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Showing posts from December, 2008
51. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows I was captivated the first time I heard the title, and knew I had to read it. There is unfortunately little mention of Potato Peel Pie, but the characters of the Guernsey Literary Society are well-drawn and amusing. The book is a series of letters between a London-based author, Juliet Ashton, and the members of the aforementioned Guernsey Island society. The events take place in 1946, and recall the events of World War II, particularly the German occupation of the British Channel Islands. The place was unique enough that much of the historical information was new to me, despite my somewhat extensive knowledge of the time period. The book does not shirk, rather, it embraces, difficult material, but the focus is more on the characters and present events, so that it does not induce the heavy depression most Holocaust and World War II tomes aim at. This is an excellent book for all ages, it might

Even the Creator Gets Repetitive

50. Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. All Kurt Vonnegut's books are the same. That is a blatant lie, and you should disagree with me. But his style, the sense of humor, the actual characters or at least the type of characters are the same, and the settings often are as well. There are always coincidences, rudely drawn pictures, and nothing makes any sense (just like real life). Breakfast of Champions at least delves into Vonnegut's most recurring character, Kilgore Trout. The best parts of the book, in my opinion, are the plots of Trout's stories. Like Vonnegut, Trout is a science fiction writer whose writing demonstrates the chaos of the universe. His books and short stories are illustrated with unrelated pornographic pictures and sold only in pornography shops. I was told that this book was difficult to understand, that there was confusing switching back and forth between narration. It was no more difficult than any other Vonnegut novel, in that regard. In fa

Will Edit Later

48. The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole The first Gothic novel allegedly came to Walpole in a nightmare. That sort of surreal, look-over-your-shoulder feeling permeates this hundred-pager. It's set in the fictional kingdom of Otranto, where an ancient curse is about to overthrow the third-generation usurping ruler Manfred. Walpole writes in his second preface (in the first he claims to be merely the translator of some Crusade-era Italian), that he wished to make his characters "think, speak, and act, as it might be supposed mere men and women would do in extraordinary positions (8)." While the speech is the high-flown type that would be expected of a romance, I do think Walpole largely achieved this goal. While the coincidences and adventures are amazing, the characters seem like people I know. Manfred's submissive wife Hippolita behaves out of loving and motherly motivations, even though in a way modern women might decry. Their daughter Matilda is the shy, drea