The Matisse – Diebenkorn Exhibit Reflects the Gigantic Influence that Matisse Has Had on Modern Art

Yesterday, I traveled to the beautiful Baltimore Museum of Art to see the Matisse – Diebenkorn Exhibition. I had mixed feelings about the show.

press_release_image

Diebenkorn on the Left – Matisse’s Woman in Yellow Dress on the Right

Because I have long loved Matisse, I was disappointed that the brilliantly colored and heavily designed Matisse paintings were not part of the show. In the Matisse – Diebenkorn exhibition, the priority was that of correlating paintings that were similar in hue and in other ways. At the Baltimore Museum of Art, however, there are numerous brightly-colored Matisse paintings in the permanent collection. Baltimore has the largest collection of Matisses in the world, and while the Matisses in the special exhibition are muted to correlate with some of Diebenkorn’s more muted paintings, the BMA permanent collection is brimming with the bright Matisses that many of us treasure.

Image result for matisse interior with dog

Henri Matisse – Interior with a Dog – Permanent Collection BMA

While Matisse was still living and when he was more affordable, the Cone sisters from Baltimore collected many Matisse paintings and when they died, the vast Cone collection was bequeathed to the Baltimore Museum of Art. The Matisses in that collection are delightfully vivid.

The BMA has carefully reconstructed the Baltimore apartments of the two Cone sisters and a slice of their apartments is housed as part of the collection. A sophisticated virtual tour of the apartments is also housed at the museum.

The Cone Collection also houses other artists who were contemporaries of Matisse. There are Picasso paintings and Renoir paintings and Bonnards and Gauguins, etc.

Image result for Gauguin painting man with cello bmaThe large Gauguin painting of the man with a cello is in the Cone collection, and it is much more brilliant than this image conveys.

Because there are numerous bright and colorful paintings in the permanent Cone collection of the BMA, it is easier to appreciate that the Matisse paintings chosen for the special Diebenkorn exhibition are not what many of us love about the Fauvistic Matisse.

Believe it or not, Matisse painted the following:

Image result for matisse goldfish and palette

Matisse – Goldfish with Palette

And Matisse painted the following image on the left, which is compared to the Diebenkorn on the right.

Image result for diebenkorn bma

A large number of Diebenkorn’s grilled abstracts are part of the Matisse – Diebenkorn exhibition, but there are other of his types of art, too, and in some of that work, you are able to see how Matisse’s use of pattern and design influenced Diebenkorn.

Baltimore Museum of Art

Henri Matisse – Reclining Nube with a Flowered Robe – 1923

Baltimore Museum of Art

Richard Diebenkorn – Woman Seated in a Chair 1963

Notice how Matisse’s sense of design presents itself in the following abstract painting by Diebenkorn:

Image result for diebenkorn berkeley

Richard Diebenkorn – Berkely Years

In the above painting, the highly designed swatch is painted on the interior of a room, and on the right of the painting, there is a window that looks out. Matisse painted several room interiors with windows that looked outside.

The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.

Henri Matisse – Studio, Quai Saint-Michel – 1916

A few of Matisse’s still life paintings were part of the exhibit, and my favorite of the Diebenkorn paintings were his still life paintings.

Image result for diebenkorn still life with oranges

Diebenkorn – Still Life with Oranges

Diebenkorn’s still life paintings are painterly and they are like his painterly abstracts that are reminiscent of Hans Hoffman.

Image result for diebenkorn still life with oranges

Diebenkorn – Berkely No. 23

Image result for matisse still life blue jug diebenkorn exhibit

Richard Diebenkorn – Still Life with Iris [Not part of the Matisse Diebenkorn exhibit]

Diebenkorn’s Still Life with Iris is a bridge between his painterly still lifes and his painterly abstracts.

The Matisse – Diebenkorn exhibition will move to San Francisco in 2017, but I advise anyone who can do so to see the show at the BMA. I especially advise those who love the colorful Matisse paintings to see the show in Baltimore. There, you will be able to see the gigantic influence that Matisse had on Diebenkorn, but you will also be able to see the older master’s more vivid paintings as well. They are part of the BMA’s permanent Cone Sisters Collection

©Jacki Kellum October 30, 2016

Giant

Advertisements

I Don’t Want to Live in a Society that Bans What I Read or What I Write

Banned Books Week began September 25, 2016, and to celebrate my freedom to read what I want to read, I compiled a partial list of books that have been banned in the past. To Kill a Mockingbird was banned at one time. Call of the Wild was banned at one time. Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer were banned at one time. The Harry Potter books were banned at one time. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was banned at one time. I don’t like the idea of living in a society that tells me what I can read. Soon, I’d be told what I can write. That kind of totalitarian control frightens me.

political_donkey_elephant_2016

The 2016 presidential election is coming in less than two weeks, and when I hear Trump’s blustering threats about the walls that he will build and the wars that he will wage, I am reminded of the blustering, hate-filled threats that Hitler once made, and then, I am reminded of how he set about to honor his threats.

When I consider the fact that Clinton flagrantly disregarded the law, I am reminded of Robert Penn Warren’s book All the King’s Men, which was once a banned book. All the King’s Men was based on the life and behavior of the corrupt Louisiana politician Huey Long. We need books like All the King’s Men–books that dramatize for us the consequences of allowing corrupt officials to gain control of our country.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana

Banning books is a short step away from burning books, which is the result of a government that has become too powerful and is more comfortable when its citizens are uninformed. I am not pleased with either of the candidates for the presidency in 2016, and I don’t look forward to the next four years with either of our presidential nominees. Clearly, we Americans need to improve in our efforts to encourage worthy people to run for the presidency. We also need to become more vigilant in our efforts to discourage any leader from assuming too much power–especially too much power that is misguided.

©Jacki Kellum October 26, 2016

Image result for 1984 george orwell

Ignorance Is NOT Strength – Information Is Strength

Partial List Of Books that Have Been Banned

Alexie, Sherman. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.
Bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.
Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author’s own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by Ellen Forney that reflect the character’s art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.

Product DetailsAllende, Isabel. The House of the Spirits.
The House of the Spirits brings to life the triumphs and tragedies of three generations of the Trueba family. The patriarch Esteban is a volatile, proud man whose voracious pursuit of political power is tempered only by his love for his delicate wife, Clara, a woman with a mystical connection to the spirit world. When their daughter Blanca embarks on a forbidden love affair in defiance of her implacable father, the result is an unexpected gift to Esteban: his adored granddaughter Alba, a beautiful and strong-willed child who will lead her family and her country into a revolutionary future.
One of the most important novels of the twentieth century,

Product DetailsAngelou, Maya. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
Here is a book as joyous and painful, as mysterious and memorable, as childhood itself. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings captures the longing of lonely children, the brute insult of bigotry, and the wonder of words that can make the world right. Maya Angelou’s debut memoir is a modern American classic beloved worldwide.
Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local “powhitetrash.” At eight years old and back at her mother’s side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age—and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime.

Product DetailsAsher, Jay. Thirteen Reasons Why.
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker—his classmate and crush—who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why. Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.

Product DetailsAtwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale. 

In the world of the near future, who will control women’s bodies?

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are only valued if their ovaries are viable.

Product DetailsBaldwin, James. Go Tell It on the Mountain.
On The Mountain, first published in 1953, is Baldwin’s first major work, a novel that has established itself as an American classic. With lyrical precision, psychological directness, resonating symbolic power, and a rage that is at once unrelenting and compassionate, Baldwin chronicles a fourteen-year-old boy’s discovery of the terms of his identity as the stepson of the minister of a storefront Pentecostal church in Harlem one Saturday in March of 1935. Baldwin’s rendering of his protagonist’s spiritual, sexual, and moral struggle of self-invention opened new possibilities in the American language and in the way Americans understand themselves.

Product DetailsBannerman, Helen. The Story of Little Black Sambo.

The Story of Little Black Sambo is a children’s book written and illustrated by Helen Bannerman, and first published by Grant Richards in October 1899 as one in a series of small-format books called The Dumpy Books for Children. Sambo is a South Indian boy who encounters four hungry tigers, and surrenders his colourful new clothes, shoes, and umbrella so they will not eat him. The tigers are vain and each thinks he is better dressed than the others. They chase each other around a tree until they are reduced to a pool of melted butter; Sambo then recovers his clothes and his mother makes pancakes of the butter

Product DetailsBisinger, H.G. Friday Night Lights.
Return once again to the timeless account of the Permian Panthers of Odessa—the winningest high-school football team in Texas history. Socially and racially divided, Odessa isn’t known to be a place big on dreams, but every Friday night from September to December, when the Panthers play football, dreams can come true.
With frankness and compassion, H. G. Bissinger unforgettably captures a season in the life of Odessa and shows how single-minded devotion to the team shapes the community and inspires—and sometimes shatters—the teenagers who wear the Panthers’ uniforms.

Product DetailsBradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451.
In Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury’s classic, frightening vision of the future, firemen don’t put out fires–they start them in order to burn books. Bradbury’s vividly painted society holds up the appearance of happiness as the highest goal–a place where trivial information is good, and knowledge and ideas are bad. Fire Captain Beatty explains it this way, “Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs…. Don’t give them slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy.”
Guy Montag is a book-burning fireman undergoing a crisis of faith.

Product DetailsBurgess, Anthony. A Clockwork Orange.

A vicious fifteen-year-old droog is the central character of this 1963 classic. In Anthony Burgess’s nightmare vision of the future, where the criminals take over after dark, the story is told by the central character, Alex, who talks in a brutal invented slang that brilliantly renders his and his friends’ social pathology. A Clockwork Orange is a frightening fable about good and evil, and the meaning of human freedom. When the state undertakes to reform Alex to “redeem” him, the novel asks, “At what cost?” This edition includes the controversial last chapter not published in the first edition and Burgess’s introduction “A Clockwork Orange Resucked.”

