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x__sockeh__x
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The short stories that I've read in my L.A. textbook at school (Sightlines 8) aren't really written that well? I mean, you'd think that they'd use some better stories than the ones I've read. I know that this story is probably quite popular, but it really bugs me. The Hockey Sweater is not a good story. The words get extremely repetitive (the red, white, and blue sweater of the Canadiens, for example).
I just felt like letting this out where some fellow writers can read it. =)
--Brittany

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Kolona
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Preach it, sister.
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Minister
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Oh, many of the stories that I had to read in college lit classes ranged between abominable and unbearable. Maybe one in four I would have actually read for fun -- but probably not that many. It's a wonder I still like to read after all that.
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The Fae-Ray
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The only story I would have ever considered good from a textbook would be "The Tell-Tale Heart," by Edgar Allen Poe.
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Matt Lust
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I think that good is in the eye of the beholder.

I've seen someone complain about the short story "dangerous game" either on this board or the public one on this site. The poster complained about how overdone the plot line was and how he rewrote the story and everyone loved it.

What I think people forget is that there are such things as "orginial" stories and that everyone builds of those archetypes.


I mean no one really likes Shakespeare any more than they really like so called literary works. Shakespeare's popularity resides in his being first to mass produce his work, despite such publication coming post-mortem, but not necessarily the best. (though granted he does have a few good one liners but seriously try reading some of his crappier work and you'll see why no one likes them He sucked it up in about 50-60% of his work.)


I said that to say this take it all in and let nothing slip by. Take nothing for granted everything for wonder and you see more than just boring stories.


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x__sockeh__x
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Fae - I agree...The Tell-Tale Heart was really good. =) We had that one in there...and I'll assume we're talking about the same textbook. =P
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rcorporon
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Matt, I like Shakespeare
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yanos
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Shakespeare didn't write to be read. He wrote to be spoken. There are differences between being a playwright and being an author just as there are differences between our target audience and Shakespeare's.
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quidscribis
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I like Shakespeare, too. And I read it for fun. And what yanos said.
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autumnmuse
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I loved "The Lottery" and read that for school.

Though I agree that the vast majority of assigned reading was tripe.


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Susannaj4
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There are stories, written along the same lines as the novels I am writing and the editing is really strange. They also have too many characters to keep up with at once, introduce characters into one book that are from another and they don't give you any background on them. I'm really confused. Yet I am constantly being told that my stuff it hard to follow, I have too many characters, etc. What's going on?
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Minister
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Far as Shakespeare goes, I haven't read everything he wrote, but MacBeth ranks up there as one of my favorite works of all time. I've read some of his stuff for fun, too. And thoroughly enjoyed watching it performed.

Regarding your stories being held to a different standard than "literary classics" or whatever, I can't speak for particular works -- but keep in mind that the people critting your material may not enjoy those published works either. There's a lot of published stuff that I really loathe, and wouldn't pay a nickel for. And there's some "literary" fiction out there that I probably would have paid money NOT to have to read.


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Survivor
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I'm going to go against the grain here and say that I've enjoyed most of the "great literature" I was assigned to read in school. Of course, my perception might be a bit biased, since if I really didn't like a work, I usually just didn't read it (which resulted in my failing more than one Literature class, I'll admit).

Sooo...the fact that I didn't care if I failed for not reading an assigned book might have something to do with the fact that I was never forced to read anything I wouldn't have read otherwise. If you were a remotely good student, your experience probably differed


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Susannaj4
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There are works out there that I was "forced" to read and really hated. I won't say which one in particular that I loathed, only because every time I have someone got ill with me and wanted to argue that it was the greatest piece of lit for all time. As far as Shakespeare, I like his stuff, Mac Beth in particular. I like to read things that I can learn more about human nature. I love the different ways characters interact.
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Clove
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Matt Lust, I think you're blanketing Shakespeare with that opinion. Perhaps you should look into it a little further, you'll find there *are* plenty of us that appreciate his work. He constructed sentences filled with more feeling than most of us could ever hope to construct. To say that his appeal relies on mass marketing is BS.
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Jaina
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Heya Brittany! (I'm a Brittany too! )

I know exactly how you feel. Most of the stories we had to read in school drove me nuts. I couldn't understand why in the world anyone would enjoy that stuff, let alone think it was good enough for forcing the entire student population of the nation to read it.

