Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Night Circus`

Let it be known: I have mixed feeling about this book. I have also recently become far more stingy with my star allotment on and that fact indirectly affects this review.

Okay, anyway. "The Night Circus" was beautiful. Really, really beautiful. It was a fantastic novel with fantastic characters and managed to produce more heart strings than I could have imagined capable of being pulled.

This novel features a contortionist who has the tragedies/symbols/mementos surrounding her life tattooed on her body because she got tired of writing them on paper and needed something more permanent to engrave her precious words upon. There is a forest confined within a circus tent, created by a magician for the woman he loves, full of trees that are constructed solely from the lines of Shakespearean sonnets. There is a woman who wears a white dress covered in what seems like spools of black thread lining the fabric, which we discover is actually love letters written to her years ago from a regrettably lost lover, his words enfolding her forever in the gown. There is an 8 line love scene involving torn corsets, ink stained hands and shuddering chandeliers.

Yeah, this book has the makings of what could be a Melissa Favorite Forever. Alack, alas, it does not live up to its grandiose potential. And there was so much potential! Blargh.

This book will definitely be re-read as soon as I have the time, (as books of this nature certainly need re-reading) but the problem is that there are too many details and too many lost nuances in its pages. In my own mind, I thought of at least three different ways this story could have ended with tragedy, grace or beauty; based on the information the author gave me prior to the last 100 pages. Neither options came to be.

The greatest undoing of this novel is what also makes it so lovely-- the description. The details, though always important, are often in excess and lead nowhere. The descriptions that do amount to something are so lost in the jumble you can barely recall them. The details you do recall enough to predict, are usually wrong. And not wrong in a satisfying, "This book is so damn smart and I am so damn smart and I figured the plot out before the author even did." kinda way.


There is much that could have been done with the detail, there is much that could have been illuminated within the final pages. It simply wasn't.

My main problem with "The Night Circus" is that it took too much time building up and not enough time explaining down. In this truly epic story of love and fate, I fell disconcerted by the lack of, dare I say it-- imagination for a proper ending?

...Oh dear, I'm afraid The Night Circus just unraveled.


Audrey Wednesday

Goodness, I haven't posted on here in far too long. I miss blogging and intend to remedy my absence immediately.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Le Macabre

My favorite horror story

“Yes, I hear it, and have heard it. We have put her living in the tomb! Said I not that my senses were acute? I now tell you that I heard her first feeble movements in the hollow coffin. I heard them—many, many days ago—yet I dared not—I dared not speak!

And now—the rending of her coffin, and the grating of the iron hinges of her prison, and her struggles within the coppered archway of the vault! Have I not heard her footstep on the stair? Do I not distinguish that heavy and horrible beating of her heart?’—here he sprang furiously to his feet, and shrieked out his syllables, as if in the effort he were giving up his soul—’I tell you that she now stands without the door!’

The huge antique panels to which the speaker pointed threw slowly back, upon the instant, their ponderous and ebony jaws. It was the work of the rushing gust—but then without those doors there did stand the lofty and enshrouded figure of the lady Madeline of Usher.”

-Edgar Allan Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher (1839)


She is refilled each day with fresh tides of longing.

Under her fierce gaze my past is burned away. The beloved is nitric acid.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Way Things Work

The Way Things Work by Jorie Graham
is by admitting
or opening away.
This is the simplest form
of current: Blue
moving through blue;
blue through purple;
the objects of desire
opening upon themselves
without us; the objects of faith.
The way things work
is by solution,
resistance lessened or
increased and taken
advantage of.
The way things work
is that we finally believe
they are there,
common and able
o illustrate themselves.
Wheel, kinetic flow,
rising and falling water,
ingots, levers and keys,
I believe in you,
cylinder lock, pully,
lifting tackle and
crane lift your small head--
I believe in you--
your head is the horizon to
my hand. I believe
forever in the hooks.
The way things work
is that eventually
something catches.

J. Graham

Of The Ever-Changing Agitation In The Air
The man held his hands to his heart as
he danced.
He slacked and swirled.
The doorways of the little city
blurred. Something
leaked out,
kindling the doorframes up,
making each entranceway
less true.
And darkness gathered
although it does not fall . . . And the little dance,
swinging this human all down the alleyway,
nervous little theme pushing itself along,
braiding, rehearsing,
constantly incomplete so turning and tacking --
oh what is there to finish? -- his robes made
rustic by the reddish swirl,
which grows darker towards the end of the
avenue of course,
one hand on his chest,
one flung out to the side as he dances,
taps, sings,
on his scuttling toes, now humming a little,
now closing his eyes as he twirls, growing smaller,
why does the sun rise? remember me always
dear for I will
return --
liberty spooring in the evening air,
into which the lilacs open, the skirts uplift,
liberty and the blood-eye careening gently over
the giant earth,
and the cat in the doorway who does not
mistake the world,
eyeing the spots where the birds must
eventually land --


"No, father. The moon is reaching for me."



