Hey Classics Challengers: Let’s explore brave new worlds

I’m flagging, it’s true.

I’ve not been reading as much as I usually do and I’m concerned about it only because of you, Gentle Readers, who are dying to know what the next category is. You are, aren’t you. Continue reading “Hey Classics Challengers: Let’s explore brave new worlds”

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Classics Challengers: ‘Cross Creek’ is a lovely work, but of a bygone era

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings won the 1939 Pulitzer Prize for her novel “The Yearling,” the story of the impact a boy’s pet deer has on a family in a backwater swamp in Florida. It’s a sentimental movie (I’ve not read the book, but likely will) that, even with what is sure to be some Hollywood cleansing, isn’t too hokey.

That book drew its details from Cross Creek, Fla., the place where Rawlings lived much of her adult life, having purchased an orange grove with an inheritance from her mother. Why she chose to live in such a raw place—she was born in Washington, D.C.—isn’t explored in her wonderful memoir “Cross Creek” and that’s about the only fault in it. (Well, there’s another one, but that’s to come later.) Continue reading “Classics Challengers: ‘Cross Creek’ is a lovely work, but of a bygone era”

Hey Classics Challengers: We’re halfway done

Geez, summer used to be a time of lying around and reading on the beach. These days it’s work, the work you do at home and trying to find new ways to keep your kids from killing each other before school starts in a couple weeks.

That’s why I haven’t posted. This will be a quick, sweet post with the next assignment in the Classics Challenge 2015.

So far, if anyone is still with me, we read a novel by a woman, a novel by a Russian, a novel that won a Pulitzer Prize, a novel whose title is a person’s name and a collection of short stories. It’s time to get real. Continue reading “Hey Classics Challengers: We’re halfway done”

Hey Classics Challengers: Maybe not magnificent, but still pretty good.

Back to the Classics Challenge after too long away…

We are on the Pulitzer Prize-winner category in this years challenge and, as usual, there were too many things from which to choose. I had great plans to read “Gone With the Wind.” I keep promising I’ll get around to reading it, as my wife can’t say enough great things about it. She even allowed me to read her copy of it. This copy was a replacement because her sister read and destroyed a copy my wife loaned her. (My wife and I are very protective of our books, there are some I won’t even let my kids read.)

ambersonsBut with other things going on and a long car trip planned, I just couldn’t guarantee its safety so I changed my mind. I wanted to read “His Family” by Ernest Poole, which won the first Pulitzer Prize for novel in 1918, but I couldn’t find it at any library (such is the enduring power of the Pulitzer) so I chose “The Magnificent Ambersons” by Booth Tarkington, which, in 1919, was the second novel given the Pulitzer Prize. Continue reading “Hey Classics Challengers: Maybe not magnificent, but still pretty good.”

Hey Classics Challengers: Let’s read Pulitzer winners

The Pulitzer Prize for fiction is, along with the National Book Award, the most important awards in literature written in the United States. It is given to a single work by an American author, preferably about life in America, published the previous year.

I love awards and award shows, but I also am conflicted. To wit: I often use them to get what I want: “Let’s go see that movie, it was nominated for 8 Academy Awards so it must be good!” I also use them regularly to show how crappy the world is: “The Academy Awards are a joke—Helen Hunt has an Oscar. Helen Hunt!” Continue reading “Hey Classics Challengers: Let’s read Pulitzer winners”

Hey Classics Challengers: It’s time for a little optimism

It was the packaging that drew me to “Candide.”

This picture's terrible, but it's just something I just stole off the Internet, so I guess I can't complain too much.

The cover of this Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition is made to look like a comic book. On the back: “The satirical scourge of 1759 — Now in paperback!” It points out that this translation by Theo Cuffe is “invaluable for the English-speaking readers who cannot understand French, and the introduction by Michael Wood should prove indispensable to all schoolchildren who haven’t read the book and are cramming in homeroom before the test.” That’s cute. The author quotes include praise from Flaubert and Updike and a pan from Wordsworth and this quote, “They must have lost their minds if they think that I wrote this trash,” attributed to Voltaire.

With this much wit on the cover, there’s bound to be quite a bit inside. There is. Continue reading “Hey Classics Challengers: It’s time for a little optimism”

Hey Classics Challengers: What’s in a name?

I haven’t posted in a while, but that doesn’t mean I have been reading any less. I wish there were a way I could sit down and write ten blog posts at once and schedule them to post themselves throughout the coming week. Alas, it doesn’t appear I can do that, so I’ve got so many books to write about, but no time to do it.

This picture's terrible, but it's just something I just stole off the Internet, so I guess I can't complain too much.
This picture’s terrible, but it’s just something I just stole off the Internet, so I guess I can’t complain too much.

Today, I got an email from a Classics Challenger asking what the next category is. I don’t want to be responsible for holding people back from reading, so I’ve chosen the next category: A book whose title is a person’s name. Continue reading “Hey Classics Challengers: What’s in a name?”