Aug 29, 2008

Fun Friday

Alice came to the fork in the road.
"Which road do I take?" she asked.
"Where do you want to go?" responded the Cheshire cat.
"I don't know," Alice answered.
"Then," said the cat, "it doesn't matter."
- Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Aug 28, 2008

Booking Through Thursday - The Story

If you’re anything like me, one of your favorite reasons to read is for the story. Not for the character development and interaction. Not because of the descriptive, emotive powers of the writer. Not because of deep, literary meaning hidden beneath layers of metaphor. (Even though those are all good things.) No … it’s because you want to know what happens next?

Or, um, is it just me?

The story can definitely be a strong driving force in my reading experience. But more often than I read for the writing. I have said it before, but that isn't going to stop me from saying it again. I read to see beautiful words flowing across the page. I read to see the way that thoughts and memories and ideas and histories weave together on that printed page. There are books I read where the writing doesn't impress me and the story pushes me through it. But I am there for the words, the way they brush against each other and me.

Thursday Thirteen - Literary Tattoos

This is unfortunately not a totally original idea. In fact, there is a whole blog out there about literary tattoos called Contrariwise. But once I started looking I found out there are a lot of interesting articles and pictures and everything out there regarding the topic. One blogger sees this trend as a way to "signpost your erudition through skin ink." If you visit the Contrariwise blog or do your own search you will find certain authors and phrases are very popular. Especially Vonnegut, specifically the phrase "so it goes."

Shirley Dent summarizes the message of an article in The Economist saying, "tattoos are no longer the edgy insignia of the free spirited but the arty-farty must-have accessory of the middle classes." She continues to stay that those who get literary tattoos are able in some way to transcend the trend of the tattoo and show more of their personality. What do you think?

Many other bloggers have also posted a link to Contrariwise with questions like, What literary tattoo would you get?

I have two tattoos and in some ways it surprised me that I never previously thought about getting a literary tattoo. I think in part I haven't given it much thought, but also there has been too few or too many lines from literature that really resonates through me.

Here are my 13 FAVORITE literary tattoos:

1. Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand

2. Through the Looking-Glass - Lewis Carroll

link to original Tenniel illustration

3. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll

4. The Giving Tree - Shel Silverstien

5. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath

“I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart: I am, I am, I am.”

6. "The Road Not Taken" - Robert Frost

Full poem, with money as size comparison.

7. Slaughter House-Five - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

(yes, I actually included one)

8. Oepipus Rex - Sophocles

"Give me life
wherever there is opportunity
to live."

9. Molly Bloom in Ulysses - James Joyce

"...his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.”

10. "I Know a Man" - Robert Creeley

"can we do against
it, or else, shall we &
why not, buy a goddamn big car"

11. be of love (a little) - e.e. cummings

12. To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee

for cajunvegan

13. Through the Looking-Glass - Lewis Carroll

Inspiration for the blog name.
“Contrariwise,” continued Tweedledee, “if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.”

Interested in more?
Here is a list of interesting links, tattoos, ideas, and commentary.

Do you have or would you like your own literary tattoo? Tell me about it!
Which of these existing tattoos do you like the best? Which could you see yourself having? And finally:dublinka asks: But are there any poets out there using their own skin as a notebook? Would be kind of cool...

Aug 26, 2008

Teen Tuesday - Quick, Hyde!

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of ten novels and many short stories. She also happens to have three books in my to read pile. I decided that with my current interest in her, I wanted to find out a little more about her and her experiences as a writer. She has done some guest blogs for other Teen Tuesday members on their main blogs and various other interviews and commentary can be found online.

A while ago I blogged about starting Chasing Windmills and how much I was enjoying reading it. The content matter is a little difficult for me to read, so I have been slow with continuing it. So many aspects of the book and the writing style really struck a cord with me. When I was contacted regarding reading another Hyde book, I quickly jumped at the chance to own a copy of Love in the Present Tense. And the last time I was at the library I went ahead and picked up the only novel they have of hers, Pay It Forward.
Catherine Ryan Hyde was born in 1955 (you can do the math on that if you really care!)

Interestingly, Pay It Forward was not originally intended to be a young adult publication but it became a crossover success and Hyde decided to publish more book in the young adult classification. She is an avid hiker and greatly enjoys the outdoors. This interest has even brought her to my home state of Utah. I found these pictures of her visiting some of the beautiful rock formations on her website.

In a California Readers interview conducted early this summer Hyde shares the pieces of writing that influenced her the most growing up.
People think I'm joking, but my first really influential author was Dr. Suess. There was a message behind his words. He was always stressing equanimity, dignity. Individual worth. Plus he was entertaining. I still enjoy Dr. Suess to this very day. Later, as a young adult, I read BLESS THE BEASTS AND CHILDREN. FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON. ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST. OF MICE AND MEN. The plays TWELVE ANGRY MEN and A RAISIN IN THE SUN. I think this is when I began to know that my own writing would be in defense of the social underdog.
She continues (on a Story Siren guest post) that she likes these books "because they were about character I could understand. People who felt 'other.' People who almost nobody wanted to know in real life. But exploring them in fiction brings out their humanity."

Here is Catherin Ryan Hyde on the Today show talking about her books in general and Love in the Present Tense specifically.

Anne Curry says to Hyde, "You tend to write what people don't expect to read." I think this comment connects on a very deep level with Hyde's interest in marginal characters and her understanding of humanity.

