Monthly Archives: May 2012

Little Bird of Heaven by Joyce Carol Oates

Title: Little Bird of Heaven
Author: Joyce Carol Oates
Length: 448 pages
A little difficult to digest, at times, but, overall – an excellent read. 

As should be rather clear by now, I’m a big fan of Joyce Carol Oates.  Her stories are raw, brimming with emotion, and, more often than not, the types of stories that will infiltrate your dreams and haunt you for hours, days, or, sometimes, weeks after you put the book down.  These types of stories aren’t for everyone, but they’ve always been my cup of tea.

This latest choice, however, proved to be a little difficult for me to power through at times.  This wasn’t due to any flaw in her story or writing, but more-so because my brain has been overloaded by other stuff that I didn’t feel fully energized to pick up all that she was throwing down.  And, oh boy, does she throw it down….

Little Bird of Heaven is set in a fictitious town in New York – small, working-class, and a little rough around the edges.  The narrative is broken out into sections – two by Krista Diehl and one by Aaron Kruller.  The characters are linked by a gruesome crime – the murder of Aaron’s mother, Zoe Kruller, a local singer who dreams of making it big and getting far away from this town.

Krista’s father, Eddy, is a prime suspect in the case, due to his affair with Zoe and the fact that he is the last person known to see her alive.  The other prime suspect is Aaron’s father, known to have a jealous and violent streak to him.  The reader watches the lives of, well, everyone, fall apart.  Love blossoms, love dies.  Some are driven to succeed and others are weighed down by the past, burying their woes in drugs and alcohol.

As in all of her novels, Oates paints a poignant, beautiful, and treacherous picture of the fragility of life and humanity.  She wades far out into the muck and manages to find and produce something beautiful.

Check out Little Bird of Heaven on the HarperCollins Page.

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Quotable Monday: Love and Longing

How mysterious it is, to be in love.  For you can be in love with one who knows nothing of you.  Perhaps our greatest happiness springs from such longings — being in love with someone who is oblivious of you.

Joyce Carol Oates, Little Bird of Heaven

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Sylvia Plath reads “Parliament Hill Fields”

Because there’s nothing quite like hearing a poet read their own poem…

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Little Free Library

Someone recently brought the Little Free Library (http://www.littlefreelibrary.org/) to my attention, though I believe that I actually drove by one of these once somewhere in Vermont…  I think that it’s such a WONDERFUL idea that I wanted to link over to their site on my blog.

Their missions it to promote literacy and love of books, build a sense of community, and to build more than 2,510 of these little libraries around the world!  You can donate to the cause or build your own library to add to your home, school, or job.

You can also “like” them on Facebook to keep up with the goings on – https://www.facebook.com/LittleFreeLibrary

If anyone who stumbles across this page has one or knows of one, please feel free to share photos!  I hope to one day have one of these as my own.  I might not be able to ever be a “real-life” librarian, but there are still heaps of things that I (and you!) can do to support literacy and share books.

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Monday Quote: Light and Dark

There are dark shadows on the earth, but its lights are stronger in the contrast.

Charles Dickens, The Pidwick Papers

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Remembering Maurice Sendak

If your childhood (or were involved in anyone else’s childhood) at any time over the past 45 years, you know who Maurice Sendak is.  Chances are his stories and illustrations have inspired your dreams, leant expression to your hopes and fears, or, at the very least, provided you with a very entertaining story to grow with and share.

Sendak passed away at age 83 after suffering a stroke.  Today is a sad day in the world of books, so in honor of his memory, I am compiling a list of some of the stories, obituaries, and opinion pieces from the web today.  His stories will definitely carry on and, without a doubt, our great-great-great-great-great-great grandchildren will all still know his name.

Oh, please don’t go – we’ll eat you up – we love you so!

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Filed under 2012, Children's Books, Maurice Sendak

Le Chat (The Cat) by Charles Baudelaire

Little Ophelia with a skull.

 

 

The Cat

Come, my fine cat, against my loving heart;
Sheathe your sharp claws, and settle.
And let my eyes into your pupils dart
Where agate sparks with metal.

Now while my fingertips caress at leisure
Your head and wiry curves,
And that my hand’s elated with the pleasure
Of your electric nerves,

I think about my woman — how her glances
Like yours, dear beast, deep-down
And cold, can cut and wound one as with lances;

Then, too, she has that vagrant
And subtle air of danger that makes fragrant
Her body, lithe and brown.

— Roy Campbell, Poems of Baudelaire (New York: Pantheon Books, 1952)

 

And in French:

Le Chat

Viens, mon beau chat, sur mon coeur amoureux;
Retiens les griffes de ta patte,
Et laisse-moi plonger dans tes beaux yeux,
Mêlés de métal et d’agate.

Lorsque mes doigts caressent à loisir
Ta tête et ton dos élastique,
Et que ma main s’enivre du plaisir
De palper ton corps électrique,

Je vois ma femme en esprit. Son regard,
Comme le tien, aimable bête
Profond et froid, coupe et fend comme un dard,

Et, des pieds jusques à la tête,
Un air subtil, un dangereux parfum
Nagent autour de son corps brun.

— Charles Baudelaire

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Fun with words Friday! Ennui

ennui: noun

a feeling of utter weariness and discontent resulting from satiety or lack of interest; boredom.

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Filed under Cats, Definitions, Friday Word

In the Woods by Tana French

Title:  In the Woods
Author:  Tana French
Length:  429 pages
Felt a little long (at times), but… LOVED IT!

So, this post would have been written yesterday or the day prior, but I was still wrapping this book up!  I will say that, at times, the book felt as long as the page numbers imply, but, overall, French weaves an excellent, edge-of-your-seat mystery in In the Woods.

As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers, and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.

Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a twelve-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox—his partner and closest friend—find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past.

Richly atmospheric, stunning in its complexity, and utterly convincing and surprising to the end, In the Woods is sure to enthrall fans of Mystic River and The Lovely Bones.

I decided that I wanted to read this book after glimpsing the synopsis on the back cover of an edition for sale in Target.  Since I’m trying to save money (!!), I opted to request this title from my local library and was notified a few days later that it was waiting for me behind the counter.  Eagerly, I dove into the story, but it took a little bit for me to feel truly SUCKED into the story and as though I absolutely needed to power through to the end.

The story is told through the narrative of Rob Ryan, a detective who was also once at the center of a case as a child, but has blocked out the memory of what really happened in the woods.  The mystery kicks off with Ryan, the adult, heading into the same woods that were the crime scene from his youth to take on a case of another child murder.

Against better judgment, Ryan and his partner, Cassie, keep the fact that Ryan was involved in a potentially linked case from their superiors, and the reader has a front row seat in Ryan’s extreme triumphs in memory and failure to maintain sanity throughout the life of the present-day case that he is tasked with solving.

French succeeds in making each character seem real, complete with fears, secrets, and countless instances of poor judgment…  you can’t help but be drawn into caring deeply about some and feeling totally frustrated and disgusted with others.  I am also a fan of the fact that everything doesn’t necessarily wrap up nice and clean in the end since, honestly, those types of endings seem to mirror reality more-so than those where everyone gets everything that the want, rainbows abound, and blue birds sing happy songs all around.

I definitely recommend In the Woods to anyone who enjoys mysteries and cop drama.  I’ve always been a fan of cop drama and am currently really into AMC’s The Killing.  Because of this, I pictured Ryan and Maddox as… you guessed it… Linden and Holder:

 

 

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Filed under Books, Mystery, Women Writers