Sunday, June 24, 2007

Reading/Listening Update

What I'm Reading
I'm still reading the Jakes novel. I think I'm getting why there are so many enthusiastic readers this kind of literature. The story draws you in, so that's a point in its favor. Yes, it uses soap-opera-like technique. So what? The novel is not pretending to be Great Literature. The novel is telling a tale with a hidden moral and using the most expedient method to capture our attention.

I like how the characters struggle with right and wrong - or don't struggle as the case may be. I feel the anger the characters experience when faced with a cold, hard look at their living situation. I can see why the writer feels that racism is keeping the neighborhood depicted down. I think he's wrong, but I definitely understand how that conclusion could be drawn. And who knows? Maybe he's right. I haven't finished it yet. Those are my first impressions.

Something about it also vaguely resembles parts of Richard Wright's Native Son. I expect this novel will end with a more optimistic outlook. Are we destined to a hard life, lawlessness, and questionable morals because of our place of birth and color? Or is it something we can put aside in favor of another outcome? The struggle of Destiny, Jake's main character, as she works through these questions is food for thought.

No, it is not a masterpiece of Literature. Yes, the use of idiomatic speech is slow going and a bit scandalizing to someone who, like myself, is an outsider to that culture. And yet it succeeds. This book and others in the Urban Lit genre are providing one group of African-Americans a place to safely explore the challenges they face - whether living down-and-out or not. It will be interesting to see if this book heads in the direction I believe it will.

Current Audio-Book
Still listening to the Cornwell. I could live without the gore but that's how it was I expect. Cornwell's research is always good. And the viking outlook on life is well-contrasted to the English. The English come off as downright idiotic prudes while the vikings come off as practical, if violent, raiders. T. Coraghessan Boyle's short story "We Are Norsemen" springs to mind. Viking humor - you gotta love it. "We are Norsemen, we are bold..."

Current Musical Motif
By the grace of God my brain has moved on from Randall Thompson's "Alleluia" to "Every Mountain" whose composer's name I have forgotten. It might have been Dunn. I'll update when I find it. All the songs I sang in the church choir with my father are wandering through my brain nowdays. I already miss my father.


zirelda said...

I used to read several books at a time. Not sure I could keep the story lines straight anymore. I haven't picked up a book since Glass Castle but I'm planning a trip to Pueblo (they have Waldenbooks) Friday. I could be in book heaven shortly.

Music taste here at the moment, swing. It's fun and picks up the mood. Hang in there Lady.

Unknown said...

Cornwell is a bit too graphic, but he spins a good tale.

Booktender said...

Zirelda - There is nothing like a good book wallow is there? I like my literary stuff but give me a fast fun read and I'm in hog heaven.

Booktender said...

Lori - Yeah, I think of Cornwell as a "man's" writer. Not that we gals can't enjoy a bit of violence here and there, of course.

I' really enjoying the reader on this version, Tom Sellwood. I have a well-intentioned but brief knowledge of the development of the English language prior to 1066. Listening to Mr. Sellwod pronounce the words and pondering the influence of Danish on English (and vice-versa) fills the gaps where there is gore I don't want to think about.

And then there's the whole Danelaw thingy. But yeah, Cornwell is gory.