“Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott

This is not a fictional novel, but it’s a good read.

The book is written by an Author/writer, Anne Lamott, who is depicting a sort of journal/essay, hence a creative non-fiction? Yes. Very much makes one feel like one is traveling with the writer to decipher the moods, the emotions, the many facets of noveling, writing, thinking, comparing notes, and just plain talk about the work and projectile of book making and reading and writing.

I enjoyed this book very much because I felt like Anne Lamott was actually conversing with me intimately about the trials and tribulations of living under such a label as writer and thinker.

If you want to be inspired, reflective, cognitive of what you do when you write, read a writer like Anne Lamott; read this book “Bird by Bird.” The name significes an event, but it is a metaphor for each individual and their journey. It’s good for you, and besides: it’s a quick read, as long as it takes to sit with Anne [virtually], have a cup of java or two, chatting at some cafe. Same thing, she writes like she likes you.

Advertisements
Posted in Philosophical Musings | Leave a comment

A working personality

 

These days it is hard to find people who can be themselves. Why? They are so used to watching “reality” shows, they begin to take on personalities of their favorite reality celebrities. In fact, if you took any person who is addicted to reality shows, away for a year, you can bet they will have no idea who they are, and how to act naturally, without attempting to take on those personalities they are used to watching or any personality that they come in contact with! So, the argument here is: which influences first, society or television?

Long ago, people did not see television or have computers. Sure, there were a lot of seemingly meaningless personas out there: deadpan personalities, little sense of humor, and naive approach, but they were also the actual person’s character; they were less obtrusive, less insulting, less clownish, and less contriving, so it was okay–in other words, it was not pretentious.

People that did have personality were those who chose to go into performance type jobs mimicking other people of those kinds of characteristics, or artistic or sales jobs, or religious leaders. Now, everybody wants to get into the act! Everybody wants to claim they are artistic, creative, personable, and so on, only it is not really them, but their celebrities–and there are too many of those who consider themselves to be celebrity quality, too. Most specimens on television have absolutely no talent, but they are given so much kudos from producers of shows, that they believe themselves to be talented.

It is no wonder the most productive countries are so energized in public, considering themselves to be a country of celebrities, but most of them are heavy on depressants than any other of the “third world countries” in the world. You can argue that it is because third world countries cannot afford the drugs, but go and meet these people and you will find out they are simply and authentically kind and calm, simple, and straightforward, and they are genuinely pleasant and happy being alive, even when they have minimal items of pleasure. What destroys them is the larger countries that NEED, NEED, NEED, and TAKE, TAKE, TAKE from those small, unsuspecting, simple countries.

 

Posted in Philosophical Musings | Leave a comment

Review: “Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt

“The panic that overtook me then was hard to explain. Those game days broke up with a swiftness, a sense of losing blood almost, that reminded me of watching the apartment in New York being boxed up and carted away: groundlessness and flux, nothing to hang on to.” (p.303)

While the title presupposes a story about the famous painting by a Dutch painter of the 1600s, it is really a trope that threads throughout the novel, indicating how one who has been traumatized, needs some kind of connection to that life before the trauma.

This is a story about a young fourteen-year-old boy whose life in the backdrop of New York City is routine and phlegmatic. Abruptly his life changes from a protected child into a motherless frightened kid, into finally a drugged out, piteous orphan, after meeting and living for a short period with his father.

His drugged out existence informs us, without ever really saying it, how one can become a sad and lonely human being; all this beginning within a few moments, as his mother is blown away by a bomb in the museum they were visiting for a while before he and his mother keep an appointment with his school principal. Talk about a twist of fate.

This is a true bildungsroman and the reader will find that the main character, as well as all the other characters, will resonate throughout, and long after when the reading is finished. I could not stop thinking about the author, the character, and the many situational ironies, consequences of fate, and so on–all of which made me thankful for the happy moments we all receive here and there before any kind of trauma exists.  For those others who may not be so fortunate, or who may be beleaguered by hard circumstances that force choices one might never have taken had one never experienced sudden tragedy–my heart has been touched forever.

