The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

8117HB7WbvLYou better believe I’m going to review this for #weekofreviews. I get bragging rights for reading this one. To be honest, this one was not even a chore. I enjoyed it very much, but I took a l-o-n-g time to go through it. Think of this review as a primer for a Russian literary tomb. Let’s get to it, shall we?

The Brothers Karamazov is the story of three brothers and their wretched scoundrel of a father. It’s a family drama, a philosophical exploration and a whodunnit mystery all in one. One of my favorite quotes about TBK is found in Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut:

“Rosewater said an interesting thing to Billy one time about a book that wasn’t science fiction. He said that everything there was to know about life was in The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky.”

And from Madeleine L’Engle, in speaking about flawed art in her nonfiction book, A Circle of Quiet:

“The truly great books are flawed: The Brothers Karamazov is unwieldy in structure; a present-day editor would probably want to cut the Grand Inquisitor scene because it isn’t necessary to the plot. For me, The Brothers Karamazov is one of the greatest novels ever written, and this is perhaps because of, rather than in spite of, its human faults.”

ALL KINDS of things in this book are worthy of contemplation. There are some places that are obviously symbolic. Sometimes I think readers are looking for statements and worldviews in a book that perhaps the author never intended to create. But then, there are other pieces of literature that are heavy laden with thought, beliefs and social commentary. I believe this is one of those.

Here’s what you need to know if you want to read The Brothers Karamazov.

1. Russian names: One thing that can be confusing is the use of nicknames. You have to catch on to these pretty quickly in order to keep up.
Alyosha aka Alexei
Dmitri aka Mitya
Ivan. I think he’s just Ivan. My memory fails me.
Nikolai aka Kolya
You get the gist…

2. It’s long. But the chapters and sections are divided in really doable amounts so that should not be an issue. I get a little fussy about long chapters and this one did not irritate me.

3. This one is heavy on religious philosophy. It’s not the only philosophy presented but it is the main one. Specifically, the existence of God and is Intellectual enlightenment more valuable than Spiritual enlightenment.

4. There is some really beautiful language and thought in this book.

5. There is all kinds of online help if you have trouble keeping up. I read this one probably four or five years ago and I found a couple of professors on youtube lecturing on different parts of the book. This book would make an excellent semester long study for college students. I would take that class. Like now.

So, I didn’t get much into the summary here in all my rambling but in short, Daddy Karamazov, the scoundrel, is despicable and has basically cast off his three sons, now grown, to different people to raise. Aloysha, the youngest, seeks a life in the monastery and serving God, Ivan finds his pleasure and worth in Intellectualism and Dmitri, unfortunately, is a chip off the old block and is a lot like his father in behavior. But not in heart. This is their story and it’s no spoiler to share with you that at some point, someone makes an end of Daddy, and you, the reader, get to follow along to find out who. It’s good ya’ll. Even if there are some confusing moments. And some boring ones as well.

The end was very exciting. It didn’t end the way I thought it would, but you know, that’s life for most of us.

makes it’s appearance in LOST in season 2 when Ben, aka Henry Gale, is locked in the gun closet in the underground hatch. He’s being held there because he’s suspected of shenanigans. Locke brings him something to read to pass the time.

Ben looks at the book. “Dostoevsky…. You don’t have any Stephen King?”

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Alright ya’ll, don’t be scared. You need to read this book!!

Ode to Watership Down

When I was in the seventh grade I was convinced that my family was the last family in America to not have a microwave oven. But I was pretty sure we were the first people to have HBO.

Do you guys have any idea how many times JAWS was shown on HBO in the early 80’s? About a bazillion. I wasn’t allowed to watch it. But I did. And I cried at a slumber party because I was afraid for my parents who were taking a weekend trip to the beach.  And sometimes I was afraid to sit on the toilet because I thought a head might float out of the tunnel to the surface. (Cause that happens in a boat in JAWS, but not in a toilet.) I was a scaredy cat.

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Have you guys seen these shoes?? Are they not the BEST? They belong to my friend Bryan.There is even bloody tissue paper in the box!  I.Just.Can’t.Even.

