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SkinnyDippingIntoBooks

Skinny Dipping Into Books

I like the rain. I want to have a spring bookworming rain party full out with wellies—but not those Hunter Boots; absolutely not—, with yummy airy things like puffed pastries, meringues, mini fluffy cheese cakes, mousse dessert, macaroon, biscuits, crepe, and Earl Grey tea, definitely Earl Grey tea.  and Tillandsia. We'd have lots of "air plants". Lots! And We'd read, but not anything structured. We'd bring books, trade books, read out-loud, pass books around between sentences and paragraphs. We'd leave with books we hadn't discovered.

 

I like books like I like my Jazz; euphoric, dangerous, occasionally a bit manic, sorrowful, bleak, raging, mood-incongruent, mournful, unforgivingly ragged, symbolic in a quiet way, warm apple pie for the soul. Give me a Plath style. Yōko Ogawa, M. Roach,


Criteria: Not rated on likability of characters. Not objective. I like Moxie Soda; chances are you don't.


time spent in that before bed reading slot:

5-until blurry eye 4-Later than I intended, but I still kept to my extended, extended reading time 3-I really should have been to bed an hour ago  2-customary 30 minutes. 1-book. side table. eyes closed.


How are common themes handled?

5-With an aesthetic that repurposes everyday themes into something fresh. Think of Hole Celebrity Skin covered by Cat Power  4-there is a comfortable air of familiarly.
3-Deja Vu 2. No deviation from its mates  1. Devastatingly trite, redundant, and stale.

Where would you keep it post-reading?

5-Next to my bed.  4-it's the center piece of my favorite bookshelf 3. On my other favorite bookshelf, but it's a bit dusty over their 2-Great cheap bookends 1-It never made it out of the box marked 'moving'.


Emotional response-

5- Where is my teddy bear? Emotional-hangover 4- If I wasn't so emotionally stunted I'd cry.
3. Did James Cameron co-wrote this? Artfully contrived. 
2- calculative emotional manipulation. This was literally written by James Cameron.1- I…feel…..nothing.

Mechanics (plot structure, voice, presentation, word choice, sentence structure, characters, writing style, pacing, and consistency):

5-Chanel 4-Prada 3-J-Crew 2-Gap 1-Old Navy

Currently reading

The Complete Stories
Flannery O'Connor
I am No One You Know
Joyce Carol Oates
Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls
Alissa Nutting, Alissa Nutting
Snow and Shadow - Dorothy Tse

Received a copy via DeBartlo & Co.



The PR wheel has spun this collection as an example of a writing style akin to Murakami. The problem with this is two fold. Firstly, his work perfectly straddles reality and dreamscape. Secondly, because of item one, there is a consistency to his work, which lends to ease of reading and a clear(er...ish) understanding of the content. In this collection not so much.

The author of Snow and Shadow presented us with human experiences, cultural references, and personal reflection through the lens of heavy abstract writing. One of the more constant themes was this dark, edgy, and achingly beautiful discussion of loss and transitions.

Abstraction and surrealism are tricky buggers. This is where my interest was steadily squeezed. Rather than drift between two anchors of a continuum, reality and abstraction—a place where my Dearest Bender thrives—, the author remained cemented in the deep waters of abstraction and surrealism. While reading my brain was hit with a barrage of melting clocks and weirdly distorted faces tied like hot air balloons to desert landscapes(get this reference. Win a star). It recalled my initial confusion over Mulholland Drive, except in this case I doubt a reread would provide a deeper understanding.

But the words are something yummy!

“The morning sun was so warm that its rays leapt down into people’s collars like lively fleas.”

“Some sounds are lost forever. He will never hear his wife tapping on the computer again”

“People squeezed breathlessly through cracks in the city, eager to find a Christmas tree in the shopping mall, though it was only August”

And this. Have you ever heard rain described like this...!!!!!!!! “People looked up and the tight-shut overcast sky opened its toothless mouth, splattering their faces with rain. He opened his umbrella and the raindrops pelted down on it like deafening bullets”

Story after story is fanned with delicious literary delights. These are surgically placed with ease suggestive of a mature writer. They offer the brightness of bergamot, and the tenacity of an underdog. Weaved throughout is an air of leathery stiff dread and fear. These lines divorce themselves from the overall convoluted writing style and return the reader back to a place of familiarity. I fear that the power of these moments is a reflection of a book drowned by a disorienting style. Rather than contrast and balance the writing, they simply relieve the reader and give him/her a lifeboat; it has a hole in the bottom, and your 8-ounce cup will do nothing to prevent your inevitable drowning.

I did enjoy a few of these stories.


Woman Fish- This is an exploration of rifts between two lovers. Your boyfriend/girlfriend may not transform into a fish—Though maybe he/she will. It happened on South Park—but change does happen, and sometimes the strain is just too much.

The Love Between Leaf and Knife was a startling illustration of a lengthy marriage, the loss of intimacy, and the two lovers endless rush to prove their love. As they continue attempts to outdo one another, you get the unsettling sense that the loss they are attempting to escape will never recede.

Head is an interesting look at family roles. ‘Tree’ (IE Son) looses his head and ‘Wood’ (IE Dad) offers his own. ‘Tree’ struggles with the internal conflict of his former self, and his new external appearance. We later discover ‘Wood’s’ role in the frankenstein-esque exercise in role reversal, and question if this is an examination of a father passing on his legacy to an apprehensive son. Getting old sucks.

Blessed Bodies was another look at loss, and an examination of how far someone will go to seek pleasure and companionship, and the lengths someone will go to provide those things. It is also an analysis in the consequences of this recursive exchange.

‘The Mute Door” and “The Traveling Family” really encapsulate the saying, “Don't you know you can't go home again?”

In "The Mute Door" we start our descent into abstract concepts. Familiarity is something we yearn for, but life is earmarked with transitions, some we willingly engaged, and others are approached with uncertainty. This is a fierce and commanding exploration into balancing the two, and may explore the loss of culture, and/or the loss of love; I am still trying to figure that out.

"The Traveling Family" was a lovely, heartbreaking portrayal of change. Son, Sis, Dad, Mom and Grandmother embark on a trip. One by one each departs and finds his/her own purpose, a path of refuge and comfort, leaving Son totally and absolutely confused. He must establish his own trajectory in life, and forgo the urge to remain stagnant among the familiar. Is this an exploration of Son’s perception that the members of his micro-environment no longer complement his future self? Or the pressure others exact onto him to leave and flourish on his own? This is all retrospective too, so we get the sense that he has already established a sense of self, but what constitutes that self is as elusive as a half completed canvas and we don’t really get a sense of where all these events lead ‘Son’.

So, in the end I can appreciate the brilliant combination of a simple and complex writing style during those moments I was able to liberate myself from this Murakami on speed writing style, but those moments were so scarce that I was left feeling empty and uninspired. Dorothy Tse is clearly a writer worthy of attention, and anyone with the patience to wade into her stories will surely find himself or herself rewarded.