Monday, June 21, 2010

A Wrinkle In Time

When I first noticed that A Wrinkle In Time was on the syllabus, I was interested to see how a children’s novel would fit in with the other books in the text. Having already read it in elementary school, I was curious to see if I enjoyed it any better the second time around. As a child, I never enjoyed books by Madeleine L'Engle. This time around my opinion, unfortunately, hasn’t changed.

Throughout the entire novel I just wanted to be finished. It can’t put my finger on exactly what bothers me about this book. The writing style, as to be expected, is simple. But that didn’t bother me. The story line was rather creative, but I found the explanations for the supernatural to be rather vague. In a time of the supernatural taking over popularity in tv shows, movies and novels maybe the fact that every little detail wasn’t clearly explained I became frustrated. I would say it isn’t as important because it’s a children’s novel, but realistically that isn’t fair because there are other children’s books that break down every little thing to ensure all readers are entertained by the story.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Never Let Me Go

I found this novel to be the most relatable of those read in the course thus far. While reading this novel, I felt like I was sitting down for a coffee with an old friend and reminiscing over childhood stories and important events throughout our lives. That style is effective for me because I feel involved with the story, and it makes me eager to read.

The characters weren’t heroic, or unusual at first glance. They experienced regret and wished to fix the mistakes that had been made in their childhood. The three main characters do not feel like they fit into society, and band together and attempt to create some normalcy in their otherwise abnormal life.

The Guardian review gave high praise of Ishiguro’s novel, saying,

"This extraordinary and, in the end, rather frighteningly clever novel isn't about cloning, or being a clone, at all. It's about why we don't explode, why we don't just wake up one day and go sobbing and crying down the street, kicking everything to pieces out of the raw, infuriating, completely personal sense of our lives never having been what they could have been."

I agree with this statement. Never Let Me Go creates characters that the reader is sympathetic to. Most readers know of someone who is irritable and irritating like Ruth, decent and caring Tommy with his outbursts of unexplained rage, or Kathy, who is sensible and sympathetic. The reader becomes intensely involved in their lives and cares about the outcome. That involvement, doubled with the topics of struggle and regret creates a story that keeps the reader in their toes and edge of their seats.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Magic Realism in Nights at the Circus

As I was reading Nights at the Circus, I didn’t find myself connecting to it. I found the frequent change between time within the narrative confusing, and a bit frustrating to read.

That being said, I really enjoyed the way Angela Carter’s use of vivid description. For example, when Carter describes Fevvers she says:

“She [Fevvers] looked more like a dray mare than an angel. At six feet two in her stockings…Her face, broad and oval as a meat dish, had been thrown on a common wheel out of coarse clay… It was impossible to imagine any gesture of hers that did not have that kind of grand, vulgar, careless generosity about it; there was enough of her to go round, and some to spare” (9).

I think that the description displayed throughout the text emphasizes Carter’s use of magic realism in the novel. She emphasizes the miniscule details that create strong imagery, which helped me with my reading of the text.

Magic Realism is an aesthetic style in which magical or supernatural elements are incorporated into a realistic environment. This blending of styles makes the magical aspect seem more normal, and helps the reader see the magical element of the text as realistic. Carter’s description of the mundane as well as the supernatural elements gives the impression that they are both equally interesting. By making them seem similar to each other, it gives the effect that all of the events are realistic. Because the supernatural is not given special attention it helps with the incorporation into the realistic environment.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Geek Love and Olympia

When I first started reading Geek Love the first thing that caught my eye was the name of the narrator, Olympia. With the Olympics just having passed in February, my thoughts went directly to that. The Olympic competitors represent the strongest, most competitive, and elite athletes of the world: for the 17 days that the Olympics run these athletes are on the forefront of the nation’s mind as both celebrities and heroes - they are perfect in the eyes of the media and are celebrated for their skill.

Olympia was the site for the Olympics in classical times, and the Olympics were initially meant to honour Zeus (thank you Wikipedia). I found that there is an interesting parallel between honouring the perfection in Zeus with the abnormalities that are held in esteem in Geek Love. The parallel between the Zeus and the freaks in the show highlights an interesting distinction between perfection and abnormality. The constant reversal of roles that are portrayed in the novel demonstrate these distinctions by making the abnormal “normal”, and the norms something that should be looked down upon, instead of the typical view of normal being ideal and abnormal being wrong. This parallel leads the reader to question what is considered ideal and the importance that is placed on perfection.

Although the individuals competing in the Olympics represent a certain type, Geek Love’s Olympia does not fit in that category. The character of Olympia in the book is not the strongest or the elite of the carnival. In fact, she is displaced in her family and in her surroundings. In the novel, the freaks are highlighted as the stars. Olympia is the most “normal” of the freaks. Her deformity is basic and does not carry the same weight as the abnormalities her siblings possess. She is the only one that doesn’t have her own show in the carnival, because she is average and therefore uninteresting. By giving her a name that should emphasize Oly as being elite and special, it enhances her normality. It is another way for her inferiorities to be emphasized. Her name emphasizes what she is not, what her parents aspired her to be, and how she didn’t live up to those expectations of grandeur.