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Press Release of "Reminder"

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Every now and then, in the depressing mass-market orientated and behemoth-dominated publishing world of today, we hear a story of rightly-earned success and true talent duly vindicated. Tom McCarthy’s quick rise from cult-novelist to the big-time scene couldn’t offer a better example. His debut novel, Remainder, had been sent around to the usual suspects of the UK’s publishing establishment, and although many editors loved it, sales and marketing departments were sceptical about its commercial potential. As a consequence, it never saw the light of day.

But as it’s a well-known fact that no prophet is honoured in his own country, McCarthy didn’t give up, and sent a copy of the manuscript to underground French publisher Metronome Press – a latter-day equivalent of legendary ’50s publisher Olympia Press – who fell in love with it and decided to take the risk and publish it. Without any real marketing, publicity or distribution beyond the art circuit, and with a modest print-run of 750 copies, it made its tortuous way into the wide, wide world – yet, somehow, rave reviews started to pour in from the most prestigious UK magazines and newspapers, like the TLS, the London Review of Books and the Independent, who even argued about the “classic status” of this book.

In the meantime, Jonny Pegg of Curtis Brown, who had championed the author from the very beginning and made it his mission to have this book published by a good UK publisher, sent it to new independent publisher Alma Books. Within a couple of weeks, Alma snapped up the UK rights for Remainder and planned an immediate release, just in time for the 2006 Man Booker Prize submission.

Alma has an uncanny habit of such timely strikes – they bought the UK rights to William T Vollmann’s Europe Central just before it won the high-profile National Book Award for Fiction in the US, and they went for two Paola Kaufmann novels, The Sister and The Lake, just before the former landed the prestigious Casa del las Américas Prize and the latter took the Planeta Prize.

When things started to look good for Remainder in the UK, Jonny Pegg also received an offer from US publishing giant Vintage. Somehow they had heard about the book through the publishing grapevine, and after getting hold of one of the last (and now almost collectable) Metronome copies, Vintage’s Editor in Chief Marty Asher got so enthusiastic about the novel that he decided to take up personal editorship of it. ‘Remainder is a complete original. A novel so strange and unpredictable that once I started it, dishes went unwashed, cats unfed, work stopped until I got to the end, which was both surprising and inevitable. It’s a stunningly accomplished piece of work which defies categorization and which Vintage is thrilled to be publishing.’

The strange rags-to-riches fate of Remainder echoes that of its nameless protagonist, whose life takes a strange turn after he’s hit by a never fully explained object falling from the sky and receives a fortune in compensation – money which he puts to increasingly psychotic effect, paying for his own memories to be reconstructed and replayed in microscopic detail.

And the title? “The hero, his body and his mind are a remainder, what the accident leaves,” explains McCarthy. “The world he reconstructs is a remainder, made up of fragments left over from his ideal ‘remembered’ world. And I love the provocation of calling a book Remainder.”

Alma publisher Alessandro Gallenzi is jubilant at the coup: “This is a major catch, and together with Anthony McCarten’s Death of a Superhero will make for a very strong Alma Books submission to the 2006 Booker.”

REMAINDER by Tom McCarthy
ISBN: 1-84688-015-7, Hardback, £10.99, 336 pp.
Publication Date: July 2006

SIGNED EDITION AVAILABLE - Please call us on +44 (0)20 8948 9550 for further details

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Complete Reviews of "Reminder"

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'A splendidly odd novel... a refreshingly idiosyncratic, enjoyably intelligent read.' The Guardian

'Remainder is an intelligent and absurd satire on consumer culture.' The Times

‘McCarthy’s prose is precise and unpretentious. His anti-hero is a sympathetic Everyman, and it is difficult to resist the dominion of his obsession... its minatory brilliance calls for classic status.’
The Independent

‘...strangely gripping... Remainder should be read (and, of course, reread) for its intelligence and humour.’
TLS

'The storyline mesmerizes in its imaginative brilliance... the novel explores complex philosophical ideas about "being" in a simple and direct way. And through McCarthy’s attention to detail, the fantastical plot always retains a feeling of plausibility. The story raises fascinating questions about whether human experience is ever really original or always in some ways an imitation or performance. And in the dark denouement, we are left feeling that there is something integral to human identity that can’t be rationalized, summoned up, or manufactured.'
The Sunday Telegraph

'Enthralling, dotted with dark humour and undoubted originality… it really sticks around in the mind, nagging at one afterwards, and the most complimentary thing that can be said about this novel of repeating scenes is that it really does deserve to be read a second time.'
The Irish Times

‘This isn’t how we expect a novel to be, but it’s why it’s a very good novel indeed. It trains you out of a certain way of thinking.’
London Review of Books

‘...a seamless work of fiction infused with dark humour and echoes of Heidegger, Camus and Burroughs.’
Dazed & Confused

‘Remainder, with seamless prose, endlessly probes the surface of the ‘event’, its infinite elements, angles, perspectives, how it comes about, how it can be brought about again, then lived and relived in Ballardian orbits and Beckettian vibrations... It will remain with you long after you have felt compelled to re-read it.’
Time Out


'Remainder is one of the quirkiest books I’ve read in a while. In a feat of almost Beckettian precision and austerity, McCarthy conjures this absurd and darkly funny vision seemingly from the air.'
The Melbourne Age

‘A masterpiece waiting to happen - again and again and again.’
3:AM Magazine

'Remainder is a triumph and probably one of the most refreshingly brilliant novels you will read for a very long time to come. You will treasure this novel, it will sit on your book shelves with pride, you will hold it in your hands and grin like a child at Christmas. It will be passed onto friends and family. You will read this remarkable novel again and again and again.'
www.readysteadybook.com

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Book Review: "Remainder" a novel by Tom McCarthy

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About The Book
Title: Remainder
Author: by Tom McCarthy
ISBN: 1-84688-015-7, Hardback, £10.99, 336 pp.
Publication Date: July 2006

Reality studio
Patrick Ness finds much to admire in Tom McCarthy's refreshingly idiosyncratic word-of-mouth hit, Remainder
by Patrick Ness, Guardian, Saturday August 12, 2006

Tom McCarthy's splendidly odd novel has finally reached bookshop shelves via an unnecessarily protracted route. Unable to get past the sceptical marketing departments of the large UK publishing houses, Remainder was first printed in France last year by underground imprint Metronome in a run of just 750 copies. Savvy literary types in this country sought it out, hailing the book's originality and voice, and in turn catching the eye of brand-new UK independent publisher Alma Books, which snapped it up as one of its first titles. A deal with US publishing giant Vintage followed, this hardcover version is now out here, and lo, a quirky, word-of-mouth hit is born.

If the ultimate outcome is inspirational, the need for it is depressing. How many other pleasingly off-kilter books are out there, unknown and unpublished? Surely the price of having to put up with Jordan as a "novelist" ought to be that her profits should provide major publishers with the resources to take chances on books intelligent people might actually want to read?

Remainder - hurrah - is one of those books. Its unnamed narrator has suffered a traumatic event. He can't describe the event - though it involves "something falling from the sky" - both because he can't remember it happening and because his £8.5m settlement from the company involved prohibits him from discussing it. He has spent months in a coma, then more months relearning how to move his body, losing in the process the art of "just being". At a loose end, he goes to a party and sees a crack in a wall. Filled with overwhelming déjà vu, he copies the crack on to a piece of paper and takes it home with him, his hands tingling in "a mixture of serene and intense". He realises that for a brief instant he has "been real - been without first understanding how to try to be".

The crack triggers memories of a building where he may or may not have lived, and he sets about recreating it in every last detail, including cats on a neighbouring roof lounging in the sun and the woman below him who cooked liver all day. Using his settlement and enlisting the help of a logistics expert, he buys two whole buildings, moves out every tenant, recreates the exact interior design of his memories, and - with the help of an ever-increasing staff - hires actors on 24-hour call to re-enact small, insignificant actions such as the setting down of a rubbish bag.

