2011 has come and gone, and with it my first year back as a full-time student. It was a good year. A learning year. A year full of small triumphs and not a few minor obstacles. But with last year’s hurdles and celebrations behind me, 2012 has brought a fresh set of challenges and potential rewards with it. And so far, so good.
January marked the beginning of my first semester at the University of Texas (hook ‘em), and I have to say that I’m rather enjoying it. I’m finishing off the rest of my lower division course work this semester with Intro to Astronomy, Intro to Linguistics, Banned Books and Novel Ideas, and Russian Sci-Fi in Literature and Film. Not one of these classes have proven to be a bore yet, and I’m finding Banned Books and Russian Sci-Fi particularly interesting. These classes are right up my alley, and I’m excited to fill the voids between my ears with the kind of knowledge they promise to impart. Interesting as they are, though, they are going to significantly cut into my leisure reading. In fact, as near as I can tell, there will be no leisure reading to speak of for me this spring.
In all honesty, I’m looking forward to the required reading for Russian Sci-Fi and Banned Books so much that I don’t think I’ll mind deferring my To Be Read pile for a couple of measly months. Besides, the cool thing about these required readings is that, with the exception of a few, these are texts that I probably would never have sought out for myself. For anyone who’s interested in this kind of thing, I’m including the list of books I’ll be reading in the coming months below.
Banned Books and Novel Ideas
The Island of Dr. Moreau, H.G. Wells
Myra Breckinridge, Gore Vidal
The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
Beloved, Toni Morrison
Russian Sci-Fi in Literature and Film
We, Yevgeny Zamyatin
A Dog’s Heart (Heart of a Dog), Mikhail Bulgakov
Prisoners of Power, Strugatsky Brothers
There are several other short readings from medieval texts to Cold War era stories that we’ll be looking at in the Russian class, and I’m looking forward to all of them. The cool thing about this class is that I’ve been developing an interest in things Eastern European for a while now, and so studying the history of the region from the perspective of science fiction and fantasy, two of my favorite genres, is like having my cake and eating it too. And cake makes Kris happy. I’ll probably be posting very short opinions of these selections here at The Sound and Fury as the semester progresses, in case any of you are interested in giving them a try.
I fortuitously (finally!) finished reading King’s Magnum Opus, It, recently, which cleared my plate for all of these upcoming, required readings. It was an amazing feat of literature. To pigeonhole this book as a work of pop-horror fiction is criminally irresponsible and just plain short sighted. It took me forever to read, but I’d hate for anyone to think that this is a result of some defect in the writing. My attention span has been very short lately, and the time it took me to wade through It should be a reflection of my deficiencies and not held against the writer. I doubt I’ll ever get around to reviewing this book (the scope of the narrative is so great that I doubt I could ever adequately distill it into a cogent review), so I’ll just leave you with the knowledge that I thought/think very highly of it, and the book only solidifies the notion in my head that King is highly underrated and under-credited as merely a horror novelist. That isn’t to say that he hasn’t had his missteps, but the man deserves a better descriptor than Horrorist. I will be watching the film adaptation of It in the next week or so, and that might present a better opportunity for a review, perhaps as a compare/contrast review against the book. We’ll see.
Despite the mountain of reading that’s about to descend upon my head like an avalanche of bound, collected ideas, I’ve got the second volume of Y: The Last Man sitting on my nightstand patiently waiting to be cracked open. The graphic novel will probably be my one respite from required reading, and I think that’s practical.
Aside from school and books, an exciting new writing opportunity has presented itself recently, and I look forward to sharing the details of that here in the next week or so. Until then, friends and neighbors, see you ‘round the nets.