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Search tags: USAmerican-literature
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review 2016-04-23 11:00
The Original Babbitt Who Always Swims With the Tide: Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis
Babbitt - Sinclair Lewis

In the USA the word "Babbitt" has become synonymous for Philistine, thus for "a self-satisfied person who conforms readily to conventional, middle-class ideas and ideals, especially of business and material success" (babbitt. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/babbitt [accessed: April 22, 2015]). But how many of those who use the word know that it's actually the title of a novel and the name of its protagonist?

 

Babbitt was first published in 1922 and without doubt it must be called an important classic of American literature. Its author was Sinclair Lewis who would eight years later, in 1930, be the first US American recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature. And yet, I'm led to believe that these days the novel isn't widely read anymore, if not forgotten by the great majority. What better reason to take it from my shelf and give it more than just a quick glance to see what it has to offer to a reader in the twenty-first century.

 

In fact, Babbitt is a novel that seems to me very up-to-date. It touches on many issues of our modern world, e.g. on the unhealthy craving for constant progress and growth, on globalisation = standardisation = uniformity, on the meaninglessness of life, on conformity and exclusion, on mid-life crises, on escape through entertainment,... I reviewed the novel at length on my other book blog – just click here to read what I wrote about it on Edith's Miscellany.

Source: edith-lagraziana.blogspot.com
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review 2016-01-02 11:00
A Man Passed by Time: The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck
The Winter of Our Discontent - John Steinbeck,Susan Shillinglaw

The topic of John Steinbeck's final novel is amazingly acute today although it was first published more than fifty years ago... it's a novel revolving around morals in a money-centred modern world.

 

The Winter of Our Discontent is the story of a good and honest man who finds his morals corrupted by the requirements and habits of post-war America where virtually everything seems permitted to achieve financial wealth and social status. The protagonist clings to his high moral standards passed on to him by his forefathers, but his family's yearning for wealth and prestige forces him to think over his attitude and thus plunges him into a deep inner conflict.

 

I invite you to follow the link and read my long review on my main book blog Edith's Miscellany or its duplicate on Read the Nobels!

Source: edith-lagraziana.blogspot.com
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review 2015-09-03 07:00
Hawaiian Mythology Transferred into the Present: Ancient Guardians by Kanani Hurley
Ancient Guardians: The Hawaiian Legend of Sharktooth and Hawkeye - Kanani Hurley

Usually, I refuse to read books offered to me by their authors because I dislike too much feeling obliged to write a review, even less within a given time, but I made an exception for Ancient Guardians: The Hawaiian Legend of Sharktooth and Hawkseye by Kanani Hurley. The fact that she promoted her novel as Hawaiian folklore and mythology roused my curiosity, and despite me, I asked her to send me a copy. The book arrived about a month ago with a friendly covering letter and two sample bags of – most delicious – macadamias from Hawai’i.

 

Already at first sight I felt that the author probably had younger readers than me in mind when she wrote her novel. This is because its cover reminds me of the one or other children’s book that I had ages ago. Each chapter is introduced by black-and-white ki’i or images imitating ancient petroglyphes that can be found all over the Hawaiian Islands and necessarily looking like what we call today “primitive” or “naïve” art from the modern Euro-American point of view. It’s a nice idea and I like the ki’i. For the rest, I believe that above all teenagers and young adults may love this novel and its planned sequels, while at my age I find it a bit difficult to relate to the child heroine.

 

Kawehi, usually called Wehi, is a girl of about ten years living in a house on the island of Kaua’i with her parents and her adored older brother Kahoku. Her life is happy and carefree, not to say paradisiacal, until the first school day after summer vacation when Kahoku goes surfing with friends and in an attempt to save one of them drowns in the sea. The family is devastated, even more so because it seems odd to them that an outstanding surfer and swimmer like him should have died like this, but then the water was quite rough that day and tragic accidents happen. For Wehi her brother’s death is particularly hard and she reproaches herself for not having warned him in the morning when she had a feeling that something bad was going to happen. After the funeral Grandpa Ke Ali’i does his best to console or rather distract Wehi telling her the old Hawaiian legend of the ‘aumākua, the guardian spirits of the Hawaiians in the shapes of shark, owl and hawk, as a bedtime story. From this point the rather conventional family saga turns into a captivating fantasy thriller because Wehi and her entire family are forced to deal with a band of malicious ‘aumākua seeking their lives. And in due course old as well as new family ‘aumākua appear to protect its members.

 

To my great regret Ancient Guardians: The Hawaiian Legend of Sharktooth and Hawkseye by Kanani Hurley isn’t a stand-alone-novel, but the first part of a series. However absorbing the plot of this first volume may be, the cliff-hanger at the end leaves me disappointed, dissatisfied and annoyed. It’s not just that I’ve never been particularly fond of book series. I believe that the loose end is too important, but maybe this is only how I feel about it. At any rate, Kanani Hurley did an excellent job interweaving legend with fiction as well as personal experience not to say grief and I hope that she’ll see the remaining parts of the series published as well.

 

Ancient Guardians:

The Hawaiian Legend of Sharktooth and Hawkseye

by Kanani Hurley

 

ISBN: 9781478759249

Outskirts Press
242 pages

S.R.P.: $17.95

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review 2013-06-20 12:03
Nella Larsen: Passing
Passing - Nella Larsen

In her novel Passing Nella Larsen wrote down the story of two African-American women with a similar background who chose very different, even opposite strategies to play the game of life in Chicago during the 1920s. In the beginning Clare and Irene, who haven’t seen each other for years, meet by chance in an elegant restaurant closed to African-Americans. Clare’s life as a white woman leaves Irene with conflicting feelings. She clearly disapproves of Clare’s choice, but at the same time she is fascinated. To reconnect Clare with the black community Irene invites her to a dance. Thereafter Irene sees her identity as an African-American even more challenged and that as a woman, too, when Clare and her husband are beginning an affair later on. At last, Irene is driven to put a violent end to the mess that Clare caused.

 

The key issue that Nella Larsen addresses in Passing is the search for identity as an individual, black or white, woman or man, low or high.

 

For the full review please click here to get to my blog Edith's Miscellany!

Source: edith-lagraziana.blogspot.com
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review 2013-04-23 09:54
The Book Junkie Blog: The Twenties: Money, Parties, Flappers, and Gatsby
The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald

I gave a presentation on 'The Great Gatsby' in high-school (I was just short of 17) and still remember putting aside my notes because I had got lost in them and talking freely... a great experience that I always like remembering. And the book was great, too, it goes without saying.

 

Here's a review of the book that I stumbled across on the internet!

Source: thebookjunkee.blogspot.com
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