The writer and the storyteller

I’m going to a writers’ retreat in a rustic and charming place on the shores of Lake Quinault in Washington. It’s March. The light is that earnest bright shade of springtime when I pack my paraphernalia into the trunk of my car, early on the morning of my departure. Before I start the car, I put in a single CD which will play on repeat all the way through the six-hour drive ahead of me. “The Eessential Leonard Cohen”

Falling in love with Leonard

Leonard Cohen head shotI discovered Leonard Cohen late in life – so late as to be practically afterwards, as a character in a sitcom once described a boyfriend’s announcement. At some point, I heard k d lang perform “Hallelujah”, a song I’d never heard before which made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I listened to this version, and then listened to it again and again and again and again. When I discovered that it belonged to Leonard Cohen and heard it for the first time in his own voice, fell in love. Hard. With his music. With the poetry of his lyrics. With his soul.

It was no accident I picked that particular CD to play me into a weekend at a writer’s retreat far away from the distractions of anything except the Word. Leonard Cohen’s songs are something that stirs my mind and my heart

They’re ALL stories. Some of them aren’t comprehensible at the level of the lyrics because those words are just glorious jigsaw pieces in themselves, and it isn’t your brain that puts them together into the pictures and the stories which they end up making inside of you, it’s your heart, and your spirit, and your soul.

“Suzanne” takes me out of my driveway and I’m on my way, the perfect body of those lyrics touching my mind, telling me to trust this, to trust the story that he tells me now and that I will start telling when I sit down with my fingers on the keyboard of my laptop. “The Stranger Song” and “Sisters of Mercy” – the latter with its strange calliope music in the background that makes me think of abandoned carnival spaces after the carnies have left and all the lights have been turned off for the ghosts to start roaming free – follow me onto the highway.

I pass the open fields which spill by the sides of the road while belting along with Leonard to “Hey that’s no way to say goodbye” and “So long, Marianne”. I remember reading about the real Marianne, Leonard’s love and his muse, and about the letter he wrote to her when she was dying, the letter that made my heart clench, because this man with his hoarse raspy voice and his half disillusioned and half angelically optimistic soul is a nonpareil poet and someone who truly understood love. All of it, even the dark side.

I can sing along with him and laugh and cry about it all again, right there with him, with Marianne whom I never met but who is in the car with me, with Leonard and his voice and his poetry and his memories, with all the stories which are starting to bud and flower and intermingle in the car while I sing and weave through highway traffic on the I 5.

“Bird on a Wire” catches me in a slowdown through a city, and “The Partisan” with its sudden unexpected segue into French catches me in the midst of a sudden shower with the windshield wipers thwapping disconcertingly out of time with the song. I have to force myself to stop extrapolating the story of the “Famous Blue Raincoat” while I am negotiating the passing of several large trucks which are slowing me down and driving me crazy.

I leave the highway and turn into smaller roads curving along the bottom of the Olympic Peninsula. Traffic is light and I get haunted by songs like “The Guests” and “If It Be Your Will”.

I stop for coffee and gas in Aberdeen, to the tune of “Who By Fire”, and remember the tales I was told about both the history and the current events of that city, while my road takes me directly through it – over a bridge, down one residential street then another, past houses which look like they have histories of their own, some decorated with kitsch and some so plain and suburban and poor and empty of any spark of creative life that they wrench your heart.

Somewhere past Aberdeen, back on the empty roads, I get hit by that song that is my anthem, “Hallelujah”. Somewhere near a place that rejoices in the queer name of Humptulips I pass a house with a sign that says “Three for $1” Three what? I am writing a story about that in my head even as I drive by without stopping to find out. It’s much more interesting that way, anyway. It isn’t the first story I’m playing with on this long drive, with Leonard Cohen as my companion, guide and inspiration.

I struggle to understand the undercurrents of “Night Comes On” and another story comes pushing forward, demanding attention. Another song tells me that “Everybody Knows” and here too there is a story waiting for me, waiting to be found, to be shaped and reshaped, to be inspired by those words which are easy to listen to, easy to take in as though by osmosis, through the skin and the fingers on the steering wheel, my thighs on the seat of the car, and the ends of my hair tucked into a braid.

The closer I get, the less I am human, the more I am story. I am changing. The music is changing me. “I’m Your Man”, Leonard tells me, and I whisper, “I know.” He’s more than that right now. He’s an unlikely craggy-faced raspy-voiced muse who is casting a hook into my subconscious and fishing out stories, one by one. Word by word. He might have ended up in the “Tower of Song” but he’s taking me to a place where all the stories live, and he will bless me with his music, and he will make my words live.

