Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Kendo_Bunny » Mon Feb 23, 2009 1:49 am UTC

rat4000 wrote:@Kendo: How does one read poetry properly, and how does one read it improperly? This is not a rhetoric question or sarcasm or anything, I'd just never heard these words used in relation to reading before.


Improper reading:

Once-up-on-amid-night dreary
While-I-pon-dered-weak-andweary.

The See-Saw-Margery-Daw inflection, saying all the rhyming syllables with a bang, making the words run together so the actual impression of the words is completely lost....

It's hard to do over the internet, but I've had teachers read poems like that, and it always made my teeth ache. I expect some of that from children reciting, but not English teachers. Speaking that way, you can even make Ginsberg's 'Howl' sound like a jump-rope rhyme.

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby JayDee » Mon Feb 23, 2009 2:16 am UTC

Thank sweet merciful Zeus, I don't think I had to put up with anyone reciting poetry in School. People reading prose aloud was more than torture enough.

Random Advice from the Internet wrote:Recite phrases naturally.

There’s nothing worse when. Hearing someone recite. A poem. Than to hear them pause slightly for each line or stanza break in a poem. When reciting a poem, ignore line breaks and even most punctuation. Just try to recite each sentence or phrase as naturally as possible, as if you were speaking to someone one-on-one.
As well as that, don't force emphasis on a word that doesn't take it naturally. If the poet is any good, diversion from the metre is deliberate.

I'm not sure that Poe is the best poet to use as an example, though, I find his poems very musical and kind of sing-song.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Kendo_Bunny » Mon Feb 23, 2009 3:46 am UTC

They are very musical, but reading them sing-song gets old really, really fast. It was the first example I thought of, because I had a teacher read the whole poem just like that. It was horrible... though it was even worse because she read all poetry like that.

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby JayDee » Mon Feb 23, 2009 4:03 am UTC

Yeah. I went and read it through after making that post. The first couple of stanzas are like that, but if you keep doing it all the way through it would be horrific.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Chuff » Mon Feb 23, 2009 4:52 am UTC

The Chrysalids. Absolutely dreadful book.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby SecondTalon » Tue Feb 24, 2009 6:02 am UTC

Re: Poetry.

Read it as

"Don't ask what you can do for me. Ask what I can do for you. Or to you."

Even if it's written as

Code: Select all

Don't ask what you

                     can do for me.

       Ask what I
                     can do
                                for you.

                               Or to you.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Jorpho » Tue Feb 24, 2009 3:52 pm UTC

Chuff wrote:The Chrysalids. Absolutely dreadful book.
I don't think I've read anything by Wyndham that really stands out, which makes me wonder why he's so enduring. (Maybe "The Day of the Triffids" is worth a shot?)

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Syns » Tue Mar 03, 2009 1:05 am UTC

Old Man and the Sea.
It's one of very few books that I just can't stand.

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Adacore » Wed Mar 04, 2009 5:19 pm UTC

Chuff wrote:The Chrysalids. Absolutely dreadful book.


I loved that book in my teens, but then I never had to read it for school.

I agree with those who've said the reason you dislike school books is as much because you overanalyse them as anything else. Having said that, I actually quite liked most of the prose we got to read in school - I have no problem with Romeo and Juliet or Macbeth; I really liked To Kill A Mockingbird, Of Mice And Men and Lord Of The Flies (it helped that our school drama club did a production of Lord Of The Flies to coincide with the book being set).

The poetry was far worse - The Lady Of Shalott was bad, but Morte D'Arthur was HORRIBLE. Long, pretty nonsensical and utterly, utterly dull. Goblin Market was pretty cool though (gotta love a lesbian poem when I was at an all boys school).

EDIT: Ooh, and Hardy short stories were always gruesomely fun, even if they are soul destroyingly depressing.

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby ella mental » Wed Mar 04, 2009 7:23 pm UTC

Circle of friends by Maeve Binchy. Girl from revoltingly twee rural Irish village comes to the big city and pretty much goes "that be no horseless carriage, tis a metal beast!" every time a car goes boy. Ick, ick, ick.

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby benbw » Fri Mar 06, 2009 3:14 am UTC

I remember Across Five Aprils from fifth grade, but the only part I really remember is some guy getting shot.

I never even finished Return of the Native, I hated it so much. But who knows, if I had actually read and discussed it I might have liked it, like almost everything I've read this year (Death of a Salesman, Sula, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, The House of Bernarda Alba, Flannery O'Connor) which were impossible to read, but seemed amazing afterwards.

