Tony Kushner, “Angels In America”

rabbi“She preferred silence. So I do not know her and yet I know her. She was . . . (He touches the coffin) . . . not a person but a whole kind of person, the ones who crossed the ocean, who brought with us to America the villages of Russia and Lithuania—and how we struggled, and how we fought, for the family, for the Jewish home, so that you would not grow up here, in this strange place, in the melting pot where nothing melted.”

A Reading List of Great Books for Travis

Per your request, a list of books I really think you’ll like. Love you.

  • The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
    • Jack and Aliena are ridiculously cute
    • The history in it is fascinating, especially because it explores a time period that you don’t encounter a whole lot (the Anarchy)
    • Great fight/war scenes
  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
    • Totally disgusting but also brilliant in how seductive it is
    • Most engrossing prose you’ll ever read
  • Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs
    • Jacobs is one of the few women who wrote a slave narrative
    • Highlights the systematic gender-based violence experienced by female slaves, something which was never really discussed in slave narratives written by men
    • Toni Morrison says slave narratives are the heart of the African American literary canon and this is a good book to start laying that foundation in your mind
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
    • Fucking HILARIOUS
    • Heartbreaking, naturally
    • A truly fun read that also reminds you of how harsh life on a reservation is
  • The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
    • Ugh, my heart. Just thinking about it makes me want to cry.
    • Stratton had us read this not because it was related to the class, but because he thought everyone should at least once. He is right.
    • Shines a spotlight on people who’ve been cast out by their communities, others who are just kind of “there”, and those who have a place in society but still see themselves as outsiders.
    • It’s a sad book and I know you don’t like depressing books, but it’s too beautiful of a story to miss.
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
    • Has a very anti-science message and is also an allegory for Mary Shelley’s personal trauma (losing her mother)
    • Heavily influenced by Paradise Lost (ex: Victor’s “playing God” by trying to create life)
    • Picks up very quickly (the monster is animated by the third chapter if I recall correctly) so it doesn’t drag that much
    • Another sad book, but it’s SO cool
  • Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
    • You’ve started it, but you have to finish it so you can feel the triumph of getting through it
    • TAKE YOUR TIME. It took me 8 months.
    • The prose is too good to miss.
    • THE LAST SCENE IS EVERYTHING
  • Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
    • Set in the Belgian Congo, which is shown to be just as bad if not worse than 1960s Vietnam
    • Kurtz is a character worth experiencing on the page as well as on screen
    • Extremely disturbing, but highly condemning of imperialism, which I love
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
    • Required reading. No hall passes.
  • Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
    • Watch the movie first, you’ll see how funny it is performed
    • Read it for the funny poetry
  • Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom
    • A memoir of conversations that Albom had with his former sociology professor, Morrie Schwartz, who was dying from ALS at the time.
    • Yes, it’s incredibly sappy. However, Morrie’s thoughts on human nature, love, and death are profound in their simplicity, allowing you to easily keep his ideas with you in your back pocket.
    • Morrie’s lessons are particularly relevant these days, and you’ll see why when you read it.
  • The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce
    • Literally just an inappropriate dictionary written by a shameless but hilarious asshole
    • It’s free on iBooks!
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
    • Just kidding lol this book is an actual piece of shit