The Classics Club Lucky SPIN Number

I was so happy to see the number 10 had come up. That means I’ll be reading The House of Mirth by January 1, 2013.  I’m sure I’ll enjoy it because I really enjoyed The Age of Innocence.  So what is your #10 title? Whew! Thank goodness Moby Dick didn’t get picked. I think it would have been just a bit too much for me at the moment.  Happy reading…

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Doris Lessing

Dorris Lessing the 2007 Nobel Prize winner of literature for her lifetime work died on Sunday in her London home.  She will be sadly missed by the literary world and by her book loving fans.  Her work was considered to be challenging to conventional society and to her readers.  Her work was highly critical to society and women’s roles.  Some of her best known novels are The Grass is Singing (1950),  The Golden Notebook (1962), and  The Good Terrorist (1985).  She was born the 22nd of October 1919 in Kermanshah, Iran.  She was born to English and British parents.  She lived and grew up on a farm in Southern Rhodesia.  She left school at 14 years old and was self-taught the rest of her life.  She began writing around the age of 15 while working as a nursemaid.  She was married twice and they both failed.  She never married again.  She had two children from her first marriage and one from her second.

Amongst her chaotic life, Lessing was a communist activist, while fighting against apartheid and nuclear arms. As a result she was banned entry to Rhodesia and South Africa for many years.  She was awarded various literary awards such as the Prix de Médicis Étranger in 1976 for The Golden Notebook and the Somerset Maugham Award in 1954 for Five Short Novels for her poignant works throughout her writing career.  She wrote countless novels, plays, short stories, memoirs, non-fiction, and poetry.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of checking out Lessing’s works you should.  I’m no expert since I’ve only read The Fifth Child which was quite a read for me.  It definitely pushed me out of my reading comfort zone.  It intrigued me enough to want to read some of her other novels.  I think my next Lessing challenge will be the The Grass is Singing since it was recommended to me by a few of my subscribers when I did a review on The Fifth Child.  So what about you guys?  Is Doris Lessing one of those off limit writers for you or do you love her works?  What do you think of The Fifth Child being studied in Junior year of high school?  This is the case here in France.  My daughter just finished it and was perplexed and couldn’t get over how dar k it was.  In my opinion, I felt that there were so many other more interesting works that 16 and 17 year olds could be reading and analysing in English in France.

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Classics Club Spin #4

The Classics Club is a group of bloggers that try to encourage book lovers to pick up some classics through IMG_2165the year.  I’d mentioned wanting to read more too but as the year 2013 dashes to an end, I realise that I could have read a few more. Sigh.  So here’s my chance to try to redeem myself before December 31, 2013.

Here’s how it works.  Below you will see my list of 20 classics numbered.  On Monday the 18th of November, Sam over at the blog Tiny Library will post the number, from 1-20, generated from random.org.  From there we will read the book that is numbered the same from our respective lists.  I grabbed all the classics that I had in plain view and I secretly hope that Moby Dick doesn’t come up either Sam because no matter how much I want to read it, it intimidates me and it’s hella long!  I need to read eventually.  It’s been sitting on my shelf way too long.  So here’s my list:

1. Les Liaisons Dangereuses – Choderlos de Laclos

2. Bonjour Tristesse – Françoise Sagan

3. Casino Royale – Ian Fleming

4. On the Road – Jack Kerouac

5. Slaughterhouse 5 – Kurt Vonnegut

6. Easter Parade – Richard Yates

7. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

8. Rabbit Run – John Updike

9. Giovanni’s Room – James Baldwin

10. The House of Mirth – Edith Wharton

11. The Crying of Lot 49 – Thomas Pynchon

12. Orlando – Virginia Woolf

13. Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury

14. Black Boy – Richard Wright

15. For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf and Spell #7 – Ntozake

Shange

16. The Ballad of the Sad Cafe – Carson McCullers

17. Persuasion – Jane Austen

18. Sanctuary – William Faulkner

19. Far From the Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

20. Moby Dick – Herman Melville

Comment below and tell me what you think? Have you read any of these?  If so tell me which ones and if you liked or hated them. I hope some of you will join me in this hazardous reading venture. We’ll have until the end of the year to finish the book. Sounds doable right?

Kindred

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Kindred takes place in 1976 and in 1815.  Dana a young African-American woman periodically experiences dizziness and black outs which enable her to go back in time to 1815.  The experience of going back to the slave days is shocking and terrible for her in the beginning.  She is extremely distressed since she has no idea how this happens.  Divided between the fear of having to live life as a slave and helping Rufus, who she saves from drowning on her first trip, she is driven down a perilous journey of truth about her family and herself that will change her and her husband Kevin forever.

Kindred reads as a historical fiction novel with a twist of science-fictional time traveling.  I never thought these two could work so well in a novel but they do.  The novel is written in a simple style, and reads very quickly.  However, Butler delves deeply into themes like race, violence, family, and home in a manner that is quite intense .  In addition, she explores the theme of power and how it can become a  corrupt tool of  influence and cruel manipulation.

The first quarter of the book we are trying to understand like Dana, how and why this is happening.  Unfortunately, that is never really addressed, so quickly what will happen to Dana and how she relates to all the different people on the plantation becomes the primary plot of the novel.  Things get messier when Kevin, her white husband grabs on to her and winds up back in slavery times with her.  The awkwardness of the situation is frightening.  There Butler makes Dana and Kevin face this difficulty head on like a slap in the face.  The mounting tension and horrific violence from whippings, rapes, hangings, and dog attacks, Butler is forcing the reader to see the reality of the time period along with Dana.  Many times I kept putting myself in Dana’s shoes and wondering how I’d react.

Dana was a trooper in the beginning trying to think of everything and to prepare for things, but what she didn’t realise is that she fell slowly but surely into the role of a sort of modern-day Mamie.  She is bound to the past not only physically but mentally since she seems unable to break the link between herself and Rufus.  We see Rufus grow from and innocent boy into an unsparing, conniving man.  A man who is meant to run a plantation although he does it through being cruel and by making people fear him.  Dana finally grows at the end with much difficulty and mostly because she feels she understands what she sees happening in 1815 more than she really does.  The trap is there.  The psychological manipulation that Rufus uses on her his criminal.

If you haven’t read this story you should definitely check it out.  Octavia E. Butler really knew how to turn a story and this one has many twists and turns that will make every reader think.  Butler began writing at 10 and writing science-fiction at 12.  Her love for writing came out of her boredom for she was an only child.  It was the science-fiction movie Devil Girl from Mars which made her attempt to write science-fiction.  She was quoted as saying she knew she could write a better story and that she did.  Happily for us, Butler overcame dyslexia and went on to write many novels and short stories, such as Fledgling, Lilith’s Brood, and Parable Seed.  She won the Hugo Award twice, once in 1984 for best short story with Speech Sounds and in 1985 for best novelette with Bloodchild.  She also won the Nebula award twice for best novel, once for best short story, and best novelette.  In 2010, she was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.  Does it sound like I’m pushing Butler?  Yes, I am.  Well the next Butler book I’ll be picking up will be Fledgling.  I’m dying to see how she wrote about vampires and I’m not that keen on vampire stories either.  To be continued…..  Check out the link below to hear more about Octavia E. Butler.  Brilliant!

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