Archives for category: Book Reviews

9780804136631
ISBN 978-0-8041-3663-1

Thanks to Blogging for Books, I just finished, A Spy Among Friends – Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal.

Certainly a good read, one which incredulity spikes about every other page. Kim Philby was known as one of the greatest spies in the 20th Century. Ben Macintyre has written a suspenseful novel, and he has based tremendous psychological insight into personal papers and never-before-seen intelligence files.

I normally am not a reader of spies or World War II. Anyone who wants an intricate view of the range of events and plans and depth of intrigue occurring during World War II will not be disappointed.

It is a prodigious book, clear to follow, except for this reader who at times was boggled by the duplicity of so many spies, and who trusted whom. Basically, Kim Philby was a product of good schooling, elite circles, exclusive clubs. Sprinkle long night of drink and carousing and the cavorting wiles of spies, albeit, against or for, whatever country, and the book becomes a page turner.

Kim Philby was unknown to anyone close to him and duplicitous to all. Many were fooled by his being a double spy for England and the USSSR.

This reader lived in Russia, really Ukraine and Belarus for a 3 year period with some trips back to the states. We were there really with the concept of peace and promotion of a different concept of the oneness of humanity. We were ordinary citizens meeting the rank and file in the society, a society encased in shame. The people were grief stricken that they had been so deluded. Communist changed into business suits, the mafia kept on keeping on, and yet the society opened up.

The intricacies of the spy trade command a horrific attention. So much intrigue; so much mathematical callousness as far as ordinary people were concerned. Philby caused 100s to die, but he remained very British, very club oriented, very alcoholic. None of his wives really knew him. They thought they did. His children adored him. How would they know? He does come across in this view as a father who cared, but what a price he pays.

I ended my horrified reading wondering was it total power, just being ahead of the game, any game, and why not two competing powerful nations. How could he be so deluded by Communism, and Stalin? The egos and delusions of spy networks and the crumbling times we all live in.

At any rate, it was a compelling read, but shocking. My questions remain. Was Philby a sociopath? What compelled him? Such blind allegiance. What really motivated him?

As an aside, I’ve been watching Manhattan on PBS and the same power hungry intrigues are revealed as the story of the atom bomb unfolds. Obsession, ego and power – oh dear.

Once again, thanks Blogging for Books! great way to spread the word about good reads!

A Life Apart – L. Y. Marlow 9780307719393

A Life Apart

L. Y. Mar

This is a historical novel dealing with race, World War II, specifically Pearl Harbor, relationships of the black and white kind, and a love story. The title A Life Apart implies to the reader more than one meaning. The author is indeed a , and as she takes us deeper and deeper into the novel, complexities of other families, life of African-Americans, how they differ, and a coming to love. It’s gentle, and it’s a story about love, about skin color privilege and hatred, and human beings caught on the corners or jagged edges of history’s transitions. I’m from Boston, and went to secretarial school in Roxbury. I was born a little before World War II, and grew up in the suburbs of Boston. I was oblivious to racial prejudice until I came to California in 1992, discovered the Baha’i Faith and the concept of the oneness of humankind.This book is important. There are no strident notes or harsh retaliations to the way whites treated our fellow African-Americans (grievously, beyond measure), and the author writes about these times, which are exceedingly important. If we are to know and love each other, and realize skin color is an illusion, we have to know of our insides, our hurts, our triumphs, frailties and joys. A Life Apart is a compelling story, and it works on many levels. I definitely recommend it. I read this book because I signed up for Blogging for Books, a worthy adventure in itself. Otherwise I might have missed A Life Apart. My life is enriched because of reading this. I think readers will hear more from L. Y. Marlow. She is also author of Color Me Butterfly, which I intend to track down as soon as I finish this review. Kudos to this writer! Thanks again Blogging for Books!

China DollsChina Dolls by Lisa See
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am a fan of Lisa See, and I read a lot about China, particularly in narrative form. She is a story teller and keeps the reader close to the page, hesitant to put her books down. I revered her Mom also, Carolyn See – what a family of writers.

I loved the detail, the history of the time, the breaking away from tradition and the courage of the three women. Highly recommend this book!

<a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17324149-my-mother-s-voice&#8221; style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”My Mother’s Voice” border=”0″ src=”https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1359982576m/17324149.jpg&#8221; /></a><a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17324149-my-mother-s-voice”>My Mother’s Voice</a> by <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/614105.Kay_Mouradian”>Kay Mouradian</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/886920404″>5 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
<br>I met Kay Mouradian at a very crowded Author’s Day in Pasadena.  Their first such event.  We all had assigned spots at tables and then were free to wander to meet fellow writers.<br><br>My Mother’s Voice is a profound book and a must read.  Of course, it was a gripper, but perhaps that word shows a paucity of feeling;so many people go through such terrors, abuse, genocide, and in the western World, some of us can become numb to these conditions or simply are unable to read about any kind of suffering.<br><br>Nobility and anonymity are huge themes in my life, and I read about these people, always giving me a higher and higher standard to attain.  Then, become mine.  We have a history laden with heroes and heroines amidst the chaos of a world destined to come of age.<br><br>This is one such book.  My Mother’s Voice.  I haven’t checked amazon, Alibris for it, but its ISBN 978-1-4525-6169-1, Balboa Press, a Division of Hay house. This has received Honorable mention as a documentary and considered Best Documentary at a film festival in Toronto.<br><br>
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<a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/2785181-esther-bradley-detally”>View all my reviews</a>

in-the-shadow-of-angkor-new-writing-from-cambodia-and-cambodian-america

Did you know there’s a type of bug or spider that runs along in the Iraqi desert along side the figure running, and this spider is vicious and has teeth and will give a deadly bite, but it hides in the shadows. I read a biography of a doctor’s time in Iraq, a time where her husband, a Marine also, stayed home with the twins (toddlers) and her mom and dad came in to do heavy duty grandparent duty. I can’t remember the title of the book, and given the multiplicity of books now emerging, can’t remember. Today, as never before, a plethora of memoir on the war; did I say war, I meant “wars” emerges, and I think all valid. It is time to give voice to a day, a moment, an hour, and those who do will cause me to think and feel, and say, “I’ll not forget.”

The pages are still blank as far as our future history goes. Did we go down that random vortex of unimaginable horror, like living In the Shadow of Angkor, written and edited by a friend Sharon May, and also Frank Stewart, and is a University of Hawaii Press publication?

Today as never before, did I say that? Today as never before, the forces of light and darkness duke it out, and how can one forget moments. Yes, my world is still as small as a canary-yellow and-white-cough-drop-colored paper bag, and a picture of a very fat, curly tailed pug, with stocky front legs resting on a small child’s red chair, but over these images lays a heaviness of what is happening out there; out beyond the insulation of our culture and those who romp and play on a Fantasy Island, like Pinocchio, and mercifully, there is always beauty in the world, and prose of horrors overcome, as in Angkor.

I am reminded of a weekend course on the foundation of education building a world society, and realizing we are in a paradigm shift, and it is uncomfortable, but current educational practices are based on getting all of us through a system as the Industrial Revolution, and that won’t work.

Now is the time for us to enable capacity and connection and authentic perceptions, and spiritual insight. We are children of a half light emerging into a global civilization which must consider that we are coming of age spiritually, and it’s time to throw down all shibboleths (is that a word) of difference and pulsate on hoping our tattered world will win the battle of old egos as in old dinosaurs.

But I am dangerously near preaching or lecturing, and the heart, anyone’s heart will go into heels dug into the ground, don’t push me into a way of thinking, but to end with a remembrance of a day I’ll not forget is to remember 9/11 after the airplanes’ destructive paths, before politicians’ games of power, a blank space, like the action potential of the cell before it hits the synapses, and a blank time where we were cylindrical in our unity and our caring for the other; we seemed to be enwrapped in columns of blue misty caring, and we were one – giving new meaning to prayer as a state of being.

<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13547180-brain-on-fire” style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness” border=”0″ src=”http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1353173297m/13547180.jpg” /></a><a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13547180-brain-on-fire”>Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness</a> by <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5778057.Susannah_Cahalan”>Susannah Cahalan</a><br/> My rating: <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/450391922″>5 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />

<br/><br/> <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/2785181-esther-bradley-detally”>View all my reviews</a>

eloquent, nonpartisan, well-considered response to corruption!

Mel's Madness

The headlines overwhelm me. The financial markets. The NATO rioting. Our own politicians’ posturing about the debt “crisis.” I have grown weary of the political forums on Facebook and elsewhere. The caricatures of Obama as monkey. The tar baby references. The Right tells gays they are abominations.  The left talks loudly about dildos in response. The Right blames Obama. The Left blames eight years of George W. Bush. For everything. Believe it or not Ayn Rand is STILL being talked about though she never had anything to say. Every year teens “discover” her and use her as an excuse to not clean their rooms or take the trash out or babysit their little brothers and sisters.

A pop singer’s nipple was exposed during Good Morning America. Why do I care? We spend $13 billion on porn every year in the United States and girls are sold into sexual slavery

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Stevenleocampbell.wordpress.com-Thank you Steven!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He  gave out Reader Appreciation Awards to 7 people – My blog was one of them!

I Googled the award today, looking for the bright sunflower, and didn’t find its source. So Reader, this is what I think it is.  We bloggers, who run across out computer keys at night when the earth sleeps, play word games in the velvet ether of the night, toss out sorrows, hug happiness, create metaphoric mountains and potholes, and all the while race towards the world and each other in a prepublishing, I’m going to publish this tomorrow on WordPress!  We all fall into this category.  We who blog.  Those who read blogs.  Both, all, none, many.

The rules of the Reader Appreciation Award:

1. Include the award logo somewhere in your blog – check center photo above.  Ta da!!

2. Answer 10 questions (listed below) for fun if you want to.

3. Nominate 6 or 10 to 12 blogs you enjoy

4.  Provide the links to these blogs and let them know they’ve been nominated

5.  Provide a link to the blogger(s) who nominated you —- http://stevenleocampbell.wordpress.com

10 Questions and my answers for the Reader Appreciation Award

1.  What is your favorite color?

The color of the current book I am reading, or the wine colored cover of Gleanings, Baha’i Writings.

2. What is your favorite animal – no need for me to answer; everyone who reads this post will roar back.  Pug Dogs.

3.  What is your favorite non-alcoholic drink?

Lemonade, don’t drink Alcohol

4.  Facebook or Twitter

FB, my home away from home, the entrace to the train station called my life!

5.  Favorite patterns?

Pattern of oneness and connectedness in relations throughout the globe.

6.  Do you prefer getting or giving presents?

Giving, giving.

