Tag Archives: literature

The Cats Pajamas

cats pajamas

“We carry our ancestors in our names and sometimes we carry our ancestors through the sliding doors of emergency rooms and either way they are heavy, man, either way we can’t escape.”

“Her father is fastened to his room, with his records and his drugs and his quiet. She crawls under her covers. It is her fault for triggering one of his spells. Normally she can tightrope through his moods. At least it had been brief. Most girls do not have to deal with a father like hers. They would be afraid of the way she lives, lawless in a roachy apartment. They would be scared of his fits. Madeleine would be scared too, she thinks, falling asleep. If she had only experienced finished basements and dads who acted like dads. But Madeleine loves her father, and how can you be scared of someone you love?”

Marie-Helene Bertino, 2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas 

There is no picture on the cover of this book so I drew my own damn picture.
There is no picture on the cover of this book so I drew my own damned picture.

I don’t know why I included the word “damned”  in that caption.  Maybe because convalescing is dull and I think profanity will jazz up the experience.

Anyway, speaking of profanity and jazz, here’s the blurb about this book from Amazon:

Madeleine Altimari is a smart-mouthed, precocious nine-year-old and an aspiring jazz singer. As she mourns the recent death of her mother, she doesn’t realize that on Christmas Eve Eve she is about to have the most extraordinary day—and night—of her life. After bravely facing down mean-spirited classmates and rejection at school, Madeleine doggedly searches for Philadelphia’s legendary jazz club The Cat’s Pajamas, where she’s determined to make her on-stage debut. On the same day, her fifth grade teacher Sarina Greene, who’s just moved back to Philly after a divorce, is nervously looking forward to a dinner party that will reunite her with an old high school crush, afraid to hope that sparks might fly again. And across town at The Cat’s Pajamas, club owner Lorca discovers that his beloved haunt may have to close forever, unless someone can find a way to quickly raise the $30,000 that would save it.

I was a bit in love with Madeleine from the first page.  And crazy about her by the last one.  Sometimes the quirky prose in this novel reads like poetry.  It’s a good story, written from several different perspectives, over a time span of just 19 hours.  You’d be surprised at how much can happen to so many people in such a short time.

It’s a book made to be read in one sitting I think, and I might have done that if I hadn’t been so doped up on pain pills and falling asleep so much.  Today I haven’t taken anything, so I guess I can’t blame my sketch on mind altering drugs. This is how my brain sees a bar in the middle of the night.  What can I say.

I hope Marie-Helene Bertino writes another book soon.  I’ll illustrate it for her if she asks.  Huh.  Maybe the drugs aren’t completely out of my system.  But I’m very clear-headed when I say it’s the mark of a great author when she leaves you wanting more.

Rainy Day Read

the husand's secret

What?  Husbands aren’t supposed to have secrets, are they?  I read the book in the middle, according to my Kindle, but I quite like the cover with the butterfly in a jar.  I also love balloons, especially red ones.  So given the choice,  the middle cover is the one I would be least likely to purchase.  In case you were all wondering about that, now you can sleep tonight.

I’ve read “What Alice Forgot” by Liane Moriarty, and have “Big Little Lies” downloaded and ready to go, and now I’m looking at “The Hypnotist’s Love Story”, thinking that one could be next.  So it’s obvious I like this author and her stories a lot.  Sometimes my Goodreads star rankings are based on how quickly I finished a book, two days or less making four and five stars much more likely than if I had to slog through something or couldn’t force myself to care how it might end.

Well, so far, this is a rather stupid book review, but trust me, there are stupider ones out there.  I gave this book four stars.  It is a good readable story, well written, with interesting characters and plot, and a fantastic epilogue.  Every book should have an epilogue exactly like this one for us readers who don’t like endings which leave us wondering why all the questions haven’t been answered in a satisfactory manner.  Especially when the answers we come up with on our own are seriously lame.

Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive. . . .(from Goodreads)

I was a little surprised at some of the negative reviews I read, which contained words like predictable, shallow and dull.   A one-star person said she didn’t have the patients to read more than 25 pages.  She also misspelled bullshit.  So let’s not take that one too seriously.  There are many five-star reviews too and I’m more inclined to agree with those.

I read this book in less than a day and a half.  I liked it.  And I know how to spell big words like bullshit and patience.  I hope that’s a good enough recommendation for you to give this author a go.

Just Jazzy 177

“I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Just hear those sleigh bells jing-a-ling-ring-ting-a-ding-a-ling-ding, ring-a-ling-a-ling-a-ding-dong-ding.  Have another drink.  It might help.
Just hear those sleigh bells jing-a-ling-ring-ting-a-ding-a-ling-ding, ring-a-ling-a-ling-a-ding-dong-ding. Have another drink. It might help.

Just Jazzy Advent Calendar

Lost Soul

Stonehenge Summer Solstice 2010 - Druid Ceremony
Stonehenge Summer Solstice 2010 – Druid Ceremony (Photo credit: vintagedept)

It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die.

Before the sun sets, one of us must depart this earth. Thus fate decrees. What was done cannot now be undone. Do not weep for one lost soul. Celebrate tomorrow, and joyous rebirth.

*************************

Trifextra Challenge:

In The Scorpio Races,

author Maggie Stiefvater writes,

 “It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will
die.”  Give us the next thirty-three words of this story, as you imagine it.
Take it wherever you like, but make it original and make it 33 words
exactly.

trifecta button

Amphigory Diggery Dock

The Old English epic poem Beowulf is written i...
The Old English epic poem Beowulf is written in alliterative verse and paragraphs, not in lines or stanzas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Prompts for the Promptless Season Three, Episode Three:  An amphigory is a piece of nonsensical writing in verse or, less commonly, prose.  It often parodies a serious piece of writing.

How To Write a Poem In Ten Easy Steps

1.  Get inspired by something.  It doesn’t have to be anything amazing.  In fact it can be as inconsequential as a dust bunny under your bed or a flat tire.  Good poetry comes out of nowhere.

2.  Read poetry by other people, listen to song lyrics and attend poetry readings.  Inwardly scoff.  Then steal lines or phrases or words from several different sources and arrange them randomly on a page. No matter what your topic, this will form an excellent base for your own poem.

3.  Think about what message you want to convey to your readers.  Absolutely do not make it easy for them to figure this out.  Great poetry is always totally confusing.

4.  Choose a style – limerick, sonnet, ballad, villanelle, sestina, haiku – there are hundreds to choose from.  Or you can make up a style of your own.  Be sure to give it some fancy sounding name.  It might catch on, you never know.  If all else fails, free verse is pretty easy and has the fewest annoying rules.

5.  Look up some big interesting sounding words, especially ones with obscure meanings which are difficult to pronounce.  The thesaurus is a poets best friend.

6.  Build a strong structure with your words, sort of like building a tower of blocks in all different sizes and shapes.  There should be rhythm and flow.  Or a big pile of rubble. It is totally your choice.

7.  Use imagery and vivid description which appeals to the senses. Enhance the crap out of everything.  A fire doesn’t just burn, it blazes with monster flames and crackles and spits and shoots sparks into the stratosphere.  Everything in poetry should always be super emotional and intense.

8.  Try to make a few things rhyme here and there, just to show you put a bit of effort into the whole thing.  Pick easy words for this like boy, toy, and Illinois.

9.  Have a punch line.  Poetically speaking, this is better known as a powerful ending.  Go out in a blaze of glory.  But never attempt to explain what your poem actually means.    Refer to step three.  Give your reader something to scratch his head over once he’s plowed his way through to the end.

10.  Share your work.  Read it out loud with a ton of emotion.  Set it to music.  Join an on-line poetry group and ask for suggestions. If others are critical, inwardly scoff.  Refuse to edit, and never apologize.

Each of us has a way of putting language together that is ours alone. So seriously, how hard can this be?  Go ahead and write your poetic little heart out. I hope you find these ten steps helpful.  If not, as a last resort before tossing out your work, try giving it to your mom.  Critics be damned, she will love it unconditionally, simply because it’s yours.

My Monday

It’s best to get minor traumatic ordeals over with first thing in the morning, which is why I booked a hair appointment at 9:00 a.m. on my Monday off.  I know that’s an ‘orphan-which’ clause, but I dearly love my orphan-which clauses and don’t feel like correcting it.  One day I might be a famous author noted for just such a repeated grammatical faux pas.  In fact, maybe I’ll call my first best seller The Orphan Which.  Watch for that, and remember, you saw it here first.

Today my hair stylist pronounced herself ‘so super excited to fix this up!’ which (sorry, I’ve done it again) set off a couple of alarm bells in my head.  But there’s really no backing out once you’re sitting in that pumped up chair under the giant black cape of doom.

To soothe my frazzled nerves and quiet what’s left of my hair standing on end,  I have spent the better part of the rest of this day finishing the second book I picked up off a bargain table.  Every so often I like to read a real book, as opposed to an e-book, and these two looked like easy reading romantic novels with a bit of mystery thrown in. I was not expecting to learn all kinds of things about assisted suicide.  In not just one of the books, but in both of them.  Really, what are the odds?

me before you

Louisa Clark has been let go from the Buttered Bun Tea Shop and with very few marketable skills is desperate for a job.  Will Traynor has spent the last two years of his life as a paraplegic following a motorcycle accident, is depressed and in pain, and has lost his will to live.  His mother hires Louisa as Wills secondary caregiver, hoping to somehow add something to his life which will change his mind about his decision to end it.  Louisa isn’t initially aware of his plans, but once she finds out, she goes a little crazy doing everything she can think of to make him happy and show him that his life is still worth living.  It’s funny and heartbreaking all at once.  Any story that makes me laugh and cry is probably one of the good ones.  The outcome is never a given.  You might be surprised.

