Austen in August

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

I've read at least one Austen book every year since 2002. I worked my way through her six novels, then I reread them, then I read all of her juvenilia. I just love her work. I just realized that I didn't read ANY Austen last year! I'm horrified. In my defense, I did have a baby and not get a lot of sleep, so all of my reading suffered last year. 

Anyway, I'm back and obviously miss Jane. Roof Beam Reader is once again hosting the annual Austen in August reading event and I'm thrilled to have an excuse to just back into her work.  I'm planning on rereading my very first Austen, Pride & Prejudice, this month. If you want to join in the fun you can see the details here

Hogarth Shakespeare: Hag-Seed

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Some of the most well-known authors of our generation have joined together to create the Hogarth Shakespeare series. Each author is retelling one of Shakespeare's most well-known plays. It's a brilliant idea and one that I'm loving so far. Tracy Chevalier wrote New Boy, the story of Othello set in a Washington D.C. grade school in the 1970s. Anne Tyler tackled The Taming of the Shrew in Vinegar Girl, turning the soured Kate into the daughter of a scientist looking for a green card marriage for his lab assistant. In Margaret Atwoods' Hag-Seed we meet Felix, a modern-day Prospero. He's the eccentric director of a theatre festival, but after being betrayed, he exiles himself as he plots his revenge.

With the other two books I've read in the series I couldn't help but compare them to the original the entire time I was reading them. With Hag-Seed I kept forgetting that it is a remake of The Tempest, even though they are talking about the original play through the novel. The plot and the characters are strong enough that they stand on their own. I kept getting sucked into the story, which is exactly what you want.

I love that every aspect of the retelling is not literal. Miranda is his daughter, but she passed away when she was little. He is not stranded on an island, but instead he's trapped in an isolation of his own making. He takes a job teaching Shakespeare to inmates at a local prison. I love how he has to introduce Shakespeare to them and in doing so, we as the readers are able to appreciate some of the primal aspects of the Bard's work.  We often treat Shakespeare as high-browed and far above lay people. In reality he was often crass and played to the commonest level of humor. I love that Atwood manages to embrace that while still highlighting his deeper message.

BOTTOM LINE: Loved the book and the whole premise of the series. It's such a treat to see Shakespeare's work through a new lens. Just as every director of a film or play brings their interpretation to each piece, so do these authors.  I can't wait to read the rest of them!

Vonnegut's Childhood Home and Putt Putt

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The other day I got to see Kurt Vonnegut's childhood home in Indianapolis. His parents were wealthy when he was young and the home is in a gorgeous neighborhood. The family put their handprints in cement near the backdoor and the littlest one is Kurt's!
His parents' initials are on the front door (pictured above). I'm such a sucker for seeing author's home. It's fun to get a tiny glimpse into their lives. This one just happens to be in my own hometown! 

 Last year my local art museum (the Indianapolis Museum of Art) created a mini golf course with themed holes. Each one had some significant meaning to the state of Indiana. There was a Vonnegut hole, which, of course, was my favorite!

Photos by me and a friend.