Best Books of the 20th Century

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1

To Kill a Mockingbird

by

4.24 rating

Comment 1: This is one more book which I read during a summer break. I actually had not read any classics by my own volition until I grabbed this one, so I will always cherish To Kill a Mockingbird as my first. At first, I didn’t even know what the book was about, really. I just remember choosing this one because I had heard its title a bunch of times, plus it had a really beautiful cover (yes, I am one of those guys…). I remember thinking that it was bound to be, at least, average, otherwise it wouldn’t have acquired such fame. And it was much more than that. To this day, few books have had the same general impact on me as a human being as this one. The powerful lessons expressed through every character, especially Atticus Finch, are unique and everlasting.I could say that this book is nothing more than a coming of age story about day-to-day life in a small Alabama town during the Great Depression, but it is. To Kill a Mockingbird, in its simplicity, emanates waves of warmth through totally believable and relatable characters. Enduring characters like the Finches, Calpurnia and Boo Radley are rare, but when they come up they tend to stay with the readers for generations. Atticus Finch, by being such a beacon of righteousness to the kids, has done the same for me as well. The most admirable thing about him is his ability to influence the kids, constantly leading them to the right direction regarding moral and general behavior, while letting them interact with society and find out the workings of the world on their own. Also, the way Atticus talks to the kids is something that everyone should learn: to interact with children as if they are adults; by doing so, Atticus makes sure the children know their opinions are being taken seriously and that they are respected. I wish every parent was like that! God knows how disgusted I get whenever I see parents interacting with their kids as if they are some kind of injured puppy or something… Well, to wrap this all up, I wish I could have read To Kill a Mockingbird sooner so that I would have been inspired by its awesomeness from a younger age.Regarding the narrative, I found it light and easy flowing; there is no excess of detail descriptions, no sudden unexplained events or anything poorly executed. Everything makes sense and fits the rhythm of the story perfectly. Still, it was only a third or so into the book that I began to understand why it is what it is. When I got there, the first part felt really less significant than I had thought. In fact, it only served to introduce all the characters – their relationships, personalities, motivations and moral standpoints. After that, though, the core of the story is slowly built until it comes to the famous courtroom scene – and I found it to be as remarkable as everyone had said it would. The events that come right after are equally shocking. Even though our society, unfortunately, still is not near being prejudice free, the lengths to which people of that time would go to ascertain that their prejudicial views were being hold by legal authorities left me astounded.To Kill a Mockingbird was truly beyond its time and I find its messages very much relevant. That is what characterizes quality literature: the property of transcending time and having the same impact on several generations as it had on the first reader. All things considered, this is an incredible book that reminded me, once more, of how important it is to at least try to treat everyone with equal respect. Also, this book is extremely powerful in its discussion of racism, tolerance and human behavior. Considering that I come from a town where most people will look at you as if you are trash if you don’t suit up to go to the mall to watch a movie, I can’t possibly read too much about such lessons. I really do not ever want to turn into one of those people. Interesting quotes that I didn't include in the review: You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it. People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience. People in their right minds never take pride in their talents. The Last Passage(view spoiler)[ He guided me to the bed and sat me down. He lifted my legs and put me under the cover."An' they chased him 'n' never could catch him 'cause they didn't know what he looked like, an' Atticus, when they finally saw him, why he hadn't done any of those things... Atticus, he was real nice..."His hands were under my chin, pulling up the cover, tucking it around me."Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them."He turned out the light and went into Jem's room. He would be there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning. (hide spoiler)]

