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#Non-Fiction America’s War


Structure: 480 pages
Part 1 – The Preliminaries ch 1-7
Part 2 – Entr’acte (“between the acts”) ch 8 – 11
Part 3 – Main Card ch 12-18


My Notes:


USA fights wars:

…1776 for independence
…1861 for slavery
…1980 US embarks upon a war for oil


Central irony:  

  1. For America’s War for the Greater Middle East
  2. US’s tendency to focus on solving one problem,
  3. to exacerbate a second and plant the seeds of a third.”
  4. See: Wikipedia ‘Operation Cyclone”



  1. I noticed in chapter 1
  2. sound bites used in 1980s that
  3. …are now used by Trump!
  4. US didn’t want a distressed angel (Carter)
  5. ….passing judgement on their failings.
  6. The US wanted a president who would fix things!
  7. Carter viewed himself as “an agent of the Lord’
  8. Trump referred to himself as ‘the chosen one’
  9. …while speaking
  10. on his role in the ongoing trade war
  11. between the US and China. (21 Aug 2019)


Note: Ch 6:

  1. Especially interesting was the conscious
  2. effort by the US in 1982
  3. ….to open a secret channel
  4. ….to provide Baghdad with sensitive intel,
  5. satellite images, PC’ hell’s and heavy trucks.

What was USA’s plan….long term?

  1. US needed Saddam and with this non-military help
  2. it enabled Iraq to avoid outright defeat in Iraq-Iran war.
  3. …but why?    Answer: pg 132
  4. “…US had a compelling interest in positioning Iraq as a
  5. counterweight to a dangerous Islamic Republic.”


Note: Ch 7:

  1. The book comes alive for me with the
  2. US to hunkering down in Saudi Arabia and
  3. preparing to remove Saddam from Kuwait.
  4. My favorite no nonsense General
  5. “Stormin’ Norman” Schwarzkopf jr.
  6. He planned and led Operation Desert Storm—
  7. which defeated the Iraqi Army and liberated Kuwait
  8. Pg 117 this would be
  9. “…Vietnam done right,
  10. …with a decisive victory the result.
  11. No shilly-shallying allowed.”



  1. Don’t worry about memorizing all the names, dates, etc
  2. focus on the big picture…the important stuff will stick.
  3. This book is a wonderful re-cap of
  4. the history of the War for the Greater Middle East.
  5. Strong point: Bacevich makes non-fiction read like a novel!
  6. Great read…for history buffs!


Last Thoughts:

  1. What was the MOST important thing I learned?
  2. …the 4 reasons why USA is still waging the
  3. War for the Greater Middle East.
  4. War has the seal of approval of Republicans and Democrats
  5. Aspiring Presidential candidates find it expedient to ‘support the troops’ (war)
  6. Individuals/institutions benefit from a long conflict (military industrial complex)
  7. MOST importantly…
  8. Americans appear oblivious to what is occurring.
  9. All the more reason
  10. ….to read this book!

Bacevich is a West Point graduate. He holds a Ph.D. in American Diplomatic History from Princeton University, and taught at West Point and Johns Hopkins University before joining the faculty at Boston University in 1998


#Essays Best American Essays 2017



  1. I’ve reviewed the first 5 essays
  2. …and will let you discover the rest.
  3. The BEST essay was by Rachel Ghansah.
  4. “The Weight”
  5. Try to read anything by this Pulitzer Prize winner
  6. ….you won’t be disappointed.


Last Thoughts:

  1. Personally I was  NOT impressed with the selected essays.
  2. They lacked creativity, insight and
  3. there were too many long personal essays.
  4. I’m not interested with your family relationships!
  5. I’ve read other collections that are WELL worth your reading time:
  6. Zadie Smith – Feel Free

  1. Ashleigh Young – Can You Tolerate This?

  1. Fiona Wright – Small Acts of Disappearance: Essays on Hunger

  1. Best Australian Essays 2016

  1. Best Australian Science Writing 2018


My notes:

  1. Two Shallow Graves  C+
  2. Jason Arment…
  3. served in Operation Iraqi Freedom
  4. as a Machine Gunner in the USMC.
  5. He’s earned an MFA in Creative Nonfiction
  6. from the Vermont College of Fine Arts.
  7. Arment is a warrior as witness who writes down things we don’t want to know.
  8. Reading time: 22 minutes
  9. Conclusion:
  10. This is not an essay
  11. …it is probably a chapter from
  12. Arment’s published book in 2017  Musalaheen (memoir)
  13. Arment writes vividly
  14. …but I’m not interested in war literature.


  1. The Weight  A++++++
  2. Rachel K. Ghansah…
  3. is an American award-winning essayist.
  4. She won a Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing in 2018 for her profile of
  5. white supremacist and mass murderer Dylann Roof
  6. who killed nine black people at a church in South Carolina.
  7. Gahnsah writes about her past reluctance
  8. to revere James Baldwin in this essay.
  9. She wants to provide a model others can build upon so that they
  10. …do not buckle under “The Weight” of Baldwin’s legacy.
  11. The man can finally rest in peace.
  12. Reading time: 38 minutes
  13. Conclusion:
  14. This essay is absolutely stunning!
  15. I suggest you read anything you can find
  16. by Rachel K. Ghansah!


  1. White Horse     D- 
  2. Elise Goldbach...
  3. She writes  a courageous personal essay about  a
  4. campus sexual attack and its aftermath.
  5. After 6 minutes I realize this is not the
  6. …essay I want to spend time reading.
  7. Reading time:   — minutes
  8. Conclusion:
  9. This essay is difficult to read….so DNF!


