Monday, January 30, 2012

Monthly Wrap Up: January 2012


I don’t usually do these monthly wrap up posts. Actually, I never do these monthly wrap up posts, but I was feeling introspective. Also, a monthly wrap up post seems like a great way to review all the stuff I did this month (well, duh), and to examine how I’m fulfilling my 2012 Blogging and Reading Plans.

For reading, I only set two major goals for myself this year:
  1. Reread a bunch of old favorites. – I’m actually doing pretty good on this one. I reread Persuasion earlier this month, which I absolutely loved. I’m currently rereading Pride and Prejudice, which you can expect to hear about soon. After rereading most of my Austen novels, I’m going to crack my knuckles, and get started on the Harry Potter series. I’ve also created a page called Projects to track my progress. It’s pretty empty at the moment, but I hope to fill it up with things (I don’t know what kinds of things) soon.
  2. Read more books from the Modern Library’s 100 Best Novels list. – I kind of failed on this goal this month, but, what the hell, I have 11 months more in front of me.
For blogging, here are my 2012 goals:
  1. Post more often. – This is my thirteenth and last post for the month, same as December, so I think I’ve finally figured out a steady posting schedule—one that fits my lifestyle and one I can keep up with.
  2. Get more personal. – I can pat myself on the back for this one, because I’ve gotten EXTREMELY personal on some posts—even to the point of word vomiting.
  3. Host an event. – Epic fail on this one. I haven’t even brainstormed an idea for a blogging/bookish event. I’m kind of hoping the intrawebz will forget I ever posted such foolishness, but, alas, I must man up and pull up my britches.
What about you? How are you doing with your reading or blogging goals and plans?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Thoughts: Dangerous Liaisons by Choderlos de Laclos

“On arriving at my temple of love I chose the most elegant negligee I could find: a delicious one of my own creation. It reveals nothing and suggests everything.”

I first saw the film Cruel Intentions when I was in elementary school. Ryan Philippe and Sarah Michelle Gellar played step-siblings who gambled on Reese Witherspoon’s virginity. My ten-year-old self ate it all up, and especially loved the fact the whole movie was set in New York. A couple of years later, I found out that the movie was based on a book released in the 1780s (imagine my surprise). Since then, I’ve been looking for a copy, and only got my hands on one recently.

Vicomte de Valmont and Marquise de Merteuil are hell-bent on ruining Cecile Volange’s reputation and innocence. Valmont also has a little project of his own. He’s intent on corrupting the religious and morally upright Madame Tourvel. This can’t possibly end well.

The entire book is told in a series of letters, and that only makes the whole thing deliciously bad. I found out the characters’ innermost thoughts and wishes, and watched how they changed their personalities, depending on who they were writing to. In his letters to Madame de Tourvel, Valmont became the persistent suitor whose heart was breaking, while, in his letters to Marquise de Merteuil, he revealed his plans of corrupting the said madame.

And Marquise de Mertuil. I still can’t decide whether I liked her or Valmont more. Fine, she’s completely evil, but she has a backbone, which is more than can be said about some female fictional characters I know. I was in awe as I read about her schemes, and her transformation from an intelligent girl of fifteen to the scheming and almost invincible woman she became. *Fans self with hand.*

This is a book I’m going to reread over and over again. Also, this is the definitely the kind of book you would want to shove into someone’s face when they say they don’t like classics. In a nutshell, Blair Waldorf and Chuck Bass have nothing on Vicomte de Valmont and Marquise de Merteuil.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I'm Sick/Some Random Thoughts

I’m absent from work today, because I’m sick. So, in between watching videos on YouTube and stalking other bloggers, I decided to write a post about how I’ve been getting on lately.

First of all, the entire country just finished celebrating the Chinese New Year. I’m from the Philippines where a lot of people have Chinese blood, so the occasion is a pretty big thing here. There were red lanterns everywhere, and I’m quite miffed that I missed all the fun.

