I HAVE NO VOICE AND I MUST WRITE: A Guest Post by Author K. D. Rose

I love caustic writers. They write how I think except they’re more witty. And incisive. And, um, better writers.

Here’s an example of what I mean. Check out Chuck Wendig’s piece called Dear guy who is mad because I wrote a gay character in a book.

Or try John Hartness, entitled: Why your self-published book looks like a pile of ass and won’t ever make you any money.

Or read any part of Kurt Brindley’s blog.

Just as important, and sometimes forgotten in bouts of unabashed sarcastic glee, behind the blunt force acerbic trauma these writers actually give a damn about other people. See Chuck Wendig’s week’s long thread where he offers advice to any question from other writers; look at the reveals and reviews that Brindley does and the opportunities he offers for guest posting and exposure; look at what John Hartness is doing underneath seeming asshattery– the advice in that post is golden.

I just don’t have that cred yet. Or maybe it’s balls. Okay, I literally don’t have balls, but what I mean is I don’t have anything to back up my opinions, and you know what they say about opinions…

I’m not sure how this devolved into genitalia.

Some of my writing meets acerbity half-way while trying to point out trends. The Re-emergence of the Book rightfully lambasts publishers but somehow lacks that arrow through the heart. Here it is republished most recently on Literative. The Next Big Thing in Tech asks similar questions on a different forefront. Here it is in Startupdope.

The title to the post your reading of course is a play on words from the great Harlan Ellison, still one of the best in-your-face writers I can think of. Why did I write that last sentence? Because someone might not get the title. Is this really writing? Or do I just write and forget people who don’t get it; they can just take the writing at face value. Welcome to Heavy Bags of Soul.



But why would someone who likes authors who don’t pull punches write a book like Heavy Bags of Soul? Half the book is codes.

Delving deeply into systems of belief requires codes no matter how one chooses to write about them. Each system has its own language, often meant to describe the very same principles or experiences as another system, though you’ll get a swat on the hand with a ruler if you say that out loud.

Metaphors are also codes. Live with it.

But I guess it doesn’t matter because everyone hates poetry, right?

I don’t think or write like many. I contemplate my world in a non-linear way. Putting it all together to make sense to someone else is tough. It’s not even like puzzle pieces; it’s like an invisible puzzle that changes shape depending on the connections you make and the analytical lines you can draw among them, and then you have to draw it for others… And then finally you
have to:                 SPELL         OUT          THE          CONNECTIONS.
 


“But I guess it doesn’t matter because
everyone hates poetry, right?”


 

Because I think and write like the Tasmanian Devil. You know. The cartoon one. Only…friendlier.

Oops.

I mean:

See? Doesn’t that tornado look friendly albeit slightly confused as to how it’s going to make sense of all the convoluted ideas it pulls in? Actually it looks pretty damn stressed out. Freudian much, KD?

When I do a shitty job at connecting these streams of what amounts to analytical dots (I was an analyst for the government), the writing is scattered and readers go “huh?” When I do a decent job, you get one of the articles like I mentioned above. When I do a brilliant job, you get a book so tightly connected that no one understands it. Welcome to the world, Heavy Bags of Soul. Welcome to obscurity, K.D. Rose.

I guess I really am a Jackess of all trades. Ah, you gotta love homonyms.

If you like that last bit, you’d like Heavy Bags of Soul.

***

I wanted to write a blog post titled: “When Sex Doesn’t Sell.” When you don’t use the words people have come to expect, when you don’t write to titillate but to translate, sex on the page can seem as obscure as Peter Higgs before March 2013. Insert supercollider sexual innuendo here. One day I’ll have to count and find out just how many poems in the book are actually about orgasms.



I revel in the succinct. Not just succinct but short and dense. And by dense I mean, packing mountains of information or wisdom into forceful passages that stand like mountains in slim volumes of work. Why? Back to the difference in thinking habits. Long and drawn out is the linear norm. A takes us to Z through a series of stops along the way that build upon one another to the conclusion. Slim volumes on the other hand—poetry is one key example— build vertically, with ever expanding circles, tangents, and some linear thrown in. Dense.

Have you heard of Steganography? Steganography is derived from the Greek words “steganos” and “graphein,” meaning covered writing. Overlay and overlay of information. I liken dense works to steganography and other forms of covert communication, such as the ability to reduce a large amount of writing to a simple point like a dot. Dense works are not covert by intent, their innate structure simply reveals layers underneath. Rimbaud’s entire life’s work could probably be displayed in 50 pages. The Upanishads, a sacred Sanskrit instruction on the entirety of the universe is about 100 pages. The point is sometimes the most efficacious way to communicate complexity and remain effable is to ingrain mountains on each individual word. Terse. Succinct. Vigorous. Forceful.

There is a very slim book called Flatland. It contains and explains dimensional concepts beyond its format of simplistic satire. The book created a cult following. Check out the brilliance sometime.
 


“One day I’ll have to count and find out just how many
poems in that book are actually about orgasms.”


 

Here’s some of the starkness that is my voice, encapsulated in a picture also currently in print.

But who wants to read poems of mourning or grief? No one. Who should? Everyone. It’s one of those unspoken things we all go through and never talk about.      TO      GET      YOU      THROUGH.      This one won Reader’s Favorite International Silver Medal Award for poetry. Which doesn’t mean a damn thing. Writing that just now made me feel like a talk show host. I may need to shower.

***

When my first book didn’t sell I started writing mainstream and got contracts with a publisher. Although my first contract was for an NA series, I found out the publisher really wanted romance. I learned about heat levels and equating them to specific naughty bits. I literally had to find a sex scene to read to figure out how to write one.

When the publisher went out of business I took out the sex though it was kind of hard to do considering each story centered on a sexual situation. The driving force for each was not actually sex, however. Hence the title: Anger’s Children. I have anger now and good reason for it, but I don’t want to release the Kraken so it was interesting to think of how others might experience that energy, tension, and release. The stories are still risqué though. There’s a lot of passion in anger.

Recently, I took my own advice on new technology, so right now I’m writing an interactive story called Kill Chain. Readers vote on what happens at the end. Chapter 1 is up so far. I managed to work myself into a corner in only one chapter.

These are free reads on a platform called Storyshift. I wrote an article about the platform and what it attempts here. Beware. The article is written in my “happy writer” voice. Somewhere along the way it became “the voice” everyone online uses. Non-offensive and perky, it makes me want to slit my wrists. After Heavy Bags of Soul, I turned from my own voice on the advice of the rest of the world online. Enter happy writer voice; superficial blogger voice, and Prozac delirium advertising voice.

I can write kind of normal in a way that doesn’t suck my soul into the abyss of lost credibility. It only took a forced topic for me to do so. Yet, it’s not really me.

I have an authentic voice. I’m not an exclamation point type of gal. Nor am I a smiley face emoticon breach from a Stepford psyche. My most recent book, The Brevity of Twit is a collection of three years of Tweets. If you dropped twenty believing it’s not the authentic me you’d lose that bet. It’s a thin volume. Apropos, the underlying point shows that communication, even deep understanding, can be conveyed within those 140 character bits. At my best I’m pithy and piercing.

Heavy Bags of Soul is also piercing. It is the collection and curation of thirty years of work. Maybe one day I’ll break it down and sell pieces to Reader’s Digest.

***

I learned today something worth remembering to me. To me, I say, because I relate everything to quantum physics and watch over science like a hawk. Insert your own joke there to make it Hawk-ing. You’re welcome.
 


“At my best, I’m pithy and piercing.”


 

Anyway, they finally found the answer to a question that had been posed since the 1600’s: when two pendulums are hung next to each other, why do they end up swinging in opposing directions within 30 minutes? The answer is sound waves. If you think this meaningless or unrelated to other physics or even, say, Focault’s Pendulum, scrounge up that term on Wikipedia and watch how fast the science moves from Focault’s original pendulum theory in the 1800’s to Minkowski space-time.

I make a Minkowski joke in one of my dialogues in Heavy Bags of Soul. It’s from what could be considered the most intellectual piece in there. My favorite though is an absurdist short story starring Heisenberg and Schrodinger. I wrote it based on the premise of an old joke but physics humor scares people off. You really only have to go skin deep though to enjoy it. It’s an absurdist play for god’s sake. Not that it’s an absurdist play for the sake of god. Erm, you get the idea.

Too much of that talk above could get me labeled as a screwball if it hasn’t already. I try to stay away from that. Here’s some down-to-earth science you might want to take an interest in: The Really Big One. “Down-to-earth” would be a joke, but now you’ve read the article so it’s not funny. Really not funny.

