Saturday, December 29, 2012
Friday, December 28, 2012
|Look inside at Amazon. You can purchase a copy at|
Indiebound as well.
However, this memoir's title is a bit misleading, in my opinion. The "theory" refers to Stephanie Lacava's lifelong interest in all manner of "things" - objects both natural and human made, as well as historical personages received as objects, that capture her attention and help her cope with her exceedingly sensitive and depression-prone nature. The "theory", I suppose, is that objects can do that for people: help them make sense of - or at least cope with - the world. But that seemed a rather obvious idea to me, and by the time I finished this memoir I had no more refined a sense of how or why that theory is extraordinary than I did when I started it.
Ms. Lacava's prose throughout is straight-forward, and the narrative pace reasonably quick. Yet I turned the last page thinking that I will remember An Extraordinary History of Objects primarily for its lovely illustrations (created by Matthew Nelson, who doesn't even receive a cover credit?), biographical information on eccentric women like Lee Miller and the Marchesa Casati, locations in France, and the physicality of the book itself rather than for any new insights this memoir might have provided about adolescence/coming-of-age or about how objects become "extraordinary".
Bottom Line: We both expected more from this memoir than we received, but each of us felt that perhaps we were too old to be its best audience. Rather, young adults may see themselves in the teen Stephanie, finding hope in her ultimate success. They might also pause to reflect on how the objects they connect to reflect their own inner conditions and conflicts.
And we both applaud Harper for investing in this book's aesthetic qualities, which will appeal to bibliophiles like us.
Mom & Who?
Mom's a retired science librarian/tech writer in New Mexico; I'm a high school English teacher in Washington state. We share a love of our imperfectly tended gardens (OK, mine's oh so much more imperfect than hers), lifelong learning (not a day goes by...), Jacques Pepin, travel, show tunes, our two-legged and four-legged family members, and - of course - books.
Saturday, December 15, 2012
Saturday, December 8, 2012
- Hayden Carruth
Another Poetry Out Loud gem. We eagerly await our first snow, and our suburban deer daily remind us that natural wonders are but an observant glance away.
Northern lights here? Not so much. But through this poem we may vividly imagine...
p.s. I love a poem whose title adds a dimension or question to the whole. This one fits that bill for me.
Thursday, December 6, 2012
|Find out what all the hype's about: Look inside|
at Amazon and read the stellar reviews.
Or: Moments of quiet crisis in ordinary lives.
That's how I might have subtitled this collection.
And, yes, both the crises and the lives seem to fade back into measured calmness or purposeful obscurity by stories' end.
"Married Love" is the title of the first story in Tessa Hadley's most recent collection, but the implied theme doesn't carry through into the other stories in any reliably consistent way. Love in its many permutations does.
With five of the twelve in this collection published in The New Yorker and others made public in Granta and equally prestigious journals, Tessa Hadley hardly needs me to sing her praises. Name the major reviewers: They're lauding this collection.
So I will simply state that if you are a fan of the short story, this collection is certainly worth pursuing.
In Hadley's "P.S." notes on writing Married Love, she discusses the art and the particular merits of short fiction as a genre: "The short form is so good at catching life on the wing, flashes from the intensity and mystery of people's inner lives, their strange motivations, their yearnings." She adheres to this focus in Married Love and other stories. If you're looking for subtle shadings of emotion as you inhabit everyday people's the inner lives via the slightly distanced stance of third person perspective (for me, Joyce's Dubliners and Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour" came to mind in this regard), this collection will satisfy.
My personal favorites in Married Love featured male protagonists, and I always marvel when authors can "switch genders" believably. Hadley seems to excel in this regard. If you're sampling from this collection, I suggest you try "The Trojan Prince" and "Journey Home" first, with "She's The One" and "Because the Night" next.
TLC Book Tours for offering me the opportunity for my first taste of a short fiction writer I'll be certain to follow in future. And do see what others thought of Ms. Hadley's collection: click the TLC link above.
p.s. If you're looking to gift Married Love for the holidays, you can do so via Indiebound.org, betterworldbooks.com, Amazon.com, or any of the electronic platforms.
Saturday, December 1, 2012
- Kenneth Patchen, 1943
This one hails from a poet and visual artist who inspired the Beats, and although I couldn't sleuth out a particular term for Patchen's form here (gentle readers, if you know it, do tell), I do find the poem sinking down and swirling around its meanings and images. It made me ponder how Patchen made his choices of stanza length and line length and gently morphed repetition.
I found this one while trolling on Poetry Out Loud's website for my next performance poem, and then I did a bit of research and found this wonderful series of illustrations by graphic novelist Ron Regé, Jr for the poem, complete with an intriguing discussion of the similarities between comics and poems, on poetryfoundation.org. (For the complete four panels, just click the link above, read the thought-provoking article, and hit the link for the slide show.)
And if it's all the same to the weather-maker(s) up there, I'd like to ask for a smackerel of snow right now, please.