The Gull Reef Club

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12/23/2016 · 8:43 am· lordhelmet · Merry Christmas Eve Eve Eve!
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5/29/2007

No Bounds

Filed under: — Jaime @ 10:25 pm

My last entry reminded me of a minor act of educational disobedience I committed my sophomore year in high school. I thought I was so incredibly smart at the time.

The required reading for that year’s Honors English class included John Knowles’ A Separate Peace. The main lessons were carpe diem (of course) and non-conformity. After finishing the novel, our teacher asked us to write an essay on conformity/non-conformity. Being obnoxious, while believing I was clever, I opted to skip the essay and write a poem instead. My reasoning? What could be more non-conformist than intentionally ignoring the teacher’s instructions while still giving him what he wanted? Two pages, typed, double-spaced.

I handed in the paper with consummate smugness. If I passed, cool. If I failed, my cynicism toward the ability of a haughty-public-school English teacher trying to teach non-conformity would be overly justified.

Mr. Bounds posted our grades on a list hanging in the class room. Our grades were tied to our student ID numbers and not our names, but in Honors English we all knew who was who. And there I had it – a big fat glaring red F next to my number. I was pissed yet soaring. Aha! This sealed everything I tried to prove by writing a poem instead of an essay in the first place. However, there was an asterisk next to my F. At the bottom of the grades list, I saw the asterisk had an instruction to ‘See Me’ to discuss my grade.

Great. Now I’d have to try and defend what I thought was so obvious to this dinosaur of an English instructor.

Face to face with Mr. Bounds, his scary intense blue eyes and waxy bald head were distracting beyond imagination. He did not waste any time with me and asked me straight up why I wrote a poem instead of following his instructions. I asked him if he really didn’t see how what I did was glaringly obvious. His scary face broke into an even scarier smile, which was an attempt to be friendly. Of course he saw what I was up to. He then advised me that I was not going to receive an F, but rather an A. He then pulled out his grade book and showed me in person, my big red A. He then told me that this was between him and me and that if I told any one he would change it to a real F. He didn’t want copycatters, would have ruined the fun for both of us.

I guess it’s OK I tell you beachcombers this now. I don’t think Mr. Bounds can retract my A at this point. I honestly don’t even know if the man is still alive. I really didn’t like him much sophomore year, but aging can be so fine in so many ways. I relish what I did and I relish even more that Mr. Bounds ‘got it.’ Cheers to you, Mr. Bounds, wherever you are.

When A Body Catch a Body

Filed under: — Jaime @ 9:58 pm

This weekend I flew through J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. Like I said last entry, I am very glad I wasn’t forced to read this during my schooling. An English teacher would have certainly ruined this delicious novel for me. This book captured the essence of jaded adolescence and no adult could have aptly explained it to my teenage self. Having to write a related essay on it would have missed the point entirely.

Salinger did a marvelous job of bringing youthful angst, confusion, and cynicism to life. His first person narrative as the now classic Holden Caufield couldn’t have been more perfect. It is no wonder so many people sing the praises of Catcher in the Rye. Every one of us has a little Holden inside.

One thing I didn’t extract from this book, which I found in a few reviews, was that the story was related by Holden from a mental hospital. I didn’t find that to be the case. Seems Salinger won’t say either way.

I’m almost sorry I picked Salinger for this year’s death pool. At least I finally got around to this great classic. Catcher in the Rye is worthy of its label as classic.

5/26/2007

Wise Blood

Filed under: — Jaime @ 11:58 pm

I know this blog has devolved (evolved?) to nothing more than book reviews, but reading is the only thing I’ve been doing lately worth blogging.

Yesterday, I finished Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood. I’m a huge fan of O’Connor’s short stories but had never read any of her novels until now. Reviews on teh interwebs said this was supposed to be her best. Yet another reminder not to believe everything (anything) you read on teh interwebs.

I didn’t get it. The entire book was shallow. The characters incomplete. The story line was dis-jointed and rambling. I so wanted to like it because I just adore O’Connor’s short stories. They are some of the best I’ve ever read. So I was disappointed that this book was so flat.

It began with so much potential. The story started as a caustic strike on religion, specifically Catholicism. Very typical O’Connor, and I thought it would really lead somewhere. About half-way through, I started to question if the story was really developing. Three-quarters of the way through I was in serious doubt but figured I had gotten that far so I finished it. The ending was the most disappointing. It closed with an emotional introspective of a character that had made no previous appearance in the entire book and seemed completely out of place.

My only hope is that somehow this book will sink in at a later date and I will realize what I missed. This happened with me with Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath. When I initially read that book, I was indifferent and I thought the ending really sucked. Somewhere along the line, I came to appreciate Grapes of Wrath much more and realized the ending was actually one of the most incredible closings to a story I’ve ever read. So maybe Wise Blood will come back to me in the same way. No breath-holding, however.

Next up, and about half-way through, is J.D. Salinger’s classic Catcher in the Rye. Somehow, I was never forced to read this book in school and I’m glad of that. So far, I’m enthralled. Salinger’s writing styles is raw and rambling in a drunken-friend sort of way. I’m hoping to be done with it by tomorrow before the library closes so I can return these books and get some more before the weekend ends.

Any suggestions for new reads? I’m all eyes.

5/13/2007

Captain Blood

Filed under: — Jaime @ 2:42 am

The culmination of a riveting novel can mildly be equated to losing an old friend. Such was the case as I finished Raphael Sabatini’s Captain Blood.

This was a fantastic adventure of the articulate, intelligent Peter Blood – Irish doctor turned pirate captain. No doubt, Sabatini’s novel was loosely based on the true life of Henry Morgan. He even references as much within the novel itself. This book had all the elements that make a good pirate tale – vindication, vengeance, finesse, triumph, despair, and success. It even had a side-line love story that actually did not distract from the story, but enhanced it – which is a rarity it seems. The ending, specifically the closing lines, could have been a little better developed. All in all, however, I have no complaints with this novel. It succeeded in every aspect in spinning the quintessential pirate tale.

A good book can be haunting in that it revisits me in unusual and on unexpected times. Captain Blood will forever be with me. Sabatini succeeded in creating an incredible story. I’d recommend this to all of you beachcombers. Yar!

The Gull Reef Club