Beech leaves

New community for reading Mansfield Park

episodical has just been launched. This community will be used to for posting novels, a chapter at a time, to be read and discussed. Our first novel will be Jane Austen's controversial Mansfield Park, a tale of character and sensibility, marriage and class, wit and social critique. The reading will start on Monday 18 June and two or three chapters will be posted per week, along with links to a free audio recording so that you can listen along as well if you like. In the future, we're hoping to post other novels from the 18th and 19th centuries, including Victorian and gothic.

Come and join us, and feel free to spread the word!
Mad Red

Blue Heaven, by Joe Keenan: A Little Too Much Idiot Ball

NOTE: This is the same review I posted on and my own LJ.

From the TV Tropes Wiki:

Idiot Ball
Coined by Hank Azaria on Hermans Head: Azaria would ask the writing staff, "Who's carrying the idiot ball this week?" This is not a compliment. The person carrying the idiot ball is often acting out of character, or misunderstanding something that could be cleared up by a single reasonable question that he isn't asking solely because the writers don't want him to ask. It's almost as if the character is being willfully stupid or obtuse.

That's my problem with Blue Heaven, by Joe Keenan. The narrating character ("Philly") is supposed to be reasonably smart, sane, and sympathetic, yet time and again when the only course of action he should take is very obviously "run, do not walk, away" he makes a bit of a fuss and then stays involved. The author even devotes two pages to excusing this behavior halfway through the book, but that just ends up calling attention to it all the more. Although the prose is polished and glib, the story itself comes off as forced and very set-up -- which is often the kiss of death in farce.

It's worth noting that this book landed the author a job on "Cheers" and this eventually led to him being Executive Producer on "Frasier" and it's easy to see why -- it reads like a novelized version of a TV show. The Christmas party set-piece in the center of the book, complete with a slapstick routine involving a mechanical version of the Three Wise Men being mistaken for Mafia hit-men, is so readily translatable to the movie screen that by the end of it I had my mental cast all picked out, starting with Hugh Grant as Philly.

On the other hand, in the very thin ranks of contemporary comic novels, a book that never once takes itself too seriously is a breath of fresh air. Too many books have at their climactic moment some sympathetic character committing suicide or a traffic accident that leaves the hero's best friend an invalid or some other contrived tragedy -- because obviously just comedy for its own sake isn't to be regarded as worthy of attention or praise in our drama-snob society. What violence or darkness there is comes off more as outrageous and cartoony than anything else, and that's only a good thing in my opinion.

So overall, witty and enjoyable, but contrived and lacking a sense of reality. Despite what all these other reviews say, with this book Keenan is no P.G. Wodehouse -- but neither was P.G. Wodehouse with his first offering. There is enough good here that I will keep reading at least the next book in the hopes that the author improves.

One final thought, however: the reason Bertie Wooster is so likeable is that he's always trying to do right by everybody, even if he screws it up. Unfortunately, the same can not be said for the main characters of Blue Heaven.

-The Gneech
A Cult Classic for the End Times

Blues4Kali- A MetaMyth for the Millennium

What will Winter Solstice bring in 2012? instant of Karma? ethereal spiral dance of the collective soul? ... cosmic judgment leveled against civilization's expanse? ...destruction of the world as we know it? ...a chance for a new start? ...the rise and the revenge of the Goddess? or simply another day in the life of paranoia? These are the false prophesies that your pastor warned you about!
Reality Exchange Program
"Makes DMT seem like a whip-it."

Crazy Bear said there'd be days like this. As usual, no one believed him. Now, all I want to know is: where IS that lifeboat, and how DO I ditch this ship of fools, without any of these bliss ninnies noticing that I'm already gone?
Captain, my ass. We are equal in this sea of madness.
That iceberg is looking awfully big.