Product DetailsCapote, Truman. In Cold Blood.
On assignment from the New Yorker, author Truman Capote, along with his assistant Nell Harper Lee, traveled to Holcomb in late 1959 to investigate the killings for an article. The article was completed, but still Capote remained in Holcomb. He conducted interviews with every person in town; he pored over police records and statements. Once the killers, drifters Perry Smith and Dick Hickock, were caught and sentenced, he even interviewed them on Death Row. The Clutter killings became an obsession for him; and that obsession turned into a book that would become a literary milestone,

Product DetailsCollins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games.
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games,” a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed.

Product DetailsCooney, Caroline B. The Face on the Milk Carton.
In the vein of psychological thrillers like We Were Liars, Girl on the Train, and Beware That Girl, bestselling author Caroline Cooney’s JANIE series delivers on every level. Mystery and suspense blend seamlessly with issues of family, friendship and love to offer an emotionally evocative thrill ride of a read.
…a three-year-old who had been kidnapped twelve years before from a shopping mall in New Jersey—she felt overcome with shock. She recognized that little girl—it was she. How could it possibly be true?

Product DetailsCormier, Robert. The Chocolate War.
One of the most controversial YA novels of all time, The Chocolate War is a modern masterpiece that speaks to fans of S. E. Hinton’s The Outsiders and John Knowles’s A Separate Peace.
After suffering rejection from seven major publishers, The Chocolate War made its debut in 1974, and quickly became a bestselling—and provocative—classic for young adults. This chilling portrait of an all-boys prep school casts an unflinching eye on the pitfalls of conformity and corruption in our most elite cultural institutions.
“Masterfully structured and rich in theme; the action is well crafted, well timed, suspenseful.”—The New York Times Book Review
Product DetailsCormier, Robert. We All Fall Down.

They entered the house at 9:02 P.M. and trashed their way through the Cape Cod cottage. At 9:46 P.M. Karen Jerome made the mistake of arriving home early. Thrown down the basement stairs, Karen slips into a coma. The trashers slip away.
In an unapologetically severe story about four boys who victimize Karen Jerome and her family, Cormier once again explores the potential for malice in all of us. The teenagers leave the Jeromes’ home in ruin; Karen is assaulted and subsequently hospitalized in a coma. Not for the squeamish, Cormier’s novel doesn’t mince words:

Product DetailsDreiser, Theodore. An American Tragedy. 
Clyde Griffiths finds his social-climbing aspirations and love for a rich and beautiful debutante threatened when his lower-class pregnant girlfriend gives him an ultimatum. Theodore Dreiser set out to create an epic character and, in the form of Clyde Griffiths in An American Tragedy, he succeeded. Griffiths is just a Midwest kid, the son of a preacher in Kansas City, who tastes a little sophistication and then hits the road seeking pleasure and success. He has his moments, conducting more than one romantic affair, until that ill-advised pursuit ensnares him.

Product DetailsEllis, Brett Easton. American Psycho.

In American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis imaginatively explores the incomprehensible depths of madness and captures the insanity of violence in our time or any other. Patrick Bateman moves among the young and trendy in 1980s Manhattan. Young, handsome, and well educated, Bateman earns his fortune on Wall Street by day while spending his nights in ways we cannot begin to fathom. Expressing his true self through torture and murder, Bateman prefigures an apocalyptic horror that no society could bear to confront.

Product DetailsEllison, Ralph. The Invisible Man.
Invisible Man is a milestone in American literature, a book that has continued to engage readers since its appearance in 1952. A first novel by an unknown writer, it remained on the bestseller list for sixteen weeks, won the National Book Award for fiction, and established Ralph Ellison as one of the key writers of the century. The nameless narrator of the novel describes growing up in a black community in the South, attending a Negro college from which he is expelled, moving to New York and becoming the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of “the Brotherhood”, and retreating amid violence and confusion to the basement lair of the Invisible Man he imagines himself to be. The book is a passionate and witty tour de force of style, strongly influenced by T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, Joyce, and Dostoevsky.

Product DetailsFaulkner, William. As I Lay Dying.
“I set out deliberately to write a tour-de-force. Before I ever put pen to paper and set down the first word I knew what the last word would be and almost where the last period would fall.” —William Faulkner onAs I Lay Dying
As I Lay Dying is Faulkner’s harrowing account of the Bundren family’s odyssey across the Mississippi countryside to bury Addie, their wife and mother. Narrated in turn  by each of the family members—including Addie herself—as well as others the novel ranges in mood, from dark comedy to the deepest pathos. Considered one of the most influential novels in American fiction in structure, style, and drama,As I Lay Dying is a true 20th-century classic.

Product DetailsFitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby.
THE GREAT GATSBY is a 1925 novel written by American author F. Scott Fitzgerald that follows a cast of characters living in the fictional town of West Egg on prosperous Long Island in the summer of 1922. The story primarily concerns the young and mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby and his quixotic passion and obsession for the beautiful former debutante Daisy Buchanan. Considered to be Fitzgerald’s magnum opus, The Great Gatsby explores themes of decadence, idealism, resistance to change, social upheaval, and excess, creating a portrait of the Jazz Age or the Roaring Twenties that has been described as a cautionary tale regarding the American Dream.

Product DetailsFollett, Ken. The Pillars of the Earth. 

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Ken Follett comes this spellbinding epic set in twelfth-century England. The Pillars of the Earth tells the story of the lives entwined in the building of the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has ever known-and a struggle between good and evil that will turn church against state, and brother against brother. Also a miniseries.

Product Details

Frank, E.R. America: A Novel

For eighteen gritty years, a boy dodges the cracks in system in this “piercing, unforgettable novel” (Booklist) from E.R. Frank that Kirkus Reviews deemed “a work of sublime humanity.”

America is mistaken for black, Asian, Native American, even white. He doesn’t seem to fit in anywhere, and, parentless, he is shunted for eighteen years from a foster home, to the street, and ultimately to the brink of despair. Can one doctor pull him back and bring America somewhere new—somewhere with a future?

Product DetailsGolding, William. The Lord of the Flies.
Lord of the Flies remains as provocative today as when it was first published in 1954, igniting passionate debate with its startling, brutal portrait of human nature. Though critically acclaimed, it was largely ignored upon its initial publication. Yet soon it became a cult favorite among both students and literary critics who compared it to J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye in its influence on modern thought and literature.
William Golding’s compelling story about a group of very ordinary small boys marooned on a coral island has become a modern classic.

Product DetailsGreen, John. Looking for Alaska.
Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave “the Great Perhaps” even more (Francois Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young. She is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. Then. . .

Product DetailsGreene, Bette. Summer of My German Soldier.
The summer that Patty Bergen turns twelve is a summer that will haunt her forever. When her small hometown in Arkansas becomes the site of a camp housing German prisoners during World War II, Patty learns what it means to open her heart. Even though she’s Jewish, she begins to see a prison escapee, Anton, not as a Nazi, but as a lonely, frightened young man with feelings not unlike her own.
“An exceptionally fine novel.” —The New York Times
“Courageous and compelling!”  —Publishers Weekly

Product DetailsGrisham, John. A Time to Kill.

The life of a ten-year-old girl is shattered by two drunken and remorseless young men. The mostly white town of Clanton in Ford County, Mississippi, reacts with shock and horror at the inhuman crime. Until her black father acquires an assault rifle and takes justice into his own outraged hands.
For ten days, as burning crosses and the crack of sniper fire spread through the streets of Clanton, the nation sits spellbound as young defense attorney Jake Brigance struggles to save his client’s life–and then his own.

Product DetailsGuterson, David. Snow Falling on Cedars.
San Piedro Island, north of Puget Sound, is a place so isolated that no one who lives there can afford to make enemies.  But in 1954 a local fisherman is found suspiciously drowned, and a Japanese American named Kabuo Miyamoto is charged with his murder.  In the course of the ensuing trial, it becomes clear that what is at stake is more than a man’s guilt. For on San Pedro, memory grows as thickly as cedar trees and the fields of ripe strawberries–memories of a charmed love affair between a white boy and the Japanese girl who grew up to become Kabuo’s wife; memories of land desired, paid for, and lost. Above all, San Piedro is haunted by the memory of what happened to its Japanese residents during World War II, when an entire community was sent into exile while its neighbors watched.  Gripping, tragic, and densely atmospheric, Snow Falling on Cedars is a masterpiece of suspense– one that leaves us shaken and changed.

Product DetailsHeller, Joseph. Catch-22.
Set in Italy during World War II, this is the story of the incomparable, malingering bombardier, Yossarian, a hero who is furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him. But his real problem is not the enemy—it is his own army, which keeps increasing the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service. Yet if Yossarian makes any attempt to excuse himself from the perilous missions he’s assigned, he’ll be in violation of Catch-22, a hilariously sinister bureaucratic rule: a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but if he makes a formal request to be removed from duty, he is proven sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved.

Product DetailsHemingway, Ernest. A Farewell to Arms.
A FAREWELL TO ARMS is one of Hemingway’s earliest novels. With much of the material loosely based on his own personal experiences as an ambulance driver during World War I, the story captures in great detail the conflict in all of its horror and barbarism…..The plot centers around Frederick Henry, an American ambulance driver for the Italian army (a job Hemingway performed himself). …
The tragic irony of this novel is what makes it so memorable. Henry, as a wounded man who withdraws from the battle, as well as the whims of the Italian Army. However, he does so only to find that life is full of tragedy whether you’re in a war or not.

Product DetailsHemingway, Ernest. For Whom the Bell Tolls.
In 1937 Ernest Hemingway traveled to Spain to cover the civil war there for the North American Newspaper Alliance. Three years later he completed the greatest novel to emerge from “the good fight,”For Whom the Bell Tolls.
The story of Robert Jordan, a young American in the International Brigades attached to an antifascist guerilla unit in the mountains of Spain, it tells of loyalty and courage, love and defeat, and the tragic death of an ideal. …Hemingway surpasses his achievement in The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms to create a work at once rare and beautiful, strong and brutal, compassionate, moving, and wise.

