30 September 2008

Banned Books Week - Day 2

Today I pick that masterpiece of YA lit, The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. To this day I can't think of leaping to conclusions without the concern of having to swim back. And many is the day I have found myself wasting time and thought that Tock would be very displeased with me but at least I'm not killing time, which would be far, far worse. The plays on words and the interpretations of common phrases are thoroughly brilliant and force the reader to think twice or indeed thrice about linguistic turns of phrase that we take for granted. So here's to Milo and Tock, the denizens of Dictionopolis, the stairway to infinity, the island of Conclusions, the awful Dynne, the Princesses Rhyme and Reason, and a magical Phantom Tollbooth.

29 September 2008

Banned Books Week!

Greetings, all! It's ALA Banned Books Week and I thought it might be interesting to blog on a different banned book each day this week. I can't actually think of five off the top of my head--mostly because I can never remember what some idiot has banned in the past. I do know that Mark Twain's masterpiece Huckleberry Finn was banned at some point, though. (Hell, it was probably banned at several different times; ignorami exist in all generations, right? :-P )

I remember reading Huckleberry Finn in high school for junior year English and I remember enjoying it very much. Naturally we had to write a paper on it and I distinctly recall arguing the opinion that Huck was an example of a "pure human being". What that means, exactly, I couldn't tell you today. My memory of my teen-aged self is blessedly vague. There was something about humanist theory and naturalism and whothehellknows what else. I, of course, thought I was innovative and terribly clever. The teacher wasn't so impressed. Of course, she and I had a very shaky truce thing going on at the best of times that year, but that's neither here nor there. I liked the book and the fact that I got a C+ on the paper didn't bother me at all and I'm not still bitter about it. Nope. Not bitter in the least. ;-P

What banned books do you remember reading for school? or just for fun?

I'm going to go digging through lists of banned books too see what else I've read that I can blog about this week. Why don't you go out and find a banned book you've always wanted to read, and read it!

26 September 2008

Friday Quizzage

I figured it was going to be either this or a semi-colon.

You Are a Comma

You are open minded and extremely optimistic.

You enjoy almost all facets of life. You can find the good in almost anything.

You keep yourself busy with tons of friends, activities, and interests.

You find it hard to turn down an opportunity, even if you are pressed for time.

Your friends find you fascinating, charming, and easy to talk to.

(But with so many competing interests, you friends do feel like you hardly have time for them.)

You excel in: Inspiring people

You get along best with: The Question Mark

ETA: I forgot to mention earlier that apparently it was National Punctuation Week this week. That's why I picked this particular quiz today. I hope you all used proper punctuation this week. Of course, I hope you do that every week because there is no excuse for bad grammar. (I'll stop now before I go on a rampage about how our society is becoming a bunch of illiterati because of text messaging. If I were a parent my kid would have the rule that s/he would text in complete sentences, properly spelled and punctuated or they would not be allowed to text. ::gives evil eye to all who would challenge her:: ... Huh. So much for not going on a rampage. At least it was a wee one.)

24 September 2008

What am I reading this week?

The Masque of the Black Tulip by Lauren Willig. That's what I'm reading. It's the sequel to The Secret History of the Pink Carnation. I know. The titles alone are thoroughly delightful. Even more so when you get into the story and discover that the author's tongue is firmly in her cheek. The second book is no disappointment on that count. Willig's style flows easily whether she's writing the present-day, first-person story of Eloise - the historian researching these floral mysteries - or the third-person, 1803 characters of London and Napoleonic France.

First off, this is a part of history I dig. Not quite as much as I dig the French Revolution itself, but close. It's a fascinating segment of history, IMO. Willig takes the story of The Scarlet Pimpernel and moves beyond it to his student-cum-replacement the Purple Gentian, and then later the Pink Carnation. Okay, enough of the premise. These are romantic historic adventures with a healthy dose of modernity. I nearly sqwaked like one when the 1803 heroine of Black Tulip barked out "Albatross!" Willig made it fit perfectly sensibly into the scene while leaving no question as to just who and what the author was referring to. Hilarious!

I do like this heroine, Lady Henrietta, rather more than I like the heroine, Amy de Balcourt, in the first one. Amy has her charms, but she's a bit of a twit, IMO. Hen, on the other hand, I can relate to. She's sensible and logical while still falling prey to her emotions. You know, like normal people do. At least, the normal people I tend to know. Amy's great on the page, but like Grace Adler, I would have to beat her with a stick if she were real. Hen and her hero, Miles, are normal people in extraordinary circumstances. I like that. I'm looking forward to reading The Deception of the Emerald Ring.

And through it all, Eloise, who is living her own first-person life while researching the Pink Carnation, et al. Again, my type of heroine. The woman's a dork, and I love her for it. Go, Eloise!

