Category Archives: Local Author

Quotable Monday: Louisa May Alcott

Love is a great beautifier.


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Smashed: Story of a Drunked Girlhood by Koren Zailckas

 

Title:  Smashed:  Story of a Drunken Girlhood
Author:  Koren Zailckas
Length:  368 pages
Loved it — again!  I need to start hating books

When this book first came out, I was employed at the bookstore, studying English Literature and Writing at school, and yearned to, one day, have something, anything published myself.  I, also, at that point, had never tasted more than a drop of alcohol.  I resented the fact that this local girl was making headlines and praise for writing about her own transgressions with alcohol.  I was a “good girl” and, idiotically, felt both mentally and creatively penalized for this.

Fast forward to a few years out of college – I went through a year (at least) of reckless behavior and guzzling copious amounts of alcohol.  Finally, I got it.  A friend recommended this memoir to me and actually let me borrow her copy, already loved with passages underlined — well, borrow might now be the right word…  I still have it on my shelf.  I don’t believe that I read it right away, but I do know that I devoured the pages during the two weeks that pneumonia had knocked me down for the count.

Immediately, I loved the narrator.  While our stories and experiences were very different, I could see me woven throughout the lines.  She voiced similar struggles, fears, and frustrations.   And, finally, as cliché as it may sound – I didn’t feel so alone.

This memoir isn’t only an excellent read for people who have suffered one too many nights intoxicated either.  If you have ever felt that you exist only on the fringe, struggled with friends/family/school/yourself.  Or, honestly, even if you haven’t.  If you’ve never experienced any of the aforementioned blights, Smashed is an excellent literary companion to get a glimpse into what other people live through.
Buy Smashed on Amazon.

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Poems by Robert Frost

Library of Congress photo, 1941. Fred Palumbo, World Telegraph staff photographer.

I believe that I mentioned in a previous post that when you’re a kid an express an interest in poetry, people love to help exposing you to new poets.  And I loved all of the recommendations.  I don’t know how old I was when my father gave me a New England Anthology of Robert Frost’s Poems, but he gave it to me because he said that Robert Frost was one of his favorite poets.  Today I took the book off my bookshelf and it really feels (and looks) like an older book, complete with a yellowing cover and pages; I must have received this in the early 90s and isn’t it wild to think of something from the early 90s as kinda old?

His poems feel very New England to me (and perhaps that’s because the anthology that I own is a “New England Anthology”, but I was surprised to find out that he was born in California.  He did, eventually, wind up in New England and one can visit the Robert Frost Farm in Derry, NH – something that I still need to do!  So, anyway, that poems below will have a very New England-y feel to them, which I absolutely adore as I adore being from, and living in, New England.

A Time to Talk

When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don’t stand still and look around
On all the hills that I haven’t hoed,
And shout from where I am, “What is it?”
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall,
For a friendly visit.

In a Disused Graveyard

The living come with grassy tread
To read the gravestones on the hill;
The graveyard draws the living still;
But never any more the dead.

The verses in it say and say:
“The ones who living come today
To read the stones and go away
Tomorrow dead will come to stay.”

So sure of death the marbles rhyme,
Yet can’t help marking all the time
How no one dead will seem to come.
What is it men are shrinking from?

It would be easy to be clever
And tell the stones: Men hate to die
And have stopped dying now forever.
I think they would believe the lie.

A Leaf Treader

I have been treading on leaves all day until I am autumn-tired.
God knows all the color and form of leaves I have trodden on and mired.
Perhaps I have put forth too much strength and been too fierce from fear.
I have safely trodden underfoot the leaves of another year.

All summer long they were over head, more lifted up than I.
To come to their final place in earth they had to pass me by.
All summer long I thought I heard them threatening under their breath.
And when they came it seemed with a will to carry me with them to death.

They spoke to the fugitive in my heart as if it were leaf to leaf.
They tapped at my eyelids and touched my lips with an invitation to grief.
But it was no reason I had to go because they had to go.
Now up my knee to keep on top of another year of snow.


Buy Robert Frost on Amazon.

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The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern


Title:
  The Night Circus
Author:  Erin Morgenstern
Length:  4oo
Rating:  On a scale of 1-5, 3.5

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my experience seeing and touching The Night Circus at a local store.  I immediately fell in love with the idea of the novel and decided, right then and there, that I would buy it as soon as I wrapped up the other book that I was reading.  So, I jazzed myself up before even reading a single page of it.

The story itself is unique and intriguing, but I didn’t feel like there was enough action or dialogue.  It appeared, to me, that the majority of the novel followed the same path that a lot of my short stories sometimes followed in college – a lot of adjectives, a lot of descriptions, and not a whole lot of allowance for the reader to fill in gaps and deduce anything about the characters based off what the characters do and say.

