reading · Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesday: The Road

It’s National Novel Reading Month. Time to read that classic novel you put off reading.

Last year I read The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This year, I am reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy.  

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With the first gray light he rose and left the boy sleeping and walked out to the road and squatted and studied the country to the south. Barren, silent, godless. He thought the month was October but he wasn’t sure. He hadn’t kept a calendar for years. They were moving south. There’d be no surviving another winter here.

– The Road by Cormac McCarthy

reading · Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesday: The Road

It’s National Novel Reading Month. Time to read that classic novel you put off reading. Last year I read The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This year, I am reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

image

With the first gray light he rose and left the boy sleeping and walked out to the road and squatted and studied the country to the south. Barren, silent, godless. He thought the month was October but he wasnt sure. He hadnt kept a calendar for years. They were moving south. There’d be no surviving another winter here. – The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

Book Review · reading

Book Review: To Kill A Mockingbird

I never had to read To Kill A Mockingbird in high school. Just as well. The bulk of the books I was forced to read in high school were boring. To Kill A Mockingbird doesn’t really have the blood and mayhem like the Anita Blake books or the In Death series or David Weber’s books.

But, for banned book week, from September 30 2012 to October 6, 2012, I decided to read To Kill A Mockingbird.

It’s not as boring as I expected. It doesn’t have nearly the same level of suspense and tension as my preferred reads, but it wasn’t boring. Having said that, I don’t know if I’ll ever read it again.

To Kill A Mockingbird is supposed to be a first novel. Frankly, that’s hard to believe. It may be the first (and last!) novel published, but that doesn’t mean it’s the first novel Harper Lee wrote. To Kill A Mockingbird is written very well. It shows the growth of Scott – yes, despite the reviews stating none of the characters grew at all, there is character growth. It is gently shown, gently depicted, so gently you hardly notice it at all. It is all so well-done I can’t believe this is a first novel. I can’t even believe she stopped writing after she finished To Kill A Mockingbird.

I knew from the first sentence that the book took place during in the Depression. The family must have been truly rich before the Depression, to be able to afford a cook and housekeeper during the Depression.

At first, I thought Scout was a boy. Scout isn’t a name I associate with a girl. Plus, it’s the 1930’s, and she doesn’t act the way I imagined girls in the 1930’s acted. She’s a tomboy. I only realized Scout is a girl when someone says her full name. Than I thought: wow, she’s a girl. How wonderful.

I found a couple of things odd in To Kill A Mockingbird:

1)      Scout and her brother call their Dad by his first name: Atticus

2)      On her first day of school, Scout’s teacher is upset because she can already read and write. Part of me is not surprised because I, too, had a teacher who told me not to write in cursive since it hadn’t actually been taught yet. But I don’t understand a teacher who would be upset because her student could already read.

To Kill A Mockingbird is known for being a coming-of-age novel and it is banned for offensive language and racism.

I don’t think anyone can deny there is racism in the book, but the main characters are not racist. Quite the opposite. Many of the other characters are racist, and yeah, that undoubtedly influences the feel of the book.

Scout’s aunt’s group of ladies are supposed to be good, Christian women but in one breath they praise god, the next breath they make racist comments. They don’t see it, and yeah, I think that’s deliberate. I am not sure how Calpurnia (the black cook) stood it. I suppose she wasn’t causing waves, doing her job, stuff like that. Still. I am surprised Calpurnia was able to hold her tongue.

Then there is the whole trial involving Tom Robinson. It was a real trial, and the some of the characters say that was odd. Still. Apparently Tom Robinson never stood a chance. That’s probably what prompted his escape attempt – he didn’t believe justice was possible. The white girl was clearly lying, possible being molested by her own father (she did say kissing her father didn’t count, didn’t she? I don’t know. Possible child molestation there. Not sure.) But lying for sure and no one on the jury cared. It’s not hard to understand why Tom Robinson didn’t believe justice was possible for him.

So, yeah, there is racism in the book. But it’s not really depicted in a positive way. More tragic and sad. I really don’t think that is a reason to ban or try to ban a book.

Offensive language – yes, there is offensive language in To Kill A Mockingbird. Most of them involve race. Many times they are directed at Scout’s father for actually defending a black man. Scout uses offensive words to try and get out of going to school. (She fails in this attempt.) The offensive words don’t show up for no reason, and they don’t show up all that often, either. I really don’t think that is a reason to ban or try to ban a book, either.

