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The Lazy Blogger - Rose Mary Boehm

I think, I write, I am a poet, I am a photographer, I am opinionated, I am political - and not always in this order. I read in five languages and sometimes dig up some interesting stuff.

Dead Horses - Joan Colby ‘Dead Horses’ is only an excuse. It’s an excuse to create a collection of extremely powerful poems set against the background of rural life in general and horse farming in Northern Illinois in particular. The more I read of Joan Colby’s work, the more I’d buy any one of her anthologies blind. Colby is dark, passionate, observant, emphatic and one of the most gifted and prolific poets of our generation. ‘Dead Horses’ is another Colby MUST HAVE and will surprise you with its power.
Revenge of the Lawn: Stories 1962-1970 - Richard Brautigan I never came across Richard Brautigan when he was 'in'. Too busy learning English, having kids. I suppose he reads differently in 2012 because by now the understated way he writes his pain, the subtly surreal, his sense of humor, and the way he expresses tenderness must have informed a whole generation of writers and poets and perhaps no longer seems quite as revolutionary as his writing undoubtedly is - even today. What sets him apart from others is his total disregard for what 'may be expected of him'. I found no vanity, no unmanageable ego, no experiences passed on from the loftier point of view of the writer, just open wounds, innocence, gentle irony, and almost painful honesty.

I read a re-issued three-in-one: REVENGE OF THE LAWN, THE ABORTION, and SO THE WIND WON'T BLOW IT ALL AWAY.

I was blown away by his short stories; in his novel-length works some of his more forced metaphors made me cringe at times. Was impressed by his daring, by the rawness of his style. If you read Brautigan now, read him in the context of his time but even today he doesn't fit into any category, cannot be labeled.

He is also tremendous fun!

Now I have started to discover Brautigan, I must read what seems to be the 'classic' everyone remembers: TROUT FISHING IN AMERICA. But it can't be better than SO THE WIND WON'T BLOW IT ALL AWAY
The Trouble With Poetry - And Other Poems - Billy Collins Constantly reading. Not all poems are equal, not even Billy Collins' poems. Some are definitely more equal than others. But his are a constant delight.
For the Win - Cory Doctorow Picked up the book in London and it's absolutely fascinating. Doctorow writes up a storm - as he tends to do - and this book is an absolute eye opener if you weren't sure what 'derivatives' are. He explains today's economy brilliantly while entertaining you and keeping you on tenterhooks. It's totally relevant to our lives today and, apart from being scary, gives hope as far as the (immediate) future is concerned. The watchword is simply: don't allow yourselves to be divided or the baddies have a field day.

I think Max Keiser (The Keiser Report on RT) anticipated the world described in For the Win when he founded the 'Hollywood Stock Exchange'. From Wikipaedia: Keiser is the creator, co-founder and former CEO of HSX Holdings/Hollywood Stock Exchange, later sold to Cantor Fitzgerald.[5] Alongside Michael R. Burns, he co-created the Hollywood Stock Exchange, [6] which allows traders to exchange virtual securities, such as "MovieStocks" and "StarBonds", with convertible virtual currency, the "Hollywood Dollar."
Complicity - Iain Banks Iain Banks (or Iain M. Banks when he writes SF) can do no wrong as far as I am concerned. His plots don't fail, his writing is sublime, his entertainment value is therefore complete - never a single hiccough while reading any of his books. Not only can I stay in his world(s), I want to be there. When I finish one of his novels I feel as though I've lost a friend. Soon re-reading more.
On Aggression - Konrad Lorenz Started it but won't read it now - if ever. It's Konrad Lorenz, of course. The master. But I have found one species that doesn't exist and it fills me with dread to think that if we are nothing more than animals (which I personally doubt), nothing will change. I mean, the famous 'human nature'. And that I can't believe.
The Bridge of San Luis Rey - Thornton Wilder I live in Lima, Peru, and Wilder has captured its complexities perfectly - the age of which he speaks still extending its feelers into current Lima society. The novel is sharply observed, kind and forgiving, and often extremely funny.

