Becoming Jane

No, I have not seen the movie, but oddly I am now anticipating it. At first when I saw the trailer I was disappointed. First, a movie about Jane Austen because of the little minute details we know about her life and second, because an American is playing the lead role, Anne Hathaway. Nothing against Hathaway, but she is young and American. I’m still skeptical on that point, but after reading the book “Becoming Jane Austen” (and not the collected catchphrases of Jane Austen book, but the biography) I became interested. Spence’s picture and surmises about the life of Jane Austen are not farfectched nor are they out of respect to the time period she was living. Jane Austen did not fit the typical model of Regency woman, but she was not a flaming feminist either. She was still a fairly normal woman with normal desires and normal circumstances. And Spence does not draw wild speculation about what Tom Lefroy and Jane Austen’s relationship could have been. He just leaves with the little flirtations that we do know today. Nothing more and perhaps nothing less as he brings great insight into her popular books. So I look forward to this weekend when Becoming Jane comes to theaters in America. I pray that I will not be disappointed.

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I’m finished. Finished as of last night around 10 pm. I actually finished outside a movie theater in Hollywood and had several people stop and ask me, “Is that it?” No explanation is needed. The only book really being talked about this weekend is J.K. Rowling’s last book, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”. I am not going to tell any detailed spoilers, i.e. a list of anyone or everyone who died. That is not the intent of this blog. Rather, I want to comment on Rowling’s insanely popular series now that the last book is published. True, it is too early to see lasting effects this series will have on our culture, but as it has been several years since her first book came out I feel justified on commenting it anyways.
Obviously, since this book has sold billions of copies and it has one of the records (if not “the record”) for most pre-sold books, it will be remembered. Our culture will be defined, and perhaps already is being defined, by Harry Potter. Mostly because it was a children’s story that has sold this great number of copies. Her writing style improves as she writes each new book and by the time she reaches her last book she has mastered the art of writing for her audience’s reaction, like any pop-fiction writer would. Her imagination can be inspiring and has inspired several other magical books to become popular and for movies to be made out of those books. Still she has set the trend for catchy magical books. I don’t think that these books inspire children to read more, but I hope that it at least opens their imagination. Children need to read wildly imaginative stories as it is the time in their lives where they can be most imaginative and will allow that part of their mind to develop well. J.K. Rowling’s stories can do that. They have ability to inspire. They may not inspire children to read (even at a local bookstore event the night the book came out more than half the crowd had not even read any of the previous books!), but perhaps they can inspire them to dream and through that dreaming become part of some larger than just themselves.

Tidbits from the Week

Moving and acquiring jobs is an all-consuming task, but here a couple items:

1. Posted again over BookFox about most recent read: Gift From the Sea by Lindburgh

2. Dissapointed in reading “Foolsgold” by Susan Wooldridge. I think she loses her readers in focusing too much on the “calling of the muse”. I don’t point out books by name in Bookfox’s blog, but this is one of the books I have found to be irritating. There are a couple worthwhile parts, but nothing to really keep this book alive. “Poemcrazy” is good. “Foolsgold” is passable.

3. Dissapointed in reading “Running with Scissors”. Actually haven’t finished it yet. I will try my best too. But why is our society liking stories more and more about insecure pitiful little boys? I don’t care whether their hetero-sexual or homosexual, but their characters are just painfully pathetic. Burroughs lacks any real writing, but camps on catchphrases and pop-fiction. Memoirs have become the way for many to write these days and people eat them up because “they’re true life experiences” but so many lack any real meaning. Their just marshmellows – sweet fluff that is pleasing for a moment but is quickly gone.

4. I did like Foer’s “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”, just for comparison to Burrough’s book. Difference in quality can be quickly seen by any intelligent person I believe.

Lately I have been in a flurry with moving, changing jobs/careers, taking a computer programming class and an assortment of other things. With these distractions my writing has slipped from view. Realizing this last night I decided to re-visit a blog I found a couple months (where I was writing regularly and thus didn’t pay much attention to it), Poetry Thursday. Even though the writers are on break, I have decided to commit to writing the first random prompt I get when I visit the page on Thursday. Hopefully this will encourage me to write regularly again and that this will not be the only poem I write once a week.

And looking through old posts, one quick word about The Painted Veil. Dark. Much darker than movie. I came to appreciate the movie even more, which I did love the cinematography and acting (Naomi Watts did a great job). More than that, which is something I didn’t think I’d ever say, I love the screenplay more than I love the actual book. The book does have its highlights, but the twist and added darkness just frightened me. Yes, I do see shallow people everyday, but it still shocks me to find that people can be that shallow and never truly learn anything from their circumstances. Or even worse, pick up the wrong principles all together.

Having recently moved, my money has been limited so I’ve been visiting the library more often to read books I cannot buy. Recently I finally was able to receive After Dark by Murakami and thoroughly enjoyed it. Much shorter than his other books I was able to read all of it in one afternoon. That alone made me love it, for at times it is pleasing to be able to read an entire book in one afternoon and know that it wasn’t Stephen King or Nora Roberts. Overall, this book is different from Murakami’s other books, such as Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Rather than setting up a completely alternate world, Murakami just focuses on one night and on just a few characters. He doesn’t take their lives much further than what a night can hold for any of them. If the book was longer, I am certain that we would have become even closer to the characters, but since all the events were to take place in one night Murakami limits our involvement with the characters to one night. It would be just like if we were to meet someone in the middle of night and hung out with all night long. We wouldn’t get to know every personal detail or theory that shapes their mind, but there would still be bits and pieces that we would become familiar with. This book is very similar to the movie “Before Sunset”. It is a conversation between a few people that lasts an entire night. While is not in real time, it is set up to give the reader the idea that it is taking place in real time beginning each chapter with a clock and time. A wonderful little piece, almost like a bedtime story, that continues to dwell in my mind long after I finished it. Murakami’s themes that he usually touches on in other books such as reality vs. reality individual sees exists in this book, but really it is a bedtime story for adults. It tells a moving story that moves us to think about our own lives in relation to reality and how we live it. I can’t wait until I am able to spend more money, or my birthday which ever comes first to be able to buy this book.