Where's the book?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Back to Jane. I should have stayed there.

I came across #43, A Jane Austen Education in the five dollar rack at my local bookstore. A fun hybrid of memoir and literary analysis, it's definitely only for Austen lovers. And memoir lovers. And since I count myself in both camps, it's perfect for moi. Deresiewicz is a former associate professor of English at Yale, a book critic, and the author of Jane Austen and the Romantic Poets, so he knows his Austen. The book is exactly what the subtitle says: How Six Novels Taught Me about Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter. Each chapter is one novel and one lesson learned: Emma: Everyday Matters, Pride and Prejudice: Growing Up, Northanger Abbey: Learning to Learn, etc. It's charming and interesting, and filled with all sorts of new ways to look at Austen's novels.

Deresiewicz starts his story detesting Austen. He even quotes Mark Twain, a famous Jane-hater, who wrote, "It seems a great pity to me that they allowed her to die a natural death. Every time I read Pride and Prejudice I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shinbone." Makes you wonder why he read P&P more than one time!

He ends, of course, by loving her, and more than just loving her, he learns from Austen's novels how to be an adult, how to learn, and how to love. A thoroughly enjoyable read for the author's story and what he has to say about Austen's stories, it gave me a whole new perspective on those wonderful books. Maybe time to read another? But in the meantime...

...I read this piece of drek (#44). The first in yet another supernatural trilogy (what hath Rowling wrought?!?), this one features not just vampires, and not just vampires and witches, but vampires and witches and daemons (what's up with that annoying spelling?). It's not only overdone, and overlong (and I read all of it, don't ask me why), but it's -- worst of all -- boring. Since I didn't care, I didn't pay much attention, and it's ridiculously complicated, and I got confused, and I didn't care enough to go back and figure it all out, so I just kept plunging along, endlessly trapped in the dark. I have to learn how to put a book down in the middle and not pick it up again.

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