1973 - when I started asking questions, like, "Why are we all dressed so funny?"

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Books of the Month: October & November

As I prepare to retake the California Subject Examination for Teachers (English, Subtest IV), I'm reading and/or re-reading some "classic" or at least perfunctory high school texts. For the sake of being better prepared for the four short response (but high stakes!) questions, and just for the fun of it.

October 2015: To Kill a Mockingbird. The first part seems to really drag. Perhaps the way I was reading it or perhaps Harper Lee was getting paid by the word? In either case, it was interesting and generous toward our human complexity. I like the wee lil girl perspective that comes through Scout and her growing awareness of the world as a place far more dangerous and interesting than at first suspects. Yeah, the injustice totally sucks, but we saw that coming. A moral perspective infuses the book: What if you simply can't change the system (for we are all implicated in those systems) and you just have to endure the evil and strive after the good -- what then? Where and how will you stand?

November 2015: William Shakespeare, "Romeo and Juliet." Love Hard, Die Young. What's not to like? Most interesting for me is the sense of redemptive-tragedy. Yeah, the kids die and several of their kin but we don't have the Chorus showing up and saying, "Hey, this is what happens when you mess with the gods." Instead we have the reconciliation (not annihilation!) of the warring clans and the Prince concluding (ironically?): 
A glooming peace this morning with it brings.
The sun for sorrow will not show his head.
Go hence to have more talk of these sad things.
Some shall be pardoned, and some punished,
For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.
Would that all strife end in peace.

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