Friday, May 06, 2005

Finally...the Reading Meme

At last, I took the time to walk around the house, peruse bookshelves and came to the following...for now. Like religion, my recall of books that are important to me is rather changes...I easily reminded...but for today, right now, these are my answers to RLC's kind request of me.

1. You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451. Which book do you want to be?

I’m torn between James Joyce’s Ulysses and the Torah. With the first, Joyce included all sort of different writing styles that I grew to love. His language, use of stream of consciousness, and story enthralled me in college and ever since. I think it’s one of most fascinating books I’ve ever read and would love to have his words at my fingertips at all times. For me, the book endlessly captivates. The Torah on the other hand is about life – doesn’t matter my atheistic tendencies, what’s there is applicable and intriguing and fodder for thought and argument. There is no lack of story there, there is no uselessness there. Oh and now that I'm thinking about it, another possibility would be Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder. He outlines all the major philosophies in the world into a very interesting fictional story. I'd love to have handy that information, quotes and ins and outs, as I move along in my day-to-day activities.

2. Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

For those who really and truly know me…LOL! Um, but we’re talking books. I’d probably have to say, no. I’ve loved the writers, though, I developed hard crushes on the authors themselves, eating up their biographies (some of them were positively crazy), becoming hungry for their work. Perhaps the closest fictional crush I came to was on Stephen Dedalus. I loved his torment, his beautiful misery ever since Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man through Ulysses. A note on crushes – I was in love with Houdini and Charles Lindbergh as a teenager. I fell in love with them through their biographies.

3. The last book you bought was...?

The Motorcycle Diaries
by Ernesto Che Guevara, Cintio Vitier, and Aleida Guevara.

4. The last book you read was...?

Observatory Mansions by Edward Carey – an engrossing, twisted, story written in a unique style about twisted characters, people who hadn’t always been so strange. It’s a journey to wholeness, closure, hope, my favorite sort of story.

5. What are you currently reading?

Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde; The Little Friend by Donna Tartt, Good Poems, edited by Garrison Keillor, 2005 O’Henry Prize Stories, several literary journals, Jonathon Strange & Mr. Norell by Susanna Clark, The Republic of East L.A. by Luis Rodriquez and Sunday Jews by Hortense Calisher (I read slowly, I drift in an out of many books, one at a time, on any single day or single week).

6. Five books you would take to a desert island...

Impossible to answer, I suppose it would be Ulysses, the Torah, Norton’s Anthology of Poetry, Norton’s Anthology of English Literature and of American Literature, and I’d have to sneak onto the island a really big Dictionary.

7. Who are you passing this stick on to and why?

Well, taking into account the various types of blogs and the kinds of answers we might get…I’d like to pass the stick to Lori because she needs to be distracted from her little Susie, Matzanacho because her interest in books is so very different than mine, Brenda because I'd like to know what a wonderful artist reads, the narrator because although his blog doesn’t really accommodate a meme, I'm still quite intrigued what such a good published author reads, and hokkaidoabbey because if I name any more, I'll just be obnoxious.

One last notation - a book I just picked up off the internet: Mark Twain's Letters from the Earth, a satire about Christian and religion as a whole. I read this back in high school and had been immediately struck by its relevance to my own beliefs. The book is quite funny and quite interesting. I remember coming home and reading bits of it to my mother.


BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

Great questions. Let me see what I can remember!

Yes, I have had a crush, as a child on Jean Val Jean from Les Miserables and on The Huntchback of Notre Dame (you can tell looks are not so important to me, and I like a non-mainstream type of person.)

As for the 5 books I would take on a dessert island, that is difficult to answer. For certain, I would take THE TRIAL by Franz Kafka. This book is such a masterpiece, difficult to put down. I would also take the Magician of Lublin by Isaac Bashevis Singer. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, The Trial of God, by Elie Weisel. That is all I can think of for now.

Keep these provocative questions coming!

Lori said...

Oh, brother. Thanks for thinking of me, bud, though I feel I'm WAY out of my league here, looking at yours and everyone else's responses. My preferences seem so lowbrow in comparison. But...well...okay...I'll just disclaim first. I don't read much. Used to, but don't anymore. I have college and my own laziness to thank for that. My husband's an avid reader, and I always feel guilty when I see him reading and I'm not. But I'm trying to get back into it, I really am. I hope to be able to enjoy books like I used to someday soon.