In the meantime, I’ll let physics explain why there is a slight possibility that the chair you’re sitting in could turn into a mushroom at any given moment. Then, as a non-screwball type, you can explain to me why, as I’m writing this, Trump is ahead in the GOP poll at 22%.

***

There. I think I’ve got it all out. Being a Tasmanian Devil Tornado and a pantser to boot, I never know the point to which I will arrive, only that I will get there. Despite doubts, upon arrival there is a cogent thread underneath. So shall we sum up?

  • Skewer Your Readers
  • Erotic Romance Sells
  • Read Heavy Bags of Soul
  • Campaign for Absurdist Humor

That was it, right?

Or just:

 

You must excuse me now, I have to go learn the MFA voice. It’s all the rage.



 

K.D. Rose is a poet and author who currently has published “Heavy Bags of Soul”, “Inside Sorrow”, “I AM”, “Erasing: Shadows”, “Anger’s Children: Three Shorts That Will Blow Your Mind”, “A Taste for Mystery: Two Novellas” and her new release, “The Brevity of Twit”.

Her poetry has been published in Candlelit Journal, The Voices Project, The Drabble, and showcased in the Tophat Raven Art and Literary Magazine. K.D.’s book, Inside Sorrow won the Readers Favorite 2013 international Silver Medal for Poetry. With fellow authors around the globe, KD was also a founding member of the e-magazine, INNOVATE.

K.D. has an eclectic mind and loves language, physics, philosophy, photography, design, art, writing, symbolism, semiotics, spirituality, and Dr. Who. KD Rose is an avid supporter of music, the arts, cutting edge science, technology, and creativity in all forms.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Blog: authorkdrose.wordpress.com
Website: authorkdrose.com
Twitter
Tumbler
Google +
Facebook
LinkedIn
Goodreads
Instagram

PUBLICATIONS

New Release:
The Brevity of Twit
Publisher Three Worlds Press
(links to all buy sites- Amazon, Kobo, etc)

Heavy Bags of Soul

Inside Sorrow

I AM (Poetry in Motion)

Angers Children: Three Shorts That Will Blow Your Mind


 
 

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A NEW HUMAN & A MULTI DIMENSIONAL PARADIGM by Avril Meyler: An IABS&R Volume IV Book Reveal

This reveal comes from the second package of books I received the other day from my significant haul at the PO Box. The first package of which I revealed here. Subsequent to this haul I received another package from author K.D. Rose, so I will be revealing her book sometime next week. In the interim, you can check out what she’s got going on by visiting her website at authorkdrose.wordpress.com.


 

Meyler-package
Brindley, Bradley…it’s all good. :) Throughout my life I’ve been called many things. The G-Rated names being those such as Bradley, Bremley, Brentley, Brinely, and of course Brinkley. Like the old saw goes: I don’t care what you call me as long as it not late for supper. But in case you were wondering, Brindley originates from a son of a noble family that William the Conqueror brought over to England from Normandy. When the son was married he was given some land that was known locally as the “Burned Leigh,” which, in an effort to be accepted by some of history’s very first French-despising Brits, he took on as his own family name, or something like that. So, essentially I’m a Viking by way of England via France. Long live Rollo!

Anyway… Enough about me.

Meyler-books-front
The first thing I noticed about these books are their beautiful blues and purples that brings with them a universal, spiritual vibe. Which is appropriate, because although these books are rather diminutive in size – A Multidimensional Paradigm clocks in at a svelte 70 pages; and A New Human a bit huskier at 157 pages – they both promise some pretty heavy content.

Avril Meyler Books

A selection from the back cover of A New Human:

A New Human describes the soul’s journey through the awakening of her spirit in human embodiment. This experience sees her perception of life on Planet Earth undergo a major evaluation as she makes a bridge between her human self and her soul…

A selection from the back cover of A Multidimensional Paradigm:

Many people are undergoing a huge transformation as they begin to awaken and understand how Orwellian our world is becoming. In the past 30 years the Author has been shown past, present and future; possible futures, impossible presents made possible by mankind’s paralysis in the face of a fast changing world…

Does that rock or what? And I’m talking here a very heavy rock to accommodate the very heavy content of the books…

Anyway, she had me at “Orwellian.”
 


Author Avril Meyler website
Visit with Author Avril Meyler at her website: multidimensionalreality.wordpress.com

 

Meyler-books-flat

Meyler-books-spine

I know you’re completely intrigued by what’s been revealed to you today so you will be happy to know that tomorrow we’ll have a guest post from the author. Right on?

Write on, my friends…


 

The deeper we go the brighter the light
~ Author Avril Meyler

Author Avril Meyler is a qualified Aroma therapist, Counsellor and Hypnotherapist who devotes her time to travel, volunteering and writing. You can learn more about her and her work at her website:

multidimensionalreality.wordpress.com

 
 

THE CREATOR OF BEAUTIFUL THINGS: A Guest Post by Author G.N. Boorse

 

Oscar Wilde, in his famous preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray begins, “The artist is the creator of beautiful things.” But I’ve been struggling to understand what he means by that.

Do all artists create beauty? Are all of those who create beauty artists?

E. L. James recently published another book in the Fifty Shades of Grey series, merely titled Grey—the story as told by Christian Grey himself, and not through Anastasia’s eyes. According to the Los Angeles Times, following the first four days after its release, Grey had already sold 1.1 million copies, so her publisher printed a few million more.

Yet we cannot attribute James’ success to a particular artistry or cleverness with words. She appeals to the baser desires of the public, and they snap at the bait. Grey is a butchery of the English literary arts, but it sells copies.

Meanwhile the rest of the writers struggle to chain three words together in the hopes that they might find something beautiful, that their words resonate deeply from the heart. And in the rare event that beauty occurs and blooms like a violet in a pit of mud, it falls unnoticed by the wayside.

I’m not saying that you can’t find good writing on the New York Times bestseller list. I’m just saying you’ll have to look very hard.

Elizabeth Gilbert, bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love commented in a TED talk on questions she’d been asked by fans as to what she was going to do now that she’d met with some success in her creative endeavors. In her talk, which is well worth listening to, she explains a fear that so many writers and creative people have—that either the best of their art is behind them or that they will never reach their full potential.

The pressure to improve, the burden of producing something marketable—these things hold back the artist like a bit restrains a horse. Try to write something beautiful and the dining room table goes empty while estimated retail value determines the speed, direction, and content of dime novels. No money, no bread. But if there isn’t a dollar in art, where does the industry fall? Places like Christian Grey’s apartment, I would assume.

So is there hope for the modern publishing industry? When will excellence win out?

Honestly, I don’t know, but we as both readers and writers have a duty to pursue the unmarketable art. Prose that speaks from the depths of the soul. Quality; not light reads. The involved reading projects, the memoirs and novels and elaborate space operas that maybe no one will ever pick up other than the writer’s girlfriend and his parents.

Gilbert suggests that we channel a creative genius greater than ourselves, and Wilde remarks, “It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.” Bare your souls, artists, and pen not the shallower mass-produced stock. Instead weave your own story on the page, heeding not the agents and presses and houses and focus groups that expect the same plot canned and recanned in shiny packaging. Dare to write selfishly, for the satisfaction of the artist and not the critic. Slave away years on a single sentence to make it perfect or jot down a novel and keep it that way.

But don’t ever feel that you have to write to please the people. It couldn’t matter less whether they get the bigger picture or not: popularity isn’t the goal. Don’t mimic E. L. James to collect Twitter followers.

You are a writer and an artist, and your job is to make something beautiful.


G.N. Boorse is a writer and blogger currently living in the central part of New Jersey. He recently published his first book, Don’t Touch the Glass, on March 3, 2015. Other works of his have been featured in numerous places online. You can learn more about the author at his website asotherswere.me.
 

 
 

DON’T TOUCH THE GLASS by G.N. Boorse: An IABS&R Volume IV Book Reveal

IABS&R VOLUME IV BOOK REVEAL
Quite the haul from just one visit to my PO Box, wouldn’t you say? Makes me feel like a kid at Christmas…

Well, we kind of kicked off the IABS&R Volume IV with this, so what do you say we go ahead and get this party started?

We’ll start off by revealing DON’T TOUCH THE GLASS by author G.N. Boorse in this post, and then we’ll reveal the other books in the haul at a later date. I will say now, however, that the other books are by author Avril Meyler and you can get a head start as to what to expect from her by checking her site out at multidimensionalreality.wordpress.com.

