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text 2017-06-19 00:48
The Iliad
The Iliad and the Odyssey - Homer

The Iliad by Homer

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

 

The wrath of Achilles not only begins the oldest piece of Western literature, but is also its premise.  The Iliad has been the basis of numerous clichés in literature, but at its root it is a story of a war that for centuries was told orally before being put down by Homer in which the great heroes of Greece fought for honor and glory that the men of Homer’s day could only imagine achieving.

 

The story of the Trojan War is well known and most people who have not read The Iliad assume they know what happens, but in fact at the end of the poem the city of Troy still stands and a wooden horse has not been mentioned.  The Iliad tells of several weeks in the last year of the war that revolve around the dishonorable actions of Agamemnon that leads to Achilles refusing to fight with the rest of the Greeks and the disaster it causes in the resulting engagements against the Trojans.  But then Achilles allows his friend Patroclus to lead his men into battle to save the Greek ships from being put to the torch only for Patroclus to advance to the walls of Troy and be slain by Hector.  The wrath of Achilles turns from Agamemnon to Hector and the Trojans, leading to the death of Troy’s greatest warrior and the poem ending with his funeral.

 

Although the actions of Achilles and Hector take prominence, there are several other notable “storylines” one doesn’t know unless you’ve read epic.  First and foremost is Diomedes, the second greatest fighter amongst the Greeks but oftentimes overlooked when it comes to adaptations especially to other important individuals like Odysseus, Menelaus, and the pivotal Patroclus.  The second is how much the Olympians and other minor deities are thought to influence the events during this stretch of the war and how both mortals and immortals had to bow to Fate in all circumstances.  The third is how ‘nationalistic’ the epic is in the Greek perspective because even though Hector is acknowledged the greatest mortal-born warrior in the war on both sides, as a Trojan he has to have moments of cowardice that none of the Greek heroes are allowed to exhibit and his most famous kill is enabled by Apollo instead of all by himself.  And yet, even though Homer writes The Iliad as a triumphant Greek narrative the sections that have Hector’s flaws almost seem hollow as if Homer and his audience both subconsciously know that his epic is not the heroic wrath of Achilles but the tragic death of Hector.

 

The Iliad is the ultimate classic literature and no matter your reading tastes one must read it to have a better appreciation for all of literature as a whole.  Although the it was first written over 2500 years ago, it shows the duality of heroic feats and complete tragedy that is war.

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photo 2017-06-16 00:34
'Salem's Lot - Stephen King
Best Halloween Book for All Ages
Source: www.amazon.com/Legend-Decimus-Croome-Halloween-Carol/dp/1520500653/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1494968162&sr=8-1&keywords=a+halloween+carol
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text 2017-06-15 22:47
The Legend of Decimus Croome: A Halloween Carol

Decimus Croome is a dastardly, despicable and downright deplorable fellow. But worse than that, old man Croome hates Halloween. As a result, he ruins Halloween for his entire family and the rest of the town.

 

Content to live in his gloomy old house and avoid all human contact whenever possible, Decimus Croome even shuns his own daughter and grandson. But he has a rude and horrifying awakening one memorable Halloween when he is visited by four spirits who are determined to show Croome the misery he has inflicted upon his friends, neighbors and family members.

 

Based on A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, The Legend of Decimus Croome is bound to become a Halloween classic for readers of all ages for generations to come. Follow old man Croome as he is visited first by the lovely but disturbing spirit of his dearly departed wife. She warns him of three spirits yet to follow. And oh what spirits they are. Each one is more disturbing than the last, and each one has an important message for Croome.

 

The first spirit is a truly horrifying yet disturbingly funny pumpkin-headed ghost who delivers Croome to his distant and not-so-distant past. Along the journey, Croome is warmed with nostalgia and terrified by the some of the most tragic events in his life.

 

The second spirit is a shape-shifting witch who breaks every stereotype about witches while nearly driving Croome insane with her wild antics and slapstick delivery.

 

And the third phantasm delivers the final glimpse of Croome's diabolically humdrum life and the future that is in store for him if he doesn't change his wicked ways.

 

Throughout this delightful Halloween novel, we meet a cast of characters from a devoted employee to a charming young leukemia patient. We are also entertained by a precocious black feline named Black Magic who witnesses each spiritual visit and the changes in her boringly predictable guardian.