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Elvish Pillager » Sat Mar 07, 2009 8:03 pm UTC

I guess nobody else's English curriculum was stupid enough to teach The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd? :P

I personally enjoyed both Ethan Frome and Their Eyes Were Watching God, although I can certainly see how having to read them for school could ruin them. I've also read The House of Mirth (by Edith Wharton, the author of Ethan Frome): as much work as her books are to read, I have to admire Wharton's ability to create a long slow descent into despair...
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby SpaceBeans » Sat Mar 07, 2009 10:35 pm UTC

Just got done with Macbeth. Terrible.

Catcher in the Rye was a God awful book.

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Chuff » Sun Mar 08, 2009 7:57 am UTC

SpaceBeans wrote:Just got done with Macbeth. Terrible.

Catcher in the Rye was a God awful book.

You didn't like the Scottish Play? :O
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Lawrensaurus » Sun Mar 08, 2009 7:37 pm UTC

Ceremony.
It's supposed to be the greatest Native American novel ever, but if it wanted that title it'd have to be the only Native American book ever. If you can help it, never even touch this book.

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby quartrmster007 » Mon Mar 09, 2009 2:29 am UTC

Great Expectations.

Words cannot express how boring I found that book.

However, I never finished it all because we moved before I was done with it. :D
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby vers » Wed Mar 25, 2009 6:10 am UTC

Am i the only one who noticed the complete lack of movement in The Scarlet Letter? I couldn't stand it.
In fact, i usually didn't read the things i was assigned. I thought i'd give it a go when assigned tSL as summer reading. Never again.
The next year i was assigned Frankenstein. Fortunately, i didn't read it, because the teacher acknowledged what a pos it is.

Fortunately i was always reading something i actually found good. I actually loved Catcher in the Rye, Macbeth, and Hamlet. Hamlet especially.

I find the books im assigned in my college lit course are much better. what a relief.

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby godonlyknows620 » Wed Mar 25, 2009 11:58 pm UTC

Some of the worst books I have read were in middle school, you know, the mass-marketed-for-young-adults kind.

I could not STAND

-Out of the Dust [Day 1: ...Dust. Day 2:...More Dust.]
It was a cheap dilution of Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath, IMO, which was infinitely better.

-Getting Near to Baby. Has anyone ever read this? Just hearing the name sends twitches down my spine. I DESPISE THIS BOOK.

-In High School: The Scarlet Letter. One part of me feels like this had to do with the dicatorlike teacher (her view was the only view)
..... but another part of me is saying, "What the hell Hawthorne! You allude to the fact that Dimmesdale and Hester have slept with each other. You allude to the scene where Chillingworth is attacked by wild natives. Didn't anyone ever tell you that you include the interesting shit IN the book??? Goodness.
</rant>

- The Metamorphosis. This probably has more to do with the way it was taught than anything else. One of my friends read it before it was assigned to us and absolutely adores the book. I plan to try this one again some day.

I agree with others that over analyzing really ruins some great literature....
...though I do not understand the Gatsby hate. Your teachers must have been god-awful to make you hate that book. Really, it should just be read as it is. What I like best is that Fitzgerald doesn't stuff it with bombastic word choice or horrendously long sentence structure...every phrase actually contributes something to the text.

Just to provide the point of view of a Gatsby lover.

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby thatguy » Fri Mar 27, 2009 1:13 am UTC

The unit we had to do on freeverse.

First off, this shit should be prose. Don't just ignore periods and call yourself a poet.

Secondly, stop telling me how to interpret it.

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Jorpho » Fri Mar 27, 2009 5:42 pm UTC

thatguy wrote:First off, this shit should be prose. Don't just ignore periods and insert arbitrary line breaks and call yourself a poet.
Fixed.

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Kendo_Bunny » Sat Mar 28, 2009 2:01 am UTC

Why I don't like Gatsby: I have never found a tell-all book about how empty the lives of stuffy rich people are interesting. To me, the book seemed nasty, gossipy, and shallow... which it kind of was, considering that it's an extended potshot at Fitzgerald's ex-girlfriend. I think he wasted his amazing talent for description writing the gossipy books he did.

