Tag Archives: The Bookshelf

Things I Liked In September That You’ll Like In October

”]Family watching television, c. 1958

Drawn from all my September posts here are my recommendations (fun fact: clicking on each item will take you to the post I referenced it in):

Books:

  1. “The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks”
  2. “To the Lighthouse”

Television:

  1. “Bones”
  2. “The French Chef”

Blogs:

  1. After I Quit My Day Job

Food:

  1. Annie’s Mac and Cheese
  2. Seitan
  3. Quorn Chik’n Nuggets

Margaret Warner:

  1. Margaret Warner

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“The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks” [Review]

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

Image by aboutsaffron via Flickr

To be honest I picked up “The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks” by E. Lockhart solely because it looked like fluff. I know, I know, never judge a book by its cover and all that but between “The Mayor Casterbridge”, “To the Lighthouse”, and “The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne” I needed something that didn’t have suicide, death, alcoholism, brave new adventures into the art of fiction or confinement to sick homes in it. If it was really fluff that I was looking for than I should have gone with “Nikki” by Meg Cabot, what I got instead was cutting humor, brilliant ideas and a wonderfully flawed character who was actually someone you could relate to. (Yes, I did relate to Judith Hearne’s depression but let’s put that aside, shall we?)

Here’s the plot overview from Shelfari: Frankie Landau-Banks at age 14: Debate Club. Her father’s ” bunny rabbit. ” A mildly geeky girl attending a highly competitive boarding school. Frankie Landau-Banks at age 15: A knockout figure. A sharp tongue. A chip on her shoulder. And a gorgeous new senior boyfriend: the supremely goofy, word-obsessed Matthew Livingston. Frankie Landau-Banks. No longer the kind of girl to take ” no” for an answer. Especially when ” no” means she’s excluded from her boyfriend’s all-male secret society. Not when her ex-boyfriend shows up in the strangest of places. Not when she knows she’s smarter than any of them. When she knows Matthew’s lying to her. And when there are so many, many pranks to be done. Frankie Landau-Banks, at age 16: Possibly a criminal mastermind. This is the story of how she got that way.

Trying to describe the “The Disreputable History” without giving way the whole twisty-turning plot is nae impossible. (Did I use nae right? Eh, someone will probably comment on this sharply if I did.) What I’m going to give you are a few brief reasons why I liked “The Disreputable History” so much that I gave it five out of five stars and marked it a “favorite” on Shelfari.

Why I Really liked “The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks”

  1. It has funny grammar jokes. Grammar jokes? Hello! Funny grammar jokes? Where are you going, Sailor!?
  2. The main character is a fan of P.G. Wodehouse. No wait, not just a fan. A good portion of the plot hinges on her reading “The Code of the Woosters”. In fact, some of the grammar jokes revolve around a line from “The Code”.
  3. Frankie is angry. This is not the teenage angst Fuck-My-Parents-Fuck-You-All-You-Don’t-Know-What-I’m-Going-Through-You-Don’t-Know-My-Demons but rather the anger that builds after an ambitious person is spurned. This is a slow simmer anger that builds and builds until fish are kidnapped, bras are everywhere and there is a basset hound sculpted out of vegetables. Crap, only three bullets into my list and already I’m starting to give away the plot.
  4. She uses the panopticon to describe high school. Is that not perfect? It’s perfect.
  5. Frankie’s mother is Jewish.
  6. Popular kids don’t suck and geeks aren’t pure hearted. “The Disreputable History” relies not on flat characterizations but rather well developed social circles.
  7. I read this book in under twenty-four hours and laughed vocally while doing so.

If you’re now going, “Panopticon? Secret societies? Basset hounds? P.G. WODEHOUSE? Where can I get this book?” then there are two things I have to say to you.

1. We should be friends.

2. Buy this at your local independent book store or your town library. Why those two book vendors? Because it’s good for you.

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Selections From “To The Lighthouse”

Portrait of Virginia Woolf (January 25, 1882 –...

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I’ve been reading Virginia Woolf‘s “To The Lighthouse” (is there an underscore feature on WordPress?) and her language has been just blowing me away. The exactness of her words, the complexity of her phrasing, the power that she carries with her. An image from one of the special features from the movie “The Hours” has been stuck in my mind as a I read this (actually, the image is always with me but more so as I read this): that of Virginia Woolf striding across the heath (or heather or peat or whatever it is she would be striding across) and barking out the phrases from her writings as she formed them in her mind. (I’ve found myself doing the same and call it “composing”.)

Anyways, here are some of my favorite passages from “To The Lighthouse”:

[p. 192:] But what after all is one night? A short space, especially when the darkness dims so soon, and so soon a bird sings, a cock crows, or a faint green quickens, like a turning leaf, in the hollow of the wave. Night, however, succeeds to night. The winter holds a pack of them in store and deals them equally, they darken. Some of them hold aloft clear planets, plates of brightness. The autumn trees, ravaged as they are, take on the flash of tattered flags kindling in the gloom of cool cathedral caves where gold letters on marble pages describe death in battle and how bones bleach and burn far away in Indian sands. The autumn trees gleam in the yellow moonlight, in the light of harvest moons, the light which mellows the energy of labour, and smooths the stubble, and brings the wave lapping blue to the shore.

[p. 280:] So we took a little boat, she thought, beginning to tell herself a story of adventure about escaping from a sinking ship. But with the sea streaming through her fingers, a spray of seaweed vanishing behind them, she did not want to tell herself seriously a story; it was the sense of adventure and escape that she wanted

[p. 283:] He read, she thought, as if he were guiding something, or wheedling a large flock of sheep, or pushing his way up and up a single narrow path; and sometimes he went fast and straight, and broke his way through the bramble, and sometimes it seemed a branch struck at him, a bramble blinded him, but he was not going to let himself be beaten by that; on he went, tossing over page after page.

[p. 284:] so much depends, she thought, upon distance: whether people are near us or far from us; for her feeling for Mr Ramsay changed as he sailed further and further across the bay.

[p. 289:] Mr Carmichael had “lost all interest in life.” What did it mean — that? she wondered. Had he marched through Trafalgar Square grasping a big stick? Had he turned pages over and over, without reading them, sitting in his room in St. John’s Wood alone?

[p. 293:] He must have confided in her on one of those long expeditions when people got separated and walked back alone.

[p. 299:] At last then somebody had come into the drawing-room; somebody was sitting in the chair. For Heaven’s sake, she prayed, let them sit still there and not come floundering out to talk to her.

[p. 306:] He was so pleased that he was not going to let anybody share a grain of his pleasure.

[p.  309:] Then, surging up, puffing slightly, old Mr Carmichael stood beside her, looking like an old pagan god, shaggy, with weeds in his hair and the trident (it was only a French novel) in his hand.

The page numbers relate to my edition (Harcourt, Brace & World Inc.; New York; Copyrighted: 1955 by Leonard Woolf) and with special thanks to http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/w/woolf/virginia/w91t/index.html from where many of my final quotes were copy and pasted from (finger cramps and all that.)

You’ll notice that several of the quotes are from the final pages of the book. Soon after starting this post I realized that I could not fit every quote I wanted into the post (for a complete collection of my favorite passages go to your local library or local bookstore and get your own copy) and so focused onto one section to weed and prune until I had the exact ones I wanted.

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