Literary Journal Monday – Mapping My Mind

March 10, 2014 at 10:14 pm (In So Many Words, Reviews, The Whim) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I am not ADD, but my mind is often many places at once. It goes and goes… it races… it is unstoppable.

hungerI’ve been reading Hunger by Michael Grant.  It’s one of my niece’s books – the second in a series she introduced me to.  No, that’s not how I want to start this post – is it?

I was craving a little bit of dystopian society literature after reading Herodotus.  My brain spinning in a circular momentum about democracies, oligarchies, and dictatorships.  Darius and then Xerxes tyrading around ancient lands building the Persian Empire.  A thousand utopian and dystopian variations of all societies throughout history – a million possible outcomes for our modern world – twisting about in my mind.  Conveniently, it was at this moment that a trailer for the movie Divergent came on and I thought, “It’s about time I read Veronica Roth.”

Cue discussion of autism I’ve been having on and off with people since reading Not Even Wrong written by Paul Collins. Collins is an amazing author and obscure historian. Still suffering from story hangovers from Divergent and the movie Tonight You’re Mine (all about instantaneous human connections) – I found myself thinking about my niece’s Gone series.

Set in a town in California, all the kids fifteen and under have been left in a supernatural bubble – all adults over puberty have vanished, leaving kids and babies to fend for themselves and create a new government. Not unlike Lord of the Flies, different factions have formed. One is under the leadership of Sam Temple, another under his half brother Caine (the biblical implications of Caine and Abel not to be lost on readers, of course). Sam and his new girlfriend, Astrid, are two of the oldest left behind. They have formed a parental union for the younger kids, caring for all the helpless, including Astrid’s autistic brother.

Like bumper pool – or pinball, if you missed out on the bumper pool phenomena – the synapses in my brain spark and twitch and leap bringing me back to Paul Collins/Not Even Wrong/ McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern. Then, I find myself thinking, “Goodness, it’s Literary Journal Monday.

tonight you're mineTonight You’re Mine still echoing in my gut (I’m pretty sure I love that movie far more than what is considered healthy or normal), I veer toward the London Magazine when selecting my Literary Journal Monday feature. (Tonight You’re Mine is set in Scotland – not England, but for an American like me, it is the closest I can get in Literary Journals once I mentally cross the pond.)

London Magazine February/March 1981 Vol. 20 Nos. 11 &12

The Private Letters of Tennessee Williams and a piece on Gore Vidal catch my eye. I flip through the first few ads, the table of contents, then stop dead on a heading: FINAL REMINDER.

“If we are to survive the next issue we need 1,000 new subscribers or their equivalent, and we need them immediately […]”

P1010303My reading screeches to a halt and I turn to the shelf. Were there more? Did they have to cancel the magazine? Did they get their 1,000 readers? Ah, sigh, they survived. At least until 1989 where the collection at the bookstore stops. So clearly, they got their 1,000. I wonder who these 1,000 were and if this final reminder is what provoked them to officially subscribe. Or were they friends and family of existing subscribers, terrified their favorite magazine would cease to exist if they didn’t recruit others to love what they loved?

My thoughts have veered so far off track that I forget what I was reading altogether. I flip through the journal in my hand trying to grasp the reason I had sat down to look at this in the first place.

It’s March. St. Patty’s Day is coming up. Irish authors keep popping in and out of my mind. Ireland… Scotland… Tonight You’re Mine… music… poetry… Derek Mahon, an Irish poet’s name blinks at me from the page of the literary journal in my hand. Literary Journal Monday, of course. I read the poem “The Elephants” first. I love elephants. Then my eyes skip over to “April in Moscow” and I read “Spring burst into our houses…” It does, doesn’t it? Just bursts right in and none too soon. At the end of the poems there is an ad for the Poetry Society Bookshop at 21 Earls Court Square in London. I wonder if it is still there.

If they do still exist, I bet they have a copy of Lang Leav’s Love & Misadventure. I’m dying for a copy. Leav has been speaking to my soul lately. Misadventures stuck in the cogs of the mind of a woman turned 30.

A line from Grant’s book swings into full view of my mind’s eye:

“He buried his face in her hair. She could feel his breath on her neck, tickling her ear. She enjoyed the feel of his body against hers. Enjoyed the fact that he needed to hold her. But there was nothing romantic about this embrace.” – pg. 21

There rarely is when a hug is really needed. It’s that moment Leav writes about…

When words run dry,
he does not try,
nor do I.

We are on par.

He just is,
I just am
and we just are.

– Lang Leav

The lack of selfishness between the characters at this point is refreshing in fiction and real life.

In a 2014 American Society of infantile adults who never learned to fend for themselves and work hard without constant praise, we are fascinated by literature and movies where children and teens are forced to grow up overnight and be adults.

It’s sad when the idea of fifteen-year-olds co-leading a community and making wise, unselfish decisions for themselves and each other sounds absurd and fictional. My associative mind leaps back to all the ancient history I’ve been studying, back to the likes of King Tut – pharaoh at age nine – dead by nineteen, married somewhere in between.

We believe in responsible marriages like the Romans, but we chase telepathic connections like the Greeks. What a very convoluted and contradictory way to live – the reality of a dystopian society is that every society is a dystopia – even a society of one. Our minds are everywhere and nowhere. Of course we are in conflict.

I suppose you Literary Journal Monday followers got a little more than you wanted. I bit off more than I could chew today. I attempted to map my own mind and identify all the associations and patterns, leaving myself somewhat exhausted from chasing whimsies.

