End of Summer Check-In


It's the end of summer. I don't know about you but where I live, we've already had some chilly Fall mornings and nights. Seasons change as do our reading habits...blogging habits. With cooler weather at our doorstep, I'll probably be reading a lot more. Here's what I've read since the last time I posted anything:

Wild Seed by Octavia Butler
Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver
Hunger by Knut Hamsun

I'm currently in the middle of a great book! It's longer than my average read so it's taking me a little while to get through it--but it's so good! I'd love to tell you all about it, but you'll just have to check out my new site to see what it is: A Morose Bookshelf


Review - On the Beach


“It’s going to go on spreading down here, southwards, till it gets to us?”

 “That’s what they say.”


“Can’t anything be done to stop it?”

He shook his head. “Not a thing. It’s the winds. It’s mighty difficult to dodge what’s carried on the wind. You just can’t do it. You’ve got to take what’s coming to you, and make the best of it.” (39)
It’s the end of world.

But the end is not instant. It’s gradual…yet still relatively quick—between six to nine months.

So what do you do? Maybe it depends on your job, your family, your faith…your view of death.

Maybe it depends on how you go out…let’s say radioactive poisoning?

Yeah, that’s it. Radioactive poisoning carried by the winds to your neighborhoods, to your doorstep, through the cracks of your window screens, in the water you drink and in the air you breathe while you sleep.

That’s how you’ll get. And there isn’t a thing you can do about it…Or is there?

Read the rest of the review here at the new site for A Morose Bookshelf.


Midsummer Check-In


I haven't posted in a while but I have been reading. Albeit at a very casual and leisurely pace.

I'm currently reading two books and should have reviews posted by next week at some point (fingers crossed) I posted write ups on Orleans by Sherri L. Smith and The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammet earlier this month. You might notice they aren't in the archives--why is that you ask?

Because they're on the new site!

You'll have to check out the new site for my most recent thoughts and updates. That is where all my write ups will be from now on.

Just a reminder really...so what do you need to take from this post:

1. Visit the new site
2. I AM reading...just slowly
3. Visit the new site




Reflection on the first half of 2013...

At the beginning of the year I made a note to myself stating how I would connect with more bloggers, read more books and write better reviews. Six months later, I've failed miserably at all three. Well...I like my reviews, they're informal, concise, personal and still informative. So maybe not a complete fail. But definitely failures on the other two.

I still have many books to read for my challenges. My current read is turning out to be a serious roadblock...but I must endure. Also, I decided to change blog platforms earlier this year:

A Morose Bookshelf 

It's not quite where I want it to be, but I really like it so far. Please check it out and let me know what you think...subscribe...leave comments, whatever. Eventually, all my thoughts will be on this new site.

Also--I joined a bookclub the other day. Which is a step for me. So maybe networking with other bookworms and bloggers can still happen. We'll see. I'm not thrilled about the first book because it's YA and dystopia. YA, Dystopia!

I can't get away.

I'm being silly...it could be amazing, right? I'll have to purchase the kindle edition because there is no way in hell I'm paying $18.00 for a hardcover of this book--no way!

So far I've only read few spectacular books...then again I haven't read many books at all. Maybe 15 or so. (Do not judge!) I know once I get past this current book, I'll pick up my reading pace and everything will be good.


Review - The Things They Carried

I was down there with him. I was part of the night. I was the land itself—everything, everywhere—the fireflies and paddies, the midnight rustlings, the cool phosphorescent shimmer of evil—I was atrocity—I was jungle fire, jungle drums—I was the blind stare in the eyes of all those poor, dead, dumbfuck ex-pals of mine—all the pale young corpses, Lee Strunk and Kiowa and Curt Lemon—I was the beast on their lips—I was Nam—the horror, the war (199)
Many people do not like war.

Let’s forget political motivations for a second and briefly talk about realities.

The consequences: a loss of life and youth…of hope. Imagine the psychological game the mind must play on itself—the reasons for action are somewhat abstract, the enemy is blurry and the endgame is hard to realize. Yet all this is irrelevant, because as a soldier you must do as you’re told. You must serve your country. Go to war.

This is the case for all soldiers.

This is the case for many young people.

This was the case for many Vietnam veterans.

And this is the story O’Brien tells.

Read the rest of the review on the new site -- A Morose Bookshelf


Review - Black Betty

Home meant that everybody already knew what you could do and if you did the slightest little thing different they’d laugh you right down into a hole. You lived in that hole. Festered in it. After a while you either accepted your hole or you got out of it (31) 
In this Easy Rawlins mystery we find Easy living with his son Jesus, and other adopted child, Feather. In the heat of an L.A summer, they’re scraping by, but they’re making it. Easy’s ready to settle down with a regular ‘9 to 5’ and abandon the underground private eye practice. He’s ready to get out of his hole because his family needs the consistency and safety. Of course, his desire to do so is blocked by another mystery. This time Easy has to find Black Betty, a woman from his past.