I am looking forward to reading her first book, “The Secret History” because not only does she reign in storytelling, but her turn of phrases, her metaphors, and her way of telling it, glistens with a cup full of romanticism; she uses the English language masterfully. You will certainly attain your money’s worth of a read, as many others agree, for she has won the Pulitzer Prize in the year of its publishing, was considered one of the best books of the year by many authoritative journals, magazines and on and on.

The psychology in the novel, by enlisting a host of diverse characters, demonstrates a child’s loss and how that child who suddenly becomes orphaned may lack love and guidance and the way in which people survive in spite of loss but inherit an anomic character, such as the main character Leo. This is an interesting term, anomie, and is further explained in sociological definitions: https://www.britannica.com/topic/anomie 

 

Posted in Philosophical Musings | Leave a comment

The Great Monopoly

Who on earth owns my sites anymore, I don’t know!

I thought it was me but there is now “one place” to find them all, completely unrelated yet all on “Gravatar” in all their unrelated glory.

I have five sites and two WordPress potentials, asking if I’d like to bring them into full exposure. How on earth did they get my commercial/real estate site from “LinkU” marketing company, “Socalnovelist.blogspot.com” from Blogger, and the other three sites of my bookstore and blog as editor, “International Books Cafe.com,” “IBCafe.net,” and “Shakespeare on Demand???”

To boot, I keep getting these surprise posts from Google, “on April 2, we will be bringing down your site.” WHICH ONE? How does Google have WHICHEVER one?

I know it’s me in some way as well. I should have cleaned this up a long time ago. I need my real estate site completely separate from my creative sites, which ought to be my socalnovelist, at the blogger site, and the WordPress bookstore sites (2).

I want to add my bookstore site to my bloger site and create ONE site with pages of IBCafe, Shakespeare on Demand, The Plot Thickens, and Socalnovelist, and as soon as my real estate marketing site finishes hosting me (April) I will do a page on my name’s site on that too.

Cal anyone tell if I’m going BananaBizerk from all these “quiet” corp. shifts?

The “free” doors are closing my friends, and soon you will pay dearly just to have ONE site on the “free” internet. All of these giant corps have become gatekeepers, and we are lost in the shuffle of the game.

Okay, I go now, to prepare for the “battle of monopoly” of my own making, bringing all my sites into one place…I hope.

 

Posted in Philosophical Musings | Leave a comment

Review: Letters from Alaska

Letters From Alaska: A Novel Trilogy

(Book II)

Author, John Shields (2008)

ISBN: 978-1-4357-3093-9

Price: $17.04, Paperback, 349 pages

 

Author, John Shields’ book is exceptional; he is a highly descriptive writer, in the genre of academic fiction. There is no question as to what his book is about. Shields’ prose is written as precise as a careful surgeon. His structural narrative with the minds and movements of his characters and plot, exhibits the theme clearly, and is well balanced. This book is second in Shields’ trilogy, which illustrates the middle years of the life of the protagonist, Ansley Perkins, as he was the intellectual collegiate, yet inexperienced young man, whose intellectual philosophy in the Postmodern view manifest fully in these college days, displaying his disconcert with the status quo as he views society in the light of the 60s in America: Viet Nam, Civil Rights, and animosity toward our country’s political machine. Shield’s knowledge of the subject is comprehensive.

