Sunday, April 8, 2007

final thoughts

I was just thinking that it is hard for me to come up with a solid argument for the essay, because a lot of the topics and arguments of this course are subjective and debatable. I was thinking for the final essay that it is the author's job not only to entertain the readers, but also to entertain him or herself. An author needs to enjoy what he or she is writing, otherwise, who would write? Then it came to me that it's debatable of wheter or not the writer should sacrifice his or her entertainment for the sake of writing a good book. It may be that the authors of the bad literature of this course took too many liberties (and then the publishers liked 'new' ideas, and that's why they would publish such bad writing), and that that's why the books are bad, even though some of the books have good ideas but bad and repetitive writing. It can also be argued (even though this argument seems stupid to me) that the authors were going out of their way to make it good, or entertaining for the reader, and the book resulted as bad. I know that this is true in my jazz writing class. My teacher wants to help us by throwing out our writing now that we're in the course, rather than have us write badly when we're out in the professional world, and he says that the parts that he sees as bad writing, are the parts that seem like we spent the most time on, that we were thinking too hard about, and that doesn't flow musically. LIke I said, I don't think that this is likely the reason why the books are bad....but who knows, maybe the authors are trying too hard...but I don't think that there really are bad writers. I think that there's something more to that, something that caused a particular book to be bad, and that is has to be discovered and fixed. As I said, a lot of the material read in class has subjective reactions, but also, there are books that are less subjective in my opinion, because I couldn't stand them personally.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Corazon Salvaje

I only saw the showing of this soap opera that was on friday, because I couldn't make it on Sunday. I walked in a few minutes late, just as the dad was dying, and the first thing that I thought as I was sitting down was, "If this was on TV, I would turn it off."....but then, I realized that if I could ignore the cheesy music and everything else that was cheesy, then I would actually watch it for the spanish, because I could understand their spanish really well. I think it would be a good way to improve my spanish, and the love story between (is it Jaime?) and the Juan de Diablo guy was interesting enough to tolerate for awhile.... I don't think I would ever try to follow it. Soap operas in general bother me. They're too desperate. Besides, I 'm not home often enough to follow everyday. It 's bad enough that my favorite show is once a week and I have to plan to be home to watch it. Anyways, even if I did have a lot of time, I can't see myself going out of my way to watch it, or even watch it at all for anything other than the reason that I mentioned above.

The other thing that I want to point out is the music......I don't understand why all cheesy music like that, in all shows that I've seen with sappy moments has the same instrumentation. Why do they always have the synthesizer and oboe? Why is oboe the only real instrument used? Sometimes they have strings, but in the except that we saw on friday, I only heard synth strings and oboe. It's true that oboe has a cheesy sound to it, but that's only when it's used for stuff like this. In orchestral music, it adds a nice and unique colour. ........ok, that was the music comment from the music major.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

dies anos con Mafalda

I'm not sure if I'm going to have a lot to say about this. It seems like an average comic book (except for Archie comics, which I like entirely)...There are some parts that I like and some parts that I dislike.

-Some of the comics stand out to me and really make me laugh: these ones didn't appear very often, and in some of the 'chapters', I couldn't really find any. Also, I found that these ones didn’t have a lot of text. I don’t like reading a lot when ‘reading comics.’ For the most part in short strips like this one, I skim them as quickly as possible and look for the joke first (and then study it carefully after), and look at the pictures. I tend to skip the ones that have a lot of text.

- Some of them seemed interesting at first (I think these ones mainly all started by having no text for the first few boxes, so I thought that I would like them), but then I didn’t understand the last box where the text supposedly explained the joke. I just didn’t get them. Maybe this has a bit to do with the language and the culture of Argentina, and it contains content that foreigners wouldn’t completely understand.

-As I said above, I don’t like reading the boxes with lots of text. It’s visually distracting. But also, some of the strips that had no text made no sense, like the one at the bottom of page 181.

-Oo..I like how there are different ‘chapters’ to mark different themes. I think that this is creative.

