's quarrel. Brilliant, fascinating, engaging writing. Love Vowell. Grade: A

"Women made the best beekeepers, 'cause they have a special ability built in to love creatures that sting."
65. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (317 pages)
Lily Owens, the abused daughter of peach farmer in the south in the 1960s, runs away from home with her nanny, Rosaleen, who got in trouble while trying to register to vote. Lily follows sparse clues left by her mother, who died under mysterious and tragic circumstances, to a family of beekeepers who are devout believers in the Black Madonna and the sacred feminine. A beautiful, moving, and engaging novel, particularly for young women, about the power of maternal forces for good or evil, but ultimately, for redemption. Grade: B+


2011 Page Total: 17896

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Kels red nerd on beach
Nov. 15th, 2011 @ 07:05 pm Love and Death in Doctor Who: The Wedding of River Song Analysis Part Four
Current Music: No Widows by the Antlers
Part IV (and the last!) of my analysis of The Wedding of River Song, the series six finale of Doctor Who. Read Part I, Part II, and Part III, as well as all my Doctor Who analytical babblings.




"That's why everything's got to be love or death."
~White Lies


"Man is double to the final depths of his soul,
the prey of conflicting psyches both equally himself."
~Leslie Fielder


Love and Death in Doctor Who
(Thanatos et Eros)

An Analysis of
Moffat's Doctor Who Series Six Finale:
The Wedding of River Song

Part IV

 

 

 

"Rather than seeing the archetypes of Death and Life as opposites, they must be held together as the left and right side of a single thought. It is true that within a single love relationship there are many endings. Yet, somehow and somewhere in the delicate layers of the being that is created when two people love one another, there is both a heart and breath. While one side of the heart empties, the other fills. When one breath runs out, another begins. If one believes that the Life/Death/Life force has no stanza beyond death, it is no wonder some humans are frightened of commitment. They are terrified to go through even one ending. They cannot bear to pass from the veranda into the inner rooms."~Clarissa Pinkola Estes, PHD

"The flight of the dreamer from the drab duties of home and town toward the good companions and the magic.... the typical male protagonist of our fiction has been a man on the run, harried into the forest and out to sea, down the river or into combat--anywhere to avoid "civilization", which is to say, the confrontation of a man and woman which leads to the fall to sex, marriage, and responsibility… [this escapism] world is not only asexual, however, it is terrible: a world of fear and loneliness, a haunted world…To "light out for the territory" or seek refuge in the forest seems easy and tempting from the vantage point of a chafing and restrictive home; but civilization once disavowed…. the bulwark of woman left behind, the wanderer  feels himself without protection, more motherless child than free man…the enemy of society on the run toward "freedom" is also the pariah in flight from his guilt, the guilt of that very flight…" ~Leslie Fiedler in Love and Death in the American Novel


"Our literature as a whole at times seems a chamber of horrors disguised as an amusement park "fun house," where we pay to play at terror and are confronted in the innermost chamber with a series of inter-reflecting mirrors which present us with a thousand versions of our own face." ~Leslie Fiedler

Moffat shows us all how to do meta right...Collapse )
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Nov. 14th, 2011 @ 07:14 pm Love and Death in Doctor Who: The Wedding of River Song Analysis Part Three
Current Music: Runaway by The National

Part III of my analysis of The Wedding of River Song. Read Part I and Part II and all my other Doctor Who babblings, if you love being bored to death with over-thinking geekery.



"That's why everything's got to be love or death."
~White Lies



"Man is double to the final depths of his soul,
the prey of conflicting psyches both equally himself."

