I missed it

I’ve ditched…no halted?…no…strayed…yes, strayed from Jane Eyre in favour of Jim Butcher’s Captain’s Fury (Book 4 of the Codex Alera series) and Milk and Honey, Rupi Kaur’s book of poetry.

I know, I know.

I said I wouldn’t.

I know, I know.

I already did when I read Interview with the Vampire, and Anatomy of a Girl Gang, and Hag-Seed.

I know, I know.

I’m still working on Female Rebellion in Young Adult Dystopian Fiction and if I’m going to diverge from the List AND my “On Deck” lists AGAIN don’t I want to prioritize the primary texts discussed therein?

I know, I know.

But.

I missed it.

I missed that feeling of being hungry for a book. I missed day-dreaming about “what’s next?” and being entirely distracted by a plot. I missed nodding “yes” and saying “uh huh” feigning attention in a conversation while secretly all I’m actually doing is thinking about the book and waiting for the next break in whatever-it-is that is demanding my attention so that I can escape back into that world.

And I’m not hungry for Jane.

I wanted to be absorbed, and so that’s what I’m chasing right now. That’s why I picked up the next book in Butcher’s “Alera” series. They are long, but they’re easy to read and they’re fun and they pull me in.

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Fun Fact: I read online somewhere that the “Alera” series was born out of a bet for Butcher to write a story based on Roman legions and Pokemon. Crazy, right? There is no way that’s true, right? That’s what I thought, too. But, as it turns out, IT IS TRUE! Isn’t that so much nuts stuff? I found an interview Butcher did with Fantasy Literature.com where he confirms the whole thing! (You can read it here).

To those of you out there thinking “Ummm, yeah, Cat…we already knew that…this news is like…eight years old…keep up, GAWD” Well, you would be right, but this is still new to me and therefore it is exciting to me and this is my blog so THERE.

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I’m still listening to Jane in the car sometimes just so I can say that I’m still making some progress there. And, admittedly, to get me closer to Wide Sargasso Sea a little bit faster.

I’ve also picked up Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur, because it’s been on my shelf since Christmas and it lends itself better to short, fragmented reading sessions, such as over lunch or five minutes in the morning.

So. Yes. I’m straying. Again. And I don’t care because I missed it, and the List will still be there waiting for me after I get my fix.

 

Image credits:
Captain’s Fury cover: Goodreads
The Wedding Singer: TuneCore Canada

Now What?

Finishing the coursework portion of my MA means that I’m back to free-reading and HOLY LORD DYIN’ I want to read everything. I am overwhelmed by choice. I *thought* I had prioritized a short list of books to read first. I even made a shelf on Goodreads for it – I called it “On Deck”:

on deck

For those of you keeping up, which of course is all of you, naturally, you already know that I decided to read Interview with the Vampire first because I’ve always wanted to and I failed the first time around. Then I picked up The Tempest and Jane Eyre because I was reminded oh-so-many times throughout my MA that I needed to read these. I finished The Tempest in about a day (I think – you can read about that here) and am still slogging through Jane Eyre. 

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned elsewhere, Charlotte is not my favourite. Her writing lacks energy and pizazz (yes, “pizazz” is a legitimate literary measure. I almost have an English MA now, so you can trust me). It doesn’t help that I already know the story, and so there is no suspense. I’m basically going through the motions with that book so it feels more like a chore and less like fun (Hey, Cat, do you think maybe your attitude is the problem and not the book? Nahhhhhhh). I’m also reading Day/Green-Bartlett/Montz’s Female Rebellion in Young Adult Dystopian Fiction because, somewhat astonishingly, theory and criticism are still interesting to me.

A side-effect of reading literary criticism: you want to/need to read the primary texts discussed. So that’s added about thirty new books to my ever-growing “To Read” list. For the most part, these are YA titles though, so they should take me no more than a few weeks to inhale.IMG_0761

Shortly after finishing the winter term, I also read Anatomy of a Girl Gang by Ashley Little. I intended to read this book during my MA as it is written by Laurier’s current Author in Residence. I prioritized course reading at the time, however, and this one fell to the bottom of my stack. I did get it signed by the author, though!

