Alice in Wonderland "in search of a soul" (to quote Carl Jung), kiboshed in our digital technological age. But not irretrievable.
This children's play...moreAlice in Wonderland "in search of a soul" (to quote Carl Jung), kiboshed in our digital technological age. But not irretrievable.
This children's play (though not really, it's for everyone that hasn't lost important childhood qualities), expertly written by Everett Robert, a master of dialogue, stagecraft and the use of word play) comes to us from the Heartland. It was originally performed by junior high school students at the Frontier Stage in Hill City, Kansas for an audience of mainly young children. As a special treat, this performance can be viewed in three parts on YouTube so after reading the play, which moves at a brisk pace, one has the opportunity of seeing the characters brought to life by a young group of junior high school, albeit accomplished, actors and witness the active participation and delightful reactions of the juvenile audience.
Alice has grown world-weary. She doesn't want to be called Alice anymore because it is old-fashioned. She is now named Allie. Her hair is no longer golden—it is a dullish brown. She is so utterly wrapped up in her iPod, her laptop and texting that her former world of spring-like imagination has vanished. As stated by the character Cat, explaining Alice's predicament to the audience: "Allie has forgotten HOW to dream." And that is a crucial loss for us all. She doesn't even remember her glorious adventure in Wonderland. As a consequence, the oddball, eccentric and magical characters she once dreamed up and gave existence to are wilting in an underground wasteland. Similar to the Fisher King scenario, there is a draught upon these depths, and a serious one. An immediate solution is imperative. These characters want to live, and only Alice can restore them to life.
How this is accomplished is the gist of this skillfully-written play by Everett Robert, whom I suspect shares many of the qualities of its original author, the great Lewis Carroll. Already established as an important Midwestern playwright, director and actor, his knowledge of theatre and even the love of it are evident in his creation.
Allie in Wonderland can be purchased from its publisher at Heartland Plays, Inc. in the "Children's Theatre and Youth" Play Category link.
It's not very long (three acts which flow quickly), this journey through fun and dilemma, absurdity and word play. And what a wonderful introduction it is to the videos waiting to be enjoyed. I came away from reading this play by making two resolutions: (1) to reread the original story; and (2) to make sure my imagination is given time to exercise itself each and every day of my life. Else I too might shrivel up and go looking for Alice to remedy. (less)
This is the most important book to be written about health care for our pets -- what we're doing wrong and right -- in our generation, perhaps in any...moreThis is the most important book to be written about health care for our pets -- what we're doing wrong and right -- in our generation, perhaps in any generation!
When famed author Ted Kerasote adopts a second dog five years after the passing of his beloved companion, Merle, he sets himself on the task of finding out how to increase the lifespan and benefit the health of his new dog, Pukka. What he finds is not the familiar mantra concerning the benefits of spaying and neutering, grain-filled dog and cat food, frequency of vaccinations, and many other matters that are traditional and desperately in need of taking a new look at.
Besides the author's relationship with Pukka (a joy to read about), one gets an insight into how dogs live in the rural area of Wyoming near Jackson Hole. These dogs are free rovers, albeit well trained, something that in our city lives most of us are not able to provide our dogs with.
Extensive research has gone into this book and the reader should be grateful for it. There is a visit to a California shelter on killing day that will break your heart. But if we don't know about what is going on, how can we effectively change it? However, I can tell you I grit my teeth throughout the whole chapter's reading and could only return to continue on reading the book after a time-out.
Ted Kerasote is a high skilled writer and to call him an outdoorsman is minimizing his adventures. His dog joins him in the most amazing feats -- a delight to read about. The description of their mountain climbing hike at the book's end is a passage of beauty.
If you love your pet, read this book. It will make a difference. (less)
Bob Tarte is the only writer I know of who is both a humorist and a narrator of animal stories – true ones that he and his wife, Linda, have lived out...moreBob Tarte is the only writer I know of who is both a humorist and a narrator of animal stories – true ones that he and his wife, Linda, have lived out firsthand under severe Michigan weather conditions and while having their own crosses to bear: Linda with a serious back problem and Bob who suffers emotionally at times. Yet they rise over and above difficult circumstances in this charming third newly-released book that followers of the Tarte's animal adventures will welcome with open arms.
