Probably a decade ago one of my best friends bought me this book for Christmas. I can still vividly remember being 14 and wandering the outlet book store, spending my time browsing the poetry and literature sections, a little goth girl laying her hands on $2.99 slim paperback called Ariel. I remember pouring over it again and again. I had not realized how much that little slim volume meant to me until picking up Wintering and found myself able to recite bits and pieces of poems. The other day I found a notebook of my own poetry, ripe with references to Plath.
It’s funny to think now about how little I knew then. My knowledge of Plath has built over the years and my experience of the poetry has grown more layered with time. At 20 I compared myself to her, felt that we were literary sisters.
Then we have Wintering. Moses uses the poems of Ariel as the set up for the novel. It moves back and forth through time, exploring Path’s marriage to Ted Hughes, their separation, and her blossoming as a poet because of it. This was at its core, for me, a book about what happens when a relationship falls apart. It was about suddenly realizing that the whole life lived together was a lie, that things were never as perfect as they seemed. The language that Moses uses is very similar to Plath’s. It took a while to adjust to the poetic tone of the writing, to be lulled into the slow movement of the story.
It was so hard for me to read this. I had not expected to have such a personal reaction to it. Over the years I forgot how much I loved the poetry and one of the first things I had to do after starting was dig out my slim white paperback. I hadn’t known about Plath’s time at Court Green, had known very little about her personal life at all, and Moses painted this picture of her that reminded me a bit too much of myself, wanting the orchards and fields and bees. Then there was the relationship, the jarring feeling of watching an episode of my own life. I can’t help but suspect that Moses has gone through something similar. It was too close. There were parts that were word for word my own experience with infidelity and abandonment.
I don’t know who to suggest this to. The Plath lover may enjoy it, or may not. I am glad that I fought my way through.
- The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
This is indeed a most shameful day for this blog. You may have noticed that I haven’t written this week. You may have thought that I was sick or on vacation. You would be wrong. What actually has happened is that Wintering by Kate Moses is kicking my ass. Seriously. 288 pages and I have been reading it for a whole week. Yesterday I finally sat down and made myself read a lot. I read a third of the book yesterday and I am still not done.
Why is it kicking my ass?
Part of it was adjusting to the language, which is poetic and reflects Plath’s. Part of it is that it’s a slow build. Part of it is that watching Hughes and Plath’s relationship crumble is so close to my own experience that it’s sometimes painful to read. In what I’ve read today Hughes utters the exact words that X said to me. Exact. Words.
I am getting there, though. I’m happy to confess that my TBR stack grew mostly because I ordered in Season 8 of Buffy. I plan to force myself into relaxing this week and next week I am on vacation. I plan to devour as many books as I can. (Plus maybe eat fish and chips and get drunk in an actual bar. We’ll see.)
Read on, brothers and sisters. Read on.
- Captain Underpants and the Revenge of the Revolting Robo-boxers by Dav Pilkey
- Time of Your Life by Joss Whedon
- Predators and Prey by Joss Whedon
- 75 Short Masterpieces
- Best Loved Poems of the American People
- World’s Best Fairy Tales
- Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers by Dav Pilkey
- Memories of My Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
- Captain Underpants and the Revolting Revenge of the Robo-boxers by Dav Pilkey
I am pleased to announce that my experiment with Captain Underpants is now complete. I have caught up with what is published and I’ve decided that enough is enough. I enjoyed them. They made me laugh and I thought they were surprisingly witty. I think that I’ve made my point: Let’s stop challenging these books. Seriously, folks. I think that the problem here is our unrealistic expectations for kids. Kids are kids. They think that underwear is funny. They think that toilets are funny. There’s a good chance that you still think these things are funny in the right context. Pretending that kids don’t find these things funny is just, well, kind of stupid. I’m not going to lie, I thought that the books were pretty well done and I thought they had value.
I’ve not read most of the top most challenged books from last year. I only have, like, two left but I think that I can just pick one up every once in a while and stay on top of things. Next on my list of controversial books? The Miseducation of Cameron Post.
I am feeling downright starved for a deliciously good book. I loved Memories of My Melancholy Whores and I felt smart reading it, which I needed after my stint with CU. Last night I read the first three pages of my next book, The Wintering: A Novel of Sylvia Plath by Kate Moses and I’m worried that it might be a bit too smart for me. That’s not what I mean. It just seems like the kind of book that will take all of my attention and that will most likely mean that I’ll watch more Dexter rather than read. I’m actually a bit worried about Wintering. The book was a gift from my bet friend about a decade ago and it has floated around on my shelves all of this time. When I pulled the slip out of my book jar I felt the instant stab of worry.