Amana Mission is on a quest to save the world, and the only problem is, she can't remember why she got involved with such an obvious scam in the first place. Jesus saves. Christ. What a loser.
Kali kills first, and recycles later.
Hitchhikers, load up for a ride to the Other Side. You may wish you had gone Greyhound.
"What the...?"
*A cranky band of prankster peace warriors who absolutely cannot resist messing with each other's minds, no matter the cost.
*Cocky alchemy-dabbling quantum surfers, navigating the Ethersphere with hand-held computers, switching timelines to find a better party vibe and swap tips about the best temporary toilets for use as interdimensional portals.
*A burnt-out visionary hippie millionaire on a mission from Gaia to build a better "communitopia" by underwriting a convoy carrying telepathic priestesses.
*A wheelchair-bound mindpilot propelling a crystal-powered Seed Bank toward the post-Apocalyptic Garden, with psychic precision...and a predilection for high-velocity extreme driving.
*Hermaphrodite time-jumper fleeing a fate worse than death.
*Anarchist ghettoes where anything goes-except escape.
*Ancient Principals vying like sweatsoaked carpetbaggers for our loyalty as the Final Vote is tallied.
*Long-haired security patrols collecting a cannabis tribute tax from all pilgrims to the Valley of Fun.
*And an underground meat mafia bringing a black magic revival to a bloodless dreamworld gone bland.
All brought together by a secret psychedelic superdrug that tunes users in to reality through the eyes of another archetypal avatar inhabiting a different state of space and time. Mahayana made easy. Budding Buddha natures are running amuck on a virtual superhighway where all roads lead to the Bo tree and singularity.
Twenty-first century Tantra is about more than sex, drugs, and rock and roll.Confronting the Karma of every wasted breath is only the first step.
Welcome to the End Times. Kali awaits. She already knows who you are.
Do you?
The 21st century counterculture is even weirder than it appears on the surface. This is not your mommy’s MTV Road Rules.
Ride along on this mesmerizing, metaphor-packed bus trip toward ecstasy and enlightenment, as three real-time guides-Amana, Sissy, and Deva, let you in on what they learned when they asked what It was really all about, after all.
Become them for a multilevel metafictional tour of infinity and awaken yourself to the miracle-a-minute magic of mighty Mother Kali!

Read Online Novel Blues 4 Kali at
2012 Prophecies

(no subject)

Two little reviews I posted in my journal:

Threshold by Caitlin R. Keirnan

Confessions of a Memory Eater by Pagan Kennedy

I've been hearing about both of these women for years, but I didn't read them until recently, one after the other, in just that order.

Keirnan's novel is written in the present tense, which, I suppose, is supposed to give it a sense of immediacy. Why that's important I do not know. Whenever I see a novel written in the present tense, I always have the sneaking suspicion that the author is really saying, "C'mon you tasteless Hollywood bastards, make me rich," for screeplays are always written in the present tense. She also has the unfortunate habit of writing "and" for "(someone) said," which is a gimmick I've used myself, but when always used, every single time, it just becomes rather irritating.

That said, Keirnan's novel suffers from the same failure that most horror novels suffer--the lack of an adequate ending. There was only one way for this novel to end. The author had set us up for it, left no way out until, magically, a way out was found. That's neither clever nor surprising, it's just cheap Hollywood crap, and it ruins the book.

On the other hand, Pagan Kennedy was someone I always thought of as a 'zine-girl, webmistress hipster whose persona supplanted her writing. How wrong I was, and happily so. While occasionally Kennedy's metaphors are a bit too perfect and precious, I appreciate that she took the time to bother considering reflecting the plot in imagery, which, sadly, is far too rare these days.

The novel, which tells us the story of a new drug and its effects on a variety of people, is a sympathetic coming-of-age story for forty-year olds, a fearless exploration of mid-life crisis as rebirth, which isn't to say it's a cozy affirmation of life. It isn't. But ultimately there is an underlying optimism that shines through without any of the phonyness of, say, Mitch Albom's heaven.

I could write a whole paper here on what the novel says about nostalgia, and also it's comments on youth, but it would be better for you to find those things out for yourself.

