Monthly Archives: September 2015

Still Alice

Standard

I find that I have random obsessions. Obsession might not be the right word for what I’m trying to say. Deep interest is probably a good description because these things aren’t ever long lasting. I do research on random things and then I move on. For example, how big was the Titanic, tell me all about the Romanovs, whatever happened to Peter Pan. Did you know that Rasputin was never actually a monk even though he was called ‘the mad monk’? And the kid that inspired Peter Pan committed suicide? It’s things like that, that get me interested. We can add Alice Liddell to that list.

Alice Liddell was the girl who inspired Alice from Alice in Wonderland. But let’s think about this. Alice Liddell was not blonde. The illustrations you see, Disney or not, are blonde. Now I have a question and keep in mind that I am blonde. What’s the world’s thing with blondes? We’re not that special. Brunettes and other hair colors are just as pleasing to the eye. Back up off us world.

I read Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin It’s the story of Alice Liddell in novel form. So obviously, we can’t take all the facts as truth. Before and during this book, I did a little reading on Alice. Her relationship with the author was creepy. When you read it as a fact in an article or something historical, it’s creepy but as a book, I was kind of…..I don’t know. I don’t have words. I shuddered at one point of the book. Alice really did cut ties with the author when Alice was 11 and he was 31. Go read about her. It’s super interesting but kind of creepy. I also don’t know what it is about authors and relationships. They come off creepy. There was a huge conversation in one of my British Lit classes about William Wordsworth and his sister, they were very close. Then you have authors and extramarital affairs. There was a time before recorded music where authors were rock stars. Things shift.

Alice was pretty much the first literary child. Like Peter Pan (the Llewelyn-Davis boys were the inspiration for the Lost Boys), and Winnie the Pooh (Christopher Robin was based off the author’s son) were both after Alice. She was the muse. Alice asked Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll’s real name) to write Wonderland when she was a girl and then ignored the fact that she was the real Alice until she was 80. And that was because she was in a financial bind and had to do something. She didn’t want to lose her home. In that case, you can’t blame her for admitting it.

On the cover of the book, Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series (which I still love), says that the book is “magic”. Don’t think any magic was done in my presence. No rabbits out of a hat or anything. But with words, it was pretty good. I wasn’t really into this book at first but I kept wanting to know what happened to Alice. I mean, there’s a stuttering mathematics professor, a prince, another creepy guy. Yeah, Alice attracted creepy, older men. I’m glad I don’t attract creepy, old men. I just attract weird situations.

I really liked the last few lines. I like that she states this is who I am, this who I always have been and this is forever. I also felt bad for her as a child. She was stifled. This is another thing in history where I don’t agree with how they do things. I don’t agree that children were stifled like they were. Yes, I do agree that children should behave in public but also they should be allowed to run and get dirty. I was allowed to get dirty and I loved it. I was just promoting that with my niece and nephew. The guys just cut corn in the field and we went to go look for the very few cobs of corn that were left. So there needs to be some freedom. I was also confused by the mother at times. Do you want your child to be strong and have sense or do you want her reliant on a man. Socially, it was totally okay to be reliant on a man but then don’t confide in your daughter so much. I don’t know. I wish that the father was more a part of this book, you didn’t see him much. He was talked about but never seen as much as I would like.

This is another book that I don’t know if I’ll ever pick up again. Not that it wasn’t good, but I just don’t know how intrigued I was by it. If I do pick it up again it will because I want to figure out how much I am intrigued by it. The book is flawed. It’s not perfect but what novel is perfect?

A Lesson Before Dying. (Review)

Standard

So A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines. Not a bad book but I found out that I can’t read this book and watch The Green Mile at the same time. I would have finished it the other night but I tried doing both at the same time and it sent me into an anxiety attack. So that was something. But it doesn’t take much anymore. I mean, I spent the weekend with someone and they were listing off some restaurants and I kind of panicked and couldn’t make a decision and made her do it. But this was bad.

The book was written in 1993 and it’s set in the late ‘40’s. A young black guy is wrongly accused of killing people and is sentenced to jail. The guy’s godmother and another lady make the other lady’s nephew go and talk to the accused before he’s executed so that he will come across as more educated when he’s educated. Are we starting to see why I couldn’t read this during The Green Mile in my current emotional state? Which is sad because I’ve never seen that movie all the way through and I still haven’t watched it all the way through.

