Goddamned Resurrecting Bitch (quoting_mungo) wrote in 50bookchallenge,
Goddamned Resurrecting Bitch

Books 36-40

First, on a more discussion-y note, I'm kind of interested in reading John Milton's Paradise Lost in full (we've only been reading extracts for my coursework). The problem being that I really don't feel confident in reading that work in an edition which doesn't have footnotes explaining odd word usage and references to other works. I tried looking in our university library to find an edition that did, but none of them did, and my Lit professor couldn't tell me what would be a good edition offhand.

Anyone know an edition that has good, extensive footnotes? (Note that I'd prefer them to be actual footnotes with some kind of notation in the text; I found one edition that simply had a list of bolded words and explanations at the bottom of the page and I find that a lot less helpful for my reading.)

36. Den förbjudna ravinen (original title: Horse Angel - Wolf Chasm) by Angela Dorsey (young adult/horseback) - 9 Aug 2009
Claire finds out that in about a week she and her mother will forever move away from the horseback tour ranch where she has taken care of her much-beloved horse Smokey every summer since he was just a foal. Devastated at the thought of having to leave him behind, she sets out on horseback, and on a whim decides to go to Wolf Chasm, ignoring the warnings she's previously gotten about the danger of the place. They end up trapped by a snow storm in a cave where they are not the only residents - the mother-wolf Snowfall has hidden in the cave together with her four cubs and her injured brother Avalanche, all six of them slowly starving to death. Things are looking quite dire for Claire and Smokey, when Smokey calls for the Horse Angel Angelica to save the day.
I can handle Angelica being the horse angel who somehow can help all horses no matter what trouble they're in. I can handle the incredible campiness of her powers being restored by a horse crying over her. The anthropomorphization of Snowfall just irked me, though. It was not trying to put animal instincts into terms comprehensible to humans, as Watership Down does. It was human reasoning where human reasoning had no place to be. And that pretty much ruined my fluff reading for me. Can't really reccomend this book. The Horse Angel comics are much better.

37. Annie John by Jamaica Kinkaid (coming of age) - 19 Sep 2009
Annie John is a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel by Jamaica Kinkaid, following the main character from a little girl whose mother is her whole world to a young woman at odds with her mother and wanting nothing more than to get out of her mother's chafing influence.
Throughout the story Annie narrates events that affect her as she grows up, primarily her mother's actions which in her view shift from including her to pushing her away, and her own rebellion in response to this treatment.
While the book wasn't badly written, and the narrator character of Annie John was often entertaining, I also didn't find the book very engaging. Annie was often unfair to her mother in her self-pity when she declares her mother's actions "cruel", and while she tells of her early childhood delusions with a tone of amusement at her childhood naïvete, there is no hint that she, as the presumably older Annie reminiscing, thinks that her younger self was wrong in her resentment of her mother.
Not a book I would have read if it wasn't assigned reading for my Essay Writing class, and having finished it I don't feel that would have been any terrible loss.

38. Macbeth by William Shakespeare (play) - 6 Oct 2009
We read Shakespeare's play for the Literary History course in my English program, and it is a play that holds up reasonably well. Personally I find I like the first few acts much better than the final one or two, but it was an interesting text to read and discuss. Admittedly I find that in general I am more interested by the "low" points of Shakespeare's plays than the "high", though Macbeth has some interesting intrigue, plots and backstabbing that I kind of have to admire.

39. Sunrise With Sea Monster by Neil Jordan (coming of age) - 12 Oct 2009
For those of you considering reading this book, my advice is don't bother. It has its decent points, but for the most part it drags on; Jordan has a writing style that grates on me a lot (not separating dialogue from the rest of the text, for instance - it worked alright for José Saramago, it didn't work for Jordan) and some parts of the story just don't work at all for me. It did spawn some fairly interesting discussion, I'll grant, but it has the problem of being too long and not really heading in any direction in most parts. The story may be more worthwhile to people who've more knowledge of Irish and Spanish history.
The story is about Donal, a boy become a man whose choices in adult and semi-adult life have been largely motivated by spiting his father. He starts telling it sitting in a cell in a monastery somewhere in Spain as a prisoner of war, alternating between the now and the then. His betrayal of his father leads to more betrayals, leading to yet more in what seems like a neverending chain. It almost seems to have two endings; one point which felt enough like an ending to me to wonder why the book continued, followed by what may well have been the dullest passage in the entire book, followed by the actual ending which I will grant gave some additional closure.

40. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (romance) - 20 Oct 2009
I didn't have high hopes for this book. My taste in classic literature doesn't tend towards semi-romantic stories like this, but Austen is a remarkably skilled storyteller and I found myself really enjoying it despite my original misgivings. The only thing that really caused me trouble was my terrible memory for names (not helped by the fact some characters have - to me at least - very similar names), which meant I was a little lost until I got a ways into the book. Elizabeth is an interesting protagonist not really suited for her time, who during the course of the book gains quite a bit of maturity and insight into both herself and others.
A recommended read, though I do wish I'd had the chance to read it a bit more leisurely as it occassionally got a bit overwhelming in its old-fashionedness.
Tags: animals, classic, ireland, play, romance, shakespeare, young adult

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