In addition to these books, there’s also the books that are still on my shelf from before my MA waiting for me to read them. Books I purchased or obtained eons ago which I haven’t gotten to yet because I keep getting distracted by shiny, new Others.

Case in point: according to my “On Deck” list, I need to finish Jane Eyre and then get into Wide Sargasso Sea – a book I’m actually really looking forward to after reading so much of Gilbert and Gubar’s The Madwoman in the AtticDespite this, I’ve managed to get distracted by Margaret Atwood’s Hag-Seed which is part of the Hogarth Shakespeare series, which is basically the coolest thing ever. Despite my personal feelings towards Atwood, my love of Shakespeare has me intrigued by this series and as a result, I have been waiting for titles to publish. Sometime before my MA began, I became aware of the project and Atwood’s contribution to it; a modern retelling of The Tempest, which provided yet another reason why I needed to read that damn play. At the time, Hag-Seed was the only published book in the series of which I was aware. Since I recently checked The Tempest off the list, I couldn’t resist picking this one up from the library (therefore satisfying my curiosity without giving Atwood any more money – haha! Moral loopholes for the win!). And now there are seven more titles added to the series – one of which has been nominated for a Lambda Award! So, again, my To Read list keeps on growing.

hogarth

Add to those this year’s Canada Reads books, the books I keep adding to my reading list whenever I go in for one of my shelf-reading shifts at the library, the books I have independently developed an interest in reading, and, oh yeah, that List of 145 books I’m still working my way through, and you can understand why I am struggling to focus on one book at a time.

I just want to read everything. And I will. Just you wait. You’ll see. I’ll show you all!

 

I read all the things! Again!: MA Winter Term Recap

youdidit

The card is right – I did do it. Shortly after submitting the last paper of my winter term, and therefore completing all assignments for the coursework portion of my MA, my partner surprised me with this card (which preceded an excessively extravagant gift) and made me cry, which was nice. That’s how you know you’ve got a good one – when they keep secrets and make you cry for good things.

Other things that are amazing: doing an MA in a discipline you’re passionate about. Term 2 was amazing, just as this entire experience has been. I read 6,970 pages, made up by twenty-one books, two plays, two books of poetry, and a stack of theory & criticism and wrote submitted 32,552 words (about 108 pages by my calculation). Those numbers seem low to me, though. While this term seemed (to me) to have a heavier workload than the fall term, the numbers are, in actuality, near identical (6,923 pages and 30,584 in the fall). Weird.

Now, what you’ve all been waiting for: here is what I read in the Winter term:

Here is a list-version, in the approximate order they were read. Favourites indicated by an asterisk(*):

  1. Oedipus the King, Sophocles
  2. The Father and Daughter, Amelia Opie
  3. Canadian Crusoes, Catharine Parr Traill
  4. i is a long memoried woman, Grace Nichols*
  5. Anne of Green Gables, LMM
  6. The Polished Hoe, Austin Clarke
  7. Unity (1918), Kevin Kerr
  8. Emma, Jane Austen
  9. Hold Fast, Kevin Major
  10. Autobiography of My Mother, Jamaica Kincaid*
  11. Heave, Christy Ann Conlin
  12. The Pagoda, Patricia Powell
  13. Kiss of the Fur Queen, Tomson Highway*
  14. A Small Gathering of Bones, Patricia Powell
  15. Hiroshima, John Hersey
  16. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Brontë*
  17. Return to Arcadia, H. Nigel Thomas*
  18. Lives of Girls and Women, Alice Munro
  19. Cereus Blooms at Night, Shani Mootoo
  20. The Children of Men, P.D. James
  21. land without chocolate, Faizal Deen
  22. Olive, Dinah Mulock Craik
  23. What We All Long For, Dionne Brand
  24. Tongues on Fire, Rosamund Elwin
  25. North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell

