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Category Archives: The Blog

Year in Review

It’s been very quiet here on the blog, and you might have wondered what’s been going on.

Well, it’s been a pretty dark year.  Evil human hearts, drug overdoses, hit-and-run accidents, suicidal strangers, confounding legal predicaments, furnace problems, blinding heat, memory issues, incest, and financial and familial failure.

Gladly, that all happened in the book list, and not in our lives.  Our lives have just been busy.  Good busy, but busy.

But we’re still here, we’re still reading.  And on this, our third anniversary, I offer this as evidence:

Blogiversary Three

Here’s to another year.  Maybe one a little lighter on human catastrophe.

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2014 in The Blog

 

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Check-in on The Stranger

The Stranger check-in

How are you doing with Camus?  Are you strangers?  acquaintances?  friends?

Have you had any encounters with “the nakedness of man faced with the absurd“?

I’ve already found an example of nakedness and absurdity.

I’ve also found foreshadowing.  In chapter 1 Meursault is part of a wake for his mother.  The deceased’s friends are sitting across from the not-so-bereaved:

For a second I had the ridiculous feeling that they were there to judge me.

Perhaps we’ve had too many books that end up in a court room, but when I read that sentence I  wrote “Foreshadowing?” in my book.

I’d love to hear your initial thoughts on our new novel.  Share them (and your place) in the comments.

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2013 in The Blog

 

Classics by the Minute

My children love to help me make WEM connections.  For example this week at the library they borrowed Garfield Eats Crow and found this strip: Garfield and Moby-Dick.

Who knew that the famous orange cat was curious about classics?

Garfield’s 10 second story reminded me of Christina’s post about “Book-a-Minute Classics“.   I know Christina said that we like to do things the hard way, and we do.  We’re not cheaters.  We read the blasted books no matter how long or bizarre they may be, but that doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy a chuckle or two with these little cheats after the wrap-up is over.

Jane Eyre

The Scarlet Letter

Moby-Dick

Crime and Punishment

Anna Karenina

The Return of the Native

The Portrait of a Lady

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The Red Badge of Courage

Heart of Darkness

The Great Gatsby

I think The Return of the Native synopsis might be my favorite.  Although, I did enjoy The Portrait of a Lady one as well.

Feeling brave?  a little snarky?  Go ahead and write your own “Book-a-Minute” summary.

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2013 in The Blog

 

Up In the Air

It’s a bird!  It’s a plane!  It’s a literary reference!

Well, two out of three ain’t bad.  Because surely when Richard Wright wrote the skywriting scene in Book I of Native Son he was doing so in order to give a nod to the similar introductory moment in Mrs. Dalloway.

Or not.  Maybe planes were just sort of new and cool and, well, novel for a novel.

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2013 in The Blog

 

The Mystery Man – Part Four

Gatsby:  User or Victim?

He uses lots of people and situations to get to Daisy, doesn’t he?   Nick, in particular.   He doesn’t seem to care about tromping on a marriage or being honest or even the horrible event in Chapter 7 (which I won’t mention in case you haven’t gotten there yet).

On the other hand, people use him too.   All the society wealthy who crash his parties, drink his drinks and eat his fancy food are all users.   They could care less about Gatsby as a person (as evidenced by their lack of presence at the events of the last chapter).   Even the person he seems to care the most about, Daisy, turns her back on him in the end to protect herself.   Do you feel sorry for him at all?  Any empathy?

So what do you think?  Is it Poor Gatsby or Good Riddance Gatsby?

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2013 in The Blog, The Great Gatsby

 

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The Mystery Man – Part Three

Gatsby:   Empty or Full?

His life seems so full at times.  Full of fun.  Full of parties.  Full of a Purpose (get the girl).   Yet, there is the empty side too.   Empty of meaningful hobbies.  Empty of real relationships.   Empty of family.

So, is he empty or full?  Or is this perhaps just a matter of perspective?   (In a way, this novel is reminding me of the House of Mirth – smoke and mirrors.)

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2013 in The Blog, The Great Gatsby

 

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The Mystery Man – Part Two

Gatsby:  Creepy or Cute?

Well, he does buy a house directly across the channel from Daisy’s house, just so he can sit and stare across at the green light, dreaming of a perfect reunion.   That’s a bit creepy.   Or is it cute?  Wouldn’t you like to have someone show that amount of devotion to you?     He has Nick set up a reunion at his “shack” next door, where he shows an admirably cute amount of embarrassment leading to joy, leading to wonder.  But then there is the whole arranging of the thing, which is a bit creepy.

So, what do you think?  Creepy or cute?

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2013 in The Blog, The Great Gatsby

 

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The Mystery Man

Jay Gatsby.   New on The Social Scene.  Knows how to throw One Heck of a Party.  But who is he?   Rumors abound.  The gossip mill loves this guy.   Maybe he’s a bootlegger?   Into oil?   A German spy?    No one’s really sure, because they have either had “a bit too much” at the party, or they can’t get past the annoyingly blasé “old sport” demeanor Gatsby projects.

So, who is this man?  Even F.S. Fitzgerald seems a bit vague at times.   Let’s play a little game, shall we?   I’ll give you two possibilities and you chime in as to which you think better describes our mystery man.  I have a few waiting in the wings as well, so look for some more to come in the next week.   I won’t reveal my biases completely until we’ve finished our game.  Susan Wise Bauer would say to use quotes or situations from the actual novel in your answer, but I’m OK w/just gut feelings as well.   Sometimes it’s hard to put your finger on exactly what makes you feel a certain way about a character.

So here’s the first set of options:

Gatsby:  Concerned or Conceited?

Is he just a selfish prick, or does he have a heart?   On one hand, he does that “old sport” thing with everyone he meets, but on the other, he spends the night outside of Daisy’s residence, making sure she’s OK.    What say you?

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2013 in The Blog, The Great Gatsby

 

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Say what? Say what?

Classic Word of the Dayecholalia –  n.  immediate repetition of spoken language, typically associated with the childhood learning of speech, or psychiatric disorder

Classical Usage:  I knew Nick wasn’t crazy about Gatsby’s parties, but until I learned the meaning of this word I’d missed his little slam in Chapter III.  There was the boom of a bass drum, and the voice of the orchestra leader rang out suddenly above the echolalia of the garden.

Classically Mad Usage:  When we were children, my sister used to sing along with all the hymns, and yet never crack the hymnal.  What was her secret?  Studying ahead?  Screens in the front of the church?  Amazing eyesight?  Nope.  Echolalia.  She’d listen carefully, and sing the words just a tish behind the rest of the congregation, anticipating the rhymeHHo for a strong end-of-phrase finish.  Not a psychiatric disorder, just resourcefulness.  Nicely done, Stacy.

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2013 in The Blog, The Great Gatsby

 

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Not to Bum You Out

I’m so tired of all these women dying.  I’ve nearly lost track of them, first it was Helen, then Emma, Alyona and Lizaveta, Anna, Eustacia, and now Lily. Why?  Why must we read so much tragedy?  Why the death?  What’s wrong with a happy ending once in a while?

Then I stumbled across this article in my facebook newsfeed.  Friends, it’s worth the read (it even mentions three of our authors.)  The subject is tragedy.  The context is Christian worship.  The backdrop is our life.

If you only click on one external link today, I encourage you to choose the one above.  You can even leave the arguments about worship behind, but I’d love to know what you think about the tragedy vs. entertainment question.

Is our WEM reading list reminding you that we live in the valley of the shadow of death?  Is it drawing you face to face with the world of iniquity from which we would rather shield our minds?  Are the authors and their sin-filled worlds making you cling firmly to the Author of creation?  Is the despair of the characters wakening a vision of the evil that surrounds us outside the pages of fiction?  Or, are the novels a source of pacification and escapism?  Are the classics entertaining?  Should the classics be entertaining?

 

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