 

Book II of Letters From Alaska depicts the collegiate community and Hippie Generation, being described through the eyes and intellect of graduate student, Ansley Perkins, an astute and ingenius young man who himself personifies the time period as it has never been understood before. Events, such as the war in Viet Nam, the Civil Rights Movement, the Hippie experience and the profuse hedonism of the 60s—sex, drugs and rock and roll—all reflecting the age of Postmodernism—are constructed precisely within the mind of the protagonist, who begins his journey in Alaska, at Alaska University, forming the ideas that he believes are a natural reaction to the professions of American patriotism, conformity and convention. It seems Ansley’s vision is to change the world and return man to man’s true place in nature and the universe, by examining traditional America head on. He is constantly challenging his peers, parents, and students with controversial behavior and claims, like outrageous poetry, like crow screetches, sarcasm, cynicism about professors, teachings of societal flaws to students; but also, courageous outbursts, and sincere searching through the newly developing postmodernist ideology.    Ansley de-constructs every traditional idea and rails every chance he gets, against the status quo, to prove mostly to himself that he will not fall into the same patterns as those before him, one of the reasons why he chose Alaska University, teaching in a wilderness setting, yet unspoiled by the larger American society. He is obsessively concerned with man and society’s destination—he is obsessively concerned with his own life and his choices.

“It’s like the Freudian ego,” and I put ‘ego’ on the board beside Freud’s name. ‘Ego is the false self,’ I said; ‘ego is the mere appearance of the true self. It’s what stands there waiting to be adorned by roles and labels; it’s what bounces off society’s reflective screen. How society regards us is how we are to regard ourselves. There is no reality apart from society.’ (61)

Ansley relishes in his new wildlife surroundings, while being given classes to teach, and while working on his master’s degree, amidst the Alaskan wildlife. He is ever entranced and raptured by its natural state and beauty: “Rabbits abound; birds: an exceedingly large and rotund variety of pale gray jay. Mice, I imagine, amongst the mushrooms and fecund leaves; perhaps a shrew or two nosing around. No snakes. No snakes in Alaska.”(11) But he also has those yearnings in him that try to understand where he comes from, who and what his roots are, and why he has to listen to anyone or anything about the things he considers to be his own consequence and direction.

 

Ansley is the quintessential consciousness of the Postmodern Ideology at work. Throughout the book he analyzes his peers, his professors, his family, his fiancee’s family, and every one of the establishment. The reader explores the spirit within the man of the 60s generation—you can’t get any closer to the 60s than this, from the standpoint of an educated revolutionist in. Though subjective and from the standpoint of a particular type of man, it is a perspective and voice from the 60s generation, nonetheless.  Ansley is anti-establishment, anti-war, and anti-conservative American thought at the boiling point of the post-modernist unrest. His motive seems to be to prove himself capable of living on the fringe of society, while not really believing in it, and not really accepting it, yet using it as he chooses. He wrestles with the need for it, the need to be in it, to work within the confines somehow, without being actually touched by it.

 

While Ansley still lives within the confines of society—like frequenting established eating houses, drinking and carousing with his friends, and enjoying the vehicles made by the grand machine of conformers, he still scoffs at all that there is, in favor of some  primal return, and we see that Ansley Perkins is not only highly intelligent, but highly young and inexperienced in life, wanting to create in himself a kind of man different than the men he knows through his father, Suzanne’ father, and his sister’s husband, and other sell-outs.

 

This book, only one of  the trilogy, will give you a deep understanding of one specific subculture of the 60s and its concepts about life and society, as well as one man’s personal growth, personal love, and personal identity.

 

Posted in Philosophical Musings | Leave a comment

Revisiting a Bridge of Nostalgia

I just re-read “The Bridges of Madison County,” don’t ask me why, I guess I just wanted to look into that theme again. I have seen the movie, too. I simply needed to reconnect with it and think about it again41F1aS+XUkL._AC_US160_.

Let me give  you a quick synopsis. It’s about a mid forties woman who longs to have chosen differently than being a farmer’s wife in the middle of a small town in Iowa. She is Italian, and was brought to The U.S. during her husband’s wartime stay in Naples. She meets this somewhat “drifter” who is more like her personality as he is artistic, creative, as she is, and they fall in love.

They have all of four days together, and he wants to tell her husband “sorry, this just happened, we are very much in love, and Francesca is leaving with me.” But she says “NO,” she cannot do that to her husband or her two children. She loves him terribly, but she does not want to leave a wreckage behind. So he leaves, they never come together again, and there is more but I’ll leave that to your reading.

