Saturday, January 28, 2012

Austen Paradise: By Jane Austen

By Jane Austen is the starting page at Austen Paradise and features certain editions of her works...

Pride and Prejudice: The Annotated Edition

The Annotated Pride and Prejudice

The Annotated Persuasion

Pride and Prejudice (Norton Critical Edition)

Pride and Prejudice (Dover Thrift Editions)

Sense and Sensibility ("Twilight cover")

Persuasion ("Twilight cover")

Mansfield Park (Dover Thrift Editions)

Northanger Abbey

Lady Susan, The Watsons, Sandition (Penguin Classics)

The Complete Novels (Penguins Classics Deluxe Edition)

The Complete Novels of Jane Austen, Vol. 1

The Complete Novels of Jane Austen, Vol. 2

Emma (Dover Thrift Editions)

Sandition: Jane Austen's Last Novel Completed

Austen Paradise: About Jane

About Jane is a category at Austen Paradise that allows you to learn more about Jane and her world...

Letters of Jane Austen by Jane Austen

What Jane Austen Ate and What Charles Dickens Knew by Daniel Pool

Jane Austen: A Life by Carol Shields

101 Things You Didn't Know About Jane Austen by Patrice Hannon

Jane Austen: Her Life and Letters by William Austen-Leigh

In the Steps of Jane Austen by Anne-Marie Edwards

Jane Austen in Bath by Katharine Reeve

Austen Paradise: Study Guides

Study Guides is a category at Austen Paradise that features some books that'll help you read her better...

Pride and Prejudice (Cliffs Notes) by Marie Kalil

Pride and Prejudice (MAXNotes Literature Guide) by William Blanchard

Jane Austen for Dummies by Joan Elizabeth Klingel Ray PhD

Jane Austen for Beginners by Robert Dryden

Austen Paradise: Critical Jane

Critical Jane is the category at Austen Paradise for literary scholars...

Why Jane Austen? by Rachel Brownstein

A Truth Universally Acknowledged by various

A Fine Brush on Ivory Richard Jenkyns

Jane Austen: Two Centuries of Criticism Laurence W. Mazzeno

Jane Austen: Women, Politics, and the Novel by Claudia L. Johnson

Jane Austen and the Enlightenment by Peter Knox-Shaw

Issues of Class in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice by Claudia Johnson

Two Guys Read Jane Austen by Steve Chandler

Jane Austen and the War of Ideas by Marilyn Butler

Austen Paradise: Life by Jane Austen

Life by Jane Austen is a category at Austen Paradise that features books detailing that might be considered the Austen self help section...

The Jane Austen Handbook by Margaret Sullivan

What Would Jane Austen Do? by Laurie Brown

A Jane Austen Education by William Deresiewicz

Jane Austen's Guide to Good Manners by Josephine Ross

The Jane Austen Cookbook by Maggie Black

Talking About Jane Austen in Baghdad by May Witwit

Austen Paradise: Films

Films is a category at Austen Paradise that unsurprisingly features films based on Austen's work as well as her life and legacy...

Pride & Prejudice starring Keira Knightley and directed by Joe Wright

Pride and Prejudice starring Colin Firth

Mansfield Park (1999)

Emmastarring Gwyneth Paltrow

Emma (2009)

The Jane Austen Book Club starring Emily Blunt

Becoming Jane starring Anne Hathaway

Sense and Sensibility starring Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, and Emma Thompson

Mansfield Park starring Billie Piper

Austen Paradise: Adaptations

Adaptations is a category at Austen Paradise that features a selection of just that, adaptations, or otherwise notes on adaptations...

Pride and Prejudice (Marvel Classics) by Nancy Butler

Screen Adaptations: Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice by Deborah Cartmell

Lost in Austen by Emma Campbell Webster

Sense and Sensibility: The Screenplay and Diaries by Emma Thompson

Jane Austen in Hollywood Linda Troost

Austen Paradise: Inspired by Pride & Prejudice

Inspired by Pride & Prejudice is a category at Austen Paradise that features works that continue Jane Austen's original story...