The stories the songs have to tell me solidify and set, and words march off in directions the songs themselves could not have imagined. After a long empty and solitary stretch of a narrowish country road, I see the sign at last, Lake Quinault to the right. I turn and Leonard turns with me, insistent, quietly powerful, teaching me how to dream.

Through the trees, the glitter of sun on the water. Lake Quinault. A piece of quiet beauty. Waiting with its gifts of silence and solitude and sun and dappled shade, water and a lawn made of moss. By the time I arrive the light is already on the turn, starting for evening, with one of Lake Quinault’s incandescent sunsets to come.

I turn the engine off, and Leonard falls silent, his voice gone from the real world around me… but his words echoing, still, inside my mind, elbowed aside by the stories which they have rearranged themselves into, which they have made on this journey – stories which have (on the face of it) very little directly to do with the lyrics which have inspired them. But which are, nevertheless, the natural-born children of those songs which have been my companions for the last six hours in that car.

I’m here. It’s time to write.

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Q&A about “Midnight at Spanish Gardens”

What if you could relive your life?

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Where did the idea for the book come from?

There was a restaurant known as Spanish Gardens that I used to go to when I was a student at the University of Cape Town. It was a place of true magic, and I’ve carried it within me for decades. It’s a memory caught in amber, ageless and eternal, and it’s something that demanded its story. And here it is. I hope you’ll follow me into Spanish Gardens, that you will recognize the place somehow as somewhere that magic lives, that perhaps you will find yourself thinking about the magical places in your own lives. And the choices you made there over the years.

What genre does your book fall under?

Contemporary fantasy, I guess – but it’s basically a story of people and how they change, with a sprinkling of magic fairy dust over the top, just to make it glitter.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters?

I would love complete unknowns – people who would lend their faces to my characters, who would then BECOME those people in the minds of the people who were taking in the story – rather than casting well-known actors who would distract from what’s happening up there on screen. But I’d love to know, here, who my readers might cast as these characters. Any reader want to tell me your dream cast?

One-sentence synopsis of the book?

What is the most important thing in the life that you have been given to live – and what would you be willing to give up if you were given a chance to change your life completely?

What other books would you compare this story to?

Well, one recent review compared it to Haruki Murakami’s work, which was a little startling but nonetheless a compliment. So that’s ONE opinion. Another one for you, readers. Did it make you think of any other stories or writers?

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The memory of that place was the inspiration for the setting. But married to the end-of-the-world scenario as applied to 2012 – it became something else again, something rich and strange. This became a novel about telling the truth, about living a lie, about settling or reaching for the stars, about love, longing, betrayal, and most of all about choices.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

It asks questions that everyone has asked themselves about their own lives at some point – what if I had chosen THIS instead of THAT, one person over another, a different direction?

Many of the reviews basically begin with the reviewers asking those questions of themselves. They couldn’t help it; the book appears to function as a literary mirror. The readers look into it and somehow past the characters and see… themselves. It may not be an entirely comfortable place to be. But it’s a fascinating one.

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Wired asked writers to create 6-word SF stories.

Internet “wakes up?” Ridicu – no carrier.
– Charles Stross

More from Wired HERE

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But it’s not real…Is it?

Every book has a story – of its origins, of the secrets and the inspiration which led to its existence, the surprises that leaped out at the writer during the process of creation, the dead end alleys, the astonishing moments of transcendence, the feelings that linger when the writer types “The End.” These essays about my books originally appeared at the Book View Café Blog,

Alma’s Bookshelf

The story behind ‘Midnight at Spanish Gardens’

Let me take you to a place which once was real and is now no more, a place that existed as the worst-kept secret of the University where I was young, handed down like a legacy from generation to generation. Called Spanish Gardens, it was curled up at the end of a nondescript alley waiting for you – if you knew it was there.

Even today, more than thirty years after I and others of my generation left it behind, if you cornered any of us anywhere in the world, we will all describe it to you perfectly in the exact same way, an image frozen in time, like a magical photograph.

It was just a matter of time before I returned to this place in spirit to immortalize it in a book.

The book is “Midnight at Spanish Gardens”, and in it you will find this:

Spanish Gardens cover F&B

Evening. You walk down a shuttered street; turn into a narrow alley you should never have known was there. At the end of the alley, there’s a courtyard. And at the far end of the courtyard… there’s Spanish Gardens.

