VISIT SUNNY CHERNOBYL: Vivid, entertaining, witty

 

Visit Sunny Chernobyl Cover

Visit Sunny Chernobyl, by Andrew Blackwell/320 pages/Rodale Books, 2013

Visit Sunny Chernobyl isn’t what I expected. This vividly-written, highly entertaining, and occasionally witty narrative is not a rant about the dirtiest places in our world and how we’ve destroyed (or are destroying) our environment, but rather an exploration of the dirtiest places of our world and what it’s like to be there, live there, and breathe there. This isn’t a book that passes judgment; this is a book that lets you see things through Blackwell’s eyes and make up your own mind.

For those of us who like to armchair travel, Read the rest of this entry

Take the 2016 Reading Challenge!

A couple of weeks ago I was tagged in a Facebook post by my West Coast writer-friend Cyndee Mady: “The 2016 Reading Challenge” (she is referring to our graduate school days at Goddard College, where we got our MFAs but also spent hours and hours in our respective positions on The Pitkin Review, the MFACW program’s literary journal):

Cyndee Mady Pitkin Review Read the rest of this entry

DARK DISCUSSIONS Explores THE FOREST (2016) — with these resources, you can, too!

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Dark Discussions Episode 215 masthead by Philip Perron.

The recent film The Forest may not have gotten such great reviews, but the crew at Dark Discussions took time out to discuss its good points, its bad ones, and its setting: the fascinating Aokigahara Jukai Forest (Japan’s Suicide Forest).

Below, links to the episode, as well as a list of resources for those who might be interested in learning more about this macabre environment—a real place where, on average, 100 people take their lives per year—that the film (although shot in Serbia; permission to work in the forest is almost never granted) depicted well.

Note: For a place so mysterious and strange, Read the rest of this entry

Russell’s SEA OF TREES is a sea of problems

RUSSELL'S SEA OF TREES COVER

Where this book excels is in the vignettes of those who suicided in Aokigahara Jukai forest: we see the last moments of these people’s lives in chilling, haunting portraiture. Similarly, the world of the forest is brought to life; the writing itself is clear, yet peppered with poignant phrasing. The first person present-tense is sound and is a good match for this type of piece. The tension between the two characters is fantastic, as there is push and pull but neither gets what’s desired. It’s also an easy read (although the lack of commas where there should’ve been drove me crazy; I’m not sure if this was an editing fail or if it’s some style I’m not familiar with).

Despite all of that, however, I’d only be able to recommend Sea of Trees to those who are deeply interested in the forest.

Although the stories of those who suicided Read the rest of this entry

Short Story Sunday: Harrison Bergeron

Harrison Bergeron, Kurt Vonnegut

This depiction of a dystopian world in which everyone is “finally equal” fascinated and scared me (on another note, wow, this is possibly how far the awful Common Core could go…). It’s probably available in many anthologies and, certainly, in collections of Vonnegut’s, but I found a link to read it free here: http://www.wordfight.org/bnw/bnw-unit_packet.pdf

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Lately I’ve been working on the overwhelming task of thinning out my book collection; it’s something no book lover likes to do, but let’s face it, every once in a while it has to be done, either to clear clutter or make room for more.

It’s no surprise that a good portion of my collection is devoted to short story collections. I’ve read my share of great stories, and I’ve read my share of awful ones—but I’ve also read my share of a few that blew me away to the point at which I’ll never forget them. So instead of doing a typical “Top” list, I decided instead to focus on ones which fall into the last category (please note that in my “about” descriptions I tried to be spoiler-free). Do you have any that have made a lasting impression on you? Leave them in the comments.

Short Story Sunday: Rainy Season

Rainy Season, Stephen King

I stopped reading King back in the late 1990s, and in truth, I’ve forgotten almost every short story I ever read of his except this one about

Nightmares and Dreamscapes Read the rest of this entry

Vote for your favorite at the Maritime Aquarium’s 2015 Festival of Lighthouses!

011 Lighthouse

This Ray Touch Pool is one of the many stunning details in Nancy Todd of West Haven, CT’s, “Droste Pointe” entry.

The 2015 Festival of Lighthouses is up and running at the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, CT (where I am a volunteer Gallery Ambassador, in case readers of this blog don’t know)! This year’s 14th annual exhibit features 22 large models crafted by artists from Connecticut and New York.

You can visit the lighthouse exhibit, which is included with regular admission, Read the rest of this entry

Impossible things with pumpkins: 2015’s GREAT JACK O’LANTERN BLAZE

Blaze 06

These creepy pumpkin men beckoned guests to the arched entrance. For some reason, these made me think of T.S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men.” Maybe it’s literal, or maybe it’s the image I conjure every time I read that poem.
“We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar…”

It’s almost Thanksgiving, and even though this is still very much a “harvest” time of year (at least for a couple more days), the Historic Hudson Valley, New York’s Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze has come to a close for 2015.

What is Blaze? Founded in 2005 (Historic Hudson Valley Read the rest of this entry

“Our Lips Are Sealed” now in Sediments Literary-Arts’ A HAUNTING

 

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My short story “Our Lips Are Sealed” — about a woman who may be having an unusual experience with her wine glass collection — is now available in Sediments Literary-Arts Journal‘s A Haunting issue. It takes its place next to several wonderful ghost stories (I especially loved Adam “Bucho” Rodenberger’s “Welcome to the Fireworks”) and hauntingly beautiful artwork (a favorite of mine is Amanda Bess Allen’s “Sleepy Hollow”).

On a personal note, what’s even cooler is the editor referenced “Our Lips Are Sealed” in her introductory note!

Best enjoyed with a bottle, you can check out everything in the issue here and read “Our Lips Are Sealed” here.

Short Story Sunday: The Last Leaf

The Last Leaf, O Henry

This sad piece about an artist waiting to die of pneumonia has one of Henry’s more unusual hallmark twists. It is available on Kindle, but you can check it out for free here: http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/LasLea.shtml

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Lately I’ve been working on the overwhelming task of thinning out my book collection; it’s something no book lover likes to do, but let’s face it, every once in a while it has to be done, either to clear clutter or make room for more.

It’s no surprise that a good portion of my collection is devoted to short story collections. I’ve read my share of great stories, and I’ve read my share of awful ones—but I’ve also read my share of a few that blew me away to the point at which I’ll never forget them. So instead of doing a typical “Top” list, I decided instead to focus on ones which fall into the last category (please note that in my “about” descriptions I tried to be spoiler-free). Do you have any that have made a lasting impression on you? Leave them in the comments.

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