Meredith's Challenge 2.0

52 books, one year. Stay tuned for more details.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

#19 Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

This is on various respectable top 100 books of the twentieth century lists so I thought that I should give it a shot. I've also heard that Waugh is an awesome author so I figured I should try him out too.

It was... interesting? I was under the impression that Brideshead is a pretty shocking soap operatic story, and maybe I'm just a godless heathen, but I didn't find it too shocking. In 1944, I guess the themes of the second half might be scandalous but now, not so much. I liked how Waugh transported the reader to the England of pre-WWII but at some points in the first half, I was seriously wondering if the whole novel was just going to be about fancy houses and naughty British school boys, which I guess is what its really all about with a little alcoholism, religion, and adultery thrown in for fun.

Some people (you know who you are) insist that I am an anglophile and that I would love anything if it is British but I think that this novel is a pretty good counter example, as is Dorian Grey, which I've almost all but given up on.

I liked the insight into upper crust British society, but I don't think I would list this as a top book of the twentieth century. However, I am really clueless about this sort of thing and perhaps it is brillant and I am just really missing out because I'm so horribly backwards. Are there any other books y'all think have no place on these lists? Or are negligently absent (for instance Beloved on the MLA list but is present on the Radcliffe list, at least the Britons have their act in order)? Speak to me.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

#18 Child of My Heart by Alice McDermott

I couldn't take the "philosophical" musings of Lord Henry anymore! He talks too much and maybe I'm just not deep enough to appreciate Oscar Wilde, though I really like "The Importance of Being Ernest." I'm still struggling through Picture of Dorian Gray, maybe I will finish it one day.

I liked Charming Billy, this is McDermott's new-ish book and it was on sale. Resistance is futile.

The narration is good, a fifteen year old girl, wise beyond her years, loved by small children and animals, a bit cliche, but interesting. Her interest in the father of one of her charges was creepy and fascinating at the same time. At first, I thought, "Um, I just have a dirty mind, right?" then later, "Maybe I'm not imaging things." and then "He's really, really old, but she seems to be in charge so is this okay?" I don't know. He could be her grandfather but he is an arteest! He does arty things! Like have affairs with underage girls! Now that I think about it, definitely more creepy than anything. I wonder how people would react if the genders were reversed.

The book is beautifully written, but its ending is odd. All this stuff happens, really, really quickly and then its over! It feels like a lazy way to end something; I've complained about this earlier. It's still frustrating. Regardless, interesting read, probably could have gotten it from the library instead. And if that fawning review doesn't make you want to go out and read it I don't know what will!

Monday, June 20, 2005

#17 I can stop anytime I want to!

So, uh, see here for more or less of the same. Does it make it any better that I'm in the middle of The Picture of Dorian Gray? Or is that just worse? Send help.

Friday, June 10, 2005

#16 Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women by Geraldine Brooks

I had this book leftover from an anthropology class about gender. The class was disappointingly boring but books were interesting. I was so unenamoured with the class that I just skipped this one. I am usually such a good little student but some things will not be tolerated, a whole class taught entirely by PowerPoint for example.

A few days ago, I was browsing my bulging bookcases (yes, plural) and I came upon Nine Parts. I forgot that I even had it and that I never finished it. I went through it pretty quickly, it's an easy read. I felt like it was a little dated because it was written before 2001 and there was clearly no discussion about recent events in the Middle East. I would find that discussion fascinating.

Maybe because I'm an optimistic bleeding heart liberal, I hoped that Brooks would find something that I had previously not known about women in Islam, that maybe from an unknowing outsider's view it seems horrible but it's not really that bad. That perhaps there is a more balanced version of what goes on in Islamic countries that we don't get to see. Nope, not according to Brooks. It looked to me that she tried to be an unbiased journalist (which is impossible, really) but that she couldn't after seeing how many women's lives were so negatively affected by their countries' policies and are unable to escape them.

I really like her argument that if the genders were reversed, there would be international outrage "if some 90 million little boys were having their penises amputated." You know it's true and yet, because it's women who are having their clitorises removed and their labia sewn together, few people have even noticed and even less have cared. Clitoridectomy is not a tradition held by all Muslims, it was a cultural ritual, not a religious one. Brooks talks about how Islam absorbed some customs, such as "veils and seclusion in Persia," "genital mutilations in Egypt," and "when it found societies in which women had never had a voice in public affairs, its own traditions of lively women's participation withered." Why is this? Why is the submission (Islam means submission in Arabic) only being done by women? Why has Islam embraced so many anti-woman policies? Islam doesn't have to be a hateful religion, it could be loving and peaceful. However, the misogyny present in so many "Islamic" counties is staggering. Right now, Islam is anything but beautiful.

Monday, June 06, 2005


I haven't read anything since the last entry. Even fish are reading more than I am (and writing more intelligently about it, too, damnit). I am now resorting to the classic "Look over here! Cause I've got nothing post" syndrome. I stumbled upon this meme (extra points to those who knows where this word comes from) here and followed the directions. It was interesting. Try to guess the answers. If you dare!

Here it goes:
My hometown First picture for this search, cracked me up.

The town I live in now (Look closely at the flags)

My name

My grandma's name

My favorite food Yes, but what kind? It is a specific one. Any guesses? No cheating!

My favorite drink Funny how I didn't realize this was it, until I actually thought about it. The first summer I worked at Ben and Jerry's, we made this from scratch. I used to make it for myself all the time with fizzy water and the bare minimum amount of syrup, used to freak out my co-workers with how sour I like it.

My favorite song Oh Lord, I hope I don't look like this when I'm boogeying down.

My favorite smell One of Godzilla's babies is turning red. Not long until you read in headlines "Woman dies from eating too many tomatoes!" But what a wonderful way to go.

If anyone else is bored enough to do this, let me know what your answers are.