Posted in Blog Post, Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, Virginia Woolf, Willa Cather, writing

Writing On Writing

2016 was what I had planned to be, or hoped would be, my “year of writing.” One year to welcome many future years. I think I shouldn’t have included that second verb, hoped, after my original one, planned. This is part of the self-doubt that all “on writing” books seem to mention at some point or another, and most of them repeatedly.

downloadSpeaking of “on writing” texts, I’m currently reading Virginia Woolf’s A Writer’s Diary, which is wonderful so far (about 40% into it). And I’ve read three others in the last year. Each has been very different. The first was Stephen King’s On Writing which read more like a memoir highlighting much of the writing aspects of his life. This is perhaps appropriate when considering the rest of the book’s title, A Memoir of the Craft. I found this approach worked well, though. King spoke a lot about writing as it fits into real life, especially early writing in the “younger” life. He got his start much sooner than I, yet I hope I can still consider myself “young enough.” That might be wishful thinking.

48202The second read was Willa Cather’s On Writing, which was something else entirely. The second part of her title is Critical Studies on Writing as an Art. As that full title suggests, Cather’s is a collection of essays rather than a single narrative, as King’s is. Much of the essays are Cather discussing others’ works, though some are her reflections on how or why she wrote particular pieces of her own. Some few, like “On the Art of Fiction,” tackle the idea of “on writing” more directly. I enjoyed this one because it gave insight into how writers respond to other writers; what they look for, where they find strengths, what they consider weaknesses, who and what they admire, and why. It’s valuable information, especially coming from someone as supremely competent, knowledgable, and interesting as Willa Cather.

51JP9AJJVVL._AC_UL320_SR216,320_The third title is Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing. This one was a perfect middle road between King and Cather. It is a collection of essays, written over a number of years, like Cather’s, but it is much more personal and reflective, and written with a “new writer” audience in mind, like King’s. What I loved about Bradbury’s collection is that it is filled with so much joy, so much passion and support.

What I found interesting, if not surprising, is that despite their differences, each of these (and, now that I think of it, Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, too, but it’s been a while since I’ve read that, so I’ll leave it out of discussion for now) shared some few important elements in common. What’s even more serendipitous is that the three things that stuck out to me the most are the very things I’ve struggled with for so long.

I. Be Honest & Trust Your Imagination

This first theme came up frequently, and in various ways, in all three books. I responded to it in two critical ways. In the first case, trust your imagination deals with those moments when you don’t feel like what you have to say is interesting, important, creative, fresh, valid, or whatever. It’s that common self-doubt all writers probably have at some point, and which forces them into writer’s block or exhaustion. I think this is especially important not just in getting started with the process, but in dealing with the many rejections that are certain to reach your inbox. King, Cather, and Bradbury all place importance on honesty, first; if you are telling a story that is true to you, and means something to you, stop thinking about it and let your imagination go…it will get somewhere, and you can deal with it when it’s done. Trust Your Imagination applies to another situation, though, which is within the story world itself. I once gave up on a novel, one that, in retrospect, I think has been my best idea and which continues to call to me every day (it’s the one I plan to return to on Monday, when I begin again). Part of why I gave up is because I felt like I had to know everything – every detail about the location, every detail about history of the region, the country. Every detail about the main character’s particular hobby, which I dove into researching and started making notes about. To some extent, yes, I need to know these things – but just enough of them. I never have to give the reader every single piece of history; if they wanted that, they’d go read a history book, right? This is something King, Cather, and Bradbury wrote about frequently over the course of their books. I’m not writing a manual, I’m writing a piece of fiction. There are some things that must be right (if my book takes place during the time of JFK’s assassination, okay, I’d better get the date right), but otherwise, I need to remind myself that most of the creation and interpretation and information gathering actually takes place in the reader’s mind. It’s that “show don’t tell” mantra all over again. And, wow, it’s such a relief. I feel like an apartment building has been lifted off me and I have begun to breathe and see again for the first time in a long time.