7.  Favorite number?

Nine (9)

8.  Favorite day of  the week?

Wednesday

9.  Favorite flower?

Purple Iris

10.  What is your passion?

Giving people opportunities to discover and/or develop their voice – teaching creative writing.

My 8 nominations for the Reader Appreciation Award:

http://normanpickles.blogspot.com/  – Pugs, pugs, and more pugs.  Enchanting when the heart is orphaned      and one’s physical space not allowed this type of 4 legged package of      entitlement.

http://pagesforsmallwages.wordpress.com/  Gwendolyn McIntyre – perceptions on      writing, life, things that go bump, keep the writer going!

http://www.bahaithought.com   Phillipe Copeland is author of the blog, “Baha’i Thought” which offers commentary on issues of religion, society, and culture based on the teachings of the Baha’i Faith.

http://mrslittlejeans.blogspot.com/,      mrslittlejeans is a scientist and offers enchanting views of her two      felines, photographs of same, and a sharing of mystic perceptions.

http://writingasasacredpath.blogspot.com/   Jill Jepson – I have her book, the back cover of which reads in part, “Discover the Soul of Writing,” writing medications, prompts, rituals, exercises all drawn from traditions of Buddhist monks, Navajo storytellers, and much more.

.http://www.studiomorran.com/  Studio Morran, dogs, crafts, art, visual whimsy!

http://gerrygwilson.com/about/  A published writer, writing teacher of note, an encourager to all

http://whimsygizmo.wordpress.com/  prolific poet, enchantress with words …

http://wordrustling.wordpress.com/  metaphors and smiles – enchanting poetry-Hannah Gosselin

http://swthink.blogspot.com/  so whatcha think  – Brooke Ryter – a book, an impact, soon to be revealed – check it out.

http://arachnoidcystsupport.blogspot.com 

Maria McCutchen has written a book, It’s All in Your Head, and I think her story should be widely read.  I’ll show image. I got my book at Alibris, an online bookstore, which sometimes has prices less than Amazon.  At any price, this is an important book.

http://lublenok.blogspot.com/  Leonid’s World  is the name of his blog.  We met him inMinsk when we gave English Club sessions.  He’s fascinating, innovative, and dear, and he speaks of past history and his family.

Love and best wishes to all.

 

New York Times Best Seller

A Mostly True Memoir - a must read

So, you are ambling along in the library, and you check into your books on hold. Did I mention, I’m a memoir addict?

Okay, okay, the author? Jenny Lawson, and she’s called “The Bloggess,” Yep, I  ordered a book based on the cover, and of course that it’s a memoir. A white rat who looks in need of dental work, wears a stunning black velvet cape, with a red  silk lining.  His rat feet look like a DSW size 10? He has a white ruffled tutu type collar, the kind used in Medieval days, which if you want to know seem just like yesterday.

Okay, okay, the author? She’s called “The   Bloggess,” and did I meet her in my Name is Not Bob Blog April   challenge, MNINB?  I’m Not Bob April Challenge (MNINB) caused a loose knot in the sky, a gnarled rotting elbow on a tree, to fall on my neck and pressure  stress liquids into my brain.

I don’t know where I discovered Jenny Lawson, but  Reader, I read this book while slammed with the process of April Challenged which Not Bob gave to us bloggers, and I laughed, and chuckled, and snuffled   and snorted at midnight, in the quiet ambiance of our 2-room pool house of   the high ceilings and spillage of computer material, books, whatever.

Okay, sorry for the hot dogging, but The Bloggess,  aka Jenny Lawson, wrote “A Mostly True Memoir,” and that works for   me. She had me on the rat cover. I love the abandoned warrens of her mind,   picture Kafka-toned jokes as her thoughts trot ahead of us readers, twisting,   turning, always into belly laughing and chortles. She is snarky in deed, and   she got me on “folded vagina,” and claimed my heart and soul when I   discovered she had a Pug, Barnaby Jones.

The book is filled with huge metal chickens,   small creatures of the stuffed kind (her father was a crazy Taxidermist).

Reader, what is one to do with chapter titles   like, “Stabbed by Chicken,” “Hairless Rats Free for Kids   Only,” and an enchanting view of detachment from a bizarro childhood,  and interstitial laughter and views of a marriage with an wonderfully funny  man.

I read the first few pages and thought, maybe   I’m too old for this contemporary writing, but when I finished this book,   Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Jenny Lawson’s writing claimed me.

My brother–in-law called me “The   Bro-ess,” and now I, the Broess, am on the devotee path of one Bloggess.   Kudos to all who write

A friend, Al, who is in advertising,  said to me one day over coffee at Peets in California, “You need to have a blog,” and so because of that casual remark and my faith in his techy wisdom.  I commenced walking over rocks and pebbles of techy knowledge, and a blog was born.

September 5, 2006, Sorry-Gnat enters hyperspace life letting those who are interested know that in the Baha’i Writings one can go on the path of transformation and be a sorry gnat and become a giant eagle.

“I’ve just had lunch at Tuohey’s Restaurant in Alhambra and had dinner there last night.  No I’m not trying to be giant like an eagle physically.  I’ve ruminated a good deal about stuff to put into this blog:  poetry?  pug dogs? notes about books?  human rights? racial justice: schlepping, Esther, don’t forget schlepping.  I have a lot to learn on this blog, and will consult with my techy friends as to how, what, why, when!  I’m reading The Earth is Flat, Thomas Friedman, excellent. Very good writer.  We just saw Jessica, our granddaughter, at an early soccer practice.  She’s almost 7-going into first grade, and all the little girls are not aggressive players at all, but very cute.

Today, April 5, 2012.

Well Jessica is 12 now, and has an equanimity about her and kindness to all that I adore.  My family was like a Rorschach test, and I used to wonder what it’s like if my kid had the soul of an accountant.  He didn’t, and that’s okay, but Jessica, my granddaughter’s mom, leans to that side:  stable, and a tremendous educator with regards to child rearing.

Okay, I do blogs, and  at times in my life the only themes seem to be pug dogs or spirituality, and for a while pug dogs were winning.  Of late, it’s books, and maybe a while or so about my adequacy level down by my ankle bones,  blogging wise-the techy side.  I’ve avoided Twitter.  Facebook?  Boys and girls, I’ve got FB down; I have friends all over the globe.  The good thing about moving 17 different times in 25 years is you meet a lot of people.

Sure I grieved over leaving some, but I tell you, I’ve met incredible people and to this day I never cease to wonder.  Today we had lunch at Farideh’s and we had Tadiq, golden crusted flat slabs of potato under Basmati rice.  Oink.  We had wild salmon, vegetables even turnip.  Then we had dessert served on creamy white china and looked like a vibrant water color:  blueberries,  peachy colored mango, and a scoop of vanilla soy ice cream.  I’m so slogged with fatigue and memories of good food, my brain turns to sludge.  Later I hooked up with Jean a new person in our Baha’i community.

She’s new to Pasadena, and hasn’t been in the States for 10 years.  She has lived in India, and I can’t remember the name of her city; small – 5 million, but she’s traveled all over. Did I mention she’s blind and gets around by cane.  We’ve hung out before.  She’s done everything; social worker, worked in radio stations, done voice over, teaches ESL, works via the computer.  No dust on her heels!  It gave me just another chance to marvel.

Tomorrow, I’m off at a little before noon to a Christian church up the Street on Lake, in Altadena/Pasadena area, where the Ecumenical Council is observing Good Friday.  I remember Good Friday when I was Catholic, sitting in the silence of the church, the religious figures draped in purple silk, and I remember a day before, called Holy Thursday, when Liz, my twin, and her best friend Jannie Cleary, walked and visited the 7 Catholic churches, a tradition we participated in only once.  When we got home that day my sister Meb (Mary Ellen Bradley) was hanging her head out of the bath room window on the second floor, showing a newly bleached blonde.

We were three sisters; close in many ways, and yet Meb would die of alcoholism, as my mother did.  They were terrific.  They both played classical music, and I can’t not stop when I hear Chopin’s polonaise in something Minor.  My mom died when we were 17, and my sister died when I was living in Dnepropetrovsk. She was the size of a twig, ravished by emphysema and years of alcoholism which I think she kicked towards the end.  She had once survived on the streets for five years.

So back to homeless women.  I’ve done two things in my life influenced by these two women so close to my heart.  My mom had Latvian Babushkas come to our little house on Wren Street, tuck into the small kitchen with the red checkered oilcloth table covering, and she’d teach them English for free.  They talked of their husbands, “lost behind the Iron Curtain,” and I’d visualize a large iron shower curtain stretched across a vast empty land.

Years later, in 1990, I traveled to Siberia with Bill, my husband.  I wrote a book Without A Net: A Sojourn in Russia, which tells about Meb, Russia,Ukraine, and all.  People like it.  I often thought  my mother’s selfless act of reaching out had reverberations into the future, when I, her daughter, very much her daughter, went into Slavic countries for service only.

That said, we’ve lived in Pasadena for 11 years, and it’s the longest we’ve ever lived anywhere.  Bill is 77 and I am 73, and first we house sat in a gorgeous condo for 3 years and then found this pool house, and we can afford the rent they charge which is not high.  I’ve survived open heart surgery, having the surgeons write the whole business off for free, and I’ve had a lot of trips to Cardiology at Kaiser, bleeding out, stuff like that, but now I thrive.  I’m like a Russian doll that tips over and bounces back.  Someone said to me the other day, “You have a strong life force,” and I do.  I feel life gets better and better for women as they age. I am no longer moth-holed by self-doubt and scalding inner words of rebuke.  I’m me now, and I sort of glow at times, at least when I’m teaching writing, meeting friends for coffee and always stretching to do more.

Poem by Chris Annick

poetry of women from women's room - fund raiser flyer

A few years ago I gave a goodly amount of writing workshops-method, process, and did so for free at the local library branch of La Pintoresca in Northwest Pasadena.  The Women’s Room a group formed and created by members who were connected to an Ecumenical Council realized women in Pasadena, either homeless or in transition, had nowhere to go.  This is a day refuge, but oh what a refuge. Showers, laundry, good food, make up suggestions now and then are available, and oh, my writing class.   Long story short, a room above the food pantry of Friends in Deed was created, like a small living room, dusty peach walls, art with symbols of 3 poppies, art on the wall, small kitchen and on Tuesdays 1-3 I teach writing.  Everyone is welcome, the volunteers and the guests (homeless/in transition) and it is truly solidified in love and community.  The bonds are strong.

We were asked to have something for tomorrow’s program at this Church.  I wrote a poem on forgiveness.  I’ll publish it later.  Then I had the women do a group poem, each writing 2 lines.

