Tuesday, March 28, 2017

And the Trees Crept In

Rot. Decay. Death.

This book has them all in abundance.

Two girls who have run away from their abusive home in London arrive at their aunt's decrepit house, which is painted the color of blood. Said crazy aunt warns the girls about the Creeper Man, who lives in the woods, and as the years pass, the forest slowly encroaches on the house. Enveloping it. Devouring it.

The bottom floor rots away. Husks of dead insects cover the upper floor like a carpet. They are slowly starving to death, unable to leave the grounds to get food, and yet whenever they manage to get something in their bellies, it makes them sick. Their teeth rot, and fall out one by one.

This book is a great example of horror imagery and also a great example of the horror engine. Horror is supposed to make us uncomfortable. It's gross, and full of taboos and forces us to see how cruel and terrible and disgusting humanity and nature can really be. Dawn Kurtagich's writing style makes the reader uncomfortable because of its unconventionality., and the intentional vagueness of some of the references.

For example, we're given very little description of the Creeper Man. It would've been very tempting for the author/publisher to insert some kind of photo representation as a visual aide, but not knowing what he looks like exactly is scarier because it leaves it up to the reader's imagination to construct something. I imagine he looks like Slender Man, the creepypasta phenomenon:

Also, the narrator, the elder girl Silla, seems to be either talking to herself, or someone unnamed. Or maybe someone unnamed is talking to her:

"Cath is crazy. Why should I listen to her? [SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH THIS PLACE.] When [IF] Gowan comes back [YOU WILL DIE]."

There are ALOT of sentences like that in the book, and we don't know who the speaker of the all-caps words is.
And there's some kind of "flesh ball" that keeps rolling down the hallways and stairs. Silla doesn't describe it or explain it, just says that it sounds like a ball is bouncing, but a heavy one, like a ball made of flesh. And then it's pretty much up to us to imagine it.

Some readers might find this book frustrating because very little is described in detail (except the trees) and almost nothing is explained, but for a reader who is okay not knowing everything, there's plenty of horror to behold.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Before I Fall

I just finished another one of the books in my ILL pile. It's the first book I've read by author Lauren Oliver, and the movie was just released earlier this month, so I read it in the nick of time. 

Before I Fall is kind of a weird mash-up of Mean Girls and Groundhog Day and the YA novel If I Stay.

Samantha Kingston, called Sam, is a popular, pretty high-school senior. She's not the Queen Bee, that's her BFF Lindsay, but she's definitely elite. The last day of her life, isn't what she thought it'd be: a montage of all the greatest moments, but instead is like a play that's being shown again and again and again. When she wakes up after the accident, she relives that day over and over again. She already knows her lines, and she knows what other people are going to say and do, but by making different choices, she hopes that she can change fate.

Throughout her days of re-living, the reader gets glimpses into her life before she was highschool royalty, and also into the most secretive and intimate parts of her friends' lives.  

The story is well-written in that we see real character growth in Sam as she watches herself interact with all the people in her life that she took for granted, and we learn the back-stories of all these peripheral characters that she thought she had figured out (because teenagers have everything figured out, you know).

Now I'm going to have to watch the film so I can write a compare/contrast blog.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Quick Little Update

Well, I finished The Pact, the book I wrote about a few days ago. I actually finished it in about two days, but I wanted to write about Beauty and the Beast first. Now I need to find a new book to keep my personal Reading Without Walls challenge going.

I recommended the book to one of the teachers in my school, and she put it on request immediately; it's always a compliment when someone trusts your judgement in books.

Last weekend was St. Patrick's Day, and I watched my usual movies:


The first two films are rather somber; the first is obviously based on Frank McCourt's memoir of his childhood, and the second film reveals the abuses that occurred in the Magdalene Asylums that were run by an order of Catholic nuns. I wrote a blog post about it a couple years ago. The third movie is a silly one, a romantic comedy that stars Pierce Brosnan and Julianne Moore, about two lawyers who are oppositional in the courtroom, but have an undeniable attraction to each other outside of it. It's not exactly Adam's Rib, but it's fun to watch.

Since I finished The Pact, I moved on to one of the other ILL books that's been in my stack for a while. It's a horror story, told in a multi-media format. Aside from Winnie's narration, there are posters, and scripts for the  paranormal investigative TV show she's interning at. I like multi-media format novels, but something that's distracting me is the way that Winnie narrates in second person POV. She's writing to her friend LU, if not a formal letter then just in a conversational tone, and reading "You do this" and "You remember that" is hard for me to get into when it's supposed to be horror. I like my horror to be a voyeuristic experience: looking in on a separate story and watching the action unfold from my own seat. I don't really want to be "in" the story myself, so when the narrator keeps breaking the fourth wall by saying "you" (meaning me), it breaks my focus.

