Zombies, Plagues, Natural Disasters Oh My!

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This summer I’m reading books for my Advanced American Lit in the Fall. The theme of the course is Apocalyptic fiction. If you know me, you know this is perfect. I feel like the list was written specifically for me.

So far, I’ve read:

World War Z by Max Brooks

I absolutely loved this book. It wasn’t your regular zombie novel. It took different people and offered their personal perspectives from the big infestation. Brooks had to have done a lot of research to pull this one off and seems like he nailed most of it…of course, I’m not an expert on the American military let alone those around the world. I figure it is fiction so minor mistakes fly…like I said, it is fiction. I highly recommend reading this book, and from the cover, looks like it is soon to be a major motion picture. Bonus!

I will keep you updated on all the items I read for this class, and also, I’m reading for fun this summer. I have a huge stack. So far, I’ve read:

Verland by Scully

Wicked by Maguire

Deadlocked by Harris

American Gods by Gaiman

World War Z by Brooks

I’m currently reading 666 Park Avenue by Gabriella Pierce. Keep up with me on Goodreads.

Veruka’s bookshelf: read

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
American Gods
Deadlocked
Wicked : The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
Verland: The Transformation
The Witch Of Portobello

More of Veruka’s books »

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Book recommendations, book reviews, quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists

Final Fried

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I hadn’t realized it had been so long since I posted. Wow…time really got away from me. My brain is officially final fried, but I seem to have conquered all the end of the semester assignments. I thought I’d take stock of all the works I’ve read this Spring as a sort of merit badge. Five English classes was probably a bad idea, but I did it. I managed to read and write all my assignments. Remember, this is just my reading for this semester. I also had papers to write, at least two if not three or four for each class. Plus, there were other assignments and midterms and finals besides. And on top of that…I managed to read a couple of things I wanted to read. I’m proud of this accomplishment. Not bad for four months, and I learned quite a bit. Okay…here’s the list:

For Shakespeare I read:

Sonnets 4, 27, 130
Romeo and Juliet
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
The Merchant of Venice
Richard II
1Henry IV
King Lear

For Chaucer:

Canterbury Tales

  • General Prologue
  • Knight’s Tale
  • Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale
  • Clerk’s Tale
  • Pardoner’s Tale
  • Prioress’s Tale
  • Nun’s Priest’s Tale 
  • Miller’s Prologue and Tale
  • Chaucer’s Retraction
“The Three Estates”
“The Temporal Estate”
Eustache Deschamps take on the ideal knight
John Gower’s complaints against knights
“Effictio” by Geoffrey de Vinsauf
Boccaccio’s version of the encounter with Emilia
Andreas Capellanus’s Rules of Love

Essays by Theophrastus and Jerome on Love and Marriage
Petrarch’s “Letters of Old Age” and “The Story of Griselda”
Andreas Capellanus’s The Art of Love: Books I, II, and III
The Lais of Marie de France
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Troilus and Criseyde
Robert Henryson’s Testament of Cresseid
 
