Brave New World by Aldous Huxley on the 101 Great Books Recommended for College-Bound Readers list, and I know I’ve seen it on many other “must-read” lists. I never read it in high school when many people apparently did, so I thought I should give it a go now. But I just cannot.
I’ve listened to three chapters of the audiobook, and I have yet to meet a solid, identifiable character. The dialog is forced and the setting is an unrecognizable scene many hundred years in the future. Huxley has spent three chapters “telling” me about the setting and characters. Thus far, it reminds me very much of Foundation by Isaac Asimov, which I disliked when I read it a few months ago. (more…)
Last June, I had just barely begun book blogging. My reading was beginning to expand beyond my comfort zone (i.e., go to the library and randomly take a book with a pretty cover off the shelf) and into the world of TBR lists. When I read the preface to Harold Bloom’s How to Read and Why, I decided I needed to focus my reading. I asked myself the question:
How can I really “read” a book, even fiction, to get something out of it?
I decided to treat Bloom’s book as a textbook as I read through the works on his list, in search of the answer to that question. The How to Read and Why Reading List can be found here; all posts on Rebecca Reads relating to HTR&W can be found on the HTR&W tag.
Since I have now finished the short story portion of the HTR&W challenge, I thought I’d take the chance to revisit the project itself. (more…)
How many times have you reread the same story?
Exercises in Style by Raymond Queneau is a collection of the same story, written 99 different ways.
Some of the stories are fascinating retellings in various styles. Some are stereotypes (feminine , cockney, Gallacism, exclamations), some are in different perspectives (past, present, blurb, ignorance), some are different styles (noble, comedy, cross-examination, notation, sonnet, ode), and some are rather odd (dog latin, permutations by groups of letters).
Exercises in Style is short and sweet. It sets out what it was trying to do: show how style can change a story, depending on either the narrator or the particular way of writing. Some of them were a perfect example of the impact of style, while others seemed odd to me. In the end, it was a quick read that gave me ideas for developing my own writing style – and it gave me ideas for fun practice in imitating others and changing voice. (more…)
Ficcciones by Jorge Luis Borges is about 170 pages in Spanish; the English translation of the same book is about 120 pages (within Borges’ Collected Fictions). Why, then, has this me taken weeks to get through?
Borges’ writing style is powerful. In some sense, I’m glad I struggled through Borges just to get a feel for his different style. But unlike Nabokov’s powerfully written stories, Borges’ well-written stories are weird. I seriously can’t think of any other word to describe them. I overall did not like them, and I will never read more Borges. (more…)
In my mind, Edgar Allan Poe is the most well-known Halloween-ish short story writer. To keep with the season, I reread some of Poe’s short stories. I enjoyed his stories when I was younger – I even rewrote “The Fall of the House of Usher” as a play for my high school’s Halloween “one-act plays.” But to my surprise, I didn’t love Poe’s writing or his stories’ subject matter this time around. (more…)