Friday, August 29, 2008

b's book clubs:

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From a Distance

Title:From A Distance
Author: Tamara Alexander
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Publisher Address: 11400 Hampshire Avenue South, Bloomington, Minnesota 55438
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0389-3, Price $13.99 Publication Date: 2008
Reviewed by Bethany L. Canfield for Reader Views (8/08)

Yearly Count: 54

From a Distance, is a tale of hope, of dreams and the road to accomplishing them.Elisabeth is a budding journalist.Society may think that she is past her prime, that she should just worry about getting married, but she sees a dream that she is about to capture and cannot rest until she does. Elisabeth dreams big, and she will do whatever it takes to get her to her desired goal. Is it all fair game? Are there things that are not acceptable in our pursuit of what we want, or is it every woman for herself? Decisions made in the past will impact the future, however there is grace to forgive. Will it be enough?

This is a five star read for sure. It is believable, well thought out, well written, and intriguing. I could not put it down because the story line was a dream to read, and as I read the only thing that I didn't like was that the end was coming! From a Distance is filled with interesting topics from that day: female rolls, corsets, male-female relations, propriety, the wild west, slavery, racism, mistrust, civil war, healing from lives lost in the war and much else that I am always interested to read about.

All humans are flawed, and in From a Distance the flaws are not smoothed over, and they are not made pretty. Flaws are evident and they cause guilt to surface. I admire the way Tamera Alexander portrays loss, life, but especially her take on forgiveness. This book contains so many relationships, and they feel completely real mainly because they are deep, deep enough to have times when forgiveness is necessary. Forgiveness is something that is either given or not. I loved the realness of the problems and the distances formed through hurt and pain in From a Distance. It felt so real, so relateble, and through the flaws of the characters I was able to really feel a bond. A great read all around!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

what's wrong with me?! HELP!!

Okay, I need some help from you all...I am reading The Gargoyle, and I am horrified, it is not only vulgar and dark, it is plain yuck. It feels like the language and pace is too intense (choppy and too in-your-face). It seems there is a need for a constant stream of high risk people, (porn stars, people who pawn their daughters bodies to the highest bidder, so that they can buy Chrystal meth) in order to keep the attention span of a modern day reader.

I have just seen some of your reviews on this book and you ALL love it!! What am I missing. I haven't quit a book this year (and I have read 54 books so far) but this is probably going to be the one that I will choose to not finish. However I am willing to give it another try if you all tell me that something gets better, if things change from being so choppy, and filled with gore. I guess I feel it is overwhelmed with sarcasm as well. I just watched the trailer and then I wonder if there are other stories in this book that I would like and just the first is like this.

Can anyone help me please???

Here is the trailer for it anyway:

an award!

YAY! Thank you gals~
I was nominated by Dar at Peeking Between the Pages for this award a while back and I spaced writing a blog about it! seriously, that is horrible. Also Ronda from Ronda's Rants nominated me at the same time. If you click on those links you will be taken to over a month ago in their blogs....what a kind of a blogger friend am I to neglect this for so long. So sorry, very sorry to you both.

Surviving Ben's Suicide: A Woman's Journey of Self-Discovery

Title: Surviving Ben's Suicide: A Woman's Journey of Self-Discovery
Author: C.Comfort Shields
Pages: 233
Yearly Count: 53
Publisher: iUniverse

I was shockingly mistaken in my perceptions about this book. I thought it would be a plain self-helpish, non-fictiony slow, boring to read book, but I loved the way C. Comfort Shields wrote this as a literary memoir! I read every page of this, and held on to it tight. I finished it in a day. Shields is an excellent writer, and I enjoyed her style and honesty throughout the painful process which she writes about. Once I was into this one, I realized just that it really wasn't as distant from me as I had thought. My father-in-law committed suicide, but that was about 4 years before I met and fell in love with my hubby (B). After reading this memoir I understand much better all the pain and guilt that would come from such an abrupt- but not entirely surprising ending to a loved one's life. However I hope to never know how it would feel to have this happen so close to me.

When life ends by one own's hand there are so many questions that come up, so much pain, guilt, suffering and loneliness. A feeling that being all alone, maybe you are responsible, you MUST be responsible. I was so interested in the amount of care Shields put into explaining the sickness, the disease, the illness that lead up to Ben committing suicide. The irate phone calls of blame, the pushing away and pulling in causing Comfort to feel the burden as a harsh reality.

This is not a self- help book, well, it is and it isn't. It is a memoir of a woman who experienced the death of a boyfriend, the suicidal death. Shields is changed through this blow, learning more about herself, more about life and death and relationships. I admire Surviving Ben's Suicide in that it has gone where no other book has gone before, in being the first literary memoir about this topic. Suicide is hard to understand, but even harder to cope with. This is an excellent book to take with you on the journey. An Excellent read for anyone, not just those who have had a loved one commit suicide.