Second of all, I finished all the plays I wanted to read for Shakespeare Reading Month. This fills me with a brilliant sense of completion, and I’m glad to report that, even if I read three plays of his this month, I didn’t actually overdose on Shakespeare. Shakespeare Reading Month taught me two things about The Bard:
  • Choose the Folger edition every time. - I’ve tried reading plays with a modern line-by-line translation, but that was too distracting. The Folger editions are just right. They help you with the things you don’t understand, but the educational notes and explanations aren’t too obtrusive to the reading experience.
  • Shakespeare must’ve been bipolar. – His tragedies are depressing as hell, while his comedies can make you laugh out loud. How does he do that?
On a more personal note, I’ve been thinking a lot about my job lately. I like the pay and the people I work with, but my job isn’t something I would consider pursuing as a lifelong career. It feels like something I’m doing at the moment, until I figure out what I really want to do.

I’m a bit worried, though, because I don’t want to wake up one day and realize that ten years have already passed and I’m still doing the same thing.

This is what happens when I get sick. I have too much time on my hands, and I end up thinking about all these crazy things.

What about you? What have you been up to lately?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Thoughts: The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare

Renowned as Shakespeare's most boisterous comedy, The Taming of the Shrew is the tale of two young men, the hopeful Lucentio and the worldly Petruchio, and the two sisters they meet in Padua.

Lucentio falls in love with Bianca, the apparently ideal younger daughter of the wealthy Baptista Minola. But before they can marry, Bianca's formidable elder sister, Katherine, must be wed. Petruchio, interested only in the huge dowry, arranges to marry Katherine -against her will- and enters into a battle of the sexes that has endured as one of Shakespeare's most enjoyable works.
- via Goodreads

I can’t believe I was even excited for this. To explain my excitement, let me backtrack a little.

I mentioned in a previous post that 10 Things I Hate About You is one of my favorite movies of all time. I absolutely adored Julia Stiles’ character, Kat. She read The Bell Jar, and kicked misogynists in the balls. How can you not love her? The movie was actually based on The Taming of the Shrew, and I was ready to love the play as much as the movie.

I was destined for disappointment.

After reading the play, I wanted to hit Shakespeare on the back of the head with a hardbound collection of all his plays, and scream, “What the hell were you thinking?” I know that Shakespeare’s portrayal of women and the treatment women was the norm during his time, and blah, blah, blah. At the moment, I refuse to listen to sensible arguments, and will, in fact, continue to rage on.

The whole concept of taming a shrew? I shall counter that with a quote from the Sex and the City: “Maybe some women aren't meant to be tamed. Maybe they just need to run free ‘til they find someone just as wild to run with them.” Enough said.

In one passage, Petruchio says:
"For I am he born to tame you Kate,
And bring you from a wild Kate to a Kate
Conformable as other household Kates."
So, basically, his idea of taming her is synonymous with making her just like every other Kate in the world, stamping out her personality and ignoring her wishes. Way to be a great husband, Petruchio.
“My tongue will tell the anger of my heart,
Or else my heart, concealing it, will break.
Yes, Katherine, if I were you, my heart will break, too. Even if your life is meant to be a comedy.

As for the male characters in The Taming of the Shrew? I just want to ship them all off to a desert island, and see how well that works out for them.

***
Read this for Shakespeare Reading Month hosted by A Literary Odyssey.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Thoughts: Persuasion by Jane Austen

SPOILERS AHOY!

I first read Persuasion when I was sixteen, and, thereafter, declared it as one of the most romantic books in existence. Five years later, at almost twenty-one, I like to think that I am now less (although not completely) susceptible to romantic fantasies. The main point of Persuasion hinges on the constancy of both men and women when it comes to love, and, before I started reading the book again, I was a little scared that it might not be as wonderful as I first thought it five years ago.

Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth were engaged years ago, but she was persuaded by friends and family to break off the engagement. Her status in society was too high, he was too poor without any tangible prospects. Seven and a half years later, they meet again. She is considered a spinster who has lost the bloom of youth, and he is now a rich naval officer ready to settle down. In his own words, “any body between fifteen and thirty may have him for asking. A little beauty, and a few smiles, and a few compliments to the navy, and he is a lost man.” He only has one rule. Any body between fifteen and thirty may, in fact, catch his attention, except for, of course, Anne Elliot. The scene is ripe for regret and bitterness.

