weetanya requested advice for titles that she should fit in her summer reading list that would help prepare her for English literature graduate programs.
cmpriest posted a BBC-generated list of must-read's and included her comments and additions.
The reason I've brought the topic to my journal is that I've been sorely disappointed with my reading selections since well before Christmas. Even good choices have been unable to keep my attention usually. I couldn't get past the first three chapters of Robert Jordan's CrossRoads of Twilight despite my having been a fairly dedicated fan in the past. His writing has started to bore me, and it's all bogged down with characters who have grown stagnant and stale and for whom I suppose I must have stopped caring.
There have been several other pieces that I haven't been able to finish. One is Jan Siegel's The Dragon Charmer, a sequel to Prospero's Children. I recall Prospero's Children to be entertaining, if a bit simplistic. It wasn't something I had to think about, but was better-written than the normal fantasy tripe. I'll give The Dragon Charmer another go until something better pops up.
I couldn't finish onetrueciscell's American Slacker for lack of any editing. It's just like listening to Jim speak, only with lots of typos, spelling errors, and a lack of quality control (pacing, sentence structure, focus). I want to finish it because I find Jim to be deviantly amusing with a dash of twisted, observant, socially-distant genius. However with marriage and children and happiness (which I am glad for; he fucking deserves it), he's lost his edge and, I'm afraid, some of his genius. Now it's mostly telling of old stories and new ones that fall flat in comparison. I'm hoping to be proved wrong when his epic poem is released.
I have a couple poetry collections that I've flipping through on the john, which means I read them piecemeal, which works for poetry since they don't require hours of dedicated reading unless I want to invest such. Not Much Fun: The Lost Poems of Dorothy Parker, meaning not her best, just the extras. Also Best of American Poetry 2001 I think.
Constance Hale's Syn and Syntax: How to Craft Wickedly Effective Prose has gotten the same disjointed attention. I take it with me when I go to the salon or the doctor's office or am stuck waiting. This means I have taken forever to finish it, which works just as well for me since a lot of the book has been review.
The past couple weeks I've been reading everraven's first two Sandman collections, Preludes and Nocturns and The Doll's House. This is the first graphic novel I've purposefully read and I enjoyed it. This is the only work that has kept my attention in over a half-year. I'll see if I can borrow some of the rest, if everraven has them, when I go down to play in Shas's game this coming weekend, for which I need to prepare.
I'm probably going to take some of the suggestions listed in either weetanya's comment section or run down the BBC list (cmpriest) and pick some of the better ones that I haven't read. The problem with lists like the BBC one is that even if I haven't read the book itself, many of the titles have been talked about so extensively (well, because they were at one point remarkable enough to have made it on such a list) that I'm already familiar with the book and nothing in it will surprise me, except perhaps, the writing. Normally when the writing is excellent, it's almost enough to keep my attention; however, this grows more difficult if I'm overly familiar with the plot.
I have had A.S. Byatt's Possession: A Romance in my amazon.com check out window for a while now. I just haven't purchased it. The reason is twofold.
1) I'm afraid that if I read Byatt's stuff, it will outshine the authentic Victorian writing she mimics (she is amazing, I've heard) and I'll never be able to stomach some of the classics that I might eventually read. So, should I read some Victorian authors and poets first because I will enjoy them or should I just skip to Byatt's work and skip the over-read, exhaustive classics?
From the Possession website
Isobel Armstrong, a Professor of English at University of London (and to whom A.S. Byatt dedicated "Possession"):
Victorian poetry is beautiful because it explores an unashamed lyrical openness of feeling which we simply daren't examine in our sophisticated and self-conscious modernity. This extraordinary depth of feeling is observed through a moment in language that is very complex and rich. I think the English language at this statge was at a point when it was extremely powerful with many convergent vocabularies - scientific, technical, and mythical everyday language that both poets use whilst at the same time giving access to this amazing lyrical richness and intensity.
The Victorians had a fascination with the Gothic era due to its free form and inventiveness. Ash's poems have this amazing sense of a world where proliferating ornament and ideas crowd upon one another whilst Christabel's gothic element comes through in her creation of the mythic fairy landscape. It's almost as if Byatt has created two opposite poles of Victorian poetry, one of which is absolutely covered in details, the other of which is refined and compressed in a beautifully symbolic, spare, and economical way. Byatt's poetry provides amazing, imaginative insights into the world of Victorian poetry.
2) I'm looking for a song. Well, I'm not even sure it's a song really, or just something thrown together for the Possession movie website. It's not on the Possession soundtrack, or at least not from the preview swatches I've heard of each of the songs. I had planned to buy the book and the soundtrack together if the soundtrack had contained this song. Perhaps the song I'm looking for is from another movie by the same production company and a snippet of it was put on repeat for advertising Possession on its website, which some production companies like to do.
Help! If you recognize this song and can either tell me where to find it or if it's not a song at all, I'll buy your dinner! I'll send a gift certificate for dinner somewhere for livejournal friends I've not met before. I'm also looking for good literature advice, although I won't pay you for that with food, only gratitude from a person whose mind is eased by good reading.
(Perhaps I'm not meant to be a writer. This entry took me forever, not including the livejournal database errors that prevented it from posting.)