Kate Chopin Tribute

 

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Kate Chopin (1850-1904) was a writer of short stories and two novels. Her work would fall into the category of realistic fiction/realism. Her short stories were popular during her time but her career went downhill after the publishing of The Awakening due to the novel’s controversial subject matter. However, she was later considered one of the best writers of her time and is often studied in literature classes.

The short stories widely considered her best include: “The Storm”, “The Story of an Hour”, “Desiree’s Baby”, “A Pair of Silk Stockings.”

Kate Chopin wrote two novels, At Fault and The Awakening. At Fault was a critical failure and even today it’s not read or studied very much.

The Awakening was controversial and condemned when published during Chopin’s time because of its themes. The publishing of the novel also ended her career. But the book was later republished and proved to be influential. There’s now a lot of scholarly work that deals with it.

Much of her writing is “local color.” As in it deals with the setting of certain areas in detail. In Chopin’s case, her work often took place in Louisiana and she wrote much about Creole culture.

The themes of her writing often dealt with women’s place in society and how they could rise as individuals.

What does Kate Chopin Mean to me?

I did a full length paper on The Awakening. I was impressed with the novel’s boldness and masterfully woven plot and themes. It’s a short novel yet it has so many layers beneath the surface. Chopin’s work fascinates me so much I love to analyze and explore it.

It seems a lot of casual readers don’t like The Awakening…criticism I often hear is “Edna [The main character] is selfish!” I have the ultimate pretentious response to this: “They just don’t get it.”

Kate Chopin’s short stories interest me a lot as well. My favorites are “Regret”, “Desiree’s Baby”, “The Story of an Hour.” I feel these stories capture her themes and style the best. I like the “The Storm” too but feel it’s overrated…it’s just too “romantic” for my taste.

As for At Fault: Let’s just I can understand why it was never and hasn’t been a success, I am sad to say.

Most of all, I thank Kate Chopin for being one of the first writers to help expand my literary tastes. Exploring The Awakening, made me want to explore other works of literature and see what they hold beneath the surface as well.

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Greats Short Stories #1

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I feel like giving the short story more attention today. It’s the best form of literature next to the novel. And since everyone talks about life-changing books, I’m going to talk about short stories that are life-changing. By life-changing, I basically just mean they’re really good and had a tremendous impact on me after reading. In no order, here is my list:

Feathertop by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The image and scene this story creates is brilliant. I couldn’t stop imagining Mother Rigby and her creation. And the ending is just unforgettable. This story left a big imprint in my mind, I absolutely loved it.

Roman Fever by Edith Wharton

You shouldn’t know anything about this story before reading it. Just know that the ending hits you right across the face…in a good way!

The Beast in the Jungle by Henry James

This…this is a story. Many seem to take issue with James’ somewhat long-winded writing style, but I can’t say I do. This story completely engaged me. James is a master of exploring a character’s psychology. I was thinking about this story long after reading.

What Do Fish Have to do with Anything? By Avi

Yes, this is a story for children and has a rather simple lesson to give. The lesson is about the importance of asking questions…I feel the way the lesson is taught is really well-done. And I’ve remembered this simple story for so long…so, to me it’s something special.

The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin

A very short story with that hits hard. It’s funny but makes you think very differently about marriage.

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

I actually struggled to include this on the list. I feel it’s amazing upon first reading but after second or third reading it greatly loses its initial impact. However, just remembering how this story made me feel the first time reading it – shocked – makes me feel I should include it.

The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe

I would have to say this is probably my favorite Poe story. The voice Poe creates is nothing short of masterful. Montresor’s words still ring in my head every time I think of this story.

Bartleby, the Scrivener by Herman Melville

I love the message of this story and on top of that, it’s hilarious. As someone who doesn’t want to work some desk job…Melville’s tale just speaks to me.

Put Yourself in My Shoes by Raymond Carver

A story that should be read by all aspiring writers. It’s a fun little story with a theme about the writing process and getting ideas.

The Birth-Mark by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Humans are flawed, they almost have to be. Hawthorne’s story shows the consequences of trying to deny this fact.

So this is my first list. I’ll be listing more great short stories later.

The Secret of Platform 13 vs Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

HARRY POTTER VS SECRET

Recently, I read the children’s book The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson. And like millions of others, I’ve been a big fan of the Harry Potter series since I was a kid. There are some similarities between Platform 13 and the first Harry Potter, some people have claimed that Rowling full-blown plagiarized Ibbotson’s book. Platform 13 was first published in 1994, while the first Harry Potter was first published in 1997. Well, I don’t think Rowling plagiarized, maybe slightly inspired by, but not full blown plagiarism. However, it is fun to compare the two books and that’s what I’m going to do. I’ll look at both books strengths and weaknesses, in a one on one battle. The categories I chose to compare them on are: writing, creativity, world-building, action/journey and friendship/characters.

