Showing posts from August, 2012

Go Ahead, Confess: You Do It, Too!

True confession: I've done this every time I have looked at this photo.

(Photo credit pending)
Years From Now When You Are Weary 
and worn out, wondering how you'll pay
a bill or make the rent or meet a deadline

set by some thoughtless boss—and kid,
such days will come—remember yourself

at five: hair light from the sun or just from
being young, new lunchbox pasted

with butterflies, how you hung your backpack
on a hook, then wouldn't let me take your picture

on the first day of school, sending me
out of that classroom, to the car, to my job

where a pair of bats flapped in the hallway.
Bats may be just bats, but one darted

into my office, quick as the boxer's head
that bobs and weaves and never gets hit.

It landed and hung from the drapes, upside
down, as you hung in my body for a while.

Bats are not the only flying mammals.
That afternoon in line for the bus, you cried,

so tired you thought you'd fall asleep
and miss your stop. Years from now, child,

in some helpless dusk, remember that fatigue
but how you made it home to me anyway

in the care of a k…

Book People Unite! Help Children Read!

Who does that look like? Watch the video and become acquainted with a few old friends (and possibly meet a few new ones).

I remember RIF from my own childhood, and I'm glad to see it's still working hard to support reading in youngsters.

I also support organizations that want to provide children with books of their own. There's something special about a book of one's one.

Support reading.
Support children.
Support books.
Support Book People Unite and RIF, and other similar organizations.

Nightstand Books: August Reading!

I have a healthy stack o' books on the nightstand. Probably more than I should — but hey, what's new, right?

For those who don't wish to squint at the screen, the books are (from top to bottom):

Bleak House by Charles DickensThe White Album by Joan DidionThe Great Stink by Clare ClarkHow to Be a Womanby Caitlin MoranAn Outrageous Affair by Penny VincenziThe Hangman's Daughter by Oliver PötschThe Shadow of Night by Deborah HarknessJohannes Cabal: Fear Institute by Jonathan L. Howard
This is not the order in which they are being read: I am reading The Great Stink with Karen and How to Be a Woman is for my funny bone.

A few of these will have to be postponed after Labor Day, as I need to prep for Fall for the Book Festival. I need to read Amy Waldman's The Submission and Michael Chabon's Telegraph Avenue before the festival. But we'll see.

What's on your nightstand?

The Best Description of English, Ever!

And don't you forget it!

Pegasus Publishing offers this on a t-shirt, which is an edited quote by James Nicoll:
The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary. I love English!
In the Moment Some days the pond
wears a glaze of yellow pollen.

Some days it is clean-swept.
The trout leap up, feasting on insects.

A modest size, it sits
like a soup tureen in a surround of white

pine where Rosie, 14 lbs., some sort
of rescued terrier, part bat

(the ears), part anteater (the nose),
shyly paddles in the shallows

for salamanders, frogs
and little painted turtles. She logged

ten years down south in a kennel, secured
in a crate at night. Her heart murmur

will carry her off, no one can say when.
Meanwhile she is rapt in

the moment, our hearts leap up observing.
Dogs live in the moment, pursuing

that brilliant dragonfly called pleasure.
Only we, sunstruck in this azure

day, must drag along the backpacks
of our past, must peer into the bottom muck

of what's to come, scanning the plot
for words that say another year, or not.

by Maxine Kumin
From Where I Live. © Norton, 2012. Courtesy The Writer's Almanac

Review: Fifty Shades Trilogy

It's a top-selling series and the butt of many a joke, called — well, no matter what it is called, it's a phenom. But is theFifty Shades trilogy good?

And the answer, for me, is yep: it was a fun, rollicking, blue, entertaining ride through a few months in the lives of the fictional (and insatiable) Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey of Portland, Oregon.

While there's plenty of sex going on in excruciating detail — enough, I suppose, to classify this as erotica — author E. L. James tries to make it so much more than that. I can't say she does it with great style and aplomb, but she does know how to weave an exciting, compelling tale.

James is known in the fanfic world for her Twilight adaptations written under the name "Snowqueen Icedragon" — which, in the spirit of full disclosure, I admit I have not read.

I also admit I am not a fan of fanfic, as I've managed to find only the cloying, cheap knock-off near-parody stories that usually teem with the expl…

How to Treat a Book: Do You Agree?

I don't agree with all of these practices, but I think it starts a very, very important conversation.

I mean, can you really support drawing a moustache on a book, but not to ward off vampires (especially if they sparkle)?


Maya Angelou's 2012 Olympics Poem

Maya Angelou reports, "The Olympics Committee ask me to write a poem for the 2008 Olympics and I offer it again for the 2012 Olympians. I commend you all, Americans and winners across the globe for what you do is win the human spirit and therefore we are all winners."

