Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Quotes from The Oresteia by Aeschylus

CHORUS: No man can go through Life
and reach the end unharmed.
Aye, trouble is now
and trouble still to come.
- The Libation Bearers

CHORUS: But a man's life blood
is dark and mortal.
Once it wets the earth,
what song can bring it back?
Not even the master-healer
who brought the dead to life-
Zeus stopped the man before he did more harm.
- Agamemnon

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Matcha In The Morning - The Feathers of Icarus

Anna Akhmatova - Six Degrees of Separation

Funny how the six degrees of separation will actually work for matters of discovery aside from the usual Kevin Bacon sense. Not too long ago, I purchased a copy of the book A History of Reading by author Alberto Manguel. Being a self proclaimed bibliophile, I've wanted this book for quite some time. After reading a couple of pages, I decided to look up the author for more information regarding his background and discovered his website and even cooler, his 100 favourite books. I read through the list and realized that I barely knew more than half of the authors listed, so I printed off a copy of the list and decided to read these works. Second on the list was The Complete Poems of Anna Ahkmatova, a Russian poet who lived from June 23,1889 to March 5, 1966. After looking her up on the Internet, I had to read her poetry. Thanks to our library system here in Memphis, I was able to check out the complete works. Her voice is pure, clear, frustrated, angry and Russian - a spirit that refuses to expire. So far, I have read about 200 pages of her poetry (the book complete with Bibliography pages is over 900 pages long) and many of the poems are marked for my own reasons; perhaps I liked a poem due to the way she phrased her words, or others due to the imagery in my mind, or even that I could hear a Russian woman faintly speaking in my mind as I mouthed the translated words to myself.

Here is one example of her work:

Can you forgive me these November days?
Lights splinter in the Neva's waterways.
Tragic autumn's meager decorations.
(November 1913, Petersburg)

Here is another:

I asked the cuckoo
How many years I would live . . .
The tops of the pine trees quivered,
A yellow ray fell on the grass.
But not a sound in the cold grove . . .
I am going home now,
And a cooling breeze caresses
My burning brow.
(June 1, 1919 Tsarkoye Selo)

Thank you, Alberto Manguel, for introducing me to this wonderful poet.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Laughter In The Dark - Vladimir Nabokov

"For a moment, he feared that his heart might burst, but then suddenly something relaxed delightfully as though he had caught the tune of his ecstasy, this moist ecstasy drumming, drumming against the taut silk overhead. Now his words came freely and he enjoyed the newborn ease."

- p. 43

The Mandarins - Simone De Beauvoir

"Hurry up, it stinks of literature in here."

"How does literature smell?"

"Like an old man who neglects himself."
- p. 186

"Catching sight of Scriassine, Henri smiled warmly; he was a fanatic, a troublemaker, intolerable, but thoroughly alive, and when he made use of words it was because he felt something deeply, not because he wanted to trade them for money, compliments, honours. With him, vanity came only afterward, and then it was nothing but a superficial whim."
- p. 288

Hirohito: Emperor of Japan by Leonard Mosley

"Yomo no umi
Mina harakara to
Omou yo ni
Nado namikaze no

The seas surround all quarters of the globe
And my heart cries out to the nations of the world.
Why then do the winds and waves of strife
Disrupt the peace between us?

- a poem written by Emperor Meiji, grandfather of Hirohito

Shadows on the Grass - Isak Dinesen

"The merriment ran along the terrace and spread to the edge of it like ripples on water. There are few things in life as sweet as this suddenly rising, clear tide of African laughter surrounding me."

Monday, October 24, 2011

Black Beret Review - He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not is a 2002 French black comedy starring Amelie star Audrey Tatou and Brotherhood of the Wolf star Samuel Le Bihan. Tatou plays Angelique, a young free spirited artist in Paris who is completely in love with her suitor, cardiologist physician Loic Le Garrec, and will do anything to keep him close to her, even though he is married and expecting a child. Yet, as the movie progresses, Angelique becomes more and more desperate to hold onto her beau when he seems to place distance between them and their blossoming love. However, as I watched with peaked interest, all was not what it claimed to be and the “love” Angelique had for her suitor took a very dark turn for everyone involved, leading to murder, delivery of organs and the most unique usage of medication.
I am no stranger to Tatou’s work; she first charmed me in the movie Amelie and since then, I try to watch any movie that she appears in for I know that I will not be disappointed. He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not did not disappoint as well, for it gave me a chance to watch Tatou perform in a very dark role yet still pull off the quirky charm so many people love her for. Samuel Le Bihan plays the cardiologist who loves his wife very much; it is his love for his wife that keeps him somewhat sane while Angelique tries to pull him away from his wife in an imaginary and psychotic attempt at love.
The movie is told from two points of view: first Angelique’s and then Loic’s followed by the progression and cohesion of the two viewpoints into quite a suspenseful yet obvious climax. A glance given by Loic at a party sends Angelique into a fantasy world of passion, romance and a love that will not die. All Loic sees, however, is a woman who will stop at nothing to posses something she did not have in the first place. Okay, although I don’t like giving away endings to movies, I will say this – if you do happen to watch the movie, pay attention to the very last scene. When the depths of Angelique’s psychosis unfolded, I actually laughed; the mind is a dangerous organ, capable of manipulation, deceit and lies. It came so natural to Angelique, a woman who is crazy in love.