Writing: Ibbotson’s writing style is very childish , which is okay since it is a children’s book. However, I feel the writing won’t win over that many adult readers. Rowling’s writing is easily read by both adults and children. It’s simple, easy and fun but not too childish. So, I would have to give the writing category to Rowling. 1 for Rowling.

Creativity: Both of the books have some common children’s books tropes but still are creative in many ways. What I liked the most about Platform 13 was that there was so many good ideas there. One of the main characters, Odge Gribble, is a young hag. I thought that was such a great and unique idea for a character. In fact, I would have liked the book to be completely about Odge. There’s also a minor character named Doreen Trout, she’s an old woman/bodyguard that attacks with knitting needles. She’s considered one of the best. This is also a very awesome idea for a character and I wish the book had more of her. Overall, out of the two books I feel Platform 13 had the better ideas but didn’t use those ideas to their full potential. Still, I feel Ibbotson deserves the win in this category. 1 for Ibbotson.

World-Building: Both of these feature magical worlds that can be accessed via a platform. The problem I had with Platform 13 is we don’t actually spend a lot of time in the magical world. Instead we mainly follow a few magical beings through the real world as they try to complete their task. I didn’t like this. In Harry Potter, the readers get plenty of time in Hogwarts and the wizarding world. And Rowling’s world is much more vivid and well constructed. So Harry Potter wins this part (even when judging with just the first book), hands down. 1 to Rowling.

Action/Journey: Again, Platform 13’s characters spend too much time in the real world. It was getting old after awhile. Harry Potter kept me interested the whole time and built up the action appropriately. This was easy to chose. 1 to Rowling.

Characters/Friendship: The only character that I found interesting in Platform 13 was Odge and Doreen. Ben was okay, he’s the quintessential boy in a children’s book – selfless, humble and sweet. You see him a lot in children’s books, especially early children’s literature. There was some focus on friendship in the book, but it wasn’t presented well enough for me to be considered a powerful friendship. Harry Potter’s characters have entranced millions of people…and I can see why. Rowling’s characters definitely leave an impact. Harry was criticized as being too perfect in the first book, I can see that to some extent. But Harry almost had to be built up the way he was in the first book, he gets humbled later down the series. Overall, Rowling gives more attention to her characters and that’s why she wins this part. 1 for Rowling.

So this means Rowling: 4, Ibbotson: 1. Rowling wins! Now, please don’t think I’m biased. I love Harry Potter but I wouldn’t mind seeing a book that surpasses the series. In fact, I think The Edge Chronicles and School for Good and Evil series could beat it, in my eyes that is.

But exactly where are Harry Potter and Platform 13 similar? In mainly these following ways:

-There’s a platform that goes into a magical world.

-There’s a special boy treated poorly (typical in children’s lit)

-Raymond Trottle is a lot like Dudley Dursley (But fat, obnoxious kid is not an uncommon character type)

-There’s an old wizard (Again, not an uncommon character type.)

In the end, I don’t think there was any plagiarism. There’s just not enough similarities. Although I enjoy reading Harry Potter more, Platform 13 is a more original book that doesn’t do enough.

January 2016 Reading Wrap-Up

January was a good month for reading, overall. Here is what I read.

#1: The Ransom of Red Chief by O. Henry

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A short story by O.Henry. It’s a nice little read about a bratty child being kidnapped. The premise is good but I didn’t think the story lived up to its full potential. 3.5/5

#2: The School For Good and Evil: A World Without Princes by Soman Chainani

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The second book in The School For Good and Evil series. It’s a great sequel and kept me hooked the entire time. 4.5/5

#3: Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo

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Now this is what good children’s literature looks like. I was really impressed by this book, it does so much with a goofy premise. I loved it. 5/5

#4: Header by Edward Lee

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What’s a Header? Well, it’s not something cute. I picked this up for my extreme horror fix. I thought it was…just okay. I felt there should have been more. 3/5.

#5: ‘salem’s lot by Stephen King

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Embarrassingly this is my first time reading ‘salem’s lot, considered one of King’s greatest books. But turns out, I liked it, although the start of the book didn’t have me sold. The book definitely becomes extremely engaging around the middle. 4/5.

#6: The Witches of Worm by Zilpha Keatley Snyder 

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Said to be really dark for a children’s book, and in some ways that’s true but I didn’t really think it went as far as it could have. Still well worth the read, though. 3.5/5

#7: The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey 

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I regret putting off reading this book for so long, it’s a real gem. It’s pretty graphic for a young adult novel. It’s also one of the very few truly original books you’ll find in the YA category. 5/5

#8: Edge Chronicles: Stormchaser by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell

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This was an amazing read, and one of the most imaginative series of all time. Too bad it’s not more popular. Makes me kind of mad. 4.5/5

#9: The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare

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Ah, Shakespeare. I enjoyed this play although I don’t  like how it turns out. 3.5/5.