In her short story collection, Shelf Life of Happiness, Virginia Pye has a character, Nathan, in the title story, remarking about the “long shadow” that “Papa” casts over “lesser writers.” If Ms. Pye ever felt overshadowed by the great Ernest Hemingway, or compelled to imitate his style, she has overcome it.
There is a solitary quality to Saul’s first person narrative, which isn’t exactly stream of consciousness, though the truncated sentences and visual imagery has a poetic and interior feel. The reader discovers this landscape through Saul’s perceptions and they continually return to the elemental – the earth, the rhythm of time, the ocean.
We may not often be able to control the trajectory of our choices, but we do have the option to recognize them responsibly and honestly. Harél shows us we have an obligation to not glaze over those choices with false distortions that appease our fragile egos and illusions and compromise truth and reality. He examines places where our expectations and confidence become derailed.
Kenneth Salzmann may be a musical guy enthralled with jazz, but in this instance music is really a metaphor for poetry. He is a poet. I’m a fan of poetry like his. It’s as simple as that—and as messy. You see, his poetry really does creep into the bones, the marrow, the blood.
Some parts off the story follow history closely. The author, Edward James, knows this period well. HIs descriptions of the boats, their crews, and the historical settings are fascinating. The book also describes the real life and death of Richard Chancellor, a historical figure who stumbled into Ivan the Terrible’s court and became the first English diplomat to Russia. The other character, Arthur, is fictional, but his side of the story gives life to the nomadic tribes, the Sami people, who are too often left out of history but whose lives and customs remain unchanged since the dawn of time, even until today.
These are poems that pivot on a moment: a chance meeting, a sudden change in situation, or a close observation that takes something commonplace such as an afternoon on the back verandah watching fireworks, driving a vehicle, or reading the news and moves in so close it becomes abstract: a synecdoche for something else. In a way that’s Proustian, the imagery gives rise to a memory, or a perception which is emotive and powerful, revealing something subtle about the world.
Comparisons aside, Jamie and Girl from Blind River stand on their own as remarkable achievements in popular literature. Gale Massey has a poet’s eye for the telling detail, and can evoke a feeling with a few deftly written words. Readers don’t need to be told Jamie is poor after Massey has her searching “the remaining pizza boxes until she found a piece of crust and chewed it while she watched the [poker] hand play out.”
The Love That I Have should be an educational experience for many entertained and amazed readers. We take our freedoms for granted and the stark comparisons between our own carefree lives and the inhabitants of Nazi Germany are a chilling reminder of how important it is to maintain these privileged liberties. This is a book that belongs within a bookcase, the one you can reach for, then show your houseguest and say…”Now, this is a great story I’m sure you would like…”
Though Before We Died is a fictional story, full of intrigue, mystery, and a driving plot that makes it very readable, it is also built around real events as described in the prologue, particularly the catastrophic impact of the rubber boom on some areas of the Amazon, ecologically and in terms of the impacts on the native tribes. The book also confronts issues like racism, exploitation, slavery, and rampant colonialisation, seamlessly integrating the universal into this particular story in a way that feels natural
The Journal is thus principally concerned with western individuals churning up other people’s cultural and physical environments with their motorbikes and all-night beach parties, blithely unaware of their largely egocentric and instrumental approach to the world they despoil. What one might accept initially as gently accurate satire of youthful pretensions becomes the unsettling suspicion that we are meant to take much of this seriously – that the novel is as blind as many of its characters.