Victorian Literature:
Thomas Carlyle “Signs of the Times”
Alfred Tennyson:
“Mariana,” “Supposed Confessions of a Second-Rate Sensitive Mind,” “The Lady of Shalott,” “The Palace of Art,” “The Lotos-Eaters,” “St. Simeon Stylites,” “Ulysses,” In Memoriam (I confess I only read small samples of this one. I could not bring myself to read it all.”
Hallam:
“On Some Characteristics of Modern Poetry”
Mill:
“What is Poetry?”
Bentham
The Rationale of Reward (Book III, Chapter I)
Robert Browning:
“My Last Duchess,” “Porphyria’s Lover,” “The Bishop Orders his Tomb at Saint Praxed’s Church,” “Essay on Shelley,” “The Lost Leader,” “Andrea del Sarto,” “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came,” “Caliban upon Setebos”
Elizabeth Barrett Browning:
“Cry of the Children,” Sonnets of the Portuguese, Snippets from Aurora Leigh
Matthew Arnold:
“Preface to the First Edition of Poems,” “Empedocles on Etna,” Memorial Verses,” The Function of Criticism at the Present Time,” “Dover Beach,” “The Buried Life,” “Stanzas from the Grande Chartreuse”
Clough:
Amours de Voyage (again I only read snippets), “The Latest Decalogue,” “Say not the struggle nought availeth,” “Where is no God, the wicked saith”
Dickens Hard Times (I almost gave up on this, but just couldn’t let myself.)
Dante Gabriel Rossetti:
“The Blessed Damozel,” “A Sonnet is a moment’s monument,” “The Portrait,” “Willowwood,” “Sestina. Of the Lady Pietra degli Scrovigni,”
Buchanan “The Fleshly School of Poetry”
Christina Rossetti:
Goblin Market, “In an Artist’s Studio,” “The two Rossettis,” The P.R.B. is in its decadence,” “When I am dead my dearest,” “Remember me when I am gone away,” “She sat and sand alway,” “Dream-land”
Swinburne:
“Hymn to Prosperine”
Pater: Preface and Conclusion to The Renaissance 
Hopkins:
“Author’s Preface,” “God’s Grandeur,” “The Windhover,” “As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame,” “Carrion Comfort”
William Morris:
“Art and Socialism,” “Useful Work versus Useless Toil”
Oscar Wilde: “The Soul of Man under Socialism”
Hardy:
“Hap,” “Neutral Tones,” “A Broken Appointment,” “A Darkling Thrush,” “The Self Un-seeing,” “In Tenebris,” “The Minute Before Meeting,” “Night in the Old Home,” “The Something that Saved Him,” “Afterwards,” “The Voice,” “AT Castle Boterel,” “Beeny Cliff,” “Shelley’s Skylark,”
EN 300:
“The Story of an Hour”
“A Rose for Emily”
“A Sorrowful Woman”
“Good Country People” (Love, love, love Flannery O’Connor)
“A Good Man is Hard to Find”
“Love in L.A.”
“A&P”
“The Foot”
“Ode on a Grecian Urn”
“We Real Cool”
“We Old Dudes”
“I Heard a Fly Buzz”
“Dulce et Decorum Est”
Robert Frost: “Mowing,” “The Oven Bird,” “On the Living Part,” “On the Figure”
Death of a Salesman
Mistaken Identity
Moby Dude
The Reprimand
As I Lay Dying by Faulkner
Topics in American Literature, 1945-Present
Hellman’s Another Part of the Forest
Cheever: “The Enormous Radio,” “The Swimmer”
Williams’s The Rose Tattoo and Sweet Bird of Youth
O’Connor: “A Late Encounter with the Enemy,” “You Can’t be Any Poorer Than Dead”
Miller’s A View from the Bridge
Baldwin’s “The Outing”
Gingsberg’s “Howl”
Shepard’s True West
Potok’s The Chosen
Wilson’s Fences
Updike’s “Full Glass”
Roth’s American Pastoral
O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried,” “On the Rainy River”
Schulyer’s “Hymn to Life”

The Chosen by Chaim Potok

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Sometimes, I do not understand why a book is apart of the Canon. This one–I understand its contribution. This is a story of two boys from different worlds within the same religion. One comes from a modern, Orthodox Jewish family, the other a Hasidic Jewish family. We follow these boys through all the ups and downs of their friendship as they question and choose for themselves the path to take in their faiths.

There aren’t many books with positive Jewish characters, and this story gives us many. Readers are also given a look at American Judaism during WWII and through the rise of Zionism. I think everyone should read this at least once. I learned so much.

I will say the book is not written perfectly. The language is choppy and dry at times, but I think the story makes up for the lack of technique. The unique and gripping story is why this book won awards. Definitely worth the time. This is also a quick read. I flew through the pages.

Miller’s View

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I told you I would have more content containing Literature. Well, here it is:

I will try to go through these one at a time. I really do read a great deal for my classes. Here is our first selection, Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge.


