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A Guy's Moleskine Notebook

Thoughts and reflections on works of fiction and literature. Pondering of life through pictures and words. Babbling about gay rights. Travelogues and anecdotes.

  • [1] Annie Proulx: Brokeback Mountain
  • [2] Arthur Golden: Memoirs of a Geisha
  • [3] Yu Hua: To Live
  • [4] Alan Hollinghurst: The Line of Beauty
  • [5] Colm Toibin: The Master
  • [6] Carlos Ruiz Zafon: The Shadow of the Wind
  • [7] William James: The Varieties of Religious Experience
  • [8] Charles Higham: The Civilization of Angkor
  • [9] Graham Greene: A Burnt-Out Case
  • [10] Dai Sijie: Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch
  • [11] Alan Hollinghurst: The Swimming-Pool Library
  • [12] Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita
  • [13] Colm Toibin: The Blackwater Lightship
  • [14] Alan Hollinghurst: The Folding Star
  • [15] Ross King: Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling
  • [16] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov
  • [17] Jonathan Franzen: The Corrections
  • [18] Colm Toibin: The Story of the Night
  • [19] John Banville: Shroud
  • [20] Leo Tolstoy: Resurrection
  • [21] Peter Hessler: River Town, Two Years on the Yangtze
  • [22] Ian McEwan: The Atonement
  • [24] Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love in the Time of Cholera
  • [25] Ignacio Padilla: Shadow without a Name
  • [26] Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose
  • [27] Richard Russo: Straight Man
  • [28] Fyodor Dostoevsky: Notes from Underground
  • [29] Alan Hollinghurst: The Spell
  • [30] Hermann Broch: The Death of Virgil
  • [31] James Baldwin: Giovanni's Room
  • [32] Ken Kesey: One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • [33] Xingjian Gao: One Man's Bible
  • [34] C. Jay Cox: Latter Days
  • [35] Harper Lee: To Kill A Mockingbird
  • [36] William Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew
  • [37] Daniel A. Helminiak: What The Bible Really Says about Homosexuality
  • [38] James Baldwin: Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone
  • [39] Kenji Yoshino: Covering - The Hidden Assault of Civil Rights
  • [40] Italo Calvino: If, On a Winter's Night A Traveler
  • [41] Arthur Phillips: The Egyptologist
  • [42] George Orwell: 1984
  • [43] Michael Warner: The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and Ethics of Queer Life
  • [44] Andrew Sullivan: Virtually Normal
  • [45] Henry James: The Wings of the Dove
  • [46] Jose Saramago: Blindness
  • [47] Umberto Eco: The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
  • [48] Dan Brown: Da Vinci Code
  • [49] Kazuo Ishiguro: Never Let Me Go
  • [50] Ken Follett: The Pillars of Earth
  • [51] Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace
  • [52] Michael Thomas Ford: Alec Baldwin Doesn't Like Me
  • [53] Jonathan Franzen: How To Be Alone
  • [54] Jonathan Lethem: The Fortress of Solitude
  • [55] Matthew Pearl: The Dante Club
  • [56] Zadie Smith: White Teeth
  • [57] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Double
  • [58] Jose Saramago: The Double
  • [59] Andrew Holleran: Dancer from the Dance
  • [60] Heinrich von Kleist: The Marquise of O & Other Stories
  • [61] Andrew Holleran: In September, the Light Changes
  • [62] Tom Perrotta: Little Children
  • October 04, 2006

     

    Heinrich von Kleist II

    I cannot help riffling through The Marquise of O and Other Stories before my vacation starts and this title novella, which isn't all that long, has a grabby, switchbacking plot that pulls me right in as soon as I read the first sentence:

    In M-, a large town in northern Italy, the widowed Marquise of O-, a lady of unblemished reputation and the mother of several well-bred children, published the following notice in the newspapers: that, without her knowing how, she was in the family way; that she would like the father of the child she was going to bear to report himself; and that her mind was made up, out of consideration for her people, to marry him.

    One sentence contains more plot and enough appeal to pull me in. I realize that the Marquise, who has a spotless reputation and is already a mother--to dispel whatever doubts I might have harbored otherwise about what I'll read subsequently, namely, that she is pregnant and has no idea how such a thing might have happened.

    This is the power of Kleist, who usually gives very little physical description of his characters, but tells you what sort of people they are. His stories usually proceed in a series of twists and turns that keep reversing each one of our assumptions and expectations. The convulution jars one's sense of who the characters are, of what happened, and of what will happen.

    I have to stop or I'll finish the whole story collection before the vacation starts!

    6 Comments:

    Blogger Jef said...

    I've heard that Hemingway didn't give much description. Typically, I like to reveal descrition of character throughout the story, but my fiction class has shown me how a paragraph if physical description can be fun, too.

    Since I'm considering writing a comedic novel for National Novel Writing Month in November, I think I may experiment with many things I haven't done.

    10/04/2006 9:56 AM  
    Blogger Matt said...

    Vivid physical description, including what the character looks like, what she wears, what her mind set on moral issues, reminds me of the opening of George Eliot's Middlemarch, a novel which I consider such a hurdle to accomplish reading. I never finished it. Maybe sometime next year. I've done my share with the re-reading of War and Peace this year.

    10/04/2006 1:26 PM  
    Blogger Joshua said...

    There's nothing better than being in the grips of a great book! I hope you enjoy your vacation!

    10/04/2006 5:43 PM  
    Anonymous Danielle said...

    At least it is nice to know that you are going to have a good book to read on the plane! Sometimes an "untried" book is disappointing and then you are stuck with it. He has been added to my TBR list!

    10/04/2006 7:20 PM  
    Blogger The Traveller said...

    "...without her knowing how, she was in the family way..." Excellent.

    10/05/2006 3:39 AM  
    Anonymous iliana said...

    This sounds great. I've got too look for it because I'm so intrigued now.

    10/05/2006 6:48 AM  

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