They’ve performed before; different women, different voices, and at first they were terrified.  But after they had the guts to get up behind a microphone and say their piece, their pieces, they were and are proud.  You can’t take that away from anyone.  Above is a poem written by Chris Annick which graced our first fundraiser flyer.

I always say to them before they read, “Own this.  Own your voice,” and by golly they do.  So with that, I didn’t expect this to be such a rattle on blog, but here you go, and that’s the facts Jack.

stunning, epid, riventing

"The Orphan Master's Son is a riveting portrait of a world heretofore hidden from view: a North Korea rife with hunger, corruption and casual cruelty..."

The Orphan Master’s Son is a major book; a major read. It is epic; almost an oratorio, notes of which float over incredible deprivation, struggle, and an exceedingly oppressive society. . I could not put it down. Someone once asked, “Why do you read such books as this? My answer for that day as “If we believe mankind is one, i.e., we are one people, one planet, and we know of peoples’ horrendous suffering,” then we cannot be silent.  I must speak about it even if only in a book review.

This novel pulls from the reader gasps of horror, Adam Johnson’s novel relentlessly pursues a systolic drive to the center of the North Korean world  whose outer shell is constructed of a rigid totalitarianism, and whose  inner core reveals an absolute and moribund corruption.  Its core is rotten. Yet, slivers of nobility, slivers of courage from different individuals emerge.

One critic said, “This is not the real North Korea.”   Perhaps not.  However, books are appearing on the landscape, one of which is the Aquariums of Pyongyang  verify an appalling state of society, and a nightmarish existence in North Korea’s prison camps,  and also in the general society.  We live on a planet where forces of light and darkness lick each others shadows. If we cannot speak for the silent ones, what can we do?

I feel an awe regarding Adam Johnson’s novel .  I believe this novel goes far beyond Pulitzer awards. It is through fiction such as this that truth shines.

Adam Johnson teaches creative writing at Stanford University.  His fiction has appeared in Esquire, The Paris Review, Harper’s, Tin House, Granta, and Playboy, as well as The Best american Short Stories.  His other works include Emporium, a short story collection, and the novel Parasites Like Us.

The Rules of Inheritance by Claire Bidwell Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I guess I always give 5 stars to memoirs. I am a memoir addict, but I also write the personal essay and some fiction and teach creative writing. Authenticity and voice are aspects of good memoir writing.

I do not belong to that group of people who think memoir is a solipsistic form. The Rules of Inheritance, Claire Bidwell Smith, is a worthy read. Everyone’s story is the same but different, as is loss and sadness. It is honest, poignant, poetic, and well crafted. She’s not a victim, but portrays true loss and then gradual emergence into finding her truer self. I recommend!

View all my reviews

1. Please tell us about you the person and the author:

Glad that’s worded that way, because above all we are all persons first. In 1990 I started publishing personal and reflective essays in various journals. A writer friend from Israel had recommended me and many other yet to be published writers to write for a particular publication in Australia/New Zealand. This journal was globally distributed. When my friend suggested I submit some of my stuff, I thought, “Is that stuff under the bed collecting dust balls?” But in 1992 I was married to my wonderful husband Bill and we were living in Ukraine, in the City of Dnepropetrovsk, and this magazine published an essay about our lives in Ukraine.

I’m from Boston, born in Boston, and I remember blackout curtains from World War II on our windows and peeing in the dark. I remember the 50s and being a Catholic girl and going to a public high school. I had no writing inclination, but read voraciously from six years on. A huge influence was my mom who became a major alcoholic, but was a lover of books and also taught Latvian women to speak and read English when they came to our little brown rented house on Wren Street, and they spoke of the Iron Curtain, and their husbands lost behind this curtain. I remember thinking in images of a giant iron shower curtain spread across a vast land.

I grew up in a stratified society, where people drew lines about religious affiliations, class position, race, difference. I was a child in the 40s, a young girl in the 50s and was Catholic. In my twenties, I drove to California after the Cuban crisis, drove out by myself. My mother had died; my father remarried; my twin was somewhere; the family was dysfunctional and scattered. My older brother and sister weren’t around. I was a legal secretary and outwardly gutsy but inwardly a wimp.

I discovered the Baha’i Faith at 27, and felt as if I stepped out of a black and white photograph into the land of color. I stopped drinking, even though I hadn’t yet connected the dots of alcoholism sitting in my family’s history box for generations. I immediately became aware of the oneness of humanity, and my old stereotypical views fell off me like corrugated cardboard. Still, until I die, I must be aware of prejudice and how it is inhaled by a baby when born. My life is incredibly full –I teach writing to homeless women and others. I give a lot of free workshops. I guess you could say my husband and I are activists as we totally believe in service to the community at large. I used to be fearful but didn’t show it, and I faced life and have crawled over railroad tracks in Donetsk and been in Ukraine during the Russian coup and written a book about it. I’ve been to Siberia, and I have a son Nicholas who is married and a granddaughter. One last thing: I jump out of airplanes to say hello to Pug Dogs even if they are only dark little dots on the ground. That’s sounds very year-booky.

Mostly I totally believe in the splendor of the human condition, and am horrified by the meanness of our age, but have tremendous hopes for the future. I believe one becomes mystical by embracing the grit of one’s time and that we should be anxiously concerned about the needs of our age. I am the last of my siblings, my twin having died a few years ago. I’ve survived heart surgeries, blah, blah, blah, and walk an hour a day; sound like a gadabout and light up like a pinball machine when celebrating, reading, writing, a good book, justice, being a solace to someone else, being a source of light and laughter.

2. When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

In 1980, when I got a chance to go back to college, I wanted to learn writing.

3. Did you take any classes or go to school to learn to write, or did it just come naturally

No. Writing letters came naturally, but I had no idea whether studying writing would ruin my fledgling writing or not. I went to UC Irvine and enrolled as a junior at 42 as a single mom, fresh from what felt like 100 years of work as a legal secretary. I majored in English as I read voraciously and thought that the most practical. I had no dreams of becoming an attorney. I took a summer class and wrote a story about a blue dye eviscerating the earth from a jeans factory and a dog named Lance I think. I didn’t have the knowhow or the courage to have dialogue. There was lance, the blue dye, the inhabitants of earth leaving the planet, and the owner of lance, a woman who died.
My first writing teacher said, “Take every writing course this school has to offer.”

I took expository writing in the second quarter and the TA said “Take every writing course this school has to offer,” because I wrote a piece about who I was after reading an excerpt of May Sarton’s Journal of a Solitude. Reader her talk about depression, writing and planting flowers caused me to think, I can do this. I remember feeling electrified, not hugely, but nevertheless animated.

I then took Beginning Fiction with Oakley Hall, and I was nervous. He has written a book on the novel; was co-head of the UCI Writing Program, and is well respected. He went to Iowa I think. I was nervous until I looked under the large square table where we all assembled, and I saw faded purple Rit died socks, and then looked up into his broad face, and kind eyes, and his hair looked like yarn. He taught how to show, how to be the camera eye, how to use strong verbs, and I flourished.

I then went on to take an advanced writing class with the other co-head who didn’t like older women, but thought I was a very good writer. He tried to discourage me, and I think he did so, because he didn’t make it in the way he expected. It was rough, but I hung in.

Then I took journalism with a very good Journalist who had been nationally known, and he said, “You are a good writer, but what the hell are you trying to say.” I also took courses after graduating as part of teacher training in teaching secondary writing, and Writing the Natural Way. I use those methods when I teach workshops.

I also took from the Pied Piper of Workshop Leaders, Jack Grapes in Los Angeles who is a method writing teacher, and I took his beginning workshop. Then I waited 10 years, took his advanced courses, and around 2003 I was bursting through sound barriers. . I have written 2 books: Without A Net: A Sojourn in Russia and You carry the Heavy Stuff, the most recent.

I took a UCLA class too and we were not allowed to praise or criticize anyone’s writings, no comments, but the instructor told me I was very good. So yes, I took classes and really learned method, and craft of showing, use strong verbs, and still read voraciously.

4. Please tell us about your book and how did you come up with the idea for it.

As I mentioned I had a previous book, and the 2nd edition has pictures. Without A Net: A Sojourn in Russia, about our 3 year period before, during and after the breakup of the Soviet Union. It is a personal view, a behind the scenes sideways type of thing – personal, funny, sad, hard, and spiritual.

I joined CHPercolator Coffeehouse for writers because my friend Steve kept encouraging me. We all give prompts to write about at periodic intervals and thus, writers from around the globe write or not write every day.

After 2 years, I looked at my previous writing and the CHPerc bundle, and thought “It’s time to do another book.” It’s called You Carry the Heavy Stuff and has a street sign that says, “It’s all grist for the Mill, been there, done that, what’s next,” with a pug’s back to the reader and a tall thin red-haired lady with an old leather type valise, inky papers sticking out of it, and she’s wearing red high top sneakers. That’s my persona. I have used “It’s all grist for the mill” so much; people will soon begin to scream.

I had a mother in law who was the size of a small tree trunk and didn’t take noth’in from no one and we lived with her after we came back from Russia because we didn’t think it was wise for her to live alone. When I first met her, Bill and I were packing up our bags to drive away, and she and I were loading stuff at an open trunk, when this low growly voice (hers) said to me, “You carry the heavy stuff for him.” So I wrote a piece about her.

Anna was her name, and Italian momma was her game. I both laughed inwardly and groaned. I wasn’t insulted. Had I been 20, I’d have run away. This book is a series of poetry and prose about who I was, am; life in an office cubicle; life in middle school and a world view taking shape, life after 9/11; essays on prejudice, which makes my African-American friends cry, and essays on spirituality and eating falafel at the Mercatz (shopping area top of Haifa hills) in Israel. I also talk lightly and deeply about social conditions, Baghdad, being a twin, having a twin die, and packing for the future. All of my pieces reflect varied writing styles.

A fellow writer wrote “You Carry the Heavy Stuff reveals an author who engages life with grit, honesty and good humor. Bradley-DeTally rests thoughtfully at a quiet stream to make serene observations, and then she’s up and away again to fight her good fight with a Tally HO! A refreshing read that combines a depth dimension with the tragicomedy that is life.”

I was going to call the book Writing on the Fly, and I had everything in it: fiction, surrealism, poetry, short stories, and then I trimmed it down and a friend said, “Writing on the Fly is overused.” So I had a brief contest where I promised a few select friends a Starbucks coffee card if they voted on a selection of about 5 titles. You Carry the Heavy Stuff carried the day.

I don’t outline. Let me repeat that I don’t outline. I free write and then I tweak, tweak, tweak. I am pretty spontaneous and word crazy some friends might add.

