Friday, January 9, 2015

today and its haiku

ghost trees loom in the
shroud of fog--I silently
tread down the mountain

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Brilliant reads

I may not have been reading, writing, and computing as much as I usually do, but I did read a few books that have stayed with me long after their covers closed.
Each of these shines with brilliant imagination and fearless exploration of possibilities. I'd say I wish I could write like this when I grow up, except I'm grown up and then some.
If you've read any of these, I'd love to hear your take. These stories are a walk on the wild side with totally refreshing views by David Levithan, Sally Green, and Andrew Smith.

Riveting, hold-on-to-your-seat storytelling that sucked me in to Half Bad, churned me in its vortex, and spit me out breathlessly at the end. Warning: this YA story is quite brutal at times. A lot of times. But there are also tender moments and people who stand up to the brutality giving the story hope and redemption. Kudos to author Sally Green for creating three-dimensional characters and a flawed society that carry the depth and substance of reality.

The protagonist, Nathan, is half bad, because he is the son of a notorious Black Witch father and a White Witch mother who died after his birth. Raised in the White Witch community he is, at times sullen and combative, but that isn't surprising since he's always been shunned and tormented. As he grows, treatment becomes more and more harsh, both psychologically and physically.

For brief sections the story is told in second person. I wondered at this device until I realized how brilliantly it was used to show the breakdown of Nathan as he struggles to maintain his sanity when imprisoned and beaten. It is a kind of disconnect that allows him to scheme, fight back, survive.

This story isn't about white and black witch societies, one being morally better than the other. It's about all the gray areas that allow people to believe they have the higher ground no matter how they achieve it.

 Excrementum Sanctum! About this book I'll say just as the teen-age protagonist, Austin, says with frequency, "Holy shit!" And not without cause. 

I don't know how Andrew Smith keeps doing what he does, but it's always brilliant, always a fusion of real-life messes and wonders mixed with crazy-pants stuff that makes me laugh out loud. Grasshopper Jungle may be the craziest of all his stories. 

Not only are Austin's hormones on hyperdrive and his confusion over his sexuality dragged along with that, but the world around him turns into the most outrageous, sci-fi horror show imaginable. Yeah, Austin struggles with being in love with both of his best friends--a boy and a girl-- while giant, people-eating bugs appear to be taking over their town. What do you do with that? Andrew Smith does amazing things with that. Entertaining and thought-provoking. Not for the squeamish or prudish.

Every Day is one-of-a-kind, a stroke of genius by David Levithan.

I don't find it easy to concentrate in waiting rooms and airports, but fell into Every Day each time I opened it no matter where I was--captivated by the dilemma, the characters, the truths about life.

The story has a supernatural element but is rooted in the realities of identity and relationships. The protagonist wakes up in a new body every day, never knowing what gender or race he/she will be in that borrowed life. Currently a teen, this means new parents, new school, new friends, to navigate. Some days are sweet, some are nightmares. Since nothing is permanent, love has remained elusive. Until now. 

That's all I'm going to say, not wanting to give spoilers. If you trust me, read it and be amazed.