Monday, September 21, 2009

Finger Lickin' Fifteen (by Janet Evanovich)*

That little asterisk means "audiobook" and I'm betting you'll see a lot of those between now and the end of the year. I'm commuting between two and three hours a day until December, and I've decided I need to start making better use of that time, so audiobooks it is!

I bought this one just to kick start the process, although I'm going to be getting more from friends and the library and so forth. I think I've read all the other books in the Stephanie Plum series, although it's difficult to tell, since they seem to be all the same. In this one, Stephanie's broken up with Morelli for no good reason, and then doesn't even bother to sleep with Ranger even though she's basically living at his house and is supposedly attracted, what the hell. WHAT IS THE POINT OF THE WHOLE MORELLI BREAKUP, THEN? Plus, men are always kissing her in various places, as if she has no agency, and it's annoying.

This one is so formulaic it even features a cross-dressing dude and a bunch of fart jokes. It is reasonably diverting and I like the BBQ contest premise and subplot, but I seriously think Evanovich should reconsider her "give the people what they want!" philosophy if that means zero character growth or development or change, ever, for anyone.

Also, I don't know if this is the audio format talking (it probably is) but I noticed two tics that really bugged me. By the time I started counting them, I was already annoyed, so I'm sure it's more than this, but I counted at least seven instances of variations on "I blew out a sigh" instead of simply "I sighed" and seven "He cut his eyes to me" instead of "he glanced at me." I don't know why Evanovich enjoys "blew out a sigh" and "cutting eyes to" so much, but it got really irritating, by the end.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Twelfth Night, by William Shakespeare

What the hell, let's say plays count! Especially since I just read this one for the first time, and just finished teaching this. We had a lot of fun in class, and even watched some snippets of the film starring Imogen Stubbs, who played Lucy in Sense and Sensibility. (There are rumors of a film version starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Parminder Nagra. BE STILL MY HEART.) I also love (and posted to Livejournal and Facebook) Viola's speech about the constancy of women vs. the fickleness of men: "And with a green and yellow melancholy / she sat like Patience on a monument / smiling at grief. Was not this love indeed?"

On the one hand, we read it really fast, mostly because my students wanted to "find out how it ends" so we squeezed it into the syllabus. We talked about the gender issues, the conventions of Shakespearean comedy, the way Shakespeare uses blank verse vs. prose, and the whole Lord of Misrule, Twelfth Night thing. Oh, and the role of the Fool, of course. But I feel like there's so much we didn't delve into. I also felt like I wanted more emotional meat--I mean, I'm not convinced by any of the love stories, for various reasons, except that I buy Viola's love for Orsino. (And Antonio's for Sebastian.) (Okay, and Toby's for Maria...)

I didn't fall in love with the play yet, as much as I fell in love with, say, Henry V or The Tempest or Midsummer, when I read them. But hey, it's Shakespeare. You can't really go wrong.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Watchmen (by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons)

As soon as I said I probably wasn't going to read much for the rest of the year, I picked up Ian's copy of Watchmen and read it in like 24 hours. It was just so good!

I'm not a comic book reader or a graphic novel reader, in general--I leave that stuff to my friend Michael. I mean, I haven't even read all of Maus. But this was on the Time 100 list so I gave it a chance, and I got really sucked in. Unlike Lucky Jim, which I just read a paragraph at a time, I found myself unable to put Watchmen down, and stayed up late last night to finish "just one more" episode.

I could have done without the comic-within-the-comic (just because it was mostly a distraction from the main characters) and some of the overlapping-dialogue stuff got a little stale, and the ending was kind of crazy, but for the most part, I was won over by the moral ambiguity/complexity, the way the book immerses you in an alternate version of history, and the compelling, not quite sympathetic characters (loved Dr. Manhattan and Rorschach, especially). I also enjoyed the artwork, and definitely would give another graphic novel a chance, if you know of any good ones!


Friday, September 04, 2009

Lucky Jim (by Kingsley Amis)

I doubt I'll get through very many more books by December, given my school schedule, but I actually did manage to finish this one! It's a tiny book that's taken me weeks, though, so, not a promising pace. This is another one from the Time 100 booklist, a satire of academia that is not half as successful as Pale Fire (yes, I am biased). However, it is amusing and was fun to read. I have a feeling I would have been laughing more if I'd read it all the way through rather than a paragraph at a time!

I'm not sure why it's on the Time list, though, quite. I mean, it's clever and all, but it didn't blow my mind or anything. In fact, I've run out of things to say about it already.