5. Which of your characters were your favorite and why?

My favorite characters are pugs and the people in Children of the Stolen Ones, a poem I hope which gives honor to my brothers and sisters of African heritage.

6. What traits and characteristics did you give some of your characters to make them memorable? Courage, nobility and the human condition is a sideways view.

7. Does your book have any important themes or lessons you wanted to convey?

Well, it’s memoir-ish so the traits would be pissy, funny, ballsy, outspoken, socially concerned, deeply spiritual, thrown in with the theme of global citizenship and the inhumanity of man and the humanity of man (generic man of course).

My themes speak of the wonders and need for oneness; the need to throw prejudice off the planet, the nobility of the anonymous and the suffering among us, the struggle and beauty of the dying cancer patients, the humanity of others, and the downright wonders of slinging around language like hash.

8. What was the road to publication like? Was it turbulent or fairly easy?

I am too old to look for an agent, and have a small following – think larger than a beer truck but smaller than the Coliseum in LA so my friend Steve said “Publish through Lulu.” He has done so with several witty books. Reader it was hell, pure unadulterated hell. Very Kafkaesque and tortuous until I finally gave in and bought a Lulu package, and then it was a miracle. Price wise it’s the best so far, but I’m not an enchanted devotee. One gets lost in Lulu like getting lost in the Hotel California, “It’s a lovely place….but you can’t get out …. Lost in the Hotel California.The biggest thing about a book is not thinking about writing one, not thinking about publishing, but marketing after it’s done. My advice is take it step my step and “follow the force” so to speak.

9. Please tell a reader what they should know about your book before the purchase them.

It’s creative non-fiction, spunky, funny, shows a variety of writing styles, almost a book of prompts plus points of view as an extra added package! It’s 14.96 (the extra penny is the hell part.) Also there’s a download – e book type of thing. (You Carry The Heavy Stuff) http://stores.lulu.com/sorrygnat and http://www.amazon.com/Carry-Heavy-Stuff
Esther-Bradley-DeTally. I recommend the Lulu site because you can read some of the pages. I also have some I can mail.

10. Words of wisdom for aspiring writers.

Read, read, read, read, write, journal, write, never give up; take courses, watch, listen learn, imitate, and trust the process.

estherbill@gmail.com http://sorrygnat. Word press. com blog

11. What current projects are you working on?

I am writing a book about someone with deleted memory; in interview process and at the beginning right now. I also teach the writing process, currently with homeless women, and their volunteers, and under the literacy umbrella of local libraries, plus give individual sessions and have writing groups.

11. What do you want your legacy to be- to have left the world showing worlds of unity, love and laughter, and to be a point of light in the dark dark nights of the soul, and to laugh and yuk about recipes, ham sandwiches and to promote the oneness of mankind, but to write, and know the power of words, the love of them, their ordinariness and majesty and not to worry about publishing, but think of the journey itself.

I wish for a world where everyone is a trust of the whole.

Esther’s ten favorites.

Favorite time of day?

First cup of coffee brought to me in bed by wonderful husband of 25 years.

Dessert: vanilla ice cream and dark, thick and creamy hot fudge sauce.

Teacher – Miss Halloran, in book; changed my world view from neighborhood to vast history and dimensions and the dangers of war within a 5 minute read of giant poster on her wall.

Social networking site; Facebook

Favorite city: Pasadena

Music – Rodrigo’s Concerto de Aranjuez

Color: the rainbow

Pastime: drinking coffee, and talking about real stuff with friends

Book: Oh my the over 600 on Goodreads, but if you don’t have time, Gleanings by Baha’u’llah, and An Interrupted Life, Etty Hillesum, and, and

‘Nothing save that which profiteth them shall ever befall my loved ones.’-Baha’u’llah

You Carry the Heavy Stuff

Nov 07, 2010 10:31am

<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10964693-the-marriage-plot” style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”The Marriage Plot” border=”0″ src=”http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1328736940m/10964693.jpg” /></a><a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10964693-the-marriage-plot”>The Marriage Plot</a> by <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1467.Jeffrey_Eugenides”>Jeffrey Eugenides</a><br/> My rating: <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/286125314″>3 of 5 stars

What did I not think!  Tatting on the head of a pin.  Truth is somewhere.  Shades of Frank Lentriccia’s Lit Crit class in the 1980s, rolling around with words like mimesis, blah. another professor, equally dishing out words which bounced off my dense forehead, used to utter the word “Hegel,” and each time he did so, his heels would rise from the floor and he’d be on tiptoe – up on the Heg, down on the el. Alternate universes, this one of words beginning and ending, and what the hey-ego and the turn of good phrases, but characters empty.  In one sense, it reflects ennui and delusions of the sad.  It fits in to the 1980’s when I studied this stuff and thought this is like a Papal Hierarchy, and the Cardinals, wearing red silk and satin of course, are strutting as literary critics.  i believe in the concept of literary theory, and the best book on that subject was the Purpose of Physical Being, John Hatcher, but I started this book last night.  Back to the 80s; but credit is due to the author.  However, how could so many applaud a book for such a narrow audience?  Overdone emptiness, and i am being casual with my descriptions, perhaps not specific enough.  I would give it a 3 because the author is exceedingly intelligent, highly literate, but I could not finish it.

http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/2785181-esther-bradley-detally”>View all my reviews</a>

Siobhan Fallon writes well, eloquently and her prose and content are straight arrows to the heart. I don’t know how many books have been written from her point of view, but these stories, with exceedingly diverse points of view, points of view that bring you inside the characters’ soul, are just in time for the rest of the world to view.

Fort Hood.  Women Left Behind.  Heart in throat kind of stuff.  Factual insights into life at Fort Hood.  She brings the sound of loneliness and waiting to the page in a visual way.  Agony, waiting, lives upended, lives united.  These are the stories this reader feels everyone should read.  What a tribute to all who serve and all who wait.

amazing dystopian thriller

It is just fantastic to see a new writer emerge. Mudbound was Pasadena’s One Author One Read book, and now first week of November I believe she’s going to speak, not at Vroman’s, too small but at Cal Tech. Kudos to Hillary Jordan!

The Barbarian Nurseries: A NovelThe Barbarian Nurseries: A Novel by Héctor Tobar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Delicious, fantastic, delicate, strong prose, and author nails a view of life from combinations of views. A Mexican immigrant maid and a clueless, but well meaning family, said family totally unaware of the lives around them, or for that matter, each other.

His writing is fantastic. A profound book which needs to be inhaled by all. I inhaled it, yes I did. I am now going to look for Hector Tobar’s other books – Translation Nation and the Tattooed Soldier. Mr. Tobar is a writer for the Los Angeles Times, is a Pulitzer prize willing journalist and a novelist. Writers would “kill” for his phrases – Barbarian Nurseries is a must read!

View all my reviews

I’m posting a review from GoodReads, but Battle Hymm of the Tiger Mother reminded me of a story of a young girl, popular in the 40s-50s called “Katy Did,” and the idea if i remembered it correctly, she’d pull flower petals off of petals and say Katy Did, Kady Didn’t. So here’s an initial review:

Battle Hymn of the Tiger MotherBattle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow, what did I think? hmmmm, let’s see – I felt a lot, i observed a lot, and i liked this author’s honesty and dilemmas. Culture clash, and the reader was full on in it.

It’s hard,because we all have our theories, and then there’s the actual practice. Before my son was born, I thought I’d keep him in little white baby shoes, immaculate, and did I say, he wore brown shoes a lot. I said, “No child of mine will watch a lot of TV,” and I do believe on days unnumbered his face morphed into a square from so much screen gazing.

Wisdom is attained when one is a grandmother. Love is attained from birth of a child. Between the two, we pass on the good stuff, cringe at the dysfunction stuff, and pray and act for the future wellbeing.

I have a wonderful son, and that means, we both had to work at it over the teenage years.

Amy Chua is intelligent, honest and writes well. A friend loaned me this book. the most outstadning feature of this book, besides it provoking great discussions, is her children were not wounded, angry at times, but somehow her love came through. It’s a toss up. Culture pushes parents because originally, survival was the base instinct. In a way, it still was. She met her match with her second daughter, and I suspect the daughters will raise their children in a less authoritarian style.

That said, they are outstanding. At this stage in my life I think too much permissiveness or too much authoritarianism doesn’t work, but there’s a middle way of cooperative parenting.

whatever, I think Amy Chua and family made it through difficult decisions and arrived at greater awareness, and I also feel they are a solid family whom I wish well.

View all my reviews

MudboundMudbound by Hillary Jordan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I just reread it as I suggested our book group do so too. Also one librarian wants me to be part of a discussion (an honor); this is a fantastic book; the themes, the authenticity, her writing is fabulous and I was so deeply immersed in this book; wonderful; i wish Hillary Jordan tremendous sucess!

The Legend of The Villa Della Luna

graphics, recipes and prose astound

Look, it’s a Tuesday, just after New Years, an on the run food; sticks to the roof of your mouth and spinal column; no folding, mutilating, stamping, stapling; just throw out 2 slices on whatever, even your knee if you must, grab a knife – slop, spread, seal together, and fist it towards your mouth.

That was before writing workshop, after a walk cut short because stuff calls, and then writing workshop. There’s a book I want to chat about, The Legend of The Villa della Luna which is a book referred to as “The sequel to the Secrets of Pistoulet.

I met this book when i worked for a friend Loretta in Jamestown, western New York, in 1996 or so when she created Literary Tea, an African-American writers (mostly women I think bookstore) and a restaurant. Suffice it to say, her chocolate cake won awards, and the crowed of Lit Tea people all gained 10 pounds, and her place became a hub of great activity.

This book appeared, and I casully opened expecting little, and I gaasped; its a combination of incredible graphics (think Griffin and Sabine) and dear messages and recipes. I sold that book a million times, but never bought one for myself. Last year I was thinking about it, emailed Loretta who is in New Mexico now, for the title. I found The Legend on Amazon, book marked it, forgot about it, until this Christmas when I was so thoughtfully gifted with an Amazon card.

I have the book; it’s amazing, and the part i like is a reference to a tear bottle; won’t say anything else, but I took it to workshop, and we used it for prompts; wonderful. ISBN 1-55670-628-6.

I’m home, dropped off a ton of books at library; picked up reading in Chinese or something like that and a few other things; am gazing to my left at my Port-a-Pug, Christmas gift from a friend, and think, i hear the familiar ding of the microwave; time for dinner and crashing. Nothing earth shattering, but just a hello and my day; great writing from the group today!

