November 9, 2008

Those October Books

Which October books? Those ones. Over there. Them what I did got read.

The Screwtape Letters, by C. S. Lewis. This is a longstanding personal favourite, because it is both splendidly written and extremely useful. The Screwtape Letters is a collection of letters "from a senior to a junior devil", pertaining largely to matters of sin and temptation, and touching on most of the general ares of human existence, both carnal and spiritual. It is good.

*Tamburlaine the Great, part One, by Christopher Marlowe. Tamburlaine is a shepherd who conquers all of Asia. Everything he does has a positive outcome, at least for him -- not so much for the people he's conquering. In Part Two, which I haven't yet read, he dies fat and happy, surrounded by those he loves. You might have an impression that all renaissance drama is about star-crossed lovers and/or brooding tragedians; I tell you, this is not the case.

One thing that I thought particularly interesting about this play is that Tamburlaine conquers all sorts of armies and such by the power of his words as much as by the sword. I don't think it's plausible, though. As I pointed out in a paper on the subject, everyone in the play talks exactly like Tamburlaine does -- which is to say, like Marlowe does, he of the "mighty line". (Kids: learn to speak eloquently. You too can conquer Asia!)

*What Maisie Knew, by Henry James. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, I'm Henry James and I couldn't be more uninteresting if I tried.

*Catch-22, by Joseph Heller. Catch-22 is deliciously funny right up until it gets horrible. And when I say "horrible" I refer to the contents rather than to the writing; Heller is stellar (heh). I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, although it took me a fair while to finish it, on account of its very large largeness.

*Looking for Alaska, by John Green. My brain wants to have John Green's brain's babies. If you follow me. I devoured Looking for Alaska in one sitting and have added several other books of his to my wishlist. This book reminded me of Catcher in the Rye, except for being cool and interesting instead of insufferably pretentious and boring. Huzzah!

*A Hatful of Sky, by Terry Pratchett. Terry Pratchett is, of course, one of my favourite writers, and so it shouldn't be very surprising that I liked A Hatful of Sky so very much. I liked Tiffany Aching especially; it was the first time I've read one of the books about her, and while I understand that there was one that preceded this novel, it stood on its own very well. She's much more interesting than Rincewind, you know (but then, pretty much everyone is).

*Arrow of God, by Chinua Achebe. Not as good as Things Fall Apart. Still lots better than Death and the King's Horseman (see below).

*The Oath, by Frank Peretti. Frank Peretti is one of the few authors I've found whose Christian fiction doesn't make me want to throw up a little bit. It's raw, not sugary, and full of action, rather than syrup. That being said, I thought that The Oath was particularly weak compared to other works of his. It was a challenge to get to the end of this novel; the action really drags in the last hundred pages or so, where it really should be climaxing. If you're interested in trying some Peretti, I'd recommend Piercing the Darkness instead.

*Dr Faustus, by Christopher Marlowe. Probably you are familiar with the general scheme of the Faust legend. But did you know that in Marlowe's play, the unfortunate doctor explodes at the end of the last act? It is really quite amazing.

*Under Western Eyes, by Joseph Conrad. Under Western Eyes is a dull book about a bunch of dull Russians who run around pretending at being spies in Geneva. As with many books on October's list, I got about three-quarters of the way through before putting it down for the next thing. Perhaps it'll be a special project over the Christmas holidays to finish all of my school reading. But I still don't think I'll finish this one.

*Death and the King’s Horseman, by Wole Soyinka. A lot of people in my class thought that this play was very good and interesting -- but I've been reading Marlowe and co. lately, and so my opinion is more like: pfft, whatever. I mean, I suppose that it has some good literary qualities on its own, but I don't think that Death and the King's Horseman compares to other literature very well -- neither to other plays I've studied, nor to other African lit. It was a disappointment on the whole. Although the cover is an excellent sort of green. I approve of green.

*Faking Grace, by Tamara Leigh. (reviewed) I read this book and I liked it. But I didn't want to review it, so my mom did it for me. The end.

Read Responsibly, by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum. Yes, I'm re-reading my Unshelved books again. Do you want to make something of it? Well, do you?

*Jpod, by Douglas Coupland. A longer review of Jpod will come forth once I've got my act back together here. In the meantime, please enjoy this brief explanation by the good folks at Unshelved. Yes, them again. At least I'm not talking about Marlowe.

*The Book of Lost Things, by John Connolly. (reviewed) Oh boy oh boy oh boy. The Book of Lost Things was something else.

*Edward II, by Christopher Marlowe. I know, I know, Marlowe, Marlowe, Marlowe, blah de blah de blah. I know. But a) he's really good, and b) it's on my syllabus and so I have to read it anyway. Edward II is a fairly typical "weak king" play with some homoeroticism thrown in for good measure. That's all, really.

3 comments:

raych said...

HA! Indeed, Henry James. You are the bran flakes of late-19th-century novelists.

chartroose said...

Cripes, you must read sooper-dooper fast! Me needs to reads "Looking for Alaska," oh yes, me does!

Christine said...

Yeah, I do read pretty quickly... the summers when I was in highschool I'd usually read two books a day. Now I've dropped down a lot from that because of school and work and blah de blah -- but I read whenever I can!