Sunday, November 7, 2010

Literary Blog Hop (We'll Be Having Scotch and Cigars in the Library)

Someone among our friends over at The Blue Bookcase has been taking her ginko biloba (I'm betting on Christina).  This weekend marks the first ever Literary Blog Hop wherein we snooty literary types look disapprovingly through our wire-rimmed glasses, over the rims of our scotch tumblers, and through the haze of cigar smoke in our grand libraries at all those lesser genres, which so murk the crystal clear waters of the beautiful River of Literature, which flows unbroken down the valley of time from its origins among the forests of late-medieval England and Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur.

We're just kidding, of course.  I myself occasionally read a Clive Cussler (adventure) or Orson Scott Card (sci-fi), and I even made it through the first 50 pages of Twilight before I was forced to quit and dedicate my life to its eradication from the planet (see our Declaration of War on All Things Twilight here).  Which is to say that our tastes here at The Literate Man are not entirely or exclusively "literary," but we do generally find that we obtain the most enjoyment from works that tell an essentially human story, demonstrate growth or at least change in their characterization, endure the tests of time (exhibiting a consistent social relevance), and evidence an expert, innovative, or at least playful use of structure and language.  We also prefer beer over scotch, but that is the subject of a different post.

One of our favorites (I say speaking for myself and Aaron, but perhaps not Greg) is Sometimes A Great Notion by Ken Kesey (see our review of it here).  Kesey is much better known for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest--which is a good book, don't get me wrong--than for Sometimes A Great Notion, which was his masterpiece and (arguably) the best book ever written about life in the great American Northwest.  Sometimes is a novel of freedom and independence set in a world that tends toward conformity, which is perhaps the most relevant story of our age.  Each of its many characters develop throughout the course of the novel, but none more so than the bookish and rebellious Leland Stamper, who finally comes to stand with his family against the forces arrayed against them.  The novel is as relevant today as the day that it was written and its relevance should continue as long as workers' unions continue to exist.  But perhaps the most impressive and "literary" feature of the work is Kesey's technique of multiple perspectives, whereby the thoughts and actions of several characters are presented on the same page and sometimes in the same line.  It sounds confusing, I'll admit, but somehow Kesey makes it work.  The truth is that I've never read anything like it except, perhaps, James Joyce's Ulysses, which I am convinced must have directly influenced Kesey's work.

So that's our contribution to the first Literary Blog Hop discussion.  If you're here from there, please feel free to look around.  Thanks again to The Blue Bookcase for putting an obviously great idea into practice.  We sincerely intend to participate as frequently as possible.

Literary Blog Hop


  1. I almost burst into tears when I stumbled on your blog after going through practically every link on the Book Blogger Hop. There's actually somebody in the blogging world who doesn't read exclusively YA, Paranormal YA, Urban Paranormal (whatever the heck that is), Historical Fiction...I'm your follower for life. I must admit I have read the entire Twilight trilogy. To be fair, I was a teenage girl at the time. Don't hold it against me. ;)

  2. I think Joyces influence can be seen in a lot of sixties lit ,I like one flew over cuckoo's nest but made mistake of seeing film before reading the book ,all the best stu

  3. Happy to see you here at the Literary Blog Hop. Refreshing for me to find people who can sustain the narrative past a fractured sentence.

    Here's mine:

  4. Thanks for participating in our hop! We have enjoyed your blog for a while now :) I think you did a great job summing up literature in one paragraph -- something we struggled with for some time!

    Happy reviewing :)

  5. I'm a terrible liar, so I won't even try to take credit for the Literary Blog Hop idea. It's clever Ingrid's baby.
    I enjoyed One Flew Over the Cuckoo's nest, but I've never even looked at anything else by Kesey. Thanks for the well-stated recommendation!

  6. Here from the hop.

    Love your definition of literature (though I'm not a fan of beer), & will sign up for your war on Twilight. Haven't read anything by Kesey yet (but Cuckoo's Nest is on my list), but thanks for letting me know about Sometimes a Great Notion. You've certainly piqued my interest.

    Also, I've subscribed to your blog.

  7. HA! That first paragraph cracked me up.

    I like your definition of literary fiction a lot. Even though our definitions are somewhat different, the discussion and conversation about them has been nothing but enlightening.

    I feel rather behind here...I haven't even seen the One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest movie, much less read it...a situation to be remedied as soon as possible.

    Thanks for joining us on the hop.

  8. Hi there -
    I have not read any of the books you have suggested.... and am not sure I would enjoy Ulysses. I understand it has a sentence which is a 1000 or some odd words? or am confusing it with another tome.

