Thursday, May 29, 2008

A lesson from my oboe lessons

When I was at band two nights ago, one of the flute players was lamenting that she'd be way better if she'd just take her flute out and practice it for an hour every day. Except that's totally unrealistic. Nobody who is a normal adult and has normal adult responsibilities (I believe this woman has a business contracting to sew home decor items, which she sometimes does until 2am, and has a child, etc.) has time to practice for an hour per day. I don't manage to practice for an hour per week (though that may be partly because I don't want to wear out my reeds).

So I mentioned that back when I took oboe lessons, my teacher told me to practice for 15 minutes a day. And that was good, because it got me to take the instrument out and put it together every day, with a minimal time commitment. Who doesn't have 15 minutes? And in fact, once the instrument was out, I used to often practice far more than 15 minutes some days. And then I said "In fact, this is something I should apply this to other areas of my life."

And last night, I opened "Toothbrushing Club" for about 20 minutes. I removed a superfluous and hard-to-explain character and tried to work on clarifying the location a bit more.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

"The English Patient" by Michael Ondaatje

Why I read it: In May 2007, I attended a Q&A with Tim Wynne-Jones (that name keeps popping up...) where in passing they talked about how adult literature has moved away from plot. They held this book up as an example of a book with no plot. But the movie had a plot. And apparently MO said to the screenwriter, upon seeing the movie, something about how amazing it was that he had managed to find a plot in there. So, at Christmas, when I saw that my dad had this on his bookshelf, I picked it up.

I read it over the Christmas break, but I wanted to watch the movie before I wrote anything about it.

What I liked: The four characters in the house had so much history behind them. I really enjoyed reading this book, but it was probably good that I read it over a two-day period, because I would have lost track of the characters and thread if I had put it down for, say, a week or a month. My guess, before watching the movie, was that the stuff in the house in Italy would be a framing device for the main story which I would guess would involve the, well, English patient's back story. So the Canadian nurse, and the Sikh sapper, would be much more minor characters in the movie, and the ending of the book, where the sapper Kip hears about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and leaves, would not be the climax of the movie. And in fact, in the movie that's not even why Kip leaves. In the book his colleague dies a lot earlier, as do a lot of other people around him. In fact, the only people who have back-story in the movie are the burn victim and Caravaggio, and I think Caravaggio's is heavily altered to make it intersect with North Africa. (If the climax of the book is when we find out who the English patient really is, then it happens like two-thirds of the way through.)

While I read this book, I played the "find the plot" game in my head. The edition I read was obviously a movie tie-in editon, as it had a picture of Ralph Fiennes and Kristin Scott Thomas on the cover and a list of the actors on the back. so, I read the book wondering which character Jurgen Prochnow played, or Juliette Binoche, or... well you get the idea.

What I can steal: No idea. Maybe the "find the plot" game.

What I hated: I liked the movie, though Ed said he didn't like it, because it was sad. I liked the book better.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Library Meme

What we have here is the top 106 books most often marked as "unread" by LibraryThing’s users. As in, they sit on the shelf to make you look smart or well-rounded. Bold the ones you've read, underline the ones you read for school, italicize the ones you started but didn't finish.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi : a novel
The Name of the Rose
Don Quixote
Moby Dick
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
The Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveler’s Wife
The Iliad
Emma (read this for school, I don't seem to have an underline option)
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations (I'll probably still finish this one)
American Gods
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Atlas Shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books
Memoirs of a Geisha
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
The Canterbury Tales
The Historian : a novel (have this one)
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave New World
The Fountainhead
Foucault’s Pendulum
The Count of Monte Cristo
A Clockwork Orange
Anansi Boys (have this one also)
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible : a novel
1984 (school)
Angels & Demons
The Inferno (and Purgatory and Paradise)
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles (school)
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s Travels (school)
Les Misérables
The Corrections
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury
Angela’s Ashes : a memoir
The God of Small Things
A People’s History of the United States : 1492-present
Cryptonomicon (have this one also)
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
Dubliners (have this)
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake : a novel
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an inquiry into values
The Aeneid
Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit
In Cold Blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
White Teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers

Monday, May 05, 2008

Fingers or Toes

Haven't done any rewrites, but I wrote a short story. I guess that counts for something. In this case, I guess I'll call it a month of rewrites. There, I'm up to what, mid-March?