Hi folks, I struggled with this blog. So many pressures from every side. Writing is not in a vacuum. It is in the real world, and this world is full of troubles, big and small. I began to think about an idea I have always held this weekend. If you fall in a pit, get up on the side closest to where you to want go, crawl out, and keep on going. A new idea came to me.
Why don’t you just sprout wings and fly away?
How? I mean sprouting wings would be a pretty big miracle and this is the age of information and reason. We don’t live in a world that is NOT clinging to mysterious. I wondered about the idea of sprouting wings. It felt very evolutionary to me. You know, life adapts, and a lifetime of crawling out of pits made me long for something more. An evolutionary step seemed better than the same old reaction to stupidity.
Perhaps this is the heart of what makes us human -- three dimensional thinking. Your stories will pop if you think about making your characters evolve. We tend to the ordinary, consider the extraordinary. I think the best writers don’t wrap it all up. They deal in imagery and theme. The unseen world is how they live their days. Writing is to akin to dreaming, except you are awake. Our dreams can be chaotic and meaningless, but they can also help us make sense of the chaotic meaningless world. Those words you are putting on the page, you are bringing light into darkness. Keep going!
Finally, I considered my idea of sprouting wings. There is nothing new under the sun. An old scripture whispered within me: They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They shall soar on wings like the eagles.
It is strange how the words of the Prophet Isaiah from around 720 BCE resonate within me today. I love writers. They are thinking ahead. They are reaching to the ages ahead. They see into the murky darkness of the future and they see you.
As you write, think about shining into the darkness of the future. You have the potential to transform the world.
I will be back next week with more of TEENSPublish. I hope that you keep writing. Someone needs those stories.
A sneak peek at an illustration for my soon to be indie published picture book: CHICKENS DON'T TAKE OVER HALLOWEEN!
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint
Isaiah 40; 28-31. Write this on your heart, folks.
Edgar Allan Poe is one of few authors by whom I’ve read everything, at least everything available, including his literary criticism. I was obsessed with him for a while, and in an alternative life where I get a Ph.D. in English Literature, I might well be writing academic papers on Poe (and Hawthorne, and Melville, and maybe Irving).
The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym is easy to pick as Poe’s biggest failure. It is his only attempt at a novel, and falls short even there, with a series of loosely connected episodes that lack continuity and a proper ending. The problems don’t end there. It is also Poe’s most damningly racist work. Though racist caricatures appear in his other tales, this is the one most informed by Poe’s pathological fear of non-whiteness. However, it also proves to be one of his most influential works, figuring explicitly into subsequent works by some of his biggest admirers, particularly Jules Verne and H.P. Lovecraft.
The hero of Mat Johnson’s Pym is an African American scholar obsessed with Poe, and especially with Pym. This singular obsession with white authors (and a refusal to serve on the diversity committee) disrupts his academic career, but a series of coincidences leads him on his own fantastic voyage that parallel Poe’s Pym, encountering much of the same…. experiences.
It is simultaneously a pastiche and a critique of Poe, but an effective satire of current American culture: academia, pop painting, junk food, you name it. In some ways it is an academic novel, wise and winking in literary references, casually name-dropping major pieces of the black canon including ones that white readers like me didn’t know about (Equiano, Webb) mixed in with the more obvious ones to the source material (one nod to Lovecraft made me laugh out loud). But it would work without one knowing literary history, purely as adventure/horror and humor. And of course it is book about race itself; a critical reflection about whiteness and blackness both literal and figurative.
I love everything about this book. It centers me in the black experience of America as effectively as Ralph Ellison, and gives me a fix of sharp satire that reminds me of being fourteen and discovering Kurt Vonnegut. It pushes my buttons as literary nerd, but is enjoyable purely as a great yarn.
The American literary canon is racist and sexist because our history is racist and sexist, but what do we do about it? Pointing out the problems is necessary, but doesn’t suggest where to go next. I’m not a big fan of expunging literary history; that itself becomes a kind of whitewashing. Besides, I think there is value in Poe, in Twain, even in Margaret Mitchell. I would rather read those books, then read these creative critiques–books like Johnson’s Pym, or Alice Randall’s The Wind Be Gone–that critique and re-create and re-center the narratives, that subsume and overtake the source material.
I think Johnson takes on a particularly problematic text to show just how brilliantly this can be done; it makes me grateful for Poe’s Pym because it makes Johnson’s possible.