    Just hopping and thought you may be interested in the challenges I just posted about - two actually. The Read a Myth and the Really Old Classics Challenge.

    Definitely like the theme of your blog with so many women out there its refreshing to see a male perspective.

  9. I will pick up this Kesey book soon. You have me on the hook.

  10. @cdmaczane - Well, I certainly don't want to make anyone cry, but I'm glad that you found us as well. There's a few bloggers of the more literary type - in fact, The Blue Bookcase hosted a Literary Blog Hop this past weekend ( We hope to keep you interested!

    @winstonsdad - I think you're right and thanks for pointing that out, Stu. My problem was that I read all the fifties/sixties lit before I got up the nerve to read Joyce. Though I haven't reread Kerouac in a while, I've got to believe that there's a direct influence there too.

    @readerbuzz - Thanks for the kind word. I enjoyed poking around your blog as well. I'm a new follower.

    @ConnieGirl - Thanks so much for putting on the Literary Blog Hop! I know it's going to ba a resounding success.

    @Christina - Ah ... clever Ingrid! I too like Cuckoo's Nest for theme and creativity, but Sometimes really is a much more mature and daring work. You definitely have to let me know what you think of it.

    @thefriande - Thanks for signing up! As you can imagine, the war on Twilight grows each time I mention it. Unfortunately, I'm afraid it's a losing battle (but may be won on a personal level, I think).

    @Mayowa - Thanks for the kind words. And I agree, it was very enlightening to read everyone's take on "literary," though I'm not sure we've come to any conclusions. Which just means that we'll have to continue talking--I look forward to it.

    @Shellie - Thanks for the recommendations. I'll definitely check them out (especially the classics challenge). But don't let Joyce scare you. I'm really more of a Hemingway reader too - not much use for run on sentences and a lack of punctuation - but it really does work for Ulysses if you give it some time.

    @Kenneth - I'm glad. It's definitely worth the read. Please let me know what you think of it.

  11. Hi there! I'm stopping by for a look-see from the Blog Hop, and found your site very refreshing (thank goodness there are literary peeps out here, I was getting worried that I was just crazy...)

    I'll be sure to add the Kesey to my ever growing to-read pile, (I loved Cuckoo's Nest)

  12. I say old boy. Malt whisky from tumblers, you'll next be adulterating it with ice. Just not done in certain circles, I'll have you know.
    Enjoyed your write up & nice to hear from another refugee from the twilight brigade

  13. Hello there! My first time visiting your blog and I must say it's very refreshing to meet some like-mindeds.

    Twilight has ruined literature for the young. Their brains will never be the same again. On another note, thanks for the Kesey recommendation. I've only read 'One Flew Over' and thought it was ok and was hoping for something a bit 'moreish'. I'll check it out.

    Plus, am now following as I like the way you put things. *nods*

  14. I have read a lot of classics in my school and college years. And some still remain my favorites. However, there are a few I could never get into..

    Here is my Literary Blog Hop post!

  15. I'll join you in the scotch! But my rule is that if you catch me smoking a cigar, take the drink out of my hand and put me to bed. I've had enough.

    SAGN is the definitive Oregon book and an enormous favorite of mine. Good choice for a difficult book -- I counted three different points-of-view in one paragraph with no transition -- but a terrific read.

    Hasn't Ulysses influenced everything? Or was that The Odyssey? :)

    I would have picked Ulysses, but Finnegans Wake makes Ulysses feel like a walk in the park.

    Rose City Reader

  16. @Laura - Thanks for stopping by. I poked around your blog for a while and was duly impressed by the excerpt from your latest novel. Well done!

    @parrish lantern - We're fresh out of whiskey tasting glasses, so the tumblers will have to do. Absolutely no ice, however, except for the lovers of Twilight, who will get ice alone!

    @myworldly - Thanks for the kind words and for following along. Sometimes is definitely "moreish"--I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

    @guatami - Thanks for stopping by and for directing me to your post. I always had trouble getting into Ulysses as well - but I recently picked it up again and, with a lot of work, I think I can now clearly see its genius.

    @Rose City Reader - I'm glad to hear from a fellow admirer of SAGN. It is beyond me that the book doesn't enjoy more of a popular following. You're right - I'm now seeing Ulysses in every work of literature that crosses my path. I'm close to finished with Ulysses now, and I've taken the next step in ordering an old copy of FW from Amazon. It is truly daunting, but I will persevere!