Thursday, June 7, 2012

"TiLT S.Kemp Book Edition" or "BiLT"

Hooray Books!

Instead of TiLT (Things I Love Thursday) this should be called BiLT (Books I Love Thursday). I've been reading a few new books and a few not-so-new books and I'd like to share.

The Best American Short Stories 2011, Geraldine Brooks, editor. I had to read one of these collections  for an English class in college. I remember neither the stories I was supposed to have read nor the year in which I was supposed to have read them (I was sometimes... oblivious back then... I even chose to teach, with a fellow friend, an Edgar Allen Poe fiction story to my creative nonfiction class... yeah...). Now, I'm enjoying being a slightly more "aware" "adult" and re-reading some of the books I only halfheartedly read during college. The Best American Short Stories collections are some of those books. The 2011 collection has been wonderful. So many genres are packed into this collection (there's a science fiction short in here!), so many emotions, so may vivid descriptions of life and places I've never been.

About Writing, by Samuel R. Delany. I've read a lot of books about writing and how to write and how to free my inner artist. I love all of them. They seem to calm and encourage parts of my inner artist/writer/worrier. However, there are only a few books I take as serious, no nonsense, no fluff advice for writers. About Writing is one such book. I read this quote from the book on Neil Gaiman's journal a while ago...

Writers are people who write. By and large, they are not happy people. They're not good at relationships. Often they're drunks. And writing -- good writing -- does not get easier and easier with practice. It gets harder and harder -- so eventually the writer must stall out into silence.The silence that waits for every writer and that, inevitably, if only with death (if we're lucky the two may happen at the same time: but they are still two, and their coincidence is rare), the writer must fall into is angst-ridden and terrifying - and often drives us mad. (In a letter to Allen Tate, the poet Hart Crane once described writing as "dancing on dynamite.") So if you're not a writer, consider yourself fortunate. 

I found it interesting. So, I bought the book. Seven essays, four letters, and five interviews later I have not been disappointed.

Essex County Collected, by Jeff Lemire. This is a comic book. A series of three comics collected in one place. You can always use more comics. Especially these comics. Canadian author Jeff Lemire tells the story of a farm family through the game of hockey, the telling of ghost stories, and the eyes of the county nurse who tries to help one dying family member. The stories are well crafted and the images make your heart burn with regret and loss. It's heart breaking to watch two brothers who trust each other completely win fame and fortune playing hockey then sever all ties completely. It's gut wrenching to watch a young boy struggle with the world that just crumbled beneath him. But there is hope, isn't there, at the end of everything there is still family. A friend who borrowed this book just returned it to me. I'm reading it again.

The People Look Like Flowers At Last, by Charles Bukowski. I've read Bukowski's older works and I really enjoy Tales of Ordinary Madness. It's like trudging in muck and booze through a dark tunnel. You're heading toward this strange light at the end that grows sharper and more beautiful the closer you get. You know you're crazy for going into that tunnel in the first place but you just can't help your self. The People Look Like Flowers At Last is a collection of new poems. These poems are not quiet as mad - they are sitting and noticing poems. They're poems of remembering and regretting and, well, I'm not finished reading this yet, I only got my hands on it Monday, but I've been taking it everywhere.

dogs and angels are not very far apart. I often go to this little place about 2:30 in the afternoon because all the people there are completely sane, glad to be simply alive and eating their food near a plate glass window which welcomes the sun but doesn't let the cars and the sidewalks come inside.
-from "near a plate glass window" by Charles Bukowski

I Lock My Door Upon Myself, by Joyce Carol Oates. Oh, man. Oh, buddy. This book. The way you feel about the character's actions - their why and how and what. You are grossed out and intrigued, you empathize and scorn. The way this woman writes is stunning. It's captivating. I mean, two characters can just row a boat right over a waterfall, straight to their doom, knowingly, and you. just. can't. look. away. You have to know what happens. You have to keep reading. 

In the Company of Crows and Ravens, by John M. Marzluff and Tony Angell. One of the characters I'm writing about is a raven. He's pretty great. His name is Rook. I wanted to learn more about my character so I picked up this book from the library and it's really interesting. I'm learning all sorts of cool stuff about the Common Raven (corvus corax... corax from the Greek "korax" which means croaker... and ravens "croak" while crows "kaw") and the 46 different species known as "crows". The book includes histories and myths, research showing how ecological changes affect crows, descriptions of eating and nesting habits, and pictures of physical differences. This book is awesome if you want to learn how crows and ravens really are different.

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