But anyway, here goes. I never read Fahrenheit 451 (big surprise), but I know the gist of the story. This question seems to tie into the other one about the five books I'd take to a desert island, so I'll do a 2 for 1 here. Off the top of my head, I'd have to rattle off 'Wuthering Heights' and 'Jane Eyre'---gotta love those crazy Bronte chicks. Both books were of course, assigned summer reading in high school, but I fell in love with them. They were the first pieces of classic literature that I really got into, and have stayed with me. Besides those---I'd definitely take Stephen King's 'The Stand', still one of the best stories ever, imo...also one of his other books, 'On Writing'---which is not only very informative for new writers, but also a fun read. Number 5 I'll give to Crichton's 'Jurassic Park.' Seriously. I never read a book so fast in all my life. Once I read the first sentence, I COULD NOT put it down. Despite what Spielberg turned it into, the book remains one of the best rides ever.

As for crushes on fictional characters, well, yeah. I fell pretty hard for Heathcliff after reading 'Wuthering Heights,' even though the guy's a friggin' lunatic. LOL!

The last book I bought was Michael Cunningham's 'The Hours', I think. I was interested in it after seeing the movie. Of course, I have yet to read it. Hopefully I'll get to it sometime before I'm dead.

The last book I finished was Alice Sebold's 'The Lovely Bones.' It was okay...well written, of course, lots of beautiful imagery, and it gets pretty suspenseful. But I didn't think it lived up to its potential.

As far as what I'm currently reading...LOL!! I have a stack of books I need to read. I did get a little ways into Homer Hickam's autobiography, 'The Rocket Boys' or 'October Sky', which was the movie's title. So far it's pretty good. But I've also started reading the 9/11 Commission's report. Yeah, I know, weird. But actually, I feel it's important...probably something everybody should read.

As far as who I can pass this on to, well, the only person I can think of is my best friend, Jacqui. She's an engineer with a big, fat brain and is much more well-read than I. I'm sure she'd have some pretty cool answers, so I'll tell her to pop by here.

Tamar said...

How strange and sad that we become anxious and competetive about even "what we read." So many people have said, like lori: "My preferences seem so lowbrow in comparison."

My mother says that I am "not a reader," because I often don't get to read the books she recommends, but read others. So, she will say, "Tamar, there is this or that book I think you should read but I know you are not a reader."

Oh well, my thought for the day, I guess.

narrator said...

I'm working on this. It's been a rough week (month?), but I'm trying...

narrator said...

OK, sometime after 12:01 a.m. on the 8th, it'll be there on my site, beneath the day's post... We started kind of similarly, but then diverged wildly...

narrator said...

oops, on the xanga site
which links off the blogspot site

Adriana Bliss said...

Oh I'm so happy to see posts!

Barbara, I've been wanting to read that book - I'll have to pick it up. You mentioned it on your site and ever since I've had it in the back of my mind. Good choices you have here!

Lori, I agree with Tamar, don't feel low-brow, your choices are excellent - you're pointing out examples of great storytelling. I totally agree with you about Stephen King - a writer who "gets it." He gets what makes a "great story." I've read quite a few of his books just love him. In fact, I read "On Writing," at your recommendation! I also understand about how you can lose your interest in reading. Even I stopped reading during and for a quite a lot after law school, other than legal reading. Anyway, very interesting choices, Lori.

Tamar, I'm simply reminded of how sometimes Mothers don't always see their child for who they are. Even the best ones.

Narrator, I look forward to reading your list!

Lori said...

Well, thank you, bud...but unfortunately, and even though they shouldn't, people do make judgments based on what you tell them you watch or read or do for fun. So it's not that I'm being competitive or anxious about it...I'm just admitting in an environment full of people who read much more intellectual books...that I don't read that kind of stuff. LOL!

nappy40 said...

Hey, I had a crush on The Man With The Yellow Hat! You can't get more lowbrow than that! Maybe my crush was on Curious George and The Man.

narrator said...

It would be interesting to see these all collected onto one blog... I could try, but it's unlikely, any volunteers out there?

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

I also read LETTERS FROM THE EARTH in high school and loved it -- thought it was the funniest and most perceptive thing ever. I'd like to read it again. Some people in government these days need to have it read to them.

I love good pulp but I've never gotten much out of S. King. Correction: I liked THE DEAD ZONE, both the book and the movie. But he seems to need a lot of cutting -- though not as much as J. K. Rowling.

Great comments and suggestions you've got here, Adriana. I've felt a little guilty for passing this meme on to a handful of people -- who's got time to do this, including me? -- but I hope you and your readers got some fun out of it. Just what we all need: a longer reading list.