Reading List:July, August,& Everything After

It`s been quite a while since I was able to sit down and look back upon what I`ve read over the last month… in recent months I have been consumed with all of the various variables surrounding our relocation to Annapolis and the acclimation thereof – such that whatever rare intermittent entries I have been able to dash down during this time could only hope to capture the thinnest residue of each day`s abundance.

Even now, I do not think that I am able to compile a comprehensive prcis of each text due to the lateness of this hour and the earliness of my tomorrow`s commencement. However, rather than fall further behind, I will briefly respond to a couple of the works that stood out from the rest…

On the Blue Shore of Silence: Poems of the Sea by Pablo Neruda

A rich lyrical tapestry of Neruda`s works, combining elegant typesetting and gracefully subtle illustrations.

Pablo Neruda was a master of interweaving the abstract with the natural into a broad canvas of shadings and colors. His words drip with implication and double entendre:

You keep only Darkness, my distant female,

from your regard sometimes the Coast of dread emerges.

Leaning into the afternoons I fling my sad nets

to the Sea that is thrashed by your Oceanic eyes.

I would read this work (as well as Moby-Dick) while relaxing along the Docks in my few moments of leisure during my initial visit to Annapolis. A little bit of Neruda at the end of a callous-burning day of maritime labors is comparable to lemonade on a hot Summer afternoon.

The crashing of waves and cry of the Gulls flow harmoniously into the inner-monologue of reading this work, and sometimes little snatches of Neruda`s phrases come back to me in my idler moments.

Recommended for lovers of the Sea or poetry… or both.

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

A glib and jaunty memoir of Hemingway`s days as a “young artist” in Paris. [Insert clever literary reference to a “portrait of the artist as a young man” here.]

While both overtly self-aware and self-mythologizing, much of the real Ernest Hemingway comes across underneath the bluster and excess.

Hemingway reveals a surprising tenderness in his recollections, and a personal vulnerability that gives the reader a sense that they might have a reasonable understanding of the man behind the words – not unlike listening to a congenial old man recollect his “bygone days” over a cup of coffee.

Crass at times and vulgar in others (it is, after all, Hemingway), A Moveable Feast is one of the better-written and personally expositional memoirs I have ever read. A spectacular portrait of a distinct time and place.

Blankets by Craig Thompson

Wrapped tightly within the Winter landscapes of a Midwestern snowfall, Blankets delves deep into the raging pathos of familial strife, adolescent angst, and even inculcated religious conviction. An embellished autobiography, the author brings the story of his younger years to life in all of its terrible and beautiful agonies.

I do not know what to say about this book. On a certain level, it was one of the most extraordinary Fiction works I have ever read. Ever. While on another level, it seemed a trifle clichd in the sense that the author makes no attempt to bring resolution to the narrative – as if to imply that life itself has no such solid resolutions.

All too often when forced into the sort of moral/ethical or situational crises that make or break a person`s character, the protagonist (and by virtue, the author) simply gives up and starts anew in another direction, giving no explanation or rationale as to why this must be. In this sense, perhaps, it is all the more authentic to the particular folly of adolescence. I guess I just wish the author had more to say.

However, it is precisely the emotional veracity of the story combined with the delicate artistry of the illustrations that so consumed me. I can vouch for the realism of the story because elements of it are suffused within my own life and the lives of people I know and love. At times I was actually amazed that something so eerily similar to my own life had happened to someone else – at practically the same time.

Recommended for anyone who was in high school during the early 1990s and fell in love, or grew up having to share a bedroom with a younger brother, or was raised in a religious home and later struggled with their faith… conversely, I would also caution any potential readers to be aware that there is also some objectionable material – including drug use, sexuality, and profanity. Not to mention, an abundance of lousy theology.

This is, as I said previously, only a brief highlight of a few of the works that I was able to complete in the harried rush of the last few months – and I choose not to review any of the Shakespeare or Scripture I read during that time, out of a respect for the material and the themes contained within.

Now that things are reaching an even keel around the drafty halls of Prospero House, and I am given more hours in the evening and weekend mornings with which to be engaged in such leisure, I hope to get back into the patterns I have established in previous months.

…as for now, this is all I have to show for July and August and everything after.

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