2

The Chronicles of Narnia

by

4.22 rating

Comment 1: I was in college the first time I read all the Chronicles of Narnia. Eight years later, I was ecstatic to get the whole set for free through the Goodreads first reader program. (Thanks to Harper Collins.) This time around I enjoyed them quite a bit more and understood the symbolism a little better. Rating on story alone I probably would give them three or four stars. But because all the stories are so deep in meaning and strike a chord with Christians everywhere, I've bumped the series up to AMAZING.I've reviewed each book individually (in order.) Don't expect to find anything profound or insightful in any of my comments. I just recorded how the books made me feel and what I found particularly great (or not-so-great) about them.The Magician's Nephew, the first book in the Narnia series (which was actually the sixth published) receives 5 stars from me. (Here they are: * * * * *)Although I read this book only a couple years ago to my wife, I found it just as enjoyable the second time. The first half of the book (Polly and Diggory's discovery of magic travel and struggles with the witch) is basically the main story, while the second half (Founding of Narnia) is a very long denouement. Although the falling action is full of annoying animal conversation and endless description of landscape, the symbolism is quite poignant. If the book was split into two I would give the first 5 stars and the second 4. But together the first half easily makes up for the meandering finish. Why do I love the beginning so much? Very clever writing, a terribly gripping plot (I've said before that the Wood between Worlds is the most exciting concept I've ever encountered in any book), and of course the great one liners. For example, "That's absolute bosh from beginning to end."The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is the most well known of the seven books, and it's one of my favorites. Even so, I grew a little bored reading this one, and I attribute it to the many readings and countless film adaptations I've ingested over the years. Unlike the Magician's Nephew, this has a great cohesive plot from beginning to end. And even if Aslan does come in at the end and save the day a little easily, the Christian symbolism is nicely done. Five stars.A Horse and His Boy was an incredibly engaging story from beginning to end. (5 stars) The symbolism of God helping us through our tough times brought me close to tears, and it was so satisfying to see justice served in the end. It took me until now to comprehend the cleverness of the title. (My mind always just switched the horse and boy around.) I'll end with one of my favorite lines uttered by King Lune: "Have we no more gravity among us than to be so chafed by the taunt of a pajock?"Prince Caspian was a great book (four stars), although in general I enjoyed the movie more. The duel between Miraz and Peter, however, was actually better in the book. Lewis has an incredible knack for making you feel like you're there watching. One of my favorite lines: "That's the worst of girls," said Edmund to Peter and the Dwarf. "They never carry a map in their heads.""That's because our heads have something inside them," said Lucy.Something else that I found funny was the difference in language and meaning. This line for example would probably have to be cut from any of today's children's books: "Of course, if the children had attempted a journey like this a few days ago in England, they would have been knocked up."One thing I didn't understand was this: The Pevensies are called into Narnia by the horn and then it takes them a few days to get to where Prince Caspian is (I think they sleep at least twice.) But then when they get there they hear Caspian saying he blew it just that morning. (p.391) Did I just read it wrong? Can someone explain this to me? After re-reading The Voyage of the Dawn Treader my hat goes off to the three screenplay writers that adapted this for film. Lewis's original is rich with originality and symbolism, but destitute in storyline. The movie somehow brought together all the episodic "lessons" and turned it into a cohesive whole. Now I remember why this book wasn't one of my favorites. Not enough story to sink my teeth into. Still, it was an enjoyable read. I would probably get more out of the novels if I was astute enough to understand all the symbolism. With this book, I quite often said to myself, "I know that last story was supposed to mean something...oh well, let's see if anything cool happens on the next island."The best line of the book was also the first: "There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it."Three stars for Voyage of the Dawn Treader. * * * And three cheers for me for getting through these so quickly with three kids and a full time job.I enjoyed The Silver Chair much more the second time. (4 stars) I'd remembered the Marsh-Wiggle as being exceptionally annoying. This time I found Puddleglum's constant pessimism exceptionally funny. (I'm not sure what that says about me now.) The plot was very well formed with a beginning, middle, and end (this one should convert very nicely to film.) I really liked the symbolism of the Queen trying to convince them there was no overland (akin to unbelievers trying to convince us there is no God or heaven.) And I now know this is immature, but I just have to share a few more of the tidbits that sound funny in our modern culture. (Apologies to Clive Staples.) "Gay," said Puddleglum with a deep sigh. "Thats what weve got to be. Gay." ... "All right. Gay's the word," said Scrubb. "Now, if we could only get someone to open this door. While were fooling about and being gay, weve got to find out all we can about this castle."I'll finish with one more passage and just let you wonder what it's really about. (Hint: Lewis's intentions were rated G.) She made love to everyone - the grooms, the porters, the housemaids, the ladies-in-waiting, and the elderly giant lords whose hunting days were past. She submitted to being kissed and pawed about by any number of giantesses, many of whom seemed sorry for her...The Last Battle started out with a great story, but then kind of threw the plot away to make room for the powerful end of the world allegory. Although I did appreciate Lewis's amazing insights into what the end of the world will be like (and the profound symbolism of Christ as Alsan), I would've also like to have seen the characters find a way out of their predicament without being magicked away. I guess in this last book at least, I can't satisfy both my need for story and need for meaningful symbolism. Overall, C. S. Lewis does an amazing job crafting stories that ring true to Christians and Story Lovers alike. The writing is good enough that you can choose to ignore all the deeper meanings. Why anyone would do that, however, makes as much sense to me as a Liberal watching Fox News to get the weather.

