from Tree Light Books

from Tree Light Books

Susan Salverio, author of Selections From The Murder Book, has solidified herself as a master or morbidity. This collection of creepy poetry stalks both the murderer and the victim; it’s full of death and darkness, but the images are so thick with brilliant language Selections From The Murder Book becomes almost impossible to set down.

The cover of this chapbook features a diagram of the human body being peeled of its skin and serves as a spoiler for the poetry inside. The poems in this chapbook will shock you as they are full of unsettling biological information, dissection, and murder.

I wouldn’t recommend it if you get queasy easily.

The textured language in this chapbook will make you squirm but  the exceptional poetry you’ll find inside is well worth the frightening journey. Due to the subject of the chapbook, I was impressed by Salverio’s ability to avoid cliché concepts and keep her poems fresh and exciting.

Her acute awareness regarding how form and concept complement one another is unmatched in any chapbook I have ever come across.

I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first picked up this chapbook, but the way the poems are set up (the book is divided into two parts) and the mix of form Salverio used instantly won me over. I read the entire thing in one sitting and several times over again.

If you’re looking for a dark and fascinating journey into the combined worlds of horror and murder mystery, Selections From the Murder Book, is the chapbook for you. Slaverio’s work is grotesque and brilliant. A must read.

Selections From The Murder Book, published by Tree Light Books, may be purchased here.

It should be pretty obvious from the title of this blog that I believe reading is an essential part of life. However, I am aware that not everyone else thinks this way. And that’s okay. I’m merely here to offer a suggestion. If you never read anything else in your entire life, you should at least read the eight novels featured on this list; and I’m going to tell you why.

8

  • To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee– To Kill a Mockingbird is a rare American novel that can be discovered over and over again without fear of the story getting old. Written in 1960, Harper Lee’s book is still whispering secrets about race, tolerance, justice, family, loyalty, innocence, ethics and values. These issues ring out as sharply to us today as they did to Harper in 1960. Love it or hate, you’ll respond to it. You will be challenged and changed by To Kill a Mockingbird like no other book you will ever read.
  • On the Road, by Jack Kerouac– On the Road chronicles Kerouac’s years traveling across North America. His love of America, compassion, and sense of language make this novel and its quest for self-knowledge and experience an inspirational work of lasting importance. This classic novel of longing and freedom will inspire anyone who reads it to seek a remedy for their wanderlust and quit wasting their life with what-ifs. If you’ve never had the guts to go for it, whatever it may be, you will after reading On the Road.
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll– This book inaugurated a new era of (children’s) literature in English: books that didn’t have to be moralistic or didactic or teach a lesson. Books that created imaginative worlds that let the mind run free. But, you may be asking, why should I care? If you’ve ever felt misplaced, as though you didn’t  belong, or as if there are rules in the world but not everyone follows the same set, or have ever been thankful that not every book you read has a moral at the end, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is for you.  A healthy imagination is essential to a happy life.
  • If on a winter’s night a traveler, by Italo Calvino– At it’s core, If on a winter’s night a traveler is a book about the pleasure of reading. By working your way through the story (which is told in the second person) you become much more aware of that part of you that likes to read–or not read–and why. This is a story that is weird; it’s literary experimentation, but it’s genius. It’s difficult to read at times but this text is full of masterful examples regarding how to write and read. Essentially, it’s a story about you.
  • The Catcher in the Rye, by JD Salinger– This is the coming of age story of all coming of age stories. The Catcher in the Rye is one of the most controversial works of fiction ever published. That right there is exactly why you should read it. Personally, it’s one of my favorites but nothing I say here can help you form your own opinion of Salinger’s novel. That’s something you have to figure out for yourself. However, I can promise you that you will regret it if you never read it.
  • The Great Gatsby, by F Scott Fitzgerald– The strangest thing about The Great Gatsby is that it’s a book almost without a protagonist. Sure, Nick tells the story, but he isn’t much more than that–a storyteller. It isn’t made any lesser for apparent flaws such as these, or the flimsiness of the plot. In fact, the genius of the this novel is the tension between Nick’s storytelling and Gatsby’s myths. Fitzgerald’s novel is a cautionary tale of the American dream that every American must read.
  • Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad– Conrad’s novella is an intense and suspenseful journey into the disturbed psyches of an ivory trader in the Congo and a British ship captain. Conrad exposes the racist, greedy nature of imperialism. This is a powerful work full of psychological reflection and it is dense with symbolism and complex themes. Conrad believed that evil lies in every man and constant, unsparing efforts have to be made to keep it from taking over control. It seems difficult to interpret this context of evil. But on my part, I want to believe that we are more likely to fall victim to our own follies. The last words of the book send a chill down the spine and make one wonder how helpless a man can become in the trap of his own vice. The only way to evade this cage is to keep guard of one’s thoughts and to cling to the values of good. 
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway– A war story without heroes or villains, full of hollow victories and rage against the bureaucracy of war and what people under pressure can be forced to do, filled with some very good meditations on killing and war and love, and the importance of acting beyond personal gain, For Whom the Bell Tolls is a must-read. Nothing is black and white and Hemingway teaches this important less in a way that only he can. 

