Thursday, December 29, 2011

Literary meme, part the second

Here's the second part of the literary meme. Part the first is here.

12. Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.
I can't remember a dream involving any of these things. Isn't that strange? I read so much, and I can definitely be put in A Dark Mood by a book that results in disturbing dreams, but none that I can remember involve the actual writers or characters of a book. 

13. What is the most lowbrow book you’ve read as an adult?
Wow. I just...I don't want to sound snobby, but I can't read truly lowbrow books. I mean that literally. My brain will not keep processing the words. I like genre fiction, but it has to be competently written. Okay, I thought of something! I read the Twilight books. I could tell they weren't well written and I kept on reading through all the cliched gushing about Edward's perfect ice-cold...chest (that did not sound appealing at all to me, by the way). Stephenie Meyer may not be a great writer, but she's a genius as far as I'm concerned. How did she turn off my inner literary snob switch?

14. What is the most difficult book you’ve ever read?
Ulysses by James Joyce. I wasn't even forced to read it but I had a summer off before I went to graduate school and so I checked out a book to help explain the zillion allusions and I read it so I could feel like I belonged in grad school. (I am SUCH a nerd). It was hard going, but parts of it were actually pretty great when you understood what Joyce was doing.

15. What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you’ve seen?
I haven't seen any Shakespeare plays I'd consider obscure. Of the ones I've seen, Richard III was the one least performed, I think. Sir Ian McKellan played Richard and he was amazing.

16. Do you prefer the French or the Russians?
The Russians, based on how many books I've read by Russian authors versus French ones. I suppose the Russians fit my naturally gloomy worldview better than the French.

17. Roth or Updike?
I've read more Updike, although neither is my cup of tea, really.

18. David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?
Sedaris. Funnier and more disciplined in his craft.

19. Shakespeare, Milton or Chaucer?
Shakespeare, hands down. Paradise Lost is one of the major texts I can't believe I wasn't forced to read and that I refuse to read on my own (Moby Dick is the other). Hey, I was raised on the King James Version--I don't need to read Milton's version. As for Chaucer--I've never read all of The Canterbury Tales and of course only in translation. I just found out we are going to read part of Canterbury with the seniors after all and I am wondering how to keep them interested in it. Probably by pointing out that the Wife of Bath is bawdy and letting them figure out the risque parts for themselves.

20. Austen or Eliot?

21. What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?
See #19 above.

22. What is your favorite novel?
Mad wrote, "It’s really hard to choose just one, don’t you think?" Yes! It really is like being asked to choose a favorite child. I do love Pride and Prejudice. At one time it was tied with The Great Gatsby but I'm worried that teaching Gatsby is making me love it a little less.

23. Play?
Hmmm. I really like The Crucible. Even after teaching it (coming up after the break, too.) "Because it is my NAME!"

24. Poem?
"The Second Coming," by Yeats. It seems like it speaks of our times:
      "The best lack all conviction, while the worst
      Are filled with passionate intensity."
It was published in 1921.

25. Essay?
 Nothing's coming to mind. I could probably list something by C.S. Lewis here and it wouldn't be too far off.

26. Short story?
SOOOOO hard! I'll go with "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" by Flannery O'Connor. It's hard to beat a Flannery O'Connor short story. When I was trying to write fiction, she was my idol.

27. Work of nonfiction?
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.

28. Who is your favorite writer?
Well, let's say Jane Austen. And Flannery O'Connor, although I don't read her very often because she's so fierce.

29. Who is the most overrated writer alive today?
I'm going to agree with Jennifer Weiner and say Jonathan Franzen. I've read several of his books and short stories when I subscribed to The New Yorker (although I haven't read his most recent novel,  Freedom) and I basically thought, "Meh" after each one.

30. What is your desert island book?
I'm going to cheat and assume we can take an author's collected works. It may sound cliched, but I really would take the complete works of Shakespeare. Comedy, tragedy, romance--how many writers can do all of them? Plus I only understand Shakespeare when I'm reading it out loud, and if I were on a deserted island, I'm sure I'd act all the parts out as well, to entertain myself.

31. And…what are you reading right now?
I'm actually between books. I just finished The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides, which I didn't love, and I think I'll probably read a book I got from work next (we do a book exchange for Christmas since we are English teachers). It's called Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. I'm ordering a Kindle tomorrow with my Christmas money and can't wait!


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