Discussion Forums - Classic Literature

Topic: uplifting novel to teach for English III

Club rule - Please, if you cannot be courteous and respectful, do not post in this forum.
  Unlock Forum posting with Annual Membership.
Subject: uplifting novel to teach for English III
Date Posted: 3/18/2014 10:41 AM ET
Member Since: 2/2/2010
Posts: 1,206
Back To Top

I need to find an uplifting novel to teach for English III. A book where no one shoots their best friend or commits suicide. No one is enslaved, raped or repeatedly bombarded with racial slurs. No atrocities. Why is all the most memorable literature depressing? Moving from Fitzgerald to Steinbeck...need suggestions please

Date Posted: 3/18/2014 10:55 AM ET
Member Since: 9/25/2006
Posts: 314
Back To Top

I finished Siddhartha 0141181230 last night and thought it would appeal to a certain kind of teenager, though I also wondered how much of a minority that certain kind of teenager would be. It's very post WWI, trying to figure out a way to live in a world that has gone crazy. Another plus is that it is very short, easy to read, violence-free.

Date Posted: 3/18/2014 11:56 AM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2008
Posts: 2,611
Back To Top

sorry. I don't know what English III is. Is it high school or college or neither one?

Date Posted: 3/18/2014 12:38 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
Back To Top

Dear Margaret T.  You didn't say if the novel has to be one from "the canon".......

If it doesn't have to be a "brand" novel, I want to tell you about a couple of 'wholesome' books I've read in this last year.  The first is Plainsong, by Kent Haruf.   He's a retired English teacher.  It's about some of the people who live out in Colorado on the high plains, and whose lives are not trouble-free, but who manage not just to "cope' but to do better than that simply by being decent human beings and acting civilly toward each other.   I was glad to find this book, because I was getting choked with reading about self-centered and/or dysfunctional people.  Haruf kept some of the same characters, the townspeople of Holt, in his next book, Eventide.  Whether or not you judge them suitable for your students, you might enjoy reading them.  Haruf's writing style is deceptively simple.........I came to like it a lot.

Date Posted: 3/18/2014 1:07 PM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2008
Posts: 2,611
Back To Top

Plainsong reminded me of Willa Cather. Simply told story that has real power to it.

I wonder if the unwed mother part will be a problem for English III



Last Edited on: 3/18/14 2:01 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/18/2014 6:40 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
Back To Top

The part about the girl Victoria, whose mother throws her out because of her pregnancy, should make it more pertinent to adolescents of today, I should think.  The trouble with Cather's stories is that they are from "yesteryear", and thus might as well be from the Dark Ages.  And I say that despite the fact that I have read and enjoyed most of her novels, and have one awaiting my early attention in my TBR stash---One of Ours, about the home-town boy who goes off to World War I.  (I tried to get the teen-ager across the street from me here to read True Grit, after the Jeff Bridges film version came out------hah!   No dice, ours has already become "an oral culture of pure babble" just as Dwight McDonald (I think it was) predicted.)

Date Posted: 3/18/2014 8:23 PM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2008
Posts: 2,611
Back To Top

I hate to side with your neighbor but I didn't like True Grit the book either. Enjoyed both of the movies.

The thing that connected Plainsong to Cather for me was Haruf's use of the short declarative sentence. In some of Cather's books I think she even outdoes Hemingway with those short sentences. In The Professor's House I think she carried it a little too far.

I have Eventide by Haruf but haven't read it yet. Got it from somebody here at pbs.



Last Edited on: 3/20/14 5:50 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/19/2014 9:04 AM ET
Member Since: 9/25/2006
Posts: 314
Back To Top

Re The Professor's House

Whoa, one of the saddest novels ever. That line about the prof's resignation to lead a "delight-free life" will drive middle-aged readers out to pursue some serious cheering up....a Big Mac, tug 'o war with a puppy, silly love songs of the Seventies........
 

Date Posted: 3/19/2014 12:28 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
Back To Top

Oh wow, Matt B.-----After reading The Professor's House, I suspected there  would be a real difference in interpretation of the novel dependent upon the sex of the reader.  And sure enough, from your description of the novel as "one of the saddest novels ever", there is!

Interesting.

Are you really going to pooh-pooh the idea of "male privilege", altogether?



Last Edited on: 3/19/14 12:28 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/19/2014 2:52 PM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2008
Posts: 2,611
Back To Top

maybe a little uplifting - Red Sky at Morning by Richard Bradford.

Date Posted: 3/19/2014 9:37 PM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2009
Posts: 551
Back To Top

Another vote for Haruf. His Plainsong is a wonderful book; there's a wealth of material for discussion.

Date Posted: 3/20/2014 7:44 PM ET
Member Since: 2/2/2010
Posts: 1,206
Back To Top

Thanks everyone!