<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8098685-forces-of-our-time” style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”Forces of Our Time: The Dynamics of Light and Darkness” border=”0″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51SRUk8vHbL._SX106_.jpg” /></a><a href=”Forces” _mce_href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8098685-forces-of-our-time”>Forces”>http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8098685-forces-of-our-time”>Forces of Our Time: The Dynamics of Light and Darkness</a> by <a href=”Hooper” _mce_href=”http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2975096.Hooper_C_Dunbar”>Hooper”>http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2975096.Hooper_C_Dunbar”>Hooper C. Dunbar</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”5″ _mce_href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/133887663″>5″>http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/133887663″>5 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
This book is exceedingly profound.  It speaks in highly readable and gracious prose, of the condition of the world today, and the dramatic changes taking place.  He addresses the visible deterioration in so many fundamental processes and instittions (financial, political and climage change and energy, and social fabric of society.  He gives his readers an enlivening clear upsurge in knowledge, reflects concern for human rights and speaks of gtechnologies that bring people together.  From the back of the book, “These energies are spiritual in nature and result from Mr. Dunbar’s membership and deep commitment to the Baha’i Faith and its founder, Baha’u’llah (a title meaning the Glory of God). Mr. Dunbar shows how processes creating a new divine civilization have arisen, are arising, and he also speaks of the negative forces which have arisen to resist this divine purpose.  He examines the character of the spiritual forces as set out in the writings of the Guardian of the Faith, and the first part of the book considers the terms, ‘force,’ ‘energy’ and ‘power.’  The second part of the book comprises a selection of quotations drawn from the writings of Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha’i Cause and many are published within this volume for the first time and arrnage chronologically so readers may consider the ideas in their original context.
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<br/>5 stars doesn’t do it, but that as high as the rating would go.
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<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8062214-you-don-t-look-like-anyone-i-know” style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know” border=”0″ src=”http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1283891920m/8062214.jpg” /></a><a href=”You” _mce_href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8062214-you-don-t-look-like-anyone-i-know”>You”>http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8062214-you-don-t-look-like-anyone-i-know”>You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know</a> by <a href=”Heather” _mce_href=”http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/217205.Heather_Sellers”>Heather”>http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/217205.Heather_Sellers”>Heather Sellers</a><br/>
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Excellent book.  Delightful writer.  Has facial recognition condition, and that plus a very complicated childhood reveals a young woman who finally figured out what was wrong with her – she was not schizophrenic like her mother, or like her father; the facial recognition issue is genetic, and she’s done an enormous job overcoming it, or living with it and is a wonderful writer.  Heather Sellers is the writer
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<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5704912-held-in-the-light” style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”Held in the Light: Norman Morrison’s Sacrifice for Peace and His Family’s Journey of Healing” border=”0″ src=”http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1267801442m/5704912.jpg” /></a><a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5704912-held-in-the-light”>Held in the Light: Norman Morrison’s Sacrifice for Peace and His Family’s Journey of Healing</a> by <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2549270.Anne_Morrison_Welsh”>Anne Morrison Welsh</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/124189757″>5 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
A friend returned from her summer at Chautauqua.  She grew up there as a child, and has spent most summers, if not all, of her life at Chautauqua. She said over dinner, “You must read this,” and it was Held in the Ligh, Norman Morrison’s sacrifice for Peace and His Family’s Journey of Healing.  The book is profound.  Norman Morrison’s were startling, but left this reader wondering, “did he stop a nuclear war,” and the results of his actions reverberate through time.  His wife writes with courage and empathy, and deals with compassionate but clearly observed love. The meaning of this man’s death had an astrounding impact on the Vietnamese, and of course his beloved family.  One cannot judge the act, as it is impossible.  What the pages reveal is the dilemma of a soul on a war torn planet, and his torment of the rapaciousness of war and its attendant evils.  A must read.  I have reference for his wife, his family, and him.
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<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2316197.Prayer” style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”Prayer: A Baha’i Approach” border=”0″ src=”http://www.goodreads.com/images/nocover-111×148.jpg” /></a><a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2316197.Prayer”>Prayer: A Baha’i Approach</a> by <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1041260.William_Hellaby”>William Hellaby</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/122435751″>5 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
profound, and contemplative, and insightful, and perceptions which lead to action shown.  Madeline Hellaby just died, and I fear this book might not be republished.  It’s a must.
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On the back cover, “To Baha’is, prayer is indispensable:  ‘the core of religious faith,’ writes Shoghi Effendi, Guardian of the Baha’i faith, ‘is that mystic feeling which unites man with God.  This state of spiritual communion can be brought about and maintained by means of prayer.

Written by William and madline Hellaby, I’m focusing on Madeline, who just passed.  She writes of “prayer as a living reality–prayer as ordinary people experience it in their daily loves.  ‘How can we practise the presence of God?'” she asks.  Describing with honesty, good sense and humour the various obstacles to effective praying, she finds insight in quotations and examples drawn both from the Baha’i Writings and from a wealth of religious literature, history and day-to-day experience.”

PS I use Alibris a lot to find 99 cent issues of books and up.  I like them.

<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7840064-mentor” style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”Mentor” border=”0″ src=”http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1273513481m/7840064.jpg” /></a><a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7840064-mentor”>Mentor</a> by <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/297212.Tom_Grimes”>Tom Grimes</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/121643444″>5 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
Oh  Oh, Oh!  I liked this book so much! No, make it loved the book.  I got a Borders’ gift card and hotfooted down the street.  This book called out to me, and the writing is superb.  Tom Grimes takes the reader down the path of working in construction, to waiter, to this, to that; and his writing career unfolds.  He meets Frank Conroy, and this book is valuable for writing, but also the writing process and the struggle and the joy, and I felt as if I were folded within the words and became one with the page.  I couldn’t put it down.  Insightful, dear, honest, revealing, educational, terrific.
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SaddledSaddled by Susan Richards
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I bumped into this book, and somehow after flipping through the pages and seeing, memoir, alcoholism in family, transformation, I took the book home from the Pasadena Central Library. I am a memoir addict, and the authentic and well written voice calls me. I couldn’t put it down.

those who know me personally will imagine and know my delight in the author’s triumphs and courage, but imagine that this reader, a pug devotee par excellence, gasps when she looks at the back inside cover flap and see Susan Richards with what? A pug, a pug, a wonderful looking, high i’m the center of the universe pug. I feel as if I know this lady. The background of book had aspects of Boston, my home town, and so it goes. I highly recommend this book. I’m off to read her others; have to order them too!

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Girl in TranslationGirl in Translation by Jean Kwok
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

View all my reviews »

CaucasiaCaucasia by Danzy Senna
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Danzy Senna is an incredible writer; her prose is very tight and descriptive involved with motion, either external or internal. The subject matter is profound, and I heard her read a week or so ago at the California Pacific Modern Art Museum – they have a reader’s series. She was a Stanford undergradute and a UCIrvine MFA student; their program is excellent, and her craft is top notch and her subject race, so profoundly handled, all dimensions were fabulous. I also read her other book Where Did You Sleep Last night; very good; as I said, her writing is incredible. This is a must read from my point of view. Boy, do I wish her well!

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Why I like wonderfully written books, such as Tatjana Soli’s The Lotus Eaters (St. Martin’s Press)

From The Lotus Eaters, a novel, by Tatjana Soli

“They drove the empty, hacked roads, dust flying like a long sail of sheer red silk behind them, hanging suspended in the coppery sky. (p. 51)

This is what happened when one left one’s home—pieces of oneself scattered all over the world, no one place every completely satisfied, always a nostalgia for the place left behind. Pieces of her in Vietnam, some in this place of bone. She brought the letter to her nose. The smell of Vietnam: a mix of jungle and wetness and spices and rot. A smell she hadn’t realized she missed. P. 277”

The Lotus EatersThe Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Compelling, brilliant, literary acumen dazzling! wonderful I am going to follow this author!

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A Time to Betray A Time to Betray by Reza Kahlili

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was a hard book to read, and I have read a goodly amount about Evin prison, and a man who was Persian born, and a hostage, an an American citizen working in Tehran at the time of the Hostage Crisis in Iran. He asked me to write his book. I was too new of a writer to do so. He has since passed.

Most people know there are 7 Baha’is in Evin right now, and much has been written of them. In fact the journalist who was freed (Roxanne Saberi) writes about them also in her book. This book (A Time to Betray) was hard, because the suffering was immense, the brutality so real, and his mission so gripping, and I as a reader was always worried for his safety and the wellbeing of all people in his country.

The hand of fate will simply visit those who torture others, and we in this generation cannot know when or how, and it isn’t with vengeance I comment so; it’s just that nothing we do goes unnoticed in a higher dimension.

I think the book it a must in that it gives tremendous insights into the suffering of the ordinary citizens of Iran and yet the heroic acts of some. My heart goes out to all who suffer.

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The Man From Saigon The Man From Saigon by Marti Leimbach

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Incredibly well written, gripping, mesmerizing, literary, fantastic; i guess that means I liked the book. Superb writing, difficult subject, and wonderful point of view – woman journalist is protagonist. At any rate a friend in book club recommended it, and we are glad she did. We fell in love with the book!

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A Thread of Sky A Thread of Sky by Deanna Fei

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Lovely, lovely writing; References Alzheimer’s as “brain plaques and fibrillary tangles,” “strands caught in knots.” Her style is wonderfully literary, yet compelling about sisters, mother, and grandmother’s return to China for a trip; and relationships and lives so differently lived. Philosophical observations keenly observed, choices of women, foward pull and backward pull, one’s place within the generations and the society. Wonderful read.

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One Good Dog One Good Dog by Susan Wilson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A page turner regarding dog and man; the dearness of it, the struggle, and good for me to read of a pit bull in friendly terms. wonderful read!

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Marti Leimbach is new to my young life.  The Man From Saigon was recommended in my book club, and I couldn’t put this wonderful novel down.  Kismet Ms. Leimbach went to UCI writing program and Harvard, and I guess in that order.  She live sin England and teaches at Oxford University’s creative writing program.  She, as a contemporary novelist, writes of the Vietnam War era.  She is beyond skilled at place, scents, sounds, terrors and sorrows of the time.  Darkness made visible, humanity and duplicities of war.

No One Would Listen, a True Financial thriller by Harry Markopolos is a gripper. Forget that I, a daughter of a municipal bond person, can’t read the stock page, and this book is filled with discussions of derivatives, Ponzi Scheme (think Madoff), Harry Markopolos grips the reader to his account of discovering Bernie Madoff and his scheme which was ignored by the SEC and eventually grew to the size of $65 billion Ponzi scheme.

Markopolos is a wonderful writer, chatty, very intelligent, a math geek, quant, who sees relationships among number as a writer would letters to a page and a composer stairways to the sky in a jazz rift. He struggled for 8 years trying to warn investors, the SEC of Madoff’s schemes, only to meet disinterest and disfunction.

Totally huge event. Had agencies listed to Markopolis. Had the SEC listened to Markopolos in the year 2000, the money saved would have been forty-three billion dollars.

Amazing story; brave man, and it was dangerous for himself, his family and his team. a must read.

http://pilipilisakasakadiaries.wordpress.com

read this dear ones and weep – but with stomping feet and yahoos to the sky. this is a fabulous blog. pilipilisakas’s writng is like butter on a hot black skillet. mmmmm hmmmmmm!

okay back to me. I’ts only almost noon and i’m still at the Pewter replying to blogs, email, facebook.

Today, this morning, old shirt, blinking eyes, fingers that run across the keyboard like the sound of French poodles in a hurry clicking their toes towards food bowls, these are my electric hours. Life is electric and i’ll list a few things at the end so you catch my drift. Drift dear reader; drift is important.

Today is exhaustion day big time. Was surprised. Went to cardio guy yesterday; and he’s now Bill’s Cardio guy too; very funny, dry wit, sardonic. While Bill was getting his blood pressure taken (read abnormally high) (read, situational) I was standing in the hallway, and I felt as if I were going to pass out. I never feel that way there. we were more nervous of Bill’s test results than we realized.

He’s got a hardening aortic valve, but doesn’t have to have surgery, like I did and he won’t. I lived and that’s good depending on who is saying it. smile.
They’ll watch him, and give him ultrasound in 6 months.
A friend writes, “Can they soften the valve”?

We both felt as if a steamroller decided not to bury us in mud! Wow.
Big, I guess one could say.

So day in honor of big,I’ll laundry list the “bigs” in my life.

Bill’s heart not too bad or heart valve
Reading pilisaka’s blog
Watching on You Tube _Devotional – Baha’i
Finding out the red light, third one in on the blinking model if you really want to know, is the result of perhaps a patchy connection to be replaced easily by trip to Best or Radio Shack.
Fireside (Baha’i chats) at Nelson’s last night. Steve and Juliana Licata and their two heavenly sons; music, entertainment; incredible talk
Meeting a new person; a muscian who heard of Baha’is on the net and from his spiritual leader who said, “Go.”
My walking an hour a day – El Moleno, a nice hill if you like puffing, but the way back a treat.
Friends, Mizz V helping me become lickietier and splickietier on the net.
Friends, Son, Daughter in Laws, Grandkids
The Women’s Room in Pasadena where homeless women have respite and the writing class I lead on Tuesday afternoons where the moments expand to tears and riotous laughter.
good writing.
Enemies of the People, Kati Marton, a great read (for Pasadena book club)
Waiting to read a wonderful book published in early 1900s on Muhammad, clear, insightful.
Gleanings. Baha’u’llah’s writings at the top. Always.
10 books waiting, some study, some fun, all fascinating.
Physical exhaustion, but a day of forced rest.

all of these are big in my young life, and now if I run into a pug today, walking his or her snorty self, i’ll know it’s a wondrous life.

Kamal Zein lives in the Congo. He’s visiting Mizz V, his fab daughter, and we had coffee at Peets today as Kamal filled us in, up and sideways with his wonderful view of life. Check out his blog. I think we readers are going to be very interested and lucky. No the usual point of view. Incredible man, incredible wife, incredible kids.

I’m back after Bill driving me to the Women’s Room because he wanted to use the car. Sooo, he picked up my library books (5) I think, and I have 5 at home, the pressure mounts. I read “I’m _____; I’m 10 and I’m divorced. Can’t remember her name; brave soul fighting for her rights in Yemen; she did it.

Also read Gone to the Crazies, by Allison Weaver. Had ordered it eons ago, and never came, so I was cruising in the memoir section in the basement of Central and lo and behold, and also read Andre Agassi’s book; which i liked a lot. Found it honest and a good read.

I’m always tired Tuesday afternoons, and I have for force myself to walk the hour. I walk the neighborhood which is gorgeous, and basically first half hour is gradual uphill climb, and i use my inhaler. Second half hour, the reward, downhill, past barking dogs in lovely houses, squirrels who have found Nirvana in Pasadena, and gorgeous trees canopying the street of El Molina, my favorite. Then I’ll crash.

Tomorrow is the big day. Bill sees the cardiologist; we’ve made this trip before, except it’s always been for me. This is a switch. We are nervous but anxious to hear what he can do. Friday is another big day with a neurologist.

Miss V told me that when i get on chat and get right off of it, it’s rude in computer etiquette. Well, I’ll be a yellow bellied chuck wagon, get out, no! but yes, the divine Miss V tells me, and i know this to be true, so besides teaching me not to be a blog slog, sloth, dodo, i’ll learn the niceties of twitting in and out of my blog and staying on it. I always left a chat box quickly, thinking I was imposing. It all depends on your point of view. Catch my drift?

Growing Up global, raising Children to Be At Home in the World, by Homa Sabet Tavangar.

I just found this at the library.Looks like tremendu book from mastering a greeting in ten different languages, throwing an internationally themed party or celebrating a newfound holiday.  Reader friendly, upbeat, all inclusive, a tremendous resource to check out.

Esther Bradley-DeTally makes “carrying the heavy stuff” pure delight, a safari of the mind, a Himalayan trek for the soul. Make no mistake, the stuff you are asked to carry is heavy, no frothy meringue in this book – a woman toiling and chaffing at a mindless job, a return late in life to the university and her love of literature, relationships run amok, the pain of sitting by a hospice bedside watching her twin sister die. But the weight is lifted by a lightness of being, by insights and humor to mend the heart and maybe even mankind of its endless pillaging. A few chubby pug dogs add lightness too.

Esther’s sorcery is in the words, images that startle us, mixing the mundane with sublime, Caldwell cows with “haiku coats” grazing outside her dying sister’s window, death the color of a rainbow, like “riding the Ferris Wheel higher than ever before.”

When you read this gem of a book, take along a large empty suitcase for all the “stuff” you will want to collect and carry back home to use daily. Don’t worry about packing hope on top. It’s unbreakable.

Kathryn Jordan, author of the novels, Hot Water (Berkley/Penguin 2006) and Gladys And Capone (2008).

I found this book at my local Pasadena library and have been reading it every spare minute. It was a gripper, profound, compelling, and a major voice for all those slaves in all countries who suffered so incredibly. It seems to me I briefly read that getting through it with the dialogue required staying power I think the author was profound and wise with the constant use of the dialogue. It kept the reader, me, in Lilith’s mind and emphasized the never ending horrific process of suffering and slavery. This book should be read far and wide. It was an honor to read. I wish the author so well. What a gift he has given to humanity.

HOUSE WAS TENTED; JUST our pool house not big one. Bill and I have been really tired from settling a friend’s estate, and we took a two day respite at a local motel, shades of the 30s; rested, read; ate healthy; walked a little; i swam in the pool; and I discovered some new books.

I LOVE YOUS ARE FOR WHITE PEOPLE, a Memoir by Lac Su a must; THE PLAN (big Ideas for Change in America) Rahm Emanual and Bruce Reed, looks well written, easily digestible and informative. Read first few pages; Bill interested too. Two more memoirs beckoned Oliver Poole’s Red Zone, Five Bloody Years in Baghdad, and A Comrade Lost and Found (A Beijing Story) by Jan Wong

House moved back into; pipe broken, exterminator people sent their own plumber; nice guy starting his own business; hope it goes well; gas people cam by; nice to have services; i remember in Ukraine if something went wrong, you had to just wait until Monday for someone to fix, like the plumbing went out because the workers were drunk; oh my; a friend sent his poetry; it’s astounding; has a book; lovely; am going to have a cup of decaf, crash, hopefully walk later. Good to be home!

Recommending some books:

Drawn to the Rhythm, Sara Hall, a gripping, and exceedingly well-written memoir of a woman at 40 or so married, affluent, with children and a verbally abusive husband, who discovers sculling (single kayak type of boat); i am not skilled in naming appropriately some sports stuff; but this was a fabulous book which I found in my favorite used book store in Chico, California. Chico is about 2 hours beyond Sacramento. Also I read Life’s That Way, by Jim Beaver, of his marriage to Cecily Adams (daughter of Don Adams-Get Smart fame) and her incurring lung cancer; about their daughter Maddie, and also well written, insightful and just reflective of so many of the anonymous amongst us facing their Herculean tasks and soldiering on. One more; was another woman and boating; this was A Pearl in the Storm, Tori Murden McClure; rowing across the Atlantic. Yes, you heard that correctly. rowing across the Atlantic, and incredible gripper; what a fierce and wonderful soul.

We are back in Pasadena; think house in Chico selling-it belongs to Ralph who passed, the Ralph of “I’m dying as fast as I can,” at 91 fame; and we are settling his stuff as all kids pitch in and are gigantic help; it’s wonderful to see the Baha’i community, and for me, I am having a lot of healing work done. One is NAET which deals with allergies, and is terrific, my friend Vicki is a Practitioner.

I feel on a newly waxed bathroom floor a week or so ago, and now back in Pasadena, I go to the Altadena Healing Arts center-see Marilyn -last name escapes me at moment, and she is incredible, incredible. She does DNFT – nonforce. com stuff; and more than that. The Altadena Center – healing center is not new in my mind. Friends have raved about it for years.

When you first go in, the flowers in their small garden, seem to burst towards you in profusion of color, health and the whole place has an incredible sense of quiet beauty, knowledge, love, amazing.

So we will probably drive up to Chico Sunday; bill hurt his hand, and we were in emergency care Sunday at Kaiser-great people; we think while cleaning out our garage, dust from 1945 fell on an open cut on his hand; and he has had an extremely painful skin infection. I Googled it, and came up with the symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis, but his hands were not twisted, and his other hand wasn’t injured; so in my brilliant medical diagnosis by Google, I missed the mark. I’ve done this twice with my own stuff and half to laugh at myself.

He’s getting better; taking a nap; and that’s the story morning glories!