Rating - A

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Book Review - The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson

Meet Julian Treslove, a non-descript British man who is of nothing special. His life is his own repeated mistake and readers cannot do anything to change it otherwise. All we can do is just read. One night, however, after leaving his friends in a restaurant, he is the victim of a random mugging, except that this is no ordinary mugging; his assailant is a woman who is anti-Semitic, calling him you Jew as she rifles through his pockets. Although Julian is not a Jew, he does have Jewish friends; here in lies the beginning of Howard Jacobson’s novel The Finkler Question that was shortlisted for the 2010 Man Book Prize. This dense yet page turning novel asks the Finkler Question created by Julian; that is, the question posed by Julian after his humiliating mugging – what makes one Jewish? Can anyone be Jewish or is it something deeper than a simple “I Am”? His friends, former teacher Libor Sevcik and philosopher, writer and anti-Semitic Jew Sam Finkler both have their own answers towards Julian’s questions, yet a fairly reasonable answer (one that Julian can understand) comes in the form of his latest lover named Hephzibah, or Juno for short, who is Jewish and helps him discover his inner Jewish nature although he was not born one.
This was my introduction into the highly literary world of Jacobson; after reading this novel, it left me with more questions than answers. No questions as to the writing style or the plot itself, of both were very intense and fulfilling. Yet, my questions were, like Julian’s, deeper: what does it mean to be a Jew in this day and age? What makes one what they are? Can one who is nothing become something greater than expected? My knowledge of the Jewish faith stems from my studies at university and from what my Jewish friends have told me on occasion, plus information gathered from the news. They are a people filled with culture, history, intellect, wisdom and ironically enough, sadness. Julian’s discovery of his own “Jewishness” can at best be labeled with those words and many more, for while studying the religion he comes to understand just what it means to be Julian Treslove, which is more than just a face among the sea of British people. He is, along with his friends with their right or wrong ways of life, are people. People who make something of themselves, leaving a mark that will either be good or bad in the long run. While Julian turns towards the Jewish faith for answers of his life, Sam Finkler turns away from the Jewish faith and instead finds more than he expected. Libor seeks out answers from within and, while steadily living out his elder years, finds regret and sorrow waiting for him at the bottom of the waters that ultimately take his life. The Finkler Question is not just for Jewish people, nor is it for British people. The Finkler Question, I think, is this: do you truly understand the life you live? For me, I am still living out my life. I’ll get back to you when I am dead.

Matcha in the Morning - Asian Beauty

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Book Review - The Land of Green Plums by Herta Muller

When I read Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky for the first time this year, I felt a deep chord strike within that left me with a yearning to read more of her works as well as read more about her. As I had stated in previous reviews, it was such a shame that her voice was quickly quieted too soon. I felt that same feeling about another woman author who lived under somewhat similar circumstances. While Nemirovsky died in a concentration camp, Herta Muller left for Germany and, thankfully, wrote the novel The Land of Green Plums. This slim dark novel tells the story of five youths living during Ceausescu's rule in Romania and their lives filled with strife, unjust accusations, lies mixed with half told truths and death. By the end of the novel, only the narrator and her friend, Edgar, are still alive; the others either died from suicide or from natural causes. Strangely enough, this is a book that will lift the spirit, for even though such darkness surrounds the narrator and her friends, they resolve to keep themselves going for the greater good if not just to keep themselves alive long enough to see the next day. The human spirit will persevere when all else is lost or gone.

Muller’s voice is one of stark magick, carrying us to a land where eating green plums can kill and the drinking of blood is necessary. Her sentences are simple and direct while adding to the already imaginative mindset the readers must have in order to comprehend and enjoy this book that won the Nobel Prize in 2009. This book forced me to look at the horror in a far away land, yet it was laid out before me and I could not escape it. Much to my surprise, I did not want to stop reading the book; I wanted to know why the mulberry trees were stolen. I wanted to know why blood drinking was so sacred to the people who lived near and worked in the slaughterhouse. I could actually see the “nut” in Tereza’s armpit, swelling and growing to an unnatural state that could only continue its path by killing its host. Were Lola’s ears truly that green when they found her body hanging in the closet? How did it feel when the narrator received a letter from a friend and the hair was still there? This book is clearly not for the faint of heart, nor is it for one who likes a good “beach read”. This book is for one who wants to cross that safe border and see what lays beyond our own protection and safety. Once I began reading this novel, I knew I only wanted more; more of Muller’s words and more of her background. From such tragedy in history comes a strong voice willing to tell her tales. The plums will never change their colour; who are we to deny such appetizing fruit?

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Land of Green Plums and Their Creator

If you had asked me just who Herta Muller was years ago, I would have said nothing. Now, however, I wouldn't be able to keep quiet about this remarkable woman. The first time I had ever heard of her was when I was in a bookstore in Memphis, searching for something new to read. My eyes wandered along several tables and soon they landed on a small trade paperback entitled The Land of Green Plums. Not knowing anything about the title or the author, I flipped it over and soon began a far off case of wonder and curiosity about the Romanian born author. Years later, I finally picked up a hardback copy of the book and began to read it. Although I am only a third of the way through, I can now honestly say that Herta Muller is a literary inspiration for me, right up there with Ian McEwan, Ernest Hemingway, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Jonathan Franzen, Toni Morrison and many others that grace my library in my home. A detailed book review and thoughts post will soon follow this post but I felt I had to say something about this woman and the words she speaks and writes. The Land of Green Plums is one of the darkest novels I have ever read in my life (including my own work!) and yet I want more. I want more of her words, her thoughts and her dreams that were once possibly dashed and later reborn. A new fire has been created in me, one that will not go away. A fire that smells of green plums. Thank you, Herta Muller.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Matcha In The Morning - Japanese Serenity

Greetings all! After a month of recuperating from Dragon Con (grin), I am now back and ready to pick up where I left off. So, for today's Matcha in the Morning, I offer you a photo of a Japanese Tea House, taken in Phoenix, Arizona.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Matcha in the Morning - Decadence, Anyone?

Here's a poem from one of the lesser known but still wonderful poets of the Decadent Movement - Michael Field, also known as Katherine Harris Bradley and her niece Edith Emma Cooper.

A Summer Wind
By Michael Field

O wind, thou hast thy kingdom in the trees,
And all thy royalties
Sweep through the land to-day.
It is mid June,
And thou, with all thy instruments in tune,
Thine orchestra
Of heaving fields and heavy swinging fir,
Strikest a lay
That doth rehearse
Her ancient freedom to the universe.
All other sound in awe
Repeats its law:
The bird is mute; the sea
Sucks up its waves; from rain
The burthened clouds refrain,
To listen to thee in thy leafery,
Thou unconfined,
Lavish, large, soothing, refluent summer wind.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Matcha In The Morning - Ode to a Nightingale by John Keats

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thine happiness,—
That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees
In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease.

