Sunday, November 30, 2008

The (Last) Performance...

I really enjoyed a number of the pieces that we were assigned to read...definitely more than I expected. The short stories/excerpts in the anthology were entertaining for the most part. I enjoyed reading A Streetcar Named Desire, and I feel like I appreciated it more once I wrote the first paper on it. We discussed the play in class and looked at some of Tennessee Williams' influences, and I feel like it really helped to understand the storyline much more. I could begin to make connections between characters and plot. I also liked reading Sula: probably more for Toni Morrison's writing than the story; And out of the poetry, I liked James Dickey more than the others, for example The Shark's Parlor... because I fish a bit back home and I could relate to the experience. Overall, I liked the books and short stories that we read, I don't think I would add or replace any of them, especially since they tend to reflect different styles, influences, and topics.

I didn't really enjoy Atonement too much, or some of the other poetry pieces. Atonement I just didn't appreciate too much, not sure why though, I guess because I don't really care for those types of love and despair stories...too me it was too much like a soap opera, maybe just not as cheap. The book could definitely be left out, it would also allow more time for the other books that we had to read. I feel like we could have spent more time on the others and not hurried through them just to add in Atonement. As for the other poetry, it just wasn't interesting to me...nor could I understand some of it. I think it's important to have a number of pieces of poetry, but they might be swapped out with some other contemporary stuff by Billy Collins or someone like that...if it meets the criteria for the class of course.

And that's my two cents...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Watchmen

I would like to start off by saying that I did end up enjoying The Watchmen more than I thought I would. I had a number of people comment on the fact that I was reading a comic book, which I in turn replied "No, it's a graphic novel." I had never previously read a comic book or been a fan of them either. However, this was not what I had expected at all.

I will have to agree with the article's author on the book being tiring. After I read what was required for class, I did feel physically tired. I don't know if it was because I was trying to hard or what, but having to interpret and catch everything in the book was laborious. And even though it is a graphic novel, it still took a while to read: it wasn't just looking at the pictures and reading the speech bubbles...I felt like I had to examine every panel.

Also, he talks about the characters and mentions "I am repeatedly seized by how no one character is a hero and that costumes, adrenaline-junkie-genes, super-smarts, and even money don’t make you perfect. That what humans like Dan and I often want, and also fear: a magic wand to fix everything, something that will leave all healthy, happy, untroubled especially when the world seems more for ill than for good." I would also agree here, speaking to the fact that, other than Dr. Manhattan, all of the characters were pretty normal. We discussed in class about them being kind of like Batman, and I think that's a really accurate representation. Alan Moore probably did this intentionally, along with plugging in a number of historical things to increase the story's ability to relate with the reader and keep it from being to large of a stretch.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


In class, we discussed the idea that everyone in Ian McEwan's Atonement, was guilty in some form or another. The major source of conflict in the novel revolves around one day and night at the Tallis household in England. Consequently, each individual's search for their own form of atonement finds its roots in that one fateful evening, an evening in which childish ignorance becomes entangled with adult interests and motives.

After finishing the story and reviewing the outcome, it's unclear to me whether or not anyone really finds reparations for the acts that have taken place on the aforementioned day. The closest any of the characters make it to finding atonement comes in the form of Briony's sister Cecilia, and her lover Robbie; and even they don't realize atonement until death. In death, they are relieved of the events that have plagued them in their lives. Robbie no longer lives with the burden of being wrongly condemned a rapist, while neither of them have to live with the burden of separation from each other. Death truly is their atonement, and the one place they may be able to find peace.

Of the main characters in the story, I feel that Marshall, Lola, and Briony never achieve true atonement. Marshall and Lola, especially Marshall, despite repeated efforts, are the ones, in the end, that are the most guilty of transgression. It's fairly clear that Marshall is the rapist, the guilty man who goes outwardly unpunished. We see later on in the story, how a now wealthy Marshall tries to contribute to the war effort for Britain, an effort I feel to essentially make himself feel better about the sins he had previously committed. Also, on the night of the conflict, Lola is painted as the victim, but by the end, I'm less convinced of her position...I see her in a different, darker light. In retrospect, I feel a sense of disdain for her because I think she knew it was Marshall who raped her and not Robbie. She marries Marshall and never comes forward to admit it wasn't Robbie who raped her. Finally, we come to Briony. She seeks, her entire life, to make amends for actions. She tries both with Cecilia and with Robbie. Briony follows Cecilia's footsteps and becomes a nurse working in a hospital that tends to the wounded from World War II. She also writes a book chronicling the events surrounding all that happened. I feel she does these things to find atonement for herself and her actions. However, she never really seeks out Cecilia or Robbie's forgiveness. By the end, I still feel her selfishness overrides her attempts for atonement.