Author C. Comfort Shields Website

Have you reviewed this, let me know and I'll put your review here.
Kathleen's Book Reviews
medieval bookworm

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

BTT: stories!

btt button

If you’re anything like me, one of your favorite reasons to read is for the story. Not for the character development and interaction. Not because of the descriptive, emotive powers of the writer. Not because of deep, literary meaning hidden beneath layers of metaphor. (Even though those are all good things.) No … it’s because you want to know what happens next?

Or, um, is it just me?

Nope, for sure that is meeeeeeeee too. all the way. I enjoy beauty, but mostly I like to entertained, and carried away into a world not close (not that I don't want to be where I am...but a vacation is always nice!) to where I am physically. Yes and what drives me in a book, is fo sho what happens next. no doubt. haha!

Character development comes in second, tied with beautiful writing.

What do you think?

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Title: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Authors: Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Pages: 275
Yearly Count: 52

A novel told through letters, from this person to that, back and forth. I had never read anything written like this before, and while I had a huge learning curve initially to remember who was who and who was writing to whom and why, I LOVED The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I know, isn't that a mouthload of a title!? But it makes you wonderfully curious, right? It did me, and I am so happy I filled my craving to read this novel.

In January of 1946, Juliet, an author in London, begins to correspond with the society's members through a fun fluke, by which one member gets a hold of her address. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is formed of an eclectic, group of down-to-reality people who decided to have a Literary society during the recent German occupation as a cover up at first- but that only lasted a short day before they all came to love literature fully, even if it was in their own individual way!

I think this will be one we hear of for a long time, it is very cleaver, witty, funny, and beautifully precocious. I came to love the society of people, admire them for the difficulties they endured during the German occupation, while growing to support eachother and form a tight group. I enjoyed the writing, and novel in the form of letters was so entirely new that I was so thankful I picked this one up! It completely shook me of my recent "I am overwhelmed by what I am reading" issue. Ya gotta grab this one! :) Enjoy.

None of us had any experience with literary societies, so we made our own rules: we took turns speaking about the books we'd read. t he star, we tried to be calm and objective, but that soon fell away, and the purpose of the speakers was to goad the listeners into wanting to read the same book themselves. Once two members had read the same book, they could argue, which was our great delight (p. 51).

Ha, ha!! I just have to laugh looking at that that what are book blogging society is like!?!?! I love that, it is such a wonderful quote and I can fully relate. I always want people to read the books that I have read and then we can discuss them :)

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Author Annie Barrows Website
And here are two trailers:

Have you read and reviewed it, give me your link! (pretty please?)

rate me!

Hey all my blogger buddies....what do you think?? please rate my B&b ex libris blog!

B&b ex libris at Blogged

Inside the readers studio (meme)

Here is a meme from The Book Lady's Blog...what a blog make sure to check it out!
yay! Taggy-tag-tag. I was tagged by Trish at Hey Lady, Whatcha readin'?
What is your favorite word? I don't have just one, snigglenorf, bigglepeep, naggietip, and lasimant. Yeah, those are real words....I want to stop you before you head to your dictionaries!! :) I am sorry but I don't really have a favourite.

What is your least favorite word? This however is easy (I have many): packet, being my least...but any words with hard sounds really close together. (Concocted, pumpkin, Clinton, trapped)

What turns you on (creatively, spiritually or emotionally)? people who are only one person no matter how many different people surround them. I hope you know what I mean....I have acquaintances who will put on a show for me, and then do it for the next person too. I like vulnerability, honesty, truth... real people make me weak in the knees.

What turns you off (creatively, spiritually or emotionally)?
presumption, lack of vulnerability, "playing nice", lies, fronts, people who think they are more important than anyone else, anti-immigration issues.

What sound or noise do you love? For sure rain, the ocean, kids laughing.

What sound or noise do you hate? feedback, kids fighting (especially my own), whining.

What is your favorite curse word? yeah, nope. I have never cursed. Well, maybe a total of 3 times when I was younger...the words just sound yuk to me.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Oh, there are so many things I would love to do: author, photographer, professional rock climber, cowgirl in the old days....but even now would do.

What profession would you not like to do? editor, business person, secretary, fast food.

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? Well, the typical here, "Well done, my good and faithful servant"

If you want to do this meme, then TAG- you're it!!! Go right on and do it! :)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Author Interviews with B&b ex libris

Q&A with Laura Schaeffer
Author of The Teashop Girls:


What is your favourite tea? Do you drink different teas at different times of the day? Do you worry about caffeine intake, or do you just sip away?

I have lots of favorites. Lately, I like to begin the day with jasmine bloom, Masala chai, or English Breakfast. I don't really worry too much about caffeine, but I try not to have any after 7pm. That's when Salada green tea comes in handy, because it is decaffeinated. Another tea I tried recently and loved was the French Breakfast variety from cha cha tea. Cha Cha is a local Madison tea company and has some really delicious tea.

