Posts Tagged ‘Literature’

Death Comes for the ArchbishopDeath Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The only plot here is that which you might find in anyone’s life. The book flows through Bishop Latour’s years without relying on external forces of any kind. A quote toward the end of the book expresses the way the work itself moves:

“He realized also that there was no longer any perspective in his memories…. He was soon to have done with calendared time, and it had already ceased to count for him. He sat in the middle of his own consciousness; none of his former states of mind were lost or outgrown. They were all within reach of his hand, and all comprehensible.”

Click on the link above to read the rest of my review of Death Comes for the Archbishop.

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The Stuff That Dreams Are Made On: A Jungian Interpretation of Literature (Chiron Monograph Series : Volume 5)The Stuff That Dreams Are Made On: A Jungian Interpretation of Literature by Clifton Snider

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Snider is adept at offering a better understanding both of Jungian archetype and of the literature he discusses. I come away from my reading with a desire to explore, to read the pieces I have not read, to think, to discourse and converse. These responses, rather than an unquestioning agreement with everything asserted herein (which is not the case with me), is what makes this a “5-star” book.

Works considered include:
* various with Merlin as subject
* “Tristram of Lyonesse,” Swinburne
* The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde
* Orlando (and) The Waves, Virginia Woolf
* The Member of the Wedding (and) Clock Without Hands, Carson McCullers
* Several by W. H. Auden

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I just finished this book last night.  It earned 3 GoodReads stars from me: a fun, light read.  A step up from the Nancy Drew mysteries I cut my reading teeth on, but then, it’s not really written for an elementary school audience–more challenging vocabulary, deeper characters, some language (swearing, cursing, whatever you want to call it), better storyline (of course, it’s been a while since I’ve perused ND).  The book is appropriate for YA, Adult, and precocious Middle Graders.  Set in England during the 1950s, this mystery frolic follows 11-year-old chemistry phenom Flavia de Luce through adventures dangerous and dastardly.  I found myself mentally traipsing back to my childhood, imagining myself living her life.

The protagonist is, admittedly, a bit annoying at times.  Perhaps that is inevitable considering the evident influence of intelligence, privilege, and cool, sometimes even antagonistic, family relationships.  Still, the author knows his character and by the end, she has grown and I have gained some sympathy for her.  This is accomplished, in part, with brief, sometimes poignant, glimpses into the “sweetness at the bottom of the pie” that shows through subtle cracks in the “crust” of self-confident, capable Flavia, reminding me that she is really just a little girl riding her bike around the environs of her small town seeking pleasure and her place in the world, and dealing with death in the process.

A couple of final notes on the book:  It is the first in a series, and it is slated to be made into a TV series in 2015.


One of Flavia’s sisters, Ophelia, is a pianist, and Bradley uses her as a vehicle to sprinkle references to music throughout the book.  I loved this.  I actually noted each piece so I could listen to them.  I cruised around YouTube, and this is what I found.

Toccata from Sonata in A Major, Pietro Domenico Paradisi

Originally for Harpsichord

Eileen Joyce on piano

Arrangement for Harp and Strings

Flute and Bassoon (I don’t understand the “homage to Barbara Streisand bit.  Can anyone enlighten me?)


Robert Schumann sonatas  

Piano Sonata No. 1 in F sharp minor, Op 11 (Emil Gilels)

Piano Sonata No. 2 in G Minor, Op 22  (Martha Argerich)

Piano Sonata No. 3 in F minor, Op 14 (Grigory Sokolov)

If you liked those, or want something a little shorter, try something in this Schumann piano playlist.


Bach’s Goldberg Variations

Glenn Gould studio recording (video of studio session)


Ophelia did not play the following, but they were mentioned in the book.

“Harry Lime” Theme from The Third Man, Anton Karas

Originally instrumental (with zither and accordian)

Piano (straight)

Piano (variation)

Piano (and now it gets wild!)


UK Ukulele Orchestra


Beethoven’s 6th Symphony “Pastoral”

As there are many recordings available, and as it is 42 minutes long, I’ll just post one link.

Pastoral Symphony



Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Gabriel Garcia Marquez is dead.  Across the chasm of the unshared that separates me from him, I see a firing squad, feel the memory of ice, chill on my skin.  I smell blood and fire.  And there is war, and there, a ruined ship in the jungle.  And I’m not sure whether I’m really remembering any of this accurately or whether they are sensations created in my mind alone, suggested but not specified in One Hundred Years of Solitude.

New York Times

The Atlantic

The Yellow Trolley Car in Barcelona, and Other Visions (William Kennedy interview with GGM, The Atlantic, 1973)

I read the novel a few years ago and it fascinated me–the work itself and the “genre” of magical realism (if you can limit this approach to a genre).  It’s odd how death reignites our interests.

 One Hundred Years of Solitude:        Amazon   BN    Goodreads

Magical Realism:     Princeton (brief)     Wikipedia (90+ references)     Writing World      Magical Realism


Magical Realism Shelf (Goodreads)


I hope GGM would be pleased that his words prompted an expanded awareness of the world around me, of his world and of mine.  I’m grateful he shared them with me.


