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Monday, September 21, 2009

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Title: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Reviewed Format: hard cover
Pages: 384
Release Date: September 14, 2008

Katniss Everdeen is poor, hungry, and struggling to keep her mother and little sister alive. Stuck in District 12, the furthest district from the Capitol (if you don’t count an irradiated District 13, ruined by rebellion), Katniss and her family live in one of the poorest districts, where coal is the main export and good food is hard to come by. Lucky for Katniss, she learned how to hunt for game and edible foliage from her father before he died. In this way, she, along with her partner in crime, Gale, can gather enough to trade for other necessities at the black market and keep her family fed and taken care of.

Only, it’s against the law to enter the fields beyond District 12; to hunt is doubly illegal and Panem’s government would be less than thrilled at the subversion should the proper authorities be notified. But no one could care less in the coal district, a district left largely to their own devices, and so, no one knows Katniss is an excellent archer and secretly undermines Panem’s strict, unfair economy.

Without realizing it, they’re about to take revenge on Katniss when the time comes once again for names to be drawn, two from each district (one boy, one girl), to compete head-to-head in a wicked and cruel survival challenge broadcast live and fed to the citizens across all districts where only one will come back alive: The Hunger Games.

Panem is a North America far into the future (actually, with the way it’s described here, it’s just the United States, not Mexico or Canada), a dystopian future. The Hunger Games are annual reminders that the districts live under the scrutiny of the Capitol. They were devised to mimic a joint rebellion intended to take down the Capital that failed. Now, the Games are a brutal, over-drawn punishment intended to break apart families and dampen fighting spirit.

When Prim, Katniss’ little sister has her name drawn, Katniss jumps at the opportunity to take her place. The first 150 or so pages of The Hunger Games are used to prepare Katniss and the other District 12 competitor, Peeta Mellark, for their debut at the opening ceremonies, honing their skills to please potential sponsors. The Games are a dark, orchestrated form of entertainment that takes reality TV to a frightening level. While all the prep is interesting, the book didn’t grab me as much until the Games finally began.

Collins has a way of pulling you in with Katniss’ anticipation and fears--she’s a relatable protagonist with a relatable co-star; Peeta is honest and endearing from the start. I also liked the periphery characters who manage to shine without stealing the spotlight away from Katniss. Haymitch, the only winner District 12 has had, is a drunken mess and at first, it’s debatable whether or not he has any value coaching Katniss and Peeta. I think his character had the most surprising growth if only the revelatory kind. Katniss begins to see Haymitch beneath his drunken stupor: a man having to face training tributes every year since his victory that have gone on to their deaths.

Panem is a frightening reality; cameras are everywhere, microphones pick up wayward conversations, even birds at one point were used as spies until they localized and used their vocal mimicry to mock the Capitol with falsely fed information--Katniss wears a pin of one of these birds, the mockingjay. There are so many moments of disbelief in The Hunger Games. Citizens of Panem are treated with less than stellar civility and kept like animals, caged in their districts and separated from one another by electrical fences. It’s the perfect breeding ground for another rebellion, but with the Hunger Games as clear and long-standing reminders of what it means to speak or act against the Capitol, people have found creative ways to manipulate and fool their leaders.

What ultimately grabbed me about this book was the story combined with the writing; I was quick to get addicted and had a hard time putting it down. Collins’ is one of those authors that can make you want to keep turning the page even when you’ve reached the next chapter, a perfect place to stop for a break. I never wanted to stop and the ending made that need for more much, much worse. It just ends. Abruptly. Turn the page, no new chapter. The end. Wait for book two. How awesome/cruel is that? The good news is, I don’t have long to wait, but I can imagine what it would have been like reading this as a new release. It would have been torture.

