April 3

What Would it be Like?

Liesel is obviously going through one of the hardest possible things you can imagine; concerning any child for that matter, let alone the fact she’s doing this through World War II. So to answer the question, it would be terrible. Change is difficult in any and all senses, no matter how minute. So this massive shift is frightening and requires much more effort and care than she is given. She’s discomforted, confused and trying her best to adjust. And you’ll notice that even though she’s younger than Conor was in a monster calls, and not only lost her mom, but her brother too, and her home, and is now also living with a shrew, she still manages to keep herself somewhat composed. Which is very commendable, because those changes will affect her for a lifetime. At this point in the book, she’s all alone. It would feel lonely, isolating, frightening, uncomfortable, shocking, etc, etc. Of course it would be.

April 3

What I Look for in a Good Character

What I look for is exactly what everyone else does; diversity and growth. I was never really super into the whole “super hero and villain” dynamic. It’s played out to me, and when characters are intricate and complicated, it makes the story more intriguing. When it’s a battle over right and wrong, but nobody truly knows which is which. Roger Waters of Pink Floyd said it best (I mean he usually says everything the best) with his lyrics “Us and Them, and after all we’re only ordinary men”. Which is what I’m trying to get across here. People have their own specific ideologies, so when you hold one above the other it makes the story two dimensional and the characters flat. Because the best stories are of individuals struggling against what they believe is right, and what they know needs to be done. That struggle is exactly what leads to the second property of a good character, growth. Because when you entice philosophy and morality to shift, you grow, you evolve and become more well rounded as a person. So when you can take a character and make them grow, make them question their own mind, they expand. It becomes something much larger than a book, it becomes a frantic enigma, challenging the reader to develop themselves. Then in turn, we as people grow alongside the character.

March 27

What I Found Confusing in the Prologue to “The Book Thief”

I will try and right this without sounding entirely pretentious, but I think it’s still gonna come off that way. That being said, not much confused me, for a couple of reasons. The first and most major reason being that I’ve read this book twice before, though the second time was less of a close read. The second reason being, (and this is where I encroach on sounding like an intellectual, pretentious, tool) this book was not written for me. I still absolutely respect the language and think it’s a beautiful book, I’m just at a different level than this book was intended for. I definitely understand however some key parts that may be new and confusing for people; such as Zusak’s formatting. He enjoys call backs and cryptic language. He words things very specifically, especially in the prologue and when the narrator speaks, to write artistically and dazedly. Like all of page 9, he wrote it in such a way that it takes some deciphering to ensure you have to correct image of the plane. The colors too, the colors were a very specific and interesting choice and one I wish was spoken on more in the book, even though I understand how it could be perplexing.

March 25

What Power do Words Have?

Words are the most powerful tool we have, by and large. People have been saying it for millennia, hence the proverb “The pen is mightier than the sword”. Words in and of themselves can be weak and unimportant, but it’s how we use them that carries the weight. Listen, not one single person in a position of power doesn’t use words. Even the most violent leaders of all time, for example: Genghis Khan, he used words more effectively than anyone else in the time, which is exactly why he was able to be so effective at what he did. Communicators run the world, because they evoke emotion and and use powerful language to unite and conquer. The stirring effects that words can leave behind are more than enough to induce major change. They  have a butterfly effect and can be used and manipulated to do nearly anything.

March 20

Books to Read During the Apocalypse

I couldn’t think of a better book to read while all cooped up at the end of the world than On the Road by Jack Kerouac. I read it last term and it’s perfectly opposing to these times. It’s gives extreme pictures of the expansive, beautiful world we live in. While it may seem melancholy and make you miss the fresh air and seeing the bold world ahead of you.

It covers two trips taken across America, both starting with lack of purpose and curiosity of the people and wide cultures ranging across America. They immediately complicated by the fact that the main character, Sal, is broke. He hitches rides everywhere raking experiences as far as they go. Finding himself walking by the side of the road in towns you’ve never heard of with nothing more than a nickel in his pocket.

I liked the beautiful imagery and challenging ideas that the world presents. I think that anyone with a taste for madness and adventure should read this book. It’s hopeful and endlessly gorgeous and shows more than anything how big our little problems are, and how little our big ones are.

March 12

Book Review of “A Monster Calls”

hate it. I viciously dislike this book. We only have 10 minutes so it’s impossible to write everything I’d want to say about it. I think it’s amazingly two dimensional, the characters are flat, Ness’ writing is repetitive and poor, and so so so insufferably EDGY. He wanted to be assumed as a surrealist and an existential mind which he absolutely did not achieve. He tried so hard to be deep and give a massive implication that would be heard ’round the world and it so incredibly did not work out that way. He clearly confined himself to Siobhan Dowd’s ideas and it made the entire piece feel fake and underachieving. He put himself in a box and in that box with and amazing concept he still managed to mess it up. The book is furiously under realized, it’s very two dimensional and pseudo philosophical. It was overused, he took a good concept and shot it and himself in the foot. It’s a disappointment to me personally on near every front and I wouldn’t feel bad for a second about giving it 1 star.