The re-enactment is a success, giving the narrator a brief but potent connection to reality. So begins a re-enactment addiction, starting with events as banal as a trip to a petrol station through to the recreation of a shooting in his Brixton neighbourhood. He even starts re-enacting the re-enactments. It can only be a matter of time before things veer out of control.

But is all as it seems? The narrator is haunted by the smell of cordite; there are characters who might not be real; and he begins to fall into catatonic trances brought on by the re-enactments. Is this purgatory? Did he in fact die in the traumatic event? McCarthy wisely lets the question remain open, finding instead a marvellous closing image of a plane flying a figure of eight - which, of course, is also the symbol for infinity.

There are some bumps on the way. The randomness of the re-enactments may be philosophically sound, but it drains more momentum than it should. And the final re-enactment of a bank robbery, while asking interesting questions about perceived reality, drifts too far into blunt Chuck Palahniuk territory to be as satisfyingly subtle as what has gone before. Still, this is a refreshingly idiosyncratic, enjoyably intelligent read by a writer with ideas and talent. And even after McCarthy's non-fiction success this year with Tintin and the Secret of Literature, it's a novel that could so easily have missed out on being published here. It's a forgotten axiom that pre-Harry Potter no one was looking for books about boy wizards. One publisher took a chance, et voilà, the biggest success in modern publishing history. Surely the trick lies not in finding yet more Dan Brown or Cecelia Ahern derivatives to shove on us, but in being the one who introduces us to the first Tom McCarthy.

· Patrick Ness's latest book is Topics About Which I Know Nothing (Harper Perennial)

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Giraffe explores science, secrets

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Image Description: Ledgard tells his tale of killing and dreams from many points of view — including that of a reticulated giraffe cow.

By Will Tizard
Staff Writer, The Prague Post

About The Book
Title: Giraffe
Publishers: Jonathan Cape, UK, Penguin Press, U.S., Edition Heloise D'Ormesson, France
336 pages
Price: £16.99 ($32/700 Kč)



A state cover-up forms the basis for a sinister fairy tale in Jonathan Ledgard's novel

Jonathan Ledgard's first novel, Giraffe, is a many-faceted work that reads like a dark Central European bedtime story at times and like a spare Cold War thriller at others. The book, which grew out of his discovery of a secret 1975 operation involving the extermination of the largest captive herd of giraffes in the world in a zoo in Czechoslovakia, is also an impressive piece of journalism.

Ledgard, a longtime correspondent for The Economist who is based in Prague but covers Central and East Africa for the respected British news magazine, answered questions about his book while on break from an assignment in Ethiopia, where he is working and trying to keep up with his toddler son, Hamish.

Giraffe, published this year, has already created an international sensation and is currently being released in its U.S. and French editions.

The Prague Post: Where did the idea for Giraffe first take root?

Jonathan Ledgard: I was a Central and Eastern Europe correspondent of The Economist at the time. One day, around 2001, I came across a snippet in one of the Czech papers. It was just a line in an interview with someone who later defected, to the effect that he had filmed the birth of a giraffe for Czechoslovak state television, but that the footage had disappeared after secret police had shot dead all the giraffes in that zoo. Could this be true? I was captivated. I spent a couple of years researching the book, then got sent to Afghanistan to look for Osama bin Laden, which is where I started to write it.

The research was a kind of three-dimensional journalism: I wanted the facts, but I also wanted the feelings. The feelings were more important. I managed to track down many of those involved. I interviewed zookeepers, veterinarians, retired secret police officers, butchers, former dissidents, biochemical warfare specialists and others. The highlight came right at the end when, quite by chance, I met with the hunter who was brought in by the secret police to shoot the giraffes.

We spent a day in his cabin in the mountains talking through what happened. He had never spoken about it before. He still had nightmares about it. I asked him, for example, what kind of rifle strap he had, how he wore it, how the moonlight played on the corrugated iron roof of the giraffe house, and what was the exact sound of the body of a giraffe hitting concrete.

Giraffe

- Publishers: Jonathan Cape, UK, Penguin Press, U.S., Edition Heloise D'Ormesson, France
- 336 pages
- Price: £16.99 ($32/700 Kč)

He answered everything, thoughtfully, and although he did not wish to be identified, he spoke with a great sense of relief, as if he had been waiting to unburden himself. We walked away from his hut. It was summer, the grass in the meadows was high, all the snow melted, even in the shadows, and I felt moved almost to tears because I knew that I had finally got under the skin of that one single suffering.

TPP: Is the phrase 'communist moment' something commonly used, or did you coin it for Giraffe? If so, why do you think it works?

JL: It's a phrase I coined. I'm interested in time and space. The ČSSR in 1975 was a communist moment. I was trying to get at the brevity of communism and yet how it seemed, in 1975, that it would go on for a long, long time.

TPP: There's a lot of melancholy and resignation in your main character, Emil, the haemodynamicist, that is, as you describe, someone who specializes in blood flow in vertical creatures like giraffes and man. Was that a function of the time or is that something still in the atmosphere of Prague?

JL: Both, I think. In writing terms, there's a deliberate flatness about Emil. You can't really say if he's good or bad, successful or failing: He's compromised and he's haunted — just like Prague.

TPP: What's your writing routine? Walks, gallons of coffee, must put it on paper by hand first, can only write standing in a closet, etc.? How many hours a day can you go on this stuff (not counting your journalism, just the book work)?

JL: There's the seed, then the germination of the seed, then the hard research, and finally the writing itself. I tend to write on the move. I travel everywhere with two notebooks. One is green, the other is blue. The green is for reporting, the blue is for writing. I took some months out at the end of Giraffe to write, at the rate of 10 to 12 hours a day, for six days a week, with occasional breaks for tennis and fishing. It's pretty antisocial, but that's the way I do it.

TPP: What substories on giraffes and communist animal husbandry had to be left out (perhaps for length or relevance)?

JL: For instance, how British spies went undercover as salesmen of milking machinery to Czechoslovak collective farms?

TPP: You seem equally fascinated by science and myth. Is there some relation between the two? Perhaps in the questing?

JL: Truth is indivisible. If there are angels, powers, principalities, then they are also subject to science, a certain biology; if there are not, then the absence is a mystery every bit as tantalizing.

TPP: You shift point of view often in Giraffe, from Emil, the scientist, to Amina, a village sleepwalker, and Jiří, the sharpshooter — you even get inside the head of Sněhurka, a giraffe. How did you go about that?

JL: I try to visit the local zoo wherever I travel. I am drawn to the otherness of animals in those places. Most of the zoos are dire, a few are excellent; I wrote several pieces for The Economist in front of the polar bears at Prague Zoo. I tend to dwell on just one or two beasts on a visit (most often polar bears). It's the opposite of studying a painting or a sculpture, in that the longer you regard a beast, the more removed from your understanding it becomes.

I spent days staring up at giraffes. I wanted to find out the similarities between them and us. At the same time, I wanted to be true to their unknowability. Sněhurka is anthropomorphic, but she's at the far end of anthropomorphism from Mickey Mouse. What I've written of her is drawn from observations, from talking to giraffe keepers, and from reading the zoological literature.

TPP: Sleepwalking emerges as a theme in the story, connecting all of the characters. Giraffes sleep standing up; there's Amina, and, of course Czechs under Normalization. How did this motif emerge?

JL: I interviewed Václav Havel. He spoke of himself as being a character in a fairy tale who had broken through a wall into a world where anything was possible, even a playwright becoming president. He and other former dissidents sometimes described communist Czechoslovakia as a nation asleep. I developed that. It wasn't just a nation asleep, it was a nation of sleepwalkers.

