The Birdcage Archives

Thursday 24 November 2011

The Short Story Review No. VIII

“Too Much Happiness,” by Alice Munro – From “Too Much Happiness,” by Alice Munro.

This is the last story by Alice Munro from her collection of stories “Too Much Happiness.” Those of you who have read this particular collection you will notice two stories missing. Those stories are “Face,” and “Wood.” Both of those stories were skipped because they did not have the same zest and energy that all of other Alice Munro stories had. “Too Much Happiness,” the final story of this collection with the same name, is perhaps and arguably the best story of this collection. It deals specifically with the mathematician Sophia Kovalevsky, a major female mathematician in the late nineteenth century.

In the beginning of her career, she was called one of the last great regionalists of her time. The great regionalist that come along with Alice Munro, made me think of William Faulkner, Robert Frost, Mark Twain, Harper Lee, Anton Chekhov, even James Joyce. Alice Munro was seen as the last of the great tradition. But that tradition whether one wants to admit it or recognize it, does continue, if one does wish to look around and see it.

When talking about writing and literature, with someone before – who had taken a creative writing course, many years ago; he told me that his creative writing professor had told him to write, about what he knew. “It doesn’t matter,” he said “if it’s your mother washing dishes. Write about it.” When I was told of this, this man went on to tell me that at first he was a bit confused why his professor had told him that. There is nothing exciting about writing about someone who has their hands slipped in rubber gloves because the water is so scalding hot; holding a pink sponge running it over the dishes, with a domestic bliss on their face. However after he had let it sink in long enough he realized what his professor was trying to tell him. His professor was trying to tell him, that he should write about what he knew. He understood that he wanted to write about dragons and elves and action, and all that; but he first and foremost needed to understand to write about something that he needed to know. He needed to grasp that feel of authenticity. Writing about his mother doing the dishes, or his father, smoking a pipe as he wood carved, or writing about something he knew, he would be able to experience and grasp that authenticity.

There are moments upon moments of authenticity, in much of Alice Munro’s work. There are those moments of, of an atmosphere and a mood. An emotion that has been grasped, and placed in a cage; it sings like a little song bird. The same tune of that emotion runs throughout Alice Munro’s stories. Though the emotion may be different it certainly something that one can bet on, when reading one of her stories. That there is something profoundly human to her work, and yet profoundly quite off. Something distant – I suppose the metaphor of the emotion in the cage comes to mind. It cannot be stolen, or touched. The bars are its imprisonment and its safety net from our greedy hands.

“Too Much Happiness,” is just a wonderfully interesting story by Alice Munro. Many critics and reviewers have asked themselves, if Alice Munro is just a short story writer, or if she is a writer, whose stories are equally matched to the novel. It is difficult to say. Though “Too Much Happiness,” certainly brings up the question. It is a long short story – even close to being a novella. However it is best to read as if it is a short story.

It is sometimes a dizzying read. The name dropping. The ever feeling of shifting places – and the present mixed with the past memories, always are changing. Alice Munro however had captured, Sophia Kovalevsky, like a wounded bird, and exposes her troublesome and turbulent life. The shifting political atmosphere in Russia – communism is certainly something talked about; there is Jaclard’s imprisonment, and Vladimir saving him, through bribery. Though Jaclard does not even mention thank-you to Vladimir in his retelling of the story, nor does he repay him. He is just an arrogant man, who speaks only of his own bravery. Though that same arrogance has landed him and his son in his current situation. Urey – Jaclard’s son; is the same way. Thin, poor, and arrogant; his living situation has caused him to grow bitter. There is the fall out of Vladimir and herself, and her new love Maxism, who appears to be a bit of a cold fish, but entices love in Sophia somehow. Aniuta, Sophia’s sister is far, far, far more of a tragic figure at times. Her love for her husband Jaclard was miserable failure, as was her hatred of him, because she loved him. She had a love for the medieval period, and was prone to political outburst. Though she was overshadowed by her mathematical genius of her sister. Everything of this long story appears somewhat challenging. Because she was a woman, Sophia needed permission from her parents or husband (that’s when Vladimir comes into play) to study abroad. She became the first woman, to teach at a university.

Moving through different time frames, but always focusing on the sole subject of Sophia Alice Munro had, created an interesting ode to Anton Chekhov at times – of course with her own twists. Sophia – though a real historical figure; almost becomes an Alice Munro character in her own right. She has relationship problems, is willing to stand up to authority when it, itself is being unjust, inner conflicts, and a sense of trying to find something – whatever that might be.

It is a profoundly interesting read. Taken away from that regionalist view and thrown into the European world, of the nineteenth century it is a profoundly interesting piece of work. Surely for my first stint with Alice Munro it is my favourite. She laments, and remember the tragic and yet strong headed mathematician who seemed a bit more human than what I had expected a story about a mathematician, who spends their time with numbers, and calculations and yet still retains a sense of social interest, not to mention she is both an interesting woman and a compelling character. By all means she is not a flat or dull woman at all. But a compelling human being, which Alice Munro had grasped perfectly.

With the end of the Alice Munro it is time to find a new female author. Though there are very little choices, who write in the short story form, and are from a different country then an, English speaking place. Though colonial is alright – just not Canada, at the moment. For now though the only female short story author that one can have for now will be the American Amy Hempel. The Greek writer Ersi Sotiropoulos, is certainly being considered, as is Nobel Laureate in Literature Herta Müller with her debut collection of stories “Nadirs,” if anyone has authors from around the world, whose work has been translated into English and is in short story format, and is female, please your suggestions are more than welcome.

“The Saint and the Goblin,” by Saki (H.H. Munro) – From “The Complete Saki,” by Saki – Section “Reginald in Russia.”

I am currently reading “The Strangers Child,” by Alan Hollinghurst, who this year was on the long list of the Booker Prize. Hollinghurts, is also a previous winner of the Booker prize, back in two thousand and four, for his novel “The Line of Beauty.” Now of course this review is not about Alan Hollinghurst, but the first bit of this novel – at least so far; is certainly dealing with the golden afternoon that Saki goes on and explains. The novel, much like Saki’s stories (so far) have dealt, with the leisure and languor, which the residents of this time period had dealt with. Thinking of it – especially that dinner part in the novel, there was that certain sense of that same dinner party that Virginia Woolf had written about in her novel “To The Lighthouse.” In fact all three of these authors – Saki, Virginia Woolf, as well as Alan Hollinghurst, have captured the languor and leisure of the era quite well. That is the reason why I had decided to mention Alan Hollinghurst’s new novel, because he much like Saki captures that dry time. The time of dinner parties, servants, a still intact class system, but also that general apathy or enjoyment of drowning in the peace and quiet of the time, but the unsettling thought of war with the German Kaiser, which would soon be known as The Great War – or World War I.