I could not even begin to describe how much I loved this book. Perhaps, I have more love for it now than when I first read it. This might be too much information, but I lacked the experience of getting my heart broken to fully understand it at sixteen. There were so many passages that are still so relevant today when it comes to matters of the heart, like in this passage:
Once so much to each other! Now nothing! There had been a time, when of all the large party now filling the drawing-room at Uppercross, they would have found it most difficult to cease to speak to one another. With the exception, perhaps, of Admiral and Mrs Croft, who seemed particularly attached and happy, (Anne could allow no other exceptions even among the married couples), there could have been no two hearts so open, no tastes so similar, no feelings so in unison, no countenances so beloved. Now they were as strangers; nay, worse than strangers, for they could never become acquainted. It was a perpetual estrangement.
Who hasn’t experienced this? You come across a person you used to love, who used to be everything to you, and lament the fact that you are now nothing to each other. That person you used to call at the end of the day to tell him about the annoying co-worker or even what you had for dinner, the person you used to share the minutest details of your life with. That person you don’t speak to anymore. I know there’s no proof of this, but Jane Austen must have been in love at least once in her life to know these feelings, to describe them so accurately.

When I first read Persuasion, I remember being annoyed that Anne seemed to be the one who chased after Captain Wentworth, that it seemed like he didn’t care for her at all until the very end. That isn’t the case now. The book is so subtle, but you can’t miss the little things that show that, yes, Captain Wentworth is still very much in love with Anne Elliot. Even his bitter statements are proof of that. The fact that he thinks any woman between fifteen and thirty can have him, except Anne Elliot, is proof that he still loves her.

And that love letter in the end, when he asks her to marry him again. I think I’ll just pop that into this post for the sake of posterity:
I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men.
WHO CAN POSSIBLY RESIST THIS?!?!

In the first part of this post, I declared that I am now less susceptible to romantic fantasies than I was at sixteen.

I TAKE THAT BACK NOW.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Thoughts: Macbeth by William Shakespeare

I finished Macbeth about a week or so ago, deferring the writing of a review so I could have more time to think about it. Time, I’m afraid, hasn’t helped much, so please bear with me on this somewhat scatter-brained post.

Macbeth is basically a Thane (a kind of feudal lord) who hears from three witches that he will soon be the King of Scotland. After hearing the prophecy, the characters of Macbeth and his wife are soon revealed—their ambition and utter lack of compunction. It is clear that Macbeth and Lady Macbeth will do anything to get the throne.

The play left me with much to think about, and there is no doubt that it is completely brilliant. There is a dark energy pervading the play with its cold castles and images of daggers and blood. I couldn’t help but wonder how Shakespeare could so easily switch from the mischief of A Midsummer Night’s Dream to the darkness of Macbeth.

In a nutshell, Macbeth is basically a lesson in attempting to control fate a little too much. At least, that’s what I think. Before he ever heard of the possibility of his becoming the King of Scotland, I had reason to believe that Macbeth was perfectly content as a Thane. His mind was only disturbed by the appearance of the three witches and upon hearing their prophecies. Would everything have turned out better if Macbeth just waited for an opportunity to become king, instead of going on a murderous rampage?

The relationship of Macbeth and his wife also fascinated me. Upon hearing that he going to become king, she was the first person he wrote to. She was even willing to commit murder for him, as evidenced by this impressive passage: 

Under my battlements. Come, you Spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me, from the crown to the toe, top-full
Of direst cruelty! And make thick my blood,
Stop up th’ access and passage to remorse;
That no compunctious visitings of Nature
Shake my fell purpose, nor keep between
Th’ effect and it! Come to my womna’s breasts,
And tame my milk for gall, you murth’ring ministers,
Wherever in your sightless substances
You wait on Nature’s mischief! Come, thick Night,
And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of Hell,
That my keen knife see not the wound it makes,
Nor Heaven peep through the blanket of the dark,
To cry, ‘Hold, hold!’

