These paper boats of mine are meant to dance on the ripples of hours, and not reach any destination... Rabindranath Tagore

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past...F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby

We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories.
On the way to the river are the old dormitories, used for something else now, with their fairy-tale turrets, painted white and gold and blue. When we think of the past it's the beautiful things we pick out. We want to believe it was all like that.
--from Margaret Atwood - The Handmaid's Tale

Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another's skin, another's voice, another's soul.
- Joyce Carol Oates

Saturday, January 27, 2018


Kino - Haruki Murakami - translated by Philip Gabriel
- short story published in The New Yorker 2015

He simply waited patiently for curious people to stumble across this little backstreet bar
am I of value
am I worthy of notice

Like dry ground welcoming the rain, he let the solitude, silence, and loneliness soak in
is this my only somewhere
my nowhere important

Happiness? He wasn’t even sure what that meant 
do I need others to make me happy
what, in fact, do I need to make me happy

The most he could do was create a place where his heart—devoid now of any depth or weight—could be tethered, to keep it from wandering aimlessly
my self-imposed prison

where I am safe

really safe

and then

the rains come


  KinoKino by Haruki Murakami
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When worlds coincidentally collide, surreal, unsettling circumstances can emerge. Kino withdraws from his unfaithful wife's life, but it seems that there is some enigmatic agenda beyond his choice; a power beyond his power. Kamita, reading quietly in Kino's bar, a stray cat and two men in conflict become Kino's drive to explore the inner darkness, the feelings he has ignored for too long. The orbit of his other world still spins and wills to connect. With Kino as our guide, Murakami quietly follows the shadows of loose threads in our social fabric and lets us become absorbed in our own personal questions and reflections. Murakami's story deftly digs far deeper than mere narrative.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Adventures of a Squirrel...

The Adventures of a Squirrel - supposed to be related by Himself...Anonymous (1807)
(can be read online)

Today, I explored my theories about the real author of this tale (on Twitter posts)...

in a desperate moment
I ventured to creep into your pocket
to travel where you travelled

to see your life

and maybe
just maybe

find mine

The Adventures of a Squirrel, Supposed to be Related by HimselfThe Adventures of a Squirrel, Supposed to be Related by Himself by Anonymous
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

My dear Anne, when I was upon a visit at your good mamma's, I promised to make you a present...
The story begins intimately, as if being shared in a close circle of family connections and neighbours...Perhaps the squirrel's story of cages with bells, temporary owners and mischievous boys entertained the person addressed, but somehow, over time, the narrative becomes overly light and frivolous, even somewhat pretentious. From a 21st century narrative point of view, the story fails to appeal, but, from a social history perspective, the 1807 story is quite interesting. Here are intriguing examples of attitudes and mannerisms in early 19th century, higher class England.

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Friday, January 12, 2018

Some Kind of Freak

Some Kind of Freak - Satya Robyn (22nd December 2017)

in a world of
social norms and
political correctness
I stagger
sometimes getting it right
mostly getting it wrong

my younger days
born of a mother who barely knew me
(too drunk
too tangled in boyfriends)
could have instilled
the freak in me

some say a crisis brings on
the weird
the odd
the voices
on that note
I'm keeping it classical and
'No Comment'

the workshop
is outside
taxidermy is an art
my art -
even if others squirm -
to me
it is my way of being in contact
with life

I am learning to live with
the me that is
the hermit
the hermit learning to cook
the hermit with a dog
the hermit learning to feel

till the iced Gran springs from the workshop freezer
that is

and then a whole new chapter of weirdness
(in a world of
social norms and
political correctness)
could begin
mightn't it?

