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Showing posts from October, 2012

Poetry Wednesday: Spiders and E.B. White

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This isn't really a scary poem, but spiders have a rep to uphold. Therefore, I will glorify spiders and E.B. White today on this, the sixtieth year since Charlotte's Web was published (listen to the NPR radio story about it). Happy Halloween.


The Spider’s Web (A Natural History) The spider, dropping down from twig,
Unfolds a plan of her devising,
A thin premeditated rig
To use in rising.


And all that journey down through space,
In cool descent and loyal hearted,
She spins a ladder to the place
From where she started.


Thus I, gone forth as spiders do
In spider’s web a truth discerning,
Attach one silken thread to you
For my returning. by E.B. White with thanks to Gregory Maguire, for reminding me about this gem

A Classic Question

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Get Ready: All Hallow's Read is Right Around the Corner!

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Neil Gaiman had a great idea: give a scary book for Halloween. Here, let me let him tell you himself:


I fully support All Hallow's Read, but I'm a little different: I give poems with the candy.  This year, Halloween falls on Poetry Wednesday, so you can get your poetry fix right here.

Feel free to print out the poem I post October 31 and give it to the trick-or-treaters who come to your door. (If you need the title early so you can better prepare, let me know.)

Other poems I've shared in years past include "The Raven" by Edgar Allen Poe and "The Little Ghost" by Edna St. Vincent Millay.

So, what are you reading this All Hallow's Read?

If you're looking for a novel, I suggest John Dies at the End by David Wong. I just finished it and if I could explain it, I would get a medal. It was wild, freaky and very, very good.

I also will be reading Shadow of Night (and re-reading A Discovery of Witches, which is totally worthy of a re-read). Or maybe…

Poetry Wednesday: When October Goes

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Late in his life, Johnny Mercer grew close to Barry Manilow — and asked his widow to give Manilow his unfinished lyrics. Manilow set at least one to music. The result is one of my favorite songs, When October Goes. A number of people have recorded the song, but Manilow's version seems the most haunted.





When October Goes

And when October goes
The snow begins to fly
Above the smokey roofs
I watch the planes go by
The children running home
Beneath a twilight sky
Oh, for the fun of them
When I was one of them

And when October goes
The same old dream appears
And you are in my arms
To share the happy years
I turn my head away
To hide the helpless tears
Oh, how I hate
To see October go

And when October goes
The same old dream appears
And you are in my arms
To share the happy years
I turn my head away
To hide the helpless tears
Oh, how I hate
To see October go

I should be over it now 
I know
It doesn't matter much
How old I grow —
I hate to see October go...

Lyrics by Johnny Mercer
Music by Barry Manilow

Review: Hunger Games Trilogy

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Note: this is a review of a trilogy — and, as a result, contains spoilers. If you haven't read all three books, proceed with caution.

Dystopian literature can be tough to read, and Suzanne Collins doesn't sugar-coat the life of a hungry, angry teen in her very successful Hunger Games trilogy. I wasn't able to get past the first chapter the first time I tried to read it, but I was able to get through the entire trilogy after seeing the first movie. I emerged at the end, exhausted, wrung out — but glad I read it.

Life is tough enough for teens without showing them a terrible, depressing world. And Panem is about as bad as it can get for people of any age: after an uprising that nearly destroyed the central government, rulers did the best they could to divide and conquer. After obliterating those in the area of the country that led the uprising, the rest of the country was divided into districts.

To keep the districts at odds, the government created a competition, "The H…

Listen to the Doctor

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Courtesy Tumblr.

Poetry Wednesday: Shifting the Sun

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Shifting the Sun
When your father dies, say the Irish,
you lose your umbrella against bad weather.
May his sun be your light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Welsh,
you sink a foot deeper into the earth.
May you inherit his light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Canadians,
you run out of excuses. May you inherit
his sun, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the French,
you become your own father.
May you stand up in his light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Indians,
he comes back as the thunder.
May you inherit his light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Russians,
he takes your childhood with him.
May you inherit his light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the English,
you join his club you vowed you wouldn't.
May you inherit his sun, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Armenians,
your sun shifts forever.

by Diana Der-Hovanessian
from Selected Poems. © Sheep Meadow Press, 1…

Library Loot: Cookbooks, Travel and Fiction — Oh, My!

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A trip to the library is a giddy pleasure: free books for the taking! Sure, you have to return them, but that's okay because you just get more.

