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Showing posts from September, 2014

The Brothers Karamazov - 10: Boys

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Previously:Book IBook IIBook IIIBooks IV & VBook VI, Books VII–IX


What does it say about Dostoyevsky that, after the roller coaster of the last three parts, he switches gears and writes a whole section about - schoolboys?

Let me just say: any remaining reservations I had about his writing skills disappeared in this part.  I mean that seriously.  As with "The Russian Monk" (VI), this part left me very impressed.

Most of us who have ever thought of being writers know about the Character Arc.  We tend to think the Character Arc is a long journey (it is).  But the most difficult part is actually writing it.  It can become a laborious process, and in the middle of that process we writers tend to lose the subtlety ofgood writing that the rest of our novel may possess.  We usually sacrifice the subtlety because the Character Arc appears to us like the milestones of life - big, earth-shattering, and loudly delineated.  Plot twist: it doesn't have to be.

Dostoyevsky use…

The Brothers Karamazov - 7–9: Part III

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Previously: Book IBook IIBook IIIBooks IV & VBook VI

And now we (unavoidably) head into spoiler territory...



In these three parts - "Alyosha," "Mitya," and "The Preliminary Investigation" - we learn that Grushenka, while attempting to escape with her former seducer, becomes convinced that it is Dmitri "Mitya" Karamazov she really loves.  He pursues her and interrupts her elopement by throwing a raucous party, squandering hundreds (or is it thousands?) of rubles which he claims he stole from Katerina, his ex-fiancee.  Meanwhile, when his father Fyodor is found dead and 3000 rubles missing from his bedroom, all evidence is against Mitya.  He is found and interrogated; he himself claims no alibi.  In fact, he confesses he was at his father's house, but ran away before committing the murder that was in his mind.  Nothing else Dmitri or the witnesses say can corroborate his alleged innocence, and he is arrested as the criminal.

This wa…

Hamlet Revisited

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Over time, I have come to love a lot of things I used to dislike strongly - opera, Debussy, Moby-Dick, and poetry.  Perhaps Shakespeare will grow on me, too - perhaps.

As I was reading Hamlet yesterday, I was aware of two things.  One, it was not painfully slow or cringeworthy like Romeo and Juliet.  Two, I actually cared about the characters. As long as they were "on screen," they were very much alive (terrible, terrible pun), and even now, I would be interesting in watching an adaptation, which usually indicates a good story.
The plot starts out with some exposition explaining that the king of Denmark has recently died and his brother Claudius is serving the office in his stead.  Part of this "office," according to Claudius, is marrying his brother's wife, Queen Gertrude.  (Wiki would have you think this is a Levirate marriage; however, since Hamlet is the son of Gertrude and the late king, this does not appear to qualify as such, by Old Testament standards.)  …

The Men Who Knew Too Much (and Not Enough)

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You invariably have some expectations when watching a thriller.  Though I haven't seen a lot of this genre, it's similar enough to mystery that I expect something.  I expect to be scared, and I expect to care about someone in the film.  To a degree, all three of these accomplished that.  Some more than others.

The Wrong Man (1956).   Christopher Emmanuel "Manny" Balestrero (Henry Fonda) gets arrested for a series of crimes he did not commit.  5/5 stars.
The Wrong Man was the most interesting and worthwhile.  I'm biased in that I'm drawn towards any film with Kafkaesque qualities.  Henry Fonda's character is essentially Josef K. from The Trial, albeit a more sympathetic and family-man type of guy.  The plot is based on a true story, in which circumstantial evidence and other issues render the suspect, Balestrero, practically guilty until proven innocent.

There is something inherently frightening about "due process" going horribly wrong, affecting no…

Hello, Fall!

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Summer is taking the calendar seriously this year - an overstay of dry weather for the greater Seattle area.  (The dictionary tells me "overstay" is not a noun.  I protest.)  Meanwhile, I am hoping for rain this week and looking for fall color anywhere it dares show its face.

Book Haul
Not long ago we made a trip down to Oregon and on the way back stopped in Portland.  You cannot visit Portland without going to Powell's City of Books.  Like last year, I came well prepared, with wishlist and books to sell (sorry Jane Austen).


It was a weekday; there were plenty of people, but not so many as on a weekend.  We were in and out of there within an hour.

What I love about Powell's:
1)  It's a REAL bookstore.  Rooms and rooms of books up to the ceilings.  You could potentially get lost.  They still have those noisy little stools on wheels, and you actually need them (for tall bookshelves made out of wood).  Powell's is the real deal.
2)   You will tend to find multiple edi…