Product DetailsHemingway, Ernest. The Sun Also Rises.
The quintessential novel of the Lost Generation, The Sun Also Rises is one of Ernest Hemingway’s masterpieces and a classic example of his spare but powerful writing style. A poignant look at the disillusionment and angst of the post-World War I generation, the novel introduces two of Hemingway’s most unforgettable characters: Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley. The story follows the flamboyant Brett and the hapless Jake as they journey from the wild nightlife of 1920s Paris to the brutal bullfighting rings of Spain with a motley group of expatriates. It is an age of moral bankruptcy, spiritual dissolution, unrealized love, and vanishing illusions. First published in 1926, The Sun Also Rises helped to establish Hemingway as one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century.

Product DetailsHinton, S.E. The Outsiders.

No one ever said life was easy. But Ponyboy is pretty sure that he’s got things figured out. He knows that he can count on his brothers, Darry and Sodapop. And he knows that he can count on his friends—true friends who would do anything for him, like Johnny and Two-Bit. And when it comes to the Socs—a vicious gang of rich kids who enjoy beating up on “greasers” like him and his friends—he knows that he can count on them for trouble. But one night someone takes things too far, and Ponyboy’s world is turned upside down…

Product DetailsHinton, S.E. That Was Then, This Is Now.

Companion to The Outsiders, That Was Then, This is Now is S. E. Hinton’s moving portrait of the bond between best friends Bryon and Mark and the tensions that develop between them as they begin to grow up and grow apart. This latest edition features bonus material, and, like The Outsiders, will also maintain the same pagination as the previous edition, making it ideal for continued classroom use.

Product DetailsHosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner.T
he unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.A sweeping story of family, love, and friendship told against the devastating backdrop of the history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years, The Kite Runner is an unusual and powerful novel that has become a beloved, one-of-a-kind classic.

Product DetailsHurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God.
“A deeply soulful novel that comprehends love and cruelty, and separates the big people from the small of heart, without ever losing sympathy for those unfortunates who don’t know how to live properly.” —Zadie Smith
One of the most important and enduring books of the twentieth century, Their Eyes Were Watching God brings to life a Southern love story with the wit and pathos found only in the writing of Zora Neale Hurston. Out of print for almost thirty years—due largely to initial audiences’ rejection of its strong black female protagonist—Hurston’s classic has since its 1978 reissue become perhaps the most widely read and highly acclaimed novel in the canon of African-American literature.

Product DetailsHuxley, Aldous. Brave New World.
Aldous Huxley is the greatest 20th century writer in English.” —Chicago TribuneAldous Huxley is rightly considered a prophetic genius and one of the most important literary and philosophical voices of the 20th Century, and Brave New World is his masterpiece. From the author ofThe Doors of Perception, Island, and countless other works of fiction, non-fiction, philosophy, and poetry, comes this powerful work of speculative fiction that has enthralled and terrified readers for generations. Brave New Worldremains absolutely relevant to this day as both a cautionary dystopian tale in the vein of the George Orwell classic 1984, and as thought-provoking, thoroughly satisfying entertainment.

Product DetailsIrving, John. A Prayer for Owen Meany.
I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice—not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother’s death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany. In the summer of 1953, two eleven-year-old boys—best friends—are playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire. One of the boys hits a foul ball that kills the other boy’s mother. The boy who hits the ball doesn’t believe in accidents; Owen Meany believes he is God’s instrument. What happens to Owen after that 1953 foul ball is extraordinary.

Product DetailsJoyce, James. Ulysses.
One of the most important works of the Modernist era, James Joyce’s “Ulysses” was originally published serially in the American journal “The Little Review” from March 1918 to December 1920. Subsequently published as a book in 1922, “Ulysses” chronicles the passage of Leopold Bloom through Dublin during an ordinary day, June 16, 1904. While the novel appears largely unstructured at first glance it is in fact very closely paralleled to Homer’s “Odyssey”, containing eighteen episodes that correspond to various parts of Homer’s work. Errors within the text have resulted in multiple publications of revised editions over the course of the 20th-century. These efforts at revision however are not universally accepted as beneficial with some critics pointing to the original 1922 edition, from which this edition is drawn, as the most accurate of all editions. Filled with experimental forms of prose, stream of consciousness, puns, parodies, and allusions that Joyce himself hoped would “keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant,” this expansive work is considered one of the great works of English literature and a must read for fans of the Modernist genre.

Product DetailsKesey, Ken. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
In this classic novel, Ken Kesey’s hero is Randle Patrick McMurphy, a boisterous, brawling, fun-loving rebel who swaggers into the world of a mental hospital and takes over. A lusty, life-affirming fighter, McMurphy rallies the other patients around him by challenging the dictatorship of Nurse Ratched. He promotes gambling in the ward, smuggles in wine and women, and openly defies the rules at every turn. But this defiance, which starts as a sport, soon develops into a grim struggle, an all-out war between two relentless opponents: Nurse Ratched, backed by the full power of authority, and McMurphy, who has only his own indomitable will. What happens when Nurse Ratched uses her ultimate weapon against McMurphy provides the story’s shocking climax.

Product DetailsKeyes, Daniel. Flowers for Algernon. 

As a 1959 novella it won a Hugo Award; the 1966 novel-length expansion won a Nebula. The Oscar-winning movie adaptation Charly (1968) also spawned a 1980 Broadway musical.
Flowers for Algernon is a timeless tear-jerker with a terrific emotional impact. –David Langford
“A tale that is convincing, suspenseful and touching.”–The New York Times
“An ingeniously touching story . . . Moving . . . Intensely real.”–The Baltimore Sun

Product DetailsKnowles, John. A Separate Peace.
An American classic and great bestseller for over thirty years, A Separate Peace is timeless in its description of adolescence during a period when the entire country was losing its innocence to World War II.
Set at a boys’ boarding school in New England during the early years of World War II, A Separate Peace is a harrowing and luminous parable of the dark side of adolescence. Gene is a lonely, introverted intellectual. Phineas is a handsome, taunting, daredevil athlete. What happens between the two friends one summer, like the war itself, banishes the innocence of these boys and their world.

Product DetailsLawrence, D.H. Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

Lyric and sensual, D.H. Lawrence’s last novel is one of the major works of fiction of the twentieth century. Filled with scenes of intimate beauty, explores the emotions of a lonely woman trapped in a sterile marriage and her growing love for the robust gamekeeper of her husband’s estate. The most controversial of Lawrence’s books, Lady Chatterley’s Loverjoyously affirms the author’s vision of individual regeneration through sexual love. The book’s power, complexity, and psychological intricacy make this a completely original work—a triumph of passion, an erotic celebration of life.

Product DetailsLawrence, D.H. Sons and Lovers.

First published in 1913, this provocative semi-autobiographical novel reflects the struggles of Paul Morel, an artist who cannot reciprocate love for other women while under the influence of his stifling mother. Unconsciously taught to despise his father and eschew other women, Paul comes even further under his mother’s psychological grasp after the death of his older brother. When he eventually does fall in love, the results of confused affection and desire are painful for all concerned. While “Sons and Lovers” scandalized its original English readers for its oedipal implications and social criticism, it remains a powerful story of terrifying inner and outer conflict and intense sensuality.

Product DetailsLawrence, D.H. Women in Love.
Ursula and Gudrun Brangwen sat one morning in the window-bay of their father’s house in Beldover, working and talking. Ursula was stitching a piece of brightly-coloured embroidery, and Gudrun was drawing upon a board which she held on her knee. They were mostly silent, talking as their thoughts strayed through their minds. ‘Ursula,’ said Gudrun, ‘don’t you REALLY WANT to get married?’ Ursula laid her embroidery in her lap and looked up. Her face was calm and considerate. ‘I don’t know,’ she replied. ‘It depends how you mean.’ Gudrun was slightly taken aback. She watched her sister for some moments. ‘Well,’ she said, ironically, ‘it usually means one thing! But don’t you think anyhow, you’d be—’ she darkened slightly—’in a better position than you are in now.’ A shadow came over Ursula’s face. ‘I might,’ she said. ‘But I’m not sure.’

Product DetailsLee, Harper. To Kill A Mockingbird.
The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.
Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior – to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal.

Product DetailsLester, Julius. When Dad Killed Mom.

Jenna and Jeremy knew their parents’ marriage was in trouble. But no one could have predicted what would come next. Now with Mom dead and Dad in jail, Jenna and Jeremy must re-create a family of their own. But each guards a secret that could send their fragile new lives into a tailspin.
Newbery Honor winner Julius Lester paints a dramatic portrait of a family forced to confront the unimaginable.

Product DetailsLondon, Jack. The Call of the Wild.
The Call of the Wild is a novel by Jack London published in 1903. The story is set in the Yukon during the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush—a period when strong sled dogs were in high demand. The novel’s central character is a dog named Buck, a domesticated dog living at a ranch in the Santa Clara valley of California as the story opens. Stolen from his home and sold into the brutal existence of an Alaskan sled dog, he reverts to atavistic traits. Buck is forced to adjust to, and survive, cruel treatments and fight to dominate other dogs in a harsh climate. Eventually he sheds the veneer of civilization, relying on primordial instincts and lessons he learns, to emerge as a leader in the wild. London lived for most of a year in the Yukon collecting material for the book. The story was serialized in the Saturday Evening Post in the summer of 1903; a month later it was released in book form.

Product DetailsLowry, Lois. The Giver. 

The Giver, the 1994 Newbery Medal winner, has become one of the most influential novels of our time. The haunting story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community. Lois Lowry has written three companion novels to The Giver, including Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son.

Product DetailsMitchell, Margaret. Gone with the Wind.
Since its original publication in 1936, Gone With the Wind—winner of the Pulitzer Prize and one of the bestselling novels of all time—has been heralded by readers everywhere as The Great American Novel. …Gone With the Wind explores the depth of human passions with an intensity as bold as its setting in the red hills of Georgia. A superb piece of storytelling, it vividly depicts the drama of the Civil War and Reconstruction. This is the tale of Scarlett O’Hara, the spoiled, manipulative daughter of a wealthy plantation owner, who arrives at young womanhood just in time to see the Civil War forever change her way of life.

Product DetailsMorrison, Toni. Beloved.

Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby. Sethe, its protagonist, was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. And Sethe’s new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved. Filled with bitter poetry and suspense as taut as a rope, Beloved is a towering achievement.

Product DetailsMorrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye. 

Pecola Breedlove, a young black girl, prays every day for beauty. Mocked by other children for the dark skin, curly hair, and brown eyes that set her apart, she yearns for normalcy, for the blond hair and blue eyes that she believes will allow her to finally fit in.Yet as her dream grows more fervent, her life slowly starts to disintegrate in the face of adversity and strife. A powerful examination of our obsession with beauty and conformity, Toni Morrison’s virtuosic first novel asks powerful questions about race, class, and gender with the subtlety and grace that have always characterized her writing.

Product DetailsMorrison, Toni. Song of Solomon.

Milkman Dead was born shortly after a neighborhood eccentric hurled himself off a rooftop in a vain attempt at flight. For the rest of his life he, too, will be trying to fly. With this brilliantly imagined novel, Toni Morrison transfigures the coming-of-age story as audaciously as Saul Bellow or Gabriel García Márquez. As she follows Milkman from his rustbelt city to the place of his family’s origins, Morrison introduces an entire cast of strivers and seeresses, liars and assassins, the inhabitants of a fully realized black world.

Product DetailsMyers, Walter Dean. Fallen Angels. 

A coming-of-age tale for young adults set in the trenches of the Vietnam War in the late 1960s, this is the story of Perry, a Harlem teenager who volunteers for the service when his dream of attending college falls through. Sent to the front lines, Perry and his platoon come face-to-face with the Vietcong and the real horror of warfare. But violence and death aren’t the only hardships. As Perry struggles to find virtue in himself and his comrades, he questions why black troops are given the most dangerous assignments, and why the U.S. is even there at all.

Product DetailsNabokov, Vladimir. Lolita.

Awe and exhiliration–along with heartbreak and mordant wit–abound in Lolita, Nabokov’s most famous and controversial novel, which tells the story of the aging Humbert Humbert’s obsessive, devouring, and doomed passion for the nymphet Dolores Haze. Lolita is also the story of a hypercivilized European colliding with the cheerful barbarism of postwar America. Most of all, it is a meditation on love–love as outrage and hallucination, madness and transformation.

Product DetailsNix, Garth. Shade’s Children.
In a futuristic urban wasteland, evil Overlords have decreed that no human shall live a day past their fourteenth birthday. On that Sad Birthday, the children of the Dorms are taken to the Meat Factory, where they will be made into creatures whose sole purpose is to kill. The mysterious Shade—once a man, but now more like the machines he fights—recruits the few teenagers who escape into a secret resistance force. With luck, cunning, and skill, four of Shade’s children come closer than any to discovering the source of the Overlords’ power—and the key to their downfall. But the closer they get, the more ruthless Shade seems to become. .

Product DetailsO’Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. 

A classic work of American literature that has not stopped changing minds and lives since it burst onto the literary scene, The Things They Carried is a ground-breaking meditation on war, memory, imagination, and the redemptive power of storytelling.

 

Product DetailsOrwell, George. Animal Farm.

George Orwell’s classic satire of the Russian Revolution is an intimate part of our contemporary culture. It is the account of the bold struggle, initiated by the animals, that transforms Mr. Jones’s Manor Farm into Animal Farm–a wholly democratic society built on the credo that All Animals Are Created Equal. Out of their cleverness, the pigs Napoleon, Squealer, and Snowball emerge as leaders of the new community in a subtle evolution that proves disastrous. The climax is the brutal betrayal of the faithful horse Boxer, when totalitarian rule is reestablished with the bloodstained postscript to the founding slogan: But some Animals Are More Equal Than Others. . . .

Product DetailsOrwell, George. 1984.

Written in 1948, 1984 was George Orwell’s chilling prophecy about the future. And while 1984 has come and gone, Orwell’s narrative is timelier than ever.1984presents a startling and haunting vision of the world, so powerful that it is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the power of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of multiple generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions—a legacy that seems only to grow with the passage of time… This is a classic for all to pay closer attention to and to and to be aware of the rulers and the tactics they employ.

Product DetailsPaterson, Katherine. Bridge to Terabithia.
Jess Aarons has been practicing all summer so he can be the fastest runner in the fifth grade. And he almost is, until the new girl in school, Leslie Burke, outpaces him. The two become fast friends and spend most days in the woods behind Leslie’s house, where they invent an enchanted land called Terabithia. One morning, Leslie goes to Terabithia without Jess and a tragedy occurs. It will take the love of his family and the strength that Leslie has given him for Jess to be able to deal with his grief.In addition to being a Newbery Medal winner, Bridge to Terabithia was also named an ALA Notable Children’s Book and has become a touchstone of children’s literature, as have many of Katherine Paterson’s other novels….

Product DetailsPaterson, Katherine. The Great Gilly Hopkins.
Eleven-year-old Gilly has been stuck in more foster families than she can remember, and she’s disliked them all. She has a reputation for being brash, brilliant, and completely unmanageable, and that’s the way she likes it. So when she’s sent to live with the Trotters—by far the strangest family yet—she knows it’s only a temporary problem.
Gilly decides to put her sharp mind to work and get out of there fast. She’s determined to no longer be a foster kid. Before long she’s devised an elaborate scheme to get her real mother to come rescue her. Unfortunately, the plan doesn’t work out quite as she hoped it would…

Product DetailsPicoult, Jodi. My Sister’s Keeper.
Jodi Picoult tells the story of a girl who decides to sue her parents for the rights to her own body in thisNew York Times bestseller that tackles a controversial subject with grace and explores what it means to be a good person.
Anna is not sick, but she might as well be. By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukemia that has plagued her since childhood. The product of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, Anna was conceived as a bone marrow match for Kate—a life and a role that she has never challenged…until now. Like most teenagers, Anna is beginning to question who she truly is.

Product DetailsRowling, J.D. The Harry Potter Series

Product DetailsSalinger, J.D. The Catcher in the Rye.
The hero-narrator of THE CATCHER IN THE RYE is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it. There are many voices in this novel: children’s voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden’s voice is the most eloquent of all.

Product DetailsSebold, Alice. Lovely Bones.
When we first meet 14-year-old Susie Salmon, she is already in heaven. This was before milk carton photos and public service announcements, she tells us; back in 1973, when Susie mysteriously disappeared, people still believed these things didn’t happen. In the sweet, untroubled voice of a precocious teenage girl, Susie relates the awful events of her death and her own adjustment to the strange new place she finds herself. It looks a lot like her school playground, with the good kind of swing sets. With love, longing, and a growing understanding, Susie watches her family as they cope with their grief, her father embarks on a search for the killer, her sister undertakes a feat of amazing daring, her little brother builds a fort in her honor and begin the difficult process of healing. In the hands of a brilliant novelist, this story of seemingly unbearable tragedy is transformed into a suspenseful and touching story about family, memory, love, heaven, and living.

Product DetailsSilverstein, Shel. A Light in the Attic. 

Here in the attic of Shel Silverstein you will find Backward Bill, Sour Face Ann, the Meehoo With an Exactlywatt, and the Polar Bear in the Frigidaire. You will talk with the Broiled Face, and find out what happens when someone steals your knees, you get caught by the Quick-Digesting Gink, a mountain snores, and they’ve put a brassiere on the camel.

Product DetailsSinclair, Upton. The Jungle.
The Jungle is a 1906 novel written by the American journalist and novelist Upton Sinclair (1878–1968). Sinclair wrote the novel to portray the lives of immigrants in the United States in Chicago and similar industrialized cities. Many readers were most concerned with his exposure of health violations and unsanitary practices in the American meatpacking industry during the early 20th century, based on an investigation he did for a socialist newspaper. The book depicts working class poverty, the lack of social supports, harsh and unpleasant living and working conditions, and a hopelessness among many workers. These elements are contrasted with the deeply rooted corruption of people in power. A review by the writer Jack London called it, “the Uncle Tom’s Cabin of wage slavery.”

Product DetailsSteinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning epic of the Great Depression, a book that galvanized—and sometimes outraged—millions of readers.
First published in 1939, Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning epic of the Great Depression chronicles the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s and tells the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads—driven from their homestead and forced to travel west to the promised land of California. Out of their trials and their repeated collisions against the hard realities of an America divided into Haves and Have-Nots evolves a drama that is intensely human yet majestic in its scale and moral vision, elemental yet plainspoken, tragic but ultimately stirring in its human dignity.

Product DetailsSteinbeck, John. Of Mice and Men.
Nobel Prize-winner John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Menremains one of America’s most widely read and taught novels. An unlikely pair, George and Lennie, two migrant workers in California during the Great Depression, grasp for their American Dream. Laborers in California’s dusty vegetable fields, they hustle work when they can, living a hand-to-mouth existence. For George and Lennie have a plan: to own an acre of land and a shack they can call their own. When they land jobs on a ranch in the Salinas Valley, the fulfillment of their dream seems to be within their grasp. But even George cannot guard Lennie from the provocations, nor predict the consequences of Lennie’s unswerving obedience to the things George taught him.

Product DetailsStyron, William. Sophie’s Choice: A Novel.

In this extraordinary novel, Stingo, an inexperienced twenty-two year old Southerner, takes us back to the summer of 1947 and a boarding house in a leafy Brooklyn suburb. There he meets Nathan, a fiery Jewish intellectual; and Sophie, a beautiful and fragile Polish Catholic. Stingo is drawn into the heart of their passionate and destructive relationship as witness, confidant and supplicant. Ultimately, he arrives at the dark core of Sophie’s past: her memories of pre-war Poland, the concentration camp and – the essence of her terrible secret – her choice.


Product DetailsTaylor, Mildred. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.

Mildred D. Taylor’s Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry is a beautifully told tale spoken with the fine voice of its young narrator, Cassie Logan. It is the story of the Logan family and their struggle to maintain both their small piece of land and their dignity in one tumultuous year, two things not permitted a black family in Mississippi in the early decaces of this century. The author brilliantly captures the times of which she writes but, even more important, captures the people she writes about.

Product DetailsTolkien, J.R.R. Lord of the Rings. 

In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell by chance into the hands of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins.
From Sauron’s fastness in the Dark Tower of Mordor, his power spread far and wide. Sauron gathered all the Great Rings to him, but always he searched for the One Ring that would complete his dominion

Product DetailsTwain, Mark. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Ernest Hemingway declared that “all modern American literature stems from this one book,” while T. S. Eliot called Huck “one of the permanent symbolic figures of fiction, not unworthy to take a place with Ulysses, Faust, Don Quixote, Don Juan, Hamlet.”
The novel’s preeminence derives from its wonderfully imaginative re-creation of boyhood adventures along the Mississippi River, its inspired characterization, the author’s remarkable ear for dialogue, and the book’s understated development of serious underlying themes: “natural” man versus “civilized” society, the evils of slavery, the innate value and dignity of human beings, and other topics. Most of all, Huckleberry Finn is a wonderful story, filled with high adventure and unforgettable characters.

Product DetailsTwain, Mark. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
The classic, in all its glory – though what many forget is how well this tale of American boyhood holds up even after nearly 150 years. Tom Sawyer, his best friend Huck Finn, his would-be girlfriend Becky Thatcher, and his aunt Polly teach and learn about life, death, race and painting fences in a “typical” 19th century Midwestern town that bears a striking resemblance to Twain’s hometown of Hannibal, Missouri. On one level, this is the prototypical tale of one boy’s innocence and how he lost it, but it’s also a profound evocation of the national character that Twain, an odd combination of independent thinker and moralist, clearly thought needed some analyzing.

Product DetailsUpdike, John. Rabbit, Run. 

Rabbit, Run is the book that established John Updike as one of the major American novelists of his—or any other—generation. Its hero is Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom, a onetime high-school basketball star who on an impulse deserts his wife and son. He is twenty-six years old, a man-child caught in a struggle between instinct and thought, self and society, sexual gratification and family duty—even, in a sense, human hard-heartedness and divine Grace. Though his flight from home traces a zigzag of evasion, he holds to the faith that he is on the right path, an invisible line toward his own salvation as straight as a ruler’s edge.

Product DetailsVonnegut, Kurt. Cat’s Cradle.

Cat’s Cradle is Kurt Vonnegut’s satirical commentary on modern man and his madness. An apocalyptic tale of this planet’s ultimate fate, it features a midget as the protagonist, a complete, original theology created by a calypso singer, and a vision of the future that is at once blackly fatalistic and hilariously funny. A book that left an indelible mark on an entire generation of readers, Cat’s Cradle is one of the twentieth century’s most important works—and Vonnegut at his very best.

Product DetailsVonnegut, Kurt. Slaughterhouse Five. 

Slaughterhouse-Five, an American classic, is one of the world’s great antiwar books. Centering on the infamous firebombing of Dresden, Billy Pilgrim’s odyssey through time reflects the mythic journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we fear most.

Modern Library 100 Best Novels

Product DetailsWalker, Alice. The Color Purple.
The Color Purple is a novel that explores the transition of Celie, fourteen years old when the book opens, and of her life. Alice Walker portrays the rawness of Celie’s oppressed, abusive life. The novel explores many themes including empowerment of women, struggle with sexuality, and the power of family and sisterhood. The very first page of the book begins with Celie’s letter to God. She talks about her confusion with her sexual abuse by her father and her confusion with her marriage to an abusive stranger. After marrying this stranger, whom she simply calls Mr.___, is when she also meets Shug, a woman who refuses to let anything bring her down. Shug allows Celie to realize her full potential …

Product DetailsWalls, Jeanette. The Glass Castle.
Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation. Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four children. In the beginning, they lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. …

For two decades, Jeannette Walls hid her roots. Now she tells her own story. A regular contributor to MSNBC.com

Product DetailsWarren, Robert Penn. All the King’s Men.
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, this classic book is generally regarded as the finest novel ever written on American politics. It describes the career of Willie Stark, a back-country lawyer whose idealism is overcome by his lust for power. This landmark book is a loosely fictionalized account of Governor Huey Long of Louisiana, one of the nation’s most astounding politicians. All the King’s Men tells the story of Willie Stark, a southern-fried politician who builds support by appealing to the common man and playing dirty politics with the best of the back-room deal-makers. Though Stark quickly sheds his idealism, his right-hand man, Jack Burden — who narrates the story — retains it and proves to be a thorn in the new governor’s side. Stark becomes a successful leader, but at a very high price, one that eventually costs him his life. The award-winning book is a play of politics, society and personal affairs, all wrapped in the cloak of history.

Product DetailsWaugh, Evelyn. Brideshead Revisited
The wellsprings of desire and the impediments to love come brilliantly into focus in Evelyn Waugh’s masterpiece-a novel that immerses us in the glittering and seductive world of English aristocracy in the waning days of the empire.

Through the story of Charles Ryder’s entanglement with the Flytes, a great Catholic family, Evelyn Waugh charts the passing of the privileged world he knew in his own youth and vividly recalls the sensuous pleasures denied him by wartime austerities. At once romantic, sensuous, comic, and somber, Brideshead Revisited transcends Waugh’s early satiric explorations and reveals him to be an elegiac, lyrical novelist of the utmost feeling and lucidity.

Product DetailsWright, Richard. Black Boy.

Richard Wright grew up in the woods of Mississippi amid poverty, hunger, fear, and hatred. He lied, stole, and raged at those around him; at six he was a “drunkard,” hanging about in taverns. Surly, brutal, cold, suspicious, and self-pitying, he was surrounded on one side by whites who were either indifferent to him, pitying, or cruel, and on the other by blacks who resented anyone trying to rise above the common lot.Black Boy is Richard Wright’s powerful account of his journey from innocence to experience in the Jim Crow South. It is at once an unashamed confession and a profound indictment—a poignant and disturbing record of social injustice and human suffering.

Product DetailsWright, Richard. Native Son. 

Right from the start, Bigger Thomas had been headed for jail. It could have been for assault or petty larceny; by chance, it was for murder and rape. Native Son tells the story of this young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic. Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Wright’s powerful novel is an unsparing reflection on the poverty and feelings of hopelessness experienced by people in inner cities across the country and of what it means to be black in America.

 

 

 

Banned

The Importance of Learning to Wait

Two years ago, I had a blue kitchen. It was not a navy blue kitchen. I could have lived with that. My kitchen was a neutral color of blue that had no personality at all. In all of my years, I have never seen another kitchen that was the color of my dated and lackluster kitchen. Even the floor was blue. It was covered with a cheap blue vinyl, and the entire room screamed, “I was never fashionable.”

A few years ago, I tried to sell my house, and as soon as the potential buyers saw my kitchen floor, they turned around and walked back out of the house. Some of the cabinets had begun falling apart, and I decided that something had to be done about my kitchen. I knew that until I changed things, I would never sell my house, and since I had no money, I decided to fix the problem myself.

To disassemble the cabinets, I advertised on Craigslist that anyone who could take them down and cart them away could have them. I knew that I wanted stainless steel appliances, and I practically gave away my white appliances, too. Then, with a hammer clenched in my hand, I attacked the wall that stood between my tiny kitchen and my tiny dining room, and I myself removed that sucker. Now, I had one big room that would one day become a wonderful kitchen, but I didn’t have the resources to finish the job, so I waited. For over a year, my kitchen consisted of a crock pot, an electric skillet, and an old and dying refrigerator. Then, that refrigerator expired, and I bought my first new kitchen appliance–a beautiful stainless steel refrigerator.
refrigerator-croppedAs the boys wheeled my shiny new fridge into my house, I thought to myself, “This is the first new refrigerator that I have ever owned, and it is my first stainless steel refrigerator, too. I have finally graduated from white.”

During my entire life, I have never lived in a newly built house; therefore, every time that I have moved into a house, a used refrigerator came with the used home. Although I have found it necessary to replace my fridges before, this was the first time that I have actually gone to the store and bought a new one. I was  66-years-old, and for the first time in my life, I had a brand new refrigerator–a stainless steel refrigerator–and one that had no scratches or dents.

As I stood and admired my new fridge and the beginning of my new kitchen, I considered how differently that I might have viewed the buying of a new refrigerator if I had been privy to tons of new appliances before now–and if during my lifetime, I had never actually wanted anything. Had that been the case, I would probably have been irritated by the minor hassle that replacing an old, dead appliance had caused and when I watched my new refrigerator rolling through my door, I would have experienced very little pleasure at all. I would have thought, “Easy come, easy go, It’s just a new appliance. It’s no big deal.” But that was not the way that the scenario played out.

Refrigerator4

For the first time in my life, I had a brand new and shiny refrigerator, and I was thrilled.

This will sound odd, but I am happy that I don’t have everything that I want. I am even happy that I don’t have everything that I need, and I am happy that I have learned how to wait. The wanting and the waiting make me more appreciative when I actually receive.

For what I have received may the Lord make me truly thankful. And more truly for what I have not received. – Storm Jameson

Things could be quite different for me now that I am older and retired. I could have NOTHING left to want and there could be Nothing that would make my day. Thank goodness, that is not the case for me. It doesn’t take much at all to turn my life into a party.

©Jacki Kellum October 18, 2016

Waiting

Learning to Trust Your Intuition – Your Writer’s Voice

When I am painting and when I am writing, I consider it a great day when something within myself takes over and essentially completes my project for me. This gentle urging is intuition. It is the spark that helped Michelangelo release his sculptures from a piece of rock, and it is your writer’s voice.

michelangelo

Yesterday, I wrote about my use of brilliant colors when I paint at jackikellum.com Here

watercolor-janis-1-facebook-image1

Janis Joplin – Watercolor by Jacki Kellum

Readers commented that they admire my bravery when I paint, and I should have said that I am not the brave part of my painting team. My intuition is. When I am having a good painting day, an inward force literally takes control of my hand and urges it to dip into a little more and slash it here or a little pink and slash it there.

tulips1 (1)

In the Pink – Watercolor by Jacki Kellum

If I look carefully at my painting repeatedly and squint my eyes regularly as I paint, an internal voice takes over and tells me what to do where. I merely go into auto pilot, and I allow my intuition to do the heavy lifting. When I am having a good writing day, the same thing happens with my words–they begin to write themselves.

on_silver_shees_I_sail_jacki_kellum_700

I wrote a poem about how my intuition guides me as I write. The title of that poem is On Silver Sheets, I Sail. When I am writing my first drafts, I usually write in a stream of consciousness. I don’t stop and edit myself. I rarely correct my spelling as I writer. I simply hop on my laptop and begin typing the words that enter my mind. I love this type of writing. When I edit, however, my stream of consciousness is not at play, and I no longer enjoy writing. People who try to edit themselves too early never allow themselves to enjoy the intuition’s free ride, and they often feel that they are experiencing Writer’s Block. They are actually experiencing a type of fear that is the enemy of creativity.

Fear is the worst thing that can happen to anyone who hopes to create.

Fear prevents the painter from painting, and he forces the writer to edit himself literally to death.

Secrets About Life Every Woman Should Know: Ten Principles for Total Emotional and Spiritual Fulfillment by [De Angelis, Barbara] Barbara de Angelis wrote an excellent treatise on Fear: [image credit Amazon]

“Imagine that you had a person in your life who followed you around twenty-four hours a day, filling you with anxiety, destroying your confidence, and discouraging you from doing the things that you wanted to do. Every time you were about to make a change or take a risk, the person would say, ‘I wouldn’t do that if I were you. What if you fail? What if you get hurt? All kinds of things might happen if you go in that direction.’ Imagine that before each conversation you had with friends, family, or loved ones, the person would pull you aside and caution you. ‘If you open up, you might get rejected. Watch what you say! Don’t trust anyone! . . . ” Barbara De Angelis

Fear is like an emotional roommate that lives with you day and night.

“It’s your fear. Fear is like an emotional roommate that lives with you day and night. It talks to you, manipulates you, and tries to convince you to avoid doing or expressing anything that may cause you any kind of discomfort or involve any sort of risk. It says, ‘You can’t’ . . . and ‘You shouldn’t.,’ and it eats away at your confidence and your self-esteem. It tells you not to act, not to reach out, not to try, not to trust, not to move. It steals the life right out from under you. . . .” Barbara De Angelis

Fear is one of your most powerful inner enemies. It is a force that can sabotage your happiness.

“Fear is one of your most powerful inner enemies. It is a force that can sabotage your happiness. How does fear do that? It keeps you stuck in what’s not working. It prevents you from growing. It keeps separation between you and other people. It talks you out of your dreams. It keeps you stagnant, frozen, unable to become all you were meant to be. . . .” Barbara De Angelis

“It is fear that keeps us standing on the cliff when we know that we need to leap to the other side. But fear does more than just hold you back–it steals your aliveness, your passion, your freedom by shutting down your heart. . . .The extent to which you allow fear to control your life is the extent to which you are living as a prisoner.

I read De Angelis’s book 25 years ago, and it is undoubtedly the most inspirational of any self-help book that I have ever read.  Although the book is supposedly for women, I feel that the passages about Fear are appropriate for most artists and writers. Fear is one of a creative’s most crippling forces.

After years of being muted by my own fear, I finally gained enough stamina to simply override my restraints and to create in spite of my fear. But that was a long and uphill climb.

 You can read excerpts from De Angelis’s book on her Facebook Page Here

You can also read a great deal of her writing at Google Books Here

When I saw that today’s writing prompt is “Trust,” I initially thought of the song on the movie Peter Pan, You Can Fly.

 

“All it takes is faith and trust. Oh, and something I forgot. . . just a little bit of pixie dust. . . .
Come on everybody, here we go–Off to Neverland! . . .
There’s a Neverland waiting for you, where all your happy dreams come true,
Every dream that you dream will come true.”

I know, you are probably thinking that you simply don’t have the pixie dust, but you do. Everyone has the pixie dust that is needed for creating. It is your intuition. I am firmly convinced that a type of creative angel does lie within each of us and that as we begin the process of writing or painting or sculpting or dancing, we release that muse, and the muse takes on a life of its own. It is important to note, however, that it is through the work that we tap into the muse. In other words: “Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?” In regards to writing, the work of simply writing comes first, and the muse follows.

“One reason I don’t suffer Writer’s Block is that I don’t wait on the muse, I summon it at need.” – Piers Anthony

When people say that they only write when they are in the mood to write, they are missing something very important. In fact, they are cheating themselves. In writing, “the mood” or the muse evolves after we begin to write. Perpetuating the myth that we can postpone writing until we are in the mood to write is buying into a falsehood. That is why many writers advocate writing morning pages. Most people who actually succeed with their writing careers say that in order to pop the cork that is bottling all of the things that are within themselves, they must first begin to write. Gradually, the mood or the muse or the intuition takes over, and the writer is unblocked.

Writing is a spiritual practice in that people that have no spiritual path can undertake it and, as they write, they begin to wake up to a larger connection. After a while, people tend to find that there is some muse that they are connecting to. Julia Cameron

The most important decision that is necessary for every writer and every painter and every musician is that of deciding whether you really want to be an artist or not. After that, the most important step is to show up each day and begin to work at creating what you want to create.

“You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.” – Henry Ford

After you have committed to showing up to write each day, do the following to unlock your muse or your intuition or your artistic voice:

First, You Need to Prime Your Pump

1. Ask yourself what you are passionate about. Start there!

Initially, you might not be able to recall any of your passions. You might think that life has kicked all of the passion out of you,  but you are wrong. If that were true, you wouldn’t be here, sitting in front of the computer, trying to decide what to write. You would still be vegetating in front of the television. You are still alive. Dig deeper.

2. Overcome Lethargy

Perhaps you feel that you are sinking in the quicksand of your own lethargy. Keep a canister of writing prompts handy to fight that problem, and when you are experiencing writer’s block, pull out one of those prompts and write about that.

The New York Times published a list of 500 great writing prompts Here.

Grab hold of one of those prompts and allow it to be your rope. Allow that to pull you out of your pit of lethargy.

wpdaily1

Every morning, I try to respond to the WordPress Daily Prompt. Read how you can also do that Here. Today’s writer’s prompt is “Trust.”

3. Begin with a Quote

Often, when I see the WordPress Daily Prompt, I cannot initially think of anything to write. When a prompt is not enough to motivate me, I often turn to Google, and I do a Google search for quotes that might correlate with a word that I associate with the prompt. One morning’s WordPress Prompt was “Admire,” and I was not readily drawn to that topic. I performed two Google searches. One time I searched exactly the following words: “Quotes Admire.” The second time, I searched exactly the following words, “Quotes Admiration,” and after my searches, it was not long before I had written my own opinions about the prompt “Admire.” You can see what I wrote Here 

4. Write First – Title Later

When I begin writing a piece, I refrain from titling it. In fact, I do not title anything until I finish writing the piece entirely. Titling is a Writing-Stopper. A title is like a straight jacket. If you try to title first, you limit yourself because you write trying to confine yourself to the topic of the title. Just write, let the title spring from the writing. Begin to say what you want to say and allow your writing to evolve. Then title.

5. Allow Your Intuition to Do the Heavy Lifting of Your Writing

Creating any type of art requires that a series of decisions be made by the artist: red here? more grass? less water?, etc. When the intuition is fully functioning, the artist is hardly even aware of the questions–the intuition handles the question and answer dialog. Before this can happen, however, the artist must first allow Intuition to get his foot into the door; and then, the artist must learn to trust the decisions that Intuition makes for him. Intense listening with one’s inner ear–the intuitive ear– is a vital part of sharpening one’s inner eye or his writer’s voice and thus, of extracting a piece’s inward significance. Intuition and the Inner Artist are linked. Intuition is the instinctive way that one’s inner artist views and responds to life. When a painter allows intuition to guide him, the painter himself becomes a vessel and the art flows through the vessel. The same thing is true of the writer.

Knowing why one does this or that while creating is not important–just doing is the key to becoming. Making art is an intuitive response. When writers can access the words that lie within themselves, they begin to write more authentically. When writers create from within their intuitions, they often call that writing from “The Zone,” but it is actually writing from the intuition, which a reservoir of thoughts and emotions that run deeply within each person. The secret is tapping into that reservoir. You simply have to turn off your self-editor and allow the magic to begin. And then you have to Trust the process.

6. Don’t Worry About What Everyone Else Is Thinking about Your Writing

“You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Other people aren’t focusing on you. Quite worrying about what they think of you.  Just focus on yourself and your own goals and begin to write. Remember that you are writing to express yourself–not to express everyone else. Just talk–in plain language [Shakespearean English is out]–and say why these words are meaningful to you. People are more alike than you might think. Others will identify. Write it, they will read.

7. Write Naturally – Give Up the Idea that You Should Write Like Shakespeare

Please Don’t Thee and Thou Me
by Jacki Kellum

Please don’t Thee and Thou me.
That’s such a stuffy start.
That’s not the way to wow me,
Just say it from your heart.
©Jacki Kellum February 3, 2016

Jacki Kellum Rules for Writing Poetry – Rule Number 1

  1. Don’t try to use stilted, pretentious, poetry-sounding words. Just talk.

©Jacki Kellum February 3, 2016

7. Turn Off Your Self-Editor

Write first. Let it flow. Just talk. Spell later. As you begin to write, don’t worry about spell check at first. Getting stumped by spelling is another Writing-Stopper. Write first–then spell check; then correct the spelling. It might even help to do the writing and editing in a Word Document and then paste it into WordPress. Whatever it takes, do it, but don’t let you editing strangle your writing.