Conviction by Skylar Hamilton Burris

Charlotte Collins by Jennifer Becton

The Darcys of Pemberley by Shannon Winslow

Georgiana Darcy's Diary by Anna Elliott

The Cumberland Plateau by M. K. Baxley

Darcy & Elizabeth by Linda Berdoll

Christmas at Pemberley by Regina Jeffers

The Road to Pemberley by various

The Phantom of Pemberley by Regina Jeffers

Austen Paradise: Darcy

Darcy is a sampler category at Austen Paradise that only begins to suggest the enduring obsession with Mr. Darcy from Pride & Prejudice...

Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy by Abigail Reynolds

Darcy on the Hudson by Mary Lydon Simonson

A Man of Few Words by Katherine Woodbury

Austen Paradise: Variations on Pride & Prejudice

The Variations on Pride and Prejudice at Austen Paradise includes the most famous modern homage to Jane Austen, but also a few others:

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Deluxe Heirloom Edition by Grahame-Smith

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Graphic Novel by Grahame-Smith, Tony Lee, and Cliff Richards

A Little Bit Psychicby Aimee Avery

Pride/Prejudice by Ann Herendeen

Impulse & Initiative by Abigail Reynolds

A Pemberley Medley by Abigail Reynolds

The Sheik of Araby by Lavinia Angell

Austen Paradise: Literary Jane

Continuing my introduction of Austen Paradise...

These are the books listed in the Literary Jane category:

Becoming Jane Austen by Jon Spence, which was made into a movie

Becoming Jane: The Wit and Wisdom of Jane Austen by Anne Newgarden

The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler, which was also made into a movie

Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Pattillo

Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler

The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen by Syrie James

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Austen Paradise: An Introduction

Austen Paradise is my online bookstore devoted to the legacy of Jane Austen. I believe that Austen may be the most universal writer Western literature has yet produced, someone who understood both her own times and how they related to readers of succeeding generations. She tended to write stories that focused on women and the quest for romantic relationships, but she did not write romances, instead exploring the human condition in its many wonders.

It was impossible not to notice how many writers have taken inspiration from Austen over the years, during my time working at a bookstore (it was especially obvious that Mr. Darcy maintains a great deal of magnetism). For that reason, I began to formulate an enterprise that would promote Austen and the many works that have resulted from her books. Austen Paradise is the start of that dream. To me, Hub City the blog is about promoting the love of reading, and Jane Austen has become a prime source (a universal truth, as it were) for that message.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Reading List: Tecumseh

Tecumseh: A Life
by John Sugden

The subject of American history has always fascinated me, and I was fortunate enough growing up that in school we were taught a good deal about that other side of American history, the natives who ended up being called Indians and fought to retain their identity if not their land. Surprisingly, I don't remember hearing all that much about Tecumseh, who was after all, important enough to eventually become the middle name of Civil War general William Sherman (and doesn't that name sound weird without "Tecumseh" in it?), but now takes a back seat to any number of other important leaders from that side of history (though ideally, there would be no side). I took a variation of Tecumseh's name for a character in one of my stories, and I eventually learned that he had an important role in the War of 1812 (two hundredth anniversary! suck it, Civil War!), so it's only natural that I read a biography of him. This selection, in fact, kicks off a string of historical nonfiction on the List, capped off by a series of books inspired by the Iliad/Odyssey cycle (one side of which, to maintain a theme, has historical bearing).

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Thoughts on Union Atlantic

Such is the book scene where important new books in literature can be almost completely overlooked. Such is the case with Adam Haslett's Union Atlantic.

Released in 2009, it may be among the first novels to try and make comprehensive sense of the United States in the early years of the 21st Century, juggling the aftermath of 9/11, the emerging banking scandals, the last embers of pre-1960s mentalities, the homosexual in regular society, youth culture absorbing New Age habits...The list goes on. This is Haslett's first book (after a collection of short stories), and it shows, but he bears remarkable promise for the future.

The main character is a veteran of the 1980s military campaigns in the Middle East, who is trying to improve his life through a single-minded devotion to his own self-belief, striking up convenient associations (which is perhaps the main theme of the story, and how convenience can so easily become inconvenient) that allow him to build a financial empire. He builds a mansion next door to a spinster who is equally convinced that her comprehensive understanding of the past can still have meaning in the present. Both, as the book jacket explains, become involved with a high school senior trapped by forces he finds difficult to control, from peer pressure to sexual impulses, headed to a destiny that will either reflect the better patterns exhibited by his mentor figures, or the worse.

