Monday, November 13, 2006

A Series of Unfortunate Events

The 13th and last book in the series, "The End" came out on Friday the 13th. I reread a couple of the last few books that I didn't remember, and also "The Beatrice Letters" (Lisa sent me the 13th book and the Letters). And despite what some *coughCheri* might think, the story is quite lovely. :)

If you have ever peeled an onion, then you know that the first thin, papery
layer reveals another thin, papery layer, and that layer reveals another, and
another, and before you know it you have hundreds of layers all over the kitchen
table and thousands of tears in your eyes, sorry that you ever started peeling
in the first place and wishing that you had left the onion alone to wither away
on the shelf of the pantry while you went on with your life, even if that meant
never again enjoying the complicated and overwhelming taste of this strange and
bitter vegetable. In this way, the story of the Baudelaire orphans is like an
onion, and if you insist on reading each and every thin, papery layer in A
Series of Unfortunate Events, your only reward will be 170 chapters of misery in
your library and countless tears in your eyes. Even if you have read the first
twelve volumes of the Baudelaires' story, it is not too late to stop peeling
away the layers, and to put this book back on the shelf to wither away while you
read something less complicated and overwhelming. The end of this unhappy
chronicle is like its bad beginning, as each misfortune only reveals another,
and another, and another, and only those with the stomach for this strange and
bitter tale should venture any farther into the Baudelaire onion. I'm sorry to
tell you this, but that is how the story goes.
Don't pay any attention to Lemony Snicket's repeated warnings. Read the books, they don't make you cry like onions! :)
Anywho, the good things about this series are:

The writing is original and fun: As you can tell from the excerpt, he likes to talk about random things like onions, the water cycle, reasons not to read the book, and various other topics. I think this spices it up a bit, makes it amusing.

The story is good: Although it is the series of UNFORTUNATE events, it has it's happy moments, and in the end, they do, as far as you can tell, live happily ever after.

Emotion: It really brings emotions out. You laugh at the funny parts, I've cried a few times, and at the intense parts when theres action, you sit on the edge of your seat wondering what might happen.

The movie was cute and funny, but didn't really do much justice to the books. They are really great! On the top ten series list, their pretty far up there. :D

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Truman Capote is Amazing

Breakfast at Tiffany's and A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote

I decided to read Breakfast at Tiffany's because I really love the author (I read In Cold Blood in high school and, though it's about the murder of a family in Kansas, the investigation, and the life of the two men resposonsible, I really liked it. It sounds as if it'd be some creepy thriller or detective story or something, but it wasn't. It was really intelligent the way Capote wrote it and I can't help but add it to my recommendations.) and I love the movie that was inspired by the book. But, if you've seen the movie you've basically read the book. It really was exactly the same. Which is okay because I love it. I just didn't feel like I gained anything by reading it, any new information or insights I mean. Don't get me wrong, it's a great story about the free spirit of Holly Golightly told from the perspective of the man who falls in love with her. It's very enchanting and Capote's style is unique and fun. So, if you haven't seen the movie, though I doubt anyone hasn't, read the book instead or first. The end is a little different, and it does make you think about why Capote would have chosen to end it like that. He is a really great author. All in all, the movie did the book justice, which can't be said of too many these days.

Anyway, following Breakfast at Tiffany's (at least in this publication) are some of Capote's short stories including his most famous, "A Christmas Memory." Oh, I absolutely loved it! It was so charming and fun to read! I read it once a long time ago, maybe as a freshman in high school, but I had completely forgotten about it, until now. If you haven't read it I highly recommend it. It's absolutely beautiful. The language he uses guides you through his memory and brings it to life. The story is really touching and definitely worth a read. Just one more reason to love Truman Capote!

Here's To You, Jesusa!

This is a phenomenal story of a woman's search for identity in the volatile years of the Mexican Revolution. The story follows Jesusa from her earliest memories in a countryside with her family, to the life of a working-class elderly woman in the maze of Mexico City. The reader sees it all, from the peace of childhood to the discovery of her spirituality to industrialization. It seems as though Poniatowska creates Jesusa's narrative to serve as a metaphor for Mexico and what it is experiencing politically, socially, and psychologically at this time. Jesusa is the heroine of the story and, although she is at times so outrageous and difficult to understand, her strength, humor and sense of self give the first-person narrative such an overwhelming authority. For instance:

"Me, imprisoned in my pots and pans, but I'm not much of a fighter anymore or as mean on the streets now, because I got old and now my blood doesn't boil and I've lost my strength and my hair fell out and I just have pegs for teeth, I'd scratch myself, but I don't have any fingernails left after so many came out in the laundry sink. And here I am now, just waiting for it to strike five in the morning because I can't sleep and it all comes back to me, everything I've been through since I was little and I walked around barefoot, fighting in the Revolution like playing blindman's bluff, being beaten, more unwrapped each time in this fucked up life."

Poniatowska is most famous for a collection of memories from surivors of the Tlatelolco massacre of 1968, "Massacre in Mexico." Because of her career as both a novelist and journalist her works combine fiction and documentary forms such as archival pictures, oral histories, and interviews. The introduction of Here's To You Jesusa! has a detailed account of interviews between Poniatowska and a woman that Jesusa's character is based on. This is an extremely compelling and heart-wrenching novel and I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Start of More to Come

Cold Mountain
This book, by author Charles Frazier centers around three characters and their attempts to overcome the trials brought on by the civil war. Inman is the wounded soldier who has left the war. He has realized he is fighting for a cause in which he doesn't believe and he simply wants nothing more than to return to his home and the girl he loves. Ada is left alone as the men are gone to fight and her father has redently died, leaving her to fend for herself. Ruby arrives in time to help Ada learn the skills it takes to survive as they work together to create a home and refuge.

I really liked reading this book because I love reading about events and people in a way that could be true. It helps me to experience the way life was or might have been in a time that I otherwise only know about from history books. So, instead of just giving facts and numbers like history classes do, this story brings the event to life and gives it perspective and turns the past into something real that changed and effected lives. The story was alive with the passion of the characters and the description the author provides of life in the south for both soldiers and those left behind.