O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been
Cool'd a long age in the deep-delved earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country green,
Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
And purple-stained mouth;
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
And with thee fade away into the forest dim:

Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
What thou among the leaves hast never known,
The weariness, the fever, and the fret
Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,
Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;
Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
And leaden-eyed despairs,
Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.

Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
But on the viewless wings of Poesy,
Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:
Already with thee! tender is the night,
And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,
Cluster'd around by all her starry Fays;
But here there is no light,
Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.

I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet
Wherewith the seasonable month endows
The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;
Fast fading violets cover'd up in leaves;
And mid-May's eldest child,
The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.

Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call'd him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
In such an ecstasy!
Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain—
To thy high requiem become a sod.

Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
The same that oft-times hath
Charm'd magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.

Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
To toll me back from thee to my sole self!
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
As she is fam'd to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep
In the next valley-glades:
Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
Fled is that music:—Do I wake or sleep?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Book Review - Dragon Ring by Lettie Prell

Buy Lettie Prell’s book Dragon Ring. Buy it now.

Okay, now that I have done my shameless “commercial”, it’s time to review the book.

I met Prell at Fandom Fest in Louisville, Kentucky and even had the pleasure to do several literary panels with her. After being impressed with how she carried herself at the panels, I decided to pick up a copy of her book, Dragon Ring. What I read was quite possibly one of the best novels I have ever read in my life. This well blended mix of hard science, fantasy, environmental and metaphysical issues held on to my interest from page one and did not let go until the unfortunate final page. The main story is of a young woman named Nadine who lives in the recently established corporation of Guatemala in the distant future. She strives to live a life filled with technological advances yet her destiny lies elsewhere under the guise of reclaiming what she once took for granted.

When Prell talked of her book and of the “hard science” involved, I had no clue she would spend a portion of her work writing about quantum physics, one of my favourite subjects to study for fun. For those of you who don’t know what quantum physics is, it is the study of the subatomic and microscopic and their place in the physics mix. She gives equal attention to her other subjects with a clear voice and not one who writes about various matters just to impress their audience. Prell is the real deal when it comes to her knowledge of various subjects, plus she is one hell of a writer. Her prose flows steadily while her characters are believable in that they are “grey”; not one is purely good or purely evil. Everyone has their own motive for what fuels them through this strange tale; that is what makes them likeable as well.

The one question I had after finishing the book was this: could the event she describes actually happen if the technology was available? Could mankind truly do what she set out to do in her book? As a hopeful person, I would like to think so. I won’t give away the “ultimate” act, but I will say that it had me floored since I had no idea it was coming. With authors like Prell, the impossible can be believed as possible. Thanks Lettie!

Book Review - The Broken String by Grace Schulman

Reading Grace Schulman is like reading philosophy; the poems in her book The Broken String either ask deeper questions or give lessons learned through the eyes of one who has truly and simply lived. This was my first time reading her work and I am glad to have done so; reading “new” poets refreshes my own soul and clears away cobwebs. Her words are sensual, daring and dreamlike; even those who do not like poetry will like hers. Her topics range from Itzhak Perlman to jazz to everyday life and everything in between. Rather than go on and on with my praise of Schulman, all I can ask is that you pick up The Broken String and read, read, read.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Book Review - The Quinx Effect by Tyree Campbell

When I picked up the slim novel The Quinx Effect by Tyree Campbell, I wasn’t sure what to expect. True, I do enjoy a good sci-fi story, yet my last couple of books was of the straight literary genre. Writing dark fantasy and psychological thrillers drives my reading interests in the other direction, yet I purchased the book to see what it was all about. Although slim, the novel is quite packed with adventure, drama, mystery and a warm hearted ending that made the entire book quite enjoyable. Quinx is a young woman who recently lost her family due to a horrible accident in outer space. A woman named Harper who is also an exile due to a crime with much consequence rescues her. From there begins an unlikely partnership and friendship as the two “orphans” make their way towards a better life while Quinx comes into her own not only as a young woman but a being of courage and spirit.
Campbell, owner of Sam’s Dot Publishing, publishes many good works by various authors of the speculative genre (me being one of them!) yet I never read any of his own work in the years I had known him. His writing is smooth and fluid and does not require further research into any of what he describes, plus he writes female characters quite well and does not lump them into the “faint at everything” category. All of the characters are flawed but that’s what makes the story interesting; they make choices that change their lives without regrets, even when one of the choices made leads to death. I will admit that my favourite character is Harper; thanks to a denied situation, she takes her life in her own hands in a very gruesome manner and suffers because of it. Yet, the suffering makes her into a character with less doubt and more dark confidence. She is a woman that will not allow anything to stop her in her pursuit of what she wants. When Quinx meets her for the first time, Harper’s hair is cut short and half of her face is heavily scarred as punishment for her embrace into insanity. I did not feel sorry for her, merely intrigued by her and, once again, the choices she made to get her to that point. Quinx, in my own opinion, realized her true motives and eventually does not treat her like a monster, as so many others did.
If you like a good story, no matter the genre, with strong female characters, The Quinx Effect is for you. And, if you purchase this book, tell Tyree that Kimberly led you to him. He would be pleased.

Book Review - Contains Scenes of Indigenous Nudity by Sheri L. Wright

Sheri L. Wright’s Contains Scenes of Indigenous Nudity is a book filled with dark, sensual and sometimes snarky poetry. The ”voice” of the poems is a being that has lived in the shadows for so long that anything else would seem futile. The words drip with memories untold and instances quite forgotten yet traces still linger in the recesses of the figure’s mind. Wright’s poems are bold and brash, ready to be devoured and savoured for their intensity. One such example is the poem The Ashes:

His smiles is too weak
To push up the corners of his mouth,
And we fear the weight of it
Will come crashing down around him
Like the roof did, that grief will
Strangle the air from his lungs
Like the fire he save himself from
And showed everyone that
Family does not always come first.
Now, he spreads himself like smoke
For the long, slow crawl
Through whiskey,
Prostrate through alleys
Lined with broken glass as penance.

