Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Tuesday, November 07, 2006 1:42 pm by M.   5 comments
The Daily Iowan reviews Reading Like a Writer. A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them by Francine Prose.
In the book, Prose delves into what makes good writing: a structured plot, exciting dialogue, and engaging characters. Throughout the book, she cites classic literary examples to show how people can improve their writing, and she submits a list of "Books to be Read Immediately," which includes the likes of Emily Brontë, Raymond Carver, and Flannery O'Connor.
You can read the complete list here.

On the same day, we have found two radically different views on the Brontës by two authors:

The Indiana Daily Student reviews Born Again by Kelly Kerney.
Mel, the main character in "Born Again," is a 14-year-old girl who has been raised by devout Pentecostal parents, and although she is well-versed in the Bible and attends church at least once every week, she has not yet felt the spirit overtaking her. So she starts to ask questions. She can't ask her parents because that is not allowed: Whenever she asks for clarification about the family's religious beliefs, her mom's response is a quick slap across Mel's face. (...)

So when Mel has the opportunity to attend an academic summer camp, she must hide the fact that on the required reading list are books like "Wuthering Heights" and Darwin's "The Origin of Species."
Quoting the book:
“But these girls,” he said, pointing again at us. “These girls have been educated in resisting temptation. They have learned that the only way to resist the attack of the enemy is through Bible study, participating in the Church, and reading wholesome books that strengthen their faith.” The crowd loved this one. As they clapped, I thought about Wuthering Heights, if Pastor Lyle would consider that one wholesome. “These girls have made a commitment to preserve their bodies in the name of Christ. They have signed a contract with Him.”
Hmph... those harsh, unchristian Brontës...

In the Brown Daily Herald we can read the opposite opinion. Author Andrea Seigel says:
"I had always wanted to write an iconic female character," Siegel said, adding that few books detail a female protagonist's psychology. "I wanted a psychologically troubled book, not like the Brontes and Jane Austen girls I read in high school who are just concerned with things like marriage."
Hmph... those Victorian, prudish Brontës...

We sincerely hope that Ms. Seigel's books will be a little bit more perceptive than her remarks on the Brontës.

Finally, we can introduce the cyberBrontës. Gravity and Light reposts a poem that was first published on Iris Online in 2005:
Jane Eyre Takes To Cyberspace
by Chella Courington

Tired of midnight screams in drafty rooms
she imagines a jaunt down lover's lane
like a walk on the moors
to distract her dampened spirits

if she can make it on match.com
through questions
more questions than any governess agency
dares to ask. (Read more)
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  1. Mel's experience seems like she is a girl at Lowood and being reprimanded by Brocklehurst.

    And Ms. Seigel could use closer reading of the Brontes' prose to make a fair judgement about psychological complexity found therein.

  2. These people who usually quote the Brontës in the news in such an offhand way are commenting "by ear" most of the time. I'm sure they have never even read the Brontës or if they have it was so long ago that they can't really remember.

    I'd be ashamed to talk so matter-of-factly of an author whose work I'm really not acquainted with.

  3. Andrea Seigel often makes ridiculous (and facile) proclamations on her blog. Her own books are read primarily by teenage girls, and though she herself is in her mid-20s, you wouldn't know it. She has the critical acumen of a thirteen year old (though she buys whole-heartedly into the myth of her press-releases that proclaim that she's "wise beyond her years"). Yeah, right.

  4. Wise beyond her years?! Oh my...

    Thanks for describing her for us, Venise. There seems to be a bunch of journalists like that.

  5. oh my god, it's like bronte's pink ladies crowding in for a knife fight. i was misquoted, as the interviewer was just taking notes over the phone and not recording me, but honestly. whatever.