9 ♠ A Sound of Thunder

In this second round of the Deal Me In challenge, I was excited to read a classic by Ray Bradbury, whose works are new to me.  “A Sound of Thunder” is one of his best-known science fictions, and it’s about a man named Eckels who signs up to go back in time on a safari – hunting dinosaurs, that is.

I guess I will always compare these kinds of plots to The Lost World by Conan Doyle, a big favorite of mine.  My overall feeling about “A Sound of Thunder” was that, in scope, it was trying too hard.  It covered the two big topics, prehistoric life and time travel, but there wasn’t a lot of development, and the reader was asked to take a lot at face value.  For example, (spoiler in white):  Eckels’s behavior seemed perfectly natural to me, and it’s hard to imagine him being the first offender.  There were some good descriptions throughout, but also gratuitous cussing that felt like filler.

1.5 stars.  Decent read for waiting at the doctor’s office, not worth it if you have more time.

4 ♦ The Golden Fleece

And my first story for the Deal Me In challenge comes from Tanglewood Tales.  How appropriate!

Constantine Volanakis Argo

“The Golden Fleece” is the last story in Tanglewood Tales, a sequel to A Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys.  Through the frame plot of a young student, Eustace Bright, retelling Greek myths to his little cousins, Nathaniel Hawthorne takes us through the highlights of these sanguinary dramas in a quaint, cosy, and child-friendly format.  “The Golden Fleece” recounts the epic quest of Jason and the Argonauts, as they embark in a fifty-oar ship to find the mythical ram’s fleece and reclaim the kingdom that was stolen from Jason’s father.

I enjoyed this story quite a bit.  It was entertaining and often funny, a nice balance to the darkness of Gatsby to start off this year’s reading.  The abrupt ending – and a few loose threads – were the main things I wished had been tidied up.  However, those are more or less due to the myths themselves and not Hawthorne’s rendition, necessarily.  4.5 stars.

A side note – many critics would take issue with his bowdlerization of the original plots.  It doesn’t bother me, especially since he approaches it almost like a spin-off rather than censorship.  Growing up, I read another small collection (for children) of the Greek myths, and it was perhaps slightly less “adapted,” but also more dreary.  The point is, I do think this is a good adaptation to give kids the gist of the myths.  This, and Wishbone (oops – dating myself here!).

Reading Challenge: Deal Me In

My intention was not to make any big reading commitments this year.  However….  😉  when I saw this intriguing challenge over at Behold the Stars and Classical Carousel, it just looked too fun (and feasible) not to join!

The challenge is hosted at Bibliophilica, and it’s quite simple.  You create a list of 52 short stories and assign each to a playing card.  Then, every week of 2015, draw a card randomly and read the story that corresponds.

Here is the master list, which is 1/4 essays and includes one or two poems.  When building this list, I was a little shocked at how many short stories I had already read, and at how many classics I should have read but never did.  In the end, I had to consult some “top 10” types of lists online, to fill all the places, and some of these choices I know next to nothing about…  I made myself refrain from adding re-reads (apart from a few, like Poe’s Dupin stories), so hopefully this will be a good foray into new authors, eras, and ideas.

A – Snow White – Grimm
2 – The Minotaur – Hawthorne
3 – The Tale of the Dead Princess and the Seven Knights – Pushkin
4The Golden Fleece – Hawthorne
5The Little Mermaid – Andersen
6 – The Shadow – Andersen
7 – Hansel and Gretel – Grimm
8Ashputtle (Cinderella) – Grimm
9 – The Fir Tree – Andersen
10Beauty and the Beast – Beaumont
J – The Prince Who Feared Nothing – Grimm
Q – The Snow Queen – Andersen
K – King Thrushbeard – Grimm

A – The Argonauts of the Air – Wells
2 – A Country Doctor – Kafka
3 – The Adventure of the German Student – Irving
4The Mystery of Marie Roget – Poe
5 – The Artist of the Beautiful – Hawthorne
6 – The Purloined Letter – Poe
7 – The Country of the Blind – Wells
8The Murders in the Rue Morgue – Poe
9A Sound of Thunder – Bradbury
10 – My Kinsman, Major Molineux – Hawthorne
J – The Masque of Red Death – Poe
Q – The Last Question – Asimov
K – William Wilson – Poe

A – The Old Manse – Hawthorne
2 – A Little Woman – Kafka
3 – The Nightingale and the Rose – Wilde
4 – Eleonora – Poe
5 – A Virtuoso’s Collection – Hawthorne
6 – Wedding Preparations in the Country – Kafka
7 – The Lady with the Dog – Chekhov
8 – Regret – Kate Chopin
9 – The Necklace – Maupassant
10 – The Looking-Glass – Chekhov
J – The Snow-Image – Hawthorne
Q – The Cherry Orchard – Chekhov
K – An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge – Bierce

A – Symposium – Plato
2 – Nature – Emerson
3 – On Heroes and Hero-Worship – Carlyle
4 – In Defense of Sanity – Chesterton
5 – On the Duty of Civil Disobedience – Thoreau
6 – Common Sense – Paine
7 – On Evil Euphemisms – Chesterton
8 – The Twelve Men – Chesterton
9 – The Death of a Moth – Woolf
10 – Self-Reliance – Emerson
J – Camping Out – Hemingway
Q – Circles – Emerson
K – The Snows of Kilimanjaro – Hemingway

Some of these are a bit long, and others are extremely short.  It will be interesting to see how this goes. I should also mention that, for convenience, these are all stories I own or are instantly available, else I would have included some Louis L’Amour and other to-reads.  😉