Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The After Party by Jana Prikryl

The After Party by Jana Prikryl left me with more of a feeling or the impression of being than it did a distinct reaction to individual poems. There's a current of accepting the idea of just being that weaves itself through the myriad poems that took me on a journey alongside Prikryl. I appreciated Prikryl's use of language to examine how interconnected we are with one another with all our similarities and our differences as well as with the past, the present, and the future. As I read The After Party I often lost track of the words in an immersion of mood, atmosphere, and emotion feeling rather surprised when I came to the end of the poem. 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Emma's Choice by Loretta Porter

Emma's ChoiceEmma's Choice by Loretta Porter pulled me in right away. My heart ached for Emma as she grieved. I identified with the desire to run away to a new place and start over where no one knows what one has experienced. In the midst of grieving the loss of her family, Emma moves from the United States to England as easily as moving from one state to another. She runs away from not only her grief but her support system. Emma came across as far too naive at times making me cringe and, to be honest, pulled me out of the story a few times. As she meets new people and starts to build a new life, her grief vacillates wildly, even uncomfortably so. Emma's Choice offers a rollercoaster of emotions that serves as a reminder just how fragile life is and how important living is.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Bluegrass State of Mind by Kathleen Brooks

12005534I started reading Bluegrass State of Mind by Kathleen Brooks while on a flight to Kentucky, and I finished it on the flight home about a week later. Bluegrass State of Mind offers romance with a dash of danger and dark intrigue. The lost love connection fighting to find its footing intrigued me but fell into the typical breakdown in basic communication that seems to permeate romance novels. Given the high profile of several of the characters, I wondered how certain bits of information could remain unknown by other characters. Brooks' characters, though at times falling victim to stereotypes, are interesting and even intriguing. I wanted to know what happened to the characters even when I questioned how plausible certain parts of the story were. Bluegrass State of Mind is a fun read, particularly if you enjoy romances.

Monday, July 24, 2017

She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton

I really wanted to love She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton, but I have to admit I only liked it. I saw a fundamental flaw with it in that she equates persistence with not taking no for an answer by opening and closing the books with phrases about not taking no for an answer. How can we be teaching that no means no on the one hand and that we shouldn't take no for an answer on the other hand? There are far too many people who have used this attitude in harmful ways. If we want men to take no for an answer, then we, as women, have to also be careful about how we teach persistence. I think it's important to teach persistence and to demonstrate how women have had to overcome doubters and those who refused them so much as a chance.  When I got past Clinton's focus on the phrasing of not taking no for an answer, I found the stories of the women who persisted and refused to be shut down inspiring and interesting. If I were reading this to a child, I would skip times she used the phrases about not taking no for an answer, and the message would be just as strong, perhaps even stronger. The illustrations by Alexandra Boiger are fun and perfectly suited to the book. Overall, She Persisted fell a bit short of what I hoped it would be in spite of the inspiring women whose stories were included in it.

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Last Cut by Josh Armstrong

35173391The Last Cut by Josh Armstrong is a short story filled with layers of emotion in which Armstrong managed to remind me the importance of human connection, the importance of reaching out, and the importance of communication. As Carmen cuts Jude's hair, he talks about his plans to commit suicide. Carmen becomes involved in the conversation and as their connection grows, she begins to feel a shift within herself. All throughout the story, I kept wondering whose last cut it really was... The Last Cut left me feeling connected to both Jude and Cameron as their stories unfolded in a way that reminded me just how interconnected we all are and much we can influence one another, whether for the better or the worse is up to each of us to decide.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Write the Town 2016: Poems from Sites in Salem, Oregon by Poets of the Mid-Valley Poetry Society

Write the Town 2016: Poem from Sites in Salem, Oregon by Poets of the Mid-Valley Poetry Society is a short collection filled with poems that offer a taste of Salem, Oregon through the eyes of several poets who participated in Write the Town. The chapbook is divided into sections based on the sites the poets visited to find inspiration over the Summer of 2016. Reading Write the Town reads like a tour of Salem through the eyes of several quite talented poets. Some poems spoke to me on a deeper level than others but all the poems offered unique perspectives. I enjoyed reading Write the Town 2016 and look forward to Write the Town 2017.

Limited number of copies available at CC Willow Art Etsy Store.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir by Paul Monette

I bought Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir by Monette because it was recommended by a class on AIDS I was taking as research for a book I'm writing. I thought the book might help me better understand the AIDS patient and even AIDS itself. Monette tells a story that is a heartbreaking mix of love, family, and loss. Not just the loss of his life partner but loss of a way of being in the world. He demonstrates eloquently the devastation fear wreaks when knowledge is minimal while showing the immense power of love to hold people together. At times, Monette's self-deprecation felt a bit too much, but it showed a glimpse into how insecurities can push us to both our best and our worst. He talked with graphic detail about the physical havoc AIDS brought not only to the bodies of those who suffer with it but to the lives and the communities where AIDS became such an accepted part of life that people talked about when instead of if. Monette talks about his and the gay community's resentment of people's ignorance and particularly their determination to remain ignorant. His love for his life partner, Roger Horwitz, is palpable throughout the book. I felt almost like an interloper in their lives in some of the more intimate portions of the book. Monette writes in a way that had me wishing for Roger to be saved even though I knew before I even began the book that was impossible. Near the end, I also found myself longing for Roger's suffering to end even though the end of that suffering meant death. Monette's description of full-blown AIDS and the suffering of not only Roger but their friends broke my heart and made me determined to support death with dignity laws. Monette downplays his own diagnosis of AIDS throughout the book. Roger is his focus because Roger is the one who is in crisis. I felt Monette's grief throughout the pages. I felt the secrecy in place to try to protect those who could offer support. I felt the love these two men shared. I felt the openness of love and compassion coupled with the anger and despair at a system not moving quickly enough to make a difference in lives. Borrowed Time is a reminder that no matter who we are, how we live our lives, or who we love, the time we have is only borrowed and it will be taken away at some point...