I’m currently enjoying a getaway (in Cambodia!). But I couldn’t resist sharing this little treat: The New Yorker retitles famous novels (Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, etc.) as Friends episodes here.
A week or so ago, I stumbled across this Buzzfeed article. The program discussed within, Recovering the Classics, seeks to breathe new life into classic literature by inviting contemporary artists to submit fresh cover designs for these oft-overlooked gems. Upon reading that any artist could submit, I had a brief, flashing thought:
Hey! I dabble in art. And I like books! It could be fun to contribute a cover.
(See above for a few examples of my watercolors.) But then I paged through Buzzfeed’s selection of favorite covers. My immediate response?
Never mind on that whole, me-contributing-thing.
The artists who have submitted designs are brilliant. Not just in terms of artistic mastery, though that’s undeniably present. Instead, what really caught my attention was the dynamism of the covers, the way they captured each novel’s essence. Continue reading ““Reports of my Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated””
Over the long, luxurious holiday that was Chinese New Year (Happy Year of the Monkey, y’all!), my husband and I had a few visitors: Tien, a Foreign Service Officer from another post, and her one year old daughter, Violet.
I’m still on the fence about whether I should be proud or embarrassed that I had a DVD of Disney’s The Little Mermaid on hand for Violet’s entertainment (I have no little kids of my own on whom to blame this). Regardless, the film quickly lulled her off to dreamland, leaving her mommy and I to chat about childhood memories of our favorite red-headed mermaid.
I still adore Disney‘s fun-and-song-filled take on the story. But adulthood made me curious about Hans Christian Andersen’s original tale. Reading it left me jaw-dropped… and kind of grateful that Disney pulled the wool over my three-year-old eyes, safeguarding my innocence. Continue reading “The Little Mermaid & Literary Diversity”
If you’ve noticed some radio silence ’round these parts, it’s because my husband and I recently enjoyed a lengthy R&R back in the States. Usually, I’m pretty rigorous with myself about my writing time. But with long-missed friends and family to see–and a few chilly surf sessions thrown in for good measure–I granted myself permission to take a blogging break.
But of course, all holidays must come to a close; thus I’ve returned to both my writing and my Chinese language lessons.
The transition back has been less than elegant.
As I found myself staring off with my Chinese lǎo shī (teacher) at that first lesson following my six-week siesta, I knew I was doing a pitiful job concealing my lack of practice in the interim. All my vows to rehearse my vocabulary, to practice Mandarin conversations with my husband… all were forgotten in the happy busyness of the Christmas/New Year season.
And now I’d be paying for my laziness à la linguistic humiliation. Continue reading “Dotted Lines & Dynamic Books”
By sheer accident, I wound up reading two of Alice Hoffman’s novels simultaneously: Practical Magic, from the earlier half of her canon, and The Museum of Extraordinary Things, her most recent novel until The Marriage of Opposites‘ publication just this August.
This reading coincidence was by no means deliberate. Rather, it was born of two quirks of mine.
No. 1–I’m nearly always reading 2-3 books at any given time. I’ve been doing this since I was a wee lil’ reader. I think it comes from wanting to have a book pre-positioned in any room I might enter. That way, in true lazy American fashion, I can plop into a seat with whatever volume happens to be nearest. Continue reading “The Style & Times of Alice Hoffman”
As an aspiring novelist, I have a semi-psychotic relationship with contemporary books.
Obviously I love reading. And there are plenty of books I enjoy “well enough”–unique, entertaining reads I wouldn’t mind recommending. These are books about which I can’t complain. But there’s also not much I-wish-I’d-gotten-there-first about them, either. For me, Anita Amirrezvani’s The Blood of Flowers and Cathy Marie Buchanan’s The Painted Girls fall in that category.
Then there are the books that have my husband making this face:
Why? Because for
weeks days, I’ll periodically burst into a rant about how terrible Book X was. How unappealing the characters. How poorly researched. How unbelievable the conclusion. I’ll now confess that my husband was right (I really hope he doesn’t read this): the fury I felt over the ending of Veronica Roth’s Divergent Trilogy was perhaps disproportional (though not nearly so much as that of those making death threats over it). But I’ll save my Allegient thoughts for a future post. Continue reading “Meditative Books & Movie Rights”
This time last week, I was giving a lecture for a Chinese audience at one of the U.S. consulates in China. I’ve done several of these now and they’re always fun. My game-show-style lecture on “Women in the Workplace” made rapidly apparent the difference between American and Chinese perspectives on women’s professional contributions to society. My lecture on America’s Prohibition showed that, shockingly, Al Capone takes a backseat to F. Scott Fitzgerald when it comes to Chinese familiarity with infamous 1920s Americans.
This go-round, the trusting folks at the Consulate made the strategic error of letting me lecture on literature–a dangerous move, as it’s a topic on which I tend to wax more than poetic (pun intended!). To anybody who may ever be tempted to chat books with me, I’m warning you now: beware! It’s not until a film of boredom glazes over my conversational partner’s eyes that I pick up on the cue to STOP TALKING.
If you’re lucky. Continue reading “Impromptu Poetry & Lit Lectures”