Aug 31, 2013

Books 9 & 10: Catching Fire and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

I can now say I am no longer out of the Hunger Games loop, and I am not sorry I decided to give it a read.

Being a YA book, it was not a challenging book for me, but I do see how it is a book that will challenge younger readers, maybe not by the writing, although that is not dumbed down, but certainly by the subject matter.

So here is where I play stupid.  I am so out of the current literature scene and even more out of the YA book scene I may be just talking out my tookis, but I can't say I know of a ton of books for teens that deal with a strictly dystopian future, maybe Lord of the Flies? (have to admit I have not read this).  I think it is a good book to introduce such a concept, gives you something to think about.

I can see why this trilogy caught on.  I love the heroine, Katniss and I loved Peeta even more.

Currently reading:
Product Details

The Real Midnight In Paris: A History of the Expatriate Writers in Paris That Made Up the Lost Generation by Paul Brody and HistoryCaps (Jul 27, 2012)

Aug 27, 2013

Book 8: The Real F Scott Fitzgeral: Thirty-Five Years Later by Sheilah Graham

After reading Beloved Infidel, I wanted to see what else Sheilah Graham had to say, and I found she wrote another memoir regarding her time with F Scott Fitzgerald, this one Thirty-Five years after his passing.

Sheilah Graham had help writing Beloved Infidel, and because of this that memoir feels more polished than this one.  However, The Real F Scott Fitzgerald does feel more personal.  Even 35 years later, you feel the significance of their relationship on Sheilah Graham.  I do wonder if she still has some gauze over her eyes when it comes to Fitzgerald, she often tries to put him in a good light.  Their relationship was cut short, and I understand how this can alter how you see and feel about person.  Their relationship ended at a time when things were getting better and the future was golden, who knows if he would have continued clean or if the alcohol would take over, but that is something we will never know.

I did get the feeling that Sheilah Graham is still trying to claim her significance in relation to the famous author.  Which is understandable as at the time they kept the relationship away from the public.  Even with all of this you get the feeling that she was trying very hard to be objective and present the Scott she knew and try to reconcile it with the public version of the man.

Currently reading: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Aug 23, 2013

Short Stories 20-23: A Full Life, The World's Fair, Three Hours Between Planes, News of Paris-Fifteen Years Ago

My plan is to read all of Fitzgeralds short stories and essays.  It seems to come and go in spurts, which is fine.  Currently I have divided the remaining stories into the years published and trying to read through them that way.  Currently I am reading the stories published after his death in 1940.

A Full Life was published in 1988
The World's Fair was published in 1948
Three Hours Between Planes was published in 1941
News of Paris- Fifteen Years ago was published in 1947

A Full Life:
A strange little story of a daring woman who appears in papers for crazy acts and then disappears, but there is one man who follows her escapades and wonders what she is all about.  I didn't feel like this was a complete story, but more like FSF was working out his feelings of helplessness and futility.  So I don't feel like this is a strong piece, but it does feel like he is searching for something, some meaning, and then just when it is within reach it withers away and is never recoverable.

The World's Fair:
Although published after his death, it fits chronologically between Gatsby and Tender, which is good to know while reading it, as it feels like it is just a partial story within a large context.  This story belongs to Tender is the Night, when it was in the Matricide story line, which was completely abandoned before taking a different tack to the story.  There are some wonderful descriptions in this little piece.  I wrote more about it here.

Three Hours Between Planes:
I believe this is one of the stories he had been working on at the end of his life while he was getting his confidence back and writing well once again.  It is a great little story about a man who has a layover and looks up his long lost crush of his youth.  The meet and have a little tryst.  It is soon discovered that Nancy who thought this Donald was the Donald of her memories, was wrong, and discovers too late that he is someone who she barley remembers.  I love this one.

Oh and it looks like someone made a short film about it... Three Hours Between Planes

News of Paris-Fifteen Years Ago: (Collected in Afternoon of an Author)
This is another story he was working on in the last years of his life.  It was found in his among his papers, but was unfinished, and it reads as such.  But it does have promise, although I thought the story line was a tad confusing and had to read it twice.

Aug 20, 2013

Book 7- Beloved Infidel by Sheilah Graham

I have been waiting to read this one, and I very much enjoyed it, so much so I was able to read it in only 3 sittings, which for me is quick.

Beloved Infidel is a memoir of Sheilah Graham, through her early life through her relationship with F. Scott Fitzgerald.  Sometimes memoirs can be dry and I feel like I slog through them to get to the parts I find interesting, however, this one was fun to read.  Her early life almost seems like fiction.  In describing it to D he thought it reminded him of Gatsby.

I wrote much more on this over at Fitzgerald Musings.  Lately I have been wanting to know more of FSF later life, the time he was in Hollywood and started writing Love of the Last Tycoon.  Personally, I think he was fighting his demons, putting his failures behind him and starting on the rebound.  I am so said that the world has missed out on how FSF saw the world, and we have been cheated on how he was going to grow as an author.