When did you first fall in love with tea, and who was it that shared that first cup with you?

I didn't experience quality tea until after college. A whole new world opened up when I finally tried it! My best friend Aimee and I went to high tea at several places including teany in NYC and Sherlock's in Florida. I realized then how special good tea could be.

My two little boys love tea parties, we use my fransiscan china apple tea cups and they love the little saucers. We drink licorice root (mostly because they love the natural sweetness of it and I love that it doesn't have any stimulants). What are the best teas that you know of which are naturally sweet for little kids like mine?

I agree that sticking to herbal teas is probably a good idea for children, because most herbals do not have caffeine. I'd recommend peach ginger tissanes, or herbals that include dried berries or mango. It also never hurts to add a little honey for extra sweetness! I find I enjoy most teas more with just a little honey.

The Teashop Girls:

Lets move on to your book, The Teashop Girls. Personally I can't wait to share it with my daughter when I have one who is old enough to read it. You are an amazing writer and even though it is a YA book, I was engrossed like crazy!

What books did you read when you were that age (between the ages of 8-14) that really inspired The Teashop Girls?

I loved Anne of Green Gables, The Babysitter's Club books, Harriet the Spy, books by Ellen Conford, and the Anastasia Krupnik books by Lois Lowry. I also liked reading some classics like The Secret Garden, Little Women, and Gone with the Wind. I read all the time when I was a tween.

I personally loved the purity in this book, the girls acted like girls and yet they were honest, kind, and it was clean and wholesome. Was that a goal of yours while writing it or is that naturally your style for that age group? Did you consciously remove things that you found questionable for young girls to read?

Writing this way came naturally to me, but it is also a goal of mine to write books featuring girls who I'd want to befriend. There is plenty of time to be a grown-up, why rush it?

Also, books have always been a peaceful escape for me, and I wanted to create a warm world for my readers to enjoy. That's part of the reason Annie has such a great family and lives in such a wonderful neighborhood.

I cannot describe how excited I was to read a novel for girls in which the girls have their faults but are still very secure in themselves. They didn't question everything and were loving to their parents. Did you intend Annie, Genna and Zoe to be three role models for young girls (not that we all can't learn from them!!)?

Yes, I did. I believe that everything we read, see, and consume becomes a part of us in some small way, so I wanted my characters to be respectful and interesting girls. It's completely normal to be a bit self-conscious when you're 13, but I wanted to convey that the Teashop Girls where doing amazing things, not just putting their energy into looking good. It's SO much more interesting to be a tennis champion, an artist, a loving part of a crazy family, or a new barista than it is to just worry about how "cool" you are.

Annie is a very mature girl, thinking about things way beyond her age, worrying about the teashop that she has grown up in and really is home to her. Did you write her character from experience? Do you find you have a lot in common with Annie when you were that age or even now?

Well, first of all, I think there are a lot of 13 year olds out there who are extremely sensitive to the world around them, perhaps more than adults even realize. Annie is mature, but I also feels she's realistic. Tweens live in the world, and want to change some things and have a voice, just like adults do at times. I did have a lot in common with Annie at that age. I think it would be hard to write a main character who isn't, at least in some ways, me.

The Making of The Teashop Girls:

I'd like to ask you about the writing of this book. When did you start writing The Teashop Girls?

I began in the summer of 2005.

I know first second and third drafts are common, did the story change drastically from when you first wrote it?

Yes, it did. The first draft was set in Florida instead of Wisconsin. Can you believe it? I'm so glad I "brought it home," so to speak.

Besides tea and cupcakes where did you find your inspiration?

I've worked for a local restaurant called Imperial Garden for nine years, so I have a good idea of how food service jobs work! I also found inspiration among my family and friends. For example, my best friend Aimee is in to yoga, and my good friend Stefan is a Zen Buddhist monk.

I already have gushed over how much I loved this book, how great I think it tell me, is there a sequel!?! Do you have a title for it and release date or am I getting ahead of myself!??!?

I would love to write a sequel. I have an outline, but no title or release date yet. I will say that I plan to have Annie become involved in Madison's amazing farmer's market and learn more about the local food movement.

Laura, thank you so much for this interview. I wish every book I read had this stature, this quality and the appeal that this one did. I can't say enough just how much I liked it. Thank you for writing a book that I think should be on every young girl's shelf and I will hold onto my copy in hopes of a daughter to share it with. Thank you.

Bethany (b) from B&b ex libris Interviews Author
Kathryn Maughan
posted: 25th of September, 2008

Kathryn Maughan! I loved her book and reviewed Did I Expect Angels? already (and LOVED it). I asked if Kathryn would do an interview with me. Can you believe it, she agreed!!?!?!