  1. The City That Bleeds  D-
  2. Lawrence Jackson…
  3. is a professor of English and history at
  4. Johns Hopkins University.
  5. He is a  literary critic and compelling biographer.
  6. Essay starts out as a description of police officers
  7. on trial for brutality…and suddenly is a essay about
  8. L. Jackson’s ancestors in Baltimore.
  9. Reading time:  15 minutes
  10. Conclusion:
  11. This essay is makes valid points on
  12. the state affairs in Baltimore
  13. …the city that bleeds
  14. …but it did not hold my interest.
  15. It felt like Jackson shifts words here and there
  16. and tells me things I read in the news.
  17. The essay lacks depth.


  1. We Are Orphans Here   C+
  2. Rachel Kushner…
  3. is an author of several novels
  4. The Flamethrowers (2013) and The Mars Room (2018)
  5. Ms Kushner spends a weekend in the Shuafat Refugee
  6. Camp in East Jerusalem.
  7. The essay is probably not simply about a place or a journey,
  8. but rather is about what she may discover
  9. about people, life on that journey and in that place.
  10. Reading time:  15 minutes
  11. Conclusion:
  12. This essay is travel essay
  13. The hard part was trying to find
  14. Kushner’s quest…
  15. …the reason for writing this essay.
  16. I think she wanted to confront the image
  17. that the international media uses to depict
  18. Shuafat Camp…
  19. ” …as the most dangerous place in Jerusalem”
  20. with her personal experience pg 66
  21. “…how wonderful it was in Shuafat Camp…how safe I felt.”
  22. The essay was….average.
  23. Unfortunately, it did not appeal to me

#TBR 2018 update 25.08.2018


  1. When will I ever manage to read all these books?
  2. My first plan of action:
  3. List: books bought 2018
  4. Goal: READ these books in 2018. (no new books!)
  5. Start challenge: 23 August  2019
  6. End challenge: 31 March 2020
  7. 2018 TBR     3/63


My new reading motto:

Just remember, when you should grab something,
grab it;
when you should let go,
let go.”

— Taoist proverb


January 2018 – MUST READ   3/11 TBR

UPDATE: 23.08.2019

  • The Empty Family –  C. Tóibin (9 short stories) – READ
  • Finished: 22.08.2019
    Genre: short stories (9)
    Rating: D –
    First story was the ‘hook’
    One Minus One: very moving…
    …but the rest of the book was a huge disappointment.
    It was painful to keep reading…no ‘great writing’.
    This is my second Tóibin book…and it is my last.


UPDATE: 23.08.2019

  1. Best US Essays 2017READ (20 essays)
  2. Starting some Best American Essays 2017.
  3. I’m taking them as they come
  4. I may like some more than others essays
  5. ….and perhaps a few not at all.
  6. Finished: 24.08.2019
    Genre: essays
    Rating: D-
    #TBR list 2018
    Not the best collection I’ve ever read!
    If you are looking for some great essays
    …I’ve added some suggestions in this review.
  7. Look for Rachel Ghansah in articles in The Atlantic and
  8. her Pulitzer Prize winning article in GQ.
    I’m sure if you Google her name you’ll find more in
  9. The New York Times and The Guardian.
  10. Wikipedia was my first stop
  11. …truly inspirational how she writes! I jealous of her talents!


UPDATE: 24.08.2019

  1. America’s War for the Greater Middle East – A. Bacevich – READING


UPDATE: 25.08.2019

  1. My Name is Leon – Kit de Waal – READING


  1. A Time for Gifts
  2. Billion Dollar Spy
  3. Spy of the First Person
  4. A Wizard of Earthsea
  5. Alibis: essays of Elsewhere
  6. Findings (K. Jamie)


Finished: 22.08.2019
Genre: short stories
Rating: D –
#TBR list January 2018
Bottle Party – reviewed — good (…story  was the ‘hook’ to keep me reading)
Collier was British novelist, poet and occasional screenwriter…best known as the author of macabre or bizarre short stories with trick endings. Tone: spooky! The main character Franklin Fletcher wants a hobby and buys a Jinn in a bottle to grant his wishes: palace with the most beautiful girl in the world. Of course strange things happen! I loved Collier’s description right out of a Hollywood B-film: plump and dusky muscles (swarthy or dark-skinned); the Jinn withdrew with a a soapy smile (excessively suave or ingratiating). MORAL: don’t fear one who attacks… fear the fake friend that hugs you! The rest….
De Mortuis – average…10 min reading time
Evening Primrose – …confusing not good – 18 min
Witch’s Money – awful – 12 min
The Touch of Nutmeg Makes It – awful – 8 min
Three Bears Cottage – awful – 5 min
Wet Sunday – awful – 10 min
Squirrels Have Bright Eyes – awful – 10 min
…time to pull the plug on this one!


February  2018  – MUST READ   0/5 TBR

  1. The Break  – M. Keyes
  2. The China Model: Political Meritocracy (NF) – D. Bell
  3. Secret Pigeon Service (NF) – G. Corera
  4. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (play) – S. Stephens
  5. Bookworm: A Memoir  – L. Mangan


March  2018  – MUST READ   0/10 TBR

  1. Three Plays: The Fiddler’s House, The Land, T. Muskerry – by Padraic Colum
  2. In the Woods – Tana French (CF)
  3. Patrick Kavanagh, A Biography — A. Quinn (NF)
  4. The Prophets of Eternal Fjord – K.L. Rasmussen (novel)
  5. Russian Émigré Stories – Karetnyk (short stories)
  6. Joy Ride: Lives of th Theatricals – J. Lahr (NF)
  7. Ink – J.  Graham (play)
  8. The Ferryman – J. Butterworth (play)
  9. Labour of Love – J. Graham (play)
  10. The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree – S. Azar (novel)