8. Consider Recording Your Writing and Then Transcribing It

If you cannot keep your self-editor in check, allow your cell phone‘s voice recorder to help you.  Just pick up your cell phone and download a voice recorder app and talk to the recorder. You can even send yourself lengthy voice messages and transcribe those. A friend of mine had a great idea for this. She said to send your message to yourself via email, and it will already be typed for you. How easy is that?

Image result for stephen kingIn his book Stephen King On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, King said that he believes “…that stories are found things, like fossils in the ground….” He added:

“Stories are relics, part of an undiscovered pre-existing word. The writer’s job is to…get as much of each one out of the ground [p. 163] intact as possible.

….

“Plot is, I think, the good writer’s last resort and the dullard’s first choice. The story which results from it is apt to feel artificial and labored.

“I lean more heavily on intuition, and have been able to do that because my books tend to be based on situation rather than story.

“I want to put a group of characters (perhaps a pair; perhaps even just one_in some sort of predicament and then watch them try to work themselves free. My job isn’t to help them work their way free, or manipulate them to safety..but to watch what happens and then write it down.

“The situation comes first. The characters–always flat and unfeatured, to begin with–come next. … I have never demanded of a set [p. 164] of characters that they do things my way. On the contrary, I want them to do things their way. In some instances, the outcome is what I visualized. In most, however, it is something I never expected.” King, Stephen. On Writing: A Memoir of Craft, pgs. 163-65.

©Jacki Kellum October 16, 2016

Trust

Why I Use Bright, Vivid Colors When I Paint – I Love Color

I often frequent my local garden market, and I love it when they have a large assortment of Gerbera Daisies. It is a spectacle.

IMG_1322

Like a magnet, the brilliant display pulls me from across the room. I always want all of the daisies for my garden. One plant will not do. One color will not do. To emulate the riot of colors in the display, I want and need the entire bunch. I love color, and when it is in perfect form, my garden is a kaleidoscope.

july13c

Jacki’s Garden July of 2015

I like it when my garden screams! There is nothing subtle or subdued about me. When I paint, I celebrate color in another way. Even when I paint the green areas around my florals, I often flood them with color.

tulips1 (1)

In the Pink – Jacki Kellum Watercolor

I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles. – Audrey Hepburn

I use the brighter colors to add punch to the green areas of my paintings. Too many people only see black and white — right or wrong. In my experience, that type of life-view is terribly narrow, and the people who cannot stretch themselves to see more of the variances of living are missing a great deal. Like Audrey Hepburn, I believe in Pink, and I also believe in Red and Yellow and Orange and Blue.

hallowseve

October Leaves – Watercolor Study by Jacki Kellum

Not long ago, I demonstrated painting a close view of a tree trunk surrounded by October leaves. As usual, the class was appalled that I had used a lot of blue in what was supposed to be a brown tree. I explained that I use blue because I love color.  Color is a communicator.  The colors chosen to paint a tree or the sky around that tree determine much about what the tree will communicate in a painting.  For many years, I have told students that if they only want a pretty, accurate representation of a scene, they should buy a good camera.  The camera can do much that I could never do with paint–and it can do it much more rapidly and with much less expense.  A camera simply slices a piece of life and preserves it–just the way the lens sees it.

The camera is a machine–it reproduces what it sees and it does that without bias or emotion.  If the scene is beautiful, the photograph should be beautiful. If the scene is ugly, the photograph will be ugly. The camera mimics what it sees.

The artist has the option to move beyond a mechanical rendering.  The artist has the option to be more than a machine and to simplify or to omit unnecessary details and/or to exaggerate others. In doing so, the artist begins to tell a personal story.

Scientists and sociologists have studied the impact of color for many years.  It has been noted that since ancient time, colors have been used to evoke emotional responses.  Because I want my art to have an emotional response, I paint with exaggerated colors.

dec1cropped

December River – Watercolor by Jacki Kellum

In the above painting, December River, I purposely exaggerated the blues to convey the cold, dreary mood of winter.  Red, being the color of blood, is the color of energy–of life.  When I paint, I use a lot of red–and I do it very deliberately. I use red to infuse my subject matter with energy–with emphasis–with punch.

thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Across the Lake – Watercolor by Jacki Kellum

My paintings are a continuous battle of darks and lights–regressions and egressions–of deaths and life.  I use color to express that battle, and in every painting, I count on red to not only win the battle but to fly the flag of victory.

©Jacki Kellum October 15, 2016

Subdued

It’s Better to Light A Candle Than Curse the Darkness – A Reason That I Write

“It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Our world has become a dangerous and confusing place to live. Innocent people–even those who have dedicated their lives to keeping peace and to helping the community–are senselessly murdered, and they are often killed by another person who doesn’t even know them or who doesn’t have a personal quarrel with them. The murderers are simply others who have completely lost empathy or the ability to care.

Empathy is “the power of understanding and imaginatively entering into another person’s feelings. It is an identification with and understanding of another’s situation, feelings, and motives.”

If a mass murderer stopped to think about all of the children that he was leaving fatherless or motherless before he began randomly pulling a trigger, he might reconsider his senseless taking of lives,  but mass murderers seem to have lost the capacity to think empathetically. And mass murderers are not the only people who lack empathy. Lack of empathy is global and it is poisonous. It is at the root of greed and anger, and it enables parents to abandon their children to pursue another romance or whim. Lack of empathy also allows the selfish social climber or the power hungry to run over everyone that they feel is blocking them from reaching their goals. Lack of empathy is destructive on many levels.

I write about the problem with lack of empathy quite often. People from every country in the world have read one of my blogs, which, at the time of this writing, has  been viewed 50, 877 times and by people in every country of the world. Yet, I doubt if my writing has actually changed anyone else’s behavior. Perhaps it has helped other people to begin to think and to begin to look introspectively, and that is good, but In reality, my primary goal in  writing is not that of saving the world. My primary goal in writing is that of saving myself.

Writing is the way that I refresh my own awareness of every aspect of my life, and it is the way that I organize my thoughts. It is also the way that I seek to understand why people do the thoughtless things that they do, but above all else, my writing is the way that I monitor myself and shine a light on my own motives.

Eleanor Roosevelt said that it is better to light a  candle than to curse the darkness, and while I would love to believe that through my blog, I enlighten the world, I realize that I do not. The more important thing, however, is that through my writing, I shine a light on my own darkness, and hopefully, that has become a torch that leads my way.

Think about it: If every person in the world would scrutinize himself and light a candle in his own heart, there would be no darkness at all.

It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness. Eleanor Roosevelt

©Jacki Kellum October 14, 2016

Candle

3 Free Writing Exercises that Relate to Sounds and Music – Jacki Kellum

On my site blog to memoir, I recently added 3 exercises that have to do with our memories that are sparked by sound. During each day of October, I’ll post a writing exercise that will help writers to begin to tap into their memories to find the raw data and other images that will infuse their writing with more vitality. Check blog to memoir every day.  Following are the links to those exercises that relate to sounds a nd music:

Jacki Kellum Free Writing Exercise 11 – Write about Silence

Some silences are poetic and meditative places for reflection, and they are an emptying of external noises.

Some silences are a withholding of love and communication and are due to insensitivity and cruelty.

Artists and writers experience silences in the form of writer’s and artist’s blocks.

blog-path12 Jacki Kellum Free Writing Exercise 12 – Write about A Song Here

Music is the shorthand of emotion. – Leo Tolstoy

Quite often, music catches me and whisks me away into an emotion or a previous part of my own history. To some extent, I agree with Dick Clark that “Music is the soundtrack of your life.”

Certainly, when I hear the song “Johnny Angel,” I think about the days when I was in 7th grade and my friends and I would squeeze into a booth at the local snack bar and put quarters into the little jukeboxes that were mounted at the ends of each booth. I was 12-years-old, and I always ordered a fried hot dog sandwich and french fries, and my meal was served in a little, red, plastic basket with stiff white paper springing out of it. I always drank a cherry coke.

Some songs have the capacity to teleport us to another time and another place. Write about a song that opens floodgates of memories for you.

“Where words fail, music speaks.’ – Hans Christian Andersen

blog-path13 Jacki Kellum Free Writing Class Exercise 13 – Write about a Movie that Brings Back Memories

Previously, we wrote about songs that spark our memories. Sounds and songs have an enormous ability to spark emotions, and that is one reason that movies make an impact on us. Movies also use visual stimuli. Writers must find a way to suffuse their words with all of this imagery. Is there a movie that you can watch today and it transports you back to your past? The Wizard of Oz is that movie for me.

language-of-birds-jacki-kellum-1000

Read my post about how sounds have the capacity to create meaning:

When Sometimes A Sound Simply Seems – The Language of the Birds

birds-language

©Jacki Kellum October 14, 2016

Sometimes A Sound Simply Seems – The Language of Birds

birds-language

If you think about it for a moment, you will probably realize that the words that humans have codified to convey meaning are clumsy, at best.  Yet, that is the construct of writing. We form letters together, and we expect our readers to take a leap of faith and to connect them to some greater understanding. For instance, we might expect the letters “a-p-p-l-e” to, by some magic, make us feel all tart, crunchy, juicy, and red inside. Yet, by merely spelling the word “apple,” a writer is telling his readers very little. A writer must add a bit of polish to the letters and hopefully, the letters can begin to mean. Music has an ability to communicate emotions and understandings that lie deep within our soul, and I believe that we are more directly impacted by music than we are by words.

Music is the shorthand of emotion. – Leo Tolstoy

I believe that music, for humans, is like the language of the birds.

During the medieval period, people believed that in their singing, birds had a more direct means of communicating than that of words.

The Tao says that feeling cannot be conveyed verbally and that as soon as we begin to verbalize a feeling, the emotion vanishes. In other words, the ancient Asians recognized that there is a vein of emotion within us that defies being conveyed through words.  In Ancient Greece, music was believed to have an almost magical power of communication.

Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything. – Plato

While our words and our sentences and even our paragraphs are often impotent in trying to express, nonsensical words juxtaposed together can be very effective. In some instances, sounds made by strings of words become a kind of music that, in an almost indescribable way, speaks to the soul:

“A bouquet of clumsy words: you know that place between sleep and awake where you’re still dreaming but it’s slowly slipping? I wish we could feel like that more often. I also wish I could click my fingers three times and be transported to anywhere I like. I wish that people didn’t always say ‘just wondering’ when you both know there was a real reason behind them asking. And I wish I could get lost in the stars.

Listen, there’s a hell of a good universe next door, let’s go.” ― E.E. Cummings

In the above poem, E.E. Cummings has juxtaposed some phrases that should not mean at all, but they do. Because of the way that he pulls his words together, the E.E. Cummings’ phrases assume a musicality that speaks  on its own merit.

“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” – Victor Hugo

Wallace Stevens wrote a poem that should be even more ridiculous to the reader, but somehow it isn’t:

Bantams in Pine Woods
by Wallace Stevens

Chieftain Iffucan of Azcan in caftan
Of tan with henna hackles, halt!
Damned universal cock, as if the sun
Was blackamoor to bear your blazing tail.
Fat! Fat! Fat! Fat! I am the personal.
Your world is you. I am my world.
You ten-foot poet among inchlings. Fat!
Begone! An inchling bristles in these pines,
Bristles, and points their Appalachian tangs,
And fears not portly Azcan nor his hoos.
______________________________
From the first time that I read the above poem, I liked it–I even felt that I understood it, but my understanding was not something literal. Rather, the sounds in Stevens’ poem are notched together like pearls on a string  and somehow together they mean–in a subliminal way, the words mean.

Nature communicates with me in a similar way.

“I find peace where the sun kissed leaves dance in the melody of the cool breeze that floats through the air.” ― Saim Cheeda

golden_light_forest_1600

I believe that there are musical notes and sounds that feel right to us and that there are elements of nature that feel right in a similar way. I further believe that all of us have within ourselves a need for order–a need for those indescribable things that are simply just right, and I ultimately believe that when we deviate from that elemental rightnesss, we begin to suffer or to long for its return. That is when  clumsy sounds can connect to each other and can speak to us in a subliminal way, and that is when nonsensical phrases mean.

©Jacki Kellum October 13, 2016

Clumsy

Making My List and Checking It Twice – The Importance of Setting Goals

“One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree.
‘Which road do I take?’ she asked.
“Were do you want to go?’ was his reponse.
‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered.
‘Then,’ said the cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.’ “

Image result for quote if you don't know where you're going

When I am writing, I prefer an open-ended approach, and for that reason, I resist titling my pieces until the end. I don’t want my titles to bind my wiriting, and I want to allow myself to explore and to go where my intuition leads me, as I write. I realize, however, that this type of lollygagging is not the way to approach my entire career. I understand that if I want to get my writing published, I must jump into another gear.

Writing is easy for me, and I suspect that the open-endedness of my approach helps. Editing, however, is the kiss of death for me. I detest it. I do not like projects that require a harsh focus and that prevent my skipping about. I also detest the business of writing–the submitting of my work to an editor. I don’t want to be rejected, and I realize that this is one of the reasons that I resist submitting. My greater problem, however, is that I simply don’t want to shift from the creating part of my work to the noncreative business end of the process. But if I want to be published, I must learn to swallow the bitter pill of the business part of things, and I must edit my work and I must submit it. In order to be published, creating is not enough.

Setting goals helps me to take care of all of the chores necessary to write, edit, and publish my writing.

Deadlines help writers and artists set goals.

There are several places to find writing contests and other funds for writers. The magazine Poets and Writers has a great list of opportunitiesHere: http://www.pw.org/grants 

I have searched through the opportunities available, and I have created my own chronological list, and I have highlighted the deadline date Here.

Actual deadline dates are a way that I force myself to shift to the business part of getting myself published, but the dates themselves are not enough. I also need to establish some sort of contract with myself. I need to do something more to encourage myself to acknowledge the deadlines that I have established.

It doesn’t sound like much, but a promise to myself goes a long way toward encouraging me to stick with my goals.

On New Year’s Day, I made a resolution to write every day of the coming year. I became sick part of the year, and I was not able to do what I had promised, but several times throughout the year, something within myself has whispered that I had made a resolution. Something nudges me and tells me that I need to do what I had said that I would do. While I have not written everyday  in 2016, on several days, I wrote more than one article. I feel that I have averaged writing something everyday.

Another New Year is coming, and my resolution for the coming year will be to edit something for at least one hour every day. Yuck! It’s a dirty job, but if I want to get published, it’s something that I have to do.

The other part of my resolution is that I will submit at least 52 things for publication during 2017. That will be an average of submitting something once each week.

These are my promises for 2017, and I have already begun whipping myself into shape. At the very least, we, as writers, must always look ahead, and we must have some idea of where we want to go–and then, we must walk in that direction.

“One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree.
‘Which road do I take?’ she asked.
“Were do you want to go?’ was his reponse.
‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered.
‘Then,’ said the cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.’ “

©Jacki Kellum October 12, 2016

Promises

Creative Nonfiction Is More Than Just the Facts – Annie Dillard – American Childhood

For me, the first step in learning to write was to gather the courage and the energy to look at the facts of my own life and then, to record them, and I have done that diligently for the past year.

Now, I am working on the next step in my writing journey: I want to learn how to look at the facts of my life and to learn to tell those facts in a fresh, exciting, and original way. Great creative nonfiction [and the best memoirs are creative nonfiction] is more than just the facts.

While you are reading the first chapter of Annie Dillard’s memoir An American Childhood, it is not immediately obvious what the author is doing. Clearly, she is describing an area of lush vegetation, and if you have been to the area near Lake Chautauqua and Lake Erie, you might realize that she is talking about that part of western Pennsylvania. But then, she talks about Ben Franklin and George Washington, and after that, Dillard’s purpose might become vague, and it might take a bit more reading for you to realize that this highly skilled author is  creating the setting that she needs to tell the story of her chidhood.  But instead of simply saying, “My name is Annie Dillard, and I grew up in the Pittsburgh area, which once was a vast woodland inhabited only by Native Americans, Annie Dillard takes a more original approach:

creating the setting that she needs to tell the story of her chidhood.  But instead of simply saying, “My name is Annie Dillard, and I grew up in the Pittsburgh area, which once was a vast woodland inhabited only by Native Americans, Annie Dillard takes a more original approach:

Image result for an american childhood by annie dillard“When everything else has gone from my brain–thePresident’st name, the state capitals, the neighborhoods where I lived, and then my own name and wat it was on earth I sought, and then at length the faces of my friends, and finally the faces of my family–when all this has dissolved, what will be left, I believe, is topology: The dreaming memory of land as it lay this way and that.

“I will see the city poured rolling down the mountain valleys like slag, and see the city lights sprinkled and curved around the hills’ curves, rows of bonfires winding. At sunset a red light like housefires shines from the narrow hillside windows; the houses’ bricks burn like glowing coals.

“The three wide rivers divide and cool the mountains. Calm old bridges span the banks and link the hills. The Allegheny River flows in brawling from the north, from near the shore of Lake Erie, and from Lake Chautauqua in New York and eastward. The Monongahela meet and form the westward-wending Ohio.

“Where the two rivers join lies an acute point of flat land from which rises the city. The tall buildings rise lighted to their tips. Their lights illumine other buildings’ clean sides, and illumine the narrow city canyons below, where people move, and shine reflected red and white at night from the black waters. [p. 3]

“When the shining city, too, fades, I will see only those forested mountains and hills, and the way the rivers lie flat and moving among them, and the way the low land lies wooded among them, and the blunt mountains rise in darkness from the rivers’ banks, steep from the rugged south and rolling from the north, and from farther, from the inclined eastward plateau where the high ridges begin to run so long north and south unbroken that to get around them you practically have to navigate Cape Horn.

“In those first days, people said, a squirrel could run the long length of Pennsylvania without ever touching the ground. In those first days, the woods were white oaks and chestnut, hickory, maple, sycamore, walnut, wild ash, wild plum, and white pine. The pine grew on the ridgetops where the mountains’ lumpy spines stuck up and their skin was thinnest.

“The wilderness was uncanny, unknown, unknown. Benjamin Franklin had already invented his stove in Philadelphia by 1753, and Thomas Jefferson was a schoolboy in Virginia; French soldiers had been living in forts along Lake Erie for two generations. But west of the Alleghenies in western Pennsylvania, there was not even a settlement, not even a cabin. No Indians lived there, or even near there.

“Wild grapevines tangled the treetops and shut out the sun. Few songbird lived in the deep woods. Bright Carolina parakeets–red, green, and yellow–nested in the dark forest. There were ravens then, too. Woodpeckers rattled the big trees’ trunks, ruffed grouse whirred their tail feathers in the fall, and every long once in a while a nervous gang of empty-headed turkeys came hustling and kicking through the leaves–but no one heard any of this, no one at all.

“In 1753, young George Washington surveyed for the English this point of land where rivers met. To see the forest-blurred lay of the land, he rode his horse to a ridgetop and climbed a tree. He judged it would make a good spot for a fort. And an English fort it became, and a depot for Indian traders to the Ohio country, and later a French fort and way station to New Orleans.

“But it would be another ten years before any settlers lived [p.e 4] there on that land where the rivers met, lived to draw in the flowery scent of June rhododendrons with every breath. It would be another ten years before, for the first time on earth , tall men and women lay exhausted in their cabins, sleeping in the sweetness, worn out from planting corn.” Dillard, Annie. An American Childhood, pgs. 3-5.

When I read the first chapter of An American Childhood, I felt the same way that I did after I had read Barbara Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible. Poisonwood is fiction and Dillard’s book is nonfiction; yet, the quality of the writing for both pieces is the same. I realize that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and I understand that I have only been writing a year, but I am eager for the day that I will be able to nudge into the company of great writers, like Annie Dillard, who has learned how to tell her story and in doing so to share more than just the fact.

©Jacki Kellum October 11, 2016

Original