I cried again. I have cried at the movie, cried when I first read it, and cried again. I cannot understand why we do the things we do, but this story was somewhat true (partly fictional of course, partly true), by reading letters, legal docs, etc. Or maybe it’s all fictional, and the author Robert James Waller, made it all up; authors are creative geniuses, you know…

The writer’s style of writing reminds me of the Tennessee Williams style: simple, warm, down-to-earth writing of middle America, and explaining how his characters get through his plot and their simple existence, but when it is needed he knows how to bring out the emotional guns, with words of bittersweet and desire.

I have been trying to re-read “the Catcher in the Rye,” but it isn’t happening for me       right now. I had read recently “Love Medicine” by Louise Erdrich, and that book made me cry, too. It’s theme was more the human condition, whereas “Bridges…” was more about the need for deep love.

My main point for writing this review is for myself, because the author, Waller, really doesn’t need a review, as his book was a mega hit; see the movie. I wrote it because I just wanted to share my feelings about unrequited love, or love that cannot be. My heart went out to the husband as well, for he had no idea what went on inside his wife’s heart, but that was partly his own error, for he did not seem to know ANYTHING that was going on in his wife’s heart, hence, her looking for someone who would love her heart. It is an archetypal character who suffers in love; and the plot of being unable to remain with whom you love, but instead sacrificing for the right reasons of conventions, kindnesses to family, not to wreak havoc to those who would be left behind, and so forth. Nonetheless, the one who gives that love up is sacrificing a great deal, and somehow, they will never be the same whether it was the wife, or the husband. That, folks, is a very painful choice, and it is sad. A good read, short, easy, finished it in a day.

Posted in Philosophical Musings | Leave a comment

A Review of: The Roads We Take

Most of us have heard of J. D. Salinger, and the famous novel: “The Catcher in the Rye.” In fact, that novel (1951), and the author, Jerome David Salinger, who has since died (1/27/2010) at the ripe age of 91, has been a mainstay in high schools across America for what the novel deals with: complex issues of innocence, identity, belonging, loss, and connection (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._D._Salinger). But that was then; this is now.

51qv-1G0PhL._AC_US160_.jpg

Author, Ethan Edgewood is a new writer of the modern age, having written his first novel “The Roads We Take” (2016), and I might say it deals very much with some of the same “complex issues” of innocence, identity, and so forth, except not in high school, but as with many young people in their twenties, today. So this novel is quite frankly a very good assessment of today’s young people who are looking for direction in their lives. Probably a good read for the college level young adults, starting out.

What is different–and yet, the same–is the nostalgia, and sometimes poignant truth of the difficulty of getting through life’s lessons as a young person: either one grows, or falls short and into trouble, and that is the biggest theme of all, how taking one road can lead a way that helps one progress, or another road, that can lead the way you do not want to go. The excitement is in the trip, where two young men full of youth, restlessness, and mischief, find themselves wondering what might happen if they take a road trip and decide to give it a go.

During the timeframe of a week on the road, the reader finds out who these two young men really are, and what makes them do what they do, on which roads they plan or don’t plan to travel, and why.

Perhaps some may say the story’s been told, but one must remember, every story in the world has been told: it takes a good storyteller to tell it again. And this is what I’ve found. J.D. Salinger might have died, but he may have been reincarnated in Ethan Edgewood. If not, Ethan has a good grip on Salinger’s style, albeit, not exactly the same in semantics, syntax, and grammar, but close enough to say this author, Edgewood, knows how to tell a story, make the reader a part of that story, and makes the reader think about those thematic truths within the story, whether we’ve heard it before or not. I liked it, and I loved reading about the angst of and sometimes tormenting choices in, youth and human progress. To read it, one might find a wide ray of hope in humanity, once again.

Posted in Philosophical Musings | Leave a comment