Filed under: Miscellaneous
Tagged: mat johnson
Long ago, when folk tales were told by people in homes, in fields, in the marketplace and taverns, there were many stories of the forests.
Two out of three of the original 1812 Grimm Folk Tales are set in or involve the forest.
The forests held beauty and danger, the known and the unknown, light and darkness.
The forests were places of lost and abandoned children; homes of witches, elves, and dwarfs. They were the place where wondrous events occurred.
The forests were a threshold of wonder.
The illustration is of Harry Potter seeing the Silver Stag.
The Forest - steeped in ancient myth and legend and infused with
Justine Gaunt, in Woodlands.co.uk, writes of the underlying significance and symbolism of the forest found in the minds of ancient peoples and in their folk and fairy tales.
"Anyone embarking upon the journey of exploring forest symbolism finds themselves, perhaps like Little Red Riding Hood waving goodbye to her mother at the garden gate, on a vast voyage punctuated with the joys and dangers of the psyche, steeped in ancient myth and legend and infused with spiritual meaning.
It is no accident that so many fairytale characters find themselves having to traverse danger-laden tracts of woodland. In a most practical sense, as the ancients dreamed up those stories and even when the oral traditions were finally written down in the middle ages and later, the lands of northern and western Europe were thick with woodland. The dangers were palpable: from rogues and bandits lying in wait for unsuspecting travellers to opportunistic wolves hungry for the kill...
As for Little Red Riding Hood, straying from the path and into the woods is similarly dangerous and filled with treachery. Symbolically, those who lose their way in the uncharted forest are losing their way in life, losing touch with their conscious selves and voyaging into the realms of the subconscious..."
Here is a link to read all of this article about fairy tales and the forest
The illustrations of fairies and for the story of Tom Thumb are by Gustav Dore.
Fairy Tales Speak to the Secret Self
Tim Lott, who writes a Family Column for the Guardian wrote about the resonance and connection that the dark side of fairy tales have -- especially for kids - after taking his family to an interactive total immersion theater event based on Phillip Pullman's Grimm Tales...
"But why do these particular plots have such resonance for the audience? Bruno Bettelheim in
his study, The Uses of Enchantment, suggested that folk and fairytales that endure from generation to generation, speak to something deep in the reader’s unconscious – for instance, that these older tales legitimized the murderous and violent instincts that all children experience, freeing them from the guilt that such feelings generate...
Whether or not you believe in Bettelheim’s Freudian take on storytelling, it is unquestionable that the best stories have a profound resonance of the Grimm tales transparently address our darkest fears, but in a sense, all mythic storytelling is about addressing uncertainties and anxieties...
Archetypal stories, then, for adults and children – even the “simplest”, not usually thought of as “art” – are more than merely entertainment. The more they involve us imaginatively, the more they speak to the secret self. Without access to those ancient portals that lie within us all, and certainly lie within Grimm Tales, we may applaud the style, and the elegance and the sophistication of the storyteller. And in children’s stories... "
Here is a link that will connect you to the full article, Fairy Tales Are Not Just For Fun: Guardian
Both illustrations are for the Grimm's story, the Robber Bridegroom. The top one is by John Cruikshank; the lower on is by John Gruelle.
The Planet Dog Foundation (PDF), Planet Dog's non-profit grant-making organization, is awarding $60,000 in new grants to twelve canine service organizations throughout the country.
"A PDF grant of $5,000 to America's VetDogs will support the training and placement of dogs for veterans being trained through their
Massachusetts Prison Puppy Program. Collectively, inmates from local facilities along with local volunteer weekend puppy raisers will train 40 future service dogs per program cycle to assist our nation's veterans with disabilities. The program not only raises the quality of life for wounded veterans and keeps them active in their communities, but also has a positive impact on the inmate population involved in the training."
America's VetDogs serves veterans from all eras, and first responders who have honorably served our country and community, by providing Guide Dogs, Service Dogs for Disabilities,, Service Dogs for PTSD, Hearing Dogs, and more...Click this link and
Learn more about America's VetDogs here.
Save The Children
The devastating effect of war on children is seen in a brief video, Second A Day, produced by Save The Children. Here is an excerpt from a report by Dion Dassannayake in the Express:
"The moving clip starts with a child celebrating her birthday and follows her moment by moment as war and conflict develops in the UK. The hard hitting clip shows London being turned into a war zone where rockets are fired at buildings in broad daylight and children wear gas masks. The powerful video ends with a moving shot of the young girl celebrating her birthday once again."
