Friday, October 16, 2009

451 Fridays

451 Fridays is based on an idea from Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. In his novel, a group of people (Bradbury calls them Book People) are trying to keep the ideas found in books alive. Instead of actually saving the books, the Book People each "become" a book - memorizing it, word for word, and passing it down to the next generation.

451 Fridays asks what books you feel passionate about. What book do you think is so important that you would be willing to take on the challenge of "becoming"?

Today, I am so happy to welcome Serena to 451 Fridays! Serena blogs at Savvy Verse and Wit, where there is always something fun going on. One of my favorite features on her blog is the weekly Poetry Circle, where she offers up a poem for participants to read and comment on. She's introduced me to some poets I was completely unaware of - it's a great way to dip your feet into the world of poetry. Also, I LOVE this picture of Serena, her book, and her dog. It just reminds me of how things usually go at my house! Welcome, Serena!

What 5 books do you believe are important enough to be saved, and why?

1. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen: Austen's work is a classic assessment of society through the eyes of her strong female protagonists. While highlighting the faults of convention, Austen shows how those conventions can be circumvented through dedications and triumph of individual spirit.

2. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaton Leroux: Leroux's journalistic writing style breathed life into this "ghost" story. It is horror in its purest form, uncovering the dark side of humanity in more ways than one.

3. Long Days Journey into Night by Eugene O'Neill: O'Neill's play examines familial secrets, which during the 1940s and 1950s when the play was written was considered the best time in history in which fathers worked and mothers stayed home. Semi-autobiographical in nature, this play touches about familial dysfunction and addiction.

4. Paco's Story by Larry Heinemann: Heinemann, a Vietnam veteran himself, uses fiction as a catalyst for all of the ways in which war is dangerous, both mentally and physically. Paco is the only survivor of his unit that makes it back from Vietnam, but does he really make it back?

5. Blake's Poetry & Designs (Norton Critical Edition): While Blake's poetry defies what we consider "romantic" poetry, his greatest poems, his sketches, and his letters are highly creative and defied convention.

Which of these books would I become?

Tortured souls are my specialty; I just love these kinds of stories, which is why it is a toss up between Paco's Story and The Phantom of the Opera.

Quotes from these books:

From Paco's Story:

"Paco is in constant motion, trying to get settled and comfortable with that nagging, warm tingling in his legs and hips." (Page 35)

"'For a day and a half I thought that the very next breath I drew was going to be my last; and I was going to fucking die. And shit, what's funny is that goddamn Fire Base Harriette was supposed to be a fucking piece of cake, the same as going home and spending the night in the house where you fucking grew up.'" (Page 73)

"She sees herself drawing on his scars as if they were Braille, as if each scar has its own story." (Page 101)

From The Phantom of the Opera:

"The Opera ghost really existed. He was not, as was long believed, a creature of the imagination of the artists, the superstition of the managers, or a product of the absurd and impressionable brains of the young ladies of the ballet, their mothers, the box keepers, the cloak-room attendants or the concierge." (Page 1)

"With one accord, they raised their eyes to the ceiling and uttered a terrible cry. The chandelier, the immense mass of the chandelier was slipping down, coming toward them, at the call of that fiendish voice. Released from its hook, it plunged from the ceiling and came smashing into the middle of the stalls, amid a thousand shouts of terror." (Page 80)

"'When my own father never saw me and when my mother, so as not to see me, made me a present of my first mask!' He had let go of me at last and was dragging himself about on the floor, uttering terrible sobs. And then he crawled away like a snake, went into his room, closed the door and left me alone to my reflections." (Page 129)

Serena, thanks so much for taking the time to share with us YOUR list of books which must be saved.

If you are reading this, I'd love to have you participate! Leave me a comment to let me know you are interested, and I'll get you the details.


I'm so not a blogger said...

Hi Elizabeth, I really enjoy your 451 fridays, as inevitably there is a book that I havent read in the list. Its always interesting to see what books are important to others.
Wanted to introduce myself and invite you to visit our book club blog -

we are still quite new and small and based in South Africa, but would love some feedback!

Hope to see you there.

Anna said...

I agree with Serena's list, though I must warn you all that Paco's Story is not for everything. There are some graphic scenes in there that might turn your stomach, but it's an awesomely powerful book.

I'd be delighted to participate in this feature!

Diary of an Eccentric

Serena said...

I would love to see Anna participate in this feature.

Thanks everyone for checking out my picks. Paco's Story is very powerful and very graphic at times, but I think the gruesome details are necessary to get the point across.

Serena said...

Thanks for hosting me and my picks.

Amy said...

I love this meme idea, it's wonderful! Serena's picks are fantastic, these are definitely books that should never be forgotten. I am not familiar with Paco's Story beyond the title and have to get a copy of this and see what I think. I especially love her choice of Phantom of the Opera since, for some many people, this is a show and not a story but it's a wonderful horror story!

Thank you!

lilly said...

What great choices! At least the ons I know of (Phantom of the Opera, Pride & Prejudice & Blake's Poetry). I will have to really look into Paco's Story and Long Day's Journey Into Night. Anything that is worth memorizing to preserve has to be read.

Anonymous said...

What a great list - and what a beautiful dog. I am so pleased that somebody remebered to save Blake.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Interesting choices Serena! I love Blake as a pictoral artist. The first time I ever read Dante's Divine Comedy it was a volume illustrated by Blake, and the two of them together were just inspirational!

Jenners said...

I would have bet money Serena would have chosen the poetry book!

Nicole said...

I am so with you on Pride and Prejudice. Definitely preserve this one.

I haven't read Phantom of the Opera but based on what you have said here I would like to.

Serena said...

Rhapsody: I can imagine The Divine Comedy with Blake and Dante would be fantastic. I need to find that!

Hazra said...

I like Serena's picks. I haven't heard of Paco's Story before, it sounds like an important book.

bermudaonion said...

I knew Serena would have a great list. I definitely want to check out Paco's Story now.

Padfoot and Prongs - Good Books Inc. said...

Hey what a great list as always. Love to hear Pride and Prejudice and o course Phantom. That was one of the first real books I read when I was young and it will holds a place in my hearts!!

Sorry we haven't been around Elizabeth things have been hectic. Hope everything is well with you!

Zibilee said...

That's a great list, and some are new to me. I am going to have to check out Paco's Story as well.