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.

3503318

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.

Image result for i have the microphone adam sandler

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!

 

 

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

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.

Image result for i got this gif

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

 

 

Perspective

Thank you,
For the perspective
of what it feels like
to have an entire country vote

to hate
discriminate
subjugate

To rally behind vitriol
RT your hate speech

I thought I knew
sexism
fear

I thought I understood
discrimination

I thought I had experienced it
and could empathize.

Thank you
For the perspective
the correction.
For showing me how wrong I was.

I had not yet
had a whole country
chant that I am unwanted
I did not know

that I am less than my beauty
that I am not enough
that I am crooked
That I am not trustworthy
because I bleed.

Too bad Bernie
didn’t run.
He would’ve won.
A man with a plan,
that’s what was needed.

Not a (wo)man who (over)prepared
Wanted it too much
We’re always so desperate.
It’s pathetic, right?

right?

She smiled too much
or not enough?
She was too cold,
corrupt,

But pay no attention to the migrant workers
immigrants
accountants
behind your iron curtain

Pay no attention to the lies
they are #alternativefacts
Disregard my doublespeak
It’s doubleplusgood

Take it in stride
Take it as blind
as real
as truth
as locker-room talk.

I am not a politician,
I can feel hate
and make mistakes
and contradictions
like you

that’s why they voted for you,
you’re their man.

I’m scared; I’m brave

They Said

Fear is for the weak,
Don’t be scared,
They said.

Women are too emotional,
Don’t cry,
They said.

Fear is the mind killer,
It leads to hate,
They said.

Take a different path home
Each way,
Each day,
Don’t be scared,
They said.

Smile more,
You seem cold, unfeeling
Women are too emotional,
They said.

Check your drink,
Be safe,
Don’t be scared,
They said.

Sticks and stones,
Words can’t hurt you.
Don’t cry,
They said.

It’s your body,
Keep your legs closed,
Don’t be scared,
They said.

It will never happen,
Don’t worry,
Don’t be scared,
They said.

It will be fine,
You’re reading too much into it,
Don’t cry,
They said.

It’s not happening here,
You’re safe here,
Don’t be scared.
They said.

I am scared;
I am brave.
I cry;
I am strong.

She said.

She says.

She will say.

 

Emma: I bite my thumb at you

threepanelbookreview:
“EMMA by Jane Austen.
”

Another intersection between List and MA, can it be? YES IT CAN! I’ve recently finished reading Emma for one of my classes this term. This is my second foray into Austen, and, if I’m being honest, Northanger Abbey was better.

Perhaps that’s only because it was shorter, though…there are a lot of parallels between the two novels — NA could almost be considered Emma junior. In both novels, a young woman is woefully unable to correctly read those around her, and hilarity ensues. Everyone gets married, the end.

In Emma, however, the main title character is awful. I spent a good deal of the first half of the book yelling obscenities at her, and throwing the book against the wall. Okay, I didn’t literally throw the book against the wall (what kind of a monster do you think I am?), but there was fair amount of eye-rolling happening on my part. As the kids say, I was throwing some serious shade.

Emma’s saving grace in the novel is that Austen saw fit to write in a character we would hate more than her heroine – Mr. Frank Freakin’ Churchill. What a useless piece of human flesh he is. Current theory: Frank’s function in the plot is to highlight the ridiculous impotence and lack of agency women have in their lives – by feminizing Frank and placing him in the predicament of many middle-class women of the period, Austen highlights the ridiculousness of the position. She is saying: “See – if this is a man, suddenly it’s not okay, but this is what you are doing to your daughters. Check your double-standards, people!”

Maybe – that’s one theory. The other theory is that she wanted to a have a foil for Mr. Knightley. This theory is just as credible.

Favourite Moment: That time when she was directly responsible for her BFF’s heartbreak TWICE and then when her friend FINALLY moves on, Emma goes “hmmm actually…Imma marry him…can you not come around here anymore? K, thanks, BYEEEEE”

Other observations:

  • Having a carriage was a big deal – but you had to have a carriage at the right time. A carriage too early was an invitation for public scrutiny. Check your carriage before you wreck your carriage.
  • Gypsies will rob you if you’re nice to them.
  • Doctor wars are intense. Pick your side and don’t back down!
  • Bath was the Las Vegas of 19c middle-class England.
  • Never trust your brand new friend if they tell you someone is in love with you – they are wrong and it will ruin your life.
  • If a lover sends you a surprise anonymous piano, he’s probably not good enough for you.
  • If a lover wants to keep your engagement secret, he’s definitely not good enough for you.
  • Always make sure you have enough apples.

QUESTION: In a contest between Mrs. Elton, Miss Bates, and Anne of Green Gables – who speaks for the longest without pause?

Austen comic source: http://once4511.tumblr.com/