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stan

Postby lesliesage » Sat Mar 28, 2009 3:30 pm UTC

deleted
Last edited by lesliesage on Sat Oct 09, 2010 10:43 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby echoingsilence » Sun Apr 12, 2009 12:49 pm UTC

-In High School: The Scarlet Letter. One part of me feels like this had to do with the dicatorlike teacher (her view was the only view)
..... but another part of me is saying, "What the hell Hawthorne! You allude to the fact that Dimmesdale and Hester have slept with each other. You allude to the scene where Chillingworth is attacked by wild natives. Didn't anyone ever tell you that you include the interesting shit IN the book??? Goodness.
</rant>


Yeah, I have to agree. Actually, The Scarlet Letter wasn't actually in our curriculum, I read it for extra credit. Honestly, I don't see what's so wonderful about Hester, I found her rather annoying. And Pearl made me want to scream. What three year old talks like that?

As for the 'Gatsby-hate'... Well, it wasn't my faveorite book either, but it was by far better than The Scarlett Letter.

I hated Of Mice and Men though. I don't exactly know why - the plot was fine, and I love East of Eden, so it wasn't Steinbeck. There was just something about it that really annoyed me.

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Poochy » Mon Apr 13, 2009 3:31 am UTC

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel "King of Run-On Sentence Land" Hawthorne sticks out in my mind. Not only did the style make it impossible for the book to keep my attention for a whole sentence ("a whole sentence" here being about as long as a typical book's paragraph), but I had a teacher who insisted we analyze all the symbolism in every little detail of the book and quizzed us on it.

I also had to read a couple books by Charles Dickens (Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities) where the story itself wasn't half bad, but Dickens' style is way too frakkin' long-winded. Long story short, I found myself slowly trudging through what could've been an interesting story. Short story long? Anything by Charles Dickens.

For that matter, I disliked a lot of my reading for a year of high school, not necessarily for the book itself, but because of my teacher, who insisted on forcing us to read on an exact timetable while analyzing symbolism in the most banal details of the book, including symbols that we were pretty sure the author never intended. I think his analysis of Slaughterhouse Five made Kurt Vonnegut roll in his grave, which is a pretty impressive feat considering the fact that Vonnegut was still alive at the time.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Intrepid » Mon Apr 13, 2009 2:39 pm UTC

Night by Elie Weisel, The Old Man and the Sea both were insufferable. They were both short, but felt like they were 700 pages long.
(^@^)

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Angelbaka » Mon Apr 13, 2009 11:36 pm UTC

I found Old Man and the Sea to be physically impossible to finish. At the start of the book, I couldn't read more then five pages without falling asleep. By the middle, I was down to half a page. I ended up spark noting it and got an A on all the tests because he drew everything out so much. I swear you could rewrite that book in about five lines.

I also couldn't stand Lord of the Flies. I agree wholeheartedly to every single person who thinks that author was full of shit. His characters seemed (to me) to have two primary aspects each and absolutely nothing else- Piggy was intelligent and [submissive? it's been a while, and I may or may not have tried hard to forget...], nothing else. Worse, all his absolutes were comparative- I've never met a 'smart person' quite as stupid as Piggy. Geh. All his characters just pissed me off, I couldn't stand that book.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Tue Apr 14, 2009 12:02 am UTC

Angelbaka wrote:I found Old Man and the Sea to be physically impossible to finish. At the start of the book, I couldn't read more then five pages without falling asleep. By the middle, I was down to half a page. I ended up spark noting it and got an A on all the tests because he drew everything out so much. I swear you could rewrite that book in about five lines.

This is weird, because when I read it in seventh grade, I couldn't believe that I was so interested in a short book about a fisherman.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Kag » Tue Apr 14, 2009 12:09 am UTC

Angelbaka wrote:I found Old Man and the Sea to be physically impossible to finish. At the start of the book, I couldn't read more then five pages without falling asleep. By the middle, I was down to half a page.
This happened to me with Billy Budd. I actually didn't think the book was that bad, though.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Marbas » Tue Apr 14, 2009 6:28 am UTC

lesliesage wrote: I have no idea why that book got any recognition whatsoever.


The prose sounded pretty? Although I never about the potshots at his ex-wife thing until now. Then again, my English class focused more on The Great Gatsby as a commentary on The American DreamTM than anything else, and whether the text was criticizing the ideal or supporting it.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby NCY.Jay » Wed Apr 15, 2009 1:28 am UTC

Fudge wrote:I hated looking for symbols that weren't there or were a stretch at best, which I often had to do.


