Saturday, October 25, 2014

Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

                A man turned vampire at the age of twenty five, in the year of 1791, Louis wanted this opportunity to tell his story. Over a century old, having traveled the world, he sat with the boy in the room. Louis made sure the tape recorder was ready and that the boy was ready to understand the story that was to be told. The story of Lestat, the vampire who made Louis, and his unpredictable, selfish and cruel manner. The story of Claudia, the young child turned vampire, who became a woman trapped in the shell of a child. The story of the love and pain Louis experienced throughout his relationship with both. And the quest to find others of his kind and the travels that would take place over the years as Louis searched for the answers to his most troubling questions.
                Louis is our narrator throughout Interview with the Vampire. It is through his eyes that we learn of his history and the relationships that were formed and loss throughout his life. We begin at the beginning with the loss that triggered his initial despair and his longing for death. One of the most haunting lines in the novel was “I lived like a man who wanted to die but who had no courage to do it himself…And then one day I was attacked. It might have been anyone- and my invitation was open to sailors, thieves, maniacs, anyone. But it was a vampire.” This line was spoken pages into the novel and it set a finality and a tone that would resonate throughout. What would it have meant to him to die? Not just his human body, as it did when he became a vampire, but to actually die soul alike? It would have meant that he would not have been responsible for death of so many thousands of human beings throughout his immortal life. Louis struggled with his conscience and his need to feed. It was the struggle to understand himself and the pain he experienced throughout his life that was reflected throughout all of his relationships and the pages of the novel.
                Hauntingly beautiful. Romantically disturbing. Honestly scary. Maybe it’s because I was unnaturally obsessed with the movie version of this novel and could completely appreciate it for the remarkable movie that it was, that finally having read this book I can say I am in love with it. I was in love with Louis’ character, infatuated with Claudia and disgusted yet somewhat amused by Lestat when I was child. I don’t remember when I watched this movie for the first time but I believe I was really young, maybe 5 or 6 and I still love it. But now after reading this novel I am somewhat more obsessed with the characters and it is almost painful how much these characters lost throughout their haunted existence. Anne Rice was brilliant in her storytelling. The idea of having the entire novel literally explained by Louis was genius, especially because he is such a poetic and decisive and impassioned storyteller. His desire to tell his story was overwhelming. His honesty and pain was so obvious throughout that I was heartbroken throughout many of the pages. Claudia by far was the most heart wrenching character to me because she was so cruel and so desperate for something she utterly could not have.

                I highly recommend this novel. I give it 5 out of 5 stars. I don’t know if I will ever continue with the other novels in The Vampire Chronicles series but I had to read this one because of how much the movie resonated with me. Interview with the Vampire is a beautiful dark tale that spans time and for me it will always be special. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Banned Books: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

                Jo is the wild child of the March family. She spends most of her time gallivanting around, totally unconcerned of others opinions of her, writing stories and being content with her family life. Meg, as the oldest, is more concerned with her future than childish fancy, even though she always makes time for play with her sisters. Beth is happy with her life at home. Known as a very gentle and shy creature, she finds solace is simply helping others and being around her family. Amy, the youngest in the family, has dreams of an artistic, elegant and rich future. She wants nothing more than to become a woman and marry well to escape the poverty the March family has been familiar. It is the time of the Civil War and Mr. March is away with the other men. The time passes and the little women experience the many trials and tribulations that life has to offer.
                I remember picking this book up as a teenager and putting it right back down, bored out of my mind. I couldn’t finish. I could barely start it, which really shocked me because I loved the movie. Fast forward a decade to me picking up this book again and giving it a second shot and being so enthralled in these young girls story that I laughed at the ignorance of my youth. This book was great. Here is a story of four sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. These four girls couldn’t be more different from each other but the one thing that joins them together, besides blood, is their love for one another. They genuinely love and care for one another and want each other to be happy. They each go through trials and tribulations and come out better for it. Mrs. March, their mother, allowed them to experience life through hard lessons, realizing that the only way her children would grow is if they experienced life and made mistakes. Everything was a learning experience and an opportunity to be better. I found myself laughing at the decisiveness of Mrs. March who knew what the outcome would undoubtedly be and sat content watching and waiting for the wounded to come home with learned lesson in hand.
                Little Women had everything necessary to make a successful and moving coming of age story, which is precisely what this novel is. It has everything from faith, love, loss, trust, war and romance. Speaking of romance, I can’t write this view without gushing about Laurie, who I found to be an extremely amazing and honest male character. He probably had some of the most heartbreaking moments in the novel and though all the characters were thoroughly developed there was something about Laurie that spoke to me. I won’t lie, part of me wishes this story had went a slightly different route but that’s just the romantic in me. How this novel ended has no bearing on my appreciation and dare I say admiration for this novel.
                With all of that being said let’s get to the matter at hand: this book, though never banned has been frequently challenged. When this novel was first published in 1868, there was controversy because the women depicted were free to make their own choices and do as they pleased. Now it is challenged because some people believe that the roles of the females didn’t push hard enough and plays into gender traditional roles. My, how times have changed! Well, yes and no. People have still found a reason to challenge the right of others to read a great book that discusses the changes women encounter in life. What boggles my mind is the fact that these four sisters, were completely different from each other and exhibited the different things that life can have in store. What is there to ban when there is such an array of personalities to choose from? This might be one of the most ridiculous cases of challenging I have come across and shows itself to the be the epitome of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”

“Banned Book Awareness: Little Women” Baldassarro, R. Wolf

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist is a novel about discovering yourself while taking part in a huge adventure. Santiago has chosen to be a shepherd believing that this would be the life that would allow him to see the world. After experience recurring dreams of discovering a treasure near the pyramids he seeks a gypsy that will help him decipher his dream. After their consultation he meets another man who claims to be a king and who knows Santiago’s past. He is inspired to follow his path and to pursue his Personal Legend. Along the way he begins to decipher omens and trust in the hand that created everything in order to find the true meaning of love, life and the Soul of the World.
I was anxious to read this book. I have heard so many great things about this novel and how it has transformed so many people’s lives that I was sure that this would book would affect me in many different and amazing ways. By the end of this novel, I felt like I read a mixture of The Holy Bible and The Secret all rolled up in one with a touch of an adventure set in Middle East and parts of Africa. I hope no one is offended by that. There were many profound messages broadcast throughout these pages. Many of which had to do with self-reflection, manifesting your own destiny and fate, which is why it reminded me so strongly of The Secret. There was also quite a few Bible verses, though none quoted, plenty of Biblical stories, and many references to God. I’m not sure what I was expecting but this wasn’t it.

Now with all of that being said, I really do have an appreciation for this novel and the simple way it was written and the way the story was delivered. Nothing speaks to people more than watching someone experience hardships, continuing to fight and persevering. I found all the characters fascinating and in their own way amusing. I was never bored with the story and found it easy to read and easy to be enchanted by. I can easily see how people have been inspired by this book. I think this may simply be a book that I will have to pick up again later on in life to divine inspiration. Different books speak to different people at different times. Right now this novel didn’t speak to me in an all-encompassing way. I give this novel 3 out of 5 stars. Would I recommend this novel if anyone asked me about it? Yes, I would because you never know when someone is waiting for inspiration and this could be that book for them.