Cascades Crossing

Pale purple irises along US 20 in Willamette National Forest

Pale purple irises along US 20 in Willamette National Forest, Oregon

Cresting the summit we move from high desert and pine, pine, pine to mixed forests, moss and ferns and a colorful, changing assortment of wildflowers. Pale purple mountain irises call me to turn around on the narrow winding road. A cascade not-so-gently gurgles and pulses alongside the road, sometimes visible and sometimes not. The raucous remnants of fires past are replaced by the quiet of dripping water.

Mountain stream along US 20 in Willamette National Forest, Oregon

Mountain stream along US 20 in Willamette National Forest, Oregon

This is based on my first experience with crossing the Cascades, from the high desert to the rain forest side, back on 11 June 2012. We were on our way from Bend to Corvallis for Sara’s second interview. Her first was at OSU-Cascades in Bend earlier in the day and the second was at OSU (proper) in Corvallis the next day. We were taking US 20 and the Santiam Pass through the Willamette National Forest.

The change was dramatic and almost instantaneous, although it continued to gradually change and to get wetter and wetter. There are, of course, many microclimates in both regions. Eventually we emerged from the forest into the Willamette Valley and another kind of lush growth, a far more managed growth.

The initial thoughts (between the two top photos) were written down the day after, about 18 hours after the experience.

The high desert side seems to primarily consist of juniper, assorted pines, and a variety of small shrub-like plants, with wide open space on the ground beneath the canopy. The colors consist of mostly browns and grays from the ground up into the trunks of often massive trees. Only in the upper reaches of the trees where needles remain and in the leaves of some of the bushes is there much green. Up near the summit, black becomes frequently prominent in the burnt and charred remains of trees and on the soil itself from the more frequent forest fires, and in the exposed, alien looking terrain of past volcanic cataclysms.

Once over the pass the greens quickly intrude. Everywhere. The pines and conifers are less scraggly. More and more deciduous trees force their way in. Ferns and other low-lying, often flowering, plants begin to fill in the spaces between trees. The plants force their way up to the roadside and begin to close off the view into the forest. In short order, moss is hanging from the trees. Everything is a riot of green with little room for other colors, except the assorted wildflowers seen along the roadside, and even they are surrounded and nourished by green. Even the browns of the tree trunks are quickly covered in mosses and vines and all sorts of green.

Water can be heard splashing along somewhere near the edge, sometimes nearer, sometimes receding. Glimpses can be seen—through the dappled light—of a growing mountain stream. As stream after stream spills into it, it quickly becomes the South Santiam River, which more or less parallels US 20 for much of the way down into the valley, first on the left and then on the right.

The only other time I had driven over true mountains was in Europe—Southern Germany through Switzerland to Mont Blanc and so on. But there, the changes are not nearly so dramatic. Certainly they are dramatic but in vastly different ways. Then again, it has been many years since that trip. I have been in or along assorted other mountains—Ozarks, Blue Ridges, and a few others—but, again, the changes are not so dramatic, at least not along my direction of travel.

I may have been driving the rented car but nonetheless the profound changes grabbed me in my soul and settled deeply. We have been over the Cascades a few more times since, although we have taken some different routes along with the same one but in reverse, and the changes are equally profound no matter which way you cross the Cascades from Bend to Corvallis or Eugene or Portland. I hope to make the crossing many more times and even to spend a fair bit of time up their on foot. I only hope that it won’t be in winter.

The included photos are of the pale purple irises that called me to turn around and of the mountain stream cascading near the road.

Pale purple irises along US 20 in Willamette National Forest, Oregon

Pale purple irises along US 20 in Willamette National Forest, Oregon

Thank you, my love, for bringing me to Central Oregon.

Ingram, Hiss of Leaves

Hiss of LeavesT. D. Ingram; Upper Rubber Boot 2012WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

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.

Several of the poems can be found online, including “noonday heat”.  If you like dragonflies and haiku check that out. The publisher’s page for the book has a few and points to several others.

