Thursday, September 27, 2007

Catching Up on Books

Y'all, I tried to watch the 14th season premiere of ER tonight, and it was such a mistake. I took two years off, and now I only recognize a handful of characters (well, I do recognize John Stamos of course, I just don't know what he's doing on my once-favorite show). Where is Luka? Where is Kerry? Why is Morris still there?

So a recap is not forthcoming, as I was totally lost and gave up 40 minutes in. And I'd review The Office season premiere, which was awesome, but I don't know the show very well, as this was maybe my fifth episode. (Here's my three-word recap: Jim. Pam. Squee.)

But, here are a few books I haven't gotten around to reviewing.

Camilla, by Madeleine L'Engle.
Laurel Leaf | 1982 | 278 pp.
A flimsy novel too deeply situated in the inspirational YA genre to grasp me at this age. I bought it for $2 at a street paperback sale the day after L'Engle died, thinking it a fit way to memorialize a writer that had a huge effect on me as a child with books such as The Small Rain (a fantastic coming-of-age novel much more mature than her YA stuff), A House Like a Lotus, Troubling a Star, and of course A Wrinkle In Time. But there's a reason no one makes us read Camilla in middle school. It deals with the romance between a girl whose parents are just getting divorced and a boy who's always seen his parents as fallible. Camilla learns to accept her parents as human beings who make mistakes, there's some extremely un-subtle God talk typical of L'Engle, she falls in love, and boom, it's over. And... I will probably never think about it again.

Republic of Dreams. Greenwich Village: The American Bohemia, 1910-1960, by Ross Wetzsteon.
Simon & Schuster | 2002 | out of print
Ross Wetzsteon's book, purporting to be a history of Greenwich Village, consists largely of a series of mini-biographies of figures such as Edna St. Vincent Millay, William Carlos Williams, and Thomas Wolfe. These individuals move to the Village, usually with the hope of escaping and upending the conventions of society. Wetzsteon writes with deep affection and a satirical edge; we see that these flamboyant artist types are usually terribly lost, and that their attempts to live and love beyond the boundaries of, for example, monogamy and fiscal responsibility often end unhappily. Nevertheless, because I'm twenty years old, I could feel my soul being called out of my body by the grand dreams of the bohemians. Recommended to anyone who once wanted to be an artist.

Brighton Rock, by Graham Greene.
Penguin Classics | 2004 | 288 pp.
A story about evil, by the master of stories about the soul. I love Graham Greene to death; the sheer power of the end of The End of the Affair (snerk) changed the way I thought about spirituality; but I don't think I even finished the last few pages of this. It's about the covering up of a crime, basically, and the main character is terribly heartless and cruel. But it took a long time to get started and didn't seem to have a clear center. I feel sure that if I sat down and read this through with concentration a second time, I'd get more out of it, so I'd recommend it to other Greene fans who are willing to put in the effort.

3 comments:

Daniel said...

Kristen – you're right I'm probably too hard on Harvard & their undergrads. What I meant was that Harvard has enough money, and their libraries are some of the most extensive in the world, and the library system includes most of the universities in Boston, so no student there should ever be put out by the course texts.

Trish said...

I'm pretty sure that Luka is still there--he and Abby are married with little baby Joe. I am behind in all my shows, so I haven't gotten to ER yet (instead I wasted my time watching Private Practice...blah!). And Morris is there for comic relief, I think. Kerry was basically forced out of the job (after she was demoted), so she left. I'm not sure if she's still around or not, but I don't think so.

Kristen said...

In the previouslys it looked like he'd left the country, but it didn't say how long (cruel, cruel ER). Sad about Kerry, too. She was cool! And the last of the old guard.