It has been a while since we last saw Reginald. His attempts at destroying and causing chaos at a garden party, appeared to be his goal. His friend, who had gone to the garden party to find his (now celibate) cat Wumples a partner, had since failed miserably, because of dear old Reginald, and his destructive attempts at making a mockery of the party, as well as teach his friend a valuable lesson, in both making someone do what they do not want to, and also the consequences – or reaction to the action; of being selfish – or at least having an ulterior motive.

Now according to the section of this complete collection of Saki’s work (it is not just limited to his short stories – there are also plays and novels) we find Reginald in Russia. This particular story though does not actually deal with Reginald personally. In fact Reginald himself and his miscreant behaviour does not even make an appearance.

“The Saint and the Goblin,” by Saki (H.H. Munro) is like the following story by Nobel Laureate in Literature of nineteen-sixty eight, it reads more like a fable, then it does a story of memory, or vignette focusing primarily on atmosphere. There is not one emotion, which is being exploited, and taken for granted. There is nothing like that. It reads just like a fable. A short story that has a moral lesson – or tries to teach something. But neither Saki no Yasunari Kawabata are teaching anything. Well maybe Saki is. The reason I say that is at the very last page, on the very last few lines, there is just that moment of understanding. In fact the way this story ended reminded one more of a how Italo Calvino stories – except the humour. Sometimes Saki’s humour is a lot lost on me. His first story that I had ever read, which was expertly called “Reginald,” was well done, and even humours – only because someone named their cat Wumples, made me want to roll around and laugh. Just picturing someone calling their cat Wumples, with a straight face always made me laugh.

But with this story of Saint and a Goblin, ends on a note – a sour moral note, or a note where the moral, and the reality of the situation are forced to be met, head on in a collision. The best intentions sometimes are always going against the larger scale or the design of how things are meant to be. It is almost as if Saki (with the use of the Saint and the Goblin as symbols) is mocking philanthropy and the concept that some people are just born better than others, and that some people’s duty is to be poor and to suffer. It is almost a chilling thought. Saki was born and grew up in a Imperial English Colony – Burma; one would have thought, that the culture shock of Burma and jolly ol’ England, would have been quite the shock to where Saki had come from, and that, it was the inspiration of his acidic tongue, and sour pen – but maybe even though he did grow up on a British Colony he still had some old, feudal society or be it, some old imperial thoughts ingrained in his head. Which lead to the uncertainty in to which way one should take what he is stating with this story.

“The Hat Incident,” by Yasunari Kawabata Nobel Laureate in Literature of nineteen-sixty eight – From “The Palm-of-The-Hand: Stores”

This is not Yasunari Kawabata’s (The Nobel Laureate in Literature of nineteen-sixty eight) best story but it is certainly one of his most interesting stories, and shows his versatility. “The Hat Incident,” reads to a degree somewhat like an adult fairy tale or fable rather than the classic Yasunari Kawabata story.

The classic Yasunari Kawabata story does not focus on plot, story, or even characters at times. Yes there are all three, of those elements in his story but they are not necessarily the main or sole focus of the story. The main focus of the story is the atmosphere and the emotions of the characters. Memory, emotion and atmosphere come and bring the classic story of Yasunari Kawabata’s stories to life.

His gems of his work, with the poetic lines. The use of metaphor, that brings the imagery of the Japan that Yasunari Kawabata laments and the clash of western modernization with the eastern traditions of Japan in conflict, makes his work grand and beautiful. The real genius and literary significance of Yasunari Kawabata’s work, is his ability to probe the psychological mind of his characters. This allows for the real conflict of western modernization and the traditions and way of life of the East, to be all that more significance, by focusing on the individual who experiences these conflicts.

“The Hat Incident,” is a fairy tale folk tale, which Yasunari Kawabata uses to probe the Japanese culture, with the mythical little goblin of the Kappa, and how it is both at trickster. I personally can remember my first stint with finding out what a Kappa was. I can’t remember how old I and the little companion who was with me – most likely a school mate. We were on a farther section of the library, on the other side of the stairs. There were quite a few shelves back there. Some shelves of books that I can’t even remember, and other books. There was some classics for children – “Moby Dick,” by Herman Melville, “Oliver Twist,” by Charles Dickens, and other books in the same vain. I remember this because when I was younger I owned one just like them, from my grandmother only mine was “White Fang.”

This school friend or whoever it was, we went searching back there. There we found a flimsy relatively new paperback book, about all these mythical creatures. We flipped through the illustrated book, of dragons, and goblins and what not. Then we came across a photo of a little webbed foot, hollow headed, monkey faced, turtle shell creature that was called a Kappa.

This same creature is now what has crawled into Yasunari Kawabata’s “Palm-Of-The-Hand stories,” and it is here Yasunari Kawabata gives a somewhat lighter tone to the creature that the frightful creature I remember, as a child, of a little goblin with an unquenchable taste for blood and cucumbers. Even though it was, a mythical and non-existent creature, I could never forget the creature, and wonder if a Kappa was lurking in the river where I was by; or the lake we sometimes camped at in the summer; and sometimes imagined the ugly monkey faced creature with the hollow skulled head coming up from the depths of the water.
With Yasunari Kawabata’s story about the incident of a hat, and a bridge, and the river below, the Kappa is no longer a monkey faced horrifying creature, but a malevolent little trickster who did harm out for its own amusement. Not at all a malicious creature.

It is certainly a folk tale or legend that Yasunari Kawabata has come to change into his own story, about a kappa. Ryūnosuke Akutagawa the grandfather and master of the Japanese short story who died tragically at a young age, because of his fears and the fears of the mental illness, he decided to kill himself, wrote a novel (I think it’s his only novel as well) titled “Kappa,” and he also gives a satirical look at the Kappa.

The Kappa for me now, is a symbol of Japanese society. Not a horrifying monster, but a trickster and satirist, not a mean malicious beast, that had come from my childhood; but now just as a folktale little goblin who plays mean tricks, for its own entertainment.

“Blacamán the Good, Vendor of Miracles,” by Gabriel García Márquez the Nobel Laureate in Literature of nineteen-eighty two – From “Leaf Storm: and Other Stories.”

There is certainly something about this story, which seemed off. A darker sense of irony. A bitter use of sarcasm perhaps. In the end this short story left me disillusioned, in its simple matter of fact way of speaking. The way that the narrator’s cold observations or recollection of memories were simply what they were. The inhumanity of humanity, or the individual human, was just unsettling. It’s disturbing at times. But it becomes disturbing because of how it is told. But it is told, to be very key of how the story must go. How the narrator expressed, the events of the story is key. How it simply was written in a cold dethatched view makes the story understand that the entire writing of writing magical realism; where the fantastic and the reality and normal, simply collide to be banal and seen as a simple occurrence. Which is the tale of ““Blacamán the Good, Vendor of Miracles,” where at one moment just a simple writing of life itself, where a young child, views a vendor in his flamboyant attire, proclaiming he can cure himself of snake poison.