~Leslie Fielder

Love and Death in Doctor Who
(Thanatos et Eros)

An Analysis of
Moffat's Doctor Who Series Six Finale :
The Wedding of River Song

Part III

 

 

"Rather than seeing the archetypes of Death and Life as opposites, they must be held together as the left and right side of a single thought. It is true that within a single love relationship there are many endings. Yet, somehow and somewhere in the delicate layers of the being that is created when two people love one another, there is both a heart and breath. While one side of the heart empties, the other fills. When one breath runs out, another begins. If one believes that the Life/Death/Life force has no stanza beyond death, it is no wonder some humans are frightened of commitment. They are terrified to go through even one ending. They cannot bear to pass from the veranda into the inner rooms."~Clarissa Pinkola Estes, PHD

"The flight of the dreamer from the drab duties of home and town toward the good companions and the magic.... the typical male protagonist of our fiction has been a man on the run, harried into the forest and out to sea, down the river or into combat--anywhere to avoid "civilization", which is to say, the confrontation of a man and woman which leads to the fall to sex, marriage, and responsibility… [this escapism] world is not only asexual, however, it is terrible: a world of fear and loneliness, a haunted world…To "light out for the territory" or seek refuge in the forest seems easy and tempting from the vantage point of a chafing and restrictive home; but civilization once disavowed…. the bulwark of woman left behind, the wanderer  feels himself without protection, more motherless child than free man…the enemy of society on the run toward "freedom" is also the pariah in flight from his guilt, the guilt of that very flight…" ~Leslie Fiedler in Love and Death in the American Novel

"Our literature as a whole at times seems a chamber of horrors disguised as an amusement park "fun house," where we pay to play at terror and are confronted in the innermost chamber with a series of inter-reflecting mirrors which present us with a thousand versions of our own face." ~Leslie Fiedler

 

"There's no saving anything, now that we swallow the sun, but I won't be no runaway, cause I won't run. What makes you think I enjoy being left to the flood?"Collapse )
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HP/WHO metaphor
Nov. 13th, 2011 @ 10:11 am Love and Death in Doctor Who: The Wedding of River Song Analysis Part Two
Current Music: Kids by MGMT
Part Two  of my analysis of The Wedding of River Song. Read Part One here. Read other my other Doctor Who analysis here.


"That's why everything's got to be love or death."
~White Lies

"Man is double to the final depths of his soul,
the prey of conflicting psyches both equally himself."
~Leslie Fielder

Love and Death in Doctor Who
(Thanatos et Eros)

An Analysis of
Moffat's Doctor Who Series Six Finale:
The Wedding of River Song
Part II

"The water is warm, but its sending me shivers.
A baby is born, crying out for attention.
Memories fade, like looking through a fogged mirror.
Decision to decisions are made and not bought,
but I thought this wouldn't hurt a lot,
I guess not."
~MGMT

  

"Rather than seeing the archetypes of Death and Life as opposites, they must be held together as the left and right side of a single thought. It is true that within a single love relationship there are many endings. Yet, somehow and somewhere in the delicate layers of the being that is created when two people love one another, there is both a heart and breath. While one side of the heart empties, the other fills. When one breath runs out, another begins. If one believes that the Life/Death/Life force has no stanza beyond death, it is no wonder some humans are frightened of commitment. They are terrified to go through even one ending. They cannot bear to pass from the veranda into the inner rooms."~Clarissa Pinkola Estes, PHD

"The flight of the dreamer from the drab duties of home and town toward the good companions and the magic.... the typical male protagonist of our fiction has been a man on the run, harried into the forest and out to sea, down the river or into combat--anywhere to avoid "civilization", which is to say, the confrontation of a man and woman which leads to the fall to sex, marriage, and responsibility… [this escapism] world is not only asexual, however, it is terrible: a world of fear and loneliness, a haunted world…To "light out for the territory" or seek refuge in the forest seems easy and tempting from the vantage point of a chafing and restrictive home; but civilization once disavowed…. the bulwark of woman left behind, the wanderer  feels himself without protection, more motherless child than free man…the enemy of society on the run toward "freedom" is also the pariah in flight from his guilt, the guilt of that very flight…" ~Leslie Fiedler in Love and Death in the American Novel


"Our literature as a whole at times seems a chamber of horrors disguised as an amusement park "fun house," where we pay to play at terror and are confronted in the innermost chamber with a series of inter-reflecting mirrors which present us with a thousand versions of our own face." ~Leslie Fiedler

"Could there be love beneath these wings? If we suddenly fall, should I cry out? ...the sense of time catching up with me...I picture my own grave..."Collapse )
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Doctor Who Longcoat
Nov. 12th, 2011 @ 11:59 am Love and Death in Doctor Who: The Wedding of River Song Analysis Part One
I feel: nerdynerdy
Current Music: Death by White Lies

This one was a long time coming, eh? Well, I was really busy making this, which, when you see the theme of this piece, is kind of ironic, really. Also, this one was really hard. Well, not so much hard, as really frigging long. Milton's Paradise Lost was easier and quicker to analyze than Moffat's finale. Anyway, let's just jump right into my final addition to my analysis of Doctor Who.

