Archive for the ‘Treasure Island’ Category

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I Am The Weakest Link, Goodbye!

March 18, 2012

Ever with my finger on the pulse of pop culture, I now know how the oafish lunk who fails to bank the money before inexplicably missing the next tartly worded, first grade-level question feels when meeting the glaring eyes of his fellow Weakest Link contestants. Only in this analogy banking is posting to the blog, and delivering the right answer is akin to finishing the book.

Perhaps this is a poor metaphor, but man, I just really miss Weakest Link.

In any case, what I am getting at is that I’ve been lax in my reading. I think you’ve hit the nail fairly on the head with this book. It’s not that it’s particularly bad, it’s just not terribly compelling. I find myself getting interested only to be inundated with “coracles,” “afts,” “starboards,” and “fo’c’sles” and somehow my interest wains. (Hard to believe, I mean up to now, I would have said that I was one of the world’s biggest fans of “fo’c’sles”…wait, maybe I am thinking of popsicles (in my head, these words are pronounced very similarly.) Which one is a ship’s forcastle and which is the frozen juice drink on a stick. Because I do not care frozen treats.)

But, I have a very few pages left and I will make it a priority to finish this up. C&P sounds downright intriguing. A little mystery, a little philosophical angst–who could ask for anything more?

For now, though, I remain the weakest link.

Goodbye.

Justin

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Off The Island

March 13, 2012

Well Twin I’ve made it safely back from Treasure Island…it’s a trip I don’t think I’ll be making again any time soon.

This book is odd…it’s not that it’s a bad book (but I should say that I truly didn’t like it very much), but I feel like throughout Stevenson made choices I disagree with in what he put focus on in the narrative.  For instance–we get something like thirty some pages on Jim in the coracle, but the treasure discovery happens outside of the narrative.  What the hell?  I mean, come on RLS what’s the point?

I did appreciate the “American Graffiti” like ending where Jim gives us a little precis about the future of all the major characters..if I didn’t find out what happened to Abraham Gray I would have been beside myself.  But I was a little surprised by Jim’s recounting of his own future, “Oxen and wain-ropes would not bring me back again to that accursed island; and the worst dreams that I ever have are when I hear the surf booming about its coasts, or start upright in bed, with the sharp voice of Captain Flint still ringing in my ears: “Pieces of eight! pieces of eight!”

This adventure was a trauma for young Jim?  In the past two hundred and ninety-one pages I got the impression that this was a rip-roaring adventure.  Instead we find that the book ends with Jim suffering the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  That’s not very cheery.  At least he has treasure.

I don’t think I’ll have nightmares, but I’m glad to be done.

Get finished Twinner.  I’m ready to start the next book…I’m thinking some Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky.  I’m tired of this light fare…I want something meaty!

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The Aria of Israel Hands

March 5, 2012

Twin,

I, like you, failed in the “finishing the book” department.  Here I’ve been 32 for nearly 5 days and I’m still a bit away from the end…like Jim in the coracle looking at the Hispaniola…I can see it, but damned if I know how I’m going to get there.

I thought I’d check in anyway and share a part that I quite liked.  As a preface I’ll admit that I have trouble keeping all the boat crew straight, not since the The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo books, with their panoply of nefarious Swedes, have I cared less about successfully identifying secondary and tertiary characters.  But I did appreciate this moment of distinction that Stevenson gave Long John Silver’s partner in crime, Israel Hands

“For thirty years,” he [Hands] said, “I’ve sailed the seas, and seen good and bad, better and worse, fair weather and foul, provisions running out, knives going, and what not. Well, now I tell you, I never seen good come from goodness yet.  Him as strikes first is my fancy; dead men don’t bite; them’s my views — amen, so be it. And now, you look here,” he added, suddenly changing his tone “we’ve had about enough of this foolery…”

I think it’s generous of Stevenson to give this random bad guy a moment to tell his side of the story.  Prior to this moment I couldn’t have told you Israel Hands from Abraham Gray…and now, now I CARE!  Looks like that pirate has had a hard life.  (And PS what falls under Hands’s “and what not”?  The story was just getting good!)

As I wind my way through the last portion of this book I find myself being revisited by the same question time and time again…”Is Jim Hawkins a genius or is everyone else on this trip just an idiot?”  Hawkins is a boy, right?  A little boy?  How in the name of Hades does he out trick every single last pirate…whether hiding in an apple barrel or fighting mano a mano (!!!) on a pirate ship?   I feel it’s beginning to strain the boundaries of credulity.