What ensures is a grotesque spectacle indeed. Where a man runs out into the surrounding countryside, and catches a snake in a bottle. Poisonous as it is, the vendor Blacamán, opens up the bottle, and the serpent, sensing its freedom at hand, strikes out of the bottle, and bites the vendor. As it was described, what is next is a spectacle of the mere macabre. He begins to swell, and roll about. Turning about on the ground, he begins to swell. Where his rings are on his fingers, had purple, cutting of circulation. He just kept expanding like a hot air balloon, except he wasn’t rising. But the most disgusting part was the fact that the vendor rolled around on the ground laughing manically. Everyone could only stand around and watch both intrigue and in horror. Some waiting to see him to stop moving and dye; others hoping to see if his antidote for venomous poison would work; making their own trips in the back bush a lot easier, and less dangerous if they got bit by a snake or any venomous reptile or mammal according to the vendor.

Of course just as promised, the vendor survived his snake bite, and sure enough, just as the men and woman who had stood around gawked – and the mariners had taken pictures of the dying man, he came back from his death. People applauded him, and in no time, after his little disgusting demonstration, he had sold out.

This is when Blacamán is first introduced to the main character and narrator. Soon the main character/narrator admits or confesses to his dream of wanting to be a fortune-teller just like the vendor himself. The vendor appears curious and thinks about this long and hard, and interestedly enough, takes the main character/narrator as his apprentice. But this life, and the main characters dream of what he wanted, soon turned out to be nothing more than a miserable nightmare after a while. Though once again things change, for someone – for better or for worst. This is a cruel trick of irony to some, but this is where Nobel Laureate Gabriel García Márquez allows his magical realism show, in all its hallucination and lucid dreams, that can happen – but it’s all spoken of in that banal, and simple way. Where the cold observations, are all spoken of in the same manner; the fantastic, does not become any more special than all the other writing details. It could even be said that the most common details are the most special and are regarded as something special or fantastic rather than the fantastic elements that are portrayed in this novel.

The best part of the lucid hallucination like dreams of the fantastic accepted with the normal can best be seen here:

“...drawing the fever out of malaria victims for two pesos, visioning blind men for four-fifty, draining the water from dropsy victims for eighteen...” and continues “The only thing I don’t do is revive the dead, because as soon as they open their eyes, they are murderous with rage at the one who disturbed their state, and when it’s all done, those who don’t commit suicide die again of disillusionment.”

Which takes us all back to the beginning of this blog, during the discussion of Blacamán the good and Blacamán the bad, and their extreme differences, and the question of a con man, and the questions of a man who truly is the miracle worker, who at one point was regarded as a saint. But the twist of irony, like a cruel crooked arthritic, finger changes everything in an instant – for better or for worst; but usually for worst. Which if one wishes to admit, is usually a poetic sense of justice.

Of course, there are very disturbing scenes in this short story. Which is all written about in the most dead pan expression, and none of it is gory or disgusting or trying to be over the top horror falling down on its face in a comedic way; it’s just written in that matter of fact way of writing. It’s disturbing, but it showcases, that irony and the humanity turning inhumane. All of it allows for pity and sympathy while others allows for a lot of disgust and anger.

In all an interesting story by a master story teller.

“(Winter) The City Lost in the Snow,” by Italo Calvino – From “Marcovaldo or The Seasons in The City.”

Just the other day it had snowed here in the city and all around the place. The entire place was covered in snow. Not a lot but a good few inches of snow. Enough for the snow to be packed down by the car tires, the sanders to take to the road. Of course this also led to some serious issues and problems. Even with the snow visibly on the ground, people still drove around like it was summer. All one needed to do, is turn on the television, find the news, and they could simply hear the raging chaos that was taken over the roads. Everyone discussed minor collisions, and full scale collisions, where people were injured and taken to the hospital. Other such news could certainly have been heard, on the radio, and any other news station on the television. It appears to be the same common case every time the first snow falls. People do not take the proper precautions while driving and easily get themselves into accidents. Hearing that on the news, looking at it outside, and then of course shovelling it; winter for me is certainly here indeed. This has certainly made it fitting, to read a “winter,” seasoned story by Italo Calvino.

“Shovelling the snow off the sidewalk in front of the building is up to us. To you, that is.”

So were the words of poor old Marcovaldo’s boss, a miserable foreman. Those were sounded so familiar. Just the other day when the snow had hit the ground, parents – mothers and fathers; had informed their children that the snow would be more than happy to wait for them to shovel it, after school. All over my travels from the walk, one could hear people being told that the snow needed to be shovelled. Parks and recreations, grunt employees went out to shovel, some of the walking paths. The snow ploughs, busy ploughing the snow, men and women going to work grumbling about the snow on the windshields, and the frost that lay hidden underneath and needed to have been scrapped off.

Yet the site of the snow and the sky overhead, a pale white colour with tid-bits of grey slithering and mixing into the clouds. On the edges of the low large and over hanging cloud, one could make out the pale yellow colour in the distance, some blue but mostly some grey and hush minute pinks. The most predominate colour close to the cloud though was yellow, mixing in at the edges as white.

So Marcovaldo is forced to shovel the sidewalk because his boss demands it of him – even though the responsibility is the companies, but his boss could possibly not be bothered with that detail. It now becomes Marcovaldo’s problem, and therefore he must do it, for threat of the termination of his job, or the wraith of his foreman. But this task does not slow down or disappoint the positive and optimistic Marcovaldo. He works hard to get it all shovelled, and to impress his foreman and other bosses, so they’ll look at him as a hard worker. However in the end he makes the job for a lowly government employee shovelling the street and the two exchange information on how to shovel the snow properly. Marcovaldo learns to pack the snow at the edge of the street, so not to make the snow shovelling for the government employee shovelling the street any harder then it must be.

Then by the government employee shovelling and poor old Marcovaldo, shovelling they both meet the less then happy surprise of snow plough zipping past them, undoing their work, and leaving them with another long large mess of snow. Then poor Marcovaldo meets yet another unfortunate accident. Time after time, he finds himself in such sardonically ironic circumstances. Once can see Italo Calvino smiling at the trials and tribulations of Marcovaldo, who only wishes to do so much for himself and his family. A man who wishes to push past his uneducated low paying job as a unskilled general labour, and moving on to his way up in the world. Unfortunately for him he just can’t seem to get right the first time, or the second, third – or any time for that matter. His schemes, his attempts at doing what he hope sand thinks is right, end miserably for him, time after time, and he then must continue try again and again.

No matter how many times Marcovaldo falls down the social ladder, he is quick to try and scale it again and again, and improve his situation – both work and living, not to mention social standing of course; and once again he falls again. It doesn’t matter if Marcovaldo found some mushrooms growing out of the sidewalk, and then almost ends up getting himself and his family killed – not to mention the finical burden that little area fell down on top of his paycheque. Then there was the case of the pigeon, who had gotten stuck in his traps, and how all his neighbours laundry – including his land ladies laundry, that had hung out to dry had all ripped and fallen bad from the glue that Marcovaldo had hoped to had caught a woodcock.

