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NonFicNov week 3 Be the Expert

Week 3: (Nov. 12 to 16) – Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert (Julie @ JulzReads)Three ways to join in this week! You can either share three or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert).


  • I enjoy reading plays and learning about the ‘nuts and bolt’ of
  • writing and staging them.
  • Here a a few books about plays, playwrights and the theater:


Mapping Irish Theater

  • Mapping Irish Theater examines the
  • …relationship between a society and its theater.
  • Irish plays are deeply entrenched sense of place.
  • Published: 2013 (175 pg)



Kitchen Sink Realisms

  • Domestic labor has figured largely on American stages.
  • The genre  is “kitchen sink realism”.
  • Published: 2015 (304 pg)


Female Bodies on the American Stage

  • Dress size of a woman makes a bold  statement on stage!
  • Published: 2014 (239 pg)

Looking for Lorraine

  • First black female playwright
  • …whose play was produced on Broadway
  • Published: 2018 (256 pg)

Play: Raisin in the Sun

  • I’m adding this so you can see…
  • …why Hansberry was so important for the theater.
  • Opening:  New York City on March 11, 1959





#Classic Great Expectations


Finished: 11.11.2018
Genre: novel ( 461 pg)
Rating: C-



  1. This book starts out fatigued and colorless.
  2. Joe the smithy and Mrs, Joe (Pip’s acerbic sister) flat characters.
  3. Limping convict Magwitch midst the muskets in the marsh
  4. …we know he will be a pivotal person in Pip’s life.
  5. Waiting for the Gothic parts of the book and Miss Havisham.
  6. But unfortunately cobwebs, a faded wedding dress and
  7. …clocks all stopped at 8:40 am do not a classic make.
  8. This book just missed something
  9. …it felt incomplete like:
  10. burger without a shake
  11. coffee without cake
  12. pie without the filling.
  13. I know Dickens can do better!


Last thoughts:

  1. The book got off to to a rough start.
  2. The audio book I was using was awful.
  3. I just could not read with
  4. …voices that kept screeching! (Mrs. Joe)
  5. Luckily accepts book exchanges.
  6. I would NOT recommend Great Expectations
  7. (narrator Matt Lucas) 2018.
  8. The best narrator is
  9. ….Simon Prebble’s version date 2011.
  10. Great Expectations
  11. Length: 18 hrs and 32 mins
  12. Unabridged


My Dickens template.

  1. Deaths : Mrs Joe Gargery (Pip’s sister) – Drummle (dies in an accident)- Miss Havershim  – Magwitch (in hospital)- Compeyson (drowns in Thames)
  2. Nicknames: Philip is called “Pip”, old chap, Handel and Wolf; Dummmle is called ‘Spider’. Whopsle takes a stagename as actor Waldengarver – Orlick called himself Dolge – Magwitch (Provis or Mr Campbell)  Mr. Barley (Clara’s father) nicknamed “GrufAndGrim”.
  3. Star crossed lovers: Estella  and Pip
  4. Little person (dwarf): None
  5. Little baby dies: None
  6. Prop:  (secret) letters sent from Pip to Wemmick; Miss Havisham to Pip – Wemmick to Pip (burn after reading!) – sent by Orlick to lure  Pip into an ambush – letter from Joe for Pip
  7. Eccentric but loving:  None (no great caricature like Mr. Micawber in DC)
  8. Lawyer: Mr Jaggers – confidential agent for others, all with secrets to be kept!
  9. Unrequited love: Miss Havershim….jilted by the altar by  her fiancé
  10. Profesional money lender: None
  11. Villian:   Dolge Orlick (murderer)
  12. Trusting and  naive girl: None
  13. Young lower class girl…reached a good position:  Estella, ( adopted by Miss H.)
  14. Marriage:  Biddy and Joe Gargery – Wemmick and Miss Stiffens – Clara and Herbert
  15. Simpleton….but very loving:  Mr. Joe Gargery
  16. Schoolmaster: Mr Matthew Pocket, Pip’s tutor (education always in Dickens’s novels)
  17. Fairy godmother:  Miss Havisham…but in a Gothic way
  18. ….unlike the lovable Aunt Betsey in DC.
  19. Dickens likes to toss shoes for luck: …as Pip leaves for London;
  20. …old shoe tossed …for  Barkis and Peggoty when they get married! (DC)
  21. What is a ‘toady neighbor?  Mrs. Coiler (flatterer; sycophant)
  22. Quirky names:
  23. Flopson:  nurse for the Pocket’s family… described as a non-commissioned officer
  24. Pumblechook…Dickens creates a new adjective
  25. ….”Pumblechookian parlour”   (beautifully decorated)
  26. Bentley Drummle:  who was so sulky a fellow that he even took up a book
  27. as if its writer had done him an injury.
  28. Georgiana:  indigestive single woman, who
  29. called her rigidity religion, and her liver love.
  30. Son caring for father:  Wemmick cares for his father (hard of hearing) “The Aged”
  31. Daughter caring for father: Clara Barley and her father ‘GrufAndGrim’ Barley.
  32. Theater: description of the hystrical amateur performance of Hamlet (ch 31)
  33. Friends for life: Herbert Pocket and Pip (…in DC it was Tommy Traddles and Davy)
  34. Pub: The Three Jolly Bargemen ….in DC it was The Six Jolly Fellowship Porters
  35. Strangest quote:
  36. Brag is a good dog, but Holdfast is a better.” (ch 18)
  37. What does  this mean?
  38. …it’s alright to talk big (brag) but it is better to act on
  39. …what you say and keep your word (holdfast).