Just take this paragraph: "There was something in Lima that was wrapped up in yards of violet satins from which protruded a great dropsical head and two fat pearly hands; and that was its archbishop. Between the rolls of flesh that surrounded them looked out two black eyes speaking discomfort, kindliness, and wit. A curios and eager soul was imprisoned in all this lard, but by dint of never refusing himself a pheasant or a goose or his daily procession of Roman wines, he was his own bitter jailer. [...]".
Blue Nights - Joan Didion In BLUE NIGHTS Joan Didion writes about the aftermath of her adopted daughter's (Quintana Roo) death. This is as honest, probing and unflinching as only Didion gets. She asks herself the eternal question: 'Did I do the best I could for my daughter, was my love for her good enough?' These are the kind of questions only the survivor can pose without the possibility of ever finding an answer. As she herself says: 'What is lost is already behind the locked doors.' A moving and thought-provoking book.
The Sacred and Profane Love Machine - Iris Murdoch I just looked it up in our wonderful Wikipaedia and found that Iris Murdoch wrote 27 novels, the rest of her writings philosophy, plays and poetry. I haven't read them all, but by comparison The Sacred and Profane Love Machine stands out from the rest which is also excellent, of course. Well, what can I say about Iris Murdoch that hasn't been said before - and better.

What is so very enjoyable in any book by Iris Murdoch is how she uses her fast knowledge, studies, readings - in short her knowledge and intelligence - to bring about a novel that very much reminds us of authors as, to name but two, Dostoevsky or George Elliot. She writes about flawed people, enters into their most secret thoughts and shares with the reader a collection of protagonists who make you by turn despair, embarrassed, angry or full of almost furtive empathy. When you dare take a short breath you'll even be invited to giggle from time to time.

It's a novel I read before, I now read for the second time after some years had passed, and I'll read it again, every time discovering more delicious nuances that may have escaped me before. It's like a good wine that grows even better with time.


The Island of Whispers

The Island of Whispers - Brendan Gisby THE ISLAND OF WHISPERS by Brendan Gisby made me think of WATERSHIP DOWN. In THE ISLAND OF WHISPERS there are no (mostly cuddly) furries with long ears, but, oh don't we all dread them, rats. And Gisby pulls it off. The rats become personalities, characters, doing what they have to do, very much reminding me of what we do to each other every day, somewhere.

Gisby creates a small world somewhere in the North of England, where - many generations after having arrived on a tiny island - the newcomers create a kingdom with a ruling family weakened by too much comfort, hubris and the illusion of safety. Next are the courtiers, the rats who run the shop, the protectors. The protectors keep the royal rat family far from the `dirty' business of survival and rule the roost with an iron fist and absolute ruthlessness. There are the hunters (providing the daily meals of hunted and killed gulls - the only other inhabitants apart from the rats - mainly for the ruling class) the watchers (the lookouts on rotating guard duty) followed by the slaves who do the dirty work.

Predictably some at the lower end of this particular rat society's scale tweak to the possibility of changing the system, of perhaps escaping and starting somewhere else, a new beginning with a fair system of government in a green and pleasant world.

The reader is soon caught up in the intrigues, sufferings, cruelties, deceits and can't help but soon identifying with, and supporting, the `good guys', suffering with that little band of braves their fear, the dangers, and rejoicing with them when their courage wins the day.

A great read. Once you start you won't stop until you're sure that all ends well. I became a kid again as well as contemplating some of the ills of our world which I think Gisby had in mind when he was writing THE ISLAND OF WHISPERS.

Vic's Big Walk: From SW France to NW England

Vic's Big Walk: From SW France to NW England - Vic Heaney The first time I spluttered coffee over my keyboard reading this book was towards the beginning of 'Vic's Big Walk': some difficult incident lured him into coining the phrase 'dangle a dongle'. There were more of those moments at least worth a chuckles if not outright laughter.

I didn't know about Vic Heaney or his epic walk until a couple of months ago when I met him here in Lima, Peru, together with Gay, his lovely wife. During his 70 days and nearly 2000km of walking from the Pyrenees to Blackpool, the town where he was born, Vic repeatedly meets with people, situations and objects which convince me (and him, I dare suggest) that the world is indeed a handkerchief and events within it aren't random.

Just follow this: I used to work in a major multinational in Madrid, Spain, and met and worked with a South African who lives in the South of France, and who happens to know Vic Heaney who lives in the Pyrenees. Mike sent me a mail saying more or less 'you must meet', because Vic and Gay were coming to Peru. And we did. I met a couple of youngsters, really, but if Vic says he's over 70 and I suppose he can prove it.

