#Series: Let’s Have a Look – Diving Deep Into Components of A Book Review -Quichotte by Salman Rushdie

Welcome back to my ‘Let’s Have a Look’ series. Where I post on a topic or incidence I come across that triggers a need to share and/or respond from me.

 

So in this post, my curiosity was sparked one night as I was checking out an author’s book when I saw him interviewed on TV – Salman Rushdie, to be precise. Well, when something catches my ear, I like to have a look around Amazon for their books, and if the blurb grabs me, I then go right to reviews (See! That’s how important reviews are ) which always give me a better insight as to what to expect from the book.

 

Sure, reviews are opinions, but when you read quite a few, you get a general consensus and better feel of what the book is really about, a better assessment to learn whether or not the book is a good fit for us. Now, there’s always going to be the odd, usually unjustified low star review for a mostly 4 and 5 star rated book, that’s inevitable, just ask an author. But often, those reviews will stick out like a sore thumb among all the golden reviews because often, when that happens, a reader doesn’t care for the genre (of which they should have checked first, again, that’s what real reviews are for) or they may be disgruntled at the seller in actuality because they weren’t happy with their delivery. Or quite possibly, some just won’t always like our books, our writing styles, our subject matter – you get the drift. Reviews are personal and yet, when the majority of them are either high stars or low stars among scattered opposites, that’s generally a good indicator of the happiness factor of the book.

 

So I digress (as usual), but what I was initially getting at is, before I buy a book, I don’t just want to read the author’s blurb, I want to get a feel for what others got out of the book, what they liked or loved or didn’t, to help boost my decision to want to read that book.

 

I love reading reviews, they tell me what I want to know about a book and often help my decision to either read or not read, regardless if it’s free or not. I have enough books on my Kindle right now to last me the rest of my life, lol. I don’t need to fatten it up with books I’ll probably never read when everything on there are all books I want to read.

 

So anyway, digressing again, from reading reviews, I sometimes come along a review that I find so refreshingly honest and somewhat more is not less, and quirky, but nonetheless, an insight or two not usually repeated in other reviews making it all the more genuine. So I thought it would be fun to highlight one of these interesting comments I came across that caught my interest. It was what prompted me to write this post while checking out Rushdie’s books, of which I’m familiar about his writings, but have yet to read one of his books. And after reading several reviews for one particular book I was looking at, I came across this one:

 

This almost sounds like something I’d write, because I find Rushdie’s books so deep sometimes I get lost. I can so relate, especially the highlighted parts I’ll discuss after  ‘Erb’s’ review for Salman Rushdie’s novel, Quichotte.

 

 

Blurb:

 

SHORTLISTED FOR THE BOOKER PRIZE

 

Quichotte is a love story of profound tenderness and humanity from a great storyteller at his brilliant best. Wise, beautifully written, as heartbreaking as it is wildly comic, its characters unforgettable, its plot dazzlingly suspenseful, it illuminates our corrupt times where fact is so often indiscernible from fiction.

Quichotte, an aging travelling salesman obsessed with TV, is on a quest for love. Unfortunately, his daily diet of reality TV, sitcoms, films and soaps has distorted his ability to separate fantasy from reality. He wishes an imaginary son, Sancho, into existence, while obsessively writing love letters to a celebrity he knows only through his screen. Together the two innocents set off across America in Quichotte’s trusty Chevy Cruze to find her and convince her of his love.

Quichotte’s story is told by Sam DuChamp, a mediocre spy novelist in the midst of a midlife crisis, and as the stories of DuChamp and Quichotte intertwine, we are taken on a wild, picaresque journey through a familiar country on the edge of moral and spiritual collapse.

 

 

Reviewed in the United States on July 16, 2019

Vine Customer Review of Free Product

“In 1989, I tried to read Satanic Verses, and while years later I sort of got through it, it was at such a low level of comprehension that I should be embarrassed to even use the word “read” in this context.

 

So a few years after that and I was offered this review copy of Rushdie’s new book, and I decided I’m a smart person now, and very well read, and I can certainly appreciate Salman Rushdie’s obvious writing skills as who I am today.