I don't really know if I would call it bad, just because I’m not particularly interested in every (or most of the strips). I generally don’t read comics other than what I see in the newspaper and Archie comics (which I really like)….but I really don’t like comics like Spiderman and Superman…I like comics that have jokes. It feels weird writing about a comic book for a class. I think it’s cool and a good experience to read comics in a different language, but as this specific book was pretty expensive, I most likely would never buy another one.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Los Siete Locos 2

I don't understand:

Jon said in class on friday that "a book asks to be read." (or something like that)

My question is (which is elaborated a bit on the lecture as well): Why are books boring then?

Why do authors make books complex?...or in the case of Los Siete Locos, why are the ideas interesting but something about the writing is so confusing that our class has pretty much voted that it's boring? If authors choose to write, and choose to create that that "asks to be read," then shouldn't they try harder? I guess this is what the course it about. Authors who may be trying, (or trying to do something new or different), but don't succeed because they're just bad writers. But there's more to that. I know Allende isn't a bad writer. She can't be. Eva Luna is bad, but at least one of Allende's bestsellers must be good writing. Even people who may not like the ideas of her books might see that her use of language is good. (it's seperating two parts of writing: language and ideas, but I'll talk about that later) I just don't believe that she would be that famous if people thought that all of her books are either all good or all bad. SO, was she not trying as hard when writing the books that the majority of her readers think badly of? Was she just trying something different so that the books call out to be read by the rest of the readers? Was she trying to please them, and by doing that letting down her 'usual readers' if any???
I know I'm supposed to be talking about Los Siete Locos, but I'm just using Allende as an example.

I thought at first that the beginning of chapter three wasn't as "difficult" to read as the first two chapters, but it seems to be exactly the same. I find it difficult to connect with the book. As mentioned before, it's easy to seperate the ideas with the language. LIke it says on the back of the book, apparently people have read the book and thought that the ideas were interesting, but the writing was bad. I'm not sure how I feel. I think that the idea in the beginning of the book is interesting, how he stole money because he needed to improve his life, but he ended up spending it fast and not using it to advance in life, like buying himself some new clothes. I'm not sure if he ended up improving himself in the end, because I find it difficult to connect with the language of the book. I should watch the movie.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Roberto Arlt: Los Siete Locos-first half

Before I start……This book is soooooo boring. I can’t take it. I actually caught myself almost falling asleep every few paragraphs, and I eventually figured out that if I wanted to get past the first few sections, I would have to skim. It turned out that I ended up just reading the dialogues, and I have to say that not too much had happened as I reached the dialogue with el astrologo (I mean…we learn at the very beginning that he stole some money, and that he has to pay it back, and then I skipped a whole bunch…not on purpose…and then he talks about paying the money back) I probably missed a lot more than I think, but I wouldn’t know. I really wish I was more interested, so that I wouldn’t fall asleep and maybe understand more of the ongoing action. That way, I’d be able to make a proper judgement of what I read instead of saying “I didn’t get it….he makes no sense”…which is true, but I don’t like complaining to get out of stuff. This is what I kept thinking while I was reading…or trying to. As a more serious point, I really don’t quite understand what Arlt is doing structure-wise. I don’t understand why there is a new titled section every few pages. I don’t understand what Arlt is getting at plot-wise…although it seems interesting, but it’s written badly, and I can’t quite grasp the point.

I guess before I put a book down and call it bad, I want to understand it completely. I want to believe that the author has tried his or her best, and that I’ve believed in it’s potential….and then I can put it down…unless it’s Eva Luna…that was just bad from the beginning. I guess I just need a lecture on Los Siete Locos to understand a bit more of what’s going on, because I’m lost. One last thing….is this a movie? I think it would be better as a movie, because it’s hard for me to imagine what’s going on, and I think that the structure would suit a film…but not a Hollywood type film. It would have to be a serious film with subtitles, but I may be completely off, and maybe there’s absolutely nothing interesting about the book.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Span490: looking back over the first half of the course

(I wrote this blog last wednesday, but I forgot to tag it...)

