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It's my last semester at university, and I think I'm finally ready to be an English major.

In freshman year I signed up to major in English because in high school I liked to write (for this very site, among other things) and because I liked Jane Austen, but I immediately switched to more sciency subjects, feeling that essay grading was too subjective, and I hated trying to see characters and events in novels as tools of the author to make some point. To me, they were real, and to discuss the author's intent or the symbols and motifs detracted from their power. Also there was a Shakespeare requirement and Shakespeare is a BORING HACK.

This semester I had to fill out some core curriculum requirements to graduate and, having recently fallen deeply and amorously in love with Paul Gross on Slings and Arrows, I decided to buckle down and take a Shakespeare class. Let me tell you something. I LOVE IT. Shakespeare, you guys? Is kind of great! I especially love doing close readings--taking some passage in the text and examining the hell out of the minutiae, figuring out how every little thing fits together. They've lead to so many "ah-ha" moments, of the exhilarating type I thought was reserved for math proofs and programming (Theseus is an antique fable!) And just--man! I love themes! I love symbols! I love motifs! Somehow, this semester, it just clicked, and suddenly examining the structure and purpose of various aspects of a fictional work enhances the pleasure of reading. I'm devouring up textual analysis, surfing SparkNotes not (just) in frenzied panic of "SHIT I FORGOT TO READ OTHELLO" but for the genuine joy and pleasure of it.

It's not just limited to Shakespeare. Somehow between the SparkNotes and the book I've reading on the side--a ten-year-old fantasy paperback borrowed from my friend Anna--I discovered the new purpose of my life. I'm dedicating myself to the proposition that close reading improves appreciation of anything. I bring you now

LauraNotes: Providing Much-Needed Study Guides for Ill-Respected Genre Fiction

Nightrunner Series by Lynn Flewelling (Bantam-Spectra Fantasy)

Luck in the Shadows (1996)

Prologue-Chapter 2 (Rolan Silverleaf rescue)

Chapters 3-5 (Aren Windover B&E)

Chapters 6-7 (Travelling with Micum Cavish)

Chapters 8-10 (Lady Gwethelyn ship journey)

Chapters 11-14 (Travelling with a magical affliction)

Chapters 15-19 (Wizard academy R&R)

Chapters 20-24 (Training at the Cockerel & Watermead)

Chapters 25-28 (Clearing Lord Seregil's name)

Chapters 29-32 (Body-switching plot)

Chapters 33-37 (Embezzling plot; investigating mission)

Chapters 38-41 (Explode!)


Stalking Darkness (1997)

Prologue-Chapter 4 (Evil crown mission)

Chapters 5-9 (Nobling it up at Wheel Street)

Chapters 10-14 (Mostly romance)

Chapters 15-21 (Spying on Rythel)

Chapters 22-27 (Revelations; interludes)

Chapters 28-32 (Explode!)

Chapters 33-38 (Aftermath; journeys)

Chapters 39-44 (Torture; exposition)

Chapters 45-47 (Escape; reunion)

Chapters 48-52 (Climax; PTSD)


- Laura