Fun observations about the list above: (1) Anne is a (way) better author than Charlotte. Sorry, Charlotte, you can’t win ’em all. I haven’t read any of Emily’s stuff yet, though, so she’s still in the running to be Literature’s Top Brontë; (2) Elizabeth Gaskell was both the first and the last author I read for my MA – happy coincidence since I had never heard of Gaskell before and it would appear that she is a big deal; (3) The Tempest is the most alluded-to text in literature and therefore should be prerequisite reading for any English or Lit program; (4) The Taming of the Shrew is one of the most adapted plays of all time – I’m pretty sure both Emma and Tenant are adaptations/retellings.

I also read a heap of poetry as part of the assigned reading for the first-year course I TA’d:

  • “On an Occasion of National Mourning,” Howard Nemerov
  • “History Lesson,” Jeannette Armstrong
  • “The Convergence of the Twain,” Thomas Hardy
  • “The Iceberg,” Charles G.D. Roberts
  • “The Lost Worker,” Billeh Nickerson
  • “Erosion,” E.J. Pratt
  • “In Time of ‘The Breaking of Nations’,” Thomas Hardy
  • “Dulce et Decorum Est,” Wilfrid Owen
  • “Munition Wages,” Madeline Ida Bedford
  • “The Second Coming,” W.B. Yeats*
  • “The Hollow Men,” T.S. Eliot
  • “Höfn,” Seamus Heaney
  • “Darkness,” Lord Byron

And a couple of short stories:

  • “Jesus out to sea: a Louisiana lament,” James Lee Burke
  •  “Diary of an Interesting Year,” Helen Simpson

So, that’s it, I’m done now. Well, the coursework portion, anyway. I begin my professional placement next week, which gives me the opportunity to work for a literary magazine publication for six weeks as part of my program. Amongst other things (showering, dressing like a real person every day), this means that for the first time in nearly ten years, I will have regular work hours. Wish me luck!

 

 

A Selective Reading of The Tempest

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I give The Tempest 8 out of 10 magic brushstrokes. This play was shockingly readable for a Shakespearian comedy which sets out to fool the audience from the get-go. It was interesting to read AND I understood everything that was going on, so that’s 2/2 on my Shakespeare scale.

Question: who would win in a fight, Prospero and his magic cloak, Harry and his invisibility cloak, or Joseph and his amazing technicoloured dreamcoat? FIGHT OF THE CLOAKS!

A: This is a great idea for a new broadway musical.

ANYWAYS.

I read Peter Holland‘s introduction to The Tempest in my titanic edition of The Complete Pelican Shakespeare. At the time of writing the intro, Holland was the Director of the Shakespeare Institute at the University of Birmingham, so I guess this guy has some credibility. I should have waited until after I read the text to read Holland’s piece because as it stands I did not understand much of it (as I had no context for it) and remember very little of it. Hang on, I’m going to go scan it again…*scanning*…okay, to recap his article: colonialism, nationalism, performance, ambivalence, and time scale. My recap game is strong.

I can definitely see why the initial exchange between Prospero and Caliban in Act 1, Scene 2 is pilfered by po-co scholars for material. It’s awful and perfect! Especially English language po-co scholars: “You taught me language, and my profit on’t/ Is, I know how to curse. The red plague rid you/ For learning me your language!” (1:2:54). Right?! Full disclosure: I am choosing to privilege the ‘po-co/slavery is bad’ reading and ignore the fact that Prospero says he only enslaved Caliban after buddy tried to rape his daughter: “I have used thee/ Filth as thou art, with human care, and lodged thee/ In mine own cell, till thou didst seek to violate the honour of my child” (1:2:53). To which Caliban basically replies “But, babies!” I have to be honest, if I pay too much attention to that little detail, I start becoming WAY more sympathetic to Prospero than I want to be. Because Prospero is a selfish ass-hat and a terrible human being. It’s easier to just ignore details that don’t adhere to my overall sensibilities and preferred reading. I can do that here, because this is my blog, not an academic paper. SO THERE!

