books

People Are Strange

I finished reading Catcher in the Rye, and I gotta say it’s an odd book, a quirky tale. Holden Caulfield is by no means your average teenager, but he is not an alien, either; so many people hate Holden, y’know, something I don’t understand.

The argument, I believe, is that the only people who can relate to him are mentally unstable. Okay, so Mark David Chapman reads it, then, what, people are blaming the book? Isn’t that a fallacy, or at the least, one of those conclusions people create that make no friggin’ sense?

I liked it. I really did. I liked that goddamn book.

See, look, now I’m speaking like Holden Caulfield: it’s a spiral, I tell you, and it keeps going downwards. Pretty soon, I’ll be wearing a deer hunter cap and chain smoking cigarettes.

People are strange, though, y’know. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from that book, it’s that people are strange. There’s no logic to it–you can try computing an equation all you want, and nothing’ll come of it but a tired mathematician. Call someone else for that, by the way, ’cause I suck at Math.

There’s strange people at work. at the store, at the intersection right before you turn onto your street. They’re everywhere, man; a bunch of weirdos doing their best to give off an aura of normalcy.

The other day, I saw one in Wal-Mart, word of honor! He had on this bulky cloak and a purple scarf; I also think he was wearing sunglasses…at night. Ah, of course, it didn’t register at first, but now I realize he was an avid Corey Hart fan. Nevermind, dude wasn’t strange, just misunderstood. Then again, I doubt 80’s rock was understood even when it was popular.

You can disagree with me if you want, and I’d like that, truly. You go ahead and think Sunglasses Man was strange, I’m not judging, only writing a blog post about the whole thing.

Yeah, he was strange, but not as strange as Holden. That’s where I think Catcher in the Rye is most effective–its depiction of the ultimate, angsty teen has yet to be rivaled. Could you argue James Dean got close in Rebel Without A Cause? Sure, but ask yourself: would there be a James Dean without a Holden Caulfield?

I dunno, haven’t studied enough of that stuff. Gimme an answer, and I’ll praise you.

Let’s think a moment now. We’ve established people are strange, but we don’t know which people. Is there a certain minority devoted to strange folk? is it why we have all these cults? or is it what we’re denying–we’re all strange in our own freaky way?

Gee, interesting concept, huh? It’s like none of us are the exact same, because that would be super boring.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

Photo Cred: Wired Reader

Meet My Cousin: William Shakespeare

OMG! William Shakespeare and I have the same first name–what magic is this? Does that mean we have the same haircut, same beard, same way we put toilet paper on the bathroom roll? Ahhh! I have to reach out to him–have to tell him that we’re practically brothers–

What’s that?

Word has…it has just come in. I apologize, folks; but William Shakespeare is…dead. If you’ll excuse me, I–I have to go shed a few tears and waste three dozen boxes of Kleenex. I’ll be back with a carton of Rocky Road and a plush teddy bear holding a heart.

[Ten hours later]

Well. I have come to the realization that perhaps William Shakespeare and I were not brothers. We were; in fact, cousins from my quadruple ten thousandth–don’t know if that’s a real number–aunt, who was one billion times removed from his great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather.

I don’t want to think about how much time we lost in connecting with each other.

Oh, the possible memories I could be having right now:

  • Me and Shakes–that’s his pet name–reenacting the death soliloquy from Hamlet.
  • Me and Shakes laughing at the absurd actors who joined his plays.
  • Me and Shakes petting chickens who ran amuck in old England.
  • Me and Shakes watching Breaking Bad, which is Macbeth as a TV show.
  • Me and Shakes tasting all of those tasty shakes at Sonic–then me making fun of him.

Shakespeare, the fun we could have had! Why did you have to leave so early, why; even when you knew I was going to be born in the next ninety hundred something years? I would have acted out all of your plays for you–if only you had stayed alive!

It’s happening again. A breakdown. Everyone leave me in peace, or you will see tears flow as you have never seen them flow before.

Goodbye, cruel Kleenex box with your tissues that scratch the bottom of my nostrils.

Goodbye, plush Shakespeare doll sitting in my closet because it’s where you can find the most artistic inspiration.

Goodbye, all who laughed at me for proposing we had the same name, and who now continue to laugh because I am referring to you in bold text and italics, meaning I am extremely upset and wish you to go away and find solace in a tattered copy of a Shakespearean play.

Goodbye, farewell, adieu, adieu–

But, one more thing before I bust into the Sound Of Music. It’s a question I’ve been contemplating for some time–it is quite the bother, and it goes like so:

To be or not to be.

