Category Archives: Books 2016

Angels in America: a dystopia?

I really wouldn’t recommend reading “Angels in America”.  As I suspected the text is confusing. This confusion is caused by a lack of background and the introduction of scenes in which characters are supposed to speak over each other. During a play I suppose it makes sense but in a book there is a need of coherently portraying the chaos. A book consists of prose not of a list of characters saying things without any background and surroundings.

Furthermore, nothing good happens, what was to be expected from a topic as AIDS. All the characters are miserable in their life. Roy and Prior are sick, Louis wants to commit suicide, Joe is a closet homosexual who is afraid to out himself and his wife suffers from a depression and is addicted to Valium.

New York, and the whole of America isn’t off any better and at times is depicted as a dystopia. The characters live in a dysfunctional world full of suffer. America is presented as a disintegrated and corrupted society and the end is near. The millennium approaches and we don’t know what is going to come, seems to be suggested.

As for the angels. Believe seems to have gone out of the window and politics have taken its place. In the new world there is no place for religion or tradition. The only time an angel appears is towards the end but it is more probable that this angel is noting more than a mere illusion, a drug inspired apparition to a dying man.

In short, as a book I can’t say I would recommend it. The plot is confusing, since it is not the medium it is meant for and only negative things happen, there is no pivotal point, no scene in which things even go remotely better.

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Angels in America; Millenium Approaches

I am not a fan of reading theatre plays, with the exception of Shakespeare, who, in my opinion,  is utterly brilliant. (And yes I know this is a cliché but it is the truth.) Plays are scripts meant to be transformed into a play, they are not books. The interruptions in order to give stage clues and the way the voice of characters are introduced, no I am not a fan. All these things slow down the reading process and I don’t like it a bit.

That having said, my next book on the TBR list is actually a play: “Angels in America; Millennium Approaches” from Tony Kushner. I never heard  of the guy and only stumbled across the book because it is on our university’s TBR list. However, I am going to keep an open mind and read this play without any prejudice.

The playwright, Tony Kushner, is a successful author who wrote scripts for the theatre as well as the film world and his work “Angels in America” won several awards. In 1993 he won the Pulitzer prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Play. And many years later, in 2004, he won an Emmy Award for the same play.  His latest outstanding achievement must be receiving the National Medal of Arts from Barack Obama in 2013.

This week I am going to read said play, which I read is “the first part of an epic drama about America in the ‘80s. Having said this, I still don’t have a clue what it is about. What do the angels refer to? Actual angels? Outstanding citizens? Is the title ironic, or not?

I hope to find all this out while reading the text.

The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby, the book I have been looking forward to.

The last couple of years I have been postponing on reading the Great Gatsby, afraid that it won’t live up to my expectations is an understatement. I am guilty of looking at the film first and thought it would be hard to top that performance. But hey you know what they say; the book is always better than the film.

So here I go, I am finally going to read “The Great Gatsby” and my reading list is filled with Fitzgerald’s books. Mainly because the topic of my final paper is going to be about “Fitzgerald as a New York Writer”. But of all Fitzgerald’s books “The Great Gatsby” is the most famous.

The fact that it is the most famous and widely read book of Fitzgerald is quite surprising though, since in his own time Fitzgerald’s other books had more success. During the years however, “The Great Gatsby” has experienced a growth in its appreciation and now-a-days we can find the book in the top-10 list of many readers.

Therefore, I am going to stop talking and start reading, in order that I can form my own opinion.

Looking for Alaska

Next book on the stack; “Looking for Alaska” from John Green. John Green is a quite famous writer and I doubt that there aren’t many of you who don’t know him, or have at least heard of his books. In the extreme case, and you don’t read books, there are still the movie adaptations.

But okay, if you have been living under a rock the last couple of years and can’t connect his name to anything. He is the writer of “The Fault of Our Stars” and “Paper Towns”; two books that recently found their translation into the film world with great success.

