Bi-Weekly Book Recommendation: Of Love & Other Demons

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“For you was I born, for you do I have life, for you will I die, for you am I now dying.”
Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez, Of Love and Other Demons

This man needs no introduction. Garcia Marquez has written some of the greatest books in translation. Love in the time of Cholera and One Hundred Years of Solitude, just to name a few, are timeless literary classics. Something to also take note of are his smaller novellas which seem to fall under the radar compared to his larger books. Packed into small amounts of paper are some of the best stories I’ve read.

Of Love and Other Demons follows the life of young Sierva Maria. She was born to uncaring parents, and raised by the slaves on her father’s land. Known to be wild and uncivilized, Sierva Maria finds herself torn from the people she loves and thrown into a prison of sorts that is run by the church.

Father Cayetano Delaura has heard of the long-haired crazy girl. But not only has he heard of her, he has dreamed of her, and knows it is up to him to tame her savage soul. A man in his late twenties/early thirties (I can’t remember exactly), he shocks himself when he realizes he is in love with this child. Obviously, there is a great deal of controversy when it comes to a relationship between a preteen and a man in his thirties, and everyone desperately tries to keep them apart.

You will have to read to find out how it ends, but I found the plot to be really intriguing, and unashamed of the subject matter. I feel like only famous, established writers can get away with writing something involving that type of relationship without being condemned by society. It must be the combination of being well known, and writing the story so elegantly it makes reads want to swoon. Beautifully executed.

Buy it here!

A Trip Down Memory Lane

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I’ve been in a serious cleaning kick since last semester ended. I’m sure everyone gets to that moment when they feel like they have too much shit cluttering every piece of space in their room/apartment. I’ve thrown out clothes, old electronics, and–here’s the kicker, my peeps–I’ve decided to throw out my old writing journals from middle school and high school.

Blasphemy! I know. I know. In a perfect world I would have endless amounts of space for all of my writings, but this is most definitely not a perfect world. My plan is to either type out what I’ve written in the journals, or scan the pages into a folder to be saved. The work will not be lost forever!

To be quite honest…as I am rediscovering the things that I wrote 15+ years ago, I am kind of impressed by myself, hahaha. I’d like to share a little bit with you from a notebook I was using in, goodness, probably eighth grade. Here it goes:

“The Lambish Tiger” (by Sidney McEntyre)

I thought you existed for so long,

Even when life seems so wrong.

I loved you when I was poor,

Like you closed a window and opened a door.

I dreamed of you While I lay in my my bed.

I sang songs about you with your visions in my head.

I went to your house when I was young,

Listen to incantations about hell while your lovely son hung.

Then, one day, out of the blue,

Fate happened because of you.

I loved you, yet everything was done.

Suddenly I realize you were gone.

My days were gray, my nights black.

I trusted you, but you cut me no slack.

I went to your house, but you were not home.

I never turned my back on you.

So why did you leave me alone?

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(Volland Mother Goose and Old Old Tales by Frederick Richardson (1862 – 1937))

 

Bi-Weekly Book Recommendation: Swordspoint

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“Every man lives at swordspoint.” – Ellen Kushner

I discovered Kushner’s book at the discussion concerning transgression in novels at Book Culture. (The same one C.S. Pacat was at!) She was the moderator, and one hell of a smart woman. It was a pleasure to listen to her writing process, and an even bigger pleasure to read Swordspoint.

Like most early novels in a writer’s career, there are pros and cons to the storytelling. As many of the writers in Kushner’s panel repeated over and over, writing takes huge amounts of practice even after an author has been published. Kushner’s first novel, containing the fantasy worlds of Riverside and the Hill, are not excluded from that rule.

There are two worlds living side by side: the low-life, dangerous scum and swords for hire live in the decrepit Riverside, while the rich and respectable nobles reside on the Hill. Swordsman are welcome around the nobles when they are hired to settle disputes between the powerful on Hill, and the most popular among the hired help is the young Richard St. Vier.

The novel starts strong with a man dashing away from the scene of a double murder. We quickly meet a cast of important politicians, easily offended nobles, and lively rif-raf. As if St. Vier’s lover isn’t enough to handle, he also has to try hard to stay away from the drama and politics of the Hill. Unfortunately, the highly sought out swordsman is unsuccessful.

The story in itself is intriguing. It would appear to have that old world charm of swordsmen and chancellors, but where it falls flat is intertwining revelations. The language is very passive, making the climatic parts lack excitement. If you are expecting the twist and turns often involved with political dramas, you will be disappointed. However, if you are a lover of all forms of fantasy novels, I highly recommend the book with that disclaimer. It was overall an enjoyable read, even though it missed some razzle-dazzle.

Buy it here!

