Sunday, November 17, 2019

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

With We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Shirley Jackson weaves an overall mood of fear, hostility, menace, and madness without being overt or graphic. I was chilled.

I'll leave it at that, as Goodreads can fill you in on the synopsis if you're interested. If you prefer not to know too much (and I think that's best), skip the synopsis and dive in! At 162 pages it's not a huge commitment of time.

Reading anything by Shirley Jackson makes you want to know more about Shirley Jackson. The "Introduction" I found preceding the first chapter of Castle gave some background and insight into Jackson's life; not a lot, just enough to leave me wanting more.

You've probably even read her work and don't know it. At some point a teacher or friend surely laid before you a short story called "The Lottery."  What life, what experiences, creates that disturbing, unforgettable tale?

To answer that, here are some links if you dare delve further into a brilliant mind so very capable of going so very dark:

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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead review
The striking tale told in Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk features an eccentric narrator philosophizing about life, animals and astrology, all while leading us through a murky trail of bizarre deaths.

The story is told by Janina, who lives alone in an isolated Polish village. We never learn her age, but she frequently ruminates on growing older, the feeling that people view her as an old woman who's easy to ignore and dismiss, and ailments that prove painfully debilitating at times.

Poet William Blake weaves his way through the text, with lines of his poems introducing each chapter and Janina herself working with a friend to translate his poetry. Not to mention the title itself comes from Blake. I'm not very familiar with his work, but I'm sure his fans will find all kinds of Easter eggs in the book that I missed.

Friday, November 8, 2019

So You've Got a Nemesis ... There's a Poem for That

So You've Got a Nemesis ...

I don't think I'm petty, but the feeling of joy that ensues when reading a particular poem wherein the author drags his nemesis may mean that perhaps, just a little, I am.

The poem that sets me all aglow with delight is "The Book of My Enemy has been Remaindered" by Australian writer Clive James. In it he celebrates the fact that his enemy's book has been remaindered, which is to say, it wasn't selling well so the publisher is liquidating remaining stock. If you've ever bought a book for $1 from a clearance pile and noted the black slash of a permanent marker along the edge of the pages, you just got a bargain thanks to a remaindered book.

James flings lovely daggers at his foe, such as:

Sunday, November 3, 2019

The Radium Girls by Kate Moore (Review)

The Radium Girls by Kate Moore
This true story of young girls and women poisoned by radium while working in dial-painting factories in the early 1900s reads like a novel.

The jobs paid remarkably well, especially for women. They were even fun and glamorous, as the young women got to work with the expensive, trendy, wonder-substance radium.

Looming beneath the glowing veneer of the job, however, lurked a danger that would lead to excruciating illnesses and, in many cases, death.

The women were taught to point their brushes with their lips to tame the splayed bristles, something they did repeatedly as they coated watch dials with radium. Even as the companies became aware of the danger, they ignored and hid it from the women, wishing to continue their lucrative business, all the while poisoning more young women. They also used every means possible to avoid taking financial responsibility for massive medical costs and suffering the women incurred.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

What to Watch November 2019

Temps are getting colder, but the shows are getting hotter! This month sees the launch of both Disney Plus AND Apple TV Plus. Disney's making much bigger waves, but Apple TV is quietly slipping in some interesting options, too.

Here's a link listing premieres from all channels & streaming services together by date, and I've included links to listings for specific premium channels and streaming services under my personal picks below.

And away we go!

Friday, October 25, 2019

Author Talk with Kate Moore (The Radium Girls)

The group of women known as the Radium Girls remained voiceless and largely forgotten until one author made it her mission to reach back through the years and let their voices be heard.

Kate Moore, author of The Radium Girls
Kate Moore
I was lucky enough to be in the crowd when Kate Moore discussed her book, The Radium Girls, and the emotional journey of writing it with fans at the Spencer Road branch of the county library system in St. Peters, Missouri, on Oct. 12.

"My mission in writing this book was to ensure that these important special girls were not forgotten. And it just means the world to have you come out to hear about them because I know you'll remember their tale ... . We're all collectively remembering them tonight and that's really special to me," she said.