As I have started my 'Modern American Novel' course I feel entitled to use an American expression - two day weekends suck!
Since I wrote last week I have sent out the link for the blog to some people and I hope that some of you are able to take the time and read this (and are possibly thinking to yourselves what is she going on about? It will hopefully get better!). I also found this amazing site where you can post book reviews, join on-line reading groups and look at others' reviews. It's pretty addictive and once I have more time on my hands I think I'll really enjoy using it.
In addition I watched another three episodes of True Blood and read the fourth Sookie Stackhouse novel Dead to the World - I'm not going to say much about it because some of you might want to read it but if you like Eric (a Viking vampire, tall and blond - need I say more) then THIS IS THE BOOK FOR YOU! I read my book of Sookie short-stories last night, A Touch of Dead and am banned from reading any more until I've read this week's proper books: As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner and Sense & Sensibility. Yes I need to admit it, I am a True Blood addict. It was a bit embarrassing (sp?) though watching an episode of the TV programme on my iPhone on the way into work - we got to a rather graphic sex scene which I'm sure the lady sitting next to me thought a bit much before 9.00 a.m.!
To move onto more high-minded literary matters, as I mentioned above my Modern American Novel course has started and I'm really enjoying it so far - yes, I know it's the first week. We've looked at the historical origins of the US (well from when the Puritans landed rather than Native American history) and read some excerpts from early writers. I think it's really interesting to think how Puritan ideas have become so embedded in American society that they still exist now e.g. John Winthrop used the idea of a City on a Hill (Matthew 5:14) to talk to his ship-mates from the Arbella in 1630 and John F. Kennedy referred directly to this in a speech to the Massachusetts legislature 361 years later. Perhaps the LibDems might have done better in Thursday's election if they'd referred to Magna Carta?
Next week we move onto The Great Gatsby. I've read it a number of times but reading it this time I was struck with how strong a sense of alienation I felt for the main characters. I'm not even sure if I liked Gatsby or Nick Carraway (the narrator) much on this reading. I think Fitzgerald does an amazing job of conveying how shallow their lives are and he still kept me wanting to read on and remember the detail of what happens even though I've read it a number of times before. If you haven't read it - it's only 170 pages and well worth the time.
Tomorrow I start my Jane Austen course - yippee! I'll let you know how that goes next week but I've had the tutor before and she's just lovely so I'm really looking forward to this.
To finish off the literary bit, I went to my first meeting of the Beatrix Potter society yesterday. It was a talk on The Tale of Timmy Tiptoes but I got my timing wrong and was 25 minutes in when I arrived. Still I saw some great video of a grey squirrel and a chipmunk. There was a good reason for this as this tale was written for BP's American readers and therefore there are American creatures such as the grey squirrel, the chipmunk and a brown bear roaming around the Lake District. The story is about Timmy and his wife Goody being falsely accused of stealing the other squirrels' nuts and how Chippy Hackee (the chipmunk) helps him when he is pushed down a tree as punishment. Chippy has run away from his wife and when Timmy is rescued, providentially, doesn't go back to his wife until he sees the bear. Apparently one academic has written an article about how the story is just like two boys who have gone to the pub and don't want to go home. I'm looking forward to reading that. Next time they have a meeting hopefully I'll make it on time!
I'd had my last ever (final essay's mark permitting) Open University tutorial yesterday. The weird thing is I don't feel sad at all. Unfortunately there hasn't been anyone that I've been in the same tutorials as for all of my courses. I've been editing my final essay (or End of Module Assessment to give it it's full title) this morning but like the other essays I've written for the Myth course I have no idea whether it's any good (although I hope it should get the 40% I need to pass the course). This course is like a free choice, it doesn't affect my overall classification at all, I just need the points to get the degree, but I'd still like to do reasonably well on it so I'll be onto second edit next weekend.
I don't think I've done much else really other than have two lovely lunches on Thursday and Friday with friends. I could pretend I was being relatively healthy as I had fish in both but I'm not sure the batter on my fish with chips on Friday was really what the nutritionist would order. This week I have dinner to look forward to as well as two other lunches (shame work has to get in the way of this socialising). I'm also attending two lectures at the British Academy as part of Literature Week so, as I've never been to any of their events, that should be interesting.
So, with the prospect of a five day week (what!) ahead of us I'll sign off now. See you soon.