Yet despise all these attempts. All these failures. There is still something childishly familiar about Marcovaldo. A part we all can recognize and identify with. That same, wondering, and appreciation for the nature. For the wonder, of seeing something beautiful happen for the first time, or something just out routine happen. Like watching snow geese, fly in such a large flock for the south for the winter. Listening to that strange humming sound of their wings flapping in unison on their travelling trip. What about the first snow, and beautiful low clouds. The way the morning frost sticks to the branches of the trees. The first buds of spring. The first blooms of summer. The first colours of the leaves changing for autumn. No matter where we look, we all have that same appreciation for the nature world, just like Marcovaldo. We all have that same sense of wonder, and recognition of its natural beauty.

“Under No Moon,” by Amy Hempel – From “The Collected Stories,” by Amy Hempel – Section: “At the Gates of the Animal Kingdom.”

“Under No Moon,” by Amy Hempel holds that same Amy Hempel literary technique, of her well crafted sentences. The building boxes, of the story itself. The skeletal part of the structure of the story. This is Amy Hempel’s greatest strength – something all reviewers and I, apparently exemplify in any review of her work.

Even though that “Under No Moon,” shows this trait, it also shows Amy Hempel’s strength of the short story, but also shows the short story’s weakness. The story focuses on surface detail, very little characterization, and also starts in the middle of the story working its way back and forth in order to reach the conclusion.

“Under No Moon,” focuses the narrator’s mother, and her odd little predictions she takes. How her mother would know which song would play when her children were born. How she knew when to circle the block one more time, until a free parking space would come open on a street crammed with cars.

It was this same clairvoyance, or ability to predict that made the narrators mother believe that when she saw the comet she will die. Reading that, made me think of Amy Hempel’s own mother, who had committed suicide. For that brief moment I had wondered if perhaps that this story was a lament of Amy Hempel’s mother who had died. A way of working through the grief and the confusion of being left without a mother so unexpectedly and unsure of the current circumstances of the entire situation of her mother’s departure.

In many ways it could be seen as that. But with a certain change. There was a comet heading near earth, and of course the celestial significance and beauty of the entire event. Of course such an event can cause some people to lose their heads. Some people just have it in their brains that it could be the end of times.

Did a comet or asteroid kill the dinosaurs? Will the human race meet the same end as the dinosaurs with this comet or asteroid? For people like myself, it does not really matter. Because such speculation and thoughts are as selfish and as useless as they are to be considered. Such thoughts are not warranted for much thinking or even recognition on my part. In some ways the children/narrator of this fictional mother in “Under No Moon,” feel the same way with their mothers silly prediction that she shall face her own death, when her eyes spot and see the comet or asteroid so close to the earth. As if looking forward to her death – or just seeing the celestial site itself; the narrators mother goes and books a cruise down in South America (from the looks of it by Trinidad) to see the comet more clearly. Upon the cruise the narrator’s mother and the narrators father (the husband of the narrator’s mother) were scheduled to attend lectures on all aspects and interesting parts of astronomy. A saving grace for the narrator’s mother came in an interesting and unexpected – even slightly bizarre and grotesque way. She had forgotten her pills for arthritis. Her husband also takes pills for arthritis but they are different then her own. In some way or another the narrator’s mother had a allergic reaction to the pills, and had saved her life or had stopped her predication from coming true. Perhaps fate itself does not like to be toyed with or, beat to the punch.

What Amy Hempel does talk about though in this story besides fail predictions, allergic reactions of pills, and the saving grace of unfortunate accidents – you know the gifts wrapped in barbed wire; or a blessing in a bullet case; is the beauty of celestial events. Such as November Eleventh, of the Eleventh Minute, of the year Two Thousand and Eleven. Or a comet or asteroid that passes earth, at a closer proximity then the moon itself is. Or the odd moments of lunar eclipse or a solar eclipse, among other strange and wondrous sites. The moments that in profound and unforgettable beauty and emotional let us all remember that we are only human.

Wednesday 23 November 2011

The Short Story Review No. VIII Introduction

Hello Gentle Reader

It is that time of month again. The time of the month when six stories, by six different authors makes it into “The Short Story Review,” but of course first and foremost there is the matter of an introduction. November is usually – much like all the other months; to be quiet in the literary world. Not much happens. Not much has happened, in the award arena. There are few new novels, here and there, that may strike a chord of interest in some readers. Working at a bookstore now, it’s surprising how many people actually read – hip, hip hooray for them one would say; but it is all trash to me. I cannot even begin to grasp what it is, what it could possibly mean to men, this trash. Other than some hormonal teenager, wants to know when the new book in a series comes out (“Clock Work Prince,” I believe she said it was called) or some old woman looking for the new romance book by some author or another. Then there is of course, nothing out of the new in every other part of the bookstore world. People looking at this or that. Though there does come some odd little moments, when someone makes you smile, when they ask: “where is “The Divine Comedy,” by Dante [they cannot pronounce his last name],” but you smile and show him where to go; then it is there you ask if they are looking for anything else? Of course they are not. They are simply, now going to browse. They thank you for their service. Then they happily move on, while you are left in that state of purgatory, wandering about doing nothing else. A customer shows up and you say “Hi there! How are you doing?” to which case they say fine thank-you, and when you are going to ask if they need any help, they blurt back as if on autopilot do you need any help, to which case they are not all that interested, at all in your help to find a book. When all you crave is some interesting talk about some great literature. Though of course, they don’t care. You as seen trash. A servant. A butler or a maid. Something that should be standing or lurking in the shadows of the store, only to come out when you are needed – by that when they find you, and ask for your assistance. Though they’ll ask for your assistance in the most abrupt and curtest of manners.

Though through, my eyes – these eyes behind these transparent lenses, that at times show the reflection of my eye, or the shadowing legs of my spider eyelashes. All I can see, is I am now forced to really, walk around with it, is the ninety-five percent of the reading population. The people who read laundry lint – fluff if you will. Who could care how less the predictable plot is, or how interesting it is. How it’s a formula that is followed, time after time. One can write, a romance novel, in a matter of six months. Nora Roberts, has over a hundred books, as does Danielle Steele (who does not think her work falls into the romance condition, but discusses the human condition – a laughable thought really) it would come to no surprise though that they might be using the same formula.