II. Be Honest & Forget About Money or Fame

This seems like it should be another no-brainer. If you love to write and you feel like you have something to say, or maybe might even be a little bit good at writing, then you should just find joy in writing. But who doesn’t think about their audience? I think about it constantly, and it intimidates me; it holds me back. I worry, mostly, about what my friends and family will think about my stories; will I reveal too much about myself in the telling? Do I really want to let them into the deepest, sometimes darkest, realms of my imagination and psyche? Then, I think about the general audiences, critics and consumers. Will anyone in the world be interested in what I write about? Will an agent take a chance? Will a publisher? It seems silly to think about all this before the writing has gotten very far, or even begun at all. Of course, it is silly to think about it then, or at all. But that doesn’t keep it from happening, and I doubt I’m the only one who experiences this. It’s probably my biggest hold up, and this is where King, Cather, and Bradbury all say: STOP IT. Write, just write. Love it. As with the theme above, be honest about it and why you’re doing it, but damn it, don’t do it for the money because that will probably never, ever come. Am I okay with that? Probably much more so now than I ever was before. Is it all entirely out of my head – fear of rejection, desire for fame? No, and maybe it won’t ever be entirely gone, at least not until I’ve found my stride and have begun to write every day, to be confident in it, and to really feel like I can, I must, go on with it. That’s going to be the persistent thought now. Instead of thinking about all these other people and their reactions, I’m going to try to simply be excited about my ideas and where in the world they’re going to take me.

III. Trust Yourself & WRITE!

Write, write, write. Boy, you’d think I was reading books on writing or something. King and Bradbury were especially surprising in their treatment of this topic. For some reason, I remember hearing, for most of my life, that writers should be prepared to write whenever the muse hits, to be prepared with pen and paper wherever they go, but that they should never “force” the writing. King and Bradbury, two of the most commercially successful writers of all-time, say this is hokum! Both of them write in highly regimented ways, working for a certain number of days every week (both of them say 6 days per week, holidays and birthdays included), and for a certain length of time (or word count, in their cases). Cather, too, expressed the necessity of writing all the time. King, Cather, and Bradbury, but especially Bradbury, reinforced the idea that writing, like anything, is a skill (and an art) that can only get better with practice and honesty to one’s self and ideas. This is something I tell my students all the time: you can’t become a better writer if you don’t read and write a lot. The more you do those things, the better you’ll be able to see the strengths and weaknesses, the necessary moves and adjustments to make in your own work. So, there’s a bit of “practice what you preach” for the old English professor! I’ve always thought of myself as a writer, and in many ways I do and have written every day, but the missing piece of the puzzle was also found in King’s, Cather’s, and Bradbury’s examinations: write in the genre you want to be most successful in. My writing has been primarily academic and scholarly, for coursework and such, or blogging, for the general love of talking about literature. In my mind, though, when I think of myself as a writer, that is not the kind of writing I’m thinking about.

While reflecting on these three books and thinking about all of the great advice therein, I began to work on my plan for the coming semester. I originally wanted to schedule out my days and workload for the entire term, September through December, but I decided to begin with the month of August, for two reasons: the first reason is practical; I’m scheduled to teach four courses this semester, beginning on August 22nd, but I only know for sure that two of those courses is going to run; so, if the other two courses do not run, then I’ll be adjusting my entire schedule — why do five months of planning to change it all in two weeks? The other reason is because I need to know that what I propose for August is actually feasible and can be maintained for the entire semester. If it is, I’ll expand – – not a big deal.

What is the plan? Well, I have designated times for working on my dissertation, for teaching, for exercise, for writing articles, and for grading/planning each of my classes week-to-week, as well as for required, reoccurring meetings that come as a result of an existence in academia. There are two benefits to this plan, I think. The first benefit of being so strict with myself is that I can see what needs to be done when, and I can hold myself accountable to everything I need to do without letting it pile up. Old habits of last year left me scrambling at the end of every single week to do much too much work; hence, I didn’t do nearly enough of what I should have. The other benefit is that it doesn’t only show me my “work” time; it also shows me all the time that is my own, to do whatever. There’s not a lot of free time, but there definitely is some every day, and that calms me. Again, last year, I felt like I was always busy, but that’s mostly because I was being stupidly irresponsible with my time.

I might not get my book written this year, because I’m writing a dissertation; but I will get that dissertation written, and I will work on my book, too, and I’ll still be able to do other things.

King, Cather, and Bradbury. Delightful kicks-in-the-pants. Woolf, keep me honest! 

Posted in Blog Post, Misc

A Few of My Favorite Things

cropped-il_340x270-576144326_3pqt.jpgI saw this on a friend’s blog and it looked like fun. Also, it’s nearing the end of summer term and I’ve been grading papers like a crazy person, so I thought I’d pause and have a bit of fun.

A book you’ve read more than onceThe Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Many times.

A book you would take on a desert islandLes Miserables by Victor Hugo.

