Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Be Honest



What is your favorite book and why?

It's no secret that my favorite book is The Count of Monte Cristo. It is hella long, yo, but worth the three months it could take for your first go 'round. My second reading took a little over a week. No, I didn't have a life. Edmond Dantes was my life.

Why do I like it so much? It is a damn good story. Long and complex, but with a really great rhythm to it. You follow a plot for a while and it leads you off into left field. But don't fret; it'll tie in. Yes, it ever-much surely will. In some gut-wrenching or perhaps brain-exploding way. (I love when books make my brain explode!) There are stories within stories within stories, woven brilliantly. Characters, well-developed and unique, for whom you root besides the protagonist and circle of leads.

And Dumas made sure there was something for everyone: intrigue, mystery, adventure, romance, thrills and chills, moral quandaries, philosophical dilemmas, backstabbing, arcs, concaves, bandit caves, secret mountain holds, carnivals, dead babies, buffoons. And lots of humor, too.

The whole first section, the set up in the Chateau d'If, is inspiring in itself. It made me want to study, like, Greek and Astronomy and stuff, in case I need to get outta dodge or whatever.

And I love the book because it is long. I liked that tv series, Firefly, but then, like, 14 episodes and one feature length later it was over, done, kaput. I need more than that. I want to keep coming back, day after day, always wanting more. Always getting it.

Yeah, I'm pretty much ready for a re-read of The Count. Seriously.

So tell me yours. I mean it. Maybe you can dissuade me from this path.


14 comments:

  1. What are those, chicken pox scars?

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  2. Who's the asshole who asked about chicken pox scars?

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  3. I don't know if this is my favorite but it is certainly up there, I mentioned it the other day on my recommended reading list. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon is maybe the only book that made me weep openly by the end. It starts Joe Kavalier escaping Poland in 1939 in a coffin that holds a Golem. He comes to live with his cousin, Sammy Clayman in New York City. The two end up writing and drawing a comic book character they create called The Escapist (think Batman meets Harry Houdini).
    The plot is their career in the early days of comics (a subject near and dear to my heart) but the real drama comes from Joe's desire to get his family out of Poland, his romance with Rosa Sacks and his efforts to join the military. Sammy, in the meantime, is dealing with his homosexuality in a time when it is definitely not accepted. He goes through several adventures of his own. The ending is sort of heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time.
    Obviously, the subject matter drove me to seek out this book but it was the rich character work and emotional depth of the storytelling that kept me hooked. There are some thrilling moments, some devastating moments and some easy humor that makes it a pleasurable read. And it covers a whole bunch of history. From WW2 to the Communist witch hunts of Joe McCarthy. Chabon researches the shit out of things. I believe (and I could be wrong) this was the last of an unofficial trilogy where a straight protagonist has a gay best friend. Really, all of Chabon's books are pretty damn good.

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    1. Well, I haven't read any of them, but this sounds great. Not that I look forward to weeping openly at the end or learning that much. You know I don't like it when novels try to be history lessons... (jk!)

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    2. There are also comics written by the writers of Firefly that keep it going a bit. The best is A Shepherd's Tale which finally gives the backstory of Book. It is excellent.

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    3. You can borrow once I dig it out of storage. I think I owe James some George Singleton books, too.

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  4. I don't have any favorite books. When I fall in love with a book I fall in love with it totally and completely and then I think about it for years until I pick it up again and fall in love even more. When it comes to reading, I find that I have so much love for the writer and all that he or she does. I reread almost every book I finish, but I don't finish all of the books I read. Right now I'm all about HG Wells' "The Island of Doctor Moreau." I'm listening to a reading of it online, because I can do that while I work and fold laundry.

    I have reread the Harry Potter series at least 10 times, and I can honestly say I have gotten something new from it every time. But it feels really cliche saying that that series is my favorite. I did grow up with it and it was a big part of my life. I connected with a lot of people through those books. They were a huge part of my life. I will share them with Arlo when he's old enough. But I don't know if I could say they are my favorite.

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  5. I can't give most favorite. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath is definitely one of my top books because I can identify with Esther and her struggles with mental illness. White Oleander by Janet Fitch is a great story and beautifully written. The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood is a mesmerizing story that I've read over and over again. I even convinced my husband to read it and doesn't do "chick books". It is so not a chick book. It is something deeper and more profound than that.

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  6. Confession: The Lord of the Rings trilogy are probably my favorite books and I guess I don't care who knows it. They are melodramatic at times, but when I read them I feel like Tolkien has somehow woven all my childhood fantasies into one story.

    One day I would like to write a long form piece on what those books do to people, and why. Why we get so obsessed with middle earth that we learn its languages, enshrine its weapons on our bookcases and jealously guard our impressions of its characters against hollywood portrayals. I don't understand it, but I've given in.

    I like to claim that books have changed my life -- it's my favorite endorsement. I think I can say honestly that Tolkien is the only fiction in that category.

    So there it is. I get it, Lucy -- claiming Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings tends to categorize us and make us sound cliche, but I can't help it, that's the truth.

    Kara

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    1. I understand that feeling, Kara. I relate so deeply to those books and feel such a connection. For me, I think it is a connection to my heritage. That trilogy provides a kind of mythology, a mystical lore to the British Isles. We have some stories of Faerie and pagan lore, but this is an heroic narrative, previously unimagined beyond our childhood games. Perhaps the connection is made deeper by the fact that our parents sort of raised us on these stories so they were intertwined throughout childhood? It is well-conceived and fully realized so it really hits those deep chords, yeah?

      James and I read the trilogy allowed before we had kids. Just before we had kids. I cried a lot.

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    2. I didn't grow up with them, believe it or not. I discovered them fully when I was pregnant with Liam. I had never seen the films, which made the books so much more mystical and beautiful.

      It's like all my imaginings as a child were distant memories of something that was lost until I read Lord of the Rings.

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  7. I think our own life experiences also play a role in shaping our literary preferences. When I was a kid, growing up when I did, the idea of creating a utopia in which to live, and then using the brain to solve problems and right wrongs was incredibly powerful. So books like The Once and Future King, and the Sherlock Holmes stories held me in their sway. A little older, I thought I knew everything, so raw adventuresome brutality appealed to me. Steinbeck, Jack London, Mailer, Gogol, and Nabokov did the trick. But as the years advanced, and real-life horrors visited me personally (a savage mugging in New York, friends and co-workers lost to AIDS, 43 so far), I started searching for beauty and lyricism. Wading through Eudora Welty, Flannery O'Conner, Dot Jackson, Wallace Stegner and Joan Didion helped a lot. As a matter of fact, I would say that Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking has affected me more than any other in recent years. It is a favorite, not the favorite. I don't have one of those. me

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