Vic's book lets you walk with him, let's you share his frustrations, his limitations, his achievement--and all that in small bites which make you forget that this man actually walked almost 2000km (at a rate of about 30km per day) to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer and funds for research. His narrative is human, simple and often funny. And anyone who knows the area (French and English side) only a little, will enjoy seeing everything in 'close up' through Vic's eyes. We get some reminiscing, some historical facts and meet some of the odd folk he encounters on his journey, and enjoy the relief of his homecoming.

Pancreatic cancer killed Vic's first wife and a dear friend of mine. We need to understand and manage this killer disease which (normally diagnosed late) gives the sufferer at best only weeks to live. Buy this book and you not only share his adventure, but contribute to the cause. There is nothing in it for Vic except the satisfaction that he is making a difference.

Alien to Any Skin

Alien to Any Skin - Jim Pascual Agustin ALIEN TO ANY SKIN

Jim Agustin’s collection of poetry ALIEN TO ANY SKIN seems at first like a big house with many mansions. And that house seems to be positioned outside our every-day experience, our comfort zone; it is not built to plans we recognize immediately as familiar architecture. And yet, after reading and re-reading we begin to slip into Agustin’s territory which is recognizable after all. We begin to learn that we are not at all aliens under the skin, but that we love, laugh, cry, hurt, bleed as each other. We are not strangers at all. Still, his poetry is dipped in what seems at first geographically, historically and culturally alien colors and has to be approached as such until our hearts listen to more than the words.

ALIEN TO ANY SKIN takes us through a myriad of emotions, but mostly into a world where love is tinged by sadness, where people, especially children, aren’t safe, where invaders kill, burn and torture, where poverty can be extreme and were the comfortable public relations speech about the ‘why’ of it all no longer pulls a punch.

Yet, one of the strongest emotions I received from reading this excellent collection is the sense of being forgiven and being encouraged to forgive.

The collection is too large to give specific examples – they would fill several pages – but I don’t want to recommend ALIEN TO ANY SKIN without quoting what for me is its ‘signature tune’, so to speak:

A Letter from an Alien to His Friend, Michael Raymond

We always wonder
“What is out there?”
Curiosity and paranoia wrestle
Until they swallow each other’s infinity.

We stare at ever expanding universes
We know so little of, and yet
Declare grand dominion over.
Such vanity, such futility.

Perhaps this way of thinking
Is nothing but over-exposure
To too many episodes of a favourite TV show
Now on re-run.

But where is “There” as opposed to “Here?”
Alien, foreign to familiar?
Looking out, looking in?
Is it by random chance,

That the paths of different worlds,
Cross, intersect, begin
To move parallel to each other
While others whirl away all on their own?

In a friendship that knows
The clear possibility that my hands
May never shake yours
I offer this

Something for all those universes
Forever expanding
Inside each of us
Waiting for that moment of wonder.

The Telling

The Telling - Rose Mary Boehm Brilliant, of course! Since I wrote it! :)

Tangents

Tangents - Rose Mary Boehm Brilliant, of course!
In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction - Gabor Maté As Harville Handrix, PhD, says on the back cover: 'In this brilliant and well-documented book, Gabor Maté locates the source of addicitons in the trauma of an emotionall empty childhood, making it a relational rather than a medical problem.'

I am fascinated by this brilliantly written book which offers me a window through which I can see glimpses of a world I have never known. He suggests to society and 'the system' a more affective approach to this illness. I understand my daughter so much better now who, thank God, could free herself.

I even made a few discoveries for myself. This book is for everyone who wants to understand better how human beings tick.
The Book of Human Skin - Michelle Lovric It's a brilliantly written and conceived book - a story told by the various protagonists, from their points of view, in their voices. And the story is a wonderful yarn of old-fashioned evil pitted against old-fashioned good, but in such a way that it never deteriorates into bombastics or sentimentalities. Evil is truly evil and good isn't too squeaky clean either.

From 18th century Venice to Arequipa in Peru the narrative takes us back to a time we can't quite imagine, and on the way we learn quite a bit. 'The Book of Human Skin', with dark humor, covers many 'sins'--from saintly anorexia to dangerous quack medicines of the time.

The baddie, of course, collects very special books covered in a very special material.

If you loved the 'Three Musketeers' et al, I recommend this book highly.