Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Happy Banned Books Week!

I am sitting at the Banned Books table for our college's branch of Sigma Tau Delta. It's probably one of my favorite society events of the year. We hand out bookmarks, sell buttons, and raffle off commonly banned books.
Visit the Banned Books Week YouTube channel

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sonnet Sunday: more Keats

When I have fears that I may cease to be

When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain,
Before high-piled books, in charactery,
Hold like rich garners the full ripen'd grain;
When I behold, upon the night's starr'd face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love;--then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.

It's been a while since I've done Sonnet Sunday, too long. I watched Bright Star again last week and I fell in love with the poetry of Keats all over again.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

We are the Snowdens of yesterday- Thoughts on Catch-22

We just finished our study of Catch-22 in my Contemporary American Literature class. My experience reading it for class was much different than my first time reading it-- then again, I was about 13 the first time I read it.
Though I did appreciate the irony and concept of the "Catch-22," on this reading I began to appreciate the text as a story of trauma. The circular, recurrent pattern of the story always returns to the Avignon mission where the gunner, Snowden was killed. The way the story is told in waves of memory, often out of order it isn't just to create a state of chaos, it has psychological significance. Slowly we get closer and closer to the trauma, we get closer to Snowden's "secret" and the impact in had on Yossarian.
Heller plays with language and the inversion of expectations. The "secret" is not what we're expecting it to be. He can turn a whole situation or character in one sentence.
In class we were discussing the shift in the second half of the novel. No longer just bizarre and surreal, the world becomes a nightmare that the characters are constantly waking into. It's a fight for identity and the definition of what Catch-22 is become more and more sinister. There is less humor to find in the ending chapters. Yossarian's frustration at the insane world around him becomes our frustration as well. We are equally gutted by the horrendous deaths of characters we've come to know earlier in the story.
I really enjoyed my rereading of Catch-22, though enjoy seems the wrong word to use. I can appreciate Heller's contribution to the changing landscape of literature. It was difficult at some points, but when I finished and set it down on the table, I knew it was one of the good books, one that I'll never forget.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Writing Life

Inevitably, whenever I am busy and barely finding any time to write I am bombarded with ideas for stories. Today I mapped the plot structure of a writer's life:

Or is that just my life? I'm mapping out another murder mystery, a completely independent one, not a sequel to the story I wrote last autumn. My honors course has also inspired me write a collection of fairy tales. I've already written two. I am inspired by contemporary writers like A.S Byatt and Angela Carter.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sherlock Season 2 Preview Released

Just released from the BBC is a new teaser for the second season of Sherlock:
It looks like clips from the episode featuring Irene Adler. It looks like they will be introducing some exciting story elements and creative cinematography. Have I mentioned how excited I am? Let me reiterate the point: it is so painful that it will likely not fall in front of my eyes before 2012.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Variations on Little Red Riding Hood and Sleeping Beauty

The first reading for my honors course had us reading different versions of the classic stories Little Red Riding Hood and Sleeping Beauty. From different times and countries, some of the variations are startling.
The morality tale for children to learn obedience, Little Red Riding Hood has sometimes included blatant references to canabalism where the wolf makes Little Red eat some of her grandmother and drink her blood. The earliest version of the tale actually describes the wolf as a sort of werewolf creature, half man, half wolf. The sexual danger posed by the wolf depending on the tale-- some version play on the idea of the wolf as a sexual predator, making Little Red take off her clothes and get into the bed with him.
Some version do allow Red to be more than an unwitting victim, but rather she cleverly outsmarts the wolf. In an early Chinese tale that also shares elements with The Three Little Pigs, three young sisters outsmart and kill a wolf that comes to their door while their mother is away.

Sleeping Beauty also contains canabalism in several versions of the story. A jealous wife or mother to the beauty's prince/king lover tries to eat both the Sleeping Beauty figure and her children on several occasions. The earliest Sleeping Beauty story in the book involved a philandering king coming upon Talia (the beauty) unconscious and basically raping her in her deep slumber. The Brothers Grimm story, Briar Rose, is by far the tamest version of the tale, but tells it more from the perspective of the prince. The chapter wraps up with "Sleeping Beauty and the Airplane" a clever modern take on the idea of the unattainable sleeping princess from the perspective of a modern day would-be prince.
It's just interesting to analyze how these stories have changed over time and what each change enhances. Sleeping Beauty seems to promote female passivity in most version, while Little Red Riding Hood encourages wariness and obedience.