it could begin with fish fingers

but for now
what matters most are
my voices
my shape shifters

they know my buttons
to push

Some Kind of FreakSome Kind of Freak by Satya Robyn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jude Horridge, a taxidermist, is a social misfit thrust into living independently. He takes his taxidermy art, his guilt of appearing to be a murderer and the burden of his voices with him. He learns to cook (with a little help from Google), learns to measure social cues and to cope with text messages. Importantly, he learns to feel loved, even give love, thanks to a dog named Shadow. Jude learns to adapt to the life he has and accepts what he is. Incredibly, it is other social misfits, such as lesbian Beth ('He worried that he might have come to depend on her for a basic level of happiness'), who help Jude. The narrative beautifully spins a web of mesmerising adventure and intrigue. Overall, an incredible, dramatic, psychological insight into the stresses and questions buried deep in those who fly under the conventional social radar.
P.S. For me, there seems to be some interesting allusions to 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time' - Mark Haddon (2003). Both novels feature a hermit-like male character struggling to identify logical sense in the world around.

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Know Me 
Imagine seeing through the eyes of an unusual character, Jude Horridge; exploring the mind processes of that character; almost living the life of that character. Imagine surprise twists in that life that belie any trace of convention. Add an atmosphere of tense drama and mystery -('The tail was proving tricky' - opening sentence), and there is a tantalising view of a book that defies narrow labels. A lively writing style carries the reader on an almost 'psychedelic journey' that could be the very real life of some 'unknown someone' in our society who is very different. A psychological masterpiece!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

A Little Journey

A Little Journey - Short story by Ray Bradbury
(Project Gutenberg e-book published February 10, 2016
Also available American Literature
- published in the August 1951 edition of the magazine, Galaxy Science Fiction.)

on her way to God's heaven
via Mars

on Mars
her room is like a cell
the whole Restorium smells of boiled cabbage and tennis shoes

but she has paid her way
her ticket is money invested

not even her host of the Egyptian eyes
and Comedy Mask smile
can sway her from her quest

not even the rocket
a mere battered copper pot
can sway her from her mission

her rickety life
to reach heaven
to reach her Lord

and revel in

His golden handshake

A Little JourneyA Little Journey by Ray Bradbury
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A 'little journey' Mars, to heavenly space...O the irony, right from the title...Old Mrs Bellowes wants to fly her rickety life 'up, up and away' on the one final, ultimate adventure...And ultimate it is. But ironically - far from a spiritual journey - the adventure is burdened with character masks and material values. Hindu mystics and Indian philosophers could not satisfy Mrs Bellowes' need to reach God. But the crafty Mr Thirkell offered her tangible transport - for a price - to the final golden handshake. This short story is a playful microcosm of worldly ethics and their possible, quirky outcomes.

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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Boxing Day

For four years my father drove me on Boxing Day
to spend time with my mother
who lived on her own
in a small bungalow facing the sea.

my mother was an annual routine
I grudgingly endured

I made my first journey when I was thirteen...

my mother was a living ghost
being but scarcely living
It always felt as if there was something separating her from life itself and even perhaps from herself.
She was my duty
my suffrance
my scheduled
my automatic withdrawal from
my current reality

I made the last one when I was seventeen.

'Boxing Day' is one of  David Park's 13 stories in 'Gods and Angels' (2016)

Sunday, December 24, 2017

My Father As I Recall Him...

The Ladies' Home Journal - February 1892
Source: The Ladies' Home Journal

The Ladies' Home Journal, originally based in New York, is a long-running American women's monthly magazine, now published by the Meredith Corporation.
The Ladies' Home Journal began publication in 1883 as
"The Ladies' Home Journal and Practical Housekeeper".
It dropped the latter part of the name in the late 1880s.
In 2014, the Meredith Corporation announced that the magazine would no longer be a monthly
but a special interest magazine as of July 2014.
Production of these special issues is in the Meredith Corporation headquarters, Iowa.
Mary (Mamie) Dickens (1838-1896) was Dickens' eldest daughter.
She remained with her father until his death in 1870.
Mamie never married.
My Father As I Recall Him was not published as a book until shortly after Mamie's death in 1896.
Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

eldest of ten children
a father intent on writing
even being the characters in his novels
mirroring them

could there possibly be
any room for
a child

her father adored Gad's Hill
and animals

he felt intense compassion for
the sick and suffering

his own novels revealed
he had a great knowledge of
and sympathy for
children not his own