Will Tizard can be reached at wtizard@praguepost.com


::link source

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The Snows of Kilimanjaro short stories by Ernest Hemingway

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The Snows of Kilimanjaro is a collection of short stories by Ernest Hemingway. The title story is sometimes considered the best story Hemingway ever wrote.

The collection includes the following stories:

* The Snows of Kilimanjaro
* A Clean, Well-Lighted Place
* A Day's Wait
* The Gambler, the Nun, and the Radio
* Fathers and Sons
* In Another Country
* The Killers
* A Way You'll Never Be
* Fifty Grand
* The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber

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"The Sun Also Rises" a Novel by Ernest Hemingway

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The Sun Also Rises is considered the first significant novel by Ernest Hemingway. Published in 1926, the plot centers on a group of expatriate Americans in Europe during the 1920s. The book's title, selected by Hemingway (at the recommendation of his publisher) is taken from Ecclesiastes 1:5: "the sun also ariseth." Hemingway's original title for the work was Fiesta, which was used in the UK and Spanish edition of the novel.

Plot Summary
The novel is a powerful insight into the lives and values of the so-called "Lost Generation", chronicling the experiences of Jake Barnes and several acquaintances on their pilgrimage to Pamplona for the annual fiesta and bull fights. Barnes suffered an injury during World War I which makes him unable to consummate a sexual relationship with Brett Ashley. The story follows Jake and his various companions across France and Spain. Initially, Jake seeks peace away from Brett by taking a fishing trip to Burguete, deep within the Spanish hills, with companion Bill Gorton, another veteran of the war. The fiesta in Pamplona is the setting for the eventual meeting of all the characters, who play out their various desires and anxieties, alongside a great deal of drinking. The novel ends ambiguously, with the characters going their separate ways and Jake about to free himself from Brett's lure.
Criticism
The Sun Also Rises is considered Hemingway's best novel by a majority of critics, with A Farewell to Arms and For Whom the Bell Tolls as runner-ups. It is considered ground-breaking in its economic use of language for creating atmosphere and recording dialogue. Upon its publication, many U.S. critics denounced its focus on aimless, promiscuous, and generally licentious characters. On the other hand, it was extremely popular with a young and international readership. Since then, the novel has gained general recognition as a modernist masterpiece.

While most critics tend to take the characters seriously, some have argued that the novel is satirical in its portrayal of love and romance.[4] It shows Jake and Cohn, the two male protagonists, vying for the affections of Brett, who is clearly unworthy of the naive praise they heap on her (Cohn openly, Jake implicitly). On the whole, however, the text does not offer sufficient evidence to support this reading.

In The Sun Also Rises, gender issues are dealt with very seriously by critics, though there is little consensus among them. Some critics charge that the depiction of Brett as a 'liberated woman' is intrinsic to her divisiveness in relationships throughout the novel, and therefore that Hemingway saw strong women as causing trouble, particularly for the men who otherwise dominate the novel.[5][6] Others have argued that Brett signifies the castration of Jake, meanwhile defenders suggest that Brett actually becomes the main character by being the only person Jake is truly interested in.[7] Although the reasons vary significantly from critic to critic, the majority of critical opinion still labels Brett's character as an expression of misogyny.

Another point of criticism is Hemingway's depiction of character Robert Cohn, a Jewish man who is often the subject of mockery by his peers. Though some critics have interpreted this as anti-Semitism on the part of Hemingway, defenders of the book argue that Cohn is depicted in a sympathetic manner, mocked not due to his religion but due to his failure to serve during World War I. Interestingly, Hemingway is reported to have said that Cohn was the "hero" of the book, and Harold Loeb, the Jewish writer who served as a model for Cohn, defended Hemingway from charges of anti-Semitism. [find more information about this book, click here]

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"Wuthering Heights" a Novel by Emily Brontë

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Wuthering Heights is Emily Brontë's only novel. It was first published in 1847 under the pseudonym Ellis Bell, and a posthumous second edition was edited by her sister Charlotte. The name of the novel comes from the Yorkshire manor on the moors on which the story centres. (As an adjective, wuthering is a Yorkshire word referring to turbulent weather.) The narrative tells the tale of the all-encompassing and passionate, yet thwarted love between Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw, and how this unresolved passion eventually destroys both themselves and many around them.

Now considered a classic of English literature, Wuthering Heights's innovative structure, which has been likened to a series of Matryoshka dolls,[1] met with mixed reviews by critics when it first appeared.[2][3] Though Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre was originally considered the best of the Brontë sisters' works, many subsequent critics of Wuthering Heights argued that its originality and achievement made it superior.[4] Wuthering Heights has also given rise to many adaptations and inspired works, including films, radio, television dramatisations, musicals and songs (notably the hit Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush) and opera.

Plot Summary
The narrative is non-linear, involving several flashbacks, and involves two narrators – Mr Lockwood and Nelly Dean. The novel opens in 1801, with Lockwood arriving at Thrushcross Grange, a grand house on the Yorkshire moors he is renting from the surly Heathcliff, who lives at nearby Wuthering Heights. Lockwood spends the night at Wuthering Heights and has a terrifying dream: the ghost of Catherine Linton, pleading to be admitted to the house from outside. Intrigued, Lockwood asks the housekeeper Nelly Dean to tell the story of Heathcliff and Wuthering Heights.

Nelly takes over the narration and begins her story thirty years earlier, when Heathcliff, a foundling living on the streets of Liverpool, is brought to Wuthering Heights by the then-owner, Mr. Earnshaw and raised as his own. Earnshaw's daughter Catherine becomes Heathcliff's inseparable friend. Her brother Hindley, however, resents Heathcliff, seeing him as an interloper and rival. Earnshaw dies three years later, and Hindley (who has married a woman named Frances) takes over the estate. He brutalizes Heathcliff, forcing him to work as a hired hand. Catherine becomes friends with a neighbour family, the Lintons of Thrushcross Grange, who mellow her initially wild personality. She is especially attached to the refined and mild young Edgar Linton, whom Heathcliff instantaneously dislikes.

A year later, Hindley's wife dies,apparently of consumption, shortly after giving birth to a son, Hareton; Hindley takes to drink. Some two years after that, Catherine agrees to marry Edgar. Nelly knows that this will crush Heathcliff, and Heathcliff overhears Catherine's explanation that it would be "degrading" to marry him. Heathcliff storms out and leaves Wuthering Heights, not hearing Catherine's continuing declarations that Heathcliff is as much a part of her as the rocks are to the earth beneath. Catherine marries Edgar, and is initially very happy. Some time later, Heathcliff returns, intent on destroying those who prevent him from being with Catherine. He has, mysteriously, become very wealthy, and has duped Hindley into making him the heir to Wuthering Heights. Intent on ruining Edgar, Heathcliff elopes with Edgar's sister Isabella, which places him in a position to inherit Thrushcross Grange upon Edgar's death.

Catherine becomes very ill after Heathcliff's return and dies a few hours after giving birth to a daughter also named Catherine, or Cathy. Heathcliff becomes only more bitter and vengeful. Isabella flees her abusive marriage a month later, and subsequently gives birth to a boy, Linton. At around the same time, Hindley dies. Heathcliff takes ownership of Wuthering Heights, and vows to raise Hindley's son Hareton with as much neglect as he had suffered at Hindley's hands years earlier.

