Poetry For Thought - Man in Stream

Man in Stream
by Rosanna Warren

You stand in the brook, mud smearing
your forearms, a bloodied mosquito on your brow,
your yellow T-shirt dampened to your chest
as the current flees between your legs,
amber, verdigris, unraveling
today's story, last night's travail...

You stare at the father beaver, eye to eye,
but he outstares you--you who trespass in his world,
who have, however unwilling, yanked out his fort,
stick by tooth-gnarled, mud-clabbered stick,
though you whistle vespers to the wood thrush
and trace flame-flicker in the grain of yellow birch.

Death outpaces us. Upended roots
of fallen trees still cling to moss-furred granite.
Lichen smolders on wood-rot, fungus trails in wisps.
I wanted a day with cracks, to let the godlight in.
The forest is always a nocturne, but it gleams,
the birch tree tosses its change from palm to palm,

and we who unmake are ourselves unmade
if we know, if only we know
how to give ourselves in this untendered light.


Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. To participate, grab your current read, open to a random page and share a few sentences. Don't include spoilers but do include the title and author. 
I have seen them (ladies, I am sorry to say, as well as gentlemen) go out, day after fay, for example, with empty pill-boxes, and catch newts, and beetles, and spiders, and frogs, and come home and stick pins through the miserable wretches, or cut them up, without a pang of remorse, into little pieces.
p. 36/Location 768 of The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins


Review - The Beautiful and Damned

The Beautiful and Damned
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Pages: 400+


The Beautiful and Damned provides a harrowing look at New York City’s cafe society during the emergence of the Jazz Age. Experiencing this world through the eyes of Anthony Patch, a socialite in want of motivation, direction, and purpose, the reader is introduced to many of the social vices common to the 1920s and still common today. Addressing much of the elitism and decadence common to this period, this mediation on love and morality remains a chilling and provocative read.

My thoughts:

Bilphism – Philosophy
Idleness – Laziness
Wealth – Entitlement
Vanity – Alcoholism

For me these four sets of words sum up the scope of the novel. As a whole, I didn’t really care for the book but there were some good parts, primarily Anthony’s philosophical/poetic musings, many of which I didn’t always agree with. I think Fitzgerald wrote this with the intention of trying to make a point about a generation of youths with a displaced sense of entitlement, a lack of direction and a borderline insane resistance to find direction.  
‘Anthony Patch with no record of achievement, without courage, without strength to be satisfied with truth when it was given him. Oh, he was a pretentious fool, making careers out of cocktails and meanwhile regretting, weakly and secretly, the collapse of an insufficient and wretched idealism’ p.24 Location 593
Although Anthony Patch is basically a waste, he’s not totally unlikeable. He experiences bouts of both depression and insecurity, and happiness and nervous excitement, as I’m sure we all do. But then he meets Gloria…This Gloria is the quintessence of beauty, a society girl. If she is ugly in anyway, it would be because she’s excessively selfish and full of herself. Fitzgerald is pretty heavy-handed with the theme of beauty. He even includes a lengthy dialogue between Beauty and The Voice at the beginning of the novel.
‘The Voice: Yes, it is truly a melancholy spectacle. Women with receding chins and shapeless noses go about in broad daylight saying “Do this!” and “Do that!” and all the men, even those of great wealth, obey implicitly their women…
Beauty: But this can’t be true! I can understand of course, their obedience to women of charm—but to fat women? To bony women? To women with scrawny cheeks?' p.12 Location 298
Personalities like Gloria are preoccupied with the decadence of beauty, the ability to keep up outward appearance for dignity and honor. Together Anthony and Gloria become drunk off their own egos; too proud to admit their faults. They’re that really annoying couple who argue all the time but never break up. They go on enabling each other’s bad habits and pretending that all is well in front of their friends. It makes sense that they would marry. They go on together being downright silly; blowing money they don’t have, throwing parties, refusing to do anything to earn a living. All this happens in anticipation of the death of Anthony’s grandfather, Adam Patch, a very rich man whose name carries weight in high society. There is a point in the novel where Anthony joins the military and is separated from Gloria for a time. The military experience seems to purge him of the idle poison…for a little while anyways.
'As the heat faded, Anthony found himself increasingly glad to be alive. Renewed strangely through the body, he worried little and existed in the present with a sort of animal content. It was not that Gloria or the life that Gloria represented was less often in his thoughts—it was simply that she became day-by-day, less real, less vivid' p.145 Location 3564
But eventually Anthony and Gloria reconnect and settle back into their old ways. And because of their silliness and laziness, they lose the weak identities they’ve established for themselves while waiting for the inheritance money (Although I would also argue they never had a true identity, just an ideal and beauty). Fittingly they aren’t left a dime in the will. I guess the moral of the story is find something to do, even when it seems like there’s nothing to do because there’s always something to do, and you’ll be a better person for doing it. Especially since the alternative is getting piss drunk every day and arguing with your spouse. 
The Beautiful and Damned

Two stars.