Here is my latest stack of books:


I've had the cookbooks for a while. My husband David is the family chef, so I gathered these for his reading enjoyment — but still found about a dozen recipes to share with him. Mostly dessert. Shocker.

It's October, which means I have to find some creepy books to read. John Dies at the End counts, as does the conspiracy theory novel The Shell Game (a recommendation from Reader Karen). I may not get to Gone Girl by the end of its lending period, but I will try.

David and I are going to the Caribbean next year, and we have to start plotting now, hence the travel books.

There are two movies on top. One is based on a book and — well, both of them are. Never mind.

So, what have you borrowed from your library lately?


No, Not Willingly

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Poetry Wednesday: The Indoors is Endless

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We hope a poet will be named as the Nobel Laureate in literature later this week. However, until then, let's enjoy a poem by last year's Nobel Laureate, the poet Tomas Tranströmer.

The Indoors is Endless It’s spring in 1827, Beethoven hoists his death-mask and sails off.
The grindstones are turning in Europe’s windmills. The wild geese are flying northwards.
Here is the north, here is Stockholm swimming palaces and hovels.
The logs in the royal fireplace collapse from Attention to At Ease.
Peace prevails, vaccine and potatoes, but the city wells breathe heavily.
Privy barrels in sedan chairs like paschas are carried by night over the North Bridge.
The cobblestones make them stagger mamselles loafers gentlemen.
Implacably still, the sign-board with the smoking blackamoor.
So many islands, so much rowing with invisible oars against the current!
The channels open up, April May and sweet honey dribbling June.
The heat reaches islands far out. The village doors are open, except on…

Summer Reading: Everyone's a Winner — But How Did You Do?

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How was your summer? Did you get a lot of reading done?

I did. Kind of. I didn't quite reach my goal of 20 books, nor did I read some of the books I had intended, but I came close.

Two other readers played along from home: Karen and Stacy. Both had impressive lists, and both completed a tremendous number of excellent books.

Here were the rules, such as they were, for the  Adult Summer Reading Club: read as many books as humanly possible between the summer solstice and the autumnal equinox. Keep count (and, preferably, a list of titles). At the end of the summer, whip out your list, brag boisterously — and be in the running to receive a free book.

Karen read the following books:
The Nature of MonstersThe Shell GameWater for ElephantsTo Kill a MockingbirdThe HobbitRoyal PainsA Rogue's Gallery of Brats, Brutes, and Bad SeedsThe Mammoth Book of Scottish RomanceMother Earth, Father SkyThe Great StinkMeg: Primal WatersMyths and Mysteries of New MexicoFamous Gunfighters of the Weste…

Thanks, Will

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Poetry Wednesday: The Poet Goes to Indiana

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The Poet Goes to Indiana I'll tell you a half-dozen things
that happened to me
in Indiana
when I went that far west to teach.
You tell me if it was worth it.

I lived in the country
with my dog—
part of the bargain of coming.
And there was a pond
with fish from, I think, China.
I felt them sometimes against my feet.
Also, they crept out of the pond, along its edges,
to eat the grass.
I'm not lying.
And I saw coyotes,
two of them, at dawn, running over the seemingly
unenclosed fields.
And once a deer, but a buck, thick-necked, leaped
into the road just-oh, I mean just, in front of my car—
and we both made it home safe.
And once the blacksmith came to care for the four horses,
or the three horses that belonged to the owner of the house,
and I bargained with him, if I could catch the fourth,
he, too, would have hooves trimmed
for the Indiana winter,
and apples did it,
and a rope over the neck did it,
so I won something wonderful;
and there was, one morning,
an owl
flying, oh …

Dissention: Does It Get Posted?

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Within hours of my first Banned Books Week blog going live, a pending comment awaited me. The writer wanted me to post a particular link to "balance" my coverage of the event.

And I had to decide: post the comment or not?

A few years ago, I received a comment on a similar blog entry, which I thought only fair to post.

This year I received a comment from the same person, only this time he was more terse and provided the same URL. This time, this blogger informed me that someone more prestigious than I had a different opinion I needed to share.

In turn, I was less conciliatory, less accommodating. I also was a little less patient. This wasn't a conversation, an exchange of ideas, a respectful disagreement, like we had before. This was me being corrected.

I could be open-minded, generous, supportive. I could take my time and energy to engage in this conversation. But did I want to? Would it benefit me?

Good questions. This was the same person, same argument, same blog. We …