DON'T TOUCH THE GLASS package
I was going to publish this book reveal earlier this morning and then publish a guest post by the author later this evening. However, the sons and I decided to make a quick day trip to New York City (jealous, ain’t ya) so I am publishing this from the road and I will publish the guest post tomorrow some time, Inshallah.

DON'T TOUCH THE GLASS front cover
Here is a front view of the novel DON’T TOUCH THE GLASS by author G.N. Boorse. It is a very eye appealing, professional-looking cover that is, quite honestly, compelling me to read it.


Author G.N. Boorse Website
Visit with Author G.N. Boorse at his website
asotherswere.me

Boorse-book-flat

Boorse-book-spine

DON'T TOUCH THE GLASS by Author G.N. Boorse by cover
From the back cover of DON’T TOUCH THE GLASS:

A record-breaking mudslide traps seventeen people behind the glass front of a superstore. Food and supplies abound, but they yearn for freedom, debating the risks of smashing the windows and breaking free. The days grind on, and Audrey Frost’s nightmares won’t seem to leave…

Does DON’T TOUCH THE GLASS look rockin’ or what? Yes, indeed it does. The fun and excitement continues so stay tuned for tomorrow’s guest post by Author G.N. Boorse…

And remember, we’ll leave submissions open for this volume for about a month or so, so if you want your book considered while also receiving a reveal treatment such as this, let me know soonest.

Right on?

Write on!
 

Available at Amazon

 

Author G. N. Boorse

asotherswere.me

 
 

A World At War Just Like It Was Yesterday: HAWSER – A Review

BOOK | FICTION | LITERARY
HAWSER by J Hardy Carroll
RATING: ★ ★ ★ ★

To one who considers some of his favorite literary works to be those about World War II – SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE and CATCH 22 being the obvious ones – the war seems to be very present for me, when in fact it is now eighty years in our past. With it now so far removed from us, and with the space filled in by so many countless other wars, it really is quite an accomplishment that author J Hardy Carroll was able to bring the period back to us in such a vivid and entertaining way.

HAWSER, our selection for Volume 3 of the Indie Author Book Selection & Review (IABS&R), is a finely weaved, fascinating tale of Hawser (don’t bother asking him his real name) as he recounts his time as a B-17 bombardier during the Allies’s bombing campaign against the Germans.

We meet Hawser in a prisoner of war camp and it is from there he recounts for us all that has happened to him in the war before that point. We learn how he washed out as a pilot to become a bombardier, how he had to abandon his unit because of a murder, how he was abandoned as a child, how he met his arch nemesis, how he became trained in subversive warfare, how he became an expert bombardier, how he became burnt out and disillusioned by the war, and finally, how he tragically became a Nazi prisoner. From there we pick things back up from the present time in the story and we go along with him until the book’s conclusion.

Within that very rough sketch that I just laid out of the novel, there are so many – too many some may argue – different plot twists and sub plots filled with suspense and murder and love and passion and discovery and deceit along the way that several times throughout the course of my reading the book I had to stop to marvel at Carroll’s ability to manage it all so seamlessly and with such intrigue, all the while bringing out some of the larger and more poignant lessons learned from the war: mainly of the incalculable death and psychological and material devastation that the war wrought across the entire globe, as well as teaching us – or reminding us – that war isn’t always honorable and that not all people go to war to be heroes…some go to war simply because they want to kill.

And I was equally impressed with all the military and war jargon with which Carroll was able to flavor the story. It it his description of the B-17s and all their guns and ammunition and flight formations, and his knowledge of England during the war and its pastoral settings and its pubs and its quirky dialects that truly bring the story to life. Now I don’t know how much research Carroll had to do – my guess is a lot – and I don’t know how much of the detail he writes in the story is accurate – my guess is all of it – but I don’t really care. I don’t care because it all seems so real and so accurate that it significantly enhanced the story’s ability to pull me into that zen-like space of blissful verisimilitude.

In the end, the only flaws to be found with the book are in its ambition and achievement. At times the sub plots pull back the tempo of the story and I never really felt that there was that one thing, that one element of the story that had enough heft to bring an immediacy, an urgency of discovery, from the beginning to the end of the tale. But I see that more as a good problem for an Indie Author to have, as it is always better to have too much material to work with than not enough.

So I say congratulations and thank you to J Hardy Carroll for writing such a powerful story that both entertains and reminds us just how much effort and expense throughout history we silly humans have invested in our seemingly never ending quest to kill and conquer each other.


Hawser

jhardycarroll.com

 

~~~~

RATING SYSTEM:
★ = UNREADABLE
★ ★ = POOR READ
★ ★ ★ = AVERAGE READ
★ ★ ★ ★ = OUTSTANDING READ
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ = EXCEPTIONAL READ

 
 

Let’s give it a go, shall we…

I wasn’t planning on committing myself to another IABS&R round just yet; however, I made the mistake of picking up Indie Author J. Hardy Carroll’s novel HAWSER to casually leaf through it during a rare fit of nothing-to-do-ness. Well, you know how it goes – one thing page led to another and before I knew it I was hooked. Carroll gives us a very strong opening that pulled me right into the vibe of the story.

So, since there’s not much chance that I am not going to read Carroll’s book, we might as well go ahead and make it all official-like and call this the official IABS&R VOLUME 3 KICK-OFF post and away we go…

Any books that mysteriously appear in my post office box henceforth will be shelved until we complete this round and move on to IABS&R Volume 4.

I know, I know…I still have essays to write from my first commitment to Emerson. But, as I am not going to do any further Emerson reading until I feel I’ve said all I have to say about Nature, I am in need of something to read (other than the gore and bore of the daily news) so Carroll’s apparently interesting novel fills that void nicely.

If anyone else has reviewed or intends to review HAWSER, please let me know. I’d like to check it out and maybe reblog it here.

Righto, then. Off I go…

Wish me luck!

(It better be good, JHC…)
 

Hawser-bookcover

IABS&R Volume 3 Announcement
hawesescapes.com
Amazon

 
 

theliteraryreader ~ Reviews of the written word

Our good friend in literature and life, Paul Xylinides, author of the powerful and finely crafted novel THE WILD HORSES OF HIROSHIMA, among other works, has taken on the noble challenge of standing up a literary review site that I encourage each of you to visit regularly and enjoy.

The site is called theliteraryreader ~ Reviews of the written word and you can find it at theliteraryreader.com.

So please join me in congratulating Paul on this new adventure of his and thank him for furthering the recognition and advancement of the written word.

Congratulations, Paul, and may you enjoy a success such that we all may be rewarded and enlightened by it.
 

theliteraryreader

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The Sea Trials of an Unfortunate Sailor by Kurt Brindley

Review by Paul Xylinides

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Kurt Brindley joins forces with Herman Melville

Before I begin this review, let me first recommend to anyone whom it persuades to read The Sea Trials of an Unfortunate Sailor, that after doing so they further benefit themselves by looking again at their copy of Herman Melville’s Billy Budd, Sailor that I shall, however, quote from extensively. Kurt Brindley’s accomplishment should come into even greater focus when looked at through the lens of the nineteenth century classic novel.

Anyone who has ever experienced the injustice of being condemned by those who characterize their sensitivities in ways fundamentally at odds with their true identity will respond deeply to the travails of Kurt Brindley”s protagonist in The Sea Trials of an Unfortunate Sailor. From a tellingly different perspective the same fate befalls Melville’s hero. One cannot help but…

View original post 1,351 more words

A Meditation on an Introduction’s Opening Passage as found in “Nature” by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Our age is retrospective. It builds the sepulchres of the fathers. It writes biographies, histories, and criticism. The foregoing generations beheld God and nature face to face; we, through their eyes. Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to the universe? Why should not we have a poetry and philosophy of insight and not of tradition, and a religion by revelation to us, and not the history of theirs?

Here we find Ralph Waldo Emerson, in the opening passage of his introduction to his seminal essay “Nature,” bemoaning the distance he and his generation are from anything Original and True as compared to preceding generations. As he sees it, only through the firsthand experiences and the tales of our forefathers and foremothers have we been able to learn our life’s lessons and traditions. The gleaming highest highs our civilizations are able to reach are only because of the solid foundations built from and with Nature’s sacred mud by the caring and calloused hands of those to whom have gone before us and who now uplift us still.

If the great Emerson, a transcendental man, perhaps the Transcendental Man as he was in possession of a most extraordinary ability to focus and perceive that which the eye of most mortals miss, is shocked by such a revelation, then it seems to this less-than-transcendental and exceedingly mortal man just how far we find our present selves from those God beholding foregoing generations would bring about the death of fright to such a perceptive and feeling man as he.

And it is not just a distance in generational time I am referring to, but also, mostly, a distance in understanding, as perhaps the same could be said of Emerson’s meaning; though as far as he felt his generation was from an understanding of the Original and True, just how much farther away from understanding we of the present are is too hard for me to imagine.

Just what does our generation know of Nature? of God? of the Universe? Just how many more countless sepulchres have we built and how many more countless biographies have we written? Surely we know greatly of nature and of god and of the universe through the words and misdeeds of our spawning and splintering sects and religious disorders, and through the kaleidoscopic lens and the equations of the material, the physical, carried out to the farthest nth of a degree, accessible to only but a few of our most scientific of brains. Yea, ours is but a weak and plastic generation with hardly one of us finding even a germ under the nail let alone a fleck of sacred earthen mud, so far removed from Nature and Her Elements are we.

Like the everlasting trees
Of the most symbolic

Our ancients bare green before us
Full in their lustrous branches
Roots firmed in their foundation
While with the passing breeze
Our limbs naked and thin
We waive

Lo! but look at me. Look at me, me with my naked, thin limbs waiving away my right of birth to ancient spirits more alive long dead than I whose blood still courses hot will every be. I whose blood still courses hot but whose heart has grown cold and without passion for the Original, the True. I lie content each night having yet let another day slip away without once baring my feet and stepping into the grass; without once feeling the raw moonglow on my rusty skin.

But it wasn’t always so. I wasn’t always so distant from the Original and the True. And neither were you, for we were all born of and from the Original and of the True. It is who, in essence, I am and who you are.

We just forgot, that’s all.

We just allowed each passing day to take us farther and farther from who we were born to be.

So much time has
passed since then,
since I last felt raw
moonglow on
my rusty skin,
that I have forgotten
how the breath of night
can upturn a sallow face.

Long ago,
when I could still remember
how to pause,
and how to listen,
and how to breathe,
for more reasons
than just to breathe,
I knew fields
and wood,
and calico aster;
I knew how to kneel,
and how to observe,
and how to bring myself to quiet.

And I knew,
without knowing,
that if I lay
on my back
beneath the reeds
and remained hushed,
as night clouds
floated by,
shadowed and silent,
that my Self
would simply fall
away.

Step Into the Grass, an excerpt
from Poems from the River

As romping youth we did not have to be told how to meditate, how to pray. We just knew. We had no need for such technical terms as spirituality or epiphany or satori, for it was in our unknowing that we were able to truly know them. And now that we know them, we know nothing.

I suppose the question is, then, can we return to our essence? Can we, in our knowledge and understanding, return to the bliss of ignorance, to the wisdom of youth, so that we can come back again, if even just a little closer, to the Original and True.

Are we able to do that, knowing what we know?

Tonight
I’ll bare my feet
and step old and aching
into the caliginous balm
of the cool redemptive night.


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Let the Games Begin! The IABS&R Volume 3 Games, that is…

A while back, I made notice that we were going to manage IABS&R Volume 3 a little bit differently than we had the previous two. Seeing how I am knee deep into my Emerson Commitment, and I am slowly, very slowly, putting together a collection of my short stories and flash fiction, I thought it best not to commit to a moderation of submissions and all the this and that it entails and just invite authors to send me print editions of their work directly…

And lo and behold, someone did send me a book directly. How about that…

I am very pleased and privileged to introduce to you the novel HAWSER, a, what looks to be very compelling, work of intrigue and adventure from an author with a name that I happen to think is a very cool and catchy authorial-type-name and one to be reckoned with – J Hardy Carroll.

Now, as I am chock-full of things to do in the present and beyond, it will be some time before I make the determination as to whether to actually read and review the book. In the interim, I will post it on my sidebar for you all to view and consider in a blatant effort of mine to coax and convince you into purchasing it so that you yourself may do the most honorable thing a reader can do for an Indie Author, which of course is to review it!. And during this lag of time between now and when I make my IABS&R Volume 3 determination, as opposed to “selection” since I have but one book to choose from, I invite you to send – as in mail – as in postal service mail (see Contact page for address) – me a polished and ready for prime time print edition version of your book, which may include just about any genre except Erotica and Romance. At which time, once received, I can then properly reclassify this IABS&R volume properly as a “selection” vice “determination.”

You dig?

So, without further ado and nonsense from me, I present to you J Hardy Carroll’s novel, HAWSER.

HAWSER by J Hardy Carroll
A little package of a self-contained world of alternate reality delivered straight to my PO Box doorstep courtesy the author and via CreateSpace and the United States Postal Service…

 

HAWSER by J Hardy Carroll
Despite this poorly presented picture of mine, this is a very eye-catching cover and one that conveys the intense vibe that one would expect a cover for a story about a world war to convey

 

HAWSER by J Hardy Carroll
The back cover is also sharp and blurb-appropriate

 

HAWSER by J Hardy Carroll
I really like the name of the publishing imprint – GRAPNEL BOOKS, with its logo picture of a grappling hook…awesomeness

 

HAWSER by J Hardy Carroll
Weighing in at 337 pages, all of which promise intrigue and adventure

 

Please visit and follow J Hardy Carroll at
hawesescapes.com

 
 

A Meditation on a Title and an Introductory Poem as found in “Nature” by Ralph Waldo Emerson

A subtle chain of countless rings
The next unto the farthest brings;
The eye reads omens where it goes;
And speaks all languages of the rose;
And, striving to be man, the worm
Mounts through all the spires of form

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Too often I’ll show little regard to introductions and read through them with hardly reading them at all, my eyes skimming dismissively over the words in an effort to get to “the true essence” of the work. However, as I have resolved to not just read, but to read deeply the work of Ralph Waldo Emerson, I have to remember, then, that care needs to be given to each of the words that Emerson had specifically chosen to pen, as he had entrusted each chosen word to convey its part of a broader message that he had, himself, intended to convey. So it is with care and attention that I proceed.

~~~~

Other than the title, the above poem is our first encounter with the essay “Nature,” the first piece presented in The Complete Essays and Other Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson; and, consequently, the first commitment to that which I have resolved myself. But before considering the poem, we mustn’t overlook the essay’s title; for, from it, we can focus more clearly on the meaning of the poem specifically, as well as the body of work writ large.

Hardly can there be a title broader in meaning than “Nature,” for the word encompasses so much: the essence of the Natural Environment – all within the world and all the worlds within the universe; the essence of the Human Environment – all that which the mind thinks and the body feels; as well as the Environment of the Animal, which may or may not include humans, depending on one’s belief. Though broad and ambiguous, it is full of meaning, as any title should be, as it prepares our minds for all the largesse and grandeur that both Nature, Herself, and the mind and poetic ambition of Emerson can account for. The title, therefore, helps us greatly in our discovery, in that it prepares us to read both the poem and the essay with a universal and open mind, where metaphors and allusions are to be found with meaning, and meaning more.

The poem, itself an introduction to the introduction, is both untitled and unattributed. Often we find authors will select poems and quotes from others, mostly those recognized by history as being of the elite authorial class, as a preface or opening to his or her work. These introductions in brief are generally an attempt to provide a broad look into the author’s mind and, hopefully, to the direction that his or her writing will be taking us. However, as it is untitled, and as Emerson’s reputation precedes his work, for he, himself, is regarded by many to be an elite author, it is easy enough to assume that the poem is an original piece by him. Still, the poem remains untitled, which only means that we will have to rely more heavily on its content, looking closely at each sentence and the words within for us to gain of it our fullest appreciation. So with the poem, let us begin.
 

A subtle chain of countless rings / The next unto the farthest brings;

Right away, the poem’s “subtle chain” announces that in the essay, as in Nature, we should expect revelations of mysteries linked yet boundless; simple in form, perhaps, yet complex and profound in meaning. For the “subtle” or simple chain, a common yet powerful metaphorical device, enlightens us with its “countless rings” – its circles of life – by alluding to the eternal fact that Nature in all her majesty enjoins all together in common constituency within her universal realm, from the most diminutive to the most grand, “unto the farthest brings” – to the infinite’s endless end.

