- Leeuwarden, The Netherlands
- Cultural Capital of Europe 2018
- #ThursdayTravels hosted by @Brona ‘Exploring the world’
- My world is close to home.
- This is a photo of the park where I have a morning coffee.
- Prinsentuin (Pleasure Garden of the Princes)
- Just look at the light….it looks like Renoir painted it!
The Prinsentuin was once part of the Princessehof, (court) the former palace of Maria Louise van Hessen-Kassel, and served as her pleasure garden.
Maria Louise, married to Johan Willem Friso Nassau-Dietz and was the mother of Stadtholder Willem IV, making her the direct ancestress of the current Dutch royal family.
The Prinsentuin is one of the many traces of the Nassaus left in Leeuwarden and is nowadays the city’s beautiful, centrally located park.
Author: Edgar Allan Poe
Title: The Raven
Table of Contents: 18 six-line stanzas (108 lines)
Published by Penguin Books
Theme: remembrance vs forgetting
Just LISTEN to the poem…..goosebumps!
“The Raven” is a narrative poem by the American writer and poet Edgar Allan Poe.
It was published for the first time on January 29, 1845, in the New York Evening Mirror
Noted for its musicality, stylized language and supernatural atmosphere,
This is one of Poe’s best known and most reviewed poems.
I hope to find something interesting to mention about this classic!
The poem describes the tale of a student, desolated by the death of his beloved,
He is visitied on a stormy `bleak December´ night by an ominous bird´.
It traces the student´s slow descent into madness.
Strong point: Alliteration: is the repetition of the initial sounds of adjacent words.
While I nodded nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before
Followed fast and followed faster….
On this home by horror haunted…
And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting.
Strong point: Rhythm
Repetition of words to give the poem a ‘throbbing’ rhythm….like a heart
“rapping, rapping”- tell me, tell me – “still is sitting, still is sitting”
Strong point: Rhyme
The structure of the poem is based on: A-B-C-B-B-B
Every 2nd – 4th lines rhyme – the 4th – 5th and 6th lines rhyme
- Line 1: Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, A
- Line 2: Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore – B
- Line 3: While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, C
- Line 4: As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door – B
- Line 5:”‘Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door – B
- Line 6: Only this and nothing more.” B
Strong point: meter with surprises!
In this poem Poe has used ‘meter’ in 3 different ways:
lines 1st – 3rd lines of evey stanza have 16 syllables
lines 2nd – 4th – 5th of every stanza have 15 syllables
line 6 of every stanza has only 7 syllables
Symbol: The Raven
There are some very subtle hidden meanings in the poem about the raven.
Finding these words is the most difficult part of reading poetry.
Line 38-40: The Raven enters the room. He is ‘stately’ and has a ‘mien of lord or lady’ – this suggests an image of a king.
Line 45: The Raven is not ‘craven’ ( cowardly).
The allusion to ‘crest be shorn and shaven’ refers to medieval tradition of head shaving of a coward.
Line 48: The Raven ‘quoth the Raven, Nevermore’ –
The student ‘marvelled’ (line 49) to hear the bird speak.
After 10 x repetitions of this utterance the narrator slides into a maddend, frenzied state.
Line 85: The narrator call the raven a ‘prophet’ believing he foretells the future.
Line 105 – 108: Final image of the bird is a ‘demon that is dreaming’
casting a ‘shadow that lies floating on the floor’.
Narrator is terrified
Symbol: bust of Pallas (line 42 and 105): –
symbol of wisdom meant to imply the narrator is a student
Symbol: Night’s Plutonian shore (line 48 and 98) –
allusion to the Roman god of the underworld
Symbol: nepenthe ( line 83-84)
allusion to a mythological drug that you might take to forget your grief and sadness.
Symbol: chamber door is repeated 11x
This refers to room and the chamber of the heart ( feelings)
This is a poem for people who don’t like poetry!
It is one of my favorites and was FUN to ready and analyse.
The student “shrieked’ ‘take thy beak from out of my heart’.
But the bird ‘still is sitting, still is sitting’.
