the agony and the ecstasy

Chunkster Challenge 2012 – Completion

Chunkster Challenge 2012

Ah finished! And that too just by the skin of teeth!

I participated under the “The Chubby Chunkster” participation level of the Chunkster Challenge 2012, the challenge was to read four books of adult literature (fiction or nonfiction) of 450 pages or more between  January 1, 2012 – December 31, 2012.

Last year was a tough one. I barely managed to finish this ‘chunky’ challenge. Here’s hoping 2013 will be better.

Completed Books: 1.The Agony and The Ecstasy. Irving Stone.

2. Bleak House. Charles Dickens.

3. Evelina. Fanny Burney.

4. Framley Parsonage. Anthony Trollope.

The Friday 56

The Friday 56 is a bookish meme hosted by Freda’s Voice.

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence that grabs you.
*Post it.
*Link up at Freda’s site

Today’s sentence comes from The Agony and The Ecstasy by Irving Stone.

“ ‘You’re right. I’ll beat it some more.’ ”

The Agony and The Ecstasy by Irving Stone

The Agony and The Ecstasy is the title of the book but for me it has been mostly agony.

The Agony and The Ecstasy by Irving Stone is a biographical novel about Michelangelo, the inimitable Renaissance sculptor, painter, architect and engineer. It was published in 1961.

The book includes a list of Michelangelo’s works & their present whereabouts and a glossary. I enjoyed these extra additions.

The book starts from Michelangelo’s adolescent years and ends with his demise. As Michelangelo lived to be 88 years of age the book ends up being extremely long. More than 700 pages long to be precise.

All that would have been fine if the story and the writing were exceptional. But no such luck!

The story is extremely repetitive. Michelangelo has talent, he gets into trouble with powerful people, he is miserable, he builds/makes/paints something incredible and everything is okay until the next difficulty rears its ugly head. It’s basically the same thing happening again and again.

The writing for the most part is amateurish. Stone would rather tell us about things than show us. The dialogues are stilted, unnatural and sometimes almost comical! For example,

“I am a sculptor.”

“Could you carve me in marble?”

“You’re already carved,” he blurted out. “Flawlessly!”

The book is well-researched and for the most part appears to be based on facts. This wealth of information would not have been wasted if only Irving Stone had been a better writer or if any other hand had written this book. What a waste of a good concept!

I would rather recommend reading the Wikipedia article on Michelangelo. It has all the information without the awful and often cringe inducing dialogues and characters. Enough said!

Teaser Tuesdays (Mar.27)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read

• Open to a random page

• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

 My Teaser:

From this vantage point he came to a realization that everything that had happened to him before this had been a journey upward through time, everything that occurred after it a descent. If he could not control his fate, why be born?

~ P.630, The Agony and the Ecstasy”  by Irving Stone.

Welcome Home: Books that Arrived in January & February 2012

“The good, the admirable reader identifies himself not with the boy or the girl in the book, but with the mind that conceived and composed that book.” ― Vladimir Nabokov

“Which literary character/hero/heroine do you most identify with?”

This is definitely a ‘frequently asked question’. Many readers I know identify with Anne from Anne of the Green Gables, Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice, some with Hermione, Ron or Harry from the Harry Potter series of books, others with the characters from the Lord of the Rings trilogy; etc, etc. Whoever you identify with, the fact of the matter is that most readers identify with someone. But being the weirdo that I am, I almost never have identified myself with any literary character. Rather I have identified with the people behind the words and the characters, the writers.

The author I most identify with is Emily Brontë. I grew up in a place that is quite similar to Haworth, Yorkshire. Not only do I have the same birthday as her but I also share a lot of her characters traits. Shyness and suffering from severe bouts of ‘social awkwardness’ are only two of them. I, of course, do not have her talent. She wrote about raw and unrestrained human emotions without the fear of meeting with the disapproval of the 19th century audience. She is probably one of the most honest writers I’ve ever come across.

Alright, enough of comparing myself with one of the greats of literature. Here are the books I bought in the months of January & February 2012.

January 2, 2012.

The Agony and the Ecstasy. Irving Stone.

The Day Of The Jackal. Frederick Forsyth.

The Railway Children. E. Nesbit.

Measure for Measure. William Shakespeare.

Cranford. Elizabeth Gaskell.

I have been wanting to read Irving Stone’s The Agony and the Ecstasy for a long time. I have seen this book on shop shelves but never picked it up till now. I have recently started it. Lets just say I shall reserve my judgement till I write my review of it.

The Day Of The Jackal, classic suspense from the 60’s. Do I need any other reason to pick it up?

I have been making up for lost time for the past two years. Growing up, I have missed out on a lot of children’s classics. Even though I may have enjoyed children’s books such as The Railway Children more as a child, I do still find joy in these books.

I bought Measure for Measure while participating on the Shakespeare Reading Month this January. I have always been kind of intimidated by the Bard but after breaking the ice with two of his comedies, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Twelfth Night, I felt much more confident. And Measure for Measure didn’t disappoint.

I have been watching this battered copy of Cranford lie neglected in a book shop for over a year now. No one seemed to be interested in it. I felt sorry for the book (yes, I quite often feel sorry for books) and having never read anything by Elizabeth Gaskell decided to bring it home.

Feb 18, 2012.

A View from the Bridge and All My Sons. Arthur Miller.

Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman is one of my all time favourite plays. I had been eying this Penguin edition of two of Millers most famous plays f0r a while. I hope to enjoy A View from the Bridge and All My Sons as much as his Death of a Salesman.