Midnight in the Garden
of Good and Evil
Author, Jon Berendt
Review by Jarad Johnson
Many of you will know the title of this book, a very popular book in the nineties. It was also made into a movie with John Cusack and Kevin Spacey - he adds a layer – but that’s not the point of this post.
I was born at the end of the nineties and believe it or not I’d never heard of this book. Given that it’s an LGBTQ book, I’m surprised I missed it, but somehow, I did. I’m also not the most clued in about pop culture or the vile cesspools of social media. Although I consider myself very liberal and culturally aware, I also distance myself from certain things, which may be radical for someone my age. I just want you to understand that I had no, I repeat, no idea whatsoever what this book was about. No preconceptions. To tell you the truth, I recognized Bonaventure Cemetery from the cover; it’s one of the cemeteries I have always wanted to visit. That’s why I picked it up. I don’t know what I thought it would be about, but a murder trial was not it.
Me, the Moon, and Brutus the Cat
By Julie Carpenter
I didn't find Brutus. Brutus found me. I had stopped at the end of the drive to get the mail, when I saw him running across the street from our neighbor's meadow, racing straight towards me with all the focus of John Cleese's Sir Lancelot in Monty Python's Holy Grail. I was somewhat shocked when an unknown cat jumped into my arms. I petted him, set him down, and drove to the house to unload some groceries. When I came back to the car to get some more bags, I found him sitting in my back seat desperately trying to open a pack of hot dogs. I tried to find out where he came from , but in the end it turned out the universe had given me another cat.
New Place, New Plants!
by Jarad Johnson
I recently moved into an apartment, and there is a distinct lack of landscaping here. There’s a few weeping holly’s and some poorly trimmed hedges - don’t even get me started on that! Who trims a hedge when it’s going to winter damage? Fools! - but that’s about it. Of course, I’m not lacking on indoor plants -it’s a jungle in here- but outdoor plants are what I prefer to deal with. I’ve got a balcony to work with and some railing at the front door, and I’ve already got some plans for that- lots of planters, vines and endless other plants are on my buying list this year. Rosemary, lavender, moonflower, black eyed susan vine and heliopsis are must haves. Lilies and clematis and a lemon tree also. I’ve already moved some very pretty (and very heavy!) stone planters up the steps near the front door, so that’s likely where I’ll start. I’ve also got a large pot earmarked for a rose and some spilling annuals.
Author, Tomás Prower
by Jarad Johnson
This is a book that I’ve been meaning to read for some time. If you’re a long-time reader of the blog, you’ll know that Julie and I have no problem discussing death or the topics that relate to it. People call it morbid; I call it healthy. To me, it’s important to come to terms with the fact that your death is going to happen. Not that I’m encouraging you to speed up the process, of course, but accepting your mortality brings a sense of peace. So many things we do are motivated by our fear of death. Why fear something you can’t avoid? As the saying goes, “no one makes it out alive.”
Two Book Reviews
by Julie Carpenter
We would like to introduce our readers to two books by author Cynthia C. Huijgens, The Boy Between Worlds: The Cabinet of Curiosities, a middle grade book that helps readers unlock a world of magic and history, and Polar Bear and the UFO, an illustrated children’s’ book with a whimsical and beautifully rendered combination of the Artic and Outer Space!
by Chris Hillman
by Roy Peak
Chris Hillman, as a shy kid just learning to play bass, helped to form the California band the Byrds, which by itself, would be enough to land him a spot in the history books. But Hillman wasn't content to stop there. He also was a guiding force in the Flying Burrito Brothers, the Desert Rose Band, and Manassas. For over half a century Hillman worked with such musical luminaries as Roger McGuinn, Stephen Stills, Bernie Leadon, David Crosby, J.D. Souther, Tom Petty, and Gram Parsons. In the eighties he founded the Desert Rose Band, which had a multitude of hits on the country charts.
In The Garden of Your Heart
Plant me in the garden of your heart
Water me with your emotional tears
Until I blossom in your warm season
Just don't pick the flowers around me.
Let my seeds become your healthy
sustenance, allow me to be the fibres
on the abandoned empty dish of the
holiday, thus I would feed you happily.
Engrave your name on my chest of
the tree, and hold my green branches
Maybe you could educate me how to
dance, before autumn, split us apart.
Write your dreams on the colourful leaves
You live and die once and I live and die more
than onetime, be glad and I will be the tree
to expand my roots to reside with your breathe.
Bleeding Heart Poet ©
Clothes, Clothes, Clothes,
Music, Music, Music,
Boys, Boys, Boys
Author, Viv Albertine
by Roy Peak
Reading Viv Albertine's biography took me to another time and place more so than any other biography I've ever read.
I've read multiple books on the London punk scene, (England's Dreaming by Jon Savage was informative but a little dry, John Lydon's Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs was great, but a little self-centered.) but Albertine's was the first one that really made me feel as if I had been dropped right into the midst of what was truly an ever-evolving and rather incestuous happening. Albertine gives true insight into those who populated the music scene without sounding like a name dropper. She was friends with (or went to school with, or dated, or worked for, or played in bands with) some of the most important and influential characters in England at the time, and her memories of these people come off honestly, with no sense of malice. A for instance: Most tales of infamous Sid Vicious of the band the Sex Pistols make him seem like a cartoon character or a doom-laden extra in someone else's story. Albertine manages to turn him back into a real person—no small feat. They were friends, played in a band together, and Albertine paints a rather sympathetic portrait of the iconic rock star, painting a portrait of a person much different than you would think.
Plants of the Underworld
by Jarad Johnson
Whenever we think of the Underworld, especially in Greek Mythology, we think of a barren wasteland, devoid of any life. In reality, the Greeks really saw the Underworld, not as hell as the Christian tradition knows, but as a multifaceted world, one where souls travelled when they died. It was much more complex and three dimensional than the hell we know today, as there are actually five regions and five rivers that run through it. But, as a gardener, I of course paid attention to the plants. There are many plants that are associated with that realm, and I thought it might fun to go through some of them. Abandon all hope, ye who enter here. Or abandon your plants. I will gladly take them.
Author, Afia Atakora
by Jarad Johnson
“Freedom was a word with weights. It meant deciding to stay or go.”
First novels are, by and large, a toss up. Some authors are most known for their first novels. Some authors prefer not to talk about them. They can be revelatory or they can fall short of the expectations for that genre. After reading Conjure Women, I can definitively say that Afia Atakora should be proud of her first novel.