April   2018  – MUST READ   0/5 TBR

  1. Silent Invasion – Clive Hamilton
  2. Enormous Changes at the Last Minute – G. Paley (short stories)
  3. See What I Have Done – S. Schmidt (novel)
  4. Notes on a Foreigen Country – S. Hansen (NF)
  5. The Unseen – R. Jacobsen


May   2018  – MUST READ   0/ 1 TBR

  1. The Torrents – O. Gray (play)


June   2018  – MUST READ   0/2  TBR

  1. Not That Bad – R. Gay
  2. Ghost Stories – C. Dickens


July   2018  – MUST READ   0/2   TBR

  1. Passage To India – E.M. Forster
  2. Richard the Third: The Great Debate – P.M. Kendall


August   2018  – MUST READ   0/6   TBR

  1. Suicide Club – R. Heng
  2. I Don’t Want to Know Anyone Too Well – N. Levine (short stories)
  3. The Town Below – R. Lemelin
  4. Midnight Queen – M.A. Fleming
  5. The Flying Years – F. Niven
  6. The Mayor of Côte St. Paul – C. Ronald


September   2018  – MUST READ   0/13   TBR

  1. Ghost Stories – E. Wharton
  2. The Beetle – R. Marsh
  3. A Warning to the Curious – M.R. James (short stories)
  4. Sharp Objects – G. Flynn
  5. A Life Underwater – C. Veron (NF)
  6. The High Places – F. McFarlane (short stories)
  7. Danger Music – E. Ayres (NF)
  8. Talking to My Country – S. Grant (NF)
  9. I, Clodia and Other Portraits – A. Jackson
  10. The Secrets She Keeps – M. Robotham
  11. May Week Was in June – C. James
  12. Snuff – T. Pratchett
  13. Dead Wake – E. Larson


October   2018  – MUST READ   0/2   TBR

  1. Motherhood – S. Heti
  2. The Halloween Tree – R. Bradbury


November   2018  – MUST READ   0/5   TBR

  1. Selected Essays – A.S. Byatt
  2. A Short History of the World – H.G. Wells
  3. The Little Years – J. Mighton (play)
  4. Landscape With Landscape – G. Murnane
  5. Waiting for Elijah – K. Wild


December   2018  – MUST READ   0/1  TBR

  1. The Christmas Tree – Jennifer Johnston (novel)

#TBR 2019 Challenge Finished!! 39/39



  1. This is what I look like when I think of my TBR.
  2. When will I ever manage to read all these books?
  3. My first plan of action:
  4. List: books bought 2019 (e-book, paper, audio)
  5. Goal: READ these books in 2019. (no new books!)
  6. Start challenge: 08 July 2019
  7. End challenge: 31 December 2019


This is what I look like  TODAY.. I FINISHED  this challenge!!

UPDATE:…43 books 2019 TBR

4 books – DNF….just NOT going to read these books

  • Offshore – M. Gleeson (Boochani’s book was enought!)
  • Ultimate Guide to Poetry  – R. Bradford (layout on Kindle is unreadable…grrr!)
  • Pachinko – M.J. Lee (…sorry, not in the mood for a family saga)
  • The Gun – D. Kavanagh (CF…not in the mood)


  1. After non-stop reading…and mini-reviews
  2. Today I finished 39/39 books!
  3. I’m exhausted and cannot
  4. ….read one more poem …for many weeks!
  5. 22 Aug:  taking inventory of all books
  6. bought in 2018 and making new TBR list!
  7. This is the only way to reduce Mt TBR!



BOOKS BOUGHT IN 2019….  READ    39/39

  1. James Tiptree, jr. The Double Life Alice SheldonJ. Phillips – READ —  A
  2. Ghosts of the Tsunami R. L. ParryREAD — B
  3. We Can Make a LifeC. Henry – READ — C
  4. The Coddling of the American Mind G. Lukianoff, J. HaidtREAD — A++++
  5. The First CasualtyPeter Greste – READ — C
  6. 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write S. Ruhl – READ — B++
  7. Indecent (play) – Paula Vogel – READ — A
  8. Astonished DiceG. Cochrane (short stories) – READ —  F (…sorry, New Zealand)
  9. From a Low and Quiet SeaDonal Ryan- READ  — F (…sorry, Ireland)
  10. The Heart’s Invisible FuriesJohn Boyne – READ — D (…sorry, Ireland…Boyne can do better!)
  11. The Best of NZ PoemsREAD ( …just too many poems to reveiw…just read) — C
  12. …only like poems by:
  13. Cilla McQueen
  14. Ashleigh Young,
  15. C.K. Stead,
  16. Selina Marsh
  17. Michele Amas.
  18. New Zealand….where is Therese Lloyd ? (…short list Ockham 2019!)


UPDATE: 21.08.2019

  1. Parang – Omar Musa – READ (27 poems)  STUNNING!

Parang – with a name like this (knife)
I expected blood, gore, guts.
I got insight, openness, much humanity,
at times a palpable joy.
No ‘Hippa to Da Hoppa’ rap beat
…only the beating of a true poet’s heart.