Twelve years later, the dying Isabella asks Edgar to raise her and Heathcliff's son, Linton. However, Heathcliff finds out about this and takes the sickly, spoiled child to Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff has nothing but contempt for his son, but delights in the idea of him ruling the property of his enemies. To that end, a few years later, Heathcliff attempts to persuade young Cathy to marry Linton. Cathy refuses, so Heathcliff kidnaps her and forces the two to marry. Soon after, Edgar Linton dies, followed shortly by Linton. This leaves Cathy a widow and a virtual prisoner at Wuthering Heights, as Heathcliff has gained complete control of both Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. It is at this point in the narrative that Lockwood arrives, taking possession of Thrushcross Grange, and hearing Nelly Dean's story. Shocked, Lockwood leaves for London.

During his absence from the area, however, events reach a climax; Cathy gradually softens toward her rough, uneducated cousin Hareton, just as her mother grew tender towards Heathcliff. When Heathcliff realizes that Cathy and Hareton are in love, he abandons his life-long vendetta. He dies broken and tormented, and Catherine and Hareton marry. Heathcliff is buried next to Catherine (the elder), and the story concludes with Lockwood visiting the grave, unsure of what to feel.[source: wikipedia]

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Native Son a Novel by Richard Wright

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Native Son (1940) is a novel by American author Richard Wright. The novel tells the story of 22-year old Bigger Thomas, an African-American of the poorest class, struggling to live in Chicago's South Side ghetto in the 1930s. His life is doomed from the outset: after Bigger accidentally kills a white woman, he runs from the police, kills his girlfriend and is then caught and tried. "I didn't want to kill", Bigger shouted. "But what I killed for, I am! It must've been pretty deep in me to make me kill."

Written mostly in the third person, Wright gets inside the head of "brute Negro" Bigger, revealing his feelings, thoughts and point of view as he commits crimes, is confronted with racism, violence and debasement—the name "Bigger" both is a play of the word "Nigger", and a nod to the bigger social forces behind his actions. While not apologizing for Bigger's crimes, Wright is sympathetic to the systemic inevitability behind them. The story is a powerful statement about the inevitable fate of African-Americans as a result of racial inequality and social injustice. As Bigger's lawyer points out, there is no escape from this destiny for his client or any other black American, since they are the necessary product of the society that raised them. "No American Negro exists," Wright once wrote "who does not have his private Bigger Thomas living in his skull."

Literary significance & criticism
Wright's protest novel was an immediate best-seller, selling 250,000 hardcover copies in its initial run. It was one of the earliest successful attempts to explain the racial divide in America in terms of the social conditions imposed on African-Americans by the dominant white society. It also made Wright the wealthiest black writer of his time and established him as a spokesperson for African-American issues, and the "father of Black American literature".

In 1993 the novel was for the first time published in its entirety by the Library of America, together with an introduction, a chronology and notes by Arnold Rampersad, a well-regarded scholar of African-American literary works. This imprint also contains Richard Wright's 1940 essay How 'Bigger' Was Born.

It is number 71 on the American Library Association's list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000.[1] The Modern Library named it #20 on their list of the 100 best novels of the 20th Century. [source: wikipedia]

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"Animal Farm" a Novel George Orwell

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Animal Farm (full title: Animal Farm: A Fairy Story) is a novella by George Orwell, and is perhaps the most famous satirical allegory of Soviet totalitarianism. Published in 1945, the book reflects events leading up to and during the Stalin era. Orwell, a democratic socialist, and a member of the Independent Labour Party for many years, was a critic of Stalin, and was suspicious of Moscow-directed Stalinism after his experiences with the NKVD during the Spanish Civil War.

The novel was chosen by Time Magazine as one of the 100 best English-language novels (1923 to present)[1] and was number 31 on the Modern Library List of Best 20th-Century Novels.

Overview
The plot is an allegory in which animals play the roles of the Bolshevik revolutionaries and overthrow and oust the human owners of the farm, setting it up as a commune in which, at first, all animals are equal, but soon disparities start to emerge between the different species or classes. The novel describes how a society's ideologies can be changed and manipulated by individuals in positions of power.

Plot summary
Old Major, the old boar on the Manor Farm (or "Willingdon Beauty" as he is called when he is exhibited) calls the other animals on the Farm for a meeting, where he compares the humans to parasites and teaches the animals a revolutionary song, "Beasts of England."

When Major dies three days later, two young pigs, Snowball and Napoleon, assume command, and turn his dream into a full-fledged philosophy. The animals revolt and drive Mr. Jones from the farm, renaming it "Animal Farm."

The Seven Commandments of Animalism are written on the wall of a barn for all to read. The most important is the seventh, "All animals are equal." All animals work, but the workhorse, Boxer, does more than others and adopts the maxim — "I will work harder."

Snowball the pig attempts to teach the other animals to read and write (though few besides the pigs learn to read well), food is plentiful, and the farm runs smoothly. The pigs elevate themselves to positions of leadership, demonstrating their elitism by setting aside special food items for their personal health. Meanwhile, Napoleon takes the pups from the farm dogs and trains them privately. When Mr. Jones tries to retake the farm, the animals defeat him at what they call the "Battle of the Cowshed." Napoleon and Snowball begin a power struggle for leadership. When Snowball announces his idea for a windmill, Napoleon quickly opposes it. Snowball makes a passionate speech in favour of the windmill, then Napoleon summons his nine attack dogs, which chase Snowball away. In Snowball's absence, Napoleon declares himself leader and makes changes. Meetings will no longer be held and instead a committee of pigs will decide what happens with the farm. Resembling a bourgeois ruling class, a social class classification which functions as a highly important feature of the philosophy of Marxism.
Screenshot from Animal Farm (1954 film)
Screenshot from Animal Farm (1954 film)

Napoleon, using a young pig named Squealer as a mouthpiece, announces that Snowball stole the idea for the windmill from him. The character of Squealer in this instance may be seen as an allegory for a political spin doctor. The animals work harder with the promise of easier lives with the windmill. After a violent storm, the animals find the fruit of their labour annihilated. Napoleon and Squealer then manage to convince the animals that Snowball was the one who destroyed windmill, although it is suggested through the scorns of the neighbouring farmers that the destruction of the windmill was in fact due to the walls being too thin. Once Snowball is made to be a scapegoat, Napoleon begins to purge the farm, killing many animals he accuses of consorting with Snowball. Meanwhile, Boxer takes up a second maxim, "Napoleon is always right."

Napoleon abuses his powers, and life becomes harder for the animals; the pigs impose more controls while reserving privileges for themselves. The pigs rewrite history to villainize Snowball and glorify Napoleon, for example stating that Snowball fought for the humans in the Battle of the Cowshed, and that Napoleon bit Snowball, when Snowball was actually hit by a pellet from Jones' gun. Squealer justifies every statement Napoleon makes, even the pigs alteration of the Seven Commandments of animalism. "No animal shall drink alcohol" is soon changed to "No animal shall drink alcohol to excess" when the pigs discover the farmer's stash of whisky. The song "Beasts of England" is also banned as inappropriate, as according to Napoleon the dream of Animal Farm has been realized. It is replaced instead by an anthem glorifying Napoleon, who appears to be adopting the lifestyle of a man. The animals, though cold, starving, and overworked, remain convinced through subtle psychological conditioning that they are still better off than they were when ruled by Mr. Jones, the human owner of Manor Farm. Squealer abuses the animals' poor memories and invents numbers to show their improvement.

Mr. Frederick, one of the two neighbouring farmers, swindles Napoleon by buying lumber with forged money, and then attacks the farm, using blasting powder to blow up the recently restored windmill. Though the animals of Animal Farm eventually win the battle, they do so at a great cost, as many of the animals, including Boxer, are wounded. Squealer was mysteriously absent from the fight. Boxer continues to work harder and harder, until he finally collapses while working on the windmill. Napoleon sends for a van to take Boxer to the veterinarian, explaining to the worried animals that better care can be given there. However, Benjamin notices as Boxer is loaded up that the van really belongs to "Alfred Simmonds, Horse Slaughterer and Glue Boiler", but the animals' last desperate attempts are futile. Squealer quickly reports that the van had been purchased by the hospital and that the writing from the previous owner had not been repainted yet. He recounts a dramatic and tear-felt tale of Boxer's death in the hands of the best medical care. In reality, the pigs sent Boxer to his death in exchange for money to buy more whiskey. They soon get drunk from all the whiskey.