The eye reads omens where it goes;

Sad would be the soul who hasn’t walked even the shortest way into the wood or out into the empty, expansive field, to where everything slows down to quiet and allows one to hear Nature’s call, be it through the creaking sway of the trees or the hum of the wind upon the grass. For once where She Her presence reveals, so, too, will Her omens, signs signalling the nature of our Collective and Universal Soul through the mundane: acorns scattered on the wooded floor signals life’s endless cycle of birth and death, as the mist of the passing clouds signals the transformative and transient nature of life itself.

And speaks all languages of the rose;

While not all of us speak the same language, we all can look at the rose and equally understand its beauty. And, regardless of all the many different ways we may express it in words, we all have that same feeling of awe and humility as we arrive at that deep and soulful understanding of just how small our presence is when looking up towards that grand vastness above filled with its countless twinkling diamonds of light.

And, striving to be man, the worm / Mounts through all the spires of form

The line suggests that the worm in its striving is emulating our behavior; however, I read it as further suggesting that from the worm’s behavior we have learned to strive, from the worm we have evolved, and as the worm forever works through all forms of nature – be it the soil, the wood, the apple – to realize its true nature, we, too, forever work “through all spires of form” – be they the physical or metaphysical – continuous “unto the farthest brings,” as do links of an endless “subtle chain,” in a most noble and enduring of effort to realize our own true nature.

~~~~

With this meditation on a one-word title and one-sentence poem we discover that, while both may appear simple in form, both hold complex and profound messages that are, we must assume, a herald’s call as to the further complexities and profundities that await us.


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Paul Xylinides, a literary fiction author in the classical sense for our less than literary contemporary times – A Review

BOOK | FICTION | LITERARY
THE WILD HORSES OF HIROSHIMA
by Paul Xylinides
RATING: ★ ★ ★ ★

I could have spent the time writing this review of Indie Author Paul Xylinides’s novel The Wild Horses of Hiroshima comparing and contrasting it with other similar works of literary fiction, or I could have attempted to apply the story’s highly powerful, poignant theme against the larger social and political woes of our time, but I am not going to do any of that, at least not as fully as I would had this been a typical review of mine. I’m not going to because if I had it would have meant that too much focus would have been on my knowledge of other such similar books or other such woeful contemporary issues rather than focusing on why Xylinides is so important to the Indie Author movement, as I believe he just may be the author who proves in a most definitive way that literary fiction of the highest sort does not have to be blessed and published exclusively by the traditional literary gatekeepers of days gone by.

My Kindle account is cluttered to near capacity with books I have downloaded from my partake of the many, many Indie Author giveaway promotions that are always going on. Unfortunately, I am sorry to have to say, I am unable to finish most of these books that I attempt to read. The reasons are many but it all boils down mostly to the books being either poorly edited or without a compelling story. There is so much Indie Author detritus out there, perhaps even including the work of yours truly, that it can become disheartening to even the most fervid believers of the Indie Author movement. But I am one of those fervid believers, and it is because of this belief that I host the Indie Author Book Selection & Review. The IABS&R is my means to help me find the best that the movement has to offer and a medium for which to share these finds with as many readers as possible.

I am very happy to have found Xylindes’s work and even happier share my high regard of it with all of you.

When I read a book with the intent to review, I always read with pen and notebook at hand, for one way I make judgement of the work is by highlighting the good and bad of it — the good with the marks of stars and exclamation points and the bad with the marks of strike throughs and question marks. Regardless the book I read, whether it’s published independently or traditionally, it always receive markups of both kinds, with the indie published books typically having way more of the bad kind than the good.

However, Xylinides’s book had so many stars cluttering the margins that it became a pointless endeavor. His ability to craft a sentence is magical. And they are some of the best I have ever read. The way he describes the scenery below and the mental reflections of the pilot as he observes it from above, just moments before he drops upon it the bomb that forever changes our view of warfare and of ourselves, is both heartrendingly tragic and breathtakingly beautiful all at once. And then his description of the impact of the explosion and the death and damage it causes moved me such that I had to put the book down for a while in order to collect myself. Those are just two examples of such fine craftsmanship found all throughout the book. This highly evocative read at times channeled in me the feelings I had of when first reading something along the lines of a Flaubert or a Balzac.

You may be reading this zealous, perhaps even overzealous, promotion of Xylinides’s book and wondering to yourself, if it is as good as Brindley says it is, then why only four stars? Why not five?

Good question. As good as the book is, it is not perfect. Most books aren’t. In fact, if I remember correctly, there is only one five-star review that I’ve written. And where Xylinides’s book succeeds, it is also where it, while not failing, at least causes enough disturbance in my appreciation of it to knock it down a star.

What I appreciate most from a good read is not its crafty sentences but its ability to take me away from reality for long periods of time. What is most critical for me when reading is attaining that Zen-like place of verisimilitude. The longer a book is able to hold me within that heavenly zone of literary satori, the more overcome by and appreciative of it I will be when finished. The truth is, Xylinides’s writing was so impressive and so often so that it literally pulled me from the story because of it. And after a while, it almost felt like a distraction, as I would have to then work to get back to that inner space where the magic truly happens. Another distraction, and I almost hesitate to mention it because, compared to all the other attributes the book possesses, it may sound petty, but the lack of commas ended up being a pretty big deal to me. I believe that if there is a natural pause in the momentum of a sentence, then that is where a comma belongs. A comma’s job is to signal and allow the reader to take that natural break that the sentence is calling for. Unfortunately, Xylinides does not follow this comma convention of mine and it left many of his sentences without guideposts that are essential for fluid reading and deep comprehension. Now, I do not believe Xylinides does not understand this; I believe he does but chooses not to follow convention, perhaps as an artistic statement of some sort. His is a challenging subject that he took on as a matter of literary courage and conviction. I suspect it was not an easy challenge for him to overcome. Why then should we, the reader, have it any easier? His success in overcoming such a challenge must be ours as well. As, that for which we work hardest for is that for which we appreciate most. Still, a distraction is a distraction, regardless how artistic and stylistic it may be.

While these distractions are significant to me, they are not nearly weighty and serious enough for me to lose my faith in Xylindes’s ability pick up the guidon of our movement and hold it high as he leads us in our charge toward Publishing Independence and Literary Respect.

The Wild Horses of Hiroshima certainly ranks as some of the finest writing of the Indie Author movement; additionally, I feel very comfortable saying that it just may rank as some of the finest contemporary literary fiction being written, regardless the publisher, or lack thereof. But my opinion of the book is just one, which is why I strongly encourage all of you who are also believers and supporters of the movement to purchase this book and, if you feel as strongly about it as I do, to review it and continue to spread the word that it is truly a work to be reckoned with, as it just may be the template of success that all Indie Authors, nay, all authors, wish to attain.

 

Wild Horses of Hiroshima
paulxylinides.com

 
 

As It Relates Thus Far To Our Relating to Humans Feature

The Relating to Humans feature is seeing steady growth so I just wanted to thank all who have contributed thus far.

As I’ve pleaded expressed in the past, this feature is near and dear to my happy heart so it would mean so much to me if you were to contribute some of your original work to it.

And while I solicit your work, I also solicit your participation as a reader and observer and I ask that you take the time to visit the feature and acknowledge those authors and poets and artists and musicians who have already contributed. It would be great if you would stop by the sub-features and reply to their submissions and give them direct feedback; or maybe visit their site and follow them so you can keep in tune with what’s on their minds; but at a minimum, it would be awesome if you would stop by and let them know you like their effort by hitting that magical little “Like” button. Funny how that little star lighting up can get the ol’ heart a flutterin’…

Can you please do that for me please?

Great.

And to make it easier for you to let your fingers do the walking to all that is going on at the Relating to Humans feature, I thought I’d go ahead and list all the submissions here, all Table of Content like.
Continue reading “As It Relates Thus Far To Our Relating to Humans Feature”

Summing Up Maugham's OF HUMAN BONDAGE

BOOK | FICTION | LITERATURE
OF HUMAN BONDAGE
by W. Somerset Maugham

RATING: ★ ★ ★ ★

W. Somerset Maugham
W. Somerset Maugham

I suppose the easiest, and quickest, way to sum up Maugham’s OF HUMAN BONDAGE would be to write something along the lines of “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation,” which is certainly the case for the story’s protagonist, Phillip Carey.

If, however, that was all I wrote, then not only would I be overly brief in this review (which probably is not a bad thing), I would also be overly unoriginal since we all know the above quote belongs to the great Henry David Thoreau.

Unfortunately, because I do not have Thoreau’s genius for writing simply (which requires skill and patience that most writers, to include me, do not possess), I will have to deploy many more words than just Thoreau’s for my own summing up of Maugham’s masterpiece.

But what Thoreau wrote so poetically is undeniably what the essence of Maugham’s story is about:

 

Carey, born with a clubbed foot and who grows up to be shy and insecure because of it, lives a life yearning to be someone he can never be, to love someone whom he can never love, and to be somewhere other than where he happens to be.

His yearnings, we find, go mostly unfulfilled.

What I enjoy most about the story is Maugham’s descriptive ability. His writing magically places me deep within the England and the Germany and the France of the early twentieth century. I can hear the cart wheels rolling along the cobble-stoned streets. I can see the crowded, smoke-filled cafe. I can taste the absinthe and feel the immediate allure and rush as it blissfully numbs away the bite of reality.

What I enjoy least about the story is Carey’s excessively drawn-out infatuation with Mildred Rogers, the cruel and insensitive simpleton who fancies herself to be of a station in life much higher than the one she is unable to escape, no matter how hard she tries. While she does not have the capacity to improve her lot in life through earnest devices and effort, she does have enough smarts about her to understand early on in her relationship with Carey that she has a power over him from which he is also unable to escape no matter how hard he tries. She uses and abuses Carey with her power so often and for so long that I found myself becoming impatient and bored with, not only Carey’s unbelievable weakness, but with the story as a whole. However, by that point, I was already deeply hooked, addicted to the tale and desperate to know whether Carey would find a way to ween himself from his deadly addiction to Rogers, or if he would die unfulfilled and, as Oliver Wendell Holmes writes in his poem “The Voiceless,” with his music still in him.

While I find the tortuous, one-sided love affair between Carey and Rogers to be a bit too much, through it I am reminded that any unhealthy dependency, be it our dependency on love, on money, on drugs, or on whatever, often takes us down a long and troubling path that, if we stay on it, will eventually lead us to the point of our destruction. And it usually is not until we nearly reach that point that we are finally able to realize just how destructive our dependency, our yearning, really is. Only then, if we are lucky or blessed or both (for unfortunately, many are unable to stop before reaching the point of their destruction and continue helplessly, fatally on), can we find the strength to separate ourselves from that which is destroying us and begin on a path to recovery.

But I guess that’s how life goes, and how it has always gone throughout the desperate ages — if we do not somehow find a way to come to peace with our satiated yearnings, our unrequited desires, they will most likely be the sad and desperate songs we sing until we finally, and at last, are placed within our cold and lonely graves.