"That's why everything's got to be love or death." ~White Lies[1]


"Where are you going to go?" "America."

Love and Death in Doctor Who
(Thanatos et Eros)

Or, Did Leslie Fiedler Write This?[2]

An Analysis of
Moffat's Doctor Who Series Six Finale:
The Wedding of River Song

Part I

I asked the heaven of stars
What I should give my love—
It answered me with silence,
Silence above.

I asked the darkened sea
Down where the fishes go--
It answered me with silence,
Silence below.

Oh, I could give him weeping,
Or I could give him song--
But how can I give silence
My whole life long?
~Sara Teasdale

 

"Rather than seeing the archetypes of Death and Life as opposites, they must be held together as the left and right side of a single thought. It is true that within a single love relationship there are many endings. Yet, somehow and somewhere in the delicate layers of the being that is created when two people love one another, there is both a heart and breath. While one side of the heart empties, the other fills. When one breath runs out, another begins. If one believes that the Life/Death/Life force has no stanza beyond death, it is no wonder some humans are frightened of commitment. They are terrified to go through even one ending. They cannot bear to pass from the veranda into the inner rooms."~Clarissa Pinkola Estes, PHD

"The flight of the dreamer from the drab duties of home and town toward the good companions and the magic.... the typical male protagonist of our fiction has been a man on the run, harried into the forest and out to sea, down the river or into combat--anywhere to avoid "civilization", which is to say, the confrontation of a man and woman which leads to the fall to sex, marriage, and responsibility… [this escapist] world is not only asexual, however, it is terrible: a world of fear and loneliness, a haunted world…To "light out for the territory" or seek refuge in the forest seems easy and tempting from the vantage point of a chafing and restrictive home; but civilization once disavowed…. the bulwark of woman left behind, the wanderer feels himself without protection, more motherless child than free man…the enemy of society on the run toward "freedom" is also the pariah in flight from his guilt, the guilt of that very flight…" ~Leslie Fiedler in Love and Death in the American Novel

"Our literature as a whole at times seems a chamber of horrors disguised as an amusement park "fun house," where we pay to play at terror and are confronted in the innermost chamber with a series of inter-reflecting mirrors which present us with a thousand versions of our own face." ~Leslie Fiedler

  

"Your love will surely die."Collapse )
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Doctor Who stetson
Nov. 4th, 2011 @ 05:59 pm Books 56-60: Stephen Hawking, Diana Wynne Jones, and Flappers.



56. Cart and Cwidder by Diana Wynne Jones (222 pages) Dalemark is divided between the oppressed, tyrannical South and the more free North. Moril's family is a band of traveling singers between the two earldoms. When his father is killed, Moril must take on his powerful musical instrument, the cwidder, in order to keep his sister, brother, and their passenger, Kialan, safe. But, soon, he finds all them embroiled in the political struggle between the two earldoms. A struggle for their lives. Cart and Cwidder is more standard fantasy, not quite up to DWJ's style of magical twists and turns, but it's definitely DWJ with its clever and refreshing depth to the magical and emotional elements. And, as with all DWJ works, it is a classic. Grade: A

 


"Women have come down off the pedestal lately. They are tired of this mysterious feminine charm stuff. Maybe it goes with independence, earning you own living and voting and all that."

"Her philosophy is carpe diem for herself and laissez-faire for others."--F. Scott Fitzgerald


"The flapper was, in effect, the first thoroughly modern American."

