Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Dead Author's Society

By Keith Fisher

In 2008, I wrote a blog on the LDS Writer’s Blogck about what I called a dead author’s society. Based on the 1989 movie, The Dead Poet’s Society, I wanted to periodically write about old books. Books Written by mostly dead authors, the books you were probably forced to read in school.

I kept up for a while, but other projects took precedence, and my Dead Author’s Society fell by the wayside. Now, I would like to resurrect the project, and review some of the classics.

When I launched the project before, I noticed that “The Classics” as many old books are called, are not necessarily good reading. The spark of that opinion has been the cause of many debates with several English majors and literature students of my acquaintance.

One of their favorite peeves is the success of Harry Potter VS Farewell to Arms, or other classic work. They analyze prose for rhythm and measure and diagram sentences to prove the value of the work. I contend that even if the writing isn’t perfect, there is precious value in a book that entertains. In other words, if it gets people reading, then it is good.

That doesn’t mean there is value in a work of sensational exposition, or graphic sex and violence, because there is none. Just because a movie appeals to baser instincts, doesn’t mean the story line is any good.

For this reason, in these reviews, I will be talking about some books by obscure authors (not necessarily dead), and books I would call classic, even though many of my English teacher friends might not. I may also lambaste a classic if I hate it, while I welcome opposing opinions and guest bloggers.

The Dead Author’s Society reviews, should not be confused with the new book reviews I often have the pleasure of writing. Those are reviews I do as part of blog tours to help promote a book.

Now, with that said, I found an Audio book copy of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein at the library and tried to listen to it. Listening and not reading, may have been a mistake, but I didn’t like it. The way the reader interpreted the narrative turned out to one long, whining session. Now I realize it’s a very emotional subject but after a while, I just wanted to slap Victor and tell him to man up.

I’ve since looked at the text and I have to admit, I interpreted it the same way, but I wonder if I would have, if I hadn’t been spoiled by the audio book. I hope you like Frankenstein in spite of what I’ve written here.

Another book, Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling, was a great coming of age story with pertinent lessons.

In Captains Courageous, We learn about a spoiled young man who gets pitched overboard from a cruise ship and ends up working on a fishing boat for several months before he returns to his rich family. The experience straightens him out and he gleans many lessons from his experiences. As you can tell, I loved it.


CTW said...

Keith, I love this idea. I look forward to your reviews.

L.T. Elliot said...

I admit, I've read neither. I didn't know about Captain Courageous so I'll have to check that out. =]