Could I Have Some More, Please?

I was hunting for a bookish topic for this week, and as I often do, I went looking through the archives of Top Ten Tuesday from the Broke and the Bookish.  Which led me to one of their past topics: authors I want another book from!

1) L. M. Montgomery, because, obviously–I’ve run out!  But I’d settle for someone publishing the 200 unpublished short stories sitting out of reach in an archive (they’re real, and they’re unpublished!)

2) Edgar Rice Burroughs, not because I’ve run out of his or because I would expect anything new or innovative in one more novel, but–because he never finished John Carter and the Skeleton Men of Jupiter.  I don’t want a new novel from him, I want that new novel. And similarly…

3) William Shakespeare. Love’s Labors Won, anyone?  A play, not a novel, but close enough.

4) Harper Lee, but only in a perfect world where her second novel was not that terrible book I prefer to pretend doesn’t exist.

5) Terry Pratchett, because…Terry Pratchett!  And even though the last Discworld book was satisfying, even though there are others by him I still haven’t read, it still makes me sad that there will be no more new ones.

6) Diana Wynne Jones, because she was the first author who died while I was actively following her work.  And I am sad there will be no more new ones from her.

7) Susan Kay, because she only wrote two and one of them was Phantom and my favorite book ever, so what else might she write?

8) Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, who wrote three wonderful classic Star Trek books, then went off and wrote a bunch with William Shatner that I didn’t like as well.  I’d love to see another one that’s just them.

9) Tamora Pierce, because her last book came out in 2013, and we’ve been waiting ever since for her next Tortall book, which has an ever-receding publishing date (some time 2017, currently).

10) Robin McKinley, because her last book came out in 2013, and we’re still waiting for her promised sequel to Pegasus.  From what I can gather from reading her blog, she’d quite like to have a new book out too.

What author would you like to see another book from?  Do you have hope it will happen, or is it just a wish?

Book/Play Review: The Comedy of Errors

Anticipating my Shakespeare reading goals, I hauled out my Complete Works and checked off all the plays I’ve read and/or seen, to see what was missing. I found out there were four Comedies and four Tragedies I’ve yet to encounter—and then I put the Complete Works away and requested a paperback of The Comedy of Errors from the library. Because I like footnotes and books that don’t weigh far too much!

I knew vaguely that The Comedy of Errors was Shakespeare’s twins story…and that was about all I knew. Sure enough, the story is about two sets of identical twins, each separated from his brother at birth. Antipholus of Syracuse and his servant Dromio of Syracuse arrive in Ephesus, looking for their lost brothers…and are swiftly mistaken for Antipholus of Ephesus and his servant, Dromio of Ephesus. There follows a great deal of confusion and mix-ups as all four twins keep encountering the same people but not each other.

I think this is basically Shakespeare’s slapstick comedy. Both Antipholuses keep beating on both Dromios, and the whole thing is far more farcical and far-fetched than Shakespeare’s usual fare. Though in a way, that’s impressive—that the same person wrote a play this absurd, and wrote, say, Hamlet. Continue reading “Book/Play Review: The Comedy of Errors”

Favorites Friday: Romantic Couples (Biannual Event)

Valentine’s Day is this weekend, and I have a (loose) tradition of posting about favorite fictional romantic couples around this holiday…  I’ve covered a number of favorites in the past (2012 and 2014), but have met some new ones since last time, and noticed one I’m surprised I didn’t have before…

1) Cress and Thorne, The Lunar Chronicles Series – This series is just full of wonderful romances, and I could put Scarlet and Wolf or Winter and Jacin on this list too…but Cress and Thorne are my favorites, each one a little unsure, each trying to become more than what they fear they are.  And they’re just adorable, separately and together.

2) Percy and Annabeth, Heroes of Olympus Series – I met these characters in the Percy Jackson series, but the romance doesn’t come in until Heroes of Olympus…and it’s wonderful.  I love that they are such equals with so much respect for each other; they’re comrades in arms who are also in love, who literally go through Hell (Tartarus) leaning on each other.  In Book Two Percy forgets all of his memories except the name Annabeth; in Book Three there’s a lovely moment when Percy reassures Annabeth by saying, “It’s okay, we’re together” and she reflects on how he knows that’s what will most make her feel better.  It’s just beautiful.

3) Daniel and Sophia/Lucy, My Name Is Memory – This is less about who they are and more about the nature of their story (unusual for me).  A story of reincarnation across 1,500 years, Daniel always remembers and recognizes “Sophia” – but she never knows him, until finally in the 21st century, as Lucy, she begins to pull some glimmers together.  I just love the way they’re connected to each other in different ways in different lifetimes.  So fascinating.

4) Faolan and Eile, The Well of Shades – Two incredible characters with hideous amounts of pain and darkness in their pasts, who help each other heal…so beautiful!  The one and only time Juliet Marillier has left me dissatisfied with an ending was the book preceding this one, because I was sad for Faolan–and this book made it all come out right after all!

5) Beatrice and Benedick, Much Ado About Nothing – I can’t believe these two never made it onto my lists before!  My favorite Shakespearean couple, the sparring Beatrice and Benedick who are clearly obsessed with each other and fall right into love with just a little pushing.  Maybe I love them because they’re such intellectual equals–and for a story written in 1598(ish), that’s remarkable!

Do you have any favorite fictional couples?  And happy Valentine’s Day!

Thirty-Seven Plays in Ninety-Seven Minutes

Reduced ShakespeareI’ve lost track of how many times I’ve seen The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged).  I’ve seen it live twice, and the DVD more times than I can tell you.  I was introduced to this brilliant production by my quite brilliant high school Shakespeare teacher–and it’s a lot of fun when you can then quote the production in Shakespeare class and the teacher gets the joke too!

The players of the Reduced Shakespeare Company declare that they “descend among [us] on a mission from God and the literary muse to spread the holy word of the Bard to the masses.” And they do–with high hilarity besides.  They do not spread literary, scholarly, or particularly deep or analytical Shakespeare to the masses, but an audience member with no familiarity with Shakespeare will leave with a working knowledge of the plot of Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet, a rougher idea of Othello, Macbeth, and Titus Andronicus, some exposure to Shakespeare’s language, and—most important I’d say—a clear and lasting impression that Shakespeare can be interesting and fun!

Complete Works presents all thirty-seven plays in ninety-seven minutes (or so their tagline says).  Three actors play every part, and they do a credible impression of making it all up as they go along.  Props fly, lines are spouted accurately or in parody, the audience is invited to participate (as Ophelia’s psyche), and all in all, Shakespeare becomes a hysterically funny, high-impact sport.  I could give you a long review about pros and cons and ups and downs…but honestly, it’s just bloody funny, and the best review may simply be to tell you some of the hilarious moments.

The Comedies wind up condensed down into one play, while the Histories are turned into a football match, tossing the crown about the stage.  More attention is given to the tragedies–because it turned out they were funnier.  Titus Andronicus appears as a cooking show.  Macbeth is performed with extreme rolling of Rs.  Romeo and Juliet features a lot of Shakespeare’s lines, though also a surprising amount of pantomimed-vomit.  After a brief confusion involving plastic boats and the correct meaning of “moor,” Othello is presented in rap (“About a punk named Iago, who made himself a menace, ’cause he didn’t like Othello, the Moor of Venice.”)

Act Two is entirely devoted to Hamlet, going almost scene-by-scene.  They cut out Rosencrantz, Guildenstern and the pirates, but otherwise you get the complete plot, and there are even a few more serious moments.  There’s an amazing performance of the “What a piece of work is man” speech, and the final deaths are affecting.  Although, of course, there’s also a sock puppet play-within-the-play, a literal sock playing the ghostly king, and the aforementioned audience participation as Ophelia’s psyche.  Among other things…

Reduced Shakespeare’s Complete Works provides an evening of great fun for anyone.  Those who know Shakespeare well will pick up on a number of relatively subtle jokes and those who don’t know Shakespeare will leave knowing a good deal more than they did before, and with plenty of encouragement to seek out even more.  Either way, no one who watches the Complete Works will ever read Shakespeare in quite the same way again.  See it live or get the DVD–it’s not to be missed!

Actors’ website: http://www.reducedshakespeare.com/

Favorites Friday: Authors I’d Like to Meet (Time Travel Edition)

Last week I wrote about living authors I’d love to meet–and since they’re living, it’s at least somewhat possible.  Many of my favorite authors, however, lived several generations ago, putting meeting them out of the question.  Unless, of course, I had the ability to travel in time–using a TARDIS, perhaps!  If the Doctor ever showed up and asked me what time I wanted to visit, I’d know exactly what to tell him…

L. M. Montgomery would be the first person to meet, probably to no one’s surprise!  I’ve read every scrap of writing by her I can get my hands on, letters and private journals included, so more than any other author she already feels like a friend.  I know exactly when and where I would like to go–June of 1908, when Montgomery was still living in Cavendish, on Prince Edward Island.  According to her journal, her copy of Anne of Green Gables arrived on June 20th.  Besides that excitement, it seems to have been a cheerful period (not always the case).  Her journal also mentions that it was the most beautiful June she could recall–and I’m sure she said somewhere else that nothing is more beautiful than Prince Edward Island in June.  If I had a TARDIS, my first stop would be to go pick strawberries and ramble through woods with Maud Montgomery.