~~~~

Rating System:
★ = Unreadable
★ ★ = Poor Read
★ ★ ★ = Average Read
★ ★ ★ ★ = Outstanding Read
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ = Exceptional Read

So here’s the plan, Stan*…

The Indie Author Book Selection & Review plan, that is.

1. My review of HANDS OF EVIL by Melissa Barker-Simpson, the IABS&R Volume 1 selection, will be published at 8:00PM** Friday, December 5, 2014.

2. Submissions for IABS&R Volume 2 will close upon publication of the HANDS OF EVIL review.

3. IABS&R Volume 2 selection will be published at 8:00PM** Monday, December 8, 2014.

4. I will loudly and proudly sing Hark the Heralds Angels Sing and Joy to the World (no, no…the Christmas song, not the Three Dog Night song!) immediately thereafter in celebration of my selection.

Which reminds me, because I know you’ve been anxiously awaiting this announcement:

The playing and singing of Christmas Music is now authorized and strongly condoned in all participating households both near and far henceforth and hereafter until 11:59PM**, Wednesday, December 31, 2014, upon which all Christmas Music playing and singing will cease until hereby authorized once again by me.

That is all.

Oh wait…if you have a book you would like to be read and reviewed here, at Amazon, and at Goodreads, I’m your man***. So get your submission in pronto.

That is all.

Dang it! I forgot to mention that I strongly urge everyone to please visit the IABS&R Volume 2 submissions that we already have and vote for your favorite(s) with a “Like.”

That is all.

Ah…S#!+!! One more thing… And don’t forget about the Relating to Humans feature. Submissions are always open for that. Please please please consider sharing some of your awesomeness with us.

Okay…

For real now…

That is all.

No, seriously…

 

*non-gender specific

**Eastern Standard Time (you know, New York City time)

***gender specific

You know, sometimes it’s okay to meet your hero…

 

George Winston in pencil with graphic design

 
 

Most of what little refinement I have can be attributed to my lovely and loving wife.

I would say all of it could be attributed to her, but I do have a pretty good three-object juggling technique that I’ve worked hard on over the years to perfect.

Metaphorically speaking, the wife can juggle just about anything thrown her way; non-metaphorically speaking, however, she’s not a juggler by any stretch of the imagination.

But other than my juggling skills, just about anything else refined about me — especially anything artistic or intellectual — more than likely has its foundation somewhere within in my wife’s lovely and loving intellectual and artistic brain.

For instance, my love and appreciation of George Winston’s music is wholly responsible to my wife.

My wife and I met waay back in the Eighties. And waay back in the Eighties when we first met, my brain was only used to hearing such base, animalistic music as Led Zeppelin and The Smiths and Tom Waits and, unfortunately, all that New Wave pain with its fake drum machines and stoopid hairdos that was inflicting itself upon humanity at that time.

But after I met my wife and we started dating, she immediately introduced me to something strange and different. Something called Classical Music.

She introduced me to all the masters, of course…Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and, my favorite, Vivaldi, among others…

And she also introduced me to some contemporary Classical Cat named George Winston.

Yeah, that cat was not just classically Big in Japan (like that slick Tom Waits reference?), he was huge in Japan. Immense.

And I listened to Autumn and the rest, as they love to say, is musical history.

And I have been a huge, immense, fan of his ever since.

George Winston and me
Guess who’s the lucky guy

I remember when mp3 players first came out. This was at the turn of the century; several years before the iPod.

I bought one for my daughter and my eldest son.

But since these mp3 players were new and all the copying of the CDs and uploading of the files was so tedious and technical at the time (Apple hadn’t yet come along to tell us that these new players were going to be important and all the copying and uploading would become second nature to us), the kids didn’t get much value from them.

So I assumed control, first over my son’s (my daughter was older so her giving up on her mp3 player would come several weeks after my son’s giving up). And I loaded all our George Winston CDs onto it. And then I pressed “Play” and it never stopped playing his music for the next, oh I don’t know, three months or so.

Seriously.

We just kept George Winston’s music on. Day and night.

It was magical.

And after the son’s player died from exhaustion, I loaded up the daughter’s and George’s music continued to play, day and night, until it, too, eventually bought the technological farm, so to speak, from overuse.

My sister and her family came to stay with us for a few months during this period of George Winston as the soundtrack of our daily living. She mentioned not too long ago that one of the things she remembers most from that time was the beauty of George’s music constantly playing. Day and night.

Grand memories they are when they come with a soundtrack.

A few years ago, George came through York, PA, and played its Strand Capital Performing Arts Center. The wife and I went to see him perform for the first time as part of a wedding anniversary treat.

And what a treat it was. But we didn’t stick around after the performance to try to meet him. To be honest, I didn’t think anyone of his stature (An example of his stature is illustrated by the fact that he has close to 2 million followers on Soundcloud. Soundcloud! My guess is many of you haven’t even heard of Soundcloud, yet he still has such a following there.) would bother coming out afterwards to meet his fans.

Boy* was I wrong…

My wife, as artistically and intellectually talented as she is, writes and photographs for a Japanese travel website. And when she discovered that George Winston was once again making his way through our neck of the woods, she boldly (she is completely fearless) sent out interview requests to him.

And he responded positively and kindly said to make all interview arrangements with a member of his team.

Which she did.

And just like that my wife and, by extension, I were going to be able to meet this long-time musical hero of ours.

The show was magical, of course. Sublime…

As we were waiting for it to begin, I couldn’t help but overhear all the conversations going on around me. It was interesting, and rather amazing, that they all were basically saying the same thing: How they have been long-time fans of George’s and how important his music has been to their lives.

Man*…

How wonderful life is that there are such people who can make it so wonderful…

George is one of those wonderful people.

And he would be such a person just by his musical contributions alone.

But, I’ve come to find out, that he is such a wonderful person even had he not been the genius of a musician that he is.

After the show, the wife and I, somewhat nervously, went down to the stage to wait for this wonderful musician.

And so did a gaggle of other dedicated fans.

As I waited for him to come out, I wondered how we all, this gaggle of fanboys and girls, would be received.

