We’re all back from our summer vacations, with the exception of Dea, who up and moved to Santa Barbara, where she is enjoying things like avocado blossom honey and working with data and its integrity somewhere in a building made of terra cotta and surrounded by palm trees. We miss her already!
You’re probably not ready for books about full-fledged autumn yet, though I did seriously consider a reading list of books on how to cook pumpkins. Instead, I thought I’d go with a more transitional booklist, and give you some suggestions of books that reinvent something old, with a twist. (I promise, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies isn’t on this list, though, I’m pretty sure I’m obligated to talk about New Moon: The Movie eventually.)
by Margaret AtwoodThe Odyssey, told from Penelope’s point of view, in Atwood’s trademark, pithy style.
by Michael CunninghamWalt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass
is the leitmotif for this novel about past, present, and future New York City, with a bonus ghostly Whitman appearance.
Drood by Dan Simmons
This novel explores the still-unsolved mysteries of the famous author’s last years and may provide the key to Dickens’s final, unfinished work: The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
Blindspot: by a Gentleman in Exile and a Lady in Disguise by Jane Kamensky and Jill Lepore
“Tis a small canvas, this Boston,” muses Stewart Jameson, a Scottish portrait painter who, having fled his debtors in Edinburgh, has washed up on America’s far shores. Eager to begin anew in this new world, he advertises for an apprentice, but the lad who comes knocking is no lad at all. Fanny Easton is a lady in disguise, a young, fallen woman from Boston’s most prominent family. “I must make this Jameson see my artist’s touch, but not my woman’s form,” Fanny writes, in a letter to her best friend. “I would turn my talent into capital, and that capital into liberty.” Liberty is what everyone’s seeking in boisterous, rebellious Boston on the eve of the American Revolution.
Blindspot kept me up reading late last night. Jameson and Fanny are fabulously written characters, and getting lost in the world of pre-Revolution Boston is a great reason to sacrifice sleep.
I finally watched Twilight this past weekend, and I considered writing a review, since it has been one of the most talked about book-into-movie productions lately. I realized, though, that my review would have been made up of ways in which the movie fixed several of the problems of the book, most notably the pacing and the introduction of the conflict that wasn’t the romantic one. I tend to be of the opinion that books are better than the movie that is made of them. Most of the time, it’s not a matter of quality as much as it is a matter of form: you can do things in a book that you can’t do in a movie.
In the case of Twilight, I think the movie benefited from knowing the end of the story – they snuck in James and the bad guy vampires earlier, in a way that Stephanie Meyer somehow failed to do in her revisions, so they didn’t come as so much of a surprise three quarters of the way through the book. I found Bella more likeable in the movie than I did in the book. (Don’t hate me, crazy devoted fans, although, really, what are you doing reading this blog? Did you miss our ongoing joke about the horror that is Breaking Dawn?) I think the distance from Bella’s narration – and her inner thoughts and personal observations – helped me to appreciate Bella more as a lead character without getting annoyed with her the way I did in the book (and in New Moon and Eclipse ….)
The biggest triumph of the movie as a successful re-telling of the book was that there was no major plot element left out for the sake of brevity (I’m looking at you, here, Prisoner of Azkaban) and I could without reservation recommend that a fan of the movie just go ahead and jump into reading New Moon if they wanted more of the series. They’re already planning to turn that one into a movie, as well.
Unfortunately, Twilight: The Movie didn’t address any of my concerns about the weird power dynamic between our leads, or the creepy messages about the dangers of female sexuality, but I’m not sure there was any way to tell the story of Edward and Bella without the creepy.
Featured in this post:
Sometime last week, Ardis suggested we should do a tag mash that included the word “torment.” I was deeply interested in the potential results, for reasons which should be obvious from my reading tastes. I started with something general, hoping for some captivating results: “torment, fiction” yielded this very small list:
Fairly boring, except for the potential humor in wondering whether the tagger is commenting on the angst in both Wuthering Heights and Crime and Punishment or in the angst of having to read them. More interesting, though, was LibraryThing‘s suggested related tag mash: high school, romance. The connection alone was hilarious – high school romance IS torment – but it gets even better. Because the first three books of the “high school, romance” tag mash were these:
I have no doubt where the torment came from, and I think we all know it wasn’t the vampires. I can only hope the reason Breaking Dawn isn’t on there is because enough readers bailed on the series before they had to endure it’s special kind of torment. I almost think that in this case it needs a capital T.