Monday, December 5, 2011

12-Books-in-12-Months Challenge - A book you have re-read more than once...and just read again

Book: The Holy Terrors (Les Enfant Teribles) by Jean Cocteau


It's basically the story of a brother and sister and their bystander of a friend and their adventures playing "The Game". The heat of youth that cannot sustain itself in anyway except to end in tragedy. And knowing Cocteau thus become the thing that inspires poetry.

Supposedly Jean Cocteau listened to the soundtrack from Carousel over and over while writing this. There is something a little manic and circular about the book so I tend to believe it. I read this book over and over during high school and college and even after. A friend of mine in college and I wanted to shoplift fish tanks and make young children cry in restaurants as a result of it. We'd ask each each other if we were "going away".

Rereading it now much older it's no longer strikes me as a book of madcap adventure and romantic tragedy. It left me a little depressed, a little nostalgic and rather happy that I'm older now. Which in the end I suppose is a good thing. Especially since it means I'm less likely to try to frighten children in restaurants.

I hope that you, too, will join the 12 Books in 12 Months challenge. Details are on Armchair Squid where you can also read up on what he's been reading.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

12-Books-in-12-Months Challenge - A book you read because you wanted to laugh

Book: Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

When you have a daughter, a daughter that likes to be read to a lot. You discover that within children's literature there are a lot of orphans. A lot. As a parent you hope your kid doesn't notice that the kids in books that have all the cool adventures appear also to not have any parents.

And then after a few of these orphan tales, you begin to get kind of tired of orphans. Even Dido Twite although I guess technically she's not an orphan.

So Cold Comfort Farm is a lovely send up of orphan tales as well as many other late 19th century genres. Flora Poste's parents have died and having little money she is forced to either get a job or find some distant relatives who would be willing to take her in for awhile. She settles on the Starkadder family because they are in need of so much help.

So with her copy of Higher Common Sense in hand she goes off to set her distant relatives onto the path for a normal and sane life. Tropes that normally cause orphans to blanch or get into difficulty in other novels are merely things that need to be tidied up by Flora all in a rather hilarious manner.

If you don't wish to read the book, I highly recommend the movie. It's quite true to the book with the exception of eliminating the futurisms in it like TV phones and air taxis. However the novel doesn't have Rufus Sewell in it. There are always trade offs.

I hope that you, too, will join the 12 Books in 12 Months challenge. Details are on Armchair Squid where you can also read up on what he's been reading as well as other who are doing the challenge.