Read the rest of the review on the new site for - A Morose Bookshelf


Review - Go Tell it on the Mountain

But he dropped his eyes, suspecting a flaw in his argument. ‘I just don’t want him beating on me all the time,’ he said at last. ‘I ain’t no dog.’ She sighed, and turned slightly away, looking out of the window. ‘Your Daddy beats you,’ she said, ‘because he loves you.’ (21)
One cannot read this book and overlook the concept of the father. Paternal influence, more specifically, fatherly love is so crucial to the process of self-discovery. The absence of that particular kind of love, damages every single character. Yes, the father; protection, guidance, love. And when that influence is scarce or non-existent, it’s sometimes replaced with a different source, a different paternal institution, a different Father. The Lord.

But this paternal connection doesn’t work for everyone. It’s a source of conflict for the fatherless and loveless. John’s character is the best example of this. At first, John cannot love the Lord because his father loves the Lord, yet the father does not love his son John. It doesn’t make sense to John. Because of his confusion he refuses to be part of anything his father is devoted to. What’s the reason? Why can’t the father love his son?

Read the rest of the review on the new site -- A Morose Bookshelf


Monthly Keyword 2013 Selections (2 of 3)

Hi! It's time for an update:

Okay, so I'm slightly behind on my reading. I'm finishing up my 'March' read...and should begin the 'April' read very soon. That's not too bad, but since it is mid-April, I figured now is a good time to post this. So here's what I'll be reading for the upcoming months.





In all honesty, I'm unsure of the 'August' read...I don't know anything about the author...haven't heard or seen the book anywhere. I picked it from one of those '1001-books-you-must-read' lists because it had the word 'tree' in it. So it may change...if you know anything about it, please share. 

That's it--oh wait, one more thing. New reviews will be posted first at the new site -- A Morose Bookshelf  
Check it out!


Review - The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter


We cannot lift up. Our tongues rot in our mouths from lack of use. Our hearts grow empty and lose strength for our purpose (193)
We’re given a few slices of life, slices of miserable life. Everyone in town is searching for something–an idea, a feeling, or a connection within to verify their existence. What they’re seeking is in other people, in certain routines or motions. But they cannot overcome. Their reasons for being and sustaining are feeble and obscure.

Of all the characters, one in particular, Dr. Copeland, is the most vibrant. Not vibrant in persona, but in his dedication to verify his existence. Dr. Copeland, a black, educated man, in a small Georgian town in the 1930s, is staunch in his convictions because he believes that without them and men like him, the entire black race is doomed to failure; destined to remain at the bottom. Dr. Copeland is also unique because unlike many black people in his community, he does not look to God for empowerment. On the contrary, he looks to worldly solutions.

Some of you young people here this morning may feel the need to be teachers or nurses or leaders of your race. But most of you will be denied. You will have to sell yourselves for a useless purpose in order to keep alive. You will be thrust back and defeated. The young chemist picks cotton. The young writer is unable to learn to read. The teacher is held in useless slavery at some ironing board (193)

John Singer is another character of interest. Strangely enough, Singer is an anomaly in a community of misfits. Not because he cannot hear or speak, but because he seems to be a person everyone else needs. People come to him and talk. Many times Singer offers them simple things that enliven them; food, money, music. Because they can be themselves around him, they value his company and are happier. And when he is gone, they lapse back into desolation.

McCullers captures the gloom of living in a small, southern town, where the heart is a lonely hunter.

Visit the new site for A Morose Bookshelf to check out other reviews.


I'm back! well...sort of.

You may have noticed I haven't been posting lately. My last post was an abrupt 'see ya later' and something about needing a break. Well I've taken a break and I'm ready to return to reading and writing on a regular schedule...except not today, haha.

I'll explain--over said break, my mind wandered and I toyed with the idea of switching platforms, especially since I wasn't actively blogging. And wouldn't you know--I did. Somehow, I did. It's not exactly where I want it yet...but it's pretty darn close.

This site will be up and running for a little while longer. I may even find another use for it, but most of my rambling and musings will occur at this place---> A Morose Bookshelf (same name, new face!)

It would be wonderful if you stopped by and gave feedback and stuff...and subscribed, haha.

Okay, ciao.



A Spring Break of sorts...

Okay, it's not quite Spring and I'm no longer in school which is what usually entitled me to a break but...I need to take some time just because. Also I won't be in an island paradise during said break which makes me incredibly sad...



Poetry for thought - If a Wilderness

If a Wilderness
by Carl Phillips

Then spring came:
                    branches-in-a-wind. . .

I bought a harness, I bought a bridle.
I wagered on God in a kind stranger—
kind at first; strange, then less so—
and I was right.
                The difference between
God and luck is that luck, when it leaves,
does not go far: the idea is to believe
you could almost touch it. . . .

                           Now he's
singing, cadence of a rough sea—A way of
crossing a dark so unspecific, it seems
everywhere: isn't that what singing, once,
was for?
           I lay the harness across my lap,
the bridle beside me for the sweat—the color
and smell of it—that I couldn't, by now,
lift the leather free of, even if I wanted to.

