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, July 20, 2019

The Good Earth...

The Good Earth (1931) - Pearl S. Buck (1892-1973)

the earth filters our life
with feasts and famines

in China
for the peasant farmer
the earth is the culture
of being strong
moving forward
celebrating the harvests
and withstanding the droughts

when life is all about
the connections
the interactions
the respect of the earth
then and only then
do social and political cultures
pale into vague ghosts
their moment of glory or crisis
is a microcosm
a speck of dust
on the lens of what merely matters

social satisfaction has time restraints
material wealth is fool's gold

only the earth

the greater good
of Nature's earth
for mankind

MY GOODREADS REVIEW The Good EarthThe Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you seek a fast-paced narrative or multi-layers of character details, they are not to be found in The Good Earth. Remove all novel expectations and embark on a 'slow TV' journey in the pre-World War II countryside of the Chinese peasant. Slow travelling unveils some remarkable points of interest so easily under valued, even overlooked, in our pre-fabricated world of standards. Author Pearl S. Buck is the outsider looking over this rural peasant lifestyle. She may have been born in Virginia in the United Sates, but she grew up in China. In short, she was a reality observer over time. The result is a fresh view of nature and culture-driven living that may be globally unknown or, in China, taken for granted. She was like a 'go-between'. Awareness of Buck's status highlights the raw reality of the novel's narrative and instigates a breathless fascination, magnetising the reader. Wang Lung and his dutiful O-lan are encased in a tense liaison between Chinese culture and the demands of the seasonally fickle worlds of Mother Nature's earth. Economic survival is all about keeping their culture and the earth in shifting balance. Their lives compare and contrast with others who also live out their lives dealing with the need for balance. But there are those who ignore that need - to their peril.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2018


Fireshadow (2004) - Anthony Eaton (1972- )

a lifetime
is more than a straight line
from A to B

there are colours
primary and secondary
growing and fading

there are bobbins and skeins and threads
that struggle to fit through
a needle's eye

there are stoic lands
with secrets
and all-knowing skies

and even a cleansing fire
flaunts deep shadows


FireshadowFireshadow by Anthony Eaton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fireshadow is a narrative which slowly winds and splits, reverses and twists.
You can feel ghosts,
Spirits of land, fire, sky,

POW camp 16 in Marinup in Western Australia caters for the ghosts of World War II and the living. Vinnie stumbles here seeking some alternative reality away from his nightmare involvement in his sister's death by fire. Erich, a young German POW, begrudgingly learns that there is a reality beyond war. And other role players seem to manoeuvre round and connect these two unlikely characters. Stereotypical WWII views of Germans, of POW camps and even stereotypical social attitudes to troubled teenagers are overturned and portrayed in new light. Perhaps, in the attempt, characters seem a little sketchy rather than rounded... which can be frustrating, even disappointing...but nevertheless, that 'weaknesses' urges the reader to keep travelling, to inquire and explore this unusual narrative journey of intersecting lifetimes.

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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.

View all my reviews

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)
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