Thursday, May 19, 2011

Pulitzer Stats Update

As someone, anyone, hello? may have noticed, my pulitzer stats fluctuated. My total pages, pages read, and pages left to read have changed, which has also changed my percentage read. The reason for this is simple. I installed Apple iLife '11 on my computer which has a spread sheet function identical to Microsoft Excel. I put all of the page numbers into the spread sheet and it gave me a much more accurate reading of the work I have accomplished and the work I have further to go. Also, I got different editions to the books on the list. As I have exhaustively mentioned throughout this project, I have developed a several allergic reaction to book dust. Thinking back on my travails throughout this journey, I realize now that this must have begun at some point during this project and I believe that I did not always have this allergy, but that I must have caught it while hunting around in some of the sketchy locations we had to travel to, thinking of here the Salvation Army store in Kankakee, IL and Toad Hall in Rockford, IL. Two wonderful places that have not kept their due care of their materials. I found A Bromfield Galazy at Kankakee Salvo store for $.10, and I got T.S. Stribling's winner for under $5. I think also found Lafarge's Laughing Boy for $3, and a few others I can remember right now. Anyways, I just thought I would make mention of the fact that objective stats changed, hard numbers that should have been pretty well locked down fluctuated and that might raise some eye brows. I am currently reading Edwin O'Connor's The Edge of Sadness.

If you will notice, I just finished Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird which I loved, and am going on to 62's winner Edge of Sadness. I noticed a large whole in my 1960's reading and felt like trying to read through the 60's. For a summer time activity, I might be rewarding. Next to tackle will be the late 30's early 40's which also reflects some ill attention.

Faithfully charging ahead...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Harper Lee - To Kill A Mockingbird

To Whomever It May Concern,

This book is amazing. There I said it. It may surprise whoever reads this that this blogger did not read this book before now. I understand your expected and assumed surprise. For one reason or another, this book escape my scope of my assigned reading in College, and as it was assigned to me in High School, like every other good American High School English student, I used spark notes when I could and when I couldn't I just listened to the class discussion of it and made it up as I went along. To all my teachers, I apologize for not having read this when it was assigned. If it is any consolation, I love it. There isn't much that I can say about this book that hasn't already been said. I think one of the 'novel', some pun intended, part of this pulitzer project Drew and I have embarked upon is that for whoever reads this blog, you will get a review and a reaction to many books a lot of people have not read. One of which, Angle of Repose, and I would like to take this time to apologize to Mr. Stegner, I am sorry I trashed your book, reading back on my post, I felt it harsh and unforgiving. It was my true reaction at the time, but please forgive a careful reader his own modest opinions. You were awarded a prize by a panel of jurors. A humble student of literature is no object of great prestige or import that you must fear his ire.

A slight caveat, for any of you who have avoided reading this mammoth work of the American Classical Canon, read it now. It is a treasure. I knew the story going in, and let me take the time now to say that what level of gravitas a book, I mean a single work of fiction by an author who only wrote one novel, was awarded one prize in her life, that I would know the story of her novel inside and out to be oft-quoted in movies and television shows, the cultural consciousness about this story amazes me. I mention several times throughout this blog to be an aspiring writer, to achieve her level of awareness to the public is amazing. On the level with Moby Dick, The Scarlet Letter, and A Christmas Carol. Harper Lee succeeded in making a very humble book about the Deep South torn in the racial debate is astounding. As many people do, I place this work right next to Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby as possibly one of the only book's given the title 'A Perfect Novel'. I can literally, under no circumstance, find fault with any one bit of this novel. It was perfect. Congratulations Ms. Lee, you have achieve a rare feat in this project. I have nothing negative to say about your book. You Win! Anyways, read this novel, cherish it, and read it to your children. It is magical.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Wallace Stegner - Angle of Repose

I don't believe I blogged about it this time, as we have in the past made mention of the challenges that were afoot amongst ourselves so our dear readership could follow along at the moment by moment updates, on the edge of their seat to witness the battle champion arise victorious in the wee dawn hours of the morning. Well, that is just what happened, no one knew about it but us. And I had kept it a secret from Drew the entire time that I was slowly but silently carving away at the this book. When we compare to one another how far we are along in one of the challenges it inspires the other one to drop whatever it is they are doing and read that book. Which can be frustrating for me because I, as has been well documented on this journey, read at half the speed that Drew Moody does, and that is why we arrive at the state that our challenge month's record is in. So a short recap.

January - Travels of Jaimie McPheeters - Drew Won but only a few pages, down to the wire.
February - Lonesome Dove - Drew Won, this time but a larger but still competitive margin.
March - Gone with the Wind - Drew won, I have still to finish this book.
April - No Challenge Month
May - Angle of Repose - I win.

So without further ado...the review of Angle of Repose.

I hate this book. I cannot find one thing anywhere inside me that can form any sort of emotional attachment to this book. I would have. I could have without the ending. The ending solidified this book into the most unreadable book of all time. It took me two weeks to read this book, but it felt like an eternity. It really did. I can't even start to put into words, as I am trying now what it was about this book that made me turn my back on it and forsake it forever. I am sorry Mr. Stegner. With great acclaim, comes great criticism, from a lowly person like me I offer that what you did was pure cowardice, and I wasn't even that interested in the book to begin with when I came to the ending.

Everyone I assume must say that the book should have ended before Stegner just tagged on the final bit, Zodiac Cottage. This how I am imagine Mr. Stegner writing this book, and I assume there is A LOT from this book that didn't make it into the final cut. Why because at 569 pages this book was unbearable, UNBEARABLE. I have never had a book truly last as long as this one did that felt like a punishment to read. Some books have such high emotional costs on the reader that they felt like punishments but in the end rewards the reader with a true ending. This ending wasn't true, it as a frankenstein's monster of mixed up hurry up and finishes if I have ever seen one. Well, that was quite a review.

So I will give Mr. Stegner some well deserved praise. I found myself at times caring for these characters which is very hard to do with an extremely uninteresting plot. I cannot tell you how COMPLETELY uninteresting this plot was. I am really sorry Mr. Stegner, but it wasn't interesting as you and your main character may have found that the Victorian novel set in Idaho isn't interesting. Its not I'm sorry. And I really am in this way sorry that this ambitious novel didn't work. I mean it won the Pulitzer prize, and has some fantastic writing in it. Some heart breaking symbolism and elements and themes that he brings through out the novel that really work. Some that don't, some that he really wanted to work but weren't doing as much work as he thought they were doing. Some that he forgot he was using for oh I don't know 300 pages, and then rushed in and mentioned at the end. So, what this novel needed was some really tough editing. Because this novel isn't what it thinks it is. And I think that Mr. Stegner knows. I would like to see the reason why this one won the prize. Perhaps for Stegner's body of work. Because honestly this isn't a great book. It is a really really well written book which literary allusions, famous characters walking in off the street, some really fantastic drama moments, the dramatic arch over the last 100 pages was at times, not all the time, I put it down plenty, but at times were really page-turning for such a very drab book.

The one bit of praise that I can without condition give Wallace Stegner is that, there are at times the most well-thought out actions I have ever read. Stegner writes certain scenes that are perfectly staged in his writing. I mean perfectly, as a writer right now that is going through a second draft of an extended work, there were moments where Stegner is completely in control of everything you are seeing and feeling and you aren't nit-picking his novel to death. For that, against all odds, he gets my vote for a great writer, but this novel is not a great novel.