Now of course with my job, I have to do a “Staff Pick,” – a book that you think you can sell! Even though it’s a book store, you certainly do need to realize that it is also a retail place, a place, after your purse and wallet. Open them up and hand over all your money for the exchange of the product. Hand it all over for the fluff that you wish to read. Those that walk the floor are no different. They are the imps – the flying monkey’s that swarm you, try to sell you stuff. It is no wonder that customers get so irritated, when one (such as myself) just wishes to have a conversation (or is that a ploy to, to sell you something) just wish to ask how you are doing. Of course the staff picks needs to be in the store itself. There goes the hopes of having “The Land of Green Plums,” by Herta Müller, Nobel Laureate in Literature of two thousand and nine. Then of course their concept of what about “Palace Walk,” by the Egyptian author and Nobel Laureate in Literature of nineteen-eighty eight, Naguib Mahfouz. Certainly they must have it in store. Though once again, they do not have it – but they have the second volume in his “Cairo Trilogy,” “Sugar Street,” not that does me much good of anything at all. Then someone suggested try picking something that everyone would like to read. Something like James Patterson, or John Grisham, what about Clive Cussler? At what cost though I ask myself – most likely the cost of my dignity.

At least here, though Gentle Reader, literature is still held in its high concept. At least here it is hoped and enjoyed – where it is something more than just simple fluff of a story.

Thank-you For Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Read
*And Remember: Downloading Books Illegally is Thievery and Wrong.*

M. Mary

Thursday 17 November 2011

Pereira Declares

Hello Gentle Reader

Antonio Tabucchi is an author of two countries. There is native homeland of Italy, and the country of his love, Portugal. Many authors are like this. The Nobel Laureate in Literature of two thousand and nine, Herta Muller is a native Romanian writer. Born in Nitzkydorf in Romanian’s Banat region, Herta Muller identified more with the culture and language of German, rather then that of her home country of Romania – she did not learn to speak Romanian until the age of fifteen. Ivo Andric the ninteent-sixty one Nobel Laurete in Literature – at the time was a Yugoslavic writer – however his works dealt primarly with Bosnia; and has often been called a Bosnian writer; however others have said he belongs to the Serbian writing tradition, others claim him to the Croatian literary scene. Gao Xingjian the Nobel Laureate of Literature in the year two thousand, is a born Chinese-novelist, playwright, critic and painter; however he has French citizenship and has been identified with France since his self-imposed exile from China, since the late ninteen-eighties. Then there is the author Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio the Nobel Laureate in Litearture of two thousand and eight, who has dual citizneship in both France and Mauritius. When J.M.G Le Clezio was young his mother and brother joined his father Nigeria. J.M.G Le Clezio studied in England, then moved to the United States of America to teach, after finishing and recieving his Masters from the University of Provence. J.M.G Le Clezio then served with the French Military in Thailand – J.M.G Le Clezio finished up his service with the French Army in Mexico. Afterwards J.M.G Le Clezio lived with some natives in Panama. However J.M.G Le Clezio is primarly a French author. The world is full of these kinds of authors. Authors living in exile, authors who have found homes in other countries. Antonio Tabucchi is no different. An author from Italy who has a great fondness and love for Portugal, and his greatest influence is the Portugesse writer Fernando Pessoa.

“Pereira Declares,” by Antonio Tabucchi takes place, in Portugal in the white city of Lisbon. It concerns itself with the obese Doctor Pereira, a journalist who writes and edits the culture page of the independent evening news paper, which has no political leanings and influences. However Doctor Pereira is awakened into political consciousness, when he meets the young man and political dissident and anti-fascist, rebellious writer Montiero Rossi. Set in the summer of nineteen-thirty eight, it is a summer of political uncertainty in both Spain and Portugal – yet Doctor Pereira is all but unaware of this entire stifling political situation. However Doctor Pereira knows all too well that the politics of Antonio Salazar has engulfed the country of Portugal much like the heat of the summer has. Celeste the caretaker of Doctor Pereira’s office where he works on the Culture page of the news paper; he suspects of being a police informant. However this does not break his apolitical languor and love and enjoyment of translating French stories, eating omelettes and drinking lemonade.

“Pereira Declares,” is more than just a simple title of this book. Much of this book itself are declarations of the fictional character which further adds to the title of the book: “Pereira Declares: A Testimony.” In some form or another he just explains or testifies, what has lead up to the events of the novella. Upon reading an article by Montiero Rossi about death, Doctor Pereira decides to contact the author of it, in order to write advanced obituaries of writers of their time who could die at any unexpected moment, and so the obituary could be on hand to publish it as necessary. The first obituary that this young writer presents to Pereira is, far too political for his times – it’s on the poet Federico García Lorca. Through this novel Pereira often contemplates his own existence, his soul, his need for repentance, confessions, and his good Catholic – or at least his semi-good Catholic faith; and why he does not sack Montiero Rossi, for not being able to produce any publishable articles for the news paper in the current political environment and atmosphere of the time. However Pereira, continues to support the young man Montiero Rossi with his own money.

Pereira’s existence really is not all that disturbed by much of what is going on. Not the constant unpublishable obituaries by Montiero Rossi, or his constant lugging of neither his obesity around; nor the political environment of Portugal, or the constant spying – or presumed spying of his office caretaker Celeste. Pereira continues to translate French stories, into Portuguese, and publish them into the news paper. Upon translating a story into the Portuguese and placing them into instalments into the culture page of the news paper. Upon heading out the spa and seeing an old friend Sylvia Pereira gets into a slight argument about the political atmosphere of the time. The argument is slightly distressing towards Pereira, and he leaves the spa. Upon a consultation with his doctor again Pereira leaves towards a spa, of natural remedies for his obese suffering. There he meets Doctor Cardoso, who proves to be an interesting confidante in those times of great political suffering – the political atmosphere as stuffy and sweltering as the heat of summer itself. Doctor Cardoso has a great conversation with Pereira about a theory of the soul, and how it is not an individual part of the body but rather a collective group of other smaller souls, and how the soul can change. Now according to Father Antonio (another confidant and friend) this is heresy to the “T,” and that it does no good to think of the soul in such ways. It is not good Catholic faith. However it proves to be an interesting conversation on the entire concept of the soul, and the concept of people changing and whether or not people can change. Doctor Cardoso is a doctor who has specialized in dietary medicine and psychology, and this is what has lead to the conversation between the literary loving and gourmet food addict, to have a conversation on the concept of the soul itself. Doctor Cardoso is one of the many people who encourage to wake the sleeping and rather lazy Pereira from his apolitical apathetic languor and lounging and to take up some arms or awaken a sense of consciousness and to realize the inhumanity and unequal and disturbing unfairness of the current political regime.

Upon publishing a story with the words “vive la France,” at the end, his editor and chief of this news paper, is placed in a bit of a unhappy situation, with is fellow members of the political atmosphere of Portugal. He is disgusted and enraged by Pereira translating such a story and is growing a bit weary of him publishing French stories – see how France is not an ally of Portugal and is very critical of Germany; who is an ally of Portugal but as Pereira points out they are not allies, to which point the editor and chief points out that they may not be allies but there are strong sympathies held, and that the stories are not doing any good for the paper, and are hurting the editor and chief in a political stance. From there Pereira is to allow the editor and chief to look at all the culture pages, before they are to be printed, and furthermore, he is to stop translating and publishing stories by French authors, and should move onto authors from Portugal, and show the papers patriotism and nationalist stance. Though Pereira declares or rather questions by stating to himself, that the paper is independent. But this only further nudges the lounging Pereira from his pool of apathy. He no longer is given the pleasure of watching the events pass him by, he now is placed into the events. He realizes the paper has its own anterior agenda, in the political game, and that his love of good literature is not good for the political position of the paper, and that his love of the food is not good enough for his health.