Consequently, I never really feel sorry Briony at all. Some points exist when the reader may see Briony come close to becoming a person who is less selfish and able to make amends. However, she never really makes it. Throughout the story we see her in somewhat of a pitiful light, at points where she may overcome her childish selfishness, and begin to garner some sympathy. Briony never comes forward to publicly announce that she was wrong, and give Robbie a chance at being acquitted. I never really felt compelled to be sympathetic towards Briony.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Free at last...

For this week's free write, I couldn't initially come up with what I wanted to write about: sometimes the difficulty lies not in the writing, except for simply beginning. So this week, I just decided to go with the piece of literature which I enjoyed the most and had a really good time reading.

In a million years, I would have never believed that Sula would have been my favorite piece so far...not even by a long shot. Initially, I wasn't the least bit excited to read the book, but the more I read, the more I began to enjoy it... and the more time I spent enjoying it, the more I really got into the rhythm of the story. Getting into the rhythm was something I had really never done before when reading...not that I haven't read good books before that I really enjoyed and consequently had a hard time putting down...but, something about the way Toni Morrison writes puts a real flow into the book. I feel that has a lot to do with how she structures her sentences and chooses her vocabulary, all the way to how she presents her characters and their relationships to the story.

I'm a fan of Southern-styled writings (which we discussed as one of Toni Morrison' main influences in class). To me, they have a certain fluidity and character that you cannot find in other types of stories. I really have a different sort of connection that stems from the characters and their cultures, and they way that they talk and express themselves. It's easy to get lost in the stories, and instead of being a reader, I feel like I may be in the scene, just hanging out behind a tree or leaning against the side of a building, listening to everything unfold and play out.

It reminds of my grandparents...and my great-grandparents.

Though the story is full of hardships and tough times, and even tougher situations, Sula accomplishes all of this for me. I wouldn't really consider it a feel-good story because many bad things happen throughout. However, a story of unfortunate events is still an adventure, it's still a story. And I'm glad we made the trip...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

(Rudy) Ain't Never Gonna Get It

For this particular blog, I had to reach WAY back, all the way to 1992 (the year I started first grade)!!! I chose En Vogue's "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It), as Yolanda's anthem in The Rudy Elmenhurst Story. I think it fits her really well, especially her situation with Rudy. It's clear that Rudy can't wait for Yolanda to "put out." He tries all the things he can think of and is initially patient, but when his efforts don't work...he gets frustrated and gives up on her. I think the song is a real comical way to approach Yolanda's position. When listening to the lyrics, I think it's pretty obvious how they relate...ENJOY!!!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Streetcar Named Desire

I feel that Vivien Leigh does a much better job in her portrayal of Blanche. In the first clip, Jessica Lange does an okay job, but not up to par with Ms. Leigh. In the newer version, I don't really feel like she's hysterical, I just get the feeling like it's still an act (the fake Southern accent doesn't help either). She comes close when she speaks of her previous husband's death, and finished by kind of smirking about it. Other than her words, which obviously come from the play, I can't sense the character of Blanche; like what you would get from reading the play. However, in the second clip, I feel like the air of hysteria doesn't just come from the words Vivien Leigh speaks, but also is accentuated by her actions and emotions. At one point, she is on a drastic emotional roller coaster where shes goes from extreme aggravation (with Mitch) to being okay in a matter of seconds and breaths. Her voice pitch and even the look in her eyes shows her change of emotion, it most certainly ISN'T a portrayal of a stable woman. The play reads creates Blanche as an over-the-top personality, who isn't all that in touch with reality... I can get that from Vivien Leigh. She is what I imagined from reading the play, fragile and walking a fine line near falling off her rocker.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


She would much rather be in Tiger Town...