I don't want to.

image: flickr-Robert S. Donovan


The Walking Dead - S3 Ep. 12

Episode 12: Clear

Family Vacation!
Okay, not really. Not even close to one....it would be the most dysfunctional and morbid 'family' trip ever...Rick takes Michonne and Carl out to scout for supplies. Rick chooses to take Michonne more so because he doesn't trust her. Carl shares similar feelings...I think their first stop is in the town Rick and Carl or from...I didn't realize it was so tiny. Literally looks like a town of population 100. Anyways, there doesn't seem to be any guns or food.

She speaks. 
Michonne. She has a voice, she uses her words--finally. And shows us some p-e-r-s-o-n-a-l-i-t-y. She's been so blah and angry up until this point. Small breakthrough in her character development. I'd love to see more. 

Enter Morgan. 
I have to admit. I was shocked to see him again. I wasn't sure when/if they were going to reintroduce him into the show. Morgan has survived and has booby trapped the town to prevent anyone or anything from entering. Rick should take some pointers from him...Morgan has also stashed away what seems to be all the remaining ammunition and weaponry in the Atlanta metropolitan area. This should be good for Rick, Michonne and Carl, except for one thing: Morgan has lost it. Completely. His only function is to 'clear'--eliminate. I thought Rick had it pretty bad, but no, Morgan is on an entirely different level. Fortunately, it works out that when Rick sees what Morgan has become, he realizes what he has to fight for and that he can no longer be a space cadet.

Carl's quest.
In their hometown, Carl feels the need to make his own run alone...to put his life in danger to acquire something. Michonne tags a long for added protection and somehow they end up bonding. It's weird...I understand symbolically why this quest is important to Carl, but realistically--this is the zombie apocalypse! No picture is worth all that. Just sayin'

This is easily the most impressive, most emotional, the best episode this season...and potentially one of the best of the series. Lennie James, really breathes life into Morgan's character and brings something that's been missing this season. You can pull quote after quote from his speech to Rick. Really fantastic.


Review - Things Fall Apart

Things Fall Apart
by Chinua Achebe
200+ pages

Description via Goodreads
It was deeper and more intimate than the fear of evil and capricious gods and of magic, the fear of the forest, and of the forces of nature, malevolent, red in tooth and claw. Okonkwo's fear was greater than these. It was not external but lay deep within himself. It was the fear of himself, lest he should be found to resemble his father (13)
Things Fall Apart is a straightforward story of Okonkwo, an authoritarian and respected figure within his community. Okonkwo is driven solely by his preoccupation with power and rank, which can be traced back to his relationship with his father, a lazy and non prosperous man. Regardless of the circumstance, Okonkwo is able to hold everything together...that is until things fall apart. 

It's easy to read this book and admire its simple and folkloric prose. If you've ever wondered why a tortoise shell is uneven and lumpy, this book will tell you why. Some have compared it to something reminiscent of a Greek tragedy...I would agree and add that there's definitely something fable-esque*(?) about it. However, at times the story is so straightforward and uncomplicated that you may find yourself wondering when any actual conflict will ensue. Okonkwo seems to have everything under control. He's a stern man--mean even. And he won't be overcome by any other man.

It's also easy to read this book and conclude that Okonkwo's attitude toward women is negative. He associates some questionable traits and actions with women, and the accusation of a man being feminine is thrown around frequently...but in order to enjoy this book the reader will have to step out of the frame of mind that tells them to be offended (if it offends at all) and realize that's just how it is...I could eurocentralize*(?) this and draw connections between African deities and Greek deities like Tyche...but I won't. Completely unnecessary and overkill for such a simple book. 
It was a crime against the earth goddess to kill a clansmen, and a man who committed it must flee from the land. The crime was of two kinds, male and female. Okonkwo had committed the female, because it had been inadvertent (124)
So when do things fall apart? They begin with Okonkwo doing something considered feminine (ironic) and  being sent away for seven years. Okonkwo being the thriving creature that he is, fairs well during his absence, but what he returns to is even too much for him. His village has been divided in two, due to the arrival of white men. 

It's hard to read the last fifty pages of this book and not feel resentment towards the white men that come and ruin their villages. The thing is, despite how extreme or violent the penal system seemed for Okonkwo and his fellow villagers--it was their system. Their system eradicated the imbalances. It functioned...until the white man arrived, like a virus, spreading their faith and governance. Okonkwo cannot overcome this power struggle, but he refuses to let another man tell him how to lead his life...and so Okonkwo becomes a martyr.  
Have you not heard the song they sing when a woman dies? 'For whom is it well. for whom is it well? There is no one for whom it is well'  "I have no more to say to you." (135)
* I'm making up all kinds of words for today's post, aren't I? apologies.

Things Fall Apart
Three Stars


The Walking Dead - S3 Ep. 11

Episode 11: I Ain't a Judas

Call Rick on his bullshit
Everyone's doing it! As they should...well by everyone I mean Hershel and Carl (in his corny, sad little way). But that's enough. Rick needs to wake the fook up! While I don't think he needs to stop being the leader (silly Carl) I think he needs to reevaluate their situation because for some reason he thinks they'll fair another attack by the Governor. No. No and No. He's training an army Rick...