The final straw however is finally pulled through when Pereira’s home is intruded upon by “political police,” who rudely mock his sexuality, his obesity, and his profession. They hold a gun at his head. Inform him that it would be a great pleasure to shoot him in the wind pipe. All this over Montiero Rossi, the odd young man who had just waltzed into Pereira’s life who had changed Pereira’s life from a life of smallness and simple pleasure and political apathy to a life of realized consciousness. To a life where he was forced to make decisions and do what he had to do and do it as necessary in those times, no longer able to lounge in his usual life of literature and find food, but is forced to take up small acts of heroism, and in the end, his final act of heroism is an act of changing the soul itself.

It is a beautiful character portrait by the author Antonio Tabucchi and it was an enjoyable book. It would have been a lot lovelier to see a lot more scenic landscapes of Lisbon and Portugal, itself, and a bit more in depth of the characters, but then it kind of loses some of that lustre that is has now. It was a splendid books however, a delightful book. One that sacrificed scenic portraits and more in depth characterization for what it was able to give now. A lovely and worthy novel, of Antonio Tabucchi’s love of the country of Portugal, and his contempt for authoritarian states of government, dictatorships – but it also expresses his love and desire for everyman to do the right thing, even if they are the smallest acts of courage.

Thank-you For Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Read
*And Remember: Downloading Books Illegally is Thievery and Wrong.*

M. Mary

Thursday 10 November 2011

Real World

Hello Gentle Reader

This is the Japan I had since searched for. Yukio Mishima writes about a more traditional Japan, just opening up to the concept of western influence, and the nihilistic wanderings of Japan after World War II. The Nobel Laureate in Literature of nineteen-sixty eight, Yasunari Kawabata discussed the traditional beauty of Japan in a modern world. Kenzaburo Oe the Nobel Laureate in Literature of nineteen-ninety four, is more American and European (specifically French) literary influenced, and deals more closely with the intimate and personal relationship he has with his brain damaged son Hikari. Haruki Murakami’s Japan is rather Americanized, dripping in pop culture, and music, with surreal and magical moments, that are accepted. Yet with Natsuo Kirinio’s noir novel “Real World,” This is the Japan I had since imagined and become suspicious of. This the contemporary Japan. This is the Japan that everyone speaks about. The Japan of tiny houses; capsule hotels; young girls as sexual objects; the polluted air; the students stressed out by school that they have mental breakdowns and even commit suicide. In a sense it’s a world of plasticity, a place overcome with postmodernism, consumerism, mass media – it’s an empire of information overload, over come with a sense of general apathy, and a falsity where people are not what they seem. They are all there hidden in their own worlds. Universes and galaxies a part. The people are separated physically by their flesh. They are separated by the spaces between them. Their places at the dinner table. Their seats on the subway, or the clothing that touches each other, as they walk down the street. However mentally they are all so distant off and gone, surrounded in their own inner world, far away from the stresses of their reality. Students dare not to think of cram schools, and college entrance exams, or their teachers and their stifling and stuffy lessons. Parents escape into a different world; they disregard their children as simple worry. Fathers disappear. They hide in the bars, drinking. They watch the fantasy’s of prostitutes, strippers, geisha, and fantasize about it, while disregarding the fact that they are married and have children, only then slip on home to sleep in their bed with their wives, and hide in their drunken dream, only to wake up the next day and repeat the same cycle over and over again. Wives and mothers, do their own work, lost in their own worlds. Day time television I am sure, watching tabloid news, soap operas. The children themselves hide from themselves, lost in their own lifestyles. They hide their identity with false names, which they give to fortune tellers, and on other odd ends that come with the consumerist society of Japan. Theirs the fake smiles, of the older students, going around to the cram schools. They are always smiling, giving pep talks on college education, and telling students, to work on getting their grade point average up. Study like their lives depends on it. Study twelve hours and take their average up three percent. Study until you cough up blood. All of this and pressure to succeed. Go to good colleges, and good universities, and the real sense that if one does not they would be a failure. A failure in the Japanese society. This is the life that all these characters have to live. The constant sirens of air pollution. The constant threat of dishonour of not making it into any university. Soon they would be one of the prostitutes or strippers, which dance shamelessly for the men. But there is more danger looking out into the world then the dishonour of education. There are shady men who hide in the world, and watch little girls. Who even prey on them. It is a world of repressed sexuality and explicit sexual marketing. A place of neon lights, which are shinning and blinking everywhere. It’s a postmodern Disneyland, and a dangerous place. A carnival where everyone see’s the sites, and yet does not find them awe inspiring or amazing but simply, just the reality and normal scenery that they pass by every day.

Natsuo Kirino does not lament this newly discovered Japan – or rather what Japan has become. She expresses it with what it is and what it has become. She describes this new Japan as a consumerist driven society, and how people are not as what they appear to be. No one ever appears to be what they are. Kirarin is a fine example. How she lies about herself on those chat rooms, and then goes and picks and meets up with the men; or rather goes and see’s how she not only deceived them but how she herself was deceived. How she also deceives her friends. How they think they are this kind and sweet hearted woman. She herself is just like the rest of Japan. Disconnected and dissociated form everything and everyone around her. Lost in chat rooms, of playing deceiving games with each other men, who are also pretending be something they are not. Then there is Yuzan she hides her sexuality away from her friends. She shuns it from them. She goes out and meets other lesbians like Dahmer, and connects with them. She appears to despise her own gender, wishing to be a man. Maybe life would be easier for her if she was a man, not just a lesbian woman. Then she could be accepted for her sexuality because it would have been perceived as normal. Then there is ‘Worm,’ who in act of being God commits matricide. He is a complete nobody. His parents pressured and pushed him to do well in his elite school, though there he is shunned as a nobody, just as he is shunned as a nobody or just a distant shadow in a storm of other shadows. In an act of extreme violence Worm is noticed by everyone. Yet in this action all the same Worm remains abstract. His mother is dead – he himself had murdered her; this new reality just seems odd to him. A reality he cannot comprehend. So he flees, and disappears into the surrounding prefectures of Tokyo; however at the same time, he is the odd man out. His act or rebellion has only further to alienate him from everyone else. Terauchi is the smartest of the bunch. However her intelligence and great student appearance has left her arrogant and lonely from the others. She believes herself to be more clever than that of the rest of her friends. She only finds some solace on some subjects if only briefly with her friend Toshi whose casual and apathetic demeanour does not hide her sensitive true self.

