Tag Archives: reading

The End


Today, I achieved something great. I typed “The End” on the first draft of a manuscript. Just to be clear, this is not my memoir that I am talking about. In fact, one of the main reasons I didn’t want to begin writing my memoir is because I was still working on this novel, which is the first book of a trilogy.

What is amazing about this novel is that I had not only applied all the lessons I learned throughout my journey in writing to it, but also that it echoed with the tension, drama, and emotions from my personal life, upbringing, societal background, and current situation. It is one of the projects that lingered in my head for a long time before I started it. It grew inside me and consumed the nutrients in my brain, just like a child would. And when it was ready to emerge, it put me through a long and tedious labor. But the result was worth it. And even though it’s going to take a lot of editing and polishing before it’s ready to be presented to people, I know that a large weight was lifted off my shoulders.

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There is a strange feeling I have about this novel. I was actually happier when I finished this book than I was when I finished writing my first novel back in March. Mainly, I believe this happened because I got more involved emotionally with this project.

My life lately was filled with turmoil and agony. But I always told myself that I cannot make excuses when it comes to writing, that’s not what professionals do. No matter what happens in my life, I sit on my computer and type word after word, pouring my heart on the blank paper, smudging those emotions with my hands and soiling my face with them.

The first book I wrote still sits in my virtual drawer, waiting for me to find the will to edit it. However, this book will not miss me for too long. This is a book I want to polish to perfection. It’s a book I would be proud to present to an agent and, most importantly, a reader. Here I’d like to take the opportunity to thank all of those who have been following my journey. You give me so much strength and your support means the world.

Thank you!

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Now, I’m off to have a glass of celebratory wine. Cheers 🙂

Book Quotes: Lord of the Flies


As a non-native English speaker, I always felt at a disadvantage from most native English writers not only because any given writer would be better practiced than I am in his native language, but also that any one of my peers has read several great works of literature at school while I haven’t. Most schools in Lebanon never give students reading assignments—except for short stories in academic books which have no literary merit whatsoever.

If you know me well enough, you will know that I don’t make excuses when it comes to improving my craft. Even though I’m way behind many writers when it comes to reading, it’s never too late to catch up– especially for a fast reader like myself. One of the books on the list was Animal Farm by George Orwell, which I read and finished in two days this week. The other is Lord of the Flies, which I’m currently enjoying. While I don’t have an English literature teacher slash aspiring writer to help me analyze the book as I go, I will have to rely on myself to do that. I will also be sharing my favorite quotes from the book. Here’s one of my favorite so far.

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Book Review: Of Human Bondage


I finished and much enjoyed reading the classic Of Human Bondage. I hope some of you started reading, or rereading, this beautiful book; and I hope you enjoyed my little pieces briefly analyzing some of its pages. In other news, Atlantis Magazine published my review of the novel. You can read it here: http://www.atlantismagazine.net/Entertainment/Of-Human-Bondage.html

Besides book reviews, Atlantis Magazine features movie reviews and travel articles.

Enjoy!

Book Dissection Part III: Of Human Bondage


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Pages 90 to 135: In those few pages, Philip transitions from being completely immersed in the religious experience to becoming utterly repelled by it. When Phillip moves to Germany for a year and meets new friends who are not as religious as he had been, he starts to form new ideals. Those ideals led him to believe that one should not believe in a religion to begin with.

The author explains how his protagonist felt unbridled after shedding the necessity of belief, and how stupid he felt looking back at all the days and nights he went out of his way to satisfy his god. The author also explains how, after Philip stopped believing in religion, he still abode by the manner which Christianity taught him. It was as if he went out of his way to prove to himself that not all atheists had unethical behavior.

I would like to end this short post the same way I ended this section of the book, by quoting a certain passage that I especially enjoyed and found eternal wisdom in. It is written below in italic.