UPDATE: 20.08.2019

  1. Lemons in the Chicken Wire – READ
  2. Finished: 20.08.2019
    Genre: potry
    Rating: C-
    #TBR list 2109
    Conclusion:What can I say…poems are very personal.
    You like this one and I like that one.
    Collection: 50 poems and I like just 13 = 26%
    Blakwork ….is Whittaker’s a great, inpired collection of poems.
    Lemons in the Chicken Wire pales in comparison.
    C’est la vie.These were: very good
    Growing Soon -…loved the structure/symmetry
    Carry the One – …young girl’s thoughts at school
    AH -..young girl’s observations + “ I go by Koori time”
    Cinnamon Eggs – …young girl’s unexpected bike accidentThese were: goodEXT.INT. title = “ exterior” interior” thoughts as stage directions
    A Funeral …family around grandfather’s grave….
    Insider Knowledge …family knows more than you think!
    Preface: Another Funeral …family memories Great Nan’s death
    Whatcha glimpse in a of a young girl’s life
    The Sticking Place …time…, a limp carcass…soundless bubble
    Epilogue: A Funeral
    Do Ya?
    Chicken Wire Lemons


UPDATE: 19.08.2019

  1. Fast Talking PI – Selina T. Marsh (NZ poet) – READING
  2. Winner, 2010 NZSA Jessie Mackay Award for Best First Book of Poetry


UPDATE: 18.08.2019

  1. Cambridge Guide  Irish Poets – READ
  2. Finished: 19.08.2019
    Genre: non-fiction
    Rating: D
    #TBR list 2019
    This book is targeted for an
    audience who has a basic knowledge of
    Irish poets and wants to know just a little bit more.
    It is NOT a book for a poetry novice ….like me.
    I struggled with some of the first 10 poets
    (Goldmith, Moore, Mangan, Yeats, Ledwidge, Clarke….)
    to find some clear basic info.
    These essays are a forest of academic jargon.
    Read this book if you feel adventurous
    …otherwise basic info is better on Wikipedia.
    This is my LAST Cambridge Companion book…ever!


UPDATE: 17.08.2019

  • Cane – Jean Toomer – READ
Finished: 18.08.2019
Genre: stories, poems
Rating: C
#TBR list 2019
Fifteen poems, (good)
Six brief prose vignettes, (very good)
Seven stories (average)
a play (…not the best part of the book…skimmed it)—all about black life in the 1920’s.
The book is divided into three parts:
Part 1 and 3 set in rural Georgia
Part 2 takes place in Chicago and in Washington, D.C.
Women, particularly in the first part, are depicted as sex objects.
They manage not only to endure
…but also to prevail.



UPDATE: 17.08.2019

  1. Milkman – Anna Burns – READ
  2. Finished: 17.08.2019
    Genre: novel
    Rating: D-
    #TBR list 2019
    I’m taking the high road with the author Anna Burns and her
    prize winning Milkman.
    I realize that no one really will remember
    or care what I think.
    Let me just say…it did not make my 10 best books of the year
    ….not by a long shot.
  3. This book is in a class all of its own….
    just not the class I enjoy.
    But more power to Anna Burns for writing
    an opaque yet an unique book.


UPDATE: 17.08.2019

    1. My Name is Revenge – A. K. Blunt – READ



UPDATE: 16.08.2019

  1. Show Them a Good Time (8 short stories) – N. Flattery – READ



  1. The Barracks – J. McGahern – READ
  2. Finished: 06.08.2019
    Genre: novella ( pg 232)
    Rating: D –
    #TBR list 2019
    Sorry, this book was not what I expected.
    Swept away by J. McGahern’s breathtaking
    “All Will Be Well: A Memoir” (read this one!)
    ….I hoped his novel could reach the
    same level of excellence….unfortunately it did not.


UPDATE: 28.07.2019

  1. Wake in Fright – K. Cook – READ (…disappointment)
  2. 2019 Hip Marathon Wake in Fright index


UPDATE: 03.08.2019

  1. The Hate U Give – A. Thomas – READ
  2. Finished: 03.08.2019
    Genre: novel
    Rating: A+++
    #TBR List 2019
    Conclusion:Books may seem like small comfort.
    But in a time like this, when it’s hard to understand
    how American culture became so hate-filled,
    reading is probably the best possible option…
    …to get off the internet,
    …pick up a book, and
    …think about how the country has gotten here.
    #TheHateUGive is a good place to start!


UPDATE: 02.08.2019

  1. Tin Man – Sarah Winman – READ (..mèh)

Finished: 03.08.2019
Genre: novel
Rating: C –

This book is about loneliness.
I found the book to be an attempt to
paint loneliness with landscapes….
(sunflowers fill the frame,
swallows soar with heat on their wings (pg 210)
and not describe
the deep feeling of loneliness
…like a mould growing slowly around you.
Yes there are cries of the heart that evoke your emotions
…but all in all the book was too lyrical, too sugar-spin sweet
and just seemed to scratch the surface of the ache of loss.

I read both the winner of Costa Award 2017 and this shortlisted book for the same prize back-to-back. Then I compared the impact of both books on the subject of loneliness. The stark difference in approaching loss….probably was an big factor
that influenced my review of Tin Man.
After reading Gail Honeyman’s book “Eleanor Oliphant is Compelety Fine’ (winner Costa Award 2017)….Tin Man felt “tinny”.


UPDATE: 01.08.2019

  1. Driving Into the Sun – Marcella Polain – READ


UPDATE: 10.08.2019

  1. Exit West – M. Hamid – READ
  2. Finished: 10.08.2019
    Genre: novella/allegory
    Rating: D-
    #TBR list 2019
    Two lovers Saeed and Nadia meet in nameless Middle East City.
    They decide to leave and seek a better life.
    The couple manages to hold onto their love throughout moving to Mykonos, London, Marin California…..always hoping for salvation….always Exiting West.
    It took me a little while to realise that they were actually going from country to country by these doors. It felt very “Narnia’ -like to be honest!
    Conclusion: not an entertaining read but it’s not dark either
    …it was exhausting b/c Hamid’s writing style is characterized by long convoluted sentences.
    Sometimes I just lost interest


UPDATE: 04.08.2019

  1. Brother – David Chariandy  – READ
  2. Finished: 04.08.2019
    Genre: novel
    Rating: C-
    # TBR List 2019
    This is a very short read.
    Two brothers (immigrant backround) dealing
    with their place in society.
    Staying streetwise means survival.
    I never found it riveting.
    That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read it
    because it does have a powerful message.
    Score is based on my personal reaction…just not for me.