3

Animal Farm

by

3.82 rating

Comment 1: مزرعة الحيوان ربما هو شعور طفولي مدفون، ذلك الذي يجعلنا نستمتع دائماً بالقصص الرمزية، ربما هي فرحة الطفل بلعبة توصيل الخطوط ما بين الأشياء، أو ربما هي شهوة النميمة التي تجعلنا نتحرق ونحن نقرأ قصة رمزية إلى معرفة المقصود بها. وهذه قصة رمزية كتبها أورويل بهدف يحدده بنفسه عندما يقول "ما من شيء ساهم في إفساد المعنى الأصلي لمذهب الاشتراكية أكثر من الاعتقاد بأن روسيا بلد اشتراكي، وأن كل فعل يصدر عن القادة السوفيات ينبغي تبريره بل محاكاته، لهذا السبب أصبحت مقتنعاً في السنوات العشر الماضية بأن تدمير الأسطورة السوفياتية من خلال كتابة قصة يسهل على الجميع فهمها كما يسهل ترجمتها إلى لغات عدة"، حتى نفهم هذا نحتاج إلى أن نتعرف على أورويل قليلاً. ولد أورويل في الهند حيث كان والده يعمل هناك سنة 1903 م، وأورويل ليس إلا اسمه الأدبي، أما اسمه الحقيقي فهو ايريك آرثر بلير، عاد إلى إنجلترا وهو في الرابعة من عمره، حيث تلقى تعليمه هناك حتى تعين في الشرطة الإمبراطورية الهندية في بورما، حيث عمل هناك لخمسة أعوام. نلاحظ أن أورويل في هذا كله كان يعيش حياة أي شاب بريطاني من طبقته في ذلك الوقت، الطبقة الوسطى، طبقة موظفي الإمبراطورية البريطانية، وكان يمكن لأورويل أن يستمر في هذه الحياة لولا أن هناك شيئين غيرا مسار حياته، الأول هو رغبته في أن يكون كاتباً، والأمر الآخر هو كرهه للإمبريالية التي كان يخدمها وهو في بورما، فلذا استقال من عمله سنة 1927 م وعاد إلى إنجلترا. سأترك الآن سيرة أورويل قليلاً لأعبر عن فكرة جانبية صغيرة، فيما مضى عندما كنت اقرأ أي سيرة ذاتية لشخص ما، سياسي، مفكر أو كاتب، كنت أمر على مثل هذه الأحداث التي عاشها بطلنا مروراً سريعاً، وأظن أننا جميعاً نفعل هذا، مسيرة حياة الرجل الذي نقرأ عنه تبدو لنا حالة دائمة من التقدم، تحقيق الذات، وهذا هو الوهم الذي يتسلل إلينا من قراءة السير الذاتية، أورويل الذي نعرفه الآن من خلال كتبه (مزرعة الحيوان) و(1984) و(متشرداً في باريس ولندن)، لم يكن أورويل الذي استقال من عمله، حياة الإنسان ليست خطاً يمكننا رسمه من لحظة الولادة إلى لحظة الممات، ومن ثم تعيين نقاط عليه لنقول هذه النقاط التي حقق فيها ذاته، حياة الإنسان خط متقطع، متعرج، ملتوٍ على ذاته أحياناً، بحيث أننا في حالات كثيرة نكاد ننفي وجود خط من أساسه، ربما نحن نفعل هذا لأننا نظن أن سيرة الإنسان هي ما حدث له، بينما جزء من حياة الإنسان هو ما لم يحدث، في حالة الكتاب مثلاً، لماذا نادراً ما تذكر أعمال الكاتب المجهضة، غير المكتملة؟ أعماله التي مات وتركها في أدراجه؟ لأننا بكل بساطة نحاول أن نقدم سيراً ذاتية تجعل صاحبها يبدو وكأنه كان يعرف ما يفعله في كل لحظة، ويتجه إليه بلا تردد، وهذه سير تخنق قارئها، لأنها تقدم له الشكل النهائي، تقدم له النموذج، بحيث أن قارئها الشاب الذي بالتأكيد لا يدري أين سيأخذه مساره في الحياة، يشعر بالنقص، يشعر بأن من يقرأ عنهم مختلفون عنه تماماً، مكتملون نوعاً ما، وهو أبداً لن يكون كذلك. من حسن الحظ أنني لا أكتب سيرة لأورويل، وإلا لكنت وضعت نفسي في موقف حرج بعد سطوري السابقة، لأنه كان عندها لازماً علي أن أتجاوز الهوة التي وصفتها، وأحاول نقل روح الكاتب وأفكاره بلا تدخل وملأ للفراغات