Several of her poems, like The Ashes, made an impact with me; they read as though the shadowy figure witnessed such a tragedy and rather than inform others of the act and consequences, instead wrote it all down in their own words. No one else could describe what the figure saw; no one else could tell what it felt and thought. Another such example is Night Blooming Cerus:

When he walks
His back is stooped
As if to shy away from the sun;
A shade growing thing
Too delicate for brightness,
For the eyes of those
Who may discover soft petals
Laced with the scent of secrets
Meant for whispering to the moon
Over the heads of sleepers-
Those who would pluck them away,
Hold them too long
To scorch in the light
Looking for things best found
With eyes closed.

This is another fine example of the shadowy figure that witnesses all and never says a word. This figure is cautious, sly and more observant than the average person. They see what others refuse to see for they know that all beings are of light and dark. However, it is the dark the most overlook, leaving it for those who are blessed/cursed with such a talent. This is what Wright’s poetry/”voice” means to me; she is of both worlds and her voice is truly her own.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Book Review - High Kings by H. David Blalock

H. David Blalock’s novella High Kings is a classic example of a What If: what if, thanks to technology beyond our wildest dreams, we can visit various places and people through history and change it? Such was the goal at the Institute for Historical Studies in Old Memphis in the Federated States in the year 2531. Dr. Satori and her teammates, with the “assistance” of TNF (Time Neutral Field), are set out to explore the highways of Time and “collect” various persons from history for further research and information. After “collecting” King Arthur from death in his final battle over Camelot, the scientific group focuses their energies on “Last Project”, releasing a can of worms that no one expected while giving way to answers to questions not considered possible. Add to the mix a former member of the team gone rogue while using TNF and High Kings becomes a story set out to make the reader think about the limitations of Mankind and what we can do to overcome them. What if, in humanity’s future, we finally invested time travel and were able to change the course of history for the sake of Mankind? Would it be like playing God? Do we have the right to conduct such experiments? Would it be for the better or worse of us all?

This book was basically a roller coaster ride from page one for me; I purchased the novella at Fandom Fest in Louisville, Kentucky and knew I was in for a treat. Blalock is one of the more solid writers of sci-fi and fantasy; every time I read his work, I know it will deliver quite an enjoyable reading time for me. High Kings is not bogged down with scientific highbrow words or complex theories, but rather a good story written by a top notch author with just enough science and magic to keep one interested beyond a mildly passing interest. When I finished the work, I read the ending twice just to make sure I was right in what I concluded, followed by talking to Blalock himself the next day and confirming my thoughts. The ending, although somewhat expected, still surprised me in how it was handled and how everything fell back into place after “Last Project”. I wish I could say just what “Last Project” is, but then I would be ruining the crux of the story. Do yourself a favour and visit Sam’s Dot Publishing’s website to order a copy of the book. You’ll be glad you did.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Matcha In The Morning - Grace Schulman

Crossing the Square
By Grace Schulman

Squinting through eye-slits in our balaclavas,
we lurch across Washington Square Park
hunched against the wind, two hooded figures
caught in the monochrome, carrying sacks

of fruit, as we’ve done for years. The frosted, starch-
stiff sycamores make a lean Christmas tree
seem to bulk larger, tilted under the arch
and still lit in three colors. Once in January,

we found a feather here and stuffed the quill
in twigs to recall that jay. The musical fountain
is here, its water gone, a limestone circle
now. Though rap succeeds the bluegrass strains

we’ve played in it, new praise evokes old sounds.
White branches mimic visions of past storms;
some say they’ve heard ghosts moan above this ground,
once a potter’s field. No two stones are the same,

of course: the drums, the tawny pears we hold,
are old masks for new things. Still, in a world
where fretted houses with façades are leveled
for condominiums, not much has altered

here. At least it’s faithful to imagined
views. And, after all, we know the sycamore
will screen the sky in a receding wind.
Now, trekking home through grit that’s mounting higher,

faces upturned to test the whirling snow,
in new masks, we whistle to make breath-clouds form
and disappear, and form again, and O,
my love, there’s sun in the crook of your arm.

Grace Schulman, “Crossing the Square” from Days of Wonder: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2002 by Grace Schulman. Reprinted with the permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved,

Source: Days of Wonder: New and Selected Poems (2002)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Book Review - Dimanche and Other Stories by Irene Nemirovsky

After recently leaving the fractured yet beautiful novel Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky, I decided to turn to another of her works to see if her magick still held. Reading the book Dimanche and Other Stories proved to not disappoint in the slightest. Within the book are ten stories of various French people, some good and some very, very bad, and yet one cannot help but want to read more of their life than what is offered on the page. Each story stands on its own merit and was a delight to read, not to mention enjoying the brilliant writing of Nemirovsky once more. For example, a hint of her world from the story The Spectator:

“It’s all so beautiful!” murmured Hugo. “Europe has the charm of those who are going to die,” he said, stroking the river’s gray stone parapet as he went on walking.

And yet another from the story The Confidant:

“…Just think, every time you play, there is at least one person in the concert hall whose voice you become, for a few moments. People are dumb, monsieur. We’re like trees or plants. We suffer and die and no one hears our cries. Still, you know all that.”

My favourite story is Those Happy Shores for a very ironic reason; one of the characters, Ginette, is a “lady of the evening” and currently down on her luck. Men have treated her like garbage and yet she still hopes for the one who will possibly change her current fate. She meets a young woman named Christiane in a bar on a random chance and strikes a friendship and bond with the woman, or so she thinks. Ginette is at the bottom of her barrel and speaking with Christiane, a young woman of means and privilege, gives her more hope for her own life than ever. Towards the end of the story, the reader learns that her happiness is short lived and she returns to her natural state, one of misery, desperation and resignation. Reading about Ginette made the story come alive and showed the world for what it truly is – short, despondent and expected, especially those who have very little or nothing to give.