Interview with Kathryn Maughan by Bethany Canfield (of B&b ex libris) enjoy:

How did the idea of Did I Expect Angels? come about?

This is a long story, actually. I got so many different ideas from so many sources. The most notable is September 11, as I’ve written about. There was so much grief and death all around us, and I couldn’t help but think about what the rest of these families’ lives would long people would tolerate their grief before feeling uncomfortable and telling them to “get over it”...what holidays would look like from now on. I got the inspiration for Henry from a Cuban man. He and his family came to the US from Cuba in the sixties and had some of the same struggles Henry did, though his path turned out very differently. He told me of the three jobs he worked to support his family, how tired he was, how hard he worked; and he said over and over again, “But we had children. What else was I going to do?” I was so impressed by his determination and stoicism and willingness to do whatever he needed to keep going, and I wondered if I could directly contrast him with a main character. The character of Diego I got from my friend Marisol, whose family came from Puerto Rico in the fifties. Her father acted as a beachhead to his friends and family, doing what Diego did for Henry: getting him established, taking care of his needs, paying his bills. I asked her why he would do that, and she said, “It’s family. That’s just what you do.” Wow.

Of course, the most direct inspiration for the book was my dad. He and I were talking one day and he told me that, for my own good, I needed to get myself together and write a book. I told him that, for his own good, he needed to get himself together and join Weight Watchers. He said that if I’d write a book, he’d join Weight Watchers. Well, I wrote a book...and he didn’t join. So he still needs to fulfill his part of the bargain.

Besides writing books, what are some of your other favourite things to do?

I love most "artsy" things -- theater, movies, opera. There's a lot of this in New York, and I have to ration myself or I'd go broke, but I really enjoy the occasional Broadway play or musical and the opera. I took voice lessons for about 10 years, and while I'll never be a professional singer I do love to sing. I was in a semi-professional choir for a few years, and now I have to content myself with a church choir and the occasional amateur solo performance. However, when I sing karaoke, I kill.

I'm also a really good cook and baker, if I do say so myself. Cooking and baking are the perfect antidote to being a writer: you have an immediate finished product, and no one ever turns it away!

What is a typical day for you? Have you had many of these since you wrote and published your book?

I still have a day job; I'm finding out firsthand just how difficult it is to make a living as a writer, published or not! So my alarm goes off at 7:45 and I hit snooze until 8:10 or so (that is, if I consciously register that my alarm is going off, and don't dream I'm turning off an alarm over and over and just can't figure out why it won't quit blaring) and then go to work. At work, I set up meetings most of the day: phone meetings, in-person meetings, out-of-town meetings, travel arrangements. I do fit in some time to look at manuscripts now and again, but I can't really address the writing full-on until I get home at night. I always try to make time to go running or go to the gym, after a day sitting at a desk, and then it's time to write. I usually don't get into a groove until 10 p.m. or so, and I try to get to bed by midnight, so I have to be really focused during those hours.

Of course, sometimes I just turn on the TV. :)

Is being a published author different than you expected? In what ways?

I think most people who get into the arts believe that it's going to be easier than it is. Sure, everyone says it's hard, and sure, you know they're right...but you don't know HOW right they are. With most projects -- with most PEOPLE -- nobody wants you until everybody wants you. The trick is sticking with it to get past the initial phase and make everybody want you. I'll let you know how to do that...once I figure it out.

For anybody just starting out, I can't emphasize enough the importance of stability. For me, this means having a solid job (and benefits) that I fit my writing around. It might be different for some people, but you're not doing yourself any favors by not having a job and not having insurance and desperately hoping you don't get sick and your book hits the big time soon. Everything goes much more slowly than you'd like it to, even when it's "hot," and desperation is no fun.

What would your perfect day look like?

I’m such a night person...I get my best sleep AFTER 7 a.m. So I’d love to sleep until 10 a.m. or so, get up and have a run or a class at the gym, do some errands, see some friends, work on new hobbies (a new language, learning to paint, etc) and then start writing. Write until late, late, late (3 a.m. or later) and then go to bed. Sigh. I don’t have many of these days.

I am guessing you can relate to many characteristics of the different characters in your book, but who do you relate to the most?

Jennifer polarizes people; they either really relate or they think she's terribly irresponsible and selfish. I have to say, I really relate to her. She is real to me, and her struggles are real. She's being very honest -- a little TOO honest -- with her pain, and dwelling on it to the point that she can't focus on anything else. People want her (need her) to step up to the plate and deal, and all she can say is, "I hurt." She was on one particular journey with her husband, and that journey was wrenched away in the worst way possible, and she doesn't want to take the new journey that she's suddenly been put on. I can relate to that, too. That said, I've learned so much from other people and the way they deal with their own pain; I’ve figured out a bit more how to “step up” and be stronger than you sometimes feel like being. Susan is an inspiration to me. Initially I had thought that Susan would be a prototypical awful, overbearing mother-in-law, but immediately she spoke to me; she practically told me that no, she was an example and she would step in.

