• Reading

    Favorite animals in literature


    or, less high-falutingly, the aaaaw factor.
    Isn’t this the cutest thing you’ve ever seen? Definitely cuter than Jeremy Northam, smarter than Orlando Bloom, more adept at drilling its way into hazelnuts than Sean Bean and the rest… Muscardinus avenallarius aka the dormouse, aka the hazel dormouse, dory mouse, sleeping mouse, sleeper, seven sleeper, or chestle crumb. Shown at left in one of its typical pursuits, the dormouse spends about three quarters of its time asleep, including a hefty hibernation from fall to spring.

    The dormouse is native to Europe and in England lives mainly in wooded areas and coppices in the south. Because of changing agricultural practices and the destruction of ancient hedgerows, the dormouse is now a protected species.

    Lewis Carroll immortalized the dormouse in Alice in Wonderland at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, where the dormouse is subjected to various indignities (to keep it awake and either encourage or prevent it from speaking), including being stuffed into the teapot.

    Byron (yes, this is the Regency tie-in) made this comment on life:
    When one subtracts from life infancy (which is vegetation), sleep, eating and willing, buttoning and unbuttoning–how much remains of downright existence? The summer of a dormouse.

    Inviting your favorite rodent stories and reminiscences, or comments on Shakespeare, St. George and dragons since I’ve just noticed the date and realized any of those would have been a more appropriate post!

    Janet
    winner of first annual BWAHA award, Series Historical for Dedication

  • Reading,  TV and Film

    Must-sees and Must-reads


    Yesterday I read a movie blog entry by Jim Emerson (which can be found on Roger Ebert’s review site) called “101 Movies You Must See Before You Die.” Emerson says they are not necessarily the “best” movies, or even his favorites, but “the movies you just kind of figure everybody ought to have seen in order to have any sort of informed discussion about movies.”

    It was a very interesting (and very debatable!) list. I think I’ve seen less than half of them. Some of them are favorites of mine (Bringing Up Baby, The Seven Samurai, Wizard of Oz), some I haven’t seen at all but always kinda mean to (The 400 Blows–which sounds oddly like something from Ellora’s Cave–as well as Aguirre The Wrath of God, Battleship Potemkin, Nosferatu, etc), and some are pretty obvious (Godfather I and II, Persona, Rebel Without a Cause). Now, I enjoy movies very much, but since I haven’t seen so many of these does this mean I should never attempt to discuss them? Does it mean I’m less “worthy” as a movie-goer than someone whose favorite movie is, say Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (as it was with an ex-boyfriend of mine)? And what does it say about me that I am a sucker for these “countdown” lists???

    Megan’s post about To Kill a Mockingbird also reminded me of all this. One of my favorite books is War and Peace. For one thing, I’m a sucker for long, sad, navel-gazing Russian novels (I definitely DON’T want to know what that says about me!!!). For another, it shows “our” period from a different viewpoint and culture, which I love. But do I think this is a must-read for everyone, and anyone who hasn’t read it is an incomplete person who should never discuss literature? Well–no. Otherwise, the fact that I have never been able to read Moby-Dick would disqualify me.

    All this rambling is just meant to ask–what are your personal “must-see” movies, “must-read” books? How did they affect you, or change your life? I think I need to add to my “must-see before I die” list. 🙂

  • Reading

    To Kill A TBR Book


    Last week, I attended the New England Chapter of the Romance Writers of America Conference.

    But this post is not about what I learned about craft, Regency undergarments, writing sex scenes, themes and images, and what it sounds like when a room full of women hears there’s chocolate about to be served.

    This is about not reading. During one of the workshops, the presenter mentioned Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird and said everyone should have read it, and if you hadn’t, shame on you.

    I’ve never read it. How could this have happened? I’m totally embarrassed. I don’t know exactly how I missed it; I was an English major in college, before that took a lot of high school English classes, both my parents were avid readers. And somehow, I missed it.

    It’s not like I haven’t read a lot of classics; besides the ubiquitous Jane, I’ve read all of Dickens, Fitzgerald, Wharton, and various books by Nabokov, Faulkner, Steinbeck, Woolf and Hammett (for fun, check out the top 100 list, but don’t get in a tizz about the inclusions and ommissions; it’s not worth it). I’ve read indiscrimately, but have never opened Ms. Lee’s classic, and only, work.

    So–have you read TKAM? Do you agree it is a classic? What classics have you missed out on? Do you plan to read them in the future? What makes a classic, anyway? And do you think I should feel as ashamed as I do?

    Thanks–

    Megan
    www.meganframpton.com

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