I’m pretty sure all of you know how it goes. You walk into an English class and then stare for ages at the reading list in front of you. Sometimes it isn’t very long, sometimes it is. Sometimes you’ve heard of a few of the books on it, sometimes you haven’t. All you know is that they’ve got strange names–but titles and authors–and they sound like they’re going to be awful. Past experience tells you they probably are.
This year, in my AP Literature and Composition class, the list was no different. In fact, it seemed the ultimate attempt to drive me into depression and bring out my inner feminist. Given that I should get something out of it besides a grade I trudged through the depths of despair to get, I’m gifting you all with my unedited-for-the-teacher mini book reviews of the 7 classics I read for school this year. (If you enjoy classics, uh, you should probably stop right here. This is pumped on snark for my own amusement. What? I’ve been bit by senioritis and it’s time to have some fun!)
1. Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen
First off, this isn’t a novel, guys, it’s a play. In my opinion, plays should be performed, not read. So, now being politically correct, I can tell you that this is a PLAY about the ultimate manipulative woman. Seriously. Every guy in this thing is eating out of her hand. Every girl too. She is the meanest, rudest person but you are supposed to feel sympathetic because you are. I did not feel sympathetic. Instead, I felt sick, because this woman drives a man to kill himself because she thinks it’s “beautiful.” And then kills herself in the end because she didn’t think the first guy committed suicide beautifully enough. Pretty sure if Ibsen published this in this day and age, the media would ream him out.
2. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
You know, this one was not entirely unreadable. Just a little bit. A lot bit in places, but what do you expect? Until about halfway through, I actually enjoyed it. Then its discovered that Blanche is actually a cougar and Stella enjoys having her husband beat her and then Stella’s husband rapes Stella’s sister, Blanche and they send Blanche off to a nuthouse because they don’t want to deal with what actually happened. The only redeeming quality you get is that maybe Stella might leave Stanley. Maybe. But you’ll never know.
3. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
I have never read such a bipolar book. The juxtaposition between Hurston’s poetic prose and the dialect of the dialogue was WILD. It made me beg and beg and beg for the prose to continue and leave the dialogue behind. No matter the dialect, I don’t like it in books. Not even in moderate amounts. Janie also wasn’t a horribly written female character, which was nice, but I just felt so … defeated, in the end. Like the book had taken every bit of strength I had and SQUASHED IT TO PIECES. As if reading the dialect wasn’t draining enough.
4. Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
I have been told that I hold several opinions on Shakespeare that offend a great many people. However, this is a free country and I say freely that I don’t like Shakespeare. Ever. Don’t get me started on Romeo and Juliet. Twelfth Night, I admit, wasn’t as bad, but the ending left me scratching my head and annoyed as all get-out with the females, again. Also, I must just say this: if you can only devote one page a turn to the play because the opposite page is all explanations for what the words on other page mean, something isn’t right.
5. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
You know what? I actually enjoyed this one. Mostly. It was actually wasn’t horrible to read or understand. It was long as all get-out because I was, uh, rushing and behind and stuff, so I had to swallow it forcibly, but I actually didn’t mind. Jane is actually a fairly strong character until, you know, the end. I guess the idea is supposed to be that Jane needed time to become Mr. Rochester’s equal but…er…at the end of the book, Jane has acquired more money and Mr. Rochester has lost several body parts. Pretty sure that message is a little convoluted.
6. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
YES, I UNDERSTAND F. Scott Fitzgerald has issues with his wife and the “New Woman” of the 1920s. But ARRRGH can no one write a female and have her have at least one redeeming quality? Really? Also, this was meant to be depressing and therefore totally is. People even kill each other and then commit suicide. Fantastic. Someday I hope people can make social statements without including suicide or other forms of death.
7. Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid
…you know what? I enjoyed this one. I ENJOYED THIS ONE. It’s like Kincaid took every ounce of teenage rebellion out there, bottled it, and then soaked it into the pages. I’m not a fan of the whole “I hate my parents so much I’m going to leave the hemisphere” thing, but I can over look it because the voice was so REAL. I’m rather glad my novel-reading journey ended here.
So there you have it! If YOU have opinions about these books, drop me a comment! Clearly, I have plenty of things to say about these books and there is nothing I enjoy more than a lively debate! (If you haven’t guessed, this is a discussion piece. :P)