Monday, February 22, 2010

Pride and Prejudice

Pride And Prejudice (A Sentimental Comedy In Three Acts) Pride And Prejudice by Jane Austen

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Important work in English literature but not my cup of tea.

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Road

The Road The Road by Cormac McCarthy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Interesting book about life without hope. Extremely well written and thought provoking.

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Friday, February 12, 2010


NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN by Cormac McCarthy is a fast paced, thoughtful novel. It is a crime thriller but to call it one is an injustice. The novel intertwines the lives of Llewlyn Moss (a man who stumbles upon $2 Million, several kilos of heroin, and bullet ridden bodies), Chigurh (a hit man) and the aging Sheriff. As Moss runs, Chigurh hunts, and Sheriff looks, the reader ponders one question,
"how does a man decide in what order to abandon his life?"

UNCLE VANYA Reflection

UNCLE VANYA by Anton Chekhov is a play that was published in 1899. The theme is preoccupied with ideas of aging and wasted life.

Here are some poignant quotes:
“The old are just the same as the little ones, they like someone to pity them—but nobody pities the old.”

“When people have no real life, they live on their illusions. Anyway, it’s better than nothing.”

“When our time comes w shall die submissively, and over there, beyond the grave we shall say that we’ve suffered, that we’ve wept, that we’ve had a bitter life, and God will take pity on us.”

“The people who come a hundred years or a couple of hundred years after us and despise us for having live in so stupid and tasteless a fashion- perhaps they’ll find a way to be happy…As for us… There’s only one hope for you and me…The hope that when we’re at rest in our graves we may see visions-perhaps even pleasant ones.”

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Favorite Quotes from The Seagull

I've been thinking non-stop about THE SEAGULL since I finished reading it and wanted to post a few of my favorite quotes from the play.

Dorn's views on death:
"The fear of death is an animal fear. You've got to suppress it. It's only religious people who consciously fear death-because they believe in a future life and are afraid they'll be punished for their sins."
Treplyov's views on writing:
"We don't have to depict life as it is, or as it ought to be, but as we see it in our dreams."
"Everyone writes what he wants to and as he is able to."
Dorn's views on writing:
"A work of art must express a clear, definite idea. You must know what you are aiming at when you write, for if you follow the enchanted path of literature without a definite goal in mind, you'll lose your way and your talent will ruin you."
Trigorin's view on writing:
"I'm obsessed day and night by one thought: I must write, I must write, I must write...For some reason, as soon as I've finished one novel, I feel I must start writing another, then another, then another...I write in a rush, without stopping, and can't do anything else."
"Yes, while I'm writing I enjoy it. I enjoy reading proofs, too, soon as the thing comes out in print I can no longer bear it. I immediately see that it's not what I intended, that it's a mistake, that it oughtn't to have been written at all, and I feel angry and depressed...And then the public reads it and says: 'Yes, it's charming, so cleverly done...Charming, but a far cry from Tolstoy.'...Or 'A very fine piece of work, but Turgenev's Fathers and Children is a better book.'And so it will go on till my dying day-everything will be charming and clever-nothing more. And when I die, my friends as they pass by my grave, will say: 'Here lies Trigorin. He was a good writer, but not as good as Turgenev.'"

Memories of My Melancholy Whores

Memories of My Melancholy Whores Memories of My Melancholy Whores by Gabriel García Márquez

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a powerful book that explores aging and love. Here are a few quotes from the novel:

"In my ninetieth year, I decided to give myself the gift of a night of love with a young virgin."

"This was something new for me. I was ignorant of the arts of seduction and had always chosen my brides for a night at random, more for their price than their charms, and we had made love without love, half-dressed most of the time and always in the dark, so we could imagine ourselves as better than we were ... That night I discovered the improbable pleasure of contemplating the body of a sleeping woman without the urgencies of desire or the obstacles of modesty."

"It is a triumph of life that old people lose their memories of inessential things."

"We do not waste away with time; time is a tool that carves away our excess, like a chisel chips away marble to reveal a work of art."

"I have never gone to bed with a woman I didn't pay ... by the time I was fifty there were 514 women with whom I had been at least once ... My public life, on the other hand, was lacking in interest: both parents dead, a bachelor without a future, a mediocre journalist ... and a favorite of caricaturists because of my exemplary ugliness."

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Monday, February 1, 2010

Reflection on THE SEAGULL

Anton Chekhov's play THE SEAGULL was first performed in 1896. The play addresses and explores many themes but one that affected me most is Trigorin's view of his writing. B. A. Trigorin is an accomplished writer who speaks of his insecurities to Nina, a naive actress. Trigorin's writing is his obsession and he cannot get away from it because he cannot get away from himself.

"A minor writer, especially, if he hadn't had much luck, sees himself as clumsy, awkward, and unwanted...drawn towards people connected with literature, or art, but then he just wanders among them unrecognized and unnoticed, unable to look them straight and courageously in the eye, like a passionate gambler who hasn't any money."

The gambler metaphor is profound in the way it captures the writer's condition. It also acts as in the introduction to Trigorin's biggest fear which is that

"when I die, my friends as they pass my grave will say: "Here lies Trigorin. He was a good writer, but not as good as Turgenev.""

Writers and artists are all plagued by insecurity. But it is these doubts that allow them to grow and be better at their craft. If there were no fears of failure or of being irrelevant, then there would be no great art. It is a price one must pay.

Nina is an interesting character and one that changes the most throughout the play. At first, she wants to be an actress for fame and fortune but two years later she wants to be an actress for art. She understands Trigorin's insecurities and refers to herself as a seagull.

"I'm a seagull...I think now I know, Kostya, that what matters in our work- whether you act on stage or write stories- what really matters is not fame, or glamour, not the things I used to dream about- but knowing how to endure things. How to bear one's cross and have faith. I have faith now and I'm not suffering quite so much, and when I think about my vocation I'm not afraid of life."

The Road Home Reflection

THE ROAD HOME by Jim Harrison is a beautiful, lyrical novel which explores the lives of five members of the Northridge family. It is written from multiple perspectives as they strive to understand their present and their past. Instead of making sweeping generalizations, I wanted to address a discussion question found in the back.

How is the portrait John Northridge II paints of himself in his "memoir" different from the picture we get through other characters?

The portrait John Northridge II paints is of a solitary, thoughtful man who struggles with being, or rather not being, an artist. His deepest and most profound relationships are with his dogs. This is often true of people who do not live in the sentimental world of the everyman. Animals are easier to love because they do not betray or disappoint. As a result, the relationships that humans form to animals are perfect and wholesome, unlike our relationships with other humans.

People pose difficulties because they have resentments, faults and agendas. No one loves unconditionally and when a person allows themselves to love and be loved by an animal, other human beings stop measuring up. John Northridge exposed these truths about himself in his memoir and allowed us a glimpse of who he is. The members of his family don't see this and view him as disturbed, detached, and unreachable. To them, he is those things without a doubt.