An Almost Made Up Poem

Killing an Arab: Monday Thoughts on Camus’ “The Stranger”
July 3, 2012, 3:16 am
Filed under: Article, Book Review, Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

Mondays always put me in an existential mood. Maybe because starting to do all over again what you did the previous week awakens a sense of despair and questioning. Mondays might remind me that I have a schedule that I can’t seem to break–a cycle of time that seems to go on endlessly. But why? Why do I do the same thing week after week, just waiting for something different in the pattern?

This Monday feeling got me thinking about Camu’s “The Stranger” and my frame of mind when I first read it. I remember being completely lost in life and feeling a sense of despair that wouldn’t go away. I had just graduated college and it seemed the world outside of academia not only frightened me, but it threatened to trap me. I didn’t know what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go. As soon as I read the first line of Camu’s “Stranger”: “Maman died today,” I was deeply engrossed. I wanted to know more about the awkward man who had some what of a disconnect from his life. The more I read, the more I realized that the story would take me somewhere unexpected. As soon as it got to the end and Meursalt kills the Arab, I finally got it. Meaursalt’s was a stranger not only to many but to himself. He felt alienated, alone and caught in the despair of the everyday. His mother’s death awakened an even bigger sense of all these emotions. What is supposed to be the point of life? I guess the irony is that the stranger is no stranger at all. Meursalt is such a familiar character to us all; we have all felt as he did and needed something to release us from existential despair.

Happy Monday…


Also…Here’s a link to an interesting New Yorker  about the importance of translation in the opening line of Camus’ “The Stranger”

“Sleep”: Murakami Short Story Leaves Reader Awake
June 26, 2012, 5:15 am
Filed under: Article, Book Review | Tags: , , ,

“Sleep”, one of Haruki Murakami’s short stories in his “The Elephant Vanishes” collection, still sends a shiver down my spine every time I think about it. I got done reading the collection about a month ago, yet I can’t stop thinking about this one short story. Without giving away too much, it centers around a woman who has not slept in 17 days and finds real exhilaration in living in a world without rest, a world where she can make whatever she wants out of her life. No longer does she have to succumb to the everydayness.

Time becomes irrelevant. But with all this liberation comes great terror. Soon her reality starts to escape her as it escapes the reader. The short story leaves the reader with a myriad of questions and most of them disturbing. Murakami does an excellent job of making the reader feel like he or she is in a dream—one that is hard to recall but even harder to forget. Leave it Murakami to work the human mind into an existential crisis with only a few pages of text.

Here’s a link to another blog that has the whole short story: Check it out if you want to question reality or simply if you want to read one hell of a good short story.


Unhappily Ever After: Why “Snow White and the Huntsman” Disappoints

Even the sexiest of evil queens and the handsomest of huntsmen could not save “Snow White and the Huntsman” from being greatly disappointing. If you are a fairytale fanatic, like moi, I am certain you really want to watch this adaptation of the Grimms’ classic. Immediately after watching the visually stunning preview, I was ready to purchase my ticket.  Nothing gets me more excited to see a movie than beautiful cinematography and a sweaty Chris Hemsworth.

After I revved myself up for an epic take on the fairy tale classic, I came into the theater very optimistic that the movie would deliver. I believed this action-packed movie would share a different perspective of the story, one that is darker and more sinister. I thought the characters would excite me in a different way than they had when I read the story as a child. I wanted to know more about the Huntsman and his journey with this new kick-ass version of Snow White.  Instead, I got a very different movie from the one I visualized. Kudos to whoever edited the preview because they managed to turn a boring, slow-paced, and flat film into an awe-worthy 3 minutes.

In “Snow White and the Huntsman,” Snow White (Kristen Stewart) escapes from stepmother and soul-eater (Charlize Theron).  The evil queen realizes Snow White is upstaging her and she will soon become a mere lowly runner up in the Fairy Tale Beauty Pageant. The Evil Queen ain’t having it. The Evil Queen hires a drunk, hapless Huntsman to kill the fair princess. This is where the story is supposed to engross the viewer. Instead, the film lags, spending way too much time showing the viewer how weird the Dark and Enchanted Forest appear (look at all the pretty, artistic things in the scenery!)  and not enough time engaging the viewer with its characters. By the time you meet the seven dwarves, you might be snoozing. The lack of character development left me not caring about the fate of the characters. I started rooting for the Evil Queen (does that say something about me or the movie?).

Although some of the acting is stellar (Theron and Helmworth do a great job), every other character seems like an afterthought. Snow White, who is supposed to be the main focus, is upstaged by the Evil Queen and the Huntsman. Stewart’s version of Snow White is no different than her version of a lovesick Bella in “Twilight”. That’s why when Snow White decides she needs to kick some evil queen ass, her transition to fearless Joan of Arc-esque warrior is more than a stretch—it is unbelievable.

Now, there are some redeeming qualities about the film. Like I mentioned before, the cinematography is amazing. You really feel like you are looking at an art book, not a movie. The stunning dark scenery, noteworthy acting, and deviance from the traditional story make the film a worthwhile rental (well, maybe more like a good Netflix instant movie option). However, for the average movie watcher and lover of all things fairytale, “Snow White and the Huntsman” lacks plot and character development, falling short of happily ever after.


On Reading Dave Eggers’s ‘What is the What?’
April 26, 2008, 2:46 pm
Filed under: Article

After reading and exstensively writing about AHWOSG , it was hard to imagine seperating Eggers the Author from any of his writing. However, in What is What? I find myself not only forgetting who is writing Valentino Deng’s autobiography, but also, completely engrossed in a world completely outside of my own. The life of the Sudanese is one I have regretfully never contemplated as I have always indulged in the literartire, in the realms that are most familiar to me. I have read about the Holocaust, about poverty in Latin America, and about America’s social and political strifes, but never have I been exposed to African Literaturature that has exposed a genicide so remote, so isolated, so ignored by Western civilization.

What makes this book so poignantly significant is its attention to America’s apathy, its utter dismissal of all things alien. In America’s cold, insincere aide to the Sudenese Lost Boys, the reader is able to glance at the true crime of Western civilization: its inability to observe its similiarities to Sudan. By experiencing the jungle, the desperation of exile, the magnimity of true hgunger, Deng is more apt with his senses, more observational than most narrators. His voice illuminates the similirities between the disparities and injustices in Africa and those in the U.S. Very poetically, Deng juxtaposes his own loss of innocence as a ‘rebel’ leaving Suidan, to that of the criminal and cruel world of juvenial dilenquency in the US. The manner which Deng struggles to find happiness in America only highlights that the real “lost boys” are that of America not Sudan. Through the eyes of Deng, the reader can view the invisible division that the US has made between First world and Third World, between Civilization and Savagery, as mere social constructs, faling to convey or even acknowledge their similirities. It seems that the “What” haunts the novel as a reminder of the corruption and decay of humankind in America, where the jungle is man-made.

As I read Book 2 of What is the What? , I want to be able to let go of these dichotomies that have been engrained in my psyche. While I read, the immensity of such human atrocities haunts my every thought and make it very hard not to feel emotional while reading.