 

The answer remains “no, I can not.” That’s entirely my fault – my interests are nonfiction or fairly straightforward fiction as opposed to experimental or stylistic fiction like Rushdie has generally been known for. No doubt one of his books would prepare me for his style in a slightly more accessible way but I haven’t read it. I probably should give “Joseph Anton” a try.

 

So this reminded me of Marlon James “A Brief History of Seven Killings” that was hugely praised and award winning and that I totally couldn’t connect with no matter how hard I tried. In a similar vein with this book, I tried to start at the beginning, then I tried to start in the middle, and I tried to jump around and I couldn’t figure out what was going on, or even what I was supposed to be thinking.

 

Look – I did not give it any sort of truly honest effort. I gave up. It was too hard, too detailed, too stylized – it demanded an investment from the reader that I am simply not prepared to give. So if you think I sound like you, then you’re probably not going to be the audience for this book.

 

But – if you’re ANGRY at me, and you think I’m a big joke and an uneducated lazy rube – THEN maybe the book IS for you, because you’re the type of reader who will go into Rushdie with your eyes wide open in a way that I didn’t.

 

So I tried, I failed, maybe I’ll try again one day, but this book’s just not for me.

 

I’m giving it four stars because OBVIOUSLY he can write at a supreme quality – I would say every sentence went through ten drafts. Any oblique meaning on his part is totally intentional – he wants this to be an off-kilter Don Quitote experience…so it’s no accident. It IS well-done, but it is NOT for casual readers or the hoi polloi like me.”

 

***

 

My Summation:

..
Now that’s what I call honest, with good explanation about why it wasn’t for them, not that it was a bad book, but not their type of read. Praise was given to the author and a 4 star rating, despite. All round, I think this was a great review. It told me what I wanted to know about the readability factor. And I, like this reviewer, don’t have the appreciation for ‘too detailed, too stylized’, may be brilliant prose from a brilliant writer, but I like meat and heart, analyzing characters and the thrill of a page turner and not having to work so hard to find the meaning.
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So, what do you all look for before purchasing a book by an author you haven’t read before?
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Leave a Review
©DGKaye2021
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Sunday Book Review – Word Craft Prose & Poetry by Colleen Chesebro

Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. Today I’m thrilled to review Colleen Chesebro’s latest book – Word Craft Prose & Poetry – The Art of Crafting Syllabic Poetry. If you are a lover of poetry writing, I would highly recommend this book. You’ll have to read my review below to find out why!

 

 

 

Blurb:

Are you ready to learn how to craft Japanese and American poetry? Consider this book the first step on your journey to learning the basics of how to craft syllabic poetry. Inside, you will discover many new forms, syllable combinations, and interpretations of the different Japanese and American forms and structures of haiku, senryu, haiga, tanka, renga/solo renga, gogyohka, haibun, tanka prose, the cinquain, and its variations, Etheree, nonet, and shadorma poetry.

 

So… what are you waiting for? Let’s craft syllabic poetry together!

 

 

My 5 Star Review:

If you’re a lover of poetry and are interested in learning how to write syllabic poetry, or even just as a reader to discover all that’s involved in writing in the various styles of syllabic poetry, this is the book for you. Yes, there are plenty of books written on the subject for sure, but this author has a gift of born ‘teaching’. Her tutorials on how to, as well as great direction in explanations and wonderful use of examples allow us to clearly see what the author is explaining.

 

Syllabic poetry encompasses various styles and syllabic counts with succinct descriptions, from both the English and Japanese style of writing Haiku. The author explains the differences in syllabic counts to various versions of Haiku, as well as teaching us the difference between poetic prose which requires no syllabic count, such as Gogyolka or Tanka Prose. We’ll also learn about many of the various forms of Haiku and Tanka with Haibun, which styles are written from a personal point of view, and writing about nature.

 

Chesebro takes us through all the various forms of writing syllabic poetry and shares with us the importance of writing poetry, “When we create poetry, we become better writers.” She goes on to explain that we learn from poetry, the brevity of words, urging us to use stronger word choices with minimal words that evoke vivid images. A wonderful guide book to introduce us to the meaning of syllabic poetry and the differences between Japanese and American Haiku. This author runs a weekly poetry challenge that I urge anyone interested in learning to write poetry from the basics and forward to visit her blog.