It does not look very Spanish. It certainly doesn’t look anything like a garden.

This place serves up your past like one of its fabled Irish Coffees – all froth and innocence on top and the dark, bittersweet mystery below – and watches you drain it, and then try to scry for your future in the patterns left behind on the walls of your glass.

You come here to laugh,  to cry, to mourn, to celebrate – the place where only truth can be spoken, where you are forced to look all your most cherished illusions in the eye and watch them look down first and slink away like ghosts into the shadows leaving only the shining core of your own true self behind.

This is where you come to learn who and what you were, and are, and may become. You leave the ivied and hallowed walls of the edifices of higher education, and your textbooks, and your professors, and your exams; you come here for the love and the laughter and the understanding. You abandon education, and come seeking wisdom.

Everyone has a place like this, a stop along the way on their life’s journey. Yours might be called Café Adagio, or Mama Rosa’s, or Ming’s Dim Sum – the name and the style and the ambience may be quite different – but if you start to tell me about that place it will not take me long to sigh, and smile, and murmur, “Ah, yes. I know the Spanish Gardens”.

It is a place out of time, a perfect location to marry with a moment that was gleefully proclaimed the end of days, the Mayan end of the world, and produce a novel that is all about choices.

I wrote a story about five people, old friends from college days, who were scattered to the four winds by betrayal, and estrangement, and, well, just life and living. But on this day, on the “last day of the world”, they get back together again for an evening of reunion. Many old bones are stirred and many skeletons rattle in their cupboards – and on the night this magical place offers up a piece of magic to all of these five people.

It gives them a glimpse of another life they might have lived had they, back in the time of their youth, made different choices, taken different life paths. At the end of that glimpse they have to choose – they can stay in that new life, and forget about the one that they had previously led, and it will be erased as though it had never been and all trace of it would vanish from their memory.

Or they can return to their old life.

Four of them choose to come back to the lives which they had been living, which had shaped them, which had made them into the people who they knew they were.

One does not.

It is a visceral thing, this choice. Everyone who has read and reviewed this book turned inward and asked, inevitably, “What would I have done?” You trace the forks in your own road and you wonder where you would have ended up if you had chosen a different direction at those crucial moments of decision which presented themselves.

But in the end most of us come back to the feeling that if we are at all happy with our lot then it is impossible to regret anything that led us to be where we are. And if we do have regrets… for us, there is no magic, not of the kind which I imbued my semi-mystical Spanish Gardens with. We have to live with our regrets. There is no going back to erase things, to do something else, something different. There are no do-overs. Our lives are our lives.

But still. That was a potent cocktail, that story. A place out of time, and a moment at the end of time (and maybe the beginning of a whole another universe). Married together, they made for a heady elixir. This was not an easy book to write, nor is it an easy book to read. This isn’t something you pick up and put down and then go back to later – it’s complex and full of unexpected aftertaste, much like those Irish Coffees for which Spanish Gardens was so justly famous.

This is a book of questions, and if I offered up answers for the characters who live within this story that doesn’t mean I offer up answers for the reader. You have to bring those along for yourselves. All I do is put the questions on the table, lay them out like a Tarot reading, and then sit back and watch you interpret the meanings for yourselves.

Would you have chosen a different life if you were given a chance? Would you have given up a lover, a career, would you have traded high achievement and unhappiness for a lesser but more content existence?

Nobody knows, except you.

Come with me. Come to Spanish Gardens. Take the first sip of that Irish Coffee story.

And choose.

Pick up your copy HERE

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Flash fiction photo of lightningThe State of Flash Fiction

 

At Electric Literature, David Galef & Len Kuntz break down the newest developments, achievements and emerging classics in the world of chiseled prose.

Read the whole article HERE

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Quote of the Day

A Flood of knowledge poster

https://www.facebook.com/writerscircle/photos/a.469562786290.301523.110046421290/10154697212786291/?type=3

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But what is it?

I am primarily a fantasy writer. That is how I view myself and my novels. But literary critics often have trouble labeling me, putting my books into neat little boxes.

Midnight at Spanish GardensPerhaps that shows most vividly in one of my recent novels, ‘Midnight at Spanish Gardens,’ a book that explores how our lives are changed by the paths we take, the choices we make.

Reviews were good, e.g. “the language is poetic and beautiful…characters are utterly compelling … on one occasion, I stood in a doorway,  flipping page after page, unable to take the steps that would lead to the end of my reading.” (Alana Abbott)

But Spanish Gardens uses a bit of fantasy to explore those choices, and booksellers and some reviewers don’t know how to classify it, what box to put it in.

