Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Krik Krak, Edwidge Danticat - New Classics Challenge

I am on a roll (thanks to Jury Duty!) Right after I finished Practical Magic I decided why not just read another book for the New Classics Challenge. So I picked up Krik Krak by Edwidge Danticat. This book was recommended to me by my friend Shion last year when we went to the 50th Anniversary Celebration of Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. Edwidge Danticat was one of the authors that spoke at the event (eloquently I might add). So this book pick was an easy decision for me!

Krik Krak is a compilation of 9 short stories that all take place or involve characters from Haiti. Each story is short yet powerful. The writing is beautiful and the flow of the book even though they are short stories is enjoyable. The stories speak of massacares, escapes, governments run by dictatorships, but yet at the same time they speak of love, pride, family, and strength of person.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was sooo different from Practical Magic, it just had more substance and was more beautifully written, that it is hard for me to believe they were both on the New Classics List. Krik Krak I would consider a fine piece of literature and would recommend to those who have enjoyed books such as Things Fall Apart. I will certainly read Ms. Danticat again!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Practical Magic, Alice Hoffman - New Classics Challenge

So this fall has been a little weird for me in that I haven't been reading as much as I usually do (have no fear I'm getting back into it). One, I no longer have a commute which was where I used to do the bulk of my reading so this has seriously cut down my reading time! Second, due to the economy my husband hasn't been nearly as busy at work and is actually home at a reasonable hour. Since this is such a treat for me, it's hard for me to justify reading in another room when I could be spending time with him. Granted now his work has picked up again so my reading time is increasing - couple that with a 4 day stint in jury duty and I'm a reading machine right now - hehehehe!

So in doing some more reading I have started to catch up on the New Classics Challenge. I didn't stick with the original 6 books that I picked though because I began one of the books and just couldn't get into it (Possession, A.S. Byatt). Maybe I'll pick it up again someday. And one other book I found out was the 3rd book in a series where I have not read the 1st & 2nd book. I didn't want to start in the middle. (Lonesome Dove, Larry McCurty).

Practical Magic therefore was not one of my original picks, but I picked it up because it was on the New Classics Challenge List and I needed 2 new books to fill those vacant slot. I had read Hoffman before (Here on Earth) and enjoyed her so I was looking forward to reading Practical Magic.

Practical Magic is the story of Sally and Gillian Owens, whose parents died when they were young. They were sent to Salem, Mass to live with their two aunts (considered witches) and grew up constantly being ridiculed. They were outcasts in their schools and most people were afraid of them because they considered them to be witches as well.

As they grew older and wanted different things from life they both ended up leaving Salem, Mass - one sister became a drifter, married numerous times unsuccessfully and the other sister was widowed and raising her two daughters in the suburbs of Long Island.

One day when Gillian shows up on Sally's doorstep in Long Island with her boyfriend, dead in the car, the sister's have to make a split second decision. One that will affect their relationship with each other, with her daughters, with their aunts and with themselves.

The underlying themes in this book are acceptance of others and of yourself and the power of love. Did I enjoy this book - absolutely! It is a fun, quick read, a guilty pleasure to be enjoyed on rainy day (or a jury room!) Would I consider this book a good choice for a New Classic - not a chance! When I think of classic literature I immediately think of Ernest Hemmingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Truman Capote, Edith Wharton, and so on....a New Classic although contemporary needs to compare at least somewhat in my opinion with the old classics and those are some mighty big shoes to fill. This novel doesn't even come close to a classic. It's more of a fun beach read....sorry Entertainment Weekly I don't agree with this choice.