So this weeks poem holds a special place in my heart. This poem I used at university in my composituion module. I set the words to music to be sung by a four part choir and I got very high marks in it. I spent a lot of time with this poem and the more I worked with it the more I enjoyed it.
Loos was an American screenwriter, playwright, and author born in 1889. She is best known for her novel Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. She wrote scripts from 1912 till her death in 1981 and was the first scriptwriter on the payroll of Triangle Film Corporation. She wrote a great many of the Douglas Fairbanks films and did the stage adaptation of Collette’s Gigi.
With these deceptively simple words Lorelei Lee, a not-so-dumb blonde with a single-minded devotion to orchids, diamonds and champagne, embarks on what Edith Wharton was to call, perhaps not entirely seriously, ‘the great American novel’. Written in diary form, Lorelei Lee’s life makes for an outrageous, witty read. Capturing the carefree attitude of the glamorous jazz age, the flighty Lorelei moves from suitor to suitor, from scandalous situation to frivolous engagement, ever in search of the elusive millionaire who could provide her own happy ending.
With the help of her wise-cracking friend and protector Dorothy, Lorelei learns to spot a gentleman ‘whom you can call up at any time and ask him to go shopping and he is delighted’ at a hundred paces, dances with the Prince of Wales, and travels to Paris to enjoy ‘the Eyeful Tower’. Sharp, hilarious and undeniably endearing, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes would be immortalised by the 1953 musical starring Marilyn Monroe, and Anita Loos herself was so impressed by the success of her creation that she ended up dyeing her hair …
Gosh this book was annoying! I got this book a couple of years ago free from The Folio Society because I had spent so much money with them, however I do remember it was meant to be another book but they had sold out and so they sent me this one instead.
I struggled with this book, I know the book is written in diary form and Loos included grammatical and spelling errors but it was these errors that drove me mad. I just found them over the top and I know they were there to add to the feel of a diary but it just upset me, I wanted to correct all the errors with a big red pen.
The diary belongs to Lorelei who is an American society girl who is moving through life going from one suitor to the other getting as many presents as she can out of them and looking for the richest man she can find to eventually marry or sue in court. Lorelei has a friend Dorothy who helps her in this quest. Lorelei starts the diary to help her become educated as she keeps saying she is an educated girl and just wants to read books and see the all education she can.
The first thing I worked out was that Lorelei is really not very educated, she pretends to be and tells the men she meets she is but in fact she is severely lacking. She is educated in one department and that department is using men to get what she wants and she can work out a rich man and poor man just by looking at them. I did like the fact that all the books she was given to read she found some excuse not to read and when she went to museums she just complained about her aching feet. This made me laugh a little bit but then it turned to despair.
I had high hopes for this book and I think I had in mind of something like The Great Gatsby but sadly I did not enjoy it like I did The Great Gatsby. Lorelei was just too annoying for me, I know it is set in a different time but she just came across as too immature and money grabbing. She just used men for her own advantage and only thought of shopping and champagne. I started to feel really sorry for all the men she took shopping and then discarded. She’s lazy and sleeps in till silly times basically because she is hungover all the time. The more I think of her character the more she annoys me and to be honest I would not like a person of her character anywhere near me.
I am sorry that my review is so against the general grain of all the other reviews out there and I know that this book is considered a great American classic but I found it very hard to digest. I did not believe the spelling and grammatical errors were necessary and certainly deterred me from the book. Also I could not believe that such an annoying character could exist but I have found her. Until now I thought it was Jane Austen’s Emma who was the most annoying heroine in the literary world, but no she has moved to second place as Lorelei has taken her crown. I think it is most likely that it is because I prefer a strong female lead who does not depend on men to get through life and Lorelei just does not fit into this category.
The other area I did not enjoy was the illustrations. I found they lacked finesse and I doubt I will be keen to read another book with illustrations by Ffolkes.
All in all a massive disappointment for me, thankfully it is not a long book and I got it for free from The Folio Society. Just 1 star out of 5 from me.
So today marks exactly one month from when I started this blog.
I must admit I think I am hooked. I have got another blog, which I must admit is rather abandoned which is about lots of things really, but to be honest I lost heart with it after a while. This blog, however I have no intention of abounding as I have found what I enjoy and that is reading and talking about books.
I hope my readers so far are enjoying my posts and all the likes and follows are extremely appreciated. I’ve also discovered some new blogs to follow as well through my blogging journey.
A quick Christmas reading list update: Two new books have arrived for my Christmas reading list. I am getting very excited for the 1st December. I am so tempted to start now but I must resist.
The new books are:-
Christmas at the Beach Hut by Veronica Henry
Coming Home by Michael Morpurgo
Anyway, a big thank you to all my readers and thank you for your support so far on my blogging journey.