This is a great play that examines life of a small community of Italian in New York, Brooklyn I believe. The main character Eddie finds himself with deeper than acceptable feelings for the young girl, Catherine, he has raised since her mom died. Eddie’s wife is the girl’s biological niece. Eddie is forced to confront these feelings when two illegal immigrants that are also cousins of his wife Bea’s come to live them.

One of the cousins, Rodolpho makes the moves on Catherine and the two find themselves in love. Eddie wants more for Catherine. He has worked hard to provide her with the American dream; he wants her to do better and move out of that neighborhood.

Miller explores the nature of laws: natural law, written law, and the laws of communities. He also explores what it means to be family, and the lines of loyalty. Ask yourself: is it more wrong that Eddie, who is not related to Catherine but raised her, to love her or Rodolpho who is a cousin? This play challenged my ideas of love and right and wrong. I also had to ask myself what laws require more loyalty and where should loyalty begin and end. Does it end with your immediate family? Are they the most important? Or does loyalty extend to all family no matter how far removed? Do communities warrant as much loyalty as families?

I cannot say better than what Arthur Miller said himself about his views of tragedy. I will say that this play also looks at the nature of the tragic hero and explores the fact modern audiences do not need a king or noble to fall from grace. Modern audiences can see tragedy, if not more so, in the fall and plight of the common man. And for us to be invested, there needs to be that glimmer of hope. This play was set up very much like a Greek tragedy, Alfieri acting as Miller’s version of a chorus, warning us of the impending doom and telling us nothing is to be done but for fate to take its course.

“Tragedy, called a more exalted kind of consciousness, is so-called because it makes us aware of what the character might have been.  but to say or strongly imply what a man might have been requires of the author a soundly based, completely believed vision of man’s great possibilities.  As Aristotle said, the poet is greater than the historian because he presents not only things as they were, but foreshadows what they might have been.  We forsake literature when we are content to chronicle disaster.  … Tragedy, therefore, is inseparable from a certain modest hope regarding the human animal.”

—Miller “The Nature of Tragedy.”

 

“Insistence upon the rank of the tragic hero, or the so-called nobility of his character, is really but a clinging to the outward forms of tragedy. If rank or nobility of character was indispensable, then it would follow that the problems of those with rank were the particular problems of tragedy. But surely the right of one monarch to capture the domain from another no longer raises our passions, nor are our concepts of justice what they were to the mind of an Elizabethan king.

The quality in such plays that does shake us, however, derives from the underlying fear of being displaced, the disaster inherent in being torn away from our chosen image of what or who we are in this world. Among us today this fear is as strong, and perhaps stronger, than it ever was. In fact, it is the common man who knows this fear best.”

—Miller “Tragedy and the Common Man”

This is not his best play, but is still a great work. We get an inside glimpse of life and striving for the American dream that we might otherwise miss. The read was fast and enjoyable. The play has been done many times with famous people, and there is a movie version.

*Bomb dropping noise*

When I decided to do our Maureen book discussion, I had not yet signed up for classes. I had not realized that I would be taking five, yes five, English Literature classes. Why does this affect the book discussion here? I am reading constantly…just not for this group. I hope to find some time to read more here, but as of the past few weeks I have been drowning in Literature with a capital ‘L.’ So, forgive me for slacking on this.

Not only am I behind on reading for this discussion, my back went out last weekend. This meant I slowly fell behind on my reading for classes. My schoolwork comes first. I will put more effort in for this discussion. Hopefully, this coming Thursday I will have something for you.

Until then, I promise that I will promise to post about the things I am reading. My Top Authors in American Literature post 1945 class is my favorite. I absolutely love everything I’m reading in there. Flannery O’Connor is one of my absolute favorites. I love what she does with exploring characters and stereotypes, especially Southern ones. I have not read a bad story by her. My favorite thus far is “Good Country People.” I highly recommend grabbing up some of her works and sitting back for a good, short read. There’s always a twist at the end, hitchcockian.

And there is my list of excuses for this time. There will be more content here. It just may take a turn from Sci-Fi to L-L-L-Literature. *shiver*