Do you have ideas for your next book? Have you started writing your second book? What can you tell us about it?

I started writing the second book a while ago...a long while ago. And I know a lot of what happens, but I don’t know what happens to the main character. I feel like I don’t know her yet. And meanwhile I’ve been working really hard on a screenplay, so I haven’t had time to delve into her character and what she would do. But I can tell you that it is very, very loosely inspired by a true event that rocked my little Utah community back in 1982, so I have to do a lot of research on (and try to remember) my growing-up years. I have also made friends with a now-retired policeman, who is my go-to source for legal research. These are the only hints I can give you. :)

What would you say to any budding authors out there who are interested in taking on the adventure of writing their own book?

First, I’d say that you just have to write. A lot of people want to write a book; very few people (comparatively speaking) actually do. You’ll never get it done if you don’t start. You’ll always find reasons not to start, to criticize yourself, to feel like you can’t do it. Give yourself permission to write—even to write badly!—and just write. Natural talent will always come out.

Once you’ve written...there are other things to remember. One is that it is an adventure, and you have to savor the small victories along the way. Managed to write for two hours today? That is a victory. Managed to finish a chapter? Ditto. Managed to finish an entire book? You rule. Take a moment and realize, you did something that so many people want to do and very few people actually do. There’s a musical by Stephen Sondheim called Sunday in the Park with George, and the painter, Georges Seurat, sings, “Look, I made a hat where there never was a hat.” It is an achievement. There are plenty of roadblocks and difficulties along the way (Rejection! Rejection! Rejection! Bad reviews! No sales! No one shows to your reading! More rejection!) but you have to say, yes, I made a hat where there never was a hat. And that means something.

What do you think of book bloggers??? :)

Ha ha, I’ve addressed this question already. See a guest blog I did:

Thank you Kathryn for the interview!!!

Find out more information about Did I Expect Angels? and Kathryn

Bethany (b) from B&b ex libris Interviews Author
Niloufar Talebi
Posted: 16th of August, 2008

About a month ago I wrote a review of BELONGING: New Poetry by Iranians Around the World. Since then the author, Niloufar Talebi contacted me and I have had a chance to meet her (in Portland) and also to interview her!! I love the work that she is doing, and wish to share it with you all.

Questions for Niloufar Talebi, author of BELONGING and founder of The Translation Project:

b:Tell us about The Translation Project:

Niloufar:The Translation Project <> is a nonprofit, nonpolitical 501 (c) 3 organization dedicated to bringing contemporary Iranian literature to wide audiences through literary translation, and multimedia projects based on the translated literature. Presenting the literature through theater, videos, etc. is our expanded notion of translation, a further means to familiarize audiences with a (contemporary) literature which has been rather invisible on the world stage so far. Our mission is to include this literature in the modern global conversation.

b:What was the hardest part about birthing BELONGING? When did your dream for this book begin?

Niloufar:The research on this book began in late 2002 when I first discovered and fell in love with the art and craft of translation. At the same time, I began to wonder why the treasures of contemporary Iranian literature (20th and 21st Century) were not known and celebrated in other countries in the same way that, for example, Pablo Neruda is. That's when I founded The Translation Project, and began work on BELONGING, which is a selection of Iranian poets who live outside Iran AND recite in Persian. It took several years to compile a list of them, a list of 140 poets which I make available in BELONGING. I translated about 30 poets over the course of the 6 years, 18 of whom are featured in BELONGING. Translations were done with the assistance of Zack Rogow and Daniel O'Connell.

The most difficult aspect of putting BELONGING together was composing a cohesive idea behind the anthology. As I mention in the 'Notes on Selection', few have dedicated themselves to collection and discourse in this young field, so my challenge was to put the works I found into perspective: to read their work not only within the context of their own work, but within the context of the greater 'modern and contemporary' Iranian poetry, as well as that of world poetry, which is where I think these works ultimately belong, since the poets live the world over. These poems are told from the prism of the iranian experience, but leave a universal emotional impact.

b:How did you select what poets would be translated and which of their works put in BELONGING?

Niloufar: It was a long process. We translated many more poems and poets than ended up in BELONGING. To whittle down the list, I sent out translations to literary publications, to translation competitions, read them at dozens of events, created theater from the poems, made short films based on them, and sent them to other poets and translators for feedback. I took note of which ones made the most impact on readers. Over the years, a cohesive manuscript, a balanced composition of poems of various styles and themes came together. On a practical note, to keep the anthology accessible, I included 6 poets from each of the three generations who live and recite currently, with 5-6 pages of poetry per poet, plus a biographical sketch.

b:Do you think that poets and writers have a different story to tell than what the news media would cover on the nation of Iran? What do you notice as the largest difference?

