Sunday, September 2, 2012

Reading, poetry self-help column and diversions

Since I've been working too much and creating too little lately, I wanted to inspire myself now that the BIG freelance job is over (sounds of cheering).

I bought a paperback of Ted Kooser's The Poetry Home Repair Manual. So far, I like it. He explains clearly, based on a lifetime of writing and teaching. For instance Kooser says he may revise a poem up to 40 times "to revise toward clarity and freshness, and I hope that after I have labored over my poems for many hours they look as if they'd been dashed off in a few minutes, the way good watercolor paintings look." More to add when I finish the book.

I took out Mary Oliver's Rules for the Dance from the library. She covers prosody just perfectly and has a short but lovely collection of older classic poems to illustrate her points.
And just in case you think I've stopped reading my usual YA fantasy books, here are 3 quick reviews:

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen: first in a trilogy, a group of orphan boys are secretly trained to impersonate the lost prince. I found it totally engaging, the narrator Sage is clever and mischievous, and faced with awful choices if he wishes to survive, for only one boy can claim the throne. Engrossing, went on a bit too long in spots. The climax no surprise. I'd give this one an A-

Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl. Kindle has kept this fan waiting 10 years for her next book and this is a Jane Austen homage using a Pride and Prejudice meets Emma as an armature. It is funny, lively, and not very true to the historic period, but hey, it is a fine diversion. I loved the first person narrator Althea who must force herself to marry a wealthy man in order to literally keep the roof over her head. She is in fine form when it comes to manipulating her stingy and heartless step-sisters who jealously hold the purse-strings since they inherited all the wealth. At times the 21st century poked through too much, but it was amusing all the way. I laughed out loud. B+

Cinder by Marissa Meyer. Cyborg Cinderella in a dystopia that faces plague and possible invasion from the nasty folks on the moon. I know it sounds nuts—in a Flash Gordon way—but this is a delightful revamping of the familiar fairy tale. The partially human heroine is a mechanic and must obey the whims of her stepmother in a society that disenfranchises cyborgs (and augmented humans). At times the plot seemed to take too long and some of the secondary characters are under developed. We feel for our plucky self-abasing Cinder. More books to follow and I am hopeful this author will improve, this was fun, original, and I look forward to the next installment. B+

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