To be honest, I was a little worried.

This man and his music have been such a solid, foundational element of my life for so long — over thirty years — and that of the life of the woman I love the most, that I was worried that we were going to be disappointed in him as a person.

How many times have I heard that old saw of a saying, Never meet your heroes.

Forget how many times I’ve heard it, lord only knows how many times I, personally, have said it.

I, the skeptic’s skeptic, can be very skeptical of the human species, to say the least.

I’ve always had a short list, a very short list of heroes.

Mostly I believe heroes are for kids.

Like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny…

Make believe.

I didn’t really believe that George Winston could live up to all that my wife and I had built him up to be.

And I was worried that my most lovely and loving wife would be let down, hurt even, because of it.

But then George came walking out as if he hadn’t just played his heart out for the last two hours.

As if he hadn’t been performing for the last thirty years or so.

As if he were really looking forward to meeting with those who were so anxiously waiting to meet him.

George came out with a bounce in his step and the most welcoming of smiles.

And he headed head first into the waiting gaggle and he shook hands and he hugged and he signed autographs and he took pictures as if he truly enjoyed doing it.

And he did enjoy it.

It was so easy to tell…

By the twinkle in his eye and the ever-present smile on his face, it was so completely obvious that he did really enjoy meeting with us who were so looking forward to meeting with him.

And finally, after all the hand-shaking and all the hugging and all the autographing and all the picture taking, the gaggle went on its merry and mesmerized way…

And then he turned to my wife.

And I thought, okay, how is he going to respond to someone who has come not just to worship, which we of course did, but to also question him and photograph him for a purpose beyond just pure fandom.

Ha ha ha…

He didn’t even think twice about it.

His eye lost not a glimmer of its twinkle, nor did his smile lessen the least bit in its broadness.

He, much to my wife’s amazement and joy (and of course mine..but especially the wife’s), treated her to, quite literally, the time of her life.

George Winston and the wife

I could go on and on in very vivid detail how impressive George Winston is. I could because I saw it first-hand, up close and personal for very near an hour. I watched in awe as he reminisced and laughed and joked – oh lordy is he a funny guy – and impressed us with his knowledge of Japan (he has been to the country twenty-six times and has visited over sixty cities) and its language and his humorous outlook on some of the funny quirks and peculiarities of the Japanese way of life; and I watched especially awed as he performed in his own unique and beautiful way traditional Japanese songs just for my wife…

While she sang to him!

Yeah…

I could go on and on…it was just that special.

It was just that magical.

But I guess it would be better for me to just stop here so I can begin reflecting upon that most magical of evenings.

Yes, I truly am the lucky guy, for I now have the memory of a lifetime, a magical memory, one starring a true hero, and one with the most beautiful of soundtrack from which I will be able to draw upon and play over and over again in my theater of a mind for the rest of my long and lucky life.

George Winston Autograph

 

*non-gender specific

 


 


A selection and sample of George Winston’s work

The Official George Winston Site

Follow George Winston on Facebook

Follow George Winston on Soundcloud


George Winston: a genius who excels not only in musical talent, but also, especially, in kindness and compassion

George Winston After-Concert Performance
George Winston playing his unique and wonderful adaptations of Japanese traditional music for the lovely and loving Megi while she happily takes pictures of him. A crane made by a fan and presented to him after the performance sits atop the piano and happily enjoys the impromptu performance.

An in-depth article will follow but I just wanted to say real quick what a magical evening we had with George Winston last night. I knew he was a musical genius because we’ve listened to his music for thirty years and have seen him perform before, but I had no idea he is as kind and compassionate — and funny! really funny! — as he is. I suspected he was; but last night it was confirmed.

What a wonderful evening.

Amazing…

 

A selection and sample of George Winston’s work

The Official George Winston Site

Follow George Winston on Facebook

 
 


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Guess who’s the lucky guy…

Me is, that’s who!

Because as soon as I hit the “Publish” button, the fam and I are heading right out the door to Ephrata, PA to see the one and only George Winston perform.

In the words of my loving and lovely wife, “I am stoked!”

The wife and I were oh so fortunate to see him perform several years ago in York, PA, and what an incredible performance it was. Winston does things with his instruments — and not just the piano, we’re talking that and a guitar and a harmonica and a couple of others I’m not even sure what they were — that I’ve never seen done before.

I’m talking like playing the piano strings like a guitar, playing the guitar like every square inch of it is to be used to make magical melodic sounds, and playing each song as if he were possessed with every Mad Musical Muse there ever was.

Man*…

He really is a musical genius.

And the best part is you would never guess it by his appearance and demeanor.

He dresses often in just a flannel shirt and jeans…classic.

And he’s a pretty nice dude to, apparently.

My loving and lovely wife writes for a Japanese travel website and Mr Winston has agreed to a brief interview and photo shoot with her after the performance tonight.

Pretty cool, huh?!

So, you can pretty much expect you’ll be hearing about this performance afterwards.

Dude*, I am so stoked!

But not even nearly as stoked as the wife…

Gonna be fun — I guarantee it!

 

 

Click here to check out George Winston’s complete selection

 

George Winston
You can tell by the looks of that cracked CD case that we (especially the wife) have been long-time fans of Winston’s. I’m talking since way back when in the Eighties…

 

*non-gender specific

 
 


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Is it just me…

Or do you also think soundcloud is the best frikkin’ music app out there?

It looks sleek and fresh (if I may use the vernacular…no? I shouldn’t do that? …sigh), loads fast and light, and doesn’t make my computer or phone get all grouchy like youtube, and even pandora sometimes with all its painful adverts, does.

I mostly hang out at the Minimal Techno stream. It’s just the right vibe for all my writing and blogging and all other general creative wizardry, if you know what I mean…

This DJ (or whatever these music mixer dudes* are called), who goes by The Bearded Man (TBM), is my current crush…

 
 

*non-gender specific

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HANDS OF EVIL by Ms Melissa Barker-Simpson has been chosen as the inaugural selection for the Indie Author Book Selection & Review

ORIGINALLY POSTED OCTOBER 27, 2014
 

A hearty congratulations are definitely in order…

To me!

For I am the fortunate Reader who has just set himself off on the path of what looks to be a very interesting and exciting literary journey.

Congratulations are also in order to all of you, everyone, both Authors and Readers, who took the time and had the consideration to either submit their book for the selection and review process or who conscientiously looked over each of the submissions and offered their highly selective choice(s), in the form of a “Like,” of which impressed them the most. Because that’s really what this is all about. Not so much what book I choose and review, but on all of us participating in this Indie Revolution that’s going on all around us, this technological declaration of independence. We can be part of the movement by supporting each other through the purchase of Indie Books and, most importantly, by reviewing the Indie books you buy. I look at this similar to the movement to buy local. The more you buy local, the more you support your community; and the more you support your community, the more your community grows and prospers and ultimately makes the world, near and far, a much better place for all of us.

Yeah, I’m a little bit passionate about all of this. Truly I am.

This is an exciting time for Art in all its facets.

And finally, and equally important, if not mostly, congratulations to Melissa, for she has truly written what looks to be a very compelling book of fun and adventure.

But before we take a look at her book, let’s refresh ourselves with the guidelines, as limited as they were, that this Selection & Review thing is operating under. Here is a cut from the the solicitation announcement:

Tell us a little bit about both your book and your writing self in the comments section. You know, a short synopsis of the story and a short Author bio. Include just enough stuff, and no more, that you think I’ll need to be compelled to tab right out of my cozy little site and rush off to find your ode to literary perfection.

Not much to it, really. But enough, evidently, to illicit a wonderful response of Authors looking to showcase their unique and special writing talents.

And that makes me very happy.

So here is Melissa’s response, her pitch, to our call for her ode to literary perfection:

I was so drawn in by your post, and the humorous, yet generous offer to read MY book (you were talking to me, right?), I just had to respond. So…onto the sales pitch.

A few years ago, after listening to my brother (a soldier) talk about the camaraderie among his troop, and all the fun and interesting things they get up to (the jibes, the antics, the general merriment), a few good men (ha ha) began to form in my head. A team, if you will, of the best of the best. They are all ex-military, and came together to form a security agency. I’ve always loved thrillers, particularly crime thrillers, so I put them through their paces and set them free to explore the world I created for them.

My latest release, Hands of Evil, is the second in the Morgan and Fairchild series. The team are called upon by a local murder investigation team, when a serial killer starts picking off interpreters. A particularly unpleasant person, who removes his victims hands after their death.