Oh symbols are easy, just write down every noun. :P

Haha... I hated... Oh yes. I was disappointed in Year 10 when we had to study Chinese Cinderella from Adeline Yen Mah. Mind you, it's a great book. But I'd read in it in Year 6, studied it in Yr 8 and I was hoping for something more in Year 10.

Hm. I actually like most of the stories we had to study... I wished we'd studied Jane Eyre or anything from Charles Dickens (I enjoyed reading Nicholas Nickleby), but the closest we got to classics was Shakespeare. Julius Caesar was awesome by the way.

Hm. Well I'm in New Zealand and so they decided to make us study a New Zealand author Katherine Mansfield... Some of her short stories are okay. But those that aren't short... Like Prelude... is an absolute bore. Another feminist story. Oh joy...

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby kleomenes » Wed Apr 15, 2009 1:58 am UTC

Has anyone been forced to read Speak (by Laurie Halse Anderson, if I recall)?
Basically, girl suffers horrible trauma, and spends the next 150 pages being depressed and sad and an outcast. Then she is attacked by and beats up the person who caused the trauma in the last few pages of the book, and everyone suddenly realizes that she was totally cool all along. Hooray. Our grade 9 class was the only one that had to read it, while everyone else read The Chrysalids. The best part about the book was that it was very (very, very) short.

I did, however, love The Grapes of Wrath, but that was perhaps because I read it on my own and am a quick reader so it didn't seem to drag on.

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby echoingsilence » Wed Apr 15, 2009 10:13 am UTC

Has anyone been forced to read Speak (by Laurie Halse Anderson, if I recall)?


You didn't like it? I thought it wasn't half bad, although the middle was a bit draggy.

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby rat4000 » Wed Apr 15, 2009 7:35 pm UTC

Angelbaka wrote:I also couldn't stand Lord of the Flies. I agree wholeheartedly to every single person who thinks that author was full of shit. His characters seemed (to me) to have two primary aspects each and absolutely nothing else- Piggy was intelligent and [submissive? it's been a while, and I may or may not have tried hard to forget...], nothing else. Worse, all his absolutes were comparative- I've never met a 'smart person' quite as stupid as Piggy. Geh. All his characters just pissed me off, I couldn't stand that book.
His characters are children, and the oldest one of them is twelve. How deep of a personality does a twelve-year-old have? Most of them are around eight or ten, too, from what I remember. Piggy's really, really smart for a kid (come on, trying to organise a democracy at ten? I would've just run away and sunbathed), Ralph's a wonderful organiser and a fair orator, with a nice sense of purpose (the fire) and the rest of the kids are just kids obeying primal instincts. I have read few books with more realistic characters (okay, maybe except that part where they hunted Ralph - they were a bit too organised). The only part of that book which might be considered stupid is simply superfluous: that thing with the pig's head.

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Bhelliom » Wed Apr 15, 2009 8:22 pm UTC

This Side of Paradise, by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

The materials used to print this "book" would achieve more being toilet paper.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby year in the sun » Wed Apr 15, 2009 8:40 pm UTC

just let me say first, i'm really enjoying reading back in this thread. for myself . . . i tried to avoid 'literature' classes and when i had to read something for school i more or less hated all of them. nothing wrong with the books (some of them). it's the process itself that bothered me. i don't like being told What The Author Is Telling Me, any more than i like being told to picture a storm in a meadow when someone plays me that beethoven thing. it either leaves me totally dead (as in, 'huh?'), or i feel molested by it.

mixing college and school together here, i hated pretty much all of them. special mention ones though:

- anna karenina, jane eyre, villette.
- le rouge et le noir, la princesse de cleves, le pere goriot. germinal i did like and i ended up reading huge tracts of zola for fun. about the only french writer i ever took to. madame bovary i didn't mind, but i didn't like it that much.
- surfacing. this isn't fair to atwood and she's now in my ten-most-admired list. but at the time . . . atwood for sixteen-year-olds just seems to me like a Bad Idea. especially *that* atwood book.
- that s.e. hinton thing. i can't even make myself type out the name.

on the plus side though i'm really glad i got the apprenticeship of duddy kravitz and the wars in high school. breaking smith's quarter horse too. fay weldon and jean rhys in college. i probably wouldn't even have known these writers existed if not for that.
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Jorpho » Wed Apr 15, 2009 10:48 pm UTC

year in the sun wrote:- that s.e. hinton thing. i can't even make myself type out the name
The Outsiders? Nothing particularly wrong with it, I found - but then I read it on my own.

the apprenticeship of duddy kravitz
Ahh, Richler. I had to write an essay on Barney's Version and was quite frustrated in attempting to come up with something profound to say about something so inherently enjoyable.

