Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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Demoted To A Conceit

August 13, 2012

Well twin brother, I’ve decided to wait no longer for another post from you.  I get your “I’m too cool for school” message loud and clear.  You’re just not into Dostoevsky.  Roger that.

But I will not stop reading this book…I’ve decided instead to treat you as a sort of WordPress conceit…it’s kind of like when I watch Pretty Little Liars with my dog.  Sure she doesn’t really have any idea who A might be (how could she–she hasn’t seen the first season!!!) but it’s fun to pretend that someone else who cares about that show is watching it with me.

So that is how I shall continue reading (and posting — lucky you one reader in Ecuador!) as if you were posting responses, but without having to talk about boring things I’m not interested in.

So here is what I’m interested in…the layout of Raskonikov’s room  (apartment?).  Get a gander of this description:

His room was so small that he could undo the latch without leaving the bed.

Wowser!  I thought….that’s a tiny room!  How would that work?

So I drew a schematic:

Quite Small!

As you can see quite tiny!  As you can also see “straight lines” are not my forte.

I don’t know that that room is factually accurate (I didn’t consult the text while drawing).  But it is definitely a room from which a door could be unlatched from the bed-area.

Oh blog reader you might just be lucky enough to find more Raskolnikov inspired art on this blog yet!

Until next time,

Jon

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What Would Peyton Randolph Do?

July 6, 2012

Only the history books know for sure.  But I feel pretty secure in stating that whatever the president of the first Continental Congress may have done throughout his lifetime, one thing I feel pretty secure in saying wasn’t in his wheelhouse was grisly axe murder.

Like most people on the 4th of July, no matter what I’m doing — enjoying a bratwurst, melting in the 100+ degree heat during local neighborhood festivities — my thoughts tend to drift towards how the Founding Fathers might react in similar situations — How much Benjamin Franklin would enjoy that particular Slip-N-Slide, how William Few and George Clymer would have dominated that volleyball tournament.

So as I lay down to read a few pages of our selected text before bed, my thoughts were drifting towards Jacob Broom and Jared Ingersoll frolicking with sparklers.  Too soon those entertaining anachronisms were wiped clear from my mind. Eradicated from my imagination box,  as I entered into some of the most frightening pages of any book I’ve ever read.  Dostoevsky is very….descriptive.

So instead of dreams of Thomas Jefferson (remember I’m a bit of a Jefferson scholar, so those dreams are firmly rooted in the historical record) and John Dickinson, instead I had nightmares about poor Lizaveta (poor, poor Lizaveta). 

As I start Part II, I am interested to see how Roskolnikov will get caught, but before that happens I have a feeling we’re in for a lot of angst (his and ours).

Did the book play any part in your holiday festivities?  A Crime and Punishment-themed barbecue mayhaps?  Has it played a part in your summer at all? (n.b. It was still spring the last time we heard from you).

Happy (belated) Independence Day!

Jon

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Dog and Pony Show

June 22, 2012

Well twin brother it’s been a while.  I think I wrote my last post right before I embarked on my travel to your nuptials…and now here we find ourselves almost a month later with nary a post published, with virtual cobwebs starting to obfuscate the pretty picture of books found in the banner of this blog.

My excuse is this:

Image

That’s right…I’m blaming the puppy.  No one tells you when you get a puppy that you will find yourself with little to no time to concentrate on anything other than said puppy.  If I’m not looking for signs that she has to pee (and then cleaning up subsequent messes), I’m pulling shoes, iPhones, and pillows out of her mouth (or trying, “I am the Alpha!”).  Luckily tonight we took her for a long walk  that has sufficiently tired her out (doesn’t she look like an angel when she sleeps????) so she has removed herself to under the sofa, which mean I find myself with some time to write a quick post while she’s out for the count.

Because of said puppy I also haven’t read much further in C&P, but I’m hoping to work in some regular Dostoevsky time now that she’s a little more settled.  I just finished the chapter where young Roskolnikov witnesses the horse murder.  As I read it I could only imagine the term paper upon term paper that has probably been written on that scene.  Roskolnikov’s moral outrage over the horse killing in relationship to his actions later in the book (or at least the actions I’m surmising will happen later in the book).

Since so much has already probably been written about it, I’ll just add here that I am no fan of horse murder.  Not even a little.  I’m against any form of horse death imaginable.

Soooo….are you still reading the book?  No pressure.  Just, um, looking for someone to talk to about Roskolnikov and that horse and whatnot.