could there possibly be
any room for
any loving room
for one child

his child

his eldest daughter

My Father as I Recall HimMy Father as I Recall Him by Mamie Dickens
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Mamie's writings are so sad and almost painful. Knowing other dimensions of her father Charles Dickens' life, there is a feeling that Mamie must be blind, must be in denial that her father could possibly be anything other than a just, a kind and loving man to all - even animals. Perhaps Mamie is recording the father that she would like Dickens to be. After all, Mamie never left her father when he separated from her mother, Catherine. Mamie was there when Dickens died of stroke. It almost seems that her whole life, her reason for being revolved around her father. Little routines - such as Christmas celebrations, being granted time in her father's study while he worked - become idolised moments. Mamie never seems to leave behind the child she was, longing for her father's love. That is so sad, so painful.

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Mamie is the eldest of ten siblings. Her father is the respected writer Charles Dickens. Mamie seems to feel a sense of urgency to expel shady rumours about the life of her father. Nowhere in her writing does she judge her father, nor even mention some of the tensions with his wife Catherine Hogarth whom he publicly slandered. Mamie doesn't mention her father's separation from his wife in 1858 or his intimate relationship with actress Ellen Ternan. Mamie mentions a train crash which seemed to haunt her father's life, but does not mention that Ellen and Ellen's mother were on the train with her father at the time. For Mamie, Charles Dickens is the ideal father, a home man, kind, caring and good. Her book almost seems to be written from a child's perspective, in a child's words - so odd, because Mamie was just over 50 years old when her writing was first published in 'The Ladies Home Journal'. Mamie seems to blindly idolise her father. But then, is she a child desperate for love?

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

This Side of Paradise

This Side of Paradise (1920) - debut novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The title comes from a line in Rupert Brookes' poem called Tiare Tahiti:
Well this side of Paradise!...
There's little comfort in the wise

It was always the becoming

His young ego was a flower and a weight
A smug flower and a leaden weight
But he was no aristocratic stereotype

He was a draft
A sketch in motion

He was willing to taste
The profits of the moneyed class
He was willing to see and hear 
The clubbing clamour of exclusive Princeton
He was willing to feel 
Love - of sorts
(Physical and spiritual)

But he preferred the scents of 
writing poetry
and imaginative walks in the rain

He was a sketch in motion
Awaiting clear shape

It was always the becoming he dreamed of
never the being

This Side of ParadiseThis Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So the young upper class have it all? They have endless money? They have status that leads to opportunities beyond the lower classes? Amory Blaine is born into privileged society in pre World War 1 years, but his growing up years are hardly smooth, bearing little connection to an easy lifestyle. Amory's entrance into Princeton University does not guarantee he fits in with the university characters, club cultures or expectations. His birthplace mansion on Lake Geneva doesn't help him win his love for Rosalind. In fact, the debt attached ensures Rosalind's eyes seek matrimony elsewhere. She cannot contemplate a life in a small apartment on Amory's wage as a writer. This book offers an intriguing dive into the shadows behind aristocratic glamour. All is not what it seems. And Amory is far more than a snobbish, insensitive character with a burgeoning ego. Even Amory himself keeps searching for what he could be and what he could become. We follow his journey through his readings, his poetry and his regular walks in the rain.

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What Paradise? 
Growing up can be be a confusing battle ground. For Amory Blaine, at first, a privileged young traveller, the journey involves attacking and deflecting the onslaught of traditional ideals and values. Money from his parents' exclusive estate in Geneva does not guarantee happiness (because it dwindles by his mother Beatrice's death) and nor do the exclusive clubs at Princeton University. Women play Amory's emotions until the appearance of Rosalind Connage. But Amory's love of Rosalind cannot match with Rosalind's need for the mighty flow of money. She chooses money over love. Monseigneur Darcy, as a father figure, offers Amory spiritual happiness, but that is not enough for Amory. So Amory wins and loses friends, dreams, writes poetry and walks in the rains hoping to find some reality he can call his own. This book is an amazing glimpse of upper class American lifestyles pre, during and maybe after World War I.
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