So, to me, it definitely feels like a first novel.  A very good first novel, but a first novel nonetheless.  With that said, however, I look forward to Morgenstern’s future novels, because they can only continue to get better.
Buy The Night Circus on Amazon.

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Emily Dickinson – Another Massachusetts writer

Once again, as a girl growing up in Massachusetts, I learned the name Emily Dickinson at a young age.  My mother actually bought me a beautiful children’s book about her since I showed such an interest in writing and poetry.  I was instantly fascinated by this seemingly reclusive redhead from Amherst.  Throughout the years, I picked up various collections of her poetry until, finally, I picked up The Complete Poems collection, ensuring that I would never run out of new poems to explore.

If you’re ever out in the Amherst area, definitely visit The Emily Dickinson Museum – the Homestead and the Evergreens – you will learn a great deal about her and most of it will probably surprise you (well, if you’re not a scholar who has extensively studied the life and work of Emily Dickinson).  And, if you don’t get any new information out of the tour, it’s just a really, really beautiful homestead and part of Amherst history.

The daisy follows soft the sun

The daisy follows soft the sun,
And when his golden walk is done,
Sits shyly at his feet.
He, waking, finds the flower near.
“Wherefore, marauder, art thou here?”
“Because, sir, love is sweet!”
 
We are the flower, Thou the sun!
Forgive us, if as days decline,
We nearer steal to Thee,–
Enamoured of the parting west,
The peace, the flight, the amethyst,
Night’s possibility!
If I can stop one heart from breaking
If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.
For each ecstatic instant

For each ecstatic instant
We must an anguish pay
In keen and quivering ratio
To the ecstasy.

For each beloved hour
Sharp pittances of years,
Bitter contested farthings
And coffers heaped with tears.

I’m nobody! Who are you?

I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us – don’t tell!
They’d advertise – you know!

How dreary to be somebody!
How public like a frog
To tell one’s name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

Take Emily home with you! From the Unemployed Philosophers Guild

The Emily Dickinson Little Thinkers doll is made by The Unemployed Philosophers Guild – they make lots of neat-o things.

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Local Author: Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus

I’m not one to really get sucked into books that are classified as one of the following:  Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, “Chick Lit”, or, my personal favorite, Romantica (think lonely everyday women meeting, falling in love with, and being ravaged by really hunky aliens).  There are, of course, exceptions – well, except for with Romantica – so I always keep an open mind when considering a future read.

This past weekend, I came across a copy of The Boston Phoenix featuring Erin Morgenstern on the cover.  I actually passed by this issue a few times during my walk downtown, each time drawn back to the cover, which has a picture of Morgenstern in a field, holding a crystal ball, the words The Enchantress right next to her face.  Seeing that this enchantress was a local author, I quickly snatched up a copy and sat down to look through the article.

The book is called The Night Circus and, after reading the article, I popped into a Hallmark store to see if they had a copy on the shelves.  Luckily for me, they did.  I wasn’t sold on buying it yet (it’s hardcover, roughly $26.00), but the book nerd in me just wanted to hold it, to feel its weight, and to scope out the design.  While I can’t vouch for how excellent a novel it is yet (though if you pick up a copy of The Boston Phoenix or read any review, other people will fill you in), I can tell you that this is possibly one of the most stunning hardcovers that I have ever held.  I could have fallen for it so hard because I’m a big fan of stripes and very much enjoy black, white, and red together, but I felt a draw to purchase it immediately based off the look alone.

Morgenstern is from Marshfield, MA, recently lived in Salem, now in the North End.  Attended school at Smith College.  She’s as local as you can get and I’m a big fan of supporting local talent and artists.  What’s most inspiring to me, as a girl who would love to be a published author someday, is that going into working on this novel, she wasn’t a writer.  The novel spawned from her partaking in National Novel Writing Month in 2003.  She didn’t finish the novel in the thirty days (who does?), but she stuck with it, fleshed out the characters, and eventually came to find a setting and a solid plot.  And now she has a highly regarded novel published and it looks like the story will also be turned into a film.

Below is the novel blurb, which will provide you with a quick background of the story:

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

Sounds slightly fantastical, but due to her inspirational (personal) story, the fact that she is local, and the fact that, yes, sometimes I do judge a book by its cover, I plan on picking up a copy this week and beginning it once I finish the novel that I am currently working on.  I hope that you are inspired to do the same!

Visit Erin Morgenstern’s website.
Purchase a copy on Amazon. 

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