I hate the main character of Grant Wiggins. He’s pretentious. He’s one of those people that because they have an education after high school, they are God’s gift to the world. Some of the smartest people I know don’t have a college education. Wiggins hated going to see Jefferson because he felt superior to someone without an education. To Wiggins, if you weren’t educated, you were nothing. I hate that in person. He’s also called Professor and it bothers me. He’s a teacher, not a professor. They’re different things. And Wiggins doesn’t have the kind of education to be a professor. Wiggins is also seeing a married woman. Sure, the woman’s going to get a divorce but as the book says, a separation is not a divorce. I may be very conservative on this subject but don’t screw the girl you like if she’s still married. I feel like he changed minimally throughout the book. Yeah, he felt for people more but he was still kind of an ass, in my opinion. I did admire him getting in a fight because of Jefferson though. That was admirable.

During the trial, Jefferson’s state appointed attorney made Jefferson seem like less than human. The attorney went so far as to compare Jefferson to a pig. When Wiggins goes to Jefferson, Jefferson acts like a pig to make a point to Wiggins. And at the end, Jefferson tells someone to tell his godmother that he walked on his own two legs meaning that he didn’t go on all 4 like a pig. And they didn’t use pig in the book, they used the word hog. I know this is the 40s and things are totally different but it really bothers me that happens. Jefferson goes into a state of depression. I’m sure I would if I were wrongly accused and were going to be executed. I think that Jefferson was the one that stuck to his guns the most. He was stubborn about how he felt about being in jail. He kept his pride the whole time and he kept his pride the whole time.

A few other things. Then there’s the trio of religious leaders. The preacher, the aunt and the godmother. I see nothing wrong with trying to save someone before their death. But I don’t like how insistent they were. So that’s that. And I found it interesting that Wiggins called his aunt ‘Tante Lou’. I’m not sure why he would use the German word for Aunt. It just doesn’t seem to add up in my head. Like if it’s ever explained why he goes German for that, I missed it. He’s a black guy with, from what I know, no German blood in him or having German lessons.

Probably will not pick up this book again. It’s not that it was bad but it’s just one of those books that you just don’t pick up every day.

Personal update: Still dealing with a lot of stuff. Not fun stuff.

Persuasion

Standard

Before I get into books again, I want to address something. I’ve been gone for longer than I expected. And there’s a good reason for it. It’s not because I haven’t read. I really won’t get into the reason but it’s kind of a big thing. I’ve been hurting about a certain relationship and I know I’m a big reason for this falling out. I will not talk about the situation because along with being hurt and not being healed from a lot of situations, I’m angry about things. And that makes me very mean. Being mean doesn’t help the other person in the situation or myself. And the anger is unnecessary. It’s like I’m being a rebellious teenager. I’m trying to get over it. I don’t know if I’m ready to start posting reviews again but here I go. Hopefully writing will help me heal.

As said in my last post, Persuasion by Jane Austen is finished. There are ways I really relate to Anne. I feel like she’s underestimated. She also has a tendency to be ignored I feel. I feel like there are times where I’m both underestimated and ignored. I mean, come to a family gathering and see how that goes. Definitely a good book and I will pull it off the shelf every once in a while. It’s just not a go to book for me. But Austen rarely is for me. So that’s not a surprise me. Anne’s family, I felt, were shallow. They just seemed ridiculously into themselves and not paying attention to Anne. I don’t think Anne would want to the center of attention, all the time. But pay a little attention to her.

I hate when people think Austen is just romance based. She isn’t. Austen and the Bronte’s are all about class systems and money and defining or defying of those systems. There’s more that goes on in those novels than people think. It’s just a little bit of a pet peeve for me. Read more into a book other than what’s on the page, like the historical context. Like Anne was pressured to break off an engagement because Wentworth was not of high ranking in the Navy. Yes, makes for a tragic love story but very common for someone to break off an engagement because of social standing during this time period.

Talking about Anne and Wentworth’s relationship. I was very proud of Wentworth for being cold to Anne. She deserved it. Anne should have not listened and stayed with Wentworth from the beginning. I would have been okay if they didn’t get together. But I think that it wouldn’t be an Austen novel if the two people that were made for each didn’t end up together. There’s a lot of undertones in Austen novels but there still is a lot of happy endings. Even though he is cold at times, Wentworth is a character that is worth being loved. He’s a freaking hero.

As with all, or most, ‘classics’, there’s letters. Actual letters. Handwritten letters. I wish handwritten letters made a comeback. Not just random novels but letters that were heartfelt and there was actual thought involved. I want words involved that have more than 2 syllables. Something that comes from the heart and touches the heart. Just like when I was in Hungary, I want letters!