I explored this problem a few years ago in an article that I wrote for The Interstitial Arts Foundation.

Interstitial art is made in the interstices between genres and categories, the foundation’s website explains. It crosses borders, is not constrained by category labels. “Just as how in nature the greatest areas of biodiversity occur in the margins of land between ecosystems, it is our belief that some of the most vital, innovative, and challenging art being created today can be found in the margins between categories, genres, and disciplines.”

Here is my 2009 article, a blast from the past as it were:

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It was a long time ago. A century ago. A millennium ago.

Well, all right, it was in 1999.

A man I met on a Usenet newsgroup concerned with writing – who became a friend, and subsequently my husband – and I collaborated on what must have one of the first few novels which could be described as “email epistolary”.

We each took on a character’s mantle, and we exchanged emails as these characters, within a given historical and political context – in this instance, the 78-day bombardment of Serbia by the United States and its often reluctant allies, in what became known as the Kosovo crisis.

Letters from the FireThe novel, ‘Letters from the Fire’, was written very fast, in pain and with passion, and got picked up for publication by Harper Collins in New Zealand, where I was living at the time. From conception to being on bookstore shelves, the book took just under six months – which has to be some sort of record in the publishing industry at the time.

The topic was hot, to be sure, and the themes were those of contemporary history – but it was a fictional account of those real events, a novel, and it was with a considerable amount of astonishment that I came upon a callow young assistant in one of the premier flagship bookstore on the main drag in Auckland, shelving the books… in the non-fiction section.

That’s a novel,” I told him. “It belongs in fiction.”

He looked at me with a gormless expression, and said, “Are you sure?”

Reasonably,” I said. “I wrote it.”

That’s bookend one. For bookend two, fast forward to 2004, with the release of my novel, ‘The Secrets of Jin-Shei.’ [Now published in 13 languages)

The Secrets of Jin-sheiThis was something which, as I wrote it, I conceived as alternate-history, or historical fantasy. The publishers had other ideas, and marketed it as mainstream, with most bookstores shelving it in the general fiction section.

Which had two complementary repercussions.

The first was that fantasy readers who might have loved this book simply never got to hear about it, because it wasn’t shelved in the section where they went to seek reading material.

The second was that mainstream readers, on the other hand, were uniformly thrown by what is essentially a very minor serving of magic in the book.

There appeared to be little I could do, despite repeated attempts, to convince people that the book was NOT in fact about China, about any China that actually existed, that there were certain aspects of the Imperial China which I used in the novel but that the land in which my own story took place was called Syai and did not, in fact, exist outside my own imagination. (And I STILL get questions like, “But what particular period of Imperial China were you writing about?”)

Part of the problem with the latter bookend is simply the fantasy cooties thing, something that apparently requires a warding off of the first order should its evil eye fall on your work – but as I keep telling everyone, ALL FICTION IS FANTASY. By definition.

And if the currently accepted definition of fantasy spills over into the mainstream shelves, or the mainstream books suddenly start having a dash of the fantastic – this should not be something that alienates readers from a book, bur rather it should be seen as an expanding of one’s horizons, an interstitial quest, a hunting for treasure in places you never thought to look in before.

Remember those optimistic, hardy, pretty urban weeds that spring with hope eternal from cracks in the pavement and put forth extravagant blooms as they dodge passing feet for a chance at a summer in the sun? That’s what we all are. Something beautiful in unexpected places, where you might least expect to see it. In the interstitial corners.

And perhaps it isn’t surprising that someone like Leonard Cohen put it best when he sang about there being a crack in everything. That, he said, was how the light gets in.

Read more about The Interstitial Arts Foundation HERE

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Quote of the day

ALL fiction is fantasy.” ~ Alma Alexander

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Alma Alexander       My books       Email me

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Can you believe these titles?

20 books that that really exist

And one of them was a best seller. Can you guess which one?

Knitting dog hairSpare time moneyP.s. Your cat is dead

Unbelievable books

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“…a genuine overlooked treasure”

In The Green Man Review, Michael M. Jones concludes that my newest novel, ‘Midnight at Spanish Gardens‘, is “intriguing, frustrating, magical, literary, and slippery when you try to wrap your mind around it.

 Spanish Gardens The novel’s story set up is simple, if a bit… unusual. Five friends meeting up twenty years after college, are individually issued a strange invitation by a mysterious bartender — to live an alternate life, and then have to choose which life to stay with.