Niloufar: What appears in the media is rarely about the PEOPLE and CULTURE of Iran; otherwise we would watch shows about Iranian hospitality, cooking, love for the outdoors, family values, the mountain ranges of Iran, miniature paintings, Iranian love for poetry, the art of story-telling (Naghali), the art of the Persian carpet, their celebration of the seasons, and so on. But there are no such show! What is produced and broadcast in the media are convenient snapshots of a manufactured enemy. So it becomes even more urgent to celebrate the arts and culture of Iran, the voice of its people. Poets tell the human story.

b: Reading about different nations is empowering, it rids us of the fear of the unknown just a little bit each time. Thus the world becomes a smaller place. What is your goal for the American audience with the poetry that you translated in BELONGING and that you perform? Has that dream changed as this project gained momentum?

Niloufar: I am always learning in this process. It remains to be seen what an impact the bilingual volume of BELONGING makes on readers, both American and Iranian-American. I hope the average reader, and not only the poetry connoisseur, is able to connect with BELONGING. That is a personal goal for me, to make 'high art' accessible. No one should be intimidated by poetry; it should be FOR readers, not an alienating force against them. Iranians recite poetry on a daily basis, which they use as proverbs, expressions, etc. Accessibility was one of the guiding principle by which the poems in BELONGING were selected. In shaping our projects, responding to audience trends plays an integral role. We know that folks are not reading as much, but are sharing content on Youtube, for example, so we created films based on the poems ('Midnight Approaches'), which appear on our Youtube channel <>. We have also created two multimedia theatrical pieces ("Four Springs' and 'ICARUS/RISE') based on the poems in BELONGING, reaching out to wider audiences. Not only do unlikely audiences gain access to the poetry, but we also provide an opportunity for artists who collaborate with us to engage with the poetry on a deep level, available to them by and large for the first time as a source of inspiration. I would say this has been the innovative aspect of our work, expanding our notion of translation, instigating collaborative projects based on the translated literature to encourage their longevitiy in our cultural consciousness.

b: I see a sense of deep pride in the arts when I read BELONGING, and when I watched the introductory video and the performances. Persia has a deep rooted artistic talent, could you tell me a bit about the impact that legacy has on you?

Niloufar: I was lucky enough to have a direct route to this legacy. Spending time with the iconic poet and thinker, Ahmad Shamlou (1925-2000), who visited my parents socially in the 1980's, has no doubt shaped my dedication to this legacy. As T.S. Eliot said in 'Tradition and the Individual Talent', tradition is a two-fold concept: what we may think of as 'traditional' was actually in its time art that broke with 'tradition', art that forged a new way ahead. This is what any artist of significance, in any culture achieves to then become part of the 'tradition' of that culture. I hope BELONGING inspires readers to acknowledge and fill in the gap between the great 13th Century Persian poet, Rumi, and contemporary poetry, to examine the poets of the modernist movement in Iranian poetics, which produced a number of other iconic Iranian poets, such as Nima Yushij, Forough Farrokhzad, Ahmad Shamlou, Sohrab Sepehri, Simin Behbahani, and Mehdi Akhavan Saales.

b: Has the movement been silenced (and gone underground) for a while in Iran during the wars and the differences between neighboring nations, or is it due to a lack of translation that I personally have not had much experience with Persian arts?

Niloufar: Iranian literature inside Iran has found ways to survive new (and sometimes brutal) forms of censorship, and has flourished, in fact. The number of women writers has multiplied, for example, contrary to what might be expected. And though there have been both scholarly and literary translations of Iranian works, somehow few works in translation have captured the imagination of the foreign readers, at least in this country. The poet, Forough Farrokhzad is becoming more and more known. Shahrnush Parsipur has two books in English translation. Dick Davis has translated classical Persian poetry, as well as the Pezeshkzad novel, My Uncle Napoleon. Moniru Ravanipur's new book is due to be translated into English. Shahryar Mandanipour's work in English translation is due to be published soon. Ibex Publishers has published love poems by Ahmad Shamlou in English translation. A translation of Mahmoud Dowlatabadi's Missing Soluch was just published in the US. And there must be other projects I don't know of yet. So the works are out there. Remember that in the US, only between 0.3% - 3% of books published annually are works of translation, so we must actively look for them. A great resource for world literature in translation is <>

b: Is there anything else that you would like to talk about, or tell us about?

Niloufar: I am working on our next multimedia theatrical piece, due to premier in 2010. Like ICARUS/RISE, it also draws on the Iranian tradition of Naghali (story-telling), adds contemporary content to it and fuses it with western dramatic elements to reflect the true hybrid-Iranian experience in contemporary society. For periodic updates on our next piece, visit

The poetry in Belonging is stunning, see for yourself:

A Bird Is a Bird

When I draw open this curtain
A TV antenna
And often
A few robins
Decorate my morning.