Another movie in heavy rotation on HBO was Watership Down. I laid on the couch one night after supper thinking I would watch that cartoon movie about the rabbits. You know, just chill for a while before I went to bed. Uh….that little rabbit movie was a little disturbing, and it had me feeling all dark inside. Brrr…chills….not what I expected.

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Fast forward to my freshman year of college. A friend of mine was majoring in English and I saw that she was reading Watership Down. And I’m like…”Oh, it’s a book!” I tell my friend about the movie and make a mental note to someday read it.

Fast forward fifteen-plus years and I’m watching LOST. (No!! Really??) And there’s Sawyer, walking up out of the ocean, talking about the book about bunnies. And I’m like, There’s that book again! 

Fast forward one more time to 2011. LOST has been over for a year and I’m in TV mourning. I’m making out my summer reading plans and thinking about all the books featured on LOST and I make the decision to finally read Watership Down.

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I read it and I swear that book stayed with me the rest of the summer. It’s like it was the book I was always meant to read. I thought about the rabbits and how they bared such close resemblances to the characters on LOST. I thought about their plight and how sometimes you’re called to be the leader, even when you don’t want to be. And I thought about whether or not there is a right time to steal. And there was just so much to ponder about survival, adventure, prophecy, rest and the after-life. I don’t know, it just worked for me. All I can do is gush about it. That is all.

This week I have committed to post five reviews for #weekofreviews. I’m focusing primarily on books from the LOST list that I read but never got around to blogging about. Ya’ll stick around, it’s going to be fabulous!  Up next: The Brothers Karamazov.

#Reviewathon

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Estella’s Revenge is tossing out another challenge and boy do I need this one. She is encouraging those of us who are behind in our book reviews to devote a week to catching up. This will be the perfect opportunity for me to finish up those LOST book club reviews. (You know I finished that reading project 2 years ago, right?) I’d say I’m behind.

So I am committing to five days of reviews. Monday the 13th through Friday the 17th. Hopefully I’ll finally get to my favorite on the list, Watership Down. Or maybe I’ll cover the most controversial ones. Ooo…that could be interesting.
Stay tuned!

Thoughts on A Time to Kill by John Grisham

(Please ignore the wonky format here. I had a run in with blog bug or something and can’t get this straight. Apologies.)

I read this one a little late. About 27 years late. Whatever.
I promise no MAJOR spoilers, but minor ones may abound. You guys probably know all this anyway.

Thoughts
# 1
. It has been several years since I’ve read John Grisham. Previous to this one, I had only read two of his legal thrillers; The Firm, which I read when I was pregnant with Lindsay, (she’s 21 now), and The Testament. I liked both of them very much. But Mr. Grisham has written tons of legal thrillers since then and I haven’t been keeping up. He’s also written other books, not about the law, that I’ve enjoyed as well. I read A Painted House and thought about it often when I was reading Wiley Cash’s A Land More Kind Than Home. I’ve read Skipping Christmas, Bleachers, (which I loved), and Playing for Pizza. I forgot how much I really enjoy his writing. I mentioned recently on Facebook and Instagram that I appreciate his ability to communicate horrible things without giving me too much of the play by play. There are some horrible goings-on in A Time to Kill. If you can make it past chapter one, you can get through all of it.

#2.
The Plot. This is no major spoiler. A ten  year old girl is raped, beaten, nearly hanged and left for dead by two scums of the earth. Her father avenges her by murdering the two rapists. I was surprised at my own thoughts here because instead of rejoicing in their deaths, I found myself feeling like they got off too easy. I wanted them to suffer the same fate they doled out, to slowly suffer a horrific rape and beating, and THEN die. Now, after reading the whole story, I would prefer that they endure all of that and NOT die, but have to live with it the rest of their days. Because that is the ongoing gift of turmoil that they gave the little girl. BUT, it was not my story to tell and Mr. Grisham did a fine job telling it his way.

#3.
The Lawyer, Jake Brigance. Although I was always rooting for him, I just couldn’t get to where I adored him. He was a tad cocky. I like that in some characters but I wanted humility in him. I also wanted him to be brilliant, he wasn’t. He was your basic, everyday, flawed human. I’ve got no problem with that, I’m flawed too, I was just expecting him to be a hero, and he really wasn’t. But can I tell you how happy I was that even in his humanity, he found no room to be unfaithful to his wife? Even when opportunity and temptation were set before him on a silver platter? With all that he had going on, and my word the stuff that went wrong, he was smart enough to not add stupid to the list.