I’d really recommend this to anyone, even people who don’t usually read YA. It’s got romance, action, gore, horror, suspense, fashionable stylists, great food, a boy and a girl lead--whose All Things Dense About Boys attitude never once annoyed me--and a goat. What more could you want? Lucky for you, the sequel, Catching Fire is already out. I’m sure by the end of both books, the satisfaction of having been lucky enough to read two installments in one go will be overshadowed by the killer cliffhanger ending Collins has no doubt written for Catching Fire, but won’t it be worth it?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Day After Night by Anita Diamant

Title: Day After Night
Author: Anita Diamant
Reviewed Format: UK paperback
Pages: 294
Release Date: September 8, 2009

Anita Diamant’s Day After Night is a fictionalized account of the 1945 rescue of the prisoners being held in the Atlit internment camp near Hafia, close to the Mediterranean coast. Fresh from their memories of Nazi concentration camps, illegal immigrants crossing the borders, most often in their attempt to reach Palestine and Israel, have been taken into custody by the British military and placed in eerily similar surroundings: barbed wire fences, barracks separating men from women, delousing stations, showers. The only difference, as our protagonists insist upon the frightened and bewildered newcomers arriving almost every day, is that here, all will be fed and taken care of; the showers are real showers.

But the prisoners are angry, angry because they survived one war only to become pawns in another power struggle where one nation seeks to impose authority on another and they’ll risk everything they have to be free.

Told primarily from the point of view of four women, Tedi, Zorah, Shayndel, and Leonie (with a fifth, Tirzah, thrown in for the contrasting perspective), Day After Night explores what it could mean to be happy in a place like Atlit, so incongruous in appearance with what really goes on behind the enclosure. As much a jail as a safehouse, these women struggle through their personal demons in the weeks leading up to the October rescue. Diamant imagines Atlit being something like a therapeutic nightmare in which the women find solace in each other, getting to know one another as much as they try to keep their distance, too hurt by their own haunting pasts to confide their true stories to one another.

Together, the women remain strong and support one another, finding spirit in the small miracles of the everyday: fresh fruit, full meals, showers, clean clothes, pillows and blankets at night, doctors that are there to be doctors and not experiment, burgeoning romance, scandalous affairs. In the limbo of Atlit, Tedi is reminded that “...everything was coming back to her in Palestine” (p. 7), even her sense of smell long thought lost, another victim of the war. Ironically, her imprisonment, like the other women, has turned into a type of healing in the between of being frightened before the end of the war, and true freedom after it.

In Atlit, the woman are “in the land of milk and honey…” (p. 90), a type of heaven where they are allowed a chance to heal their scars in preparation for the real world, a beautiful nightmare slumber, a peaceful and restful night before the day of their true freedom. I thought the prologue was particularly lovely, setting the mood for the story like an overture, touching the title and bringing it back to us as much as the epilogue brought the story to reality and back to fiction again.

Day After Night is a novel of hope, wishful thinking on the part of the author in like-minded sentiment with Gershon, “I hope she was happy. I hope all of them were” (p. 292). If the narrative at times made me forget the seriousness of the women’s situation, it only serves to remind me the intent of the author to wish this same feeling on the women who did stay there, who were forced to relive the phantom reminders of their past at the same time as they were trying to move forward. In the context of the novel, the women found a kind of peace in Atlit, smothering their hated pasts in the sheets of their nightmare, tossing the pillow aside as they walked outside, never to return.

I thought Day After Night was a good book. Diamant has a lot of talent in writing about dynamic women and their relationships to one another. If you’re a fan of her work, I recommend this one. If you’ve never read anything by her, I still recommend it. Overall, it was a touching, powerful read.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A chance to win a free book!

Book blogger, The Compulsive Reader, is giving away a free signed copy of Kristin Cashore's Fire, companion book to last year's Graceling. There is a blog tour going around with a "getting to know you" of the characters in Fire!

If you can't wait until the 5th, here's an excerpt from the prologue and first chapter of Fire:

Fire by Kristin Cashore

And, if that isn't enough cruel teasing, here's a countdown widget you can post to most social networking or blogging sites (Sorry, it doesn't work for LiveJournal):

Monday, September 14, 2009

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Title: Graceling
Author: Kristin Cashore
Reviewed Format: hardcover
Pages: 480
Release Date: October 1, 2008

Graceling is Kristin Cashore’s debut novel and to be honest, it read like one. The focus of the plot was confused and I wasn’t sure if this was supposed to be a fantastic adventure with a romance in it or a fantasy romance with some dismissible action going on in the background.

