Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Road Not Taken

by Robert Frost

This is easily one of the most popular and most misunderstood poems of all time. I remember my favorite teacher in middle school, who I am still in contact with, had a poster with the final three lines of this poem on it. I thought it was so cheesy that I deliberately chose a desk to sit at where I would not have to see the poster during class. If you couldn't tell by my previous posts, I despise sentimentality. Makes me want to hurl.

Anyway, on with the mocking!

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

You know that warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you read familiar lines of poetry? If you've got it right now, kill it. Statistically speaking, this ain't the line you know. The line you know is all the way down in the fourth stanza. If this poem were a person, you'd be standing there saying to it, "you're a strong, independent poem," and it would be all like, "you don't know me. You don't know my life!"

Monday, May 18, 2015


by Edward Rowland Sill

     Before I get started here, I just want to state that I actually quite like this poem. It will not always be the case, as with "The Children's Hour," that works I make fun of are works I dislike. Heck, Shakespeare will probably end up on here one day (cuz fuck Romeo and Juliet).

This I beheld, or dreamed it in a dream: --

     We're off to a good start here! The man doesn't even know if this actually happened, or if he dreamed it. Either we've got some opium use going on, or Sill's got some majorly realistic dreams. Either way, this line is pure filler. It doesn't matter one bit if the events of the poem are supposed to have happened in real life or in the author's head. It's just a goddamned poem, we all know it's not really "real." You've only got three fucking stanzas here! If you must preface your poem with this kind of shit, pick which one you want the reader to temporarily believe, then write a better opening line that establishes that premise. Or, better yet, just get on with it!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Children's Hour

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

     What utter sentimental crap.
     My mother used to read this poem to me when I was a child, and I've always hated it, so I figure this is a good one to start this new venture on. Presumably, she thought that, because I was a child, I would appreciate a poem about children. I didn't. (I wanted her to flip the pages of her slim volume of poetry a few to the right and read "The Raven," which has a beautiful musical quality to it even if you don't get the allusions or understand quite what is happening.)
     The entirety of the poem is quoted here, in purple italics. Let us begin.

Between the dark and the daylight,
     When the light is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day's occupations
     That is known as the Children's Hour.

     Oh God, you just know this is going to be awful. "THIS IS A POEM. IT HAS METER AND RHYME LIKE A NURSERY RHYME BECAUSE IT'S ABOUT CHILDREN, SEE?" Not to mention, for a first stanza that rhyme is just damned lazy. Throughout this whole poem, Longfellow doesn't really seem to care about when he uses lazy rhymes or perfect rhymes, like he never even wanted to write this poem in the first place. Well, you know what, Henry? We all wish you hadn't.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Change of Plan

So, obviously, I haven't been updating this blog in, like, years. College was happening, sorry. And... buying a house and.. God, how long has it been since my last update here? Damn.

Anyway, my husband came up with a great blog idea the other night, based on some of the conversations I've had with him about literature. I have some very strong opinions about books and poems and plays that are considered "classics" and capital-I "Important." After all, I do have a Bachelor's in English. Oftentimes, though, my more negative opinions spill out of my mouth laced with expletives and curses upon the now-dead author. I mean, have you read Moby Dick? It is probably the most boring, long-winded piece of shit I have ever slogged through. Its sole redeeming feature is Chapter 95. But it must be read; it's capital-I "Important." And I don't argue that. It has had a lot of influence on our culture, and in summary it creates a beautiful metaphor for life. But it's a terrible read.

So, basically, I will still be reviewing books here (and poems and plays), but I won't be giving star-ratings, I won't be reviewing new things, and I won't be dwelling too long on the positive aspects of whatever I'm reviewing.

I hope to update about once a month, maybe more often if I'm feeling particularly opinionated.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Oryx and Crake

by Margaret Atwood

Buy the book here.


Plot: Snowman, a lone survivor of a human extinction event struggles to survive while reminiscing on how it all came to be. He is in charge of caring for a group of genetically-altered humanoids called "the Children of Crake."

     Fantastic! This is the first book I have read by Margaret Atwood, and I can't wait to read more. Oryx and Crake is a deftly handled cross between the Adam & Eve story, a post-apocalyptic horrorland, Orwellian distopia, conspiracy theory, and memoir. The ending leaves the reader wanting more from this fantastic yet all-too-familiar world, and fortunately Atwood has delivered with a sequel, The Year of the Flood.
     Characterization is handled amazingly well, considering what she gave herself to work with. Without giving much away, I will mention that one character is a pure-science genius asshole, another refuses to say a bad thing about anyone, ever, there are environmentalist fanatics, a father who routinely forgets his son's birthday, and the main character is highly unsympathetic as well. But for all that, and likely because of all that, it remains very believable. The reader finds him/herself relating to Snowman/Jimmy's basic selfish, ugly humanity.
     The most chilling part of the story, for me at least, are the pigoons. Pigoons are pigs that were genetically engineered to grow human organs. Encountering them in a laboratory setting was unnerving enough for me, but then I have a slight fear of pigs (thank you, Lord of the Flies). When Snowman crosses paths with them in the wild, things get zombie-like quickly, but pigoons are smart and fast, so it's worse.
     You absolutely must read this book.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea

by Yukio Mishima

Buy the book here.
Buy the movie version.


Plot: The story of a widowed mother and her thirteen-year-old son. The mother falls in love with a sailor. Her son runs with a group of boys trying to detach themselves from emotion. Tragic ending.

It's like Lord of the Flies! There are wonderfully uncomfortable Oedipal overtones, tons of philosophy from a young boy's point of view, and murder. In many ways, however, it tends to be much more frightening than Lord of the Flies because this novel takes place within society rather than needing to be removed from it before horrible things start happening. But it is also less harrowing because the character in danger can get away from it easily, if he were to see it.
I found myself sympathizing with the main character, Noboru Kuroda, the son mentioned in the plot. I had many similar feelings around that age. It felt sometimes like the world was conspiring against me on an emotional level and the best solution was to simply have no emotions at all.
I quite liked this book and would like to read it again someday. The copy I just read is from the public library, however, so I will have to buy a copy for my personal library.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Chimes

by Charles Dickens

Buy the book here.


Plot:A poor man tries to make an honest living. One night he has a dream about dying and being shown the future by the spirits who live in the bell tower of a church. Things work out fine.

This story was written by Dickens because he was required to write another holiday story as part of a contract with a new publisher. It shows. The story feels rushed in some places (he wrote it in mere months, with a strict deadline) and lacks the overall charm typical of a Dickens piece. Unlike A Christmas Carol, no lessons are learned here and no one lives their lives differently because of the spirits. It simply shows some unfortunate things that COULD have happened, had the poor characters taken the advice of the rich characters. But none of the poor people in the story were likely to have actually taken the advice of the rich people to begin with. It's all just some silly dream.
     The tone is preachy. I know Dickens always had a message in his stories and it's impossible to ignore that message when reading. But he was usually able to straddle the thin line between getting his point across and still being entertaining. It's not a bad story, but had he taken some more time to smooth things over, build characters a little less obviously, and slow down the pace, this could have jumped back on that aforementioned line and been a truly great story.