Amazement Awaits

Sheer amazement awaits
Amazement luxuriant in promise
Abundant in wonder
Our beautiful children arrive at this Universal stadium
They have bathed in the waters of the world
And carry the soft silt of the Amazon, the Nile,
The Danube, the Rhine, the Yangtze and the Mississippi
In the palms of their right hands.
A wild tiger nestles in each armpit
And a meadowlark perches on each shoulder.
We, the world audience, stand, arms akimbo,
Longing for the passion of the animal
And the melody of the lark
The tigers passion attend the opening bells,
The birds sing of the amazement which awaits.
The miracle of joy that comes out of the gathering of our best, bringing their best,

Book Lovers Day: Whose Idea Was It? And Why Didn't You Call Me?

Alert: August 9 is Book Lovers Day.

Depending on who you speak to, it's called National Book Lovers Day or World Book Lovers Day. But who cares? Love books every day!

Anyway, Book Things was a great resource when I asked "who," so check out the blog. And share books.

I am a huge sharer of books. I buy them, scatter them around like apple seeds, hand them over to my friends, co-workers — and offer unsolicited suggestions to readers everywhere. (With the latter, I try to be polite and non-obtrusive, and I retreat at the first sign of "get out of my face, I'm shopping here!")

To make up for the 2012 lapse, I shall scatter a few more books into the wind.

And I shall be prepared for 2013!

Keeping Books Stacked Up

(For the record, 10 is a conservative number.)

Fragments of Poems by Marilyn Monroe

Brain Pickings recently introduced me to something fantastic: fragments of poems written by Marilyn Monroe. They are included in the book titled Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters by Marilyn Monroe.

She's a mythic figure, tragic, fragile, lost too soon. These fragments show a thoughtful, creative artist.

Here are a few fragments:

 I’m finding that sincerity
to be as simple or direct as (possible) I’d like
is often taken for sheer stupidity
but since it is not a sincere world –
it’s very probable that being sincere is stupid.
One probably is stupid to
be sincere since it’s in this world
and no other world that we know
for sure we exist — meaning that –
(since reality exists it
should be must be dealt
should be met and dealt with)
since there is reality to deal with

I guess I have always been
deeply terrified
to really be someone’s
since I know life
one cannot love another,
ever, really

Oh damn I wish that I were
dead — absolutely nonexistent –

Review: The Night Circus

Erin Morgenstern creates magic in her debut novel, The Night Circus. My only regret with this book is that I didn't read it sooner. It was just, just... just.

The circus arrives without warning. Les Cirque des Rêves follows no schedule. One day there's an open, empty field, and the next morning there appears circus tents surrounded by a black metal fence with a gate that states the circus opens after dark. It sits empty and still during daylight hours. But at night... acts and shows that seem other-worldly. The illusions are perfectly wrought, the animals exquisite. Each tent is more fantastic than the last. Each performer is more perfect than imagined. Then, one morning, the field is again empty.

The tale of the circus is told through the relationship of two magicians — and the players who compete in the game.

These friends (nemesis?) have carried on this competition for longer than either of them can remember. Each chooses a person who he thinks is worthy and capable. Each p…

Book Lovers, Always Wanting More

Books. Cats. Life is good.

Library Loot: Fragments, Hugo and a Secret

I checked out three library books this week. Each has a specific role in my reading life.  I am very excited!
Fragments by Marilyn Monroe. She wrote poetry, or at least fragments of poetry. Why am I surprised that this artist would commit her poetry to paper? Rest assured, Poetry Wednesday will benefit from this.The Invention of Hugo Cabaret by Brian Selznick. I sent it to my friend Marie for her birthday last year, and I haven't read it. I will remedy that before I see her again. I haven't seen the movie — have you? Did you enjoy it? Do I want to see it?Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda. My book club read it, but reviews are mixed at best. I haven't consumed it yet, and I may wait to read it until all of the reviews are in.
For the first time this calendar year, I have no materials on hold. I returned Ruby Red earlier this year before I could read it, and you know how I love time travel fiction. I may set it up for hold to pick up in October — thank heavens for dela…

Olympic Poetry

It little profits that an idle king1, By this still hearth, among these barren crags, Matched with an agèd wife, I mete and dole Unequal laws unto a savage race, That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me. I cannot rest from travel: I will drink Life to the lees: all times I have enjoyed Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when Through scudding drifts the rainy Hyades2 Vexed the dim sea: I am become a name; For always roaming with a hungry heart Much have I seen and known; cities of men And manners, climates, councils, governments, Myself not least, but honoured of them all; And drunk delight of battle with my peers, Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy3. I am a part of all that I have met; Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough Gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades For ever and for ever when I move. How dull it is to pause, to make an end, To rust unburnished, not to shine in use! As thou…