Well according to your last post you’re finished with this book now (you said end of the week!)…so you probably have some insightful closing thoughts.  I’m hoping to join you at the finish line soon!

Jon

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Failure on One Front; Success on Another

February 29, 2012

First, the failure:

My self-imposed end of February deadline looks like it will come and pass with me still have several handfuls of pages left to read. (Does it count if I really wish I was finished?) If with that quadrennial surprise Leap Day, I don’t think I am going to be able to finish the book before the clock strikes 12.

Sad.

But on the upside, I will finish the book this week.

Now to the success:

“With my arms before me [Jim] walked steadily in. I should lie down in my own place (I thought with a silent chuckle) and enjoy their faces when they found me in the morning. My foot struck soemthing yielding–it was a sleeper’s leg, and he turned and groaned, but without waking.

And then , all of a sudden, a shrill voice broke forth out of the darkness:

“Pieces of eight! pieces of eight! pieces of eight! pieces of eight! pieces of eight! and so forth, without pause or changel like the clacking of a tiny mill.

Silver’s parrot, Captain Flint!”

While seriously short on Gilbert Godfried-esque comedic riffs, I knew that parrot would play a pivotal part in the story. To paraphrase Chekhov: You don’t introduce a parrot in Act I unless it mercilessly squawks and wakes the entire band of pirates in Act III. (That noise you hear is all of the world’s Chekhov scholars simultaneously cringing. Apologies.)

On that note of vindication, I will say bye-bye for now.

Justin

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Unrealistic Parrot Expectations

February 18, 2012

Here’s your parrot:

All at once, there began the most horrid, unearthly screaming, which at first startled me badly, thought I had soon remembered the voice of Captain Flint, and even thought I could make out the bird by her bright plumage as she sat perched upon her master’s wrist.

I think now would be a good time to stop and recalibrate our expectations for what part the parrot will probably play in the proceedings.  You were, perhaps, wishing for a more Iago-ish parrot?  Whispering sarcastic asides into the ears of Jafar in the dulcet tones of Gilbert Gottfried?  Sorry friend I think this bird is only going to be pirate dressing.  I think it may be time to put that particular dream aside.

Now that we’ve got you recentered, I’m curious.  How’s the progress going?  Less than two weeks left until your self-imposed deadline…where exactly are you in the story?

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Where Be Me Parrot?

February 17, 2012

Where. Is. The. Parrot?

I. Was. Told. There. Would. Be. A. Parrot.

Was I misinformed?

Did I miss the parrot?

Argh,
Justin

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Pirate Math

February 14, 2012

Justin I think that Havarti was from Boo Radley!  And think that Asiago came from my fannypack…if I’ve told you once I’ve told you a million times “Hands outta my pouch!”

I like your goal…goals are important.  February 29 it is…this book, done.  I’ll actually one better you and I’ll have the book finished by February 28th (because I don’t want to have this book hanging over my head as I begin my 32nd year).

I’m well on my way, but I’ve hit a snag as I find myself perplexed by the new pirate math.  Here’s what Stevenson gives us:

“Have they run?” asked Mr. Smollett.

“All that could, you may be bound,” returned the doctor; “but there’s five of them will never run again.”

“Five!” cried the captain.  “Come, that’s better. Five against three leaves us four to nine. That’s better odds than we had at starting.  We were seven to nineteen then, or thought we were, and that’s as bad to bear.” [my emphasis]

Is Stevenson just writing numbers here?  What does this mean?  Are they still on the island?  Have they found the treasure yet?

Less unclear is the fact that you do not mess with Dr. Livesey.  It was not that long ago that the Captain was shaming the entire crew for their lax window watching.  And then he finds himself under Dr. Livesey’s “care” and is treated for said a gunshot wound to the shoulder with these care instructions:

He was sure to recover the doctor said, but, in the meantime and for weeks to come, he must not walk nor move his arm, nor so much as speak when he could help it. [Once again by emphasis.]

I guess the shamings are over for the foreseeable future.  I believe that would be Livesey 1, Hippocratic Oath 0.

I left Jim getting ready to hatch what seemed to the be the most ill-conceived of plots to defeat the mutineers, but I have a feeling it will “unexpectedly” work.

The 28th is getting closer and closer!

Jon