 

©DGKaye2021

 

Colleen Chesebro’s Tuesday Tanka Poetry Challenge – Poet’s Choice

It’s been awhile since I jumped on to Colleen Chesebro’s Weekly Poetry Challenge at Word Craft. This week is Poet’s Choice and I’ve written a Tanka with Tanka prose.

 

#TANKATUESDAY WEEKLY POETRY CHALLENGE NO 242: #POET’S CHOICE

 

 

In grief, many are intimidated when it comes to giving condolences, for fear they don’t have the right words to comfort, they cower in distance because that’s easier for some than confronting.

 

 

A hand to caress

The unsettled grieving heart

And two patient ears.

Searching appropriate words,

Open heart is all required.

 

 

Visit Colleen’s original post and hop on the challenge!

https://wordcraftpoetry.com/2021/09/07/tankatuesday-weekly-poetry-challenge-poets-choice-2/?fbclid=IwAR1odZRdMpRexCUBkuwIxE03FNlpMv_Jj2pVDxeMKamWZerqi9E4c7NwzSE

 

©DGKaye2021

 

Writer’s Tips – Publishing Scams, Google Caveat, Writing the Blurb, #Scammers, Author Marketing

Welcome to September edition of Writer’s Tips. In this edition it’s chock full of goodies for authors. Author Marketing and a new series open for writers from Sally Cronin. Anne R. Allen keeps us up to date on scams against authors. Ruth Harris on writing the danged blurb. How to structure memoir using storyboard. Harmony Kent on writing in 2nd person, and a warning to check your Google extensions so you aren’t auto-opted in to their exploitive policy.

 

 

Sally Cronin with her Podcast on Marketing for Authors – Using social Media

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2021/08/26/smorgasbord-cafe-and-bookstore-podcasts-book-marketing-and-public-relations-twitter-and-linkedin-cons-of-marketing-online-by-sally-cronin/

 

 

Sally Cronin has opened a new author series #nonfiction – Share your story about someone who has influenced your life

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2021/08/29/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-new-series-nonfiction-guest-posts-who-has-influenced-you-the-most-in-your-life/

 

 

Anne R. Allen with an in-depth listing of Scams against Authors

Publishing Scammers are Proliferating like Tribbles: How to Stay Safe

 

 

Also from Anne R. Allen’s blog featuring Ruth Harris – Writing the danged Blurb

Some Unconventional Advice About How to Write the D*mn Blurb

 

 

Informative article on how Google’s Chrome extensions sneak us in without permissions

https://www.forbes.com/sites/zakdoffman/2021/08/28/stop-using-google-chrome-on-windows-10-android-and-apple-iphones-ipads-and-macs/?sh=7c1ed6d84a97

 

 

Harmony Kent with her segment at the Story Empire with Part 2 in her Point of View series – Writing in Second Person

https://storyempirecom.wordpress.com/2021/08/27/how-to-write-point-of-view-part-3-second-person/comment-page-1/#comment-150284

 

 

Learn to successfully structure your memoir, novel, or nonfiction book using a simple storyboard system

http://howtoplanwriteanddevelopabook.blogspot.com/2021/07/memoirs-primary-argument-making-sure.html

 

 

©DGKaye2021

 

 

 

Jewish New Year – Rosh Hashana, What About it?

 

Jewish New Year came early this year. Every year it falls on a different date because the holidays are based on the 10 month Jewish Calendar. It begins on the Jewish Calendar in the 7th month, Tishrei, which typically falls in September or October on the Gregorian calendar. It is believed to have begun as far back as 6th century BC. Ever wonder what to say on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, when you meet a Jewish person? The Jewish New Year is not just about vowing new goals to lose weight or work out at the gym.

 

This holiday holds several meanings. First, Rosh Hashana itself translates to ‘Head (rosh) of a year’ (shana). This is a time of reflection and a time to make amends for things that went wrong in the past year. It’s a time to reset our footsteps. We use the greeting, ‘Shana Tova’, meaning Good Year.

