It’s been a number of days now since I last did a post on the many wonderful (new to me) blogsites I’ve been reading, and I think it’s about time to do another five. Though most of them are about some angle or variety of literature or literary life, and some have original literary compositions on them, some disperse their topics rather more broadly. I read them for different things, as I’ve said before, though mostly I stick pretty closely to subjects relating to books and writing. This is because as I’ve aged, I’ve begun to get a sense of my own mortality, and I know there’s not time to read everything out there that I might want to dabble in, and so have made my own interests a little narrower. And except for the occasional off-topic post, that quality of narrowness may help my readers to identify what they can come to my site for, too. Again, most if not all of my reading choices have recently been Freshly Pressed.
Having made the rule of mostly literary things, I’m now going to provide the exception that “proves” (tests) the rule. The blogsite “Miss Royal Disaster” is at http://missroyaldisaster.wordpress.com , and it features a lot of different issues in modern life. The theme page is truly luscious with a gorgeous heart of a flower on it. The topics here range from the societal to the personal, from ecological concerns to makeup issues, and the author, though making the occasional unchecked typo, is never at a loss for words. Especially on articles such as “animals on the edge of extinction” (which includes beautiful photographs of some of the animals in question) and the post on “hydrogen cars,” the blogger comes into her stride. Her health and wellness issues are also very informative. There have been recent posts on vegetarianism and vegan diet which were highly readable likewise. But lest you think that “fun” is left out, there is a category for that (including a short bit on breaking up with a boyfriend, not exactly my idea of fun). There are features such as a review of “Snow White and the Huntsman: A Modern Fairy Tale.” Also, you’ll find an advice column, and a section on psychology. All in all, though one has to wonder if the author of the blog will be able to keep up with all the subjects she’s assigned herself, and though these topics are covered in an informal manner and using a colloquial style, she has shown a devotion to a wide range of subjects which may be of interest to nearly everyone.
NARRATIVE– At http://richardgilbert.me/ , this blogsite is for a kind of literature I haven’t previously had much interest in, inasmuch as I’ve always taken an extreme literary purist’s (and perhaps an ignoramus’s) view that there’s sometimes a kind of self-indulgence in memoir writing, as opposed to “pure” fiction. I’ve often avoided autobiography for the same reason. But Richard Gilbert, a memoirist, specialist in memoirs, and academician who has “returned to the land” by way of farming and who currently wears all these hats at once, is fast convincing me otherwise. I now treasure the list he has on his website as a list I can refer to while reading up on some of the people involved. He has a wonderfully visually appealing site which contains a wide range of writerly activities, interests, and obsessions, such as “how stories make us human,” “on hating a memoirist,” and “my wild summer reading and revising.” There are also others. He has the occasional film review and a goodreads link under “narrative bookshelf.” The tags on this site cover by name not only a huge number of well-known writers, but also songwriters, radio personalities, politicians, and a lot of people who use and live out narratives on the world stage. One could read forever on and from this site, I get the feeling, and still not totally exhaust Gilbert’s erudition and humanity.
Nutshells & Mosquito Wings–at http://christinalay.wordpress.com/ . The blog is subtitled “A Fantasy Writer’s Journey Through Reality.” This site focuses on a transposition of the stuff of reality with its corresponding myth value, or perhaps vice versa, as in the post in which Christina ponders the symbolic import of a toad turning up in the kitchen, an event dealt with using an appropriate amout of humor. Indeed, a resolute sense of humor pervades nearly all of her posts here, even though in her post “Victorian Mansion Seeks Spirits” she speaks half-seriously of how spirits “haunt” an old house in which many different fortunes have been met. “The Agony of Empathy” is a subject she confronts in dealing with how an earlier sort of fantasy writer, Alexander Dumas, forces empathy on his readers in The Count of Monte Cristo. Empathy is after all an essential experience in reading and writing good fantasy, whose fictional situations may be utterly strange to us, but whose human emotions should not be. Next, she joins us in a post called “For the Love of Adverbs,” which excites my sympathy and is both apt and comic, and a subject of interest these days when even Hemingway is becoming a little out-of-date, though still essential reading. Finally, Christina puts up a thoughtful post on the nature of God. Handled with characteristic humor and good nature and a great deal of honesty from a contemporary point of view, it allows us all to find some sense of balance as writers and as people.
First We Read, Then We Write–at http://deborahrosereeves.wordpress.com/ . This blog also has a goodreads link, but it is a good read all by itself. Subtitled “Reviews, Ruminations, Reflections, Reveries,” this is what it is about, playing over many different aspects of the literary field. Currently living in Portland, OR, Deborah defines herself as “a writer, a restless wanderer, and a recent woodworker.” Her degrees are in English and Women and Gender Studies, and her toughmindedness in writing about things literary is tempered and balanced by a true humanity which keeps the doors open to new understandings. She is by turns realistic, funny, and heartwarming in her blogs and posts, while avoiding the adverse of these qualities, not being pretentious, rude, or lacrimose. It’s quite clear from the professionalism and taut quality of this blog that the blogger has taken her own injunction seriously: first she reads, then she writes. She never meanders around her subject without fulfilling its potential, except of course when meandering and releasing potential for others is the point. This is clearly one of the best blogs I’ve seen lately.
beautifullittlesarajevo–at http://beautifullittlesarajevo.wordpress.com/ . The work of another recent Portlander, this blog, which is subtitled “A Place for Pretty Things” has as its declared topics food, photography, and writing. The photography is highly evocative, some of it in stark and beautiful black-and-white, other parts in half-tones or equally beautiful color. There is a sparse feel to the site, which gives it a surrealistic or film noir quality even including some of the color photographs, curiously. In the food section, there are few words except to extol a healthy diet; but then, the pictures included are in the outworn but apposite saying “worth a thousand words.” Such delicious looking delights are in the photographs that one salivates just at the pictures. Now, how does one get to Portland, which the blogger says is a food-friendly city, in the blink of an eye? Just look at the pictures, and don’t blink! This is home cooking, from the blogger herself. The literary part of the blog is equally innovative and gorgeous with “poems” that aren’t actually poems, because as the blogger states categorically, “I Hate Poetry.” Yet the proliferation of word pictures, the lovely word pictures, say “poem” to me. Anyway, whatever the pieces are called, “prose fragments,” perhaps, the blogger has written them well, and I hope to see more of them shortly. If we don’t agree exactly on what makes a poem, we can all agree on one thing: the writer has an eye for beauty, wherever it occurs.
And that’s my blog for today. I hope you can get around to these sites if you haven’t already (I mean, you may be impatiently throwing bread pellets at me and yelling, “We already knew that one!”). I have five or six more sites already chosen to write upon, but I like to leave some space between the days I do this so that I’m not just sponging off other people’s blogs constantly. Until tomorrow, hang on tight, and hang loose! (And congratulations to all the folks who participated fairly and squarely in the Olympics).