Bi-Weekly Book Recommendation: Short Stories Pt 2

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I Stand Here Ironing by Tillie Olsen

This story is basically autobiographical. Olsen added a few things here and there that don’t line up with her life, but the overall tale mimics the issues she endured with her eldest daughter.

Told in first-person narrative, the story begins with the mother explaining that she can no longer be held accountable for the things her young adult daughter does. The story begins with someone telling her that she must do something about her daughter’s behavior, and she listens while ironing. The narrator then starts running through all of the things that went gone wrong during her first child’s upbringing.

After being left to raise her first daughter alone, our narrator had no choice but to send her away several times in hopes of a better chance at life. However, this backfires, resulting in her daughter developing many social and abandonment issues. The narrator accepts that she cannot change the past, remaining unapologetic. Yet, she marvels in the silver lining of what comes out of her daughter’s problems: comedy.

Olsen, a pioneer of her time, wrote the story in 1961, and any reader can feel the feminine power behind it. The fact that her character, and Olsen herself, refuses to feel guilty about things she can never change when she had good intentions, was ground breaking for women at the time, and just a joy to read.

Good County People by Flannery O’Connor

Although the story itself is not autobiographical, O’Connor’s tale of mother and daughter has some reminiscence of the situation she had with her own mother.

Unlike I Stand Here Ironing, O’Connor penned a mother-daughter relationship that isn’t perfect, but its imperfections make it hilarious. Mrs. Hopewell is an eternal optimist who has the pleasure of taking care of her cynical, college educated daughter. The story will make you laugh as it pokes fun at people who think they know everything just because they hold a degree. More than one time, the reader can easy imagine Mrs. Hopewell trying hard not to roll her eyes at her daughter’s nativity. Common sense wins over stubborn pretentiousness in this tale, and a wooden leg makes it no less interesting.

O’Connor, who was diagnosed with lupus at a young age, moved back in with her mother after completing her degree. The funny jabs and pokes between a mother and her child in many of her short stories is clearly the result of living with her family. The dynamic made for great reading material for us!

Bi-Weekly Book Recommendation: Short Stories Pt 1

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Been a while, friends. You’ll be happy to know I’ve closed this semester with straight As. Woot!

Desiree’s Baby by Kate Chopin

Most of you may know Chopin from her most popular short story, The story of an Hour, which exposed the inner workings of a woman’s mind after the death of her husband. Her crusade to reveal the lives of women in the nineteenth century continues in Desiree’s Baby.

A woman of unknown origin is adopted by a well-off family. She grows up and eventually marries a man of status in the region. The young couple are deeply in love–that is until the birth of their child. This particular child resembles some of the other children on the property: the African-American children. How will it all end?!

Chopin writes her stories in masterful form! I absolutely love how smart and useful every piece of information shapes the story, and adds to the injustice of the outcome. In her time, Chopin ripped off the veil of social norms involving women, and, sadly, her point is still prevalent in today’s world.

Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Just like Chopin, Hawthorne plays with similar themes in his stories. Everyone knows his timeless classic, The Scarlet Letter, which involves the disgrace of a Puritan woman. Young Goodman Brown also deals with disgrace and Puritans, but from the side of the accuser.

Goodman Brown is out to chase sin. He is a devout Puritan who cannot resist the temptation calling him to the man who waits for him in the forest outside Salem, Mass. Leaving behind his wife, Faith, Goodman Brown travels into the woods and is driven mad by what he finds there…

Hawthorne, whose ancestors were Puritan persecutors of witches, clearly struggled with the history of his religion. His symbolism seems clear from the beginning, but read deeper into the story to see the hypocrisy of religion leaves in Hawthorne’s mouth.

 

Post On the Run

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I was asked by Aya from BookLoveBabbles to give some advice about how to write a quick post with quality. I like to keep my readers involved even if I don’t have a whole lot of time (like when I’m in school), so I usually will post small updates on what I’m doing, and what is coming.

I have a couple of different ways I can explain how to create a post that is short, but has all the information you need to get across to your reader.

  1. If you are a writer, think of the post as a synopsis. You can’t write the whole story, but you need to get the main plot points laid out to A) get people interested, and B) keep people interested. Figure out what your main points are and tie them together.
  2. Think in terms of time: your mother or best friend desperately want to catch up but you have two minutes before you have to be somewhere. What are the important things you need to tell him/her in that two minute span?
  3. Remember those times you ask someone a question, and they tell you their whole life story? The kind of people you just want to yell “Get to the damn point!” at? Think of those people when you need to write a quick post. You want all the information, and you want it fast.

Most of my posts are not very long, unless it’s a short story I post in pieces, so I tend to always get to the point. Now a days, I think in terms of how people read blogs in the first place: they don’t want to read a novel unless they are reading a novel, so tell them what you want to tell them and do it fast. But remember to add your voice into the piece as well so nothing gets lost in terms of what you are bringing to the table. I like to add my lame humor and Simpsons references in abundance.

Happy Writing!

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(Photo courtesy of Jane Friedman)

My Sabbatical

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Hello all!

I don’t know if you can tell, but I’ve run out of Bi-Weekly Book Recommendations! Well, run out of the ones I had stored. This semester has been on a whole other level compared to my first one. I’ve been stretched too thin!

Recommendations and a couple of short stories are coming your way in a few weeks. The semester is almost over, and I can’t wait to show you some of the work I did in my Fiction Writing Workshop. Most of the stories are themed, which can be a bit of fun when working on one’s writing skills. It will also be fun to see if you can guess what the theme is. (I’ll tell you in a separate post from the story. Give you some time to think what it might be.)

I will be posting a little ditty about meeting CS Pacat soon!

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(PS/ I am happy to receive any emails from fans. In fact, I am overjoyed. However, if you send me emails requesting things, ask a friend or neighbor or colleague take a look at it before you send it. Ask them if the things you are requesting are ludicrous and offensive. Chances are, if you have to ask, they probably are both of those things.)

Bi-Weekly Book Recommendation: The Song of Achilles

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“We were like gods at the dawning of the world, & our joy was so bright we could see nothing else but the other.”
Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles    

Has anyone here ever read Mary Renault’s ‘The Persian Boy’? The author of ‘Room’ has a blurb on the cover of ‘The Song of Achilles’ comparing Madeline Miller to Mary Renault, and I have to say it is spot on! If you have read ‘The Persian Boy’ and loved it, as I have, then you are totally going to love this book!

Like a great deal of my book finds, this book was recommended to me while I was online shopping for other books. It came up under both ‘Carry On,’ and ‘Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.’ Apparently, ‘The Song of Achilles’ can pair well with other titles you might like. Umm, which also means you should read it even if you think it’s not your cup of tea… cause it will become your cup of tea.

Everyone knows the story of Achilles. Or at least the famous story told to us in school and movies. The Best of the Greeks, brought down by a single arrow. But what of the man beyond his strength on the battlefield?

The story is told by Patroclus, an exiled prince left to be an orphan in the castle at Phthia. A soft-hearted boy who has faced rejection his whole life feels yet again out of place in his new home. That is until the prince of Phthia, Achilles, befriends him. From then on, the two are inseparable.

Patroclus’s life follows that of Achilles. He is aware that a prophecy follows Achilles around, and he will do anything to honor and protect it. As the two grow and form a bond stronger than friendship, Patroclus, time and time again, sacrifices to keep Achilles a hero in the eyes of the Greeks who fight beside him at Troy. It is love for Achilles, even when he is being prideful and stubborn, that seals Patroclus’s sad fate during a mighty battle at Troy.

This is a beautiful love story. And everyone here knows how much I love love. Only a few parts were overkill with the drama. I know at you’re thinking: it’s a Greek Tragedy, which means it has tons of drama. I agree, but there were some straight up Melrose Place and 90210 drama scenes, as opposed to Greek drama. However, the love story and fantastical storytelling were well worth the read. Not going to lie, I had some tears to blink back at the end of this one.

LONG LIVE LOVE!

Buy it Here!

Many Thanks

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Thank you to everyone who read ‘Gorilla-Man: A Memorandum.”

I’m kind of obsessed with Bigfoot documentaries, if you can’t tell. They are how I spend my Friday nights. It can get wild. So I guess what I am trying to say is…I have no idea where I came up with the idea for the story.

Haha, just kidding. Just Kidding.

I do watch Bigfoot documentaries all the time, and sometimes over and over again. I got to thinking one night, as I lay in bed unable to sleep, why would a species try so hard to evade humans? The story snowballed from there, shaping its way into the memorandum. I think I may expand upon it later, but for now, I am pleased.

Thank you again, my readers! We will now continue our regularly schedule posts.

 

Gorilla-Man: A Memorandum Part 4

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Once all the tears had subsided, he pulled out a rectangle from his bag that opened like a book, but sat up sideways. I glanced from the books and sci-fi magazines occupying every inch of wall in the cabin, back to the open thing on the desk in an attempt to identify the object.

“It’s a lap top,” he said. “I know you can’t write, but you can type.”

The rest of our last day together Phil showed me over and over again how to write on a lap top, and how to change the batteries. Of which he brought 7 extra. I thanked the only friend I’d ever known, and watched him limp out of the woods to his blue pick-up truck on a breezy autumn day, the setting sun silhouetting his form. That was many years ago. The sobs and howls still creep up on me from time to time.

I am on my last battery now, so it was time I write this all down. When my time comes, I will carry the lap top with me to a place I know my body will be found. My hope is that by finding and studying me, humans will finally understand who and what I am. And hopefully come to understand, as Phil and I did a long time ago: Do not fear or hate or hunt the unknown; care, and we might not be strangers anymore.

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