Technically, I’ve got three books that truly qualify as “mailbox” this week. I was recently contacted by British author Rosy Thornton and offered a copy of her most recent novel, Crossed Wires, for review. I took her up on it, and the book arrived from England in record time! I received Sarah’s Key, by Tatiana de Rosnay, from Sarah Goldstein at St. Martin’s Press; this novel was very popular on the book blogs last year, and it’s just come out in paperback. Just under the wire to be mentioned here, I received an ARC of The Last Bridge by Teri Coyne, thanks to LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program.
I did bring a couple of other books into the house, though. Still Alice by Lisa Genova has been on my radar for a couple of months, and despite some trepidation about the subject matter, the good word among book bloggers has prompted me to give it a shot. (The plot concerns a woman with early-onset Alzheimer’s, like my mother did, and I think that may make reading it a bit of a challenge.) And it’s been awhile since I’ve read anything by Alice Hoffman, but she was one of my favorite authors for a long time, so I thought I’d check out her most recent novel, The Third Angel, just out in paperback. Maybe I’ll get the old magic back…
Tuesday Thingers, hosted at Wendi’s Book Corner
This week’s topic: Helper Badges (started on Library Thing Nov. 22, 2008). You can see your badges by clicking on the tab for your Profile, then scrolling down. The badges will be displayed on the right hand side of the screen just under the RSS Feed options, and they look like this: (this is a bronze helper badge, there are also silver and gold)
If you click on the badges, they will take you to your Helper Badges, which will show you what you have received them for. The WikiThing link you will go to a wonderful page that explains the possible Helper Badges and how to get them.
My Answer: Here’s my LT profile: http://www.librarything.com/profile/Florinda. Not a Helper Badge to be seen, and I’m sad to say that I don’t think that will change any time soon. I’d love to be able to contribute more to LT as both a book database and a community, but I just don’t spend much time there other than cataloging and editing my own books, so I’m not really helping out all that much. Maybe one of these days…
My husband is not an avid reader, and he used to get very frustrated in college when teachers would insist discussing symbolism in a literary work when there didn’t seem to him to be any. He felt that writers often just wrote the story for the story’s sake and other people read symbolism into it.
It does seem like modern fiction just “tells the story” without much symbolism. Is symbolism an older literary device, like excessive description, that is not used much any more? Do you think there was as much symbolism as English teachers seemed to think? What are some examples of symbolism from your reading?
To some extent, I think that symbolism is in the eye of the beholder – or the critic, or the English teacher. We all bring our own perspective and experience to what we read, and our interpretation is filtered through them; that filtering may influence us to perceive certain elements in a story as representing other things or ideas. If those perceptions are shared by enough people, they may become formalized as the sort of symbolism that gets discussed in literature classes.
On the other hand, we may be encouraged to identify symbolism in our reading by writers who make a specific choice to use it – here’s one writer’s perspective. Sometimes we get it, and sometimes we don’t.
I think symbolism is still very much used in literature, as are its cousins metaphor and subtext – they all bring additional layers and nuance to story. However, once we’re out of a school setting, I’m not sure we notice it much unless it’s too obvious to be ignored (which, ideally, it shouldn’t be; a skilled writer will employ it with with some subtlety).
Combing through my library listings, I spotted a couple of novels that symbolize use of symbolism for me:
Some genre fiction, particularly fantasy, is practically built on symbolism. (This occurred to me as I scrolled past the His Dark Materials trilogy in my LT catalog.)
What do you think about symbolism – or have you tried not to think about it since your last literature class?
Friday Fill-ins #121
1. Apparently there’s some sort of disturbance in the Force today.
2. I enjoy a cool breeze and some shade on a warm, sunny day.
3. 2009 has raced right by so far.
4. When I ate the last of the Oreos in the package, that was it (so I opened another one!).
5. For too long I’ve been adding to the TBR stack much faster than I can subtract from it (and I expect to keep doing it, too!)
6. I am not obsessed with getting at least a week’s worth of blog posts drafted and scheduled in advance; I am not! (That’s a lie. I actually am obsessed with it.)
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to the end of one crazy week at work, tomorrow my plans include the Festival of Books(!) and Sunday, I want to catch up on some things at home (like family time and reading)!
Tell me about your exciting plans for the weekend!