19 September 2008

Friday Quizzage

You Are Argentina

You are a set of contradictions, and it often seems like you live in two worlds.

You are introspective yet outgoing. You are modern yet traditional.

You are warm and honest. Your life is petty much an open book.

You are a hard worker, and you don't mind putting in long hours. And then you'll go party til dawn!

17 September 2008

What am I reading?

I'm trying something new. Each Wednesday I'm going to post something about whatever book I happen to be reading. That's the theory anyway. Let's see how many Wednesdays I can go before I miss one. Hopefully it'll be incentive for me to read more, too.

This Wednesday, I'm reading Arthur C. Clarke's Against the Fall of Night. Its original copywrite is 1953 and this edition, from April 1970, has a fascinating Publisher's Note that I'll add at the end of the post. Clarke is -- sorry, was ( ::sad sigh:: ) one of the masters of the sci-fi genre. He used (I cannot get used to that past tense.) science fact to write speculative fiction. This book is set so far into the future that he tosses out words like century and millenia like we would use minutes and years. The human race has expanded out into the universe and been driven back to Earth by "the Invaders", and even that was all so long ago that no one living (despite their slowly aquired immortality) was living then. The contraction of the human race over countless eons down to one enormous, automated city - Diaspar - has at the same time been both the deliverance and the slow destruction of the species. Unimaginative, incurious, afraid, patient to the point of stagnation, humans have lost what made their ancestors human. Until our hero, Alvin, the first child born in seven thousand years, grows into a boy who questions...everything.

And that's where the story begins as the last cloud ever seen by man crosses the sky of the desert Earth.

I'm loving this book despite its most obvious failing. 109 pages into the total 159, there has been one - one - female character. I only half blame the author. After all, it was 1953. The western world was sexist beyond anything I can comprehend and, quite simply, Clarke wasn't writing for the audience that is me. Setting aside what I tend to refer to as the quaint sexism of early sci-fi, it's a beautiful illustration of a future too big and broad to be real to our minds, but at the same time too familiar to the themes facing the world today to be comfortable. We are back sliding rather badly here in the US, de-evolving right before our very eyes. We need an Alvin to shake things up.

I'm looking forward to seeing where the story goes and where it ends.

Okay, here's that Publisher's Note I mentioned. Check this out:

"Against the Fall of Night is a novelty even in the novel field of science-fiction publishing. Published in 1953 by Gnome Press, it earned critical acclaim and reader popularity. Then, in 1956, Mr. Clarke published a completely rewritten version under the title of The City and the Stars, exercising his author's privilege to have "second thoughts" about his work. There has been no general agreement on which is the better book. Pyramid is proud to present the author's original inspiration in the form in which it first appeared."

I love that: a novelty even in the novel field of science-fiction publishing. I'm going to have to keep an eye out for a copy of The City and the Stars so I can make my own comparison.

12 September 2008

Friday Quizzage

Actually, I was voted Most Likely to Become Famous.

You Would Be Voted Most Outspoken

In school, you were often the first person to raise your hand in class.

You always had something to say, and you weren't afraid to say it.

You were well known for being politically active and controversial.

And while people may not have agreed with you all the time, they appreciated you speaking your mind.

11 September 2008

Does that make me lazy?

I don't believe in writer's block. If that sounds like high-and-mighty-bullshit, so be it. I used to have a muse, but she went on holiday to Fiji sometime in the late 80s or early 90s. I haven't heard from her since and I've not opened the position to new-hires. I'm a practical person in a lot of ways and writing is one of them. Right now, I am expressing that practicality by owning my uninspired uncreativity. I don't have writer's block. I'm not missing a muse. I am simply feeling completely unmotivated. I'm waiting on a lot of things that are currently out of my computer and control. That's no excuse for my incredible lack o' motivation. I'm just not feeling the love. Fortunately I'm leaving town on Tuesday for nearly a week. I find that a major geographical shift will often kick me back into literary motion. Here's hoping it works again this time.

05 September 2008

Friday Quizzage

I couldn't decide today, so you get two. :)

You Are Sheryl Crow!

Down to earth with tons of creative energy
When you talk, everyone can relate to you
"Life springs eternal
On a gaudy neon street
Not that I care at all"

You Are 28% Girly

You are a pretty hardcore tomboy, and a very free spirit.

Gender roles be dammed, you like to do things your way.

02 September 2008

Treasured Possessions

I have many things I would consider treasured possessions - many (indeed possibly most) are books. A new one entered my world today. It was already a bit of a treasure being a copy of Robert Llewellyn's book The Man in the Rubber Mask, which my bro gave me years ago when Red Dwarf was still filming. It became even more wonderful this weekend when a good friend took it to Dragon*Con and got it not only autographed but personalized by the author. *squee* Thank you, L!