This is the world that these characters inhabit. A world of distrust and disillusionment. These four girls have a great distrust of the adult world, that they are being so carefully groomed for. Worm was the same way. But he openly shatters the barrier separating him from the real world, and from the world he is living. By committing matricide, Worm is able to destroy that barrier, which separated him from the world he was being carefully educated for. Is this why he then seeks the approval and the sympathy of the other characters? Those four girls, who distrust the adult world, who fear it, who lurk away to find their own sense of reality other than the one that they themselves are going enter regardless of how they feel.

The entire concept of reality is key to Natuso Kirino’s work. For the characters in this book, the only reality they know or have had is the reality of the educational system, which is dog eat dog. A gladiator pit. No one can be trusted. It is all about beating the other students. Looking out for oneself. Getting into a better college, and succeeding in life. This is all the characters have. This is what they live for. This is it. This is all. There is nothing else really that they live for. They live their own lives – though those lives are also kept secret from everyone else. In their own world. Their own realities. They all separated from each other. Even the friends of Toshi, Terauchi, Yuzan, and Kirarin, are all separate in their lives. Delving into the depths of the reality, and the real world. Even that has its own costs. Dodging perverts, making sure they are not attacked or raped by someone.

There are a few problems with Natsuo Kirino’s fiction. She tells rather than shows. Her characters are not all that deep, there are very few complexities. They fall prey to their own cliques which lead to a lot of clichés.

In the end it is just a simple noir novel. A novel about the modern Japan. A Japan for its dark realities. It is a stark moral landscape. Murder becomes a philosophical statement. An act of rebellion. The novel takes the readers on a ride of the grotesque and the extreme. An underground and underworld of Japan. A place with dark little secrets hiding everywhere. A place full of lies. A place where people are always ready to sell you something, or rape you. Pedophiles on the prowl. It is a dark world, in Natsuo Kirino’s eyes, and there is no redemption. No one can help them. They have to remain false themselves, lie, and watch their backs. This is all that they can do.

Thank-you For Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Read
*And Remember: Downloading Books Illegally is Thievery and Wrong.*

M. Mary

Monday 7 November 2011

Keystone Pipeline: Where I stand and a bit more

Hello Gentle Reader

Please Note: This is all a political/personal opinionated essay, I do not care if you agree or disagree, and to be frank, I am not open to discussing or changing my mind on this entire matter – further more I am not open for discussion/arguing/debating this matter either. We are all entitled to our opinion whether we agree with them or not.

It is very rare – and by very rare, I certainly do mean very rare. It is very seldom in fact, that I do care to even bother, to write about politics, and economics, and all other great conversation and debate beginners – also great way to destroy family dinner, and make that “happy positive (wrapped in cellophane of falsity),” family reunion, into a raging gladiator arena, family member against family member, and sit back and watch to see who wins the battle. It’ll become no surprise that as a Canadian and not to mention Albertan, that I am more than against the concept of the proposed, and greatly controversial “Keystone Pipeline,” that the government of Canada and Alberta tries to spoon feed to the people, that it is good for the Canadian Economy and Albertan Economy. However, if one really wishes to look at, it does not do much for Canada, in economic ways. It does do some good for those, select who have a great stake in the business of the Albertan Oil Sands; however it does no good for the average Canadian or Albertan. Nothing. No new jobs (besides building the pipeline) et cetera. Furthermore, this does nothing for the new concept of the great debate about the validity of the concept of “Canadian Sovereignty,” when the politicians, are nothing more than little puppets (ventriloquist dummies) sitting on the laps of foreign countries, having the stick in the back being pulled, and the voice saying what the ventriloquist (in other words the foreign power’s voice) and how good the foreign powers influence is on, Canada, and what it means to Canada – further lengthening the nose of the lies coming from the wooden man on the lap, that we as Canadians would refer to as “The Canadian Government.” It brings to question now what use is it to vote in and elect officials, who do nothing but sit on the lap of another country, let it do the talking, let it speak, let it manoeuvre through Canada’s resources and then take them – of course they do pay for them, but not at the same price, that they would if Canada, had the monopoly on the resources themselves, by Canadian Companies, using Canadian Workers, and being sold at a much more economically situated price. Which brings me to the further proposition on the absurdity of this situation.

The Oilsands are often referred to as Albertan Oilsands. Then why on earth does, Alberta not have any refiners up in Northern Alberta? Why do the oil companies send all the unrefined oil and gas, to Eastern Canada to be refined? To send it via pipeline should cost the same amount of money as to build the refiners here. Furthermore to build and to operate the refiners should open up plenty more jobs for both Albertans and Canadians in general. Riddle me that I do say. How can such a large oil producer, be so ill-equipped and unprepared, to have the drilled and refined in the same area.

But to discuss and question the concept of Canadian Sovereignty and its validity in now this new chapter of Canada and its own time of being a country – being relatively new; is a question that Canadians need to ask themselves. Is Canada really a sovereign nation? Just because a piece of paper, says that this country is sovereign does not mean anything in reality. Calling a cow, a sheep does not make it a sheep anymore then calling sheep a cow. The entire concept of Canada and its need for “protection(ism),” from other countries is pathetic, degrading, and disrespectful. Just as the concept of Canada selling out the countries resources, minerals, and everything else for quick money – but not necessarily at its full price, and at its power of creating jobs. Canada is a great country – do not get me wrong on that; but as a Canadian, there is a long unspoken tradition that Canadians despise the government and not just all, but all countries. Most Canadians prefer someone of moderation in power, who does little, and does not sell the country short nor does it sell the resources at a undervalued price(s), not to mention is willing to stand by the country and its peoples values, even if they are seen as unpopular. But the most important aspect of that I consider as a Canadian is a politician who is willing who doesn’t sit on a foreign power’s lap, and has no voice, but just moving those wooden lips. It’s about a politician who is a Canadian Elected official, and is willing to stand by that stand point, and stand up for a country rich in resources, and make the country as wealthy as possible, and as much money as possible.