 

This year, Rosh Hashana falls on the Hebrew Calendar year of 5782, beginning at sundown Monday September 6th for two days and nights we celebrate, ending on Wednesday night but it lasts for ten days and on the 10th night, the holiest holiday of all begins – Yom Kippur, where the fast begins at sundown and lasts til the following night sundown, where we traditionally share a family meal to ‘break the fast’. Yom Kippur is the day we atone for past sins. Sweets are served – traditionally apple slices to dip in honey to hope for a sweet new year after the meal to break the fast.

 

Rosh Hashana is also a celebration of creation, sometimes referred to as the ‘birthday of the world’. This is when God made the covenant with man, creating Adam and Eve. We sound the shofar – an ancient Jewish musical horn made from a ram’s horn, at the close of Yom Kippur. The shofar was used to announce important Jewish public and religious occasions in biblical times to announce the Sabbath, the new moon and for all important public announcements.

 

Shofar

 

Different types of traditional dishes are prepared on the new year. Many sweet items are placed on the table to indulge in a sweet new year. On this occasion people meet their friends and relatives at gatherings and congratulate them. On the special occasion of the Jewish New Year, people greet each other wishing all a very Happy Rosh Hashanah. That’s how it’s supposed to be.

 

But this holiday will be different. I usually keep my two cents to myself, or only share with an intimate friend, but I have nobody to answer to anymore. I have clearly been shown that I matter not, to family. Calling a spade a spade here. When someone loses the love of their life and the only phone calls, letters, messages come from friends, that paints a definitive story. Oh, maybe once or twice a text will come in out of a sense of obligation, but really, my family are my tribe of friends here and the few good friends here at home.

 

This holiday has smacked me right in the solar plexus. The only family I have left are one elusive brother, who did call me, btw, to wish me a Happy New Year. I just laughed. He was getting ready for his family gathering, and despite my sullen tone, and letting him know how I felt, there was no extended invitation. My niece and great niece are what I hold on to as precious family cargo. They went to her mother’s (my sister) last night for a gathering and will be coming over later today for a little cooking and getting together. Those girls never forget their Aunty Debby and I love them like they’re mine. So that’s the size of my family circle.

 

I was feeling quite blue yesterday about the whole goddamned shameful situation, and not bad enough that at this holiday time I am alone without my husband who was my best friend and other half. We did everything together. In the past, when my family would once again leave a welt on my feelings, my Puppy always knew how to pick me up, swear a few profanities about the way I was always treated, and remind me, “You will always have me Cub.” Except, I don’t anymore.

 

I typically don’t like to make waves and spill ugly truths publicly, but hey, I’m a nonfiction writer who writes from the heart. And as one who has so much inside she has yet to share and was always so worried about minding her p’s and q’s as not to offend culprits, I’m in a different life now, and I’m no longer taking punches without speaking up. So, while everyone Jewish is busy spreading their Shana Tovas around social media, I decided not to post phony wishes about wonderful family gatherings, pretending I’m okay with things. Because, clearly I am not. Here’s what I posted on Fakebook:

 

My first Jewish New Year in my life I’ve ever spent alone. As an orphan and widow, I won’t be celebrating. This was once a joyous holiday for me when my father was alive, is when it really meant something to me, when even though family didn’t always get along, we got together for the holidays. Those days are longgggggggggggggg gone and so are my father and my husband, whom I always had to celebrate with on this holiday, which now no longer holds an ounce of meaning to me. Wishing those who celebrate, Shana Tova. For me, I could easily call it Passover – I’ll take a pass on this one. My Shana Tovas are being sent directly to heaven, where the two most important men in my lifetime now reside.

 

Big Puppy

My Puppy

 

My Dad

My Dad

 

I loved this quote from Anne Lamott since I read that book 8 years ago:

 

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” ― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

 

Below are two videos that show the history of how this holiday came to be.

 

How the rituals began

https://fb.watch/7R-nZ8USqV/

 

What’s the big deal about Rosh Hashana

https://fb.watch/7R-CWZpZak/

 

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish all of you who celebrate in the Jewish faith, a Happy New Year.

