Friday, October 22, 2010

School Book: Captain America: The New Deal

It isn't every day that I get to call something like this a school book. But Captain America: The New Deal is indeed on the reading list for my Literature After 9/11 class! And I was really lucky to find a copy locally - it's been out of print for awhile and will be reprinted in December of this year.
I don't know a whole lot about Captain America. To be perfectly honest, I think most of what I know (and my opinion of him) was formed while playing Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 with a friend on Xbox 360. When all was said and done in that game, he seemed like a real jerk and I didn't really like him. And while my opinion hasn't really changed, it didn't stop me from enjoying this book.
Captain America: The New Deal has such a ridiculous concept: Captain America takes on terrorists! I kept telling everyone before I read it that I don't think the terrorists have much of a chance (unless there's some kind of super villain behind them). I don't want to give any spoilers here, so I won't discuss one way or the other what happened. But the basic plot is that several months after 9/11, a small town in the middle of the US is held hostage by terrorists. It's up to Captain America to save the day, defusing the bombs and rescuing the entire town. The story itself is very exciting, although there were a few confusing pages. Nick Fury appears, which is always a plus. And there was a really great sequence right near the beginning with Captain America searching for survivors at the Twin Towers' Ground Zero.
Like I said, it's a bit on the ridiculous side, but all in all Captain America: The New Deal was a really good read.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

School Book: The Legend of Sigurd & Gudrun

I was a bit leery of reading J.R.R. Tolkien's The Legend of Sigurd & Gudrun. I've read The Lord of the Rings several years ago and found it a bit dry, so I was sort of expecting the same type of writing. Luckily I was pleasantly surprised. First of all, I wasn't really expecting Norse poetry, but was sort of expecting prose (like Ackroyd's Canterbury Tales). But even in the explanatory stuff that his son, Christopher Tolkien, included, there was no dry anything; I genuinely enjoyed what pieces of Tolkien's lecture notes were included.
I read The Legend of Sigurd & Gudrun out of order. I started with the poems, then went back to the introduction and later the commentaries on the poems. This is how I normally read school books, specifically Shakespeare and the like. I want to enjoy the work without anyone else's comments first, and then I'll go back and read whatever the editor/translator/whomever has to say.
The poems themselves were rather entertaining, but a bit hard to figure out at first. The style in which they were written is just so foreign to a modern English speaker. But once I got over that, I just enjoyed the story. Of course, the introduction and commentaries did help a bit. Once I'd read the poems I went back to these areas and some of the points I'd had trouble with started making more sense.
In the end I read the entire book from cover to cover, and I really enjoyed all of it. Tolkien's lectures were quite interesting and well-written, and I liked how his son explained how the poems came to be the way they are.