Monday, 27 April 2009

"Death of a Salesman", by Arthur Miller

I think I prefer this one to "All my Sons," also by Miller. Yet still, it was not a very enjoyable read. Plays are meant to be acted out, and no matter how wildly my imagination is, it can never recreate in my inner eye how it's supposed to look.

What I liked about this play specifically is the way Willy Loman switches between past and present, like a delirious and senile old man that he is. It really confused the hell out of me, as I am sure Willy must have felt confused about everything that was happening.

Also, he is one bitter character. His head as big as a hot air balloon, and just as empty with nothing but air, he thinks he and his sons are actually going to achieve something big and successful. And not just that, but he is in constant denial that there is anything not right with his theories. But no matter how he is fixed on things, and how much he is in denial, I still cannot deny him that bitterness. He was dreaming the American Dream, to become successful, rich, famous. To have so many people at his funeral. And for him, that didn't work out, even though the people around him prospered.

What I do not understand is why he cheats on his wife. Why he dares say that he is lonely. I do understand that being alone and being lonely are two totally different things, but... His wife understood him, obeyed him, loved him; in short, she's been everything a wife "should" be. Should between quotation marks, seeing as this is society's standard, and what everyone expects of her, basically. She even lies and chooses to live in ignorance only to let him have the life she thinks he wants. She puts up the facade more easily then Willy or their two sons.
But then... I will never understand cheating, so yeah.

I do like how his son stood up for himself in the end. How Biff, regardless of Willy and Happy's wishes to live the Happy-go-lucky kind of life, full of wishful thinking and dreams that will never come true, still manages to admit that he never really was important, and probably never will be. I think that's a very big thing for him to do, really.

It definitely got me thinking.
The Gypsy.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf

I thought I was going to dislike Woolf, I am not sure why. I think it's because I've only met one because who didn't scowl whilst mentioning her name. But now I realized that's a really stupid thing to base a prejudice on, and I'm never doing that again.

The whole novel discusses simply one day, presenting a slice of life, as it were. The most interesting thing about it is how V. Woolf manages to enter someone's mind, so the reader gets to hear their thoughts, then exits it and enters someone else's mind just as easily, so that you have to be completely focused who is thinking what exactly, because she doesn't actually straight out tell you. I do like that, though. Because otherwise it would have been one boring story, it barely has any actual active plot.~

Ever read the poem "The Road Not Taken"? It's exactly that. Clarissa Dalloway gets up on the day she is going to hold a party, and on the first page she already has flashes of memory of herself more than thirty years ago, before she married Richard Dalloway. When a man called Peter Walsh was in love with her. When she had had a choice between two lives: Marrying Peter, living a life full of passion, emotion, love, yet financial insecurity, or marrying Richard, and at least knowing she would have both status and wealth, if not love. She ends up choosing "China and silver" above love, but throughout the book she keeps trying to convince herself she made the correct choice, which means she is not really convinced, to begin with.

The other main character in the book is Septimus Warren Smith, a soldier suffering from "Shell shock", from the war. Traumatised, and knowing not what to do or how to cure it. Neither his wife nor the physicians actually /listen/ to him, or give him the chance to say what is on his mind. He and his wife are happy enough together, though, and they plan to run away from "humanity", as it were, but it catches up with him, and out of sheer panic he throws himself out of the window. (One of the ways Woolf herself had tried to commit suicide)

What is striking is that Septimus and Clarissa never actually meet. Clarissa hears about his death at the end of the day at her party, and she defines it as something beautiful. A good way to go, to die when one is most happy.

It made me think even more about my "roads". Which ones I can take, and what I'll have to sacrifice to get through them. It's pretty deep stuff, really. But it was very familiar in that way.
I liked it.

The Gypsy.

Monday, 30 March 2009

"The Great Gatsby", by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I wasn't looking forward to reading this, I'm not sure why.
But it's been both interesting and enjoyable a read. That quite surprised me.
In the beginning it's slow paced, it doesn't get mysterious until the second or third chapter.
But at a point suddenly everything happens.

I liked it.
Not much more I can add~

The Gypsy.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

"Cocktails and Camels", by Jacqueline Cooper

Witty, sarcastic, honest, and very true.
That's about as accurate as I can describe this joy of a book.

Lebanese and Alexandrean Jacqueline describing in hilarious details the things that make Alexandria exactly that: Alexandria.
A place where, some fifty years ago, all foreigners and Alexandreans were combined into one big happy family. Cosmopolitan city.

The way her family lived, how it was going to a French convent, then being transferred to the English Girls College (which, at that, still exists.) How the British and American soldiers came here, and how one specific American changed her whole life. How she "stepped into a new world of subways, no servants, and American-style housework -- a world for which her preparation consisted of a faultless education on nineteenth century French literature, perfect French, very English English, and fair Arabic."

I would love to quote some parts, but I would go crazy trying to decide which ones, all of the work being so great.

What I found typical was that even though she describes her life the way it was before WWII, and that it has been at least fifty years ago, a lot of things still haven't changed a bit. Lebanese are still the same. EGC is still a popular school, upholding the same system. Alexandria lost it's foreigners, mostly, but it's still either very rich, or very poor people. There is only a minority that is neither rich nor poor. Apparently that has been like this years and years ago.

Haven't enjoyed a book like this in a while.
The Gypsy.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Heart Of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad

I am very very torn about this one, I don't have the vaguest idea whether or not I should like it. Basically because it's all basic speculation when there are important questions concerned.
It's being told like a boxed story, a narrator telling of Marlow, who begins, in turn, to tell his story; Marlow visiting Africa for a certain Company.

It seems to be written very carefully, ever word weighed in utmost precision. Sometimes, I felt it was almost forced, like poetry, into something that had to be "perfect". I'm not sure whether I'm pointing this out in the positive or the negative sense, for although I thought some of the phrases sounded absolutely beautiful, most of the reading proved pretty tiresome.

The whole book is full of the effects of colonization, not only on those colonized, but the colonizers as well. It addresses hypocrisy, misogyny, power, instincts, at face value, very critically. It seems like Marlow condemns it all, but looking closer, he keeps, time and time again, justifying it all. He himself, in my opinion, is the biggest hypocrite of them all, seeing as he is satirical of not only colonization and hypocrisy but also nepotism, yet he gets his job because his aunt knows someone who knows someone else who... etc, who got him the job to begin with. He finds it odd that people should think of the Africans as anything but humans, yet time and time again talks about them himself as objects, or masses of "shapes". Faceless beings, without character, without personality. It's only the white men that he cares to describe in closer detail.

I'm still not sure as to why some of the things Conrad mentions are mentioned at all, but he seems to be ridiculing society at large with it. The fact that he got the job before the person who held the job before him was killed in a dispute about two chickens is one example.
The pointless way a man is trying to put out the fire with a bucket that has a hole in it, and the way the doctor measures the skulls of his patients, even though he himself admits that it is the internal "psyche" he is interested in, yet more futilely so because he adds that he wants to see the changes that happen, yet none of his patients return to him after (or if) they come back.
Or that Kurtz, meaning short in German, is quite a ridiculous name for someone so tall.
Marlow seems to ridicule everyone and everything, except, that is, for Kurtz, and his Intended.

Whether he justifies them or not, at least Conrad points out all these flaws.
And that is something.

The Gypsy.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Look Back In Anger, John Osborne

I found this drama genius. It's full of cropped up anger, for one, just as the title suggests.
Jimmy, the "anti-hero" of the play, is the one who is angry. Angry at everything and everyone. Or almost everyone, he seems to care a lot for those who have suffered, just like he has.
He can't stand the "posh" and aristocratic members of society, those with a seemingly easy life. Those who have money should never complain, he thinks. He is married to someone of that group he hates so much, and although he loves her personally, he takes out all his anger on her. Not very fair, because I don't think the poor girl ever wronged him.
I could go on and on describing how it's brilliantly woven into a story full of bitterness, hurt, confusion, and love, but you'd be missing out on a lot if you don't just read it.

The Gypsy.

Monday, 9 March 2009

"The Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man" By James Joyce

A mouthful, the title. And a handful, the book itself.
From being a baby till around twenty years old, give or take, Joyce has written semi-autobiographically about an artist: Stephen Dedalus. Not only more sensitive to words, colours, and the world in general, Stephen notices things nobody else does. He feels physically weaker, yet mentally stronger. "They don't understand" is a recurrent theme throughout.
There are five chapters, sometimes rapidly, sometimes slowly watching little Stephen grow up.
Not, like traditional novels, in third person, objectively, or even in first person, but basically Joyce shows us the inside of Stephen's mind. What he thinks, why he thinks it.

Personally, I enjoyed the book up to the fifth (and last) chapter. I happened to have read the first page for our translation three years ago, and I found it silly, it made no sense whatsoever. Now, in content, reading the same page, it is brilliant. It portrayed the inside of a baby's mind, much more so than anyone else ever could. The fifth chapter however, is confusing, full of philosophical ideas he does not even bother to explain further, as he jumps from one idea to the other and back again, making no sense unless you're interested in the exact same ideas.
Glad I finished it.