Andrea. Stop. Just Stop. 
Her reasoning, her logic and most of all, her timing are wrong. I can't even...she's about to be on the same plane as Lori, as far as my wanting her to survive. That is all.

Can we dedicate a moment to the walker mutilation in the forest via Andrea with the axe? 

Karma Rick, Karma.
Yeah so the small group he kicked out of the prison somehow came across Andrea, who told them about Woodbury. They go to Woodbury and meet the Governor. Now the Governor has a map of the prison. Great. Things just keep working in his favor. 

My questions: (1) Am I the only one who thinks the Governor is going to kill Andrea? (2) What the hell is wrong with Andrea??

This episode was better than last, but next week's episode looks even better. I apologize for all the Andrea-hate...well not really. 


Poetry for thought - Leisure, Hannah, Does Not Agree with You (2)

Leisure, Hannah, Does Not Agree with You (2)
by Hannah Gamble

My house disgusted me, so I slept in a tent.
My tent disgusted me, so I slept in the grass. The grass disgusted me,
so I slept in my body, which I strung like a hammock from two ropes.
My body disgusted me, so I carved myself out of it.

My use of knives disgusted me because it was an act of violence.
My weakness disgusted me because “Hannah” means “hammer.”
The meaning of my name disgusted me because I’d rather be known
as beautiful. My vanity disgusted me because I am a scholar.

My scholarship disgusted me because knowledge is empty.
My emptiness disgusted me because I wanted to be whole.
My wholeness would have disgusted me because to be whole
is to be smug. Still, I tried to understand wholeness

as the inclusiveness of all activities: I walked out into the yard,
trying to vomit and drink milk simultaneously. I tried to sleep
while smoking a cigar. I have enough regrets to crack all the plumbing.
I’m whole only in that I’ve built my person from every thought I’ve ever loved.

image: flickr - brad montgomery


Review - The Sandman, Vol.1: Preludes and Nocturnes

The Sandman, Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes
by Neil Gaiman
Illustrated by Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg, Malcolm Jones III
240+ pages

Description via Goodreads
I walk by her side, and the darkness lifts from my soul. I walk with her, and I hear the gentle beating of mighty wings...(230)

The first of eight, The Sandman Volume One: Preludes and Nocturnes is an intriguing blend of dark, gruesome and playful elements. The illustrations alone are amazing and fitting of the mood of the story. In a nutshell, the reader follows the Sandman on his adventure from capture by occultists to regaining his reign over the realm of dreams and nightmares. The Sandman will encounter a number of zany and horrific characters along his journey.

My favorite part artistically and conceptually (overall really) is 'The Sound of Her Wings'. I love the idea that not only is the Sandman dark yet ambiguous in his intentions, but also that he is morose, brooding (goth, if you will) and searching for something more... And his sister is Death--I love that!
At times the situations presented in the volume seem a little out of focus...that is to say, the concept behind what's happening is good, but it's sort of all over the place. More specifically, I raised an eyebrow at '24 Hours' I really didn't care for Dr. John Dee's side story--seemed extra. However, there is no doubt direction can and will be found in the volumes that follow. I'd be lying if I said this is could be appealing to everyone--because it won't be. All I know is I can't wait to read the other volumes.

The Sandman, Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes

Four Stars


Book Haul (+2)

Okay, calling this a 'haul' is a bit of an exaggeration...but I'd like to say, it started out as a haul--until I came to my senses and showed some restraint.

 The two books I got are (1) Things Fall Apart by and Chinua Achebe and (2) The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper. 

I've wanted to read the latter for a very long time and I finally got my hands on a copy...not exactly sure when they will be read, as I still haven't read half the books from my other book hauls. Oh well..


Poetry for thought - How to Look at Mexican Highways

How to Look at Mexican Highways
by Monica de la Torre

1. You are not going anywhere.
         1.1. No one is waiting for you.
         1.2. In case someone is waiting for you, you can always explain
                the delay later.
         1.3. Blame it on the traffic, no one else knows that you chose to walk.

2. Don’t look at the pavement, look at the things that you don’t see
    when you’re indoors.
         2.1. Water towers.
         2.2. Cables.
               2.2.1. Cables bringing other people’s voices and faces onto
                       TV monitors.
               2.2.2. Cables bringing electricity to light bulbs and
         2.3. Laundry on clotheslines.
         2.4. Empty cans of food.
               2.4.1. With flowers growing out of them.
               2.4.2. With cactuses growing out of them.

3. Feel the waves surrounding you.
         3.1. Waves bringing other people’s voices to the speakers of your
                 sound system.
         3.2. Waves of street sounds.

4. Measure how fast you can run up and down staircases; compare that
to the speed of the cars driving by.

5. When you tire, stand in the middle of the overpass.
         5.1. Look down.
         5.2. Try to look ahead, attempt to delineate the city’s skyline.
               5.2.1. If there’s too much pollution, look down again.
               5.2.2. Hold on tighter to the rail.
               5.2.3. Stay there a bit longer; remember no one is waiting
                          for you.
               5.2.4. You’re not going anywhere.