#Classic: The Lusiads




  1. Late 16th century in Portugal
  2. a epic narrative poem written in four parts.
  3. Narrator: Vasco da Gama
  4. The poem ends at a placed called The Island of Love,
  5. where the ancient god  Bacchus, proclaims that the
  6. Portuguese people have become like gods themselves.
  7. The poem is a vehicle to praise Portugal in general
  8. …and the plot is less important.



  • introduction — theme (glory of Portugal)  and heroes of the poem
  • invocation – a prayer to the nymphs of the Tagus
  • dedication – (to King Sebastian I of Portugal)
  • narration  (the epic itself…voyages …see map )



  1. This is one of those
  2. must read and get it over with”  books.
  3. I approached the book as a chore.
  4. I had  very little interest in the Portuguese history and glory
  5. while being  influenced by the intervention
  6. …of the gods from Mt Olympus:
  7. Venus Jove, Mercury, Mars, Bacchus and Neptune.
  8. But it is a #Classic…so I just got on with it.
  9. I read a few analyses of the story on internet
  10. …to get an idea what lay ahead of me.
  11. Then  I skimmed  the epic poem on my IPAD.
  13. I started to get interested in the royal house of Portugal!
  14. Most of my reading reflects the
  15. …royals of England, France..or The Netherlands.
  16. Now I discovered the richness that is Portuguese history!
  17. The perils that befall and baffle men at sea
  18. …St. Elmo’s Fire, giant Adamastor  the personified Cape of Storms)
  19. Neptune’s waves, Aeolus’s winds
  20. …..nothing can stop the Portugese and Vasco da Gama!
  21. Classic that is seldom seen on reading lists.
  22. I can understand why.
  23. #Classic for the #DieHards


Last thoughts:

  1. The best way to tackle this epic story
  2. …is  to  stop and  look up  in Wikipedia
  3. some historical figures/battles  mentioned.
  4. Example:  Inês de Castro in Canto 3
  5. ….posthumously crowned queen of Portugal.
  6. Example: Nuno Alvares Pereira in canto 4 …general who  assured
  7. …Portugal’s independence. Became a monk and in 2009
  8. …canonized by Pope Benedictus XVI St Constable. (feast day 6 November)
  9. Example: King Manuel I  in canto 4 (1469-1521)
  10. in 1495, King Manuel took the throne, and the country revived
  11. ….its earlier mission to find a direct trade route to India
  12. …with the help of Vasco da Gama. (narrator)
  13. By this time, Portugal had established itself as one of
  14. …the most powerful maritime countries in Europe.
  15. We done with Portugal’s past history
  16. …now Vasco de Gama can continue telling his story.
  17. I found the history more interesting
  18. …than the explorations in canto 5 – 10.



  1. …a weak king can sap the courage of a strong people.
  2. …a change of ruler can work a change in his people too.



#Classic: Ibsen “Rosmersholm”


Finished: 08.11.2018
Genre: play (94 pages)
Rating: A++++



  1. The play opens one year after the suicide at mill-race pond
  2. …of Rosmer’s wife, Beata.
  3. Rebecca had previously moved into the family home Rosmersholm
  4. ….as a friend of Beata.
  5. It becomes plain that she and Rosmer are in love
  6. …but he insists that their relationship is completely platonic.



