Monday, February 28, 2011

Oliver Twist Readalong: Part 3 / In Which I Get Spoilerific


This my third and final post for the Oliver Twist Readalong which is hosted by Allie at A Literary Odyssey.

I am not the most patient of people, so that probably explains why I sped through the last 100 pages of Oliver Twist until the words were a blur before my eyes. I apologize in advance if this post seems all over the place. I just finished consuming a bar of chocolate, so I'm a little hyper. Off the top of my head, here are some of my barely coherent while-reading thoughts:
  1. I’m not going to cry because *SPOILER* Bill Sikes killed Nancy. *END OF SPOILER.* No, I’m not going to cry. *Sniff. Sniff.*
  2. The Artful Dodger’s funny even if he’s going to be, you know, kicked out of the Kingdom. LOLOLOL.
  3. Why do you keep bogging down the plot with useless details, Charlie? Why, I ask you? Why?!?!?! I don’t need to read about how filthy Jacob’s Island was, because you’ve already told me about a gazillion times how hard life was for people during Victorian times. I don’t want to hear it again. I want to hear about Sikes, and Nancy, and maybe even Noah Claypole. Just stop with the descriptions already. I can’t take it anymore.
  4. Hah! Oliver is magically connected to people who shall remain nameless in this post. I saw that coming. Hah! I feel so proud of myself.
  5. Why aren’t you eating your head, Mr. Grimwig? You said you would if so-and-so happened. I’m waiting. *Taps foot impatiently.*
  6. Harry Maylie, that had to be the best proposal. Ever. Except maybe for Mr. Darcy’s.
What about you? Any thoughts on Oliver Twist?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Thoughts: The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

“One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin.”
The first line of Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis basically tells us the whole premise of the book. I’ve always been hesitant to read The Metamorphosis, because it’s not my cup of tea. However, I changed my mind when I read online that The Metamorphosis actually uses magic realism, my thesis topic.

This might sound like a reviewer cliché, but I honestly don’t know what to say about The Metamorphosis. It was well-written in simple language, and I understand why people say Kafka’s a literary genius. However, I felt that the book’s message is still eluding me, and I have to let it simmer for a while. Somehow, I know there’s something more to Gregor Samsa’s transformation, but that something keeps slipping through my fingers.

Was his transformation into an insect or vermin or bug (depending on the translation) meant to symbolize Gregor’s daily grind in his joyless existence as a salesman? That was the first thing that popped into my head, but it doesn’t seem enough.

The family dynamics in the book also interested me. See, Gregor is his family’s breadwinner. When his family realized that Gregor had turned into a cockroach/bug, I was surprised when they were more concerned about themselves, with how they were going to survive without Gregor’s income. Hello, your son just turned into a cockroach. That doesn’t happen everyday. But, then again, what else should I expect from magic realism?

Overall, I’m still on the fence about this book. It’s obviously a work of great literary value, and it gave me a lot to think about. In the end, though, I want a book to stir powerful emotions in me. Of Mice and Men, for example, made my heart hurt while unearthing deep questions about life at the same time. The Metamorphosis just didn’t do that for me.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Latest Acquisitions: Part Four

I haven't been able to buy a lot of books lately, because I've been busy with school. Instead, in order to save money, I've been reading some free e-books from Project Gutenberg. (I've already downloaded The Portrait of Dorian Gray, Ethan Frome, and Heart of Darkness from PG.) However, on my last trip to my favorite secondhand bookstore, I was able to find copies of the following:

  • Hamlet by William Shakespeare - I've only read King Lear and a couple of Shakespeare's sonnets--not a good experience for me. However, we're required to read Hamlet for my English Literature class this semester, so I'm hoping either this or Macbeth will change my mind about the Bard.
  • The Heart is A Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers - Beautiful first paragraph. This book is also in Modern Library's 100 Best Novels List, so I simply had to buy it.
  • Macbeth by William Shakespeare - See # 1.
  • A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams - Saw the movie, the one with Marlon Brando, about two years ago, and I didn't understand about 90% of the dialogue. Maybe I'll appreciate the text more.
What are your latest acquisitions? :)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Thoughts: Animal Farm by George Orwell

Since Shiloh—a book about a beagle—made me cry like a baby in the fourth grade, I’ve been suspicious about books with animals as protagonists. I stayed away from Marley & Me like it was the plague, and The Call of the Wild has been in my to-be-read pile for about eight years. Me + books about animals = NO. So, I surprised myself when I read and LOVED Animal Farm by George Orwell.