I’d heard To Kill A Mockingbird is a coming-of-age novel, but I don’t think it is. At least, it doesn’t go far enough. To me coming-of-age means you are growing up and going through the worse trials of growing up. It’s the transition from childhood to adulthood.

At the beginning of the book Scout is 6 years old and 9 years old at the end. She grows a lot, learns a lot in those three years. 9 isn’t grown up. She still’s a child. At the end of the book, she’s puts herself in Boots’ shoes and regrets she never paid him back for all the little gifts he gave them.

But she still has a lot of growing left to do. She still has to go through the teen years, still has to go through High School. High School will likely be more difficulty than her life so far. Not least, because she still has to yet learn girl skills. Or maybe she doesn’t. But in the time she is living, being a tomboy will only draw criticism. Which sucks, yeah, but gender roles were a lot more fixed back then. I suspect stepping out of gender roles would be very very difficult and likely require all the wisdom she learned from her father. (He raised her to be who she is.)

Book Review · General · reading

Book Review: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

I’ve known the Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde story for a long time. But I’ve never read the story and I did so for the first time for National Novel Reading Month.

There were a few surprises. The first one was that the POV character is a lawyer, not Jekyll or Hyde. In fact, the first mention of Hyde is in conversation with someone who saw him beating up a child.

This someone just watched. I found his matter of factness odd. As if events like that are normal. He did comment on how horrifying it was, and yes, captured Hyde. But I think that’s because Hyde exudes evilness. If someone less obviously evil had been beating up some kid, I am thinking he would have passed on by without comment.

There is a time in the middle of book when Hyde makes a mistake (he kills someone very very important!) and Hyde is forced to flee. The lawyer visits Dr. Jekyll; Dr. Jekyll tells him Hyde is no longer a concern. I am pretty sure the lawyer suspects Dr. Jekyll of something, but does nothing. He wants to protect his client’s reputation. Dr. Jekyll goes out and about, lives an exemplary life.

Meanwhile, a friend of the lawyer’s dies and leaves a letter only to be opened upon Dr. Jekyll’s death. (I imagine this condition is to protect the reputation of all involved.)

Than Dr. Jekyll’s butler calls the lawyer; they break into the house. They discover Mr. Hyde’s dying body, a vial of poison in his hand, dressed in Dr. Jekyll’s clothes.

All the letters that weren’t supposed to be opened until someone was dead are opened and read, and the truth discovered: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde exist in the same body and are probably the same person through some odd scientific process.

I wasn’t expecting this particular discovery to be made through a couple of letters. I was expecting something else. I don’t know what, something else.

One thing Dr. Jekyll mentions in his letter is that he has always indulged in some bad sins and that Hyde just takes those sins to extremes. It makes me ask, what kind of sins? He never says, but did Dr. Jekyll get off on milder forms of the things Hyde does: beating up and killing people? Maybe he was never as good a person as on the TV shows I remember the story from.

Not really sure, but if he did, maybe he deserved what he got.

General · reading · Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesday: The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read

* Open to a random page

* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! 

I am reading this for National Novel Reading Month. John has a post about it.

My Teasers:

All at once, I saw two figures: one a little man who was stumping along eastward at a good walk, and the other a girl of maybe eight or ten who was running as hard as she was able down a cross street. Well, sir, the two ran into one another naturally enough at the corner; and then came the horrible part of the thing; for the man trampled calmly over the child’s body and left her screaming on the ground. It sounds nothing to hear, but it was hellish to see.

– Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

General · reading · Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesday: The Maltese Falcon

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read

* Open to a random page

* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! 

My Teasers:

When a man’s partner’s killed, he’s supposed to do something about it. It doesn’t make any difference what you thought of him. He was your partner and you’re supposed to do something about it. Then it happens, we’re in the detective business. Well, when one of your organization gets killed it’s bad business to let the killer get away with it.

– The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

Picture says it was 25 cents and it’s hard to believe a novel could ever cost so little.

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reading · Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesday: Tom Sawyer

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser:

He’ll play hookey this evening, and I’ll just be obleeged to make him work tomorrow, to punish him. It’s mighty hard to make him work Saturdays, when all the boys is having holiday, but he hates work more than he hates anything else, and I’ve got  to do some of my duty by him, or I’ll be the ruination of the child.”

– Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

I chose these two lines because:

1) I am tickled pink by how “evening” is Southwestern for afternoon. Who knew?

2) The spelling – phonetic spelling? – of obleeged. LOL It just strikes me as funny.

3) This is from one of the longest monologues I’ve ever read. As a way to do exposition,  establish the aunt’s character, and her and Tom’s relationship, I guess it’s pretty good.