I'm going to keep plugging away at it, and see if I can get past that because it seems like the story is building up to something good.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Beauty and the Beast

Yesterday I went to go see the new Beauty and the Beast film. I've been waiting for this movie for a looooooooooong time- ever since the project was first announced. Before they even got around to casting. I figured I wouldn't be able to make it on opening day, but I had to go the first weekend it was out.

I enjoyed the film. But I don't think it will replace the animated one. I think of it more as a wonderful supplement to the 1991 movie.

Although the computer effects were pretty amazing, I did find myself a little distracted at times by them, thinking "Oh, thats looks a little too fake". For example, the Beast.

Since he was appearing alongside an actual actress for much of the film, the effects were noticeable because they weren't good enough to be 'real' but they were too good to be make-up and costume (remember that weird TV Beauty and the Beast series from the 80's?)

I thought the same thing when I watched the characters Mrs. Potts, Chip, Lumiere, and Cogsworth. 

But this film does have some benefits, especially for obsessed  passionate adults such as myself, and my friends, who have analyzed the 1991 movie over and over again.

It always bothered me in the movie that the rose was supposed to bloom until the Beast's 21st year- does that mean until he turns 21 years of age, or does it mean he has to spend 21 years as a beast? How old was the Prince when the enchantress put the spell on him? This film doesn't specify any number of years at all, using general references such as "long ago" instead, which works a lot better for people who tend to get caught up in details. Also, since we see the Prince before the he gets cursed, we see how old he was when he turns the beggar woman away.

The Beast's story gets fleshed out a little more- and the audience finds out what contributed to him becoming such a vain, spoiled young man. He also gets his own song, which is good for character development, but it reminded me ALOT of the song the Phantom of the Opera sings "Music of the Night." Of course this fairy tale has always been rather Gothic, with the mysterious man and the young innocent woman and the castle full of secrets, but seeing a more life-like version of the fairy tale really brings out the Gothic theme more than the cartoon could.

Another back story this film fills in concerns Belle's mother. The 1991 movie never mentions her, so I think most people just assume she's dead. Which isn't unusual, because the "dead mommy" is a long tradition in fairy/folk tales, and the stories we treasure are built around that basic story structure and character arc. So it's not exactly a mystery why Belle doesn't have a mother, especially because so many of the Disney characters lack them (it's not just the Princesses- Lilo and Nemo don't have mothers, either) but it's still interesting to see how the new movie explains it. 

I think that Emma Watson does a wonderful job in the leading role. Belle has always been in the newer generation of Princesses, who have more sass and spunk than Cinderella or Snow White, and this script makes her a little more feminist, and because it's Emma Watson, who is most well-known for playing a strong female character, it comes across as believable. 


Instead of just side-stepping Gaston's proposal, she flat out tells him :"I will never marry you." 

Instead of just telling the Beast she will stay in place of her father, she enters the cell, and pushes her father out, taking his place with determined force, and also promising him that she will escape, and not just accepting her fate.

Later, we see her attempt an escape, even before the infamous wolf fight.

Also, she doesn't seem to care what she's wearing. In the 1991 movie, when Belle returns to her sick father, she's back in her blue dress, so the audience assumes she took the time to change out of her billowing yellow ball gown to ride home to him. In this movie, we see her flee the castle in her yellow dress; she was so desperate to tend to her father she doesn't even worry about changing clothes. And later, when she  rides back off to the castle, she just abandons the dress altogether, because how are a girl supposed to help in a battle with layers and layers of silk and chiffon weighing her down?

One thing I have to confess is that whenever I see the library in Beauty and the Beast, I wonder about the logistics of it. How is it organized? Is it the Beast that organized it, or did he have his own librarian? If there there was a librarian, did he/she get transformed into an object like all the other castle staff? If I had a library like that, how would I organize it?

There's a deleted scene in the 1991 movie in which the Beast tells Belle that although he learned to read, he doesn't really remember how to anymore, and I always wondered what he spent his days doing if he wasn't reading. The new Beast shows Belle the library after he criticizes her choice of reading (she favors Romeo and Juliet), telling her that there are much better selections available. When she asks him if he's read all these books, he replies "Well not all of them, some of them are in Greek." It's always refreshing to see a well-read Beast.