Many years pass, and the pigs learn to walk upright, carry whips, and wear clothes. The Seven Commandments are reduced to a single phrase: "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." Napoleon holds a dinner party for the pigs and the humans of the area (in the adjacent Foxwood Farm, run by Mr. Pilkington), who congratulate Napoleon on having the hardest-working animals in the country on the least feed. Napoleon announces his alliance with the humans, against the labouring classes of both "worlds". He then abolishes practises and traditions related to the Revolution, and reverts the name of the farm to "Manor Farm".

The animals, overhearing the conversation, notice that the faces of the ruling pigs have begun changing. During a poker match, an argument breaks out between Napoleon and Mr. Pilkington when they both play the Ace of Spades, and the animals realize that the faces of the pigs now look almost exactly like the faces of humans and they can no longer tell the difference between them. [more information about this book, click here]

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"The God Of Small Things" novel by Arundhati Roy

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Stories are being told, because among people there is always an unquenchable thirst for more and more human experience.

It may be the bed time story that you would have heard as a child, or a story that your teacher told during moral science class, or as a good morning thought, or a cover story in a magazine, or a gossip story about a film star, or a story about some incident that happened to somebody, or watching a story being enacted in silver screen or small screen, the fact remains undeniable that we all are drawn towards some kind of human experience apart from our own lives in the form of a story.

This sort of experience is something that every story promises, but only a few satisfy. One among of few such stories is, ‘The God Of Small Things’ . I was lucky that I came across this book and I love it not for the story, but the way the story was been told.

It was this book that made me fall in love with words. A proof of how a small sentence made with the right words can have a unique meaning that resonate weird feelings, beyond other forms of expression.

Reading this book was like following someone’s train of thoughts, going forward and backwards, like going inside someone’s mind, like living someone’s memories and like seeing things in the same someone’s point of view, while comparing this with that.

Arundati Roy’s masterpiece has a slight biography like touch. She is surely a very gifted writer. Her style of writing is unique. But what she writes is like a vomit of words. Yeah! Vomit; though not disgusting. For it follows absolutely no rules of story telling. On the contrary it is filled with unexpected similes and sudden short funny sentences.

It was one of sincerest book I have ever read. Judging by the style, I was sure that it was the unedited first attempt. For, though the book is wonderful, it is also an unorganized sequence of words. And I was right. She did say that in an interview.

This book had originated from sudden flow of ideas that came in to Ms. Roy’s head from nowhere, that she felt the sudden passionate urge to regurgitate it all on paper through ink. Just that! Unedited.

Someone who considers books only as a source of entertainment and want to read only for passing time may not be able to appreciate this book’s unique splendor.

Such people may find the words pointless and the story going no where. They might even wonder how this book won the Booker prize. (I wasn’t surprised to find a couple of negative reviews on this book.)

But for me, this book is a treasure, for it satisfies my need to read a story that would, in some sense, matter. It is this book that I take up before cuddling in my bed everyday. As I read it and re-read it, I find myself falling more and more in love, with the words and the emotion behind it.

To describe it using Ms. Roy’s words, I should say that this book was ‘sick sweet’. No wonder the book won rare honors to Ms. Roy. Moreover it is a source of inspiration for people like me whose life ambition is to write a book.

Hope, someday I will write a book, and win a Booker prize for it :)


*Suzanna Arundhati Roy (born November 24, 1961) is an Indian novelist, writer and activist. She won the Booker Prize in 1997 for her first novel, The God of Small Things, and, in 2002, the Lannan Cultural Freedom Prize.

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Poems from Guantánamo

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“At last Guantánamo has found its voice.”—Gore Vidal

“Poetry, art of the human voice, helps turn us toward what we should or must not ignore. Speaking as they can across barriers actual and figurative, translated into our American tongue, these voices in confinement implicitly call us to our principles and to our humanity. They deserve, above all, not admiration or belief or sympathy—but attention. Attention to them is urgent for us.”—Robert Pinsky

“Poems from Guantánamo brings to light figures of concrete, individual humanity, against the fabric of cruelty woven by the ‘war on terror.’ The poems and poets’ biographies reveal one dimension of this officially obscured narrative, from the perspective of the sufferers; the legal and literary essays provide the context which has produced—under atrocious circumstances—a poetics of human dignity.”—Adrienne Rich

Since 2002, at least 775 men have been held in the U.S. detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. According to Department of Defense data, fewer than half of them are accused of committing any hostile act against the United States or its allies. In hundreds of cases, even the circumstances of their initial detainment are questionable.

This collection gives voice to the men held at Guantánamo. Available only because of the tireless efforts of pro bono attorneys who submitted each line to Pentagon scrutiny, Poems from Guantánamo brings together twenty-two poems by seventeen detainees, most still at Guantánamo, in legal limbo.

If, in the words of Audre Lorde, poetry “forms the quality of light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change,” these verses—some originally written in toothpaste, others scratched onto foam drinking cups with pebbles and furtively handed to attorneys—are the most basic form of the art.

Marc Falkoff is an assistant professor at the Northern Illinois University College of Law and attorney for seventeen Guantánamo prisoners. Flagg Miller is a linguistic and cultural anthropologist at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Ariel Dorfman is a Chilean American poet, novelist, playwright, and human rights activist who holds the Walter Hines Page Chair of Literature and Latin American Studies at Duke University.

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Theory of Literature by Ren Wellek

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A Resume of Theory of Literature by Ren Wellek and Warren

We have to answer some basic questions when we study theory of literature. What is literature? What is literary study? Are they both different? What is the distinction? These questions are followed by the questions about the nature of literature, its functions, etc. Theory of literature, as much as possible, tries to answer these.

Literature and Literary Study
First, it is quiet necessary for us to know the definition of literature. Literature is a creative act. It is an art. On the other hand, literary study is knowledge about literature itself. Since long ago, there are some efforts to differ them. But these efforts only make literature and literary study come to a very complicated relation.

To overcome this, there are some problem-solvings. First, some literary theorist who didn’t agree that literary study is the knowledge about literature said it is wiser to say that literary study is a “second creation”. The second theorist come to the extreme point, that both literature and literary study can’t be studied at all. For the rest, we can only accumulate all kinds of information ‘about’ literature (Wellek & Warren. 1977: 15).

Since first, it is said that literature is an art. Literature had ever been approached scholarly by applying the natural science attitudes such as objectivity, impersonality, and certainty. In practice, then, it concludes that the more general a theory, it is emptier.

Another opinion stated that to conclude the general law in literature, individually is needed. Thus, there are two extreme points: first, the universal-objective; second, the particular-subjective. Both of these concepts are dangerous to apply at once.

The universal-objective leads to the absolutism. It is quite mistaken, of course, because each of literary works is unique. It can’t be simply summed up in universality. The particular-subjective is totally doubted because it must result in personal intuition. Personal intuition, then, may rise an emotional appreciation to complete subjectivity.


The Nature of Literature
At the beginning, it is important to distinguish what literature is and what is not. First, literature ought to be everything in print. Literature was learnt using any other science of culture. But this effort replaced the pure literary criteria. Other criteria came to the literature realm. Literature was supposed to give nothing to the knowledge. This occurred when in the further, the knowledge notably increased.

Second, literature ought to be the great-book namely “notable for literary form or expression”. The criteria, namely the aesthetic, dealt with the “general intellectual distinction”. This has resulted in value judgement, particularly to the non-great-books. Social background, linguistic, ideology, and other conditional circumstances, then, had no means.

