Category Archives: Classics

It’s Ray Bradbury Time!!

fahrenheit451_200-63fea330eb23c704f8bdc21f3085783b96733765-s6-c10I’m not sure what’s gotten into me lately, but I’ve gone on an American classics binge. When I was a teenager, the only way you could get me to read a classic was to hold a gun to my head, or, in the less extreme, if it was the only unread book in my collection.

I’ll admit it… The House of the Seven Gables bored me to tears and Jane Eyre absolutely put me to sleep. *shrug* I guess I’m just not that sophisticated.

Of course, I’d heard a shit-ton about  Fahrenheit 451 and decided to finally pick it up from the library. While I was there, I stumbled upon From the Dust Returned and decided to give that a go too. F451 was very fast-paced and I can totally see how it achieved it’s huge fan base. Bradbury’s concept was so before his time that is absolutely astounding. In a world filled with stories about mind-control, totalitarian governments, and post-apocalyptic earth–F451 may not seem that impressive. But if you step back for a moment and realize how groundbreaking it truly was… It’s pretty amazing. I’d say that Bradbury did for sci-fi what Tolkien did for high fantasy. He may have not been the first author to delve into a world like that, but he certainly brought the idea to the forefront of our collective consciousness. (For the two of you out there who don’t know the premise–in this futuristic setting, television absolutely rules and reading books is WAY ILLEGAL. Firefighters exist to burn books, not to put out fires).

FTDR was a bit more of a let down for me. It revolved around a strange family reminiscent of the creepy Addams’ *snap snap*. There’s a bat-like uncle, a thousand-times great grandmother, and an adopted son Timothy that is the only mortal member of the family. The concept was interesting, but I guess I had trouble with the way the various short stories jumped around. It was hard for me to fully sink into the story, and every time I started to there’d be a scene change and I’d be jerked out of it again. tumblr_lgvwguP6uP1qhnnhro1_1280

Needless to say, I wasn’t that impressed.

F451 gets 4 burnt book pages of 5 and FTDR gets 2 bats in the belfry of 5.

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Robin Hood and His Merry Men by Arthur Malcolm

Robin Hood and Little John walking through the forest, OODALALEE OODALALEE GOLLY WHAT A DAY!

robinhood_content_coverSorry, I had to get that out of my system. I recently stumbled across the 1950’s Arthur Malcolm version of Robin Hood and His Merry Men. It was hiding amongst the hideous beautiful messy pile of books that is now covering the office of our new home. After taking a gloriously long sniff between the pages (you can’t beat the old book smell, seriously) I decided to give it a go.

Sometimes I really like the simplicity of old stories. You kind of know what to expect from the plot and the characters are like familiar old friends. The prose that authors used in the 50’s was so much more straightforward and to the point. There are no long dramatic sentences or chapters ending in heart-pounding cliff-hangers. Just a nice story without a lot of fuss, easy and entertaining. A story you could read to a small child before bed time.

That’s what Robin Hood was to me.

The novel was really more of a series of short chapters, with each division being a different anecdote about Robin that meshed into the greater scheme of things. You know how it goes: outlaw, Maid Marion, (not so) Little John, Friar Tuck, the evil Sheriff, etc… This time we got a little more backstory on Robin Hood–like how he got his name and why he got started on the “criminal” path. Haha.

I think Robin Hood may have been the first fictional character (at least that I’m aware of) that demonstrated that just because something was the law didn’t make it right. And just because you broke that law didn’t make you a bad person. In the story it was illegal to shoot the king’s deer. So it was either watch your family starve or break the law.

What would you do?

3 farthings of 5

(By the way, I totally pictured the animal characters from Disney’s cartoon Robin Hood the entire time. I couldn’t help it. The book made multiple allusions to Robin being “wily as a fox”–so I’m guessing that explains his animal form…)

Robins


The Complete Hans Christian Anderson Fairy Tales

Ok, so I know that I’m gonna catch a lot of flack for this–but I’m nothing if not honest…. 51CARXQDTVL._SL500_AA300_

I seriously did not like the collection of HCA’s Fairy Tales.

Sorry, sorry–hear me out.

Ok, we all know the classics. The Little Mermaid. The Steadfast Tin Soldier. The Nightingale  The Ugly Duckling. The Little Match Girl. I enjoyed those. For his time, HCA was totally groundbreaking. I mean, he and the Brothers Grimm kinda went back and forth ripping each other off a few times, but it is what it is. Never before had such fantastical tales been told! And I can appreciate that, I can, but from a modern viewpoint they are extremely dry.

Not to mention, really weird…

HCA had a tendency to forget facts he had already included and then change information later on down the road. And it seemed like if he wasn’t sure how to close a story or get rid of a character–BOOM YOU ARE DEAD, SIR! But not even in a way that really made sense. He just kinda trailed off with a lame, “And then he died…” or something like that.

He seemed to have some pretty extreme Christian leanings too, and a horribly misogynistic point of view. If you were a little girl and you did one bad thing–BOOM WE ARE CUTTING OFF YOUR FEET AND SENDING YOU TO HELL. Woah… If I had body parts amputated every time I misbehaved…let’s just say I’d be a pile of hair in the corner by now. At one point a little girl who did the unthinkable–stepped on a piece of bread in order to spare her new shoes–sunk down through the ground to Hell, where she was frozen like stone, covered in snakes and toads, and every time her mother cried for her the tears dripped down on her head and burned like acid.

That’s kinda messed up, dude.

So, don’t get me wrong–I totally understand that he was one of the forefathers of modern literature/fantasy. But his stories could be vastly improved on and (don’t hate me) I enjoyed some of Disney’s retellings better.

Let’s just say there is a reason why you’ve never heard of The Jewish Maid, Little Claus and Big Claus, or The Darning Needle.

It’s because they sucked.

2 world-traveling dung beetles of 5


Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

You’d think that someone whom, on average, reads about a hundred books a year would’ve at some point gotten around to the classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. (Or as I’ve referred to it in my head for my entire life–Alice in Wonderland–but whatever…) This weekend I decided to hunker down and sink my teeth into the classic children’s tale that’s spawned innumerable movies, games, tv mini-series, and slutty Halloween costumes. 

It wasn’t… quite what I’d expected…

It was at once extremely familiar and yet utterly weird. I’ve seen so many of the story points used or referenced in other works that it was almost as if I’d read it before. (Plus, it made me realize that Disney actually interpreted the book pretty well with it’s old cartoon version). Also, Through the Looking Glass seemed to be the predominate reference for Tim Burton’s movie. I was kind of disappointed there wasn’t an epic battle between Alice and the Jabberwocky in the books, however…

I guess I also discovered the reason Carroll sent an innocent and polite English schoolchild down the rabbit hole and not a twenty-something hormone-fueled blonde girl. I would’ve killed probably everyone I encountered in Wonderland while I was there–the characters were so annoying! I get that everything is supposed to be whimsical and nonsensical (and in TTLG, backwards) but come on. Alice didn’t have a single conversation that made sense and everyone was so easily offended by everything she said… I just wanted to punch them.

I don’t want to go to Wonderland if everyone there is such a crazy dick. Honestly, you can have the same exact experience in Ybor City without ever setting foot near a rabbit hole. The Mad Hatter would be a creepy homeless dude, the March Hare would be a nervous skinny kid lost in the bowels of the Castle, and the Red Queen would most surely be a drag queen. (Except instead of screaming “Off with his head!” she’d be screaming something else about head…)

Too weird.

2 bread and butter flies of 5