Well, this is the end, I suppose. No more Friday Writings from your favoritest student ever. No more wit or insight, no more crazy stories. But enough about me, let’s talk about you. They say a man can be judged by his car or the books he reads/assigns-in-class. I don’t know what kind of car you drive, so I’ll go on the books you had us read this semester, starting, in the natural way, at the end.

A.S. Byatt’s five short stories were pretty excellent (although I am assuming that the last two live up to the bar the first three have set as I have not yet read them). “Body Art” is my least favorite so far, perhaps because it isn’t as fantastical as the other two, but I appreciate it. “The Thing in the Forrest” and “A Stone Woman” were great, strange yet realistically portrayed. Byatt’s style works in her favor for the fantasy stories; her prose is my favorite of the bunch.

Angela Carter’s Nights at the Circus was also a lot of fun. Fevvers and crew were very likeable and entertaining to read. I appreciated the craziness of it, especially in the last third. I really hated the design of the book, though. The font and margins were too small for me to get comfortable and made the book seem smaller than it was. I really enjoyed the actual content of the book, though, so another score for you.

Which brings us to Orlando. I had seen the film last year for something completely unrelated. I enjoyed the film (Tilda Swinton is as close as you are going to get to a man in an actress, in the best possible way), but the book was a lot better. It was funny and touching and strange and I loved it. The concept was excellent and well executed. I will be seeking out more from Woolf.

The Girls of Slender Means was another hit. I really liked the super-omniscient narrator and the characters were a lot of fun. And it was short.

Unfortunately for you, the streak ends there. The End of the Affair is the definition of a book ruined by a message. Orlando and Nights at the Circus were feminist works but they didn’t beat you over the head with it. Greene started off strong with an interesting if unlikable character. Then he turned everything stupid by making a statement about religion. Once he used the characters as plot points instead of people I checked out. Try again next time.

Ohh, another miss with A Passage to India. I can’t quite put a finger on why I didn’t like this. Perhaps it was that I didn’t care about the topic, or maybe it was that I didn’t care about anybody except Mrs. Moore. And it was long. Really long and boring.

Luckily, D.H. Lawrence rescues you from a horrible fate of ending on a bad note. None of the stories we read were as good as the other good stories we read earlier in this little paper (and later in the semester) but they were good enough. I’m not a fan of the “write exactly what people say even if the reader won’t understand it” thing that he had going on in “Love Among the Haystacks” but it didn’t hurt him too much.

I was an engineering major before I came over to the dark side of thinking about things and reading books, so I’m gonna give you a grade based on percentages:

  • % of good stories (each short counts for one): 83.3repeating
  • % of good books: 71.4
  • % of good pages: 66.1

You didn’t do so hot on the pages portion, but you did score extra points for putting all the good ones towards the end. So I’ll give you a B with room for improvement. Ways of improvement would be to take A Passage to India and The End of the Affair off the syllabus and replacing them with good things. Thanks in advance.

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