October 27, 2014

Sylvia Plath was never too good at math

Today is the birthday of Sylvia Plath. I heard this on the radio way too early this morning.

It took me by surprise, because I've been reading the strange Young Adult book Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer. It's about trauma and bibliotherapy and the need to find community with other sufferers. And it's about a group of boarding school students reading The Bell Jar and Ariel. There's a Joy Division shirt on the cover of the book for the eagle eyed.

Listen to either Peter Laughner's original or Death of Samatha's cover of the song Sylvia Plath. It's a little sardonic, a little heartbreaking. You can also hear the poet herself reading her work and her voice isn't how you'd expect it to sound.

Posted by kathryn at 05:09 PM

October 15, 2014

Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge

Since Netflix is streaming Gilmore Girls and I've been watching it for the first time since the early oughts, I thought I'd share the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge. There are 339 books on the list, ranging from Anna Karenina to Eloise.

This is a really brilliant idea. This TV show is special for the quick wits of its characters and the insanely long scripts; the actors had to memorize an incredible amount of dialogue. The show is known for its widely varied cultural references, from low to high and obscure to mainstream. One character boasts of bookshelf containing everything from Wuthering Heights to Valley of the Dolls, "a true classic."

The young protagonist of the show is attractive and well liked, but the most important thing to her is knowledge and academic success and unlike a so-called writer like Carrie Bradshaw, Rory was actually seen reading many times and books were hugely important to the plot.

Here's one of my favorite book related exchanges in the show, one that is frighteningly evocative of my own habits:

LORELAI: Just take your schoolbooks and leave some of the other books.

RORY: I need all of my other books.

LORELAI: You don't need all of these.

RORY: I think I do.

LORELAI: Edna St. Vincent Millay?

RORY: That's my bus book.

LORELAI: Uh huh. What's the Faulkner?

RORY: My other bus book.

LORELAI: So just take one bus book.

RORY: No, the Millay is a biography, and sometimes if I'm on the bus and I pull out a biography and I think to myself, 'Well, I don't really feel like reading about a person's life right now' then I'll switch to the novel, and then sometimes if I'm not into the novel, I'll switch back.

LORELAI: Hold on. What is the Gore Vidal?

RORY: Oh, that's my lunch book.

LORELAI: Uh huh. So lose the Vidal or the Faulkner. You don't need two novels.

RORY: Vidal's essays.

LORELAI: Uh huh. But the Eudora Welty's not essays or a biography.

RORY: Right.

LORELAI: So it's another novel, lose it!

RORY: Unh uh. It's short stories.

LORELAI: Ugh. This is a sickness.

RORY: Ha! I made it all fit. Edna, Bill, Gore and Eudora, all safe and sound.

LORELAI: Cool. That's your French book.

RORY: Hmm? Oh, I know. I'm carrying my French book.

LORELAI: Mm hmm. You so thought that French book was already in there.

RORY: I did not.

LORELAI: You have a problem.

RORY: No I don't.

LORELAI: You're gonna tip over from the weight of that backpack.

RORY: No I'm not.

LORELAI: I'm gonna have to buy you a forklift. Bye.

Posted by kathryn at 03:37 PM
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