Fictional Bad Boys

Did you watch Tess Of The D'Urbervilles on ABC1? It brought back a few memories for me.

Firstly, I remember my favourite teacher, the woman who inspired me to take up the chalk, beginning a discussion in Lit about Tess, "So girls, what did you think about the rape?" And of the shocked faces in the room, "What rape?!" we cried. We had completely missed it! Now, I'm sure she set us up, and good on her. What a memorable lesson!

Also, now this is going to age me so don't judge, I remember getting the video (yes kids, before DVDs) of Nastassja Kinski in Roman Polanski's Tess. Saucy!

But all of this is leading me into a discussion of Fictional Bad Boys, because I was always of the opinion that Alec D'Urberville was MUCH more interesting than Angel Clare, who always seemed to be a bit of a milksop to me. See, the lessons of literature are not always the ones that the "Back To The Classics" brigade would like us to learn/ teach.

So, who are the top 5 bad boys of literature?

Exhibit #1 Heathcliff he'll dig you up after you're dead! That's how bad he is!

Exhibit #2 Wickham he can rock those military whites more than Darcy's foophy shirt, and he'll run off with your little sister if you're not careful.

Exhibit #3 Rhett Butler Frankly my dear, he'll whisk you up that staircase and into bed before you can say twiddle dee-dee.

Exhibit #4 now Hamlet *should* be a bad boy, but there are several Acts of poncing around, so I'm calling Othello- don't cross him mind!

Exhibit #5 Lestat the thinking person's Edward. Sexy, brooding and a little bit bitey.

Who's on your bad boy list? And can you think of an Australian bad boy character? I struggled as you can tell.

Happy tales,
Barking Owl

Non-fiction for senior students

I've been reading some non-fiction lately, partly to find something for my senior classes, and partly because I've been off the novel for a little while.

I started with Eating Animals thinking that might be a controversial but interesting read, but I think that some students would be really confronted, if awakened, by some of that information. I have taught Fast Food Nation with some success in the past. I might still come back to Safran Foer's text, even if just in part because of the beautiful writing.

Your Skirt's Too Short by Emily Maguire is a reworking of Princesses and Pornstars for young adults. I think some students would really get into the sexual politics and issues raised here. Maguire writes about her past as a slut and in doing so, questions our definition of the term. This would make the young reader think, perhaps for the first time, about power and discourse of sexuality. But, I found that she lost her way after the first few chapters, perhaps because the content wasn't new, or indeed meant, for me.

Lastly, I read Nice Work by Jana Wendt. I heard an interview with Wendt on local radio and was inspired to rush to the bookstore and snatch it up. The interview was so much better than the book.

This was disappointing, but perhaps to be expected. Wendt after all was one of Australia's better reporters, she could question an interviewee into the corner. Words are her weapons. Her writing on the other hand I found quite forced.

The objective of the book was to find out what drives people in their work. Wendt shadows a boxer, a priest, a forensic anthropologist and others in this quest. I just wish there had been more of the subject and less of Wendt in the overall book. The world of work is a fascinating topic, the book didn't live up to my expectations.

So, back to the drawing board. I'm waiting on my copy of Zeitoun, by Dave Eggers. This might be the one! I live in hope :)

Happy tales,

Barking Owl

H00t #25 The Book Thief

I am pleased to report that I have finally finished reading The Book Thief.

Firstly, can I say that Markus Zusak is lovely, cute and funny. I loved hearing him talk about writing at the Fremantle Children's Literature Centre last year.

So, I WANTED to like this book. I know that MANY people love it and much has been written about it, so I'm going to be brief in explaining why I don't.
  • The narrative point of view, while original, didn't really do much for me. I found the foreshadowing unnecessary and disruptive.
  • This was a LONG book which needed editing. Apparently it started out as a novella but ended up at 584 pages!
  • While I loved some of the characters, Rudy and Max, I struggled with Liesel. I'm not really sure why.
  • Another book on the holocaust? Really?
  • The colour of the sky- WAY too many times.
So, opening myself up for all sorts of derision here, what was it about The Book Thief that you loved? I'd really like to know because I start teaching it in a little over a week :)

Until then, happy tales,

Barking Owl

Quick update

It's nearly been a month without posting, and the last one was a cop out post. I blame the world of work...

So I've been reading quite a lot, just not teen fiction. Unless you count The Book Thief beloved of many, I'm just not one of them... I'm not sure what the block is with this one, but I'll have to suck it up because I start teaching it in about a fortnight. I think it needed editing down to about a third of its size.

I've also read the latest Alexander McCall Smith The Double Comfort Safari Club which was lovely, as usual.

And Lolita which was disturbing and beautiful all at the same time.

And Ian McEwan's Solar which I really loved. A lot of the negative reviews you might be reading miss the satire, in my humble opinion.

So, there's a quick round up. I have The Ask And The Answer waiting for me, and this book promo has me wanting to get into this series too: