Archive for December, 2008

After several failed attempts to read this book during my childhood, I picked it up a couple of days ago and have found it difficult to put down. I had even tried watching the movie a couple of times but quit with disinterest, although I had Gwynneth Paltrow and Ethan Hawk burned into my mind as I read the novel this time.

This novel was a page turner for me. I had a strong inkling of where the story was heading, and was delighted to find that I knew who Pip’s true benefactor was, and yet none of this foreknowledge detracted my enjoyment of the story. There were spots that were slow to read through, but they were easy to skim until getting back on course with the meat of the story. The characters were rich and well rounded. I especially loved the depictions of Mrs. Havisham and her dwelling amongst her shattered dreams.

Great Expectations is a fabulous rendering of the much loved rags to riches motif. And yet it didn’t include the typical perfect happily ever after ending. For me this makes it a superior read, because it becomes a plausible rendering of possibilities, of hopes and dreams, of unrequited love and unfulfilled relationships, of humanity wandering and searching, and of contentment and pleasure in the mundane that truly makes life spectacular.

I read the Bantam Classics version which includes Dickens’ original ending (which he changed just before the story was published). I found both endings perfectly suitable, although the published one is a bit more fulfilling because it allows Pip to remain the wholehearted character that he is, rather than reflecting a spiteful side, which he never exhibited during the novel.

A classic well worth investing the time to read!

About the Author

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The premise was interesting and decently explored. The possibilities for our society to get mixed up in these sorts of complex situations, while seemingly unreasonable now, exist. Mary Shelly didn’t think it was possible to create a sentient being, but we’ve accomplished that now. So the moral of the story is satisfactory. I wasn’t thrilled to see the author’s note at the end of the book. I quit reading the first paragraph, although I might go back, I don’t like to be preached at especially after the end of a story on the subject. I think it’s a shame he didn’t just let the work stand alone.

The design of the book was discombobulated. It jumped around so much I wasn’t able to become involved in any particular theme, although I enjoyed the general arch of the story. I understand the need for several different stories to work together to paint the full picture Crichton was trying to maintain, but one of the stories should have emerged as the main story, or at least given us a main protagonist to become emotionally attached to. 500 pages without a major hero doesn’t work very well.

Sadly, Crichton died this past November, and this is the last major work he’s left us with.

Having had an interest in vampires for much of my waking life, night or naught, this book caught my eye and I thought it would be fun to have a look at vampirism historically as well as pop culture. I thought maybe this book would shed some light into my interest, which, when I mention it, often gains me sideways glances. So, if you’re read this, my personal “vampirism” hasn’t gone beyond the occasional halloween costume, and yes, there have been more than one.

Ok, so let me get to the point. I loved the recounted journeys that Nuzum took from dark park benches to Transylvania, from drinking his own blood to making fun of others for claiming to lick it off of unmentionables. The book also held many fun facts like the meaning of the colors of a barber’s pole. You’ll have to read (or Google) to find that answer. 🙂

True to the synopsis on the back of the book, Nuzum specifically focuses on Popular culture, glazing over most of the six hundred and some odd unpopular vampire movies, and offering a depth of insight on Stoker, and sadly on Buffy too. He glazed over Rice as though her vampire novels weren’t worth his time. It’s a shame, I think, to have wasted hundreds of hours watching virtually unknown films and largely neglecting popular and influential fiction, but hey, it’s Nuzum’s book not mine.

Other than fun facts and one person’s funny experiences in trying to become, or meet, a vampire, I finally gained a bit of insight into my own fascination with the mythical creatures. Now I think maybe I can go to sleep and not worry about my toes sticking out from under my sheets. Or maybe not.

The companion site for “The Dead Travel Fast”

The Author’s Website

The Author’s Bio on NPR