  • Johannes Rosmer: former clergyman; owner of Rosmersholm
  • Rebecca West: resident at Rosmersholm
  • Professor Krol: Rosmer’s brother-in-law
  • Brendel: Rosmer’s childhood tutor
  • Mortensgaard: newspaper editor
  • Mrs. Helseth: housekeeper at Rosmersholm


Motif:    water (mill-race pond)

  1. Act 1:
  2. Rosmer has difficulty walking on the mill-path near mill-race pond
  3. Act 2:
  4. Kroll: “No. You (Rosmer) must solve the mystery of the mill-race
  5. …according to your conscience.”
  6. Act 3:
  7. Rosmer:  “You can’t possibly judge of (guilt). But I–
  8. ( Rosmer points out the window) The mill-race. (pond)
  9. Act 4:
  10. Mill-race pond…..symbol of redemption, cleansing
  11. that appeals to both the intellect and the emotions.


Strong point: detailed stage directions

  1. Ibsen tells the reader: charcter is hesitating,
  2. …speaking in subdued voice
  3. …a faint smile, sitting wearily on sofa,
  4. …springing up, wringing her hands etc.
  5. This helps me (only reading play…no stage preformance)
  6. …to create a vivid mental picture.
  7. Ibsen was less detailed about lighting:
  8. …lamp with shade over it, lighting the lamp.


Strong point:  dramatic scene endings

  1. For example…
  2. Act 1:
  3. Rebecca mentions the myth of the white horse.
  4. Housekeeper mutters: Will someone die soon?
  5. Act 2:
  6. Why does Rebecca refuse to marry the man she loves?
  7. These curtain calls are the muscle that drives the play forward!
  8. Every closing scene will effect the next…until the climatic moment!


Strong point: characterization by  stage exits

  1. The character’s inner life on stage by their ‘exits’! (external action).
  2. For example:
  3. Act 1:
  4. Mrs. Helseth (housekeeper)
  5. shaking her head and muttering to herself
  6. ..she is confused about strange conversation with Rebecca
  7. Act 2:
  8. Rosmer slaming the door shut
  9. seeking relief from tension: Rebecca refuses to marry him!
  10. Act 3:
  11. Rebecca and Mrs. Helseth…leaving stage
  12. …in search of Rebecca’s ‘ travel trunk. (…suddden journey?)
  13. Act 4: …no spoilers


Quote:  puzzling

  1. Act 4 Rebecca: “Now I’ve submitted to an alien law.”
  2. What does this mean?
  3. Rebecca has been infected by the Rosmer view of life…
  4. it enobles, but kills joy.


Prop:  secret letter

  1. Plot turns on a letter written on fine paper, red sealing wax
  2. sent from Rosmersholm to publisher of the Beacon, a newspaper.
  3. The letter is passed from character to character:
  4. Beata (Mrs Rosmer) –> Mrs. Helseth, housekeeper –> Mortensgaard
  5. The reader feels tension about the letter throughout the play
  6. …concealment, interception, revelation of secrets?



  1. Act 2:
  2. There is nothing like quoting a commandment
  3. …to give the reader a clue about the plot!
  4. Kroll  –> Mortensgaaard (publisher newspaper)
  5. “…we shall not bear false witness against our neighbour…”
  6. Act 2: Kroll –> Rosmer: 
  7. “…here in your house some game or other’s going on behind your back.”



  1. Rosmer criticizes (as a former clergyman)
  2. …Mortensgaard’ s behavior (affair with woman)
  3. ….but Rosmer does exactly the same!
  4. Monrtensgaard: …SHE wants to marry him  ..HE could not manage it.
  5. Rosmer: ….HE wants to marry….SHE could not manage it.



  1. Read introduction and Act 1-4
  2. Each act takes 40 minutes to read
  3. it feels like a novella!
  4. We meet Johannes Rosmer leading a
  5. …stormy personal and political life.


  1. The only way to really appreciate all the
  2. subtle clues in this play…is to read it twice!
  3. Once you know what happens in
  4. Act 4
  5. …the poignant conversation between
  6. Rebecca and Rosmer in the beginning of
  7. Act 3
  8. …will amaze you.
  9. You will realize the reaction of Rebecca is based on
  10. a long hidden secret that is gnawing at her heart.


  1. Theme: is obvious….confession of sins.
  2. The characters (Rosmer and Rebecca) examine
  3. their consciences without the help of the clergy.
  4. Theme: seen in many Ibsen’s plays
  5. …the redemptive power of love.


  1. Act 4:
  2. Dark in parts….but an ending
  3. with crackling dialogue
  4. ….between Rosmer en Rebecca
  5. ….filled with guilt and forgiveness.
  6. Act 2:
  7. Lesson learned?
  8. What is your most precious possession?
  9. …your ideals.

Non-fiction: Pulitzer


Trivia:  Portrait of Joseph Pulitzer by J. Singer Sargent

  1. …if cover one eye and you see a tyrant
  2. …cover the other eye you see a unhappy depressed man.
  3. Fascinating.


Finished: 06.11.2018
Genre: biography  (31 chapters, 463 pg)
Rating: C
  1. This book started slowly:
  2. emigration from Hungary odd jobs in USA and
  3. local politics in St. Louis Missouri.
  4. The narrative finally got interesting  in chapter 16
  5. …once Pulitzer became a newspaper mogul in NYC.
  6. Pulitzer was obsessed with control over his empire and literally
  7. worked himself to death.
  8. But what do you do with fame and fortune when your
  9. health problems lock you up in a gilded cage?
  10. #GoodButNotGreat


Last thoughts:
The most important lesson I learned?
The Pulitzer Formula:
Write a story so simply that anyone could read it
…and so colorfully that no one would forget it.

#Classic David Copperfield



  • This is one of the few covers NOT showing a small orphaned boy...David Copperfield
  • ….but the rook nests that surrounded his first home The Rookery.
  • Author: C. Dickens
  • Title: David Copperfield
  • Published: 1849


Finished: 04.11.2018
Genre: novel
Rating: A++++




  1. David Copperfield is the story of a young man’s adventures
  2. …on his journey from an unhappy and  impoverished childhood
  3. to his vocation as a successful novelist.
  4. David Copperfield—the novel he described as his “favorite child”.
  5. Dickens drew revealingly on his own experiences to create
  6. …one of his most popular works.
  7. It is filled with tragedy and comedy. (Mr. and Mrs Micawber!)


Literary device:  foreshadowing

  1. David is blind to the love that has been in front of him
  2. …since childhood, Agnes Wickfield.


Ch 35:  blindness – foreshadowing

  1. David Copperfield:
  2. “If I thought Dora could ever love me.
  3. …or ever love somebody else…I don’t know what I’d do
  4. — go out of my mind , I think.”
  5. Aunt Betsey:
  6. Shaking her head and smiling gravely: “Blind, blind, blind.
  7. Oh, Trot…blind, blind”
  8. David Copperfield: “…and without knowing why I felt a
  9. vague unhappy loss or
  10. ….want of  something overshadow me like a cloud.


Ch 58:  blindness – foreshadowing

  1. David Copperfield:
  2. “For many months I travelled with this ever-darkening cloud upon my mind.
  3. Some blind reasons that I had for NOT returning home…”


Ch 60:  blindness – foreshadowing

  1. David Copperfield…about to see Agnes after 3 years abroad
  2. “…for I could not be here once more and so near Agnes
  3. …without the revival of those regrets...”
  4. “Oh, Trot, I seemed to hear my aunt say once more;
  5. …and I understood her better now
  6. Blind, blind, blind.



  1. I want to read all of Charles Dickens’s novels the next 12 months.
  2. Having read Our Mutual Friend and David Copperfield in the last 8 weeks
  3. …I looked for the  similarities between the two novels.
  4. I seems Dickens has a ‘layout’ in his mind that he repeats!


David Copperfield:


