Archive for the 'CBR5' Category

25
Jan
13

CBR5 #2: The World According to Garp by John Irving

While my obsession with horror books is not over (sorry Mum!) there will be a brief respite from them for a while.

 

The World According to Garp is the story of T. S. Garp. It begins with the life of his mother Jenny Fields, and the way that she became a feminist icon, and continues to follow Garp’s life through the twists and turns of becoming a husband, father, writer, and unwilling icon in his own right. I thought I might like this, since I fell in love with Irving’s Hotel New Hampshire, but instead it was a struggle just to finish it. I hated dogmatic matron Jenny Fields. I hated whiny, indecisive, anxiety-ridden Garp. I hated Garp’s puling, dissatisfied wife Helen. I hated the Ellen Jamesians (a group of women who cut their own tongues out to represent the struggle of young rape victim Ellen James). I did like Ellen James herself (partly due to her own hatred of the Ellen Jamesians), though my favorite character was Garp’s friend Roberta Muldoon, transgendered former football player.

In general, I felt like the book dragged on forever, detailing the often melodramatic lives of a bunch of people I didn’t like. Unlike Hotel New Hampshire, which I wished were a thousand pages longer, I kept looking at Garp and thinking “Still? There are still SO MANY pages left?” The parts I liked the most were the bits of Garp’s “writing,” and his short story about the family who travel the world rating hotels brought a flicker of recognition and enjoyment (the family might as well have been the Berrys, though instead of running hotels they visit them) it all went back to Garp eventually. Unfortunately.

I suspect that this is one of those books that people either love or hate. I’m sure there are a lot of people who adore it–several of my friends seem to be quite fond of it–but it left me completely cold.

16
Jan
13

CBR5 #1: Jane Slayre by Sherri Browning Erwin (with Charlotte Bronte)

It’s a new year and time for a new Cannonball Read! I didn’t manage to finish last year–I got SO CLOSE and then somehow pooped out at the end–but I am getting back on the horse to try and complete all 52 reviews this year. For any of you who might be interested, learn about the CBR here. Although I haven’t always been successful, the CBR is a great motivator to keep making blog entries. If my tags are to be believed, I have written reviews for 261 books since I started, which is not too shabby.

Anyway, enough with that and on to the first review!

I must first say that I really like the original Jane Eyre. It’s a great story with an original and interesting heroine who was waaaay ahead of her time.

That said, the story is distinctly lacking in vampires.

Sherri Browning Erwin has solved that minor problem in Jane Slayre. Now, instead of just being terrible people, her aunt and cousins are vampires! And the school she goes to isn’t just miserable and run by a cold-hearted Christian fundamentalist–it’s also crawling with zombies! And let’s not even discuss what Mr. Rochester has got hiding in his attic!

Although this could have become rather stupid, it was actually pretty well done. The horror elements were layered on to the original tale without overwhelming it. It was a bit like a hidden picture puzzle for me, watching where the elements of Bronte’s story were woven in, and trying to predict how they would effect the story of the unloved-orphan-turned-vampire-slayer.

For purists, this is probably a book to avoid. Mind you, I don’t think Jane Eyre attracts the same ravening fanboy following as–for example–Lord of the Rings. I’m sure there’s people out there who might find the way Erwin has changed the story offensive. If you’re one of those people…don’t read it. You won’t like it, and no one wants to hear you complain. If you are a person who can see the humor in the idea, and are willing to put aside the idea that this is a corruption of “lit-ra-toor,” then you might just enjoy this.