If you never read anything else in your life, you’ll be a better person for reading the eight novels on this list. Who knows, you might learn something new or breathe life into a dormant passion for reading.

 

Family Life: A Novel
by Akhil Sharma 

from Google Images

from Google Images

 

Family Life charts the life of young Ajay Mishra as he struggles to grow up in a family that has been disoriented by a move from India to America and rocked to the core by tragic loss. It is also a story about Ajay’s parents, whose response to the grief they have encountered leaves them unable to care for the child as they should.

Right before you begin reading this book you’ll get the feeling that you’re in for one heck of a ride—similar to that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach before the roller coaster starts moving. Before I even opened the pages of this book I had a feeling that something breathtaking was going to happen. Some people may chalk this up to the publisher tweeting,

The end is going to make your jaw drop

but I like to think it was my keen reader’s intuition.

Akhil Sharma’s semi-autographical book transcends the experience of immigration to America. This is a story of universal tragedy and triumph of the human experience. And Sharma manages to portray all of this with a swaying rhythm and simple, yet carefully detailed prose.

When we first meet the Mishra family they are a young, middle-class bunch living in Dehli. Ajay and his older brother Birju are happy, their mother is content, and their father longs for something more for his family. Under Mr. Mishra’s guidance the family immigrates to America. At the beginning, the young family seems to find good luck and happiness in the new world, but they are soon met with an irreparable tragedy. The fire of this tragedy brings out the impurities of character and morality and each member of the Mishra family is forced to fight their demons and do so alone.

I’m not going to give it away and tell you what happens; I hope you’ll read it instead! But I can tell you that you will be mesmerized by Sharma’s writing skill. You will experience joy, pain, love, heart-break, anger, sadness, and just about any other emotion you can expect to conjure while reading such a powerful book.

Family Life is a masterpiece that has been skillfully created by the hands of a literary artist. It easily obtains five out of five stars and I highly recommend it.

from: Google Images

from: Google Images

Poetry is essential to good human living. For centuries, people have relied on poetry to help them understand the world around them, convey emotions, and mold the world into shape. Writing poetry allows you to put language to use by sketching your life onto the page using metaphor, imagery, and symbolic language. It teaches us how to speak and listen carefully, and it builds resilience; a well-crafted phrase or two in a poem can help us see the world in an entirely new light.

Poetry is filled with rhythm, sounds, and beats. It is the most kinesthetic of all literature. Poetry is physical and full-bodied; it activates your heart and soul. It’s no wonder that the entire month of April has been annually dedicated to poetry since the Academy of American Poets created National Poetry Month in 1996.

According to Poets.org the goals of National Poetry Month are to:

  • Highlight the extraordinary legacy and ongoing achievement of American poets
  • Introduce more Americans to the pleasures of reading poetry
  • Bring poets and poetry to the public in immediate and innovative ways
  • Make poetry a more important part of the school curriculum
  • Increase the attention paid to poetry by national and local media
  • Encourage increased publication, distribution, and sales of poetry books
  • Increase public and private philanthropic support for poets and poetry

Most bloggers participate in National Poetry Month through some form of writing challenge. However, I’m running a book review blog here so you should expect a little something different. I’m a poet myself and I will be participating in National Poetry Month by writing a poem a day (April 1st to April 30th) but I would also like to issue a new set of challenges for readers to choose from.