That said, you'll find that every once in a while, you'll run into a story that isn't so bad. Or maybe it's so bad that you think it's funny. The key is to decide that you want to be amused, by whatever means possible. Find something about the story that you enjoy. I liked "A Rose for Miss Emily" because it was the most idiotic story I had ever read, and if I didn't laugh at it I would have gone and puked instead.

So I guess the key is to not let yourself get frustrated with the poor quality of the stories they make us read in schools, but to force yourself to be amused by it. And every once in a while, you'll run into something that you don't have to force yourself to enjoy.

Besides, that is much better for your grade than Survivor's method.


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NMgal
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I think being told you have to read something for an assignment takes a lot of pleasure out of reading. For example, in high school I read "Of Mice and Men" and I don't remember liking it at all. But I'm currently voluntarily reading "East of Eden" which is much longer and LOVING it. Perhaps students would enjoy classic lit better if they were given a choice of what they wanted to read from a list of stories. Of course, I'm a teeny bit older now and maybe my tastes have changed. Hmm...I should pick up "Of Mice and Men" and re-read it.
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x__sockeh__x
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Hm...another thing that would most likely belong on this thread that bugs me.
We never discuss the writing quality or style of the story. If we were to just have an open discussion/debate with the whole class involved, giving what they liked and disliked, I'd love that. I think that I'll make a suggestion to my teacher. =)

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Valtam2
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I think that stuff that is considered important literature is either A) revolutionary or the best for its time, or B) something that shows the best example of literature in that period. Was Chaucer a revolutionary writer? No, not really. The reason that The Canterbury Tales are still read is because in that book is an example of every kind of popular story from that period. Shakespere is famous because he was the best of his time. He didn't make up many of his own stories (everyone stole from everybody back then so we can't really hold it against him) but he was able to turn a very simple revenge story ("Hamlet") into a complex and intriguing play. Also, there are things about his plays that everyone in the audience can enjoy. Humor, romance, violence, drama, no matter what the Elizabethian audience liked to see, he had it.

Of course...there are many stories in lit. books that I cannot understand why they're in there. Mainly the modern stuff. So I'm right up there with ya.

[This message has been edited by Valtam2 (edited January 28, 2006).]


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Susannaj4
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I'm Sorry, I was under the impression that we were speaking of William Shakespeare, yes?

In life there are many obstacles to overcome, many crossroads to stand and wonder which way to go, and many crosses to bear. We like to know that something is worse then the way we have it to make us appreciate our lives more. If you take nothing for granted then every thing is precious and can never be boring. Boredom requires taking things for granted. You can't be bored if you never think the grass is greener on the other side, because you know that if you go over and look back, the grass is greener where you were. If you are bored you don't see the bigger picture that there is a reason for everything. The reason I write is because I have a drive to put it down. The skeptic in me says that it's crap and I need validation. But to get validation I almost feel like I have to turn it into some boring story.
(Putting soapbox away and humbly stepping back into the shadows)


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arriki
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I cried my way through MOBY DICK I hated reading it so much. But I did read the book, not the Cliff's Notes like some in my junior class.

But I loved a lot of other literary works. I loved reading the Greek comedies and tragedies far better than Shakespeare. I read Homer and most of the major Roman authors, too.

There are some good books out there among the "classics." I do agree that the short stories selected for our school readers (circa 50's and 60's) were pretty boring. I read paperback novels beginning in fourth grade. SF and historicals mainly -- every one that appeared in the local drugstore rack. Norton, Jack Williamson, Van Vogt, Edmond Hamiton...I still own my copies and find the stories sometimes unreadable today. My tastes have changed. Is that because I now write myself and can see the bad points?


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Susannaj4
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I think you're right about reading them and now seeing the badpoints because you write yourself.
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The Fae-Ray
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Yeah, we are talking about the same textbook sockeh.

But I think you also have to consider (this is towards your discussion post) that the people in school aren't avid writers or readers. When we were asked what was useful about first person POV, I was the only one who put my hand up. And when I answered everyone was all like "Wow!". And my answer was really not that amazing.


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x__sockeh__x
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Fae - I know they aren't avid readers or writers, but still - critiquing a story boosts your skills. It'd be smart for our L.A. teachers to give us an assignment of such a type. I mean, I have my test for the unit Monday, so I think that we're done the unit. But yeah. =o
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Matt Lust
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Here's the list of what Shakespeare's done convince me you've read most (ie a lot of it) of this and I'll agree you "like" shakespeare. Tell me you've only read the ones "everyone" acknowledges is good and you only like good writing not shakespeare. I love certain Shakespeare plays and sonnets but on this list includes several plays that outright suck.