Teen Tuesday is the day we set aside for teen book lovers visit with each other to find out what's being read in the world of young adult literature. You can comment whether you are a participant or not. Visit all the posters at

Aug 25, 2008

Mix Tape Monday - Watchmen Edition

  1. Track 1 - Jocko Homo is the semi title track of Devo's Are We Not Men? referred to by Laurie.
    Laurie: They're Kind of Devo
    Dan: Devo?
    Laurie: Sure. Devo. "Are We Not Me?" Band from Ohio. Late seventies.
  2. Track 2 - Unforgettable plays from the TV in Chapter VII.
    Oh, my darling, it's incredible, that someone so unforgettable...
    ...Should think I am unforgettable, too. Veidt
    For unforgettable you.
  3. Track 3 - You're My Thrill plays while Night Owl and Silk Spectre rescue the residents of a burning building.
    Night Owl: Okay, Let's ride. I'll put some music on the in-ship stereo.

    You're my thrill
    You do something to me
    You send chill right through me
    When I look at you,
    'Cos you're my thrill...
    You're my thrill
    How my pulse increases
    I just go to pieces
    When I look at you
    'Cos you're my thrill
  4. Track 4 - A lyric from The Comedians closes Chapter II of Watchmen
    "And I'm up while the dawn is breaking, even though my heart is aching. I should be drinking a toast to absent friends instead of these comedians."
  5. Track 5 - Desolation Row is quoted at the end of Chapter I
    "At midnight, all the agents and superhuman crew go out and round up everyone who knows more than they do."
    The song will be covered by My Chemical Romance for the closing credits in the upcoming movie.


Aug 24, 2008

The Sunday Salon - Exploring New Genres

The Sunday This Sunday I am working on two ground breaking piece of literature. Watchmen was on of the first comic books to be published in graphic novel format and establish it as a piece of literature as opposed to kiddie fair. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson is the second title I am currently reading. It was on the forefront of the cyberpunk science fiction genre established by William Gibson.

Watchmen was written by Alan Moore and published in a twelve-issue series starting in 1986 and then later republished in single paperback novel. This graphic novel has become the only one to have ever won the Hugo Award, in part because 1988 was the only year that had a category in which a comic book or graphic novel would qualify. It is brilliantly illustrated by Dave Gibson who utilizes creative adaptations of cinematic techniques.

Watchmen tells the story of a group of superheros. The book shows them as real people who must confront ethical and personal issues, who struggle with neurosis and failings. In the comic, they refer to themselves as "costumed adventurers" occasionally "masked vigilantes."

The story is set in 1985 and give an alternate history of the United States, sharing the journey of these heros since the Keene Act outlawed non-government affiliated vigilantes in 1977.

I am currently about halfway through the book and enjoying it immensely. Moore's attention to detail and countless allusions has made my fist experience with a comic book nothing but enjoyable. Moore has been quoted as saying that when he wrote Watchmen he set out to create "a superhero Moby Dick; something that had that sort of weight, that sort of density."
One of the main reasons why I decided to finally leap into this genre is the upcoming release of the Watchmen movie. Many fans are concerned that the movie will not do the comic book justice. But the trailer has been getting a lot of buzz.

I have not actually viewed this trailer yet and I won't be watching it until I finish the book. Here is another great link that compares the book with the movie.

Okay, deep breath. That was quite a fistful.

Onto my second groundbreaking novel! Snow Crash was published in 1992. Gibson's iconic cyberpunk novel, Neuromancer was published nearly a decade earlier. Yet even with the gap in the time span Snow Crash in considered an influential novel in the cyberpunk genre. Stephenson's addiction to the genre is his use of satire and black humor. He also alludes to history, linguistics, anthropology, archaeology, religion, computer science, politics, cryptography, and philosophy.

So what is cyberpunk? Well, I am not really sure. But I am going to attempt to find out. Cyberpunk is a science fiction genre that focuses on the advancement of information technology and cybernetics in some juxtaposition to the change or breakdown in social order. Lawrence Person is a major writer, critic, and editor of the science fiction genre. In his critical article "Notes Toward a Postcyberpunk Manifesto" he says,
"Classic cyberpunk characters were marginalized, alienated loners who lived on the edge of society in generally dystopic futures where daily life was impacted by rapid technological change, an ubiquitous datasphere of computerized information, and invasive modification of the human body."
In Snow Crash there are two realities; that of the real world, and a virtual reality of the Metaverse. In a way Stephenson's vision of the internet resembles a MMO or massive multiplayer online game.
So Hiro's not actually here at all. He's in a computer-generated universe that his computer is drawing onto his gogles and pumping into his earphones. In the lingo, this imaginary place is know as the Metaverse. Hiro spends a lot of time in the Metaverse (24).
The novel's main character, Hiro Protagonist, spends a lot of time bouncing between these two realities. Through his experiences, Snow Crash tackles the breakdown of information and the understanding of it including ideas of theology. I am about a quarter of the way through and enjoying it. The book can be a difficult read at times but I am happy to be pushing through it. If you are thinking about reading it, I recomend going with the audiobook, which I have been using to suppliment my reading as well.

Curious to know what else I am reading?
Check back on Tuesday for my weekly round up of teen literature. Read a lot of YA yourself? Join us!

Bibliophile Exploring Dystopia | Food & Community | Utopian Projects