When I die
they will not say
that youth was wasted on the young
They will say that I
breathed fire and conquered
mountains and rivers and valleys
They will know that I
loved and lost with equal passion
the world will never see again
They will remember that I
wrote but also that
I was the kind of girl people wrote about
To be read with: Rock Creek Dry Cider With Pear, because like the drink, the book is a little too light and a little too sweet.
On a superficial level, The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katharina Bivald was an enjoyable book. It’s a cute love story littered with pop-culture literary references. This was pleasant enough because Idgie Threadgoode is not mentioned nearly enough in terms of literature’s bad ass feminists.
The story revolves around the idea that books can change lives and save towns that are on the brink of destitution, and this is where I feel the novel fell short. The events of the book show some characters learning to understand themselves or solve their problems through reading, however other characters inexplicably do a 180° change of personality with no apparent motivation. The character that was set up to be a foil and possible antagonist for the main character suddenly becomes friendly and encouraging after someone does her dishes? A town that exercises a ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy for its sole same sex couple is openly accepting and supportive after the main character adds a Gay Erotica shelf to the town bookshop? The overwhelming support and inclusiveness of the small town felt a little Splenda to me; sweet, but artificial.
In conclusion, I enjoyed the book as light fare that I didn’t have to think too hard about. I would read another book by Katharina Bivald, as this is her debut, but I would do so hoping that she delves a little deeper next time.
I like to imagine that somewhere
there is a little old man
sitting bent over a table with
a bright bare lightbulb swinging overhead
and he has thick convex glasses and his
wrinkled slender hands work day and night
to fix discarded broken hearts
Sometimes he stitches them together
or for the really hard cases he uses glue
and when he finishes he smiles
selling the repaired hearts for twice market price
because hearts that have loved with abandon
and loved deep enough to be broken in the first place
deserve to be treated as a precious thing of value
You and I are facing each other on a deserted street. It must be a little after two in the morning and the sky is a starless monochrome. The streetlights cast halos of soft light that drape gently down our faces and extend shadows on the asphalt backwards from our feet. We are close enough to run and reach out and touch each other but far enough that there is no doubt we are separate. Behind you I can see a thick fog rolling in, blanketing the buildings and the road in an opaque sheet, enveloping the world. As the fog nears your turned back I call to you to come closer to me, away from the fog. I can hear voices all around and I turn to see people I know, or people you have mentioned, standing beside me and behind me. We are shouting out to you, in a cacophony that hurts my ears and makes my throat raw, but I can tell by your face that you cannot hear us. The fog is swirling so close to you, I can no longer see your shoes or the definite lines of your body; I can see your face as you try to hear what it is we are yelling. We are screaming now, a mob of outstretched hands, begging for you to link just a finger with one of ours, to let us anchor you and keep you safe from the dense unknown threatening to overtake you. The last thing I see as you sink into the fog, is a sad little smile, as if you do not believe that we could support the weight that is on your shoulders, that we would be brought down too.
“We are here,” we call in unison, the air has grown thick enough to touch. “We are not leaving.”
But you cannot hear us through the distance, and you cannot see us through the fog.
The scotch pours down my throat
warm like lead just leaving
the chamber of a gun
tearing through me with
The lines of my body
are blurred as though
traced by the waxy, dull
end of a crayon
leaving me unclear.
But clarity is overrated
and I prefer to leave myself
undefined and free to exist
outside the lines that try
to stifle me with parameters.
Standing barefoot on the beach
I recognize my countenance
in the waves;
lapping hungrily at the shore
but retreating when you
get too close
looking at the glassy
surface of the water
I can see myself so clearly
“Come with us”
whisper the waves
and I know I belong with them
I ask them where they’re going
“We do not know,
but it is better than here.”
To be read with: a cup of hot apple cider containing a pinch of cinnamon and 1oz Jack Daniels Whiskey; to keep you warm through the cold seasons of England’s countryside.
It was quite refreshing to read a Victorian Era novel where the sole goal of the heroine is not marriage, and for once she is in control of her own person, farm, and livelihood. Bathsheba Everdene is driven, independent and multifaceted. Bathsheba interests the reader, and has them rooting for her even though sometimes she does idiotic things. The male characters however, leave a little to be desired. They fit pretty squarely into preset archetypes: the strong and steady one, the possessive older man, and of course, the militia bad boy. While this helps further plot, and lets the audience know which male character should be their favourite, it somewhat cheats the reader of realistic relationships.
However, where character fleshing lacks, the setting and events flourish. After many a Victorian novel centered on dances and joyful walks to town with female company, it was captivating to be presented with the gritty life of farm work and small town economic buying and trading. While a heavy portion of the novel revolves around the three romantic interests, Bathsheba is represented as a strong feminist lead who is capable of running a farm and looking out for herself.
Far From The Madding Crowd was an intriguing page-turner that relied more on tension and realistic life in rural England than on pretty dresses and witty repartee. Recommended for anyone interested in Victorian literature, love triangles, or strong feminine leads. This was my first Thomas Hardy novel, it will not be my last.