In my own way, I used this book as a probable filler for Suite Francaise; hearing Nemirovsky’s voice the first time in a broken state required me to give her more than perhaps she wanted in her own writing. Be that as it may, reading Dimanche is like sitting alone in a 24 hour coffee shop filled with colour with a single cup of java endlessly full and being happy about it while the world goes on outside in its forever black and white.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Georgia O'Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz - NPR

Last week, I watched a movie entitled Georgia O'Keeffe starring Joan Allen and Jeremy Irons. Before watching the movie, I knew very little of O'Keeffe yet after watching it, I felt I had known her for years. Since then, I have tried to locate as many books as possible about O'Keeffe and her art; thankfully, NPR just released an article regarding the letters between her and Alfred Stieglitz and the book My Faraway One that contains the letters for all the world the read. I will be purchasing a copy of the book soon and will review it as well. Click HERE to read the NPR article and Happy Reading!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Time to Gloat

Spin Street, a used and new CD/DVD/vinyl/whatever shop in Memphis, is one of my favourite places to go to when I just want to walk around. Tonight, the store had a major markdown and clearance sale and I racked up BIG points! Yes, I just purchased the Criterion Collection Akira Kurosawa Samurai Box Set and I am more than stoked! Let the sleepless nights begin!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Book Review - The Portrait by Iain Pears

Iain Pears’ novel The Portrait intrigued me from the word go the first time I read it years ago: an artist in self-imposed exile invites his friend, who was once a major art critic, to his home in order to paint his portrait. The novel is set up as a monologue as the artist spends his time reminiscing about their lives in the past and how and why he is now in exile. What later unfolds is a story about love lost and destroyed, dreams crushed and thrown away and sweet and pure revenge. Although this is a short novel in pages, the story is dense and not one to take lightly. When I first read this work years ago, I loved it. However, when I returned to the same piece years later, I found myself wanting it to simply end. Perhaps it is because I am now an author myself; the story could have easily been a short story with just enough “punch” to deliver the cruel message to not only the readers but to the doomed art critic as well. There was also one two-line paragraph on page 95 in which the art critic actually speaks then it returns to the artist and his monologue. In all honesty, I did not realize that had occurred until I read someone else’s review of the book.
When I completed the book, I found myself not caring about either of the characters; there was no emotion for either of them and when that does occur for me, it usually means that I did not enjoy the book. Will this book appeal to those who love art history? Yes. Will this book appeal to those who pine of the days when creative people truly lived the life of bohemians? Yes. As one who does enjoy reading art history and bohemian life, I did enjoy the book for those merits, yet as stated before, this was a short story that was stretched and weighed down with too much pensive thinking to make the story truly stick. In my opinion, this is nothing more than another version of Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado, and a lesser one at that. Yet, as strange as this sounds, reading the novel a second time did make me realize that Pears can write and it intrigued me long enough to at least finish the book. Sometimes, while the plot may be contrived, the writing is strong enough to stand on its own. For me, The Portrait does just that.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Book Review - Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky

Irene Nemirovsky’s unfinished novel Suite Francaise is a dream within a nightmare. This wonderfully engaging novel has a sad truth behind it; the author, while working on this piece, tried to flee Paris from the oncoming Nazis in 1942. She was caught and sent to Auschwitz, where she later died. Thankfully, her manuscript was discovered by a relative and published for the world to read and enjoy. This was my first encounter with Nemirovsky’s work and I must say that I am enchanted with her. The “novel” is of two parts: “A Storm In June” consists of various Parisians leaving Paris during the massive exodus in 1940 and their stories before, during and after the nightmare. “Dolce” tells the story of a small town in France occupied briefly by Germans and the tensions between the soldiers and the townspeople that later lead to curiosity, a hint of romance, anger and bitter regrets. Following the two parts are notes and letters written by Nemirovsky to various individuals of her thoughts during the real event. The one matter that bothered me somewhat was the fact that she wrote of the exodus before it really happened and she wrote of it with such chilling detail. I kept flipping through the pages, wondering if perhaps there was a trick to it all; perhaps it was something I had overlooked in my reading of her tale. I was severely wrong and instead fell in love with her words, her detail and the author and the life she lead.
She wrote with such a delicate truth that one couldn’t help but fall into step with the characters and assist them in living out their lives, no matter how sordid or righteous. There is an obvious feminine style in her work and yet there is also a steel rod that lies just in reach if matters get too out of hand. Nemirovsky does not remind me of anyone I have ever read and that is a good thing. Sometimes, it is good to read a “new” author whose words are like a breath of Spring air or a cool glass of water on a hot day. In these times, it is good to read someone who has their own voice, someone who does not remind anyone of anyone. After reading Suite Francaise, I did something I very rarely do; I ran out and purchased another of her books recently translated. Because of this unfinished book, I wanted to know more about Nemirovsky. I wanted to feel that feeling of lightheadedness again after reading her work. So, I am now reading Dimanche and Other Stories and it is proving to be just as excellent as Suite Francaise, if not better. She had such a voice; such a shame it was snuffed out too soon.

Matcha In The Morning - Erik Satie

As a new week begins, remember to take some time out for yourself to relax and enjoy the moment. Here is Gymnopedie No. 1 written by Erik Satie. Listen to the music with a cup of Earl Grey tea and a good book. . . . . and relax.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Lunchtime Adventure - Cotton Museum

For my lunchtime excursion today, I decided to visit the Cotton Museum on Union Avenue in Downtown Memphis. Cotton, as many people might know, was and still is quite a cash crop in the South. Without the industry, Memphis would not be what it is now. The museum proved to be well worth the $10 admission fee, for it is divided between two rooms: the history of cotton in the South and the importance of cotton today. The entire museum can be viewed in about an hour with time to spare to walk through the gift shop and to take many photos of the bales of cotton lying around. You can also touch several samples of cotton in its various forms. During my initial visit, I learned about the importance of cotton as well as the many, many uses of cottonseed, like being an ingredient in nail polish, cosmetics, cooking oil, feed for livestock, plastics, topsoil and others. Blues and Country music stemmed from poor whites and blacks whose lives were influenced by cotton and even our Carnival Memphis was based from an effort to increase cotton usage by the masses. Make a plan to stop by the museum and take a trip through cotton history!

Matcha In The Morning - A Myth Frozen In Time

This was taken at the Dixon Gallery in Memphis, Tennessee.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Happy Birthday to Anne-Sophie Mutter

Since becoming a student violinist, my world has grown in leaps and bounds. Learning about the history of the violin as well as those who play the instrument has been quite a joy for me. Today is the birthday of German violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and this student wants to wish her great joy today!

