THE ALPHABET CHALLENGE: AN UPDATE

In January I agreed to return to the Alphabet Challenge abandoned last summer with the completion of Joyce Carol Oats, The Man Without a Shadow. So far I have read “N,” “O,” and “P.”

Letter “O” was my favorite of the three and definitely the best book I have read so far this year.  It appealed to me as a literature major, but also as an original writing technique, for Ian McEwan wrote from the viewpoint of a fetus in its mother’s womb. Not just any unborn child, mind you, but Hamlet, Shakespeare’s Prince of Denmark.  In tMcEwan’s novel, Hamlet’s mother, Trudy, is close to her delivery date when she and Claude, her husband’s brother and her lover, plot to kill the king and usurp his throne. Hamlet, from the womb is privy to this information and veers between faithful love and  venomous hate for both his biological father and his mother. It is “the classic tale of murder and deceit,” but as you may have guessed from the modern names, it is set in modern (around 60’s) times.

There is a marvelous twist to the decision to go ahead with the murder plot that only McEwan could have invented. It is not in Shakespeare’s version (as far as I know), but it torments both Trudy and her unborn son.

The writing is the best thing about the book. Here is just a sample:

Chapter One      “So here I am, upside down in a woman. Arms patiently crossed, waiting, and waiting and wondering who I’m in, what I’m in for. My eyes close nostalgically when I remember how I once drifted in my translucent body bag, floated dreamily in the bubble of my thoughts through my private ocean in slow-motion somersaults, colliding gently against the transparent bounds of my confinement, the confiding membrane that vibrated with, even as it muffled, the voices of conspirators in a vile enterprise.”  MAGNIFICENT! But, what else could one expect from the author of Atonement?

Author: Rae Longest

This year (2019) finds me with 50 years of teaching "under my belt." I have taught all levels from pre-K "(library lady" or "book lady"--volunteer) to juniors, seniors, and graduate students enrolled in my Advanced Writing class at the university where I have just completed 30 years. My first paying teaching job was junior high, and I spent 13 years with ages 12-13, the "difficult years." I had some of the "funnest" experiences with this age group. When I was no longer the "young, fun teacher," I taught in an elementary school setting before sixth graders went on to junior high, teaching language arts blocs, an assignment that was a "dream-fit" for me. After completing graduate school in my 40s, I went on to community college, then university teaching. Just as teaching is "in my blood," so is a passion for reading, writing, libraries, and everything bookish. This blog will be open to anyone who loves books, promotes literacy and wants to "come out and play."

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