So I saw there was a movie based on Sheilah's memoir and decided to check it out.  It came out in 1959, a year after the book, starring Gregory Peck and Deborah Kerr.  And as much as I think the book would make a good movie, this is not the movie I wanted to see.  You would think that having well known and respected actors would assure a good movie, but nope not here.  The acting was bad, very affected and wooden.  Yes, I know that is how acting was done back in the day, but it does not translate for today's viewers who are wanting a feeling for the relationship.

Currently Reading: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games trilogy)

Aug 13, 2013

Book 6- Beautiful Fools by R Clifton Spargo

 In 1939 Scott and Zelda took a trip to Cuba, it was to be the last time they ever saw each other.

I knew little of their trip to Cuba.  I knew it was the last time they saw each other and that Scott was involved with his mistress, Sheilah Graham back in Hollywood.  I went into this novel with a fairly clean slate (for someone as obsessed with FSF as I am).  I had also just completed "Call Me Zelda" by Erika Robuck, and was quite frustrated with her portrayal of the couple.

Where Ms. Robuck drew Scott and Zelda as caricatures of their public images, Mr. Spargo seems do downplay the couple.  I guess my biggest criticism is I didn't feel the presence of the Fitzgeralds in this novel.

After completing the novel, I consulted with Matthew Bruccoli to see what was written of the Cuba trip.  What is known is in the novel, so the premise is true, with the author fleshing out the possible details.  It is what I would expect from a novel based on true events.  I just found the details sort of flat.  Maybe not enough Scott and Zelda.  Not enough of the tension and the love and the connection they had for each other.

My take away is that it is neither good nor bad, just neutral.  For summer reading it is OK, but I don't know if I would recommend it.

Currently Reading:
Beloved Infidel by Sheilah Graham

Book 5- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

This is a book that many of my friends had been reading and talking about.  In general, I am not a fan of YA fiction, but after seeing the movie I decided to read it.

Yes, I saw the movie first. I watched it with my family and thought there could be a lot of angles taken in a story such as this.  And my daughter really was taken by the story and seems interested in reading it. I took this as an opportunity for us to share these books.

It is a compelling story, and I was able to work through it pretty quickly.  I am interested in seeing where this story goes.

When I told some people I was reading the Hunger games, someone mentioned they would love a book telling the story from Peeta side.  And I agree,  I would love to know how it all came together for him.  Obviously, the author has been working up to Katniss having a love triangle with Gale and Peeta, and this will have to work its way out in the next books.  So far I like Peeta.

I want to see how Katniss processes the games and the society that created it and forced her to participate.  How does her life change, and what does it all mean.  Now that she is away from the stress is she able to forgive Peeta?  Did she develop feelings for him only because of the games or were they genuine? 

I also hope there is more with Haymitch.  I find him super interesting.  He has won the game, and has all the riches he needs, but is a drunk and lonley and maybe realizes that winning the games may not be all it was cracked up to be, but I guess it is better than death.  How does Peeta and Katniss see Haymitch now that they to have won.

Now with this being a YA book, I don't know if it will get as deep and as dark as I would like it to go, but it has a good frame work to be able to dig deeper.  I don't think I will be swayed into reading a lot of YA Fiction, but The Hunger Games does have the emotional questioning that I like in a book.

Currently Reading: Beautiful Fools
Next Up: Beloved Infidel

Aug 12, 2013

Books 1-4 On Booze, Invented Lives, Love of the Last Tycoon, Call Me Zelda

I want to start my reading log from this summer (June 2013). 

1. On Booze- Collection of Short Stories and Essays by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. Invented Lives - James R Mellow
3. Love of the Last Tycoon- F. Scott Fitzgerald
4. Call Me Zelda- Erika Robuck

Short Stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald
1. Thank You For The Light 
2. The Ants at Princeton
3. Send Me In Coach
4. Fate in Her Hands
5. Image on The Heart
6. Three Acts of Music
7. Too Cute For Words
8. Afternoon of an Author
9. I Didn't Get Over
10. The Long Way Out 
11. Financing Finnegan
12. The Lost Decade
13. An Alcoholic Case
14. Strange Sanctuary
15. The Honor of the Goon
16. An Author's Mother
17. Inside the House
18. Trouble
19. Design in Plaster

I have links to specific posts I have written on these stories over at Fitzgerald Musings 

Aug 8, 2013

Kicking it off

Why a reading blog?

Well, why not. I have always been a reader and in the past I had kept a reading journal.  I have sadly not kept it up.  Over the past few years I have been a bit obsessed with a particular author, and have been working through his materials, you can see that project over at Fitzgerald Musings.  But I am getting to the end, and have been picking up other books and don't feel I should include them over there.  So why not start another reading journal, just online.

To give you an idea of my reading tastes, I tend to go for classics.  I would like to read as many classics as I can.  But I do every now and then pick up a more current book.  I also have young kids, and have been known to read through their novels as well, this is usually when I an really mentally tapped out.

Now for a bit of a confession...
I am a slow reader.  I won't be cruising through 3 novels in a week.  I may be lucky to read one novel per month.  And secondly, I tend to remember what I read for only a short time.  I may remember the broad subject matter, but not the details. So re-reading a book can be enjoyable.

Well there it is.  The start of a new adventure.

Currently I am reading:
Beautiful Fools: The Last Affair of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald by R. Clifton Spargo

And The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins