An Almost Made Up Poem


Paranoia, Panem, and Peeta: How Katniss Won Me Over
August 3, 2012, 2:24 am
Filed under: Book Review

As someone who considers herself an avid reader, I didn’t think I would enjoy Hunger Games as much as the tweens who squealed about its awesomeness. Never having been too fond of Twilight, I ruled out Hunger Games as that type of pop culture junk that becomes notoriously bad lit. I also knew that the premise of Hunger Games was not a new idea. In fact, I loved Battle Royal, a Japanese film about kids who battle until the death, so I didn’t think a young adult version of that same violent premise would catch my attention. However, I noticed that Hunger Games was becoming a must-read even in schools, and I wanted to know what was so different about this book that attracted so many different readers.  After finishing Hunger Games in just a few days, I realized what got me hooked to the series: Katniss Everdeen is a great female character.

In Panem, people within the capitol are endowed with certain privileges while the rest of the districts have to fight it out every year at the televised Hunger Games. One boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 represent their district at the games. They must fight until there is only one survivor, a victor, who wins a year’s supply of food for their district. Katniss volunteers to go to the Hunger Games instead of her little sister, Primrose. Small acts of rebellion that Katniss instigates in the
Game arena become the driving force of a full-scale revolution.

Hunger Games displays the importance of individual participation in government. Throughout the series, it is seventeen-year-old Katniss who refuses to play by the rules of Panem’s corrupt government, so she fuels political and social change. Katniss constantly fights to survive and to keep a sense of self. When Rue, her young ally, dies, Katniss puts flowers on her dead body before the government is able to take Rue’s body. Katniss memorializes Rue as a person, not as an object in Panem’s games. By doing this, Katniss draws attention to herself. By wearing a fire dress, shooting an arrow at the elite capitol officials, and refusing to kill Peeta, Katniss ultimately succeeds as becoming a symbol of rebellion, the Mockingjay.

Katniss thinks like no teenage girl I have ever met because she fights passionately for a real cause. She doesn’t care about Team Peeta or Team Gale, she just wants to see President Snow dead. Because Katniss is the narrator, the reader gets to experience her confusion about her love life. But the love triangle never detracts from everything else happening. Somehow, Katniss has bigger things on her mind than what boy to kiss. She rather kick some ass than sit around doting on boys. Katniss remains a strong female character all throughout the series and I really love her for that. I think there needs to be more female characters like Katniss, who are able to engage young women for all the right reasons. I might even go so far as to say that Katniss inspires me to express my inner Mockingjay. Here I am squealing about the awesomeness of the Hunger Games series like some sort of tween. I guess don’t judge a book by its audience.

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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…

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Also…Here’s a link to an interesting New Yorker  about the importance of translation in the opening line of Camus’ “The Stranger” http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2012/05/camus-translation.html.



“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: http://mylostwords.blogspot.com/2009/01/haruki-murakami-sleep.html. Check it out if you want to question reality or simply if you want to read one hell of a good short story.

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I’m a poet who can whine…
June 1, 2012, 4:23 am
Filed under: Book Review, Mini Review, Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

“I’m a poet who can whine in meter,” is a great quote from writer Sherman Alexie. However in “Flight” Sherman Alexie’s whining seems more like a loud cry. Alexie is known for his essays, short stories, and novels centered around Native Americans and their cultural struggles. “Flight” centers around a 15-year-old Indian misfit, Zits, who bounces from foster home to foster home, displaced in society, just like his Native American ancestors. Zits finds a way to time travel into the body of various individuals, and in the process, he finds his own identity. “Flight” is worth the read, even though at times it seems a little contrived and sweet. Alexie writes beautiful prose and really knows how to bring a sense of humor to extremely dark situations. Check out “Flight” if you like Alexie’s essay “Superman and Me” and want to the same themes play out  in his coming-of-age novel.



American Vampire Makes Readers Remember When Vamps Were Scary
May 22, 2012, 5:26 am
Filed under: Book Review, Uncategorized | Tags:

Skinner Sweet does not sparkle and definitely does not want to play nice. In the comic series “American Vampire”, creator and writer Scott Snyder collaborates with Stephen King to develop the first 5 issues of this chilling vampire story– about the devilish first American Vampire, Skinner Sweet. Sweet is unlike any modern vampire protagonist. He is not misunderstood, heartbroken, or even remotely nice in his human life. Sweet was always a monster, a renegade, and most of all a depraved son a of a bitch. He was a murderer, a pretty seasoned bad guy with a gun and taste for senseless killing.

The first 5 issues center around two stories. The first is Skinner’s origin story which is set in the Wild West era. Skinner is a gun-touting outlaw that pisses off the wrong people and ends up being turned into a vampire, the first American vamp. This curse turns this awfully cruel human into an almost invincible badass. Sweet’s type of vampire is different, evolved, and ready to take revenge on all the people who made him transform. Somehow, I found myself liking Sweet, with his pompous attitude and ruthless behavior. He was, after all, exactly what a vampire is meant to be: utterly frightening. The second story is that of a 1920’s starlet, Pearl Jones, who is trying to make it in Hollywood. Her dreams are shattered when she experiences the ugly side of show biz, full of blood-sucking vampires, and I don’t mean talent agents. Pearl and Sweet share a common enemy and unique powers. Skinner Sweet seems to be immediately drawn to her and her spunk. Their bond seems to be one that will be revisited and might serve as a  means to deeper insight into Sweet’s psyche.