الموجودة. نعود إلى أورويل الذي عاد إلى إنجلترا، وبما أنه كان قد انفصل عن طبقته عندما رفض الوظيفة الحكومية، التي سيخدم من خلالها الإمبريالية، فلذا عاش متشرداً ما بين لندن وباريس، وهي التجربة التي سجلها في كتابه (متشرداً ما بين باريس ولندن)، هذه التجربة، هذا الاقتراب من الطبقات الدنيا في المجتمع البريطاني، جعلته يعي الظلم الواقع عليها، وهو ما جعله يتبنى الاشتراكية، ويقوم بنفسه بزيارة عمال المناجم في ويغان، حيث يعيش معهم ويسجل تجربتهم في كتابه (الطريق إلى رصيف ويغان)، وعندما قامت الحرب الأهلية الأسبانية، انتقل إلى هناك وشارك في الحرب، وسجل تجربته في كتابه (الحنين إلى كاتالونيا). نأتي الآن إلى كتابه هذا الذي نشره في سنة 1945 م، قبل نهاية الحرب العالمية بأسابيع، في العبارة التي أوردناها في الأعلى، نفهم غرض أورويل من الكتاب، عندما نتذكر كل الأحلام والشعارات الاشتراكية، وكل الوعود بالعالم الذي سينتهي فيه صراع الطبقات، كل هذا ذرته الحقبة الستالينية في الهواء، إن أورويل من خلال هذه الرواية يحاول إنقاذ الاشتراكية من السوفيات الذين دمروا سمعتها تماماً، ومنحوا الرأسماليين بكل بساطة حجة لا تقهر على سوء الاشتراكية وفشلها. ليفعل هذا يحكي لنا قصة مزرعة تثور الحيوانات فيها على صاحبها السكير الذي كان يستغلها لمصالحه من دون أن يعطيها حتى كفايتها من الطعام، هذه الثورة تأتي لتحقق نبوءة حكيم الحيوانات وهو خنزير اسمه (ميجر)، والذي تنبأ بالثورة ومات قبل أن يشهدها – شخصيته هي مزيج من ماركس ولينين -، يقود الثورة بعد هذا خنزيران أحدهما يدعى سنوبول – شخصيته مزيج من لينين وتروتسكي - والآخر نابليون – ستالين -، ويتم وضع سبعة قوانين لمذهب الحيوانية الذي ستسير الحياة في (مزرعة الحيوانات) على أساسه، تبدأ الحيوانات في العمل الشاق، وخاصة بناء طاحونة تهدف الحيوانات من بنائها إلى توفير الطاقة الكهربائية للمزرعة، تبدأ الخنازير التي تولت القيادة في تمييز نفسها عن الحيوانات الأخرى، وكسر بعض القوانين السبعة، بل إعادة كتابتها لتتناسب مع الوضع الجديد، يطرد نابليون سنوبول ويسيطر على المزرعة بقوة، محيطاً نفسه بخنازير محدودة، وبكلاب شرسة لا تدين بالولاء إلا له، مع الوقت تصبح حياة الحيوانات أسوأ مما كانت في ظل صاحبها الإنسان السابق، ولكن لا أحد يتذكر، والدعاية الدائمة التي يقدمها الحكام الجدد، تمجد الإنجازات التي قاموا بها، وويل لمن يشكك في هذا، في النهاية تكسر الخنازير آخر القوانين السبعة، وهو قانون غريب كانت الحيوانات أقرته، يفرق بين الحيوانات والإنسان وهو باعتبار أن من يمشي على قدمين عدو، ومن يمشي على أربع صديق، ولنلاحظ أن الخنازير لم تكن محتاجة إلى كسر هذا القانون، ولكنها تفعل، وتعلم نفسها المشي على قدمين، لتميز نفسها عن بقية الحيوانات، وهكذا تمحى القوانين السبعة التي ولدت مع الثورة، وتختم الرواية على مشهد الخنازير وهي تتبادل المصالح مع أصحاب المزارع المجاورة من البشر، بحيث لم تعد الحيوانات تفرق ما بين البشر والخنازير، وبحيث لم تعد المزرعة للحيوانات، وإنما تحول اسمها إلى (ضيعة الخنازير). الرواية كما نرى هي القصة المؤلمة لتبدد الحلم الاشتراكي على يد السوفيات، أما المستقبل المرعب الذي كان أورويل يتوقعه لهذه التجربة فسنقرؤه في روايته التالية 1984.