So now I've got the movie on my mind. And also Gaston. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Reading Without Walls

We seem to have an issue with walls.

I'm not referring to the wall that divided voters- the one that that guy wants to build in our country.

I'm talking about walls we encounter, and also build, when we read.

Graphic novel author Gene Luen Yang was recently named the newest National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. It's a pretty fancy title, but what it boils down to is that he has been selected as an advocate for children's literature, and related matters such as literacy, education and improving the lives of   young people. if you want to read more about this honor, check out this article in School Library Journal.

I was lucky enough to attend a lecture of his back when I was in grad school, and he was one of the best speakers I saw during that conference. His story about how he got inspired to write Level Up was hilarious, and he's adorable in his unashamed geekiness for video games and graphic novels and technology. I am hoping to see him speak again next month in MA.

Not unlike the recent We Need Diverse Books movement, Yang is using his new platform to appeal to readers to read diversely. Not necessarily read about diversity, but read outside of our comfort zones. In his recent article in School Library Journal, he challenges readers to read: a book with a character who doesn't look or live like you, a book about a topic you don't know much about, a book in a format you don't usually read for fun.

It just so happens that one of my current reads does work with this challenge. This book is about three men who all came from the same city in New Jersey, where drugs and gangs and welfare reign, and all became doctors. One is an internist, one is an ER physician, and the third man is a dentist.

I first found out about this book a year or so ago, when one of the 8th grade boys was reading it. He wanted to find some books with similar stories, about boys who overcome challenging circumstances and make successes of themselves. 

These 'characters' (although this is a non-fiction title) certainly don't look like me, and I never lived in a poor area of a city, and I never went to dental or medical school. In fact, the book begins with George Jenkins writing about how he first became interested in becoming a dentist while he was a child, and that's certainly something I cannot relate to.

I just started it, so I can't write much about it, but it was easy to get into. Although I really can't relate to the characters' lives or struggles or dreams, I do love books where people triumph over adversity.

To anyone reading this post- I challenge you to read a book without your usual walls. Find a different genre, topic, or format than you're comfortable with, and just give it a try. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Violent Ends

I read this book in one day. It's 338 pages, and the story is intense, obviously because any story about a school shooting can't not be intense. But it was so well-written.

Not too long ago I read This Is Where It Ends, which relays a school shooting scenario from various points of view over the course of the day. I had alot of trouble getting into the book though, and the constant jumping around to different characters' POV's was distracting to me. This book also has various characters narrating the story, but each character narrates just one chapter- there's no jumping around.

A few things set this book apart from similar ones I've read: one is that this was not written by a single author. In fact, seventeen different YA authors contributed to this novel, each author developing one character that narrates a chapter. It came together seamlessly though, and I kept forgetting that multiple authors were responsible for creating the story. Definitely a fantastic example of collaborative work.

One chapter that was a little different than the authors is the chapter narrated by the gun itself. I've never read a story like this, with such a grim and realistic plot, that utilizes the POV of a personified object. It requires the reader to indulge in a bit of fantasy (because obviously the gun can't really talk or have memories); it's a bit risky on the author's part because if it disrupts the reader too much, it might alienate him/her. But the chapter works because it did provide some exposition and some insight that we would not be privilege to otherwise.

Lastly, even though there are seventeen characters narrating the story, the shooter is not one of them. Kirby, that's his name, does appear in each chapter, but he does not have his own chapter. Thus, we are never told directly why he chose to do what he did, what led him to it, or why he singled out the people he did. We can only make suppositions based on what the other characters have said.

If a reader is looking for a novel on this topic, this is one of the better ones I've read. But I'd also recommend it for other more general purposes like the collaborative quality, the personification of the gun as a narrative tool, and other instances of strong writing. One of the chapters had a great surprise at the end, and I had no idea who the character was until the very last page, but I don't want to spoil it.

I'm glad I had this novel yesterday while I was trapped inside on a snow day.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Women in the Walls

Since I enjoyed Daughters Unto Devils so much, I was excited to read another book by Amy Lukavics. This one is is not set in a historical time period, but it still involves some of the same elements as the first book. A house which contains some sort of evil presence that's not really understood, and women who lose their minds. 

In fact, this book includes one of my favorite ideas in literature/literary criticism: the mad woman in the attic.

No, not that one.

The mad woman in the attic is something I've written about before; sometimes it's metaphorical and sometimes it's literal. In The Women in the Walls, Lucy's sister Margaret begins spending alot of time in the attic, insisting that she can hear her mother (who is missing, presumed dead) up there. Eventually, Lucy also begins hearing voices and starts wondering if she's going mad.

