The coming week’s class is devoted to our book club meetings. I’m looking forward to it! As we’ve been saying in class, I think many of us are happy to be doing some fiction and/or non-academic reading and to flex some different parts of our brains. I certainly enjoyed reading the selections chosen by my book club cohort:
This story is a retelling of a Greek myth about Atalanta, who was abandoned by her parents, a king and queen, in the woods and left to die. A bear finds her and takes her in, and she learns how to hunt and grows up to be very beautiful. There is another story embedded within Atalanta’s, of another kingdom with many sons and daughters (as opposed to Atalanta’s family). Many things happen; the kingdom forgets to worship the goddess Diana and she sics a wild boar on them; Atalanta is recognized as a great hunter and as desirable when she helps to slay the boar; the queen of the kingdom ends up causing her son’s death and then takes her own life. The story then goes back to Atalanta and of how she allows a man to win her as his wife.
There were many themes that struck me in this story, as often happens in myths. One of them is the importance of beauty in the story–Atalanta’s, her suitors, the three Fates who blessed/cursed Meleager as a baby (one of the three was not beautiful and was the impetus for his death).
This is a short story about a railroad telegraph operator who meets a There was a blurb at the beginning that noted the “delightful tongue-in-cheek” story was originally published at such-and-such a place. I may not have known immediately that this was mean to be a tongue-in-cheek story, although perhaps the line “…work for the road with which I am still employed, the Illinois Central, than which there is none finer” should have given it away. I’m not sure I entirely understand the sarcasm and the symbolism in the story. It seems that the narrator is not so fond of the station’s porter, since he names the snake after him, claiming it’s because they are both being long and svelte. This is a great choice for a book club pick–I have lots of questions about the story!
I really enjoyed this one. This was a comic, beautifully illustrated in black and white (and generously available for free!). It begins with a group of boys on bikes who set out to follow the village’s lanterns down the river, to see where they end up. The lanterns are dropped into the river to pay homage to an old local legend–which says the lanterns turn into fish who then jump into the sky and turn into stars. Another boy is following the group; they poke fun at him, yet he still follows on. The narrator doesn’t agree with what his friends say about the outcast, but he also doesn’t stick up for him. Eventually his friends break the pact they made–to keep going and not turn toward home–and it’s just him and the outcast. They experience some magical things and see the legend come to life. I’m looking forward to talking about a comic in the book club, and the way the illustrations and the panels without text influenced the narrative. I’m also wondering about the ending. The two boys kept going, kept the pact; they didn’t turn for home–what does that mean?
This was a sad story about a washer woman in Florida who is abused by her husband, a really awful man who beats her, takes her money, and has affairs with other women. He knows that his wife hates snakes, and one day brings a rattlesnake home to the house to further intimidate her. Eventually the snake ends up attacking the husband, and while his wife pities him in his dying state, she leaves him to die. It will be interesting to talk about this story because of the tough subject matter: race, domestic violence, verbal abuse, poverty, even religious imagery.