Now, there was some good. I am not the demographic, that’s a majorly important point. I, not being in the intended audience, of course didn’t like the book as some others. I understand the value it has in this class, I understand why it’s taught and feel that Mr. Green should continue to teach it. That being said, I think the book is awful and the movie is somehow worse, good day.

Major points include, “ugh I’m so sad and I want everybody to feel bad for not feeling bad, even though they do” and “people sometimes are mean” as well as “bad things happen sometimes, I guess” and “MoNsTeR BiG aNd ScaRY”.

 

March 12

Speak the Truth

This is one of the few moments in this book I honestly don’t mind. I think it’s an important lesson, and one that is remarkably necessary for any degree of relief. I think Patrick Ness uses “The Nightmare” here in a clever way; insinuating that Conor doesn’t just need to speak the truth, he needs to speak it to himself. He’s in his own head, in his own thoughts where he very first needs to genuinely confront himself. We live in confusion, and thus learn to thrive in it. We live in an ambiguous kind of middle ground that’s impossible to conquer, and nearly just as hideously difficult to see out of. Our days waste away underneath the overcast of the infinite. We live lives akin to how we assume they should be, and those lives are perfectly, amazingly, brilliant if we only accept the truth. If we are to understand the bounds and regulations of our mind and body and respect ourselves and the thoughts we are forced to think, life becomes much more complicated, and yet incredibly more manageable. Lives of the quaint fascinate me. The fire watchers, the ranchers, the sequestered elderly. They bring me to the edge of a cliff that I feel would certainly be quite the experience to drop from. To live a life that may seem meaningless to the entrenched. But hey, who knows?

March 3

Are You Really There At All?

If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is around to hear it, then who really cares if it makes a sound at all? When you’re unseen, unremembered, forgotten within the confines of your own life and the people who used to gravitate towards you, that’s got to be just about the worst feeling in the world. I don’t understand this to the same extent as Conor of course, but we’ve all been lonely, we’ve all felt cast out. Left behind by society, made into a statue of the past that was built only to fall. So if nobody sees you, if nobody cares, then who’s to say if you’re there or not. What stands out to me about being forgotten is this: Is infamy worth being remembered, rather than withering out of existence? Kurt Cobain posed this very same sentiment in a slightly different way, signing off his suicide note with the line “It’s better to burn out than to fade away.” Is that true? If you’re on a path that seems to lead into the void, is it worth being remembered as a monster just to be remembered at all? I don’t know. I really don’t. It’s not for lack of trying either, I’ve spent hours and hours desperately trying to find a shred of an answer to no avail. I don’t know what I’d do, if all my options were spent, who’s to say? It’s a test of the moral limits, and whether or not you would drastically shift just for a legacy.

February 28

Book Review 1.2

What I read: On the Road by Jack Kerouac, realistic fiction, 293 pages, 5 stars

How it starts: Well it starts with Kerouac’s projection of himself Sal Paradise musing over Allen Ginsberg’s projection Dean Moriarty. Sal lives in New York and is fascinated by Moriarty, he decides to go west to Denver to be with Dean and Carlo Marx, then move further west to San Fransisco and stay stay with Remi Boncoeur.

How it gets complicated: Well Sal has very little money for his trip west and hitchhikes, a whole host of issues that come along with that sort of thing. Without spoiling anything Denver could be better as well as San Francisco and his subsequent travels.

What I liked: Honestly pretty much everything, its a brilliant piece of literature and there’s a reason it’s credited with attracting all the attention to this distinctive group of writers and they’re out of bounds ideologies.the wording is phenomenal and its a tale that represents this movement fantastically.

What I disliked: I think maybe being nitpicky, it could’ve moved a bit faster but I don’t hold that against Kerouac, I honestly enjoyed the pacing but I can see how that could definitely be a thorn I the side of someone else. I think this is pretty close to a perfect 10 novel for me, hardly anything is perfect but this certainly pushes it.

Recommendation: Absolutely everyone should read this book, young or old, man or woman, strong or weak, sensitive or hardened, it’s ridiculously good and easily deserves its seat ay the table of all time masterpieces.

 

February 27

Word Nerd 1.12

Source: On the Road by Jack Kerouac, page 70

Context: “His father opened the door, a distinguished tall man in pince-nez.

In their words: a pair of eyeglasses with a nose clip instead of earpieces.

In my words: Glasses that clip onto the nose instead of going over the ears