57. Flapper by Joshua Zeitz (338 pages)
In the 1920s, the flapper, a modern woman of materialism and relative independence, reinvented the world with her drinking, partying, and sexual exploits. In consuming mass-produced fashion, make up, products, movies, and food and drink, she gave birth to Modern America and an entirely new definition of woman. Zeitz analyzes the flapper, from her birth after WWI and the death of Victorian mores, to her own death with the Great Depression, detailing the biographies of those that created the flapper, from the movie industry (Louise Brooks, Colleen Moore, and Clara Bow) to the fashion industry (Coco Chanel), and, most importantly, F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife, the first flapper, Zelda. Fascinating, engaging, brilliant book about the decade and the woman who reinvented America and made it modern. So modern, in fact, that the 1920s are a nearly disturbing mirror to the 2010s. Grade: A

 



58. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking (248 pages)
59. The Universe in a Nutshell by Stephen Hawking (216 pages)

I think I understood about 4.7% of these books (The Universe in a Nutshell is basically the same book as A Brief History of Time, only slightly more accessible, briefer, and slightly more focused on things such a time travel, extraterrestrial life, and human evolution, that is, the stuff of "science fiction"). From what I gather, it all boils down to this line from Doctor Who: "Most people think that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but, really, from a nonlinear, nonsubjective viewpoint, it's more like a big ball of wibbley wobbley timey wimey stuff." Fascinating, mind-warping book that explains the nature of the universe, from the cosmos to the microcosms, the nature of black holes, light, and time itself. But, as I said, not exactly accessible to the lay person. Grade: B+

 

60. Savvy by Ingrid Law (342 pages) As Mibs' birthday approaches, so does her Savvy, the special magic power that each member of her family possesses. But when her father is comatosed by an accident, she figures her savvy will awaken him. With her brothers and two tag-along friends, she embarks on a road trip with a wayward Bible salesman and a recently fired waitress. The writing style of the book is clumsy (too much "whimsical" language and overdone similes--like three in one sentence). The story is cute, but far from original. The characters never seem to have real personality or autonomy, and the message of the book (coming of age) isn't quite really portrayed with success. Grade: B-


2011 Page Total: 16695


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Kels TARDIS Read
Oct. 8th, 2011 @ 10:39 am The Doctor, Here to Help: The Angel Falls to Earth Again in Closing Time
Current Music: Death by White Lies
The penultimate analysis of Doctor Who's series six provided a much-needed breather (and calm before the shit storm that is The Wedding of River Song). Adored this episode. Brilliant and beautiful. As always, my other analysises can be found here.  





"They gave me a badge with my name on it
in case I forget who I am.
Very thoughtful as that does happen."[1]


The Doctor, Here to Help
The Angel falls to Earth again, an analysis of Closing Time


 


 

"No one's noticed yet, because they're far too excited about Nina's emotional journey, which, in fairness, is quite inspiring."Collapse )
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Doctor Who towel
Oct. 1st, 2011 @ 01:26 pm The Graduate: Sacrifices in the Labyrinth, an analysis of The God Complex (Part Two)
Read Part One first. This is Part Two of my tormented analysis of The God Complex. Which,  itself, is part bajillion of my Doctor Who analysises.







The Graduate:
Sacrifices Made in the Labyrinth
An Analysis of The God Complex

(Part Two)



 "It was their choice,
but offer a child a suitcase full of sweets
and they'll take it.
Offer someone all of time and space,
and they'll take that, too.
Which is why you shouldn't.
Which is why grownups[1] were invented."


The Space Gandalf.Collapse )

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Doctor Who 11 space Gandalf
Oct. 1st, 2011 @ 11:46 am The Graduate: Sacrifices in the Labyrinth, an analysis of The God Complex (Part One)
The God Complex was written to torment compulsively analytical fangirl English majors with antomatonophobia. Here it is in two parts. Another addition to my ridiclously long collection of Doctor Who Analysises.


"Amy, with regret, you're fired."



The Graduate:
Sacrifices Made in the Labyrinth
An Analysis of The God Complex


"You forgot that not all victories are about saving the universe."