This is the third book by Bob Tarte about his family's care of and love for natural life. Each book has its own nature and character. They are not copycat, albeit somewhat altered, editions of their predecessors. My favorite (even one of my very favorite books of all times) remains the premier one: Enslaved by Ducks, a true tour de force if there ever was one. The second book, Fowl Weather, depicts a more serious side of the Tarte family life (this definition of family includes all family pets) and is written with exemplary skill (and, of course, ever present humor).
Now comes along a different sort of book once again. For one thing, the Tartes are older; Bob seems to be off antidepressants, but is still emotionally shaky (those of us that suffer psychically can well understand this) and Linda's back condition, if it has not worsened, certainly hasn't gotten any better (one wonders why surgery is not on the agenda). And we get to meet the most darling rapscallions—an impossible and endearing set of cats—I can think of in literature, each with his or her own very distinct character, temperament and likes and dislikes. (To see their handsome photos, see BobTarte.com, click on the book's cover, and then again on the Photos Link.)
Kitty Cornered explains in graphic detail the saying of Mark Twain: "Cats were invented by God to let people know they are not in control." The rip-roaring events related in Kitty Cornered more than bear this out. (As an aside, the chapter about the animal psychic-author, Kathleen Schurman [Locket's Meadow: The Long Road Home], was quite interesting and made me, a former doubter, an instant believer!)
If you love animals (especially cats), this book is a "Don't Miss"; if you love humor, this book is a "Don't Miss"; if you don't love either, then better skip it! Non-fiction noir (with no pets in sight) may be an alternative.
As the owner of four cats, five dogs, one canary and one Senegal parrot, Kitty Cornered was a real treat for me and I look forward to Book Four, understanding that these stories have got to be lived before they can be written about, so I may be waiting for some time. (less)
This powerful story offers a unique vision inside the homes of multi-generational Hasidic families that live through the horrors of war and the diffic...moreThis powerful story offers a unique vision inside the homes of multi-generational Hasidic families that live through the horrors of war and the difficulties of peace in many countries.
It is written with great skill, taste, proportion, subtle poetic prose and deep knowledge of its subject as the author, Anouk Markovits, was raised in France in a Satmar house. She left her home at the age of 19 when a marriage was arranged for her. She holds three degrees, in three different subjects from three U.S. universities. But with this book she has come into her own as a major modern author.
The story follows the lives of two sisters; one adopted by a Rabbi in Transylvania when her parents are killed by the Nazis, and the other the Rabbi's natural daughter, Atara. It is ironic that the sister who decides to strictly adhere to the life of Hasidic faith is the adopted child. Atara is the one that flees.
The story is evocatively told and I read it at one reading (something I seldom do) because it was so fascinating and the excellency of the writing was so admirable.
I gained such an insight as well into a religion I knew very little about. At heart it is a story of the conflict between divine law (as it is perceived) and immediate love (as it is experienced).
This is Dr. Markovits's first book written in English. There is one that precedes it, Pur Coton, written in French. Hopefully, an English translation will be forthcoming.(less)
This biography is not up to par with the author's biographical work on Joyce, considered to be one of the best biographies ever written, and with whic...moreThis biography is not up to par with the author's biographical work on Joyce, considered to be one of the best biographies ever written, and with which I concur.
One of the reasons for this is that this book was written when Richard Ellman was much younger, and while he did have some funding in order to gather information worldwide, it was not near that which he received to write his work on James Joyce. Also, he had matured when the latter book was written; and had become more perceptive.
What is not to be found in this book are comprehensive accounts of Yeats's personal life. Even his own mother is dismissed in a sentence or two. The reader never gets to know her. His active love life is merely skirted around and even many of his friendships, especially those with Ezra Pound and James Joyce, are not even mentioned.
We do get a better look at his artist father, who seems to have raised Yeats rather severely (his mother died when he was young) and Yeats struggled for years to overcome feelings of incompetence, unworthiness and inferiority. All his life he fought his problem with timidity and lack of self-confidence.
We the readers do learn a lot about his artistic path that was always parallel to extensive seeking up to the end of his life for higher truth and reality, and the mastery thereof through the vehicles of Tibetan Buddhism (under Madame Blavatsky who eventually kicked him out of her organization), symbolism in the Golden Dawn (he was a lifelong member), occultism, psychic research and spiritualism (his wife was a medium), besides living a very active outer life as theatre manager, politician and involvement in nationalistic movements.