The beak keeps pecking at the heart repeating ‘Nevermore’
Theme: those we have loved and who become lost to us…
…can never be forgotten.
It may be painful to remember them….but it is more painful to give them up.
Last thoughts: Depressing stories can be uplifting.
It all depends on the writing skills…
Edgar Allan Poe is a master of words and chilling images.
- Author: A.J. Liebling
- Title: Just Enough Liebling
- Published: 2004
- Trivia: A posthumous collection of Liebling’s writings
- Finished: 19.09.2018
- Genre: non-fiction
- Rating: F- (..can I go any lower?)
- List of Challenges 2018
- Monthly plan
I cannot for the life of me understand the high
scores this booked has accrued on Goodreads.com
Reading books that numb my soul
teach me to appreciate how
a good book can change a life!
This books wins the prize.
Worst non-fiction I read in 2018
and here is why…
- If you have the time….here are my notes.
- If you decide to skip this review
- …I understand completely!
At Table In Paris:
- Liebling studied in Paris 1925-1926 and
- traveled around Normandy etc.
- The stories are filled with references
- to buildings and streets he knows well.
Paris the First:
- Liebling describes his visit to Paris with his parents in 1911
- He was 7 years old…and I wonder if a child is a reliable narrator.
- While Liebling’s parents dine on French food and wine “en ville’
- …he was firmly in the care of a dreaded nanny ‘fraulëin”
- This chapter was quaint but awful.
- It was an overblown narrative about childhood memories and
- fantasies with nanny and family in Paris.
- I lost interest about half way through the story.
- I hope the dispatches from the WW II years will be better.
The War and After:
- Unfortunately the reports written during Liebling’s time in Europe
- during WW II were disappointing to say the least.
- He is still gushing about food and wine and not
- enough storytelling about the people. Unbalanced.
Letter From Paris June 1940:
- Clinical tone…I expected more emotion describing the dread of
- invasion of Paris after Holland and Belgium’s swift collapse.
- The images I remember from Suite Française (I. Némirovsky)
- …are still vivd in my mind.
- Liebling did not come close to
- describing the angst the Parisians felt with the
- Germans standing ready to pounce on the city.
- Trip from England in convoy sailing to
- …Port Arthur Texas during WW II.
- This story was just pointless
- …waste of my reading time.
Quest for Mollie:
- This was not a WW II dispatch…..it was a novella!
- I just cannot understand the praise given to
- Liebling’s WW II correspondance.
- His stories are too long…and I cannot find a moment
- the hook ” that captures my attention.
- This is yet another chapter that I have started in good faith
- …and ended up being disappointed.
Days with the Daydaybay:
- Long description of Liebling’s
- ….walk around the streets of the Sorbonne.
- He recalls his student days there.
- Long description of Liebling’s entry into liberated Paris.
- The narrative includes his fellow reporters from other
- newspapers: Jack Roach and A. Morrison.
- This was one of the better stories….but still too, too long.
- Details, details and more details that numbed this reader.
The Hounds with Sad Voices:
- Liebling returns to Normandy (1957) and is
- searching for a chateau. All he can remember is
- the sound of hounds with sad voices near the building.
- But as always Liebling’s days end in restaurants.
- This is yet anothr gastronomic exposition….ho-hum.
- It is no surprise that Liebling loved his food and drink.
- He drank and ate excessively and reached a weight of 250 lbs.
- He sufferd gout in the later years of his life.
- He died at the young age of 59 yr.
City Life: The Jollity Building …and the rest of the stories
- The last half of the book describes
- …colorful promoters, boxers, trips to the
- ….Place Bar & Grill.
- Liebling loved the horses so we also
- read about the Turf & Field Club and Belmont Racetrack.
- Eating again…
- Libeling wrote for The New Yorker magazine so
- we can assume he was a good writer.
- But in my opinion the stories were too long and
- the pace was slow because of downpour of
- details that inundated this reader.
- Liebling’s vivid descriptions of boxing matches
- and other sporting events are of a bygone era.
- It did not interest me at all.
- In truth…I read 60% of the book…then skimmed the rest.
- I was glad when I could close the book.