One thing I did not understand is how the play ends with Alonso, King of Naples, saying to Prospero: “I long/ to hear the story of your life, which must/ Take the ear strangely” (5:1:117). ERMMMMMM You know the story of his life. You banished him, remember? That was you and his brother, Antonio. You guys did that, together, as a team. Or do you just screw over so many people out of their dukedoms that you can’t remember this one who you put on a boat (with no sails) and set it out to sea (for him to die)? Look at buddy over here, making like this is the first time they’ve met, and Prospero is just going for it, letting it happen. I feel like there’s a murder in their future, for sure.

I digress.

Pro tip: do not watch The Little Mermaid before reading this play. If you do, you will have to constantly remind yourself that Ariel is a male nymph, not a red-headed mermaid who wants to be where the people are.

That’s all for now, I have to get back to research.

Grad research procrastination

Image Sources:
The Tempest: JY Productions, http://www.jyproductions.com/theatre-the-tempest.php
Homework vs Fly: College Xpress, http://www.collegexpress.com/articles-and-advice/grad-school/articles/life-grad-student/20-steps-graduate-researchtold-cartoons/

 

 

 

Brad Pitt messes with my creativity

I saw the film adaptation of Interview with the Vampire way back when and fell in love with it. Since, it’s always been one of my favourite movies, and Brad Pitt stole my heart.

Image result for interview with the vampireTom Cruise freaked me out a bit – oh, how little I knew then how he would grow to freak me out even more…and Kirsten Dunst performed perhaps her best on-screen role of her entire career. I might be biased. But she was so good!

Image result for interview with the vampire claudia

The result is that, now, some thirteen-ish years later, I finally have read Anne Rice’s book, which inspired it all. Louis’ voice, in my mind, was exactly that slow, smooth, detached drawl that Pitt uses in the film, and that was wonderful. It was like having Brad Pitt in my brain for a few days, reading me a story about vampires and the human condition.

Point being: I wasn’t able to separate my film viewing experience from my book reading experience. Do you remember my post about Troilus and CressidaWhy do you do this to me, Brad? Let my imagination go, and run free! Are you so possessive that once you’ve inhabited a character in my mind, nobody else can? Damn you!

It’s interesting that in the film *spoilers* Lestat does not return until the very end, and he’s the one who seeks out the reporter. In the book, Lestat reappears at the Theatre des vampires. He’s the one that gives them up, rather than Santiago figuring it out on his own. The novel also ends with the reporter heading out to find Lestat, rather than the latter dropping out of the sky into his red convertible as he’s driving at highway speeds.

Also, Armand and Louis run off together in the text, whereas in the film Louis goes on the road solo after Kirsten’s death (I think I’m remembering that right – can someone corroborate this?).

Lastly, the film puts a lot of emphasis on Louis’ refusal/grappling with feeding off humans. At one point, Lestat finds him after he’s spent weeks in the gutter, feeding solely on rats and vermin because Louis can’t stand the guilt from taking human lives. Once he learns that he can live off animal blood he’s like “WELP. It’s an animal-based diet for me from now on!” but this doesn’t happen in the book at all. His foray into animal-based eating is brief, and he quickly returns to feeding off of humans. He doesn’t enjoy it, he complains about it a lot, but he does it.

All told, the book was pretty good. Brad Pitt Louis is a fairly self-indulgent and philosophical narrator who muses and moans more than he tells a story. But the story he does tell is pretty good. Surprisingly, the first book does not make me want to read Prince Lestat, the second installment in Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles series. I know they are canonical to the vampire genre, which I do love, but at this point, I simply have too many other books tempting me, of whose quality I am more certain.

Speaking of which, I finished The Tempest last night, so there’s a blog coming for that. Stay tuned! For now I’m off to mark and write papers.