Animal Farm is about the animals in Manor Farm who are treated cruelly by their master, a farmer named Jones. Led by the intelligent pigs, the animals—an eclectic combination of horses, goats, chickens, and even a donkey—manage to overthrow Jones, and declare themselves free. For a while, the animals live in peace, but things go awry when they decide to build a windmill. The animals soon discover that although they agreed that all animals are equal, some animals believe they’re more equal than others.

First off, I’m glad to say that this book wasn’t depressing at all. At first glance, Animal Farm seems like an intimidating book, because a) it’s a classic and b) it’s satire—ooh, big word, satiiiiire. The funny thing is, Animal Farm isn’t intimidating at all. It was actually pretty funny, and it never took itself too seriously. All the animals had little quirks. For example, there’s a raven named Moses who keeps telling the other animals about a place called Sugarcandy Mountain where “it was Sunday seven days a week, clover was in season all the year round, and lump sugar and linseed cake grew on the hedges.” Also, there’s a dictator/pig named Napoleon. ‘Nough said.

I fully understand now why Animal Farm is considered a classic. The book’s message is pretty deep once you think about it, but the story itself is pretty good. I wanted to know what atrocious thing the “dictator” was going to do next, and what the other animals were going to do once they realized they were being abused. Reading Animal Farm was a lot like coming across a car wreck. You know it ain’t gonna be pretty, but you just have to see it anyway.

Animal Farm is obviously satire, but it’s not the confusing/ambiguous kind. As a reader, you know what Orwell is trying to tell you, and you end up wondering whether you agree with him or not. I love Animal Farm because it made me care about the characters. I laughed at them until I realized what was happening to them happened to real people before, and could happen again in the future. It was definitely a sobering afterthought to a very humorous book.

Rating: 5/5

If you’ve read the book, can you tell me if Moses the raven really stands for organized religion? What do you think?


If you haven’t read the book, are you interested in reading it? Why or why not?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Thoughts: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

"A guy needs somebody - to be near him. A guy goes nuts if he ain't got nobody. Don't make no difference who the guy is, long's he's with you. I tell ya, I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an' he gets sick."

Have you ever met a girl who's still ridiculously beautiful without a single dash of make-up on her face, without putting on airs? I’m talking about a girl who’s so beautiful she could make a man fall to his knees, even if you take away her jewels and expensive clothes, and dress her in sackcloth. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is a lot like that girl.

The plot is very simple. George is small and cunningly intelligent, while Lennie is big but more than a little stupid. They travel together, working odd jobs on ranches here and there. Lennie follows everything George tells him. If George tells him to jump off a cliff, he’s going to do it. The time comes, however, when a woman enters the picture, and Lennie follows George’s instructions a little too closely.

Of Mice and Men is the kind of book you’ll think about long after you’ve finished it. None of the characters, even the minor ones, feel like caricatures, and there are no heroes or villains in the story. There are only people who sometimes have to make tough decisions when, excuse the cliché, they’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. By the time I finished the book, I felt like I knew all the characters, George and Lennie in particular.

Aside from a few technical terms about horses and ranches, I never needed to look up a single word, but Steinbeck made everything sound so beautiful. He used one to two-syllable words to come up with breathtaking descriptions, and I love that. While reading, I felt like I was in Salinas with Lennie and George or watching a heron devour a water snake by the river.

In the end, though, I love Of Mice and Men, because it forced me to think about a lot of uncomfortable questions. Are some of the bad things we do necessary? Or are they only necessary because we have reasons to justify them? Of Mice and Men asks those questions, and a lot more. It’s a very short book, but it packs an emotional wallop.

Rating: 5/5

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Oliver Twist Readalong: Part 2

This is my second post for the Oliver Twist Readalong which is hosted by Allie at A Literary Odyssey. The third and final post will be posted on Feb. 28, 2010. I didn't think I would able to catch up since I've been really busy at school with University Week. Thankfully, I got to do some reading yesterday in between errands, and I finally caught up. So, boo yeah!