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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby year in the sun » Wed Apr 15, 2009 11:13 pm UTC

Jorpho wrote:The Outsiders?


*twitch* yeah, that one. i guess my objections there were personal and nothing to do with hinton at all. i can't stand that entire teenage-angst genre of books. the only thing i can think of that's worse than being a teenager in the first place, is being one and having adults impose stuff on you that they think 'speaks to' your phase of life. oh no, i'm wrong . . . and then having to talk (/write/think) about it.

Ahh, Richler. I had to write an essay on Barney's Version and was quite frustrated in attempting to come up with something profound to say about something so inherently enjoyable.


i don't know if i think there was anything all that profound in barney. i just read it a few months ago and it seemed to me like a fairly typical kind of end-of-the-writer's-life book. not that i mean to imply that richler wouldn't have written anything more if he hadn't died. but it does seem to happen a lot. i've been noticing it all over the place, especially with those big Monolith Of Modern North American Lit kinds of guys (yeah, i know. maybe not deep, deep north american lit) . . . john irving and robertson davies both come to my mind. paul theroux, in a way (he seems to me like he hasn't given up, but he lost the plot with millroy the magician and he's been clutching all over the place ever since then). margaret drabble, now that i think about it.

i'm finding i'll read all of whatever somebody wrote, and then somewhere in there they'll write the one that i just can't be bothered to read. and then after that they don't always write anything new that changes my mind. it's not that i get so disgusted with whatever they've said in that book that i repudiate them. they just start to seem genuinely not worth my time anymore. kind of a 'peak' sort of thing. i thought barney was that. a very good book in its own right, far better than most of them. but one of those all the same.

i kind of think duddy kravitz is a genuine, honest-to-god old-school tragedy. it's in my ten-most-important-books-ever list. barney is more like entertainment.
man susan,
die meeste mense is maar lekker zef

- valiant swart, lekker zef

kleomenes
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby kleomenes » Wed Apr 15, 2009 11:48 pm UTC

echoingsilence wrote:
Has anyone been forced to read Speak (by Laurie Halse Anderson, if I recall)?


You didn't like it? I thought it wasn't half bad, although the middle was a bit draggy.


It started well enough, and ended okay, but the ~150 pages between were like rubbing sand into my eyes. Repeatedly.

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Jorpho
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby Jorpho » Wed Apr 15, 2009 11:54 pm UTC

year in the sun wrote:i don't know if i think there was anything all that profound in barney.
Beneath the rollicking good times it actually does some rather clever things with the nature of memory.

year in the sun
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Re: Books you had to read for school that you could not stand

Postby year in the sun » Thu Apr 16, 2009 12:11 am UTC

Jorpho wrote:
year in the sun wrote:i don't know if i think there was anything all that profound in barney.
Beneath the rollicking good times it actually does some rather clever things with the nature of memory.


sure, but . . . that's just kind of a parlour trick, ne? i just mean not really enough to sustain an entire book, imo. he padded it well (i.e. realistically, believably, with stuff that was equally worthwhile for what it was and well written technically), but . . . i dunno. to me it's like a collage made out of dozens of shells. dimensional to a degree, fits together nicely, serves some few social purposes . . . but when you get down to it, just not all that deep.

this got me rethinking though. that book is basically a murder mystery, with a gimmick to it. and the more i think more about it, the more strongly i start to suspect the entire thing might have been richler's idea of a single ginormous practical joke on the entire canadian reading population. i can see him doing something like that.

if so, then i completely revise my assessment of it and of him by association. it's nothing short of sheer brilliance. i truly almost completely missed the punchline, the bit that puts a techtonic shift on your head and makes you break the entire book apart and reassemble everything in a different way. i think it's like a throwaway half a sentence at the end of a paragraph somewhere near the end of a book, which comes right in the middle of a completely different scene about something completely other than that. i swear, my eye took it in and travelled halfway down the next page before my brain went 'hang on' and got the whiplash. and he never does a single thing that i recall to point and wink at where you should look.

even if it was just a kind of a joke, i think that i think that that's some form of genius.
man susan,
die meeste mense is maar lekker zef

- valiant swart, lekker zef


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