Archive for the ‘Teaser Tuesdays’ Category

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Teaser Tues-Wednes-day

January 27, 2010

E.M. Forster’s Howards End has been a tremendous read. Obviously, since you haven’t heard much about it here, I have been reading it rather slowly. It’s strange, actually. I remember flying through A Room with a View. There’s just something about the prose and the characters in this book that makes me want to read every paragraph twice. In fact, a few days ago, as I was getting off the bus, the driver asked me how I was enjoying my book. He said that he noticed my reading because I “seemed really into it.” That’s how I feel whenever I open this book–entirely absorbed.

Before I read my first Forster book, I wasn’t really sure what his writing was like. So here’s a little bit of a taste in case you may be wondering as well.

It did not seem so difficult. She need trouble him with no gift of her own. She would only point out the salvation that was latent in his own soul, and in the soul of every man. Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its highest. Live in fragments no longer. Only connect, and the beast and the monk, robbed of the isolation that is life to either, will die.

You can see why it might take a while to read this book. How many times does that paragraph need to be read before it makes sense? But when it does, it is so beautiful!

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Teaser Tuesday: North and South

December 29, 2009

After a short holiday blog break, I’m now thoroughly looking forward to an exciting 2010 all over the book blogs. Seeing everyone’s end-of-year favorites has been interesting; I should be posting mine tomorrow. It’s also fun to see everyone’s lists of goals for next year, whether they be challenges, restrictions, or amorphous projects. I’ve been putting a few ideas out there already, such as my Austen project and my James brothers project. Another one of my goals is to continue to participate in the Classics Circuits, and I’m well on my way to that one–I’m hosting Edith Wharton in couple of weeks and I’ve signed up to read Their Eyes Were Watching God for February’s African American History Month tour. I haven’t signed up for any challenges, though, tempting as they are, mainly because I already have a full plate between the Classics Circuit and my real life book club, which I hope to continue attending every other month.

Truthfully, it’s been hard to stop and think about next year’s reading plans because I am entirely engulfed in Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South. I suppose that I shouldn’t be surprised, given how much I enjoy a classic victorian novel. But after reading several reviews of this book, I was a little unsure of what to expect. Would I find it a simple retelling of Pride and Prejudice? Or would I find it preachy? Luckily, I haven’t found the book to be either of these things. Of course, a small part of the plot (the love story) does so far seem to be remarkably similar to the plot in Pride and Prejudice. But the entire rest of the novel, that is, the remaining eight-five percent, focuses on something new and exciting: the plight of mill town workers before, during, and after a strike. Here’s one of my favorite passages so far. We are hearing our hero, Margaret, thinking about Mr Thorton, one of the town mill-owners.

Of course, speaking so of the fate that, as a master, might be his own in the fluctuations of commerce, he was not likely to have more sympathy with that of the workmen, who were passed by in the swift merciless improvement or alteration; who would fain lie down and quietly die out of the world that needed them not, but felt as if they could never rest in their graves for the clinging cries of the beloved and helpless they would leave behind; who envied the power of the wild bird, who can feed her young with her very heart’s blood. Margaret’s whole soul rose up against him while he reasoned in this way –as if commerce were everything and humanity nothing. She could hardly thank him for the individual kindness, which brought him that very evening to offer her — for the delicacy that made him understand that he must offer her privately — every convenience for illness that his own wealth or his mother’s foresight that had caused then to accumulate in their household…

From pages 151-152 of the Penguin Classics edition.

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Teaser Tuesday: The Use of Poetry

December 8, 2009

It’s probably not too surprising that I’ve been suffering from a minor case of reader’s block ever since I set down The Brothers Karamazov. If I’m not in the mood for that book, then what, exactly, am I in the mood for? I’ve been sampling a bunch of short pieces for the last few days: catching up on my periodicals, reading chapters of different books here and there. This weekend, I decided to try the fiction piece in last week’s New Yorker. It was The Use of Poetry by Ian McEwan.

The story is structured a bit oddly; after learning a small amount of background about a man named Michael Beard, we’re then immediately told a rather in depth story about how he courted his first wife. Here is a teaser section for you about how Michael has passed himself off as a Milton expert in order to gain the affections of his girlfriend.

Going after Maisie was a relentless, highly organized pursuit, and it gave him great satisfaction, and it was a turning point in his development, for he knew that no third-year arts person, however bright, could have passed himself off, after a week’s study, among the undergraduate mathematicians and physicists who were Beard’s colleagues. The traffic was one way. His Milton week made him suspect a monstrous bluff. The reading was a slog, but he encountered nothing that could remotely be construed as an intellectual challenge, nothing on the scale of difficulty he encountered daily in his course.

