Reread, Rewrite, Burn tag

I’ve seen this tag around a lot, but Steph just did it and I am a follower so here we go.

THE RULES:

  • Randomly choose 3 books
  • For each group, decide which book to burn, which one to rewrite, and which to reread (like Marry, Boff, Kill).
  • Repeat until you completed three rounds (or six) (or however many you want to do).

 

REREAD: Order of the Phoenix, obviously!  It’s my favorite Harry Potter book.

REWRITE: God I would kill for the chance to rewrite Mockingjay….. like so many fans of the Hunger Games, I thought it was a pretty anticlimactic end to the series, the two main character deaths I felt were thrown in completely for shock value, the epilogue was a total disaster….. BUT If We Were Villains did nothing to warrant me burning it, so I’m going to have to rewrite it.  Not that there’s a whole lot I’d want to rewrite…. but I did have a couple of rather minor complaints.  It would be more tweaking than rewriting.

BURN: Mockingjay, for all the aforementioned reasons.

 

REREAD: Ugh….. the easiest answer would be To Kill a Mockingbird, but, I’m not going to make this easy on myself.  Autobiography of Red.  The way Anne Carson writes is so stunning it would be a crime to touch it.

REWRITE: I’m sure that’s how a lot of people feel about To Kill a Mockingbird, but I’m rather conflicted about this book.  I think it’s such an important seminal twentieth century work… but it can be difficult to grapple with the white saviorism from a contemporary perspective.  I think a modern retelling (from the perspective of Tom Robinson, maybe?) could do wonders to shift the focus back onto the anti-racism theme which is obviously what Harper Lee intended.  As a white person I am obviously not qualified to write that retelling, at all, but this is a meme and not a binding contract, so sure, rewrite To Kill a Mockingbird.  (Sorry, I probably just offended like 30 people.  I do really like this book!!!  It’s just… it’s tricky.)

BURN: The Silent Wife ended up being very bland and underwhelming.  Though it’s sad that the author passed away, so I’d feel bad burning it.

 

REREAD: I absolutely loved Angela’s Ashes, so this is a pretty easy decision, especially since I haven’t read it since I was about 16.

REWRITE: I bet you thought I was going to burn it, but no, I’d love to rewrite Gone Without a Trace.  The premise is brilliant – it’s the execution and horrible twists that made me hate it so much.

BURN: Se una notte d’inverno un viaggiatore – il postmodernismo può essere troppo pretenzioso anche per me.

OH MY GOD SOPHIE’S CHOICE I HATE THIS……….

REREAD: Bird Box – it was the kind of book that I wanted to read again immediately after I finished it.  And, I’ve already reread Station Eleven once, and I’m not a big re-reader to begin with, so I doubt I’ll read it again…

REWRITE: Shanghai Girls.  This is one of my favorite historical fiction novels, but there are parts I can think of that I’d want to edit.

BURN: I feel horrible about this, but, my rationale is that Station Eleven is such a masterpiece that rewriting it would almost be more criminal than burning it?!

 

REREAD: The Lieutenant of Inishmore is one of Martin McDonagh’s most absurd comedies, and I am so fond of it.  I want to be able to reread it when I need a pick me up.

REWRITE: I can’t resist…….. though it’s the one that I liked least of these three, House of Names – a Greek mythology retelling focused on Clytemnestra and Orestes – is basically the book I want to write.  I didn’t understand half the choices Toibin made with this book and I’d love the chance to tell the story my own way.

BURN: This is causing me a lot of pain, but, The Awakening, we are left with no choice 😦

 

REREAD: East of Eden.  This book is perfect.

REWRITE: This is so frustrating because while I liked the other two books on this list there’s so much I’d like to change about each of them.  I have to go with Alcestis – the first half of this book was incredible, but once she reaches the underworld, the relationship between Alcestis and Persephone wasn’t everything I had hoped for and more.  There are a lot of elements of that I’d want to change.

BURN: I did love this book, but, bye, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.

Not tagging anyone, but if you do it pingback to me so I can see your choices!  I love these posts.

20 thoughts on “Reread, Rewrite, Burn tag

    • I haven’t read The Help but I’ve seen that criticism a lot! Tbh I have no interest in it for that reason…. I’m tired of white people writing about black issues. TKAM is obviously trickier and needs to be more of a nuanced conversation since it was written over half a century ago…. ugh I am just so conflicted about that book!!! I’m glad you get where I’m coming from, though.

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  1. I think there is no need for a modern retelling of TKAM, I don’t think anyone except Harper Lee can do justice to the story. I think I would reread the The Great Gatsby and in my opinion the book which deserves a rewriting most is Mockingjay. I will burn any part of Twilight any day.

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    • I don’t mean any disrespect to Harper Lee who was an excellent writer, but I still disagree. While it was progressive for the time it was written, there are certain elements that are difficult to grapple with from a contemporary perspective – basically the trope of the white man needing to rescue the poor uneducated black man. What I was getting at in suggesting in a modern retelling is that shifting the focus from Atticus to Tom Robinson may help to highlight the anti-racism moral of the story in a way that’s more palatable for contemporary readers, since we’ve had half a century for social justice discourse to develop since Harper Lee wrote it.

      I don’t hate the book – I gave it 4 stars. I think it’s an important piece of literature. I just think it’s important to acknowledge its flaws.

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  2. I very much agree to what you said about To Kill a Mockingbird, Lee’s intentions were most probably really good, but it totally felt like the White Saviour was present there.
    Alsooo, East of Eden is so brilliant!! I’d reread it too! I really need to ask you this – did you like Cathy?
    Lovely answers and as always, I got great recommendations from you! ❤

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    • Ahh I’m glad you understand where I’m coming from with TKAM… I did really like that book, but the white savior complex is such a damaging trope, and while we obviously need to take into account when it was written I still think it’s important to think about it critically.

      Okay so I LOVE Cathy as a villain. I found her absence of a moral code and rejection of motherhood so fascinating, and at the end I actually felt a bit of sympathy toward her, which rather disturbed me. I’m not like ‘she was just misunderstood!’ or anything, like… she was definitely a psychopath and it’s hard to argue against that point… but she is such a complex and multifaceted character and I LOVE female villains and anti-heroines who aren’t driven by like… maternal instinct. What did you think of her??

      And thank you! ❤

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      • Yes, it’s very damaging, like I can see that it might come from good intentions – supporting POCs, but if you present white people “saving” them in your books, it just reinforces the idea that POCs are always in need of help from white people, that they can’t manage on their own. Indeed, we have to think about this critically, because you can love a book and still admit that it has indeed its issues.
        Me too!! I adored Cathy as a villain, I thought she was a very unique presence, I have never read any character like her (in classics or other genres). I feel like she might have been in some way an equivalent to Lilith? I really loved all the plots that included her, she was very complex and intriguing. As you said, after all those horrible things she did, you still sympathized with her, Steinbeck did a glorious job! ❤

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      • Yes, exactly! And it was obviously progressive and influential for the 1950s, so I’d hardly condemn it as irredeemably racist… it’s definitely a nuanced issue, but I find this kind of thing really interesting to discuss!

        OH YAY I’m glad you also loved Cathy!!! And I also see her as the equivalent to Lilith! I’ve seen some people say that they see her as a sort of twisted Eve figure, but (assuming that Adam Trask indeed represents biblical Adam) I think Lilith makes more sense, because wasn’t her sin (forgive me if this is wrong I’m not very religious) that she refused to lie beneath a man? That’s basically her entire narrative, that she covets the positions of power that men have and refuses to be subservient. I mean… some of the things she does are truly repulsive so I wouldn’t go as far as to absolve her of everything, but I do find it fascinating how gender roles and the sexism of the period shaped her character. I was really haunted by her after I finished, because she was SO HORRIBLE but she still evoked genuine pity from me at the end. She and Cal were my two favorites by far.

        I also really really want Rosamund Pike to play her in a film adaptation.

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      • Definitely an interesting thing to discuss, just like misogyny in classics is important to discuss rather than ignored just because those were the times. We have to learn from the past and understand how we reached those issues that we’re facing today.
        Nooo, you’re totally right about it! I haven’t read the Bible, but I’ve heard Lilith appears only in older versions or something like that! Also, besides the fact that Lilith refuses to lie beneath a man, she goes to hell and has children with the snake (I feel like it’s quite fitting with the Charles plot too). I really adored how she was unapologetic, I feel like she knew how awful her actions were, but she owned them perfectly and you couldn’t help, but like her in the end. Rosamund Pike would be perfect in this role, she’s such a great actress, she’s so great that I was so shocked when I found out that she played both Amy (Gone Girl) and Jane Bennet (Pride & Prejudice) and I haven’t realised even though I watched both movies. She’s phenomenal!

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      • I just briefly googled Cathy and Lilith and I don’t think there’s as much about this as the Cathy-as-perverted-Eve theory, but this blog post was interesting:

        http://steinbeckeastofeden.blogspot.com/2013/05/east-of-eden-part-one-continued.html

        especially this point:

        “Cathy is not an Eve like figure because she was tricked into eating the apple by Satan, Cathy was not tricked into being evil and causing destruction. She made her own conscious decisions. She would be seen more as Lilith because they both fight to be in control.”

        Also, according to wikipedia, Lilith was created from the same dirt as Adam rather than from one of Adam’s ribs the way Eve was, and she was banished from Eden for refusing to be subservient to him – which would make sense, as she saw them as equals. That screams Cathy Ames.

        There’s also this VERY in depth thesis that I don’t even begin to have time to read, but it’s interesting that others have written about this!

        https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/etd/5282/

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      • I will check those out right now!! But I’m so much more behind the Lilith theory than the twisted-Eve one, Also is the last one an actual research paper? Because it looks a lot like the psychology research papers I read sometimes, hahaha! I’ll have to check it out, I can’t believe there are some related to literature. But all these theories asides, I love East of Eden so much! ❤

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      • Yeah, I guess it’s someone’s actual thesis! Oh, do you/did you (I can never remember everyone’s ages on this website) study psychology in school? That must be so interesting, I took a few psych classes and loved them! And YES East of Eden is just the best, but it is not the most often read classic so I’m so glad to have found someone else who loves it!

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      • That’s so cool, I wish my thesis could have such an interesting subject! ❤ Hahaha, that’s totally okay. I’m in my second year of uni and yes, I’m studying psychology. It’s very interesting, my main problem with it is the fact that our teachers can be quite unprepared about courses. They just seem not to care all that much. Yeah, sadly, because it’s my favourite book from Steinbeck. I’ve read Of Mice and Men and The Pearl so far, I’ve also heard amazing things about the Grapes of Wraith, but haven’t read that one yet…

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      • Oh no that is the WORST 😦 Are all of your professors like that or just a few? I definitely had a few of those in college and I hated it so much. Like, why am I supposed to care about this material if you don’t?? I hope you get some better teachers, because your subject is so interesting and deserves to be taught well!

        I read The Pearl so long ago I literally do not remember a single thing about it. I really liked Of Mice and Men, but it’s not an all-time favorite or anything… and I HATED the Grapes of Wrath, maybe I’d like it more now but when I read it when I was 16 I just found it dreadfully boring. I’d like to read Cannery Row though, I’ve heard a lot of good things about that one!

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      • Most of them are like this, to be honest! And besides being disinterested in teaching us things, they also have huge, unrealistic expectations when it comes to our evaluation. I had only one teacher that was very involved in our education and I loved him very much because it was so easy to study since he was so dedicated to his subject. What have you studied? I hope so too!
        Yeah, The Pearl wasn’t very unforgettable! Same about Of Mice and Men, I prefer East of Eden to it, I don’t know why most people think of OMAM when you talk about Steinbeck (probably it’s because it’s shorter and more accessible, but still…). I think I have heard of that one, but I’m not sure what it’s about, I’ll have to check it out!

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      • I studied Italian Lit when I was in college with a minor in Art History, and I enjoyed those both a lot! It definitely depended on the professor though, I also had a few of those who had super unrealistic expectations and that was always frustrating. I had to take this one Geology class (which had nothing to do with my major, but American universities require you to take classes in just about everything before you can graduate) and I found it fascinating, the professor was so passionate about environmentalism and his lectures were always so interesting, but his quizzes were IMPOSSIBLE, it’s like he was deliberately trying to trick you. I just don’t understand the point of that style of teaching at all. I think it reflects really poorly on a teacher when the class average is so low – you have to actually educate your students and then evaluate them based on reasonable expectations.

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