 

Join Tommy Bobbich, Decimus Croome and a whole cast of ghosts, witches, ghouls and scarecrows in this modern day holiday story that is sure to provide you with chills, laughs and maybe even a tearful moment or two as you read The Legend of Decimus Croome: a Halloween Carol. You will never look at Halloween the same again.

Source: www.amazon.com/Legend-Decimus-Croome-Halloween-Carol/dp/1520500653/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1494968162&sr=8-1&keywords=a+halloween+carol
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review 2017-06-13 21:20
Review of Conducting Research Literature Reviews
Conducting Research Literature Reviews: From the Internet to Paper (Volume 4) - Arlene G. Fink

This was another book required for my class where I have to write a Literature Review. This is a one star book for excitement, and a five star book for its applicable content. If you have to write a Lit Review, this is the book for you.

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review 2017-06-10 18:44
No Longer Human by Osamu Dazai, translated by Donald Keene
No Longer Human - Osamu Dazai,Donald Keene

I’ll start this off with some content warnings. This book includes several suicide attempts (one successful), a main (POV) character who becomes an alcoholic and a drug addict and who is probably depressed, and several mentions of rape and child molestation. Most of these things aren’t described in much detail, but they’re there.

Almost all of this book is written as though it was the notebook of a man named Oba Yozo (I’m pretty sure that’s the original name order, with family name first, although I could be wrong). Yozo writes about his life from his early childhood days to what I’m assuming is near the end of his life. The book ends and begins with a chapter written from the perspective of someone who did not personally know Yozo but read his notebooks and met someone who did know him.

When Yozo was a very young child, he became convinced that he did not qualify as human. The thought that someone else might realize he wasn’t human so terrified him that he began to behave like a clown. If others were laughing at his antics and jokes, then they weren’t looking at him too closely. Unfortunately for him, he occasionally met individuals who seemed able to see beneath his clownish mask. Beginning in his college years, he was also taken aback by how attractive women seemed to find him.

Yozo seemed incapable of empathizing with others and could only view their words and actions in terms of how they directly related to him. This was especially driven home by the last few pages of the book, written from the perspective of a man who didn’t know Yozo. For the first time since the book began, a POV character was writing about people who weren’t Yozo as though they had thoughts and feelings of their own, and about the wider world and what was going on in it. It was like a breath of fresh air and really emphasized how isolated Yozo had been, even though he spoke to and interacted with more people in his portion of the book than the man at the end.

The beginning of the book worked best for me. Yozo was essentially trapped by his fears, worried about how others perceived him and what they might have been able to see in him. Because he couldn’t understand the thoughts and behaviors of those around him, he doubted the correctness of his own opinions and feelings - after all, if everyone else was human and he was not, who was he to contradict what others said or did? This was especially tragic when it led to him not telling anyone that one of the servants (or several) had molested him. Or at least I think that’s what happened - the author/translator was very vague, saying that he had been “corrupted” and that “to perpetrate such a thing on a small child is the ugliest, vilest, cruelest crime a human being can commit” (35).

Things started to fall apart during Yozo’s college years. Yozo’s father wanted him to become a civil servant, while Yozo wanted to study art. This devolved into Yozo skipping classes, drinking, hiring prostitutes, hanging out with Marxists, and occasionally working on his art. My patience with Yozo pretty much ran out, and it didn’t help that the book developed a very clear misogynistic thread. An example of one of this section's more off-putting quotes: at one point, Yozo said “I never could think of prostitutes as human or even as women” (63). Women, in particular, seemed drawn to his self-destructive orbit, and the result was misery for everyone involved.

Yozo continued his habit of believing others’ assessment of him. Sometimes this had a positive effect on Yozo, such as his brief period of contentment with his wife, a girl (really a girl - she was only 17 when he married her) who genuinely believed that he was a good person and that he would never lie to her. However, since Yozo seemed to gravitate towards people who looked down on him, his habit of accepting and believing whatever people said about him usually drew him further into his downward spiral. I’d say it was depressing, except Yozo was generally so detached from everything that the word seems too strong to be appropriate.

There’s a manga adaptation of this that I might read, just to get a different interpretation of the story. That said, I suspect the manga won’t work for me much more than this did. No Longer Human was well-written, but not my sort of book at all.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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