On to the book itself …

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”:

bottle caps
stuck in blacktop
small planets

One my favorites, “the brightness”:

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!

Doty, The Art of Description: World into Word

The art of description: world into wordMark Doty; Graywolf Press 2010WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

I really enjoyed this book while it was utterly frustrating at the same time.

It opens with an epigraph by Lyn Hejinian: “We delight in our sensuous involvement with the materials of language, we long to join words to the world—to close the gap between ourselves and things—and suffer from doubt and anxiety because of our inability to do so.”

My own experiences with attempting to turn the world into words, whether in prosaic conversation or in my more lyrical moments, are reflected in Doty’s attempt at explaining ‘how’ to do something inherently undoable, while my rational, logical side kept screaming “Just tell me what to do.” In reality, I know that my experience is correct, and while some people may be better at it or find it easier, that this is our essential existential condition.


  • World into Word
  • A Tremendous Fish
  • Remembered Stars
  • Instruction and Resistance
  • Four Sunflowers
  • Description’s Alphabet [a letter-by-letter romp through selected concepts/ideas]

Some of my favorite quotes:

• “each descriptive act is one attempt to render the world, subject to revision. Perception is provisional; it gropes, considers, hypothesizes. Saying is now a problematic act, not a given; one might name what one sees this way, but there’s also that one, and that one.” 19

• “Poetry concretizes the singular, unrepeatable moment; it hammers out of speech a form for how it feels to be oneself.” 21

• “That is what artistic work and child’s play have in common; both, at their fullest, are experiences of being lost in the present, entirely occupied.” 23 [flow]

• “It’s the unsayability of what being is that drives the poet to speak…” 30

• “saying what you see and saying what you see.” 45

• Incomplete: “The power of this strategy is partly a function of the humility of the speaker, who does not presume knowledge, but involves us in his active quest for it, and takes the limits of language and understanding not as a reason for silence.” 89

• Uncertainty: “Questions are always a little more trustworthy than answers. And even if what is said does not take the rhetorical form of a question, the best descriptions contain room for that which must remain indeterminate; they somehow manage to acknowledge the fact of limit.” 126

This book is part of the usually high-quality The Art of series, which is a series of smallish books on topics of the writing craft. I have read a couple of these and have one more that I recently acquired.

I have and have read The Art of the Poetic Line by James Longenbach, which I remember finding useful. Waiting for me to read is Dean Young’s The Art of Recklessness: Poetry as Assertive Force and Contradiction.

I also read Ellen Bryan Voigt’s The Art of Syntax: Rhythm of Thought, Rhythm of Song and I pretty much hated it. It may, in fact, be an excellent book but she realizes entirely on music theory and concepts to discuss syntax and seeing as my knowledge of music theory is pretty much deficient I couldn’t understand what she was trying to tell me. While her method may be quite valuable, there are also other ways to discuss poetic syntax and I guess I needed one of those. I certainly need to learn more about musical concepts and theory also. That is a given.

If you are interested in writing, be it fiction, nonfiction or poetry, I suggest you at least prod the books in this series.

Emmons, Baseball nights and DDT

Baseball Nights And DDTJeanne Emmons; Pecan Grove Pr 2005WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

This is an excellent book of poems which consists of four sections: “Refinery,” “Cooking from Scratch,” “Possessions,” and “The Sound of One Hand.” Amongst the poems of each section is a poem of the same title, except in “Possessions” where the poem is actually “The Possession of Susan Smith.”

This is the second of Emmons’ three books of poems; the first being Rootbound and the third The Glove of the World. I have not yet read the third book.

Full disclosure time: Jeanne Emmons is a friend of mine and the professor I have taken the most classes from at Briar Cliff. Other than providing me a deeper knowledge of the poet, which helps in placing the poet in relation to some of the subject matter of the poems, I do not think it colors my judgement of the poems in the slightest. These are powerful poems whether or not I have more insight into some of them than the general reader of them does.

