Confronting the lunar
In the next galaxy.
Myths, dreams, and mysteries.
Confronting the lunar
In the next galaxy.
Myths, dreams, and mysteries.
This is one of the first books that I checked out from COCC’s Barber Library with my community patron card. I found it just by browsing through the PSs.
Although I did like two poems in here and she comes highly lauded, all in all, I did not care for these poems. Rogers uses language beautifully, But then she chains those bits of beautiful language together until it becomes a constant cacophony of metaphors and comparisons between the natural world and the human-constructed world or the human-constructed world and itself or the natural world and itself, or all at the same time.
E.g., see this excerpt from “The Long Marriage: A Translation” (87-88):
In among the alder’s highest black
branches making a complicated map
of depth and elevation against the dull
white sky, winter waxwings in a flock
settle, coming, going.
They depart, altering the design of cold
and season in the tree, return
in gatherings of six or seven, flying
in quick staccato against a largo
of motion relative to one another,
As if they weren’t birds alone
but a constantly changing syntax
in a history of place and event.
Several sail together over the fallen
field with an expansion and contraction
of pattern that might sound like a wheezing
of wooden organ or bagpipe, were there sound
to vision. And eleven spiral up, angle
into the evening like eleven dead leaves
with stunted wings and no more purpose
nor will than to illustrate eleven
different motives of the wind at once.
Gliding to gully, to river brush, a wave
of them parts easily, rejoins in crossing
familiarities that might impress like lavender
and sage, were there fragrances
to involution and grace.
This poem comes almost at the end of the book. By itself it doesn’t seem so bad. Birds flying, musical metaphors, sensory modalities veering into others. It is actually kind of beautiful. But this is 80-some odd pages in and it has been incessant. I really like the last stanza I included. But as a whole, for me, it is just too much.
If you like what you see here and you would enjoy it in quantity then this book is for you.
I was alerted to this book by Dave Bonta in early May of this year, so I picked it up on 5 June from The Book Store in Des Moines and read it on 26 September.
I probably ought just say to go read Bonta’s post as you’ll learn far more about the work and the authors than I can tell you, and I highly suggest that you do read his post, but I want to say a little myself. I will try not to duplicate much.
First, let me say that I am highly grateful to Bonta for writing about this lovely book again so that I might see his review. I have read a couple books by Jim Harrison and although I know he is considered to be an excellent poet what I have read of his has not really grabbed me. As for Kooser, I have read the odd poem here and there but never a book of his poems, although I have read his, The Poetry Home Repair Manual: Practical Advice for Beginning Poets, which I truly enjoyed and need to revisit.
As Bonta writes:
Braided Creek is the result of a poetry correspondence between two old, white male poets at the top of their literary game, struggling to come to terms with aging and all its associated ills.
The poems came out of a series of correspondence between the two longtime friends “comprised entirely of brief poems” “[a]fter Kooser was diagnosed with cancer” (back cover).
The poems are unattributed and as the blurb on the back states:
When asked about attributions for the individual poems, one of them replied, “Everyone gets tired of this continuing cult of the personality… This book is an assertion in favor of poetry and against credentials.”
Many of the poems are almost aphoristic:
A coffin handles
leaves a lasting impression
on a hand.
The face you look out of
is never the face
your lover looks into.
Many are quite humorous:
I want to describe my life in hushed tones
like a TV nature program. Dawn in the north.
His nose stalks the air for newborn coffee.
Oh, to be in love,
with all five buckets
of the senses
Almost all of them contain something quite deep and meaningful despite their brevity:
Each time I go outside the world
is different. This had happened
all my life.
Elaborate is the courtliness
of the imagination, on one sore knee
As Bonta mentions, they are four to a page and often seem to go together, some in a call and response sort of way. Nor are they afraid to get into social commentary or politics—as these two contiguous poems do—although they rarely stray there:
So the Greeks had amphorae
with friezes of nymphs.
We have coffee mugs with ads
for farm equipment!
How evil all priesthoods.
All over the earth Holy Places
soaked with extra blood.
Time, memory, nature, beauty, longing, wistfulness. The book is full of these and more:
Last year the snake
left her skin on the floor,
diaphanous like the name
of a lovely girl you’ve forgotten—
but not her flesh.
And then there are the simple truths of a person as they age:
Like an old dog
I slowly lower and arrange myself
in a heap of sighs.
I can definitely relate to that one.
I’ll end with one of my very favorites, to which I also can highly relate:
The moon put her white hands
on my shoulders, looked into my face,
and without a word
sent me on into the night.
This is a lovely book of poetry that is also so much more.
