A Shadow from A Wizard of Earthsea

I’ve been pretty terrible at updating this blog about my progress in reading this year.

I haven’t completely kept the pace I had hoped for and a few books I put down without finishing (Pilgrim’s Progress and The End of the Affair.)  I’ve added a few to the list (The Leftovers and The Abstinence Teacher) and pretty much enjoyed all of what I’ve read with the exception of The Abstinence Teacher and Brideshead Revisied. As the year winds down, I have enjoyed Go Tell It on the Moutain, Ragtime, and A Wizard of Earthsea.

I am not sure why I never read A Wizard of Earthsea when I was younger.  I read all the Prydain books, most of the Naria stuff, A Wrinkle in Time, and A Wind in the Door.  Perhaps, I just got tired of YA Fantasy before I got to this one.  At any rate, I’m glad to be reading it now and I might even enjoy it more now that I would have when I was young.  I can identify with a man who is arrogant in youth and then a little gun-shy later on because of earlier missteps.

I have never read any Harry Potter novels, but I’ve read plenty reviews of them and seen a couple of the movies.  I have yet to hear anyone compare Harry Potter and A Wizard of Earthsea, but the similarities are striking.

I tried to visualize the shadow that hunts Ged in the novel.  At one point it describes it as like a bear with no head.  I wish I had gotten the face closer into the body, but revising it will have to be for another day.

Man vs. Nature or Man vs. Self?

Santiago hasn’t caught a fish in 84 days.  He sets out alone and soon hooks a large marlin who drags the boat out to sea.

I wasn’t sure if Hemingway could keep me interested in two days at sea for 120 pages, but he did.  At first, I thought this would be the traditional theme of Man Vs. Nature, but it ebbed and flowed with a lot of internal monologue and sometimes the fish was secondary to inner conflict of the fisherman.

I am not sure if I am stretching things to see a Christ-figure in the man.  He injures his hands and at one point Hemingway mentions he gives an involuntary noise like a noise one would make as a nail pierces his hand.  He spends two nights at sea which could be a parallel to the two night Christ spends in the grave.  At the end of the fishing trip, the man sleeps on his bed with his arms stretched out.

If I am way off base, let me know in the comments.

 

Brideshead Revisited-Beautifully Crafted But Not Convincing

Image from the BBC miniseries of Brideshead Revisited

It looks like I missed last week’s update on my 2014 Reading Challenge, but no worries, I’ve been keeping up.

During the past two weeks, I have continued to press on in my reading of the Sacrament of the Present Moment, but have had no new insights on the book. I also finished Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited and began reading a book for some Continuing Education I have been working on for my teaching profession.

While, I found Brideshead Revisited to be beautifully crafted, I only enjoyed the first 2/3 of the book.  As an American, it was hard to gasp the class differences that play such a heavy role in the story and by the end none of the characters seemed redeemable.  To me, Waugh seems nostalgic for the aristocracy, but he did not convince me of why I should care that this era was coming to a close.  The Lords and Ladies described in the book seem like spoiled trustifarians, done in by their own excesses.

Next up is Ernest Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea, which looks to be Moby Dick set in Cuba.

Brideshead Revisited and More on Sacrament of the Present Moment

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

For this week’s reading challenge, I moved to reading The Sacrament of the Present Moment to my morning devotional time.  A few pages a day with time to digest seems a more fitting way to consume the text.

Even at this slow pace, I have now found myself at the heart of the book.  De Caussade states that God doesn’t just speak to us in church, but we must look for what He is saying in each moment of every waking day and treat each moment as a sacrament.

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Flannery O’Connor: The Complete Stories (conclusion)

This week I completed Flannery O’Connor’s Complete Stories, which I began blogging about here.  last week, I wondered if I would find another story, that i could include in my list of favorites and in fact I did.

The story in question is, Parker’s Back, which is about a man covered with tattoos who marries a very strict, ugly, Christian woman.  The man is described as covered in tattoos except for on his back and the woman will not even cover her face with make up.  I like the symmetry of how they are described- covered and uncovered. Continue reading

Flannery O’ Connor: The Complete Short Stories

flannery

We’ve all had those teachers.  The ones where everything they introduce is golden.  I once had a Chemistry teacher who dropped a giant chunk of Sodium in a vat of water and ran to the back of the room while the whole thing exploded.  She returned to the front of the room and said nonchalantly, “I ran to the back of the room, because my hair is still a little wet from my morning shower and I didn’t want that happening in my hair!”

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2014 Reading Challenge

I’ve become a lazy reader.

I’ve always been a poor reader.  I even received some help in grade school to improve this. Yet reading has remained a chore throughout my life even though most would consider me well read.  I attribute the fact that I am well read to my middle class upbringing that held up those with who read to be the utmost in human achievement.

For a period of time I agreed with my upbringing.  Amidst my sweat and struggle to wrestle with Howard’s End or the Awakening,  I rose through the ashes with an enjoyment of the stories contained between the covers of these tomes.

Then came graduate school.  I read, not for enjoyment, but to pass the classes.  I missed stories, though, so I read comics and watched movies to get my story fix.  But mainstream movies and even so-called independent comics can be a bit formulaic.  I enjoyed most of what I came across, but film and comics just aren’t as old of a medium as the written word, so after a while, I felt like I’d read all the good comics and seen most of the good films made in English (and quite a few in foreign languages, too.)