 

#4.
Why do people drink themselves under the table when they have to be in court at 9 am the next day??? Why do you want to add a hangover to everything else that is working against you? The alcohol! I mean, I understand a drink or two after work but these people, I don’t know how they functioned. Dude. A man’s life is in your hands. Drink later. 

#5.
The language. It’s been a long time since I’ve talked about this. There was not a single instance of God’s name being misused in this book. If you know me, you know how I feel about this. If you are a new reader, then you can read more of how I feel about it here. I read a lot, I see it a lot, I’m not shocked by it, I just don’t like it.  I just happen to be someone who notices, in anything I read or watch, whether or not it occurs. Most of us have sensitivities to some things that we don’t care to encounter in person or in our entertainment. That one is mine. I will cringe at every offense. It’s sad to me how it saturates so much of literature, which forces one to acknowledge that it’s a reflection of reality. All that being said….the N word was all over the place.

#6.
On a philosophical note. I’m interested to see what you may feel about the whole idea of revenge as it plays out in this story. Was Carl Lee, the father, right in what he did? I don’t question what the rapists deserved, I’m clear on that, but as far as what Carl Lee did, was he right? And if so, is it right to convict him of murder under those circumstances? Also, if we determine that he is right in what he did, then is he right to want to be free of the consequence of what he did? In other words, I can see where someone would have no problem taking revenge for their daughter, but would they really expect not to pay for that? That was my only internal conflict in the story. Even though the killings were justified in my mind, I was never comfortable with the thought that he could do it and not be punished by law. I would expect him to take the revenge in spite of the consequences, but not in the hopes of avoiding them.

I sort of loved this book. It was fast paced, exciting, well written and it provided a scenario for me to ponder what I would have done if I were Carl Lee. I’m interested to know your thoughts about it too.

 

May Reading Challenge: Smash Your Stack!

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Andi at Estella’s Revenge is issuing a reading challenge for the month of May. The Smash Your Stack event is a call for readers to curtail the purchasing of new books and to get busy reading those perfectly good books sitting on your shelf, that for whatever reason you haven’t gotten to.

Ya’ll, I am all about this! I’ve been working on reading my own books all year. Other than occasional Book Club selections and bookish gifts here and there, my goal is to keep my acquisition of new books this year to a minimum. But let’s not get crazy…..you know I have a wish list.

So, my goal is to read six of my own books in May; three complete novels and to finish three non-fiction books that I have going. That will be 100% of my reading for the month.
Nothing new….

Want to join me??

I’m Waxing Poetic

Not really, I’m not poetic AT ALL. But I do appreciate people that are. I love words and I’m in awe sometimes at the way people use them to paint pictures or express their deepest thoughts. I’ll admit, the only poetry I know is the mainstream that most of us got in school; “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day…” “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood…””Tyger, Tyger, burning bright…”  Without any consistent study, those have stuck with me. Just think, if there were no poets in the world, there would be no The Night Before Christmas, no Green Eggs and Ham and I would not have been “serenaded” by that guy in college one night who stood outside my window quoting, “Whose woods these are I think I know.” (Good times)

 

“Why all this talk about poetry?” you ask. Well, my friends, April is National Poetry Month. And you know I’m always up for a celebration. Even if I’m not a poet myself, I shall indulge in the poetry of others. And I encourage you to do the same.
Also, in case you didn’t know, April 21st is Poem in your Pocket day. That is a day for you to tote lots of little copies of poems in your pocket, purse or whatever, and give them to others throughout your day; at work, at the park, restaurants, grocery stores, wherever you go. How lovely would it be to receive the gift of beautiful words from some kind, random stranger?

James Brush is a reader/blogger/poet that I discovered online several years ago while he was reading and blogging through the LOST reading list. For that he has my life-long respect, as he actually created the list and he did it so much better than me. But he is also a poet and he posts a poem a day every day in April. I’m posting here one that he wrote a couple of years ago that has been a favorite for me. You can see so much more at his site, here.

