Monday, January 31, 2011

Tolstoy Blogs

I'm undertaking a rather large university project on the life and fiction of L. Tolstoy, and I think it'd be a good idea to write a little about each of the pieces I'll be reading. My accounts/notes/reviews on his works will, I hope, be informative as blogs--and a reference for me to draw on when I write my papers at the end of the spring semester! To be expected for review:

Novels and Novellas:

Anna Karenina
Family Happiness
The Cossacks
The Devil
The Kreutzer Sonata
The Death of Ivan Ilych
Master and Man
Father Sergius
(Selected short stories)


Leo Tolstoy: A biography
A Confession
What I believe

Leo and Sophia Tolstoy

The Tolstoys

Tolstoy Reading

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Wyeth's Wind from the Sea


We would do best, perhaps, to let it breathe through us—to stand still as it roars through the window and floods into the room. After all, there’s something soothing about the way the wind rouses the curtains. It sends them splashing, pondering. And though we do not speak (being so enraptured) we feel it is the fin of an angel that kisses our cheeks, that balloons diaphanously in the gale. Brushing though the ochre—sweeping, whizzing, clashing, massing—the Wind from the Sea pours into the room, and one finds one’s soul ajar.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cold Nostalgia

Midday rolling on the warm sandy shore
replaced by the frosty smoke of my early morning breaths.
A cold nostalgia reminds me that I left the place
where I could sprawl out on the sidewalk like a cat catching sun.
The sky seemed more blue on those arts and crafts days.

Valerio's Antiques is a Fraud

I urge you not to be fooled by their attractive, yet misleading, advertisement.

Her Majesty

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Flush: A Biography – 1931

Flush is a fun little project Woolf took on to refresh herself, after finishing her emotionally-draining novel The Waves. From roving across the sea-floor of consciousness—sousing and wading through the brown-mauve depths— to scampering about Regent’s Park and Florence—nosing, sniffing here and there, “where they beat brass, where they bake bread, where the women sit combing their hair, where the bird-cages are piled high on the cause way, where the wine spills itself in dark red stains on the pavement, where leather smells and harness and garlic, where cloth is beaten, where vine leaves tremble, where men sit and drink and spit and dice.” Thus is the Woolf devotee demanded to travel, when he endeavors to consider her works in the order of their births . Both The Waves and Flush: A Biography were published in 1931.


But you are probably puzzled as to why one must sniff all these curious things, if one reads Flush. Simply put, because the subject of Mrs. Woolf’s book is a dog—a cocker spaniel to be exact. His name is Flush. He is, however, no ordinary dog. He was the real-life pet of poets Elizabeth Barett and Robert Browning. Strictly speaking, Flush is a biography. The book follows the story of Flush’s life in Victorian England, providing glimpses into the lives of his poet-owners, too… This is the drollest little book.

Ellen Glasgow, in The New York Times Herald Tribune Books, calls it “a masterpiece…It is not fiction because it has the substance, the reality of truth. It is not Biography because it has the freedom, the artistry of fiction.”


Really, Virginia has done something quite revolutionary in making the subject of her biography Elizabeth Barett Browning’s cocker spaniel, Flush. We see all the events of the poetess’s life—courtship & marriage to Robert Browning & all—filtered through Flush’s canine sensibilities. And for quite some time, we are made to feel the things that dogs feel—their melancholy (when they are neglected), their rapture (when fields—moist, sunny, teeming with earthy aromas—beckon them to run about and play).

Perhaps what’s so interesting about this book is how Virginia is able to blend two genres as diverse as fiction and biography into a delightful composite that both informs and enchants. Woolf calls attention to Flush’s incredible intuition, suggesting that animals, although dumb and unable to verbalize their sensations, are remarkably sensitive creatures. Flush also satarizes the absurdities of English pretentiousness.


(Miss Elizabeth Barett Browning)

Butterscotch? Bizarre

A small block of butterscotch
sat tempting my tastebuds.
The flavor unknown made me
curious as a child
trifling through an adult scene.

The edges of the cube,
surprisingly smooth were
like ice. In my mouth it
melted just the same.