A book that made you cryThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak and Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan.

A book that scared you: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.

A book that made you laugh out loudGentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos..

A book that disgusted you: Hogg by Samuel R. Delaney. I couldn’t finish it…which is saying a lot. I finish everything.

A book you loved in preschoolAlexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst!

A book you loved in elementary school: The Choose Your Own Adventure books and the Goosebumps series.

A book you loved in middle schoolThe Giver by Lois Lowry.

A book you loved in high school: Lord of the Flies by William Golding.

A book you hated in high school: Oh, I really hated The Great Gatsby. Isn’t that funny?  I’ve read it many times, since, and even have a t-shirt of the book cover, now!

A book you loved in college: The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy and The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot.

A book that challenged your identityAngels in America by Tony Kushner. Technically this is two plays, but damn. Also, In Tall Cotton by Charles G. Hulse – I read this one when I was in 7th or 8th grade & it helped me come to terms with my sexuality.

A series that you love: His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman (since I mention my other favorite series’ later).

Your favorite horror book: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson.

Your favorite science fiction book: Something by Vonnegut, I guess…. The Sirens of Titan or Cat’s Cradle, if we’re going to call those science-fiction.

Your favorite fantasy book: Absolutely the Harry Potter series. And I really loved The Crimson Shadow series by R.A. Salvatore as well.  After Harry Potter, though, I think I have to go with The  Lord of the Rings.

Your favorite mysteryThe Woman in White by Wilkie Collins or And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. Or all of the Sherlock Holmes books, if I’m allowed to do that?  Of course I’m allowed.

Your favorite biographySalinger by David Shields and Shane Salerno.

Your favorite classic: Oh, good grief. Unanswerable. Let’s say The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, for the sake of saying something.

Your favorite romance book: Not sure what romance means, here. I don’t read “romance” but I definitely read “Romantic” literature. I’m guessing we’re looking for things along the lines of Nicholas Sparks, though, in which case – nil. I kind of just want to say Gone With the Wind to be ironic (because so many people describe it as a romance, but it’s not – oh, the same for Rebecca!)

Your favorite book not on this list: Let’s go with The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.

What book are you currently reading: A Writer’s Diary by Virginia Woolf

What book have you been meaning to readBetween the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Posted in Poetry, Poetry Project

Six: The Aeneid

From The Aeneid of Virgil (circa 29-19 BC)

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Arms, and the Man I sing, who, forc’d by Fate,
And haughty Juno’s unrelenting Hate;
Expell’d and exil’d, left the Trojan Shoar:
Long Labours, both by Sea and Land he bore;
And in the doubtful War; before he won
The Latian Realm, and built the destin’d Town:
His banish’d Gods restor’d to Rites Divine,
And setl’d sure Succession in his Line:
From whence the Race of Alban Fathers come,
And the long Glories of Majestick Rome.
O Muse! The Causes and the Crimes relate,
What Goddess was provok’d, and whence her hate:
For what Offence the Queen of Heav’n began
To persecute so brave, so just a Man!
Involv’d his anxious Life in endless Cares,
Expos’d to Wants, and hurry’d into Wars!
Can Heav’nly Minds such high resentment show;
Or exercise their Spight in Human Woe?


Response:

On this sixth day of my poetry project, I’ve decided to visit Virgil’s Aeneid, which takes as its source Homer’s Greek epics. Book XX of the Illiad tells of a battle between Aeneas and Achilles, during which readers (or listeners) learn about Aeneas’s lineage: this inspires Virgil to write a history wherein Rome is essentially descended from Troy (Aeneas flees Troy after the Trojan War to found a new city).

The Romans were quite adept at borrowing from the Greeks (not just stories, of course, but politics, art, science, military strategies, etc.). Later societies, including perhaps most famously and effectively (though the current climate might speak to the contrary) the United States, then borrowed from Rome. Indeed, there’s an excellent book by John C. Shields called The American Aeneas which puts Aeneas, rather than Adam, at the heart of American foundational cultural theory. Virgil was the most celebrated Roman poet of his age, and for many ages afterward. It took him eleven years to write The Aeneid, but even after all that time and effort, and just before his death, Virgil wanted his manuscripts burned because he felt the story was incomplete. Fortunately, Emperor Augustus (Octavian), published the work anyway.