Clearly, it's all allegory, but rarely does an author feel confident enough to blend so many thoughts together (there's also a metaphorical sub-story about a pair of dogs who claim the personas of Cotton Mather and Malcolm X, in case you need to have anything cleared up for you), and it's exactly that kind of ambition that I like to champion. Essentially, Haslett is arguing his case as the most important American literary voice of his day. Another book like this, written with more confidence, will make that argument for him.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Reading List: Union Atlantic

Union Atlantic
by Adam Haslett

Sometimes I truly believe that there are literary Nazis, who will only champion to the public books that are published expressly for the women's book club market. Women's book clubs, so far as I could tell from my experiences working in a bookstore, exist to read intellectually trite material (The Help is my favorite example, and that was easily the biggest "success" of the past few years), relegating truly challenging and rewarding material ever farther away from the notice and minds of readers who're being convinced that tiny electronic screens aren't a truly stupid and self-defeating method to combat intellectual rot. Oprah was perhaps the last great champion of real literature, but she began to spend most of her time with safe selections of acknowledged classics rather than stand true to her own convictions. All of this is to say that I wish a book like Union Atlantic weren't a book I basically had to discover for myself, a trend that has become more and more necessary just in the last decade. It used to be, not too long ago, that people actually gravitated to worthwhile material...

Thoughts on Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

Ever since the family finally convinced my sister into reading Harry Potter, I should have known that there would be a price to pay. The cost ended up being Percy Jackson, a young readers series by Rick Riordan that could be described short-hand as Harry Potter mixed with Greek mythology.

I began reading Harry in 1999, when I was just entering college, so it's safe to say that generally speaking, I wasn't among the immediate target audience, though as many other readers (the author among them) discovered J.K. Rowling wasn't just writing for kids, and her books were all the better for it. Publishers, however, quickly realized that they could release a slew of similar adventures aimed directly at the young readers market, from writers who did not necessarily share Rowling's talent. Anyone older than middle school quickly learned that it was a dicey game to navigate these waters. I myself sampled the excellent Series of Unfortunate Events, as well as Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson's Peter Pan tales (otherwise known as the Starcatcher series), but stayed away from the others, suspecting that they wouldn't be of literary interest to me. Hollywood displayed no such qualms, however, but soon learned that you can't just assume there's a mass audience for everything.

Anyway, the young readers genre eventually shifted ages slightly, which led to a flood of books that eventually gave us the Twilight Saga and the Hunger Games books (I haven't read any of the former, and most of the latter, which could have used so judicious editorial notes), as well as the first of James Patterson's Witch and Wizard series. Given that many male readers gravitate toward mystery or fantasy material, and that many female readers gravitate toward romance, it's no wonder that the older the reader is expected to be, the more blended the typical adventure narratives become with these impulses.

Riordan comes from a adults mystery background, but at least at the level of his Percy Jackson books writes about to the competency of Patterson when he's directing his material at young readers. I had avoided his books because I feared that they were pale imitations of Harry Potter, and because I'm fairly familiar with Greek mythology, and didn't care to see someone bastardize it for the sake of convenience. The actual results as featured in The Lightning Thief are somewhere between inspired and labored. In more capable hands, the same material would be worthy of Riordan's ambitions, to write a modern heroic saga in the tradition of Hercules and other Greek legends. Riordan, however, can't get into the heads of his own protagonists, which is something of a problem. For less discriminating readers, it's no doubt engaging material, but there's no reason, as Rowling demonstrated, that a writer must cop to one audience, or compromise the style. Good writing will always out. Riordan's words, at least in this one book, is not good writing, competent yes, but then, who decided that competent writing was good enough? Inspiration counts at least for half, and Riordan has half the amount of inspiration he needed to make it work. Without Harry Potter, there would have been no Percy Jackson, and that's a damning kind of judgment to level on anything.

Still, it's salvageable, as I suggested, and entertaining enough so that you should not feel embarrassed to read it, or suggest it to a reluctant reader. If it encourages them to discover more about Greek myth, or to use those myths to better use themselves, then all the better. Sometimes that's as much as you can ask from something like this.
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