This was also the last book that Austen wrote. I think that the only book I haven’t read of Austen is Emma. And it is on my TBR list. I like to read a total work of an author to see how they evolve. By this novel, I think that Austen was better at writing than she was at the beginning of her career. Not that her early stuff wasn’t amazing, but because she seemed to know what she was doing more. I don’t know how I really want to explain how I feel about her writing at the end but saying that she seemed to be more comfortable with her writing is close.

So in my absence, I’ve read Love, Rosie by Cecelia Ahern and I’m reading A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines. It would have more if work hadn’t gotten in the way. I have been working more and I could work more if I really wanted but I don’t want to right now. And there’s been a lot of personal stuff going on lately too, so that’s a hindrance. I just want to be home alone with my books and my VHS’. I will try to have reviews on them. The Gaines novel won’t take me long. It’s not that long.

I’m sorry this isn’t an in-depth over the top review, but you were warned at the beginning of the post that there’s a lot going on in my life that has a lot of my attention. I’ve tried.

Lewis’ A Grief Observed.

Standard

I finished A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis. Yes, I’ve finished reading Persuasion and I still relate to the main character to a point and the review is coming probably within the next week or so but A Grief is one of those books I pick up randomly. You would think I would pick up a book that took less thinking. I didn’t. I’m not convinced that there are people that can read a non-fiction Lewis piece straight through and quickly. Even if you aren’t Christian. There’s too many thoughts. There’s 74 pages that aren’t in the forward by Madeleine L’Engle or blank in my copy of Grief and it took me like 3 weeks to finish it. It takes a lot out of you. Deep subject. A Grief centers around Lewis’ journal entries after his wife dies. He deals with his grief after losing his wife. I can’t really relate. I’ve lost people in my life but nothing like losing a spouse. Closest thing I’ve dealt with is the death of the only grandfather I ever knew at 18 and the great-uncle I was close to when I was 7. I can’t understand the magnitude of grief but I do somewhat understand the frustration and somewhat anger with God. I’ve had some anger since I’ve gotten back. Though some of my anger has been unjustified. I understand that but some of that anger is real to me. Sorry, that was a little tangent that didn’t need to happen but kind of want it to be thrown out there. For future reference.

I won’t even deal with all the thoughts in this book. The loss he goes through, the anger, the questioning. I don’t completely understand but I do respect it. I don’t think I’ll completely understand until I go through a loss that’s similar. And there’s a lot of ideas that I had going through this book that would make this the longest blog post ever. I read something in the last section that got me thinking. “Can a mortal ask questions which God finds unanswerable? Quite easily, I should think. All nonsense questions are unanswerable. How many hours are there in a mile? Is yellow square or round? Probably half the questions we ask- half our great theological and metaphysical problems-are like that.” (pages 81-82) Standing alone, without context, it’s a statement that deserves thought. I think that it’s an interesting thought if you’re going through grief or not. Does God think that we have nonsense questions on sense questions or is it one or the other? I think that God anticipates everything that we throw at Him. Does He shake his head at us? Probably. Does He wonder where we get our questions? I don’t think so. With my view of God, He knows us intimately. As someone I used to go to a Bible Study with said; God’s seen me naked, he knows everything good and bad about me. I think God has all our questions thought about and answered because He knows us individually and knows how we operate. And to me, I read the quote two ways: that quote is Lewis thinking that we have no idea that isn’t ridiculous and the other is that God predicts what the question is and isn’t to God’s intellect. I don’t think we’re at God’s thought level. He created man. How could there be an equal intellect level? But does God see us as completely ridiculous? That I’m not sure of.

I’m not surprised that Lewis wrote that quote though, especially after his wife died. Lewis wasn’t always Christian. He used to be very Atheistic. So when something tragic, I think it was easier for him to go to the thoughts of anger towards God and against God. For me it makes sense that a person who spent a large part of their life denying the existence of something being, will go back to the ideas of doubt. I may be wrong about that. I know that even though I doubt the plan at times I’m still leaning towards God than not. But maybe others aren’t like that. Lewis kept his faith after his wife died. He processed and more importantly, he mourned. No ‘just mourning’ about it. The word just belittles a situation. Speaking from personal experience there.

I do question why this book in particular was published. To me, this book is a book that’s deeply personal to the writer. Going through my journal entries from the past year, (and this book is comprised of journal entries) I would never want them published. There’s too much frustration, anger and pain to publish. Why would you publish something that was even more emotional than what I went through? Unless you were completely over your pain, (and death is a wound that is deep) publishing your journal entries from that time could possibly open up those wounds. But on the other hand, if Lewis himself decided to give this to his publisher, his thought process might have been to help those in similar situations. To help people get through their grief or for those who have gone through grief to have something to relate to. And it’s very possible that he, himself, gave this to his publishers. This book was published originally in 1961 and Lewis died in 1963. And I don’t know how his health was the last few years of his life.

