Monday, November 30, 2009

Pride and Prejudice

They made me read Great Expectations and Silas Marner. I tried on my own to read Anna Karenina (and failed after 50 or so pages). I read The Great Gatsby one day when I had run out of what to read (turned out to be loads of fun though). But there was no drudgery at all to reading Pride and Prejudice. In my book, this is by far the easiest classic to read. And the funniest! You are bound to love Jane Austen's wit in Pride and Prejudice. Mr. Bennett's sardonicism is chuckle-inducing, Mrs. Bennett's dunceness could only be captured by a playful mind, and Lizzy's sassiness is not only entertaining, its inspiring, even now when women are all liberated and what not. Aside from the cleverness of it, the novel also has value as a sort of history, and a commentary on family life at the time (and not everything has changed since then!).

I read the novel after seeing the movie starring Kara Knightly and Matthew McFadyen. Judi Dench adds her usual vigor, as Lady Catherine de Bourgh.

I enjoyed the movie so much I had to read the novel; because I know how unfaithful Hollywood can be, I had to go read for myself. They didn't do badly this time. Except, I'm befuddled as to how they came to depict Mr. Collins as being ridiculously short, when Jane Austen clearly said he was tall and heavy. In the novel, the fantastic passion between Darcy and Lizzy is expressed only through the spoken word, which makes it even sexier, if you ask me. But you know Hollywood, sexual tension is expressed through, well... sex, so they exaggerated just a little, but the thing is, if decorum had allowed it back then, Austen might have served up a raunchy scene, so Hollywood taking a little liberty here or there, is not being unfaithful to the essence of the novel.

The long and short of this post is; Pride and Prejudice makes a fantastic read.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Three Songs for Courage

Well I have to tell you, I chuckled a whole lot while reading this. Maxine Trottier has a penchant for creating humour with the use of exaggeration and original metaphors. The narrative flows quite easily and is a pleasure to read. There's plenty of oogy stuff inside there so if you are even slightly anal rententive, don't read. Yup, this is the oftenest I've seen the words 'fart' and 'snot' in print. But for me, all the grosseroo is an authentic part of of the story and doesn't subtract from the value of the novel.

On the matter of authentic, I think Trottier does a convincing job of rendering a male protagonist. Intriguing stuff. It didn't seem false at all. But I had to wonder how did she do her research? What did she do to get inside of the male experience?

Never mind that, I am wholly satisfied with the outcome of the novel, infact, it's one of the more worthwhile novels I've read in a while, and I'm not just saying that because I wept helplessly all of two times. I'm satisfied because Trottier showed that redemption comes in ways that we don't expect.

The major issue that underpins the whole novel is what happens to a person who kills another human being. If you kill someone, how do you live with that? It doesn't matter if you kill someone in war, you know, in service to your country, or if you kill someone because you are just plain evil, or if you kill someone to avenge an evil killing. In any case, how do you live with taking a human life?

In the novel, we get a sense of the answer from four characters. Two veterans of war lead years and years of dysfunctional existence. A young man commits murder and at first seeks to drown his senses with booze, but recovers soon enough to desire to kill again. Then there is our protagonist- Gordon, a good person, a good kid (and you will love the backdrop of the fifties, the rock and roll, the pampadoor, the fast cars) who is almost consumed by his desire for revenge. Any which way you take it, you leave the novel feeling that once you kill someone, you are defiled in a way that you never recover from, this is the gem that emerges from the well designed Three Songs of Courage.

I say it is well designed because of who Injun Joely turns out to be, a surprise, but quite plausible. Quite a number of details just woved themselves well throughout. Two thumbs up for an excellent plot also because Lancer had to die, we knew that, but how, without Gordon defiling himself? Right, so we get to the redemption bit.

Injun Joely is redeemed by his self-sacrificial act, it's as if he finds a release from these years of feeling guilty about the senseless killing of war. This release, ironically comes in the form of a justified killing, but living with the fact is by no means easy. Injun Joely also saves Gordon from himself. So Gordon's dad's prayer is answered, for now. His boy will grow into a fine man, cheating Chance, who would just as soon have one little incident at Kitchie's ruin a promising future.

Good for all you have read this novel already, hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. If you haven't read it yet, there's still plenty I haven't told you, it's definitely worth the read.

By the way, doesn't the guy on the cover look somewhat like Matt Damon?