New looks at old books

July 5, 2009

There are some great old books out there in bookshops and libraries as Haleema has observed. She’s uncovered a gem of a book: The Count of Monte Cristo. This classic is by the French author Alexandre Dumas.

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The hero of this tale is Edmond Dantes, a young man who is falsely accused of a crime and imprisoned on a remote island. As you can imagine, his one objective after this is to escape so that he can find and marry his sweetheart Mercedes (no, not the car!) and also take revenge on those who had him thrown into prison. Haleema and I strongly urge you to read the book, but if all else fails … then see the excellent film starring James Cavieziel as Edmond.

Count of Monte Cristo

Sweet reading!

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Las Senoras show up

May 9, 2009

Yes! Las Senoras do exist! Now we know this for a fact. Vanessa and I have seen them with our own eyes – at least five of them. We had our meeting and  … even though there was pizza, we have good reason to believe they came for the love of books.

pizza

We talked a great deal about Twilight. And then we talked a great deal about Twilight, and then – you guessed it – we talked a great deal about …  well … Twilight. This obsession was difficult for Vanessa and I to fathom. The first Twilight book does not contain any difficult words or especially long sentences, and yet neither of us could get beyond the first one hundred words. Some of Las Senoras, on the other hand, had read the books – more than one of them – three or four times. How can this be?

The wrath of Las Senoras has fallen on Stephen King, stephenkingwho – as I mentioned in the last post – said that Stephenie Meyer’s writing was ‘not very good.’ There was great indignation on the part of several of Las Senoras about this statement of King’s, which they retained to be a sign of immense arrogance on his part. I defended him, saying that, of course, we did not know the context in which this was said. As you can see from the photo, Stephen is not as pretty as Stephenie, though he does appear to like cats, and this could be a point in his favour. 

Las Senoras did not withhold their scorn for King … after all, what did he know about how to write, and anyway, what was ‘good writing?’ Clearly, then, Stephenie is a good writer – let us overlook the fact that she misspells her name – and Stephen is a bad writer.

So, what is good writing, and what is bad writing? Well, it depends. What is good writing for you, Senoras, may be bad writing for me. What is good writing for me, may be bad writing for you. We talked about ‘page turners’. Twilight is a ‘page turner’ for Las Senoras. They read and turned the pages quickly because it was so interesting. But when Vanessa and I read Twilight, we did not turn the pages quickly because we had already fallen asleep before we had finished the middle paragraph.

For myself I felt rather sorry for Stephen King, and to try and gain some sympathy for him from Las Senoras, I related to them the tale of his terrible accident in June 1999. This he describes in great detail in his book On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft: ‘Writing is not life,’ he says in the book, ‘but I think that sometimes it can be a way back to life. That was something I found out in the summer of 1999, when a man driving a blue van almost killed me.’ onwritingKing was out for his daily walk when the van veered off the road and crashed into him. The driver, who had a misbehaving dog with him, had lost control of his vehicle. King continues the story: the driver, ‘told friends that he thought he’d hit “a small deer” until he noticed my bloody spectables lying on the front seat of his van.’

Now, at this point I need to make it clear that for all their talk of Twilight, Las Senoras are in fact remarkably well-read, with perhaps the exception of one Senora who does not read books at all, but likes to hear descriptions of them from her friends. So it was that one of our Senoras told us that Stephen King’s book the Duma Key contains an account of a horrible accident experienced by the protagonist of the story. In telling you this, naturally I am not recommending that you go in search of horrible experiences so that you can write about them. Some of us are now putting Duma Key on our To Read booklists. It sounds intriguing.

Duma Key Cover

On the subject of booklists, Stephen King has one at the back of On Writing. He advises us to ‘write a lot and read a lot.’ Admittedly, booklists worry me slightly, especially when I find that, out of a hundred titles on a list, I’ve only read three … or less.

I’m pleased to announce that Las Senoras have now released their own updated list of recommended reading. There is, however, something a little suspect about this list. Out of 20 suggested titles, seven are by miscellaneous authors, one is by the much-loathed Stephen King, one is by Sidney Sheldon, one is by Charles Dickens, two (only two?) are by Stephenie Meyer. The remaining eight (!) are all by Nicholas Sparks! Now who is the Senora who is sneaking Nicholas Sparks onto our booklist?

What are you reading? What should be on Las Senoras booklist? Post a comment. More about reading tastes – and pizza – in the next post.

Twilight

May 6, 2009

In an earlier post I was wondering why Twilight is on Las Senoras list of favourite or recommended books.

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After all, it’s about vampires … and vampires bite humans and drink their blood.

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That doesn’t sound too commendable to me! But I suppose you could argue that some vampires are better than others. For example, there are bad vampires, like this one:

vampiretom

And there are good vampires like this one – Edward, from the movie version of Twilight.

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So, in other words, perhaps you can transform something unacceptable into something acceptable by making it look cute or pretty. Am I right?

The fact is that Twilight has been immensely successful. It came top of the New York Times Best Seller list for young adults and it has been translated into over 20 languages. Does anyone know if it has been translated into Arabic? (I doubt it somehow!)

Twilight‘s author Stephenie Meyer is 35 and is married with three sons. She does not belong to Las Senoras Book Club, but she has always been an avid reader, which is probably why many classic novels were the original inspiration for the Twilight series.

There are four books in the series. Twilight (2005) was inspired by one of the books on Las Senoras recommended book list. Which one? Surprise, surprise … it’s Pride and Prejudice. New Moon (2006) was inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The third book, Eclipse (2007), was inspired by Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights; and the idea for the fourth book, Breaking Dawn (2008), came from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Not everyone likes Stephenie’s books as much as Las Senoras. The author Stephen King (more about him another time) said she ‘can’t write worth a darn.’ (Whatever that means … I’m not sure). What do you think? Post your comments here.