But it is not a scarcity of windows
That has brought me here;

This rectangular blue
I could have had
Anywhere else.
Birds too
All over the world
Sit in such a way
That their velvety breasts
Are within eye's reach.
Now, red robins of black crows,
What difference does it make?
A bird
Is a bird.

To be honest, I don't remember
What I've come here for.
Surely, must have been an important reason.
One doesn't just
Make a vagabond of oneself
For no reason.
When I remember
I will finish this poem...

(BELONGING, p. 83 Abbas Saffari)

Conversation in the Dark
To my dear Jaleh

Mid nights, when I'm ill and awake
And no light is visible even from a pinhole
And the soft song of your deepest breaths
Accompanies the treble and bass of my heart
To the constant ticking of the clock,
Then I see that even if my thoughts are alone,
My heart, in the hollow of my chest , is not.

Softly, I bend my head over your bedside
And lightly kiss your lashes, joined in sleep.
You feel the weight of the kiss on your eye and smile.
I kiss your cheek warm
And although the clamor of your laughter echoes in my ear,
In the dark waves of night,
Your laughing face does not manifest.

Quietly, I strike a match
To illuminate your face,
But soon, the red sulfuric spark,
Rising and falling upon my two blackened fingers,
Dies in the twist and turn of its dance
And again, dense darkness
Settles in our little bedchamber.
I tell myself: Aside from that brief instant-
The moment I glimpsed youf dear face
-My eye does not have fortune to see.

Like a child fearing darkness,
I pave a path to your embrace
And petrified of something I can't name,
I steal this wisper in your ear:
Kinder than all the world's kindliest creatures!
Oh friend, sweetheart, mother, companion on this voyage!
Scream away so even stone-hearted death
Does not undo us in the promisted moment!
For we both know that in a riotous
World of swarming crowds,
And of all that avails on the endless horizon,
If we have a destiny, it is our loneliness.

And this house, smaller than a boat, sails us-
The distressed-into the sea exile.
But on the alarming horizon of this sea,
Night prevails
And reveals no path in darkness
To tomorrow.

(BELONGING, P. 25 Nader Naderpour)

Don't you love it!?
I have a copy of BELONGING for one lucky commenter thanks to Niloufar Talebi and North Atlantic Books!

Do you want it? Here is how to get it: Comment on this post, telling me what you love about poetry and get one entry, blog about it on your blog and get two more (but make sure you tell me that you did :)! You have until the 14th, I'll pick a winner on the 15th.

I honestly really want to keep this copy, as the one I have is an advanced readers copy, and this one I just got is much nicer than mine, but I won't be greedy, I will give it for someone else to enjoy :)

The Glass Castle

Title: The Glass Castle
Author: Jeannette Walls
Pages: 304
Yearly Count: 51

Children either grow up because of their parents or almost in spite of them, either way the years still pass and little kids who are cared for or pretty much neglected become adults. Jeannette Walls wrote her story in The Glass Castle and I can say that so far this year it is my top pick, no doubt about it. Jeannette grew up with an alcoholic dad, who made too many broken promises and a mother who thought working was giving up on her dream to become an artist. So they lived in willful poverty. Jeannette had three siblings and life was not easy. The dreams of their parents never seemed to materialize into anything that could get them enough food, a warm house or clothes. As much as it would have been daunting, even more than I care to know, to grow up hungry, cold, and neglected, Jeannette speaks in an honest voice and she never seemed to loving her mother and father. The Glass Castle is an incredible memoir of a life, and more importantly of perseverance, dreams and the heart to see things through.

The honesty of The Glass Castle is what rang the clearest, the voice of a girl while not enjoying her childhood the way it could (should) have been enjoyed, she made the best of it. A childhood filled with rotten food, the digging in the school's bathroom trash for leftover lunches, but what a woman those circumstances made! There is a conscious choice Jeannette makes over and over to try and believe that her parents have their best interests in mind, that they are trying, that they will make it, a choice to live on.

The writing is so beautiful. The voice is of a girl, now woman that is so strong, so stunning and yet so openly vulnerable that the reader feels completely engulfed in her life and in the outcome. I marvel, I have not been impressed like this for a while. If all I could do would be to tell any slightly interested reader:"Even if you don't think you'll like it, this is a must read!!! " That would be exactly what I would say. I hope you'll give it a try if you haven't, I didn't think I'd like it, since I usually have a hard time with non-fiction, it seems boring and slow, this was nothing like that...just pure beauty.

I wish I had a chance to talk to Jeannette Walls...anyone have any info?