The poems in “Refinery” center around the author’s growing up in south Texas: Halloween, the baseball nights and DDT of the title, Southern Baptist churchgoing, segregation, living in a refinery town. “Cooking from Scratch” encompasses relationships and where they lay in time; friends, family—living and gone—make their appearance. The third section, “Possessions” contains exactly what it says, the things that possess others and ourselves: gardens, travel, names and events in the news, mythology. The last section, “The Sound of One Hand,” consists of poems about Emmons’ father and their complex relationship and the whole book is dedicated to her father, Winfred S. Emmons, who passed in 2000.

There are so many poems I’d like to share with you or comment on but I’ll keep it to a bare minimum.

On her parents’ wedding night, from “Fantasia Reissued”:

That year, someone would split the atom,
and Bald Mountain would soon be racked
with thunderbolts and deadly rain,
but they held out hope and loved each other
with pink parasols, one after the other,
opening and opening in the darkened theater.

“Contingency” is one of the most beautifully and quietly erotic poems that I have ever read, even more so since there is nothing explicit in it.

“Medusa” is a wonderful reinterpretation of the boy-meets-girl story.

Since I cannot transcribe the whole thing, go find a copy and read them. You will be rewarded.


Wilkins, Ragged Point Road: Poems

Main Street Rag’s Editor’s Choice Chapbook Series.

Joe gave a reading at Briar Cliff University on Wednesday, 8 February, where I picked up this and his newest book of poems, Killing the Murnion Dogs.

I enjoyed the reading but still I enjoyed these poems much more than I expected. They are poems of place, of family, of loss. They are, in fact, elegies to life; by this, I mean ‘elegy’ in the non-formal or technical sense. In response to a question, Joe stated that “Our lives are lessons in loss.” While they are, or can be, many things, our lives most certainly are lessons in loss. And in these poems the lessons are the stars even while, or though, the loss is poignant.

The places of the poems are primarily three: eastern Montana where Joe grew up; Sunflower, Mississippi where Joe taught high school for a couple of years; and Memphis. The ‘place’ that comes through from all of these locations is palpable and, often, haunting.

Relationships are primarily familial, but are also to places, to the land, and to bodies. That is, they are embodied poems. They are about living and about being, and about one’s (be it the author, the voice of a poem, or the reader’s) relationship to that living and being.

The book is divided into two sections: Old Highway 49 and Ragged Point Road. The Mississippi and Memphis poems are in the first; there are twelve. The Montana ones in Ragged Point Road; there are fourteen.

My favorite poem, on a first reading of the book, is “Moth,” from the first section. Joe read a couple poems included in this book on Wednesday, but, sadly, not “Moth.”

I am definitely looking forward to reading Killing the Murnion Dogs. I ought mention that Joe also has a memoir out, The Mountain and the Fathers: Growing up on the Big Dry, from which he also read. I did not buy it, as I do not currently read memoirs, but I truly did like what I heard and I may check it out at some point.

I highly recommended Ragged Point Road!


My friend Jess talked me into participating in JaPoWriMo, or January Poetry Writing Month. At least that is how I am parsing it out.

The idea is simply to write one poem a day. She insisted they could be a short as haiku and that there was no requirement for them to be any good. I am sharing them with her and my wife, of course and, so far, one or two with the odd other here and there.

Much of my month is taken up with my Grimm’s Fairy Tale class and editing and other magazine production duties putting together this year’s issue of the Briar Cliff Review. Thus, a couple have been about Grimm’s; I foresee one or more about editing; I have written a couple about books, those I’ve read and those I won’t be reading (end-of-2011 book post); one about meetings (after a long meeting on Friday); one about our SirsiDynix Symphony ILS (subject of said and several other meetings); one about not having a subject; and so on.

There is no need to worry—not much anyway— as I will not be sharing all of them with you here. Many of them are bad, and I doubt that any of them are actually good. But I agreed to commit to this writing a poem a day in an otherwise already quite busy month as I hoped that more writing, even if mostly tossed off, would help me in assorted ways as a poet and a writer. The bottom-line is that I am a lazy poet. Perhaps this will cultivate a habit, perhaps this will leave me with a few choice phrases or lines or ideas, perhaps nothing will come of it.