Third, the term of ‘literature’ ought to be limited at imaginative literature. It was too difficult to find the exact word in any languages. To overcome this, the speech community had to be divided in detail. It was a must to note that language is a human creation contained cultural heritages of linguistic group.

Here, it can obviously be seen that there are four natures of literature. The first nature of literature is imaginative. Traditional literary works fulfill this nature. The second, everything strongly relates to such “fictionality”, “invention”, or “imagination”. Philosophist, claimed as the third nature of literature. Fourth, literature, sometimes, may exist in ‘boundary’ area.

Literature is commonly identified with imagery. Imagery is used both in prose and poems. As much as possible, the authors indicate the visualization by imagery. Generally, imagery describes what the author wants to visualize. Most of visualizations by imagery can be well wondered by the readers. But, it is not in a little number that imagery even doesn’t help the readers to understand the visualizations. Visualization using imagery normally appears in prose than poems.


The Functions of Literature
The discussion about the function of literature started at the Age of Greeks. Plato wrote how the poets and the philosophers quarreled. At the Renaissance Age in America, Poe criticized the didactic poems. In his opinion, a poem shouldn’t have to be in didactic purpose. Poe, then, argued that a poem must be a didactic heresy.

At the late of 19th century, the doctrine art for art’s sake was issued. This doctrine followed by poesi pure at the early of 20th century. Horace proposed a concept of dulce and utile which means sweet and useful. This concept which contained two words, should be understood at once. Poems supposed as a craft (a work) and a play at time. The view poems as a craft or a work, lost its “purposelessness”, lost its pleasure. Meanwhile told poems as a play, it didn’t regard the care, skill, and planning of the author. Given this, it ought to be dulce and utile.

How much, then, the function of literature? Here are some –especially poems’ function. First, as Aristotle said, he himself tended to prove that the function and the seriousness of a poem represented how deep the knowledge it contained. Secondly, poems as the medium of telling either truth or propaganda. Thirdly, poems have a purification function. But actually, its prime and chief function is fidelity to its own nature (Wellek & Warren. 1977: 37).

The function of literature, some say, is to relieve us –either the writers or readers- from the pressure of emotion (Wellek & Warren. 1977: 36). The validity of this opinion is questioned since literature, actually not only relieve neither the writers nor readers from the pressure; but also evokes the emotion.


Literary Theory, Criticism, and History
Indeed, there’s no proper term to mention literary study. It is usually called scholarship. This term is, sometimes, listened too academic. The other term had ever used is philology. The using of this term is open to misunderstanding. Literary theory itself is the study of the principles of literature, its categories, criteria, and the like, and by differentiating studies of concrete works of art as either “literary criticism” (primarily static in approach) or “literary history” (Wellek & Warren. 1977: 39).

The distinction of literary theory, criticism and history is clear enough. There’s a strong relation among them. Nevertheless, the efforts to separate them have ever been done. These give result in some views.

Historicism is the first view then evoked. This view wanted to separate literary history from literary criticism. Federick A. Pottle had a more extreme view. His argument was each period has its own different critical conceptions and conventions. The rest convinced that Classic and Romantic period can’t be connected: the classical works tends to be “poetry of statement”, meanwhile the romantic tends to be “poetry of implication”.

It is common that the writer’s intention in a literary work becomes the subject matter of literary history. It can’t be done because literary work itself is a system of values (Wellek & Warren. 1977: 42). Value is all about judgement. In practice, however, it is difficult to give a value judgement: the relativism comes to the “anarchy of value”; and absolutism emphasizes on “unchanging human nature” or “universality of art”. Perspectivism is in the boundary or gray area.

There’s no literary history that was written without a selection. A literary historian can’t separate himself from literary critic. Literary works, whenever it is made, is always interesting to learn. The literary historian must be a critic even in order to be a historian (Wellek & Warren. 1977: 44).

The works of 18th century is the main subject matter of conventional literary history. This is due to their gracious, more stable, and more hierarchic world. The works from the late 19th century followed its previous. It was learnt as well. The scholarly attitude, which firstly didn’t want to learn the works of contemporary works, then faded away. The reason not to study these works was due to the writers were still alive. Mostly, the critic chose the “verdict of the ages” namely writing of the other critics or readers. So that, simply we can sum up that literary history is quiet important for the critics.


General, Comparative, and National Literature
In practice, the term “comparative” literature has covered and still covers rather distinct fields of study and groups of problems (Wellek & Warren. 1977: 46).

Secondly, “comparative literature” includes the relation between two or more literatures. But this only came at the surface. “Comparative literature” like this only learns about the facts, sources, and influences.

Thirdly, some terms are used as the synonyms of “comparative literature”, such as “world literature”, “general literature”, and “universal literature”. But it was supposed to be an exaggeration of the comparative literature intention.

Literature, however, has to be seen totally. The debate among the terms “comparative literature”, “general literature”, or “literature” was caused by misunderstanding of the term “national literature”. “National literature” was understood narrowly.

History literature, which is concerned with themes, forms, techniques, genres, and metrics, is spread out internationally. Its different move in each country is as the result of the romantic nationalism followed by modern organized literary history.

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"As I Lay Dying" a novel by William Faulkner

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As I Lay Dying is a novel written by the American author William Faulkner. The novel was published in 1930, and Faulkner described it as a "tour de force". It is Faulkner's fifth novel and is read in schools, colleges, and universities throughout the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and other English-speaking countries. The title derives from Book XI of Homer's The Odyssey, wherein Agamemnon speaks to Odysseus: "As I lay dying, the woman with the dog's eyes would not close my eyes as I descended into Hades". Faulkner often recited this quotation from memory.

The novel is known for its stream of consciousness writing technique, multiple narrators, and varying chapter lengths; the shortest chapter in the book consists of just five words: "My mother is a fish".

Plot Summary
The book is told in stream of consciousness style by 15 different narrators in 59 chapters. It is the story of the death of Addie Bundren and her family's quest - noble or selfish - to honor her wish to be buried in the town of Jefferson.

As is the case in much of Faulkner's work, the story is set in Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi, which Faulkner referred to as "my apocryphal county", a fictional rendering of the writer's home of Lafayette County in that same state.

Characters
* Addie Bundren - Addie is the wife of Anse and the mother of Cash, Darl, Jewel, Dewey Dell, and Vardaman. She had an extramarital affair with her preacher Reverend Whitfield which led to the conception and birth of her third child, Jewel. For his illegitimacy, Addie favors Jewel over her other children, as explained in a flashback narrated by Darl. As revenge for her hatred of Anse, she makes Anse promise her that he will have her buried in Jefferson, knowing that the journey will be long and difficult.

* Anse Bundren - Anse is Addie's widower, the father of all the children but Jewel. Anse is portrayed as lazy and greedy by various characters. He is under (or merely disseminates) the impression that he cannot work because he had a horrible illness as a child, and breaking a sweat will result in his death. He views going to Jefferson as an excuse to get a pair of false teeth.

* Cash Bundren - Cash is a skilled and dutiful carpenter and the eldest son of the family. He is in his upper twenties, most likely between 27 and 29 years of age. His narration tends to be dispassionate and withdrawn, even mechanical; one of his chapters is in the form of a numbered step-by-step list. Addie loves Cash because he is the first child she feels a real connection with, as shown in the chapter she narrates. As Addie's death approaches, she watches him build her coffin through the bedroom window. Though some characters criticize his proximity as distasteful and discourteous, Cash insists that she enjoys monitoring his work. During the funeral, Addie's body is placed reversed into the coffin by the town women who have attended her funeral, so that her burial dress fans out in the space where her head should be. Although Cash does not say anything to the women, he is very uneasy and upset about this, as he has put a lot of hard work to create the coffin in a way that fits his mother's weight and height perfectly; the misplacement of her body in the box causes the coffin to become off-balance. During the novel, Cash breaks his leg, which was previously broken when he fell off a church roof. Anse attempts to "fix it" by pouring cement over the broken leg. The cement heats and swells, essentially cooking Cash's leg and cutting off blood flow. The family, realizing that his foot will soon fall off, begins to chip away at the cement, obviously causing Cash an enormous amount of pain. By the end of the novel, after Darl's mental breakdown, Cash replaces him as the reasonable and more objective narrator.

