I'm in a little bit of a writer's block, mostly out of frustration with the universe, but seeing as it is such, I'll talk about other people's writing. I kept my promise to myself that I wouldn't stop reading this summer and it has done my soul (not to mention brain) some good ..
+ Oryx and Crake. Margaret Atwood.
I know, I know, I was a late bloomer in my Atwood development. I just didn't want to believe the English major hype, you know? But actually, she is as incredible as everyone says. I know this is called a dystopia, but it's so much more than that, which is why I'm going to stick with what the author says and tell you to go read this amazing piece of speculative fiction. Her research is incredible, Atwood created a world out of the possibilities of that which is already happening, her foresight like a notable prophecy. Her narrative structure is perfectly crafted, flip flopping between past and present not through a typical series of triggers, sense memories and the like of the protagonist, but through a careful beading and past and present sense and followthrough of ideas .... Yes, read it. It's Atwood at her best.
+ Wilderness Tips. Margaret Atwood.
What can I say, when I jump on a bandwagon, I leap ... or something. This is a really fabulous collection of her short stories that I devoured basically. Her character development and subtle commentary on the environments of her characters is quick, succint, sharp and full. I pretty much fell in love with her characters. My favourite stories: Isis in Darkness; The Age of Lead; Weight.
(Later, after she had flung herself into the current of opinion that had swollen to a river by the late sixties, she no longer said "making love"; she said "having sex". But it amounted to the same thing. You had sex, and love got made out of it whether you liked it or not. You woke up in a bed or more likely on a mattress, with an arm around you, and found yourself wondering what it might be like to keep on doing it. At that point Jane would start looking at her watch. She had no intention of being left in any lurches. She would do the leaving herself. And she did.)
[The Age of Lead]
+ Aristotle's Children. Richard E. Rubenstein.
This is a beautiful history book I've picked up again. It traces Artistotle's philosophies through the middle ages and renaissances, focusing on it's impact on, and transitions through the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths and institutions of education (and thus education itself, as well as theology). It's a smooth read and is written based off of a really solid base of understanding and research, a strong balance of primaray and secondary sources and some very fresh and refreshing interpretations and ideas of education, theology, etc ... Rubenstein does a great job and putting the pieces of theology, education, philosophy, politics and the occasional social construct/schema, creating an understandable whole. This book has also reminded me how much I abhor religious institutions (especially the almighty Church) and how much I love classical philosophy.
+ The Secret Teachings of Jesus. translated by Marvin W. Meyer.
What can I say, I can stick to a theme. From what I've encountered, I've enjoyed and trusted Meyer's translations and works. However, I'm a little ... insecure in my reading here. It's a collection of four gnostic gospels, Secret Book of James, Gospel of Thomas, Book of Thomas and Secret Book of John. I haven't finished and Meyer's notes are pretty good. I'm sure having the most recent Int'l English Bible around would be more helpful, I'm picky in my Bible translations as it is ... Anyway, this is a good mind-fuck, as most Gnostic writings are. It's good to have them, I don't know, it kind of feels like a small academic victory against the Church and against censorship in general. Really, though, sometimes I fear the Church overestimates the larger population's ability to ... think.
Let's just say, if you read The Hobbit and were able to answer Gollum's riddles, you may want to give James and the Gnostics a chance .... but I'm not gonna lie, I sat in that movie theater and I felt the confusion all around. And they didn't even include the real riddles ....
(Either way, I still hold to my most recent Jesus statement: Poor Jesus, he was just a black guy trying to do some good. )
+ directions for an OPENED BODY. kenneth k. Harvey.
from the beautiful Miss Julie herself! Harvey's short fiction is the type that takes up those really gruesome topics in a less than grusome manner. The great thing about it and about him, is not necessarily the content but the tone - the entire time, Harvey is pushing you, daring you to read on and in each of these stories manages to create a world that you can't turn back from. Not always my cup of tea, maybe because I haven't yet learned how to handle these subjects as bravely, but great work and definitely a strong voice of a type of contemporary fiction and a definite voice that has had a huge impact on my generation of writers.
Craving comfort from each other we sight directions for
the closing of our opened bodies.
[kenneth k. harvey]
+ The Leaf and the Cloud. Mary Oliver.
She is simply one of the most artistic poets. She is brilliant, beautiful.
If you are in the garden, I will dress myself in leaves.
If you are in the sea, I will slide into that
smooth blue nest, I will talk fish, I will adore salt.
But if you are sad, I will not dress myself in desolation.
I will present myself with all the laughters I can muster.
And if you are angry I will come, calm and steady, with
some small and easy story.
Promises, promises, promises! The tongue jabbers, the heart
strives, fails, strives again. The world is perfect.
Love, however, is an opera, a history, a long walk, that
includes falling and rising, falling and rising, while
the heart stays as sweet as a peach, as radiant and
grateful as the deep-leaved hills.
+ By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept. Elizabeth Smart.
One of the most beautiful works in the English language. Please read this. Elizabeth Smart was the young poet who fell in love with and had a long, heart wrenching (and childbearing - four of them!) love affair with George Barker, the English poet. This book has so much of my heart, of myself. I feel as if I could say, if you wish to know me, where I come from in this new place, read this book. Part/chapter 9 was what solidified that ...
By Grand Central Station I sat down and wept:
I will not be placated by the mechanical motions of existence, nor find consolation in the solicitude of waiters who notice my devastated face. Sleep tries to seduce me by promising a more reasonable tomorrow. But I will not be betrayed by such a Judas of fallacy: it betrays everyone: it leads them into death. Everyone acquiesces: everyone compromises ...
... The pain was unbearable, but I did not want it to end: it had operatic grandeur. It lit up Grand Central Station like a Judgement Day. It was more iron-muscled than Samson in his moment of revelation. It might have shown me all Dante's dream. But there was no way to endure.
I am going to have a child, so all my dreams are of water, across which the ghost of an almost accomplished calamity beckons. But tonight that child lay within like the fated and only island in all seas .......
[9, Elizabeth Smart]