Yeats was always developing, altering and changing his personal philosophy. I found his writings about this subject in the book to become quite tedious. So did his wife who wouldn't read them because she said they were boring. She urged him instead to concentrate on his poetry. Still, even at the very end of his life when he knew he was dying because his health was fading so fast, he continued to reconstruct and reinvent his own philosoophy wherein he finally came to believe (but no doubt had he lived longer, this would have even been altered) that it is necessary for symbolic and outer reality to unite.
There are important insights in the book that make it well worth reading. But I would have liked to have learned much more about Yeats's personal life and relationships than I did. (less)
Many stereotypical impressions existed about Emily Dickinson during her lifetime (in her 30s the citizens of Amherst began calling her "The Myth"), an...moreMany stereotypical impressions existed about Emily Dickinson during her lifetime (in her 30s the citizens of Amherst began calling her "The Myth"), and many continue to exist to the present time. The truth is she was far too complicated to pinpoint any particular label on--and this 800+ page book, which entailed many years of research to write, is probably the best way to even approach getting to know her. You will not know her when you finish the book, but you will have a different and fuller understanding of her than when you began.
To wit, Emily Dickinson had a very rich family life. She did not need to travel far for companionship and love. She was a loyal correspondent and carried this on with many friends, lovers and relatives over the years. She would often include a poem or two in her letters to them. As the Dickinsons were the most prestigious family in Amherst, many visitors came to the home. There were numerous servants all about, animals, neighborhood children. It was an active home, and Emily loved it.
She was highly educated, she spoke many languages and she was well read. She especially admired the poetry of Elizabeth Browning and the fiction of George Eliot. She was well acquainted with the works of Shakespeare and the Bible. Emerson and Thoreau were even visitors to the Dickinson home.
Emily Dickinson fell in love several times, deeply and passionately. She did not hide it and she was very expressive of it. The early suitors of both Emily and her sister, Vinnie (the exact opposite of Emily, a practical extravert), appear to have been discouraged by her father. It did not seem he was at all anxious to see his daughters married.
There is a mother who floats through the narrative, but one never gets to know her. It does not seem that anyone in the Dickinson family (possibly with the exception of her husband) knew her either. She was not cold or mean or abusive. She was just timid and vacant. Likely she never even got to know herself.
Emily was closest to her brother, Austin, who lived next door with his wife and family (though there was a breach and the families did not even visit for years). His wife, Sue, was a very strange woman and one cannot help but feel that for Austin the marriage was a mistake and a lifelong burden to him. In his early 40s he met the wife of a professor, Mabel Todd Bingham, and the two became lovers with the consent of her husband. One doesn't know what Sue's attitude was towards the affair, or how she tolerated it. But Mabel Todd Bingham was responsible for the adept translation of Emily Dickinson's poetry that her sister, Vinnie, brought to her after her death.
So you see, though Emily never left her father's house beginning in her middle years, her life was still very active. After the failure of a deep love, she did find another that was returned in full force and affection.
She was rarely published, and the poems that were published were altered by male editors and given titles Emily never applied to them. Basing their judgments on the Victorian standard of meter, rhyme and content, her poems were not valued except by Helen Hunt Jackson who recognized her genius. But she was to die before she was successful in persuading Emily to submit them to the right publishers.
Why did she wear white in later years? That question is still unanswered. She did associate the color with the holy, e.g., the white raiment of John the Baptist, but she was not conventionally religious. Unlike the townspeople and family, she never joined a church. She said she lived for love and poetry. And that is what she did.
I don't know of a better way to get to know her, yet not to know her, than this book. (less)
It is so wonderful to see that women are getting their feet wet in writing. How badly we need the feminine in lite...moreA Tender and Tragic Story Well Told.
It is so wonderful to see that women are getting their feet wet in writing. How badly we need the feminine in literature.
And that's what we get here. The author, Katherine Applegate, is not afraid to be innovative. One brilliant page in the book simply outlines a list, each item (outdoors phenomena) consisting of one word. The last three items on the list, after a couple of line breaks, are comments, repetitive and of one word, of our gorilla hero, Ivan, on the above entries. So good to see an author taking chances, and successfully.
