Short Story Saturday

Short Story Saturday
 Richard Ford - "Rock Springs"

This is a story about a guy, Earl, his girlfriend, Edna, his daughter, Cheryl, and a little dog, Duke, who hit the road one day, headed for Florida. Earl seems to be a nice enough guy, but apparently in some trouble with the law, so he steals a car – a cranberry colored Benz – and the whole troop sets off from Montana. Only, the car dies on them on their way into a town called Rock Springs. Earl walks to a trailer park which is located very close to a plant of some sort [later to be revealed as a goldmine]. He is allowed into a trailer to make a call for a cab [having previously driven the stolen car into a ditch to hide it], the cab takes them to a nice hotel and Edna, who has been in a bad mood, tells Earl she will be getting on a bus in the morning to head back to Montana. It ends with Earl going out to the hotel parking lot looking for another car to steal. 

I’m not sure if I’ve described how I rate short stories before. It’s a very complicated system: A minus sign, [ - ], means I didn’t like it. A plus sign, [ + ], means I did. 
I hope that makes sense, like I said, complicated. 

This story had good parts, pretty OK dialogue, but it didn’t have a “wow factor” to it. I’ve read short stories where I am like “More!”, but Richard Ford did not do that for me. 

Edna was annoying. The only reason I felt like we should like her was because Earl did, but I think even he really didn’t. At the end, with her decision to leave, it seemed to be less about her leaving and more about the fact that Earl was going to have to take care of his daughter on his own from then on.

The only interesting part in the story, for me, was Edna’s anecdote about winning a monkey named Chipper [later to be renamed Mary] from a guy in a bar. One night, in an act of paranoia, she leashes the monkey on a chair to a door, in fear that the monkey might try to kill her in the night. Upon waking, the monkey was strangled, having fallen off the chair. And then Edna puts it in a garbage bag and throws it away. That little narration was the most interesting part of the story. 

Anyway, unfortunately this story got a [ - ], sorry Mr. Ford. It just didn’t ring any bells for me.

On to reading!


The Gargoyle

Ok. So.
Here I went from Magical Whimsical Childhood Happy Fun Time Book to this.

The Gargoyle


First off, lets talk about the cover. It’s pretty radical. My edition, I’m, unclear as to whether there may be any other cover art of it, which I’m sure there is, but frankly I’m too lazy to look it up.

Ok fine, I looked it up.

Mine is the best… besides maybe the angel wing tattoo one, but anyway. MY cover has a faded gothic looking statue engraving thingy (eloquent, yes?) but what I love about it is that the book’s edges look as though they have been burned – the cover is doing that cool curly burned raveled page thing.
I really should think about my descriptions before I go writing them out.

When people say you can’t judge a book by it’s cover, I usually roll my eyes. Yeah, it’s true… but hell, if a book cover is rad, you’d better be damn sure someone’s gonna grab it off the shelf before a drab, dull cover.

So, in a lot of ways this book kind of reminds me of The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood, I’m sure I’m the only one to try and make THAT connection, but oh well. I think it’s probably the story within a story aspect that made me think that. In T.B.A. the regular plot is frequently interrupted by the story within a story, not much unlike The Gargoyle. This book is intermittently intersected with stories of love, love lost, and sacrifice. It’s really quite a great technique that he uses, just like Atwood, to keep the reader involved in everything that is going on. 

This novel is about a guy, which we NEVER learn his name, who was once an attractive male Pornstar – successful but careless. His drug and alcohol problem ultimately lead to him getting in a car wreck and the majority of his entire body is mutilated and burned.

In the hospital burn unit he meets a woman who insists that 700 years ago they were lovers in medieval Germany.
Pornstar Guy, Burney Dude, “The Gargoyle”… Let’s make him a Porn Star Nickname… Richard "Dick" Danger. So, Dick Danger listens in his hospital bed as this lady tells him the story of their past together - and basically can’t decide if the broad is crazy of not. 
Interestingly enough, the reader has to try and figure that all out as a well.

There seems to have been a lot of research put into this, and as a reader I really appreciate it. The explicit descriptions of burn victim treatments, I mean, I’m not an overly queasy person, but Davidson did such a graphic job of describing certain aspects WHAM, right off the bat, that I was a little skin crawly. 

The protagonist is a great character. Great as in you just keep reading because you feel for the guy. You connect to him. You want to know where his story will eventually end up. He is funny and dark and heartbreaking. 

I read this book in basically a day and a half. It was one that, try as I might, I couldn’t put down. I didn’t WANT to put down. 

On to Reading!


Top Ten Tuesday - Thanksgiving Edition

This week's Top Ten Tuesday is a list of things we are thankful for. Wanting to keep this as bookish as possible I came up with ten different books that I am thankful for because they led, in different ways, to my book nerdedry. 

Books that made me love reading:

1. Flat Stanley - Jeff Brown
 [One of my most favorite books when I was younger, I couldn't even tell you the amount of times my mom read this to me, or I read it to myself at bedtime.]

2. Goosebumps Series - R.L. Stein
[Everytime the book fair would come to our school, I would check every possible Goosebumps that was available - if I didn't already own it - and lord knows, I own A LOT of Goosebumps books]

Books that made me love literature:

3. Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
[All of these are books I read in Junior English class. They are the reason I went to school for an English Literature Degree. And to the man that taught me these - Dr. Mooney - you are the main reason I continued to love books, but truly why I began to love classic literature.]

