Monday, September 30, 2013

Splash du Jour: Monday

It's doubtful that anyone with an internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction.
-- Jonathan Franzen --

Have a great Monday!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Splash du Jour: Friday

Not reading is worse than not knowing how to read.
-- George Whitman --

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Off to Poets Cove

I love my family. I love a holiday. I love great food. I love drinking beer. I love islands. I love the ocean. I love not working. I love partying. I love a night sky filled with stars. I love laughing. I love reading. I love sleeping-in. And I love great food. [Did I already say that one?]
All of these things… the things I most love -- I will be doing and experiencing, beginning tomorrow, at this place called Poets Cove.
Envy me.
Here are some aerial shots of the place:

Splash diu Jour: Thursday

The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for.
-- Bob Marley --

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

What does it mean to pre-board? Do you get on before you get on?
-- George Carlin --

Have a great Wednesday!
And whatever "pre-boarding" means -- I will be doing it in a few minutes because I am off for an Island holiday!
Cheers, all!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.
-- Groucho Marx --

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Splash du Jour: Monday

Our imaginations are strong as children. Sometimes they get shoved aside, these imaginations. They get dusty and mildewed with age. The imagination is a muscle that has to be put to use or it shrivels.
-- Julianna Baggott --

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Texting -- A Bookpuddle Rant

I firmly believe that social media is a detriment to society.
If you can pry yourself away from Facebook long enough to listen to me, we can talk about it. Maybe.
But chances, are, a text on your phone will interrupt us.
The premise, the intentions, or what have you, may have been alright -- I'll grant you that, but this is a blog-posting about my interpretation of the RESULTS, and the results are not good.
The results are a lot of people being together, but they are [to borrow Sherry Turkle's phrase] "alone together."
Always the potential of an interruption to intimacy.

Admittedly, I am a bit [no, a lot]…… of a dinosaur. A regular triceratops of not being in step with the times. It is a wonder that there are are only two horns on my head, rather than three.
I do not have a cell phone. And I've never had one. Unless it becomes some sort of "law", I probably never will have one. I hate even the idea of immediate availability.
What's the next step? A micro-chip imbedded in my head, where random people can intercept my thoughts?
Think about it.
Most of the people you associate with, from day to day, will cut you off mid-sentence to answer an incoming text message.
What has this done to what we have always considered to be one-on-one communication, not to mention issues of privacy and the basic tenets of personal intimacy? Nowadays, someone in an entirely different time zone has the potential of being more immediate than the person sitting across from you, or the person you are in bed with at night. They access you to the beat of your current favourite song, while the person in your presence is saying something that was interrupted by that opening refrain.
It is the very epitome of interpersonal violation. It is mental rape.
Social media has re-defined the word "friendship" because, in several instances, a person would rather be a "friend" to a virtual stranger, than be a friend to a real person, in real time.
In real presence.
The upshot of what has happened with our addiction to social media is that connection has created a disconnect. You will tell someone on Facebook or text-message something you would not say to the most actually significant people in your life. This can only lead, ultimately, to weaker connections with those that matter most, and greater connections to those that matter least.
Intimacy where it is not deserved, and was never meant to be directed.

If I could do one thing in this world…. much as those who desire to find a cure for cancer, and such things…. I would choose to take every mobile text-messaging device and secretly launch them into outer space --- to create a WWIII on some other planet than our own.
Our access to random communication has devolved our capacity for communication with each other -- the people whose breath you can smell as they speak to you.
This blog, in itself, is a utilization of this same technology, and I understand that. I am speaking to a random person, who is capable of a random response. The difference to me, though, is I retain the option of not responding. With many aspects of social media today, that option factor has subtly been eliminated.
We seem to be engrossed in showing affection and recognition where it is needed least.


Two Big Books

The last two books I've read have been fairly lengthy ones. Together they total over 1,300 pages, and neither one is for the faint-of-heart reader, really.
Both are excellent, in their own way.

Firstly, Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel.
Most of you will know that this novel won the Booker Prize for 2009. The sequel, Bring Up The Bodies won in 2012, hence, Hilary Mantel joins Peter Carey and J.M. Coetzee as the only two time winners, and she is the first to win with a sequel. Quite an accomplishment.  Also, she is the first to win with such a short interlude between books. In other words, she's on a roll! She's probably not too worried about the rising cost of brussels sprouts.
The third in the series is now being written.
This is a top-heavy book. By that I mean you really have to stick with it to enjoy it. The first stages can be criticized [I think] for being a bit daunting, history-wise and all. You've got to want to immerse yourself in 1520's England, you really do. But once you get the idea that this thing is really about Thomas Cromwell, you sort of get hooked, I think. On the wonderfully fashioned protagonist.
Cromwell [a real historical personage] climbs from a life of un-gentlemanly obscurity to incredible prominence in the court of King Henry VIII. He gets entwined in all the intrigues of court life, managing to prosper and advance himself through sheer ingenuity, sharp business sense, and personal charisma. Possessing the perfect blend of theoretical and practical wisdom while others are falling from heights of popularity and even being burned at the stake now and then, Thomas soars to ever newer heights of political power and influence.
The book is too grand to summarize in any paragraph. I encourage you though, to be brave, and stick with Wolf Hall to the end.