kiss me firstAnd now meet Leila, a solitary and sheltered young woman who has recently lost her mother.  She joins a chat forum and impresses the sites founder with her ethical debate, and is asked by him to become part of what he calls “Project Tess”.  Tess, a beautiful and popular woman with bipolar disorder, has decided to commit suicide but wants to pass her identity on to Leila so that it will appear to her family and friends that she has simply moved out of the country.  They e-mail, chat and Skype in preparation for Tess’s check-out day.  Leila is very opinionated, but doesn’t have a lot of people skills and constantly misinterprets events and situations after she takes over this new identity, and you begin to think that this cannot possibly end well.  And that’s why you keep reading, because you have to find out.

I love to be pleasantly surprised by books that have a lot more depth than their titles or covers seem to indicate.  I am also pleasantly surprised by this hair cut, now that I’ve had a few hours to adjust my head to its present state of lightness and air.

So, all things considered, it’s been a not too shabby day.

ADHD Book Reviews

This has been a summer jam-packed with books for me. Sometimes it feels like the reading of them is more important than the content.  It’s like that feeling you get when you’re really hungry and you don’t care what strange thing you eat as long as it fills you up.

This is not neccesarily a recommended reading list, it’s more a hodgepodge sample of what has been filling up my little head, because reading even a mediocre book beats sitting around staring off into space.  I think.  (*stares off into space and thinks about that*)

oceanA man revisits his childhood, drawn to a small farmhouse and the pond behind it where his seven-year old self encounters dangerous, strange and frightening things.  His beloved kitten gets run over, his family’s boarder commits suicide, and he and his eleven-year old friend Lettie try to send some creepy evil thing, accidentally awakened from another realm, back to its own world.  This is one for fans of grown up fairy tales who like to remember the terror and magic involved in simply being a kid.

illumination nightVonny and Andre are worried about their abnormally short four-year old son Simon, but go on to worry about a variety of other things after their elderly neighbor Elizabeth, suffering from deafness and dementia, jumps out of her second story window and has to have her 16-year-old (kind of trampy, Andre-seducing) granddaughter come to live with her while she convalesces.  Spoiler alert – Simon gets taller.

emailsCoco is a struggling author who has a cheating husband, a gay son named Rosencrantz, two best friends who receive the bulk of her crazy e-mails, a hideous mother-in-law, a snobby agent, and a seemingly endless run of bad luck.  It’s not easy getting back into the dating scene at the age of 42, never mind trying to steer your chaotic life in a new direction and get yourself back on track.  But like Rosencrantz – (“Fucking hell Mum, like, way to go”) – I was laughing out loud and rooting for her all the way.

eleanor and parkI guess I did not read nearly enough angst ridden young adult novels as a young adult so I’m making up for it now.  This is a book written for teens by someone who remembers very well what it’s like to be one.

cuckoo's calling

A down-on-his-luck disabled veteran detective investigates a super-model suicide and solves the mystery of her death.  I read this only because it’s actually J.K. Rowling writing under a pseudonym, and not because I like to read crime fiction or mysteries. More seasoned whodunit lovers will probably have this one figured out before the end, but I never expect these things to turn out the way they do.

bluebeard

What secret is locked inside Rabo Karabekians potato barn?  What better way to delve into the many layers of brilliance in the works of Kurt Vonnegut than to re-read some of my old and long forgotten favourites?

There are more books I could mention and give bad reviews, but why say things that aren’t nice?  Or did I do that already?  It’s hard for me to stay focussed on this because I’m part way through something new and hungry for the next chapter. In fact, I have two books on the go at the moment.  I am a book glutton.  Maybe I need help. Maybe there’s a book on that.

Logomania Hypothesized and Elucidated

James Joyce
James Joyce (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Logomania is defined as an obsessive interest in words or, alternatively, excessive and often incoherent talking.

I’ve been away on a holiday and missed last week’s Prompt for the Promptless,.  This one is very late but I could not pass it up because it immediately reminded me of “Finnegans Wake” by James Joyce.  Logomania in book form!  By the ultimate logomaniac!

Here’s just one lovely little example.

“And there she was right enough, that lovely sight enough, the girleen bawn asthore, as for days galore, of planxty Gregory.”

An average of four words per sentence that you have to look up sounds about right.  And even then you could be completely in the dark as to what it all might possibly mean.  Maybe it doesn’t mean a thing, and it’s just soothing to listen to a crazy Irishman with amazing furor loquendi spewing beautiful blarney,