Here’s some guidance for the kind of response I’m looking for, but this time — instead of featuring what I’m reading — I’m featuring some examples from your peers. What I like about these is that they reflect a full immersion in the experience of reading book and they consider the book from a writer’s perspective.
Sophia on Little Bee:
well, i just finished reading little bee, like, yesterday, so i suppose i’ll talk about that.
little bee was gorgeous, like, seriously. her voice was crisp and clear and beautiful. she, as a character, was both sad and funny and sweet. you can’t help but fall in love with her.
likewise with the little boy, charlie. as a four year old who insists on being called batman and who never, ever takes off his batman suit incase the evil ‘puffin’ comes and destroys the world, he is remarkably unannoying. he is cute and sweet and a much needed comic relief in the tension that exists between all of the major characters, like sarah, charlie’s mother, a woman who cut off a finger to save little bee, andrew, who is sarahs husband, and who was too weak to cut off a finger and save little bee’s sister, and lawrence, sarah’s lover, who loves sarah more than anything, but considferes little bee a danger and someone who simply does not belong in england as an illegal immigrant.
honestly, though, the story line wasn’t too great, and when i finished, it left me wanting so much more. it just wasn’t enough.
but still. the characters are enough to keep the entire boat afloat, simply because they are so well written, so well done and developed and they are so realistic.
but one of the reasons i was so intrigued by it in the first place was because i am always interested in immigration, and how immigrants are treated. and this book added a lot of insight on that, about how long it takes, and how horrible the conditions there are.
and another reason is because i am always curious in stories, and this one seemed to have a particularly nice one to tell. and it did. little bees background story, especially, was both heartbreaking and uplifting.
all in all, it is really just a book you have to read, if you like it in the end or not. it is one of those great books that are rarely produced, and in the very least, it will teach you something about voice and character.
Amanda on Let Us Now Praise Famous Men:
I’m reading Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, written by James Agee and photographed by Walker Evans. I decided to read it because when we read the first page in nonfiction, something about it threw open a door and let light in. This book (so far) has really changed the way I think of myself as a writer and how I can manipulate the time and space that I’ve given myself to evoke things from others. This was, of course, Agee’s aim, by writing about three sharecropping families in rural Alabama in 1936 — a gentle kind of exposé, passivity culminated into serialized articles for a magazine which expanded as the artists grew closer to the families and eventually turned into a book.
I identify a lot with Agee and Evans in both their temperament (see the preface written by Evans) and their work, the diligence and the practice and their aspirations for themselves and what they do. I haven’t read very much due to the fact that I’m trying to follow the suggestions in one of the most beautiful preface/introductions ever written; Evans mentions that Agee did most of his writing at night, when everyone was asleep and when he could find time to slip away. He goes further to say that Agee’s voice really came alive when he wrote at that time, so it is strictly, logically sensible to read it at night and understand it on different levels. He was right, and I have no regrets.
Carmen on Game of Thrones:
Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin is…..fantasy in a mideval setting. I recently got in the mood to read fantasy after re-watching Neverending Story. I got to thinking– why don’t we write about strange creatures and dreamworld anymore? I think we write fantasy on the down-low, and sometimes it gets a bad rap for not having enough substance or for being “child-like”. Why don’t we really get crazy with weird animals and mythology and just straight up goofy stuff? Just for fun. Are our imaginations dying because we’re too busy being “scholarly” to dream? to be completely ridiculous? we’re killing Fantasia!
Anyways, at first, I thought Game of Thrones was a crazy fantasy book with weird monsters and such because in the very beginning, there’s a scene in which this ghosty-ice-like-samurai-red-eyed thing (real descriptive, I know) opens a can of kick-butt on some young, pompous commander. As I read on past the prologue, however, the story became more about Eddark Starrk (ruler of the North/Winterfell) getting to the bottom of the death of his good friend (who is also the King’s Hand). The story revolves around how deceptive and corrupt people in power are and so on and so forth.
Mainly, the tensions in the story comes from the medieval standards — how young girls are supposed to sew and be flowery and so darn polite and get married young and such, how wives are supposed to turn the other cheek when their husbands have sons on the side, how boys are supposed to mature quickly, ride horses, kill people, drink wine and spirits, go to brothels, etc etc. How the characters react to these standards is simply compelling and as more pressure is placed on them, the more they want to step out of line, and everything seems on the verge of collapse.
By Thursday post your response to what you’re reading in the comments section below.
- Again: it has to be a book this time — a book you’re finished (or almost finished) reading.
Rest assured, I’ll do it too.
- My book: Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient.
- I’ve read it before but there are reasons I need to read it again.