Image Sources
Claudia (Kirsten): Media Giphy
Lestat (Tom) and Louis (Brad): The Clinton Street Theatre

Okay, Tempest, You’re Up.

A surprising number of the texts I’ve read in my MA have made allusions and references to The Tempest. An exhausting, relentless number of them. It’s been ridiculous, folks.

Having not read The Tempest yet (despite having read METRIC TONS of Shakespeare) this was frustrating for me. Very frustrating. I get it, everyone loves The Tempest.

So now that I’m done my course reading, have some breathing room between papers, and have finished a quick fun read (Interview with the Vampire), I’m listening to the universe and am reading this freakin’ play.

Bring on the storms, boats, islands and magic, Shakespeare!

tempest.jpg

Dear March Madness: I win!

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March Madness,
YOU HAVE BEEN DEFEATED!

I had a collection of images selected for this post, but I edited it down because I feel that the one below captures the true essence of how I feel right now: proud and sweaty.

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March Madness is OVER as of tomorrow when I hand in the last assignment I have due this month! Seminars? Check. Proposals? Done. Papers? Written. Books? Read ’em all! Micro-Teaching Session? Nailed it. Mini-Lecture? Delivered. Guest Lecture? Slayed. Essay Marking? Well…I’m still working on that one…but it’s started! The rest of my marking is done so I’m calling it a win!

Only two more final papers to write and I will be finished all of my coursework for my English MA. Bananas.

Why Moby Dick is a Classic – from someone more qualified and on a roller coaster

Back when I was reading Moby Dick, I attempted to answer why I thought this novel is considered a classic. I did this mostly in response to the question’s popularity; whilst reading the book, most interactions I had with onlookers went something like this:

Person: Oh, I see you’re reading Moby Dick.
Me: Sure am (*inside voice* and I’m totally understanding it too, not overwhelmed at all)
Person: That’s cool…cool, cool, cool…So. let me ask you something, why do you think it’s a classic?
Me: Well…
Me: You see…
Me: It’s a classic because…
Me:  Image result for bullshit bullshit bullshit sarah marshall

And now, Fine Readers, I am pleased to present you with a much more defensible response to the question, brought to you by Stephen Colbert and Andrew Delbanco, a Melville author and scholar, on a roller coaster:

Go forth and impress people at parties with your new found knowledge!

gif source: https://media.tenor.co/images/d5229344a3a5da8306ecbd42d26bf414/raw

March Madness is real, it just has nothing to do with football.

UPDATE: My husband informs me that March Madness has nothing to do with football, ever. Apparently, it’s a basketball thing. So, shows what I know. Sports, Go Sports!

It’s been a busy month since I last posted…11 1/2 books busy, and I’m behind in my reading. Add to that two weeks of almost zero progress because I was sick, which is just coming to an end now (thank god) and you can see why I’ve been absent (I hope, please don’t leave me, I love you all)

Here’s what I’ve read since we last spoke a month ago:

Sadly, none of the above are on The List. Happily, many of them were awesome. Highlights in this batch included Autobiography of My Mother by Jamaica Kincaid, who is a treasure, and Olive by Dinah Craik, which I had never heard of before but which was surprisingly easy and quick to read for a 19c novel. A little too pious for my personal predilections, but if you read past the “God will save you” and “The only thing standing in the way of our love and happiness is your lack of faith – Convert! Repent! Then all will right with the world” narrative, then I think you’ll enjoy it.

So that was a pretty busy kick, and it’s not slowing down anytime soon. If anything, it’s ramping up.

March Madness is going to be a real thing in my house this year, but for grad student reasons, not football reasons. Because I don’t watch football. I’m talking about book things.

March Madness = two seminars, two proposals, three papers, five books, one micro-teaching session, one mini-lecture, one guest lecture, and essay marking.

It’s okay, I’m not scared. Let’s do this, Lemon.

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source: https://naiomiblogs.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/resolutions.gif?w=676