Matcha In The Morning - Frank O'Hara

Yesterday, while looking up the history of Gauloises cigarettes, I discovered the poem The Day Lady Died by Frank O'Hara. The New York School was quite avant garde and most of the jazz I listen to comes from this period. Enjoy!

The Day Lady Died
By Frank O'Hara

It is 12:20 in New York a Friday
three days after Bastille day, yes
it is 1959 and I go get a shoeshine
because I will get off the 4:19 in Easthampton
at 7:15 and then go straight to dinner
and I don’t know the people who will feed me

I walk up the muggy street beginning to sun
and have a hamburger and a malted and buy
an ugly NEW WORLD WRITING to see what the poets
in Ghana are doing these days
I go on to the bank
and Miss Stillwagon (first name Linda I once heard)
doesn’t even look up my balance for once in her life
and in the GOLDEN GRIFFIN I get a little Verlaine
for Patsy with drawings by Bonnard although I do
think of Hesiod, trans. Richmond Lattimore or
Brendan Behan’s new play or Le Balcon or Les Nègres
of Genet, but I don’t, I stick with Verlaine
after practically going to sleep with quandariness

and for Mike I just stroll into the PARK LANE
Liquor Store and ask for a bottle of Strega and
then I go back where I came from to 6th Avenue
and the tobacconist in the Ziegfeld Theatre and
casually ask for a carton of Gauloises and a carton
of Picayunes, and a NEW YORK POST with her face on it

and I am sweating a lot by now and thinking of
leaning on the john door in the 5 SPOT
while she whispered a song along the keyboard
to Mal Waldron and everyone and I stopped breathing

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Memphis Highlights - Vito's Cucina

One of my reasons for my frequent travels to New Orleans, my second home, is for the food. Po Boys, crawfish etouffee, jambalaya and beignets is more than enough for me. I love the smell of freshly made beignets coming straight from the fryer, dusted with powdered sugar and served on a plate with café au lait while I have many napkins to catch the sugar from flying all over the place as I bite into the doughy goodness. I used to think that I could only purchase beignets in Louisiana but no more. Vito’s Cucina located on 2886 Walnut Grove in Memphis serves beignets as I found out through an office associate. Thinking myself to be the beignet expert, I had to try them for my own sake. One order of three beignets costs about $2.95 plus tax and once you order them, they are made right on the spot! I took my fried goodies home to be enjoyed in private and found them to be quite tasty and a very good replacement for the New Orleans ones. Their menu also offers other Italian delicacies for decent prices that I know I will be trying very soon. I am won over by their beignets and will make them a part of my Saturday routine. Thanks to you, Vito’s, for making my beignet dream come true!

My Dog Tulip - An Animated Film Worth Watching

The Brooks Museum, one of the art museums in Memphis, Tennessee, shows movies every Thursday for the discerning viewer. I had the pleasure of watching the movie My Dog Tulip this past Thursday, a true story of the life of author J. R. Ackerley and his 16 year relationship with his rowdy and feisty German Shepherd named Tulip. Set with the voices of Christopher Plummer, Lynn Redgrave and Isabella Rossellini, this animated film was quite a gem. The animation was very surreal, almost Yellow Submarine-ish, enhancing the main characters' qualities to a new level. I especially loved how Tulip sometimes appeared as a young lady with a dog's head, for it showed off her crazy antics and her unconditional love for Ackerley right on the spot. Although I had not read the book beforehand, I know it will enter my library very soon. For more information regarding the movie, please click HERE for details. The DVD will be available on 26 July 2011.

Happy viewing!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Creative Spotlight - Laura Garabedian

In being a guest at sci-fi and fantasy conventions, I do have the pleasure of meeting other guests, artists, writers and other colourful people from time to time. While attending Duckon in Schaumburg, IL this past weekend, I met one creative and highly talented artist – Laura Garabedian. As I walked by her booth in the Dealer’s Room, my eyes instantly went to her wide array of colourful mugs, magnets and prints. I immediately purchased a magnet with a teapot and beautiful bird painted on it as well as a delightful mug to satisfy my tea enjoyment (photo above). Ms. Garabedian was quite pleasant and nice to talk to and I know I will be purchasing more of her work in the not too distant future. Click HERE for her website and enjoy!

Book Review - Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang! Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!

And so, the Pott family with their big green Paragon Panther with license plate GEN 11 travel from one adventure to another in the quite exciting book Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming, the same author who wrote all of the James Bond novels. This short novel gives children and adults just enough drama and suspense, action, wonder and fantasy to entertain the reader over and over again. Thanks to the eccentric yet loving Pott family, they rescue an old worn down car and bring “her” back to life while giving her a new home. And, in return for their generosity, GEN 11 takes them from an island near their home in England for a sunny day of fun to the coast of France to stop smugglers and their lives of crime. To the Potts, adventure is soon their middle name!

I purchased the 1964 hardback from a recent library sale and was pleased to see it slightly worn and yet still intact. I love purchasing older library books with some wear and tear; for me, the wear and tear makes me think that many people read and loved this particular copy. I especially loved the illustrations throughout the book, giving the story even more depth. I could easily see this work as a “James Bond for the younger set”. Now that I’ve read the book, I can’t wait to watch the movie!

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!

Tea Taste - Mariage Freres French Breakfast Tea

This tea intrigued me from the moment I first saw it on the Dean and Deluca website. French Breakfast tea? Of course, I had to purchase a box. Little did I realize what I was in for; the tea bags were actually cotton muslin sachets – nice touch. I also detected a hint of chocolate as I opened the box to prepare my first cup. This was going to be quite the experience and I was not wrong.

First Sip: There was a fragrant taste of chocolate while the tastes of malt and spices rolled towards the end of the sip. Adding sugar truly enhances the flavour of the tea and not make it just a sweet tea, although you can drink it without any sweetener. After allowing the bag to steep in water for several minutes, the colour of the tea is a lovely deep brown that rolls quite well on the tongue. This blend is not heavy like a British or Irish Breakfast, making it easy on the stomach if you are affected by tannins. This is a good tea to enjoy all day no matter the season.