I admit that this story didn't hold my attention as consistently as Daughters; there would be some lulls in the action where I started to get annoyed at the bratty cousins. But, then something would happen that's really disturbing or grotesque, and my attention would be piqued again. Lukavics has a wonderfully twisted imagination, and she concocts some truly horrifying images in her stories.

SPOILER: There's something truly disturbing about finding a jar of old teeth.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Celebrate Weird Stuff!

Last Friday, I was reading a short story aloud to my 5th graders. It's by Patrick Carman (author of the Skeleton Creek series) and it's included in the Guys Read collection, volume 2 (Thriller stories). The story, called "Ghost Vision Glasses" is about a boy who loves weird stuff. He collects it, which is why he decides to spend $10 on some ghost-vision glasses that are advertised in the back of an old comic book. After we were done reading for the day, I talked to them a little and confessed that I am also a lover of weird stuff. This wasn't news to them, because they all see the 'creepy' dolls that I bring into the library.

I love weird stuff. My house is full of weird stuff. In the non-winter seasons, my yard is also full of weird stuff.  The weird is what makes us unique. I admit that I get self-conscious sometimes when someone who has never been to my house before comes over for the first time, but chances are, if I have invited that person over, it's because I trust them enough to let them into my weird little world. I'm very particular about whom I invite over because someone who doesn't appreciate the weird might mock the hand-made windchimes and dreamcatchers, or ask why none of my dishes match each other, or see the armless teddy-bear as garbage.

I made this bowl out of an old globe. I had already split the globe in half because I was thinking of making a light out of the top half, and then the little ceramic pedestal thingy was a roadside find and they just kind of went together. The inside of the bowl is decoupaged with old pages from a copy of Little Women (that the rabbit chewed up a few years ago). 

I found this old 45 record at the Goodwill outlet. The song title is Coffee and Tea, so it only seemed natural to put it in the pantry  next to the coffee and tea canisters.

And I just made this little placard. It was a wooden key holder- I removed all the little hooks, attached the picture of the Immaculate Heart. My son broke a dish a while back, and I saved the pieces in case I wanted to use them in a mosaic, so the piece make up the border. And then I still had a few magnetic poetry words leftover from a previous Goodwill find, so I used a couple to spell out "You are Good" in the center.

I made these wedding cake toppers for my friend who recently got engaged. The dino's are from Dollar Tree. I made the groom's top hat myself, and the bride wears a white lace veil and carries a bouquet in one paw, and a champagne flute in the other. I love having friends that love weird stuff.

Weird stuff makes me happy.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Loving vs. Virginia

This is another one of my recent ILL requests- I have a huge stack of books from other libraries so I've been reading like mad to reduce the size of it. I was in a bit of a rut when it came to historical fiction/non-fiction history and this was a good one to pull me out of it.

The novel is told in free verse from the perspectives of Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving. Mildred and Richard were a real-life couple who grew up together, fell in love as teens, and had children together. In the 1950's, people who had children together were expected to be married; however, because of the colors of their skin, they were forbidden to marry. They snuck away to Washington DC to marry, but not long after they arrived back home, they were arrested and jailed. The law against interracial marriages was intended to keep races from mixing and "[white] blood from being corrupted", but clearly the law did not accomplish that purpose since Richard and Mildred had three children together.

The landmark decision by the Supreme Court in 1967 ruled in favor of the couple, allowing them to return to their home state and also ending the ban on interracial marriages in other states.

The book has photographs from the era and illustrations depicting young Mildred and Richard. One thing that I loved about this book is that it does communicate the significance of the case in regard to civil rights, but it's still written as a romance. The illustrations definitely contribute to the mood:

Years ago when I was teaching college classes in Maryland, I had the privilege of teaching two older gentlemen who had faced the same predicament. Both of the men were black, and both had chosen to marry white women, even though at that time the state of Maryland did not recognize interracial marriages. I was shocked that I was talking to two people who had faced such a specific type of discrimination because in my lifetime, I had only encountered scenarios like that in history books. And although these men were older than I, they weren't ancient. I wasn't talking to some elderly, stooped over men whose grandparents had been slaves; I was talking to two middle-aged men. They weren't freedom riders or activists; they were just ordinary people who had also chosen to break a law that upheld an ignorant belief. 

Both of them were still happily married.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Harmony House

Yesterday a book came through in our ILL bag that was supposed to go back to the high school, but as soon as I saw it, I needed to check it out to myself.