  1. Deaths : Clara Copperfield (mother DC) – DC’s baby brother – Aunt Betsey’s estranged husband – Steerforth – Dora DC’s wife – Ham ( ex-love, devoted to Emily) – Mr. Barks (married to DC’s nurse Peggoty) – Mr Spenlow (Dora’s father)
  2. Star crossed lovers: Agnes Wickfield and David Copperfield
  3. Little person (dwarf) :   Miss Mowsher (Steerforth’s hairdresser)
  4. Little baby dies – DC’s baby brother
  5. Eccentric but loving:   DC’s great-aunt Aunt Betsey Trotwood  
  6. Daughter caring for father:  Miss Agnes and her father Mr Wickfield
  7. Lawyer: Tommy Traddels
  8. Unrequited love: Miss Rosa Dartle for Steerforth
  9. Money lending – greedy – corrupt:  Uriah Heep
  10. Villian:  Mr. Murdstone, Uriah Heep
  11. Trusting and  naive girl: Emily
  12. Young lower class girl…lives happily ever after:   Martha Endell (married)
  13. Marriage:
  14. Aunt Betsey (divorced)
  15. Annie Strong ( married to much older man)
  16. Dora (thinks she made a mistake marrying David Copperfield)
  17. Tommy Traddles nd Sophy (ultimate match)
  18. Mr. and Mr. Micawber (supports each other to the bitter end.)
  19. Simpleton….but very loving:  Mr Dick
  20. Schoolmaster: Mr Creakle (education included in Dickens’s novels)


Our Mutual Friend:


  1. Deaths: Betty Higden – baby Johnny (her great-grandson) – Jesse ‘Gaffer Hexam’ – “Mr Dolls” – Bradley Headstone – Rogue Riderhood – John Harmon (….presumed dead but is resurrected!)
  2. Star crossed lovers: Bella Wilfer and John Harmon (aka J. Rokesmith, J. Hanford)
  3. Little person (dwarf): Miss Jenny Wren the doll clothes maker
  4. Little baby dies –  Johnny (was to be adopted by Mrs Boffin)
  5. Eccentric but loving: – Mr. and Mrs Boffin
  6. Daughter caring for father:  Miss Wren and her alcoholic father “Mr. Dolls” – Lizzie Hexam and her poor ‘Gaffer’ Hexam (father) – Bella Wilfer always caring for her doting father Reginald ‘Rumpty’ Wilfer – Pleasant Riderhood and her abusive father Rogue Riderhood
  7. Lawyers: Mortimer Lightwood and Eugene Wrayburn
  8. Unrequited love:   Miss Peecher for Bradley Headstone
  9. Money lending – greedy – corrupt: – Mr. ‘Fascination’ Fledgby
  10. Villian – Bradley Headstone, Rogue Riderhood, Silas Wegg
  11. Trusting and naive girl:  Georgiana Podsnap
  12. Young lower class girl…lives happily ever after:   Lizzie Hexam (married)
  13. Marriage:
  14. ‘Rumpty’ Wilfer  (henpecked husband) –
  15. Lizzie  Hexam (woman desired in marriage by two men—>Headstone and Wrayburn) –
  16. Alfred and Sophronia Lammle (ultimate miss-match )
  17. Mr. and Mr. Boffin (support each other to the bitter end)
  18. Simpleton….but very loving: Sloppy
  19. Schoolmaster:  Bradley Headstone (education included in Dickens’s novels)



My notes on David Copperfield:

Ch 8/64: Oh, what a sad start in life…..but David Copperfield is loved
by his mother and nurse Peggotty. This book does not have the ‘comical’ tone as did Our Mutual Friend…but I’m sure there will be a few eccentric characters!

Ch 18/64: Call it insanity or intoxication…but three cheers for Aunt Betsy Trotwood as she call a spade a spade! “Mr Murdstone you are a tyrant…not get out of my house!” (…and take your sister with you!)

Ch 27/64: David Copperfield  has many nicknames:
my pet Davy (Peggoty) – Brooks of Sheffield (stepfather Mr. Murdstone) – Mr Copperfull (landlady) – Daisy (Steerforth) – Trot(wood) (Aunt Betsey) – Doady (wife, Dora)

Ch 37/64: Aunt Betsey has lost patience with Uriah Heep as he jerks about intolerably after receiving a compliment. Aunt Betsey wins the prize for quote of the day:
“Deuce take the man….what’s he about? Don’t be so galvanic , sir!

Ch 44/64:
The ‘child-wife’ Dora …housekeeping books, servants and meals are all
In chaos..but David Copperfield is deeply in love. Aunt Betsey tells Copperfield….be patient, marriage takes time….and remember Rome was not built in a day.

Ch 57/64: Micawber is hysterical. “…I am tossed in all directions by the elephants — I beg your pardon; I should have said the elements!”