That is the question.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

Oh Faulkner, You Writer Genius, You…

I have finally come to a point at which my eyes can read this text without seeing a bunch of scribbly scratches. Granted, I am sitting a foot away from my laptop. Dilation can mess up a good night of reading and writing; and it can give you bowling balls for pupils–score some  strikes with these puppies…

When not handicapped by dilation; however I divulge in the classiest of literature, the creme de la creme of writing–the works of William Faulkner. Did you know he is called the greatest writer of the twentieth century? I mean, Hemingway was good, but…I guess no one likes him.

Recently I have started reading  As I Lay Dying, disputed to be his most popular and symbolic work; aside of course from The Sound and the Fury and Absalom, Absalom! This is turning out to be a faithful claim. The story is entertaining–it is also quite sad–and the characters are diverse.

Allow me a little aside to mention the extra detail put into these characters. As it is told from multiple first person perspectives the story is separated into three or four page chapters in which the characters–each with their own writing style–describe the conflicts. You catch that? Each character has their own writing style, their own favorite words. And their personalities are brilliantly sketched out through their usage of Southern dialect, such as in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and stream-of-consciousness description.

With that stream-of-consciousness technique comes mild confusion when first experiencing this novel; know you will become lost in the beginning chapters and be forced to read a lengthy passage a second or third time for understanding. That, and the descriptions and the dialogue tend to mix, making for a puzzling shift between perspectives.

As well there are at least seven characters, seven characters with difficult names switching   perspectives at random moments in the story; so if Leo Tolstoy is your favorite writer, then this novel is a guaranteed hit.

Always the thing to draw from Faulkner is his writing style because it is so ruggedly refined. When reading you can tell he created the voice so frequently imitated by Twain and Steinbeck; and it is mastered in As I Lay Dying. The Southern family sounds like a Southern family; the setting looks like a Southern background.

Be sure to pick him up if you have the chance.

And if you have the chance, or the choice, never get dilated. It feels like meat patties on the eyes.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

Least Miserables Book Ever… Just Kidding. It Sucks.

Do not read Les Miserables if you are afflicted with any of the following symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Deriving Humor From the Pain of Poor People
  • Zero Tolerance For Sometimes Pointless Tangents From the Story
  • Hairy Mustache
  • Hungry Stomach
  • A Tendency to Kick Baby Unicorns

I am dead serious, people. This book is classic because of its depressing storyline–well, and the play and movie it spawned…but mostly the storyline. You will leave each reading session thinking to yourself: why am I still interested in reading about this poor neglected child, or even that saintly criminal who hates himself every single chapter? What’s that? Take a break and learn about the Battle of Waterloo? Okay, why not?

My God, there are also times when I question my patience with some writers, specifically Victor Hugo and his tendency to drag on about things which do not directly relate to the storyline but for a snippet at the end of a section. Granted, he was born into a literary family, and all know with literary families there is going to be heavy doses of symbolism or deeper meanings in their works. And he was in the French Revolution–anything to take time away from there was crazily sought after.

But if you do enjoy books about the struggles of poverty stricken families–cough cough, sadist–and you can stand long trips into other realms of Paris and the warlike atmosphere, like me, then Les Miserables is your book.

And quit kicking those baby unicorns.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

Talking Like A Sailor–Not Swearing

One of the things I love most about Moby-Dick is its realistic dialogue: while reading of the endeavors of the crew of the Pequod and the ballistic Captain Ahab you feel as if you are stowing away inside the ship and listening to the commonplace interactions between sailors–except there are no rats, nor are there leaks…unless you like to read in the bathtub.

The words they use sound lifelike–granted, sailors have a special lingo like that of businessmen: instead of data they say stowage; instead of bathroom they say poop deck; and while these words are enjoyable they are nothing compared to a good ol’ Aargh! or Shiver me timbers! 

But I am talking about whaling sailors, not cartoonish pirates. Here’s looking at you, Blackbeard.

Ahab is by far the most articulate individual aboard. Whenever he comes into the next chapter a shiver runs down your spine–and as you change your drawers you hear aloud his insulting orders towards Starbuck–hey, isn’t that the coffee place?–and Stubb.

My favorite line is from Ahab: “I’d strike the sun if it insulted me.”  To me that sounds supremely badass. I picture a muscle bound Ahab with a gold casing on the tip of his peg  leg soaring on a white whale bone sled towards the jeering sun. Not enough badass? Give him a harpoon gun fueled by the blood of Moby Dick that fires high velocity water torpedoes. And a dragon–put a dragon at the front of the sled.