The passage I’ve chosen to consider is the first stanza of the poem, as translated by John Dryden (1631-1700). Dryden’s translation is generally out of fashion these days, but I still find it to be one of the more beautiful versions. The stanza itself should read quite similarly to the first stanza in Homer’s Illiad. Just as in the original Greek version, this Roman stanza introduces us to the plot, setting, and major conflict, as well as some of the characters, human and godlike. Virgil intentionally paralleled Homer’s introduction and techniques because he was both paying homage to the master as well as writing a new Roman story for his Roman audience — by telling a Roman tale in a style they would be familiar with, there was a greater chance that the population would understand, accept and essentially assimilate it as their own. The English would eventually do something similar, centuries later, and the Americans likewise followed suit centuries after that.

One interesting difference in this first stanza is it alludes to the two Homeric epics, Illiad and Odyssey, in the verse “warfare and a man.” That is, there is something of the journey to come (recalling Odysseus) as well as a great battle (the Trojan War). Virgil reverses the tale, however, first giving us Aeneas’s odyssey and then following it with the war to establish Rome.

We learn, too, that Virgil will face off against nature and the gods, just as Homer’s heroes did. In addition, we have a first-person voice singing introduction to Aeneas story, followed 10 lines later by a call to the Muse to tell the singer why the goddess was angry and hateful, intent on punishing Aeneas. This is a striking difference from Homer’s version, where the Muse is evoked in apostrophe in the very first verse and asked to relate the whole tale. Here, the muse is encouraged only to fill in the blanks, as it were, clueing-in the audience to the whims of the gods; in other words, the information to which we couldn’t possibly be privy.

Contemporary critics tend to agree that Homer was the better poet, and the Illiad and Odyssey the better tales; still, I respond quite well to Virgil’s Aeneid and especially this Dryden translation. There are some problems in his choices, the use of “heavenly,” for example, is far too Christian for this ancient Roman tale; but of course he was writing to a Christian audience, much like Virgil himself was adapting a Greek story for Romans. That divine justice is being questioned (“For what Offence the Queen of Heav’n began / To persecute so brave, so just a Man!”) is fascinating, particularly as this translation would be read by devout monotheists who would be soundly discouraged from questioning the will of god; did Dryden consider this purposefully when introducing certain Christian phrasing, as Chaucer and the Medievalists often did?

Posted in Giveaway, Giveaways

Back to Blogging Giveaway!

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Hi Everyone!

After a lengthy hiatus from the blog, I’ve been slowly making my way back. There’s still a whole lot going on academically and professionally, but this blog is a place that I simply need to be, sometimes. I may not be posting/reviewing regularly, but I’ll definitely still be here. I’ve also found some time to surf around and visit some of my favorite blogger pals, which has been great for me.

As a welcome back or “grand re-opening” of sorts, I thought I’d celebrate in my traditional style, with a giveaway! I’ve recently stumbled across a couple of books that I would love to share with interested readers. So why not now?

Giveaway 1:

Dog Gone: A Lost Pet’s Extraordinary Journey by Pauls Toutonghi

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The true story of a lost dog’s journey and a family’s furious search to find him before it is too late.

Saturday, October 10, 1998. Fielding Marshall is hiking on the Appalachian Trail. His beloved dog—a six-year-old golden retriever named Gonker—bolts into the woods. Just like that, he has vanished. And Gonker has Addison’s disease. If he’s not found in twenty-three days—he will die.

The search begins. Fielding and his father, John, are dispatched to the field. They have the family’s other dog, Uli, in tow. Combing the trails, Fielding and his father bond like never before. Fielding’s sister, Peyton, calls and talks him through some of his lowest moments. And—at home—Fielding’s mother, Virginia, sets up a command center.

Virginia becomes a field general. With a map and a phonebook at her side—she contacts animal shelters, police precincts, general stores, community centers, newspapers, radio stations, churches, and park rangers. She is tireless. The local paper in Waynesboro writes a small story about the family’s search. The story hits the AP Newswire. Tips—many of them of questionable authenticity—pour in from across the country. But as the search continues, the Marshalls realize they may not survive losing him. Even as the wounds of their past return to haunt them and threaten to jeopardize everything—they know they have one mission: Bring Gonker home.

With a big heart, intelligent humor, and a deft touch, Pauls Toutonghi tells this true tale of loss, love, and resilience. Dog Gone is by turns a story about how a family comes together in a crisis—and the way heroism can assert itself in the little things we do each day.