The story can't lose any way it's told. Based on a true life horror event (unfortunately illustrating just how we humans have divorced ourselves from our animal friends, their needs and sensibilities, only to find them "entertaining" at great cost to their natural selves), the fictionalized tale introduces some very appealing characters: a scruffy, very independent stray dog, an old elephant and a young one (the reader will fall in love with both), a hard working janitor and his sweet, artistic daughter, a friend to Ivan the gorilla, and the not so likeable Mack, owner of the circus-themed mall (how on earth was that ever allowed?), in real life located in Washington state.
One would hope that this story will be read by as many children as possible to instill early on compassion towards animals. The earlier we get to them, the better. And this story cannot fail in doing that. One can say there is a happy ending. But not before some tears are shed for those that do not survive due to ill care. Keep your hanky nearby when reading this book.
It is difficult to judge the work as a whole, particularly with illustrations, as with the advanced copy of the book supplied to Vine Voice reviewers, there is a notice that the "interior art [is] not final." So we don't know what it will look like in its final run.
The only bone I would have to pick with this very tender story is that the author could immerse herself in the characters she creates more fully and intensely, without sacrificing her intuitive and instinctive graceful tone. I expect this will happen naturally as she continues to write. (less)
Poet Norman Rosten and his wife, Hedda, befriended Marilyn Monroe (or was it the other way around?) the last seven years of her life. In fact, as time...more Poet Norman Rosten and his wife, Hedda, befriended Marilyn Monroe (or was it the other way around?) the last seven years of her life. In fact, as time went on she considered them to be her "best friends." And it seems like they were. She met them when, after her divorce from Joe DiMaggio, she moved to New York to study the Stanislavski method of acting with the famed acting teacher Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio. And it was then also that she renewed what had been a brief acquaintance in Hollywood with her future husband, playwright Arthur Miller.
Many biographies and memoirs have now been written about one of the most photogenic of Filmdom's actresses, but this one is special because it was not written by a show business personality, one of Ms. Monroe's ex-lovers or husbands or professional ghost writers for the stars. Norman Rosten and his wife were neighbors of mine in Brooklyn Heights where they met Marilyn (spending a whole day and evening with her not realizing she was the Marilyn Monroe. Sans makeup, wearing a full raincoat, she looked like any other harried New Yorker. And when they were introduced, she mumbled her name, pronouncing her first name only). Norman Rosten was a highly respected poet, and I would find his account of their friendship trustworthy.
One caveat, however, is that nowhere in the book is it mentioned that the author and Arthur Miller knew each other prior to the two couples getting together to socialize. They were fellow students at Michigan State when they were younger, a fact which may have influenced Rosten to go soft on or not even mention that which he would otherwise have contributed.
A series of vignettes told in the main in chronological order, this memoir is not long, a brief 125 pages, and I read it in one sitting, rare for me as I am not a fast reader. But it does hold one's attention, like glue to wood, throughout the whole reading. It never gets dull.
It is certainly a disturbing book. I had trouble sleeping after reading it, and when I finally fell asleep I had bad dreams, waking up not refreshed at all. Especially the last part of her life, reading about her swift decline, was not easy emotionally to take in.
A comprehensively rounded depiction of Ms. Monroe is given in this book: her intelligence is far underrated, she was not just a sweet, lost child (though certainly that was part of her), but she had definite opinions, was good at "putting her foot down," and she had a temper, just like everyone else. She was very close to her pets (in New York consisting of a cat, a dog and a parakeet); one wonders what happened to them after her divorce from Arthur Miller as her new home back in LA seemed to be pet-less. I found her giving her dog a tablespoon of straight scotch, with the author's assistance, because the dog seemed unhappy and she wanted to cheer him up, quite disturbing. Since they were at a party she gave, the cause of this poor judgment in the crossing of a taboo might be attributed, in both their cases, to alcohol which was pouring freely.
Following her divorce from Arthur Miller after five years of marriage in 1961, Marilyn Monroe catapulted more and more downhill. And I really have a bone to pick with her last LA analyst. He could have saved her life by having her committed for a time in a mental sanitarium (as Arthur Miller previously had done—she had attempted suicide many times before), but he didn't. Now the author was acquainted with her analyst, who explained that his treatment plan for Ms. Monroe was very unorthodox. He did not just see her at his office for sessions; he invited her to become a part of his family, thinking that she needed the emotional food she had missed in her extremely underprivileged childhood growing up in foster homes. She was a frequent guest at his home, dropping in whenever she pleased, and I have to wonder about this: Surely she was paying the usual hefty fee for their private sessions. But what about the time she spent on those family visits? Was she being charged also for them as therapy time?
