Kate's Queen City Notes

Blundering through Cincinnati, laughing all the way


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100 Books by 40: EMMA

Going from Jane Austen to Thomas Hardy is disorienting. I finished Emma and started Far from the Maddening Crowd yesterday. Austen and Hardy’s works were only separated from each other by about 40 years, but that period introduced considerable changes to British culture. Plus, Austen’s witty dialog is a stark contrast to Hardy’s brooding characters and lush context descriptions. In Austen’s work the transformation engine is love, whereas Hardy’s is suffering. Dropping one book and immediately picking up the other was a challenge.

Concurrently, I have been reading The Count of Monte Cristo for four months. FOUR MONTHS. The things that I don’t appreciate about this book are legion. It was written in French, and like Crime and Punishment, I’m not appreciating all the translation choices. There is quite a bit of repetition. Like many novels from that time period, it was published serially in a periodical; Dumas might have reiterated significant plot points to remind readers. To top it off, the plot feels like a soap opera. Seriously, this book is Guiding Light set in the nineteenth century.

All that challenging reading explains why I was so pleased to pick up Goodnight, Mister Tom. Young Adult Fiction was exactly what my wearied brain needed. Anyone want to place bets that I will finish Goodnight, Mister Tom before I finish The Count of Monte Cristo? Don’t bother. Gambling implies that there is reasonable possibility of either happening. Lets be honest, there isn’t.

I haven’t said anything about Emma. It was pleasant. I found Emma and her father obnoxious. And given that I am on Jane Austen book number 3 in this list, I am chafing a bit at the bright, sunny endings that her books have. Those criticisms aside, her dialog and wit save the day. But I guess in keeping with most romance books, it didn’t tell me anything about life or relationships that I didn’t already know. It was a pleasant diversion and not much else.

I need to wrap this up and get back to The Count of Monte Cristo. I’m on renew number five with the library, and I just can’t bring myself to do another.

I just got a new camera. This means you will all suffer through my learning journey with it.

The wall under the stairs.

The wall under the stairs.

This sandstone glitters.

This sandstone glitters.

Where does the water go?

Where does the water go?

This is the prototype for the Brooklyn Bridge.

This is the prototype for the Brooklyn Bridge.

Shadow of life.

Shadow of life.

This is where the Bengals play.

This is where the Bengals play.

This area in the foreground is where the banks second wave will be built. Someday this view of the city will be obscured.

This area in the foreground is where the banks second wave will be built. Someday this view of the city will be obscured.

Fixing the side walks.

Fixing the side walks.

This building has some mega ugly 70's façade put on it. This is what was underneath.

This building has some mega ugly 70’s façade put on it. This is what was underneath.

Front view of the building. I hope they restore the original façade. It's way more awesome than the 70's mess that was there before.

Front view of the building. I hope they restore the original façade. It’s way more awesome than the 70’s mess that was there before.

Inside Rhinegiest.

Inside Rhinegiest.

Beer.

Beer.

 


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100 Books by 40: Persuasion

Before I get into Persuasion, I need to vent about the BBC’s 100 Best Books list. I’ve just discovered that number 59. Artemis Fowl is actually a series of eight books. EIGHT! Between this and the BBC slyly listing Lord of the Rings and His Dark Materials as two books (actually six books), I want to start calling the list the BBC’s Best 111 Books. I realize that LOR was intended as one whole book, but conventionally it was released as three. I call shenanigans on the BBC. I will be reading Artemis Fowl for months. At least it is a young adult series; I shudder to think of a Kafka work spanning eight books.

I’m getting lulled into enjoying British Literature, but I would like to follow the BBC’s list with something a little less Brit Lit centered. I might have found that list a few days back. By the time I complete the BBC’s list I will have read about 30 of the books on this list. Blending of fiction with non-fiction feels haphazard. I find that appealing. Some intern just dreamed up this list, and I don’t care.

http://www.businessinsider.in/100-Books-Everyone-Should-Read-Before-They-Die/articleshow/29916032.cms

Now then, back to Brit Lit. I really enjoy Jane Austen. Going into Pride and Prejudice I was prepared to hate it. I don’t like romance. I hate romantic comedies. Reading Jane Austen and George Eliot has given me clarity on why. My romantic media consumption was limited to Hollywood’s interpretation. My partner just watched “Love Actually”, this Christmas season and was enraged by how absurd it was. There are movies that pull the curtain back on real relationships which are most often a balancing between good intentions, false assumptions, short tempers, and the grinding aspects of everyday life. “Blue Valentine” comes to my mind. Lets just say “Love Actually” was not one of them.

The point is I went into Jane Austen and George Eliot thinking “Pretty Woman”. I came away with appreciation for Austen’s wit. Both writers display artistry with language and acute abilities to tell the truth about relationships. There are beautiful moments along side frustration and disappointment. It’s a continuation of all that you struggle with plus the struggles of another. At its best relationships can drive us to  be our best. But growth hurts. It’s hard.

Persuasion is a great little read. It doesn’t feel as epic as Pride and Prejudice, but I think that’s due to its reduced length. If you want a bit of Austen without committing to Pride and Prejudice or Emma this is the read for you.