The Gypsy.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Howells "Editha"

At first, I was reluctant to read it.
"Old" (Classic?) American literature, as my professor describes it, was full of racism, or colonialism, or discrimination in anything. Not things anyone is fond of, really. At least not if it's towards themselves, for some.
But "Editha" turned out to be a short story deeper that that.
I liked it. Maybe as a one-time read. But maybe when our Prof. deals with it, and tells us what we're supposed to be looking for, I'll change my mind.
I'm not sure whether I've missed the message he was trying to convey, or whether I didn't. If I did, I'm glad I did, it might've ruined it.

The Gypsy.

Saturday, 28 February 2009

"Answered Prayers", by Danielle Steel

It's a real Danielle Steel novel, this one.
It starts out with a couple of characters, all miserable and blue up to a point.
Or very good, but they get faced with problems.
And then it ends all "Happily ever after"ish.

Faith seems to be what every woman of fifty would want. At the surface, anyways. Slim, blonde, stylish, married to a successful banker and mother of two grown up daughters. At the funeral of her stepfather, a man who, like her husband, has always been too far to reach emotionally, Faith meets up with a long lost friend of her and her brother Jack: Brad. When Jack died, they came together again in their common, inconsolable grief, then lost touch again because of Life.

Now a lawyer in California, Brad reenters Faith's life when she herself is about to make a major decision to plunge her marriage into crisis. Soon emails are flying back and forth, and they become close friends again. Both change, and Faith is even able to share the secret that has been haunting her for a very long time, for the first time in her life.~

I think it's a good read, generally, if you're into this kind of story.
Quick, too. But maybe that's because I'm a quick reader?
For me, it becomes too personal at times, similarities being so shocking to real life situations.

The Gypsy

Monday, 16 February 2009

"Ghosts" - Hendrik Ibsen (1881)

Not a very long "Drama", this one. But then again, most dramas are short, aren't they?
When compared to novels, at least.
Ghosts is part of a trilogy, the second part, to be exact.
A Doll's House is the first part. I never liked that much, but I suppose it deals with society in Ibsen's time critically enough. Same with Ghosts, by the way.

Ghosts deals with how a woman married to a "fallen" man lives through it all. She is open-minded, not immediately judgemental, bright, and all the things the patriarchal society around her is not.
She suffered, married to someone who doesn't give her what she deserves, ends up getting a maid pregnant, she is forced to send her son away because he's starting to grow old enough to ask questions about his father's behaviour, and her husband won't admit he's done her damage ever. He dies, and she hushes it all up. His father being a "player", his son discovers he has a genetically inherent disease, even though he can't be persuaded it's his ideal father's fault, and ends up self-reproaching until he finds out the truth in the very end.
"Ghosts", according to his mother, are the dead ideas and values that are given from one generation to the other, "Ghosts" are those memories being repeated over and over.. "Ghosts" are what's haunting her, her son, and everyone.

Pretty sad. But then again, it isn't called a Modern Tragedy for nothing, is it?

The Gyspy.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

"A Long Way Down," Nick Hornby.

Alright, so I've thought this through. And to be honest, still haven't arrived at an answer.
I was going to start out saying "If you're suicidal, don't read this book". Basically cause that's the topic it talks about. But then I figured, might be rather good to read that others also don't see a point in living, and that you're not the only one there.
But then, that might just make things worse for you, right?
That's the place where I am now. Uncertain about whether to advise it to any manic depressed person, or not.

I figure, if you really like Hornby's style: British humor, referring to first person, a story seen through the eyes of four characters, then just go on and read it, depressed or not.
And if you don't.. Well.. Give it a try anyways, it might you surprise you, mightn't it?

Personally, I really liked it. I'm even less cringe-y about swear words at the moment, cause he uses them quite frequently. And I'm using more British terms right now, too. Bloke, mental.
But then, I'm a tosser, aren't I? xD

The Gypsy.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

"It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live,"

Dumbledore remains up till this day one of my favourite characters. So loony and yet so wise.
I only read this first for tradition's sake, but I have to admit, it never gets boring. Rowling is a genius, pure and simple.
I must have read it at least ten times, now. And still, every time I finish I heave a sigh and smile. Am I weird? Hell yus. And damn proud of it.
I still hold my breath at the right times, still snort and giggle at J's humor, and it's all just super. Can't believe I'm over my fan craze, it's such a shame~
I know I'm not eleven anymore, but I would have loved a Hogwarts letter. *le pouteth*

The Gypsy.

Friday, 23 January 2009


'Cos I luff Scarlet. <3 [/not just random ;) ]

Anyways. Here's a blog for the books I (re)read. What I think of them. If I even do think anything of them.

I am a bookworm. Have always been one, hopefully will always be one. So here's to a good book-full 2009 & future years. ;D

Yes, I do already have another blog.
And yes, I do have something with shadows and books and books of shadows. >.<
Don't ask.
[/rambling 'bout nuffin']

The Gypsy.