Shortly before her death, the author and Ms. Monroe dropped by her analyst's home because she wanted to show him a bronze copy of a Rodin she had just purchased. She was heavily drugged, and kept repeating over and over again: "Do you like it? Do you really like it?" in strident tones. The author states: "The truth was—it struck me with a sudden force—she was falling apart."
That was when it was time to take action. And nobody did. She called the author, who had returned to NYC, a day before her death, saying she was coming briefly to New York. Ms. Monroe: "We'll have a great time, we have to start living, right?" The author believes undoubtedly she committed suicide, as he and his wife had witnessed her attempts before.
The book is a bit choppy and doesn't seem to have a steady flow. Also, the author skirts over revealing details of intimacies Ms. Monroe had, even denying her friendship with the Kennedys was anything more (again, this may be due to his longtime friendship with Arthur Miller and his desire to be tactful). Much of Norman Rosten's poetry is contained in the book, as well as that of Ms. Monroe. He states she was an amateur poet, as she had no knowledge of the craft. He was well-known in New York and a professional. Funny though, I like her poetry much better. It has more spontaneity and originality. Had she concentrated on that alone, she could have made a career of it.
I left my home of green rough wood, A blue velvet couch. I dream till now A shiny dark bush Just left of the door.
Down the walk Clickity clack As my doll in her carriage Went over the cracks— We'll go far away.
Don't cry my doll Don't cry I hold you and rock you to sleep Hush hush I'm pretending now I'm not your mother who died.
Help Help Help I feel life coming closer When all I want is to die.
This is a story of four women in Bombay who, when college age, were very closely bonded and champions of the underdog--in India, they were aplenty. Th...moreThis is a story of four women in Bombay who, when college age, were very closely bonded and champions of the underdog--in India, they were aplenty. Thirty years have passed when the story opens. And perhaps this is what this novel is about--the fluctuations, compromises, moral ambiguities, accrued wisdom and lack thereof that are the test of fire on the road through life. Nothing turns out as exactly expected. And sometimes, as in the case of spirited Nishta, the road gets nasty and beats one down. Some rise and some never do. (cf. "The woman I needed to call my mother was silenced before I was born." ~Adrienne Rich.)
Armaiti, the one that disappointed the other young women by choosing to go to the United States to further her education (the capitalistic, materialistic society in the eyes of those willingly left behind), married an American and stayed there, has learned, though only in her '50s, that she has an inoperable brain tumor with no hope of recovery. Although she has lost contact over the years with Nishta, Laleh and Kavita who still live in Bombay, she has an ardent desire to rebond with them and invites them for a visit. Kavita (always secretly in love with her) and Laleh, who is married to a man who adores her despite her feisty temperament (albeit she is generous and goodhearted), are accepting of the invitation. Nishta is a mystery. Where is she? And how is she? Those questions lead them to a sorry situation in which they find her living in a Bombay slum and burdensomely married to her college sweetheart. This marriage and the concomitant situation involved has pulled her down and left her bedraggled and dispirited. She is a shell of her former self.
The character of Nishta's husband, Iqbal, a bitter and disillusioned Muslim, of the males is delved into the most deeply by the author. The other husbands and the German lover of Kavita less so. Iqbal is pathetic, like a fly trapped in ointment. He cannot find a path to any future at all. Obsessive and compulsive, he causes sorrow to his wife and sister in the name, sincerely believed, of their beneficent welfare when, in fact, he is frighteningly controlling, bordering it appears to this reader on mental illness. The last chapter of the book with Iqbal at its center is a true cliffhanger.
What impresses me the most about Thrity Umrigar's writing is her innate gift for the simile. Her similes are striking, original and beautiful throughout the book. And there is one passage of mystical poetic prose that is of classic proportions. She is a very accomplished craftsman.
The characters are not introspective; it is difficult to glean what their outside interests may be; they don't seem to be particularly intellectually inquisitive. The main focus of each of them is Relationship, and I write that with a capital 'R' to stress how important it is to them all.
Doesn't this book require a sequel because of its special ending? It would seem so, but perhaps the author will leave it up to the reader to fill in the future blanks.(less)