Sunday, May 12, 2013

Bowles, Sitwell, and Capote

I began reading The Collected Works of Jane Bowles this morning; normally, I do not like to read Introductions to books yet this one had been written by one of my favourite authors - Truman Capote. I had to read it. As I began my introduction to Jane Bowles and the world she inhabited, Capote made mention of a poem by Dame Edith Sitwell that reminded him of Jane. Of course, I had to read the full poem and found it to be quite delightful.

So, here is the full poem - Aubade - by Dame Edith Sitwell.

Jane, Jane,
Tall as a crane,
The morning light creaks down again;

Comb your cockscomb-ragged hair,
Jane, Jane, come down the stair.

Each dull blunt wooden stalactite
Of rain creaks, hardened by the light,

Sounding like an overtone
From some lonely world unknown.

But the creaking empty light
Will never harden into sight,

Will never penetrate your brain
With overtones like the blunt rain.

The light would show (if it could harden)
Eternities of kitchen garden,

Cockscomb flowers that none will pluck,
And wooden flowers that 'gin to cluck.

In the kitchen you must light
Flames as staring, red and white,

As carrots or as turnips shining
Where the cold dawn light lies whining.

Cockscomb hair on the cold wind
Hangs limp, turns the milk's weak mind . . .

Jane, Jane,
Tall as a crane,
The morning light creaks down again! 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Book Review - The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud

I checked out the new novel by Claire Messud on a whim; I had just dropped off a bag of donated books to one of the library branches when the book caught my eye. Although I was currently reading The Constant Gardener by John Le Carre (an excellent book by the way!), I was intrigued by Messud's new novel. I decided to give The Woman Upstairs a try. What I found was a novel that made me angry, happy, wistful and satisfied while turning the pages wondering what would happen next. This is a novel that you MUST read!

Meet Nora. She is your typical WASP 40-ish woman who is single and childless. At one point in her life, she had wanted to become an artist yet threw that dream by the waist side and made other choices for herself. Now, she teaches third grade in Cambridge, MA and has classified herself to be the Woman Upstairs: the woman who looks out for everyone else and lives vicariously through other people yet denies herself even the smallest pleasure. Her life is of denial and she is okay with that until she meets the Shahid family - Reza, the beautiful child with eyes that would later break hearts, Skandar, the Lebanese professor and his wife Sirena, who is an Italian artist. Through this family, Nora creates her own fantasy life, even going so far as to delve back into the world of art, yet due to several life changing events, the world she created for herself and the true world that lies just beyond are forever jarred and changed. Nora's life reminds me of another slim yet powerful story - The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. To escape the wallpaper means freedom, whether real or imagined. Nora, in my own opinion, wants to be free from her self induced prison and thinks that the Shahid family is her tool of freedom.

Although this novel is slim, it is not to be underestimated; Nora's words will make you understand just what it truly means to be desperate in love and yearning to fulfill a life that was purposely made barren. Messud created a believable voice for Nora; at times, I wondered if I had ever met this woman, for she reminded me of so many people I have known in my life as well as myself when I finally decided to take my writing seriously. How many of us sit quietly in the back of a room, wanting to cry out and DO something yet are hindered by our own doubts? How many of us want a better life or a more creative life, yet we suffer in silence in our cubicle job because it is "safe"? How many of us want to visit foreign places, try a new hobby or create a new life, only to change our minds at the last minute because of our own limitations?

 The Woman Upstairs is in all of us, waiting to be freed. What will you do to free Her?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The REALLY UN-Official Soundtrack - The Decembrists

Whenever I write, I like to put on music so as to create a form of background to the story. Sometimes, depending on the music, my scenes will flow and morph into something far more stranger than I had initially hoped. Sometimes, there will be a song that will automatically remind me of the story even though I never played it while writing.
My novel, The Decembrists, was both a joy and a pain to write and now that I am currently working on the sequel (tentative title - The Violet Queen), certain tunes will "remind" me of my own demented work. So, for your enjoyment, here is my own unofficial soundtrack to The Decembrists. If you have already read the novel, perhaps these songs will bring up a particular scene or conversation from the novel, or just a feeling. If you have not read the novel yet, give these songs a listen while reading it and let me know if the music enhanced your reading pleasure at all.

Happy Listening!

UNOFFICIAL Soundtrack to The Decembrists (in no order):

Tinstar - Head

Squeeze - House of Love

Aimee Mann - Pavlov's Bell

Herbie Hancock - Oliloqui Valley

The Beatles - I'm Looking Through You

Lacuna Coil - Upside Down

Jen Trynin - February

Antonio Vivaldi - AUTUMN

Lacuna Coil - I Like It 

Diva Destruction - Valley of Scars

Emilie Autumn - Liar (Angelspit Remix)

NOTE - I took these links from YOUTUBE. I make no claim to own any of these songs.

ADDED NOTE -  Yes, I do listen to a wide variety of music . . . . . .

Friday, May 3, 2013

Experiment - 10222008

The voices were always there but it was not until she turned 28 that she began to hear them. They carried the weight of air, fluttering through her mind like disoriented moths in search of a murderous light. When she first heard them, she wanted an explanation of each entity; their backgrounds, lifestyles, and tales of love. The voices, happy that they found an understandable host, gave all of their essence to her since someone finally took notice of them. They gave her new words for colours and presented sounds unheard of by the rest of mankind. In her mind, the voices locked hands and formed a dancing chain, singing off key in a melancholy sort of way. She was now content for peace had finally entered her mind.