Fall in the House of Urine

Hi!  J here.  I bet you took a look at that title and thought to yourself…What!?  This is supposed to be a blog about writing…  Fear not, intrepid readers, fear not. 

Let me show you a tiny snapshot of my life: I have a house, children and pets.  The other day, after a stretch of damp rainy days, I noticed that my house stinks.  Like pee.  We have a puppy, an Alpha dog and twin boys who’ve been potty training for months.  Welcome to Fall in the House of Urine. 

As torturous as being in the House of Urine is, I thought the phrase had a nice ring to it, but couldn’t think of why that might be so.  A bit later it dawned on me.  Fall in the House of Urine sounds kinda like The Fall of the House of Usher…at least in my head.  And that got me to thinking about the classics.  Good ones and bad ones.

As an English major in college, I read a lot of literature, but most of it was crap.  Or at least not stuff I liked.  George Elliot – phbfft.  Hawthorne – love the ideas, can’t get past the language.  Dickens – love the stories but too many Victorian Era pop culture references… I have to keep a finger in the end notes just to follow along.  And don’t get me started on Mary Shelley – I had to read that stinking book in no fewer than 4 different classes!  (I’m not even linking to it!)  Seriously, all you English professors out there…out of 4000 years of writing, why do you all pick Frankenstein?!  It’s a terrible tale…a doctor builds a guy out of dead parts, reanimates it and then is happy the monster runs away for 1/2 the story.  I hated that book; the movies were better. 

But for all the crap, I found a lot of stuff that I did like.  Beowulf, Chaucer, Shakespeare’s comedies and histories (loathed the tragedies!), Louisa May Alcott, Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, O. Henry.  And of course, Edgar Allen Poe.  I’ve never actually read The Fall of the House of Usher (the PBS movie scared the piss out of me as a kid!) but I’ve read lots of his other stuff.  Creep-o-saurus Rex!  That guy was seriously ahead of his time.  Poe is like Alfred Hitchcock, just born 100 years earlier.  Can you imagine if Poe was alive today?  Stephen King‘s empire might be in trouble!

But for all my rantings, of course we have to be exposed to lots of stuff to find the things we like.  And as somebody pointed out to me a few posts back, we don’t all like the same things.  There’s probably one of you reading this thinking, what does this Monkey girl know?  George Elliot Rocks!

Today’s Secret: Everything ties back to a good story.  Put your stories out there because you might be my next George Elliot or my next Poe.  Somebody will love what you wrote and somebody will hate it.  And that’s OK.

Today’s Question: What’s your favorite classic?  What do you like about it?


15 thoughts on “Fall in the House of Urine”

  1. I have been waiting to comment on this post J! First off let me say – on the House of Urine, been there, done that, so I feel your pain. I love Dickens and I agree on the pop references. There are many things I didn’t understand until I was older and became more educated on Victorian England. One great book to help weed through the classical muck is Daniel Pool’s “What Jane Austen and Charles Dickens Knew – from Fox Hunting to Whist – the Facts of Daily Life in 19th Century England.”

    It’s a great book. I even learned what gruel is!

  2. Well that certainly a journey into things I thought were WAY in my past. I have to admit I’m not and never have been into the classics. Now the movie versions are something else. Pride and Prejudice (the Colin Firth, Jennifer Ehle version) is my all time favorite. But to your point, I think you’re right. All writing has its champions and critics. Let’s just hope WE have more of the latter.

    1. 🙂 – I’ve read many more “classics” that I loathed than ones I liked. OK, well loathed might be a bit strong, but I certainly couldn’t get into them.

    1. I tried to read To Kill A Mockingbird a couple of years ago and I just couldn’t get into it. I read P&P last year and while it took me 2 weeks to get through it (an incredibly long time for me!) I really liked it.

  3. You know my views on potty training–they won’t be wearing diapers when they walk down the aisle.

    As for classics, I was a Steinbeck officianado as a teenager. East Of Eden was my favorite. I also loved Poe. You are absolutely right; he was brilliant and far a head of his time. The Tell Tale Heart kept me up for a week.

    1. thump thump…thump thump…The Gift of the Magi is one of my all time favorites! OK, a bit of a jump from poe to henry…

  4. I loved To Kill a Mockingbird. That book especially at the time it was written was amazing. I Hated the Grapes of Wrath. The way it ended still leaves me a little queasy.

    1. I’ve never read either one…tried to read TKaM a year or so ago…I read Cannery Row by Steinbeck back in college, but I didn’t really like it…

  5. I think a lot has to do with the context of when you first read a book, too. I have fond memories of THE BRIDGE OF SAN LUIS REY by Thornton Wilder. We read it in junior year of high school, about 1970-71 (yes, in between running from dinosaurs and reading about that guy Noah’s big boat.) That was also back in the heyday of Disaster Movies. like “Airport” and “The Poseidon Adventure” (which was a rockin’ best seller before it was a movie that Cene Hackman actually looked hot in). Anyway, I was so excited to read something that reminded me of what I was seeing in the theaters. Anyway, enough about old-timey days. 🙂

  6. Gail Ingis says: I have not done enough reading in my writer’s life to comment on the classics, but I do remember from my schooling I loved the Odyssey, I loved Kafka and the “apple orchard”, I loved Dostoyevsky, “Two Brother Karamokofv” but lately I read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and loved it. For 40 years my career was interior design, architecture, doing them and teaching. Writing technical for my profession, but writing fiction is a new endeavor for me. I am trying to catch up.

    I do appreciate your telling those uncaring/uninformed teachers to select books to learn and enjoy and cut the junk. Yay J.

  7. OK, I LOVE Hawthorne. Love the stories, love the language. In fact, if I’d been more ambitious/motivated in college I would have become a Hawthorne scholar (I certainly read and analyzed enough of it). The House of the Seven Gables is my favorite. Hepzibah and her weird obsession with her brother Clifford, Phoebe and Holgrave, even the evil Judge Pyncheon and the poor little chickens struggling to raise their little babies. Adore them all. I don’t know why this has not been made into a modern movie — it’s a great story. Of course I love all the Jane Austens, Edgar Allan Poe, Wilkie Collins (The Woman in White and the Moonstone). Dickens I like, especially for the character names and the secondary characters who always steal the show, but haven’t read in a very long time. Like J., I also love Louisa May Alcott, Conan Doyle and O. Henry (my son just read The Ransom of Red Chief in English class, and it made me want to reread that one). Steinbeck and Hemingway do nothing for me.

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