My Morning Jacket - Front row

Youth Knows No Pain

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

At 90, Fashion’s Latest Pop Star

HER spectacles, as round as soup tureens, lend Iris Apfel a startled look. If she seems surprised, she has good reason. Mrs. Apfel, the subject of a string of museum exhibitions, a coffee table book and even a fashion advertising campaign, has long been a magnet to aficionados, those devotees of fashion who dote on her style — a more-is-more mix of haute couture and hippie trimmings that appears at a glance to have been blended in a Cuisinart.

But now, at 90, she seems baffled, and clearly tickled, to find herself on the cusp of pop stardom, an unlikely celebrity whose fame has been constructed almost entirely around her look. “I’m a geriatric starlet, my dear, don’t you know,” she said the other day. Relaxing in her Park Avenue apartment, a visual feast of cabbage rose patterns, paisleys and brocades, she added, “All of a sudden, I’m hot; I’m cool; I have a ‘fan base.’ ”

Straight people, gay people, students of art and social history, tourists and chattering adolescents, “even little kids,” she noted, gravitate to her lectures, blog about her and send her mash notes. And come September, Mrs. Apfel, wearing her signature owl-shaped frames and festooned in faux amber, will exert her exotic fascination on Middle America, peddling bangles, scarves and beads of her own design on the Home Shopping Network.

Mrs. Apfel’s willfully disjunctive look, and the tart wit behind it, will be the subject of a movie as well, a documentary by Albert Maysles, whose film “The Beales of Grey Gardens” turned the reclusive Edie Beale into a household name. Mrs. Apfel’s charisma, a blend of passion, energy and determination, is compelling to Bradley Kaplan, the president of products at Maysles Films. “She’s wonderfully strong-willed, opinionated and single-minded,” Mr. Kaplan said. “She’s not a waffler.”

Her glasses, he added, “have in effect become a metaphor for her eyes, and through them we’ve found another way of looking at our own world.” Mrs. Apfel has an excess as well of what contemporary audiences seem to crave: originality, a soaring free spirit — and the cunning to turn her brand of eccentricity into a saleable commodity.

She expects to have a little help, of course. “I never thought that in my dotage,” she said, in a tone as dry as rice paper, “that I’d have to find an entertainment lawyer.”

She requires no such guidance in matters closer to her heart. Mrs. Apfel is the discerning curator of her own wardrobe. Sorted and stowed in a vast nearby warehouse, that wardrobe incorporates pieces commemorating high points in her life. “She’s a great storyteller,” said Mindy Grossman, the chief executive of HSN. “Every single thing she wears, she remembers a story behind it.”

Some items are mementos from her travels. The dress she has on above, for example, acquired during a shopping trip to China, was inspired, Mrs. Apfel said, by a traditional design of the Miao villagers. She didn’t like the hood, she recalled, so she promptly sheared if off. “That changed the entire look of the dress,” she said with satisfaction.

Of her glasses, she added, “They are standard equipment; they come with me.”

Her designs, including a scarf printed with images of those frames and others inspired by her personal treasures, will be sold on HSN.

Mrs. Apfel’s star turn on the network, to be broadcast on Sept. 23, will not be her first time in front of a camera. In 2007, Bruce Weber invited her to pose for Italian Vogue. “I thought at the time, When will the likes of me ever get a chance to be photographed by the likes of Bruce Weber?” Mrs. Apfel recalled. “If I have to kill myself, I’ll do that shoot.”

Her wardrobe was lavishly documented by the photographer Eric Boman in “Rare Bird of Fashion: The Irreverent Iris Apfel,” (Thames & Hudson, 2007). She is a fixture of the society columns. Swathed in longhair fur, she was the improbable star of a 2008 Coach advertising campaign. And now she will join a string of fashion divas — outsize characters like Loulou de la Falaise Klossowski and Patricia Field, who have charmed mainstream audiences on shopping TV.

“When you’re with Iris, you don’t even think of the concept of age,” Ms. Grossman said. Nevertheless, decades of creating interiors and presiding with her husband, Carl Apfel, over Old World Weavers, a textile and design company, have conferred on Mrs. Apfel the weight of authority. “I’m not a designer,” she said. “But I’m a good stylist. I know what to pick.”

IT requires a disciplined eye to pull off her style — an artful clash of furs, couture cashmeres and zingy tribal effects that once prompted The New York Times art critic Roberta Smith to write, “Before multiculturalism was a word, Mrs. Apfel was wearing it.”