 
"You are a medical doctor, aren't you. You haven't got a degree in cheese making or something?" "No, well, yes, both actually." What he NEEDS a degree in literature, in my humble opinion. Collapse )

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HP/WHO metaphor
Sep. 24th, 2011 @ 02:36 pm The Eye of the Beholder: An Analysis of The Girl Who Waited
Current Music: Home by Ellie Goulding

Another addition to my analysises of Doctor Who. At this point, it's like some sort of a compulsive disease and I just can't help myself. Though, I suppose, that's what fandoms are. But, a buffet like The Girl Who Waited? There's no point in even trying to resist.



"I'm not from this world. Your medicine will kill me."




In the Eye of the Beholder:
 Amy's Journey Through the Mirror and the Beast She Becomes
An Analysis of The Girl Who Waited


"When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty, I read them openly. When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."

~C.S. Lewis

“Humans need fantasy to be human.
To be the place where falling angels meet rising apes.”
~Terry Pratchett





"Time does not stay and wait for us. When we sleep or daydream, it runs on like the motion of a stream, never turning and never slowing, forever running from the mountain to the plain. That is why true philosophers lament the loss of time more than the loss of gold. Seneca put it this way: 'Belongings can be restored, but time cannot be retrieved.' It cannot be recovered. It would be easier to turn a pregnant girl into a virgin."
~Chaucer in The Canterbury Tales

 

"In the annals of medicine, doctors often get painted as heroes, but they know nurses really save the day… Some doctors even admit that nurses have taught them not only how to do their job better, but how to be better people."
~Scrubs (magazine for nurses)

 
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HP/WHO/SHAKES
Sep. 16th, 2011 @ 07:25 pm Books 51-55: Harry Potter, young adult fiction, Girl With Dragon Tattoo

51. Sovay by Celia Rees (404 pages) Sovay becomes a highwayman in order to test her betrothed, but, instead, soon finds herself embroiled in political intrigue involving class struggle, the Illuminati, a plot to throw England into revolution, and even the French Reign of Terror. Rees is a capable writer, weaving her characters and historical events into an exciting adventure plot that is a mix of The Three Musketeers and The DaVinci Code, but, unfortunately, lacking in mystery, suspense, or character. The plot and adventures meander and wander too long for young attention spans (the book ends abruptly, and yet, should have ended hundreds of pages sooner), and the flat side characters tend to blend together. Sovay herself lacks any sort of depth beyond her beauty and brave actions. Rees is daring in her writing and her premise is strong, but she isn't quite able to carry it off. Grade: B-

 

"I want to commit the murder I was imprisoned for."

"You think the dead we have loved ever truly leave us? You think that we don't recall them more clearly than ever in times of great trouble?"


"You haven't got a godfather!" "Yes I have," said Harry brightly. "He was my mum and dad's best friend. He's a convicted murderer, but he's broken out of wizard prison and he's on the run. He likes to keep in touch with me, though…keep up with my news…check I'm happy…"

52. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (317 pages)
Eleventh time rereading.

Sorry, Charles Dickens, Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Diana Wynne Jones, Jane Austen, William Shakespeare, Mark Twain, but JKR's The Prisoner of Azkaban is my favorite book of all time.

There is so much about this book that I love, I can't even really put it into words. Mostly, though, it's that this is the book where the kiddoes have a seat and the three greatest characters of JKR's creation--Sirius, Remus, and Severus--strut and fret across the stage and royally fuck everything to shit. The intricate plot is woven with perfection thoroughly with the most beautiful tragedy. This where Harry loses his innocence, and where Sirius regains his own. With their love for each other, both a redeemed. 

Upon this rereading, naturally, in knowing how the series ends, I was struck by Severus Snape, and how now we all know why he was acting like such a demented looney pop. The irony is that Snape would like to kill Peter as much as Sirius would. This is, of course, because Snape is the combination of Peter and Sirius. All along, he was the mirror of Sirius, but on Lily's side rather than James'; he was the beloved and loving best friend, desperately trying to save her. But, like Peter, he betrayed her to her death. So, Snape is living with both Peter's incredible guilt (and the guilt that Sirius feels), and Sirius' hatred and thirst for revenge and desire to protect Harry, the last living memory of the Potters. It's not just that Sirius tried to once have Remus eat him, but that Sirius betrayed and murdered Lily, and--in his mind--is trying to do the same to Harry. This is why Snape is absolutely beside himself throughout the Shrieking Shack scene. 

