Wednesday, September 26, 2007

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Perhaps cruelty and relentless admonition is easier to understand between enemies when the parties involved do not have a vested interest in the survival of each other. When this same deep-seated reproach occurs among the intertwining relationships of families and friends, it is much more difficult to swallow. Set in a hazy, fantastical town of Macondo that floats somewhere in between hysterical absurdity and unnerving believability, One Hundred Years of Solitude pits a single family-line bound by convoluted aspirations of glory, honor and peace against a century of unstoppable social and political transformations. Are we supposed to pity the misfortune that comes with jealousy and war, or simply condemn destructive behavior in all its forms? The legendary Colombian novelist Marquez leaves this question open for all to ponder, only to reveal that the answer sits in the same solitude that shrouds this tragedy and its characters from beginning to end.

Submitted by Mazen Ali

Monday, September 24, 2007

Native Son by Richard Wright

I first tried to read this book as part of a High School English class but there is a point in the book where the main character suffocates another character. I threw the book across the room. Since then (about 30 years), I have tried to read that book about 10 more times and I get to that point and bam! the book goes across the room. As my teacher said all those years ago - it comes down to the fact that I am a white woman who will never be able to understand what it was (is) like to be a black man in that kind of situation. So I guess I'll never get it or finish that book

Submitted by Lisa Fischelis

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Flashbacks: An Autobiography by Timothy Leary

My first impressions of Tim Leary were from the magazine articles of the early 1960s chronicaling his work while he was still in good graces at Harvard. I was 13 at the time and knew then that our lives would cross as they did in the 1980s. My library contains almost all his work with a few priceless and signed first editions, among them "High Priest." This autobiography is a Who's Who of the 60s and 70s and in particular you will enjoy reading Tim's narrative of his first encounter with G. Gordon Liddy the night Gordon raided Tim's house at Millbrook. Liddy relates the same evening from his viewpoint as a Duchess County Assistant District Attorney in his autobiography "Will." Needless to say they are humorously different.

Submitted by Jim Blakely

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein

Apart from the obvious reference to the Book of Exodus this novel was the defining element of the sixties experience. I read it later than most of my friends, at age 20, and found the universe into which I will evolve when my journey in this one is complete.

Submitted by Jim Blakely

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

1984 by George Orwell

I read 1984 when I was 16 years old (in the 1970's). I was bummed out for three weeks and have never trusted government since then.

Submitted by Philly Kid

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Child of the Dark: The Diary of Carolina Maria de Jesus by Carolina Maria de Jesus

"July 17: I got out of bed at 5:30 and carried water. At the spigot there's always a row."

I've read this book when I was twelve. It wasn't meant to be read by twelve year olds. Being an impressionable youth, how could this book not get under my skin?

Six years later (I am now eighteen) I still remember Maria de Jesus's terse descriptions of the harsh life in the slums of Sao Paulo. Written on scraps of paper in which she could have traded in to the trash vendor for a handful of cruzeiros to buy black beans--the type of beans only poor people eat, so shameful it is for her to cook them that the windows of the house had to be shuttered as to not let anyone know--but instead wrote on them with what little education she had and saved them.

She could have made us feel sorry for her. She could have moralized this story , and taught us something gloriously didactic. But then that meant cheapening the impact of Maria's suffering. She didn't compromise with us people who lived with such luxury and leisure. She looked at us square in the eye and told us that's life. Well. At least my life.

12 years old and I had the gall to look Maria in the eye. I read each horrifying passage. And felt the closest I'll ever have of experiencing endless hunger and want in my life. I'm still utterly thankful she let me live it with her.

Submitted by Student

Monday, September 3, 2007

Subtractive Schooling: U.S. Mexican Youth and the Politics of Caring by Angela Valenzuela

Many of you have been where this book takes you--into the world of high students whose culture, values, and language are stripped by the policies and practices of assimilationist educational leaders. Valenzuela contends that the Mexican youth whom she studied did not oppose education; rather they opposed a system of schooling that neither respected nor cared about them and their cultural values. For these students, schooling was a subtractive process that weakened their social and cultural capital to the detriment of their academic success.

Submitted by Alicia Vargas/PCC Faculty