Sunday, May 13, 2012

Books? Get some.

You guys. Not that I'm not 100% awesome 100% of the time or anything, but yesterday I did something particularly amazeballs. I finished a book... and then I wrote my paper for that book immediately so I wouldn't have to go back to it.

I know, right? *golf clap*

But seriously. You know what else I did after that? Finished another book. Now, I was already about 80 pages from the end of that one too, but it doesn't matter.

Two books, one night.


Anyway. Those books? They were the kind that make me feel like a part of the literate elite for having read them. Not that those are always the most enjoyable reads, but in this case they weren't terrible. I'm glad to have gotten through them. So here's my little book post about 'em. Please to enjoy.

The Hours by Michael Cunningham

The Hours follows three separate storylines--one set in the 1920's, one in the late 1950's, and one in 1999. Each storyline is influenced by Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway. The focus of each storyline is narrow: a single day. Small occurrences hold great importance, and the novel takes place largely inside each character's head. In the 20's, Virginia Woolf is writing Mrs. Dalloway, and struggling with her own demons. In 1959, Laura Brown is reading Mrs. Dalloway and doing the same. In 1999, Clarissa Vaughan is trying to be Mrs. Dalloway, or rather, is doomed to live a similar life of fixation and tragedy.

I didn't like this book at first. For probably a hundred pages or so, the prose was too heavy for me. Cunningham uses a style that echoes Woolf's and she's one of those writers who interrupts herself all the time. (I'll hold here for an ironic pause.) So I'm not sure if it was me getting comfortable (finally) with her prose or if it was some kind of shift that happened in the particular scene, but my opinion changed about halfway through. There's a scene in Clarissa's apartment in 1999 with her friend's former lover that was just exquisite. From that point, forward, I was in.

My recommendation: This is an unusual book, so I'm not sure I'd tell just about everyone that they need to pick it up. It's sad. And kind of angsty. I like it for what it is, but it didn't make me feel good about humanity.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Now. You know how there's this type of girl in the world? The one who has read P&P about 800 times and loves Kiera Knightley and the BBC version and wishes she could find her own Mr. Darcy? I'm not her. I keep trying to be her, but I can't. And I (re-? I can't remember if I read this before or not. Sad.) read this book recently, trying to love it, and I still don't. What I do love (out of all the things I listed above) is the BBC version, so I guess I get some smart girl points. And I did love this audio book version of this book--narrated by Lindsay Duncan from HBO's Rome--just because it was so soothing. So there's that. But I don't know. I'm just not ever going to be president of the P&P fan club.  I like other Austen novels a little better, I think. Emma. Sense and Sensibility. Even Northanger Abbey. This one doesn't do it for me.

P&P is largely about two things, I decided: 1) Trying to get married, and 2) Being pissed off about stuff that didn't actually happen until you get a letter that tells you that you are pissed off about something that didn't actually happen because you didn't take the trouble to find out the truth in the first place. It's so soap opera-y. P&P is about gossip and social status, pure and simple. The best thing about this book for me is Austen's little insertions of sarcasm to sum up character. I like that she can cut her own characters down in a way that's subtle and really funny. And she can write some good dialogue, to be sure.

My recommendation: If you're a girl, you're going to have to go ahead and read this so you can find out if you're one of those girls for whom Jane Austen is the be-and-end-all. I'm not one, but I needed to read it (again? I still can't remember if I read it before.) to find out. I think it's okay, but if you're looking for something uber-girly to read that will grab you and not let you go, I recommend Gone with the Wind a million times over this.

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