4. Ethan Frome - Edith Wharton

5. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald

Books that helped me through a tough time:

6. Bluebird - Bukowski [Poem]
[I read this poem all the time, say passages of it in my head when I need to, but mostly this poem has been able to help me with a lot of different things. The Bluebird is a big symbol in my life now, simply because of this poem]

7. The Five People You Will Meet in Heaven - Mitch Albom
[When my uncle passed away, it was devastating for my mom and myself. Someone gave her a copy of this book, and it worked wonders for my grieving process. Thinking of what people my uncle would meet in heaven made it that much easier to accept he was gone.]

Books that I can come back to anytime:

8. Bag of Bones - Stephen King
[In my opinion, the best book King has written. As you can see by how beat up my copy is, I've read it about a trillion times.]

9. The Red Tent - Anita Diamont
[Given to me by my Crazy Aunt Suzie, this book is another that I continually come back to.]

10. In Watermelon Sugar - Richard Brautigan
[Duh. My love for Brautigan should be pretty dang apparent by now, and this, the first book I'd read by him, is one that I can read again and again and again.]

For all of these books I am truly thankful, for so many different reasons. 
Happy Thanksgiving, all! 

On to Reading!


The Phantom Tollbooth

Did you ever read a book when you were younger, like grade school young, that really stood out? That everyone once a while you’d think of and go “Golly, remember _______________?"

I do that all of the time.

One of those that I always come back to is A Wrinkle in Time, in fact, I’m committing that to memory for a reread ASAP.
But no, this time it was The Phantom Tollbooth. I do not know why it even popped into my head, but when it did, it would not leave. Thusly, I recently revisited Milo, Tock and the Humbug.

So this book is basically, and I italicize because this is a VERY basic explanation, about a young boy who finds everything very dull. Milo, a young chap, suffers from laziness and boredom. He takes a lot of things in his life for granted and can’t seem to get excited about any of it. One day a package arrives in him room, a tollbooth. So, he takes a little toy car and goes through… entering into a whirlwind world, not much unlike Alice’s fall through the Rabbit Hole.
Milo meets many characters in his attempt to free two lovely princesses, Rhyme and Reason, from their prison, the castle in the sky. He travels from Dictionopolis, a land all about the importance of words – run by King Azaz the Unabridged – to Digitopolis, a land of numbers – run by King Azaz’s brother, the Mathamagician. Milo is accompanied on his journey with two interesting characters; Tock, a ticking literal Watch Dog, who although makes a ticking noise was mistakenly named Tock at birth.. his ‘tocking’ brother named Tick, apparently quite an embarrassment for the Watchdog Family.
His other companion is the Humbug, a beetlelike insect in a suit. 
Milo meets the Humbug in a marketplace where words are being bought and sold and traded. Milo is peaking with the Spelling Bee, a bee who can spell nearly everything, when the Humbug arrives.

The quirky use of word play keeps this book entertaining page after page. The ridiculousness of some of the instances in it will make you laugh out loud, or at least they did for me. Milo’s adventure is as enthralling for me as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, which is saying a lot because that’s one of my favorites… But I think, can’t be completely sure, that Tollbooth wasn’t written under the influence of opiates.
Don’t do drugs, kids. 

If you want a quick, whimsical read, pick up a copy of this little gem. If you have children that haven’t read this … hit them. 

No, don’t really. Child abuse = BAD. 
But do make them read it. I’d be very surprised if they dislike it.

I’m told they made a movie of this, and upon further research I see it was filmed in 1970. I bet it’s a doozy. I think this could TOTALLY be redone for a New Age Young Audience… But half of the allusions Juster makes need to actually be read, not seen. But, I’m sure there would be a way to combine both. 

Anyway, the moral of all this: Read it. If you have, re read it. 

On to reading!


Top Ten Tuesday

Today's Top Ten Tuesday from those kids over at The Broke and the Bookish have decided that this week's topic is 10 book recommendations you'd make for one person, or multiple people.
So, I decided to do top 10 books I would recommend for someone who needs to escape reality for a bit. All of these books to me, have some part of them that allows you to escape into a whole new reality. I think, if you've read any of these, it's pretty self explanatory as to why these would help you "Escape Reality". Also, these are in no particular order... Enjoy!

1. Fahrenheit 451

2. Lord of the Flies

3. A Wrinkle in Time

4. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass

5. Harry Potter Series

6. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

7. Dark Tower Series

8. Ender's Game

9. 1984

10. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

On to reading!


Return of the Bloggity.

Oh little Bloggity, I wonder if you think I’d forgotten about you? Left you in the limbo, the purgatory, of Forgotten Blogs on the Interwebs?

Well, the answer is no. You’ve always been there, in the back of my mind. Stowed in the corner of Things to Write, adjacent to Art to Make. It’s a very lonely corner of my brain. Some may say it’s where things go to die. But in my case, it’s just where ideas and things go to sit and twiddle their thumbs until the time is “right”.

But you my friend, your time is now. So, like a phoenix rising from the ashes (too much?) we’re gonna give this another go.

I think a good part of you being put aside was, not only because of my promotion at work (which being both a blessing, and a curse, was more of the former), it was that I was so worried about updating you, keeping you alive with books and poems and bookish thoughts. But, when I was as busy as I was, it was hard to get through a book in a timely manner. When I’d get home at midnight and have to be to work the next morning at 9am (excuses, excuses, right?), it would get too hard to update you and tell whoever reads these ramblings, what I’d felt, or thought, about anything I’d read.

So yes, in the interim I’ve read, as much as possible, but neglected updating you, Bloggity. But now, REJOICE!, I’ve found time to give us a second chance. 

I can’t promise it will work, but damn it, we’ll try.

On to reading!