It’s not as gruesome as it sounds, or certainly not as graphic!

Thanks for the opportunity to tell you more about my work :-)

Here’s the link:

Hands of Evil by Ms Melissa Barker-Simpson
Hands of Evil: Morgan and Fairchild Series: 2

Yeah, I know exactly what you’re thinking and I totally agree…

Awesomeness.

I don’t think it is necessary, or helpful, for me to go through a list of why I didn’t choose the other submissions.

What I will say is, based upon the guidelines we laid out, she did exactly what was needed to be done, and that was to compel me to want to read it.

And so did many of the other submissions. I really would like to read many, if not all, the books and stories. And who knows, maybe I will.

However, in my view, Melissa had all the elements of a successful proposal. She had a great pitch, she had a big cut of her book cover…and even just a quick glance around my site will tell you, even as verbose as I may be, I am a very visual guy. And, in addition to a successful pitch here, she has a wonderful website, professional as well as inviting, and a fully fleshed out Author’s Page at Amazon.

Yeah, I agree…

Quite the winning package.

Which is why her package of a pitch and proposal was my selection.

Congratulations, Melissa.

How about we all head right on over to Melissa’s website and offer her our congratulations in person, and take a look around a bit while we’re there:

mbarkersimpson.wordpress.com

So, off I go on a new reading adventure.

But it’s not over for you all. I hope and expect that you will look through the list of submissions and pick a book to read. And after you read it, review it, both on your website and at Amazon, at a minimum. And if you do that for me, for all of us, then the Literary Gods will look down upon you with great favor. And, in addition, if it’s a review that focuses less on what’s wrong with the book and more on what you learned from the book, then let me know, because I just might like to share it here with all the occasional readers and friends who stop by.

Will we do this again? I don’t know. I hope so. If you think we should, please leave a comment on this post to show your support for future Selections & Reviews. I would really appreciate knowing who is interested.

Okay?

And stay tuned for my review. I may have mentioned that I’m a bit of a slow poke reader so I am not about to predict when it will be up. But I’ll let you know.

All right?

Great.

Thank you, all. Thank you all very much.

Peace and Write On!

He Ain't No Oe But That Ain't So Bad

BOOK | FICTION | LITERATURE
THE WIND-UP BIRD CHRONICLE
by Haruki Murakami

RATING: ★ ★ ★

Original review date: May 17, 2011

Haruki Murakami
Haruki Murakami

Nobel Prize winning author Kenzaburo Oe is one of the few contemporary Japanese authors whose writing does what I believe Japanese literature — strike that — whose writing does what I believe all literature should do: that is, it should expose our fears and force us to confront them. Like a shamanistic bloodletting, literature should mercifully, but without mercy, cut deep into our consciousness in an effort to reveal and release, exorcise, the things in life that have come to possess us—-our loves, our hates, our envies, our disdains; and afterwards, when the demons are either gone or have regained control, after the blood stops flowing and the wound hardens into a gnawing, itchy scab, it, literature, then forever stays with us and occasionally reminds us of that which we have, if not overcome, then at least managed to suffer through, as the thickened scar forever reminds the wary survivor.

Yes, I expect much from literature.

Oe’s writing affects me as literature should. Though it has been many years since I have read his novels The Silent Cry and A Personal Matter, they both are still with me, haunting me.

While I have read far too few Japanese authors, it is impossible for me not to compare the writing of those authors whom I have read against Oe’s, since his is such a powerful force in my literary life.

It’s difficult, maybe impossible, to compare the writing of authors of different literary genres and subgenres. How does one effectively size up an Oe novel against a Basho haiku against a Miyazawa fairy tale?

Acknowledging such difficulties, I know we still like our “best of” lists so here is a somewhat rankish list of those few Japanese authors whom I have read, ordered based on the subjective impact their writings have left on me, on how deeply they cut into my consciousness, on how thick the scar they leave behind.

Kenzaburo Oe
Yukio Mishima
Matsuo Basho
Ryunosuke Akutagawa
Soseki Natsume
Yasunari Kawabata
Kenji Miyazawa
Haruki Murakami
Banana Yoshimoto

I love poetry and I consider myself a poet, but as a reader I am drawn mostly to the novel. So it’s no surprise to me that the list consists of those authors known primarily for their novels. Most of the authors are dead, but the three who are still with us bookend the list: Oe on top and Yoshimoto and Murakami at the bottom.

Though his name is listed next to last on the list — which doesn’t necessarily mean his writing is bad (although I do believe Yoshimoto is properly placed at the bottom as she is a less than good writer, especially when compared to Oe) — when discussing contemporary Japanese novelists, the first on the list to be discussed, even before Oe, at least in terms of international popularity and readership, is Haruki Murikami.

These days, Murakami’s work dominates Japan’s literary scene, and much of the international one, as well. From what I’ve learned about his work ethic his is a completely earned and deserved domination — when working on a novel he rises at 4:00am, writes for five to six hours, runs 10 kilometers, and is in bed by 9:00 pm; he rigidly sticks to this herculean writing process and daily routine until the novel is complete.


The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is my first Murakami novel. In addition to the short story Town of Cats it is the only work of his I have read.

I like THE WIND-UP BIRD CHRONICLE. I think it deserves to be as widely read as it has been. It is an intriguingly complex story with many layers, possessing much of what I like most about Japanese writing, and which, fortunately for me, is what most of what the Japanese writing that I have read is about: the sense of loneliness and despondency in the face of an ever more changing and complex world.

But it seems THE WIND-UP BIRD CHRONICLE is a bit too complex an effort with too many layers for Murakami to effectively manage.

The protagonist of the story, our non-hero, is Toru Okada, a still young but nearing middle age out of work lawyer. He is out of work by his own choosing, apparently because he has become disenchanted with his line of employment and his place in life. First he loses his cat, then his wife. During his quest for both, he finds and develops a relationship with a flirty teenager, with two sisters (one a prostitute of the mind whom he encounters in both his real and dreamed worlds, the other a prostitute of the flesh), a rich widow and her mute but spiritually communicative son, and a World War II veteran with a fantastically horrific yet achingly beautiful story to tell. To manage his downwardly spiraling and dangerously out-of-control and confusing life, Toru takes refuge within a deep well, which seems to be some sort of all consuming event horizon between his reality and his dreams.

Yeah, it’s as wild and mesmerizing and frustrating (often not in a good way) ride of a novel as it sounds.

My two biggest criticisms of Murakami’s novel are that it is too contrived and too insecure.

I know much of the story is fantastical and captured within a dream state, but it doesn’t feel natural. No matter how bizarre and far out crazy weird a story is it should still feel natural, as if that is exactly how life is meant to be. Some of my favorite novels are captured firmly within these realms; particularly Franz Kafka’s The Castle and The Trail.

We know that Murakami was greatly influenced by Kafka. So much so he entitles of one of his books Kafka on the Shore. But no matter how fantastical and surreal Kafka gets, his writing feels natural within those unnatural realms. Murakami’s does not. His feels choppy, forced, and, as I said before, contrived.

I also get impatient with Murakami’s lack of trust in us, the readers. This lack of trust may mean he is somewhat insecure in his own writing ability. He explains things too much. He leads us throughout the story with too much detail and suggestions as to the meaning behind what it is he wishes for us to learn from his words. Unlike Kafka who takes us blindfolded onto his bizarre journeys, abandones us deep within the remote wilderness of his unfinished tales, and leaves us to our own devices to find our way back to safety, Murakami has no such confidence in either us, himself, or both.

Maybe it’s overly descriptive because unconsciously he understood that the story was too ambitious and unmanageable for him to successfully convey.

Regardless what my criticisms are, THE WIND-UP BIRD CHRONICLE is an immense success. As testimony to its international appeal, an “interdisciplinary theatre production” based upon the novel premiered at the Edinburgh International Festival. Its trailer looks amazing and captures the essence and weirdness of the story.

In the end, Murakami’s THE WIND-UP BIRD CHRONICLE does not do for me what Oe’s The Silent Cry or A Personal Matter does. While it is surreal and sometimes dark and creepy in a soulful and insightful way that I mostly enjoyed, it has no staying power. If there has been any cutting from it, it has been bloodless and superficial. Ten years from now, I foresee the novel leaving no haunting or even memorable scars on my consciousness.

~~~~

Rating System:
★ = Unreadable
★ ★ = Poor Read
★ ★ ★ = Average Read
★ ★ ★ ★ = Outstanding Read
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ = Exceptional Read