Katsa is one of the few in her world of seven kingdoms born with extraordinary abilities manifesting at any age with a disconcerting physical clue: the eyes of a Graceling (a person with a Grace--one of these rare talents, or abilities) are each a different color. In this way, it makes it difficult for a Graceling to hide who they are; Katsa has every reason to wish she could change her eye color into something more normal. Graced with the ability to kill, Katsa has become her uncle’s, King Randa, attack dog after the death of her parents leaves her orphaned. In her position, she’s developed an unwanted, albeit slightly deserved reputation, if embellished by the murderous acts she undertakes on her uncle’s behalf. Suffice to say, Randa isn’t a well-loved King by any means and Katsa, with her Grace being what it is, exploited under King Randa, is feared by pretty much everyone. This turns the nomenclature to an ironic insult as Katsa’s Grace is anything but a blessing. Cursed to live with the guilt of making people feel incredibly uncomfortable, not to mention having little to no physical contact or emotional connections, Katsa’s life seems far from envious.

Lucky for her, she has a small circle of close friends who know how best to deal with what proves to be a difficult character and narrative point of view. When the father of a neighboring King is kidnapped, Katsa and her friends rescue him under the nose of her uncle. The Prince’s (if you’re royalty at all, even retired, you’re still a Prince or Princess here) grandson soon comes looking for his grandfather and Katsa must decide whether to answer his plea for help and risk incurring the wrath of Randa or staying home and waiting until her next mission requires her to fix a petty grudge with deadly violence.

Although Katsa is a very difficult protagonist, she does unclench a bit and develop a warmth that would have been unexpected in the beginning of the book. She’s hard to relate to, but understandably bitter and harsh. At times this could be annoying--Katsa frequently fought internally to work through emotional decisions that would otherwise be easy for someone raised to think more positively and highly of themselves. But the switch in perspective was refreshing. Katsa’s intellectual curiosity grows out of a calculated examination of her physical limitations in what appears to be detached sparring and weapon experiments. She tests herself for the joy and practicality of knowing if she can, in fact, do whatever she attempts.

Katsa also very bravely stands up for herself in full disclosure of the consequences she tangles with, but moves forward for her own sanity and well-being anyway. I liked this a lot--her character is strong all around, both physically and mentally capable of exerting her power as a fighter and an individual. In the end, she’s more than competent and a female, something she takes advantage of when she takes it upon herself to teach self-defense to Bitterblue. This is remarkable in the context of the book where females are largely, if not exclusively never taught any sort of physical self-defense whether it’s with weapons or without; remarkable as a character because it’s always empowering for girls and women to read about strong, independent lead characters.

Bitterblue is another example of a stunning female character who, at just 10 years old, holds herself with dignity and an air of authority quite unexpected and mature. Cashore can write strong female characters.

I’m not sure how to resolve the inclusion of a wonderful, if at times awkwardly placed, romance. The first part of the book is more concerned with examining Katsa’s relationship to her cousin Raffin, an ill-suited suitor, Po, King Randa, and Helda. The kidnapping takes a vague backseat to all of this and I never felt it was of much importance or consequence until the second part when Katsa becomes directly involved in solving the mystery of the kidnapper’s identity. Even with that relevance, the novel quickly becomes saturated with a romance I thought was honestly not going to become apparent until the end of the book. Couldn’t we enjoy their wonderful friendship a little longer? Does everything have to be touched by romance? In this case, it seems Cashore is telling the reader that a young woman can have it all: a career, confidence, competence, exceptional talent, and sex. Nevermind the expectation that all relationships lead to marriage: Katsa runs the phrase dry when she continually has to repeat herself and tell everyone, including her sudden lover, that she will never marry. To which he quite readily agrees to suffer happily through what at first appears to be a physical relationship punctuated by prolonged absences. By the end of the book, this is proved false, although I was left a little unfulfilled with vague promises substituting concrete commitment. Now that I think back on it, it’s very much in keeping with Katsa’s character and I completely believe in the longevity of her relationship with that person I shall not name because it’s a spoiler.

While the book seemed to pick up at the second part, it was only in the last 60 pages that I couldn’t put the book down. The Big Confrontation happens, but there’s still 50 pages left which, again, made me feel like the kidnapping wasn’t as important as Katsa’s love life and its resolutions. I wasn’t in suspense about the kidnapping until we meet the kidnapper--an inclusion I wish had been granted to the other Kings so I could see why they were so bad rather than sit reading Katsa’s opinion on why they were bad. I don’t know about you, but as a reader, I hate having to trust what a character tells me about another character. I want to read that character doing all this bad or good stuff I keep hearing about and quite frankly, was creeped out by the kidnapper when Katsa actually meets him. And I liked that! I felt more involved, more invested in the book at that point than I had for the previous few hundred pages. This guy was absolutely scary and the atmosphere was thick with suspense when he was around.

