Good evening, fellow Bookworms!
Back again, and talking of back, mine is starting to recover from Sunday’s exertions! The Great Book Sort-Out left me with some discomfort in my lower back. Ended up getting heat patches from Boots on Monday, and also going to the gym with my mum after work so I could have a soak in the jacuzzi! I don’t normally miss having a bathtub – when we had our bathroom done a few years ago now, we did away with an actual bathtub and just had a shower cubicle, but I felt I could have done with a good soak in a bath on Sunday night!
Well, anyway, I did promise a blog about the Slap List and the Shovel List, so I think it’s time we got around to doing it! I have had a Literary Slap List for some years now – Characters from novels are put on this list if they are irritating or mildly annoying and I feel they would benefit from a good slap! However, some characters are just downright bloody awful! Characters who disgust me. Nasty pieces of work. Characters with serious attitude problems, characters who discriminate against other characters… For these, a slap is nowhere near enough, as I realised when I was reading The Chrysalids, by John Wyndham, one lunchtime at work, and I was finding myself absolutely appalled by Joseph Strorm’s attitude. He made me seriously angry and it dawned on me that a mere slap just wouldn’t suffice! Some characters need a heftier punishment! Like being whacked over the head with a particularly large and heavy shovel, for instance!
So, we now have the Slap List and the Shovel List, but which characters are on which list? Let’s go with a few novels I can think of and some of the characters who have made either of my rolls of shame, lol! WARNING: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS AHEAD!
Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
Ooh, there’s a few from Pride and Prejudice who annoyed me! I had to study this novel at high school for GCSE English Literature, as I have mentioned in previous blogs over the years, and there are several characters who annoyed me! Funnily enough, though, NOT Mr Darcy! Weirdly, he has never gone on my lists. I see him as quite a misunderstood character anyway, but let’s move on to the irritating people, which has to include three members of the Bennet family! For those who need a reminder, Mr & Mrs Bennet have 5 daughters, all old enough to marry, and Mrs B is fixated with trying to get them fixed up with blokes, married off, and out of the house as soon as she can.
Kitty and Lydia, the two youngest daughters, are two of the slappable characters here. Both of them are what we, in this day and age, would probably call airhead bimbos! All they ever do is ogle over soldiers from the local regiment! They are just vacuous airheads who are after getting off with fit squaddies, basically! If they weren’t slappable enough, their damn mother actually encourages this ogling! Therefore Mrs Bennet joins her two youngest girls on the slap list for being an overgrown bimbo!
Mr Collins, the vicar, or parson, or whatever – member of the clergy, anyroad, is the other one on the slap list. Can we say obsequious little toad? Ah yes, thought we could! He basically just sucks up to Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and is such an arse-licker that he definitely has to go on the Slap List! One of my fave bits when I was studying this novel at school was when Mr Bennet wittily says to Elizabeth;
“From now on, Elizabeth, you must be a stranger to one of your parents. Your mother will never speak to you again if you do not marry Mr Collins, and I will never speak to you again if you do!”
I did mention Lady Catherine de Bourgh before, when I was saying how much Mr Collins licked her arse, and she used to be on the Slap List, but that’s because I didn’t previously have a Shovel List! However, I think she needs to change list and needs the Shovel as she is just a disagreeable old bag if ever there was one, and she has such double standards! She expects all other young ladies to have a list of accomplishments as long as their arms, but she makes excuse after excuse for her own offspring, claiming she’s too weak to do any of these activities. She’s not, she just simply lacks the talent at some of them, or hasn’t had the chance to try! So, it’s a whack on the head with the shovel for Lady C, and 4 characters getting a good slapping!
The Catcher In the Rye – J. D. Salinger
Yep, our old mate, Holden Caulfield! The archetypal teenage lad who really can’t be arsed with school, fails most of his subjects, having been turfed out of several other schools previously, and bunks off to New York to try to get served in a bar, although he’s clearly under-age… Holden remains on the Slap List. He reminds me of a lot of teenage lads when I was a teenage girl! All the stupid ones who arsed around and didn’t impress me at all! However, a shovel would be too harsh, so a slap it is!
The Chrysalids – John Wyndham
OK, so I am actually only around a quarter of the way through this one, but this is the reason I needed to invent the Shovel List… Joseph Strorm. Narrow-minded bigot, and clearly a hot-headed one who flew off the handle at his own son just because the lad expressed a thought that many of us have thought from time to time… if only we had an extra pair of hands! And then this arsehole flies into another rage at his lad simply because he has befriended a girl who has six toes!
As I have already said many times, I cannot stand people like Strorm. They just disgust me immensely, so Joseph Strorm is most definitely on the receiving end of a damn good whack on the head with The Shovel!
A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
Basically, there are a whole host of characters whose mistreatment of Jude is deserving of a damn good walloping with the Shovel! Not sure re JB – he certainly deserves a slap, but perhaps he should get the shovel – after all, he mocked Jude, who was supposedly a friend, taking the piss out of his limping, and this essentially split the friends up quite badly – only Malcolm remains friends with JB after that incident. Jude won’t forgive JB, and nor will Willem. But if JB deserves the shovel, then there’s a whole host of other characters who need to be flattened into the ground with repeated blows from the shovel!
Jude’s own so-called parents, for starters. I mean, we don’t even know who they are! We discover that Jude was discovered by a monk. I got the impression that Jude was abandoned either as a baby or a very young child, and a monk found him and took him back to the monastery, which is where he was raised. However, Brother Luke, and several other monks, abused him, physically and sexually, so they deserve the shovel, too.
Then, when he is rescued by the cops, he is abused again while in state care, so yet more characters in need of the shovel, and then there’s Caleb. He meets Jude at a dinner party, but basically abuses Jude for being disabled (which has come as a result of all the previous abuse he’s been subjected to, poor bloke) so there’s a whole host of total arseholes who have treated Jude like shite throughout his life, and every single damn one of them needs a shovel to be brought down on their heads with great force!
So, those are a few recipients of either slaps or shovels from a selection of novels. More will be added if I can remember any, and if you have any suggestions for characters from books who need a good slap, or a whack over the head with a shovel, please feel free to let me know! Now we should move on, I think…
Happy Pi Day! OK, it’s not the way round we do the date here in the UK, as we do it dd/mm/yyyy, but in the US, they do it mm/dd so today is 3/14 to them, and 3.14 is the start of Pi, that never-ending number! The only book I can think of which mentions Pi in the title is the obvious one – Life of Pi, by Yann Martel, so, for a bit of fun, we shall look at books with PIE in the title! This may make you hungry, so perhaps you might want to eat a pie, lol!
I might be a bit biased here, as a northerner and a big fan of Stuart Maconie and his writing, but this pie-themed part of our blog does give me a chance to mention TWO of his books – Pies and Prejudice, and The Pie at Night, the latter of which I was probably finishing off this time last year! I’d started reading it on the coach when I went down to Wembley in late February for the EFL Cup Final against Southampton, so I must have finished it off in early or mid March, I reckon. It’s what I’m reading in the photo at the top, and I got my copy signed by Stuart last year when he came to Waterstone’s.
Another book I read and enjoyed, although this one is historical fiction, is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. This is set in Guernsey during World War II, the Channel Islands being the only part of the British Isles which were actually occupied by the Germans. It was first published in 2008, and I read it for our book club some time ago now, so possibly around 2009 or 2010. It has been made into a film now. Mary Ann Shaffer died in early 2008, and when her health was deteriorating she asked her niece, Annie Barrows, to finish the rewriting and editing, hence both ladies are credited as authors.
There’s also Gordon Ramsay‘s autobiography, Humble Pie, which I mean to get around to sometime soon, and a couple more with pie in the title which I have yet to read, those being Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie, a YA novel by Jordan Sonnenblick, and The Sweetness At the Bottom of the Pie, by Alan Bradley, a mystery novel.
Also, not quite pie-titled, but Jay Rayner was on Masterchef the other day when I was catching up with episodes of the latest culinary contest, and he’d set a brief for the contestants to make him a pie! Sweet or savoury, he didn’t mind! I read his book, The Ten (Food) Commandments towards the end of 2016 when I could only read non-fiction books for the rest of that year because I had an epic Book Hangover on the fiction front after finishing A Little Life!
So, now we’ve had a few Pie Titles for Pi Day, a mention of pies on Masterchef, and I shall also get in the fact that I had a pie for lunch, lol, I think it’s time we had a brief progress report on the Ongoing Concerns, and then I shall bring this to a close for now. Two books have made progress, my ebook The Man in the Middle, by Howard Webb, which is now up to 26% having read it on the way home from the match last night and continued reading it once I got home – needed cheering up after that shite performance, and Webb’s book is VERY funny! He’s actually only a couple of years older than me, so 46 or 47 now – I’m heading rapidly towards 45, lol! The speed in RPM of a 7 inch single, as those of us who remember records and record players will know! Actually, they’re coming back now, and my mum bought a turntable not long ago, so I could dig out my record collection, lol!
Anyway, The Word for World is Forest, by Ursula K. Le Guin reached the 25% mark earlier this evening, so that’s another one reaching the first quarter!
I have taken North and South off the list for now. I have attempted to start it, as I said in a recent blog, but it’s not doing anything for me. Maybe I am totally out of the habit of reading classics, but I’m sure others have grabbed me more in the past. Maybe, though, a lot of those were the ones I read years ago at school or uni, the ones where I had a teacher or lecturer who was able to point out relevant bits to our class? I think that does help when it comes to the classic novels. Mind you, I read Great Expectations as an adult, long after my formal education ended, and enjoyed that without needing an educational professional to give me a hand! So it could just be that North and South is a bit slow-going for me? I shall give it more of a try, but if I find myself thinking I’m just plodding through this, I may have to give up on it and admit that at book club. If I find myself thinking “I’d rather be reading something else” when I’m reading it, it’s time to call it a day and put it to one side.
It’s also time I called it a day with this blog entry! Wow! Look how long it is! I’d better finish things off and blow the final whistle on it as it seems like it’s gone into extra time and a penalty shoot-out, lol! Until next time, take care and Happy Reading!
Joanne x x x
Books mentioned in this blog entry…
- The Chrysalids – John Wyndham
- Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
- The Catcher in the Rye – J. D. Salinger
- A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
- Life of Pi – Yann Martel
- Pies and Prejudice – Stuart Maconie
- The Pie at Night – Stuart Maconie
- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
- Humble Pie – Gordon Ramsay
- Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie – Jordan Sonnenblick
- The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie – Alan Bradley
- The Ten (Food) Commandments – Jay Rayner
- The Man in the Middle – Howard Webb
- The Word for World is Forest – Ursula K. Le Guin
- North and South – Elizabeth Gaskell
- Great Expectations – Charles Dickens