Friday, October 26, 2012

Dubliners by James Joyce

Dubliners by James Joyce is a collection of short stories all set in (or near?) Dublin, Ireland. James Joyce is not an unfamous author, obviously. To be honest, when I picked up the book, the most I knew was that the author was famous, and that he was Irish. As I just moved to (and this was news to me) a city that boasts a decent amount of Irish heritage, I decided to pick it up. It helped that it cost a mere 3 dollars, and there was nothing else in the store I was interested in and could afford.

When I started reading the book, I didn't have high hopes. I am, overall, not a fan of short stories and I tend to shy away from books with a heavy dialect, and I wasn't sure how the writing would reflect the speech of the people.

I was more than pleasantly surprised. I read the 224 pages with more speed than I've read anything in quite some time. The stories were published in 1914 and they definitely reflected the era. Because of the time frame of the stories there were certain hurdles for me when it came to the culture and the slang the characters used, but after the first couple of stories I was able to grasp more and more given the context. There was absolutely no dialect issue. It was more like reading a regency type romance, only with a more authentic feel.

Some of the stories grabbed my attention very quickly, while some piqued my interest just enough to lead me along until BAM! the story was over and I was left confused as to the point.
This was, until I called a friend of mine and explained to her my issue with the sudden conclusion or swift change in plot line, and she kindly explained to me that James Joyce was a stream of consciousness writer. Taking that into consideration, I've realized that he was absolutely BRILLIANT at it. I'm sure everyone else knew, but with this new outlook the stories meant so much more to me. 

The first story in this collection was the one that really grabbed me and changed my early prediction that I wouldn't enjoy the rest. The way that Joyce writes, within a few paragraphs you feel some sort of connection to the character. You may not understand what the story is doing, but you know that you feel a certain way about the person you're reading about. In Sisters  the story is roughly about a boy who has lost a good friend, and his observations of the adults around him and their dealings with the death of a priest.

All of the stories in Dubliners center around emotions to an extent and how the characters react to the immediate situations around them. There were times when this was extremely poetic, and times where it was confusing, or just plain sad. This is a very melancholy collection, though that shouldn't be a surprise to anyone, honestly.

Eveline, a story about a woman getting ready to leave the country with her fiance, really caught me. It was a story based almost strictly on emotion, and the way in which Joyce writes led me to feel as if I was impacted by what the character was feeling just as much if not more than she was. Sometimes, when I read books or stories that come from a male author but about a female character, I can really tell that the author has never had ovaries but James Joyce does not fall into this category.

In the story Counterparts, I really didn't enjoy the main character at all. He was annoying, whiny, and abusive. The story itself was great, but Joyce was quite able to illicit some angry emotions from me. On the other hand, A Painful Case, in which a character is quite moral and finds that it didn't end the way he thought it would, I really wanted to reach out to everyone involved and make them feel better.

The longest story, The Dead, was the last and maybe most confusing of them all. It wasn't like the others in the way that it confused me, where I wasn't sure where the story was going or I wasn't able to discern terms through context. It was confusing because the point of the story really didn't come out until the last page or so, but the story itself was about 20 pages long. So the entire time I was confused as to what Joyce was leading up to.

All in all- since this is my first time with the author, I could definitly see myself reading more. I'm not sure that I am ready to jump into Ulysses right now, but I plan on putting more Joyce on my plate in the future.  

Specs on the Book:

My copy was published in 1961 by Viking Press
Page Length: 224
ISBN: None
Where can you get a copy: Amazon has many types, including a quite affordable copy for the Kindle

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pittsburgh's Awesome Books

I guess for this entry, it is important that everyone who is reading understands that I am a country girl. Not in the "I love Mitt Romney" and wear cowboy boots and camo sort of way (not that most of that is a bad thing) but in the I have never lived in a large city sort of way.

In August, I had a pretty major life event rain down on me and had to move. I chose to move to Pittsburgh, since that was where I had a place offered. So far, this city has been a challenge and at times a delight. One of the ways that it was recently a delight was my last day off of work. I decided that I wanted to take a walk, and see some 'new' stuff and off I went.

I headed down town on the 'T' and got off at Station Square and headed across the Smithfield St. Bridge. The following picture is NOT of the Smithfield St. Bridge, but it IS of a bridge in Pittsburgh.