Mollymauk's patented rating system:

Threshold: one and a half stars
Confessions of a Memory Eater three stars

The Curious History of Mother's Day

excerpt from The Way We Never Were by Stephanie Coontz, 1992 (pp. 151-153)

The people who inspired Mother's Day had quite a different idea about what made mothers special. They believed that motherhood was a political force. They wished to celebrate mothers' social roles as community organizers, honoring women who acted on behalf of the entire future generation rather than simply putting their own children first.

The first proposal of a day for mothers came from Anna Reeves Jarvis, who in 1958 organized Mothers' Work Days in West Virginia to improve sanitation in the Appalachian Mountains. During the Civil War, her group provided medical services for soldiers and civilians on both sides of the conflict. After the war, Jarvis led a campaign to get the former combatants to lay aside their animosities and forge new social and political alliances.

The other nineteenth-centry precursor of Mother's Day began in Boston in 1872, when poet and philoanthropist Julia Ward Howe proposed an annual Mothers' Day for Peace, to be held every June 2:

"Arise then, women of this day!...Say firmly: 'Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage...Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injur theirs."

Howe's Mothers' Day was celebrated widely in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and other Eastern states until the turn of the centry.

Most of these ceremonies and proposals, significantly, were couched in plural, not the singular, mode: Mothers' Day was originally a vehicle for organized and political action by all mothers, not for celebrating private services of one's own particular mother.

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(may crosspost depending on responses or lack thereof)

"I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us.. we need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us." -Franz Kafka

I'm noticing a genre of books cropping up from the likes of Nicholas Sparks and Mitch Albom - books I've affectionately titled emotional masturbation.

Emotional Masturbatory books are typically brief in length, simple to read, and have an uncomplicated plot that leaves the reader feeling like nothing has escaped them. The only goal of the author is to stimulate the reader's emotions into some form of release; lulling the reader into empathy. When one dissects the book, however, it is found to be a superficial story with no real value other than to reaffirm the reader's own sense of humanity. People can invest so much feeling into these books, but they don't glean anything that could transform them.
Now, I'm very young. Is this all in my head?
And who am I to decide what qualifies as literature or not? Do you think that time turns these "emotional masturbatory" novels into the stuff of Classics? What do you think the qualifying factors are for a Classic, anyway?

beverly connor: one grave too many

well, the backside said a kathy reichs and patricia cornwell fan will love this book ... I am at page 172 at the moment and it is down right boring. the main character diane fallon, a forensic pathologist who retired and is now boss of a museum after she loss her "step"-daughter in southern america (you get that information within 1/2 a page and no explinations for it) gets a bone from a friend of her to analyse. she didnt want to do it at first. within 100 pages nothing happens. then three people (parents and son) get murdered in their house and the police (bad, bad local police!) thinks that it was star, the missing daughter. diana starts a blood splatter analyse in the house when she gets threatened by star's boyfriend - the police is also searching for him - with a knive.

isnt that 08-15?? It feels like that. I know that beverly connor had a series of an archeologist, I dont know those books, but this one ... is SOOOO far away from my beloved kathy reichs or (my less liked) patricia cornwell.

does anybody knows the other series around lindsey chamberlain??

another book community

talkbooks is a general book discussion community. I’m a moderator of the community. It’s intended as a community that will go beyond the best seller lists and the Oprah Book Club to explore some of the more interesting writers from both the past and the present

talkbooks serves as a group booklog, where members can publicly post what they've read and their lengthy reactions to it. It's meant to foster discussion on any works - short stories, novels, biographies, non-fiction - deeper than what most book communities offer. We mean to analyse and react to the written word beyond the primary level of comprehension.

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  • syrano

(no subject)

I just finished reading Perfume The Story of a Murder just a few short moments ago and I must admit I was spellbound by the vivid descriptions the author has shared with his readers about the olfactory sense. I would recommend this novel to any writer (or anyone) who feels they need a lesson in proper descriptive narrative. The Story itself is not as in depth as I might have hoped, though it was relatively easy to follow and you could allow yourself to be caught up in the smorgasbord of sensory delights the author seems adept at describing within his novel.

The story begins, like life, with the birth of a child. This child is different than most though, since he seems to have no Odor of his own.

It truly is an exquisite piece of literature, and I would definitely recommend it.
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