4

Gone with the Wind

by

4.26 rating

Comment 1: I kind of don't want to give this book 5 stars. I'm going to, because it was epic. Seriously, it's a really, really good read and Margaret Mitchell was a fantastic storyteller. She captures the feel of a lost generation and a bygone world and makes it real, pulsing with life and bittersweet memory and pride. Her characters are wonderfully vivid and complicated and conflicted, larger than life archetypes symbolizing the different elements of society each one represents. And the story is sweeping and grand. If you've seen the movie and thought it was gorgeous and epic, Hollywood only barely did justice to the source material. Gone With the Wind is deservedly one of the greatest Civil War novels ever written.But... there is a really big "but" here.Here was the astonishing spectacle of half a nation attempting, at the point of bayonet, to force upon the other half the rule of negroes, many of them scarcely one generation out of the African jungles. The vote must be given to them but it must be denied to most of their former owners.There are a few things that Hollywood rather prudently left out in the cinematic version, like the fact that every white male character joins the Klan to oppose Yankees and freedmen in the period of Reconstruction following the war. And this is described in approbatory terms by the narrative viewpoint. In the book, unlike the movie, Scarlett finds Rhett Butler in jail because he killed a black man, for being "insolent" to a white woman. And this is treated as an example of how shocking, lawless, and hateful the Yankees are: they actually put a white man in jail just because he killed a negro!Indeed, throughout the book, Mitchell compares African-Americans to monkeys, apes, and children, describes slavery as a benevolent institution in which kind slave owners took care of their "darkies," and when the slaves are freed, society crumbles because black people are destructive children who can't function without white people telling them what to do. Reconstruction (in which the South learns that yes, you really aren't allowed to own slaves anymore and yes, you really did actually lose the war) is a horror beyond enduring, but we're meant to mourn the lost world of balls and barbecues attended by rich white plantation owners and their loyal, happy slaves.Now, you may be saying, "Well, sure, the characters are racist, of course former Confederates are going to be racist." And that's true, I wouldn't have a problem with the characters being racist and flinging the n-word about. That would be historically accurate. But the authorial viewpoint makes it very clear that Margaret Mitchell shared the POV of her characters.Aided by the unscrupulous adventurers who operated the Freedmen's Bureau and urged on by a fervor of Northern hatred almost religious in its fanaticism, the former field hands found themselves suddenly elevated to the seats of the mighty. There they conducted themselves as creatures of small intelligence might naturally be expected to do. Like monkeys or small children turned loose among treasured objects whose value is beyond their comprehension, they ran wild - either from perverse pleasure in destruction or simply because of their ignorance.Everything about the antebellum South (except its sexism, which is treated with satirical amusement and thoroughly lampooned by Scarlett in everything she does) is glorified and painted in a rosy hue. All sympathy is with rich white Southerners when Reconstruction destroys their world. Their former slaves? The author takes pains to describe how much happier and better off most of them were before being freed. Black characters are all offensive racial stereotypes who are constantly described (not by other characters, but in the narrative POV) as apes, monkeys, and children."Gawdlmighty, Miss Scarlett! Ah's sceered ter go runnin' roun' in de dahk by mahseff! Spose de Yankees gits me?"I don't think you have to be overly "politically correct" to find Gone With the Wind to be a hard book to get through at times, with really glaring evidence of the author's Southern sympathies and unquestioned racism.And yet I'm giving it 5 stars. I suppose in the interests of political correctness I should knock off at least a star, but I have to be honest: I was just enthralled by this long, long novel from start to finish. Even while I was sometimes gritting my teeth at the racist descriptions and all the "Wah, wah, poor plantation owners, the Yankees took away all their slaves, life is so hard for them now!" I wanted the story to keep going and going. I wasn't bored for one moment.The protagonists, of course, are what make this a timeless love story. Note that's "love story," not "romance," because there's very little romantic about Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler.What Melanie did was