Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
We have here, published 1949, a pretty contemporary play but most American classics I’ve come across tend to be. I’ve read this Methuen copy through a few times, as well as watching the film adaptation since I’ve had to study two Arthur Miller plays for Literature. For stories that feel distinctly small-scale, they deal with some pretty hefty moral issues, but remain relatable enough.
As far as plays go, Death of a Salesman is of a pretty standard length – being 121 pages long. As for my copy, it’s great if you are independently looking at the play. There is a long introduction giving you a few interpretations of it, and ideas about how to look at the playwright’s life (although it seems to expect you to know a bit about Arthur Miller’s other works). However, if you’re a student and you’re going to be doing classwork with it, don’t get this copy. It is edited by Enoch Brater, which means that quite a few lines are completely different to the original script.
To quote the blurb:
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
A pretty book cover, isn’t it? The woman on the front strongly resembles a nun, doesn’t she? Well, that is a running ‘joke’ all the way through the tale. Published 1985, this is a very current book (although it has still seen more years than I have) and is 324 pages long despite looking relatively thin. And no, she’s not a nun. She’s the opposite.
The Handmaid’s Tale was compulsory for my Literature class to read, but I admit being a bit excited to look at it. It was probably my first peek into the world of American fiction (discounting novels aimed at teenagers or younger such as Twilight). A book with character, I’d call this.
I watched the film adaptation only after having read this. The film’s not as good, in my opinion, but I rarely think films better than the books they are based on.
Oh, how young and innocent I was. The Handmaid’s Tale genuinely shocked me. The thing begins with a Bible quote; it almost lulls you into a false sense of security. Alright, by the standards of most romance novels, what features isn’t even that strong, but it astonished me, nonetheless, that this somewhat controversial book is compulsory reading in some schools.
I’ll give you a clue with the synopsis: Continue reading
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D.Salinger
If I hadn’t been told to read it by my English teacher, I probably would have brushed past The Catcher in the Rye without a second glance. As well-known as it is, it isn’t a book that entices you. The book cover is dull – I heard that the author felt very strongly about controlling that – and there’s no blurb. It’s also the sort of psychological coming of age tale that I never read, because it hits a little too close to home. I’m glad to have been exposed to it though and at 230 pages long, it didn’t take me too long to read.
Now here’s a story which is like Marmite: you love it or you hate it. It’s very difficult to split into ‘best bits’ and ‘worst bits’ but I’ll do my best. Since there’s no blurb, I’ll try to give a brief summary. Continue reading