Before I headed out to the United States of America, I was reading To Kill a Mockingbird. Literally, the night before I left Gozo, I was in bed reading the last 60 pages of the novel. I was surprised that I liked To Kill a Mockingbird. I was quite sure I would not like its genre, but I actually really really did.
Coming to Oakland University after having read To Kill a Mockingbird, I was excited to take on one of my classes in particular; Modern Fiction. I was excited to explore this new genre that I surprisingly liked and such a class had so many novels that I had to read. Modern Fiction is very different to what I usually read (dystopias) yet it was my favorite class this semester.
Here’s a review of the novels I read this semester!
Summer by Edith Wharton – I felt like I was reading Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, and I mean this as a compliment. Wharton is different to Austen, but I found similarities in the societal setting of the two stories. I enjoyed analyzing Summer, simply because the protagonist, Charity, was so interesting to analyze in a psychological way. I find it interesting to know how another person thinks, how they act and what effects them. Charity in particular is complex in how she perceives things; she’s not a constant character. She’s seventeen and she has certain desires that young women of the 1920s didn’t exactly act on before marriage.
In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway – reading the first five pages of the novel, I hated the book. I just did not get it. Hemingway has a very unique writing style that I just could not understand until my professor explained it to me. Hemingway does not use a narrator as well as no point of view. Both of these are different. Hemingway just gives you characters and their actions and no thought or background to anything. He leaves the reader to interpret everything according to the reader’s views. It is really odd but it’s a work of art. I really came to appreciate how many potholes there were in his writing that he intentionally leaves out for the reader to fill in.
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos – you’d think this novel was written by a 15-year-old, but Lorelei Lee is one manipulative woman. Loos wrote this novel as a joke simply to bring to light how during the 1920s, men were infatuated by blondes. Lorelei comes off as naïve as she writes in her journal, not realizing certain worldly things. However, Lorelei manages to get jewelry, diamonds and a tiara from rich gentlemen by planning schemes and winning. I would not consider this a feminist novel. It simply emphasizes how women can use their sexuality to have power over men. Even though Lorelei is smart enough to manipulate the gentlemen she meets, she uses her limited intelligence not to empower women, but to make them be perceived as sexual objects. Lorelei is subject to the societal views of the time, and this is why she has to be a sexual object to survive in the man-dominated world.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – if you read this novel only for its face value, you’re reading it completely wrong. The Great Gatsby is considered the Great American Novel because it depicts what America is; luxurious, free, and money. It depicts the American lifestyle of the rich white man versus the working man trying to better his situation in the 1920s. It depicts the American Dream we still believe in today. Even though the characters were somewhat annoying at times, I enjoyed reading the novel for its nationalism.
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston – this novel has so much depth. The power of language, the new woman movement and the Harlem Renaissance are all factors that are brought out in this novel. Hurston is a genius. She truly depicts what it was like for a black woman to carry the weight of her past generations’ history and find herself.
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner – from all of the novels that we have read this semester, I hated this novel. Doesn’t mean it was horrible, I simply did not like it. At. All. The beginning of the novel is written from two different perspectives of people who suffer from disability. The first being autism and the second being mental instability. Faulkner is a genius in the way he portrays the thought process of each character, but oh Lord, I could not read this damn book. It is very confusing. I gave up on the book after the second part, thus I did get to read the third part.
Flying Home by Ralph Ellison – a collection of short stories, Ellison masters bringing out the reality of black people in the 1930s with the use of imagery. If you read his stories for their face value, you barely manage to get half of the underlying meaning. You have to read between the lines and connect the dots. He’s an incredible genius. A must read.
Even though this class was at 8am on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I loved this class and I loved our professor. I wish she could teach me all of my literature classes. If I had any other class at 8am I would’ve skipped a few times but I never skipped her class simply because I knew I had to attend.
I hope you enjoyed my short review of the novels I covered throughout these past four months, and I highly suggest you read them! Let me know what you think of them below in the comments!