Poetry For Thought - Maenads

*Maenads - Vitaly Volf*

by Ursula K. LeGuin

Somewhere I read
that when they finally staggered off the mountain
into some strange town, past drunk,
hoarse, half naked, blear-eyed,
blood dried under broken nails
and across young thighs,
but still jeering and joking, still trying
to dance, lurching and yelling, but falling
dead asleep by the market stalls,
sprawled helpless, flat out, then
middle-aged women,
respectable housewives,
would come and stand nightlong in the agora
as ewes and cows in the night fields,
guarding, watching them
as their mothers
watched over them.
And no man
that fierce decorum.


Author-On-Author Insults

I was surfing the world wide web and stumbled across A Solitary Passion, a pretty cool blog which posted a great list of insults stated by one notable writer about another. This caught my attention because most of my friends know how much I strongly dislike anything Jane Austen, John Steinbeck or James Joyce. The insults made me laugh so I thought I'd share a few:  

Virginia Woolf on James Joyce:
“[Ulysses is] the work of a queasy undergraduate scratching his pimples.”
Ernest Hemingway on William Faulkner:
“Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?” 
Vladimir Nabokov on Ernest Hemingway:  
“As to Hemingway, I read him for the first time in the early ‘forties, something about bells, balls and bulls, and loathed it.” 
James Dickey on Steinbeck:
"I can't read ten pages of Steinbeck without throwing up." 
Mark Twain on Jane Austen:
"Every time I read ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone.” 
The last one is my favorite. I'm sure everyone has that one author (or handful of writers) that really annoys them. Read more insults here --  'Nastiest Literary Insults of All Time'


Poetry for Thought - The Applicant

The Applicant
by Slyvia Plath

First, are you our sort of a person?
Do you wear
A glass eye, false teeth or a crutch,
A brace or a hook,
Rubber breasts or a rubber crotch,

Stitches to show something's missing? No, no? Then
How can we give you a thing?
Stop crying.
Open your hand.
Empty? Empty. Here is a hand

To fill it and willing
To bring teacups and roll away headaches
And do whatever you tell it.
Will you marry it?
It is guaranteed

To thumb shut your eyes at the end
And dissolve of sorrow.
We make new stock from the salt.
I notice you are stark naked.
How about this suit----

Black and stiff, but not a bad fit.
Will you marry it?
It is waterproof, shatterproof, proof
Against fire and bombs through the roof.
Believe me, they'll bury you in it.

Now your head, excuse me, is empty.
I have the ticket for that.
Come here, sweetie, out of the closet.
Well, what do you think of that ?
Naked as paper to start

But in twenty-five years she'll be silver,
In fifty, gold.
A living doll, everywhere you look.
It can sew, it can cook,
It can talk, talk , talk.

It works, there is nothing wrong with it.
You have a hole, it's a poultice.
You have an eye, it's an image.
My boy, it's your last resort.
Will you marry it, marry it, marry it. 


Review - A Game of Thrones

A Game of Thrones
Author: George R.R Martin
Pages: 800+

Publisher's Description:

In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the North of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom's protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lies the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: game of thrones. 

My thoughts:

I finally finished the book! *celebratory dance* Never in the history of everdom has it taken me so long to read a book. And it's not that lengthy stories deter me, I just couldn't power through this one for some reason. So where to begin...well for me my interest wasn't truly piqued until about midway through the book. I found myself reading only 20 to 30 pages at a time into the 400s, but once I hit halfway, I would read no less than 60 pages per sitting. And this is because the action/plot picks up considerably. It seemed the first half is dedicated to introducing all the characters, their backgrounds and their woes. 

There are quite a few characters (and woes) to keep up with, and I very quickly became attached to some characters, and to others not so much. Let's see...I liked: Jon Snow (because I have a soft-spot for outcasts and loners), Robb Stark (performed well under pressure), Tyrion Lannister (smart-ass and perfect example of brains over brawn), and Arya Stark (goes against the grain) The characters I didn't like that much were Sansa Stark (spoiled brat. uppity. naive), and Catelyn Stark (self-righteous much?? and she's mean to Jon Snow).

I was on the fence about Daenerys' character...I understand how she might fit into the whole scheme of things, but there was a still a disconnection, and at this point, I'm not sure if I should be rooting for or against her. Eddard Stark was another one that I went back and forth about. I just feel like he knew he was dealing with snakes, but he still went against his gut and so he got bitten. He ended up looking the fool and got his head lopped off. I like that he was loyal, but at some point he had to realize (and he does, in an untimely fashion) his own stupidity, so I had little pity for he who does too little too late in a life or death situation...what was the saying again: you either live or die in a game of thrones? or something like that. 

This book is the first in a series and I wasn't sure if I was going to pick up the second book anytime soon, however, the end scene in the last chapter with Daenerys was truly a 'What-the-hell?' moment, thus I'm inclined to continue the series much sooner rather than later. 

Really good storytelling and interesting characters.