UPDATE: 31.07.2019

  1. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine  – G. Honeyman – READ  STUNNING !!
  2. 2019 Hip Marathon Eleanor Oliphant image


UPDATE: 01.08.2019

  1. The Shepherd’s Hut – Tim Winton – READ – Bah!
  2. Finished: 02.08.2019
    Genre: novel
    Rating: F –
    So glad to be done with this book.
    I’m amazed that it received so many 4 and 5-star ratings.To “call a spade a spade” is a figurative expression.
    It refers to calling something “as it is” without
    “beating about the bush”.
    Tim Winton can write ….read Cloudstreet for the proof.
    Tim Winton just wasted my reading time with this s**t.
    Sorry to be so blunt…but there it is!


UPDATE: 05.08.2019

  1. Aquarium – David Vann – READ  (…why in heaven’s name did I buy this book?)
  2. Finished: 06.08.2019
    Genre: novella (pg 272)
    Rating: F —
    #TBR list 2019
    Blurb: Elegant? Gripping?
    Please, I’ve read a recipe for a boiled
    egg that was better than this!


  1. Red Ribbons – L. Phillips –   READ (Irish profiler/psychologist Dr. Kate Pearson #1)
  2. Finished: 10.09.2019
    Genre: CF
    Rating: F
    #TBR list 2019
    Where do I start?
    I start and end with … comment.
    Taking the high road with this book!


  1. Crocodile Tears – M. O’ Sullivan – READ  (Irish Detective Leo Woods #1) STUNNING!
  2. Finished: 05.08.2019
    Genre: CF
    Rating: A+++++
    #TBR list 2019
    I could NOT put this book down!
    Did not have a clue who killed Dermot Brennan
    ….and finally after 97% of the book…the reader
    #Excellent ‘Who dunnit?


  1. Seeing Yellow  – E. Bourke – READ  shortlist Irish Times Poetry 2019   STUNNING!


UPDATE: 07.08.2019

  1. Insistence – Ailbhe Darcy – READ 18 poems (review)
  2. Wales Book of the Year Award 2019
  3. Roland Mathias Poetry Award (Wales)
  4. Pigott Poetry Prize 2019 (Ireland)
  5. Shorlist: T.S. Eliot Prize 2018
  6. Shortlist: Irish Times Poetry Award 2019
  7. Finished: 07.08.2019
    Genre: poetry
    Rating: D
    #TBR list 2019
    My thoughts are my own.
    Please take the time to read these poems
    …I’m curious what YOU think….and what I am missing.


UPDATE: 09.08.2019

  1. Are Friends Electric ? – H. Heath (Ockham NZ Award poetry 2019) – READ
  2. Finished: 09.08.2019
    Genre: poetry
    Rating: B
    #Winner Ockham New Zealand Award Poetry 2019
    My Thoughts


UPDATE: 11.08.2019

  1. The Twelve – S.Neville – READ  (Irish Noir)

  2. Finished: 011.08.2019
    Genre: CF
    Rating: D
    #TBR ist 2019
    No intrigue…no whodunnit
    …no story development
    just guns, blood, violence and some
    ’12 walking dead’.
    #IrishNoir I expected better


UPDATE:  12.08.2019

  1. Harbour Lights  (poetry) – D. Mahon (winner Irish Times Poetry Award 2006) – READ


UPDATE: 15.08.2019

  1. Now We Can Talk Openly about Men – Martina Evans – READ

I didn’t like it…
…but I didn’t hate it either.
“dilemme cornélien”

Finished: 15.08.2019
Genre: poetry
Rating: C
#TBR list 2019


UPDATE: 15.08.2019

  1. The Boys of Bluehill – E. Ní Chuilleanáin – READ  (40 poems, Irish poet)


UPDATE: 13.08.2019

  1. The Radio (32 poems) – Irish poet L. Flynn (shortlist 2017 T.S. Eliot Prize) – READ




#Poetry Omar Musa inspiring Australian voice!



Parang – with a name like this (knife)
I expected blood, gore, guts.
I got insight, openness, much humanity,
at times a palpable joy.
No ‘Hippa to Da Hoppa’ rap beat
…only the beating of a true poet’s heart.

  2. Omar Musa gets standing ovation in Sydney 2013 TEDx talk:


My notes:

What does ‘Parang’ mean?
Malaysian short stout straight-edged knife

Who is Omar Musa?

Omar bin Musa (1984)
is an award-winning author, poet and rapper from Australia.
He has released three solo hip hop records and three books of poetry.
His debut novel Here Come the Dogs was published in 2014.
Here Come the Dogs was long-listed for the Miles Franklin Award.
Musa was named one of the Sydney Morning Herald’s Young Novelists of the Year in 2015.

What is his background?
Musa is the son of Australian arts journalist Helen Musa and
Malaysian poet Musa bin Masran.
He is of Suluk, Kedayan and Irish ancestry.
He studied at the Australian National University
and the University of California, Santa Cruz
Musa was the winner of the Australian Poetry Slam of 2008
that gives him a bit of clout

Part 1 – Parang (14 poems) = 9 are excellent….5 are very good!
Part 2 – Lost Planet (8 poems)
Part 3 – Dark Streets (5 poems)


  • My notes for part 1
  • …I’ll let you discover the rest of Musa’s poems!
  • They are a joy to read!