Last thoughts:

  1. I loved it!
  2. I must advise the reader to listen to
  3. …the audio book  narrated by R. Armitage
  4. produced by (2016)
  5. I read the book  while listening to
  6. …the most wonderful voices:
  7. feisty Scottish accent of Aunt Betsey Trotwood
  8. swarthy seaman’s sound of Mr. Peggoty
  9. asthmatic wheezing  of Mr Omer the undertaker and coffin maker
  10. snidely, supercilious sneers of Uriah Heep
  11. and last but not least the grandiloquent Mr. Micawber!
  12. #Classic
  13. #MustRead!



#Classic: A Raisin in the Sun



  1. Walter is a chauffeur who lives with his wife, son,
  2. sister and mother in their mother’s rattrap of a Chicago tenement apartment.
  3. He hopes to convince his mother to give him the $10,000
  4. from the life insurance payment after the premature death of his father.
  5. Walter Lee wants to invest that money in a liquor store.
  6. Lena, who has faced a lifetime of disappointments
  7. with an adamant religious faith
  8. doesn’t want to be in the liquor-selling business.
  9. She has other dreams for that money:
  10. …buy a house in Clybourne Park
  11. …a fictional all white neighborhood in Chicago.


Main characters:

  1. Walter Lee Younger jr.
  2.   — man with big dreams, full of masculine pride and need to be the famliy’s provider.
  3. Lena Younger
  4. —  mother and meddlesome grandmother as a source of strength.
  5. Beneatha
  6. — Lena’s daughter….also the voice of the playwright L. Hansberry
  7. as an ambitious, idealistic, intellectual college student).
  8. Ruth  — Walter’s wife
  9. Travis  — Walter’s son


Theme 1:   pride

  1. There is the most obvious theme in this play
  2. the importance of pride.
  3. A Raisin in the Sun contains one of the most moving
  4. monologues in all of American Theater.
  5. Act 3: Walter is speaking:
  6. “Me and my family…we are very plain people,”
  7. …he (father) was a laborer most of his life…
  8. …we come from people who had a lot of pride.
  9. I mean — we are a very proud people.


Theme 2:    assimilation

  1. But I think if you notice  Beneatha’ s
  2. …similar passionate monologue
  3. ….you come to the crux of the play.
  4. Beneatha:
  5. Act 2:Because I hate assimilationist Neroes!
  6. “…it means someone who is willing to give up his own
  7. …culture and submerge himself compelely in the dominant
  8. …and in this case oppressive culture.”


  1. The Younger family is moving to an all-white neighborhood.
  2. Walter:
  3. Act 3: “We don’t want to make no trouble for nobody
  4. …and we will try to be good neighbors.”
  5. Hansberry (via  Beneatha)  makes it clear
  6. ….that she has had a good look at ‘this society
  7. what makes you think she wants to be accepted?
  8. As James Baldwin said during a round table discussion
  9. March 1 1964 for Commentary magazine:
  10. It’s not a matter of acceptance or tolerance.
  11. …We’ve got to sit down and rebuild this house.


Play history:

  1. 1959 original Broadway play
  2. S. Portier nominated best actor Tony Awards 1960
  3. 2004 revival: starring Audra McDonald and Phylicia Rashad
  4. who both won Tonys for their performances.
  5. 2014 Denzel Washington…considered ‘age-blind casting’.
  6. Washington is 59 yr and looks it…but
  7. because of his ‘audience drawing power’ he is
  8. casted as 35 yr Walter Lee Younger jr.
  9. Hansberry  was  the first black female playwright
  10. whose play was produced on Broadway.
  11. A Raisin in the Sun made theater history.
  12. Never had so…much truth about  black people’s lives
  13. ….been seen on the stage.



  1. In Act III Hansberry mentions a character named Rufus.
  2. After reading Hansberry’s biography….I know that
  3. this refers to a man who became a
  4. famous Civil Rights Activist in 1960’s.
  5. Who is it?
  6. .read the biography Looking for Lorraine
  7. …by Imani Perry.



  1. Remember…Lena Younger has bought a house in
  2. fictive all-white Clybourne Park
  3. …neighborhood  with the insurance money.
  4. Clybourne Park (2010) is  also the title of Bruce Norris’s play which
  5. updates and riffs on A Raisin in the Sun.
  6. It uses some of Lorraine Hansberry’s characters.
  7. Clybourne Park won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama 2011.
  8. This award was ironically was not bestowed on Hansberry
  9. who died tragically young in 1965
  10. …at the age of 35 after a 2 year battle with cancer.
  11. PS: this play is on my TBR
  12. …so I can compare the two playwrights!