A Midsummer Night's Dream (1595)
All's Well that Ends Well (1602)
Antony and Cleopatra (1607)
As You Like It (1599)
Coriolanus (1608)
Cymbeline (1609)
Hamlet (1600)
Henry IV (1597)
Henry V (1598)
Henry VI (Parts I, II, and III) (1590)
Henry VIII (1612)
Julius Caesar (1599)
King John (1596)
King Lear (1605)
Love's Labour's Lost (1593)
Macbeth (1606)
Measure for Measure (1604)
Much Ado About Nothing (1598)
Othello (1604)
Pericles (1608)
Richard II (1595)
Richard III (1594)
Romeo and Juliet (1596)
The Comedy of Errors (1590)
The Merchant of Venice (1596)
The Merry Wives of Windsor (1597)
The Taming of the Shrew (1593)
The Tempest (1611)
The Winter's Tale (1610)
Timon of Athens (1607)
Titus Andronicus (1590)
Troilus and Cressida (1600)
Twelfth Night (1599)
Two Gentlemen of Verona (1592)


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Susannaj4
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Awesome.
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Survivor
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I have a slight fondness for the language, and particularly for the flair of his prose, so I could claim most of that list by reading and near all of it by audience. But that's not the issue. You can't judge the greatness of an artist by the most wretched work produced, every true artist produces moutains of sheerest crap on the way to producing anything salable. We promote that as a hardened rule for our own efforts, is it fair to turn around and judge another by the work we enjoyed least?

Look, there is no writer who only writes brilliant work, even if you only count what got published (well, I guess that technically anyone who never got published, or never wrote anything in the first place, would qualify). If you like several different works of a writer, or even just one important work, than you like that writer (as a writer, I'm not saying you'll want to have children together or anything).


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GrandmaDeb
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Hi. I'm new and this is my first official post to a discussion, but I can't bear to see Shakespeare given such a knock. One of the best quotes I ever heard about Shakespeare was that he was so cliche. Excuse Me? He invented many of the things that we now consider cliche. They weren't cliches when he wrote them. Anachronistic - yes; sappy (some)- yes; overdone (also some) - definitely yes. But this was an era where, for the first time, the public was really being introduced to mass entertainment. Well, maybe not the first, there were all those Greeks...
Now, there were many other authors who have done the same, but Shakespeare still stands out. Part of his fame is his work and part of it was the politics of the times.
As for some of his stuff - remember that he didn't live in a country with free speech. His livelyhood required him to please his benefactors, the censors, and his audience, including the Crown - QE1.
At the end of the movie "Shakespeare In Love" the Queen says she wants Shakespeare to write a new play for the upcoming Twelth Night. "A comedy, I think, this time" she says. Try writing under that pressure!

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Susannaj4
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Well said.
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Matt Lust
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For the love of god people

I'm not saying Shakespeare was a horrible writer. Rather I am saying shakepeare was a great writer who wrote crappy work now and then.


How dare I insult the master?

Gawd how trite you all sound.


Yes Shakespeare is a great writer but the man's work gets really gawd awful annoying at times.

Love's Labor's lost? Seriously people
who liked that one? The histories weren't bad for history but typically lacked the power of his work like Hamlet that covered much of the same thematic ground but in a completely speculative way.


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Survivor
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Well, you did say that you wouldn't believe that anyone "liked" Shakespeare unless they liked most of what he wrote. I just suggested that was probably an unreasonable standard. Sure, there are a few people who meet it, but I think I'd have to class those people as more than just "liking Shakespeare".

Don't get all huffy, you're the one that framed the argument that way.


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Matt Lust
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I wasn't attacking their liking him.

I was attacking their attacking my disliking him.

Perhaps I read to much into GrandmaDeb's post among others but the general sentiment appears shakespeare is sacred and shouldn't be bashed.

Anyone else not see I said "loved" certian shakespeare plays and sonnets. I firmly respect the Bard's talent and legacy. I just find that there were times when even he couldn't find the magic.


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Survivor
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Well, that's why I said you shouldn't have said "convince me you've read most (ie a lot of it) of this and I'll agree you "like" shakespeare."

Having said it, at least you should be true to your word and admit that some of us do "like" Shakespeare


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Matt Lust
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allright survivor just because I "like" you


some people can like shakespeare


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