Part 1
Trancevery good – poet feels contact with story telling ancestor
Parangvery good contrasting images of ‘parang’ guardian angel of gangsters
….but also house builder and opener of paths
Belongingvery good “crystal thread of belonging”
…in touch with ancestoral as “steam unwinds from stories”
Blowpipevery good – weapon of the forests shoot at “…the throat of the past.”
The Old Roosterexcellent– triangle: poet – parang – arrogant, stutting rooster
Muhammad and Muhammadexcellent– nephew and baby cousin meet
…” his feet bicycling in air” sees “…tigers the size of pillows”
The Rotten Toothvery good…never put off a dentist appointment!
“…tooth turned sewer-black”
Collapsed Starexcellent
young man meets old man…who taught him chess…”a collapsing star”
Lightnig Over Sandakan excellent – young man visits dying grandmother
“…memory trembles, rain-written”
FELDA excellent “…perfect pattern of oil-rich trees minting money
…there was jungle here once, fecund”
(The Federal Land Development Authority is a Malaysian government agency that was founded to handle the resettlement of rural poor into newly developed areas and to organise smallholderfarms growing cash crops.)
Sunyi – (Sanskrit ‘silent,empty’) – excellent – very touching jungle story
Forest Fireexcellent – jungle plundered for profit
A Homelandexcellent – poet’s return to his homeland…but it has changed! “Exile’s folly”
The Parang (knife) and the Keris (dagger)excellent description of poet’s own blade
“…I made it….found the iron ore….beat it into the Italic font I….sharpened it.



#AWW2019 Selina Tusitala Marsh Poet Laureate NZ


Selina Tusitala Marsh:

  1. Selina Tusitala Marsh is of Samoan, Tuvalu, English and French descent.
  2. She was the first Pacific Islander to graduate
  3. with a PhD in English from the University of Auckland and
  4. is now a lecturer in the English Department, specialising in Pacific literature.


  1. Oh, reading these poems with many
  2. Samoan words/references
  3. is going to be a challenge.
  4. Thank goodness….
  5. Ms Marsh has added a glossary for words the reader
  6. probably won’t understand.
  7. Thank you, poet laureate!


My notes on a few poems….


Googling TusitalaVery good…and clever!
Marsh has listed the choices Google returns
when she googles ‘Tusitala’.
Last line is the clincher that brings a laugh:
‘The tusitala bookshelf in
— there’s no wrong way to eat a rhesus.”
(BookCrossing is the act of releasing your books
“into the wild” for a stranger to find via the website)

Not Another Nafanua Poem – good
First I have to look up nafanua!
— Nafanua is the Samoan goddess of war

Afaksai (half-caste) – very good, rich with Samoan words!

Calabash Breakers – good

Hone Said – so-so..too cryptic…see glossary!

Things on Thursdays
Very good… should sound familiar to all struggling
female writers balancing family, work and writing!

Song for Terry – good…intriguing because I cannot discover who “Anne” is!

Langston’s Mother (very short poem…)

absolutely stunning because this poem led me to Langston Hughes’ poem
Mother To Son….breathtaking.

Mother to Son   (Langston Hughes)

Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

(…if you don’t get ‘skin shivers after reading don’t have a pulse!)


Cardboard Crowns – very good
Sum of Mum – good, very clever!
Wild Horses – …need help understanding this one
Three to Four – intense…memories of a car accident
Le Amataga – not able to find something in this poem by myself…need the glossary!
Spare the Rod – This poem brings to mind ancient rock engravings…. not easy to grasp
A Samoan Star-chant for Matariki – too cryptic

…need more knowledge of Samoan words/myth
(In the Māori language Matariki is both the name of the Pleiades star cluster
and also of the season of its first rising
in late May or early June.
This is a marker of the beginning of the new year.)

Circle of Stones – Poems don’t have to be just understood…they can lead you to other things. This poem put in in touch with the Fale Pasifika at University of Aukland. Fale is the name a a Samoan building, the center of the community. On You Tube you can watch History of the Fale Pasifika….just filled with spiritual meaning for this University to let all Pacific people know they belong.

Guys Like Gaughin – very good…clever!
Nails for Sex – very good! This is based on history and is worth reading about before you start this poem…then it all will make sense!

Wikipedia HMS Dolphin 

Mutiny on Pitcairn – average

Two Nudes of a Tahitian Beach, 1894 – good…based on this painting by Gauguin

Venus in Transit – poem mentions many well known connections to Venus in Transit…..but who is Rowan? The poet refers to NZ author Rowan Metcalfe’s book Venus in Transit (2004). This novel tells the story from a new and unexpected perspective, that of the Tahitian women who joined the Bounty mutineers and sailed away with them to make new lives.

Realpolitik (expansionist national policy) -…reflecting on Capt. Cook/crew,  who brought disease to Tahitian women.

Contact 101 – how different people (philosopher, scientist, anthropologist) see South Pacific women

Has the whole tribe come out from England? – Wellington has been overrun by the British

What’s Sarong With This – pun…”What’s Wrong with This?” – very good, very intense!


The Curator – …description of a poem reading (Ms Marsh?) in a museum, sharp-edged.

Hawai’i: Prelude to a Journey – very good, glimpse of all sides of Hawaii and visitors….also a reference to a Hawaiian deity Pele, goddess of volcanos “…Pele’s pen, her black ink lava ever pricking the night.” There is so much in this poem you could spend some time investigating many aspects of this poem!

Touring Hawaii and Its People – very good….looking for ?? with a flowering crown in a museum. ( of the Hawaiian monarchy?)

Alice’s Billboard – strange….can’t make head or tails of this one, sorry!

Fast Talkin’n PI – (title poem) – Oh, I think I finally found who “ANNE” is if the poem….”Song for Terry”!

