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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

busy as a bumblebee

i have officially handed in my masters thesis / special project to the NYU English department and hope that i will pass and therefore graduate, well, today. commencement is today. therefore, as far as i know, i have earned my MA from NYU in English. yes, and i still do not like to write using capital letters.

because of my insanely busy April schedule that bled into March, (masters thesis, issue 1.1 of Gigantic Sequins release and release parties, etc.) i thought i wouldn't be able to read much, but i wound up finishing more books than i thought i would.

books read: april

Cultural Theory & Popular Culture: An Introduction by John Storey

I read this for my thesis to get a better background of cultural theory from a British point of view. It was effective, except I wish I had gotten through the middle of it quicker than it took me because all of the more interesting and pertinent points of view came towards the end. I learned some new names and relearned some older ones. This book served as a good reference point and a good introduction to theorists and their beliefs.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

I read this book at work in one day. It won the John Newbery Medal for most outstanding contribution to childeren's literature. The story follows a boy named Bod, short for "Nobody" as he grows up in the company of ghosts after the grisly murder of his human family. The tale is both thrilling and heartwarming. Someday, I hope that I have the pleasure of reading this book to my childeren, grandchilderen, nieces or nephews. I recommend it, though, for all ages who appreciate a good story. More information at the book's official website.

On Beauty by Zadie Smith

At this moment in my life, this novel is my favorite of all I've ever read and reread. This was a reread for my thesis, and the characters' stories touched me just as much. Smith has a potency of language that, with eloquence, allows you into the lives of the families in this novel (and her others) easily. Her dialogue is so realistic, it's hard to believe that these families are imaginary. Above all the books I have ever recommended in this blog, if you haven't read Zadie Smith's On Beauty, treat yourself to this book as soon as you can.

Pieces for the Left Hand by J. Robert Lennon

I read this at work because it contained short one to two page anecdotes of a town, mostly fictionalized accounts of Lennon's small New York upstate town. I enjoyed it for the brief quality of the little stories, and some even stuck with me. The piece that evokes the title, about a man mistaken for being left-handed, particularly has stayed with me. The punches that some of the stories threw rendered themselves a bit repetetive by the end of the book, though. I would recommend Paul Auster's The Red Notebook for true coincidental accounts before I would recommend this book.

Howards End by E. M. Forster

I read this book because the structure of On Beauty is based on its. Because I had already read Smith's book, it was easy to get into this book at first, marking the similarities in plot and paralell characters. However, about a third of the way through this novel, the book took on its own life, and I thoroughly enjoyed the characters and waited patiently for the ending I expected to come. The book had its own twists and turns, and I enjoyed it, despite the early twentieth century old-fashioned modernist feel of the language.

Night Train by Martin Amis

I read this at work because it was a mystery book and a quick read. I had to read the end a few times to wrap my head around it. I didn't dislike this book, but I was not particularly attached to it as I was reading it.

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Yes, seriously. I was finishing up my thesis and started to read this at work one day as a sort of candy reward to my hard work. When I get my hands on young adult fiction, they usually do not leave the book until I'm finished. I have read books two and three in the Twilight series at this point (but I read them, technically, in May) and look forward to reading the fourth. Anyone looking for a break from serious reading, I would first recommend the Harry Potter series to fill that void. However, if you've already read HP and know that there will probably not be such a stunning series that began as young adult fiction and became one of the most brilliant serieses appropriate for all readers of all ages, well, then I would recommend you check out the Eragon series. A little less heavy than HP, but a little more Lord-of-the-Rings-y, too. However, if you've been through Rowling and Paolini already (and I can't speak for Nix or Pullman's serieses I've heard so many good things about) then what the hell, pick up Twilight. Though they aren't particularly well-written, they're grammatical and plot-driven enough for me to enjoy thoroughly. Vampires are not only sexy and mysterious, but Meyer's version of mythology unfolds in these books in a way that the vampire myth is rewritten. I would like to write an essay that proposes a postcolonial reading of these books. Maybe I will. Bella Swan and Edward Cullen are modern day Romeo and Juliet -- well, hopefully without the ancient couple's famed tragedy. Like I said, haven't read the fourth book yet. Oh, and I haven't seen the movie, but I imagine it's not as good as the books. So, if you've seen the movie, don't let it detract from these books.


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