Butterscotch? Bizarre
- like a homeless transvestite.
Sweet, but tart, yes, a little
Tart she is. She's an impostor-
rich, creamy caramel, but not
all in the same.

Havana Noon

Sunshine delight is fading down
Past the palms they grew up by.
On the beach, silver water
Glistens. The wind whispers
Secrets from our past.

Didn't you know who your Grandfather
Was? An ancestral wallet with much deeper
Pockets explains the life you were meant to lead.
Refuge and revolution found their place,
Finding me life in a new nation.

It all feels much of the same: The
Palms and breeze, the sunshine
And seas that they waved to as
They said goodbye, now seem
To welcome me back every time.

But this life is new for us all.
We look for answers in the tobacco
Fields now half burned crispy on
A different shore. Havana afternoons
Are no one's delight anymore.

A Poem Is

A poem is a capsule
Buried deep for a time.
Written in it, every secret
Some with a rhyme.

A poem is a confession
To an anonymous priest.
Letting out the sins and silence
- One's own abominable beast.

But eventually it surfaces
Be it harsh or pure.
The secret sin gets out
Feelings honest and mature.

Inspired by: "A poem is a capsule where we wrap up our punishable secrets"- William Carlos Williams

Monday, January 10, 2011


You'd think college would be a total ball right? False. Don't get me wrong, its fun, but it can get pretty boring (really boring). Like today for example, see, I'm all revved up(first day of second semester an all), even woke up early to make my hair all cute and look like the doll that I am. I shamelessly jam out in my small car on the way to school, get to my first class at nine, totally fine. My professor looks like a vulcan (live long and prosper) which I'm totally into. I decide he's pretty awesome. Class ends. Time to explore, look for my other classes, you know, so I'm not totally late, when a stranger tells me he's a monk and that i need to give him five bucks for a book (true story, he told me I looked spiritual). Hell no. So I go on, I find my next class but then I feel like people know that I'm aimlessly walking around finding my classes so I retreat to the library for a nap(I barely slept the previous night) but instead I ended up busting out a book and chillin' until it's time to get to class. Read, read, time to leave. Alright so I hit up the elevator when low and behold I find a boy from middle school standing right there, I try to ignore him because I'm awkward and that's what awkward people do but he spots me (considering we were the only two people in a confined space it was inevitable). I do some awkward things we part and I'm off to class. In waiting for my professor I spotted a very handsome Argentinian boy ( or at least I hope he is Argentinian). We're in the class, my professor begins, and I'm totally bored.
What I did: doodle, pretend to listen, make love eyes at the Argentinian lover, then look out the window, pretend to listen, write something down, doodle, fall in love with cute boy with glasses reading a comic book, realize he's from this obnoxious all boys high school (because I'm a stalker and noticed he said hi to a obnoxious boy from the obnoxious high school), get sad for about a second, doodle, look out window, decide I hate boys who match their purple plaid shirts to their beanies, realize I hate most people, doodle, leave.
What I wanted to do: SLAM MY HEAD ON MY DESK,  loudly groan, then loudly sigh, then run.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Quick Opinions on Plath's The Bell Jar

A little disappointing as far as the story goes. Nevertheless, Plath’s prose is brilliant, honest, and sensitive. She has a knack for metaphor and simile and imagery. In short, I think she’s more of a poet than a novelist.

O, and her descriptions of avocados and mayonnaise-blanketed crabmeat; and blind, windowless, doorless corridors of despair; and suffocating bell jars is quite extraordinary!
I’m excited, though, to get copies of her poem collections, Ariel and The Colossus.

I enjoyed her writing style; I just found her story lacking.


Come on, guys. This girl's a poet...

(I think I've already sent this vedio to you, Nicole. But it's just so good.)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Price We Pay

Mother always said the best things in life aren't free
These bananas don't come cheap.
The red on your shoes
Replaced father's booze.
A needle and thread
Keep you warm in your bed
As does the licking flame of your candle
Which won't burn your hand because of its handle.
The best things in life aren't free
So we must pay for everything.