Proud To Be Canadian

Thank-you For Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Read
*And Remember: Downloading Books Illegally is Thievery and Wrong.*

Friday 4 November 2011

Atlantis: Model 1924

Hello Gentle Reader

Atlantis, is a legendary and a mythological island or continent, that has blurred the lines between fantasy and reality; pseudoscience and archaeology – it is the island that in some way or another one wishes or hoped that existed – this concept of what has come across a perfect utopia, a paradise of sorts for others; while others search for it, as a way of trying to understand the world years ago – both in geographical content and culture content of human beings. However the origin of Atlantis did not first appear until the year three hundred and sixty before common era (360 B.C.E) in Plato’s two dialogues “Timaeus,” and “Critias.” It is here that Plato describes Atlantis as a naval power which sat between “The Pillars of Hercules,” (which are actually promontories [a promontory is a mass of land that looks over lower land or sea] that overlook the Strait of Gibraltar) that at its time had conquered much of Western Europe and Northern Africa, until its failed attempt to take over Athens, and it is then in a day and night, that Atlantis (as famously stated before hand) had sunk into the sea, as if being swallowed by the sea itself. In the Renaissance the allegorical aspect of Atlantis become something of that utopian thinkers and humanist philosophers. One writer Francis Bacon wrote “New Atlantis.” However in today’s fiction and other area’s that the entire thought of Atlantis has inspired once again has become to a degree (depending how much of an influence is shown and how much the influence and content had been done and redone before) can be seen as cliché. However the legend of Atlantis, has developed and been shaped through the years. In today’s world Atlantis is a symbol of lost prehistoric civilizations advanced beyond its means. Yet for some, surely Atlantis evokes a sense of trepidation and awe. Just picturing the classical Greek columns and temples, all lying abandoned at the bottom of the sea or ocean somewhere. The shifting, rippling light, dancing across the weathering and collapsing. Where once people roamed through the halls – which have depleted and fallen into disrepair and ruin; fish and other creatures swim through. Where once people paid homage to, the earth-shaker and god of the sea whose bipolar temper could make a feed a family or cause great grief and ruin to an entire country or city, now lies on the seabed, faceless, and forgotten. His trident however stays standing above the sand dunes of the underwater world. Its three forked fingers point toward the above, yet do nothing more, then to be a marker of the great feared god. Not far from the trident, though lower then where it sits staked in the sand or perched there in free will or a last stance of free will against time; there lies a conch. Large twisted and magnificent in both size and its delicate structure, it is a wonder of the sea. Where lips of a man with the tail of a serpent – or what appeared more serpent then fish like or like that of some marine mammal. Then even farther fallen into the ruins and forgotten and slowly drift along the ocean floor lies the dutiful and forgiving wife, mother and goddess of the sea. It is a forgotten world; hidden in the delicate shroud of liquid and fluidity. Deep beneath the surface. At one moment calm and still as glass, as if vibrating – the next a raging world of vicious dark waves. Crashing into boats. Tearing them apart. Washing over them, tipping the boats over. The sea’s fury a force unable to be reckoned with or stopped; all one could do is hopefully make it out a live, while those below did their best to get through the turbulence. While others waited for the storm to pass and pick the ripe gifts, given to them. This all becomes the world of Atlantis. A world of a capricious and uncertain future.

“Atlantis: Model 1924,” by Samuel R Delany is an interesting stylised novella with some postmodern fireworks. Throughout the novella itself there are is the main story line – then there is another story shown, but is on the same page, written in little blocks or sometimes half the page would be one story and the other half the other story line. This is both an interesting technique but also an annoyance at times. Though maybe the most annoying part about the two parallel story lines running alongside each other is the second one never really clearly shows its intentions; though one can certainly take interpretations and theories of it, and work with them. That of course is the best part about reading a novel, novella, story or poem, is allow to interpret it in accordance to the individual reader.

Here are some interesting notes and details though about, the author and aspects of this novella itself. Samuel R Delany is born in nineteen-forty two. He has been writing since nineteen-sixty two, and writes primarily in the science fiction genre, specifically the “new wave,” of science fiction that also housed authors such as: Ursula K Le Guin, J. G. Ballard, Michael Moorcock, and Harlan Ellison. However Samuel R Delany is also noted for his postmodern techniques and styles in his writing, as well as his literary criticism and non-fiction work.

Samuel R Delany is also included in the “Paris Review,” in the summer of 2011 No. 197. It is here that Samuel R Delany discusses a little bit about “Atlantis: Model 1924,” and also reveals that Sam in this novella is not Samuel R Delany himself but his father, Samuel Ray Delany, Senior.

(From the “Paris Review,”)

“When I was seventeen or eighteen, before I’d gotten married, my dad had told me that the main reason he had come to New York from Raleigh was to see the skyscrapers. He hadn’t turned eighteen yet. It was just after Thanksgiving 1923. His older brother Hubert met him at Grand Central Terminal. They didn’t even come out of the station. They went immediately into the subway and got out at 125th and Eighth Avenue. My father looked around, but there were only two-story buildings. He was very disappointed, because he’d expected New York to be all skyscrapers. He said to Uncle Hubert, “Shoot, this ain’t no different from Raleigh. And there, at least, we got a building six stories high what got an elevator.”

“And Uncle Hubert, who was a twenty-three-year-old law student at NYU at the time, turned to him and said, “You are a real country nigger, ain’t you?”

When my father told me this, it was just a funny story. But he was so disappointed at not seeing the skyscrapers right away, I decided, thirty-five years after his death, to include the anecdote in “Atlantis: Model 1924.”’

( )

This same anecdote has also (as you just read) had appeared in “Atlantis: Model 1924.” The entire novella is an interesting piece of work. An ode and an elegy at times – the novella takes different twists and turns, into the thoughts and concepts of memory. This is the primary focus of the novella, memory and its lucid, shifting, fluid landscape. It is in this novella that Samuel R Delany, is able to make a reference to the legendary sunken city of Atlantis. Most of the chapters of the novella all open with quotes from poems. W.H Auden, and Robert Duncan’s poems (both titled “Atlantis,”) are the first poems featured before any of the chapters. But the most interesting part of the story is near the end. There, the young Sam meets another writer or poet of some sorts on the bridge. He is gay. A bit pretentious and a bit eccentric really. His monologues are long winded, and full of literary allusions. Each one discussing in some way or another Atlantis; a magical place; a paradise of sorts; a utopian world – much like the world that humanist philosophers and romantics had done their best to envision. Hart Crane, was a poet. He wrote primarily in the Modernist tradition. Though he was a lot different than T.S. Eliot, whose epic poem “The Waste Land,” was full of such ironic despair; Hart Crane’s work was more interested in the optimistic sincere tradition – somewhat romantic if one were to put it kindly. However Hart Crane was a modernist at heart and in style with an obscure text of words. Hart Crane’s most famous work is “The Bridge,” an epic poem about the Brooklyn Bridge – one (or the last section) of this epic poem was titled “The Bridge: Atlantis,” Where one (if I recall correctly) to find the man on the bridge that the young Sam, meets quoting lines from this particular part of the poem. Even mention some by the name of Hart and a book titled – and the man that Sam meets on the bridge’s name is Harry Hart. An interesting piece of work. An ode to New York is what Samuel R Delany had written, but also in some ways or another a eulogy to his father. A study of memory. But also an appreciative piece of work about Hart Crane. It’s an interesting little novella that once one starts thinking about the different details holds more weight then it previously did before.

It is here that I am given my first introduction to Samuel R Delany and I was not disappointed, but more along the lines of pleasantly surprised. Maybe in the distant or near future I shall read more of his works, for the enjoyment and pleasure that Samuel R Delany had given me.

Any How Gentle Reader:

Thank-you For Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Read
*And Remember: Downloading Books Illegally is Thievery and Wrong.*

M. Mary