In just one minute and thirty three seconds, we are reminded of what is happening to multitudes of children today. Here is a link to YouTube- Second A Day
The Wonder of a New Fairy Tale
Pixar's Inside Out...Inside the Mind of an 11 Year Old Girl...
After a rather disappointing hiatus of wonder, the folks at Pixar -- who produced Up, Toy Story and Finding Nemo --have produced another winner, both critically and with audiences.
Rotten Tomatoes reports that 98% of 217 reviewers were enthusiastic and positive in their reviews of Inside Out. Opening weekend crowds for “Inside Out” were 56% female and 38% under the age of 12. Families comprised 71% of the audience. The film opened June 19 and has already grossed over $300 million in ticket sales.
Here's the reaction of Craig Mathieson in the Sydney Morning Herald:
"The most pleasurably complete Pixar film since 2004's The Incredibles, Inside Out delivers a witty and empathetic answer to the eternal lament of, "What is going on inside your head?"
And, here's an excerpt from an insightful review by Andrew O'hehir in Salon.com
"... there’s an enormous conceptual gulf between Disney films of the “classic” mode, from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” and “Dumbo” right through “Pocahontas” and “The Little Mermaid,” and the consistently elegiac and nostalgic childhood’s-end fables of the Pixar era. If
you’ve ever wondered why Pixar’s animators have never gotten around to adapting “The Velveteen Rabbit,” Margery Williams’ 1922 classic about the boundary between childhood imagination and adult reality, it’s because they don’t have to. Almost every Pixar film is “The Velveteen Rabbit,” transmuted into some new fictional universe but built upon the same question, perhaps the most profound and tragic ever framed in the English language: 'Of what use was it to be loved and lose one’s beauty and become Real if it all ended like this?' ..."
Here's is a link to the trailer: Inside Out
A Dog that Meows and Sings..WENDY
This is amazing...a video for all.
Finding Fido:A Book That Can Save Your Dog's Life
"Like Wulff's "How to Change the World in 30 Seconds", this book is another practical handbook for helping pets. Easy to follow steps, important data, and insider info. Displaced pets make up most of the animals that find themselves in pounds, and with 3-4 million animals euthanized in U.S. shelters every year, it's no place for your beloved pet! Many times the pet's people have no idea where, or how, to start looking for them. This guide spells it out with lots of helpful tips and advice. And all the sales go to charity - how great is that?...
An Amazon 5 star review by Kristina Kane
Here's a link to read excerpts, reviews, and to purchase Finding Fido.
I was quite taken by an excellent and evocative Dog Poem on C.A. Wulff's website, Up On The Woof
Sight Unseen...the Threshold of Invisibility
Here are excerpts from "The Hows and Whys of Invisibility" by Kathryn Schulz in the New Yorker.
...."These questions are not so much answered as provoked by “Invisible: The Dangerous Allure of the Unseen”(Chicago), by the British science writer Philip Ball...
His book takes seriously a subject that, perhaps aptly, has heretofore been mostly
disregarded. Invisibility looms large in the kingdom of childhood—in pretend play and imaginary friends, in fairy tales and comic books and other fictions for kids—but it seldom receives sustained adult scrutiny. And yet, once you get past the cloaks and the spells, invisibility is a consummately grownup matter. As a condition, a metaphor, a fantasy, and a technology, it helps us think about the composition of nature, the structure of society, and the deep weirdness of our human situation—about what it is like to be partly visible entities in a largely inscrutable universe. As such, the story of invisibility is not really about how to vanish at all. Curiously enough, it is a story about how we see ourselves..."
The illustrations are from the Miyazaki film Spirited Away.
Alice: 150 Years of Wonderland
The Morgan Library Museum in New York is presenting an extraordinary exhibit, both at the Museum and Online...
"This exhibition will bring to light the curious history of Wonderland, presenting an engaging account of the genesis, publication, and enduring appeal of Lewis Carroll's classic tale, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
For the first time in three decades, the original manuscript will travel from the British Library in London to New York, where it will be joined by original drawings and letters, rare editions, vintage photographs, and fascinating objects—many never before exhibited..."
The array of artwork by Lewis Carrol and John Tenniel is dazzling. The scope of the online exhibit is quite comprehensive and includes information and links to early Alice films.
“You know very well you’re not real.”
“I am real!” said Alice, and began to cry.
“You won’t make yourself a bit realler by crying,” Tweedledee remarked: “there’s nothing to cry about.”
“If I wasn’t real,” Alice said—half laughing through her tears, it all seemed so ridiculous—“I shouldn’t be able to cry.”
