Sunday, February 13, 2011

Two Books....Manfiction and X-rated Ancient Greek

The Promise of Light by Paul Watkins made its way to my "To-Be-Read" stack via the West Feliciana Parish Library book sale.  I bought it for .25 cents a couple of years ago!  The author was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for his first novel and won an award for novel #2, so I hoped that the quarter might be a safe investment!
                                      
Set in 1921, the book centers around US citizen and recent college grad Ben Sheridan.  So far his New England upbringing has been an ordinary one, and he has just landed his first post college job in a Rhode Island bank.  But in  Chapter Two, Ben gives his father an emergency direct blood transfusion.... and it kills him (the father that is) which is a pretty dramatic way to bring to light the secret that Ben is not the son of the Irish immigrants who raised him.

Pretty soon he's off for Ireland to try and learn just whohis parents really are and he lands (literally) in the middle of the ongoing violence between the newly formed IRA and the British troops.  He gets swept up in the bloodshed and it's all realistically captured:  the hatred, confusion and distrust.

Since this is simplest book I've read for a while, it was a pleasure to zip along and not have to think about deep meanings, look up references etc.  Coming on the heels of Vanity Fair and The Road, it paled; however, as an escape/beach/airline book it was top rate reading.  Not "Chick Lit"..... the opposite in fact:  the term is apparently "Manfiction."   But "Manfiction" or not, I did enjoy it and it was .25 cents well spent!

Part Two:  Thank goodness I got a library copy and didn't bother buying Aristophanes' Lysistrata  which was the January read for the St. Francisville group.  It's basically a smutty play from 411 BC; those Greeks were quite a bawdy crowd!

If all that survived from our century was a few scripts from Comedy Central and Saturday Night Live, and 2500 years later people were studying these remnants from the past, would future generations analyze the skits and try and make the case that this was America's finest literature?

In a nutshell, the Greeks have been fighting the Peloponnesian Wars for 21 years.  Exasperated with the state of things, Lysistrata (apparently a single woman) convinces the women of Greece's various warring city states withhold sex from their husbands until a treaty of peace is signed.  The men (and women) quickly become miserable and in due time a peace is concluded with everyone is relieved and free to copulate again.  It had a comedy skit feel to it and was crazily raunchy.

There was a small crowd at book group and discussion was a little lacking..... in my opinion there just wasn't much to debate and it was a stretch to try and find a lot of meaning etc in the play.

It's nice to know the plot and refresh my memory of what was happening in Greece, but I wish I hadn't spent several hours reading it;  knowing just the brief summary of the plot would have been fine.   Yes, it was ancient, but great literature.... I think not.

 ~~My standard book review disclaimer:  I'm not writing reviews for anybody's benefit other than my own.  I'd love it if you see a book that strikes your fancy but I've no pretense of being a literature expert....this type of post falls into the journal aspect of the blog.  Nothing house or family oriented here.... just a book report to help me remember the details of what I've read. 

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