Ordinary Night

It was ordinary:
the hill, the town,
the sky, a wisp
of cloud against
the stars. Ordinary
as methane rain
on Titan or the dry
encroaching ice
on the windswept
Martian poles.
Common as each
flower in this field
around my feet,
each one a star
to mirror constellations
above my blood-filled
head. The window
lights in town
click off, a chorus
of everyday amens,
whispered in the holy
darkness of the night.

Magpie Tales #234

 

Happy Poetry Month everyone! If you’ve written a poem, recently or ever, please post it in the comments. Let me gaze at the beauty of your words…

 

Book Club – The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley

Marcy from book club is one of those people who just loves the old stuff. She majored in history, she knows antiques, she does stuff the old fashioned way and she sees the value and beauty in things that are slow, hand-made, authentic. She’s younger than me but she is an old soul. And I mean that in every positive way.

It was Marcy’s turn to pick for book club and she chose Parnassus on Wheels and The Haunted Bookshop, both by Christopher Morley. Ya’ll, did you know there are book lover books from a hundred years ago? And of course, when Marcy mentioned what she had chosen and when it was written I was immediately suspicious  cause, you know, I don’t want to read anything boring and complicated. BUT she gave us her disclaimer that it didn’t read like a hundred year old book at all. And she was so right.

Parnassus on Wheels was an absolute pleasure and joy to read. So funny, so easy and oh my gosh, the quotes. The quotes!! This short little book took me twice as long to read it as it should have because I spent so much time highlighting the quotes!!

The Haunted Bookshop was almost as good as Parnassus. Two of the main characters were the same but he got into a little bit of his own personal philosophy in that one and the general mood was different, but again, the quotes!

So, back to Marcy, I knew homegirl was going to do the book club up right. From the decor and the food, right down to the discussion. She did not disappoint.

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Our greeting at the front door

 

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“That’s why I call this place the Haunted Bookshop. Haunted by the ghosts of the books I haven’t read.”

 

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Eggs Samuel Butler, the favored supper of  protagonist Roger Mifflin. Marcy’s husband made all the food and served it up on blue china, just like the china Mrs. Mifflin inherited from her mother. I just can’t even….

I

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Book seller Roger Mifflin was writing a book

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Marcy, doing her thing…

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Brent, Garcon, serveur, egg poacher, fire stoker, cocoa bearer, etc.

Don’t hate me cause my book club is awesome.

 

Five Sentence Summation -An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, The Third Policeman and Bad Twin

Welcome to another installment of the Five Sentence Summation. This is just what it says folks, I take a few books I’ve read and instead of giving them a full review, I keep it short and sweet with five sentences. In this case, I’m summarizing books I read for the LOST Book Club a bazillion years ago but I never got around to blogging about them.

So…..here we go…..

“An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce”

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A Confederate soldier is about to be hanged and he is watching the water flow beneath him, imagining what it would be like to escape. Then miraculously, he does. So begins the chase. This super short story has all the dark and dreadful feelings of anyone facing the noose. For a great review and a look into it’s connection on LOST check this out.
Bonus info: You can read this story free, here.

 

 

 

The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien

the third policemanI followed this one for a while in the beginning. Then an explosion happened and confusion and irritation followed. There were policemen and bicycles and nonsense and repetition. There was a big twist at the end, though, that was unexpected and interesting . If I wasn’t so proud of myself for hanging in there with this one I would have tossed this book or given it away.

 

 

 

Bad Twin by Gary Troup

bad twinGary Troup was an author and a passenger on Oceanic Flight 815, and he did not survive the crash. He was traveling to see his publisher with his most recent manuscript when the plane went down. LOST castaway Hugo (Hurley) Reyes found the manuscript on the island and it became part of the reading material for the LOSTies. That is… until a cranky Jack threw it in the fire to teach someone a lesson. This one was a mystery loaded with literary references and it was a lot of fun!

 

One of the best things about doing the LOST challenge is that I read so many books that I never would have otherwise. It’s great when I find others who have read some of them too, so if you have, hit my blog up and let me know!