“I hope you don’t suppose those are real tears?” Tweedledum interrupted in a tone of great contempt.
Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There -Lewis Carrol
Illustration by John Tenniel
Castle In The Mist is the second book in the Planet Of The Dogs Series -
"...Castle in the Mist is full of the same elements I enjoyed in Planet of the Dogs and Snow Valley Heroes: beautiful, detailed, soft, mood setting drawings; the fun and antics of the dogs, and the people who are discovering them for the first time; encroaching danger and suspense; the lovely fantasy of a planet of dogs who are so concerned with the people of earth; and the forgiveness, unconditional love and loyalty that the dogs are able to subtly impart."- Taken from a 5 star Amazon review by Lisa Harvey, Book Thoughts by Lisa...
For sample chapters visit our website: Planet Of The Dogs
We have free reader copies of the Planet of The Dogs book series for therapy dog organizations, individual therapy dog owners, librarians and teachers...simply send us an email at email@example.com and we will send you the books.
Our books are available through your favorite independent bookstore, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Powell's and many more...Librarians, teachers, bookstores...You can also order Planet Of The Dogs, Castle In The Mist, and Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale, through Ingram with a full professional discount.
The illustration by Stella Mustanoja-McCarty is from Castle In The Mist
Rescuing Wonderful Shivery Tales
Marina Warner, in the New York Review of Books, writes an extremely informative overview encompassing the books and lives of the brothers Grimm, the work of Franz Xaver von Schönwerth (The Turnip Princess, translated by Maria Tatar), as well as related work by Philip Pullman and the translation of Selected Tales of the Brothers Grimm by Peter Wortman. The article also contains information and insights regarding the contributions through the years by Jack Zipes, including his translation of the Original Grimm Tales and his latest book, Grimm Legacies, The Magic Spell of the Grimms' Folk and Fairy Tales.
Here is brief excerpt regarding a turning point:
The brothers had been strongly encouraged to make their scholarship a bit more family-friendly by including Ludwig’s illustrations after they learned of the huge success in England of the first English translation by Edgar Taylor (1823 and 1826), with its quirky, joyous drawings by George Cruikshank. In Grimm Legacies, Zipes relates how the tone of the English illustrations changed the tales’ reception, inspiring Dickens to write sentimentally about their innocence, and Ruskin to claim that Cruikshank’s “original etchings…[are] unrivalled in masterfulness of touch since Rembrandt.”
The illustration of the Elves and the Shoemaker is by George Cruikshank.
"The simpler question to answer is why these tales are called "fairy tales." It is from the influence of the women writers in the French Salons who dubbed their tales "contes de fees." The term was translated into English as "fairy tales." The name became so widely used due to the popularity of the French tales, that it began to be used to describe similar tales such as those by the Grimms and Hans Christian Andersen." Heidi Anne Heiner -- SurLaLune
The illustration of Beauty and the Beast is by Walter Crane.
Sunbear Squad is Anna Nirva's practical site for a wide range of information focused on the well being of dogs ( as well as cats). Here are a few excerpts from a very comprehensive article on Traveling by Car or Truck with Pets.
...On the Road...
Once you are on the road with your pet, you will need to adhere to some basic guidelines to keep your animals and your family happy and safe. Here are some recommendations for the trip itself:
Keep the Animal Inside...Anyone who owns a dog knows how much these animals like to put their heads out the window while they are riding in a car. This is dangerous for the animal, as debris can injure it. It is best to keep the animal’s head and every other part inside the car or truck, and never let your pet ride in the bed of a pickup truck, which exposes it to many dangers.
Stop Frequently...Particularly if you are traveling with a dog, you will need to stop regularly to give your animal bathroom, exercise, and water breaks. Fortunately, most rest areas have ample space for you to give your pet a chance to stretch its legs. Keep your pet leashed when you stop and have a bag ready to clean up after it.
Food and Water...You will want to limit excessive feeding while you are traveling to avoid giving your pet an upset stomach. Keep feeding to a minimum and stick to the pet food. Avoid the temptation to let the animal snack on what you are eating, as that can cause some unpleasant digestive issues.
On the other hand, you want to make sure that your pet gets as much water as possible. Give it water every time you stop. You may also want to bring along some ice cubes, which are a treat for most pets and easier for them to handle than water if they get upset stomachs while you are traveling...
There is much more to this article...here is the link: TRAVEL
"When a man's best friend is his dog, that dog has a problem." - Edward Abbey