Something tells me there was a genuine (although twisted) affection in their marriage, even if it didn’t do them any good.

And the blood! There’s a scene where Lady Macbeth hallucinates about being unable to wash blood from her hands. Literally, the blood from her hands is long gone, but her conscience forces her to see it—to remember it. I think it basically shows how the things we did in the past can come back to bite us in the ass.

So, kids, Macbeth basically teaches to not be too ambitious, and to stay far, far away from horoscopes and the like. You might read something about becoming the King of Scotland, and who knows what that might lead to.

***

Read this for Shakespeare Reading Month Hosted by A Literary Odyssey.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Thoughts: A Midsumer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare

What, can you do me greater harm than hate?
Hate me? Wherefore? O, what news, my love?
Am I not Hermia? Are you not Lysander?
I am as fair now as I was erewhile.
Since night you loved me; yet since night you left me.

Lysander and Hermia love each other, but Hermia’s best friend, Helena, loves Demetrius who loves Hermia. Since Hermia’s father wants her to marry Demetrius, she and Lysander decided to run away together, and, somehow, they end up in the woods. The woods happen to be the realm of Oberon and Titania, the king and queen of the fairies, who are currently fighting over a changeling. Some workmen, led by Bottom, are rehearsing a play in the woods for an upcoming wedding. Also, Robin a.k.a Puck is around somewhere, causing more mayhem with a love potion.

This play is supposed to be confusing, but it’s not. The characters, except for the four lovers, are so distinct that you won’t have any difficulty telling them apart. Bottom is kind of an idiot, while Robin a.k.a Puck is basically giggling like a hyena at all the mayhem he’s causing. See? Easy as pie to tell apart.

First of all, I kept wondering why Hermia loved Lysander so much. According to Lysander himself, he and Demetrius are equal in looks, wealth, and rank. On the surface, there’s practically no way to tell who’s Demetrius and who’s Lysander. The same can be said about Hermia and Helena. Why were Demetrius and Lysander so crazy about Hermia when Helena was just as pretty and nice?

It occurred to me, then, that Shakespeare is a genius by presenting Lysander and Demetrius/Hermia and Helena as eerily similar. That’s what love is all about. When you’re in love, that one person might look ordinary to everyone else in the world, but you notice little things about them that set them apart, that make special when compared to the other people in this planet. You notice the way his hair falls over his eyes, and the way he stands still when he’s thinking about something important. The furrowed brow. The unruly hair. You see every little detail, and it delights you.

There’s also a scene where, with the help of a love potion, Titania, the queen of the fairies, falls in love with Bottom after Robin turns him into an ass. She isn’t repulsed by the hairy ears and the large front teeth. She is fascinated by him, and compares his neigh to a nightingale’s song.

The Titania/Bottom subplot is a great metaphor. It basically screams that love is indeed blind. When we’re in love, we see the other person’s faults. It’s just that we choose to accept or ignore them. He keeps forgetting to put the cap back on the Colgate after he uses it? His clothes keep missing the laundry basket? Who cares? You’re in love. That’s basically it.

In this play, Shakespeare says, “The course of true love never did run smooth.” He was right. As human beings, we have pride, we makes mistakes, and we never fail to screw things up. But, hey, the screwed up love stories make the best ones.

***

Read this play for Shakespeare Reading Month hosted by A Literary Odyssey.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Why I Ditched My Rating System


Dear Future Self,

Hi.

I have so many questions I want to ask you. Where do you work? Do you still write? How do you dress now? Are you going out with someone? Most of all, did Elena end up with Damon in The Vampire Diaries? I HAVE TO KNOW.

Just kidding. Well, not really.

I have a couple of things I want to discuss with you, but, before I do that, I just want to say that I hope you’re still posting on this blog and reading classics. They’re good stuff, you know.

