juvenile lit · philosophy/criticism

mental health evaluation

I finished Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief last night. It has a prologue, 10 parts, and an epilogue. I cried pretty much straight through the 10th part and the epilogue. I would recommend that no one read this book in the late Autumn, Winter, Early Spring, and if one is ailing, or if they presently live in a basement apartment. That is not to say that the book would not make a body sad; it is set during the holocaust; one may just to avoid feeling absolute misery and deepening depression. Fortunately, tissues were on hand, as I have a head-cold (or some such nuisance)–and my husband is around so I am not left depressed and alone–and my sweet daughter is not her more usual melancholy state the past couple days.

Because I had no Chai to put my Bailey’s in, I opened up Looking Awry by Slavoj Zizek, and read the Preface. You know how I listed words from Frances Hardinge’s Fly By Night the other day. Here are some words from the first page of the Preface:

subversive procedure, prosaic, sublime ideal, sublime theoretical motifs, exemplary, Kantian ethics, Sadian perversion, Lacanian “dogmatics,” Lacanian theoretical edifice, post-structuralist “deconstructionism.”

I’ll continue to the next page with the words where Zizek quotes “De Quincey’s famous propositions concerning the art of murder”: “psychoanalysis, dubious, perdition, phallocentric obscurantist.” And Zizek goes onto use “modalities.”

It is the combination of long complicated sentences with its academic word-combinations/jargon and the words themselves. I miss them as if I had never realized before how much I loved them. Usually I would be handed a lengthy assignment to read and decipher by ‘tomorrow’ and the migraine would begin to pulse. As it was, last night, I was seated on the couch reading, my husband chuckling over my pleasurable sighing, and I was practically shivering (yes, I chose the word ‘shivering’ deliberately Lit/word scholars).

I will endeavor to write more about The Book Thief soon, if not tomorrow. And I will have to dole Looking Awry out to myself and comment when conversation strikes…which should be often.

fiction · juvenile lit · Lit · Uncategorized · young adult lit


I am currently working through two books, or three if the one with Natalya in the evenings counts (which I suppose it does).

Natalya and I are reading Frances Hardinge’s Fly By Night. This book is one of my favorites of all time. I read it a couple years ago and I have been waiting for the short one to get old enough to enjoy it. Why do I like it? I shall count all its ways at some point. I can start with a few appreciative remarks on which I was dwelling aloud last night, and, okay, one from a couple nights ago.*

Hardinge’s treatment of setting:

The path was a troublesome, fretful thing. It worried that it was missing a view of the opposite hills and insisted on climbing for a better look. then it found the breeze uncommonly chill and ducked back among the trees. It suddenly thought it had forgotten something and doubled back, then realized that it hadn’t and turned about again. At last it struggled free of the pines, plumped itself down by the riverside, complained of its aching stones and refused to go any farther. a sensible, well-trodden track took over. (34)

Anything can become animate at will.

Her descriptions of people. One from last night’s reading:

Mosca and Clent were led to an unsmiling little man of fifty with a gnawed, yellow look like an apple core.¬† The little man’s mouth was a small, bitter V shape, and seemed designed to say small, bitter things. His wig frightened Mosca: it was so lustrous and long, so glossy and brow, one could think it had sucked the life out of the little man whom it seemed to wear. (133).

Yes, this is usual to all her introductions of characters, especially characters of interest.

And her diction. The vocabulary is incredible, and, of course, the vocabulary is important to the book. I will randomly pick two pages we’ve read thus far.

page 78, where Mosca and Clent argue; words:

wincing, exotic, cant, moldering, treacherous, hoard, keyhole-stooping, depravity, aspersions, overzealously, absurd, ethically pusillanimous compromise.

page 128, Mosca and Clent at the marriage house, directly following their agreement; words:

ballad, cuttthroat, ewer, diligence, explode, gripped by fits of poetic rage, unsuited, lithe, writhe, repetition, smooth his hair as if combing his thoughts, scanning a scribbled paper like a mother looking for signs of sickness in a newborn baby.

And there are the numerous moments of alliteration that make a tired or hurried tongue twist. Frances Hardinge crafts lovely sentences.

*First Harper Trophy edition, 2008 (paperback).

Back to the other two books. Both authors’ last names, my husband noted the other evening as I set them aside into my I-am-reading-these-presently stack, begin with Z and end in K. Their names even have the same number of letters, and vowels and consonants in the same positions. One is known as a philosopher and the other philosophizes.

Slavoj Zizek, Looking Awry

Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

Once I read more of Zizek, I may form more coincidences. At present, I have perused Zizek’s text, and dipped into it a bit. I am just past half-way with Zusak’s book.

Really, I could have finished reading Zusak if not for drifting in illness induced coughs and whining. And then there is the part that the writing requires pause. When I do finish it, I will write more–though most everything has been said, as this book has gotten a lot of attention.

With Looking Awry, I have a note pad and pencil: not something I do with all my reading (unless I know I have to write an essay for it and will only be able to read it once before a professor’s deadline). I have been exposed to more Lacan than Zizek, but what I have read of Zizek I have enjoyed; and then there was that YouTube video I watched…should hunt that up.