In that vein, I'm going to list the top 5 books I read (or reread) in 2013 and the top things I paid money to see--I know what you're thinking, why not just make it a top 5 movies and be done with it? Well, because.
So here now are the books (I'll try like hell to make this interesting):
5.) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie
I know what you're thinking: "a book about a brown kid who leaves home to attend a predominantly white school? Oscar, you narcissistic piece of sh--"
Hey! There'll be none of that in this blog. And yeah, the novel spoke to me on an obvious level, but you gotta understand: but there's more to it than that. As the epigraph states "there is another world, but it is in this one." (Shout out to W.B. Yeats!) So the books is fundamentally about how we react to growing up in one world and having aspirations to enter another. Which parts of ourselves do we end up having to sacrifice in order to get to a place where we feel comfortable and accepted--just a heads, you might NEVER find that other world, but that shouldn't keep you from searching.
4) Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Oh Ernest. Reading this novel--Hemingway's first published novel, by the way--I couldn't help by ask myself how he and F. Scott Fitzgerald ever became best friends. Hemingway writes of "manly" things like bull fights and fishing trips and heavy drinking and falling in love with people who can't possibly love you back--oh wait, I think I just figured out what he and Fitzgerald had in common. Moving on!
This novel has Hemingway's signature minimalist-realist style, as narrator Jake doesn't much get into his feelings or try to tell us what's going on around him with any sort of flowery language. That being said, the novel is beautiful in the same way that a brick building is beautiful. It is classic and timeless. I'll say that I didn't much care for Jake for most of the story until the very last line, then I realized I had misread his character from the word go, and once again I was reminded how people like Ernest Hemingway were much, MUCH smarter than I could ever really hope to be. Still, if I could have a beer with Hemingway, I think I'd only talk of literature and sports and try to avoid the topic of women altogether; I could do that, right? "Yes...isn't pretty to think so?"
3.) Long Day's Journey Into Night by Eugene O'Neill
Still, I highly recommend reading this play, watching the movie, or going to a live show if you can find one. Also, maybe I'm the only one who does this, but when reading something new, it's fun to see which character you feel most represents you. In the case of this play, that game is anything but fun, especially when you realize all four main characters--Tyrone, Jamie, Mary, and Edmund--represent a different aspect of your personality you wish you could do away with or at least hide from others.
2.) The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
Side note: I just learned those three films were directed by the same guy and it absolutely blew my mind.
Thus, if you're the type of person who enjoys stories that can take you a long, thrilling ride but also don't much care for things like hobbits and elves, then you should definitely read this novel. Plus, if you've got your eyes on an attractive Dominican kid who looks like he/she might be well-read, you can name drop this and instantly be in their good graces: "Diablo! If only I'd known. The beauty! The beauty!"
1.) The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
THE 2013 BAZ LUHRMANN FILM ADAPTION OF THIS NOVEL WAS ABSOLUTELY HORRIBLE!
Okay, so this is an absolute classic in every sense. I admit, also, that I've read this novel numerous times before and only read it this past year because I wanted to brush up before I threw my money away on the film. And, you know what, to be fair I'll say that the movie wasn't all bad. In fact, a more honest way to describe my feelings would be in the compliment sandwich
Leo DiCaprio was a great Gatsby (pause for laughter) and most of the movie was cast fairly well.
Toby Maguire, however, was beyond a poor choice for the part of Nick Carraway. I think Luhrmann overlooked how significant Nick is to the story--HE'S THE FREAKING NARRATOR FOR GATSBY SAKE--and so the entire film suffered. Additionally, the soundtrack was odd at best and the ending was changed because, for some reason, films can't have sad endings anymore. Go figure.
The costuming and cinematography were wonderful.
This review for the novel may seem like just complaints about the film, but you have to understand these complaints contain everything that make the novel incredible. We see everything through Nick; therefore Gatsby is a much object as he is subject. Nick admires him and goes on and on about Gatsby's undying sense of hope. That's what the novel centers on: Nick's desire to find someone on whom he can place his hope. Nick moves to New York to strike it rich and, after seeing what wealth does to people, goes back to the Midwest a broken person. At it's core, the novel is about hope and hopelessness, and which of the two we allow ourselves to be taken by in our youth.
Lastly, just because something ends with people beating against the current like boats, "borne back ceaselessly into the past," doesn't necessarily mean that all is hopeless.
Oh boy oh boy, I am beat. I'll have to write another post about the top 5 things I paid money to watch (and probably come up with a better title for that list, while I'm at it). Anyway, thank you for indulging my pretense! As you were!