Category Archives: literature

Just Read … Can’t Breathe

Just read “Where The Wild Things Are” so well to Jasper that I can’t breathe.


So he’s “reading it himself” while I cough take pictures and cough and type and still can’t breathe. 

Karma Waters

If I sailed in karma waters everyone I know would drown in the tsunami. 

Ying. Yang.

Karma waters. Calmer waters. 

Watching the Last Unicorn today

The-Last-Unicorn
Watched the Last Unicorn today. The 1982 animated version where LU is set up as very princessy and feminine. This characterization is not what I remember when reading the book when I was 8. I still have the book… somewhere. I think it would not have stayed with me as long as it had of that was the case. But Peter Beagle wrote this screenplay, too.

And a few times, when the unicorn seemed in the most trouble, Carrie and I looked over and Jasper was in full-blown sad mode with his bottom lip in full protuberance, his hands clasped and nervously working on each other and one tear rolling down his cheek from his left eye. 

Top 10 Books

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Defining your own top 10 is a lifetime exercise.

Are you listing them because you enjoy them, because you learned from them, because you think you should read them again, because you’re nostalgic for them, because you admire the author, because you think they’ll impress others? All but the last are good, valid reasons for putting a list together.

My list is a combination of 85% enjoyment and 15% nostalgia. I read for enjoyment, for escape for stretching my brain on its imagination side. As a result, there are few non-fiction books or biographies because pure enjoyment is rarely there. I enjoy the learning and the discovery but both are included in more entertaining ways in my list. In the order I thought of them.

The entire DragonLance series (particularly the Time of the Twins, War of the Twins and Test of the Twins trilogy) – Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman
Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain
Othello – William Shakespeare
Butcher’s Moon – Richard Stark
The Last Unicorn – Peter Beagle
The Rainbow Goblins – Ul De Rico
Xanth series – Piers Anthony (particularly the first 6)
Smoke Signals – Sherman Alexie
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (collection of stories) – Arthur Conan Doyle
The Illustrated Man – Ray Bradbury (this was the cover I had on the one I read when I was a pre-teen, used then)

Now having Bradbury last was just a complete oversight. He’s my favorite author. He’s very minimalistic in creating deep and complex landscapes, scenes and characters. This approach really let’s you, the reader, fill in a lot of gaps.

Butcher’s moon is a book, I believe I still have. I remember it very well, even though it was a throwaway read after I found it somewhere in a bookstore as a teenager.

The Rainbow Goblins saturates your mind (and belly?) with color, visually and I remember it when I was a kid and have now been able to read it to my kids.

The Last Unicorn is also a book from my childhood (I was a VERY early reader and read a lot) that has stayed with me. I believe my mom owned this and I picked it up one day and it was very sad. I believe my mom probably still has it. I was disappointed to know that the film version is not that great.

The Bradbury Encounter

Someone at work just told me at 8:13 am that Ray Bradbury died. I’ve been dreading this day for a very long time. I knew it had to happen, but really you never knew with Bradbury. He was before his time in so many ways so maybe, the hope was eternal, that he could transcend it all together and arm wrestle Father Time palm down.

I met him in a Tacoma church in early 2001. Maybe May 15, 2001 or 2000. I can’t remember to an exactness, though I have the pamphlet for the free library-sponsored event. I sat in the balcony, round NASA playing card in one hand and a copy of the Martian Chronicles in another. Bradbury simply talked about his life, his films, his arguments with director John Houston. As on the page, his words enthralled, there was very little interruption or tangent and he just kept going.

Bradbury had just recently had a stroke then, and remained in a wheelchair. There had been an announcement at the beginning of the evening that because he was “weak” he would not be autographing anything but people could still come up to meet him and shake his hand. As he sat on the small stage, raised just about a foot over the seats, Bradbury did look tired, as if he had a job to do, an audience to please, and then he was done. I respected that and I walked away, telling everybody for days and weeks after, that it’s not every day you get to meet one of your inspirational heroes.

I was in my mid-20s; the first book of his I had read was Illustrated Man as a pre-teen. Somehow a copy had found its way into my circle, into my hands and like the Leo I am, I had devoured it. Such a different approach to anything I had read. Such efficiency with words, such a painter of scene and picture. All commanded and intertwined together, masterfully and beautifully. Seemingly effortlessly.

Later, in college, I attened a creative writing class and the teacher, Richard Adams had told me my writing very much reminded him of Bradbury, and that he normally recommended against the narrative style in writers, but that I pulled it off and should keep it going. That cemented my relationship with Bradbury. I respected everything he did. I found Fahrenheit 451 next, then the Martian Chronicles. I, amazingly, have not read everything he has written but will. Golden Apples of the Sun, Something Wicked This Way Comes, I have read both of those, too.

There’s so much knowledge of human nature in what Bradbury writes; his vision is simultaneously both enlightening and dark. Even he could not truly know how the competing interests and natures of humanity would play, but his tales told of the internal struggles of the brain and how that propelled action.

On my bookshelf now is a dog-eared copy of The Martian Chronicles. It’s the same copy that I took with me to hear him speak, to be in his circle. And it’s dog-eared because, as I listened, I flipped through the pages, and as inspiration took, I folded down the corner of a page. With that direct connection, I will write a story, using just those words on those pages. That’s been the plan all along. Seconds, and minutes and years sing by. Before you know it you can see The End of time. The knowledge of that end of the future changes everyone.

I write this with thankfulness and a heavy heart. Love you Ray, you changed everything I have ever done.

Worst First Paragraph Ever – Eye of the World

I’d never read any Robert Jordan until I read this:

The Wheel of Time turns, and ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. In one Age, called the Third Age by some, an Age yet to come, an Age long past, a wind rose in the Mountains of Mist. The wind was not the beginning. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of time. But it was a beginning.

That pile of void is the first paragraph of Eye of the World. I almost closed the book right there; I felt so cliched out in less than 100 words. I read that and thought of religious promise, thought of Amway and empty calories and someone valiantly trying to say something meaningful – and failing miserably.

I did not close the book. I struggled through the lingering pain of that first section. And 806 pages later I was into the story. It’s one of those stories one of those writers who uses fantasy to create amazing magic to get out of difficult situations. You know the ones, our heroes are backed into a corner, there’s no way they could ever escape, ever, ever, ever. Then boom, lead wizard or Aes Sadai, pulls out the cataclysmic rabbit out of the hat.

It’s obvious. But the writing, the characters and the mechanics of the story were easily good enough to overcome the flaws. And I’m now waiting for my purchase of the first three books in the Wheel of Time series.

Grapes of Wrath – Nearing The End

I’m heading into the final of the Grapes of Wrath, and now I actually want to read it to see what happens. Because it’s close Because it’s going to happen no matter what happens.

Earlier on in the book, I didn’t always wanted to read, because there’s so much loss of hope; inevitable, relentless and horrible. John Steinbeck’s language is about the only thing that got me through.

It’s funny even when the weather is described as sunny, my mind always shows a cloud above the scene.

Flight, Sherman Alexie, Words

My mother died of breast cancer when I was six. I remember a few things about her. Her voice, her red hair, and the way she raised one eyebrow when she laughed. I sometimes wish she’d died when I was younger so I wouldn’t remember her at all. I remember her green eyes.”

– pg 5, “Flight” by Sherman Alexie

In turn, though this quote happens to be about a dead mother, I completely read it through as a quote about a dead father and had to do a double-take after getting about three or four paragraphs past it. I just started the book today. My first exposure to Alexie was through the film Smoke Signals. It was a story and film packed with reflections of a missing father, a failed search and breath-taking takes on the impact he had on the main character’s life. And the final reflection with the shot panning over a river, sticks in my head, though out of context it needs context:

How do we forgive our fathers? Maybe in a dream. Do we forgive our fathers for leaving us too often, or forever, when we were little? Maybe for scaring us with unexpected rage, or making us nervous because there never seemed to be any rage there at all? Do we forgive our fathers for marrying, or not marrying, our mothers? Or divorcing, or not divorcing, our mothers? And shall we forgive them for their excesses of warmth or coldness? Shall we forgive them for pushing, or leaning? For shutting doors or speaking through walls? For never speaking, or never being silent? Do we forgive our fathers in our age, or in theirs? Or in their deaths, saying it to them or not saying it. If we forgive our fathers, what is left?

Having lost my own father, having occasionally thought how life might have been different with any father figure early on in my life (none after about three to about 10) – who died when I was older but I never met again, it was devastating when I watched Smoke Signals and completely snatched my breath and ripped down tears. It will be again when I watch it again – and I need to read the book, as well. Now, when I do it will have new, painful layers of meaning because of new people in my life who I love dearly and deeply, whose father passed away. The film’s father is flawed, violent absent, as mine undoubtedly was. Still, father, right? And I’m stepping into that role with purpose and an awareness of the awesome responsibility it entails.

POEM – The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry

THE PEACE OF WILD THINGS

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

— Wendell Berry

Though this poem is helpful to me, too I made a poster of this for a restless girl I know, threw it it with bottles of Christmas Absolut and Hpnotiq. And a few other things. Here’s the poster, OK for 20 minutes work on Christmas Eve as I headed out of work (I was already off the clock)

Book I Ordered – The Genesis of Modern Horseracing

I just ordered a $55 book for Christmas for a person I’ve never met. It’s Eclipse by Nicholas Cree. (Nice reviews here and here)

Why bought? This person – older retirement age – has let a person I know live at his house for at least seven months. He wasn’t there for most of it. She’s a strong friend. I wouldn’t have got anything probably except he’s interested – very – in horse racing. He goes betting, he’s got horse posters and art on his walls and I think he was a former (or current?) racehorse owner.

This book is a solid natural. Hardcover. I had to order used because its not in stock that I could find on online retailers.