Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Madness and Murdered Sleep: An Analysis on the Development and Consequences of PTSD in Geoffrey Wright’s Macbeth

***Here's a copy of the analysis I wrote on a modern adaptation of Macbeth, written for my Shakespeare and Film class in Spring 2012. If you haven't seen the film and don't want to know the points of the movie, don't read the following post as it does contain SPOILERS.

I’ve read Macbeth a LOT since I first studied it my senior year in high school.  There are just so many different points of interest to study in William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth.  The play has often been considered timeless due to its theme of overextended ambition coupled with murderous intent.  Another prevalent theme in the play is that of the forces of good and evil, recognizable with the manifestation of the three witches who work with evil magic which helps to turn a once good man into a murdering tyrant.  The witches with their prophecies and the plight of the characters in the play to overcome the power of evil all lend themselves to the idea of the supernatural.  However, in modern times where the idea of witches and magic is more likely frowned upon, considered to be a flight of fancy or an old superstition/belief, it would be more responsible in a sense to look for a different cause that would enable a once trustworthy individual to commit such heinous crimes against his perceived family unit.  Geoffrey Wright’s 2006 film adaptation of the play, simply titled Macbeth, serves to highlight a different motivational force, that of mental disease to explain the actions of both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.  I’ve always felt that there was underlying cause to the descent of the Macbeths.  Their turn to violence seemed too abrupt to be an inherent fault of character.  For a once honorable man to turn to methods of murder, modern science would suggest that an underlying set of factors helped to turn his mind against what he knew to be right.  I was impressed with the fact that this film worked to highlight these telling signs in what turns out to be the downfall of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Workings of a Good Lie: A Book Review on The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Jay Gatsby is a man with a mission. The last few years of his life have been spent getting him to the point where he will finally cross paths with the love of his life, his obsession Daisy Buchanan. When they finally meet again, a sequence of events is set in motion, one that shows the desperate quality of dreamers and the effects of the careless people who break them.

I know. Fitzgerald is normally part of the assigned reading in high school. Not the case for me. I can honestly say that I was never given this book for assignment; not in high school, not in college and not even in graduate school. So, did I miss out in reading this book back then?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Dead Men's Tales: A Book Review on Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

Judas Coyne has collected various macabre items over the years but nothing tops his latest item, a dead man's suit with its supposed owner still attached. Intrigued by the idea of owning his own ghost, Judas pays the money and receives the black suit later on by delivery in a heart-shaped box. Thinking nothing of it, he shoves the box and its suit into the back of his closet, believing that none of it is real until the visions start. Visions of an old man wearing the same black suit. Because the ghost is real, appearing in the dark of night, swinging a chain with a razor attached at the end, and he's watching Jude's every move.

I felt the need to read something spooky to celebrate the autumn season and Joe Hill's Heart-Shaped Box seemed the right amount of creep to go hand in hand with the new cold weather outside. I'd actually heard first about his second novel from my sister, so when I found the debut at a half-price bookstore I decided to give it a go. The premise sounded interesting and the reviews were varied enough that it seemed a safe enough bet to try out. No, I did not know the true background of Joe Hill and in a way, I'm glad I didn't have all the details about the author, as it allowed for a more generous set of expectations when I started reading this book yesterday. More on that at the end of the review.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Fleeting Trials of Youth: A Book Review on The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

The Lisbon girls have left their mark on the world despite their short time in it. After the initial attempted suicide by the youngest Lisbon, Cecilia, the girls and their parents come under the scrutiny of their community and they become the obsession of a group of boys who continuously look back to their youth in the seventies and wonder where things went wrong for a group of girls that had their whole lives before them.

I try to make it a habit to read the book before I watch the movie. Unfortunately, in this case, I saw the movie before I read the book. My apologies, Jeffrey Eugenides. Either way, I found my way to The Virgin Suicides and since my reading it, the writing, the story, has haunted me. The ideas behind the writing evoke a strong sense of tragedy and yet, as a reader you're sucked into the lives of these girls seen in the pieces put together by the boys that admired them.

The writing is lyrical. For a debut, this book impresses in more ways than one. The choice of using an anonymous narrator who for the duration of the novel presents the "evidence" he and his friends have gathered from the remnants of the lives of the doomed Lisbon girls is at times unsettling. As a reader, one finds that the pieces these boys gathered from the lives of these girls borders on the voyeuristic and the obsessive. At one point in the beginnings of this novel, one boy talks about how he wished to bring back a used tampon he'd seen in the Lisbon girls' family bathroom for his friends to see, not because he found it disgusting but because he wished for his friends to witness the beauty of something that had been so intimately acquainted with the girls they wished to know. It's the kind of devotion that seems unnatural and yet it demonstrates the lengths these boys would go through to assemble the various parts of the group's careful investigation, and what they've managed to build is an account of a tragedy that encompasses the book we readers hold in our hands.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Magic in a Time of War: A Book Review on War for the Oaks by Emma Bull

Eddi McCandry is having a rough night. She’s quit the band she was playing in and gotten out of a bad relationship. Now she has muddle through her opportunities and figure out the next step in her life. But on her walk home, Eddi ends up forced into taking part in a Faerie War, where she’ll be used as an advantage that will make all the difference in deciding the fates of everything she holds dear, from the world of the faerie folk to her own life as a musician.

War for the Oaks is the debut novel from Emma Bull, considered to be one of the leading novels that helped define the modern urban fantasy genre. I stumbled across it during a trip to my local bookstore, having never heard of it, but being intrigued by the title and description, I decided to give it a go.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Unknowingly Noticeable: A Book Review on The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Sidenote: Birthday season is over, meaning my reading and writing time is back on schedule. I call it birthday season because quite literally, every month, starting in July and ending in September, my family is barraged with birthdays. Now it's October and we can all breathe a sigh of relief. So to kick off the new month, the first of many new reviews to come.

Charlie is starting his freshman year of high school. He’s worried about making new friends after suffering a loss in middle school. His brother has started college and his sister is now a senior. He thinks too much and says very little. In an effort to work through the trenches of his high school experience, Charlie begins to write letters, detailing the many new events in his life from drugs, romance, and literature to the moments where every teenager wishes and finds a place to belong.

And so I begin.

Dear friend,

There are good times. There are bad times. And then there is high school.

I hated high school. Hell, I still hate high school. But like Charlie, the wallflower narrator of Chbosky’s powerful debut, I can look back and point out certain specific people and moments where everything just made the right amount of difference. This book immortalizes all those right differences to mark the journey of one kid that speaks to not only a generation of teens but it also speaks to those who remember what it was like to be a teenager.