6. Through the rails you will see stories unfolding on the street.
        6.1. Pay attention.
        6.2. You are not they.
        6.3. They are not they.
              6.3.1. They are one plus one plus one, indefinitely.

7. You’re surrounded by monads going somewhere.

8. There is a purpose to their movement.

9. Desire is a Federacy.

image: flickr-carlosfpardo


The Walking Dead - S3 Ep. 10

Episode 10 - Home

Begone Lori! 
I know why she's lingering in Rick's head/imagination, but that doesn't make it any less annoying. Rick needs to get it together--for the group!

Hold down the fort or abandon?
I don't see the point in staying in the prison where they can easily be found by the Governor. Rick and the group are outnumbered and outgunned...if they stay it's only a matter of time before they get wiped out. And yet there's always the risk of encountering a wave of walkers if they leave...I don't know. But I do think Glenn needs to chill out. He's been on edge because of his situation with Maggie, but I don't see the point in trying clear out the tombs again.

First move goes to the Governor
The Governor launches the first strike against Rick and the group in the prison. Fortunately, everyone has terrible, TERRIBLE aim, and there are only a few casualties. No one I liked died...but I get the feeling this is just one attack of many. Sending a van full of walkers into the prison's field was pretty smart. Now they no longer have a secure barrier against anything...this was easily the most interesting part of the episode (next to Daryl saving lives and slaying walkers on the bridge) Also, Daryl returns with Merle and basically saves Rick's life...I hate Merle but his persona adds something to the show. Not sure how his presence will tip the balance.

All in all...it wasn't a great episode. But as always I look forward to the next one.

My question: Will Michonne get to stay with the group now? or will Merle be allowed to stay? Both? 

I need more zombie melee!


Review - The Bluest Eye

The Bluest Eye
by Toni Morrison
200+ pages

Description via Goodreads
You looked at them and wondered why you were so ugly; you looked closely and could not find the source. Then you realized that it came from conviction, their conviction. It was as though some mysterious all-knowing master had given each one a cloak of ugliness to wear, and they had accepted it without question (39)
I can't remember the last time I pitied a character as much as I pitied Pecola Breedlove. While she isn't the main character of this novel she is easily the most important in my opinion. Pecola Breedlove wants blue eyes, like those creepy baby dolls that everyone adores. But she will never have those eyes and she will never be adored as they are--not socially, not romantically, not even adored by her mother or father. In fact, because of her blackness, for she is definitely the wrong kind of black, she's somewhat an outcast within the black community. 

Pecola Breedlove. An interesting name. A revealing name. One quick google search*  told me the name Pecola means: (1) You sense and feel much that you do not understand, and sometimes you are alarmed at your thoughts and wonder about their origin and (2) You crave understanding and affection but your intensity of desire and your self-consciousness prevent you from finding the happiness you desire. Another search** told me it simply meant "a brazen woman". I find these two definitions somewhat contradicting...the former being more reflective of the trauma Pecola experiences in the book. The latter seems more ironic. It's as ironic as her last name, Breedlove. Pecola is not exactly the product of love and she most likely won't experience any herself. 

In fact, The Bluest Eye and the concept of beauty found within it (having blue eyes, lighter skin, non-curly hair) is only one theme that makes this book relevant. It's also about love, or the lack thereof. It's about letting someone or something have so much control over your thoughts and perception that you ultimately accept it as truth. And the truth for Pecola and many blacks in the 1940s is that they weren't lovable-- because of their skin color, they were not deserving of love. And so they did not love each other. Pecola's father hated himself (he had some daddy issues) and so he hated everyone else. He raped his daughter and then hated himself more and his daughter for what he'd done...in this way Morrison marries the concept of love and beauty. 

For some reason I was slightly shocked by the sexual content in this book at first...but then I got over it. There are a few graphic scenes, but in the grand scheme they're not inappropriate. Sex and sexuality are outwardly taboo, but it's the thread connecting everyone. Sex created those lighter-skinned and darker- skinned blacks. Sex was veiled as love. Sex numbed the pain and sometimes it fueled the pain. Morrison marries love, beauty, hate, sexuality and history. 

In the end, I didn't like this book. But not because of the writing, no, the writing is brilliant, poetic...didactic at times, but some people need things spelled out for them. On a personal note, as someone of color, I've heard these lessons on love and beauty pretty much all my life, so that's probably why it came off as preachy. But it deserves to be read. 

*The first search led me here
**The second search led me here

The Bluest Eye
Three stars


Review - Eating the Cheshire Cat

Eating the Cheshire Cat
by Helen Ellis
280+ pages

Description via Goodreads
When the firemen sifted through the remains, they would discover Nicole, as her mother suspected. In her embrace would be Sarina and what had happened would be clear. It was murder/suicide. Death by obsession. No further questions asked (287)
::sigh:: When I got this book I was very curious about it because of the cover. Why could that poor, little goldfish be in that blender? For human consumption? Yuck--I had to read it...also on the front cover of my copy it says 'Darkly Funny Gothic Novel'. What I somehow missed is what's written directly under it -- 'Deliciously Catty'. And that's where this book makes it error, or maybe where I made my error in picking this book.While there are some dashes of morbid, gross and dark humor (all things I love) it's overwhelmed by the cattiness and superficial musings of it's characters. Now in defense of this book, I don't have that much experience with Contemporary Southern Gothic fiction...maybe this whole obsession with making Homecoming court at the State University is a big deal and I'm culturally insensitive to it. But if that's not the case, then I'm fine with saying that the best part of this book is the cover. 

