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April 10 ~ Q & As

By Ana Brazil
April 10, 2020

This Friday—as much of life feels absolutely cancelled—I hope that everyone finds some way to celebrate some sense of community.

In our own path to community building, the Paper Lantern Writers return to reading and ask ourselves Are there any literary classics that you’ve always wanted to read?

Linda says “Whenever I get questions like this, I immediately blank.

What are considered classics? I have read hundreds and hundreds and possibly even more hundreds of books. So I turn to lists compiled by Those Who Know like this one: 100 Books Bucket List. I found I’ve read 46 of the 100 they list! Some I remember well and have reread many times. Some I know the story but did I read the book? Others I know the title and read it long ago but don’t remember the story. Others I have no interest in reading.

So which ones are left? I would love to read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood because the future now looks a little dystopian to me, and also because a friend dropped a copy on my front porch yesterday. I’ve wiped it clean and set it out to begin today. I’m going to savor the anticipation of something new for a few more hours.”

The cover of the first edition.

C.V. shares, “I enjoy reading novels that have timeless themes.

That is why Anna Karenina and Middlemarch have made my list of classics that I want to still want to read. I have avoided watching their movie adaptions so not to taint my first experience of reading them. Also, my son has strongly suggested to me that I should read Dracula.”

Kathryn adds “I’m following a Covid-19 induced daily reading program for Tolstoy’s War and Peace, led by author Yiyun Li who encourages readers to “go slowly, without rushes, without impatience, without fatigue, without weakness.” By doing so she promises that we will finish the novel by summer “with our spirits restored.

Initially, I felt more fatigued than restored while reading this classic. The many battle scenes are taxing; the long, similar seeming Russian names confusing; and the large cast of characters hard to remember. But as I slowly become familiar with the characters, settings and history, I’m finding War and Peace to be one of the few things I can focus on right now. 

A resonant theme is that—if you’re lucky—life is long and full of unexpected events. Windfalls, impoverishment, triumph, defeat, love, and betrayal happen to us all. Now a quarter of the way through my assigned 1200 pages, I suspect that Tolstoy is showing me how best to weather the various twists and turns in my own life—including a world-wide pandemic.”

TOC from First Edition of L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of OZ.

Ana concludes with “For a long time, I’ve been curious about the works of Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen.

I’ve also been curious about 20th Century American playwright Eugene O’Neill. Ideally, I’d like to have read all of their plays, not only for their storytelling but also to see how those stories illuminate my study of Turn-of-the-Century & 20th Century life.

It’s hard to answer this Classics question without thinking, “I’ve always wanted to to read x and NOW IS THE TIME!” But even now, I can’t promise that I’ll hunker down (even though sheltering in place is all about hunkering down) to read any of Ibsen’s & O’Neill’s plays.

On the lighter side, I’ve always wanted to read Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. After finding the first edition TOC online, I’m totally intrigued. Just looking at the chapter titles makes me wonder how well the book (not the movie) aligns to the Save the Cat storytelling principles. THIS BOOK I WILL READ!

Finally, FULL DISCLOSURE, I’ve never read Moby Dick, The Jungle, or To Kill a Mockingbird, and I never will.”

Ana Brazil
Written by Ana Brazil

Ana Brazil writes historical crime fiction celebrating bodacious American heroines. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, the Historical Novel Society, and a founding member of Paper Lantern Writers.
Ana’s latest historical mystery is THE RED-HOT BLUES CHANTEUSE, which features murder, mayhem, and music in 1919 San Francisco. Her award-winning historical mystery FANNY NEWCOMB & THE IRISH CHANNEL RIPPER is set in Gilded Age New Orleans.

View Ana’s PLW Profile

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