Thursday, May 26, 2011

Literary Blog Hop: May 26-29

Welcome to the Literary Blog Hop hosted by The Blue Bookcase!

This blog hop is open to blogs that primarily feature book reviews of literary fiction, classic literature, and general literary discussion.

How do I know if my blog qualifies as "literary"? Literature has many definitions, but for our purposes your blog qualifies as "literary" if it focuses primarily on texts with aesthetic merit. In other words, texts that show quality not only in narrative but also in the effect of their language and structure. YA literature may fit into this category, but if your blog focuses primarily on non-literary YA, fantasy, romance, paranormal romance, or chick lit, you may prefer to join the blog hop at Crazy-for-books that is open to book blogs of all kinds.

Instructions for entering the Literary Blog Hop:

1. Grab the code for the Button.

Literary Blog Hop

2. Answer the following prompt on your blog.
(Suggestions for future prompts? Email to them us at

Talk about one author that you love and why his or her writing is unique. Please be specific.

Our answer comes from Christina:

I'm guessing most of us are going to have a difficult time talking about just ONE author for this prompt. And rather than agonizing over which favorite to choose, I'm just going to go with the one that is most present in my mind right now: Adam Levin. For about a week, I've been reading The Instructions. I haven't even finished it yet but I am already totally smitten and I'm a little afraid to say this, but... I think I love him. This is the first I've read of Mr. Levin, and I know we haven't been together that long, but guys? I feel like this might be the real thing!

But first, I just want to get all pedantic up in here for a second. It's about the word "unique," and the fact that it is an absolute. Absolutes, like "equal" and "perfect," technically cannot be used with modifiers like "more," "very," and"less." Something is either unique (totally one-of-a-kind, unlike any other) or it isn't. And yeah, I know that language evolves and nowadays everybody uses absolutes just like any other adjective and blah, blah, but just humor me for a minute. Let's assume that in order for an author's writing to be unique, it has to truly be UNIQUE. The trouble with that assumption is that I would have to have read everything anyone has ever written in order to know whether the elements I consider to be unique are actually unique. Get it? Obviously I'm not going to be able to make that kind of a judgement. So I'm just going to mention a few things that I think are unique about The Instructions, and you all can tell me if I'm wrong. Real uniqueness is a pretty tall order.

(Oh, and since I haven't read anything else by Adam Levin, I can't know for sure whether these things are unique to him or to this particular book.)
The Instructions, page 167

Word Diagrams
(see right)
There are several of these in The Instructions, and I don't think I've ever seen them in another book. The narrator/protagonist, Gurion Maccabee, uses a sort of word map rather than (or sometimes in addition to) a wordy description of a place's physical layout. I really like this; it makes it so easy for the reader to imagine the space in which action occurs.

TONS of Yiddish, Hebrew, and References to Scripture
I mean TONS. I actually downloaded a Yiddish-English dictionary. Every couple of pages there's a new word or person or concept for me to look up in the dictionary or google or wikipedia, and some are very obscure. I know Adam Levin isn't the first author to refer to Judaism (duh) but I think the frequency of the references is extreme and, in that way, unique. It has to do with point number three:

The Fictional Audience is different from the Actual Audience

Gurion intends The Instructions to be a book of scripture, and his intended audience is exclusively Jewish. Obviously Adam Levin doesn't intend his book to be read only by Jews. But he's so true to Gurion's voice and idiosyncratic nature that he resists the urge to explain everything for the gentiles.

So what do you think? Is The Instructions (and, by extension, Adam Levin) unique? Can't wait to read all of your responses to this prompt!

3. Add your link to the Linky List below.
Happy Hopping!

*PLEASE NOTE: if you do not answer the question and link back to The Blue Bookcase in a post on your blog, you will be removed from the Linky list.