Friday, July 24, 2009

JA Sightings

1. Last Sunday, Arkansas Democrat Gazette columnist Kane Webb did his a column called "Worst Books '09: Hate the Books, Love the Reviews." He shared some of his favorite great reviews of bad books, then asked some local discerning readers this question: What is the worst book you've read of late? And why? It doesn't have to be new, just new to you. One reviewer named Sophie Kinsella's Can You Keep a Secret as her worst book. She said she wasn't expecting high lit, just a fun read for the beach, but, boy, was she disappointed with the "same old rehashed heroine" in this "stale and tired" book. She continues: "Jane Austen wrote (time and again) a better version of this romantic tale, and she gave us heroines with brains. Take Elizabeth Bennet or Emma Woodhouse to the beach, and leave what's-her-name at home." Amen, sister.

2. From David Gates' article "Now, Read It Again: Like Old Friends and Favorite Haunts, Some Books Reward Revisiting," in the 7/13/09 edition of Newsweek: "Still, I suspect that the most widely reread writers in English have been Dickens, Shakespeare, and Jane Austen--hardly a month goes by whithout my revisiting one of them--who combine the sleepy-time comforts of story and character with all the challenge and complexity, the inexhaustible newness, that anyone could ask for. I've taught them all in the classroom, while in the bedroom their books have slipped from my hands as their stories shaded into my dreams."

3. Even Soytomayor's got an Austen connection. In the article "Meet the Sotomayors" from the 7/20/09 edition of Newsweek, the authors reveal that when Sotomayor arrived at Princeton in the fall of 1972, she felt as if she were in an "alien land." It seemed as if all the other students had attended prep school, played tennis, and went on fancy vacations. "In the summer after her freshman year, she read the children's and adolescents' classics she had missed but that seemed familiar to all the prep-school students--Alice in Wonderland, Huckleberry Finn, and the novels of Jane Austen." [adolescent classics? I wonder if that's Sotomayor's classification or the article's authors'?]

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