 “In these five stories which intertwine with one another against a thought-provoking framing sequence,” Michael Jones writes, “Alma Alexander plays a complicated game of possibilities and potentials. She explores gender and sexuality, family and legacy, metaphysics and philosophy. Character-driven and atmospheric, Midnight at Spanish Gardens is as fascinating as it is tricky to pin down.”

 

He concludes that, “While it may not be for everyone, it’s an excellent tale that defies easy classification, and a genuine overlooked treasure.”

Read his full review

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No One Knew What This Unknown Woman Did Until She Died

But you’ll find it hard to forget her.

 But You didn't

The simple poem below was written by an unknown woman but has now been brought to life through the art of a Chinese cartoonist. All that’s really known about the poem is the title; “But You Didn’t”, it’s a real tear jerker of a story.

Check out the poem and cartoon here below:

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12 Books That End Mid-Sentence

“Way back before The Sopranos made people angry/confused for cutting to black out of nowhere,” Gabe Habash writes in Publihers Weekly, “books were messing with the heads of readers by daring to not use a period as the last typeset keystroke on the very last page. Here are 12 books that have no need for the standard last punctuation mark. Habash regrets the lack of books by female authors, but says he couldn’t find one “in hours and hours of searching.”

 Sentimental JourneyA Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy, by Laurence Sterne (1768)

The Ending:

     –But the Fille de Chambre hearing there were words between us, and fearing that hostilities would ensue in course, had crept silently out of her closet, and it being totally dark, had stolen so close to our beds, that she had got herself into the narrow passage which separated them, and had advanced so far up as to be in a line betwixt her mistress and me–

    So that when I stretch’d out my hand, I caught hold of the Fille de Chambre’s–

 Why:

At the end of his rambling journey, Yorick finally ends up at a roadside inn. Because there is only one bedroom, he shares it with a lady and her chambermaid, under the condition that he not speak. Of course, he breaks this rule and gets the chambermaid heading toward him. It’s possible, grammatically, to read that Yorick stretches out his hand and catches hold of the chambermaid’s hand. But, given that this is Sterne, the dirtier option is a lot more enjoyable.

Ending mid-sentence

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Which Country Reads the Most?

 The answer may surprise you.

 And guess where the U.S. ranks?

 Jason English compiles a list for Mental Floss.

Reading around the world

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10 Compelling Unnamed Protagonists in Literature

Ralph Ellison was perhaps most famous for his 1952 existentialist novel, Invisible Man, which touched upon issues facing African-Americans, as told through one man’s search for his identity in New York City during the 1930s. Ellison’s use of the nameless protagonist echoes themes of social blindness throughout the novel. 

 Alison Nastasi tells us in Flavorwire about similar voices in literature.

rebeccaRebecca, Daphne du Maurier

 We never learn the “lovely and unusual name” of English author Daphne du Maurier’s narrator — the second wife of wealthy widower, Maxim de Winter. The De Winter home is dominated by the memory of his late wife Rebecca, whose presence is preserved by the family’s sinister servant — a taunting housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers. The new Mrs. De Winter remains symbolically nameless, she herself as much of a ghost as the specter of Rebecca who “haunts” the Manderley estate.

Nameless characters

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Stunning photos of a 5-year-old in the manner of the Old Masters

 Bill-Gekas-24Bill Gekas

Bill-Gekas-10Bill Gekas

Artists around the world have long been inspired by the works of Old Masters like Rembrandt, Raphael and Vermeer, Ritesh Saini writes for Light Stalking. When Australian photographer Bill Gekas wanted to recreate the style through his photographs, Saini says, he chose to feature his five-year-old daughter Athena as the subject.

 I think that they are all utterly magnificent works of art. But some are full of whimsy; chess with Bugs Bunny is a purely Alice-in-Wonderland shot.

 The Old Masters

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Quote of the Day

Never make the mistake of assuming the audience is any less intelligent than you are. ~ Rod Serling

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Alma Alexander

Check out my books

Email me 

Comments welcome. What do you think?

What’s your favorite last line?

Some last lines have the power to disrupt the course of an entire story, shaking up our expectations, the Huffington Post tells us. Others leave us hanging, and still others provide a cathartic sense of closure. A beautiful last sentence or paragraph anchors a story in a reader’s mind long after the book is finished.