Rating: A+

Happy Cups!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Book Review - I'll Take You There by Joyce Carol Oates

The unnamed main character in Joyce Carol Oates’ novel I’ll Take You There is not your average woman; her mother died shortly after giving birth to her, her family ignores her and treats her as if she was the reason why her mother died and she later engages in an obsessive love with an older black man who is a graduate student in Philosophy. Add to the fact that this novel is set in the turbulent 60s and it makes for even more of an interesting story. I will admit that this is the first novel by Oates that I had ever read and I found myself wanting to know more about not only the unnamed woman who calls herself Anellia at times but also about Oates as well. There was a lyrical seduction in Oates’ words as she wrote out the thoughts of a sheltered, unloved and highly intelligent woman that simply had no identity. At her university, she immersed herself in the snooty sorority Kappa Gamma Pi, only to be ousted when it was revealed that she was partly Jewish and not “desirable” to her fellow Kappa sisters. She is reduced once more to being a blank canvas.
Then suddenly, it all changes in the form of Vernor Mathieus, a black man who catches both her eyes and heart; if he could only see her, then she would exist again. She did not care that being seen with him would cause scandals (this is the 60s after all) but only that he knew of her love. Since she never received such an emotion from her father, grandparents and older brothers, she was determined to get it from Vernor. Her father had disappeared from her life, leaving such a void that could never be filled, not even with Vernor. When Vernor and Anellia part ways, she is back to being a blank canvas until another moment changes it all for her: a being from her past rises to the surface and she confronts it, not knowing of the outcome nor caring. All she wants to do is feel and be felt but even that wish had an expiration date.
Oates’ writing is purely magickal; one cannot help but be swept up in her caresses filled with words and frayed thoughts of a mixed up woman who is stronger than she appears. After reading her bibliography of published works, it was no surprise to me to know how much people enjoyed reading Oates. She has a voice all to her own, a voice that is a far cry from the one she gave to Anellia. This is a book that I will remember for quite some time, or at least until I can get my hands upon another one of her novels. At the end of this deeply moving book, Anellia offers to “take us there”; thanks to Oates, I can truly believe it.

Matcha In The Morning - Tranquility

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Minimalism vs. Frugalism (Beyond Growth)

The website Beyond Growth is one of those sites that makes you think even when you don't want to. From time to time, I read the passages and find myself asking questions about situations I never thought existed. Their latest post, Minimalism vs. Frugalism, is one such example.

Book Review - The World According To Garp by John Irving

John Irving’s classic The World According to Garp is not a simple novel. True, the book, while being very much a page-turner, does not have a simple plot involving simple characters. Rather, author and wrestler T.S. Garp, his family and loved ones share a world that is neither pleasant nor clean. It is a world filled with an ear biting dog who in turn gets his own ear bitten off, a former football player for the Philadelphia Eagles who becomes a woman, a last fling in an affair that leads to tragedy and women who cut out their tongue to support a tongue less woman who wishes to speak. It is within this novel that I found myself laughing, crying, feeling sorry for myself, anger and finally a quiet resolution, all of which only John Irving can create.
When I first watched the movie many years ago, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. Sure, it had its funny moments (who couldn’t forget John Lithgow as a woman?), however I felt as though the movie did not move me in any way. That and the fact that I was a child when I watched it. Watching the movie years later, it made a deeper impact; however by the time, I was ready to read the book. I also read reviews of the novel on and found myself at a loss for not having read it yet. So, while attending a book sale at the main library, I found a hardback copy of the novel for $2.00 and purchased it immediately.
After reading A Widow For One Year and The Fourth Hand, I knew what to expect from Irving; now I realize that those novels paled in comparison to Garp. This novel was John Irving at his finest (my own opinion) and anything else I read by him will immediately be compared to this work. From Garp’s moment of conception in a hospital to his untimely death, the readers get a glimpse of a life that was and never would be conventional. His mother, nurse for life Jenny Fields, is a strong and proud woman and yet with a hint of naïveté about the world. All she knows is what she needs to know; anything else is merely substantial.
One of the larger themes in this novel is love. Jenny Fields’ love for Garp was pure and without any taint of the outside world for she had none to give, thereby setting the stage for Garp and his attempts of being in love. He finds a sense of mothering love from Charlotte, the prostitute in Vienna, a passionate and yet restrained love with his wife, Helen, and an adoring and father/daughter love with Ellen James, the tongue less rape victim who becomes his adopted daughter. And yet, through all of these different stages of love, he still searches for something else, something that will make him what he thinks he needs to be. Is he a writer, a wrestler, or perhaps something more? Maybe something less. However, it is towards the end that he seems to have found “it”, whatever it is, only to have it flow away from him like blood from the bullet wounds in his body made by “Pooh” Percy. Roberta, formerly Robert, searches for love in all the wrong places (pun intended) only to realize just how cruel the world can truly be, both for women and men. Helen, once satisfied with her love to and from Garp, later tries to find a pale facsimile of it in the student Michael Milton (who adores her) only to have it end in the loss of her younger child, Walt, and a quite painful lesson learned.
Some of the scenes are quite graphic and yet, thanks to Irving’s hypnotic writing, one cannot pull away from the story. I found myself wanting to know what else could happen in this world where the unordinary happened to the ordinary. What will happen next? When the novel ended, I wished there were more pages regarding this family, more words to possibly add. When I closed the book, I realized that the book began with a Jenny and ended with a Jenny; both were strong women who lived their lives by their rules and made no compromises in a world that lived for such activity. It seemed fitting for this kind of work as well as this world that, according to Garp, we are all Terminal Cases.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Matcha In The Morning

For today's pick-me-up, I figured a nice bit o' poetry would do the job. Here is the poem To A Lady Who Said It Was Sinful To Read Novels by Christian Milne. Enjoy!

To A Lady Who Said It Was Sinful to Read Novels
By Christian Milne

To love these books, and harmless tea,
Has always been my foible,
Yet will I ne’er forgetful be
To read my Psalms and Bible.

Travels I like, and history too,
Or entertaining fiction;
Novels and plays I’d have a few,
If sense and proper diction.

I love a natural harmless song,
But I cannot sing like Handel;
Deprived of such resource, the tongue
Is sure employed — in scandal.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Matcha In The Morning - First Post!