I don’t know if this is my favorite Lewis book. But then it’s a subject that I’m not used to having in my life. It’s not something easily relatable in my life, something that I can look back on and say, ‘I’ve had that feeling’. But it’s a book that I can always go back to in the future when I go through that kind of grief and I’m okay with reading it.

I’m Anne. (Nope.)

Standard

So I couldn’t sleep last night (it’s been an issue lately) and since I’m in the middle of a book, I looked for a book to review on my shelves. Couldn’t find one I wanted to do. Looked at my nook, figured out that I have a crap load of Jessica Sorenson. I did, a while ago, talk about Callie and Kayden. Which I still love. Since I last blogged, there’s one more Callie and Kayden books, 3 books of Violet and Luke and one of Seth and Grayson. I’ve read all of them and I think I wore myself out on them. True life story. But I do have a large section of her on my Nook. Which I haven’t been using as much since I’ve gotten back from Hungary. I’ve been really into physical books. I think it’s because I didn’t have many physical books when I was in Hungary. I missed them so I’ve been having a hard time controlling myself not to buy every book in sight. I also went downstairs of my parents’ house today looking at my books from my childhood. Why was I so obsessed with The Babysitter’s Club and the Sweet Valley Twins. I know a lot of those were hand me downs from my sister but I got a decent amount myself too. I feel like those series have gone out of fashion because kids want something a little more hardcore. And it’s a shame. They’re good for girls. Not always great for boys but still. Nothing seems reviewable at this time. I fell like I’d have to reread things to adequately review them.

I’ve started reading Persuasion by Jane Austen. It’s my first time reading it, though it seems like most of my Goodreads friends have. (just like Gatsby) It’s not a book that if you read an Austen in a Brit Lit class in college, (with an exception of like a specialty class) you won’t be reading it because let’s face it, Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility win out. I had to read P and P in a weekend while working in a tourist town over Labor Day weekend. Not fun. All I wanted to do was go out to the bar and hangout with people because everyone hung at the bar and it was going to be the last time I saw them in almost a year. Not because I’m a big drinker. Because I’m not. I’ll drink a normal amount, actually no. If I’m out, it’s like 2, 3 max drinks and I’m like I’m an adult and responsible for these people. Anyway.  I’m only a few chapters into Persuasion. The reason that I’m not farther into it is because of work. Work sucks time away from reading and then I’m mentally and physically exhausted after work and I’m preoccupied before work so the only days I read anymore is days off. And I don’t always get far. I really need a new job, other than being a CNA, because this job takes a lot out of you physically and emotionally. But this book is about a woman named Anne who’s 27…like me! She’s engaged at 19 and then is broken up and sees the man again at 27. This isn’t a review of the book because I’m not all the way through it. But there’s a line near of the beginning of the book that stood out to me. It’s on page 5 of my edition.

“but Anne, with an elegance of mind and sweetness of character, which must have placed her high with any people of real understanding, was nobody with either father or sister: her word had no weight; her convenience was always to give way;-she was only Anne.”

I feel like I relate. I am only Megan. I have a lot of times where I feel like my word has no weight. I feel ignored. I feel like I don’t fit in anywhere. I’m pretty much feeling like an Anne. But I don’t think that I match up with elegance of mind and not always with sweetness of character. I’m just not there. I know I’ve said that I’m more of a Bronte fan but I feel like this book is going to be relatable with me. I think that I’m going to enjoy watching her progression in this book. Because it’s Austen, there will be progression. It’s bound to happen. Austen does that. It’s who she is. There will be a post, I’m sure, about the book. I’m sure I’ll have an opinion. You just have to wait. Austen takes brain power for me right now. It’s not like when I was in college and can read P and P after the bar at 11 at night and have to work in the morning. I actually have to commit the brain power.

Side note. Hard week for me. The school I taught at started school this week and I want to be with my kids. Also, a lot of the people I know are posting about the immigration stuff going on in Hungary and I want to be there and doing something. I’m seeing posts on Facebook from ex-pats and Hungarians that are pretty much breaking my heart that I’m not there. I’m also angry I’m not there with people I love and a country that was home for 10 months. So it’s a week I’m homesick for Hungary. It’s what happens when you leave your heart somewhere.