Friday, July 11, 2014

"One Moonlit Night" by Cardog Pritchard (1961)



A Welsh translation chronicling a young boy's immersion in the local community and his reaction to the world around him. The Welsh language reeks through the text, adding significant local-color to this vibrant piece of literature. Sometimes hard to follow, the Welsh words and place-names, but charming and captivating. The adolescent and his friend witness the North Wales town...chronicling death, sexuality, substance abuse, religion, family, friendship, violence, crime, and gossip. The narrator is generally light-hearted, but this novel has dark subject matter. His ignorance is laced with moralist thoughts, often using the religious cuss of "Dew", and many place-names are remaining in the original Welsh language. This small and misunderstood culture of western Europe is illuminated in this World War One story. He has a growing relationship with the town, and individuals of the town, as the story becomes more and more enjoyable.

Vocabulary:
Pennorth, tuppence, ruddy, froth, surplice, pleat, quiff, hobnailed, scrump, maelstrom, hillock, dawdle, laud, curate, parson, queue, vestry, bellows, scythe, sickle, precocity, luxuriate, supplication, munificence, impotence

Saturday, May 24, 2014

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams (1979)



This book was a best-seller after a radio-show. It also wins my own personal award, for "The Most Lighthearted Story About The Apocalypse". The dark comedy chronicles the day in the life of a lowly man, before he's whisked off on a galactic sci-fi adventure, with a motley cast of alien characters. Well, after the destruction of Earth, the humans themselves are referred to as "aliens". It's not a celebration of our planet, or galaxy... but this piece celebrates logic, the universe, mathematics, probability. Our species is diminutive in the face of the sprawling cosmos, and this novels does a good job making jest of this existential reality. Published in the wake of the Space Race (~10 years after), and before the dawn of CGI cinema, this novel is truly a pioneer in the genre, with a fresh comedy routine to boot.

Vocabulary:
Repository, apocryphal, squattish, predilection, environs, diurnal, resplendent, squalid, undulate, fetid, stridency, tedium, vitriolic, niggly, piqued, frumpy, perfunctory, blighted, doleful, cauterized, fjord, subsidence, stentorian, messianic, salutary, salient, dais, baroque, hoicking, din, fusillade

Friday, May 23, 2014

Hiatus

I never promised to be a good reader. This blog isn't meant for daily, weekly, monthly use. It's a chronology of my literary history, until I'm old and croak. Find new blogs, idiot. I'm an internet addict. There should probably be a blog about electronic music and video games. Too bad.

6 hour car ride tomorrow. Grandpa's old and we always have someone at the house. Should get some reading done, but don't expect anything heady or philosophical. Fuck you, hipster prick. I'm lazy. This isn't for your obscure dabbling. This is entry-level garbage.

I MAY start reading short stories. I own 2 sets of anthologies from my time at university... American Literature and American Women's Writers. This will add content to the blog, albeit shorter pieces.

Friday, January 3, 2014

"Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga of Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs" by Hunter S Thompson (1966)


This is a gripping, controversial piece of journalism. It bends the concept of journalism, into a piece of immersed non-fiction, raked with witty writing and episodic chapters. Hunter S Thompson was famous for his "gonzo" journalism, where the writer was ingrained in the creative process. He transcends journalism, in a sense. He did a great job of making every chapter entertaining. It moves progressively, and you gradually learn more and more about this outlaw gang. He often negates the standard press, juxtaposing his thoughts with actual press-clippings from the time, to educate the reader on the true nature of this outlaw group. He is a counter-cultural icon, and this 1966 piece was one of his first endeavors. The gang is controversial for public sex (even accused of rape), rowdy drinking, disregard for the police, fast driving, dope, and Nazi paraphernalia. That aside, even their use of marijuana and LSD were extremely controversial to Americans in 1965-66, when cultural change was on the horizon. These outlaws reject society and society rejects them. Again, the actual journalism from the time is much different than Thompson's, as he progressively documents the group. He was known to socialize with the Angels, to mixed success. He made a name for himself, with this immersed journalism, and it's a timeless piece of American literature.

Vocabulary:
Chancres, impasse, erstwhile, ubiquitous, convivial, lurid, hokum, edify, harangue, quorum, egalitarian, wanton, lieu, cudge, zenith, foist, screed, sop, pique, nadir, fracas, abutment, perfidy, staid, argot, lascivious, flotsam

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

"When the Emperor was Divine" by Julie Otsuka (2002)




A concise, moving piece of historical fiction, about the World War Two Japanese internment camps. These camps existed from 1941-1945 in the United States of America. From the outset of the novel, the lead female character is immersed in American culture. She knows the man at the store by his first name, she has American books in her home, her children have American toys, and there is nothing that stands out about her... other than Japanese descent. This novel realistically follows her family's experience... with the different chapters being told from the perspective of different family members. Recommended for any America, to educate themselves on the humanistic side of a dark chapter in our country's history.

The family's English and their cultural exposure are an interesting point. They talk as-if they are white children, which is to be expected in America, for their are equals existing in a secular society with emphasis on liberal arts education. The daughter can play the piano and the son loves the radio programs. It's part of their appeal... at first, the entire ordeal barely effects their spirits. It gets worse as the novel progresses, but their disposition is admirable and you can't dislike them.

Vocabulary: 
Venetian, aria, vagrant, beguine, daub, repudiate, sullied, swath, bivouacking, saboteur

Monday, December 23, 2013

“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" by Tennessee Williams (1955)



This is a play about sexuality, in a failing relationship (among other topics). The entire First Act is mostly between Maggie and her husband Brick, in the bedroom of a Mississippi Delta plantation. It is set in the 1950s. Brick is a drinker. He responds indifferently, for most of the scene, until he his confronted about someone else. He does not heed Maggie's complaints, as talkative as she is, or the cancer of his father. It takes something else to draw emotion from him, but I won't spoil that for you. This is a Pulitzer Prize winning play, great entry-level literature for people new to reading plays, as I was. The first time I read it, a few years ago, I was captivated by William's work, and was more than happy to read it again now.

Vocabulary:
Balustrade, veranda, remittance, contrapuntal, antipathetic, lech, cardsharp, boudoir, pantomimic, precocious, sashay, chiffon, jag, scruple, mirth, dilatory, whelp, mendacity, subsidize, disavow, evanescent, facile, palpable, fatuous, laurel, recitative, burlesque, vilification, sordid, avarice, remittance

Sunday, December 22, 2013

“Death of a Salesman" by Arthur Miller (1949)



I'm sure you can guess how this play ends. In the waning days of his life, Willy Loman is full of anger and regret. This strange piece weaves the present and his prized past together, within the works of stage-direction. This masterpiece illuminates his character, as someone delusional and angry, before his ultimate demise. He lives in New York City with his two sons (Happy and Biff) and wife. His opinion of his sons is fluctuating. He wants them to begin to pave their way in the world, which is not turning out the way they had planned. The scenes of the past indicate their ignorance, or arrogance...for example, when Biff is supposed to be studying for the state exams, but focuses on hetero socialization and his amateur sporting matches. Miller does an excellent job in this regard. The past scenes are not traditional flashbacks, like in a Hollywood movie...they are live-in-color, characters on the stage's set. This play is a masterpiece, my second time reading it, and I'm sure this time will not be my last. He captures the American culture's perception of the American Dream, from the early-to-mid 20th century, with ease.

Vocabulary:
Mercurial, simonize, anemic, rollicking, imbue, fob, valises, elegiacally