The puppy is emerging from under the couch…I must sign off.

Jon

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Translation? Uhh…Who Said Anything About Translation

May 2, 2012

Wait a second…we’re reading this book in translation. Ok, had I known that I have a feeling I would be quite a bit further along. I am two chapters in, but those two chapters were the end result of about 15 hours of reading. (It is ssslllooowww going with Dostoevsky in one hand and my Russian to English Dictionary in the other.)

I think my favorite part so far is when Raskolnikov meets a gregarious, enchanted unicorn bellied up to the bar in Chapter 2. (Did I mention, when I get tired of translating I just start making stuff up? That’ll be important to know.) All I can say is that I don’t know what that unicorn did, but he sure did seem to make his unicorn wife angry. I am guessing he stole her unicorn hovercraft.

In reality, I am reading the Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky translation. I mean really, Constance Gardner is so 1991. (This version published in 1992.) Sorry, to miss out the fun of reading the Gardner version. When you quote long passages in formal mid-century English, I will let you know what the jazzed-up 90s version is like. It’s kind of like you’re listening to Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable” and I am listening to Natalie Cole’s “Unforgettable.” The same story with a different flavor.

So, two chapters in: I am intrigued. Looking forward to reading Chapter 3.

Justin

P.S. I am the only one who wishes there were unicorns in this book? Well, unicorns and hovercrafts.

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Barbecue Forever!

April 8, 2012

Am I the only one who kept forgetting that Long John Silver’s nickname earlier in the book was Barbecue. I had completely forgotten until late in the book when Merry made his power play to the usurp the title of Pirate Captain from Long John.

I don’t know about you, but about the only less awe-inspiring name for a pirate than Barbecue I could think of would probably be Merry. (Ahoy, matey’s it be Merry, the happiest, joy-lovin’ pirate on these seven seas. Give us yer money or we be making you smile until ye frown*!)

[*Is it just me or have I gotten really good at writing in pirate?]

So, I guess two things are not surprising:

1.) The pirate gang stuck with Barbecue.
2.) Barbecue goes by Long John Silver.

But I think my favorite part of the book came at the very convenient elision that occurred at the end of the book. I was finding a bit hard to believe that they were going to wrap everything up in 5 pages when they had hardly left the island and they still had a long voyage home ahead.

But then tricky, Robert Louis Stevenson played the ol’ “Well, to make a long story short…” Now, I am sure some people would feel a bit cheated of the further high seas adventures of Jim, Barbecue (sorry, you lose your pirate booty you go back to being Barbecue), the Squire, Captain Smollet and Doctor Livesey, but I on the other hand could only ask myself why this device wasn’t used more frequently. Such as:

  • I got into the coracle and, well, to make a long story short, I ended up in the pirate camp.

or

  • The Squire, Dr. Livesey, Captain Smollet, this quirky one-legged cook name “Long” Jon “Barbecue” Silver all boarded the boat, Hispaniola, and, well, to make a long story short got briefly stranded on a deserted island where we found some treasure and a few power struggles, and–whew!–made it back home. (Oh yeah, and Barbecue was a pirate!)

But those are just two suggestions. In any case, to make a long story short, I am finished with the book. Bring on your next choice. I feel like I’ve set the bar pretty low here, so no pressure on the pick.

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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Imprecise Terminology

September 10, 2011

When I am wrong, I am wrong. I freely admit and seek to correct my errors.

You rightly called me out when I referred to Lucy’s new found interest in M. Paul as a “plot twist.” You’re right, “twist” implies a certain level of subtlety, unexpectedness, or surprise. And while, I admit it did come as something of a surprise to me this could have more to do with my aforementioned half-assed reading of this book than any narrative trickery.

So, on second thought I should have referred to this narrative change of heart as a plot lurch. A sudden, violent shift in direction of the story.

Not be confused with a dramatic Lurch.

Anyway, rumor has it you’ve actually managed to find your way to the end of Charlotte Bronte’s epic tome. That being the case, I guess it is up to me to pick the next book. I was giving some thought to what might be a bit of a change of pace I feel like we’ve already done stream of conciousness (Swann’s Way), we’ve done dystopian (Brave New World, and we’ve even done turtle-like alien life forms (Lathe of Heaven.

But you know what we haven’t done?

Pirates.

This is a wrong that must be righted. So pull out your treasure chest, tricorn hats, and shoulder-jockeying parrots and find yourself a copy of Treasure Island, and I will see you the Jolly Roger. (Matey.)

Arrrgh,
Justin