Strong point:

  1. Hansberry weaves in so many issues
  2. …from abortion to African colonial struggles
  3. …to the African-American generational shift
  4. …heritage vs economical success.
  5. But A Raisin in the Sun never feels
  6. …like  a heavy-handed political play.
  7. It is a portrait of three generations of a family.
  8. Last thought:     #MustReadClassic



Title: –  is from Langston Hughes poem:


What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?



#NonFicNov week 1 Top 10 books

  • Week 1: (Oct 29 to Nov 30)
  • Hosted by:
  • Hashtag: #NonficNov
  1. Katie @ Doing Dewey)
  2. Kim of Sophisticated Dorkiness
  3. Rennie of What’s Nonfiction
  4. Julz of JulzReads
  5. Sarah of Sarah’s Bookshelves


Week 1: (Oct. 29 to Nov. 2)

  1. What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year?
  2. Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year?
  3. What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?


  • I read 60 non-fiction books in 2018.  Here is my LIST.
  • My TOP 10  non-fiction 2018 are:
  1. The Trauma Cleaner – S. Krasnostein  – memoir  Victorian Premier’s Literary Award  2018
  2. Darkness Visible – W. Styron – memoir
  3. An Ordinary Day – Leigh Sales – memoir
  4. Brit(ish) – A. Hirsch –  memoir
  5. Atomic Thunder – E. Tynan – Prime Minister’s Literary Award 2017  Australian History
  6. Feeling the Heat – J. Chandler – climate –  Walkely Award 2017 best Freelance journalist
  7. James Wright: A Life in Poetry – J. Blunk – biography
  8. Seamus Heaney – H. Vendler – biography
  9. Blood in the Water – H. Thompson – history –  Pulitzer Prize for History 2017
  10. Deep South – P. Theroux –  travelShortlist Stanford Travel Book of the Year 2017


  • Memoir/biography  has captured my attention this year.
  • These are books that stay with me months after reading them.
  • Three of the four memoirs were written by women.
  • Writers who have struggled identity, depression  and one’s mortality.


I choose 3 books that I have recommended the most:


The Trauma Cleaner – Sarah Krasnostein (memoir)

  1. Who is Sandra/Peter?
  2. She is a transgender, a survivor of a dysfunctional childhood, a husband, wife,
  3. father, svelte star of many brothels and a savvy businesswoman.
  4. Sandra’s personal life is a rollercoaster ride of emotion.
  5. Hold on to your hat!
  6. But the chapters alternated with her work as trauma cleaner
  7. …..showing a compassion that just took my breath away.


An Ordinary Day – Leigh Sales (memoir)

  1. If you have a pulse…and I know you do
  2. this book will grab you and not let go.
  3. Absolutely inspiring!
  4. Sometimes I have to let a book sink in for a few days
  5. ….and this was one of them.
  6. Leigh Sales managed to make me realize that if you look around your
  7. ordinary days‘…in hindsight they are nothing but miraculous.
  8. Life can change in an instant.


James Wright: A Life in Poetry – J. Blunk (biography)

  1. You know how once in a while you run into a book that’s
  2. so good you don’t want it to end,
  3. so you draw read it very slowly?
  4. For me, this is one of those books.
  5. I just had a few pages more to read
  6. ….but stopped and….went to bed.
  7. I just did not want Jimmy to leave me that last night.
  8. James Wright is one of 20th C best poets
  9. …won 1972 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry
  10. …and I never heard of him.
  11. He did not walk around, observing the world and
  12. coining apt analogies for what appears most striking.
  13. He suffered to express is emotions.
  14. His story is amazing.




#RIPXIII Classic: Frankenstein


Author: Mary Shelley
Title: Frankenstein
Published: 1818



Shelley uses the classic ‘ 3 act’ structure.
introduction characters and location — conflict — resolution of problem.
Weak point: the re-birth of the ‘fiend’ and
…his discovery of nature, his senses and language.
33 sentences recording the creature’s every movement and or thought. (part 2, pg107).
I just lost interest.
The constant use of “the first person” narrative was numbing.
Deja-vu: death scene page 180 is exactly the same as
…episode #1.1 UK detective series “Broadchurch”.


Audio book:

I read the book while listening to the audio version.
I wanted the full experience.
Narrator: Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) is excellent as Victor Frankenstein.
Unfortunately the voice of ‘the creature, the fiend’ sounded
….like he was constantly on the verge of tears.
…not threatening enough.


