On Good vs. Evil in Sofia the First

I recently shared an article on Facebook by a local writing instructor who describes literary fiction as follows: “‘Literary fiction boils down to: ‘Stories that are not obvious conflicts between Good and Evil’ and/or ‘Stories With Unpredictable Endings.’” I liked this succinct description as I often struggle with how to explain literary versus genre fiction other than “it’s deeper, not as black and white…it’s hard to explain.” But this explanation is very suitable and I found myself thinking about it as I watched “Sofia the First” last night with my children before bed. It’s one of the few Disney Jr shows I don’t mind paying attention to: there’s always a clear conflict with a few obstacles thrown in the way, and a neat resolution reached by the end of the thirty minute show – definitely more genre then literary. But last night I listened to my kids talk about one of the characters (a friend of Cedric’s, the Sorcerer) who they described as “a little bit good and bad.” Even Cedric – who usually appears hellbent on stealing Sofia’s magical amulet so he can have power over the kingdom – always makes the right choice in the end; he can’t bring himself to go all the way with his evil intentions. Though he craves prestige and power, he is ultimately not willing to sell his soul for all of that. In this episode, his friend appears generally naughty, stirring up trouble with spells, but by the end, both magicians are working together, under the orders of Baileywick, the Castle Steward (a total archetypal martyr character), to save many members of the royal family from sailing into a large rock. [Read more…]

It’s Eye-n not Anne

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In the wake of my Grandmother’s recent passing at 94, I’ve been reminded of her influence in my life as I move throughout out my house. We shared a love of books and reading and when I decided to gather the many books she has bestowed on me over the years, I realized how literary Grandma really was. Though she wanted to be a teacher, college was not in the cards for her. She took a secretarial position in Stamford, eventually met my Grandfather, had my aunt and my mother, moved to Darien, and as the Stamford Advocate reported: “In Noroton Heights, Irene and Arne Ohrn ran a diner, a “don’t miss” morning stop for “coffee and” as tradesmen and store-keepers gathered to exchange information and gibes.” How cool that people exchanged gibes? We don’t use that word enough. [Read more…]

Four Books to Read by the Fire

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It’s officially cold here – your toes and nose are freezing-kind of cold; the wind does not feel good kind-of-cold; it’s dark at 4:00 pm-kind of cold. This type of weather always makes me want to curl up with my book. Recently I’ve been trying to cover a a lot of ground with the type of fiction I’m reading – a large sprawling work of historical fiction, and a few different collections of contemporary short stories – some realist, but many more veering towards magical realism. Here’s a round-up of what I’ve recently read, am in the midst of reading, or am about to read:

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

A lyrical work of historical fiction that looks closely at events before, during, and after WWII through the lens of a blind French girl and a German orphan with very few options about his future. This is the most well known of my four recommendations as it sits for 27 weeks on the Times Fiction bestseller list, but much like The Goldfinch, this is one of the rare literary birds that pleases both commercial and literary readers. Doerr delivers very short chapters that makes digesting his dense writing a little easier. [Read more…]