Anyway, Oliver Twist is turning out to be quite a quick read. There are some parts that drag, but it's like Dickens can read my mind. Every time I start getting bored, he comes up with a new plot twist, and I become interested again.

For example, Oliver was captured by Fagin and Co., and they locked up him up in a room. Things were getting monotonous, but then--tada!--Oliver becomes a pawn in a robbery.

Dickens is also amazing when it comes to crafting characters. As a novice writer, I'm learning a lot from him about making characters, even the minor ones, interesting. Seriously, his characters leap off the pages. They're all so well-rounded with clear motives. Mr. Bumble, for example, is a conceited church beadle, who reveres the Board more than God. However, he's also susceptible to the charms of a lonely window.

For me, the most interesting characters so far are Fagin and the Artful Dodger. I'm also itching to find out what this mysterious Monks fellow is up to, and what he has to do with Oliver's past. Oliver's new friends, Rose and her mysterious beginnings in particular, are quite interesting.

I'm really looking forward to the rest of the book.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

On Reading the Classics


February is halfway through and, for some reason, I think today is an appropriate day to look back on the two months I've spent as a classics book blogger. I started Your Move, Dickens in mid-December, the same time I decided to focus on the classics.

My decision to read classics came about gradually. Before, I used to read completely for entertainment, and my reading diet was composed of paperbacks with the words #1 New York Times Bestseller on the cover and YA books about vampires, fallen angels, etc. Sure, I was entertained, but I completely forgot about the plots and characters of these books after a couple of weeks. They didn't stay with me, and it slowly dawned on me that reading isn't just supposed to be entertaining. It's supposed to make you think about life and how you're living it, and make you feel like you've been to new places and met extraordinary people.

So, last December, I made a conscious decision to start reading classics. My reading speed has greatly decreased. Before, I could finish a thick paperback in a day, but that has greatly changed. It took me three days to read something as short as Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, and even The Metamorphosis took me two days. I need to reread passages or even entire pages to fully understand a book, and sometimes I stop to think about the page I just read.

That's okay, though. I don't mind reading slowly, because I don't want to feel like I'm missing anything. I might not understand everything, but I want to make sure I take away, at least, something from each book, maybe a new gem about the people around me or a new perspective about life.

So far, Of Mice and Men really affected me as a person, because it blurred the lines between pity and murder. Animal Farm surprised me with its child-like simplicity, while Great Expectations made me feel sorry for a convict. These books intimidated before, because I thought they were boring. Was I wrong or what?

I'm looking forward to the coming months, and I'm really excited about the "new" classics I might discover. I've only been blogging for two months, but I've already met so many amazing bloggers, and gleamed so many insights from the comments. So, thanks for stopping by, and thanks for reading this post. See you at the salt mines.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Love is in the air, and those horrid pink and red hearts are everywhere. I better stop there because I don't want to seem like a Valentine's Day Scrooge. :P To commemorate the occasion, I decided to list down my five favorite couples from literature.


1. Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice
Do I even need to explain this one? It's Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. freaking DARCY. Pride and Prejudice was my "gateway" book to classic literature. I read it, loved it, and decided to read more classics. Like millions of other women, I blame Mr. Darcy for my too high standards when it comes to men. He set the bar too high.


2. Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre
I love this couple, because they're so different from any other literary couple I've ever come across. They set the standard for truly loving someone for, well, being themselves, not just because they're beautiful or rich. And they had this intense connection. Jane was Mr. Rochester's equal, the one person who really understood him.


3. Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series
I'm sorry Harry and Ginny shippers, but Ron and Hermione own me. I really liked seeing how their romance developed throughout the books, and even the movies. Also, I love that scene from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 where Hermione is playing the piano and Ron just stares at her with this sappy look on his face. Awwwwww.


4. Emma Woodhouse and Mr. Knightley from Emma
Emma begins with this sentence: Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich. It doesn't mention, though, that she's slightly manipulative and spoiled. Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately), Mr. Knightley is the only one who can handle her. His level-levelheadedness and maturity balances her impulsiveness. A perfect match.


5. Peeta and Katniss from The Hunger Games
I couldn't sleep for days because of this couple. I just had to finish The Hunger Games as soon as possible, mainly because I HAD to know if they were going to end up together. Suzanne Collins managed to make me fall in love completely with both characters, and I ended up wishing I had my own Boy With the Bread.

What about you? Who are your favorite fictional couples?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Thoughts: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

“It is impossible that he should still love me, unless, by kicking him into the mantelpiece during our battle at Hunsford, I affected some severe change in his countenance.”
When I first heard about Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I thought it was almost blasphemous—a desecration that had Jane Austen turning in her grave. The book uses Jane Austen’s original text, and infuses it with zombies, gore, and ninjas. To my purist ears, the book sounded like another opportunity for hacks to rake in a ton of money. I was completely wrong.

Heedless of the unmentionables (zombies) plaguing England, Mrs. Bennet aims to see all her five daughters married. Her hopes are brightened when a single man of fortune, Mr. Bingley, moves into a neighboring estate. Mr. Bingley’s friend, Mr. Darcy, a man more handsome and of even greater fortune, accompanies Bingley, and meets Elizabeth Bennet. Despite Elizabeth’s low birth and embarrassing relations, Mr. Darcy finds himself attracted to her wit and skill with a katana. As Ms. Austen herself says, sometimes the people we can’t stand are the ones we can’t live without.

I was surprised when I realized that the plot still followed the original Pride and Prejudice, only with a few added scenes that stayed as true as humanly possible to Jane Austen’s style. The book made me laugh with its sardonic, almost wicked, wit a lot of times, and I couldn’t put it down. Despite knowing that Mr. Darcy and Lizzie were going to end up together in the end, I just had to read the next fight with zombies.

Speaking of Lizzie and Mr. Darcy, I’m glad to say the book remained true to their characters. They were still the Lizzie and Mr. Darcy I first fell in love with when I read Pride and Prejudice years ago, despite wielding katanas and being skilled in the fighting arts. The same can be said for the other characters, like Mr. Bingley, Jane, Mr. Wickham, and even the idiotic Lydia.

Overall, the Pride and Prejudice in the title remained in the heart of the book, albeit a little splattered with zombie blood and gore. If you’re an Austen fan who’s into parodies, then this book is definitely for you.

Rating: 4/5 I wanted more zombies!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Oliver Twist Readalong: Part 1


I was supposed to read at least 180 pages for the Oliver Twist Readalong which is hosted by Allie at A Literary Odyssey. However, midterms got in the way—my World History midterm, in particular, flayed me alive—and, so far, I’ve only read about 90 pages. I intend to catch up tomorrow, since I only have one exam left.

Here are my while-reading thoughts:
  1. Wow, Oliver Twist is easier to read than Great Expectations. I’ve reached the part where Oliver is caught by the cops after his friend the Arful Dodger tries to steal a handkerchief which, judging by the context alone, were worth a lot during the time. Please correct me if I’m wrong.
  2. Oliver Twist isn’t as atmospheric as Great Expectations, but it’s funnier and less boring. Charles Dickens is still as wordy, but, somehow, I feel like the extra words actually have a purpose this time—they made me laugh and showed me how bad conditions for the poor were during Charlie’s time.
  3. Like Great Expectations, there’s already a mystery in the beginning of the story. Who is Oliver Twist’s mother? Basing on Great Expectations, I have a feeling a lot of seemingly unrelated people will be magically connected in the end.
  4. Why do I keep comparing this book to Great Expectations? It’s better! Okay, I’ll stop now.
  5. Is it just me or does the narrator *cough.* Charles Dickens *cough.* sound really bitter? Don’t get me wrong. I love his bitterness, especially since he wrapped it up in humor. It’s just that the bitterness almost radiates off the pages.
  6. Charles Dickens was forced to work at a workhouse when he was a kid, so I keep wondering which events were based on his real-life experiences.
  7. I need to stop now, because there’s this Philosophy of Man textbook with my name on it, and I still have no idea what Philosophy of Man is. Midterms. Ugh.
On to the next chapter...

Monday, February 7, 2011

Happy Birthday, Charlie!


Happy Birthday, Charles Dickens!

I only found out when Mel U of The Reading Life told me through the comments. Thanks, Mel. :) This special event needs to be commemorated, because I did name my blog after the writer. I already did a post about Dickens's personal life a couple of days ago, so, on his birthday, I'm going to talk about one of his descendants.


This is Gerald Charles Dickens, Charles Dickens's great-grandson. He's an actor who travels all over the United Kingdom and the United States performing one-man shows based on the novels of--guess! guess!--Charles Dickens.

Based on pictures, I think he looks a lot like his great-grandfather, but maybe it's just the beard...

***


On a different but still related note, Allie over at A Literary Odyssey is hosting an Oliver Twist Readalong this February. Here's the posting schedule:

  • Post 1 will go up on February 8th (Tuesday) and will cover Book 1 (roughly 180 pages-the longest section)
  • Post 2 will go up on February 17th (Thursday) and will cover Book 2 (roughly 120 pages)
  • Post 3 will go up on February 28th (Monday) and will cover Book 3 (roughly 140 pages)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Thoughts: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. – Vladimir Nabokov (Lolita)
Lolita. Where do I even begin talking about this book? Every time I try to come up with a witty anecdote to start this post, I get stumped. Lolita continues to evade my understanding.

Set in the late 1940s to the early 1950s, the novel begins when Humbert Humbert, a Frenchman beset by misfortunes and dogged by unhappiness, decides to relocate to America. He stays at the home of Mrs. Haze where he meets her daughter, Dolores Haze or Lolita. To become closer to Lolita, Humbert marries Mrs. Haze. Tragedy strikes, and the rest, they say, is history.

I was actually very hesitant to read this book because a) the subject matter is very sensitive and b) I’m a huge sissy. When I started reading, though, I was surprised when I couldn’t put it down. Nabokov’s prose is beautifully-written with lush descriptions of Humbert Humbert’s travels with Lolita, and of Lolita herself. I was even more surprised when Lolita made me laugh. Nabokov’s dark humor is sprinkled all over the book, and I’m glad to say Lolita doesn’t take itself too seriously.

The characters, however, are an entirely different story. I still haven’t made up my mind about Humbert Humbert. He kept trying to convince me, the reader, that he was innocent, a mere mortal man unable to resist the wiles of a beautiful nymphet. Once in a while, I found myself almost believing him, and I became irritated with myself. Humbert Humbert was charming, humorous, and ultimately a monster. His greatest mistake is his attempting to fool the reader into forgetting, for even a moment, the monstrosity of his actions.

I didn’t like Lolita either. Maybe because Humbert Humbert, the narrator, portrayed himself as the victim. Maybe because Lolita really was manipulative, and not the abused and exploited girl I first supposed her to be. In the end, though, I felt sorry for her, because it became clear that she didn’t have a choice. She was stuck between a rock and a hard place, as the cliché goes.

Despite its sensitive subject matter, I’m pretty surprised that Lolita became so controversial. Nabokov clearly depicts the evils of pedophilia. To sum up this five-star novel, I want to say something poetic, something worthy, but the words are still eluding me. I have a feeling that weeks from now, months even, I will still be thinking about and deciphering the puzzle that is Lolita.

Rating: 5/5

Friday, February 4, 2011

Latest Acquisitions: Part Three


I have a humble haul today. I've been busy with school lately--my thesis is killing me--so I haven't had much time to go book shopping or do any kind of shopping in general, not that I could afford it since I'm a student of meager means. But I digress.

As usual, my books were bought secondhand from Booksale. Here are my latest acquisitions:
  1. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier - This children's classic was a steal at PHP 10 which is about 23 cents (USD). The book is actually set in a boys' boarding school, and I've heard that it's quite dark.
  2. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison - Frankly, I have no idea what this book is about. I saw it on the Currently Reading section of a follow book blogger (sorry, I forgot who), and, two days later, I found a copy of it at the secondhand bookstore. I've always confused Invisible Man with THE Invisible Man by H.G. Wells which I also aim to read this 2011. On a different note, I can't find an actual physical copy of the latter, so I might have to settle for an e-book from Gutenberg.
  3. Lighthousekeeping by Jeanette Winterson - I opened the first page and was hooked. Such poetic language. I'm really excited for this one. I might not post my thoughts on this, though, since it's not a/related to a classic.
And that concludes today's Latest Acquisitions.

What about you? What are your latest acquisitions? I'd love to hear about them.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Thoughts: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (Part 3)


Last night:
I’ve reached page 319 in my copy of Great Expectations (I own the Penguin Popular Classics edition), and things are finally picking up. At last! After 319 pages! Funny enough, events are happening at a pretty fast rate, and revelation is being heaped upon revelation. After 319 pages! Finally! Sorry, couldn’t help myself. I like Charles Dickens. Really, I do. It’s just that he can be so woooooooooordy.

Now that we’ve got my whining out of the way, let’s move on to the good stuff. I was actually surprised by how readable Great Expectations is. The operative term here is readable, not easy to read. I admit I sometimes get lost in a tangle of paragraph-long sentences, but, once you actually understand the said tangled sentences, they're pretty entertaining.

So far, I like Magwitch, but I want to smack Pip, the ingrate! Miss Havisham is nowhere to be found, and I kind of miss her. Estella, on the other hand, is intriguing. I’ve read before that people find Dickens’s ingénues boring, but she’s different. She’s difficult to read, but it’s clear she’s manipulative which means, despite possibly being evil, she has a brain. Not boring at all.

On to page 320…

***

Today:
I finally finished Great Expectations at around one in the morning, because I couldn’t put it down. Somehow, over the course of a hundred pages, the pace of Great Expectations increased rapidly, and I ended up feeling like I was reading a thriller. I’m sad that it’s over. I know I whined before about Dickens being woooooordy and nothing happening until about 300 pages, but the last 100 pages made it all worth it.

The only thing I could complain about the last 100 pages is that the twist and turns were a bit predictable. Seemingly unconnected people and events were suddenly connected. All because of coincidence! Uh-huh.

I like how the ghastly Miss Havisham became more human, more real. She felt like a real person to me. Pip somehow redeemed himself, but poor, poor Magwitch… Magwitch was definitely my favorite character. He was sooo human. Despite Magwitch being so smart, Dickens somehow made a stupid decision of his seem logical, and that fascinated me as a reader.

In A Christmas Carol’s ending, Scrooge redeemed himself and redemption was handed out like pie, but Great Expectations was different. The ending was bittersweet and realistic, and the characters got exactly what they deserved.

The book made me think about my current station in life, my dreams for the future, and how it could all change for better or for worse in an instant. Pip’s Great Expectations reminded me to always be thankful for the people around me, and to look beyond appearances. The beautiful ingénue turned out to be a cold-hearted wretch, while the convict turned out to be kinder than all the other characters put together.

Rating: 4/5 Poor Magwitch. *Sniff. Sniff.*

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wonderful Wednesdays #1/Eudora Welty: A Biography


Wonderful Wednesday is a new meme hosted by Sam at Tiny Library. According to Sam, Wonderful Wednesdays spotlights and recommends some of our most loved books, even if we haven't read them recently. Each week will have a different theme or genre of book to focus on.

This week's theme is biographies.

I don't usually read nonfiction, but when I saw Suzanne Marrs' Eudora Welty: A Biography for PHP 45 (about one US dollar) at a secondhand bookstore I immediately snatched it up. Before I started reading the book, I hadn't read anything by Eudora Welty. So, I googled her and read her short story Why I Live at the P.O. It was a hilarious read with Southern characters that leaped off the pages.

Eudora Welty: A Biography is my first real foray into biographies, and the experience is very enjoyable. Welty is usually portrayed as a somewhat reclusive spinster by the media, but the book shows her in a different light. Suzanne Marrs was friends with Eudora Welty, and was given access to letters and works previously unseen by other Welty scholars.

I learned that she disliked Carson McCullers, the author of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter which is currently sitting in my TBR pile, and that Welty wasn't reclusive at all. In fact, she traveled all over the United States and abroad. The biography also delves further into her relationships with John Robinson and Ross Macdonald who are both writers.

Most of all, I really like Eudora Welty's letters to her friends. She has a ton of interesting ideas and advice about writing, particularly in her letters to John Robinson. There's a passage where she says that, even when writing fiction, you have to dig deep and write about the things that hurt you in order to write the truth--advice I'm definitely taking to heart.

I'm only halfway through the book, but I love it already.


What about you? Have you read any good biographies lately?

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