From The Seven Mysteries of Life, chapter, “The Ultimate Mystery: Divinity, pp. 624-625, Author Guy Murchie. This is a book I’ve had for 30 years, and I dip into it. It is out of print, but I believe, and have run into many a biologist or scientist, that it is an exceedingly valuable book. Bill and I are settling someones house in Chico; he passed on, and I was given another copy. I gave it to my son, Nicholas, for his 40th. We had a great combo of his birthday, mother’s day, and seeing Jessica, his daughter, our grandchild and Nick and Laura, O frabjous Day! contents include The Body, the Animal Kingdom, Realm of the Vegetable, World of Little, the Body, The complement called Sex, Secret Language of the Gene, the Mind, eleven senses of radiation and feeling, twenty-one senses of chemistry, mind and spirit, Emergence of Mind, the Body-Mind Relation, Memory, Intelligence and States of Mind, then Part Three-The Seven Mysteries of Life: First Mystery-The abstract Nature of the Universe; Second Mystery, The Interrelatedness of All Creatures, Third Mystery: The omnipresence of Life, Life’s Analogies on Land, Sea and Sky, Doornail and Crystal Essence, Living Geometry and Order; Fourth Mystery: the Polarity Principle, Fifth Mystery: Transcendence; The change Named Death, Evolution of Earth, Sixth Mystery: the Germination of Worlds, and the Seventh and Ultimate Mystery: Divinity,

Postlude the Meaning and the Melody

Summary-the Seven Mysteries of life.

It’s about a 700 page book including index, and I think is in softback too; try Amazon or Alibris if interested or Google title or author’s name. Forgive typing, not properly punctuated, etc., in haste, Esther

“There are many people on Earth still of a mind to follow blindly the ancient superstition that all misfortune in life is meted out by God in His anger over the sins of man. But that is an error, says Baha’u’llah, for ‘tests in life are not punishment but rather serve to reveal the soul to itself. . .Neither need we dread the disasters that come to each individual life . . . according to station. For the earth in essence is a workshop, a crucible for the molding and refining of character.” It is definitely not a global art gallery, nor a playground nor a torture chamber, though it may show temporary elements of all of these. Instead it is a Soul School, the perfection of which paradoxically is hidden within its imperfection.”

“I’ve heard it said that man’s body needs the pig, as does his soul the eagle. If so, the Soul School is where he will find out how to reconcile the two. for this is a serious establishment in a venerable cosmos where we learn by trying and doing. Despite local appearances, ours i not a world composed entirely of neat three-acre lots, each sheltering a contented, well-fed, well-adjusted family that has never experienced mud, cancer, bugs, accidents, poverty, wars or rumors of wars. No, this is the place where a step is taken every day from thinking, “Someone ought to do it but why should I?” to “Someone ought to do it so why not I?” This is the planet where the bowel that issues entropy shares blood and nourishment with its neighbor, the womb, that issues negentropy. It is Saint Augustine’s epic meeting ground between ‘Brother ass, the body, and his rider, the soul.’ It is where many a good man persists in denying his soul by telling himself it would be inhuman to deny his body — all because he has not yet discovered it is actually only his outdated animal body that is holding back the vast potential of his evolving human soul.”

“As spirit thus distributes itself through the world, obviously it will not treat all souls alike. For, in the service of justice, the Soul School must deal with us as individuals, making full allowance for the fact that the trials and lessons of one soul are rarely exactly appropriate for another. Thus arises the familiar and often puzzling disparities in life’s fortunes, like the exploding bombshell in a battlefield that inflicts cruel suffering upon one soldier, bestows heavenly relief in a hospital on another and grants a third his mystic release from life altogether. In a similar way Earth’s approaching catastrophe of adjustment to germination may, for some souls, turn out instead to be a metastrophe of hope, a sort of musical beyond-beat or spiritual purge that will clear the way for general and joyous recognition of spiritual values, an aspect of the Soul School that I cannot hope to explain in any reasonable way because, quite simply, it is a matter of faith.

Faith of course is mystical and often a key in the struggles of mind and spirit–as when Jesus said to the father of the epileptic, “If thou canst beli8eve: all things are possible to him that believeth.” To which, paradoxically, the tearful man replied, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9: 23-24)

For faith means more than holding something to be true. It requires action. It says: “I decide to do it. I stake my existence on it.” Columbus did not just think he was right. He laid his life on the line. So did Lindbergh and Neil Armstrong.

Faith is likewise a spiritual form of vision. The Arabs said as much in their ancient proverb: “the eye is blind to what the mind does not see.” Which really means: “Believing is seeing.”

We are in Chico, and I am using Ralph’s library card. Although he just died at 91, his card lives on and his reading of books has increased greatly. I just finished Postcards from the Edge; anderson cooper, and found it good and tender; and then Eve Ensler’s Insecure At Last – Losing It in our Security Obsessed World – which i regard as a MUST for every concerned soul on the planet. what’s happening outside our doors and inside this nation is big and carving us out. Clearly we are met to serve and care for one another. I cannot recommend this book enough. Love esther

I’ve been remiss in writing these days. Have read many first time books, most of which I think are great. The last one I read is Trail of Crumbs, Kim Sunee, and there’s an accent over the first e; do they still refer to that as accent agu? Have to ask my French speaking friends. The author interspersed or ended each chapter with heavenly recipes, but I am not a big cook and since we are in a small pool house with no oven, glanced over them. I love memoir; each so differnt, courageous to write!.

Finished my second book Writing on the Fly – it has one good blurb and i am getting two others, or in the process of finding same.
I weave things in regarding the Baha’i Faith and I like my writing in this book, more contemporary, edgy, i’m pleased.

I just watched Tess of the D’urbeville’s and cried at the end. Thought I had no tears left in me, but it was wonderful. i read Thomas Hardy in my early days and liked him a lot.

okay i’ll get back to doing this. But remember i told my book club last night they should read Spiritual Shackles, another first, but they were concerned about the length.

I read everything, more memoir, then nonfiction, and i love good fiction too; but trying to read more stuff of which I study. Not enough time. I give a free writing workshop next week for 4 hours and hi hope people get something out of it. We all need to express who we are, our voice; these are such portentous times.


From a Gnat to an Eagle is a phrase in the Baha’i Writings implying one’s potential and range of growth spiritually, and I’ve always adored that phrase. I guess that’s obvious by my blog name.

Reader, I just finished this book, and it’s new. Bill and I knew Nat and his wonderful wife Carol. Bill has worked more in the field of race relations than I and used all of Nat’s books. To put it simply, Bill loves Nat. We once stayed at their house in Amherst for the night, as we were traveling, and they let us have the pug with us in the back bedroom. I was shy with Nat, but Sunday I saw his book and knew Bill should have it for his birthday.

As things go around here, I picked it up first and couldn’t put it down. Every time I went near the book I was filled with this incredible divine sweetness – there’s no other way to portray it. I have been enamoured and spiritually connected to figures in books before, and they have changed my life, but never have I had this sense of being immersed in such divine sweetness. It is a wonderful book, and I just fell in love with Nat, his hopes, his aspirations, his accomplishments and his total humanness. Hope you can check it out somewhere; love to all, esther

Art as supplication, new book “Otto Donald Rogers” released
Toronto, Ontario, 13 November 2007 (Rob O’Flanagan, CBNS) — Every work of art Otto Rogers has set out to make began with a sense of great anticipation. “Within the act of creation lies the anticipation of assistance,” said Rogers, 72, who is the subject of a major new art book from Radius Books, a new publisher based in Santa Fe, New Mexico.Otto Donald Rogers art books against the backdrop of his latest paintings at David Mirvish Books
Otto Donald Rogers was released this month. “It’s a wonderful thing to feel as if you are being assisted from some power outside of yourself – to feel moved,” said the artist, speaking of the potential spiritual incentive that lies hidden in the act of painting.

“I could never anticipate what the work would be like and I still can’t. I always look forward to what the outcome of that assistance might be.”

Rogers’ artistic momentum began at the age of 17, shortly after leaving his hometown in Saskatchewan to begin his artistic education, first at the Saskatoon Teachers’ College and then at the University of Wisconsin.

The vast openness of the Saskatchewan landscape maintains a symbolic presence in his paintings and constructions, which owe much to the visual tutelage of the great painters of the 20th century – George Braque, Kurt Schwitters, Antonio Tapies and others.

In America in the mid-1950s, Rogers first encountered the works of the modernist masters of the day, people like Mark Rothko and Robert Motherwell, who would influence his own approach to painting.

It was around the same time that he first encountered the Baha’i Faith, introduced to him by his future wife, Barbara. He embraced the religion. His religious and artistic practices have carried on a symbiotic relationship for nearly half a century.

“The intoxication of the natural world experienced as a child now combined with the impressions of contemporary art to produce a transforming effect,” he writes in the compelling essay that accompanies Otto Donald Rogers, a 177-page book which features coloured reproductions of works completed over the past decade.

Copies of the book – the first printing is limited to 1,200 copies – will be distributed to about 300 libraries throughout North America. Visual artist, art critic and essayist Sky Glabush, wrote the introduction to the book.

“He is modern in the idealistic and avant-garde sense that Picasso is modern or in the promissory brightness of Kandinsky, or the utopian idealism of Mondrian,” writes Glabush.

“Rogers has often described his efforts in the studio as a form of worship. It is not as if his work is emulating prayer, or illustrating a spiritual state; rather, the act of painting itself, when striving towards perfection, becomes a form of devotion.”
Otto Donald Rogers at the November 7th Mirvish Books Launch of his new book “For Rogers, art is a supplication, the highest expression of which is unity.”

Widely recognized as one of Canada’s leading painters, Rogers’ legacy as a modernist figure in this country and abroad will be enhanced by the new book, said photographer, writer and educator Darius Himes, co-founder of Radius Books, which is dedicated to publishing books with broad artistic and cultural value.

Himes and Rogers met about 15 years ago while the two were serving at the Baha’i World Centre in Haifa, Israel. “I was a young photographer, someone who had just come out of art school, and he was very encouraging and influential in terms of getting me to think more about art and the effect of images,” said Himes.

About three years ago, the two reconnected and began talking about the creation of a “small catalogue.” The project grew to become a major book, and discussion is underway to produce additional books on Rogers’ work.

“Otto’s essay is actually quite monumental, in that it addresses some of things he has tried to address in his life over the last 45 years,” said Himes. “I love his work. There is a certain stillness in it, a meditative quality that is more about quietude. But there is also a great deal of dynamism in it, as well.

“The central issue for me in his approach is this idea of taking diverse elements and creating some sort of unity with them.” Himes summarized the artist’s staggering output, saying Rogers has mounted the equivalent of a solo exhibition each year for the past 45 years.

“And he has continued to evolve,” said Himes. “His work has become very dynamic.”

Having taught art for 30 years – encouraging countless aspiring young artists to pursue creative work – Rogers said he is himself a student of art.

“I just came back from New York, where I spent two weeks looking at art,” he said, “I came back with 35 books. I now have 1,200 books in my art library, and still I’m buying more.” Rogers lives in Prince Edward County, Ontario.

To learn more about the book visit Radius Books and look under Books, Fall 2007.