At the end of Smithfield St. there is Penn Ave and right there is a beautiful little bookstore called Awesome Books. Awesome Books is a pretty great name for this shop. It reminded me a bit of what an art gallery would look like if I had been to an art gallery before...very open, a couple of tables with books on them in the middle and then shelves (obviously) around the store walls, filled with books. Everything was very clean, neat, and orderly. It was nice to be able to easily walk around the store and not worry about bumping into anything. Because I was broke, while I found plenty of new books I wanted, I stayed with the bargain section. I picked up a copy of James Joyce's Dubliners for 3 dollars, which is a good deal, and then when I was checking out the man behind the counter put a bookmark in my new book that had a 50% of coupon for a place called City Cafe, right down the street.

I headed down towards the cafe and went in, my bright green bookmark in hand, and excitedly told the woman behind that counter that I was up for a cup of coffee and I had this here coupon. With the coupon my coffee was a mere 1.07! So my day only cost me 4 dollars, and the coffee was amazing, and the book, I can't seem to put down.

Click here : for the website for Awesome Books. They have a picture of one of their stores right on the front page, and you'll be able to see the awesomeness that the store really is. I can't wait until next Friday, when I will happily be taking that walk again!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

My Second Post: A blog hop!

Since I have been blogging for a while, I do actually know where to go to get the ball rolling on introducing new readers to my blog. Since I haven't been reading much lately, which is part of the reason I wanted to start blogging again, I don't have any reviews to put up quite yet. I'm working on it. In the meantime however, any one stopping buy can at least learn about me a little bit more. 
That's right.
Invest yourself in me. That way when I do have reviews, you'll come back and read them. It'll be wild.

So--the book blogger hop seems to be moving around from blog to blog right now, and this week it is being hosted by Soon Remembered Tales  I had never been to this blog before this morning, but it seems rather nice. Right on the front page of the blog you can see the awesome reviews recently put up, which include Catcher in the Rye, Fahrenheit 451, and a book I've never heard of called The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian

The question that was asked for the blogger hop was:
With Autumn upon us and Halloween drawing near, what books remind you of fall? What ones do you enjoy reading that are about autumn?
This is a little harder for me to answer than I thought it would be. Personally, I'm not a fan of things that frighten me. I don't often read books that are going to scare me for days and make me sleep with the lights on at night. However, during a challenge a few years back I read an awesome book that was scary...but in a different way. Most likely, this book reminds me of fall more than any other, because I did read it in October, and the way the book was was almost like Fall...getting colder the longer it went on.

The book was titled Into the Forest and was written by Jean Hegland
This is an amazing book, that I highly recommend for this time of year. Let me break it down for you:
Everything is awesome, life is good. Two teenage girls, doing their thing, having a whole and mostly healthy family. Then- BAM family tragedy strikes. Shortly after their own personal worlds are knocked around a little...the WHOLE world gets knocked around a little. See, the lights stop coming back on. Eventually...all electricity is lost, and these two teen aged sisters have to figure out how to survive it.

There are times when the book gets a little gritty, but I still highly recommend it. It's not a scare you until you sleep with one eye open sort of book, but the next time a light bulb blows out after you read it, your heart will jump, I promise you that.

Well- I'm off to read what others wrote about this subject, and to do some networking. Have a wonderful Sunday!

Welcome to a Wild New Beginning!

Hello everyone!

My name is Sharyla, and I'm starting this here blog this evening. Actually- it's about three o'clock in the morning, and starting this new blog is starting to make me bleary eyed. Please don't be offended if spelling errors abound.

I am not a new blogger, I've been at it for a few years now. However, while it was a hobby that I rather enjoyed, it was a hobby that I always had to share my time for with someone else. I'm a single cat on the prowl, and until I find someone to split time with, I figure why not do something I enjoy.

However, I wanted a new start. I wanted to try and put the big effort into it that so many other bloggers around the interwebs do. There are those out there who have been blogging for years less than I have, kids out there that didn't read all that well when I started blogging, that have blogs better than I do. So, now I'm trying a little harder. 

On my blog you will find reviews, a few memes, and a few random posts that most likely will in some way be loosely related to reading or books. Eventually, when I am in a position to do so, there will be contests, and also author interviews.

I truly look forward to having those in the book blogging community by my side as I make this new journey into a world I thought I knew quite well. I hope to have those people right a few guests posts as well.

For now, I have some technical issues to work on, and then I'm going to start reading again. Won't that be a thrill?