Sunday, October 30, 2011

Blue Eyes, a Count, and the Cuban Missile Crisis

A Pair of Blue EyesA Pair of Blue Eyes by Thomas Hardy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Third reading.

This is one of those books that I like to read every couple of years. There is something so relatable and beautiful and tragic about the story, and it is so splendidly written that it is a joy to experience. Chapters 21 and 22 are some of the finest chapters in classical literature, in my opinion. They bring everything together so perfectly and then turn the story on its head.

One of my favorite passages:

"There are disappointments which wring us, and there are those which inflict a wound whose mark we bear to our graves. Such are so keen that no future gratification of the same desire can ever obliterate them: they become registered as a permanent loss of happiness."

A Pair of Blue Eyes is a great read no matter what mood you're in. Romance, deception, misunderstanding, drama, tragedy - it's all here. My favorite Hardy for sure, and one of my favorite books in general.

I'm still waiting for someone to make this into a movie, by the way.

The Count of Monte CristoThe Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Second (or third?) reading.

Is TCOMC freaking long, possibly even overlong? Is it overwrought and at times ridiculous? Is its attitude toward women occasionally hilarious/offensive, even for the time period in which it was written? Are some of the events that take place in TCOMC hugely irrelevant to the plot and highly improbable? Yes.

Despite all this, is The Count of Monte Cristo one of my all-time favorite books? OH YEAH. I can't get enough of it, even though it's 1200+ pages long. Long live Edmond Dantes. I just wish someone would make a movie that is worthy of the book.

Life: An Exploded DiagramLife: An Exploded Diagram by Mal Peet
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I liked Tamar by the same author well enough, but Life: An Exploded Diagram read like a very bad The Book Thief. It's a pity, too, because the premise - young love during the Cuban Missile Crisis - is quite good. But I didn't care about any of the characters. They were oddly drawn and underdeveloped and did not inspire sympathy. The story was dull and cloudy and muted, like I was trying to read it underwater.

Plus, I am so tired of books (YA ones, especially) reaching outside of their purview to include hints of sex, whether it fits or not. For example, check out this ridiculous specimen from page 266: "By the time I was delighted by the belated arrival of my pubic hair, the United States had developed rockets that could travel eleven thousand kilometres to dump four megatons of explosive onto Russia." The book was full of allusions like this, wedged and jammed into the prose wherever the author felt like it (which was often). Less pubic hair, more Cuban Missile Crisis, please.

(And now I hate this book even more for making the composition of such a sentence possible.)


Liz Johnson said...

I feel like that might need to be your life mantra: "Less pubic hair, more Cuban Missile Crisis, please." It's very Bridget to me, for some reason. :)

Merkley Jiating said...

Are you doing NaBloPoMo or whatever it is called this year? I want to do it, but need someone to help motivate me. And seeing you post every day would motivate me! :)


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