- Reading books that numb my soul
- teache me to appreciate how
- a good book can change a life!
- This books wins the prize.
- Worst non-fiction I read in 2018….so far!
- The aim to read and review minimum 13 or more Canadian books.
- Start: 01 July 201 (my reading starts 18 Sept 2018)
- End: 30 June 2019
- Reviews must be posted online.
- Participants are asked to share links to their reviews with other participants.
- Hashtag: #CanBookChallenge
- Esi Edugyan – READ (shortlist Man Booker 2018 / Giller Prize 2018)
This book is shortlisted for two prestigious literary prizes:
Man Booker Prize and Giller Prize (Canadian fiction)
I’m sorry to say….I don’t think it will win either awards.
I’m not a prof book reviewer and if a book is on the shortlist
I don’t want to sway readers with my personal feelings.
Because this is an opinion…not a review.
The book was good…that’s it. There was a soft smile…no sharp bite
It was sensitive….but not tough.
Give this book a chance…and see what you think!
- Rawi Hage – novel Beirut Hellfire Society
- Sheila Heti – novel Motherhood
- Emma Hooper – novel Our Homesick Songs
- Thea Lim – novel An Ocean of Minutes
- Lisa Moore – story collection Something for Everyone
- Tanya Tagaq – novel Split Tooth
- Kim Thúy – novel Vi,
- Joshua Whitehead – novel Jonny Appleseed
- Kim Thúy – novel Man,
- Norman Levine – story collection I Don’t Want to Know Anyone Too Well
- Paige Cooper – story collection Zolitude,
- Patrick DeWitt – novel French Exit
- Eric Dupont – novel Songs for the Cold of Heart,
- Send email to:
- Subject line: “Sign Me Up for the Canadian Book Challenge!”
- She will add you to the participant list on the sidebar of this blog
- For more information you can look HERE
- Author: Saīd Sayrafiezadeh
- Title: Audition
- Published: 10 September 2018 The New Yorker
- Trivia: Sayrafiezadeh was a finalist for PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize
- and he won a 2010 Whiting Writers’ Award for his memoir.
- List Challenges 2018
- Monthly planning
- #DealMeIn2018 Jay’s Bibliophilopolis
What is the hook?
- Well it has to be the first sentence:
- “The first time I smoked crack cocaine was the Spring
- … I worked construction for my father on his new subdivision Moonlight Heights.”
- But no, this is not going to be all about drugs,
- Sayarfiezadeh tells us in the second line what he wants to achieve.
- I quote him because I could not have said it better….in a nutshell.
- “…jotting down details about the poeple I observe so I can
- replicate the human condition on screen with nuance and veracity.”
SHORT STORY ANALYSIS
1.Explain the title. In what way is it suitable to the story?
Audition refers to the main characters desire to become a stage actor.
2. What is the predominant element in the story?
a. 90 % Inner dialogue: the speech of a the narrator to himself.
b. He hears it and the reader hears it, but other
c. characters have no idea what’s going on in his head
d. 10% dialogue
3. Who is the single main character about?
a. Nameless narrator
b. boss’s son forced to learn life the hard way
c…..working at Dad’s construction subdivision.
d.”…just another working man in wet overalls.”
4. What sort of conflict confronts the leading character or characters?
a.external – a self made-father vs son “dreaming of fame, art and exhault” as actor
b.internal – an outsider seeking friendship.
5. How is the conflict resolved?
a. External – a real job carrying 60 pound drywall across
b.“damp floors and up banisterless staircases”
c. is better than being a carbon copy actor with no talent.
d. Internal – befriending Duncan Dioguardi
e. same age…19 years older but looks 10 years older
f. from a down and out working class neighbourhood.
6. How does the author handle characterization ?
a. Description by narrator (unreliable?) about himself and others.
b. Narrator: American teenage voice with adult voice behind it
c. Language is conversational, simple
d. Not defined by famliy (tension between father and son)
e. 19 yr, out of shape, gone to best schools,
c. at 15yr attending weekend acting lessons.
c. Duncan Dioguardi: 19 yr but looks 10 years older
d. at 15 yr chipping bricks at a demolition site for a nickel a brick.
e. Father: in powder blue Mercedes,
f. just another big shot in 3 piece suit and safety vest.