I just finished Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics, and this book was a great follow up. It has the same central theme of pregnancies and the Devil/demons, so I kind of forgot that this book was by a different author.

Harmony House has a great assortment of horror staples: Gothic house, suicides, evil priest and nuns, an institute that's abusive to those under its care (like orphanages, asylums, in this case it's a home for unwed mothers), and some kind of evil presence that's not quite understood by seemes to be the Devil or demons. The protagonist is seventeen year old Jen, who moves to the house with her father to be caretakers following the death of her mother. Based on that descriptor, you might expect a Casper type scenario, you know the 1995 film starring young Christina Ricci and a delightful, fatherly Bill Pullman:

But Jen's father Anselm is not nearly as charming or likable as Dr. Harvey; he's a religious fanatic with a dark connection to the house. He cares more about "saving her soul" rather than helping her heal or trying to find some happiness in her new town, and Jen clearly has very little sentiment for her father, frequently calling him a barrage of unflattering names in her head and under her breath. Truthfully, I did tire a little of her constant swearing, not because it offended me, just because after a while it didn't seem necessary. The character was already established as a cynical, jaded teenager and her thoughts about her father and his beliefs were also already clear.

This is another horror book that I read in a single day- yesterday evening I read more than half of it, and then around 3:00 this morning I woke up and couldn't get back to sleep, so I ended up finishing it. I looked the author up, and found out that this is his first horror novel, which disappointed me a little because I thought I'd have more of his books to look forward to, but this was definitely worth a day of reading.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Lampshade Chandy

I had this ugly lampshade kickin' around my house for a couple months. It was a roadside find, and I never turn down lampshades because they can be used for so many things. It was covered in hot pink and orange print fabric, so it didn't match anything in my house. I knew it wasn't going to stay like that.

I browsed around online for a little bit, trying to find some inspiration, and even though I told myself I wouldn't do another windchime/chandelier thing, I saw one that I loved:

I decided to do my own version of this. First, I removed the ugly colored fabric from the shade. Then, I cut it into thin strips and wrapped it around the metal frame. It looked much better when the color was contained that way, and not giant walls of garrish satiny fabric. I also used a couple of pieces of  aqua and white/aqua fabric from my stash to complement the orange and pink.

Then, I just started adding stuff. A birdcage candle-holder that I've had forever got a new coat of pink spray paint, a felted bird that I originally bought for a wedding decoration, and a bunch of other things from my stash are suspended with different colors of ribbon. The felt hearts were 90% off because they were Valentine's leftovers. And the chandelier ended up with a library theme because I found a pack of library themed ephemera on clearance at Hobby Lobby.

I'll probably keep adding stuff to it, but I like the way it's looking right now:

Monday, March 6, 2017

Little House on the Prairie, but with Demons

This book was sooooooooooooooooooo gooooooooood. I read it in a single day, because I couldn't stop reading it. I had to find out what was going to happen.

Amanda lives in cabin on the mountain with her parents and siblings. After a very harsh winter that confined them inside the house for three months, and complicated her Ma's pregnancy, and thus her sister being born blind and deaf, she suffered an episode of madness. Now she is convinced that the madness was a demon entering her.

At first this book reads kind of like Little House on the Prairie, but with a protagonist who is very cynical and very sinful, as evidenced by her affair with the post boy and her despairing thoughts about her infant sister.

But as the plot thickens and the action picks up, the real horror, which gets pretty grisly (think children's heads sewn onto scarecrows and pigs eating people alive) keeps the pages turning furiously.

Definitely a solid read for horror fans. I'm glad I already have her other book The Women in the Walls, to dive into next.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Hail, Mary

I just finished my second book by author Beverly Donofrio. I'm a big fan of the movie that's based on her 1992 book, Riding in Cars with Boys, and I read that book last summer. I liked it, but it didn't really dawn on me to read her other books until I saw one at a thrift store. The cover caught my attention, and then I realized who the author was. I should have bought it then,  but for some reason I didn't. It's been on my mind ever since though, and one day I finally thought to put it on hold. It arrived last week, so as soon as I finished The Handmaid's Tale I dove into Looking for Mary (or, the Blessed Mother and Me).

This book recounts her personal journey rediscovering a religious icon after decades spent renouncing Catholicism. At first, Donofrio started collecting Virgin Mary pictures and statues because they're kitschy and because she delights in the irony of a lapsed Catholic girl such as herself housing them. But it becomes more than a few casual purchases at tag sales; she starts hunting for them in earnest and making her home a virtual shrine. One of her neighbors remarks on her Mary cathexis, and that's when she realizes how much time and energy she has invested in an idea which appeals to her and mystifies her.

