Month: April 2015

Fifty Shades of Grey – E. L. James

I wasn’t among the first readers, but last year I relented and bought Fifty Shades of Grey after having read numerous reviews for and against the trilogy. – And now I’ve finally read it. It is amazing how popular, a romantic/erotic fantasy has become and how many people have strong opinions for or against it. I applaud E. L. James for writing three books that provoke and intrigue so many people across the globe. That is truly amazing! Many critical or negative reviews note that the narrative and plot are somewhat lacking. That is not so in my opinion, the story was clear. I seriously doubt that E. L. James aspires to win the Nobel Prize in Literature or the Man Booker International Prize. The story, however, hits home with a wide (albeit mostly female) audience. Somewhere I read, “Women don’t watch porn, they read it”. I haven’t been able to find the quotation again, but a photo of two women in line to buy Fifty Shades of Grey with their noses in the book …

My inner writing rat

Some novels leave me in awe; some novels I do not understand. Other novels get a pretty harsh treatment, even after I loved reading them or gulped them down quicker than ice cream in July. That’s when I can feel my inner writing rat stir. My inner writing rat has a butternut squash body with big boned feet sticking out from beneath. He is slightly unkempt and he holds a soil goose feather as a pen. His tongue is always blue from whetting the tip. He works hunched over the page. By work, I mean he spends his time hunched over the page, ink dripping from the pen. He scribbles a bit now and then, but is often unable to decipher his smudged scratches. When I read he draws his nose near to sniff, his whiskers twitching this way and that. He claims he is learned in books and readily frowns and wrinkles his nose at novels that do not meet his high standards. However, every time he does so, there are sub currants that …

Tithe – Holly Black

When I stumbled across this young adult novel in the library, I whispered the title aloud. The word “tithe” has a wonderful sound and it is one of the words that just tastes good. The definition of “tithe” is heavier than the pronunciation. Tithe is obligatory payment to a lord or the church well known in feudal societies. I pulled the small volume from the shelf and was equally pleased to see the cover. A bright pair of butterfly wings on a dark background with ornamental across the entire page. The cover lured me in like a moth to a flame. Pun intended. “Tithe” is a young adult novel, so of course the protagonist is a 16-year-old girl, lost in her ordinary life, who finds out that she is special in a dangerous, risky environment. No surprises there, but I was surprised by the ordinary life, Kaye inhabits. She is a modern nomad, who has followed her wannabe rock star mom around. She is no stranger to alcohol, wild and weird parties, and irresponsibility. The …

From my fingers to you

I am sitting in my comfortable white couch with my laptop, staring at the blank page in front of me. This is the fourth time I have started writing today, but so far without any result. I know a little about writer’s block and my experience tells me to stick with writing without trying to force the issue or in other words, writing what is in my fingers instead of in my head. Admittedly, I am one of the many, many bookish people, who dreams and fantasizes about writing a novel. I would camp out at my local public library to see a book I had written share the shelves with so many other books. I would also give every lender of the book a standing ovation. The fact of the matter is that I don’t write much. Life, work, single motherhood, and laundry gets in the way. So I don’t have a book manuscript in a drawer. I have a load of good ideas and even some that I have explored a bit, but …

Bad Boys

What is it about bad boys? We know they are trouble and no good, but as literary heroes (and in real life, some would add) they are the most intriguing and thrilling. Byron was the master of bad boys so much so that they are defined as Byronic heroes. Lord Macauley, a contemporary of Byron, wrote that a Byronic hero was: “A man proud, moody, cynical, with defiance on his brow, and misery in his heart, a scorner of his kind, implacable in revenge, yet capable of deep and strong affection.” Now that was nearly 200 years ago, but nothing has really changed. Manfred, Heathcliff, Frankenstein, Mr. Rochester, the Phantom from the Opera to Edward Cullen and even Christian Grey. They all have that heartthrob, *sigh* bad boy qualities that we love and adore – and simply cannot get enough of. In real life, we know that an encounter with a bad boy is more than likely to end in disaster, but in fiction we allow ourselves to hope and throw our hearts at them, …

Consecration – Charles Baudelaire

Dear Monsieur Baudelaire, I have now read your poem “Consecration” and my first reaction is “oh dear”. At first, I thought you i.e. the poet in the poem, bitter and angry, but reaching the last four stanzas, I understand that you believe in your work, your poetry. “Consecration” is a hard title. You do not repeat the term in the poem and it is one of those words with a substantial meaning and weight, so forgive me for glancing at a dictionary. Consecration: noun The act of consecrating; dedication to the service and worship of a deity. The act of giving the sacramental character to the Eucharistic elements of bread and wine, especially in the Roman Catholic Church. Ordination to a sacred office, especially to the episcopate. I believe that it is the poet, who is consecrated, despite the lack of support from his mother and wife. Were you ever married, Monsieur? I think not as I have not found it mentioned. However, I understand that your mother (and the rest of your family) were …

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress – Dai Sijie

“The village headman, a man about fifty, sat cross-legged in the centre of the room, close to the coals burning in a hearth that was hallowed out of the floor; he was inspecting my violin.” What an amazing first sentence, Dai Sijie presents in “Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress”. In that one sentence, I have a vivid image of the headman, living the harsh life of simplicity and tradition, examining this foreign/Western object, and it readily supplies the crux of the novel – the clash between traditional Chinese culture, radical Maoism, and the foreign, Western, unknown culture. The narrator and Luo are sent to a rural village on a faraway mountain for re-education during the Cultural Revolution. They arrive as city boys, but during their stay, and the course of the novel, they evolve to become adults. A classic tale, you might say, and you would be right, but this tale is told with such sincerity and atmosphere that it is by no means a generic or old tale. The Cultural Revolution is the …

Dog ear

Oh no you don’t! Not in my books! That pretty much sums up my stance on dog ears. Why would you crease a page with words on it?! I ask incredulously. I keep my place in books with a bookmark, carefully chosen for the specific book. If I find an interesting passage, I copy it down in a journal, letting the words flow through my pen. However, I know there are readers that dog ear pages. I caroused the web and found readers, who are very exact with their dog ears. Top corners for finding their place in the book, bottom corners for interesting passages. Some turn a corner of a miscellaneous length; others fold the corner to the precise line of interest. Others still make dog ears into art, by folding corners to make the folds resemble a heart or, as I recent saw, the entire state of Kentucky. I can see the art in some of the dog-earing, but then you’ve discarded the book – you’re not going to read it again. What …

John Green

John Green is awesome! I mean it! He is a bestselling author with novels such as “Looking for Alaska” and “The Fault of our Stars” and hopefully more to come AND he is a wacky, smart you-tuber. Green, who is born in 1977, is an amazing writing, who writes stories that resonate with young adults and adults alike. His books have staying power; they are original and the kind of books that in one way or another stay with you. Green has a great homepage and I recommend his FAQ section, wherefrom I “borrowed” the quotation below. “Q. Where do you get your ideas for your books? A. Well, my books don’t have capital-i Ideas, really. I don’t have ideas that hit like a ton of bricks out of nowhere, like BAM! Write a book about a wizard school! Or, Bam! Vampires in Suburbia! The ideas for my books come from lower case-i ideas. Looking for Alaska began, really, in thinking about whether there was meaning to suffering, and how one can reconcile one’s self …