Posts Tagged "The Book Garden"

Banned Book Week Highlights Harper Lee’s Contribution to Life and Literature

Posted by on Oct 2, 2015 in In The News | 2 comments

By Robert Rando Published in the Bucks County Herald (Opinion and Editorial Page) September 24, 2015 Banned Book Week is just around the corner – Sept. 27 to Oct 3 – and the added awareness brings to mind an array of titles that have been deemed inappropriate for a variety of reasons, some more obvious than others. The banning of books is usually seen through the eyes of elected school boards and defined by the local and stoic regional governments where political correctness is the rage. Eventually though, victory is written by the winners. The problem for those of us living in the moment is the drifting winds of the politically correct fashion police. When To Kill a Mockingbird emerged from the mind of Harper Lee in 1960 it moved in two streams. In one it garnered rave reviews from the likes of The New Yorker and Time magazines, as well as the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961. In the other stream it entered the classroom (1963) and immediately became the focus of controversy. Racial slurs, profanity, and blunt dialogue about rape led people to challenge its appropriateness in libraries and classrooms so often that, today, the American Library Association reports that To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the most challenged classics of all time. What is poison to some is the elixir of change to others. To Kill a Mockingbird is literature using fiction to bring the community discussion around to community needs. It painted real-life pictures of a complex time in American history. Why is this so important as written, racial slurs and all? Look and see. We are almost 100 years post Atticus defending the alleged rapist and we are still mired in financial uncertainty for large segments of our population; rapes still occur on a daily basis (anyone want to go to college); and racial strife continues to permeate many if not all aspects of social interaction. Harper Lee showed us how the moral compasses of those living in Maycomb/Monroeville were being challenged both from within the focal community and from the higher authorities which wished to rule from afar. And, while this small enclave in Alabama was front and center, it was by no means irregular. Our Nation as a whole suffered these same multilayered and multileveled problems. Now 55 years later we have another installment from Harper Lee, Go Set a Watchman. Unfortunately, the investigation of this book’s storyline became, for a while, sidelined by the side story; did she really want this book printed. According to some, the heavily hyped appearance of this book reflected an ambitious publishing venture. What eventually became Go Set a Watchman everyone knows was Harper Lee’s first attempt and, as one can attest from the masterwork which followed, not her best but, it is now out in public domain and needs to be read. It is interesting to note that Go Set a Watchman was her first work and as so, her first description of Maycomb yet when Jean Louise gets off the train and drives to Atticus’s house with Henry we, like Scout, are back home. There are some problems with the book itself, drafts usually do have problems. Certain sections might be hard to read through if one was not familiar with her second work. For example, if you don’t know Atticus as a hero how could you understand his morality shaping itself to both the law and his upbringing which dictates a slower pace of change? Atticus is a credible hero but, you might have to read both books to know that....

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Book-It List: Big Fish

Posted by on Nov 11, 2013 in Book-It List & Reviews, In The News | 0 comments

There is a reason I put Big Fish on my reading list.  I loved the movie.  Yes I saw the movie first, that happens (see last month’s posting; Babette’s Feast).  Now I see the musical version is in the works.  Will I go to a musical?  Not sure.  I have no idea how a musical can do the movie/book justice and sometimes it is better to stay with the positive interpretations.  If the musical leaves one with a bland or even bad taste in the mouth everything gets tainted.  Then again, if it is good …   Perhaps just commenting on what I have seen will do for now. It is extremely difficult to either find the truth or, to understand it; take it from me I’ve been trying all my life.  In Big Fish Edward Bloom remains a huge mystery to his son Will and by not understanding his father he grew estranged.  But when Edward is confined to his deathbed his son tries to get to know the real man and mend their relationship.  Will, a journalist, begins piecing together a true picture of his father using flashbacks of the stories told and a bit of investigative journalism.   First the stories (there are so many tales I have to list them): Edward Bloom tells many tales, many times over the years.  For example; on the day Will was born, he was out catching an enormous uncatchable fish, using his wedding ring as bait.  Edward also braved a swamp as a child, and met a witch who showed him his death in her glass eye.  With this knowledge, Edward said, he knew there were no odds he could not face.  Edward also claimed he spent three years confined to a bed as a child because his body was growing too fast.  He became a successful sports player, but Ashton, his home town, was too small for his ambitions so he set off with the misunderstood giant named Karl.  Edward discovers the hidden town of Spectre, where everyone is friendly to the point of comfortably walking around barefoot.  Edward leaves because he does not want to settle anywhere yet, but promises to the town mayor’s daughter Jenny that he will return. Edward also tells of the time he and Karl worked at a circus; Edward works without pay, as he has been promised by the ringmaster Amos Calloway that each month he will learn something new about a girl he fell in love with.  Three years later, having only learned trivia about her, Edward discovers Amos is a werewolf.  In return for his refusal to harm him in his monstrous state, Amos tells Edward the girl’s name is Sandra Templeton and she studies at Auburn University.  The story is based in Alabama so it had to be an Alabama school, right?   Edward learns Sandra is engaged to Don Price, whom Edward always overshadowed during his days in Ashton.  Sandra makes Edward promise not to fight Don.  Edward doesn’t fight but Don does leaving Edward in bad shape.  Don’s actions disgust Sandra into ending their engagement and falling for Edward.  Edward later reveals that Don died from a heart attack on the toilet bowl at an early age (Don saw his own death in the Witch’s eye).  During his recovery, Edward is conscripted by the army and sent to the Korean War.  He parachutes into the middle of a show entertaining North Korean troops, steals important documents, and convinces Siamese twin dancers Ping and Jing to help him escape.  He tells them he can make them stars in...

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