Archive | February, 2012

Mathilda by Mary Shelley

26 Feb

Initially, I was of the mindset that I was going to review one book a month. Sadly, this has not been the case. When you spend your days assessing manuscripts, it’s hard to spend your down time doing what it is you do while working: Reading. Nevertheless, I am going to try my best and follow through with my original goal. Even if it means I can only manage to read and review novellas.

With that being said, this month I managed to conquer Mary Shelley’s Mathilda. Of all of Shelley’s works, Mathilda is her most controversial. Although it was written in 1819, it was not published until 1959. Some critics felt the work was autobiographical, and that the three central characters within the text stood for William Godwin, Percy Shelley, and Mary Shelley. When Mary submitted the work to her Father for publication, he refused to publish it based on the fact that he found the central theme of incest to be completely revolting.

Mary wrote Mathilda as a means to distract herself from the grief she was suffering from over the recent deaths of her two children. The dark state of mind she was in when she wrote the text certainly inspired the overall mood and setting of the piece. The writing is incredibly dark and atmospheric, and the first-person narrative could easily be described as a detailed and disturbing psychological case study. Dealing with taboo subjects, such as incestuous love and depression, the narrative is undoubtedly fascinating. As a reader you will find yourself completely hypnotized by the palpable misery that is  so deeply entrenched within the text that you cannot help but fall prey to the gloominess that enshrouds all the characters. Mesmerized as you are by this haunting account, you will  surely not accrue one ounce of enjoyment from reading it.

 Mathilda deals with common Romantic themes of incest and suicide; namely the incestuous love a Father harbours for his only daughter, and the impending suicide resulting from his guilt and shame. Withdrawing from society, our protagonist is revisited daily by her ghastly memories and in the end succumbs to suicidal thoughts and spends her days waiting to die.

This is truly one of the most depressing books I have ever had the pleasure to read and review. I will do my best to review something more lighthearted next time.

An excerpt of Kilea

20 Feb

It is with great pleasure that I share with you an excerpt of the literary novel Kilea by Helen McClory.  Necessary Fiction, a literary web journal, has selected a passage of Kilea to share with their readers.

On reading the first few pages of Kilea, I instantly knew that Helen was someone I had to work with. The voice of Kilea was so unique and tender, that I was immediately mesmerized by her narrative. As a reader, you want nothing more than to protect Kilea from the loathsome minister, and to see redemption served…

Helen’s crafting of characters and setting, is as equally absorbing as it is haunting. Eliciting a roller coaster of emotions, Kilea is a beautifully stark and touching tale that resonates with the reader long after the final pages have been read.

To read the excerpt, go to:

http://necessaryfiction.com/stories/HelenMcCloryExcerptfromKilea

Yeats and I, we go a roving.

14 Feb

If Yeats were alive today, I am convinced that he & I would be the best of friends. His poetry speaks to the very innermost parts of me. I hear his words in my deep heart’s core. Being Valentine’s Day, I thought it only appropriate to share some of my favourite poems by this esteemed Irish poet. His poetry speaks to what it is to love fiercely and steadfastly, as well as to what it is like to lose oneself in the madness of love gone awry. Most of his love poetry was inspired by his fervent devotion to Maud Gonne; a love that was initially unrequited. Yeats proposed to Ms. Gonne on several occasions, but was always turned down. It was not until years later (after her divorce from John MacBride) that Yeats and Maud finally consummated their relationship. Sadly, their romance was fleeting and Yeats was forever haunted by their brief encounter as lovers.

I have selected three poems to share with you, and although I cannot wholly verify it, I am convinced that all three were written with Maud in mind.

The Arrow

I thought of your beauty, and this arrow,

Made out of wild thought, is in my marrow.

There’s no man may look upon her, no man,

As when newly grown to be a woman,

Tall and noble but with face and bosom

Delicate in colour as apple blossom.

This beauty’s kinder, yet for a reason

I could weep that the old is out of season.

Human Dignity

Like the moon her kindness is,

If kindness I may call

What has no comprehension in’t,

But is the same for all

As though my sorrow were a scene

Upon a painted wall.

So like a bit of stone I lie

Under a broken tree.

I could recover if I shrieked

My heart’s agony

To passing bird, but I am dumb

From human dignity.

When  You Are Old

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,

And nodding by the fire, take down this book,

And slowly read, and dream of the soft look

Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,

And loved your beauty with love false or true,

But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,

And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,

Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled

And paced upon the mountains overhead

And his his face amid a crowd of stars.

For your further enjoyment, The Guardian asked several writers to select their favourite love poems. Check it out at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/interactive/2012/feb/13/best-love-poems-interactive

Let us celebrate these books, that take shelter in the walls and ceilings that surround.

11 Feb

Bookshelf porn. It is what it is. For people like me, this website offers up a constant stream of eye candy. The images contained will surely make you salivate. Not to mention the excess bouts of joy you will experience, as you daydream about erecting one of these structures within your very own living space.

http://bookshelfporn.com/

Something fierce, alright.

9 Feb

As disappointing as it was to see Prisoner of Tehran by Marina Nemat voted off on the first day of Canada Reads, it was a necessary move, as it propelled Something Fierce by Carmen Aguirre to center stage in the Canada Reads Live debate. Going into Canada Reads, I had a clear idea of which book I was going to be championing for. Possessing the little knowledge I had of Pinochet, and the devastating consequences to his regime, I knew that I would find Ms. Aguirre’s book to be a compelling read. No doubt, the other entries would prove to be worthy opponents, and yet I held the steadfast belief that Something Fierce was a book that would not only captivate its audience, but would ultimately give its readers a lesson in history, as well as a lesson on humanity.

The book spares no details, in that it speaks openly of the atrocities that occur within a repressive regime, and by doing so exposes the ugly side of human nature. It also speaks of the aspects of human life that are identical across the board and how these facets of life are all consuming even when one’s way of life is under turmoil. Whether the reader has shared similar experiences or not, the readership will certainly be able to relate to Ms. Aguirre’s commonplace struggles with adolescence and complex family dynamics that plague most of us, no matter how extraordinary or ordinary our everyday lives are.

I am currently working with an author who has written a fictional account of a woman who lived in Chile during Pinochet’s regime. The book speaks of ‘the disappeared’, and gives a chilling account of the atrocities that occurred under this regime. Although it is fictional, I found this author’s account of the events to be immensely captivating and poignantly told. I hope that it is a story that will soon be shared with others.

With regards to Canada Reads, I am already anticipating next year’s selected titles and very much looking forward to watching the live debate. Last year was fiction, this year was non-fiction…perhaps next year the titles will be of a specific genre? Will have to wait to find out.

Books Galore!

2 Feb

If there was a bookstore in Toronto as lovely as the ones listed below, I imagine I would want to spend every waking moment there. So thrilled to see that S&Co. made the list!

To be fair, the Nicholas Hoare bookstore in Toronto is simply gorgeous. As is the location in Ottawa (and we cannot forget to mention the gorgeous feline that graces the store with its presence). I have never visited the store in Montreal, but will have to make a point of it next time I am there.

http://flavorwire.com/254434/the-20-most-beautiful-bookstores-in-the-world