2016 Reading Goals

Tis the season to tally up last years totals and cast vision for the next, so here goes…

2015 was the year of challenge free reading for me. After spending three years working on and completing my LOST Book Club Challenge I wanted to just relax a bit and read whatever I wanted. The only reading I committed to that was outside of my own list was Sense and Sensibility for the Austen in August event and whatever books came along for book club. I thought my numbers would really go up because I was reading for me and not what a challenge dictated but my numbers didn’t really change that much. I read five more books than I averaged for the previous four years. It was nice having a year off but I’ll be getting back to it this year.

Here are my 2016 goals:

1. Finish what I started in 2015. I have three novels and one audio book that I have not finished and I need to cross them off my list. The audio book is, (and gosh people, please don’t hate me, I’m looking at you April at Steadfast Reader), A Prayer for Owen Meany. LAW I am having a hard time getting through this one. It’s just soooo lonnnngggg and I can’t really put my finger on what it is that I don’t like. I just…I don’t know. But because I am who I am, I shall finish it. And hopefully I’ll be glad I did.

2.  I am beginning another read through the Bible. Now last time it took me five years. Well, I should say, I took five years to do it. That’s a tad long. This time I am shooting for two years. I’m reading the NIV translation and I’m using the guide from Discipleship Journal. I like that one because it keeps you in the Old and New Testaments all the time and there are 25 days of reading per month which gives you some catch up time if you miss some days.

3. This is the year for Moby Dick. I can’t say that I ever wanted to read that one before but after my LOST party, a friend of mine gave me a copy as a gift and said that he thought I would really like it. I think he’s going to be right.

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4. I will read another Jane Austen novel in August. I hope the blogging meme happens again this year but either way, I’m going to read this lovely jewel, Emma. I won this copy last year from The Folio Society when Roof Beam Reader hosted the month long Jane Austen extravaganza.

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That’s it for the big goals. My Goodreads goal is set at 30. I think it will be more like 40 but I am playing it safe. I’ve got a few heavies on my list.

Tell me, have you read and adored A Prayer for Owen Meany?
Have you read Moby Dick, Emma or through the entire Bible in a year?
Tell me. tell me!

 

Gandalf the Grey

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Caleb and Gandalf

Ya’ll, I’m now a pet owner. I know this is old hat for most of you but I have not been responsible for an animal in like, 17 or 18 years.

It has been glorious freedom.

But…I have this child, who is no longer a child, who has always wanted a pet. All he’s ever had is a fish and a gecko because, you know…these animals cost money and a whole lot of time and emotional investment. But since time is getting away from us with this kid, and truthfully, since I don’t want to stand before God in Heaven to hear Him say, “Well done, Darlene, but why didn’t you ever get Caleb a pet?”, I decided to take in a kitten that my close friend was REALLY needing to find a home for.

I’m thinking, ok, outdoor cat, low maintenance, low cost, Caleb gets a pet, (not a dog like his heart’s desire) but a furry family member. This is good, right? Right.

My kitty, Gandalf, or Little G, is convalescing in our house right now after having routine surgery of castration and hernia repair. That’s more operations than I’ve had. The vet wanted to see me when I picked him up. (I’m always so afraid they are going to guilt me into doing this or that and paying a bunch of money for X,Y and Z for a cat that I want to take good care of, yes, but not take any heroic measures with. My kids have to go to college, you know.) So, he shows me some x-rays and tells me two things.
1.) Gandalf has a hip fracture. Ugh, heavy sigh. I know when that happened. I saw him jump from an outside shed and he landed on his back. I have never seen a cat NOT land on his feet before. It was very alarming and just, awful, really. But he just acted a little stunned and kept moving on normally so that was that. I had no idea he broke his hip but I know that’s when it happened.
2.) He has Hip Dyplasia. It’s hereditary. Vet says he’ll have good days and bad days all his life. Great. Poor thing. Although, I don’t think he is old enough for it to bother him yet. I’m not Googling that because I don’t want to be responsible for that knowledge.

So for several days, he’s living it up inside. There’s a litter box, which I did not want, but what do you do? I’m in love with this cat. He is in a very good place because I’m so dang tenderhearted towards him. My husband…well, not so much. He has progressed from “I hate cats,” to “I don’t want this cat,” to “I don’t hate this cat,” to physically caring for him in very small but important ways. He does this because he loves me. He doesn’t yet love the cat.

This is it folks. My first and last cat. But I hope he’s around for a long, long time. Or at least til Caleb moves out.