Saturday, April 07, 2007

Amy Loves Books

Hi, this is Amy, the other half of the Brewster household. Mat's finally gotten me write something for the blog. He's even trying to tell me what to say to introduce myself.

About once a week my husband and I venture into town for entertainment. Occasionally we see a movie, but more often, we visit the public library and the bookstore. The library has books of all sorts, movies, and music. We each have an account and each gather a pile of items to peruse. Our interests vary. I venture towards the non-fiction. I might pick up a book on sewing (though I don’t have a machine, my mother has long put off teaching me), gardening, birds or cooking.

Sometimes I choose a book on exercise and diet which I dutifully read and apply one principal of, once, and then forget. Other times, I check out books on finances and budgeting. Those are even more difficult to apply. But the effort of reading the book salves my conscience and heightens my awareness of my flaws.

Mat will pick out fiction (mysteries and thrillers) and lately graphic novels. We have an extensive collection of classics at home (both were English majors), so we rarely look for that at the library. In the movie section, I invariably choose foreign films that sometimes we watch. Mat’s choices include horror. We both like the classic films in black and white.

For me, I never know what to choose in the music section. Each time I come home with at least one CD that has visited our house before in Mat’s collection. I’ve been picking up books and audio programs on CD as well. My 6 hours a week in the car has encouraged me to listen to new music and books. I’m still not used to paying that much attention while driving though. So I’ll listen to NPR instead because Morning Edition’s stories are three to six minutes long.

More about books

Something I’ve wondered about: sequels. Sequels in the literary world are a bit different from sequels in the movie world. I’m not thinking of books in a series like Harry Potter. That’s an original author continuing their work. Really, I’m thinking of those books that nod to, are inspired by, and continue or twist an original. In all honesty, I haven’t read too many of these.

My reading listing includes Wicked from Gregory Maguire (who has made a living out of “sequeling” the fairy tale stories and rewriting them for grown-ups) and Mrs. de Winter, the sequel to Du Maurier’s Rebecca. There’s another sequel to Rebecca as well, Rebecca’s Tale. Then there is Scarlet, the sequel to Gone with the Wind and all the Darcy sequels to Jane Austen’s famous characters from Pride and Prejudice. I glanced at one of these in the store and saw immediately that the author hadn’t captured Austen’s writing style: the quotable Austen! “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” (I almost had it from memory. I was close, Dr. Shull!)

So what about the literary sequel? I enjoyed Wicked for it's story but not Maguire's intellectualizing, but it is so unlike The Wizard of Oz that they don't compare that well. I don't remember Mrs. de Winter and would only re-read the original. On the other hand, Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead was a success. But not all sequels fare so well. And yet, we want to remember these stories, to reconsider them, and in some cases to reinvent them. Do we have the right?


Jamison said...

I used to be a huge Star Wars fan. Friends in high school would try to get me to read books (not written by George Lucas) that continued the story or were set somewhere in the middle of the movies. I wouldn't touch them for anything.

As for NPR, may I recommend (if you havent done so already) downloading iTunes. Search for shows like "Wait wait, dont tell me", a funny little quiz show that I love listening to, but honestly, it leans more towards english-major-humor. The shows are an hour long, and you can download them to any mp3 player and listen to them as you drive. Also, it, and any other NPR material on itunes is FREE! No catch. They also have loads of NPR "Stories of the day" and other news items in different categories that range from 3 minutes long to 20 minutes long. It made my last plane trip enjoyable.

midnitcafe said...

Yeah for Amy and her blogging skills.

lilsip said...

A good sequel (won the Pulitzer recently) is "March", a take-off on "Little Women." Not at all like the original, but not supposed to be either. Excellent read.

Charlie said...

I think some of the books that "reimagine" or "reinvent" can be interesting if done right. Wish I could think of some examples. There is a novel called "It's Superman!" that's puts the characters in the late 1930's, when they were created, except in a more realistic portrayal. For example, Lex Luthor is a crime boss (I think), kind of like Al Capone. I haven't gotten the book yet, but I plan to one day, along with all the other books I plan to get.

When I read, it's mostly graphic novels or collected trades. I try to get non-superhero related stuff, but good luck around here. The chain stores carry some indy books, but only the ones with a higher profile than others, which sort of makes them non-indy books in a sense. Even the two comic book stores we have here carry mostly mainstream superhero books. I'd probably be better off ordering the stuff I want online.

FYI: the baby is due in nine weeks. Or less, of course. Wierd, wild stuff.