What is literature? If I had to define it, I would say nothing more or less than an examination and exploration of the human condition. Maybe that’s why I’m obsessed with reading story after story, digging through character’s psyches and contexts, trying to figure out life like everyone else. But, for me, stories aren’t always safely contained in books. There are real stories about real people out there too. The way we think about real human stories, the way we pass them on, the way we try to fit them into our own world views, those stories have real effects whether they are fiction, history or current events.
I recently read a book called No Telephone to Heaven by Michelle Cliff. She also used the novel to analyze gender, but in a different, less direct way than in Ashputtle or the Mother’s Ghost (I discussed some thoughts about that book here).
High Static, Dead Lines
Written by Kristen Gallerneaux
Review by Roy Peak
Lou Reed exclaimed in song that "Electricity comes from other planets," and he may be more right than he ever knew.
Reading a book should expand one's knowledge as well as entertain. It should take you to places you have never been to before, that you would not have been able to arrive at on your own. It should be a journey of openness, with mysteries revealed layer by layer as you read deeper into its pages. Once you have finished a book -- a really great book — you should be a different person than when you started.
If you're a person who reads regularly, then you know the feeling of getting into a slump. You may be in one right now, especially if you've had a busy Holiday season. Here are some of the ways we get back into reading when we've been slacking!
Julie – If I’m in a slump, it usually because I’m busy and my mind is whirring about other things. I find that this is not the time to attempt the medieval works, Faulkner (I started blogging about why I couldn’t read As I Lay Dying before, but I couldn’t make myself read enough of it to make it work, and if you like the guy…fine…he just can’t find much of a resting place in my brain…I’m willing to blame myself) or Moby Dick for the hundredth time. Page five of MD and I skip to the end. So, if I’m stuck in a rut, unable to concentrate, I go to my comfort zone and hang out with old friends in familiar places. I can dive in, relax for a few minutes and then return to whatever soul sucking mess I have going on in the real world.
I stick to old favorites, sometimes going all the way back to children’s literature. The Mary Russell series is favorite, Jane Austen, and Poe if I’m feeling up to being an adult. But sometimes, I just pick up Alice in Wonderland, or Winnie-the-Pooh or The Princess and the Goblin. In crazy times, I tend to go for a setting where I’m happy, Regency England, the Hundred Acre Wood, or even the creepy bridal suite in Ligeia. But as the Wise Man said in Labyrinth, “Sometimes the way forward is the way back.” There’s no shame in a wise retreat.
Uncle Morty and the rest of the Sacred Chickens team would like to share their reading resolutions for 2019. We hope you're making your own literary resolutions and Happy New Year!
Your Uncle Morty has no specific books in mind. However, he does plan to read a good number of biographies in the coming year to help him contemplate his upcoming project: Mortimer After, A Deathography. So if you have any memoirs or biographies to recommend, please feel free to make suggestions here or on the FaceBook page.
Uncle Morty seems to have a lot of times on his hands since he departed the land of the living, and he spends much of that time writing (especially when asked nicely). So, over the years he's figured out a few tips and tricks about writing along the way, and he'd like to share them with us!
By the way, your Uncle Morty can always use original material. The living around here are always pestering the dying nightlights out of him to work on their silly blog. As such, he has created a writing exercise. Feel free to share your results with us. We may publish them so your Uncle Morty can actually RIP once in a while. This exercise can be used with your own work too. Use it to enhance dialogue. (When you get to Step 2 you’ll see how that works.)
Garment of Shadows
Written by Laurie R. King
Review by Jarad Johnson
In another installment of Laurie Kings thrilling Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series, King delivers an enthralling story. The twelfth book in this series opens with Russel having lost her memory, in a place she doesn’t recognize with armed police at the door. She makes her escape just in time, but for the next couple of days she wanders around a city in Morocco, with her detective skills still intact, before she is found by Holmes.
Because it is Christmas Day, the Team at Sacred Chickens is taking the day off, as we hope you all are have been able to do, to enjoy time with friends and family. However, we just wanted to post a little something to wish you all a Happy Holidays and a Merry Christmas! We hope you saw our post yesterday and are reading your favorite Christmas books right now!
Merry Christmas Eve! Since it is that time of year, the entire team at Sacred Chickens would like to share with you some books that put us in the holiday mood! Enjoy your eggnog and happy reading!
This Christmas, Julie's reading.......
Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott
By Louisa May Alcott
If I’m trying to get into the Christmas spirit, I always find myself slipping backwards into my childhood, and for me that means diving back into old favorites, since I spent a great percentage of my childhood deep inside the pages of books. For me the spirit of Christmas is wrapped up in two books, Louisa May Alcott’s Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom. Each of these books has a Christmas scene that has somehow wrapped itself around my brain to form a pattern of what Christmas should look like with stockings in the morning and a dance in the evening. Of course, no real Christmas could match up to such expectations, but I enjoyed Rose’s Christmas vicariously.
There are, as with any books of a certain age, problematic portions of the books where a younger reader would benefit from discussion and knowledge of historical context, but as I reread the books now, I find Alcott’s thought processes even more interesting. At the time of publication, the book Eight Cousins scandalized many parents because Rose’s Uncle Alec taught her anatomy and forbid her from wearing corsets. Like Little Women, the two books display Alcott’s unconventional wisdom about how women should behave. So each time I read the books, I not only get a Christmas feeling, I get to think about how grateful I am that things have changed and I’m not wearing a corset while opening gifts around the tree.
In the Cemetery
In the cemetery, I was standing on my knees,
reading verses of the holy book to the tombs
I was praying with tears on my cheeks
until the graveyard stopped me and asked me if
I was reading verses or reading sorrows
with an emotionless face, he asked to repeat
I started reading again and, his face was getting
red as his eyes were dropping my unrhymed tears
he stopped me with anger and screamed out
why more grieves, why more death, and less peace
I responded to him, why did hope sold us to traitors
why life is struggling with us, why did the wars rape us shamelessly
we cried together as he was saying that he’s listening to
spirits weeping with us, as the clouds will rain again
he asked me again, why our world is no longer bright
instead, it’s full of darkness and lots of bloody cuts
our grandparents were the farmers, who lift the sunshine
and brunt themselves to death, just to protect the seeds
our mothers stole the moon from the wall of the night
they hid in their coffins and the stars after our fathers
turned the rainbow into a solider in the zone of death
and made the snow into a drinkable water to survive