That’s true, and what all authors strive to do but we never know exactly how well we’ve achieved that. Only our readers can tell us that, and they probably won’t. (But I did have a reader call me up in the middle of the night to blurt out in anguish: “You killed her. I can’t believe you killed her.”)

We just do the best we can with our last lines and hope the readers find them satisfying, at worst, captivating and memorable at best. A few of mine:

Midnight at Spanish GardensMy most recent book, “Midnight at Spanish Gardens”, follows the lives of five people who are given the extraordinary choice to live a totally different life, with the understanding that at some point they will have to choose which life, which world, they will live in for the rest of the lives.

At the end, the last character who has made her choice, stands staring out at the night:

 

The world had ended. A certain world, at least, had ended.
A new world was about to begin.
As it did, after all, every day.

—–
The Secrets of Jin-sheiTai is not the most powerful character in “The Secrets of Jin-Shei” but she is the center, and in the end the lone survivor of a group of women bound together by a vow of sisterhood. The story ends:

Tai said nothing, but simply pointed to where the first bright evening star had kindled in the twilight.
And then they sat and watched in wonder, the old woman and the two children, as the stars shimmered into life, one by one, in the summer sky.

—–
Embers of HeavenIn “Embers of Heaven”, which amounts to a sequel to “The Secrets of Jin-Shei”, although 400 years later, the protagonist who has lived through hard times, sees a startling bright sky.

The sky was not aflame with the fires of destruction or devastation. She was facing east, and that which she was staring at was dawn, the rising of the sun, the promise of a brand new day. From the darkness beneath the earth’s rim, the orb of the young sun rose slowly over the edge of the night and poured its liquid light into the world, a bright and holy fire, woken by faith and valour from the sleeping embers of heaven.

—–

CybermageAt the end of Cybermage, the penultimate book in my young adult series, Worldweavers, my protagonist, Thea, is asked what her plans are. She thinks about…

The place where her mother spoke words of power to raise dough for bread, where her father sat in his old leather armchair on Sundays with a week’s worth of the ‘Daily Magic Times’ and the thick ‘Sunday Elixir’ in untidy piles of newsprint around his feet, where her brothers squabbled and elbowed for the last slice of peach pie, where Aunt Zoe could hear the sunlight and see the wind.

“Home,” she said. “I’m going home. And after that… whatever comes.”
—–

The Huffington Post article offers us the endings of several classical novels, from “The Great Gatsby” to “The Sun Also Rises”, to “In Cold Blood”, to “Gone with the Wind.”

UlyssesAnd it includes, of course, a very small small part of the 4,391-word ending of “Ulysses” by James Joyce:

“. . . and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.”

“We couldn’t NOT include one of the longest last sentences in literature,” the Huffington Post says .” The last chapter of Ulysses is Molly Bloom’s stream of consciousness, and it’s simply amazing.”

 

 

What is your favorite book ending?

Last lines

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A good blurb is hard to find, as every author knows

In 1874, Chatto & Windus asked Mark Twain for “a brief but quotable review” of “Nuggets and Dust: Panned Out in California” by Dod Grile, a pseudonym for Ambrose Bierce, Letters of Note reported. The publisher, however, underestimated the brutal honesty of Twain, who replied,

Dod Grile (Mr. Bierce) is a personal friend of mine, & I like him exceedingly–but he knows
my opinion of the Nuggets & Dust, & so I do not mind exposing it to you. It is the vilest book that exists in print–or very nearly so. If you keep a ‘reader,’ it is charity to believe he never really read that book, but framed his verdict upon hearsay.

Bierce has written some admirable things–fugitive pieces–but none of them are among
the Nuggets. There is humor in Dod Grile, but for every laugh that is in his book there are
five blushes, ten shudders and a vomit. The laugh is too expensive.

A good blurb

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On the Road for 17,527 Miles

Jack Kerouac’s On The Road has been turned into Google driving directions.

On the Road
Gregor Weichbrodt, a German college student, took all of the geographic stops mentioned in On the Road, plugged them into Google Maps, and ended up with a 45-page manual of driving directions, divided into chapters paralleling those of Kerouac’s original book.

You can read the manual as a free ebook or you can purchase a print copy on Lulu and perhaps make it the basis for your own road trip. Wondering how long such a trip might take? Google Maps indicates that Kerouac’s journey covered some 17,527 miles and theoretically took some 272 hours.

On the Road

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Quote of the Day

Ambrose-Bierce-quotation                                                                Ambrose Bierce
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Alma Alexander

Check out my books

Email me

Comments welcome. What do you think?
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