Category Archives: Reading

burning coals

PenFireSmallevery now and then one comes across a writer who leaves a burning coal behind when the web link flashes out of sight. i came across one such writer yesterday.

cheryl moore.

she shifts, holds me for a moment, like she used to, as if she welcomes the comfort, the closeness and kisses me. “hi!” she says, as if she’s been caught off guard, emotionally. our bodies connect, so briefly i’m unable to grieve properly, as she pushes me away, and gets out of bed. “i can’t. i’m sorry.”

“where are you going?”

“my piano.” she says with vodka on her breath. “i need her.”

if you get it, you do, if you do not, then i cannot explain it to you.

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where is my cow…?

GrammarTroll

one of my favorite books is Where is my Cow by Terry Pratchett. it is amazing. and it becomes even more amazing when you know the ‘back-story’ – told in Thud! – where the memory of  reading Where is my Cow to his son saves the main character from certain death.

good stories have that power – to save lives – either literally or figuratively. the very act of reading a book is powerful in  itself, and governments all over the world have from time to time banned books, books by certain writers and books based on banned books.

but back to Where is my Cow? – the point with the book, for me, is the love the two main characters have for each other, and how they share a very special bond. with a silly, conspiratorial grin at the non-silly world.

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The Fire–messy pile of Embers

Cover of "The Fire: A Novel"

Cover of The Fire: A Novel

LiteraryLintBooks175x175I just finished reading Katherine Neville’s “The Fire”, the sequel to “The Eight”.

I am disappointed. I not only liked The Eight – I loved it. It had a clear story with characters that had both personality and depth. I even liked Lily Rad’s dog! (I usually despise anything canine smaller than an English Bullterrier) When I had finished reading The Eight I felt I knew the characters, and I missed them once they had disappeared behind the back cover.

When I reached the last page of The Fire I felt relieved. The story starts off well enough with a murder  and an unexpected party. All the usual puzzles and clues and such are there – but where is the personality and depth of the MC? Unfortunately it doesn’t help that the majority of the MCs from The Eight are there, some way or other. Cat Velis’ daughter just isn’t written strongly enough to take hold of either the story or me, the reader. I found myself longing for the parts where the characters from The Eight would speak, act and lead the story.

I can extend a limited amount of understanding for Katherine Neville wanting to inform new readers, who has not read The Eight about the events there. However, I felt like she was using something like a quarter of the book to re-tell The Eight, albeit from a slightly different point of view (new but related characters speaking), but it did take away speed and intensity from the story. She would have gained a lot from simply adding footnotes with references to the first book.

Just as in The Eight she moves between two different time-lines, only this time that ‘take’ is only confusing, because there is no direct connection between the ‘historical pieces’ and the ‘present pieces’. In The Eight the historical pieces were either carried by an MC’s telling the story or through discoveries made by the MCs in present time. In The Fire those ‘links’ are missing. It’s a pity, because without the confusion this creates, the book would be so much more enjoyable.

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Nobel Prize in Literature

LliteraryLintSmallMario Llosa Vargas… for:

“his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual’s resistance, revolt, and defeat”.

Why do some authors win the Nobel Prize in Literature, and some don’t?

Here’s what Alfred Nobel said:

“the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction”.

…the most outstanding work in an ideal direction…

Ok. sounds good, right? However, if one considers who has been awarded the NPL since its inception, one will very quickly find that ‘field of literature’ excludes all but three ‘genres’ or ‘branches of literature – literary fiction (in its most narrow sense), poetry and theatrical drama.

One genre that is absolutely out the question is children’s’ literature. Despite the fact that many authors of children’s literature would easily qualify for having written “…the most outstanding work in an ideal direction…” and have influenced, changed and educated countless young readers, and often inspired children and young adults to write themselves. Not to mention how many children have BOOKS of quality to thank for saving their lives and sanity.

So what then is ‘great literature’? Well, it’s often not something the general public will read. Or understand.

I am a fairly intelligent and well-educated man. I usually try to read at least one title by the most recent NPL winner, and so far I have failed to finish most books written by an NPL laureate. Why?

Generally because they seem to try to write poetic prose (purple prose) or write so culturally narrow that all points of reference are lost on a guy from the general public.

Example: Gabriel Garcia Marques – I know, lots of people just LOVE magical realism. One reason I don’t is because it is – to my mind – FAKE – pure fraud. It is pretend ‘fantasy’, disguised as ‘real’.  If one wants to write about flying mothers and paranormal experiences, then one should do that and call it pure fantasy, not write it and then try to sell it as ‘high literature’ because ‘fantasy’ is for children…

Example: Winston Churchill – a purely POLITICAL award. He got it for “for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values” – yup he got it for ‘defending exalted human values’, not because he could write, he couldn’t, but the Nobel Committee had him up for two nominations – the Peace Prize and the Literature prize. Others that were suggested for nomination for the peace prize in 1945:

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston S. Churchill, Anthony Eden (opposed any intervention against Germany and Hitler prior to WWII), Josef Stalin, Max Litvinov (Stalin’s right hand man during WWII), Edvard Benes (Leader the Czech National Socialist party which was not Nazi, but Fascist), Jan Smuts (leader of a racist nation, who propagated for racial segregation).

Connect the dots.

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A Grinch with a Heart

Skipping Christmas

Image via Wikipedia

LiteraryLintBooks175x175I read my my wife’s blog almost religiously, so when I came across this post by her, I had a very strong urge – to READ the book – “Skipping Christmas” by John Grisham. You can see my comment to her post here. I read it. The night before last.

It is a wonderful story. Not just the ending, which is delightful, and yes indeed a tear teaser, but the entire story.

It is a story about a man’s determination to not give into the social pressures of his neighborhood. It might be that his initial motivation is financial – 6100 USD worth of motivation – but beneath that lies his desire to do things his way, because he decides it’s his way. To stop being dragged around by traditions and conventions. Despite some rather personalized attempts from his neighbors to ‘break’ him.

It is also a story about that same man throwing all his resolutions to the winds for the sake of love.

It is about a neighborhood that, when there is a need can put aside personal and collective dislikes and simply SHOW UP for the sake of love and the Season Spirit. And about a man’s willingness to show humility and accept that his annoying neighbors are so much more than that.

I came away from the reading liking Luther Krank and his Nora, as two genuinely Menschlich people. I also came away from the reading amazed indeed – I am used to read John Grisham – you know, the thriller author – and put the book down feeling that I had just put down a piece of literary fiction that is truly that. LITERARY fiction at its best.


procrastinationThat aside – I have earned another of Merit Badger’s Badges.

I simply do not want to struggle with that monster. I don’t frigging care if my characters get eaten alive by some bloodcurdling nasty behemoth from the depths of Hel. Right now I don’t even care if I finish the novel and get my finished proof copy from CreateSpace…

I got this:

nano_10_winner_cert_thumbnail

That’s enough – right now…:D


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