So yesterday I completed my book challenge for this year and it was a personal best for me as well. This year is the first year I have read 60 books and it is not even the end of the year yet! I am so pleased with this result and I must admit since starting this blog my reading has gone through the roof and I am loving it.
Books have always meant a lot to me, they have been my escape and my way of destressing from a long day. I was a very lucky child having a big sister who did English and French literature at university who surrounded me with literature from an early age. I read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol at the age of 8 and from there I was hooked. My parents also never denied me a book and so I was always buying new books and adding them to my to read pile. This is probably why I am also a book hoarder, like a dragon hoards gold, I hoard books.
So I am hoping that by the end of this year I will have read even more books and also got a good to read list ready for the new year.
How is everyone doing with their reading challenge this year? I would love to hear how everyone else is doing with their challenges.
The Heart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov (Translated by Michael Glenny)
About the author
Mikhail Bulgakov was born in Kiev on 15th May 1891. He trained as a doctor but gave up practising medicine in 1920 to devote his life to writing. In 1925 he completed The Heart of a Dog, which remained unpublished in the Soviet Union until 1987. By 1930 Bulgakov had become so frustrated by the suppression of his work that he wrote to Stalin begging to be allowed to emigrate if he was not given the opportunity to make his living as a writer in the USSR. Stalin telephoned him personally and offered him a job at the Moscow Arts Theatre. In 1938, he completed The Master and Margarita. He sadly died in 1940. In 1973 The Master and Margarita was finally published in full.
A rich, successful Moscow professor befriends a stray dog and attempts a scientific first by transplanting into it the testicles and pituitary gland of a recently deceased man. A distinctly worryingly human animal is now on the loose, and the professor’s hitherto respectable life becomes a nightmare. An absurd and superbly comic story, this novel can also be read as a fierce parable of the Russian Revolution.
This book was on a table in the Waterstones in London and I must admit I was intrigued. I do find the piles of books on the tables at Waterstones very tempting and I often end up buying books I usually would not go for. Having read a few books with cats on the cover recently I thought it was about time I read a book with a dog on the front. Sadly I found this book rather a disappointment.
Firstly, I have not read The Master and Margarita but it is on my to read pile and even though this book has been a disappointing read for me, I will give The Master and Margarita a chance and keep it on my to read pile. I do not regret reading this book, as it was interesting and I did enjoy small parts of it.
The story begins with the meeting of the stray dog and the dog’s thoughts. The poor dog has been badly wounded and is contemplating its end and the reader gets to see the world of Russia through its eyes. Then Professor Philip Philipovich comes on to the scene and befriends the wounded dog. This Professor takes the stray into his home, treats his wounds and appears to be a dream come true for the dog. The dog’s world has changed for the better and it is glorious, until it all changes and the Professor’s true intentions become clear.
The Professor specialises in rejuvenating people’s sexual organs by replacing them with animal organs. This becomes clear when he examines a lady and says he will replace her ovaries with the ovaries of a monkey. This to be honest disturbed me when I read it and I was dubious whether to continue, as things like that quite often put me off, but by this point I had fallen in love with the little dog and wanted to know what would happen to him next.
The graphic detail of the surgery really put me off and I must admit I had to skim some of the details as I could not handle it, especially just before sleep. It was extremely realistic and this is obviously where Bulgakov’s medical background comes in handy when writing about the surgery. Again I only kept going because I desperately wanted to know what would happen next to the dog.
The descriptions of the way Soviet Russia was becoming was very interesting and I can see how worrying it would have been for the people living in Russia at the time it was all happening. I can also see why the book was confiscated from Bulgakov, because the last thing the Soviet Union would have wanted was this bleak view of Russia being broadcast to the world. I think the stray dog’s point of view whilst in the doorway waiting for death was the best description of Russia and really summed up what Bulgakov was trying to get across.
However as the story went on, I just think it went somewhat off the rails and a bit too over the top for me. Also Philip started to drive me slightly crazy with his constantly quoting from the theatre for example “To the banks of the sacred nile…” it was like the man was demented and just made no sense.
The dog as a normal dog was the best part of this book and I just could not understand why a man would want to perform the experiment that he did to the dog. Maybe it is because I have no real interest in science but it just did not make sense. Frankenstein made sense to me because the good doctor was trying to find a cure for death but putting the testicles and pituitary gland of a human into a dog made no sense at all to me.
As a Russian book I was surprised at how short it was, my general experience of Russian literature is of huge tomes, some of which are my favourite books. Shortness for this book was one of its advantages though.