After watching “Twilight” (don’t judge me there was nothing on and I was sick and those vampires and werewolves look dreamy after lots of Vicodin) and “True Blood” ( and yes, I know they are books too, but no, I did not read them), I realized the modern vampire has become a satire piece or subject matter for Tween porn. After reading “American Vampire”, I am reminded of what a vampire was initially…the gore, the darkness, and the evil– these elements were made to be frightening not sexy. Much how “Interview with a Vampire” reveals how humanity can still live in such a terrifying creature, “American Vampire” shows the audience another perspective to this classic story of the vampire. Perhaps we are the real monsters, monstrosities only restricted by our moral constructs. More specifically, “American Vampire” challenges the reader to see the ugly in Americans and relish in the awful of it all. Rather than turning away from the bad and the ugly, or encouraging the reader to better themselves before they turn into metaphorical vampires, “American Vampire” let’s the reader feel completely comfortable with loving the hedonistic, bloodsucker Skinner Sweet. After all, he’s as American as you and me.

 

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The Tenants of Moonbloom by Edward Lewis Wallant
July 12, 2008, 1:24 pm
Filed under: Book Review

This novel is absolutely awesome. The Tenants of Moonbloom is set in New York City right after WWII when Mott Street was not the realestate hot spot it is now, and when the city was still a dirty, grungy mess of poverty, literature, and alienation. Norman Moonbloom is an intellectual going through an existential crisis as he ventures away from school after 8 years of bouncing from major to major. He now finds himself having to work for his brother Irwin, who is the landlord of 4 less-than-desirable apartments. Moonbloom figures out a meaning for himself as he encounters all of his quirky, depressed, and sometimes outright odd tenants. Moonbloom battles with his conflicted about his tenants who always in need for him to fix and arrange their deteriorating apartments. Through rebuilding the sad habitats of the other, his tenants, Norman is able to find contentment and even happiness.

Yes, the book is a little heavy, but it has a lot of funny, poignant moments that showcase both the corruption and deprivation of city life, and its tenants constant struggle to survive as a community, rather than a get lost in the anonymity of the city. This book is a great example of a work that not only pulls on your heartstrings but also demonstrates the ability for community to be a positive element in the event of such alienation. In this novel, identity is debilitating whereas the ability to be towards… the ability to interact and face the world around you, can save you from the depths of depression and stagnation. The Tenants of Moonbloom provokes you to acknowledge the dirty, impoverished areas of your life. These are the areas that everyone sees reflected in others and usually never accessed and accepted as one’s own inequities.  This novel begs for the reader to apply some critical theory and provokes some serious soul searching.



Scatterbrained: What is the What,The Savage Detectives, and the Brief Exploration of Bad Adaptations
May 14, 2008, 3:18 pm
Filed under: Book Review

I am extremely glad that I read What is the What?although it left me utterly emotionally destroyed. It is the kind of novel that drives a reader to actually do something… take action… move in some way to make a difference. I have yet to figure out what to do, but I definitely will. I have to do something; there is no way I can’t after reading this novel.

I jumped right into reading The Savage Detectivesby Roberto Bolano which is a novel that promotes life through literature. Yes, it is a very Mathew Arnoldesque, but it is done in Latin America through the eyes of a sexually experimental teen.  The movement mentioned in the book is a fictional and undefinable movement of lit which is the characters dubbed visceral realism. All the characters are involved in at least one aspect of this fake movement that produces some real pretension in a lot of cases. Although this book focuses on a sort of rebellion against society in order to live through literature, the characters cannot help but sounds like a bourgeois bored suburbanites looking for something to belong to. Who really claims a movement while still in it? I don’t know exactly what it was about the novel but I couldn’t stop reading eventhough there were obvious aspects of the novel I didn’t care for. The main character for one is an unlikable, self-indulgent poet who uses women for sex, money, and poetic status (whatever that means). Mind you this is just a description of the first part of the book because the second part is just a clusterfuck of characters much like a Russian novel, and I couldn’t deal. The sudden switch from a one-person narrative to a multi-character orgy of narration was too much for me. The book has some redeeming qualities: its subtle wit and enuendo, beautifully phrased descriptions, poetic rhetoric. It proved to be both romantic and pretentious. What do I do with that?

So… then I saw “Love in Time of Cholera” and laughed as people ran around with spanish accents speaking English in bad geratric makeup pontificating about love. I might have loved if I was on my period and needed a sap story that really didn’t develop the main characters to my liking but prodices lots of romantic much laced with a Shakira song…. yes, Shakira. Not to mention they decided to hire the everso annoying John Leguizamo. I really wanted to love this movie cause Javier Bardem was in it and he’s the cat’s meow, but really… what am I supposed to do with John Leguizamo?!