Posts Tagged ‘bildungsroman’

15th September
2010
written by Steph

One of my favourite books that I read last year was Generation A by Douglas Coupland. From the very first pages I was hooked by the fluid, mellifluous prose, and I really loved the way Coupland explored the ways stories can unite people, while also looking at the way the barrage of technology can actually make us feel more isolated than ever before. I thought Generation A was clever but also emotionally sound, never sacrificing the heart of its narrative in order to show off. I was so excited by the book that I couldn’t help gushing about it to a friend who I knew to be a big Coupland fan. She said that my next read should definitely be Microserfs, as that was one of her very favourite books that he’s written. Microserfs takes the form of a diary written by a young debugger named Daniel who works at Microsoft. Initially his writing is meant to help him combat his insomnia and the odd dreams he’s been having, but it mostly winds up chronicling his daily life along with those of his friends/coworkers/housemates as they struggle through the quotidian slog of working at Microsoft much at the expense of any of them having successful/functional personal lives. That is until they are offered the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a new startup company a former coworker has been working on out in California, and suddenly life gets a little more interesting… (more…)
21st January
2010
written by Steph
For the past week or so, I’ve been dipping in and out of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (I feel the need to clarify, as if some of you are thinking I would be reading some other Great Expectations by some other author…).  In that time, I’ve made it through about 100 pages, so, not really great progress on my part.  I admit, my life has been busy and I have perhaps not been making reading a priority, but I’m sure that I’ve been letting my reading slide because I haven’t been having fun with this book and don’t particularly look forward to reading it.
Just so we're clear, I'm not supposed to be rooting for Magwitch, right?

Just so we're clear, I'm not supposed to be rooting for Magwitch, right?

I have perhaps not outlined my tortuous past with this book, and that is likely because my past is not all that tortuous with it.  Just that I’ve tried to read the damn thing at least three or four times and I find myself incapable of doing so.  I don’t know why I thought this time would be different, but I was confident I would make it through this time so I could finally say, “Ha, Charles Dickens!  This time I have defeated you!” and then I could FINALLY move on with my life.  But no, once again, Dickens has beat me down.  I knew it was over when I could not longer bring myself to pick up the book, so little did I care about our fair and gentle narrator, Pip Pirrip. Actually, it was worse than that because it was more than simply being complacent or apathetic – no I was beginning to actually hate the book, and was actually preferring lying on the bed staring at the ceiling to reading.  Clearly this situation was not ideal. So I’m abandoning ship, giving up the ghost, and letting Pip live his maudlin, tragic life in the pages of fiction, all without me present. I feebly dream that some day I may pick this book up and everything will click and I will suddenly get caught up in this epic bildungsroman.  But then, maybe I won’t, and I think I have to make my peace with that.  Because for now, Dickens and I just can’t dance together. It’s hard to pinpoint precisely, I suppose, why one book captures us and another one doesn’t, but here are two reasons why I don’t much care for Great Expectations: (more…)
5th November
2009
written by Steph

If you recall, not that long ago I wrote about how I’m an intuitive reader and I’m all about reading books that suit my mood; I’ve gotta read books at the right time for me.  My experience reading Out Stealing Horses was definitely an example of this.  I’ve been sick since last Tuesday night, and while many of my symptoms have finally been vanquished, I’ve been completely EXHAUSTED the past few days.  Consequently, I haven’t been doing much reading as I’ve just been too tired.  I was in one of those terrible lethargic states where each book I picked up either felt too taxing or simply failed to hold my attention.  I finished my last book on October 24, so you can see that it’s been almost two weeks since I’ve really been able to read anything. I’m not sure what compelled me to pick up Out Stealing Horses as it’s been sitting on our shelves for almost a year (if not more) and it just never felt like the right time.  I was in such a finicky mood – I wanted a book that was engaging and a page turner, but it couldn’t be manic and wild, because my poor brain just couldn’t keep up with any kind of frenetic writing, nor any prose that was too complicated.  I wanted something straightforward that would keep me happily reading so I could forget about how miserable I was feeling physically. (more…)
29th October
2009
written by Steph
Someone's gotta do it!

Someone's gotta do it!

I still consider this little blog to be a fringe element when it comes to the world of blogging in general, and book blogging in particular, so it really was a flattering surprise when Trish from Hey Lady! Watcha Readin’? contacted me regarding reviewing something for TLC Tours.   Having never been part of such a thing, I thought it would be fun to try something new, so after perusing the selections for October/November, I signed up to read Looking After Pigeon by Maud Carol Markson. Looking After Pigeon is a thin novel, one easily read in a single afternoon (which is what I did).  It is a story told in retrospect – Pigeon as a grown woman has some serious scars and issues related to her past, and in an effort to move past them, she has undertaken the task of writing down the events of one summer, which she attributes as the source of all her relationship/commitment/general anxiety woes.  We learn that during the summer in question, Pigeon was just five years old, and it was this summer that her father up and abandons the family with no warning.  Consequently, Pigeon, her two siblings (Dove and Robin), and their mother move to a beach house on the Jersey shore.  This summer marks upheaval and dramatic change for the entire family, but ostensibly it is Pigeon who is affected most by the various events. (more…)
27th September
2009
written by Steph
Book club pick for Sept/Oct

Book club pick for Sept/Oct

This book was selected for the upcoming meeting of my real-life book club.  I first read it back in 2004 or 2005 and enjoyed it so much that when I found a cheap copy at McKay’s during one of our initial visits, I bought it so that Tony could experience it.  If not for my bookclub, I’m not sure that I would have re-read it again any time soon, but I have to say the experience was not at all unwelcome. This seems to be one of those books that pretty much everyone has read, so I’m tempted not to give a synopsis.  Then again, judging from the way my bookclub voted (we are a bit different in the way we operate compared to most other clubs, I think: rather than a single person picking a book for us to read, the person in charge of organizing the meeting for that month picks 3 potential books and sends us the information.  We then all vote for which one we want, so that no single person can be held responsible should we not like the book! 😉 ), apparently there may be a hidden faction of individuals who are not familiar with this one.  So: the basic premise is that this novel revolves around a young, autistic narrator named Christopher.  Christopher has been tasked with writing a book for school, and we, the readers, are looking at the final result.  The story is told through Christopher’s eyes, which makes for an interesting and pretty unique reading experience given Christopher’s unusual way of looking at the world.  The novel’s main catalyst is Christopher’s discovery that his neighbor’s dog has been murdered, and he decides that he will discover who committed the crime.  Through his investigations he winds up uncovering a much larger secret that has been kept hidden for far too long, one that causes him to stretch and grow in ways he never thought possible. (more…)