The story goes on to explain why Michael thinks that studying the arts is so much easier than studying the sciences. It’s quite amusing to see how far off the mark he is. (In my opinion, having studied both subjects extensively, they are both difficult fields, though in different ways.) Of course, we do eventually discover the answer to the question: how will a relationship founded on such lies survive? The full text of the story is available online if you’d like to read it. I’d encourage you to do so. Despite the confusing bit about the character’s family, I found the actual courtship story interesting.

Ian McEwan perplexes me. Last year, I read Atonement and loved it. The book spoke to so many interesting things about history: how small events can change lives, how personal histories are affected by world history, and how our imaginations can (to an extant) change how we remember history. Of course, there was also McEwan’s beautiful prose and engrossing characters. Atonement would have easily made my top-ten-books list last year. Ever since then, I’ve tried and failed to find another book to read by him. After reading the back covers of many of his books, I simply never feel inspired. I know there must be some McEwan fans out there. Given what I loved about Atonement, could you recommend another McEwan for me to read?

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Teaser Tuesday

November 17, 2009

Rather than inundate this blog with posts about No Name, I thought that I’d choose a different book from my current pile of reading. (Which has gathered a bit of dust the last couple of weeks during my unusually monogamous reading of Wilkie Collins.) This collection of short stories is by Irish writer Claire Keegan, and I’ve been enjoying them immensely. I only have two stories left to read, so I’d really like to finish this before the holidays. I’ve reviewed one of these stories previously. Now, I’d like to tease you with a bit of Keegan’s prose so that you can form a better opinion of her work. This selection comes from one of my favorites in the collection, called The Forester’s Daughter. A few pages into the story, we meet the two main characters: a farmer and his wife, recently married.

That summer her roses bloomed scarlet but long before the wind could blow their heads asunder, Martha realized she had made a mistake. All she had was a husband who hardly spoke now that he’d married her, an empty house and no income of her own. She had married a man she did not love. What had she expected? She had expected it would grow and deepen into love. And now she craved intimacy and the type of conversation that would surpass misunderstanding. She thought about finding a job but it was too late: a child was near ready for the cradle.

This is from Walk the Blue Fields, page 55. I love how Keegan’s simple sentences manage to convey such deep emotion. I can practically see a tired, middle aged woman, sitting in a farmhouse, looking sad and worn-down while thinking these thoughts.

An unrelated link: For those of you who are interested in classic novels but have mostly steered away from any and all Twilight media, here’s an interesting article comparing the Twilight series to Samuel Richardson’s classic “it-may-be-the-first-English-novel” novel, Pamela. I don’t have much to add beyond what I said in my comment on that post, but this article brought up some good points about materialism and class advancement in the two novels. I’ve never been drawn to the Twilight franchise, and this helped me understand some of my own initial misgivings.

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Teaser Tuesday

November 10, 2009

noName.cgiI have been entirely engrossed in this novel. Because I didn’t want to ruin any surprises, I only allowed my book to fall open to any page before the page that I’m currently reading. For those who haven’t read it, this particular passage does do a large bit of foreshadowing, but only in the least spoiler-y way possible. Essentially, this book is about two sisters. This is one character’s observations about the main character, the sister named Magdalen.

“Be careful how you manage that sister of yours,” said Mr Clare, without noticing the question. “She has one great misfortune to contend with: she’s not made for the ordinary jog-trot of a woman’s life. I don’t say I can see straight to the end of the good or the evil in her–I only warn you, her future will be no common one.”

Page 168 of the Oxford World’s Classics edition

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Teaser Tuesday

October 28, 2009

rebeccaTeaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read.
  • Open the book to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
  • Please avoid spoilers!
  • I felt uncomfortable, a little shy. I did not know why she must speak with such resentment, implying as she did at the same time that this room, where I found myself to be installed, was something inferior, not up to the Manderley standard, a second-rate room, as it were, for a second-rate person.

    From page 76 of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. I can’t believe that this quote showed up on a random page, since it encapsulates the exact tone of much of what I’ve read so far

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    Teaser Tuesday

    October 20, 2009

    draculaTeaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read.
  • Open the book to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
  • Please avoid spoilers!
  • So this is totally cheating because I didn’t open to a random page, but these are some of my favorite lines yet in Dracula. (I will write more Thoughts about Dracula tomorrow, but for right now I’ll just say that I am loving it more and more.)

    I shall be prepared. I shall get my typewriter this very hour and begin transcribing.

    Isn’t this so wonderfully bookish? “Danger! To the typewriter!” I love it.