A couple weeks ago, 1000 in a Decade, a blog intended to chronicle my efforts to read 1,000 works in a decade, was nominated for a Versatile Blog award. On the one hand, this award is fitting and deserved. Though I intended to write a lot about literature on this blog, it was always meant to encompass a hodgepodge of thoughts and ideas. And, inasmuch as I’ve posted on this blog – which, regrettably, is not much (I spend most of my time with Just Dread-Full, my horror blog), I have managed to accumulate a small amalgam of diverse posts. My posts discuss my favorite works of classic fiction, grapple with issues of body image in our culture, touch on current events, and, occasionally (well, so far only once) showcase a piece of clothing I’ve fallen in love with. To that end, yes, 1000 in a Decade is diverse.
In Love for Over a Decade: Their Eyes Were Watching God
Over ten years ago, when I was an unassuming college literature major in her junior year, I took a modernist literature course. It was a fantastic course in which we read a smattering of wonderful stories and poetry, including stuff by Jean Toomer, T.S. Eliot, Richard Wright, and William Faulkner. Modernist literature sits contentedly in a section of my heart, along with the beautiful local peninsula on a warm summer day and the people who mean the most to me in my life. But there was one work I read that semester that was particularly special to me, a work grappling with complex issues while remaining accessible, a work with a strong heroine who faces tremendous adversity and surmounts it, a work that celebrates the simultaneous wonder and pain, the joy and suffering, inherent in the human condition and living life – both on this earth, and as an African American woman in early 20th century America. It happens to do a fine job examining race relations and difficult issues related to race in America in the 1930’s, too. And, as my blog post title might suggest, that work is Their Eyes Were Watching God, written by writer and anthropologist Zora Neal Hurston. I have loved this book for a very, very long time now, and will continue to love it for a long time to come. In discussing the novel, I will detail the plot (starting in the next paragraph), and I’ll ultimately have to reveal the ending to make the points I want to make, (but I’ll indicate when I’m about to do that). Continue reading
When All Else Fails: Write About Writing
The first journal entry I ever wrote – that wasn’t an assignment for school – was about Macaroni and Cheese and Hot Dogs. I haven’t dined on this meal in over a decade, but it must have been a staple for me as a kid, ranking up there with grilled cheese and chicken noodle soup. The entry, of course was none too scintillating. In my gangly five-year-old handwriting, I eked out a few awkward sentences about my lunch. I imagine I was very satisfied with this entry, though I’ll never know for sure. After all, I don’t remember writing any of it; I have, now, only the remaining artifact – a smaller-than average journal with a maroon faux-leather binding, lined with gold and complete with a lock and golden-trimmed pages (both of which, I think, are a nice touch). Continue reading
“All These Squawking Birds Won’t Quit”: About the Cincinnati Zoo Gorilla Incident
The title to this piece is a lyric from The Shins, who peaked in popularity in the early 2000’s. I will admit, using the line to title a piece about those who condemn the mother of the recent Cincinnati Zoo tragedy is condescending and mildly incendiary. Rest assured, I know at least logically that the human beings behind this tiring vitriol are, indeed, human beings with their own complex views and perspectives on life, and I don’t deny that many of them feel genuinely upset, even outraged, over what happened to the four-hundred-pound male gorilla a few days ago. In some cases, I think raw emotion fuels the (often scathing) condemnation of a human being who made a mistake – no matter how unthinkable and unorthodox, how stupid, the mistake may seem to many out there, especially to mothers who care for children every day. But after reading so many articles condemning the mother, so many articles about people condemning the mother, and so many caustic comments in the comment sections of various websites (yes, I have an unhealthy addiction to comment sections), this bit of song lyric has been nearly sputtering in my head on repeat. These commenters, who weren’t present, who have (in most cases) no concrete knowledge of the Cincinnati Zoo, its layout, and the potential logistics behind the sad accident, start to sound like squawking birds to me. Continue reading