A Game of Thrones

Four stars.


Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by Miz B of Should Be Reading. To participate, grab your current read, open to a random page and share a few sentences. Don't include spoilers, but do include the title and author.
It was the first time I ever really saw how young she was. We played in the sand, and then we went way out and let the swells rock us. I liked my head to the waves, she liked her feet. We lay there, face to face, and held hands underwater. I looked up at the sky. It was all you could see. I thought about God.
p.28 of The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain


Review - The Postman Always Rings Twice


The Postman Always Rings Twice
Author: James M. Cain
Pages: 100+

Publisher's Description:
An amoral young tramp. A beautiful, sullen woman with an inconvenient husband. A problem that has only one grisly solution--a solution that only creates other problems that no one can ever solve. 

My thoughts: 
I enjoyed this super-quick, afternoon read about Frank Chambers' and Cora Papadakis' encounter with the Postman. At first I couldn't pinpoint the Postman's true identity, being that he was an implied character of sorts. Was he Moira or Karma? --turns out he was both. He gives himself away near the end,  as soon as Cora revealed her pregnancy to Frank:
Now listen to me Frank. All that time, I was out there, waiting for the funeral to be over, I thought about it. What it would mean to us. Because we took a life didn't we? And now we're going to give one back (109)
At this point Frank and Cora now realize his influence in the whole scheme, but it's too late; both will have to pay. The couple initially comes into contact with the Postman after their first attempt at murdering Cora's husband, Nick Papadakis. (Why do they want to murder him again? He's an inconvenient husband, that's why. Frank wants Cora, and Cora wants Frank but they can't be together because she's Mrs. Papadakis. The only obstacle standing in the way of their violent, whirlwind romance is Papadakis himself. And during a time of difficulty and desperation, the only logical solution is to murder him). A curious cat foils the first plan, but a suspicious cop isn't suspicious enough to call out Frank and Cora. At this point  it's hard to determine if the Postman is working for them, or against them. The answer becomes less obscure after their second and successful attempt at murder of Nick Papadakis. The interaction with Sackett and Katz only generates more issues for Frank and Cora; after neither is held responsible for the murder, not only do they risk the chance of blackmail, they are deeply indebted morally. In the end, they both pay for their crimes; Frank on Death Row and Cora and her unborn child are killed in an automobile accident.

Here are a few lines worthy or sharing:
I overtook a big truck. It had a sign on the back, Sound Your Horn, the Road Is Yours. I banged on the horn, and it kept right down the middle. I couldn't pass on the left, because a whole line of cars was coming toward me. I pulled out to the right and stepped on it. She screamed. I never saw the culvert wall  (112)
There's a guy in No.7 that murdered his brother, and says he didn't really do it, his subconscious did it. I asked him what that meant, and he says you got two selves, one that you know about and the other that you don't know about, because it's subconscious. Did I really do it, and not know it? (116)
A lot happens in these 116 pages and despite the lack of an actual postman, Cain's clean and concise writing style is something to be admired...Maybe I'm all wrong about the Postman; maybe it's not Moira or Karma, but that's my interpretation. I read somewhere that the title had something to do with Cain waiting for a postman to deliver a manuscript or something like that?...anyways, I look forward to watching a couple of the movie adaptations and possibly reading Double Indemnity

The Postman Always Rings Twice
Four stars

Smooth Criminals, Reading Challenge for 2012

Following the Herd

I have one more book to read in order to finish the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, and I'm half way through A Game of Thrones (yes, I'm still on the first book) of A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. But I'm already thinking about the next popular/trending books to read:

I'm a little late on this one. Oh well.
*European Reading Challenge 2012 - Sweden*

and probably...

My reasons for wanting to read this book: (1) A friend recommended it (2) My only hang-up about the Hunger Games so far, is the lack of violence and according to one review, this is Hunger Games for the "big-boys".... and (3) With this book, I hope to get all things related to survival/fighting to the death/last man standing of teenagers out of my system for awhile.


Poetry For Thought - Spring is like a perhaps hand

Spring is like a perhaps hand
by E. E. Cummings 


Spring is like a perhaps hand
(which comes carefully
out of Nowhere) arranging
a window,into which people look (while
people stare
arranging and changing placing
carefully there a strange
thing and a known thing here)

changing everything carefully

spring is like a perhaps
Hand in a window
(carefully to
and fro moving New and
Old things,while
people stare carefull
moving a perhaps
fraction of flower here placing
an inch of air there)

without breaking anything.


Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. To participate, grab your current read, open to a random page and share a few sentences. Don't include spoilers, but do include the title and author.
A striding huntsman had been worked in scarlet thread upon the breast of the fat boy's fur-trimmed surcoat. Jon did not recognize the sigil. Sir Alliser Thorne looked over his new charge and said, 'It would seem they have run short of poachers and thieves down south. Now they send us pigs to man the Wall. Is fur and velvet your notion of armor, My Lord of Ham?
p. 260 of Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin