Friday, March 27, 2009

Here I go, cheerio, on my way...

Wednesday night, I saw a production of Alan Bennett's The History Boys at ArtsWest. It's one of my favourite plays, but I've only every read it and seen the movie, so it was incredibly exciting to actually see a stage production of it. It was quite excellent, though I'm having a hard time separating the fabulousness of the script from the actual production. I didn't like some of the casting (Posner, mostly, and Irwin a little bit), and some I thought was great (Mrs. Lintott, the Headmaster, Scripps, Timms). I will say that it's a play that is very settled in a particular production of it (the movie version and the production with the same cast), and ArtsWest did a good job of making it their own.

I love what this play says about history, literature, and life. When Hector says he's trying to teach the boys not to speak, in their middle age, about their love of Words, said in that stuffy reverential tone, and that's what the Gracie Fields was for, I always think that Alan Bennett knows that the people who really do love words aren't reverential about them--they jump up and down and flail about, and they love them whether they're in Hardy or in Brief Encounter. Alan Bennett is a very sharp fellow, I think. I keep meaning to read more of his writing, but there are so many things I keep meaning to read.

And, if I kept getting distracted staring at the lighting during the show, it's because I'm a theatre geek, and not because the show was not absorbing.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Jane Austen, Russia, and everything else

I've been rather absent lately, but school has definitely taken precedence. I've spent the last week lurking in the lighting booth (which is really just a booth, it was never finished properly) at school cleaning heavy, incredibly dusty stage lights, which is very very fun but also time consuming. I admit I have not done a lot of reading. I'm still plodding through Claire Tomalin's biography of Jane Austen, which is very good but not, I admit, that gripping. At least, in the way that nonfiction rarely grips me. So that's slow going, and I'm determined to finish it before I read anything else.

I gave up on The Beginning of Spring. I've discovered that books about Russia just don't work for me. Penelope Fitzgerald is great, I just can't get myself to enjoy the setting. I think it's possible that this is not exclusive to Russia, but rather any terribly cold climate. The cold just gives the book a mood that I can't really enjoy, though sometimes I appreciate it. There are still some Russian classics I'd like to read, but that may have to wait until I take a class, or something.

Even if the Miss Austen biography is slow going, I have been thinking about Jane Austen in general, and the research paper I'm working on about sibling vs. romantic love in her novels. It's a question that's rather invaded the rest of my life, too, actually. What do you think? In literature, or in life, what is the real difference between romantic love and love between siblings/very close friends?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Three in one

I spent nearly all of yesterday reading, which was very pleasant, and finished three books, which I'm very pleased with. It's been a long time since I spent an entire day curled up in my chair doing nothing much but reading, and I've definitely missed it. It was an especially good day for it, too, as it was grey and rainy most of the day and then come evening there was a brief thunderstorm and enough hail that it looks like it snowed. Silly weather.

I finished that new Tamora Pierce book, Melting Stones, which I enjoyed but wasn't terribly impressed with. It was first-person, which I like much less in general, and I think her third-person novels are better. Still, it's Tamora Pierce, whom I love, so it really doesn't matter how good the book was because it was comforting to read it. It was exactly the sort of book I needed. Although apparently it didn't entirely satisfy the need for such a book, as now I'm rereading The Will of the Empress.

I also finished two books I'd been reading through DailyLit, which I just kind of decided I was going to finish all in one go. This Side of Paradise, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and The Mysterious Affair at Styles, by Agatha Christie. I enjoyed This Side of Paradise a lot, though I see why it's less-read than The Great Gatsby--it struck me as being a bit of an experiment, like he thought, "Well, I'll write this whole chapter like it's a play, let's see how that goes," whereas The Great Gatsby is more tightly reined in and concrete. The actual writing, however, is as fabulous as ever.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles is the first Agatha Christie I've read, and if I remember correctly the first one she wrote, and I liked it very much. I liked how the narrator was as fallible and disposed to assumptions as any of the characters (except, of course, Poirot), and he felt more like just another character than most narrators do, since he was very definitely not the main character. The writing was always very clear and free of any muddling, which is a quality that always reminds me of a lot of French literature. It kind of has to be clear, since the story of the murder is so complicated, and so little is known at one time or so much changes, that otherwise you'd get completely confused.

I'd like to read a biography of Agatha Christie, mostly because I want to know what her writing process was. The plot is so intricate that of course it must have been planned out in advance, but I can't imagine being able to write a novel that I've already plotted in such detail. Anyway, this just increases my idea that I should read more mysteries.

Friday, March 6, 2009

A bit of an update.

I haven't posted in quite some time, I see, although that doesn't mean I've not been reading. Mostly, life is getting in the way of keeping up with all the internet things I follow. School and friends are the main culprits, though I must say I rather like both of them.

One thing that's been keeping me busy is the writing of my senior research paper. I have to write a paper for my Jane Austen class anyway, which has to be 5-7 pages, so it's not that much more work just to make it 12-15 pages instead and call it my senior research paper. It's on sibling relationships in Jane Austen's novels, but also on the various romantic relationships that spring from sibling-like relationships, and how I think the sibling-like aspects of these relationships were more important to Jane Austen than the romance. I'm really enjoying writing it.

In the course of my research for the paper, I've been reading Claire Tomalin's biography of Jane Austen, which I like a good deal. I love reading biographies, but don't do it very often, and this is a very good one. Clear and well put together, and also well able to keep my interest.

Other books on the table--my second Penelope Fitzgerald, The Beginning of Spring, and the newest Tamora Pierce book, Melting Stones. I've loved Tamora Pierce for years; it's young adult fiction which has not the best writing, but which always manages to involve fascinating characters, concepts, and plots. This is exactly what I needed in terms of a comforting fantasy novel that is also new.


Related Posts with Thumbnails