Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Books About Music

Snooze break at GovBall
     I went to GovBall a few weeks ago!  It was my first music festival and I had a blast.  I saw so many amazing artists - Florence + the Machine, Kate Tempest, Marina and the Diamonds, Angus and Julia Stone, Drake, et cetera.  I could go on forever but I'm probably boring you all, so I'll just say that I've had music on the brain since GovBall, and this reading list is a result of that.

1. Elenor and Park by Rainbow Rowell: This cute YA romance is made interesting because it dares to break several conventions of the YA romance genre.  For example, the girl is not drop-dead gorgeous.  Anyway, the couple, Elenor and Park (durr), connect through music - Park brings his Walkman on the school bus every morning, and they share earbuds on the ride to school.
2. Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan: Another romance in which the characters are united by their love of music!  Don't get cynical on me, though.  This book is hilarious and it's full of fun details about New York City nightlife. 
3. Dispatches by Michael Herr: In order to capture the feel of the Vietnam War, Michael Herr sprinkled his stream-of-consciousness narrative with songs, album titles, and artists that he heard and listened to during his time in Vietnam.
4. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou: This classic memoir is packed with music, from hymns to swing.  Click here if you want to read my review.
5. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess: My last post was a review of this book, but in that review I only touched on the protagonist Alex's love of classical music.  The kind that he likes is as dark and violent as he is.  If you read a passage of this book and Alex mentions a song, play it and read the passage over again.  I swear it will take on a whole new, sinister dimension.

     - Carly

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Book Review: A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Alex's drink of choice is milk spiked with drugs.
     This book left me conflicted and disturbed, as all good books should.  It's set in a future world where teenage gangs terrorize the streets while the Government attempts to control and reform them.  The protagonist, who refers to himself as Your Humble Narrator, is a rat bastard named Alex who spends his free time looting and raping with his friends.  (Keep in mind that there are lots of graphic and violent scenes in this book.  Don't read it if this will upset you.)  At the tender of age of 15, he is a proud sadist and his society doesn't know what to do with him.  His story is a meandering answer to several tough questions: Is it better to choose to do bad or to be obliged to do good?  Can the price of goodness ever be too high?
     The best part of this book is probably that it dares to deal with such controversial questions.  The next best part is the slang that Alex and his friends use, because it's really colorful and gives interesting insights into how their minds work.  For example, the word horrorshow means excellent, which makes sense because everything that Alex considers excellent would be horrifying to anyone with a soul.  In addition, I enjoyed Alex as a character.  I hated him, but between his love of classical music, his charisma, and his - shall we say - unconventional understanding of morality, he is too interesting not to enjoy.
     That said, I have complaints.  I disliked the last chapter of Clockwork Orange because it wrapped the story up too neatly.  Up until that final chapter, I had really appreciated that Burgess posed questions but did not try to impose any one answer on his readers.  In addition, there are no interesting female characters in this book.  Ugh, why is this such a common problem?  
     But apart from that, this book was fun and thought-provoking.  It only took me about three days to read, which must be a good sign.  

     - Carly