Celebrating Inevitable Human Decay in As I Lay Dying
What I love about literature are the little insights and mantras a reader can gain from a particularly striking piece. You know: Love prevails, nice guys finish last (or, hopefully, first), everything turns out all right in the end, and then my personal, most recent favorite: don’t wait a minute to bury your dead, especially if you lack embalming fluid and a skilled undertaker. For, if you do, you may end up dragging a stinking corpse across the country in a wooden box surrounded by hungry buzzards, stirring up havoc for everyone who encounters you. Blech. I love As I Lay Dying because it is an ironic, almost inverted quest, a grand journey to a hole that could be dug, almost anywhere, to deposit a body nine-days rotten that has no knowledge of where it’s being dispensed anyway…maybe. Maybe the body has more life than we think? That’s possible. But the beauty of this tragi-comedy of errors is that the body is, in a way, the focal point of the book; the entire book’s plot is structured around hauling a decaying body across townships to bury it in a town called Jefferson. Continue reading
Going to the Lighthouse with Gatsby
Thus far, my 1000inadecade blog has been concerned mostly with images of weight and size: how my size has changed, how I perceive myself, and how culture treats fuller figured women. I will continue to write about these things. Indeed, yesterday I was researching size 22 model Tess Holliday and reading the scathing comments about her in the comment section. I was so angry after I read them that I had trouble sleeping, and almost hopped out of bed to write an essay before trying to sleep. I didn’t – I read some William Faulkner and drifted off – but I will likely write about the situation sometime soon.
Chinese Food and Jeggings
A plan free Saturday shaped up rather well with lunch at our favorite local grocery store – Wegmans, some book shopping, and a delightfully impromptu mall trip. Lunch consisted of predictable pizza (on Michaels’ part) and Spicy General Tso’s chicken for me. At the book store, I satisfied a yearning for F. Scott Fitzgerald and Isabelle Allende, while Michael expanded his Deadpool graphic novel collection in preparation for the upcoming movie. In the same spirit of preparation, Michael called his brother to aid him in his quest for a Deadpool t-shirt, an “essential” item to attend the movie. I was less than excited by the prospect of looking at Deadpool t-shirts. That does not, however, mean that I don’t enjoy being at the mall on a Saturday afternoon. If I can meander through the concourse sniffing out what intrigues me, I’m perfectly content. I live off a part-time Professor’s salary, so I’m far from wealthy and have to watch my money carefully, but I just cancelled my cable. I figured I had that extra money to spend. And anyway, on this blog, I want to write about eating and shopping as a woman who wears plus sizes – with an emphasis on the shopping – so I need to do research, right? Continue reading
34 Down, 966 to Go
Here are the first 34 works I’ve read (since December 4th) for the 1,000 in a decade challenge. The horror short story reviews are available at http://www.justdreadfull.wordpress.com. From here on out, I will be reviewing stories, novels, novellas and plays that I read for this challenge! What have you been reading lately?
1.) The Witch of Portabello – Paulo Coelho – December 5, 2015 – Novel
2.) Oedipus the King – Sophocles – December 6, 2015 – Play
3.) “The Black Cat” – Edgar Allen Poe – December 9, 2015 – Short Story
4.) “The Voice in the Night” – William Hope Hodgson – December 8, 2015 – Short Story
5.) “The Monkey’s Paw” – W.W. Jacobs – December 8, 2015 – Short Story
Why Another Blog
Conventional wisdom has it that if we cling to the hobbies we had in our youth, we’ll be more fulfilled as we get older. That’s why I started the horror blog, “Just Dread-Full” (www.justdreadfull.wordpress.com). When I was younger, I reveled in ghost stories with good friends and binged on horror movies over the weekend. When I re-discovered this passion, I combined it with my interest in writing and decided to blog about all things mild to moderately terrifying. My blog is young and slowly growing, but I very much enjoy running it by reading and writing about horror.