Monday, July 22, 2013

Reading: Memory Novel + Travel Essays + "Light in August"

This blog post is inspired by the general joy of global reading, the local library, a blog series, roads, and an online lit course. More, at the bottom of this post.

A library book and a suggested read: this week's reads lead from a wonderfu/painful novel about life and memory back to a classic. Also, it brought some travel essays:

A Memory Novel: "Still Alice" by Lisa Genova
Another wonderful surprise find in the library: I was drawn to "Still Alice" by its blue cover and the short description: the story of a woman who is loosing her memory and is dealing with it by focusing on the now. that’s what i read on the cover and back of the book. they didn’t include the word “Alzheimer” - but that’s the core of the story. The author – just like the main character Alice – is working in Neuroscience at Harvard University.

It’s a touching book, which makes it graspable how it feels to have this terrible disease, and the problems and situations that come with it. It also shows the grey zone of doubt - what is still normal when it comes to mistakes and forgetting things, and where does the illness begin? And it includes this painful angle: as a person who reads and writes, and whose literacy is part of her identity, how do you deal with the fact that you aren't able to grasp longer sentences again? That you can't read books, are overwhelmed by conversations? This drama: all those things we learn as child: the a-z of life, fading again.

In some ways, it's also the counterpart to the Memory Learning book I read earlier this year, with memorizing techniques: A Memory Guide

And here's the introduction to "Still Alice", from the book blog, in it the author Lisa Genova also tells the story of the book itself: “I graduated valedictorian with a BS in Biopsychology from Bates College and have a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Harvard University. Trading in my pipette for a pen, I wrote my first novel, "Still Alice", about a 50-year-old Harvard professor who develops young onset Alzheimer's Disease. Originally self-published because I couldn't find a literary agent to represent it, "Still Alice" was eventually bought by Simon & Schuster and debuted at #5 on the New York Times Bestseller list.


Travel essays

The travel blog "I Must Be Off!" organized its its first annual Travel Essay Contest. More than 80 travel essays went online, from destinations all over the world.

Now the winners have been announced - i put a feature together in the blueprint lit blog for them, to help to spread the word: Travel Essay Competition

This weekend, I also read the winning entries and the recommended reads, which lead from Asia to Europe and back again. One of my own favourites is 
Rock, Paper, Scissors”, a story that reminded me of my own time in Cambodia.


"Light in August" by William Faulkner
"A novel about hopeful perseverance in the face of mortality", this is the next suggested read for the "Fiction in Relationships Class" (more about that, here: Literary online course), and together with Virginia Woolf's "To the Lighthouse" and Charlotte Bronte's "Jane Eyre, another "big" classic. Before starting, I looked for online material - and found this description, and two moving clips:

"In a loose, unstructured modernist narrative style that draws from Christian allegory and oral storytelling, Faulkner explores themes of race, sex, class and religion in the American South. By focusing on characters that are misfits, outcasts, or are otherwise marginalized in their community, he portrays the clash of alienated individuals against a Puritanical, prejudiced rural society. Early reception of the novel was mixed, with some reviewers critical of Faulkner's style and subject matter. However, over time, the novel has come to be considered one of the most important literary works by Faulkner and one of the best English-language novels of the 20th century."

Here are the first pages, in a video read:


And here's a summary in a video clip. Seeing it, I was moved - by the theme of the book, by the ones who made this clip.

Upcoming reads for this week...will be from the graphic novel front: visiting the Eisner Award winners.


Book Links, Previous Reads & Finding Books

Previous reading blog entries are collected here: bookshelf: currently  reading... there also is a visual bookshelf, just click it to get there.

Reading around the world - i really enjoy this literal discovery-tour of the world, and it now made me go and pull some useful links together in a blog post: Finding books by country: helpful links + resources

More monday reads from other bloggers: link list at book journey

And my own book... is Worl(d)s Apart. True.


Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

Light in August...intimidating, I think. Good for you!

Here's my It's Monday!

Dorothee said...

Hi Deb! Light in August, the video already is intimidating. will see how reading it works out. have a great reading week!

Elizabeth said...

Enjoy your week.

I am going to have to check out Light in August.

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