And, of course, Snape's whole fucked up relationship with Harry is beyond any sort of reason. He's such an utter fucking bastard and really is only protecting Harry for Lily's sake. But, I do believe that Snape does love Harry. I don't think he wants to, but I think he has to. Again, it's in the same way that Sirius loves Harry; he is the embodiment of his parents, and both Sirius and Snape have to cling to him for their own salvation. Harry is their lost innocence regained. Sirius and Severus both killed their best friends, and Harry is what they were able to salvage from that wreckage. And that is a great deal.

Of course, now, whenever I read the Shrieking Shack scene (my favorite scene of any of the books, the scene wherein my three boys get center stage), all I can think is that these three men will give their names to Harry's children (James Sirius, Albus Severus, and Teddy Remus). Because, after death, Severus will be as Sirius was to Harry. Severus, what a fucktard he is. He is a good person, who could have been so much better, rather than being a victim of himself and being such a colossal ass. He allowed himself to become a bully because he was bullied. But he so loved Lily that he was able to be redeemed.

Because that is the major theme of Harry Potter: love is more powerful than anything, even death. It seems so cheesy, but JKR treats it with such depth and deftness. The reason that Harry Potter is a hero that can save the world is because his parents so deeply loved him, and they, in turn, were so deeply loved by others. It is what gives Harry everything that matters: goodness, kindness, bravery, strength. Grief, the place where love and death meet, is soaked into the pages of Harry Potter, and JKR treats it with such intensity, poetry, and truth, that it moves the reader beyond tears. The sorrow and pain of death and loss is absolutely portrayed, and yet, realized that there is something much worse: betrayal, the loss of innocence, and, always, that there are things worth dying for: those we love. Love is the most important, most powerful thing of all, even though it is the very thing that gives death its sting.

God, so many scenes that I love. I love revenge-filled Harry looking at his godfather in his parents' wedding photo. God, I bawl every time at that. I love Severus and Remus catching Harry with the Marauder's Map, and both of them, essentially, guilting him about the death of his parents. And, of course, the masterful Shrieking Shack scene.

 

"[Dumbledore's] a trusting man, isn't he? Believes in second chances. But me--I say there are spots that don't come off, Snape. Spots that never come off, d'you know what I mean? …Got Potter's best interests at heart, have you?"

"Fulfilling my duty as godfather…don't worry about me, I'm pretending to be a loveable stray."

"If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals."

"Times like that bring out the best in some people, and the worst in others."

"You fail to recognize that it matters not what someone is born, but what they grow up to be!"

53. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (636 pages)

Blah, blah, blah, ninth time rereading, best fantasy series of all time, yeah yeah yeah.

But, after the magnificence that is Prisoner of Azkaban, Goblet of Fire is a bit of a letdown. Quite boring, actually. Granted, there are some wonderful themes at play: the pains of poverty, the horrors of bullying, the bonds of family (Percy's greatest moment, which reminds me why he used to be one of my favorite characters, as well as the imploding Crouch family), the importance of an ethical code even when fighting the greatest of evil. The last of which is particularly important in GOF, where JKR illustrates the importance of love, forgiveness, and honor for the "good side", in the character of Barty Crouch, who is violent and cruel, uses torture and murder, throws people to a soul-sucking prison without a trial, and cares little or nothing for his own son, all in trying to defeat the Death Eaters. This is how JKR creates a brilliant, deep, and--despite the owls and the magical wands--very real world, a world true in a social, psychological, and human sense.

A lot of it is just dramatic irony after DH. Damn, JKR, all the funny bits with Fred and George are ruined because, all you can think is, FRED DIES!

Actually, there is a lot of character beauty to the book, and most of it lies with that brilliant Severus Snape. Poor Snape and all his shame and hatred of his past. That Egg and the Eye scene, where he screams about his second chance and grabs his arm. Snape in Goblet of Fire made me never doubt his goodness. Once again, we are reminded that Lily's love for Harry is what protects him, and it was Snape's love for Lily that allowed her to protect him. We are also remind how much of a flaming idiot Voldemort is to not understand any of this. 