Fast Talking PI (pronounced pee-eye) = pacific islander
reflects the poet’s focus on issues affecting
Pacific communities in New Zealand, and
indigenous peoples around the world
… including the challenges and
…triumphs of being afakasi (mixed race).



#Poetry Leontia Flynn (Irish poet)


  1. Finished: 17.08.2019
  2. Genre: poetry
  3. Rating: A
  4. 32 poems and I liked ..18 of them.
  5. 56 % = That is a GOOD SCORE!


  1. The Radio was published in 2017,
  2. was shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize and
  3. won the Irish Times Poetry Now Prize.


  1. PART 1 The Child, The Family (10 poems)
  2. The book gets off to a good start
    ….but most poetry collections puts some
    great poems at the beginning as a ‘hook’.
  3. There are some great images:
  4. Yellow Lullaby
    …description a mother rushing to a crying child:
    “…barreling not like some semi deranged trainee barista
    …friendly but confused.”
  5. Alzheimer’s Villanelle (Flynn’s father suffered from Alzheimer’s disease)
    description of the sickness…
    ” …imagine a train delayed, delayed, delayed
    that pulls up without a passenger or driver.”


  1. PART 2 …And the Outside World (19 poems)
  2. The first two poems are stunning:
    August 30th 2013 (…day of Seamus Heaney’s death)
  3. Field of Yellow Flowers…..for Gavin Turning 40 (….memories of a lover)
  4. Thenext  7 poems received  ‘good’ or ‘very good’ in my notes.
  5. Unfortunately after that…
  6. the collection seemed to lose its orginal strength
  7. …like a bike tire soundlessly leaking air.


  1. PART 3 Poems Conceived as Dialogues ( 3)
  2. Experimental….but not I was still not impressed.


  1. Conclusion:
  2. This is a collection of poems I would re-read.
  3. If you see this book in your library just stuff it between
  4. your other book hauls
  5. ….and let Leontia Flynn surprise you!
  6. #Bravo

#AWW 2019 Ashley Kalagian Blunt




  1. Ashely Blunt is a young Australian author
  2. …but she writes like a seasoned pro!
  3. I was very impressed by her writing skills.
  4. Her writing is designed to draw the reader
  5. effortlessly from page to page
  6. windowpane prose, clear and quick.
  7. #Bravo



My notes:

POV: story from the POV of the less violent brother Verzh
to contrast him with is Armen (violent)

Strong point: The powerful theme of revenge shows
the destructive nature it has over people.
When a person becomes consumed with the desire for vengeance,
it ultimately destroys them.

Strong point:  fast paced, text is sharp and short…
I can rarely find an adverbs that would slow text down.
Actions are indicated by a carefully selected verb…that say it all.

Strong point: concentrates on the five senses
activities and smells of in the kitchen in the first few pages brings the story immediately to life
kitchen smelt gound lamb an onion
platters piled with roast eggplant, capsicum and lamb skewers
vine leaves stuffed with rice and lamb
dolma slick with olive oil
…You can see can smell it in your imagination!

Strong point:   imply violence… in narrative instead of burdening
reader with blood and gore on the page.
Details are left to the reader’s imagination.

Strong point: let body revel the emotions” as the character works through problem he’s facing.


  • shoulders hunched,
  • thumbs squeezed inside fists,
  • thick shoulders, full head of coal black waves,
  • fingers tight around the gun handle,
  • wore aviators his eyes mirrored
  • voice low, steel running through it,
  • calves already cramping,
  • hamstring seized,
  • shoulders military square,
  • eyes bore through him like a x-ray,
  • pushed glasses up with index finger
  • smacked his fists to his thighs,
  • fists came up in frustration
  • arms tight against chest, shoulders hunched,
  • hands shoved under thighs,
  • raised one meaty hand,
  • knees shaking,
  • held had over her heart,
  • dropped his head into his hands,
  • felt ribs tighten
  • thrust chin out, clenched an unclenched his hands,
  • unsteady hand,
  • knees threatened to buckle
  • flinging his arms,
  • skeletal edges of his cheeks,
  • eyes stared at the ceiling,
  • withered muscles,



Strong point: pull the camera in close


  • sweat streaked his forehead
  • scar across left cheek
  • sweat patch on back of his shirt
  • sucked in a shaky breath
  • biting his lip
  • pain spread into his temple..his teeth
  • blood trickled…from his nose,
  • ground his jaw
  • two gold teeth glinted between Softie’s lips
  • raised an eyebrow
  • ran his tongue over his top front teeth
  • upper lip bulging
  • fingernails dug into his palms
  • narrowed eyes fixed on his brother
  • felt his cheek twitch
  • sharp nod
  • glasses slid along the sweat of his nose
  • eyeballs locking on him, cheeks burned,
  • forehead vein pulsing
  • dug toes into thick pile of the rug
  • mustache curled at one side, lifted by a half-smile
  • squeezed the heals of his hands against his temples
  • neck muscles taut like rope
  • running knife under his fingernails



Present – assassination news spreads…Vrezh must know if brother is involved
Flashback – 10 years ago school after coming to Australia
Present – 1 month after assassination Vrezh secretly following brother
Present- interview Softie and Verzh (Sofite = describes father and brotherhood he belonged to)
Present – Verzh and brother drive back to Sydney
Flashback – 10 years agoVerzh called to school rector’s office
Present – 2 months after assassination – description Softie’s shearing shed and meetings for nest plans
Flashback – 10 years ago… school Anzac Day April 25 speech
Present – Verzh things about Softie’s order….learn about bombs
Present – verzh debating with himself if he can set off the bomb…Verzh has a plan
Present – Verzh has recording device
Present – Verzh visits Softie alone…and the shearing shed goes up in flames
Present – Verzh in hospital…six days later he is released
Present – Years later…..end



#Short Stories “Show Them a Good Time”




  1. This collection is worth your reading time.
  2. I enjoyed 5 of 8 stories ..62%
  3. That’s a good score!
  4. Only one story was a MAJOR disappointment
  5. …too long… not topic for a short story:
  6. Abortion, a Love Story….advice?
  7. …it should have been developed into novella.