If you read all my previous posts, you’re probably wondering why I ditched my rating system. I used to grade books from a scale of 1-5, one for the utterly craptastic, and five for the oh-my-god-I’ve-been-waiting-for-this-book-all-my life novels. There’s actually a very logical (and hopefully sane) explanation for that.

Before the end of 2011, I decided to get more personal on this blog. Instead of writing “reviews,” I wanted to start writing “journal entries.” I know it sounds cheesy, but I’m actually doing this for you. If I continued writing my reviews, you probably wouldn’t have anything to cringe at or be embarrassed about, but you wouldn’t remember the books you read at 19 or 20 very well, either.

You’re going to remember that some of the books you read were well-written, but that would be it. You would probably forget that you saw yourself in a fictional spinster from the 1940s or that you wanted to do violence to Lucas Corso from The Club Dumas with a blunt object—preferably a gigantic piece of frozen ham.

Cringe all you want at my somewhat na├»ve and sometimes cynical thoughts on the classics, but I hope, deep down, you’ll still recognize the person writing this post, this letter to you. I hope you’re well and happy, and, if you’re not, I’m sure you will be soon. Most of all, I hope you’re still in contact with the wonderful people you met through this blog, the ones whose thoughts sometimes align or contradict your own, the ones who love books more than you do.

Sincerely yours,

Current You

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Thoughts: Silas Marner by George Eliot

"As the child’s mind was growing into knowledge, his mind was growing into memory: as her life unfolded, his soul, long stupefied in a cold narrow prison, was unfolding too, and trembling gradually into full consciousness."
Silas Marner, where do I even begin?

I want to say I hugged this book to my chest, and leave it at that. That, however, won’t be enough. When the Future Me (who I envision as a graceful champagne-drinking twenty-something with pearl earrings) reads this post, she will wonder at the laziness of Current Me. Now, I am all for making my future self proud.

On the surface, Silas Marner sounds like an incredibly boring book. *Dodges tomatoes hurled by angry book bloggers.* It’s about a weaver who was mistakenly accused of a crime he didn’t commit, and now lives alone in a rural community. His horde of gold is the great love of Silas’ life. When the gold is stolen and replaced by a golden-haired child, Silas Marner is forced to disentangle himself from his web of loneliness and reclusion.

Honestly, I thought I would HATE Silas Marner. The premise alone could put me to sleep, and I only read it because I thought it would be a great way (a short way, actually) to get acquainted with George Eliot’s work. I never thought I would be hooked by the first page. (I said this about Rebecca and To the Lighthouse, too. Will I ever learn my lesson?)

There’s a certain warmth and wit in the book—like Jane Austen and Charles Dickens thrown in together with a dash of something different. I was reminded of Charles Dickens by the bumbling/scheming characters (and their names), and Eliot’s descriptions of a particular romance in the novel screamed Jane Austen from miles away. And the warmth of the book? I owe it all to the characters. Most of them are incredibly endearing, like the barman who knows everything or the squire hell-bent on marrying off his eldest son.

Aside from the characters, the warmth, and the wit, do you want to know the REAL reason why I loved this book so much? There’s only one answer for that: Silas Marner. In the first half of the book, Silas Marner is probably one of the saddest characters I’ve ever encountered in fiction. He has no friends or relatives, and spends all day with, you know, himself. His life revolves around increasing his horde of gold, and he weaves all day to do just that.

I can actually see where he’s coming from. This might sound like a strange comparison, but the way Silas Marner feels about his gold is probably the same way I feel about my books. I know it’s not cool to be attached to objects, but, sometimes, when I just want to get away from people, I just take a look at my TBR pile and take a deep breath. Silas Marner counts his gold every night, while I never fail to run my fingers through the spines of the books I haven’t read yet, thrilled by the knowledge that I’ll get to them soon.

When Silas finally finds Eppie (the golden-haired child), I couldn’t have been happier for him. Finally, here was someone who could love him back, someone who could finally keep him company even for just a little while. I love the way she opened up his world, and encouraged the people around him to think that maybe, just maybe, they completely misunderstood Silas Marner.