At least I got to spend a few stolen moments in this room…

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Best Book Boyfriends of 2012

December 30, 2012 at 12:32 am (The Whim) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

love-books-hearts-600x337

I avidly read The Lit Bitch and a recent post included a top 12 book boyfriends list: http://thelitbitch.com/2012/12/29/top-12-in-2012-book-boyfriends/.

Cute concept, fun blog idea, but as I scrolled through my 74 books of the year, I realized that I didn’t read a lot of books in which there were boyfriends to pick from.

I started out with How to Buy a Love of Reading, and I think Hunter set me into a mood that I just couldn’t get past.  There are other boyfriends I read through the year, but I barely remember them.

I don’t recall the characters in The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton.  Regardless of what I thought of the book when I read it, no one in it made a lasting impact on me.  I actually had to refer to my own review to remember Seldon’s name.

The Great Gatsby is a fantastic novel, one of my favorites, but Jay Gatsby is not someone I’d put on my list of literary love interests.

jace_wayland_by_sallysalander-d4wi4bgI did read The Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices series and there are plenty of boyfriends to be had in those books, and they are lovely, and romantic, and intense; but none of them lived up to Hunter.

I did read Inhale, the first of a series called Just Breathe, which is an urban fantasy erotica piece, but the characters there are what the genre calls for: super sexy, the end.  Don’t get me wrong, sexy is nice, I think my husband is one of the sexiest, but I need more out of a character I’d want to put on a boyfriend of the year list.

RoryRory Williams, for instance, the man who waited, the Roman centurion, one-half of a couple known as The Ponds on Doctor Who… he could go on a boyfriend of the year list.  He’s just heavenly, and wonderful.  But this is about books, not TV shows.

I read a lot of Agatha Christie this year, and she’s all mystery and not a whole lot of romance.  Although a love story emerges here and there, it’s rarely more than a motive or plot device, therefore how can anyone in her books make the list?

On the other hand, I read cozy mysteries too.  I like Cleo Coyle and her coffeehouse series.  Cozy mysteries almost always have a boyfriend, but with there always being a boyfriend, I don’t often get the chance to delight in any of them.  They are there to make the protagonist feel good or bad, have a romantic scene of some sort, and then on to the next guy.  In real life, I’m morally opposed to most of the relationships that pop up in cozy mysteries.  But, I figure it comes with the territory when reading about murderers and investigators.

Scrolling down my list of books read this year, I come to Karleen Koen’s Through a Glass Darkly.  Sorry girls, I can’t recommend Montgeoffrey to anyone.  He is the basis of all Babara’s pain… a ladies man, a cheater, and ultimately also gay.  How many strikes can you add to a relationship before I’m just really tired of the guy?  It makes the heroine incredibly interesting, but I can’t let Montgeoffrey anywhere near my book-boyfriend list.

So it comes down to the fellows in A.S. Byatt’s Possession, the cutie-patootie Sam in Michael Grant’s Gone, and Hunter of HTBALOR.

Byatt’s romances in Possession are powerful and intriguing, Sam Temple in Gone is a cute kid with the potential to be an incredible man when he’s all grown up, but I have to hand it to Hunter – he captured my heart.

Hunter is intelligent, sweet, broody, keeps a journal, and sadly is also an addict.  Reading the conclusions of my own blog post, I find myself in disbelief… what does this say about my taste in men that I want to pick the suicidal one as book-boyfriend of the year?  And that Marius of Les Miserables didn’t even make the short list of final contestants?

Who is on your list?

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A Review of Michael Grant’s Gone

December 13, 2012 at 5:04 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Gone_Michael_GrantTitle: GONE

Author: Michael Grant

Publisher: HarperTeen

Genre: Young Adult/ Science Fiction

Length: 558 pages

Take the horror of Golding’s Lord of the Flies, the paranormal excitement of your favorite comic books, and put it smack in the middle of modern-day California stuck in a bubble, and that’s Gone.  It’s all sorts of dark, twisty, disturbing, and pretty awesome.

My niece handed me this book, she’s in the third volume of the series, and loving it.  She’s into the dark and twisty books these days, I remember being into them at that age too.   And though I’m hooked on these as an adult as well, I find these a little too dark and twisty from the perspective of a parent.

Kids killing kids, babies starving to death trapped in homes without care, fires, dark demon-like creatures on the hunt, it’s a little too much when I think of it with my own kiddo in mind.  It puts my obsessive crazy brain on a mission to ensure my child is a self-sufficient survivor with some mad Kung Fu skills under her belt as soon as possible.  It reminds me the value of teaching my kid about God, love, and the makings of good leaders; how to recognize right from wrong and good from bad without having an adult there to tell you.  In case of crisis, this is the plan…

When it comes down to it, Grant is a great writer for this genre.  He is dark and twisty, but he does limit his descriptions as to leave plenty of room for the imagination.  So although there is a dead baby that’s needs taken care of, a twelve-year-old is less likely to visualize the entire process of a baby being alone for eight days and then found dead.  Grant addresses the smell of the house, the fact that the main character has to clean it up and take care of the child, and the emotional trauma of the situation, but he doesn’t go into a gross CSI style detail that would move me to guide a twelve-year-old away from the series.  That’s what keeps the book so intriguing rather than nauseating.

Well, that and the fact that I’m a sucker for dystopian societies and coming of age stories.

My recommendation if your kid picks this up: Read it WITH them, and be ready to discuss.

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