With all of that said, I would like to share two that I wrote in response to my Grimm’s class. The first was written about 15 minutes before the class met for the first time; the second was written this morning and is a conflation of “Snow-white and Rose-red” and “Little Snow White,” which we read for and discussed this past Friday, along with other generic thoughts on the role of “beauty” in the tales we’ve read so far (~10).


Grimm’s excitement today
Innocents start to play
Villains and ogres slay
Justice wins come what may

3 January 2012

Beauty for its own sake, enticement.
Or is it really entrapment?

The hunter spares her …
The wicked queen poisons her …
The dwarves domesticate her …
The prince wants her … dead and mute.

Snow-white. Rose-red. Two
Halves of the same girl.
A maiden on the edge
Of womanhood.

Tame the bear,
Emasculate the dwarf,
Remain kind to the vile.
Gentleness, purity, innocence

Retained. These are the steps to
Make oneself a woman.
Chaste, yet chargedly erotic.
Snow-white. Rose-red.


8 January 2012

I may spend some time with the second as it could undoubtedly be improved. But, considering that I wrote it in about 10 minutes this morning I can live with it.

Sexton, Transformations

Brutal. Unflinching. Caustic. Anne Sexton let loose on fairy tales.

This is another book in my Two-Thirds Book Challenge.

There isn’t a lot to say here unless one is a fan of Sexton. We read a few of these along with many other Sexton poems (and those of Sylvia Plath) in the Madwomen Poets class I took in fall of 2010. I found an excellent copy of this in a lovely used bookstore (Defunct Books) in Iowa City sometime after the class was over so I bought it.

There is a forward by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. but I honestly don’t know what role it is supposed to play. From a purely mercenary capitalistic perspective I guess it was even better than a blurb by a “name.” ::sigh::

These are not accessible poems to the uninitiated. Clearly, most adults brought up on the Disney-fied versions of fairy tales can appreciate some of what is going on here. But Sexton pulls no punches and, as she is a confessional poet, one needs to know her story.

Sex and death. The never-ending story. Incest. (Real or contrived.) Old aunt. Father. Mixed in with the typical fare of lust, greed, hate, pride, and all of the other human foibles.

The poems are:

  • The Gold Key
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  • The White Snake
  • Rumpelstiltskin
  • The Little Peasant
  • Godfather Death
  • Rapunzel
  • Iron Hans
  • Cinderella
  • One-Eye, Two-Eyes, Three-Eyes
  • The Wonderful Musician
  • Red Riding Hood
  • The Maiden Without Hands
  • The Twelve Dancing Princesses
  • The Frog Prince
  • Hansel and Gretel
  • Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty)

Some excerpts to whet your appetite (or not):

From “Iron Hans” p. 50

“Without Thorazine
or benefit of psychotherapy
Iron Hans was transformed.
no need for Master Medical;
no need for electroshock—
merely bewitched all along.
Just as the frog who was a prince.
Just as the madman his simple boyhood.”

Opening to “Cinderella” p. 53

“You always read about it:
the plumber with twelve children
who wins the Irish Sweepstakes.
From toilets to riches.
That story.

Or the nursemaid,
some luscious sweet from Denmark
who captures the oldest son’s heart.
From diapers to Dior.
That story.


From “One-Eye, Two-Eyes, Three-Eyes” p. 60-61

“The unusual needs to be commented upon…

The idiot child,
a stuffed doll who can only masturbate.
The hunchback carrying his hump
like a bag of onions…
Oh how we treasure
their scenic value.”

One group I can recommend this book of transformed fairy tales to, besides Sexton fans who have yet to read this, is those interested in critiques of the “traditional” Disney-fied, male-centered fairy/folk tale.

Sexton, as usual, is quite powerful.


Books Read in 2011

Having learned from the painful construction of last (and previous) year’s list here are the links to assorted places to find good first approximations of which books I read in 2011:

And I must say that this is far easier. There was still a lot of effort to get good entries into Zotero, to add or fix records at Open Library and/or goodreads. But that all had to be done previously and then there was still all of the HTML/CSS wrangling to be done, which I skipped this year.


In 2011, based on other data, it appears I read 96 books, am currently still reading 9 books (some far more actively than others), and have given up on 6 books.

Assorted breakdowns

Fiction: 15
Nonfiction: 29
Poetry: 33 + 2 about poetry
Graphic novels: 17

Continued from 2010: 1 (poetry)
Read & Reread: 2 (2nd reading not counted in total: Dickens’ Hard Times; Brontë’s, Jane Eyre)
Ebooks: 6 Finished (1 poetry, 4 fiction, 1 nonfiction), 2 Not finished (1 about poetry, 1 nonfiction), 2 Quit (both nonfiction)

Still reading (9): 7 nonfiction, 1 poetry, 1 about poetry
Gave up (6): 3 nonfiction, 1 fiction, 1 poetry, 1 about poetry

Male authors: 47 different
Female authors: 25 different
2 Male authors: 2 books
2 Female authors: 2 books
1 each: 4 books

Same author, multiple books

Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead): 13
Karen Armstrong: 2
Alan Jacobs: 2
John Maynard Smith: 2

Lee Ann Roripaugh: 3
Pablo Neruda: 2
Billy Collins: 2
Kristen McHenry: 2
Tomas Tranströmer: 2

I reviewed many of these books either here or at goodreads, and in the case of LibraryThing Early Reader books also at LibraryThing. If interested, the easiest way to find my comments would be to use the category Books here at the blog. I did, however, make a few shorter comments on some books at goodreads that I did not post here. I believe that any review I posted at LibraryThing was also posted at goodreads.

A few that I would highly recommend:

  • Rachel Maines, The Technology of Orgasm
  • Brown & Duguid, The Social Life of Information
  • Erwitt, Personal Exposures (photographs) – wrote about this book for my summer Digital Photography class
  • Abbas, Structures for Organizing Knowledge
  • Bauer, jeni’s splendid ice creams at home
  • Scholes, English After the Fall
  • Selznick, The Invention of Hugo Cabret

 Previous Books Read posts

Reading One to Ten (meme)

Cribbed from Angel at The Itinerant Librarian.

1 The book I am currently reading. Like Angel, I usually have more than one book going. I am currently reading the following: The Complete Poems of Marianne Moore; Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces; Hermann Melville’s Billy Budd and other stories; and about a half dozen others that I have been stopped on for a while now.

2 The last book I finished. Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire. Last night. My comments are here.

3 The next book I want to read. Again, ditto Angel, “there are all sorts of books I want to read next.” There are two books from the Library Thing Early Reviewer Program that need to be read so that I can write reviews: Delavier’s Stretching Anatomy and Gerhard Klosch’s Sleeping Better Together. I will probably take the stretching book with me on our trip to DC to visit family for Christmas. Then there are the books on my Two-Thirds Book Challenge list: Transformations (poems) by Anne Sexton is near the top of the list due to my Grimm’s Fairytales class starting in early January. Not on that list but recently purchased is Voltaire’s A Pocket Philosophical Dictionary, which I’d like to read prior to Enlightenment Lit in the Spring term. I could go on and on here but I’ll stop. My goodread’s to read shelf would give you a small inkling of possibilities.

4 The last book I bought. On the 10th I bought Voltaire’s A Pocket Philosophical Dictionary (Oxford World’s Classic ed) in a Kindle ed. and I ordered a used copy of Tzvetan Todorov’s A Defence of the Enlightenment from England via abebooks. I have been wanting that book for quite a while now and it is already out of print. I foresee wanting/needing it for Enlightenment Lit for whatever paper topic I choose. I adore Todorov even though I don’t always agree with him. And Voltaire is simply delectable!

5 The last book I was given. Not counting Library Thing Early Reviewer books or books weeded from the collection at BCU, it appears the last book I was given was a copy of Jeni Bauer’s Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams by my daughter for Father’s Day. Eat Jeni’s ice cream! Support Jeni’s! Buy this book and make your own Jeni’s! Did I mention you should eat Jeni’s ice cream? It is beyond awesome!

6 The last book I borrowed from the library. Public: Stephen Fry’s The Ode Less Traveled, which I did not finish but put on my wish list. University: Nobel Prize winner Tomas Tranströmer’s Selected Poems, and Truth Barriers.

8 The last translated book you read. Lysistrata, and the Tranströmers just before that, in November.

9 The book at the top of my Christmas list. Like Angel, the list is not exactly specific to one title but the short list I culled from my Amazon wish list for the more immediate family included: Barbara McAfee’s Full Voice: The Art and Practice of Vocal Presence (seen in GradHacker); James Attlee’s Nocturne: A Journey in Search of Moonlight; Sarah Bakewell’s How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer; Douglas Thomas’ A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change; Gloria Ambrosia’s The Complete Muffin Cookbook: The Ultimate Guide To Making Great Muffins; Borges’ Selected Non-Fictions; Tolkien on Fairy-Stories; Mircea Eliade’s Myths, Dreams and Mysteries. These are all titles both Sara and I would like to read. If I were compiling that list today instead of just a couple of weeks ago it might be quite different as we both have added several (or more) titles to our wish lists. ::sigh::

10 The so-far unpublished book I am most looking forward to reading. Normally, I rarely know about books before they are published unless Amazon manages to send me a timely pre-order email. But. Kickstarter! We helped fund a book on Kickstarter recently so we are looking forward to Kio Stark’s, Don’t Go Back to School: A handbook for learning anything.

Nabokov, Pale Fire


This was the first book I started reading for my Two-Thirds Book Challenge, although it is the second one that I finished.

I started reading this on 2 October and read the foreword and the poem itself within the first couple of days of starting. Then I did not get back to it—due to reading other books, Challenge and otherwise—until 26 November. I finished it on 17 December.

**Possible (minimal) spoiler alert**

Pale Fire is an odd text, classified by some as “Experimental fiction” (LCSH). The text proper consists of a foreword, “Pale Fire: A Poem in Four Cantos,” commentary, and an index. The poem is by one John Shade, an Appalachian poet and academic, and it was composed “during the last twenty days of his life” (Foreword, 9). The rest is purportedly by a Dr. Charles Kinbote, a recent Zemblan émigré, academic and, perhaps, a loony.

The edition we have, the 1992 Everyman’s Library v. 67 has an excellent introduction by Richard Rorty.

Sara suggested that I read the poem first and then go back and read the other material along with the poem it supposedly comments on. I left the introduction until I finished everything else as it contains spoilers. I did read Kinbote’s Foreword and then the poem. Sadly, it then took me about a month and a half to get back to it.

The main text of the book is Kinbote’s commentary on the 999-line poem “Pale Fire.” Some of the comments are short and to the point while many are long, rambling, and tell a completely different story than the one(s) the poet Shade was addressing in his poem. What is fact and what is not? What is real and what is fiction? What is fiction yet real? Is Kinbote who he claims to be? Is he as loony as the killer may be?

The index, besides being an index, is also a glossary, a gazetteer, a who’s who, and part of the work proper. Ensure that you read it.

I did enjoy Pale Fire although I doubt that I yet appreciate it as much as a few trusted recommenders do. I will need to reread it some day to better appreciate it in all its nuances: hidden, overt, and otherwise. Nabokov is a master of indirection as Rorty points out in his introduction.

Gingko Press has a new edition of Pale Fire out this year that Gabe Habash at the Publishers Weekly news blog Pwxyz called “The Most Beautiful Book of the Year.” Seeing as Sara has added this to her wishlist and, admittedly, as I am kind of lusting over it too we might be able to have a completely different kind of textual experience when we reread the work. I have read a few other reviews of this Gingko Press edition and it is supposedly both exquisite and provides an experience better suited to how both “Pale Fire” and Pale Fire are described to have come about.