Loved, loved, loved, Silas Marner.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Thoughts: Some Tame Gazelle by Barbara Pym

In the fictional village of Some Tame Gazelle, spinsters, clerics, and eccentrics are the order of the day. Fifty-something sisters Harriet and Belinda Bede live a comfortable, settled existence. Belinda, the quieter of the pair, has for years been secretly in love with the town's pompous (and married) archdeacon, whose odd sermons leave members of his flock in muddled confusion. Harriet, meanwhile, a bubbly extrovert, fends off proposal after proposal of marriage. The arrival of Mr. Mold and Bishop Grote disturb the peace of the village and leave the sisters wondering if they'll ever return to the order of their daily routines. - via Goodreads

Barbara Pym is often called an ‘underrated writer,’ and, after reading Some Tame Gazelle, I could see why. The book is set in a sleepy English county with bumbling characters, and a lot of comedic situations thrown in. The plot is practically nonexistent, and the whole book feels like a compilation of snapshots from the lives of the characters. It is almost easy to miss the depth of this book.

I knew what the characters were thinking, but Pym shielded their thoughts from me at the most critical of moments. When you’re wondering what the hell the archdeacon is thinking about Belinda, Pym starts off on another tangent about Harriet. I think this is deliberate on Pym’s part, adding an undercurrent of sadness to the book. By not revealing the archdeacon’s thoughts, we are left to wonder ‘what if’ like Belinda who has been in love with him for over thirty years.
When we grow older, we lack the fine courage of youth and even an ordinary task like making a pullover for somebody we love or used to love seems too dangerous to be undertaken.
The fine courage of youth? What is that? I’m twenty-years-old and I’m supposed to have the fine courage of youth, and I have no freaking idea what that is. I am a coward when it comes to emotions. I’m the girl who just watches everybody else fall in and out of love around her, too scared to participate.

If I compare myself to a spinster in the English countryside, will you think I’m weird? Probably. Despite the differences in our ages and background, I saw myself in Belinda. I have almost no “youthful courage” to speak of, and Belinda is almost exactly the same. She has loved the same man for thirty years, but has never really done anything about it. To quote Meg Cabot: “Unrequited love is all right in books and things, but in real life, it completely sucks.”
“Edith looked down complacently at her own fingers, gnarled and strained. “Not in the country,” she said, “though Connie’s always fussing about hers, rubbing them with lotion and all that sort of nonsense. I always tell her that nobody’s like to want to hold her hand now, so why bother.”
Belinda thought this rather unkind and sympathized with Connie. It wasn’t exactly that one hoped to have one’s hand held…
But that’s exactly it. We all want our hands to be held. We all want to wake up in the morning, and know that, when you walk down the stairs to eat crappy cereal for breakfast, someone will be there waiting for you. For me, that companionship, that sureness that someone will be THERE, is the whole point of the novel.

The love of Belinda’s life might have ended up with someone else, but I think her real soulmate is her sister Harriet. Men come and go in their lives, but the sisters always have each other.

While looking up Barbara Pym on the Internet, I learned that she wrote Some Tame Gazelle while she was a student at Oxford, imagining her and her sister in twenty years. Know what the funny thing is? Barbara Pym never married, and actually ended up living with her sister in a quiet English village. I guess life really does imitate art. Maybe I should start penning my own novel where a character who somewhat resembles me ends up with an Ian Somerhalder look-a-like...

Friday, January 6, 2012

Latest Acquisitions: The Before-the-New-Year Haul


And I'm back.

Here are the last books I bought before the end of 2011:
  • Persuasion by Jane Austen
  • Dangerous Liaisons (I cannot spell the French title) by Choderlos Laclos
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare
  • The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare
  • A Few Green Leaves by Barbara Pym
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
  • A Tree Growns in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  • What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt
I bought the Shakespeares for Shakespeare Reading Month, and the rest? Well, who needs an explanation for the crazy things we do?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Thoughts: The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte

The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte seemed like a treat for booklovers, when I first came across it. The book revolves around a rare book hunter named Lucas Corso who comes across an original manuscript of a chapter of The Three Musketeers. Life soon begins to imitate art, when Corso is shadowed by characters who seem like they walked out of a Dumas novel. As an added bonus, the front blurb describes the books as a cross between Umberto Eco and Anne Rice.