Secondly, Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese.
This story takes place largely in 1950's Ethiopia, but also branches out into later decades in America. It is the story of twin brothers orphaned at birth, and immediately abandoned by their father. The boys are raised by doctors from the hospital in which they were born, and they mature into distinct personalities with as many similarities between them as there are differences. One of the boys develops a childhood love for a girl named Genet -- and his brother robs her of her virginity. Not only does this create a rift between the two boys, but later in life, the radical political actions of the girl herself causes Marion [that's his name, the boy who truly loved her in the as yet non-physical sense] to be exiled to America.
In this actual separation from each other, the young men [both now doctors] become even further estranged -- that is, until dire events in America create a reunion situation which will call for ultimate acts of self-sacrifice, reconciliation and forgiveness.
This is a brilliant, epic, sprawling book -- and again, it seems so impossible to do justice to it in a brief review. Suffice it to say it is probably the best book I have yet read this year. I found it entirely engrossing and interesting -- but having said that, I should add that there is a lot of technical medical rigamarole in Cutting For Stone. I enjoyed this, but not all readers will. I've read reviews where Verghese [a doctor himself] is criticized for his emphasis on medical terminology etc. Apparently, this did not appeal to everyone.
For me, it only added to the incredible verisimilitude of this entire story. I agree with none other than John Irving, who said of it -- "I’ve not read a novel wherein medicine, the practice of it, is made as germane to the storytelling process, to the overall narrative, as the author manages to make it happen here."
Cutting For Stone is just so well constructed, interesting, and deeply moving. 

I highly recommend it.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Splash du Jour: Thursday

Let's say I hadn't won the Nobel Prize. Let's say I wasn't read all over the world.
I would say exactly what I'm saying now. 

The difference is that… what I say now is quoted around the world three minutes later.
-- Jose Saramago --

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

I spent three days a week for 10 years educating myself in the public library, and it's better than college. People should educate themselves - you can get a complete education for no money. At the end of 10 years, I had read every book in the library and I'd written a thousand stories.
-- Ray Bradbury --

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

Coffee Forest

Pretty sure it does not grow like this,
I kept dreaming. Trees like sequoias
dangling coffee beans.

Men on scissor-lifts hacking at vines.
The berries falling as I strangled
my pillow.

Other men, side-spike boots, climbing
and cutting as they got higher,
tossed branches to the ground.

All of these characters I forget, recalling
your brown eyes, Evita. Recording names
and activities in your ledger.

Following your calves into the quonset
where I pretended to know why I was there
as the sun was setting.

c. Ciprianowords, Inc. 2010

Have a great Tuesday!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Author I Love

Jose Saramago.
If someone were to ask me which author is most worthy to be read in his entirety, I would not hesitate to answer, "Jose Saramago".
My only reservation would be caused by the swish of Tolstoy's beard as he swept by swinging his sickle and shouting "What?" [in Russian].
Admittedly, Tolstoy is up there, too.
But why would I stick with Saramago?
Because. [And by the way, you will never see a sentence that brief in his unpunctuated stuff!]
If Saramago lived in Tolstoy's time, he would have been Tolstoy.
But he lived in ours. In our time. And this is why I would choose him as more relevant.
I've read pretty much everything that Jose Saramago has ever had published, excluding his travelogue about Portugal. A few of my Saramago books are not even included in the hastily assembled coffee-table collage, above. And one day I will probably get to the travelogue.
First of all, his style is entirely arresting. It is like nothing you have seen before. He eschews proper punctuation, and his sentences travel on, un-comma-ed, for nearly a century. Once you clue in to his style, you are hooked, and begin to wonder why apostrophes exist.
But he speaks to the human situation like no one else can do it.
Saramago is Portuguese, and we English folk enter his mind via translation, [as we do with his only rival, Leo] -- and it is a journey well-taken.
I am using the present tense, but my favourite author is gone, and I am now left to the bittersweet pleasure of re-reading him. He began his literary career at the age of 55, which gives me hope, as I shall turn 50 this year -- and have yet, written nothing.
I remember the very day that I sat at a Second Cup coffee shop [June, of 2010] and tuned in to the internet and heard that Jose Saramago had passed away. I sat there in stunned silence.
Stunned. Silence.
If you have not yet ever discovered the work of Nobel-Prize-winning author Jose Saramago, I encourage you to get your ass-caboose to the nearest bookstore and buy up this man's words. I suggest that you start with either Blindness or The Cave, the latter of which I have even taken my blog-alias from, his protagonist, Cipriano.
It was such an honour to be in his presence back in 2005 -- to have my copy of  Bllndness signed by him.
I miss him.
A recent documentary I discovered has made me fall for him all over again:

Part 2 -- HERE.
Part 3 -- HERE.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Splash du Jour Thursday

I had no books at home. I started to frequent a public library in Lisbon. It was there, with no help except curiosity and the will to learn, that my taste for reading developed and was refined.
-- Jose Saramago --

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

"And look, Gregory, it's all very well planning what you will do in six months, what you will do in a year, but it's no good at all if you don't have a plan for tomorrow."
-- Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall --

Have a great Wednesday!

Monday, September 09, 2013

Splash du Jour: Monday

It's what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it.
-- Oscar Wilde --

Have a great Monday!