The story focuses on three characters: Sarina Summers, an oversexed, disgustingly spoiled, attention whore. Nicole Hicks, girl with all the foundations of an axe-murderer and also obsessed with Sarina. And then there's Bitty Jack Carlson; summer camp outcast, and in my opinion the most normal and bearable character. The thing is, I know and enjoy the fact that these characters are supposed to be twisted and exaggerated but it's (1) their roles in the plot and (2) the climax of the plot that's the problem.We follow them from awkward middle school age to end of college age and it seems the priority for each of these characters is revenge and/or redemption through relationships with men. And this irks me...

As I mentioned earlier, there are moments of dark humor: Nicole's shock when she walks in on her brother's alone time, the fact that Bitty Jack's summer boyfriend is star-attraction in a traveling freak show, or the fact that a young Sarina is plagued by a hereditary condition like curved pinkie fingers. The good thing about this novel is it's paced well...very quick. Not too much dwelling on any particular moment of their lives for too long. I guess I should mention that the narrative is supposed to be like a page or chapter in Alice's Adventure in Wonderland. Maybe Bitty Jack is Alice, Sarina is the Red Queen, Nicole is every other cooky character, and the Alabama social scene is Wonderland...not sure because the connection is weak!

I remember at one point thinking this was a Southern Gothic version of Legally Blonde without the law school shenanigans. I still think that's an accurate summary.

Eating the Cheshire Cat
Two Stars


Poetry for thought - Impromptu

by J. Allyn Rosser

First there was Jim, clamping to my long black hair
           that nine-pound Cleopatra wig
           with nylon bands and bobbie pins.

Meanwhile I was on fire for Chad, who coached me
          a bit impatiently Tuesday nights
          on my Joan-of-Arc inflection.

Then Terence said I’d be perfect for the lounge-singer-
         turned-whore, and as it turned out
         that was a fairly easy gig.

Max signed me on soon after, claiming I was a natural
         for Eternally Aggrieved Girl,
         which in hindsight hurts me deeply.

So by the time you followed me back to the green room
         to wait in the hallway—whistling!—
         for my scrubbed face to emerge,

naturally I was wary, waiting for the script
        you never bothered to come up with.
        It was damned awkward sitting there,

nothing but milkshakes between us. Maybe, I thought,
        you’d assumed I was the one with a script.
        Finally I decided to give Terence a call.

I didn’t like the way you looked at me so steadily
        with your chin resting on one fist,
        as if the table were a table, the boards

A floor. Listening there as if you meant it,
        as if something I could say were true, and every
        moment from now on would be my cue.

image: flickr-drothamel


The Walking Dead - S3 Ep. 9

Episode 9 - The Suicide King

It's back! AMC's The Walking Dead. We waited, what? three months for the second half of season three. And there was a lot packed into one episode. Some good and some bad. 

Crew shakeup
Okay, so the first five minutes after Rick and the crew escape Woodbury, there's a big argument over who's staying and who's going--Merle and Michonne that is. When all is said and done, Daryl ends up leaving with his brother, Merle, because nobody likes or trusts Merle and they won't want him at the prison Also, Michonne is only allowed temporary citizenship in the prison. I don't like how Rick is treating her right now. Without her, he wouldn't have been able to rescue Glenn and Maggie. The group needs Daryl and I don't see how just the two of them can make it out there on their own. 

Andrea, Governor of Woodbury?
I'm still not sure what the hell Andrea is doing in Woodbury. She found out the Governor was keeping Glenn and Maggie hostage behind her back and she still stuck around. Not to mention, the Governor has gone completely over the deep end, and doesn't give a damn about her or anybody else in the town...The townspeople are all sheep, so if Andrea wants the position she'll probably get it. What she lacks in sound decision-making, she makes up for in communicative skills. I'm not sure how this will end up. 

Lovebirds no more. 
Maggie is obviously distancing herself from Glenn. I think this is because she sees how savage he's become after the incident with the walkers and the Governor. I also think she's come to the realization that even with Glenn, she's not as safe as she thought she'd be. I don't know. It's weird. I actually support this romance or whatever it is.

Lori's ghost
In the midst of deciding whether to let the newcomers to the prison stay, Rick has another hallucination. The first time it was Lori phoning the prison, this time it's her wearing a long, white, Grecian-style gown, in the shadows ::sigh:: I don't get it. I didn't like her character alive, I won't like the phantom of her character. Once again, Rick needs to get it together. The Governor is plotting an invasion and their numbers are down.  

My questions: (1) Does Rick still think the baby is his? and (2) Why does Michonne care so much about Andrea? 

 Next week's episode looks equally as busy. Can't wait.


