Time is of the essence, people! On March 1st, a petition will be submitted, proposing the creation of a postage stamp in honor of Charles Bukowski. In case you need a reason to add your voice to the chorus, I'll share a personal story that will most likely make me look like an enormous nerd. Back in high school, I was a formalist, loved poetry with rhyme and meter, and wrote my own verses that way. But when I hit 17, I found myself chafing under the constraints of scansion. I discovered Bukowski's "Bluebird" and never looked back. I still love a good sonnet, but there was something about the accessibility of Bukowski, the simplicity and grittiness, that helped me cull my own experiences and write more honestly. If you love his work as much as I do, sign your name to the petition. And don't miss Ecco's latest posthumous collection, The Continual Condition.
You can tell that Jill Dawson is a poet. By that, I mean her prose is sumptuous. It's been a long time since I read a book and underlined passages, but I found myself doing just that for The Great Lover. Dawson's imagery is so wonderfully inventive, her metaphors so surprising, I was a bit in awe. If you're a fan of A.S. Byatt or Ian McEwan, I think it's safe to say you'll enjoy this book. The Great Lovertells the story of Rupert Brooke, the charismatic, troubled and talented English poet of the early 20th century. Along with excerpts of Brooke's poetry and letters, there are two narratives: Rupert's distinct voice, and that of Nell Golightly, the complex, spirited housemaid who falls in love with him. The Great Loveris a sharp look at love--who we adore and why-- and all the myriad, unanswered questions of the human heart. It's a few months before the book comes out here, but I just had to share. With any luck, you'll want to score yourself a copy on June 1st.
Despite a pretty intense tri-state snowstorm, we don't actually get a snow day. But it can't hurt to dream, right? I took the liberty of asking some of our 20something bloggers what they'd be reading if they were home today. Their answers might surprise you!
Harper Perennial's Michael Signorelli, aka "Sig," writes: "In reality, if I were home, I’d be reading manuscripts on submission. However, if I were to take a break, or felt rebellious, I’d read either Fear and Trembling by Kierkegaard or Molloy by Beckett or—and I just picked this up at last night at Greenlight Books—Eat When You Feel Sad by Zachary German."
Joseph Papa, quite possibly Lady Gaga's biggest in-house devotee, would be reading Eight White Nights by Andre Aciman ("I LOVED his first novel and can't wait to read this one.")
Harper Academic's Lauren B: "If I’m in the mood for something literary: Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides. His prose is so lyrical, I could read twenty pages of the man brushing his teeth. If I’m in the mood for something fun: either This Charming Man by Marian Keyes or L.A. Candy by Lauren Conrad. I love a good chick lit diversion when I’m trapped inside."
It may have kept me up until after my bedtime, but last night I finally finished re-reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. First off, I don't know if I've ever read a novel that was so devoted to capturing the finest, most intimate details of a time and a place. I was just on Lorimer Street last weekend, and reading about the tenements of 1900s Williamsburg was pure time-travel. I agreed with much of what Erica wrote, including the fact that this time around, the Nolans' poverty hit home in an entirely new way. In fact, I found the book to be far more upsetting than The Bell Jar (more on that book here).
When I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn as a pre-teen, I related heavily to Francie, especially her furious passion for writing. But as a 20something, I found myself looking up to her mother, Katie, and wondering how she managed to work so hard, love so well, and keep everything together in the face of abject hardship. Katie, who was also in her twenties, fought tooth and nail to give her children a better life, sacrificing the better part of her own happiness to do so. I was unequivocally humbled reading this book, and newly grateful for so many of the things we take for granted on a daily basis: a warm apartment, a stocked refrigerator, and most of all, an education. Have you read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn? Would you re-read it? Leave a comment, or discuss it on Twitter (#english101). And for the full Modern Classics reading schedule, click here.