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Showing posts from November, 2009
59. A Taste of Adventure by Anik See Finally! Finally! I got in some pleasure reading! Anik See is a Canadian journalist who travels around the world on her bicycle and writes about her travels, the people she meets, and especially the food she eats. The book includes recipes for every place she writes about, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Patagonia (a region in southern Argentina/Chile), northern Argentina, Georgia, Iran, Turkey, Armenia, and Mexico. She seems to favor southeast Asia and South America and eschews traditional Europe. The language is simple, and the book is a fun and easy read. For me, the book's biggest asset was See's choice of particularly exotic and unusual locations, and I naturally enjoyed the emphasis on food. I intend to make time to try out some of her recipes, particularly the curries from Malaysia and Indonesia, and her descriptions of Argentina and Chile gave me a yearning for dulce de leche and yerba mate. Unfortunately, See uses
58. The Caucasian Chalk Circle by Bertolt Brecht We learned about Brecht's theories and the epic theatre movement in my Theatre and Society class, and then we read The Caucasian Chalk Circle and watched the current production of it at my school. The plot of the story is about a kitchen maid, Grusha, in the 1940s Soviet Union. The Governor, whom she works for, is killed in a revolution, and his wife flees, leaving their infant son behind. Grusha decides to save the boy and care for him as her own. When a counter-revolution occurs, the Governor's wife comes back and accuses Grusha of kidnapping her son. The judge Azdek, notorious for drunkenness and judgments in favor of the poor, decides on the case. The story is a parable, meant to illustrate the Communist-type idea that whoever puts effort into a piece of land or raising a child, deserves ownership, rather than the one who merely 'owns' the thing in a capitalistic sense. While it's a benign message now that we

Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair

This weekend, Fri. Nov. 13-Sun. Nov. 15 is the 33rd annual Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair. Hours are listed on the web site. I went last year, and had a fantastic time. In particular, I noticed a LOT of Mark Twain as well as Thoreau, Emerson, Hawthorne, Alcott, Melville-the usual New England suspects. It's amazing just to see these works up close and think about who bought them and read them and owned them, and how they're a part of history and literature. There were also quite a few bookshops from overseas, particularly Britain, but also France, and some of the Scandinavian countries. I don't think I'll make it this year, since $8 just to see isn't worth it when I've probably already seen most of it and unfortunately can't afford to buy. But if you're a book lover in Boston, and haven't been, definitely go!

Other Reading

I was much comforted to have some responses to my last post! I agree that it is important to re-evaluate why I chose to be an English major, even if I had negative feelings associated with it. I have not been able to do any reading outside of class in the past few weeks, but I decided to list some of my in-class readings, though none of them are novels. That is about to change actually, I'm on schedule to start reading Gargantua and Pantagruel for Sixteenth Century tomorrow. In Sixteenth Century, we've covered: The Defence of Poesie by Sir Philip Sidney, which I greatly enjoyed, even though poetry isn't always my cup of tea. Sidney, one of Elizabeth I's best known courtiers (also Leicester's nephew), wrote this essay defending the occupation of poetry that he has fallen into, first, because, obviously, his occupation must be the best, and then a host of other reasons including that all learning (philosophy, math, science), originally stemmed from the writing of p

What Do You Do With a BA in English?

My Advanced Writing teacher punched me in the gut this morning. Not literally, of course. But, as is his wont, he likes to question and in class he likes to question the structures of literary education and literary criticism and what we as students are used to. Today, he decided it would be a great idea to show us a list of undergraduate students who received research grants at our university. We made the observation he intended, that is, in at least the past three years, no English majors have received grants. The majority of recipients were engineering and health sciences majors. Of course, in perspective, there are many more engineering and health sciences students at this school than there are English majors. He didn't even have data on how many English majors had applied versus been rejected for grants. It's just that then, the conversation devolved, as I'm also sure he intended, into a discussion of how English majors are marginalized at this school, the English de