no more than all Southern girls were taught to do: to make those about them feel at ease and pleased with themselves. It was this happy feminine conspiracy which made Southern society so pleasant. Women knew that a land in which men were contented, uncontradicted, and safe in possession of unpunctured vanity was likely to be a very pleasant place for women to live. So from the cradle to the grave, women strove to make men pleased with themselves, and the satisfied men repaid lavishly with gallantry and adoration. In fact, men willingly gave the ladies everything in the world, except credit for having intelligence.Scarlett exercised the same charms as Melanie but with a studied artistry and consummate skill. The difference between the two girls lay in the fact that Melanie spoke kind and flattering words from a desire to make people happy, if only temporarily, and Scarlett never did it except to further her own aims.Scarlett is an evil, conniving drama queen who if she had been raised in a society where women were actually allowed to do things would rule the world, but since she wasn't, she just learned to wrap the world around her finger and tell it to go to hell. She is absolutely the most self-centered character you will ever meet: in her mind, she is literally the center of the world. She sees nothing, understands nothing, and cares about nothing that isn't of direct and immediate importance to herself. And yet within her narrow, blindered view of the world, she's brilliant and adaptive and resourceful and unstoppable. The destruction of that glittering world of ball gowns and parties and negroes waiting on her hand and foot, in which she was raised to expect the world to revolve around her, is harrowingly depicted in her trials during the war and after it, and in her downright heroic accomplishments keeping not only herself but her extended family alive. Never mind that she never actually cares about anyone but herself, she does what has to be done, which is largely why her sister-in-law, poor Melanie Wilkes, believes to her dying day that Scarlett is a wonderful, noble, loving sister, even while the entire time Scarlett hates her and covets Melanie's husband Ashley.Then there is Rhett Butler. The most brilliant Byronic rogue ever. Rhett kicks Heathcliff and Rochester's prissy white English arses. He is a first class scoundrel and anti-hero with a dark, brooding swoon-worthy heart. Because he's ruthlessly pragmatic and mercenary, smart enough to know right from the start that the South has started a fight it can't win, and he makes millions as a "speculator," enduring the wrath and hatred of his peers and gleefully, smugly giving them the finger, and yet in the end he goes off to be a hero. And survives, and becomes a (very, very rich) scoundrel again, and his reputation keeps going up and down throughout the book. He is the only man who is a match for Scarlett, because as he points out, they are so much alike. Like Scarlett, he's awesome and caddish and hateful and the best character ever.Scarlett and Rhett's relationship is so much more tempestuous, conflicted, and compelling than in the movie. Every time they are together, it's like watching two grandmasters drawing knives and sparring. They were truly made for each other, they deserve each other, they could be happy together, and yet how could it end in anything but tears?Oh yeah, I loved this book. Parts of it are so offensive, it will not bear scrutiny to modern sensibilities (it was pretty darn offensive when it was written, even if they did make a toned-down Hollywood movie based on it a few years later), and if you can't stand reading Mark Twain and all his uses of the n-word, then Gone With the Wind will probably make you want to throw the book against a wall (which will make a big dent, because this is a big book). But it is powerful and moving, the drama is grander than any epic fantasy doorstopper, the romance is definitely there, and the characters are fabulous and melodramatic and you care about every one of them, even (especially) the African-American characters, despite Mitchell's offensive treatment of them.This is certainly not the only "problematic" book I've ever enjoyed, but never have I so enjoyed so problematic a book. If it weren't so damned racist, I'd give Gone With the Wind my highest recommendation. If it weren't so damned good, I could castigate it as a well-written but really offensive book whose author misused her gifts. But it's both, so I recommend it, but my recommendation comes with a big fat warning label.There was a land ofCavaliers and Cotton Fieldscalled the Old South...Here in this pretty worldGallantry took its last bow..Here was the last ever tobe seen of Knights and theirLadies Fair, of Master and ofSlave...Look for it only in books,for it is no more than adream remembered.A Civilization gone withthe wind...