In October 2011, after finishing another book reading challenge, which a friend of mine had handled excellently, I decided it was my turn to reciprocate, and I wanted another reading challenge, so I came up with the Two-Thirds Book Challenge.
This post is my reflection on how it went for me.
I made a list of 30 books of which I hoped to read 20. Then, because I’m a cataloger/classifier, I divided them into 6 gross categories just to see what areas I had picked and then to maybe lean towards reading at least one from each to ensure my reading stayed broad. (Of course, I read many other books during this timeframe that were not on my Challenge list. Many of those were graphics novels and poetry.) After a couple of months, because of certain timely shifts in interest I non-specifically substituted 2 books.
My full set of initial choices and their categories can be seen at My Two-Thirds Book Challenge.
The following is how it worked out for me. The books listed are the ones I finished (and 2 which I started but did not finish yet):
HISTORY / ANTHROPOLOGY / RELIGION
In Defence of the Enlightenment by Tzvetan Todorov (substitute)
LITERATURE / FICTION / POETRY / CRITICISM
(Began only) Scholarship in the Digital Age: Information, Infrastructure, and the Internet by Christine L. Borgman
(Began only) Libraries and the Enlightenment by Wayne Bivens-Tatum (substitute)
As is fairly evident, I did not do well with the challenge I set myself. I finished 6 books (30%) and began 2 others out of the 20 I was aiming for.
Now, there are extenuating circumstances seeing as we moved halfway across the country this summer, which sucked up an awful lot of time. We also jumped into life in Bend with both feet when we arrived which only made the moving in process longer. (I hope to be writing here about some of the things we have done since arriving in Bend soon).
Extenuating circumstances or not, I am perfectly happy with the way the challenge turned out for me as I explicitly learned something about myself. I was loosely aware of it before, but this just cemented it.
That is, there are too many interesting books out there for me to specify what I will be reading over the next year.
I still want, and intend, to read all of the books on my challenge list. Just as I intend to read many others on previous lists or those on no particular list. There will also be many new books or books new to me that I will read. (E.g., we have acquired 136 books in the 1st 9 months of 2012 (during the Challenge) but that number doesn’t include books acquired in Oct-Dec 2011, nor the many books read from assorted libraries.)
So, the bottom line is, I need a somewhat looser form of reading challenge to be ‘successful’ by any sort of standard measure. Maybe as vague as “I’ll read x number of books in the next year” is the best I can do. I would hope to be able to provide a little more structured early guidance to myself perhaps, but I’m not sure I know what that is. While my reading choices are not fully based on whim by any means, they are heavily influenced by a wide variety of input mechanisms—friends (in assorted ways), sites like Goodreads or Library Thing, tweets by others, the book catalogs that two librarians (us) receive in the mail, browsing shelves in multiple places, book reviews stumbled across, and so on and on.
There simply are too many books out there waiting to be read for me to be so scheduled about what I will read. And I am perfectly happy with that.
I hereby declare the Two-Thirds Book Challenge a success for me. I look forward to seeing how the other participants assess their own personal Challenges.
This lovely book is full of assorted poetry under four heads, with 12 poems in each: Love’s Bitter-Sweets, Moments of Delight, Dreams and Realities, and Last Songs. The poets are all women, British and American. Each and every poem is paired with a painting from the period, many are by the Pre-Raphaelites or in that style, many are quite famous (e.g., Echo and Narcissus by John William Waterhouse, The Lady of Shalott by William Holman Hunt), and many were painted by women. The poems and painting usually have a thematic connection of some sort.
The poets include the Brontë sisters (individually), Christina Rossetti, Emily Dickinson, Emma Lazarus, Amy Lowell, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, George Eliot, and several others, including less well known poets.
The title is taken from the first line of Rossetti’s poem, “Sleep at Sea,” which was too long to be included (10).
Sound the deep waters:—
Who shall sound that deep?—
Too short the plummet
And the watchmen sleep.
Some dream of effort
Up a toilsome steep;
Some dream of pasture grounds
For harmless sheep.
An introduction by the editor, Pamela Norris, gives a quick overview of the stereotype of the Victorian woman as ‘The Angel in the House,’ and then goes on to provide a glimpse as to how these women poets’ reality was different as they often pushed against the stereotype, and sometimes even shattered it.
‘Love’s Bitter-Sweets’ shows that “while love was a favourite topic” it often was considered bittersweet, and thus these poems show ambivalence towards their topic (9).
‘Moments of Delight’ “celebrate life’s pleasures, which turn out to be manifold” (9).
“‘Dreams and Realities’ explore what might be termed ‘philosophies’: the poets’ attempts to read meaning and pattern into life” (9).