By the end of Goblet of Fire, I am bawling. And, this time, feeling very old. I was a teenager when I started reading these books, and now I'm a teacher of teenagers. And it is incredibly painful for me to watch a fourteen-year-old boy go through the things that Harry does, not to mention, to see a seventeen-year-old boy die. It's also why the Battle of Hogwarts at the end of the series is probably the most disturbing piece of literature I've ever read. It's also probably why I really sort of hate Dumbledore. I don't understand how he can do all that he does to those kids. Hell, even Snape is like, "the fuck, dude?"

54. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (600 pages) At the risk of sounding like a Hipster, after Twilight, Water for Elephants, Atonement, and now--Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I swear I will never read another best seller with raving reviews. Fricking Harry Potter, Dickens, and Christopher Moore got me all confused and thinking that the masses had good taste. Apparently not.

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has one major problem: editing. As in, there wasn't any. The book took two hundred pages to get going, the mystery was solved about a hundred pages later, but kept going for another three hundred pages. There were pages and pages of superfluous details about what people were wearing and what they were eating. Not exactly gripping stuff. Not to mention, all characters wandering around and doing nothing.

Actually, even if all that stuff were edited out, there wouldn't really be anything left. The mystery itself is completely and utterly predictable, boring, and unrealistic. I can't possible spoil anything because there's nothing to spoil here. And, with all the characters being utterly flat, boring, and even obnoxious, there are no twists, turns, or emotional investment in what happens to them. 

So, my advice, toss this book away and curl up with a good old Agatha Christie. Shorter, but packing more twists and turns, more psychological depth, more intrigue, more humanity and more profound thought, in one page of one hundred, than this entire book.  Grade: F

 

55. The Wish by Gail Carson Levine (197 pages) Poor, lonely, loner Wilma gives an old woman her seat on the bus and is granted one wish: the be the most popular girl in school. Suddenly, the prettiest and most popular girls are her best friends and she's got dates for the big dance. But the boy she really wants to go with his the dorky poet with a unibrow. And suddenly, Wilma realizes that the spell will break once they all graduate in three weeks. While Levine captures a sensitive subject, she does so without any finesse or particular insight. The fairy tale aspect is just pure kid's wish fulfillment, with no twist or originality. Definitely not one of her stronger books. Grade: C-

2011 Page Total: 15329


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HP Kels Ravenclaw
Sep. 15th, 2011 @ 08:28 pm The Only Thing We Have to Fear: An Analysis of Night Terrors
"Planets and history and stuff, that's what we do.
But not today. No, today,
we answer a call for help
from the scariest place in the universe, a child's bedroom."
 
"George's monsters are real."


The Only Thing We Have to Fear…
The Blending of Fairy Tales and Reality
in Night Terrors
 


Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.
~W.B. Yeats
 


"Moonlight, in a familiar room, falling so white upon the carpet, and showing all its figures so distinctly, making every object so minutely visible, yet so unlike a morning or noontide visibility, is a medium the most suitable for a romance-writer to get acquainted with his illusive guests. There is the little domestic scenery of the well-known apartment… all these details, so completely seen, are so spiritualized by the unusual light, that they seem to lose their actual substance, and become things of intellect. Nothing is too small or too trifling to undergo this change, and acquire dignity thereby. A child’s shoe; the doll, seated in her little wicker carriage; the hobby-horse; whatever, in a word, has been used or played with, during the day, is now invested with a quality of strangeness and remoteness, though still almost as vividly present as by daylight. Thus, therefore, the floor of our familiar room has become a neutral territory, somewhere between the real world and fairy-land, where the Actual and the Imaginary may meet, and each imbue itself with the nature of the other."
~Nathaniel Hawthorne in The Scarlet Letter




"Things on telly. Scary stuff getting under his skin…
so we stopped letting him watch."
"Oh, you don't want to do that.[1]"
"Great. Reading's great. Like stories, George?
Yeah? Me too.
When I was your age, oh, about a thousand years ago,
I loved a good bedtime story."

 




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HP/WHO Thesis