Giveaway 2:

Nitro Mountain: A Novel by Lee Clay

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An astonishing, even shocking debut–darker than a bad night in hell–that is written with both humor and heart by “a writer with abundant and scary gifts and consummate skill.”

Set in a bitterly benighted, mine-polluted corner of Virginia,Nitro Mountain follows a group of people bound together by alcohol, small-time crime, and music. There’s Leon, a hapless bass player who can embroil himself in trouble just by getting out of bed in the morning. And his would-be girlfriend, Jennifer, who’s living with Arnett, the town’s most dangerous thug–and hoping Leon will help poison him. And there’s Arnett himself, a psychopath for the ages–albeit so charming and deranged, so strikingly authentic, that he arrests the reader’s attention at first sight and holds it fast. His mirror image, a singer-songwriter named Jones, has his own moral issues, though at least he’s trying to be a good man. The bright if battered soul who pulls us through this story is Jennifer, struggling heroically to survive the endemic hopelessness and violence that have surrounded her since birth. Relentless? Yes. But nothing remotely gratuitous: only the pain and misery that inspire so much of the music these people love more than life itself.

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GOOD LUCK!

Posted in Poetry, Poetry Project

Five: To Lesbia

Song #5 to Lesbian by Gaius Valerius Catullus (circa 84-54 BCE)

herculaneum_fresco_001


Come and let us live my Deare,
Let us love and never feare.
What the sourest Fathers say:
Brightest Sol that dyes to day
Lives againe as blith to morrow;
But if we darke sons of sorrow
Set; O then, how long a Night
Shuts the Eyes of our short light!
Then let amorous kisses dwell
On our lips, begin and tell
A Thousand, and a Hundred score
An Hundred, and a Thousand more,
Till another Thousand smother
That, and that wipe off another:
Thus at last when we have numbered
Many a Thousand, many a Hundred;
We’ll confound the reckoning quite,
And lose our selves in wild delight:
While our joys so multiply,
As shall mocke the envious eye.


Response:

Today is the fifth day of my 100-day poetry project, so I thought I’d continue chronologically and coincidentally (but not really) with Catallus’s “Song #5 to Lesbia.” Catullus is one of the most influential late Roman poets; although he lived only thirty years and wrote a limited number of pieces, his poetry remains widely read and has influenced other artists and poets from generation to generation, movement to movement. Rare are the artists who can boast such a level of influence and perpetuity.

My limited understanding of Catallus suggests that he often wrote in hendecasyllable rhyme, of which this poem is an example (whether I chose one that proves the rule, I can’t say; maybe it was just a happy correlation!). The translation above is of course not hendecasyllabic because it has been rewritten into English, but an example of the 11 syllable phrasing from the original is as such: Vivamus, mea Lesbia, atque amemus (line 1).

What I enjoy about this poem is that it praises the two-person love, raises it above the “rabble” of opposition, from family or friends. There’s also a great deal of passion in these lines. The lovers bathe each other in kisses, the argument being a type of romantic carpe diem — soon enough, the dark falls on everyone, so it is best to ignore the snide remarks of judgmental busybodies around us, love while we can, and then fade into that forever-sleep having, at least, loved completely, and having been loved.  There’s little confusion as to why Catallus, and this poem in particular, went on to inspire so many others, from the medievalists onward.

Posted in Poetry, Poetry Project

Four: Canticles

The Song of Songs (circa 3rd Century BCE)

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The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love
is better than wine.
Because of the savour of thy good ointments thy name is
as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins
love thee.
Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me
into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in
thee, we will remember thy love more than wine:
the upright love thee.
I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as
the tents of Kedar; as the curtains of Solomon.
Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun
hath looked upon me: my mother’s children were
angry with me; they made me the keeper of the
vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept.
Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest,
where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for
why should I be as one that turneth aside by the
flocks of thy companions?
If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy
way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy
kids beside the shepherds’ tents.
I have compared thee, O my love, to a company of horses
in Pharaoh’s chariots.
Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels, thy neck with
chains of gold.
We will make thee borders of gold with studs of silver:
While the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth
forth the smell thereof.
A bundle of myrrh is my wellbeloved unto me; he shall lie
all night betwixt my breasts.
My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire in the
vineyards of En-gedi.
Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou
hast doves’ eyes.
Behold, thou art fair, my beloved, yea, pleasant: also our
bed is green.
The beams of our house are cedar, and our rafters of fir.