One of the first things that I love to do in the morning is prepare a cup of Republic of Tea's Double Green Matcha Tea. The clean smell and the springlike taste give me enough of a lift to have a wonderful day. So, in honour of this wonderful tea, I am now posting Matcha In The Morning, little yet wonderful things to get your own day started.

So, to begin this series, I have for you the first movement of Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto. The reason why I chose this piece is because I was able to hear it live 12 May 2011 with Joshua Bell as the solo violinist.

Enjoy and have a cup of tea on me!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

My First Opera

Today is the day in which I will watch my first opera ever. Thanks to the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, there will be a showing of The Magic Flute today and I am beyond excited! As much as I love opera, I regret that I have never viewed one until today. Hopefully, I will write a much longer follow up entry regarding what I saw and what I learned today. Honestly, is there a better way to spend a Saturday in June?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Lunchtime Adventure - Belz Museum of Asian and Judaic Art

As a resident of Midtown Memphis who works Downtown, I have discovered many out of the way places, restaurants and attractions that others have ignored or simply knew nothing about. Yesterday, I decided to visit the Belz Museum of Asian and Judaic Art during my lunch break. I had no idea what to expect, only that I was in for an hour of art. How wrong I was. If you live in Memphis or are visiting our fair city, you need to do yourself a favour and visit this museum. For $6 a person, you can view highly detailed pieces of carved jade, ivory and cloisonné made with human hands without the use of power tools. Most of the Asian art came from the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) and it is a fair representation of the culture during that time. The Jewish section was highly educational for me and the pieces reflected the history of the Jews. Several of the artists that I found to be quite striking were Boris Shapiro (Flying Fiddler), Mark Tochilikin, Reuven Rubin (Musicians of Safed) and Ofra Friedland (Holocaust Memorial). There were other pieces reflecting passages and stories from the Torah and I found myself trying to remember the stories behind them. All in all, it was a well-spent lunch hour although I could have easily spent another two hours in the museum.

Happy Exploring!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Book Review - The Masterpiece by Emile Zola

Emile Zola’s powerful novel The Masterpiece is one that strikes me to my very core; as a published author and editor, I strive to deliver the best manuscripts to my publishers and will accept any form of criticism necessary to ensure sellable work. Yet I refuse to allow my creative gift and the underlying passion to consume me. How many times have there been stories of people who gave up everything for the sake of their art? Claude, the main character of The Masterpiece, does exactly that. His obsession in painting the perfect female leads him down a path of blind fury, disdain for his wife Christine and total blindness towards his sickly son Jacques. His love for women, naïve and somewhat twisted, reflects the fact that he is in love with the “perfect” woman, one that is impossible to paint and even more impossible to conceive. When he first meets Christine on the steps leading to his studio, she is a pale and sickly being who he later discovers is a budding beauty not yet sullied by the ways of the world. He becomes obsessed with her form and figure while ultimately treating her as only bits and pieces of a body. Yet, even she does not compare to his ideal woman, for she eventually changes as she matures and bears their child while living in poverty created by her ever absent husband.

Claude, like his fellow Bohemian friends, is driven by his obsession to be creative. It will kill them in the end but it is a death worth having. They will die doing what they truly love and yet hate at the same time. For as his closest friend Sandoz tells him, his life is nothing more than endlessly perfecting his art of writing all the while realizing that it will never be perfect. And yet, it is his life. Because of his creativity later turned employment, he has money and his family is provided for. Who could ask for anything more? While some of Claude’s friends turn their creativity into a living staple with all passion squeezed out of it, he continues down his maddening path of perfecting his woman in his never perfect painting of Paris. She must be perfect, no matter the cost. And, what is that cost? For some even now, it is alcohol. For others it is drugs. Still others give up their life as the ultimate sacrifice of what they believe in. But, is it worth it? Is the price truly worth the “gift” of being creative and showing to the world what lies within the not so normal brain?

Art for art’s sake; that’s how the saying goes. And yet, it is more than that. Art for Life’s sake. Art for Sanity’s sake. Art for Not Dying’s sake. For Claude, it was for Woman’s sake, a woman that will never be his and will never appreciate him as an artist, lover and husband. She will only be his Muse, taunting him from behind the curtains, revealing only a little bit of pure white flesh or a pink nipple to lure him and keep him guessing till a very bitter end. She will love him from afar, always barely out of his reach for that is what she does. The Muse is here to play, taunt, tease and keep the creative beings burning with passion of their gift and they will always love her for it. I know I do.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Book Review - Chrome Yellow by Aldous Huxley

When I first read Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, I was amazed at the sheer force of the novel and power behind the writing. My view of modern society forever changed after reading that book; I could place that novel in my own time and still find it harrowing. So it was that I went into reading Huxley’s first novel, Chrome Yellow, with the assumption that I would be blown away once more. According to the back of the book, it was banned for its frank and immodest portrayal of morality with regards to sex and interactions between men and women. What I found instead was a satirical novel about a group of British people staying at Chrome, the manor in question, and how the main character, Denis, struggles with his passions for Anne while struggling with his passion for being a poet. Although I read a 1922 novel with 2011 eyes, I did not find it to be quite a literary great, nor did I find it to be that “shocking”. The story flowed with interest, the British satire dripped on every page and the conversations between the men and women of the group were written well. However, I found something lacking in the novel, something that Huxley tried to do and missed for whatever reason. Either that, or I placed too much expectation on the book and felt disappointed when it did not deliver the same range of emotions as Brave New World did. No matter the disappointment, I enjoyed the book overall and look forward to reading more of Huxley’s work.

Book Review - Tinderbox Lawn by Carol Guess

Carol Guess’ book Tinderbox Lawn is quite a collection of prose poems; each one is a small sample of Life in all stages and viewpoints. The poems are very much “in your face” and raw, leaving nothing to the imagination or room for any possible doubt. Sex without passion or love is prevalent throughout the book as well and at times it was painful to read even by my standards. While I am glad I read the book and know that Guess is a talented writer, I still found myself cringing after reading some of the pieces. I did not get too upset once I finished the slender and powerful book. If you enjoy reading blatantly honest poetry and short stories, Tinderbox Lawn is for you.