7. Who tells the story? What point of view is used?
a.1st person narration captures my attention
b. narrator is an unnamed 19 year old spoiled smart-ass.
8. Where does the primary action take place?
a. Subdivision building site Moonlight Heights
b. working class neighborhood of weather beaten 2-story red brick homes
c. basement/bedroom ‘theater’
9. What is the time setting for the action?
a. Spring 1990’s
10. How does the story get started? What is the initial incident?
Narrator recounts is on-the-job training at his father’s building subdivision.
11. Briefly describe the rising action of the story.
a. Narrator describes the difference between himself and the labourers.
b. “ My problems were not their problems but I wish they were.”
c. Their problems were “immediate, distinct, resolvable.”
d. My problems were “long term, existential and impossible.”
12. What is the high point, or climax, of the story?
a. Epiphany – The author keeps the reader waiting
b. until the last paragraph…..builds tension!
c. ”I knew I was traversing some essential but unstated boundary,
d. but I traversed it anyway.”
13. Discuss the falling action or close of the story.
a. Narrator realizes he still has time
b. to make new life decisions
c. that have nothing to do with the theatre.
d. ” It was midnight. Midnight was still young”.
14. Does this story create any special mood?
a. There is a mood of pathos created in the story.
b. Experiences that stir up emotions of pity, sympathy, and sorrow.
c. For Duncan it was job that is going no where.
d. Stacked in the corner were some carpentry manuals for beginners.
e. ”I dabble with those sometimes,” he said ”
f. but they won’t give a guy like me a chance.”
g. This evokes feelings of sympathy in readers.
15. Did you identify with any of the characters?
a. Of course, you can identify with the narrator and Duncan
b. Who has never wanted to make a dream a reality
c….only to have their bubble burst?
16. Does this story contain any of the following elements?
a. Motif: – There are many subtle and obvious references
b. to the theater and acting roles.
c. Father vs Son: “we played roles that were generic superfical and true”.
d. Repetition, alliteration, contrasts, platitudes euphemisms
e…they are all there!
You have to pay your dues…
It takes as long as it takes…
It is mind over matter…
Whatever you set your mind to…
f. This makes the story a memorable experience of language.
g. Bravo, Saīd Zayarfiezadeh!
h. Irony: Duncan Dioguardi is bossy.
i. ”Put this here, put that there. He enjoys the power while the narrator
j. ”enjoys the cold comfort that I could burst his bubble by
k. telling him who my dad was.
l. But a good actor never breaks character.” (motif)
17. Can you find any examples of figurative language?
a. Images: Duncan:
b. He had a tattoo of a
c. ”…snake coiling around his bicep crawling up toward his neck
d. en route to devour his face…”
e. Images: nameless narrator
f. “…never get a tattoo…
g. a performer must always remain a blank slate.
h. So here I was playing
i. …the role of general laborer with flawless skin.”(motif)
18. Does the story have a thematic message?
a. After reading the story I had to think of the
b. lyrics of Eminem’s song “Nowhere Fast”.
c. This song (…it is really a poem) expresses the feeling
d. I got reading about two boys from different
e. points on the economic spectrum
f….yet they bond and come together
g. …because they are so alike.
“Wasted youth, always on the road
Never lookin’ back and we’re never gettin’ old
‘Cause the skies are black
But our heart’s made of gold.”
19. What was the sentence that impressed you the most?
a. Duncan: “He’d lived twice the life that I’d lived,
b. while having none of my advantages.
c. He was what my father had been before he hit it big.
d. But Duncan Dioguardi was most likely never going to hit it big.
c. His trajectory seemed already established.”
e. This reminds me of the fatalism that oozes from this story.
f. Events are predetermined and Duncan
g….is powerless to change them.
- Strong point: quite funny, and emotionally engaging
- Ending: an inevitable surprise
- satisfying but without neatly tied up conclusions.
- Depth: goes beyond the surface,
- goes beyond what characters are wearing.