Because I have a horrible confession to make. See, I fell in love with Plath when I was a surly, angst ridden, poetry writing teenager. I fell in love with Ariel. I memorized bits of poem. I read The Bell Jar twice in high school. Recently I started reading a collection of poems, including the work from Ariel, and I don’t think that I like it as much. I am worried because this feels like maybe I am not who I thought that I was. Though, in all fairness, I did revisit my journal from ages 14 and 15 and I was certainly a teenager. I was so much of a teenager that I couldn’t stand myself!
Maybe we’ll quench the thirst this week.
In case you didn’t know, a few years ago I started reading a short story in between books. I just started thinking one day that I might be missing out on some awesome short stories because I prefer novels. I bought a couple of collections of “classic” short stories at the library book sale and then I was on my way.
Recently I heard a lot of good things about Alice Munro and I decided to do it right and proper. I ordered in her first published collection and quickly fell in love. The woman can write, y’all! Her sentences are beautiful! I finished the first collection, consulted the order of publication, and ordered in The Lives of Girls and Women.
It was only when I started the third story that I thought something might be amiss. I mean, while I knew that a lot of her stories take place in Jubilee, this felt like the first time that they were all told by the same character. So, I flipped over the book. There is was, bold as brass, “The only novel by celebrated author Alice Munro.”
How the hell did I read three chapters of a novel before realizing they weren’t short stories?
I beat myself up over this a bit last night when I put aside Divergent and decided to take in a short story to cleanse the palate, if you will. Should I read it like I have been or try to take it in like a novel. Finally, I looked it up. Apparently a lot of people make this mistake.
I started a new mantra today and it is “Trim the fat.” I want to get rid of the negative, get rid of the energy sucks, and put something better out there.
This afternoon that translated to giving up on Divergent.
Now, Hubby read it and loved it. Friends read it and loved it. My mother-in-law read it and loved it. I just didn’t care. I couldn’t get into it, even 150 pages in. But it started at the beginning.
I’m not big on dystopian fiction to begin with but even for me there were huge similarities between this and Hunger Games.
1. These books start with descriptions of the main character, including the main character’s reasons why she is not attractive. This also happens in Twilight and Fifty Shades. Seriously, though. I don’t need to know how you look right away. I don’t need to know how you don’t think you’re pretty. Like 90% of women don’t think they’re attractive! Obviously, though, a number of male characters are going to fall in love with you anyway.
2. We get to see our world, but different. In HG it was the United States divided into districts that don’t interact and have specific jobs. With Divergent it was Chicago divided into different factions that have different personalities and different jobs.
3. Some big ceremony is about to occur.
4. The main character tells all of us why she is different from everyone else.
I know that you don’t have to like a character to like a book but I really just couldn’t care less about Tris. I didn’t need to know what happened to her and her world. I kept thinking that I would get more involved once I got further in but it felt like the things that should have made me care were too contrived.
I don’t mean to blast it. Maybe I mean to talk myself into it. I wanted to read Divergent so that I could be a part of this big excitement that was going on. I still want to be a part of that. I just can’t see investing any more time into reading something I don’t absolutely want to read.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez is indeed a master of the written word.
This slim volume, merely 115 pages long, is the story of the 90th year of an unnamed man’s life. On the morning of his birthday he awakes with a desire for one night of lovemaking with a virgin. He contacts one of the madams whose brothel he used to frequent and she finds him a girl, only 14, to fit his desire. When the man gets there, however, he finds the girl sleeping and is told not to wake her, that she is tired from a long day of sewing buttons on shirts at a factory. As the night wears on, he finds himself unable to wake her and then unwilling to. What follows if the man’s first taste of love.
This was a beautiful portrayal of age, really. The main character goes through different stages of dealing with his age and remembering his life, seemingly undecided about whether or not it was well lived.
I thoroughly enjoyed this. Definitely worth the single day read.
- Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers by Dav Pilkey
- No Future for You by Brian K. Vaughne
- All the Way Home by Wendy Corsi Staub
- Captain Underpants and the Preposterous Peril of the Purple Potty People by Dav Pilkey
- This One Summer by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki
I was so excited when I counted my TBR pile and came up with 29. Like that time when I got my items checked out to 25, I felt like I deserved some kind of reward. Then I realized that it was actually 30. I spent another weekend stalled and have been carrying around Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Memories of My Melancholy Whores since Friday but have been stuck on a Captain Underpants because I just can’t get myself to read. I try to. I sat on the couch last night with my book and looked at it. I didn’t actually read.
Now that it’s Monday and I have a cold, I want nothing more than to sit on my couch with a blanket and read, regardless of how stuffy the house is. This is a pretty unlikely scenario though. I work 8:30 to 7 today. That’s a long ass day, y’all.
I just feel so unsatisfied lately. I’m not sure if it’s my reading so much as, well, everything. That happens once in a while, right? Then again, maybe it’s just the cold.
Happy reading to you.