Reviews, rants, and tidbits from an overpassionate novelist

Posts tagged ‘literary’

A BOOK-LOVER RIGHT OF PASSAGE

Reading Atlas Shrugged.

Tis an arduous and intimidating journey of 1167 pages, more if you want surrounding criticism. I’m plugging away at it presently, and you know what? I have a love-hate relationship with it. Here’s why.

My LOVE for it is comprised of its respect for the reader – a respect easily misjudged as disrespect in its mind-directing, even hypnotizing narrative techniques. Ayn Rand expects her reader to be intelligent, hard-working, and dedicated to his or her own life, and this is evident in the way she tells the story. John Rogers said in a blog once, “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year-old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.” I think, had Ayn Rand heard this criticism, she would have been delighted to have been understood so well. Atlas Shrugged is a strange fusion of utopian and dystopian narrative and the oversimplification that comprises this strangeness is obviously fantastical.

On this level, it’s a fantasy novel. Ayn Rand always claimed to write for herself – She is her own reader and that is why her reader receives the respect of great expectations. Of course, her writing would be her fantasy.

She was far too intelligent to have been deluded into believing that the realm she envisioned was realistic; its purpose was a fantastical forum through which she could explain very realistic (in the reality-relevant sense of the word, not in the feasible sense, necessarily) ideas and ethical postulations.

Reading such a novel at fourteen and failing to distinguish the fantastical and the realistic elements would most certainly be dangerous.

So with John Rogers’ words I completely agree – yet not with his tone.

My HATE for it is comprised of its AWFUL HORRIBLE TERRIBAD DREADFUL ~LENGTH~. And yes, I know Ms. Rand would have rolled her eyes at me for my saying so.

Books books books books books!

I’ve been trying to write my thoughts on a couple of novels down for a while now, but I’ve realized I don’t want to make complete posts of them. I’d rather combine them in something of a monster post.

The first book on the list is Watchers. I’ve been  a huge fan of Dean Koontz since my best friend Meggie Monster picked up Odd Thomas and forced me to listen to her read it aloud. Oddie is one of the few boys over whose hotness Meggie and I have never argued. It’s a very good thing he does not exist.

watchers

I also picked up Watchers because she recommended it. I love the way the title plays into the book. I loved Travis and Nora. Okay, Nora’s story absolutely gripped me.

And of course, I loved the dog.

I was surprised when I realized that the book was written two years before I was born. The entire first half of the novel aged beautifully. The second half, not so much. The 100 pages (Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration) that Koontz spent building up the suspense that surround a traceable phone call was tiring. I started skipping things. That’s really the only thing I feel I can criticize.

Another book I read on vacation this summer was Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden.

geisha

In a nutshell, I completely fell in love with the writing during the first 1/5-1/3 of the book. The rest didn’t impress me as much. What happened, Mr. Golden? Where did the clever descriptions and simmering passion go?

Thankfully, it did come back in snapshots that mainly surrounded Sayuri’s visits to the artist (If I had the book with me I’d look up the name), the horrifying description of her encounter with the Minister, and her final revelations with the Chairman. I find this book’s ending absolutely delightful…if a little plot-holey.

I think I can make a full post out of my review of In Odd We Trust. Like I said, I ♥ Oddie.

Book 2 Word Count:  11, 000

Partial Requests:  3

The Printz Award

The Printz Award first caught my eye on the cover of White Darkness (Geraldine McCaughrean) in the media center at my high school. The more I learn about the literary nature of the books that receive them, the more I think it may be a main marker of this “Literary Little League” the wall street journal mentioned. That article, by the way, is here. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204261704574275941028138178.html

The more I learned about the Printz Award and the kinds of books that receive it, the more I like it. I’m very interested in reading the list of winners, including the 2009 winner, Jellicoe Road (Melina Marchetta). Perhaps this would be a good study for me, and even help me develop yet another dream, another goal.

More about the Michael L. Printz Award here:

http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/yalsa/booklistsawards/printzaward/Printz.cfm

* THE WHITE DARKNESS BY GERALDINE McCAUGHREAN – FIRST IMPRESSIONS *

whitedarkness_web

I love it. Sym’s voice is one of the best I’ve read. The themes, patterns, and writing are all lovely and fitting for a YA audience. It even received the Printz Award–a high-level YA contest–in 2008.

And get this:  When I asked for this book at Barnes & Noble here in Texas, I was told that the store didn’t carry it. Nor did any of the stores close by. Looks like the major bookstores know of it, but no more.

Why?

I guess Sym is hard to relate to. The reader finds out that she’s unusual so quickly, it takes us a few chapters for us to relate to her. I think the complete click with her doesn’t come until the end. Perhaps Ms. McCaughrean could have done something about the narration of this book to bring the horrific moments that haunt the end home closer to the beginning.

That, however, is the only criticism I can make. I love the themes that flow so naturally through this book, the patterns. The end is glorious. Just thinking about a certain moment–and if you read it you’ll know which one–still gives me goosebumps.

Love & Peace!

YOUNG ADULT FICTION – LITERARY WITHOUT THE SLUSH

Laurie Halse Anderson recently posted this link in a Facebook note, and I absolutely love this article. Favorite, favorite, favorite. In essence, the article is about the growing literary nature of the young adult genre and how it’s becoming more enjoyable to adults. It describes it as a Literary Minor League–or literary without the boring stuff. That’s my kinda reading, and it will always be. Thank you, Wall Street Journal!

The Article Here:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204261704574275941028138178.html

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