I do not think my review of this book will be popular as I tend to be against the general consensus but my views are my own and everyone has their own opinions, which is good as we would be a pretty boring race if we all felt and thought the same. My overall rating of the book is 2 stars out of 5, the reason it was not 1 star was because I liked the beginning a great deal and the dog before it all went wrong.
A quick read to while away an afternoon break like I used it for.
It has begun! My Christmas reading list has started to be developed and planned. On the 1st December I start to read Christmas related books, to get me into the festive spirit.
I have one main tradition that I started a few years ago and that is to read The Nutcracker by E. T. A. Hoffmann but a different copy each year. I have ordered a new copy and I’m impatiently waiting for it to arrive. I am hoping it will be as pretty as it looks on the website.
I have also ordered some Christmas related books which I will post on here as soon as they arrive. I will also be taking a trip to Waterstones at some point for Christmas present shopping and I am sure I will buy some extra Christmas books then.
Here is the beginning of my Christmas list so far:-
Letters from Father Christmas by J. R. R. Tolkien
Five at the Office Christmas Party by Bruno Vincent.
Does anybody else have a Christmas reading tradition? I would love to hear your traditions or Christmas books you plan on reading. Please drop me a comment.
Happy Friday everyone!
So the end of the week is here and I have chosen a poem to reflect how the weather has started to change with winter. It is also by one of my favourite authors Emily Bronte. The picture was taken on a recent walk.
Neil Gaiman is an English author who writes comics, books, graphic novels, short stories, film and theatre and has won many awards for his work. He was a great reader from an early age and states that JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy was a major influence to him and he read it a great deal as a child. Gaiman started his career as a journalist and his first book was a Duran Duran biography. Gaiman now lives in the United States.
Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a perfectly normal boy. Apart from the fact that he lives in a graveyard and is being raised and educated by the ghosts, and his guardian belongs to neither the world of the living nor the dead.
There are dangers and adventures for Bod in the graveyard: the strange and terrible menace of the Sleer; a gravestone entrance to a desert that leads to the city of should; friendship with a witch; and so much more.
But it is in the land of the living that the real dangers lurk, for it is there that the man Jack lives and he has already killed Bod’s family.
I was so excited to read this book after reading the short story in Coraline and Other Stories which is the fourth chapter in this book. So on my next bookshop visit I managed to buy a copy of the book. Sadly though I was rather disappointed with the book as a whole.
The book is about the life of Nobody Owens as a child and teenager and the struggles he goes through. Nobody or Bod for short escaped the same fate that his family went through and was protected by the ghosts of the Graveyard he wandered into and his guardian, Silas who is neither in the land of the living or the dead.
Bod is a typical boy growing up, he is full of wonder and the drive to learn however he lacks the fear and trepidation that most people feel because he has seen death is not all that bad. His best friends are ghosts, death holds no fear for him. He has also sampled the powers that the dead have and that the living do not and knows that they are very advantageous.
The first chapter shows how Bod came to the graveyard and I must admit I almost shed a tear when Mrs Owens finds him. The chapter was full of emotion and you can not help but desperately root for Bod, but also wonder how the ghosts of the graveyard will look after the child.
The subsequent chapters show snippets into Bod’s life at about yearly intervals. These chapters I must admit frustrated me as it left me wanting more and the things that were in the chapters were quite often never touched on again or even mentioned. I also wanted to know more about Silas and Miss Lupescu but that was not to be and the reader is left guessing. The character Jack and his kind are only lightly touched upon and this was another disappointment, all the time I wanted to know more details. My favourite chapter still remains The Witch’s Headstone.
The concept of Sleer was brilliant, I really liked the idea of a creature who is unbelievably ancient that nobody even remembers its reason for existence or even that it does exist. Sleer still remembers its purpose though but at the same time is desperate for somebody to become its master again. In a way it is like Bod, Bod wants answers and adventures and Sleer just wants a master a reason for it to still keep protecting.
There were moments in the story that really pulled on my heart strings and almost brought tears to my eyes and I absolutely loved the character of Bod and Mr and Mrs Owens. However I also found myself losing interest in places and that is one of the main reasons for the lower rating. I think reading the fourth chapter first as a short story was a mistake because the rest of the book just did not live up to my expectations.
The edition of the book I read had some beautiful illustrations in by Dave McKean which really added to the story and worked brilliantly in setting the dark mysterious scene of the graveyard. Here is one of my favourites.
A good read for adults and children and I think it would make an excellent film one day.
Before the quote I would just like to say a massive thank you to all of you who have followed me, liked and read and my posts and just generally supported me and kept me going. It really has warmed this Book Dragon’s heart. Thank you.
Anyway here is the quote for this week, enjoy.
You Can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.