Response:

Although the Song of Songs is attributed in the Bible to King Solomon, the actual author remains unknown. As with my reading of Psalm 23, I’ve chosen the King James Version of the Bible, not because it is closest to the original, but because it tends to be the most poetic.

What I appreciate about this chapter is that it is blatantly sexual. With the exception of rape and spiritual possession, the Bible is rather short on acknowledging sexual/carnal relations, let alone in a celebratory way. Some read this as religious adoration (love for God) masquerading as erotic love; I don’t necessarily agree with that reading, but I appreciate that the complexity and ambiguity of the poem, and the lack of clear rhyme scheme or structure, allows for multiple interpretations. That’s what makes literary study so much fun.

Reading an ancient piece like this also rekindles my desire to learn languages such as ancient Greek, Hebrew, and Latin, among others (such as Aramaic, which is the language in which this particular text seems to have been originally written). The original texts are rich with indicators, such as gender markers, that have been lost and/or accidentally or intentionally altered over the generations. Alas, my only experience with Ancient Greek is a reading of the first Harry Potter book in that language. (I’ve also read that book in Latin, but I do have a bit more experience with Latin overall). My knowledge of  Aramaic is limited to just a few words.

As for the Song itself, it is another example of the pastoral, this time in the tradition of Theocritus. I also respond to the clear indicators of race, although it should not be surprising that anyone would be darker skinned in these texts, considering the region where they were written (all of these contemporary folks who imagine Jesus was caucasian — I can’t get over it).  Economics is the real factor, here, in that the woman’s skin is dark supposedly because of all the work she’s done in the sun, which would indicate that she was either a poor farmer or a slave. If we are to take the other partner as King Solomon, then, it’s an interesting marrying of two worlds, two spheres.

I also understand that this poem has roots in ancient Sumerian, Hebrew, and Greek religions, but is one that was essentially usurped by and repurposed for use in the Christian tradition. I’m fascinated by Christianity’s great success in assimilating other cultures and religions into its own, thereby rapidly and effectively increasing the popularity and lasting-power of the Christian religion. I find this is a nice contrast to the Psalm that I posted yesterday. The themes, style, structure, mood, tone, and origins of the two couldn’t be more diverse, and yet they are found within the same canonical text. Just another reason why studying the Bible as a literary and historical piece can be such a rich, rewarding, and revealing experience.

Posted in Monthly Review

Time Keeps on Slipping…Slipping…

calendarSpring Has Sprung! Erm… or, such was the first line for the last monthly check-in that I managed to publish on the blog. Good grief, where has the time gone!? It’s now July and we’re well into summer. Thoughts of Spring have come and gone in the blink of an eye.

Although I’ve been less active on the blog, I’ve kept up with my reading and have been busy with plenty of other things, too, including teaching summer courses, working on my dissertation, and preparing an academic portfolio for job searches. I’ve sent out a few applications here and there, but I’ll be getting much more serious about it in the coming months, as I continue to wrap-up work on the dissertation. I probably won’t be finishing/defending until spring semester, so graduation will likely be in May 2017, but I’m definitely on the hunt for good full-time, tenure-track teaching opportunities now.

Any-who — here’s what I’ve been up to over the last few months.

Books Read in April: 9

  • Half Lost by Sally Green (5 out of 5)
  • The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (5 out of 5)
  • Fields of Reading: Motives for Writing by Nancy R. Comley (3 out of 5)
  • Wicked Angels by Eric Jourdan (4 out of 5)
  • Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout (4 out of 5)
  • The Bedford Reader by X.J. Kennedy (4 out of 5)
  • We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (4 out of 5)
  • Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald (3 out of 5)
  • The Long Walk by Stephen King (5 out of 5)

Books Read in May: 8

  • Stranger than Fiction by Chuck Palahniuk (3 out of 5)
  • The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan (4 out of 5)
  • Don’t Be Shy: Beyond Gay Fantasy by AJ Baker (5 out of 5)
  • Saga #31 – #36 by Brian K. Vaughan (4 out of 5)
  • A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin (4 out of 5)
  • The Fourth Angel by John Rechy (3 out of 5)

Books Read in June: 6

Blog Posts:

Poetry Project Posts: 

Also, I had a critical essay published in a scholarly journal in May of this year, and I’ve got another under consideration now (should hear back sometime in August). I’m also preparing to submit a proposal for a book chapter. Don’t ask me where I’m finding the time or energy for all of this. Maybe this is why I’ve been so tired lately?

What have you been up to? Any amazing reading discoveries in the last month that you’d like to share?