That’s not to say I didn’t like the ending--I did (for the most part), I think overall I just wish the book would have been longer. I didn’t want to leave Katsa’s world quite so soon. The drama of the book revolves more around Katsa’s relationships, her development as a character in relation to them; the action of the plot surrounding her is the backdrop. Which, if I think about from a feminist perspective, is actually not at all innovative. It’s unsurprising, really, since women have always been referred to in relation to other people (Mother, Daughter, Sister, Wife, etc...)--Katsa’s saving grace (no pun intended) is that her major roles were quite innovative--as an orphan, she is not a daughter, she refuses to marry, she has no siblings, she’s a fighter (in her world, a man’s role); that so much of her plot presence revolved around her lover is also what made me wish more for a prolonged friendship rather than the romance that for me, while expected, was a bit too soon. It was my main disappointment, but not enough to make me dislike the book. I did find it amusing that she constantly touted her plan to never have children and yet, did a wonderful, if a bit on the purely dutiful side, caring for Bitterblue.

And in the end, what’s important is Cashore’s examination of the following questions: “When a monster stopped behaving like a monster, did it stop being a monster? Did it become something else?” (p. 137) I’d recommend Graceling to YA fantasy fans, particularly those interested in a female character that literally kicks ass. Katsa turned out to be a beautiful and empowering protagonist who takes her destiny into her own hands and changes the perception others have built up of her. I’ll be interested to see if the upcoming prequel Fire has any of what I’ve missed in this one!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Stolen One by Suzanne Crowley

Title: The Stolen One
Author: Suzanne Crowley
Reviewed Format: hardcover
Pages: 416
Release Date: June 30, 2009

I suddenly became aware of a terrible odor. The lad whistled while Mr. Salinas sat forward and peered over the mules, who snorted in anticipation. Anna roused awake next to me. “Whatever is that smell?” I finally asked, being the only one to acknowledge it.

“Why, it’s London, my dear!” And with that Mrs Grove finally hit her husband hard enough so that his eyes opened up.

-The Stolen One (Crowley p. 89)

I was lucky enough to win a signed copy of Suzanne Crowley’s The Stolen One through a GoodReads Giveaway. The cover is gorgeous (I love her hair), and the synopsis made me really curious. It’s not just YA, it’s YA historical fiction--a good combination.

Kat has been raised by Grace Bab as a sister to Grace’s daughter, Anna. Anna is a quiet beauty, with hair as pale as her mother’s, speaking only to Grace and Kat in a voice otherwise unintelligible to strangers. Kat is curious and outspoken with blazing red hair and a vibrant personality ill-suited to a young girl coming of age in 16th Century England. Despite all thoughts to the contrary, her confidence and strong-will has attracted the attentions of the young sheep farmer Christian Bab, nephew to Grace and cousin to Anna. Of course, Kat is supposed to believe Christian is her cousin, too, but she knows better. She knows Grace has been keeping secrets and lying to her about the real world and her real heritage.

When a mysterious omen appears in the woods outside of their cottage as the ladies prepare for the local festival, Kat is sure death is near. An evening of revelry ensues in which there is a proposal, a death, and a revelation. It doesn’t take much to inspire Kat’s motivation for the truth and the next morning she packs her bags and takes Anna with her to London in search of her birth mother, leaving the country and Christian behind indefinitely.

The Stolen One is a romantic tale of intrigue at the court of Queen Elizabeth I in which Crowley explores the life of a royal child forever thought lost to the world to fates unknown. There’s mystery surrounding Kat’s past, gorgeous gowns, lavish dishes, scandal, and, of course, romance. The women of Crowley’s imagined Elizabethan court are as flirtatious as they are wicked and cunning. They are quick to jealousy, as hot-tempered as their Queen and as dangerous. Contrast this against Kat’s keen eye for embroidery, a talent so strong it wins her a prime spot in Elizabeth’s retinue, and the combination eludes to an atmosphere of a 16th Century “Project Runway.” There’s a lot of focus on dresses and materials, embroidery detail and embellishments, patterns and stitches, techniques and draperies. It’s enough to either exhaust the reader into yearning for an accompanying full color pattern book or inspire frequent trips to the local Renaissance Faire to drool at the dress vendors.

There’s no argument from me that Crowley has written an alluring book. Kat is at times a bit unsympathetic and selfish in her determination to unearth the secrets of her past. Her adventures and accomplishments come at the expense of poor Anna whom I wished the world for. I was very disappointed with happened to her. But Kat does seem to redeem herself at the end of the book which surprised me as I realized the beauty of the story was in the journey Kat took to bring her where she ended up. The lessons she learns are invaluable, albeit costly.

There are a few characters I would have liked to know more about, like Rafael and his mother; the suspense led me to believe there really was something menacing in Rafael, something to add to his dark physical appearance, but if I was disappointed in this regard, I wasn’t disappointed with Rafael overall. That’s not to say I liked how his character was treated, I just think the added dimension came too late for Kat to appreciate in any real sense for a girl who’d been stand offish and suspicious of him for the majority of the book.

The Stolen One is filled with characters that are as varied and vibrant as Kat’s embroideries; some that are shallow and mean-spirited; some that are benevolent and unambitious. In the end, the people of the court were no more than props to remind us (and Kat) that in Elizabeth’s court, “it’s all about illusions” (p. 191). Against the beautiful and enchanting backdrop of masques, idle time spent in luxury, sumptuous clothing, and delicacies fit for royalty, Kat comes to realize the truth of her life as she’s come to know is more important than anything she could ever have yearned for in the past.

I could have done with fewer uses of the word “aye,” but would recommend this book to anyone who wants an overall satisfying read that takes you there and back again through the eyes of an angry, confused, but determined teenage girl. And, it’s a colorful, rich journey. Did I mention the dresses?

Thank you, Suzanne Crowley!

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Once and Future King by T.H. White

Title: The Once and Future King
Author: T.H. White
Reviewed Format: trade paperback
Pages: 677
Publication Date: October 1996 (this edition); originally compiled in 1958

“Perhaps man was neither good nor bad, was only a machine in an insensate universe--his courage no more than a reflex to danger, like the automatic jump at the pin-prick. Perhaps there were no virtues, unless jumping at the pin-pricks was a virtue, and humanity only a mechanical donkey led on by the iron carrot of love, through the pointless treadmill of reproduction. Perhaps Might was a law of Nature, needed to keep the survivors fit. […] Why did men always fight?” (p.667).

T.H. White’s The Once and Future King is written in four parts, the first of which may read very familiar in title and story as the Disney adaptation, “The Sorceror and the Stone”--with a few variations (as the original, I suppose these aren’t variations, but if the movie is seen first--and I am assuming for most it has been--these differences would appear so). Arthur, or as he is known as a child, the Wart, is raised by the benevolent Knight Sir Ector to be squire to his son and future Knight, Kay. When Arthur, never a terribly bright boy or particularly talented, but honest, innocent, and earnest, loses his way trying to retrieve a lost hawk, he stumbles upon the magician Merlyn and the adventures of his very magical childhood begin.

In a lot of ways, this first part was one of my favorites. It’s light-hearted and filled with good intentions and possibilities, especially because we get to experience Arthur’s adventures from his point of view; the rest of the novel is told in third person. But Book One is an adventure story, a place where Arthur must learn the basics of human nature as written with T.H. White’s subtle British humor. He (Arthur) is surrounded by a lovable cast of curious characters pulled from, among others, Malory, Chaucer, and Tennyson. The narrator frequently compares certain events to Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur (The Death of Arthur) as the tale unfolds with differences or incongruencies denoted in reference to previous adaptations of the Arthur myth. As Merlyn struggles to adapt his to his contemporary world with the confusion that being born out of time presents, the list of things he must remember to tell Arthur becomes a list of things to remember to tell the reader. Rather than just tell another version of the story, he is devoted, as the author is, to hit all of the familiar points as if to say, “don’t worry, we haven’t left that bit out, it’s still coming.”

Although White’s version of the legend is by no means drastically different than Malory’s (in its way), it has considerably more heart. Because the narrator recognizes the characters play a part in which certain actions must be undertaken, the narrative is taken one step further than a dull re-telling; each character is brought to life in brilliant portraits that elucidate their humanness over their character-ness. In some cases, a chapter is reserved for attempting to explore and explain the psyche of each character as in chapter 34 of Book Three in which the narrator explains of Guenever: “It is difficult to write about a real person” (p. 497).

I’ve taken the date of publication into consideration when reading and writing about The Once and Future King. White dates the text and himself, though, with frequent contemporary references meant to give context to an older world so the reader can relate between the distance of an imagined time, between the real and the mythic. References to Frued and psychoanalytics, then-extant and burgeoning scientific and other modern practices serve not only to date the narrative, but also plays on the idea that the text is aware of itself as being text--it knows it will be read at a future date as if in full knowledge that it, too, has been, like Merlyn, born out of time--timeless, if you will.

There are times when the narrator gives up omniscience or authority on the text with moments of pause in which we are reminded that certain parts of the legend have been written thoroughly of before and “that way of telling the story can only be done once” (p. 459). In these cases, it’s up to us to go back, like the narrator tell us if we’re so inclined, and read what Malory had to say about it. But there are other odd times when the narrator leaves the story to rise up and out into the airiness of myth in which Arthur the Legend begins take on a life of his own outside of any narrative. When the narrator admits, “we do not know the reason” (p. 515) or “It [the story] does not say” (p. 523), it’s then better left to the reader to come up with answers and in that wondering, allow the legend of King Arthur to live ethereally in our imaginations. In these situations the narrator effortlessly translates power not only to the myth itself, so that it rises above the printed word, but to the reader. We are given a bit of responsibility.

Merlyn’s at times mournful foreknowledge of Arthur’s life appears early on in the text, reminding us that we’re not reading about a real man, just a legend. When we leave Book One and enter Book Two (the most engrossing of the four, in its way), Arthur is already crowned, an ordinary boy raised to aspire to be nothing better than a squire, but given the opportunity to be educated and this, White constantly reminds us, makes all the difference. We are lead to believe it’s not just kings who would do well to set examples for others, to be dutiful in our ongoing education, or to use “Might for Right.” It doesn’t even matter that Arthur was never real--it’s his beliefs and dedication to the art of learning, his devotion to the idea of chivalry, not any particular physical strength of mental capacity that enables him to become larger than fiction. He is a man torn by trying to do “what is right,” especially by his old teacher, so much so that he becomes entangled in his own civil laws of justice and is forced to acknowledge publicly the accused relationship between his best friend, Lancelot, and his wife, Guenever.

The further Books get progressively darker and the bright lessons of Arthur’s childhood are with difficulty turned to the murkiness of mankind and the realities of adulthood. As our ordinary hero watches his beloved Round Table break apart, he realizes that “the whole structure depended on the first premise: that man was decent” (p. 666). As despondent and despairing as this sounds, Arthur still believes in the good nature of man and trusts his story to Tom of Newbold Revell, trusts that Tom will keep his promise not only to live (by way of not fighting, to make the conscious decision to live, as proper Knights should), but to carry Arthur’s candle of Knighthood and keep the idea alive. It’s one of the most touching moments in a book that has a lot of them, but the most important to remember.

I didn’t write too specifically about the characters or White’s take on the plot because I don’t want to spoil the joy of reading this one for yourself. Already I wish I could go back and experience reading it for the first time all over again. The Once and Future King is uplifting and encouraging. It’s life-affirming and inspiring. But most of all, the book comes alive when being read--when King Arthur, his Knights, and his Round Table are brought back to life in our imagination by young Tom’s promise, by the inspirational sense of good fellow feeling left at the end which plants in us the same small seeds Merlyn used for Arthur when he was an ordinary boy, an ordinary pupil, an ordinary person who dreamt romantically of becoming a real Knight.

It is a wonderfully insightful book, in which Arthur, dutiful student and courageous thinker, leave us with these thoughts:

“There would be a day--there must be a day--when he would come back to Gramarye with a new Round Table which had no corners, just as the world had none--a table without boundaries between the nations who would sit to feast there. The hope of making it would lie in culture. If people could be persuaded to read and write, not just eat and make love, there was still a chance that they might come to reason” (p. 676).

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