Tag Archives: William Shakespeare

Books Acquired Recently

Dueck, J. Alicia. Negotiating Sexual Identities: Lesbian, Gay, and Queer Perspectives on Being Mennonite. Zurich, Switzerland: LIT Verlag, 2012.

I recently came across a citation of this study in an article by Dueck (now Dueck-Read–she’s married her girlfriend since the book came out 🙂  ) herself. I am always hesitant about citing myself (and thus am a little suspicious of others who do so) because it feels prideful. However, I often do because there just aren’t other people writing about queer Mennonite literature, so there is nothing else to cite. So I am very glad that Dueck cited herself so that I could hear about her book since she is writing in the same vein. I am also incredibly frustrated that she has apparently been unable to find a North American venue for it. This kind of queer Mennonite work is so necessary here, and so inaccessible. I was able to find this copy of her book from a German bookseller via amazon.com’s network of independent booksellers and it took nearly two months to get here.

Tamblyn, Amber. Any Man. New York: HarperPerennial, 2018.

I recently received this novel as a gift. It apparently has a fascinating (and I’m assuming feminist) premise: it is about a woman who is a serial rapist of men. I’m looking forward to reading it on my upcoming vacation.

Winterson, Jeanette. The Gap of Time: “The Winter’s Tale” Retold. New York: Hogarth, 2015.

I found a new, remaindered copy of this hardcover for $5.97 at Walmart this evening, and bought it partly because I love Winterson’s writing and partly because I was shocked to find a book by a queer author there and wanted to encourage such diversity. The novel is part of Hogarth’s series of Shakespeare adaptations by contemporary authors. I’m not a big fan of Shakespeare, so didn’t buy it for $25.00 when it first came out, but had to buy it at the current price.

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Thoughts on the Weekly Reader

The news that Scholastic is shutting down its Weekly Reader elementary school newspaper (read more about it here: http://schoolsofthought.blogs.cnn.com/2012/07/25/the-last-weekly-reader/?hpt=hp_bn13) signifies the loss of another piece of my childhood. We would read through it each week in class for several years of my elementary school career (I want to say third grade and fourth grade, and perhaps also second grade, but I’m not sure), and it was always an enjoyable diversion from regular class activities even though I remember being bored by most of its articles. It felt like a big deal that there was a newspaper being published for kids because it symbolized adults recognizing that our intellects were important and acknowledging that we cared about what was going on in the world, too. The physical nature of it, the fact that you could hold the Weekly Reader in your hands as proof of this recognition, meant something (and similar experiences still mean something–I loved print culture then and I still love it much more than digital culture).

My clearest memory of the Weekly Reader is an article before the 1988 election which explained who the two big-party candidates were and included a ballot that you could cut out in order to have a mini-election in class. Being able to vote was so exciting! I voted for Dukakis, but as was the case in the actual election, Bush won in a landslide, something like 22-9. In hindsight, this landslide seems especially surprising because it was a class of third-graders in the Bronx! The fact that many of us had heard of Bush because he was vice president (I remember arguing that this was an unfair advantage for him), but had not heard of Dukakis swayed the vote. I voted for Dukakis because I knew my parents were voting for him.

It is sad that the Weekly Reader will be no more. What were cooler than the Weekly Reader, though, and are really only associated with it in my mind because they were printed on the same flimsy, full-color newsprint, were the Scholastic book order forms that would come four or five times a year. It was so much fun to look through the four-page catalogues for new titles and figure out whether I had enough money saved from my allowance to buy a book or two (the times when I had spent my money on other things [usually baseball cards] and couldn’t afford anything were sad, indeed). During my first few years of elementary school, the books (virtually all paperbacks) were usually $2.00 or less, then they became slightly more expensive in the upper grades when we had graduated to chapter books. I remember buying novelizations of films such as Superman 4: The Quest for Peace and Back to the Future 2, and a volume that included both Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story which I still have. You would cut out the order form, fill it out, and give it to the teacher in an envelope along with your money (often a smorgasbord of coins), and the books would arrive in about a month, which was long enough to have almost forgot about them, thus making the day when they arrived super-exciting, like a surprise Christmas. The teacher would always wait until the end of the day to hand them out, and the  anticipation would be excruciating. I don’t really know any elementary school children these days, but I hope that they still have this wonderful experience.

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Some Thoughts on Edgar Allan Poe

Yesterday a friend of mine posted this hilarious cartoon on Facebook: http://i.imgur.com/rlEZr.png. Any time you can combine Edgar Allan Poe and “Bohemian Rhapsody,” you have to do it. I’ve been thinking about the cartoon and chuckling all day, which in turn got me thinking about Poe in general, and how he keeps inserting himself into my life at random intervals. I enjoy his work, though I would not consider him one of my “favorite” authors, but my history with him is longer than my history with any other non-children’s author aside from C.S. Lewis. Here is a brief recounting of some of that history.

My first encounter with Poe was via his famous poem “The Raven.” I don’t remember when I discovered this poem—presumably in school—but I knew it by 1989 when it featured in the first Simpsons Halloween special, with James Earl Jones narrating and the Bart-headed raven saying “eat my shorts” instead of “nevermore.”

The second encounter with Poe which comes to mind is reading a book of his short stories for eighth-grade English. The stories were cool because of their creepiness, but I got a 72 (or maybe a 74? Anyway, pretty abysmal) percent on the exam that covered them, so didn’t revisit the book for years afterward because it was associated with bad memories. However, I still have it, and just now noticed that it is edited by Vincent Price! Classic. And only $4.95 new.

A third strong Poe memory comes from the tail end of my sophomore year of high school. I was in Stratford, Ontario on a school trip to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival (which was a surreal experience, but that is a story for another post). The plays were in the evening, thus we were spending the day browsing Stratford’s shops. I came across a small bookstore and decided to go inside and look for a collection of Poe’s poetry. (Why Poe? Why poetry? I don’t remember my reasons; it was like an unexplainable craving.) This is the earliest instance I can remember of that lovely phenomenon of going into a bookstore wanting a specific book and finding it when you were not sure that you would (Sinclair Lewis’s Main Street and Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited are two other examples of this happy synchronicity that I have experienced). In this case, I didn’t even know whether the book I wanted even existed, but there it was, “The Raven” and Other Favorite Poems, for only $1.00.

My fourth major Poe memory, and really the last time I thought about him extensively until this weekend (I taught “Annabel Lee” this past semester, but made my students do the thinking about it), is from three or four years ago when I was playing chess with a friend and he observed that in successful attacks the threat of a crushing move is often stronger and more decisive than its actual execution. He compared this to the threat present in “The Purloined Letter,” where the threat of blackmail resulting from the stolen letter is so strong that those who look for it are out of their heads to the point where they miss that it is on the desk, out in the open. I suppose I must add Poe to that ever-increasing mental list of authors that I need to re-read.

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