Review - Their Eyes Were Watching God

Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston
200 pages

Description via Goodreads
Honey, de white man is de ruler of everything as fur as Ah been able tuh find out. Maybe it's some place way off in de ocean where de black man is in power, but we don't know nuthin' but what we see. So de white man throw down de load and tell de nigger man tuh pick it up. He pick it up because he have to, but he don't tote it. He hand it to his women folks. De nigger woman is de mule uh de world so far as Ah can see. Ah been prayin' fuh it tuh be different wid you. Lawd, Lawd, Lawd! (14)
This book is about the 'love life' of Janie Crawford...her three marriages and her development of self. But now that I've finished reading about this brief segment of her life, I still ask--who is Janie Crawford? The answer I'm left with is unclear. The reader never gets a sense of her intellectual or emotional capacity, only physical. She's a beautiful, light-skinned woman, with a long braid of hair which fascinates many men. But other than that I'm not sure. Her marriage and relationship with three different men says more on a societal level of analysis than personal. 

In her first marriage Janie is subservient to a husband who sees her as another beast of burden, a vessel, a workhorse. She marries for protection, not love.  In her second marriage to Joe Starks, she's subservient but instead of being an instrument, she's a trophy, an object. She marries to escape her first marriage. I have to say I hated Joe Starks. I hate his character and what he stands for. I actually wished ill upon a fictional character and thankfully the plot did not disappoint. The thing is, he's actually the best written character in the book. He is so disgusting in his thirst for envy and status among others in the black community...Her marriage to Tea cake was the most normal of all three marriages. It had the most 'love' and more egalitarian qualities. The whole, 'through sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, till death do us part, blah, blah, blah' applied to them sort of...especially when Tea cake contracts rabies. But even in this most love-filled marriage, she's still subservient, content even, and the lack of character development is disappointing. 
"Tony won't never hit her. He says beatin' women is just like steppin' on baby chickens. He claims 'taint no place on uh woman tuh hit," Joe Lindsay said with scornful disapproval, " but Ah'd kill uh baby just born dis mawnin' fuh uh thing lak dat. 'Taint nothin' but low-down spitefulness 'ginst her husband make her do it." (75)
Folkloric charm gives this book a spark of life...and interest for that matter--the 'vernacular'. It's very authentic in that respect. And the gravity in the thoughts and voices of secondary characters, those outsiders looking in--gossip, is revealing of the time. 
"You'se different from me. Ah can't stand black niggers. Ah don't blame de white folks from hatin' em cause Ah can't stand 'em mahself. 'Nother thing, Ah hates tuh see folks lak me and you mixed up wid 'em. Us oughta class off." (141)
This book makes many 'must-read' lists...but honestly, I'm having a hard time seeing why. Maybe it's because it's uncovering a truth about intra racism that I already know exists. Maybe because I personally reject the old-fashioned gender roles and power struggles between black men and black women. Maybe because I'm a northern, black woman that inevitably comes from the same southern, black heritage. I don't know. 

But I feel as though I'm missing something. Someone tell me...what am I missing? 

Their Eyes Were Watching God

Three Stars


I'm sick...watch this Grizzly Bear video.

Hola...I am currently under the heavy haze* of medication for a cold or whatever the hell this is...so I won't be posting anything book or reading related today. Instead, I decided to post one of my favorite Grizzly Bear songs, which also happens to be one of my favorite artsy music videos of all time because of its storytelling (kudos to Allison Schulnik)


I love the entire song but I especially love it at 1:55. 

*I feel like that clay yeti (?) right about now...


Book Beginnings - Love in the Time of Cholera

Book Beginnings is a meme hosted by Rose City Reader. Share the first sentence (or so) of a book you are currently reading, along with your initial thoughts and impressions about the sentence or book. Remember to include the title of the book and the author AND link up at the Rose City Reader

It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love.
::sigh:: I do not like this beginning...not even a little. And I know it has everything to do with my preconceived notions of Garcia Marquez's writing and translations of his work...well not really preconceived--I know his style, I've read plenty of Edith Grossman's translations and it irks me at times, but he can tell a good story. One Hundred Years of Solitude is fantastic, Of Love and other Demons, not so much. But I feel this weird obligation to read his books, so here I am...reading this book. It also fits perfectly into the Monthly Keyword Challenge I'm participating in. February is pick a book with 'love' or 'heart etc, in the title.

What exactly do bitter almonds smell like? Raw almonds are virtually odorless...burnt almonds smell burnt. Almond oil smells delicious. I'm having a hard time with this one...or is just that the fate of unrequited love is bitter?   


Poetry for thought - Your Invitation to a Modest Breakfast

Your Invitation to a Modest Breakfast 
by Hannah Gamble

It’s too cold to smoke outside, but if you come over,
I’ll keep my hands to myself, or won’t I.
I would like to tell you about the wall eaten up

by the climbing plant—it was so beautiful.
Various things have been happening to me,
all of them sexual. The man on the bus

took off his pants so I could see him better.
Another man said, “Ignore him darlin’.
Just sit on my lap.” But I’m not one of those

who’s hungriest in the morning,
unlike the man at the bakery
who eats egg after egg after egg.

