Sunday, August 16, 2009

Girlfriend Material-Wheatley Graduate

Summer is a perfect time to read about...summer romance on Cape Cod. Melissa Kantor, Wheatley graduate and author of many YA (that is short for young adult) books has hit a sweet note with her latest, Girlfirend Material. The plot may be a bit breezy, but the characters who struggle with first love, new friendships, awkward family situations, are all believable and compelling. I found myself caring what was going to happen and I was convinced I had met these teens before. This is a strong recommendation for a great read under a beach umbrella on a warm summer day.. or during the winter under your comforter counting down the days until summer!

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Summerry Summer Literary Blast Thingymabobber

I am thinking of having control over holding extreme exuberance. This might not help my case, but I know it's less risk than exuberance and talking about books I only read up to thirty pages of.

My school's summer reading is still a task for me. The AP Core reading involves a select work of fiction, a select work of nonfiction, Habits of Empire, about American expansionism and imperialism, and the reading of newspaper articles and the creation of an annotated bibliography. I have read Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye which was her first novel and is an engrossing piece of the most extreme of emotions concentrated into poetic narrative and the sharpest of prose. I have also read Malcolm Gladwell's Blink, the second of his three internationally bestselling works of social science, this one focusing on the formation of snap judgements, and how the exterior and interior, and conscious and unconscious parts of the mind, create snap judgements. At times I felt Gladwell might be pushing it a bit with his personal and highly casual narrative of describing events and people, pinning down his core points, and pointing out the significance of a few things with some Steinbeckian repetition, but he is nevertheless convincing for his ability to point out that things DO work out without such certain focuses that have been so passionately developed.

My AP American, which is the third book, is hard to come along with. It's like picking up the thousand-some page Palmer & Colton Euro textbook again (People who have known my pains, hear me!) and reading a chapter each day. As for the newspaper articles, I've read two and must read three more... I have reached exuberance.

This has not slowed down my immersion in reading. I have been dilligent in finding things to read, and I have been successful. One novel I read was Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, which many of you should know about for its attack on the working conditions for the workingman and capitalism, and its last minute, hasty advocacy of socialism at the very end. Over a hundred years old, it is still a shocking masterpiece, and a classic by many means, exposing the terminal illness that afflicts the person in any position of the work of corrupted capitalism. This I read in a Barnes & Noble Classic edition. Another book I bought in B&NC was Kafka short stories, including 'The Metamorphosis,' which I found to be the utmost attack of the world at large with all the absurdities that this story was able to afford, including a man turned cockroach and other uncomfortable degradations.

Another book I remember now is Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast, which surprised me with how Hemingway stuck to the same narrative in his posthumous Paris memoirs as was present in all of his other works. I was stunned by all the characters surrounding him in his budding literary career, including haughty Gertrude Stein, Ford Madox Ford, T.S. Eliot, for whom Ernest and some other friends create a fund for bailing him out of his sad little wage job so he could write all his famous poems, his wife and baby, and F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda. I swear that when I read each descriptive and mellow scene, I could imagine all of his work assembling together over the years, being ready to be produced. In short, I was blown away.

Next comes to mind Knut Hamsun, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1920. I read Hunger, a semi-autobiographical novel about a young Norwegian writer struggling to produce work and live decently, failing to do so, wandering the streets of present day Oslo, pawning his clothes and other things, undergoing spells of madness, talking about death, and scorning till the very end, inwhich he sees the city he is leaving in all its glorious light. It is based on his ten years spent in squalor, compressed into a few months of fictitious first-person narrative. The strange diversity of the subject at hand was what manged to catch my attention. The crazes he goes through are some of the most disturbing events in literature.

My present project is Ishiguro, yes, the man who wrote Never Let Me Go. I am reading his 1995 Kafkaesque social epic The Unconsoled, which I have found to be as highly disturbing and almost as absurd as Kafka himself. (Then again, all Ishiguro writes about is social drama). I read about 20 pages a day, and so over 200 pages will be done in less than another 14 days.

I am quite confident that things will work out in the weeks that follow, including the first of school. It'll be crazy, but I know that I have my cushions and my umbrella.