This is not the first book I read from John Green and won’t be the last (since Paper Town is also on my TBR list). Previously I read “The Fault in our Stars” and “An Abundance of Catherine’s”, two books I absolutely loved.

John Green is a wizard at imbedding quotes into his works and making the underlying theme of his work clear without putting emphasis on those themes.He connects his books with life questions, such as the meaning of life. And his books have a significant and permanent impression on the world around you.

Up till know I absolutely adored John Greens stories and hope this opinion will hold stand while reading “Looking for Alaska”. John Green’s books, notwithstanding the serious topics, have always been quite funny and frivolous, however I get the feeling that now I am going to enter a quite darker side of his imagination.

What do you think about John Green? Do you agree with me or are you inclined to take another point of view? I am thrilled to hear your opinion.

The Age of Innocence: Can Archer be even more of a hypocrite

After reading “The Age of Innocence” I have to acknowledge this book is not my cup of tea.

Maybe my impression is influenced by the elaborate descriptions on American society, who become dull at times. Don’t get me wrong, I love her descriptions but at times they are too long, and delay the story-line.

Then, there are too many names introduced in such short interval that the beginning of the book is hard to follow. All kinds of family relations, and their places in society, are thrown around so freely that in the end you just don’t know who is who.

The main reason, I didn’t like the book is the main character, who is absolutely despicable. His views on society often contradict each other, he is a hypocrite and from the start you see his unfaithful intentions looming, from his misguided ideas of reality. But hey, probably this was Warton’s intention. Probably she, who had been living abroad for so many years, wanted to demonstrate everything wrong with the society of her era. A society that repressed her and her ambition to become a writer.

All in all, we get a quite gloomy view of America with some dubious and hypocrite characters but taking in account that this was most certainly Warton’s goal, the message certainly arrived.

For instance, the irony that just droops of these quotes, it is unbelievable and full of negativity;

“Americans want to get  away from amusement even more quickly than they want to get it – The Age of Innocence, p3″

“It seems stupid to discover America only to make it into a copy of another country – The Age of Innocence, p151 ”

However, when someone else than mr Archer even utters a slightly negative word about New York he suddenly becomes protective about his home city.

“The analogy was well-meant, but did not altogether please him. He did not mind being flippant about New York, but disliked to hear anyone else take the same tone – The Age of Innocence, p 48”

Therefore, although the book is well written and the characters are depicted with great success, the story-line lacks suspense and at times the descriptions of the decor are a bit too long.

The Age of Innocence

When you talk about accomplished authors you immediately think about contemporary authors such as J.K. Rowling. Writers, whose book became pop culture. Or authors who have stood the test of time and whose books are still widely read, such as Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”. Today however I obtained a new way of looking at accomplishment while researching the writer of the next book on my reading list; Edith Wharton.

Edith Warton wrote several novels, short stories, poems and non-fiction books about interior design and travel. I’ll be reading her 12th and last novella named; “The Age of Innocence”, published in 1920.  Edith Warton was a very interesting woman and saw a lot of the world. I am curious how she will describe New York and from which perspective she will depict the high society, of which circles she came from.

In conclusion, here are some accomplishments of Edith Warton that made me admire her as an author and a person. For being an individual with such a history I think it is a surprise I never heard of her before.

#1:  In 1921 Edith Warton won the Pulitzer Prise for fiction, which makes her the first woman ever to win this highly esteemed award.

#2: Edith Warton’s books were popular in America as well as Europe (especially Britain and France).

#3: Edith Warton was fluid in French, Italian and German apart from her mother tongue (English).

#4: She was nominated for the Nobel Prise in Literature in 1927, 1928 and 1930

#5: During the first world war she was one of the few foreigners in France who were allowed to travel along the front lines.

#6: The President of France appointed her Chevalier of the Legion of Honour for her efforts during the World War

#7: In 1923 she received an honorary doctorate degree by Yale.