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Sunday, June 16, 2013

Book Review: A Separate Peace

Three days ago, when I finished this book, I was about to open up my laptop and start writing about it.  But I couldn't.  It hit too deep.  Something would have been very wrong about spewing words as representations too soon after impact.  I needed to heal first.  
I have to admit that the character development in this book is pristine.  I think I fell in love with Phineas several times.  I'll probably retain a lingering literary crush on him for a very long while.  What a human!  Without spoiling the book for those who haven't read it, here's my quick assessment. 
The technique of starting with a vivid, nostalgic narration really draws the reader into the rest of the book.  I needed to know about the stairs and the tree!  It's a beautiful way to create dramatic question, but it also makes fort a gut-wrenching read.  Not because it splatters violence and crudity on every page, but because it's real, raw, and unresolved.  The realism here punctures something in the human spirit, destroying something that we long for, leaving us groping in the darkness for that something that was lost.  John Knowles nails it with word choice every time.  He's not verbose or irritating, and his precision is a mark of his conceptual genius in creating emotions and characters.  
Definitely not for the faint of heart, but it's worth reading for all the truth and aching beauty.  

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Book Review: Rebecca by Du Maurier

About four years ago, I was sitting in a desk waiting for class to begin when somebody brought up the topic of books we were reading (Not surprising...English majors tend to talk about that sort of thing...).  One of my classmates had just finished the book Rebecca by Du Maurier.  While she gushed over the incredible plot, character, and style, I was taking in the dimensions of the work on her desk. The cover was worn, the pages were musty, and the title was boldly stamped on the front in black text.  Everything about my classmate's description shrouded the book in mystery.  I have been haunted for the past several years by the title.  Nothing revealed, everything implied.  Just Rebecca.  It was just last week that I finally got around to reading it.  I kept expecting a ghost to appear on every page, and the crisis, climax, and ending were, for me, completely unexpected.  I found myself in the protagonist more often than I want to admit, which took me on an emotional roller coaster as I had to shift loyalties halfway through the book.  It feels like a British version of Gatsby, but it's more meaningful in many ways because the consequences are greater.  
In short:  Riveting.  Artful.  Brilliant.  Dark.  Disturbing.  Unresolved.  The best of modern classics.  I recommend it to anyone who wants a page turner and a break from the fluff of so called "summer reading."   

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Chamber 1: The Nautilus on the Complexity of Loneliness

I restlessly examine
these beads scattered
colors varied shapes diverse and dazzling
gathered from my travels.
Times I take them out
trying anxiously to organize;
but there is no hope- here lies
chaotic, collected
beauty, but from it can create nothing cohesive
so I string instead together
bead by bead
eclectic fragments
stranded soon to snap
tumbling on the table
and
falling to the floor.  

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Distillation by Andrew Peterson

Lost this on the internet and just rediscovered it.   I'm posting it here for the benefit of my very few readers and so that I never EVER lose it again.  :)


DISTILLATION
It’s hard to choose,
Among all that is
And all that is not,
One small thing
To make much of:
One cell,
One star,
One wind,
One wound,
One old broken truck,
One undeniable infatuation
With one untouchable soul;
To pen a span of words
With myriad meanings,
Arranged just so, in order
That they might mean
That one single thing
Which can mean
A million things–
Depending on
The reader,
And the hour
He or she reads it,
And the angle of light,
And the heart’s condition,
And the temperature of the air,
And the presence
(Or absence)
Of demons
Or angels,
Personal
Or impersonal,
And the song that played
In the bakery and mingled
Perfectly with the aroma and
Aerated the anger, just enough
That the poem might seed the soul
With a fleeting, sacred silence–
Just enough to plant the secret
God is telling–the one thing
We’re all dying to discover–
Even if we have to find it
In a poem.