Senoras, remember that there is a Book Club meeting on Thursday at 3pm. There will be pizza and Pepsi. It may be time for you to stand up and be counted. Are you Las Senoras, or not?

Winners!

May 3, 2009

 

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Lots of people have asked to see the winning Earth Day writing entries to Las Senoras Book Club Competition. We had two winners: here on the Blog we’ll call them Sara A. and Sara B. Congratulations to both of you!

Here are their winning poems:

            Welcome To Earth Day

When everything turns a vibrant green

And there’s a grin on earth’s screen,

When limbs are swaying on the trees

And flowers are dancing in the breeze,

You have to scream and loudly say,

‘Welcome, everyone! It’s Earth Day.’

                                                          Sara A.

 eye31

Eye On Earth

Eye watching earth,

Ear listening to her

Voice,

Asking for help,

Waiting for our choice.

Green I was, green is what I

Chose.

Stop behavior that I have

Seen.

Complete our goal of going all green.

Save me!

                                                                                                    Sara B.

 

The two Saras will each receive a Body Shop voucher valued at AED 150, and they will both get a Winner’s Certificate at a special presentation on the last day of classes. 

How did we choose the winners? Well, we had a panel of five judges and they looked at the entries long and hard before making their final choices.

We’re sorry you couldn’t all win, but here is the list of special commendations. All of you will be awarded a Certificate for your great creativity!

Dana A. – My Day – a poetic appeal by the earth written in the first person

Dana F. – End the Cycle – tough hard-hitting poem with great use of environmental vocabulary

Fatima A. – Respect – a gentle, uplifting prose poem with a positive message

Fatima E. – A Person Called Earth – the mistreated earth is personified in this sad poem

Haleema A. – Green Is For Grass – a clever  interplay of color and meaning

Mira B. – Save the Queen – an original approach about the fate of the butterfly in a polluted world

Remember that Las Senoras Write On and we are happy to feature your work here on the blog. Let us know your ideas for future competitions. Well done to all of you!

Shortcut to Mr Darcy

May 2, 2009

Hello, Senoras! It could be that, despite my mention of Pride and Prejudice (the book), you are not in the least interested in reading it. That being the case, I am offering you a shortcut, through which you can see for yourself what the problem was with Mr Darcy.

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In the photo he does, perhaps, look a little grumpy. Find out more by accessing clips to the BBC version of the novel:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/drama/prideandprejudice/episodes/

Then, don’t be shy – post a comment.

No show, or at least, a very meagre show

May 1, 2009

As it turned out, Las Senoras did not ‘write on’ and did not ‘read on’. They simply didn’t show up. Vanessa had the ingenious idea of luring them in with food: several giant-sized bottles of Pepsi and four huge pizzas. pizzaAt the sight of the pizzas, three ladies were enticed into the meeting room, but it turned out that they were not Las Senoras, but merely hungry people in search of a bite. Since we had no takers anyway, we would have been very happy to feed them and slip in some intellectual input at the same time but, alas, they were chased away by Las Senoras Vice President, who told them in no uncertain terms that they shouldn’t be partaking of these edible delights if they were not intending to contribute to the discussion. We therefore lost our three of our potential attendees and were left only with the Vice President, who informed us that she was only there because the President herself was not able to come and had sent the Vice President in her stead. The Vice President was on a diet, in preparation for a trip to India and, therefore, she did not want to eat our pizza or drink our Pepsi and she had no further comments to make about books, so … she left.

Vanessa and I ate half a pizza on our own. The Vice President had advised us that 3pm on a Thursday afternoon was a very bad time to hold a Book Club meeting. ‘Everybody goes home at that time and no one in their right mind would want to come to a Book Club meeting.’ That left us wondering why so many students were milling about doing nothing and why, if no one was supposed to be around at that time, the meeting had been set for that wretched time of day. We considered this unfortunate state of affairs and decided that we would continue to meet at this time regardless, until students got the idea and more Senoras materialised. We discussed Jane Austen, Bridget Jones’s Diary and the two Mr Darcys: the Pride and Prejudice Mr Darcy and Bridget’s Mark Darcy (aka Colin Firth in the movie of the same name).

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We also came to this conclusion … that while Jane Austen would most likely be acceptable but complex for Las Senoras, Bridget would be a no no. She smokes and she drinks … and much more. Sorry, Helen Fielding, but the book is out and, sorry, Colin Firth and Renee Zellweger, but the film is out too. 41xr2jyt0tl__sl500_aa240_3All these things considered, it is strange that Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, which is about vampires,  is on their list of favourite books (www.thetwilightsaga.com).

We could not manage to finish the other three and a half giant pizzas, so Vanessa went in search of students who looked like they might need a meal or two. She found a group of hungry-looking students huddled in the Cybercafe. ‘Oh, you should have told us you were having a meeting,’ they said. ‘We would have come.’

Hello world!

April 30, 2009

Welcome to WordPress.com. This is the Blog of Las Senoras Book Club, and from today Las Senoras Write on … or at least we hope they will. Las Senoras are a very exclusive group of readers with well-defined taste … or at least that is what they tell me. Soon we will discover if they really read or just thumb through the pages of nice-looking books. Have they got an opinion, or are they just miming? Las Senoras are a formidable group … or will be. They are opinion-forming … maybe. Our first meeting is today. Will Las Senoras vote with their feet? Will they show up at the meeting? We wait with baited breath. Las Senoras, I urge you, write on!