5

The Giving Tree

by

4.38 rating

Comment 1: HEY, KIDS AND SHEL SILVERSTEIN FANS! COME OVER HERE AND READ THIS!Okay, this some motherfuckin' fucked-up shit right here. The Giving Tree is the straight-up wack story of how this selfish little ass-faced prick kicks it with this full-on saintly tree. Ever'thin' fine for a while, y'all, with the lil' prick all gettin' up in there an' sayin' to the tree, "Yeah, you know you mah bitch," but then all of a sudden, this jumped-up prick go through puberty, get his chia on or some such shit, and so he's off screwin' the skank-ass bitches on the block all damn day and can't spare one motherfuckin' minute for this poor old tree who waitin' for him and lookin' all motherfuckin' sad an' droopy an' shit. So this little punk-ass bitch come up on the tree -- this is a motherfuckin' tree, hear? -- and ask her ['cuz she a sexy-ass lady-tree] fo' some g's. Well, the tree is all, like, "I ain't got no cash, bitch. What part o' me say ATM on it? Mmm-hmmm. I thought so..." And she shoulda held up there, but -- no -- this tree gets all fuckin' benevolent and be, like, "Well, I got mad apples you can go hustle on the streets." So this ass-faced prick just, like, boosts all these goddamn apples an' leaves this tree with, like, its weave all out an' shit. So next, after workin' the streets wit his crew, little bitch boy come back, lookin' all older an' jacked-up, and ask the motherfuckin' tree for a goddamn crib. So the tree like, "Hol' up. Do you even fuckin' see Coldwell Banker all up an' down in here? I think not." But then, being all kindly an' shit, the tree is, like, "But I got mad branches..." And what? She motherfuckin' takes it up back again fo' this fool. Later, another goddamn time, punk-ass bitch come back, lookin' all old an' saggy and wack now, and he like, "Bitch, what you got fo' me now?" "Awww, hell naw," tree says, but then she start gettin' all soft an' shit again an' say, "Why don' you cut down my trunk or some such shit and go 'head and whittle a pimped-out yacht, full-on Hamptons-style?" He, like, "Yeah, I thought so, bitch." And then -- guess the fuck what? -- little shriveled-up, played-out mack come on back wit his ass all hemorrhoided-up an' shit. He look straight-up nasty and old. Tree is, like, "I know you ain't come t'ask me. All's I got is a motherfuckin' stump, you ass-faced motherfucker. How you gon' come back at me like that?" This punk-ass bitch is all drooling and jacked-up and just wanna sit the hell down. What do the motherfuckin' tree do? She say, "Hell no! You motherfuckin' fucked-up fucker, get yo' motherfuckin' ass face out o' here fo' I cut you up good: give you some stank-ass mad tree fungus, motherfucker!" The motherfuckin' end, motherfuckers. Okay, so that's not really the way The Giving Tree ends, but maybe it's the way it should. Some time ago, my ex-girlfriend and, afterward, long-time co-dependent friend gave me The Giving Tree as part of my birthday gift. I loved it, but I hated it, too, because I felt so bad for the tree who is endlessly shat upon by this worthless "Boy"--as he is always known, regardless of age; I longed to console the tree and, maybe a little, to condemn this book as yet another emotionally-scarring "children's" entertainment in the manner of Old Yeller. Don't give me any shit about learning valuable lessons. The only lesson I learned was that human beings are nothing but steaming piles of corn-freckled feces, and that I wanted to found a not-for-profit shelter for unloved trees and rabid dogs and any other nonhuman thing, living or not, which was either unwanted or despised. Having said all this -- and although I don't approve of the treatment of the giving tree -- this book is very moving and very delicate. The delicacy is somewhat counteracted when the reader turns over the book and sees the author photograph of a thoroughly evil-looking Shel Silverstein. He looks like the sort of person who would burn down whole forests of rare giving trees just for kicks. Picture Othello just before he strangles Desdemona. If you -- and, yes, I'm talking to you personally -- are not moved by the plight of the tree after reading this book, then perhaps it's time to go an' check yo'self: are you the givin' tree or are you the motherfuckin' takin' tree? Or are you the sneak-out-in-the-middle-of-the-night-an'-steal-all-my-shit tree?

Description of list:

The best books published during the 20th century (January 1st,1901 through December 31st 2000)

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