* Darl Bundren - The second eldest of Addie's children, Darl is about two years younger than Cash. He has with a somewhat intuitive sense, giving him the "ability" to see into someone's soul. He is initially perhaps the sanest one in the novel despite his knowledge that the journey to bury his mother's body in Jefferson is madness. Many people, especially Vernon Tull, tend to view Darl as strange. He attempts to burn Addie in her coffin in the barn in an attempt to put an end to the frustrating journey, a fate from which Jewel saves her. Darl is the most articulate character and objective narrator in the book, therefore narrates 19 of the 59 chapters. At the end of the novel Darl goes mad and is placed in an enclosed mental facility in Jackson.

* Jewel Bundren - Jewel is the third of the Bundren children, at about ten years younger than Darl. He is a half-brother to the other children and the favorite of Addie. He is the illegitimate son of Addie and Reverend Whitfield. The novel reveals that Jewel, after sneaking off every night and clearing several acres of his neighbor's land in order to make the money, has bought a spotted horse. His ne'er-do-well "father", Anse, disapproves of this, complaining that he'd have to feed the horse. Jewel tells Anse that he would kill his horse before it ate any of Anse's food. After the mule team drowns as the family attempts to cross the dangerously flooded river, Anse bargains his children's money as well as Jewel's horse to pay for a new team.

* Dewey Dell Bundren - Dewey Dell is the only daughter of Anse and Addie Bundren, and at 17 years old she is the second youngest of the Bundren children. She is caught in a particularly problematic situation when she becomes pregnant with her boyfriend, Lafe MacCallum's, baby. She, Darl, and Lafe are the only characters who initially know about the pregnancy. Dewey Dell is afraid and desperate for an abortion, but is unable to pay for it with the ten dollars given to her by Lafe. She goes to a pharmacist in Jefferson, but is instead treated by a soda jerk named Skeet MacGowan. With dishonest intentions in mind, the "pharmacist" aims to take advantage of Dewey Dell. He provides her with random medication that he claims will help with her problem as well as his own "treatment", which is in fact sexual intercourse.

* Vardaman Bundren - Vardaman is the youngest Bundren child, and estimates of his age vary widely. He is present as his mother takes her last breath, and from that moment on faces trauma and confusion as he struggles to understand what has happened. Vardaman goes through delusional periods in which he believes that his mother is still alive, in the form of a fish that he had caught, and goes as far as drilling holes in the top of her coffin so that she can "breathe". He wants to buy a red toy train when he gets to Jefferson, but when he arrives it is not in the store window.

* Vernon Tull - Vernon is a good friend of the Bundrens. He appears in the book to be an average farmer who is not as religious as his wife but often agrees with her. He owns a house and farm near the Bundren house and had a bridge spanning a river that had to be crossed to reach Jefferson. It breaks as a result of heavy flooding, forcing the Bundrens to cross at the ford. A log hits the wagon, tipping it over. This causes Cash to become injured.

* Cora Tull - Cora is the wife of Vernon Tull. She is a neighbor of Addie's who is with her at her death. Cora is very self-righteous and focuses more on her own salvation and "Christian duty" than she actually does on people.

Literary techniques
Throughout the novel, Faulkner presents fifteen different points of view, each chapter narrated by one character, including Addie, who after dying, expresses her thoughts from the coffin. In 59 chapters titled only by their narrators' names, the characters are developed gradually through each other's perceptions and opinions, Darl's predominating.

Like James Joyce before him, Faulkner stands among the pioneers of stream of consciousness. He first used the technique in The Sound and the Fury, and it gives As I Lay Dying its distinctly intimate tone, through the monologues of the tragically flawed Bundrens and the passers-by they encounter. The story helped found the Southern Renaissance and directs a great deal of effort as it progresses to reflections on being and existence, the existential metaphysics of everyday life.

Addie Bundren's lone chapter helped bring issues of feminism and motherhood in literature to the fore, as her voice is clearly expressed only after her death. Addie regards all her children dismissively save two, Jewel and Cash; it profoundly affects them both psychologically and emotionally. [source: wikipedia]

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Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

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Synopsis
Kafka's immortal absurdist tale of Gregor Samsa, who wakes up to find he has been transformed into a cockroach.


Size
Height: 7.0 in.
Width: 4.3 in.
Thickness: 0.8 in.
Weight: 4.0 oz.


Publisher's Note
"When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin." With this startling, bizarre, yet surprisingly funny first sentence, Kafka begins his masterpiece, The Metamorphosis. It is the story of a young man who, transformed overnight into a giant beetlelike insect, becomes an object of disgrace to his family, an outsider in his own home, a quintessentially alienated man. A harrowing -- though absurdly comic -- meditation on human feelings of inadequecy, guilt, and isolation, The Metamorphosis has taken its place as one of the mosst widely read and influential works of twentieth-century fiction. As W.H. Auden wrote, "Kafka is important to us because his predicament is the predicament of modern man."

A novel about a man who finds himself transformed into a huge insect, and the effects of this change upon his life.

Industry reviews
"Dear Dr. Kafka: Mr. Franz Werfel has told me so much about your novella---is it called 'The Bug'?--that I would like to see it, too. Are you willing to send it to me? Yours truly, Kurt Wolff"
Letters - Kurt H. Wolff (03/20/1913)

"Dear Herr Wolff: Pay no attention to what Werfel tells you. He does not know a word of the story. As soon as I have had a clean copy made, I will of course be glad to send it to you. Sincerely, F. Kafka"
Letters - Franz Kafka (03/25/1913)


Review:
by: DGTurtle2 -- a member of Epinions

I had the pleasure of reading Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis as an assignment for a college English course. By the end of the first sentence, I was hooked and I could not stop reading this book.

The Metamorphosis is the story of Gregor Samsa who awakens one morning to find that he has been transformed into a giant cockroach. The story focuses on Gregor's physical and emotional changes due to the transformation, as well as on the reactions of his family.

The character that Kafka created in Gregor is intriguing. While Gregor's dilemma initially brings up feelings of pity and sadness in the reader, upon closer examination, one realizes that Gregor is not to be pitied at all, as his situation is a direct result of his own actions.

Prior to his transformation into an insect, Gregor had lived his life not for himself, but for his family. He worked at a job that he hated so that he could provide for his family. Even after the metamorphosis, Gregor felt guilt and shame that he could no longer provide for his family, although they showed no major concern for his condition. They were more concerned with how they were going to survive without Gregor's income than with the loss of a family member.

The reactions of Gregor's family members to his metamorphosis were diverse. Gregor's sister, Grette, was initially the most sympathetic to Gregor's situation. The evening following the transformation, she was thoughtful enough to supply Gregor with food, and when he rejected the first meal, she offered him spoiled foods that she thought he might enjoy. Grette continued to feed and clean up after Gregor even though she found the sight of him repulsive. Eventually, she did turn against him though, deciding that "human beings can't live with such a creature." She gave up hope and believed that she no longer had a brother.

Gregor's mother had much difficulty dealing with Gregor's condition. In between her fainting spells, Mrs. Samsa showed love and concern for her son. Throughout most of the story, Mrs. Samsa does not give up hope for her son's return.