I am reasonably sure there are sailor dictionaries out there in the wide world of this-book-is-random-but-it-is-still-loads-of-fun-to-read sections. If I checked out the comedy section in Barnes and Noble it would likely be stowed between a copy of training a crocodile to drink tea and the Klingon dictionary–my uncle can converse in the language.

Take this as a book recommendation. Go find a copy of Moby-Dick to educate yourself in the cultured dialogue of whalers, if not to savor the knowledgable bits on the actual topic of whaling. Herman Melville knew his stuff…

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

 

Tarzan–Alter Ego: APE-MAN!

I will admit my mistake:

As it turns out in the book Clayton is not the father of Tarzan. Yes, that may come as a shocker–it did to me. William Cecil Clayton is not remotely an enemy in the book either; however he is a jealous dog when it comes to the budding relationship between Tarzan and Jane. At one point he wants to kill Tarzan to get his girl…Maybe stretch the boundaries some more on English politeness a bit there, Clayton; she is after all attracted to Tarzan’s primal nature.

Tarzan surprises me. His range of abilities and strength seems never-ending; add to that the comparisons Burroughs makes between Tarzan and Apollo, as well showing him off as the penultimate athlete of the human race, and he is a near indefatigable superman. I expect next to read that he can leap tall buildings in a single bound…

Watch, he’s going to put a big green T on his chest, and tell Jane Porter it stands for Bananas. Don’t get me started on the cape–weaved of the finest jungle vines and colored with two spoonfuls of lion blood. He is Ape-Man. All obey Ape-Man. All feed Ape-Man bananas and raw meat.

Okay…he doesn’t eat bananas. Silly me, stereotyping Tarzan as an ape.

At least the Tarzan-Jane-Clayton love triangle is bearable. Although after listening to Jane Porter gush over the primitiveness of her godly “jungle man” and how it makes her feel dangerous and free; and then ditching him because Clayton jealously claims he is a cannibal, I cannot tell where her loyalties lie. Is this the Secret Life of the Woman Who Takes A Trip to Africa and Finds A Suitable Husband Before Ditching Him For A Man With the Middle Name Of Cecil?

Not that Cecil is a bad name…but compared to Ape-Man–where else are you going to find a man who has more skill than the whole of the human race? The answer: Africa.

Note: Apologies for the late post. I have had a lot of excitement the past few days and it has kept me busy; but if ever I get busy again and miss a day be assured I will post as soon as possible.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

Tarzan: The Book Version…Not Disney

How many here knew Tarzan was based on a book series?

I will be the first to admit I had no idea. Until several months back when I bought a copy of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan of the Apes the only Tarzan I remembered was the shaggy haired romancer from the Disney flick in the early 2000s. Let’s crack that up to literary ignorance and leave it.

Did you know he fights his own father in the movie? Clayton is the bad guy in the film; however in the novel Clayton is the last name of the family from which Tarzan is stolen by the apes. Major mistake on the part of Disney there. That could cause Tarzan serious psychological damage–not that he has much to fret over being raised by monstrous apes until he is in his mid twenties.

But Mowgli seemed to fair all right…

The book is pulp fiction–not the Tarantino movie…the genre–and is written in a style which I find mildly distracting at times. Burroughs likes to use one complex sentence to construct his paragraphs; and he will place them one after another in some sections. This can detract from the story a little; although he is skilled in creating the one sentence paragraphs and attaches a strange fluidity to them.

As I am reading Tarzan is slowly developing as a character–in his younger years he learns how to tick off all the apes. And I am currently awaiting the arrival of the woman who will educate Tarzan in his humanity and come to love him. Will it be Jane? Will it be a woman who had no presence in the Disney movies at all?

I can only read and wait and pound on my chest.

Think daily, 

A Southpaw

 

 

Vampires: You Know You Want To Be One…

There is something about the way Anne Rice writes of vampires which make them seem so enticing…that you think of the fun times to be had as a night prowler skipping over rooftops and draining victims as you flutter over sea and land like a dark god.

Only I think so?

Others have likely entertained such thoughts of power and immortality–leaders like Napoleon and Hitler wanted more than anything to live eternally through their global changes.  Fascination comes with immortality. Fascination comes with vampires.

Disadvantages:

One, never seeing the sun. I love the sun and the shadows it creates.

