Tag Archives: book review

I thought I’d finally got rid of you

So, I just read One Day. It happened on accident, really—I had no intention of doing so, but a friend of mine threw the book at me and said, “Read it.”

I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting much. Sure, the movie was pleasant, but kind of standard chick-flick fair, and the ending really stood out as jarring and unnecessary to me.

Let me just say, the phrase “the book is better” has never been more applicable than now. Even though David Nicholls wrote the screenplay and the novel, the book is still so much better.
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Why did you betray your own heart, Cathy?

Wuthering heights

Top Withens in England is believed to be Emily Bronte's inspiration for Wuthering Heights. Photo from flickr via Creative Commons

When I was in high school, they made us read Wuthering Heights over summer break. For one, assigning a sad, epic love story to a happy-go-lucky kid during the happiest-go-luckiest holiday ever was just poor planning. Also, I have to admit, my tastes weren’t as well-developed then as they are now.

Long story short, I hated it.

I didn’t understand why on earth I was reading about a jerk who falls in love with a jerk and they go around acting like jerks and everyone is supposed to be, what? Impressed? I read halfway through, then promptly found a cliff-notes version and managed to write my paper that way.

Skip forward to my sophomore year of college. Something prompts me to check Wuthering Heights out from the library—perhaps because a lot of people in college are jerks that go around acting like jerks and I wanted a greater understanding of them.

Naturally, I loved it. Every page, every scene, every coarse, anguished conversation between Heathcliff and his true love, Cathy. Sure, it can be over the top at times, but you can just feel the passion through the ink. I even have that one, desperate speech of Heathcliff’s memorized. Really.

I also think that Wuthering Heights, though not exactly a how-to on successful relationships, gives a definition of love that feels closest to what I believe. When Catherine is describing her love for Heathcliff to Nelly, she says simply, “Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.”

So, it’s not just about two jerks. It’s about two jerks who find this impossible, perfect kind of love, only they destroy it because—well, they’re jerks. They can’t help it. Kind of sounds like the entire human race, right?

“Be with me always—take any form—drive me mad! Only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! It is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!” – Heathcliff, Wuthering Heights

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January 9, 2012 · 12:22 pm

This world is made out of sugar

Hello, all! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

One of my gifts came early, and I wanted to share it with you. It’s a book called “B” by Sarah Kay, who’s a spoken-word poet. It’s a really small book; just one poem of hers. She performed “B” for TED Talks, so it’s one of her more well-known works, and that prompted her to release this illustrated book. I’ve posted Sarah Kay on my site before, so if you watched “Hiroshima” then you’re already a bit familiar with her.

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I keep thinking about this river somewhere.

Florence and the Machine, one of my favorite artists, recently released a new album called Ceremonials. It’s fantastic, but lest you think I’m jumping topics, the reason I’m writing about her on a literary blog is because of track number four, “Never Let Me Go.”

Fans of Kazuo Ishiguro will automatically make the connection. if you haven’t had the privilege of reading any of Ishiguro’s work, he released a book of the same name in 2005. It’s one of my favorite books, but I’d almost forgotten about it until I looked at the track list for Ceremonials.

Naturally, “Never Let Me Go” was the first song I listened to, and I admit I was looking for an obvious connection. Ishiguro and his novel are well-known and respected, and a movie has been made featuring Carey Mulligan and Keira Knightley. I didn’t find the obvious link, though I still remain convinced Florence had some knowledge of Ishiguro’s work.

Despite the lack of an obvious connection, the song still reminded me of the novel, and I picked up the book and started reading it again. It’s a tragic story about Kathy, Ruth and Tommy, who are actually clones that will have to donate all of their organs by the time they reach their mid-twenties. Weaved into the novel is a beautiful love story between Kathy and Tommy, which started from the time they were children. The tone of longing and the idea of being helpless against the powerful forces around you—their lot in life, the gradual way people change and time itself—is certainly echoed in Florence’s song.

Kathy, Tommy and Ruth cannot control the situation they’re in and do not try; Florence similarly sings of letting the ocean sweep her away and take her under. Both works build a certain kind of peace in letting go; in letting themselves follow the river instead of fighting against the current.

If you’ve read the book, use the song as a soundtrack and read it again. If you haven’t, do so immediately. You won’t be disappointed.

“I keep thinking about this river somewhere, with the water moving really fast. And these two people in the water, trying to hold onto each other, holding on as hard as they can, but in the end it’s just too much. The current’s too strong. They’ve got to let go, drift apart. That’s how it is with us. It’s a shame, Kath, because we’ve loved each other all our lives. But in the end, we can’t stay together forever.” – Tommy, Never Let Me Go

“And it’s peaceful in the deep,
Cathedral where you cannot breathe,
No need to pray, no need to speak
Now I am under.”
– Florence and the Machine, Never Let Me Go

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