My notes:

Show them a Good Time: – reading time 1 hr 45 min

Single setting: (garage with forecourt, gas pumps and mini-store cashier
Characters: 2 main characters Speaker (nameless) and Kevin
Flattery describes their personalities, how they clash.
Later we discover the turning point and ironic reversals of character traits.
Conclusion:very good, excellent story to begin the collection as ‘hook’.


Sweet Talk– reading time: 25 min

Setting: country farm
Summer break: Speaker tells of her ‘adventures’
other teens/friends next to the Virgin Mary statue
New houses on council estate brought in new boys….
Arrival: the Australian (30s) handy man…who wasn’t a bit skilled.
Speaker is in love with him! ( puppy love)
Conclusion: Started off well….but just fizzled out.
No real story to sink your teeth in…just
a 14 yr teenager searching for a summer adventure.


Hump reading time 20 min
Setting: father’s bedroom
Characters: Father (70 yr) (dying) – mother – speaker
Action: family funeral
Problem: speaker discovers lump in breast
Conclusion: somewhat engaged, bored still a confusing story….


Abortion, a Love Story:  reading time ….??
Setting: college campus
Just as I was trying to understand the
speaker and her lover Prof Carr…..
the story made a U-turn and it is all about
another character Lucy!
Conclusion: …I gave up after 20 minutes.
This is just NOT a short story.
Flattery has stumbled upon some interesting material

…but is is NOT the right topic for a shot story
Flattery should take some time and commit this narrative to a novel.


Track: reading time: 30 min
Setting: NYC
Characters: speaker (young Irish girl – boyfriend (comedian, famous)
Topic: the RISE snd FALL of a relationship
Core message: “…Never give people what they want.”
Conclusion: disturbing, introspective
…something you have to experience to write like this!
Good work.

NOTE: 2017 White Review Short Story Prize for Track, one of the best Irish short stories of this millennium.


Parrot:   reading time 30 minutes
Setting: Paris..visiting art exhibition
Characters: significant other (?) – speaker – stepson
Opinion: First sentence is confusing in an effort to be profound.
I’d rather a short line with few words to shock the reader of set the tone.
I will keep reading the story because I want to review all 8 selections
…otherwise I would have ditched this story…just b/c of this 1st sentence.
Core message: musings of unhappy woman in relationship, her rebellious young
stepson and almost daily conversations with mother
(…still in Ireland) and speaker in Paris does not help.
Flashback: speaker tells us about her husband’s first wife…ill, perhaps mentally ill.
Flashback: trip to Paris with her mother
Flashback: spying her husband’s first wife in a store…a week later she would be dead.
Conclusion: Despite the weak start and confusing title (minimal meaning in the story IMO)…the narrative developed nicely. Good


You’re Going To Forget Me:  reading time  15 min
Setting: hotel room. book presentation. hospital room
Characters: Speaker (author on book tour) – her sister (7 months pregnant
Core message: telephone conversations between the women
Topic: importance of what others think about you
Question: is it ever ‘small talk’ between sisters…or is everything important?
Conclusion: intense….great story about sisters, very good.


Not The End Yet: reading time 28 min
Setting: car park
Characters: Angela (teacher 41 yr) – nameless men (salesman, 45 yr, 47 yr, 55 yr)
Topic: blind dates…they feel like dental appointments !
Clinical, horrible…must get through it!
Conclusion: Delightfully amusing!






#Poetry Ireland Professor of Poetry

The position of Ireland Professor of Poetry is an academic chair  jointly  administered by three Irish  universities. Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin (pronunciation: KWILL-en-non) has been chosen for this prestigious position for  three years (2016-2019). A new professor will be appointed soon.





  1. The poems of Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin (ENC)
  2. are rooted in the past and personal memory
  3. The past is lost but the poet  revives our historical memory.
  4. ENC had been described as the Vermeer of contemporary poetry.
  5. ….I’m very curious  to see what impact ENC will have on me.


Finished: 15.08.2019
Genre: poetry
Rating: A
#TBR list 2019


Title: The Boys of Bluehill   is the first tune she heard her sister play.
…a traditional Irish hornpipe.

Memory shapes creativity in the work of Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin.
She has an unsentimental mind yet writes with feeling.
She creates a world of compelling narratives that
challenge the reader

Her poems seem to escape to another realm.
If you invest time researching her poems
(figurative images, family background, Irish myths,
the allusions in the poems…
you will be richly rewarded!

Theme: musical core that is closely
connected to ENC’s sister Máire.
She was a musician and died more than 25 years ago.

Best poem: …is about Máire “The Skirt”…haunting
Light poems: about her first grandchild…”Dream Shine” and “Incipit Hodie”
Translated poem: poem based on a “The Lament for the Old Woman Beare”…that gives one the sense of a woman who vanishes as she gets older… “The Song of the Woman of Beare“.
Memory poem: going back to things you didn’t do then…and can’t do now…“I Used to Think
Emotional poem:Passing Palmers Green Station” – family memories, recounts a journey on the London Underground that brings back to the poet’s mind an earlier journey with her mother to visit “…her younger daughter among the dying”.


Last thoughts:

  1. Poems by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin
  2. are not easy to understand
  3. …if you don’t have the time
  4. …to appreciate her language skills.
  5. She is truly one of
  6. …the best Irish poets of her generation.