Two, blood is your only source of energy. That means I have to give up pizza and chicken and ravioli and chocolate cake and yogurt and milk and…

Three, all life despises you. As of now I have prepared my letter of goodbyes to my family, wishing them a pleasant life without me and my silly thoughts–oh, and, sis, yes, my nails were extremely long yesterday morning–and in my pets’ beds I have placed tiny notes attached to treats so that they might garner an understanding of my absence.

Cut the last part–dogs and cats can’t read…pity. That means the copy of Clifford: The Big Red Dog I left in my dogs’ cage was never savored. Double pity.

Perhaps I should consider living as a werewolf.

Full moon anyone?

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

 

 

 

Another Body Snatcher Tale? Close…

Welcome to the Invasion of the Body Snatchers with Vampires!

Oh, yes, those are combined for a reason. The latest–I say latest when this novel was published in 1985–chapter of the acclaimed Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice is The Tale of the Body Thief–now that has a dark ring to it. In this novel the narcissistic vampire Lestat de Lioncourt wishes for death; he is fed up with the same old blood drinking routine and wants his immortality to cease. So he finds a body thief who offers him his own mortal body…and the action rises from then on.

You’re thinking now: haven’t I read books about body switches? Didn’t I, like countless other children–well, I was a child when it came out–watch Freaky Friday starring Jamie Lee Curtis? And you would be correct…but maybe you skipped on Freaky Friday and watched the remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers; on which I blame you not.

But Anne Rice writes Tale of the Body Thief so enticingly; and as Lestat is one of the best first person characters ever to traipse into narrative you forget the classics and embrace the modern–speaking of modern the novel’s setting is the 1980s in Georgetown and Rio and New Orleans in their current states; except everyone uses pay phones and fax machines, so…

In and of itself the premise is hooking. I read the first thirty pages and was enthralled by the serious threat to the main character–a quality difficult to find in most books today. You have no idea why Lestat is giving up his invincible vampire armor for a meat sack he starts to hate after living in it for ten minutes; but while he is experiencing these relatable human situations you cannot contain the giggle in your stomach saying, “Tee-hee, I know the feeling!”

So far my favorite part has been when Lestat eats a plate of spaghetti and burns his tongue.

Ooh, doesn’t look so funny written down in so base a description, which, as always, Anne Rice excels in. The descriptions of the European and American towns are startlingly vivid, here, “…[t]his is South Beach at sunset…clean and thriving and drenched in electric light, the gentle breeze moving in from the placid sea…”(Rice 9).

Beautiful, eh?

Stay tuned to The Tale of the Body Thief.

Think daily, 

A Southpaw

 

 

A Portrait of the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn As A Finished Book–A Review.

Here is the review of AOHB–look at the new acronym! No, that doesn’t seem too fitting to me either…

Fine.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn deserves a fair send off; methinks it fitting to comment on all its excellent features; however, it has its share of slow sections–not slug slow…perhaps sloth?– which continue to provide thrilling entertainment– my use of thrilling before entertainment makes me sound like a literary critic who uses too many flowery adjectives.

There are undoubtedly lovable sections here, but those can be overlooked by readers when they hear someone breath classic; as classics are those books people like to put on their bookshelves to gather dust until an opportunity to impress houseguests comes along. An especially cherished part for me is the planning of the prison break as proposed by Huck and Tom: Tom thinks himself the escapist auteur and forces Huck to obey his time-wasting schemes.

I appreciate the continual references to Alexandre Dumas’ wonderful novels, The Man in the Iron Mask and The Count of Monte Cristo; the latter is an excellent read if you should get around to it.

The theme of acceptance, too, carried through the novel, is a skillful weaving of the storyline. Years before the Emancipation Proclamation is an inkling in Lincoln’s head,  Twain unintentionally writes a heavy abolitionist minded story: a slave in the South is freed by his captors–a miraculous turn of events if ever there was one. And as a reader you come to love Jim, so it seems justified he should receive the freedom he deserves.

Now for the bad part. All I can say for the sluggishness of the middle portion of the book is that it is somewhat a necessity to the flow of the story, and on the other hand an abrupt shift from the steadily increasing narrative. The story has picked up from the moment Huck reacquaints with his father; then when Jim and Huck go together on the the raft the action began to dwindle a tad in adventurous exploits.

Other than slow structure the non appealing parts are like leashes on a lizard.

I heartily recommend this novel to those who love the classics and to those who want a thoughtful hero’s journey to ponder over. It features mystery and adventure; as well youthful foolishness and a sense of undying curiosity towards the socialite world–what more could a voracious reader ask for in a book about a backwoods boy and a black man sailing together on a raft across the Mississippi River?

Maybe a faster plot line.

Think daily,

A Southpaw