William Shakespeare would be my next trip (following the Doctor’s footsteps, in this case) because, I mean, Shakespeare!  I have to wonder if he sounded out loud like his plays, or not (probably not…)  And then there’s that authorship question to explore.  I’d visit Shakespeare in autumn of 1599, when my favorite comedy, Much Ado About Nothing, was debuting at the recently-opened Globe Theatre.

Brenda Ueland is a far less famous choice.  She wrote my favorite book on writing, If You Want to Write.  She also taught writing classes, and if they were anything like the book, they must have been wonderful.  If I could, I’d visit long enough to take some of her classes–perhaps in 1938, the year her book was published.

Diana Wynne Jones wrote so many amazing fantasy books, and by all accounts (and the evidence in her own semi-memoir, Reflections on the Magic of Writing) she was a fascinating woman full of extraordinarily colorful anecdotes.  I don’t know precisely when I’d like to meet her…unless possibly when she was at university, so that I could join her attending lectures by C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien.

J. M. Barrie is probably no surprise either.  Like Montgomery, I feel as though I know him, because all of his books (and plays, somehow) feature a most charming narrator.  I can’t help feeling like that narrator is Barrie himself.  I’d like to meet Barrie and the Davies boys (the inspiration for Peter Pan) in April of 1904–in Kensington Gardens, of course.  George, the oldest boy, was twelve, and Barrie had just finished writing the play version of Peter.  The other advantage to April is that the daffodils would be blooming in the Gardens, and I love daffodils.

So if the Doctor came to your door and invited you for a literary spin in the TARDIS, what authors would you go to meet?

Quotable Shakespeare

“My library was dukedom large enough.”

– William Shakespeare, The Tempest

It’s Shakespeare’s birthday!  Good day to read a play…

Blog Hop: Five Books to Grab

I’m joining in with the Book Blogger Hop again today, when bloggers discuss bookish topics!

book blogger hop

This week’s question is: What are the top 5 books you would grab in an emergency?

I’m not entirely sure what this question means…I mean, the five books I would read during a personal crisis are not necessarily the same five books I would choose if I was only going to have access to five books for an extended period…  But let’s assume the point here is, which five books would you choose if you could only have five books.  Say, on an extended spaceflight to Mars.  I like that better than the idea of being stuck on a desert island, where I’d need books about survival on a desert island!

So if I was on a long spaceflight and could only bring five books…

1) The Bible, although that’s so obvious it almost feels like cheating.

2) The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (unabridged), because I read so quickly, I’d need something that would last.  Which is an argument in favor of the Bible too, apart from spiritual inspiration.

3) Susan Kay’s Phantom because, I mean, it’s Susan Kay’s Phantom and I just madly love it.

4) The Little White Bird by J. M. Barrie because it’s a wonderful, lovely, magical book.  Plus, even a spaceflight to Mars would probably have its alarming and homesick moments, and this would make a perfect comfort read.  George Davies, the boy who inspired David in the book, brought a copy with him to the trenches in World War I.

5) And finally, The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery, because I couldn’t possibly get by without any Montgomery, and this is my favorite of her novels.  Though I’d be tempted to bring Volume I of her journals instead.

And if, as I know I surely would, I decided to toss a pair of shoes out of my luggage and squeeze in two more books…

6) The Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce–there is an omnibus edition, so it could be counted as one.  Alanna is the most inspiring of heroines, and every so often, everyone needs to believe that they can do anything.

7) Something Terry Pratchett…possibly Night Watch.  Because of course I’d need something funny too.

And then I’d probably have to discard some more clothes so that I could bring something by Edgar Rice Burroughs, and also If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland, and a spaceflight to Mars really would be a good moment to read some favorite Star Trek books, and so we begin to see why I have three enormous bookcases in my small apartment!

So if you had to grab five books, for a spaceflight to Mars or maybe if you were on a desert island, what would you snatch up?