Category Archives: Rant
It is Saturday morning. The sky, grey when I awoke, is making its collective effort to reflect blue. Either way, no clouds in sight and that is a welcome situation. I am meeting a fellow reading group member, Kelsey, for brunch in a few hours. Later tonight I will be heading to the Elliot Bay Book Company for a reading, possibly their last, to hear Melissa Febos read from her recent publication, Whip Smart. More on this later.
Here are my prospective focuses:
1. After brunch I will return home, straight to my desk, to write. This will take hours as I have a lot to get done and my goal is to make my mind work like a machine. Or, at the very least, be productive like an assembly line.
2. After hours of writing, I will return to my car, the highway, the streets of downtown Seattle, the blocks of Pioneer Square to hear Febos dazzle my mind and most likely make me blush, though involuntarily.
This isn’t making any sense to you yet. Let me explain. Melissa Febos is a woman who paid her way through a MFA program at Sarah Lawrence University by working as a professional dominatrix in New York City. Now living in Brooklyn, she’s made the necessary sacrifice to travel across country, through the adventures of the Pacific Northwest, landed in Seattle and I will land in a seat in the crowd this evening and hear what she has to say.
Febos’ book, Whip Smart, is her first memoir. And I say first because I am attempting to be realistic. Everyone and their mother and third cousin, thrice removed are writing memoirs and if my tone sounds mildly sarcastic, it’s not. I am up for the challenge of wading through the crap load of crapy memoirs to find the few gems, which is the balance that I believe exists in the collective existence of memoirs. I have decided to collect memoirs by writers who will talk about their writing careers. Namely, writing memoirs of writers. Mouth full. This idea being the only reason I recently bought Amy Tan’s The Opposite of Fate, when I have never read any of her work.
So, on this Saturday, I have adventures to run, writing to write and all the while I still have not finished American Rust. I am taking it with me everywhere today so that I have the option of sneaking in a page here, a page there, a sentence, a word, anything that claims progress.
If I can run like a machine today, making use of every moment, today should be enjoyable. I am announcing, just in case, that I am forcing myself to finish American Rust this weekend. By the end of Sunday, sleep deprived or shame-filled, I will make the announcement of my next read.
How many books do you own? Do you prefer to own?
There are not many books that I buy that I ever want to get rid of. I like collecting. I like the aesthetic of books. The only books that I have gotten rid of, as far as I can remember, are the math textbooks from my undergrad studies.
What would you say to describe the value of a book?
Ok, not literally.
I am talking about books that are realistic. Authors that do actual research. These types of expenditures that issue in a higher level of connectivity and thus heightened reading enjoyment. Otherwise, I feel authors attempting to cozen me with words. I dislike this feeling of deceit.
Let me digress. To state simply, some authors do research prior to writing their books that is intended to illustrate realistic descriptions of personality types and the lay of the land in any particular region they are writing about or culture they are describing. Other authors write in ways that show their lack of research or their utter misunderstanding/inability to translate.
The last book I read, The Here And Now by Robert Cohen, took place mostly in New York City with brief jaunts to Houston, Texas and upstate New York, Woodstock to be correct. I could tell by reading this book that the author had actually been to these places and his descriptions fit like a glove.
In the novel I am now reading, American Rust, by Philipp Meyer, I get a sense that the author attempted to research rural Pennsylvania, but the script he writes for his characters are so damn stereotypical that I feel assaulted and I’m not even from this area of the country. Just to clarify, I didn’t say insulted, I said assaulting, and I meant it. I feel battered by the injustice and lack of attention he pays these characters.
I need to confess that I am only to page 100 of 300 something so perhaps the characters all of a sudden open up and break free from the constraints of this author’s imagination later in the book, but, how could that be? I mean really? That is an impossible scenario – to break free from the author’s immagination. Everyone knows a character cannot be two things:
1. Smarter than the author.
2. More imaginative than the author.
The story is not uninteresting, but the characters show such a striking lack of depth. I find it arduous to read, but I still want to know where the plot is going.
The structure of the book, however, seems to be set up in a format specifically to institute an opportunity for the reader to bond and understand the unique thinking of each character. Each chapter is named by the character that the narrator pays attention to. The narrator does not change, but instead sort of visits the minds of the characters, bouncing back and forth between their heads. I can see, clearly, what the author was attempting to do and I applaud the imagination he showed when glueing together the structure or the bones, but the meat is bland.
In any case, this is me today, continuing on reading American Rust and here are a couple of quotes that I have pulled from this read to keep in my reading journal:
“It was a reasonable thing to ask – a life with a little bit of dignity. She didn’t take up much space otherwise.”