He did not know how wide a country, arid and precipitous, must be crossed before the traveler through life comes to an acceptance of reality. It is an illusion that youth is happy, an illusion of those who have lost it; but the young know they are wretched, for they are full of the truthless ideals which have been instilled into them, and each time they come in contact with the real they are bruised and wounded. It looks as if they were victims of a conspiracy; for the books they read, ideals by the necessity of selection, and the conversation of their elders, who look back upon the past through a rosy haze of forgetfulness, prepare them for an unreal life. They must discover for themselves that all they have read and all they have been told are lies, lies, lies; and each discovery is another nail driven into the body on the cross of life. The strange thing is that each one who has gone through that bitter disillusionment adds to it in his turn, unconsciously, by the power within him which is stronger than himself.

Book Dissection II: Of Human Bondage


Of Human Bondage - W Somerset Maugham

Synopsis: One of the great novels of the twentieth century. Of Human Bondage tells a fascinating tale of sexual obsession. The story follows Philip Carey in his search for freedom from the strict, oppressive Christian upbringing he suffered as an orphan in an English vicarage. Philip sets out on a journey that leads him to Heidelberg and to Paris. But it is back in London that Philip’s enthrallment with Mildred – the slatternly, pale waitress who makes him slave to her desire – awakens him to the world of obsessive love, deep passion, and true self-discovery. The unforgettable love story is as timeless as it is involving, an intimate tale of human relationships that Theodore Dreiser called “a work of genius.”

 

Pages 51 to 89: The first 10 to 15 pages aimed to point a transitional phase in the school which Philip attends. I was less interested in the way the school became more religious, and more intrigued by what Philip goes through during that phase which lasts a few years of his life.

Philip meets a new friend; his last name is Rose. And unlike all the other kids who make fun of Philip and his birth defect, Rose likes Philip. Without going into much details and spoiling the story, let me just say that I found myself in the pages I reference.

We have all experienced loneliness, and all of us cling to that one thing or person who makes us feel less lonely; hence, driving that person away. I love how Somerset describes his protagonist as he makes belief that he’s one of the popular kids, or when he over thinks about Rose’s innocent actions. Loneliness makes us oversensitive, and sometimes it even makes us mean to people as we overcompensate to being needy. The way Somerset describes this conflict of the human soul made me feel like I was back in high school when I was reading.

There’s another interesting description, which also resonates with me since I live in a strict and orthodox society, which is Philip’s relationship with religion. At first, Phillip’s pristine mind absorbs all the religious knowledge that is thrown at him. He begins to have high expectations from his relationship with God. Philip prays to God to eradicate the disability of his foot, but is met by disappointments. His uncle, however, relates those disappointments to the lack of Philip’s faith, urging Philip pray harder and face further disappointments. Isn’t this the vicious religious cycle we are all faced with?

There’s a point when Philip accepts that his defect is a test rather than a curse – a burden given for his broad shoulders to carry. And at the end of those lovely pages, the story takes a beautiful turn by Philip realizing that he doesn’t want the life of a pious man such as the one his uncle leads. He knows that there were far more beautiful things in the world; he read about those things in books, and heard other people’s stories about them. He is determined to live another kind of life.

Book Dissection: Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham


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As promised, I will not only post a review of the book Of Human Bondage, but will also post as elaborate analyses as I could without risking spoiling the story. Below is the synopsis of the book, as written in the back cover of my copy, followed by the analysis of the first 50 pages.

Synopsis: One of the great novels of the twentieth century. Of Human Bondage tells a fascinating tale of sexual obsession. The story follows Phillip Carey in his search for freedom from the strict, oppressive Christian upbringing he suffered as an orphan in an English vicarage. Phillip sets out on a journey that leads him to Heidelberg and to Paris. But it is back in London that Phillip’s enthrallment with Mildred – the slatternly, pale waitress who makes him slave to her desire – awakens him to the world of obsessive love, deep passion, and true self-discovery. The unforgettable love story is as timeless as it is involving, an intimate tale of human relationships that Theodore Dreiser called “a work of genius.”

First 50 pages: From the first pages of the book, I feel that I have already formed a bond with Phillip, the protagonist. The boy of mere nine years loses his mother after having lost his father, and is taken under the custody of his uncle. The uncle is a Vicar; he and his wife lead a strict religious regiment in their household.

It’s evident from the beginning that the barren woman has more sentiment for Phillip than the strict uncle. However, it’s also noticeable that the woman is strict with herself — she doesn’t allow herself to sit in the comfortable chair her husband sits in, fearing she would become too lazy to get back to work. The writer describes the gender roles in that family vividly, and allows the reader to sense the conformity the couple lives in.

When Philippe is sent to school, his troubles worsen. He is placed in the catholic school with mean older boy who make fun of his birth defect — a club foot. The description of the protagonist’s torment almost reduced me to tears. Anybody would relate to an innocent boy being bullied and tormented the way Philippe is.

As an introduction to the novel, the writer achieves two important things in his first fifty pages:

1) He introduced us to Phillip, and directly makes us sympathize with him, (Phillip is an orphan, who has a birth defect; he is living in a strict household and is sent away to a strict school where he is bullied).

2) He weaves the tangled web of events which would lead Phillip to eventually rebel against the religious and archaic regiment of his uncle’s upbringing and society’s traditions.

I can’t wait to share with you the layers I peeled of the characters’ personalities. This is a book I can’t seem to be able to put down.

Book Review: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens


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There is a reason Charles Dickens’s book stood the test of time. The story of the protagonist, Pipp, will resonate with people for generations to come. Dickens takes us on journey of the life of Pipp, from the time he was young, to his adolescence, and into the years of his early adulthood. Throughout those years, however, Dickens weaves a tangled web of events. Every word, every action, and every incident makes sense in the end.

The title “Great Expectations” was given since Pipp, a poor boy, finds himself on the verge of becoming a nobleman. An anonymous benefactor, whom he assumes to be the adoptive mother of his beloved Estella, financially adopts Pipp and opens wide doors of opportunities which he never knew existed. Pipp moves to London, leaving his sister and her husband, Joe, behind – the people who raised him after his parents died.

As his fortune and love for Estella grow, Pipp finds himself moving further away from Joe. Great Expectations explains how money changes individuals, and makes them forget the people who were closest to them. There was a sentence, which I particularly loved. At the beginning of Pipp’s new journey he leaves alone without letting Joe walk him. He admits to himself the reason of walking alone, which was his shame of being seen with the humble-looking Joe. As he walks alone toward the carriage that would take him to London, Dickens writes, “…feeling it very sorrowful and strange that the first night of my bright fortunes should be the loneliest I had ever known.”

Another thing I adored about this book was the characterization of Estella and her adoptive mother, Ms. Havisham. Perhaps this sentence I wrote in italic will explain more than my words would.

“What have I done! What have I done!” She wrung her hands, and crushed her white hair, and returned to this cry over and over again. “What have I done!”

I knew not how to answer, or how to comfort her. That she had done a grievous thing in taking an impressionable child to mold into the form her wild resentment, spurned affection, and wounded pride found vengeance in, I knew full well. But that, in shutting out the light of day, she had shut out infinitely more; that, in seclusion, she had secluded herself from a thousand natural and healing influences; that her mind, brooding solitary, had grown diseased, as all minds do and must and will that reserve the appointed order of their Maker; I knew equally well. And could I look upon her without compassion, seeing her punishment in the ruin she was, in her profound unfitness for this earth on which she was placed, in the vanity of sorrow which had become a master mania, like the vanity of penitence, the vanity of unworthiness, and other monstrous vanities that have been curses in this world?

Showing here how vengeance, grief, and holding on to pain and anger can be destructive, Dickens had yet again given us an important lesson in life.

The book I bought had another ending which was written by the editors, followed by the original ending written by Dickens. Dickens did it better. He tied the knots beautifully and left me with a beautiful afterglow.

All in all, I believe this book is worth a read. It certainly is one of the best classics I have read so far.

Traffic Generator


I couldn’t think of a better 200th post for my blog. Just now, I received an email from the editor of Children’s Stories telling me that my poem was viewed more that 3,800 times since it was published at their website. She told me that the number is well above average, which makes me so happy.

I like to thank my fellow bloggers who helped in generating this traffic. If you haven’t read my poem yet, you can by following this link http://www.childrens-stories.net/poems-and-rhyming-stories/go~to~sleep~my~little~kitten_margaret~benison.htm

Speaking of traffic, my short story November 13th made it to the top viewed mystery stories on Short Story with over 9,000 views! You can read it by following this link. http://www.short-story.me/mystery-stories/597-november-13th.html

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