Okay, so meanwhile Ralph, stalwart husband of Sue, married 58 years, published a booK – PICTURE IN THIS BLOG – which is a fine, fine comment and quite scholarly too, of the BOOK OF REVELATION, which one Christian minister commented on:

“The Book of revelation is one of the most remarkable and upsetting books in the collection of writings revered for nearly two millennia in the Christian West as the Holy Scripture … Schreiber neither turns away from Revelation because of its highly violent themes and images, nor is he content with the idea that this document describes what will happen all at once at some future time, indeed at the “end of the World.” Rev. Dr. Jeffery Utter

and from Judge James F. Nelson

“Ralph Schreiber took on a prodigious task in his commentary on the Book of Revelation. future scholars will often look back upon this effort with great appreciation. This book bodes to bring humanity closer together as it helps them understand more fully the events of history. It gives a unique view of humanity’s approach to unity by presenting history as stages of development in which the concept of progressive revelation becomes clear.”

From Powells’ website; i just read it; quite compelling.

November 11th Hungry for the World: A Memoir by Kim Barnes Tammie’s comments:”I was first introduced to this book from an English professor in college. I had never heard of the book or Kim Barnes and as a typical college student was not in the mood for more than the required reading, but I gave this book a chance. I wasn’t more than 3 pages into it when I fell in love. Not only with the story but also Ms. Barne’s writing style….This is a great read for anyone who has ever felt lost or not apart of their world.” (read more) check for other copies

Today’s Review From Washington Post Book World

The Mission Song by John le Carre

Read today’s review in HTML at:
http://www.powells.com/wpb/review/2006_09_22

Tell us what you think! Give us your two (or ten) cents about today’s
review by posting a comment on the Powells.com blog.

The Interpreter
A review by Philip Caputo

I don’t know what accounts for the longevity of so many contemporary
American and European writers, in terms of both lifespans and
productivity. Not too long ago, short lives were common in the
literary world. Today, the likes of Saul Bellow, pounding the
keys almost to the moment of his death at 89, or Philip Roth,
who arguably has done his best work after becoming eligible for
Medicare, or Gunter Grass, making headlines with his new memoir
at 78, are the rule.

I am reminded of a comment Thomas McGuane made a few years ago:
With so many authors living so long, a writer nowadays can remain
a young writer well into middle age. Sixty is the new 40.

Now comes The Mission Song , the 20th novel by Britain’s John
le Carré, who turns 75 this year and shows no signs of fatigue.
His prose is as lovely and expressive as ever; his ear for dialogue
remains wonderfully acute. Each of the characters in The Mission
Song speaks with a distinctive voice, so that the usual interjections
of “so-and-so said” seem almost superfluous.

An ear for speech is the genius of le Carré’s protagonist, Bruno
Salvador, an interpreter fluent in English, French, Swahili and
several other African languages such as Kinyarwanda (the native
tongue of Rwanda) and Shi (spoken in the eastern Congo).

Salvo, as he’s known to his friends (some of whom later become
his enemies), came to this linguistic mastery early in life. Born
in the eastern Congo, the orphaned love-child of an Irish Catholic
missionary priest and a Congolese woman whom he never knew, he
attended a secret school where the sons of errant priests were
sent for higher education. There, his mentor and erstwhile lover,
Brother Michael, inspired him to train as a professional interpreter
in the tribal languages he’d absorbed from childhood.

Eventually, he arrived in England and gained British citizenship.
The mixed-race foreigner furthered his integration into British
society by marrying a white celebrity journalist, Penelope. The
marriage has gone sour when the novel opens, and Salvo enters
into an adulterous affair with Hannah, a Congolese nurse at a
London Hospital. The love story, deftly handled, serves as a subplot
to an intricate thriller.

Salvo is a star in his unusual profession and vain about his abilities.
He relishes the fact that he is “the one person in the room nobody
can do without.” Early in the story, which he narrates, he tells
us that there is a world of difference between a mere translator,
who can get by with mediocre language skills and a good dictionary,
and a top interpreter. Hired by large corporations, law firms
and hospitals, he also works part-time for the British Secret
Service in a London basement known as “The Chat Room.” It looks
like a boiler-room operation, but those people in cubicles wearing
headsets are interpreters eavesdropping on sensitive telephone
conversations all over the world.

In establishing his main character’s backstory, le Carré’s pacing
is neither overly leisured nor mechanically efficient. The tale
gets moving when the Chat Room supervisor assigns Salvo to act
as a simultaneous translator at a hush-hush meeting between Congolese
warlords and a shadowy syndicate of Western financiers. As naive
as he is vain, ardent to serve queen and country, Salvo accepts.
From then on, with the hooked reader in tow, he plunges into familiar
le Carré territory, a world of conspiracies, treachery and deceit.

For all that, The Mission Song has a comic, light-hearted touch.
At the same time, it has the moral seriousness of le Carré’s other
novel of Africa, The Constant Gardener. As in that tale about
the machinations of big pharmaceutical companies in Kenya, the
villain here is a multinational corporation. Indeed, with the
extinction of the Soviet Union, global capitalism seems to be
fueling le Carré’s literary energies. The chess matches between
George Smiley, his Cold War spymaster, and Smiley’s Soviet adversary,
Karla, have been replaced by confused, asymmetrical warfare between
somewhat hapless individuals such as Justin Quayle, the British
diplomat in The Constant Gardener, and corporate giants that know
no boundaries, moral or geographical.

A less worldly writer, or one with more left-wing axes to grind,
would be tempted to portray these global titans as the sole authors
of Africa’s endless tragedy. Le Carré avoids that trap and presents
African autocrats for the corrupt kleptomaniacs many of them are.
Salvo and Hannah excepted, nobody in this book has clean hands,
but some hands are dirtier than others.

Africa has become “hot” in recent years, and I don’t mean the
climate. It’s a must-stop on the itineraries of Western celebrities
from Bono to Madonna to Bill Clinton. Plagued by AIDS and malaria,
ruled by vicious tyrants, wracked by civil wars and genocide,
it is the irresistible magnet for aid agencies and missionaries,
for whom it remains the “dark continent” in need of their salvation.
It also remains what it’s been since the colonial era: the place
where foreign business interests (chiefly Western but increasingly
Chinese as well) can make lots of money and extract natural resources.

The Syndicate in The Mission Song combines both the impulse to
save and the urge to plunder. Salvo, his African conscience stirred
through his affair with Hannah, suffers from a bit of savior complex
himself. The Syndicate’s purported mission — to democratize his
native country while making it a safer place to do business, thus
bringing freedom and prosperity to all — sings its siren song
to him.

None of the action takes place in Africa. The setting is confined
to London and a nameless island in the British channel. There,
the Syndicate’s representatives confer with two warlords and the
son of a rich Congolese entrepreneur, Honoré Amour-Joyeuse, who
goes by the nickname of Haj. The purpose of this exercise is to
get the Africans to sign a contract pledging support to the Syndicate’s
scheme, its centerpiece being the installation in the eastern
Congo of a government led by an aging, charismatic messiah called
the Mwangaza. Granted exclusive rights to the region’s vital minerals,
the Syndicate will ensure that its profits are equitably distributed
to the people.

If this sounds fishy to you, it should, and therein lies the novel’s
only major flaw. The key that winds the spring that drives the
story is Salvo’s naiveté. Le Carré skillfully draws an idealistic
character less than half his age, but the reader may find, as
I did, Salvo’s gullibility difficult to accept. Almost from the
moment he’s given the mission, you sense that something is dreadfully
wrong and wonder why Salvo doesn’t, too.

Consequently, his awakening, when in the course of his interpretive
work he hears things not intended for his ears, seems a bit contrived,
his disillusionment a little too predictable. Things don’t end
well for Salvo either, and I was left with the feeling that he
allowed himself to be bamboozled.

Nevertheless, the vividness of le Carré’s characterizations —
Haj is marvelous and almost upstages Salvo — and his adroit navigation
of a plot with more twists and turns than the mountain segment
of the Tour de France compensate for this shortcoming.

The Mission Song is a minor work compared with le Carré’s big
Cold War novels, but his skepticism, compassion and sense of moral
outrage are as much in evidence here as in A Perfect Spy or The
Honorable Schoolboy. To categorize him, as many do, as a “spy”
novelist is to do him a disservice; he uses the world of cloak-and-dagger
much as Conrad used the sea — to explore the dark places in human
nature. Philip Caputo is the author of, most recently, Acts of
Faith.

Read the review online at:
http://www.powells.com/wpb/review/2006_09_22

What Terrorists Want, by Louise Richardson, is a book about understanding the enemy, containing the threat, which is the blurb put over the title of this red and back with white letters book cover. The author grew up in Ireland, had a background that produced many a terrorist, and has spent her professional life trying to understand them. Now, Richardson is a professor of government at Harvard, has taught courses on international relations and American foreign policy. Finally her students talked her into teaching about terrorism, to a limited size class of 15. 130 students signed up. “As always happens when teaching smart students, you learn as much as they do.” Needless to say, her classes and teaching expanded to this new level.

“After September 11 an entirely new breed of terrorism expert emerged. The priority of these experts was countererroism policy and American power. they were very knowledgeable about….” (p xix) She suggests knowing one’s enemies and that “We must prove them wrong.”

Okay from here on I am going to distill just a few points as I sit in nightclothes, hair thatched, half touched coffee beside me (one cup).

What is terrorism? “Terroism simply means deliberately and violently targeting civilians for political purposes. If an act does not involve violence of the threat of violence, Richardson writes it is not terrorism. A third point she writes is the point of terrorism is not to defeat the enemy but to send a message, and that finally the act and its victim(s) usually have symbolic significance.

The point that interested me is her 5th point which is controversial and is, “terrorism is the act of substate groups, not states, and lastly (I hope) the victim of the violence and the audience the terrorists are trying to reach are not the same.” (p. 8)

I then flip to page 263 to What is to be done-chapter; after all, we are interested in solutions, and you the reader, can delve in any manner through the book.

6 rules for counteracting terrorism

1. Have a defensible and achievable goal
2. Live by your principles (sound familiar)
3. Know your enemy
4. Separate the Terrorists from Their Comunities
5. Engage others in countering terrorists with you
6. Have patience and keep your perspective

She then speaks to “where are we know”? and “what is to come”?-

I am not usually so academic first thing in morning.

Another good book, by Thomas Friedman, Lordy, i hope i am getting this right The World is Flat, tremendous and prodigious but readable, in clumps for me; I haven’t read the whole thing.

Yours, girl reporter on a grey and cloudy morning where the birds tweep, I recoup from a bit of a stay in the hospital and where I have high hopes for humankind,

esther