Mr. Samsa reacted quite violently to the sudden change in his household. He, more than any other member of the family, was more concerned with the inconvenience Gregor's metamorphosis would cause than with the loss of his son. When he first glimpsed his son's new form, he attacked him with newspaper and later threw apples at him which caused Gregor serious injury. At no point in the story, did the father show any concern for his son. Rather, each time he was confronted by Gregor, he reacted violently, almost with fear.

Gregor's contributions were not appreciated by his family. His family did not care about his metamorphosis. They only cared about the effect that it would have on them. They did not feel sorry for him. He did not even feel sorry for himself. He, too, was more concerned with his family's well-being than with his own. He hid himself from their eyes so as not to make them uncomfortable, despite the great discomfort he himself had to suffer by such confinement.

After his transformation, Gregor was of no use to his family since he could no longer support them. As an insect, he was a non-existent family member. Gregor's weakness of character even prompted his own death. He died for his family so that they would no longer be inconvenienced.

Kafka's book carries a strong existentialist theme. Gregor Samsa was a weak and pitiful human who allowed himself to be used by his family. As a result of his own actions, he became this "spineless and stupid" creature. Gregor lived selflessly to a fault. Perhaps in other stories this quality would seem noble, but here it is a quality that enhances the pitifulness of Gregor's condition and lends itself to the existential nature of the story's theme... that the world is cold and indifferent, and that ultimately, one is responsible for one's own situation.

I found Kafka's writing style to be quite appealing. This is a short story, but one that is thoroughly enjoyable. For a quick read, I would highly recommend The Metamorphosis. It is an intriguing, philosophical masterpiece.

Recommended for ages: mature teen and up

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Poetry: Between Shadows and Light

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A journey through poetry, prose and short story from the darkness of this world into the Light of God's love.

You Breathed On Me

I took a walk today.
And You breathed on me….

The path was rock strewn along the way.
I stepped around and over them true to my course
True to the path, set my way

You breathed on me….
You breathed on me….

The path was golden lit and I knew its source.
Along the sides, a garden as green and fresh
As any known, followed the path, a gift from its source.

You breathed on me….
You breathed on me….
You breathed on me….

The Sun rose warm and pleasant to the flesh
And I knew you touched me through my tears
And your song made chills crawl along my flesh.

You breathed on me….
You breathed on me….
You breathed on me….
You breathed on me….

Along the path I dropped my fears, my years,
My sinful ways; with no power over my life story,
All have fallen, left outside eternity’s years.

You breathed on me..
Full of power without force

You breathed on me..
While I praised you along the way.


You breathed on me..
Whispering forgiveness in my ears

You breathed on me..
Giving me need and reason to pray.


At the path’s end, facing Your glory
I fell to my knees, tears flowing free.
Finally set to forever give You all glory.
For today,
You breathed on me.


Excerpt
A mixture of some "dark" poetry, haiku, and poems glorifying God. Contains also a dedication to the author's deceased mother, whose writings, though not many, were an inspiration to him...

Tyburn~ Offering

taker
holder
freer
Savior

I gave my life; taker, holder, tight
I gave my soul; freer, Savior, Light.


Professional Reviews
Between Shadows and Light
Genre: Poetry/Christian
Reviewer: Shirley Roe, Allbooks Reviews.

Title: Between Shadows and Light
AUTHOR: Thomas Watson

The words we speak ride the breath of life, and upon death, fall to nothing. Words that are written however are as the rain upon the earth, the sun in the sky, always available to offer despair and hope and the promise of Love at the end of our days.
Thomas Watson.

Poetry, prose and a short story comprise Between Shadows and Light. The author’s varying style includes Haiku, rhyme and didactic works which reveal a tormented soul and a soul raised from the ashes of darkness to a new light, the Light of God’s Love.

Short and sweet:

His love….
Denying
Darkness

Or long and detailed like Farmer’s Tale:

In traveling down these country roads, I could write a book,
Rolling over these sway back hills, I could tell of a town………………..

Filled with heartfelt emotion and prayer like reverence, this is poetry for the Christian soul.

Author, Thomas Watson’s “darkness” stems from a lonely childhood and a military career in Viet Nam. There he met his wife; Miyoko and the “Light” began to shine. His final enlightenment came in the form of the love of Jesus Christ. Recommended as poetry for Christian readers.
Books may be purchased directly from the publisher and available on: www.amazon.com

Title: Between Shadows and Light
Author: Thomas Watson
Publisher: Author House
ISBN: 1-4208-3791-5Pages: 137
Price: $n/a Nov. 2005

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Novel: "The road Home"

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Comments regarding the novel "The Road Home"

Tom Watson is my friend and a gifted writer. Since finding his own road home, following a heart-rending loss, Tom has sought to use his warm writing talents to help others find theirs. He weaves a blend of thought-provoking sayings, poetry, and narrative into his first fiction novel, “The Road Home.” Each chapter draws in the reader with new characters and a captivating storyline. Tom’s descriptive detailing of sights, sounds, and emotion makes the characters
come alive, and energizes the reader to find out what happens next. Although life is difficult and sometimes unfair, “The Road Home” shows that “happy endings” do happen if people make the right choice. This book will make you think, make you laugh, make you cry, and give you hope for the future. There is a little of Jerry Marshall (the main character) in all of us. If you haven’t already found it, this book may help you find your own road home. Happy reading!

Chris Losey, Pastor


Endorsements

Tom Watson “is a pen in the hand of God." given the gift to write and share his faith in Him. This is an adventurous heart warming story. It was hard to put this book down; I just had to find out what happened right until the end of the story.

Published Author of "Rose Petals, Rose Garden Collections", Debbie R. Forest, Ontario Canada...
~~~~~

Descriptively honest and compelling, A poignant writer emerges in Tom Watson. As each chapter unfolds, this book will make you laugh, cry, and Think.
Simone Rivers
~~~~~

In The Road Home this gifted author give insight to our reliance on each other; Increases awareness of our fellow man’s needs; truly influences our hearts; Helps us have an intimate relationship with our feelings. Such an inspiring book.

Marina Cassimus
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This Christian theme book weaves a lovely, heartwarming story of a boy and obstacles he must overcome beginning in his early life, and how he learns on his own to handle his difficult life as a Christian. Christian principals abound throughout the book. This book is on the Christmas list for my grandchildren! Agape!

Monica Patenaude
~~~~~

In the City of God, St. Augustine writes, “God must be our teacher if we are ever to be wise, and He must be the Source of our inmost consolation if we are ever to be happy.” Tom Watson is familiar with that theme in his provocative novel about childhood, love, loss and redemption. He has made redemption interesting and draws a picture of how it is our every day life. Whatever his characters are doing, there is a hope that is not always seen but never absent. As a gifted
writer he is able to look at death without despair, even exposing the inner parts of his own life asking us to never give up no matter how much darkness surrounds us. Like David of the Old Testament, walking through the valley of the shadow of death is but one step on the road to eternal life in Jesus Christ.

This novel also evokes memories of his own childhood and reading his story will bring to mind our own experiences with family and how, many of us, lived on the edge of poverty but with love and family support that got us through tough times. One strong theme in the life of our hero is friendship. Darkness is never without humor and Watson can see the light side of life when others might see only loss.

The Book of Revelation in the New Testament is about how our lives on earth are connected with God’s heaven and his presence with us. We might say that on a small intimate scale Watson has grasped the message of Revelation and how God is with us in the midst of our tragedies and darkness and how the living Christ is always in our midst if only as a stranger holding our hand in friendship. Sometimes He comes to us in another man’s story who is willing to share it
with the rest of the world. I am glad Tom Watson is my friend and a brother in Christ. He writes from the inside out and from his own losses and darkness asking us to see the light that is all around us.

John Graves

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