So she sets out to learn more about the Blessed Mother. She talks to everyone who has directly or indirectly influenced her religious upbringing, priests and visionaries to her own mother, and first completed a documentary for NPR. She documents her pilgrimage to the holy city of  Medjugorje, where Mary is said to begun appearing regularly in 1981.

At first, Donofrio is comforted by the symbolism represented in renderings of the Immaculate Heart: the flames represent passion, the sword represents pain, and the roses represent joy and beauty, while her heart itself is the symbol of her motherhood. 

Interpreting the symbol in that basic way, I can fully understand how Mary and her life and significance could draw any woman in. Everyone, particularly any mother, experiences times of passion, pain and joy, sometimes simultaneously. The birthing process is the perfect example of how such sensations co-exist.

I remember my great-grandmother, a very devout Catholic, had two huge paintings in her bedroom; one was of the Sacred Heart and the other was of the Immaculate Heart. I always thought the Sacred Heart was scary looking, with the thorns encircling his burning heart. Mary's heart was also spouting flames, but her face was so serene and the roses were so reassuring- even as a young child I understood on some level that while a heart on fire was painful, that the flowers were meant to somehow soothe that pain. 

A couple of years ago I acquired one of those porcelain Mary night lights, the kind that are often sold in church shops. They're simple and undetailed, and a small light bulb gets inserted in the middle. The light I acquired didn't have the cord or the bulb fixture anymore, so it was basically just a small bust or Mary.

I loved her crown of delicate pink blossoms, and the way she cradled another one in her hands, lovingly looking down at it, so it only seemed natural to place her in the garden where she could be among the flowers:

Maybe I'll look for more renderings of Mary, now that I've learned more about her and what she represents.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Handmaid's Tale

Last night I finished The Handmaid's Tale. I wanted to read it because next month Hulu is going to be streaming a series based on the book.

I wasn't too surprised to find that out; the buzz among librarians is that there's been a huge upswing in patrons requesting the classics of the dystopian genre. Books like Handmaid, 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 are getting a new surge in readership. I guess because of our current political situation, there are a lot of people feeling disillusioned. This is just another example of how libraries can be a great support to people in need.

I'm excited to watch the show next month because it stars Elisabeth Moss as the the protagonist, Offred. Of course Moss is most well known now for her Mad Men character Peggy, and I think the same naivete that made us fall in love with that character, and share in her victories as she developed into a much stronger, dynamic presence on the show will work the same way for viewers of the series.

The text can be a little confusing at time because Offred's narration jumps from her present situation as a concubine/potential surrogate mother, to her time at the Red Center, where she learned the duties of handmaids, to the time before, when she had a husband and a daughter.

It's kind of fun to pick out the references to modern times: at an underground club, one of the women who works there is dressed in a black bodice with rabbit ears on, and Offred notices that one of the ears is 'broken', flopped halfway down (like the Playboy bunny symbol) so the reader assumes that this costume has somehow survived the raids and burnings, but it's been so long since women were permitted to display any sexuality that everyone has forgotten what it once meant.

It's like someone put Hawthorne's ` The Scarlet Letter in a blender, added a bottle of dystopia, and then mixed them together.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

My first private art sale!

This afternoon I have to go take down my artwork from Dos Amigos. It was kind of cool, being able to sit in there and eat fish tacos while seeing my own stuff up on the wall. The best part is that someone contacted me wanting to purchase one of the pieces. I didn't expect to sell anything, but she told me she loved the collage of the bride, and she wanted to buy it as a gift for her friend, who just got engaged. She said the picture was "just her style."

It was such a nice reason for wanting to buy a piece of art, that I couldn't refuse. She offered me $25 for this collage, which I did a couple years ago. The picture of the bride is from a vintage magazine. She was lovely on her own, but I embellished her just a little bit: lace scraps and some type of cast off jewelry piece for her veil, purple flowers for her bouquet along with a lone dangly earring, and a broken stud earring for her diamond ring. Very simple touches, but they look very classic all together.

So although I will miss seeing this little picture in my upstairs hallway, I know I sold it for a good reason and I hope the new owner enjoys it.

Last summer I donated a couple of pieces to a UNH charity art sale, and I felt pretty great when they were bought, but this is the first time I've had someone approach me privately about buying something I created.

It's pretty cool!