Harold Koda, the curator of the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, who organized Mrs. Apfel’s first museum exhibition in 2006, noted at the time: “To dress this way, there has to be an educated visual sense. I keep thinking, ‘Don’t try this at home.’ ”

Still, her fans may be tempted. When Ms. Grossman met with her for lunch not long ago, “Iris was wearing bangles from her wrist to her elbows,” she recalled. Captivated, the next day Ms. Grossman stacked bangles all the way up both arms, affecting, she said, “my own bohemian style for the day.”

Mrs. Apfel’s look is expected to have a similar pull on viewers. Her public appearances and book signings have drawn followers by the thousands, and turned the comically self-effacing Mrs. Apfel into a heroine of sorts. Straight men, she said, are particularly drawn to her. “They are so much more romantic than women,” she said, and seem to share her conviction that “there is not enough glamour in the world.”

Women view her as a role model: “A lot of them have told me, ‘Now that I’ve met you, I feel so liberated.’ ” Secret eccentrics, they have learned, Mrs. Apfel maintained, “that when you don’t dress like everybody else, you don’t have to think like everybody else.”

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

From Tinkers

"Hands, teeth, gut, thoughts even, were all simply more or less convenient to human circumstance, as my father was receding from human circumstance, so, too, were all of these particulars, back to some unknowable froth where they might be reassigned to be stars or belt buckles, lunar dust or railroad spikes. Perhaps they already were all of these things and my father's fading was because he realized this: My goodness, I am made from planets and wood, diamonds and orange peels, now and then, here and there; the iron in my blood was once the blade of a Roman plow; peel back my scalp and you will see my cranium covered in the scrimshaw carved by an ancient sailor who never suspected he was whittling at my skull — no, my blood is a Roman plow, my bones are being etched by men with names that mean sea wrestler and ocean rider and the pictures they are making are pictures of northern stars at different seasons, and the man keeping my blood straight as it splits the soil is named Lucian and he will plant wheat, and I cannot concentrate on this apple, this apple, and the only thing common to all of this is that I feel sorrow so deep, it must be love, and they are upset because while they are carving and plowing they are troubled by visions of trying to pick apples from barrels."
Paul Harding

Monday, August 22, 2011

Friday, August 19, 2011

"You were a vampire and baby, I'm the walking dead."

Bad Romance: History’s Ill-Fated Literary Couples

Sylvia Plath and Edward James “Ted” Hughes

Sylvia and Ted met at the issue launch party for St. Botolph’s Review; she was studying on a Fulbright at Cambridge and he was writing poems for the short-lived publication. The pair were married on Bloomsday in 1956, at an Anglican church in Camden. Seven years later, the very unstable Sylvia killed herself, after discovering that Ted was having an affair with Assia Wevill (who also killed herself via oven fumes, in a copycat suicide a few years later). In a poem about Sylvia that was published in the late 1990s, Ted writes, “I did not know/I had made and fitted a door/ Opening downwards into your Daddy’s grave.”


Wednesday, August 17, 2011


"And one by one the nights between our separated cities are joined to the night that unites us."


"But I love your feet
only because they walked
upon the earth and upon
the wind and upon the waters,
until they found me."

First Listen: 'Muppets: The Green Album'

Monday, August 15, 2011

Open like a cavern wide, his feet fell in to spite his soul.

"Awake for ever in a sweet unrest."




E. Jong

Smoke, it is all smoke
in the throat of eternity. . . .
For centuries, the air was full of witches
Whistling up chimneys
on their spiky brooms
cackling or singing more sweetly than Circe,
as they flew over rooftops
blessing & cursing their

We banished & burned them
making them smoke in the throat of god;
we declared ourselves
"The dark age of horrors is past,"
said my mother to me in 1952,
seven years after our people went up in smoke,
leaving a few teeth, a pile of bones.

The smoke curls and beckons.
It is blue & lavender
& green as the undersea world.
It will take us, too.

O let us not go sheepishly
clinging to our nakedness.
But let us go like witches sucked heavenward
by the Goddess' powerful breath
& whistling, whistling, whistling
on our beautiful brooms.

Erica Jong

You gave me the child
that seamed my belly
& stitched up my life.

You gave me: one book of love poems,
five years of peace
& two of pain.

You gave me darkness, light, laughter
& the certain knowledge
that we someday die.

You gave me seven years
during which the cells of my body
died & were reborn.

Now we have died
into the limbo of lost loves,
that wreckage of memories
tarnishing with time,
that litany of losses
which grows longer with the years,
as more of our friends
descend underground
& the list of our loved dead
outstrips the list of the living.

Knowing as we do
our certain doom,
knowing as we do
the rarity of the gifts we gave
& received,
can we redeem
our love from the limbo,
dust it off like a fine sea trunk
found in an attic
& now more valuable
for its age & rarity
than a shining new one?

Probably not.
This page is spattered
with tears that streak the words
lose, losses, limbo.

I stand on a ledge in hell
still howling for our love

I hunger for your sleek laugh

"And I walk hungry, smelling the twilight
Looking for you, for your hot heart,"