 

©DGKaye 2021

 

 

Sunday Book Review – A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis

 

Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. Through my journey of grief and reading several books on the subject of grieving, several times I came across quotes from C.S. Lewis’ book on grief mentioned in other books- A Grief Observed, which he wrote after losing his beloved wife. I came across Lewis’ reflections on bereavement in some other books I’d read, which had me scurrying off to Amazon to read yet another book on grief. But I didn’t feel this was just ‘another book on grief’, but a telling, a rant, a questioning, and a feeling of familiarity. I also felt this book different because it wasn’t written after the healing began, rather, in the rawness of grief as he questioned death and what, if anything, comes after.

 

Clive Staples Lewis was one of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century and arguably one of the most influential writers of his day.

 

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” – C.S. Lewis

 

 

 

 

Blurb:

A Grief Observed is Lewis’ brutally honest reflection on the death of his wife, Joy Gresham, which exposes readers to the fact that man is vulnerable and fragile when attempting to understand the goodness of God in the midst of extreme pain.

 

Lewis’ four-part reflection brings readers face to face with the cruel reality of the damage that sin has done to our world. His writing demonstrates utter despair as a result of acknowledging that death is a natural and unavoidable destiny for all. He writes expressing the sentiment that his wife was so beautiful and beloved that her death, though natural, was undeserved. Lewis compares the feeling of grief to fear stating that it gives him the same restlessness, yawning and fluttering of the stomach. It is not hard for the reader to recognize that Lewis feels that damage has been done to his world.

 

While Lewis paints a vivid picture of why he loved his wife Joy, throughout his reflection she remains a faint figure in the background while the author focuses on grief itself. A Grief Observed leaves readers with a real sense of the frailty of the human experience.

 

Written after his wife’s tragic death as a way of surviving the “mad midnight moments”, A Grief Observed is C.S. Lewis’s honest reflection on the fundamental issues of life, death, and faith in the midst of loss. This work contains his concise, genuine reflections on that period: “Nothing will shake a man, or at any rate a man like me, out of his merely verbal thinking and his merely notional beliefs. He has to be knocked silly before he comes to his senses. Only torture will bring out the truth. Only under torture does he discover it himself.”

 

This is a beautiful and unflinchingly honest record of how even a stalwart believer can lose all sense of meaning in the universe, and how he can gradually regain his bearings.

 

 

My 5 Star Review:

I’ve read many books on grief through my own journey of darkness after losing the love of my own life, and what I will say about this book is that it’s raw and in the moment while the writer suffers the pangs of grief for the giant loss in his life while in the depths of his grief, sharing his thoughts and cynicism on the topic of death during the grieving process through his anger at god. Lewis questions all we know of death and what happens after, asking, what do we know really about the end of life and if there really is anything more after. Lewis helps put in words what many of us grievers wonder of the same. The author doesn’t offer the hope, but shares his path to coping as he questions god and religion and what exactly the ‘afterlife’ is all about and if it exists.

 

Lewis is a broken and confused man struggling to accept the death of his wife, writer Joy Gresham, he affectionately refers to as H., (her given name, Helen). These are the writings of a man suffering grief after losing the true love of his life – his ‘other half’. His writings are like a search for answers, a questioning of self, love and god.

 

Lewis talks about some people as ‘idiots’ in one of his rants – people who don’t have the faintest idea about some of the platitudes that automatically spill from their mouths as condolence: “It was God’s plan,” “She’s in a better place now.” Empty platitudes he calls them from people who have no conception behind those words. This statement seems to be the general concensus from those of us who’ve loved and lost.

 

Often people don’t know what to say. They don’t want us to hurt so they say words like, “It will get better, time to move on, or even worse, pretending to know the actual weight of grief when they’ve never walked the walk,” Lewis touches on this, the deep-seated root of pain of loss as he laments in his grief.

 

I’d recommend this book for anyone grieving and searching their soul.

 

 

Memorable quotes from Lewis on grief: ― C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

 

“Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything.”

 

“Tonight all the hells of young grief have opened again; the mad words, the bitter resentment, the fluttering in the stomach, the nightmare unreality, the wallowed-in tears. For in grief nothing ‘stays put.’ One keeps on emerging from a phase, but it always recurs. Round and round. Everything repeats. Am I going in circles, or dare I hope I am on a spiral?”

 

“Did you ever know, dear, how much you took away with you when you left? You have stripped me even of my past, even of the things we never shared.”

 

©DGKaye2021