Have you reviewed The Glass Castle? Put your link in a comment and I'll put it here.
SmallWorld Reads
Library Queue
The Book Nest

Enjoy this book trailer for The Glass Castle:

Monday, August 25, 2008

Deep in the Heart of Trouble The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Title:Deep in the Heart of Trouble
Author: Deeanne Gist
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Publisher Address: 11400 Hampshire Avenue South, Bloomington, Minnesota 55438
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0226-1, Price $13.99 Publication Date: 2008
Reviewed by Bethany L. Canfield for Reader Views (8/08)

Yearly count: 50

What is life worth if you don't get down and dirty? Well, as far as Essie is concerned, life that is not lived is not life at all. She is not content to sit and watch the men do the hard work, or ride bicycles, catch snakes, go fishing or own oil companies. She sets it clear from the start that she is a woman who does not have the need to fit into the social standards of that day. Deep in the Heart of Trouble is a historical romance novel that engaged me and kept me wanting more the whole way through. I have actually never read this genre before, but this book was a great introduction into the scene. I enjoyed the writing, simple and straightforward, not flowery and over dramatic at all. I felt the pace was speedier than expected in a historical romance novel.

Deeanne Gist does and excellent job with character development, each character becomes alive and feels like a whole person, not just a made-up one dimensional book being. Through the character development the reader is brought to trust, hope and enjoy each person described filling the pages of Deep in the Heart of Trouble with an honesty and sensitivity that will not be forgotten.

Life, morality, trust and integrity are traits that shine through the entire book, it is easy to be captivated by their luster.It is fully enjoyable to read a book that does not threaten my moral standpoints over and over. I wish there were more books out there like this, creative and captivating because of the writing and characters, and not the steamy sex scenes and over extended violence. This was pure joy to read, it really was.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

SuNdAY sALon- books I loved that I never thought I'd even like.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

I am currently reading "The Glass Castle" By Jeannette Walls. Oh, goodness I never even thought I 'd like this book and I can't stop with it. The voice is so strong. Many times memoirs are not exciting enough, and I tend to enjoy fiction because of it...this book has rocked my boat as far as non-fiction. I LOVE the kids in this book, they are strong, true, honest, and try to never give up hope in the parents that always let them down. For sure this is one of my best reads of the year. What are some books that you thought you just would have to plug through, but once you opened the cover you had never been so wrong? I know for sure that The Glass Castle for sure fits into that category. Have you read it?

Other reads this week:

my reviews:
Jackie Ormes: The First African American Woman Cartoonist



Here are the OT winners!
92. Beastmomma (Remembering Babylon--Australia)
156. Bart's Bookshelf (Persepolis - Iran)
127. raidergirl3(Out Stealing Horses - Norway)

Beastmomma gets to pick first, since I drew her name first, then Bart, and then raidergirl3 will get the third book. Also, I will need your addresses so click on the "email me" button beneath my header and send them to me :)
Congrats to you three!!! Way to read you all!

We now have 164 expeditions to places all around the world. Sit tight and I'll get another map up of our travels, and I will also post which nations we are missing just in case you'd like to help us fill up our map.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

the prizes for my OT Challene peeps! The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
We have a contest on now, for all of you Orbis Terrarum Challenge folks!!!
Here are the books I picked up today at the local used book store. I always buy used, hope that doesn't offend anyone. :)
I will pick my three winners on Saturday.
Ways to win:
1.) If you comment on this post you will get one more entry. Tell me if you have read and enjoyed these books, or not. They are all three books that I own, and have read good things about, but I haven't read them.

2.)Have you reviewed any of the three books above? Leave a comment with the link to your review and I will add another entry to your tally.

3.) Each of your reviews during the OT challenge that are added by SAT will also count. Go here to leave your international reviews!

Which do you own?

Orbis Terrarum Challengers: get ready!
(form of book display at Cairo International Book Fair)

Prepare yourself for another OT giveaway!! Put your links up on the link page
We are at 147 books we have read together and that is INCREDIBLE peoples! :)
So get your links up and for every link to a review you will have an entry. You have two days to get more links up, and I will select a winner on Saturday. Yeah, I don't know what the prize will be yet. For sure It will be a couple of good reads. I'll let you know by the end of the day.

Historical Romance?

I just finished these. They are not what I would usually read, but they were both really good. I loved From a Distance. I will put my reviews up shortly.

Have you read any Historical Romance?? What are some good titles I should pick up?

Monday, August 18, 2008

feeling pressure

I am feeling the pressure of my trigger happy self. Trigger happy as in clicking on the good 'ol mouse too much, therefore accepting and requesting too many books. I am treading water as I am gaining ARC's, RC's and joining too many book clubs, challenges and the like. I have been reading up a storm and will soon post more reviews of what I have been up to. I need to feel the
pile is a little more under control before spending time having fun, frolicking and gallivanting from blog to blog.

How are your piles doing?? Overwhelmed? or how are you able to control them...let me know if you have good pointers....always accepting help, for sure.