When I first started reading the book, I was overwhelmed by a desire to hunt down the person who wrote the front blurb, and to high-five him. In the face. With a chair. To say that the prose was painful would be like saying Bella Swan is only slightly offensive to the majority of the female population. IT WOULD BE THE UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE YEAR. I've never read anything by Umberto Eco, but I think his work deserves more credit than to be compared to the disaster that is the first half of the book. So does Anne Rice.

Oh, The Club Dumas, I had such high hopes for you.

The protagonist, Lucas Corso, is described as a person with a deceitful rabbit-like innocence who is easily trusted by men and always desired by women. Unless you look like Pierce Brosnan with slightly bigger front teeth, I cannot imagine how the words "rabbit-like" and "desired by women" can possibly make sense in another sentence besides this one. I don't think I've ever been this annoyed with a fictional character who is, in fact, not a teenager.

Also, I was ridiculously annoyed by the portrayal of Liana Taillefer, the villainess of the novel. Liana is always described as a remarkable woman, not for her cunning, but for her long blond hair, beautiful face, big breasts, and wide child-bearing hips. It never occurred to the men in the novel that Liana's brains might, in fact, be bigger than her breasts. Seriously, if I were Liana Taillefer, I would probably want to murder Lucas Corso with the broken end of a liquor bottle as well.

The book does have its moments. Like in this passage:
"A person who's only interested in books doesn't need other people, and that frighten me."
And this:
"Maybe nights full of tears, silence, and loneliness followed that screen kiss. Maybe cancer killed him before he was forty. Maybe she lived on and died in an old folks' home at the age of ninety."
The thoughts, of course, aren't original, but the lack of originality doesn't make them any less true.

The book attempts to redeem itself about a quarter or so before the end by making Corso seem more human. But what's the point? I already hated him. If you made him more human in the beginning, I would've been more forgiving if Corso acted like a total jackass in the end. At that point, I just didn't care about the black and white photos taken by the girlfriend who broke his heart. The book attempts to rise from the water, but is ultimately pulled down by its disastrous beginning and completely anti-climactic ending.

By the end of the novel, I was left with a feeling of regret. Why didn't I just buy another Sophie Kinsella novel? That way, I would've guaranteed myself a good time.

P.S: This books is merciless with spoilers. Do not read this book if you haven't read The Three Musketeers. I now know who Milady was married to, and that sucks.

Monday, January 2, 2012

2012 Blogging Plans

I’m chewing Pokemon bubble gum while typing this, because it’s 2012 and I’m going o be 21 in a couple of months. Chewing Pokemon bubble gum and getting a temporary tattoo of Charmander on my ankle seem like the easiest wayy of holding on to what remains of my childhood.

Seriously, how did this happen? I was 19 and in my final year in college when I first started this blog, and, now, I’m almost 21 with a full-time job. It’s like I turned into an adult overnight.

I read my oldest posts, and, somehow, I still sound the same, still feel the same. I like to think that I’ve matured, but, deep down, I am still the same person I was when I first started this blog. The only difference is that I now get a paycheck, so I have more money to spend on books.

But, anyway, the New Year is here, and there’s nothing we can do to stop it. Here are some of my blogging goals for the year:
  • Post more often. – For some reason, I still haven’t found my groove, so to speak, when it comes to posting. I tend to post haphazardly and without a regular schedule. Sometimes, I post once a week and sometimes not at all. This year, I’m sticking with three posts per week.
  • Get more personal. – I think I’m getting better at posting “personal” reviews, but there are still times when my reviews sound like book reports. The main reason I started this blog is to record the effects the books I read have on me PERSONALLY, not to write recommendations for other people.
  • Host an event. – Thinking of hosting a readathon or some sort of blogging event scares the living daylights out of me (what if no one participates?!?!), which is exactly why I must do it.
How about you? What are your blogging goals for 2012?

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