‘Last Songs’ explores another frequent topic, death.
There is, of course, overlap between sections. The last poem in ‘Dreams and Realities,’ Rossetti’s “Up-Hill” may well be a ‘philosophy’ but it is also certainly about death.
The book ends with 5 pages of short bios and text acknowledgements.
I chose to purchase and read this book as I liked its pairing of poems with images; I like the Pre-Raphaelites and their ilk enormously; I took a class on Victorian lit which I truly enjoyed; I have read Christina Rossetti’s complete poems (except the juvenalia) and while I don’t like every poem I do adore her [by the by, those were read on an iPod Touch], and I am always interested in issues of gender and the disruption of stereotypes.
Purchased 5 June 2012 from The Book Store in Des Moines $7.40
Norris, Pamela, ed. Sound the deep waters : women’s romantic poetry in the Victorian age. Boston: Little, Brown, 1992. Print.
[This post has been too long in coming. It should have happened in early Oct. as the Challenge technically ended at the end of Sep. but see below.]
This is update 12* in the Two-Thirds Book Challenge.
This is the last monthly update for the Two-Thirds Book Challenge that I issued last year. I will not be issuing “report cards” (as Jen!! inquired) but I will gladly do a follow-up round of everyone’s individual assessments as long as they are posted before Thanksgiving. This has never been a contest or a strict, rules-based, endeavor. It has always been a personal challenge that involved some “criteria,” as I labeled them, that I put down as guidelines. Your challenge was only with yourself. So please assess with that in mind.
I hope to write a short post on how the Challenge turned out for me and what I learned about my own reading proclivities from it. It is nothing earth shattering but it helped me to know myself better.
On to September’s posts:
Evidence of Things Unseen by Marianne Wiggins
For the last month I’ve been carrying the book back and forth between work and home, intending to chip away at this review, intending to copy down the many excerpts from dog-eared pages that made me gasp, gave me painful goosebumps, pricked my eyes with the beginnings of hot tears.
Evidence of Things Unseen is a love story. It is small and domestic, but it is also about science and technology and the ways those things disrupt and transform. It is about two very ordinary people who meet at the cusp of an era.
The Diaries of Anais Nin
A complicated post but an honest one. “… no simmering life but a boiling one, no small compromise with reality.”
Bluets by Maggie Nelson
I don’t know how to write about this book. I don’t even know where to begin. As I think about it, I keep coming back to the idea of a tone poem, a single extended meditation on a single theme – in this case, the idea of blue. Blue of lapis lazuli, of sadness, of pornography. A love affair with a color, an exploration of the sensation of perceiving color, of the experience of feeling, of the feeling of loss, of the loss of a love.
A couple of quotes and a bit more commentary follows. I’d say she did a good job writing about it. I would like to read it now.
How A Person Should Be? by Sheila Heti
No, a person shouldn’t be terrible; the book was.
Let’s Bring Back by Lesley M.M. Blume
“The book is a celebration of nostalgia, of the manners and customs of a better time.” With a broad definition of ‘a better time,’ the book argues for the return of things such as naps and certain kinds of style. Rhetorically a kind of nostalgia, it sounds as if its arguments serves a better purpose than most nostalgia does. Sounds interesting.
Cross Bones by Kathy Reichs
Another Tempe Brennan mystery that doesn’t disappoint, this time bringing controversy surrounding a set of bones that some believe to be those of Christ.
The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie
A classic that I hadn’t read before. My great love of mysteries was come by naturally, and when my dad gave me ton of paperbacks that had been my grandma’s, there were only a few Christie books in there. Although I still have a lot on the reading list to catch up on, I look forward to working in more of her books. … This is also the first book that I’ve read on the Kindle. I’ve read excerpts and a short story, and I have to say that reading a book on the device was a little disconcerting.
Ah, yes. Electronic reading. Doable (generally), but different. Different affordances; different ways of doing things.
Yarn: Remembering the Way Home by Kyoko Mori
Absolutely one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read.
Honestly, go read the rest of Helen’s review on your own. It is wonderfully written and I do not want to ‘steal’ more of it than I did just now.
Misconception by Ryan Boudinot
This one is a snapshot of struggling families, first loves, hard moral dilemmas, violence and all the other things that go with being an adolescent in the imploding family.
True to life, perhaps, but focuses too much on the “horror and otherness.”
* Helen is taking another month for some adjusted expectations and I fully encourage that: My Two-Thirds Book Challenge 2011/12 – Adjusted Expectations [Of course, at this point, it is kind of irrelevant since the month has already past but I wanted to include this post of hers too. And I apologize to the other Challenge participants for being so far behind that I didn't let them know they could take another month if they wanted.]
More Baths, Less Talking: Notes from the Reading Life of a Celebrated Author Locked in Battle with Football, Family, and Time Itself by Nick Hornby
Helen gave this 5 stars. Exquisite thoughts on book reviewing; read her review and then maybe read the book. I am going to. Just added to my Goodreads.
New York Drawings by Adrian Tomine
Another 5 star review. “This book is stunning. … It’s beautifully done, and don’t skip the notes at the end. Some of the asides are priceless.”
Shizuko’s Daughter by Kyoko Mori
Having not read this book, I’d say this sounds like a great description:
I’m really not sure how to review this book. Everything I write sounds trite. I loved it, and it’s a wonderful story about families in the evolving cultural landscape of Japan. It’s also about being an outsider, being a little different, in a world that doesn’t seem to have a lot of room for that kind of thing, but it has more room than you would expect. It’s about complicated families. It’s a YA novel but it doesn’t feel like one.
Paying For It by Chester Brown
I enjoyed this graphic novel way more than I expected to. It’s not even that I agree with the author’s point of view — in most cases I just don’t — but he is totally committed to exposing himself with as much honesty and candor as is available.
One-dimensionality of the women in the story and an “extended diatribe” in the “extensive notes” do mar it. Though, Helen contends it will force you to think about important issues. Keep in mind, the full title of the book is Paying For It: A Comic Memoir About Being A John.
So, this wraps up this post and the year for the Two-Thirds Book Challenge.
There will be a final roundup of individual readers’ roundups, some time before the end of November. (I would like to count it in my DigiWriMo total. Shameless, I am.)
Participants, please alert me to anything I missed. I apologize in advance if I did.
Disclosure and other related issues: I was asked by the publisher if I would like to review this book since I had read and reviewed another work from their press. Having agreed to do so I was provided with copies in both .epub and .mobi formats.
The book is also available in .pdf. Sources are (depending on format): B&N or Kobo, Amazon, and Smashwords. The book is $4.99 from any of those outlets. Also, quite important, Upper Rubber Boot Books does not use any DRM.
Billed on the website as a “contemplative haiku chapbook.” it is that. If your view of haiku is the one you got in elementary school then perhaps you should visit the Wikipedia page for Haiku in English as these are certainly not all of the “standard” 5-7-5 syllable variety that you may imagine.
I first read the book on our Kindle and my re-reading was in the Kindle app on my 1st gen iPad.
There are 36 poems in this chapbook and depending on the direction in which you hold the iPad you will see one or two poems at a time. I personally feel that it is best to ensure you are looking at one poem at a time. Haiku may be extremely short but they should be savored, perhaps read again after a few seconds, given time to settle into both your unconscious and conscious thought processes. Besides, with only 36 poems, if you were to race through the chapbook with little thought it might take you all of 4 minutes to read it and where’s the return on your $4.99 in that?
These poems necessarily embrace the seasons and the natural world, but they also embrace the mundane world of humans. For instance, “bottle caps”:
stuck in blacktop
One my favorites, “the brightness”:
of the full moon
deepens the cold
I have yet to experience the snow in the high desert of Oregon to see if this is true here also, but it is certainly true in the Midwest and other places I’ve been. It seems as if the light from the full moon, illuminating the world it shines on, ought make the winter night a little warmer but it has the exact opposite effect. The poet has caught this perfectly.
One of the poems even made me look up a word, ‘ristra.’
Is this chapbook worth $4.99? I find it hard to say as I did not pay for it, but I think that it probably is. I truly enjoyed it and look forward to re-reading it a few more times. That is better than I can say about many books of poetry. If you are unsure then have a look at the publisher’s page for the book and read the poems there and follow a couple of the links provided. All in all, you can easily read 8 poems for free. If that isn’t enough to decide whether you’ll like it or not then I don’t know what is.
Either way, keep an eye on Upper Rubber Boot Books. Maybe check out another of their titles or authors. Affordable poetry ebooks in multiple formats and DRM-free. I like their style!
This is update 11 in the Two-Thirds Book Challenge.
Tracing Stars by Erin E. Moulton
“I loved it. The characters, quirky and real, are like anyone you might know having grown up in New England, especially if you grew up in tourist traps and/or with fisherman. … I couldn’t put it down. I have already recommended it to local awards committees.”
My Two-Thirds Book Challenge – Book 19
Sneaky Pie for President by Rita Mae Brown
“I think it’s fun that, in an election year, RMB really tried to get into the brains of critters and what issues they might get behind. …
While the concept is a really fun way to frame a slice of politics and I appreciate the plot that leads up to Sneaky Pie announcing her candidacy, but most of the time it felt forced. … Probably not the best choice for your first RMB, but definitely worth adding to your list.”
“This book has been a long time in the reading. I started reading it not long after seeing the movie Julie and Julia. …
For as much time as it took me to read the whole thing I can say that it was completely worth it. … The details that are including are sometimes cumbersome to wade through, especially for a slow reader such as myself, but the complete picture that emerges could not be more worth it.”
“The book is adventure, hope, and all things good rolled up into one. I can’t tell you how many times it had me teary eyed or in full blown tears. Happy tears.”
About the lost children of Nepal see also Next Generation Nepal
“… I’m pretty sure it is THE PERFECT BOOK to read in those circumstances. It’s trashy enough – a young married girl seduces a king! who is then seduced by her sister! who convinces him to leave his faithful wife and take on Rome in order to get her in bed! and then maybe seduces her brother because she can’t manage to give the king a male heir! – to pick up and put down between dips in the lake or shots in the arm or x-rays. It’s enthralling enough – lush descriptions of food and dancing and sex and the countryside, at least reasonably accurate English history – to keep the reader distracted from the fact that her arm is in traction and her summer plans have been derailed. And it’s thick enough, at 672 pages, to last through those interminable appointments, waiting for bad news but hoping for good.
In short: an excellent beach read. Maybe not an excellent READ, but an excellent beach read, and just what the doctor ordered for my broken arm summer.”
Miss E wasn’t all that satisfied with this book and its approach to the topic. But since slowness is its topic I’ll refrain from attempting to abstract her review and leave it to you to mosey on over to that link and read it for yourself.
Well, folks and 2/3 Challenge readers, only one more month left. Will we individually attain our stated goals? We will be OK with ourselves even if we don’t? Big questions that cannot be answered until next month. Which, at this point, is in two more weeks.
Sorry for the late post again this month. Two trips over the Cascades to Corvallis so Sara could attend training were the main delaying factors this month.
This is update 10 in the Two-Thirds Book Challenge.
Sorry this is so late but we were moving. As it is, we are still surrounded by boxes and my computer is at a very makeshift, extremely unergonomical desk. But I am digressing from the task at hand and best finish before the task is upon me again for this month.
My Two-Thirds Book Challenge – Book 13
Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
“This story spins current culture out to an extreme, but frighteningly plausible, future.” … “It isn’t hard to see why this story is considered one of the best modern sci-fi books. There is no explicit statement about why this world is as it is, you’re left to come to your own conclusions about how our current world leads to this one, with only small hints as to the major defining factors.”
My Two-Thirds Book Challenge – Book 14
Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris
She’ll be sad to see the series end, “even if it is reading candy.”
My Two-Thirds Book Challenge – Book 15
Home by Toni Morrison
This was a 5 star book for Helen.
“This story is short for Morrison and offers what reads like a small slice of life. But, on further examination, it covers a full and varied cross-section of topics including southern life, siblings, eugenics, post-war trauma, family life, folk lore, loss, love, poverty, mental health, women’s health, childhood, war, education, country life, city life, and so much more.”
My Two-Thirds Book Challenge – Book 16
Maus I: A Survivor’s Tale: My Father Bleeds History by Art Spiegelman
Another 5 star book for Helen. “As indicated by anyone ever, this book is awesome.”
My Two-Thirds Book Challenge – Book 17
Maus II: A Survivor’s Tale: And Here My Troubles Began by Art Spiegelman
“Something about part two feels a little out of balance. … That said, the story itself is a fitting conclusion and still excellent, I just wish whatever extra bit was shoehorned in there had been left out, even if I can’t adequately identify it!”
2/3 BOOK CHALLENGE: LET THE GREAT WORLD SPIN
Let The Great World Spin by Colum McCann
I cannot even begin to do justice to Miss E’s comments on this book. Please read them for yourself.
That’s it for this month, folks.
This is update 9 in the Two-Thirds Book Challenge.
It looks like E was the only one able to get some reading done and to write about it during this scorcher of a month. So without further ado, here’s E on
And Runaway is subtle. This review by Jonathan Franzen captures the beauty and challenge of Munro’s writing – it focuses on small but compellingly human stories. Nothing happens on a historically momentous scale, but the stories she tells are full of those small events that feel historically momentous: meeting a stranger, deciding to leave, making a promise, learning the truth, falling in love, remembering.
Since I am in the process of moving—oh, I haven’t mentioned that here, have I?—and will be in the last days of the process at the start of August, next month’s post will probably be a little bit late.
Guess I better post something this weekend about the move.