This course is labled as Bad Latin American Literature, and part of its description (that I read before registering for the class) said/ says that we are/ were going to study works by 'famous' authors of Latina America and discuss them. I think that I wanted to take the class because I found this task interesting, and because I wanted a literature professor's opinion of why a book was bad, because it seems like we're always studying 'good' literature in school...even though the 'good' literature is usually just 'important' literature...and in my opinion often tedious to read (for example, some 'classic' English's filled with so many metaphors and references on top the difficulty of the old or middle english, that I don't think I was ever able to read any of it without somebody explaining it to me first, but then I would forget what they said a few months later, and I would still have no idea what I was reading. That's 'important' literature in my opinion, but as I said, it doesn't mean that 'important' is 'good', just like we're learning that just because a book is a bestseller, doesn't mean it's good. It means that for some reason it was decided to be part of the 'comercio massivo'. I honestly didn't know this before this class, because I didn't really pay attention to bestsellers, and I was surprised when I saw "Como Agua Para Chocolate" on the syllabus, because, even though I thought it was a stupid book because I saw the movie and I was really weirded out by the mixture of cooking and strange rules against marriage and the fire at the end, I knew it was a really 'famous' latin american novel, so I tried to respect it and accept it as 'good'. I'm not sure what we're getting at anymore in this class as bad literature, because it seems like even though Jon's doing an excellent job of communicating the aspects and examples of bad writing that we're reading, not many of us seem to agree that the books are really bad.....however, I wanted to point out a theme between the three books that we've discussed so far (Eva Luna, The Alchemist, Como Agua Para Chocolate), which I just realized from reading Jon's website, even though I pointed it out in the blogs of the first two novels, and this theme is exaggeration (which I ironically probably have done and am still doing in this blog...but it's a blog, not an edited bestseller, so I'm not going to feel bad). In my opinion bad literature is based on like or dislike, and I'm positive that exaggeration is what makes most people dislike something that they're reading. I know that some people in class said that when the author explains too much, the reader doesn't have anything to figure out himself/herself. Nobody wants to read the same thing over and over again, and I'm going to briefly give examples of exaggeration of each book. I might add more later.

I pointed out in my blog about Eva Luna that on top of the difficult spanish, there were too many details in each chapter, and it made the book even more complex than it already was considering all of the characters and their stories.

In The Alchemist, I started out liking the story, and I thought it was cool how such a young person could be so independent and happy with very little, and how he had this great knowledge and point of view of life...but it became very repetitive (which is good for many reasons such as emphasis, but only to a point), and it really exaggerated the capability of any human being, especially a "boy" when he was able to talk to the wind and the sun and in a way control them. I couldnd't stand the book at this point.

As discussed in class, and I read just now in Jon's blogs, "Como Agua Para Chocolate" is often too exaggerated in its metaphors, especially when Esquivel compares Tita's thoughts and feelings with food, and the mixture is too literal, for example, like John said, that Tita "had" to be born in the kitchen, instead of just explaining that her life was very involved in it.

That's all I have for now.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Como Agua Para Chocolate

Before reading the novel this week, I saw the movie last year, and I thought that it was a very strange story. I thought that it had a weird atmosphere and a bizarre plot. I thought the family tradition was strange, and I couldn’t imagine being put in that situation (I still can’t). I didn’t think much of the constant cooking recipes and directions. I thought this writing style (or movie style) was creative, but at the same time, I didn’t find it interesting. This is probably going to sound weird, and I don’t know why I’m thinking of this, but the atmosphere of the story reminds me of eating fresh tomatoes…even though they’re fresh, many people would rather not eat them…meaning that even though that some people think that the cooking thing that’s intertwined is a good idea, they would prefer not to read every single recipe or at all. That’s kind of how I felt about watching the movie. I thought that there was probably something better to watch at the time. The ending of the story to me is probably the weirdest ending that I’ve heard of. Even though now I understand that the author had to exaggerate to communicate the passion between Tita and Pedro, if you don’t understand it, then dying after sex and then lighting on fire is just plain weird…it’s still a bit weird.

The book so far (I haven’t completely finished it yet) is so much better than the movie. I think that even though that some of the events are still weird, the atmosphere is a little warmer. I really think that the idea of the family tradition and the relationship dilemma between Tita and Pedro is the basis of a big selling story line, and that’s probably why the book is so famous, because unrequited love has been the topic of many famous stories of the past, like Romeo and Juliet…especially since Mama Elena is presented as the police in a way, as she controls everything that Tita does. From what I can see so far, the only way that Tita has any happiness is through cooking to distract her a bit, and through Pedro’s love…but it makes me wonder if he’s actually hurting her more by trying to pursue a small relationship (with a large amount of love), that can’t take place on a regular basis.