Thursday, December 23, 2004

Random Literature Post

Goddamnit, there's not enough on this shitblog about literature. Let's fix that:

Just started reading Orlando by Virginia Woolf and am thinking of how serendipitous it is that several of the books I have read recently outside of the classroom relate to what I have been studying. Mainly, I am thinking of Jeanette Winterson and her wonderful books, The Powerbook and Sexing the Cherry. I had to read some of Morte Darthur for British Literature class, which helped as I read Winterson’s chapter on Lancelot and Guinevere in The Powerbook. And the setting for Sexing the Cherry struck me as familiar only after reading the Elizabethan works in class. And now I am reading of young Orlando sitting with Queen Elizabeth.

These are not planned concurrences. It almost makes me believe in the sort of magic that Winterson loves to spin in her novels. I could use some magic these days. The cold isn’t doing it for me. Thank god for books (and little else).

My plan is to read Woolf and try and squeeze in either a Calvino book or maybe that last Umberto Eco novel. Or maybe another Jeanette Winterson. Only three more books and I’ll have read her entire cannon. At this moment I am torn between the towering queens of English literature and the modern geniuses of Italian writing. All things considered—it being the holidays, a season teeming with false cheer, thoughts of suicide, rampant commercialism and smiling humanity at its ugliest—I could be presented with worse quandaries.

Book Reports:

Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson

I really liked this one, not as much as The Powerbook or even Written on the Body, but it carried from start to finish the grand vision Winterson has displayed elsewhere. Damn fine stuff, well worth the price of admission. I plan to stalk her.

Arcadia by Sir Philip Sidney

I only read the first book, which was enough. I mean that in the positive sense. His sister finished the story after his death, so I am somewhat inclined toward reading the rest. I'll get to it. This has everything one could ask for in a pastoral satire: cross dressing, gender conflicts, social conventions torn to shreds, false bravado crumbling under love’s mighty clubbed foot. Great for the whole family.

100 Love Sonnets by Pablo Neruda

How does one spell love in Spanish? N-E-R-U-D-A.

Love is a Dog From Hell by Charles Bukowski

Juxtaposed with Neruda’s brilliant style, Buk delivers with another collection of odd, dirty and fun poems. He remains the patron saint of drunken college aged males everywhere (myself included circa 1994) but the moments that glimmer stay with me longer than the tales of gambling on horses and mad women. And there are many moments that glimmer.

Don Juan by Lord Byron

I haven’t read this one in some time, actually, but I really want to go back and reread not only Byron’s Spenserian sonnets but also my notes from DePaul lit class. Chances are, I was even more full of shit back then.

Love Poems by Anne Sexton

An all time favorite and the 3rd to make the list with "Love" in the title. “The Ballad of the Lonely Masturbator” and “That Day” make it more than worthwhile but her line, “My mouth blooms like a cut” used when writing about a kiss cements this as a classic in the VRF library. One of my heroes.

The Pentagonia by Reinaldo Arenas

I would advise anyone who would listen to read all five books, which are, in their correct order: Singing From the Well, The Palace of the White Skunks, Farewell to the Sea, The Color of Summer and The Assault. Each one is fucking amazing, each one is a testament to Arenas’ genius, and I rarely use that word. Read them? Good, now go and read The Doorman and laugh your ass off.

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

Many times I have tried to explain, describe and praise this novel to friends and I always sound like an idiot (more so than currently) so I will not make such an attempt at this time. Instead, let me simply say that this book impacted me deeply and caused me to adopt the ridiculous belief that life is worth living. Art can do that at times. In a sense, this book saved my life. No shit.

Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros

I haven’t read the Mango Street book currently flooding every elementary classroom, but I’d like to. I opted to first devour this tome. And devour I did. I loved this book, so much so that I felt the need to contact Ms. Cisneros and tell her so. I did so via the old fashioned fan letter. Sandra, I know you got the missive, I’m still waiting to hear back.

Okay, that’s it for now. More soon. Sorry.