Gothic: Frankenstein is an example of this genre.

The Gothic tradition rejected reason, clarity and rational thinking.
It focused heavily on imagination, emotion and extreme passion.
Themes: death (10 people die in the book!), decay, terror, confinement, entrapment.
Main character: (Victor) feels trapped in his own guilt….while shouting for relief and help.
Antagonist (grotesque creature) is confused and isolated.


Literary device: epistolary technique

Letters reveal back round and gives Shelley means to logically end the story.
Letters are a portrait of the soul, confession, mask.
Letters connotate privacy and intimacy.
Letters are used as a ‘frame story‘ (mise-en-abyme) – story within a story.



Shelley is not as skillful in this area. The book is filled with generic descriptions (snow capped mountains, dashing waterfalls,) and she fails to use color to paint a picture of the sun (mentioned 45x), moon (21x) and stars (12x). Shelley’s favorite colors promote the gothic mood of darkness (black 17x) and light (white 11x)



I could only find one symbol.
Ice (mentioned 41x) – represents Victor’s fate.
The creature leaves him a message:
“Follow me; I seek the everlasting ices of the north,
…where you will feel the misery of cold and frost…”



I was not impressed with this novel.
It does have its lyrical moments…..but lacked gravitas.
Weak point: too much dull, stolid repetition of same words
…instead of lively, fleet narration.
repetitive: fiend (33x), guilt/guilty/guilt-ridden (27x), abhor (17x) and I/he/she/it found (89x)
Weak point:
Shelley describes nature, moon, stars, sun (sun,sunshine,sunset 60x)
…mist, storms, Mont Blanc, glaciers, sea, waves
…lakes, rocks, wind, Alps, Valley Chamounix… etc ad nausem.
Pages and pages with descriptions of wanderings
… of Victor and the creature.
It feels like ‘book-stuffing.
It just gets to be a bit too much. (Pages 94 – 103 are examples)
Strong point: This book is an amazing achievement
…for a young 19 year old woman, non-writer, failed poet in 19th C literary scene.
If you want a great gothic….read Dracula and leave this one on the shelf.


#Dutch: nr.2 Shortlist Libris History Prize 2018

  • Author: Remieg Aerts
  • Title: Thorbecke Wil Het
  • Published: 2018
  • Trivia: Shortlist Libris Literature Prize 2018  for History
  • Trivia: Winner PrinsjesBoekenprijs 2018  (best political book of the year)



  1. I guess the idiom that best describes Thorbecke is:
  2. “…all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
  3. After reading this monumental biography about the man
  4. who formed modern The Netherlands
  5. ….Thorbecke was far from dull!
  6. It is difficult to compare Thorbecke with any current politician.
  7. He was from another era:
  8. style was singular: we do it my way….or no way
  9. his thinking came from another source… German philosophy
  10. his personality was controversial:
  11. …when Throbecke enters a room, the temperature invariably drops.
  12. The Netherlands is indebted to this great man.
  13. Thorbecke had a vision for Dutch politics.
  14. He always asked himself:
  15. “Did I act and guide the government
  16. for a  better and stronger future?”
  17. As the author so poignantly remarks in this last sentence:
  18. “How many people can honesty ask themselves this question today?


Last thoughts:

  1. I’ve lived in The Netherlands for years and everywhere you
  2. see Thorbeckeplein, Thorbeckstraat or Thorbecke School
  3. but who was this man?
  4. I think 80% if the Dutch know he was important
  5. …but they don’t know why he was
  6. …a pivotal man in Dutch history.
  7. If you are willing to persevere through 763 pages
  8. with an analyses of:
  9. Thorbecke’s intellectual development (early years)
  10. his marriage to Adelheid Solger (one of the greatest love stories 19th C)
  11. the parliamentary culture in The Hague
  12. ….(led a team to create the modern Dutch Constitution 1848)
  13. his leadership (Thorbecke PM 1849 – 1872)
  14. …you will discover a man who towered above all others.
  15. Weak point: book is  massive, difficult to balance in my tired hands!
  16. Strong point: there are many…
  17. ….but the last section pg 738 – 763 is excellent.
  18. Remieg Aerts ties up loose ends as a biographer
  19. …and links Thorbecke’s legacy to our modern times.


Shortlist Libris Prize 2018 for History: