Posts tagged “literature

June, July, August

Posted on June 9, 2014

Summer is here! I’m basking in the glow of few responsibilities and playoff basketball. In the popular vernacular, I “survived” my first year of teaching. If you have friends on Facebook who are similar to the friends I have on Facebook, you might have seen them post THIS specious “news” article about a Chinese miner who supposedly survived 17 years buried underground, surviving on a diet of rice and rats and painstakingly burying 78 of his colleagues, only to be rediscovered and escape his subterranean purgatory. Well, the story is a hoax (check your sources, students), but the experience of reemerging into the daylight of human civilization is similar to how I feel. I have time to read for pleasure? I can pursue hobbies…

Gotye Hamlet

Posted on February 1, 2013

Alternate pronunciation: Got ye Hamlet?  Many apologies for failing to post a book review in what seems like (and is in fact) ages. A quick and partial list of books I have read during my radio silence that I have every intention of reviewing/discussing: Life of Pi by Yann Martel The Fault in Our Stars by John Green The Round House by Louise Erdrich Luka and the Fire of Life by Salman Rushdie Kant and the Platypus by Umberto Eco The Best American Nonrequired Reading (2008, 2009) War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy Just kidding on the last one, though I have, at the very least, started it. So far, it’s very, “Princess flirts with Ne’re-do-well officer while busy-body Countess looks on disapprovingly.” Which…

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

Posted on November 27, 2012

I’ve become increasingly “statusy” over the past few weeks. After most exciting (or mundane) experiences, I fire up Facebook, click in the status box, and briefly mull over how best to encapsulate my doings. The criteria for my status updates are as follows: Must be punchy: self-referential without seeming self-involved. Subjects and articles are dispensable. Must aim to entertain/delight. Must portray my life as a series of interesting (read: enviable) events. Must elicit likes/comments. Must be grammatically correct (grammar errors are seriously shameful to English teachers). Must seem as if all previously mentioned criteria were adhered to in a spontaneous–not calculated–manner. This is a problem. Or at least it feels like it. Liking is but distantly related to true appreciation; it is only like…

How to Eat a Book

Posted on November 20, 2012

With substitute teaching, there are two things. There are certainly more than two things, but I like brevity. The first thing is this: you have an awful lot of time to kill. You may twiddle your thumbs, but that’s only good for a few hours, and unless you’ve built up sufficient callouses by tilling large tracts of land, raking heaps of leaves with a bare wooden rake, or using sand paper as your go-to stationary, you’re going get some blisters. Twiddling ain’t easy. You may also do crosswords, Sudoku puzzles, or create fake inventories of useful things come a nuclear apocalypse (alas, Twinkies and Ho-Hos are no longer viable forever-foods). But any serious substitute teacher knows that, outside of a dog, his/her best friend…

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

Posted on October 14, 2012

There’s a weird banality to certain adjectives.  “Cool,” belched the effusive teenager.  “Excellent,” texted the self-consciously excited twenty-something.  “Awesome,” exclaimed the non-age-specific person in reference to something a consensus of people deemed good.  In league with these adjectives are words like “actually,”: an adverb that has no real purpose except to confirm a sense of unexpectedness.  I actually don’t like “actually” that much, even though I actually end up using it an awful lot. And then there’s “amazing.”  The word “amazing” isn’t like the others.  Usually, it’s amazing.  I can’t tell you why this is.  It’s probably because “amazing” carries connotations of unqualified goodness, paradigmatic grandeur, and exceptionality.  If something is “amazing,” it is far above the realm of “awesome,” “excellent,” and “cool.”  It…

On Poetry and Craft by Theodore Roethke

Posted on August 24, 2012

This book is somewhat of a departure from other books I’ve reviewed.  It’s hard to classify–something akin to a compendium of knowledge regarding the craft of poetry, essays on learning and teaching, and pithy aphorisms that seem to hold (like prismatic gems) dearly attained wisdom. On Poetry and Craft by Theodore Roethke Roethke is a pretty canonical poet.  If you’ve ever taken a 20th Century poetry course, you’ve probably come across a few of his poems: “My Papa’s Waltz” and “In a Dark Time” spring to mind.  You might be tempted to write Roethke off as a minor poetic figure who had a few hits (the poetic equivalent of 98 Degrees).  Don’t.  Roethke has a lot of exceptional things to say about both the…

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Posted on July 8, 2012

Yes, this book is by the author of No Country for Old Men; yes, this book was chosen for Oprah’s Book Club; and yes, those two things are apparently not mutually exclusive.  If you’ve had a chance to watch the Coen brothers’ film adaptation of No Country for Old Men–a moody and brooding (broody and mooding?) cinematic love letter to Texas topography and pneumatic weaponry–you know that McCarthy doesn’t pull punches when it come to grisly details.  Which is why I find it odd to think of Oprah liking The Road.  I certainly can’t imagine her giving away The Road on one of her “Favorite Things” episodes: “Everyone in the audience is getting a paisley food processor and a copy of this novella about post-apocalyptic…