(by Lexy Levin)
we’re fickle, stupid beings with poor memories and a great gift for self destruction
We have decided to trespass in the sacred precincts, the plush powder-blue fastness of the Delta Rho chapter of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority at Ole Miss: Kappa House, stronghold of Southern Womanhood, inviolable and pristine. This being summer, the place is cleared out. We tiptoe and whisper nevertheless, surrounded by the rustling presences of the Debbies and Tammies and Vonda Sues, the big blonde sunny girls born to marry Rhetts and Trents and live by the golf course and raise flocks of blond children and forever hold dear the Kappa ideal (The Kappa is not an intruder upon life. / But rather an inner presence who seems to softly and naturally emerge …). This is where Donna Tartt once stuffed the Sunshine Box - which her fellow Kappas would fill with sayings on scraps of paper, epigrams dear to their hopeful hearts, apothegms of uplift, treasured mots about life and lemons and lemonade - with vile sayings by Nietzsche and Sartre. “God is dead… . And we have killed him.” “Hell is other people.”
"Everybody knew it was me," Tartt says as we sneak up from the Kappa basement. "There was this dire meeting - they told me I had to confess, ‘on your honor as a woman.’" (Did she? "Of course not," she replies indignantly.)
She laughs. “Here I was, this small, dark, thoughtful person among all these towering happy blondes. I mean, if you didn’t dress up like Scarlett O’Hara to go to biology class, you were a total oddball. And I was. They were embarrassed by me. Their boyfriends would see me sitting around reading Ezra Pound cantos in the rain, and ask who this person was. And they’d have to grit their teeth and say, ‘Oh, she’s a pledge.’"
As requested, the reading list for my English literary canon class (I need to have read 190 hours’ worth). I’ve bolded the ones I’ve already read (307 hours).
Chinua Achebe, Arrow of God (11 hrs)
Martin Amis, Money (20 hrs)
Margaret Atwood, The Robber Bride (23 hrs)
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (20 hrs)
Julian Barnes, A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters (15 hrs)
Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot (4 hrs)
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre (24 hrs)
Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights (18 hrs)
J.M. Coetzee, Disgrace (11 hrs)
Joseph Conrad, The Heart of Darkness (6 hrs)
Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage (7 hrs)
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations (25 hrs)
George Eliot, Middlemarch (45 hrs)
William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying (10 hrs)
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (9 hrs)
E.M. Forster, A Passage to India (18 hrs)
John Fowles, The French Lieutenant’s Woman (20 hrs)
William Golding, The Spire (11 hrs)
Nadine Gordimer, Burger’s Daughter (19 hrs)
Robert Graves, Goodbye to All That (17 hrs)
Graham Greene, The Heart of the Matter (13 hrs)
Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D’Urbervilles (23 hrs)
Joseph Heller, Catch 22 (23 hrs)
Ernest Hemingway, The Sun also Rises (11 hrs)
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World (14 hrs)
Henry James, Portrait of a Lady (29 hrs)
James Joyce, Dubliners (11 hrs)
Sarah Kane, Blasted (4 hrs)
D.H. Lawrence, The Fox (3 hrs)
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird (14 hrs)
Doris Lessing, The Grass is Singing (11 hrs)
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick (36 hrs)
Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman (4 hrs)
Toni Morrison, Beloved (25 hrs.)
V.S. Naipaul, A House for Mr Biswas (29 hrs)
George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (17 hrs)
John Osborne, Look Back in Anger (4 hrs)
Harold Pinter, The Homecoming (4 hrs)
Salman Rushdie, Satanic Verses (29 hrs)
Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (18 hrs)
George Bernard Shaw, Mrs Warren’s Profession (4 hrs)
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (17 hrs)
Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (6 hrs)
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath (23 hrs)
Laurence Sterne, Sentimental Journey (7 hrs)
Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (6 hrs)
Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn (18 hrs)
Evelyn Waugh, The Loved One (6 hrs)
Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence (15 hrs)
Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (13 hrs)
Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway (10 hrs)
But I’m actually behind on my Goodreads-o-meter.
Well, I’m a fast reader, always have been. It also helps that I study literature in university, which means that sometimes I don’t have a choice. Finally, I always carry a book with me and squeeze in some reading whenever I’ve got some time to spare. Waiting for the bus, waiting for lectures to start… Basically whenever I’m early to something, which is always.
But remember: it’s not a race. Sometimes you really want to take your time to soak up every single word, sometimes a book is so complex that you need to take it slow in order to understand it, and most of all: it’s supposed to be fun!
Favorite books picspam → Looking for Alaska
I’ve heard good things about Peter and Alice, and I would definitely, definitely recommend The History Boys!
I don’t read a lot of plays I’m afraid, but I would also recommend Angels In America by Tony Kushner (of course), Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (read Hamlet first, it makes it so much funnier), and The Normal Heart by Larry Kramer (not the most subtle of plays, but you do leave the theatre feeling like you just got smacked in the face with a bag of emotional bricks. In a good way).
If you want more, there’s a list of my followers’ favourite plays here.