I have a weakness for reading lists– all those fabulous titles laid out neatly, all those stories and perspectives and styles, all the possibilities.  Truth is, I’ll never read everything that’s been written.  I don’t even want to.  Reading lists give me some guidance, impose some order on the overwhelming quantity and scope of literature available today.  Of course, reading lists are subjective just as literary taste is subjective.  Hence, I will not presume to suggest that I present here THE reading lists you should follow.  These are simply a starting place.  See if you agree with what is listed, based on your past reading, or try a few of them out and you might find something new.  Other great places for finding reading lists are through your public library or through universities (these may yield wildly divergent suggestions).

I’ve put together a few internet sources for reading lists of various genres.


  • Bookspot–a general reading website with links to multiple reading lists
  • Goodreads 2012 Choice Awards–Readers’ choice awards for the year
  • Brain Pickings–Best-of 2012 lists covering non-fiction topics such as art, history, food, science
  • Library of Congress–2 here: Books That Shaped America (not necessarily a “best books” list, but intended to promote thought and discussion) and (links to reading lists, and a lot more!)
  • Modern Library–This is 2 classic 100 Best Novels lists in one, a board’s list and a readers’ list.


POETRY–Because sometimes it’s harder to know where to start with poetry than with fiction.

  • Poem Hunter Top 500–Admittedly, I have not read everything on this list and cannot attest to its quality.  This is, again, just a jumping-off point.  Another good way to get into poetry is simply to pick up an anthology.
  •–a great site where you can find out about the poets as well as sample their work.  They do have lists as well, like these.

SHORT FICTION–similar to the poetry situation.  There’s too much to really know where to start.  Anthologies are a good way here as well to sample and find your favorites.

  • John Horner Jacobs–I don’t think I’d come up with the same top 10 as his, but there are some good ones on this list.  There are others I haven’t read, but I might try them out.
  • 50 Best Short Stories of All Time--I’m a little embarrassed at the source for this one, and I’m not promoting earning your Doctorate online, but it’s a pretty good classics list.
  • 1001 Short Stories–Don’t panic!  Remember you don’t have to read them all.  This is only a list of options.  Currently, there are only 334 stories on this list anyway.  It’s a work in progress.

Happy reading!  Hope you find something new and wonderful somewhere in these lists.  If you have any lists you particularly like, I’m always looking for a new one.

I have to say I’m proud of myself for finishing this one!  I’ve intended to read The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas, for years.  I’m not a very fast reader, however, and the size (600+ pages) was intimidating.  I wondered whether my ADD would allow me to make it to the end.  One of my big questions upon finishing it is whether I would have enjoyed a different translation more.  Not that this one was bad.  I hope you will read my Goodreads review here.

Now for the Hollywood version.  While the movie may be action-packed fun, full of romance and happy endings, and have the same character names as the book, it is not the same story.  Oh, the idea of vengeance is still present, but this is not an example of a great novel-to-movie adaptation.  Still, for a cut-and-paste frolic based on a complicated Classic, it’s worth its popcorn.  Check out Rotten Tomatoes’ take here.

I’m in the middle of re-viewing the Gerard Depardieu mini-series.  Much longer and more involved.  Depardieu is more believable than Jim Caviezel as a man who has been locked up in a stone prison for well over a decade, although he is a little hefty for someone who survived on moldy bread during that time.  Take your pick on which way you want to suspend disbelief.  The storyline(s) is closer to the original, although some license is taken (as expected).  If you don’t mind subtitles, you might want to try it out.

Riddle:  What did the Count eat when he got out of prison?  A monte cristo!  Sandwich, that is.  It’s pretty simple and there are variations on the recipe all over.  I’ve heard of it made with swiss, gruyere, gouda, or cheddar cheese, and even American (although I really could not suggest using that type.)  Here’s Food Network’s version.

I think this weekend I might settle in with a book or a movie and a nice fried meat and cheese sandwich and enjoy a Monte Cristo evening at home.

copyright Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Today I considered doing a rime rhyme or a frosty fantasy, but I was finally drawn by the atmosphere of the recent elections.  My offering this week is not really a story, but my hope that we can all extend love and understanding to others, even when we don’t see eye to eye.  Although my piece is set in the aftermath of a U.S. election (any one will do), the underlying philosophy is not limited by nationality or the political sphere.

I welcome critique.  My last story generated some discussion about word choice that I enjoyed and appreciated.  Thanks to all who participated.  Since this piece does have a political element, I would re-emphasize that comments should be kept civil.

Not Really a Story

It was odd weather for this early in November, but it matched the mood of the Facebook posts she’d been reading.  It was an icy world out there.  Still, the sun would return, and as long as she could maintain a peaceful demeanor, hearts in her circle would melt just as surely as the sleet on her window.  There would be some who hung on, who called her evil because they disagreed, who popped keys off keyboards or called for unjustified impeachment on their car bumpers.  But most, she believed, would settle back into a sanity of forbearance and friendship.

I hope you enjoyed my drabble.  Read more great flash fiction at Friday Fictioneers’  on Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ blog.  Or add one of your own!