Listen. Come over: the cold has already eaten
the summer. I need another pair of ears:
from the kitchen I can’t tell if I’m hearing wind chimes

or some gray woman with failing arms
dropping a pan full of onions and potatoes.
                            This morning I need four hands—

two to wash the greens, one to lift a teakettle,
one to pour the milk. This morning, one little mouth
will not do. We could play a game

where we crouch on the tiles, two yellow dogs
drinking coffee from bowls. We could play a game
where we let the breakfast burn.

Outside there’s a world where every love scene
begins with a man in a doorway;
he walks over to the woman and says “Open your mouth.”

Image: Flickr - gothick_matt


Review - The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar
by Sylvia Plath
230+ pages

Description via Goodreads
It was as if what I wanted to kill wasn't in that skin or the thin blue pulse that jumped under my thumb, but somewhere else, deeper, more secret, and a whole lot harder to get at. It would take two motions. One wrist, then the other wrist. Three motions, if you counted changing the razor from hand to hand. Then I would step into the tub and lie down (147)
In The Bell Jar, Plath gives the reader a disturbing and poetic look into the life of a young woman who has slipped into the void. Esther Greenwood, who by many standards should be pleased with her life, isn't. Shortly after interning at a fashion magazine she descends into 'madness'. Trapped under the bell jar, suffocating and withering away,  she enters an asylum after attempting suicide. 

Is there anything wrong with Esther? Physically--probably not, but the reader won't know for sure. It's the emotional stimuli that are most fascinating, the physical reactions are just that. The emotional hollowness Plath secures for the reader is not drawn from the everyday or a Moody Monday (this novel is semi-autobiographical). It seems that Esther can't help but to have a breakdown. You get the feeling it's in her nature, this destructiveness. And yet there's something very relatable about her. She's selfish and small talk and other everyday interactions leave her feeling stale. Her internship has her surrounded by silly women all day and she doesn't have to work for anything. She feels displaced, so she feels nothing, day in and day out. 

Flashbacks to her relationship with her quasi-boyfriend, Buddy Willard are odd. The expectations he has of her and their status are discouraging. The same can be said for all the interactions Esther has with men in this book. Just downright discouraging. I think this aspect of the book is most enduring. That and the descriptions  of Esther's melancholic, self-destructive nature:
Then I lifted my right hand with the razor and let it drop of its own weight, like a guillotine, onto the calf of my leg. I felt nothing. Then I felt a small, deep thrill, and a bright seam of red welled up at the lip of the slash. The blood gathered darkly, like fruit, and rolled down my ankle into the cup of my black patent leather shoe (148)
Cobwebs touched my face with the softness of moths. Wrapping my black coat round me like my own sweet shadow, I unscrewed the bottle of pills and started taking them swiftly, between gulps of water, one by one by one...The silence drew off, baring the pebbles and shells and all the tatty wreckage of my life. Then, at the rim of vision, it gathered itself, and in one sweeping tide, rushed me to sleep (169)
The novel is filled with these passages. Lovely, aren't they? I have to say that Esther's anxiety about getting shock treatments gave me anxiety...By the end we see Esther improve somewhat and it seems she will most likely leave the asylum and reenter the world she rejected.

The Bell Jar

Four stars.


European Reading Challenge 2012 - Complete

My Reading Selection

Germany - The Neverending Story
Sweden - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
England - The Moonstone
Russia - Pale Fire
France - Pierre and Jean and Selected Short Stories

The Neverending Story
Pierre and Jean and Selected Short Stories

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The Moonstone

Pale Fire
The Moonstone

Pale Fire
Pierre and Jean and Selected Short Stories

I was about to publish a post about how I wasn't able to finish this challenge, when I realized I already had! Here I am struggling to read The Three Musketeers when I don't need to--ha!

You see my Kindle tells me I'm at 38% and I'm pretty sure I've read at least 300 pages. So the entirety of that book is some absurd number of partially engaging narration. I can't do it. I didn't know the story was that long. Had I known, I would've chosen another book and adjusted my reading schedule accordingly. But like I said, I don't need to. I had already read a book by a French author sometime in July of last year.

At first it was looking like this would be an unsuccessful reading challenge, but it was actually decent: The Neverending Story was wonderful, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo--overrated, The Moonstone--boring, Pale Fire--leaves me with a question mark and The Three Musketeers--is not at all on the level of The Count of Monte Cristo Pierre and Jean and Selected Short Stories was eclectically morose.

With this complete (We had until January 31st to finish), I can finally focus on my 2013 reads.


Poetry for thought - The Darker Sooner

The Darker Sooner
by Catherine Wing

Then came the darker sooner,
came the later lower.
We were no longer a sweeter-here
happily-ever-after. We were after ever.
We were farther and further.
More was the word we used for harder.
Lost was our standard-bearer.
Our gods were fallen faster,
and fallen larger.
The day was duller, duller
was disaster. Our charge was error.
Instead of leader we had louder,
instead of lover, never. And over this river
broke the winter’s black weather.

Image: Flickr - MSC@flickr