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Train Ticket

If on a winter's night blog

 

Have you located your passport?  Purchased your ticket?  Packed your bags?

We’d better be ready for anything: swimsuit, parka, hiking boots, little black dress…  Our next novel has eleven beginnings and one ending.  Who knows where we’ll end up?

Grab a copy of Italo Calvino’s classic If on a winter’s night a traveler and settle in with us for the ride.

 
 

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Headed for Columbia

100YS blog

It’s spring and, sadly, my part of Michigan still has plenty of snow on the ground.  I’m ready for a change of scenery, even if I have to take a fictional trip to Columbia to get it.

That’s exactly where “A Classic Case of Madness” is going next.  We’re off to Gabriel García Márquez’s invented city of Macondo, Columbia where One Hundred years of Solitude takes place.

We hope you’ll join us.  According to the review on the back of my copy of the title, One Hundred Years of Solitude is… “One of the most influential literary works of our time”.

It’s time to begin WEM book twenty-seven: One Hundred Years of Solitude!
 

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2014 in One Hundred Years of Solitude

 

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Seize the Day? Yes, Let’s!

It’s time to Seize the Day.  100_9785
Author Saul Bellow would approve.
WEM guru Susan Wise Bauer would approve.
My reading partners would approve.

Don’t you think It’s time we tackle the twenty-sixth book on the novel list?
Wouldn’t you like to read along with us?
It won’t take long.
Just a day.
How do I know?  (shhh… don’t tell anyone, but I may or may not have already read Seize the Day… in a day.)

We’d love to have you join us and get this literary conversation going again.

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2014 in Seize the Day

 

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A Whine and an Invitation

On Monday I went to the bookstore and bought a copy of Invisible Man.100_9325
That was six days ago.
Have I started our twenty-fifth novel yet?

No.

At the end of the day when the house was quiet and I should have been reading, I spent time knitting, folding laundry, and blankly staring at the tv.

A few nights this week I even grabbed my book and journal and put them next to me on the couch, but not once did I crack the cover.  Okay, so I cracked the cover enough to see that this novel is 608 pages!

I’m weary of forcing myself through novels I don’t like; novels I’d never choose to read on my own.  When was the last time I read a WEM book that I enjoyed?  When was the last time I said to myself, “Oh, I want read that one again!”

silent pause

It’s been a long time.

A Classic Case of Madness borrowed its tagline from Don Quixote“the lack of sleep and the excess of reading withered his brain, and he went mad.”  My brain is feeling rather withered.  If this is a marathon, I’m the racer that needs a cup of Gatorade and some serious encouraging in order to finish.

But!  DIY Master’s degrees don’t come easily, and today is the day I shall give up my whining ways and resume my study of the classics. 608 pages?  That’s nothing.  How long was Anna Karenina?  I’ve had twenty-four novels-worth of training to prep me for this journey.

According to the back of my Vintage International copy, Invisible Manis one of those rare novels that have changed the shape of American literature.”  

“For not only does Ralph Ellison’s nightmare journey across the racial divide tell unparalleled truths about the nature of bigotry and its effects on the minds of both victims and perpetrators, it gives us an entirely new model of what a novel can be.”

Let’s find out exactly what this new novel model is and why some have chosen to ban it from schools.  Grab your copy of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man.  Start reading it today.

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2013 in Invisible Man

 

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1984

1984 CCOM

The following message came through the telescreen early this morning,

“You will locate a copy of George Orwell’s classic 1984.  You will read along with “A Classic Case of Madness’.  You will finally understand all the references to Big Brother.”

I suggest grabbing this edition and settling in for some social criticism.

You wouldn’t want the Thought Police to come after you, now would you?

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2013 in 1984

 

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Hello, Stranger!

The Stranger

Pack your sunglasses and sandals.  Our next book has us traveling to an Algerian beach.

“A Classic Case of Madness” is now reading The Stranger by Albert Camus.

Oh, I love the beach, but  I’ve never read Camus before, so let’s check out what the back of my Vintage Books copy has to say about the Frenchman’s novel.

Since it was first published in English, in 1946, Albert Camus’s first novel, The Stranger (L’etranger), has had a profound impact on millions of American readers.

That sounds promising.

Through this story of an ordinary man who unwittingly gets drawn into a …

Uh, oh.  Spoiler alert.  I don’t want to give anything away, but let’s say I’m less excited about the beach.

…Camus explored what he termed “the nakedness of man faced with the absurd.”

Why don’t you pack your puzzled/confused/bewildered expression along with that sun hat.  You know, the one you wore for The Trial.  I think Algeria’s going to be a bumpy ride.

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P.S. Did you catch that we’re reading a novel originally written in French?  This probably isn’t your first WEM book, so you know how important it is to read a good translation.  SWB recommends reading the one I linked above which is translated by Matthew Ward.

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2013 in The Stranger

 

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Native Son

Native Son

Why should you read Richard Wright’s Native Son with “A Classic Case of Madness”?

Here’s what the back of my Perennial Library copy says:

Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Wright’s powerful novel is just as meaningful today as when it was written, both in its unsparing reflection of the poverty and feelings of the helplessness experienced by people in inner cities across the country and in what it means to be black in America.

Why else should you read it?
It’s not Kafka absurd.
It has a plot (unlike Mrs. Dalloway).
It’s next on our WEM list.

Book twenty-two, here we come!

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2013 in Native Son

 

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May I present, Mrs. Dalloway

Mrs. DallowayFor our 20th WEM book, A Classic Case of Madness will be reading the 1925 novel,
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf.

If The Great Gatsby was action-filled (wild parties, affairs, and car accidents), Mrs. Dalloway is thoughtful.  Like Heart of Darkness author, Joseph Conrad, Virginia Woolf followed a “stream of consciousness” style of writing.  In WEM Susan Wise Bauer tells us Woolf “longed for a fiction that could be free, with ‘no plot, no comedy, no tragedy, no love interest, or catastrophe in the accepted style’” (WEM pg. 66).

No plot?  No tragedy? No love interest?

Seriously?

Why are we reading this book anyway?

The back of my Vintage Classics edition has a quote by author Michael Cunningham:

Mrs. Dalloway contains some of the most beautiful, complex, incisive, and idiosyncratic sentences ever written in English, and that alone would be reason enough to read it.  It is one of the most moving revolutionary artworks of the twentieth century.”

Ahhh…. Now I get it.  This is revolutionary writing.  We can look forward to carefully crafted sentences and stream of thought writing: writing as an art form.
Mrs. Clarissa Dalloway will share her thoughts, feelings, and memories with the us.

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The Details: SWB recommends the edition I’ve linked above, but you know how we feel about thrifty copies of novels.  Scour your basement shelves and used book store.

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2013 in Mrs. Dalloway

 

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The Great Gatsby

gatsbyIt’s time to trade one group of New York socialites for another.  Time has passed and we’re now in the Jazz Age.  The Great Gatsby was written in the early 1920s, the perfect timing for Fitzgerald’s setting.  We’re experiencing our own perfect timing with the release of the movie.

What’s Gatsby about?

After the war, the mysterious Jay Gatsby, a self-made millionaire pursues wealth, riches, and the lady he lost to another man with stoic determination.  When Gatsby finally does reunite with Daisy Buchanan, tragic events are set in motion.
(2010 Collins Classic, back cover)

Come see what all the fuss is about.
Join us as we read  F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic– The Great Gatsby.

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Details:  SWB recommends this Scribner edition and this Penguin Group version.
E-readers can find a kindle version here.

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2013 in The Great Gatsby

 

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Most Cordially Welcome

THOMA Classic Case of Madness invites you to read along with us for our next classic work:
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton.

Gentleman novelist Louis Auchincloss said The House of Mirth was “uniquely authentic among American novels of manners.”

What is Wharton’s book about exactly?  Fashionable New York society.

Here’s a quote from the back of my Signet Classic edition:

Its heroine, Lily Bart, the poor relation of a wealthy woman, is beautiful, intelligent, and hopelessly addicted to the pleasures of a moneyed world of luxury and grace.  But, ironically, her delicacy of taste and moral sensibility–qualities representing the ideal goals of that world–render her unfit for survival in it.

Whew.  For a minute I thought we were going to have Madame Bovary all over again.  I’m glad to hear that Lily Bart has moral sensibilities.

New York Socialites are not enough of a reason to read along with us?
How about the fact that Edith Wharton grew up amidst those socialites and know what she’s talking about?
How about the fact that after eight male authors in a row, we have a female one?!

I will close my invitation with a last quote from the Signet Classic.
The House of Mirth is “a brilliant portrayal of both human frailty and nobility, and a bitter attack on false social values.”

We would love to have you join us.

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The details…

SWB recommends this Signet Classic reprint edition..  I notice that the Kindle version is free.  SWB’s notes in the WEM book also say to skip Anna Quindlen’s introduction.  As faithful WEM students, we know to skip all introductions that are not written by the author herself.  Who wants hints to character motivation before even starting the book?  Not us certainly!  We may not be socialites, but we are rule followers.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2013 in The House of Mirth

 

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