Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

In my AP English Literature class, we were assigned to read A Christmas Carol over Thanksgiving break. Believe me, I was the complete opposite of excited. After a terrible introduction to Charles Dickens via Great Expectations in the ninth grade, I had sworn to hate Dickens for time and all eternity. The book sat like a hideous demon on the stack of books on my bedside table, a weight on my brain that needed to be done. Finally, I picked the book up and began to read it, sort of. I flipped through the pages, just getting more and angrier about having to read it. To procrastinate even more, I read the back cover. On the back cover, I discovered that Dickens read this story publically every Christmas Eve. This gave me an idea; try reading Dickens out loud and just buck up and give him a second chance.

Here’s is what I learned; when you are in doubt about an author, READ THEIR WRITING OUT LOUD! Dickens is like Shakespeare, if you read it silently, it’s just a bunch of words with no feeling or meaning behind it. It was not written to be read silently, it was written to be shared with an audience. Now, I’m not going to lie, I read this book out loud with a British Accent. Am I embarrassed? Nope. I never would have been able to understand his writing approach without reading it out loud. I was automatically transported back to the mid eighteen hundreds and I watched the spirits visit Scrooge one by one and saw his transformation take place.

When I first read Dickens, his over description threw me for a loop. I thought it was too much, it was forced, and it made his reading drag very much. Now after hearing it come out of my own mouth, I’ve discovered that he wrote just as he spoke. When you tell a person about something you care about, you leave nothing to their imagination. Dickens cares so much for his characters and his stories that he can’t leave anything out and I thank him for that. He gives the readers an image that will not soon be erased from their minds.

His metaphors throughout the book are so brilliant and original. He describes Scrooge’s house as a house that “one could scarcely help fancying it must have run there when it was a young house, playing at hide-and-seek with other houses, and have forgotten the way out.” How brilliant is that personification? Can you not see that image perfectly? Mmmm… imagery is yummy.

So, I won’t lie, I was a bit creeped out when Marley’s ghost appeared. It’s a terrifying idea, having your house filled with usually lifeless bells and then suddenly chains rattling! Creeptastic, right?! But, I loved the humor that is thrown into the conversation Scrooge has with Marley. Scrooge takes the time, while terrified mind you, to speculate if a spirit can sit in a chair or not. Dickens is one funny dude.

‘Tis the Christmas season, which means it is the season for crappy holiday movies meant to warm your heart but, in truth, just make you gag because of all the special happy feelings. During the reading of this book, I wished more holiday movies took a creative approach while pounding you with moral values. Of course I am familiar with this story but I had forgotten about the two terrifying children hiding under the ghost of Christmas present’s cloak. Reading their description, I had to stop and take a minute to think about what Dickens is telling us. “Man’s Children,” symbolizing Ignorance and Want with Ignorance being pointed out as the sin Scrooge should most look out for has so much meaning to me personally as well as to all of us, I feel. I’ve always believed in the motto that ignorance is bliss. Recently though, I’ve gotten tired of holding back my feelings about everything in my life. I’ve become more direct and if I sense a problem, I have to know about it so I can clear it up. Ignorance is not bliss because in the end, ignorance leaves you all alone.

All in all, I’m so glad I gave dear Charles another chance. Now when I have to read Great Expectations again, I will hopefully appreciate it. Thanks for this assignment Mrs. Hansen!

Until next time, happy reading! Send me your book recommendations if you have them, I’d be happy to check them out and review them all! Leave any comments below! I’d love to hear them!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Laramie Project by Moises Kaufman

This week I finished reading The Laramie Project by Moises Kaufman and all I can say is wow. This play left me so stunned and enthralled that the thought of starting a new book completely fell away; I just can’t leave this story yet! I’m the type of person that if I fall in love with a story or a piece of history, I have to spend the next six hours of my life googling it and getting every last drop of information I can about it. And so here I am, sitting at my computer, researching the death of Matthew Shepard.

If you don’t know what this play is about let me fill you in a bit. Led by Moises Kaufman, members of Tetonic Theater Company went to the town of Laramie, Wyoming after the brutal murder of a young gay man. There, they conducted interviews with people in the town. These interviews range from friends of the accused, the police officer called to the scene of the murder, to students at the local University. Through these accounts, Matthew Shepard’s murder is told from voices we wouldn’t typically hear from. By doing this, the reader sees so many different opinions on the attack and its aftermath.

Now, whether or not you are pro gay rights or anti gay rights, this is definitely a book I would recommend to you. During my entire time reading this book, I never felt preached at or anything of the sort. The members of the Tectonic Theater Project really took the words of Father Roger Schmit to heart and “do your best to say it correct.” They didn’t alter what the people of this town said at all so you as a reader are exposed to literally every viewpoint possible. You hear from locals who are active in the gay community, locals who don’t support that lifestyle, various religious leaders with different thoughts, and people who just saw the whole terrible incident happen. The writers of the play are holding back no information and no opinion is too harsh from this play. Even with the spirit of togetherness that the gay community felt after the murder, there was of course backlash, and we are lucky enough to see both sides.

Throughout the play, a noticeable unique quality about the script is the lack of scenes. Instead of an act being filled with scenes, the acts are filled with moments and they are listed as such. In my theater classes lately, my teacher has stressed the use of moments and their importance in our daily lives. A big theme in this play is that of destiny and reasons why things happen. The character Aaron Kreifels spends the majority of the play questioning why he was meant to find Matthew on the fence while he was out riding his bike. Without these specific moments in our lives, we wouldn’t be who we are. Personally, one of my favorite moments is Act III Moment: Dennis Shepard’s Statement. The thoughts from Matt’s father literally rip at my heart because of how he goes about speaking to the murderer of his son with such grace and elegance. The entire play is filled with this sort of delicacy and beauty while still managing to get a point across about this hideous crime.

While reading this, I never felt as if I was being bombarded by drama or dramatic scenes. They playwright took a lot of care to not overwhelm the reader with too much intensity. Because of that, it was easier to keep my attention on the book because I never felt like what I was reading was too much to handle. Because the script is truly just real people talking, it felt as if I was sitting there talking with them, not seeing a play being put on in my head.

Overall, my attention and my heart were captured by this play. It was a very fast and easy read because I couldn’t manage to put it down. Anyone studying theater should read this play because of the unique approach it takes to staging and characterization. Anyone who enjoys watching the news or enjoys thinking outside of the box should read this play because of the different views you are allowed to see. I recommend this book to one and all!

Until next time, happy reading! Send me your book recommendations if you have them, I’d be happy to check them out and review them all!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

New and Improved. Welcome!

Hello there! Welcome to my blog! Here I plan on reviewing the books I read and giving my opinions on all of the books in this world. If you have book recommendations let me know, I always need more to read! I'll try to update as much as I can, depending on how much I read (let's hope it's a lot!). Thanks for checking it out!