“This is what it means to get old, you don’t look forward to pleasure so much as easing pain.”
The March giveaway is already underway and the April giveaway has been decided, but not yet announced. What I want to hear about from you is what kinds of giveaways are you interested in for the future? The only context I want to provide for this question is that they must be book and/or reading related.
There is this blog I found today entitled, Across the Page, and I admit, I didn’t spend much time skimming around, but I did discover listed 25 reasons to read. It got me thinking, what would be my reasons to read if I were to write them all out. And what are your reasons to read?
Reasons I Read.
1. I read to widen my world, my mind, my knowledge, my experiences. I do not believe that a person has to physically be involved in something to have an experience and so some of my experiences come from reading. Most of these experiences, I will admit, are emotional experiences. No one can truly understand… say, being in a plane crash by simply reading about it,but there are some emotional aspects about the situation that can become apart of the reader.
2. I read to expand my vocabulary. I like to know words. And reading helps me learn new ones. It’s that simple.
3. The way we write is not always alined with the way we think. I like to think of writing as a person’s “inner dialogue.” This inner dialogue allows my understandings to be expanded in new ways. I gleam new knowledge from reading that I couldn’t possibly get from any other medium.
4. I learn new things about myself when I read as there are bits and pieces of characters that I can connect to. Even if that may not be by personality, I can often find the way they word something to pull something up inside myself as if to alert my senses.
5. To be better prepared and to expand my trajectory. I like to be well-versed and I like when my head is swimming the muck of numerous and even, at times, countless ideas and landscapes. I like to have my senses dulled and then again sharpened. I like to have my views well constructed and littered with good dialogue that hits at every angle. I enjoy being able to enter into any conversation and reading only grants me this access.
6. Reading for pleasure makes me a better reader and when I want to study, this skill comes in handy.
7. I am an information-seeker. Hands down, my curiosity does not still itself. Even most of my dreams when I sleep are based on me finding and seeking out new information and ideas.
8. For connection. If I read a lot, than I expand my bases and am able to have more ways in which I can connect with others. I don’t want to forget to mention that being able to enter in more expansive conversation only gives me more space to connect with others. Also, I love talking about the things I love with others who also love them. These connections allow me to strengthen relationships as well as make new ones.
9. Reading helps me calm down and quiet myself. When I read it allows me to hear the authors voice and mind through the characters. This skill helps me to replay this approach when in conversation with people and allows me to try to listen better and hear those inner workings and motivations perched inside the words of my family and friends.
10. Reading is my escape. When I am stressed or need inspiration, I find it deeply satisfying to enter another world for a while. I enjoy reading. I get pleasure from the act. It refreshes me and it makes me intensely happy.
Today is going to be a good reading day. I can feel it in my bones. Speaking of bones, I have updated the Book Raffle page. There are new books from various authors laying claim on places all over the world. Please check them out, read them, become familiar, and make any suggestions of other books that you want added to the list & page. I will leave the Book Raffle page with no poll for voting for a little while and let everyone read the descriptions and have some time to have books added. In about a week or two I will add the poll to the page and open voting up for MAY reads.
Just as a reminder, here are the April winners.
I have been enjoying and loving adding quotes and books to my Moleskine reading journal. Has anyone gone out and bought one of their own? Of course, if you haven’t and are interested in owning one, the March giveaway is still anyone’s challenge to win.
I have tried the new Sharpie Pen out. I heard the word on the street was that this new pen was suppose to be Moleskine safe and guess what? It is! I got one just last night (thank you Frank) and have already been enjoying using it in my reading journal and other Moleskines.
You all know that lately I have been increasingly concerned with my reading time. What you don’t know is that these are my constant worries and thoughts and that I have merely been writing about them more openly. Not being satisfied with the amount of time I have to read is an ongoing existing factor in my day-to-day life. I have been trying out techniques that you all so graciously suggested and I will continue to work on them. I still need a new desk for writing and some reading. I still need to create a good reading space. I have settled on a desk and will be making this one (hopefully, sometime in March):
I am still debating where to create a better reading space, but I wish I could have this space:
With the exception that my shelves would not be white, they would have to be a darker would stain. The floors would not be tiled and so sterile looking, they need to be warmer, the chair would be slightly more luxurious, and the picturing hanging next to the fire place would be a Jacques-Louis David. Either of the two following:
I am feeling terrific about this week and my reading goals. Hopefully, if all goes as planned, by the end of March, I will feel victorious at surmounting at least some of my night stand pile, since it’s huge and only continues to grow. Maybe I’ll feel this good:
I’ll leave you with some questions for you to answer:
1. How has your reading gone this week, so far?
2. What does your perfect reading space include?
3. Who is reading what from the March selections?