- Strong point: The story felt like a bildungsroman
- …novel of maturation
- but compressed in a short story!
- Note: I listened to the fiction podcast on The New Yorker wesite
- then I re-read the magazine copy.
- The podcast was the best!
- I can hear the rhythm of language, the alliteration, the contrasts.
- “Who is the fool who agrees to move
- …thru space without saying a word?”
- After reading this story…I couldn’t go to sleep.
- I kept thinking and pondering this narrative.
- Two young men and
- “This was an outsized struggle in a midsized city.”
- That is impressive because not many novels
- affect me that way!
- The next morning I just sat at the laptop
- …and this review ‘wrote itself’.
- I may just concentrate only on short stories
- …for the coming weeks.
- Short stories are much harder to write
- because the author has to do so much with so few words.
- Every word packs a punch.
- Writing short stories is truly a skill!
- Bravo, Saīd Zayarfiezadeh!
- This lifelike statue of him seated on a bench
- on the bank or the Grand Canal in Dublin.
- Poem: The Bluebells are Withered Now under the Beech Trees
- Author: Patrick Kavanagh (Irish) 1904-1967
- Published: 1945
- List Challenges 2018
- Monthly planning
- Reading Ireland Month (…poem was left over from March)
- Masterpost 746 Books (Cathy)
- This is a poem of greater emotional complexity
- The tone is sombre even meditative.
- The poem attempts to renew in the face of experience
- light-hearted attitude that has disappeared.
- The poet Kavanagh lived in a boarding house on
- Raglan Road between autumn 1944 – October 1945.
- The poem records his unrequited romance with Hilda Moriarty,
- a twenty-two years old medical student at University College Dublin.
- Hilda was acclaimed as one of the most beautiful women in the city.
- Kavanagh was infatuated with her and often stalked her.
- From early 1945 she was desperately trying to escape his obsessive attention.
- One day in May 1945 Patrick and Hilda arrived at the railway station in Drumree
- …a couple of miles from Dunsany castle.
- Every May, serried ranks of bluebells nod their heads.
- That first image of walking through the bluebells
- made a profound impression on the poet.
The bluebells are withered now under the beech trees
The bluebells are withered now under the beech trees
And I am there – the ghost of myself – alone
Trying to remember a truth I once had known
Poking among the weeds on bare knees
Praying, praying poetic incantation
To call back life to that once-green plantation.
A score of grey ungrowthy stumps stand up
Like an old graveyard in my mind: Dingle, Cooleen
A shadowed corner of Saint Stephen’s Green
A noisy corner of the Country Shop
All chilly thoughts that bring no exaltation
No green leaf love to the beautiful plantation.
I dreamt it in my heart, it was not real
I should have known that love is but a season
Like spring. The flowers fade. Reason
Knows it cannot find its old ideal
And yet her breath still blows some undulation
Of leaf and flower to charm my dream plantation.
- I am very impressed with Kavanagh’s poetry.
- He did not have the posh education at Blackrock College in Dublin
- as did his friend Flann O’ Brian.
- But still Kavanagh produced some wonderful
- works based on his rural backround and
- …determination to educate himself.
- Author: Anna Jackson
- Title: The Bed-Making Competition
- Published: September 2018
- Trivia: Winner 2018 Viva La Novella Prize
- List of Challenges 2018
- Monthly plan
- #AWW2018 @AusWomenWriters
- The Bed-Making Competition is an
- ….imaginatively realized and moving story.
- We follow the sisters Hillary and Bridgid as they manage
- abandonment, motherhood, illness and the
- …connections that keep families together.
- Each section will surprise you
- …make you laugh…make you reflect.
- Structure: five sections (1991-1994-1996-2000-2011)
- Characters: not great heights, no great depths
- ….just ordinary people.
- Voice: reveals the writer’s personality
- Anna Jackson is chatty, reflective, serious, funny
- ….and so much subtle emotion.
- This coming of age story of Hillary and Bridgid
- …took my breath away.
- I had a sister….and know the bonds that held us together
- …and the things that kept us apart.
- This is truly worthy of the 2018 Viva La Novella Prize!