This middle-grade book has gotten much attention, and rightfully so. Chan has a fluid, wise, poetic prose style and a large heart that leaves everythi...moreThis middle-grade book has gotten much attention, and rightfully so. Chan has a fluid, wise, poetic prose style and a large heart that leaves everything on the page. As someone who is biracial, I wish I had had this book growing up. The narrator, Jewel, is of Jamaican and Mexican descent, and Chan manages to weave in culture, geology, astronomy, and the supernatural all in one touching tale of loss and healing. In a world where children are becoming slaves to the screen, I wish for them Chan's world of cliffs and trees, and grasses and lakes. And while this is for younger children, teens and adults are reading it and getting much from her artfully woven story.
Every reader of any age can relate in some way to Jewel's search for acceptance and joy. "Joy is like a child ... you feed it or it dies." We all need to be reminded by children like Jewel how to be joyful and how to treat each other. But this book for every MG reader you know. It's an important, winning debut.(less)
I picked up this book with the idea of skimming through it, but I was quickly drawn in and couldn't put it down. While this should be required reading...moreI picked up this book with the idea of skimming through it, but I was quickly drawn in and couldn't put it down. While this should be required reading for everyone on the planet, the reality is only those who are interested in the natural world or in global warming will pick it up. But I encourage anyone who is concerned about the topic to read this. It will make you experience global warming in a way you may not have before, consider issues deeply, and help you navigate through the learned helplessness we all (who believe in it) feel in the face of the changing climate.
Not scientific but personal, Holmes has done a beautiful job of arranging the essays into a meaningful order. My favorite essay appeared in the venerable Terrain.org, "To Wit,to Woo," by Kathryn Miles, who explores climate change through the effects on the owls in her region. And this paragraph stayed with me, from Willow Fagan's "Beyond Denial":
"As a queer person, I have some experience with denial. I would like to be able to tell you that emerging from denial is like moving from blindness to light, prison to flight, as a butterfly escapes her cocoon. But the truth is more messy...I catch glimpses of destruction that our collective actions have caused or might cause, of what global warming means or might mean, and then I retreat back into distraction, into disconnection, into false promises of safety. Do butterflies ever return to the broken shapes of their former shells, in need of shelter from snow or storm? Do they long to?"(less)
4 stars for Rip Van Winkle and the Spectre Bridegroom, 5 for the longer Legend of Sleepy Hollow. This is the perfect time of year to read this story....more4 stars for Rip Van Winkle and the Spectre Bridegroom, 5 for the longer Legend of Sleepy Hollow. This is the perfect time of year to read this story. I hadn't read it since high school so had a very different outlook on it now--more than the story, Irving's command of the English language is breathtaking. I had no memory of how good his descriptions were of nature--lush language that paints a perfect picture of Sleepy Hollow, an area my parents lived in for a time. So I know how well he captures the dells, the rivers, the orchards, the wildlife. I can see Twain and Sherwood Anderson learning from these pages. A classic must for any writer, and a fun read for Halloween.(less)
I'm grateful to finally have found the time to read the complete story collection by Anderson. I had read the shorter pieces and done some research on...moreI'm grateful to finally have found the time to read the complete story collection by Anderson. I had read the shorter pieces and done some research on him while writing the intro to the Flash Field Guide, so I knew a bit of his history: that he was a follower of the impressionist movement, that he hated the plot stories of his contemporaries, and he felt that "life is but a history of moments." He also sought to capture real speech and the essence of what makes us human.
Clearly, the main character, the town's young journalist, who hears the tales of many of the town's unhappy folks, is a stand in for Anderson himself, as is at least one other character who leaves home and is most happy with voices of the imaginary friends he creates. The book was originally titled The Grotesques, and that is what you get here. A book of "grotesque" people, all struggling for love and meaning and connection. No one quite gets it. While the overload of unhappiness can at times really weigh on you, without giving away the ending, one character makes it...thank God!
The writing is uneven, but given this was pretty much written in order and in one draft, it's remarkable. And some of the stories are classics. "Paper Pills" is poetic perfection.
If anyone is interested in the short story form and its development, you just have to read this book.(less)
Borders' talent lies in her great empathy for all walks of life, from human to animal to amphibian. This is a wonderful book full of love and life and...moreBorders' talent lies in her great empathy for all walks of life, from human to animal to amphibian. This is a wonderful book full of love and life and tragedy. You'll laugh and cry and feel life is what it should be when reading Borders' careful, tender prose.(less)
Simply put, I was blown away by the mastery of Claffey's writing. While I have read and admired some of his flash online and we have worked together o...moreSimply put, I was blown away by the mastery of Claffey's writing. While I have read and admired some of his flash online and we have worked together on a collaborative flash piece, after reading through his vast storehouse of memory and imagination, I realize I still have much to learn about prose. At one point he writes: "I let go of the sound--the kept vowels and consonants of grief." In another story, the Christian ladies in his church begin to move their mouths "in beautiful lipsticked ovals, rose and cherry and pale pink, the words like released butterflies, floating up to the stained-glass ceiling."
What Claffey does best is to find those vowels and consonants and mix them together in vivid and unexpected ways to highlight our grief, fear, and small triumphs; and like the itinerant storytellers of Old Ireland, he releases his words into the world, asking little, giving much.