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Monday, April 06, 2009

What I'm Reading

Being caught up with school work right now has afforded me some extra time for pleasure reading, and I've been able to pick up two new reads; here are my reviews:

First off, I started "The Middle Place" by Kelly Corrigan last week and finished it up this past weekend. It's a memoir about a woman who's diagnosed with breast cancer at age 38, and then is hit with the blow that her beloved father has bladder cancer. So, it goes back and forth in time to focus on telling the story of their dual fight with cancer while also recounting an enchanted childhood with her father at center stage.

It's an enjoyable read: With exactly what you'd hope for from a cancer memoir -- humor, insight, sentimentality, and ultimately, a happy ending. However, I also thought these expected elements made it a bit cliche, but on the whole, it's an uplifting, feel-good read.

My other read?
Yes, you are seeing that correctly: "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" by Jane Austen and Sethe Grahame-Smith. Imagine that it's exactly the story of Pride and Prejudice, but instead of just worrying about who to marry, the Bennet sisters also have to worry about fighting off zombies in their beloved Hertfordshire. So not only does Eliza Bennet show off her razor sharp wit, but she also demonstrates a proclivity with a Katan sword in slaughtering "unmentionables."

To say the least, it is a humorous parody of the classic, but it's also quite clever in and of itself since it takes not just Austen's basic plot, but it also uses her unique style and narration, as well as entire sentences and passages from her novel, but then infuses them with it's own zombie-gore as subtext. So, for example, the famed first sentence of the novel begins with: "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."

The first sentence of this parody: "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains." Pretty funny, right? But however clever, I think there must be a pretty limited audience for this book. Just because the intersection of those who love Pride and Prejudice (and are intimately familiar with it -- because part of the fun is seeing what Grahame-Smith uses directly and where he deviates with his own material) and those who love a good zombie story must be a small scope of people (I just happen to fall smack dab in the center of that intersection).

There are a lot of adaptations on the story of Pride and Prejudice (Bridget Jones' Diary is probably the most famous one), but I have to say, this is the most inventive re-telling I've ever read!

15 comments:

Marlene said...

Thanks for the reviews. P&P&Z would definitely not be up my alley but I like the sound of the first one.

Amanda said...

Wow, that's a crazy looking book. I love scary stories and I love Pride & Prejudice, but I'm not sure I know it well enough to really get the references.

X-Country2 said...

Interesting books. I love reviews of what other people are reading.

lifestudent said...

When I have free time I actually love to pick up a classic, "Jane Austen" and "Price & Prejudice" are recent reads, as is "Crime & Punishment". I've never quite seen a take on one of them as the one you're reading though...and not sure I could handle something like that either ;)

RunningLaur said...

I heard about and zombies on NPR and it sounded hilarious. I'll have to add it to my list. :)

runsarah said...

I want to read the Middle Place now - sounds like a good read.

keith said...

Zombies are so hot right now...I just dont understand it. Pirates, too. What's the deal?

They say you are what you eat...

I am "BRAAAAAAIIIIINNNNNNNS!!!"

teacherwoman said...

The first book sounds pretty good, but I think the second book wouldn't be so enjoyable. To each their own, eh?! Thanks for the reviews!

Agate Lake Girl said...

I so knew you would love Pride and Prejudice and Zombies! I guess I have you pegged. :)

Hilary said...

Love Pride Prejudice and zombies! I love Pride & Prejudice and cannot wait to see how it translates to zombie life. It's as if someone took the two things that make me the dorkiest and wrote a book to suit my needs.

I just discovered your blog last week from a friend of a friends. Thanks for you honest posts about running. I am running for the first time in Florida this year and the heat and humidity is nothing like I ever encountered up north.

MizFIt said...

I think Id like the first, not the second, will avoid the first :) as Im in a weird place of AVOIDING all sadness I can.

I just finished the book (havent seen movie yet) Q&A ( it's slumdog millionaire).

IT WAS GREAT!

Shannon said...

I may put that first one on my list of summer reading.

I'm not a fan of the "Pride" but that adaptation sounds interesting.

Nicole said...

Both sound interesting I'm going to check them out.

Crystal said...

Ha! The second book looks like a good one. Of course, it would probably be a good idea if I read Pride and Prejudice first, huh.

sRod said...

I've never read Pride and Prejudice (but feel like I've seen the story thousands of times). However, I read a review of this book last week in New York magazine and it said pretty similar things to what you wrote up here. It makes me want to read the original and then this version!