Monday, November 29, 2010

What I'm Re-Reading

Here, in one volume: Marjane Satrapi's best-selling, internationally acclaimed memoir-in-comic-strips.

Persepolis is the story of Satrapi's unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trials of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming--both sweet and terrible; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland. It is the chronicle of a girlhood and adolescence at once outrageous and familiar, a young life entwined with the history of her country yet filled with the universal trials and joys of growing up.

Edgy, searingly observant, and candid, often heartbreaking but threaded throughout with raw humor and hard-earned wisdom--Persepolis is a stunning work from one of the most highly regarded, singularly talented graphic artists at work today.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Battle of the Readers

When I started listening to the Harry Potter series on audiobooks, I began with Stephen Fry as reader. And I LOVED him. But some people kept telling me that Jim Dale was much better. I couldn't really imagine how he could be, and I was so satisfied with Fry that I saw no reason to switch. Well, there were some technical problems half-way through Chamber of Secrets, so a friend who works at the library reserved their audiobook for me so I could finish the novel, and guess who's the reader? Right. Jim Dale. So now I can speak officialy on the matter.

Stephen Fry is the best. Hands down.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

My New Listen

Adam & Eve: A Novel
by Sena Jeter Naslund
Narrated by Karen White
PUBLISHER Harper Audio
LENGTH 13 hrs and 44 mins

Publisher's Summary

What happened to Eden?

Hours before his untimely - and highly suspicious - death, world-renowned astrophysicist Thom Bergmann shares his discovery of extraterrestrial life with his wife, Lucy. Feeling that the warring world is not ready to learn of - or accept - proof of life elsewhere in the universe, Thom entrusts Lucy with his computer flash drive, which holds the keys to his secret work.

Devastated by Thom's death, Lucy keeps the secret, but Thom's friend, anthropologist Pierre Saad, contacts Lucy with an unusual and dangerous request about another sensitive matter. Pierre needs Lucy to help him smuggle a newly discovered artifact out of Egypt: an ancient codex concerning the human authorship of the Book of Genesis. Offering a reinterpretation of the creation story, the document is sure to threaten the foundation of the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religion... and there are those who will stop at nothing to suppress it.

Midway through the daring journey, Lucy's small plane goes down on a slip of verdant land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in the Middle East. Burned in the crash landing, she is rescued by Adam, a delusional American soldier whose search for both spiritual and carnal knowledge has led to madness. Blessed with youth, beauty, and an unsettling innocence, Adam gently tends to Lucy's wounds, and in this quiet, solitary paradise, a bond between the unlikely pair grows. Ultimately, Lucy and Adam forsake their half-mythical Eden and make their way back toward civilization, where members of an ultraconservative religious cult are determined to deprive the world of the knowledge Lucy carries.

Set against the searing debate between evolutionists and creationists, Adam & Eve expands the definition of a "sacred book", and suggests that true madness lies in wars and violence fueled by all religious literalism and intolerance.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

HP Jealousy

I've really enjoyed seeing my students' (and others') reactions to the news that I'm finally reading the Harry Potter series. They are SO excited and happy about it.

But what's really interesting is that they're jealous. Several different people have said to me, "Oooh, I wish I could read them again for the first time." And I know how they feel. There are lots of books I wish I could read again for the first time.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My Latest Listen

OK. I know I'm behind the times. I'm just now getting around to Harry Potter. And I've really been enjoying the first novel. That is, I was until this morning. With only about one hour left of the audiobook, my ipod shut off. At first, I thought my battery was down. But, no. I turned it back on, navigated to roughly the same spot, and began to listen again. A few minutes of replay, and then . . . nothing. Again. What??
As soon as I got in from my workout, I got on my computer and checked itunes. It didn't work there, either. The rest of the book was missing.

Monday, November 8, 2010

What I'm Reading Now

All children should believe they are special. But the students of Hailsham, an elite school in the English countryside, are so special that visitors shun them, and only by rumor and the occasional fleeting remark by a teacher do they discover their unconventional origins and strange destiny. Kazuo Ishiguro's sixth novel, Never Let Me Go, is a masterpiece of indirection. Like the students of Hailsham, readers are "told but not told" what is going on and should be allowed to discover the secrets of Hailsham and the truth about these children on their own.
Offsetting the bizarreness of these revelations is the placid, measured voice of the narrator, Kathy H., a 31-year-old Hailsham alumna who, at the close of the 1990s, is consciously ending one phase of her life and beginning another. She is in a reflective mood, and recounts not only her childhood memories, but her quest in adulthood to find out more about Hailsham and the idealistic women who ran it. Although often poignant, Kathy's matter-of-fact narration blunts the sharper emotional effects you might expect in a novel that deals with illness, self-sacrifice, and the severe restriction of personal freedoms. As in Ishiguro's best-known work, The Remains of the Day, only after closing the book do you absorb the magnitude of what his characters endure. --Regina Marler

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Flattery Will Get You Everywhere

I just got an email from a friend and former professor of mine. She sent me a link to Deb Barnum's (Regional Coordinator of the Vermont chapter of JASNA and current bibliographer for Persuasions Online) BLOG recapping the 2010 JASNA AGM. "She talks about you!" my friend said.

Well, of course I had to check it out, and here's what Ms. Barnum had to say:

. . . Then off to the first of many break-out sessions – and what a task to choose! – each session offering such variety and depth – the choice so difficult – I decided to do at least one on the gothic literary features of NA, one on fashion and all that muslin, and of course, something on Henry Tilney. So my first was to hear . . .

Then off to see Stephanie Eddleman on “Henry Tilney: Austen’s Feminized Hero?” – One of the things that can get my dander up in a discussion about NA is talk that Henry is too feminine to be a true hero, or too condescending to be an equal lover to Catherine, or too distant as a character to engage the reader – so I was hoping that Prof. Eddleman would give me much needed ammunition! – and she did indeed: Henry as the one hero who stands apart – he is her only witty hero; he is feminized but not feminine, and unlike Austen’s other feminized male characters [Frank Churchill, Robert Ferrars], Austen is not critical of Henry. I most appreciated Eddleman’s answer to Marvin Mudrick’s contention that Henry is a detached, disengaged character – she feels that Henry develops intimacy through his intelligence and wit, always encouraging Catherine toward her own independent thinking. I hope this talk will be in Persuasions – it gives much needed support for Henry as True & Worthy Austen Hero.

With all these great thoughts in my head, off we ran to . . .

Wow. That was exciting!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Rainy Days

Rainy days make me just want to stay home and read, preferably something NOT for a class. And drink coffee.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Snooping on Planes

I always like to know what other people are reading, and airports/airplanes are good places to observe readers. Of course, I have to be careful. People start to wonder about you when you stare at them or get in weird positions for a view of their lap.

I saw fewer people reading this trip than I usually do (trend? chance?), but here's what I saw people reading:

Wally Lamb's The Hour I First Believed

John Grisham's Ford County

Thomas Friedman's Hot, Flat, and Crowded

a Mitch Albom novel, couldn't read the title

a Robert B. Parker novel, couldn't read the title

one guy was reading a chemistry textbook

one girl was studying a sign-language text (and practicing)

one woman was reading a paperback that, I kid you not, looked six inches thick. I tried and tried to see what it was, but no luck


a woman was reading a bodice ripper (couldn't read the title, but you know what kinds of pictures are on the cover; no mistaking them) and here's the kicker: SHE WAS HIGHLIGHTING TEXT. I am not making this up. Think of the possibilities . . .