“…When people say that poetry is a luxury, or an option, or for the educated middle classes, or that it shouldn’t be read in school because it is irrelevant, or any of the strange and stupid things that are said about poetry and its place in our lives, I suspect that the people doing the saying have had things pretty easy. A tough life needs a tough language – and that is what poetry is. That is what literature offers — a language powerful enough to say how it is. It isn’t a hiding place. It is a finding place.” –Jeanette Winterson

This month I would like to challenge you to read more poetry and tell me about your experiences through comments on this post. I have compiled a list of several fun challenges to get you better acquainted with poetry (if you’re unfamiliar) and open up your mind to a brand new world.

National Poetry Month Challenges:

  • Read one poem per day—Reading one poem per day is a super easy place to start if you have never read poetry before, feel that it’s boring, or feel that you have difficulty understanding it. You can go online to one of the literal thousands of literary journals available on the internet and check out their poetry submissions; PANK, Birdfeast, and ILK are some of my personal favorites. Or you could purchase a chapbook (a book of poetry usually containing 15-40 poems) and read one poem per day from the chapbook. Thrush Press, Redbird Chapbooks, and Black Lawrence Press are some great places to find breathtaking poetry chapbooks. The chapbook I reviewed this week, All The Heat We Could Carry is a fantastic read.
  • Read 1-2 books of poetry during the month of April—I would recommend Mountain Redemption  by Nick McRae or The Principle Agent by Sarah Suzor as these are some of my more recent favorites.
  • Read and write one poem per day—I had a professor in college tell me that if I ever wanted to do something great with my poetry I had to read poetry that was not mine and write poetry that is.

Now, those aren’t so hard are they? Pick one and get started!

When you bring poetry into your life, don’t analyze it. Don’t try to make some grand meaning of it either. Just read it. Look for poems that wake you up and assault your emotions. Find the poems that communicate with the deepest part of your and forget the rest. The rest will come later.

Happy reading!

 

All the Heat We Could Carry, poems by Charlie Bondhus.
Winner of the 2013 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award
ISBN: 978-1-59948-436-5
r1

Winner of the 2013 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award, Charlie Bondhus’ All the Heat We Could Carry is a meditation on war, the effects of war, and in particular, the effects of war on gay soldiers. There is also a significant focus placed on the endless war in Afghanistan.

Granted, this doesn’t qualify as “typical” reading material for me, but as soon as I read this stanza from the poem titled “Homecoming” I was hooked (as many other readers were):

We went to the bedroom
to tend to your body, starved
from fifteen months of hard living.
I smelled chemicals, felt shrapnel’s grit,
saw your burns.
You told me about the sliver
of metal lodged in your right calf,
bone deep, inextractable, that would not
affect your ability to walk or sit
but would always be there, much in the same
way there will always be war
someplace, impinging on our lives.

This stanza in particular reveals an almost unexpected compilation of language you will find used throughout the book. The lines are smooth, the emotions are raw, and the sweat on the page is real. The dual meaning behind each poem throughout the book is beautifully complex. This is the work of a master poet.

The shifting scenes from being at home in America to war overseas and back again in these poems seem to expose the mindset and the emotions of the soldier. It’s quite obvious he is conflicted over the strangeness of war and the familiar, yet no less alien environment at home.

The most riveting poems in the book are set deep in the midst of war: “Morning After First Kill,” “Falling Asleep In Combat,” and “Putting A Body Into A Bag,” are some of the most beautifully violent poems I have ever read. The intertwined tenderness and violence of the words that make up these poems are so gut-wrenching you can’t help but want to read them over and over again.

The next-to-last poem in All the Heat We Could Carry sums up the entire tragedy of war and the experience of the solider—gay or straight—in these few lines:

Don’t think that
I’m going back for the U.S.A.
I love America but nobody’s died for it
since 1945.
These days we’re dying
for the benefits; we’re dying for the adventure;
we’re dying for the chance
to make someone else die;
we’re dying because we’re no longer moved
by movies and video games; we’re dying because our parents
said work, school, or the military; we’re dying
because we don’t know who we are so,
like prophets of the Old Testament,
we go to the desert to hear a voice;
we’re dying to prove that we can die better
than anyone else; we’re dying to be told
that we are good; most of all, we’re dying
because we’re not sure
what else to do with ourselves.

All in all I would give All the Heat We Could Carry 5 out of 5 stars all the way around. The language, depth, and entertainment of the poems are nothing short of phenomenal. If you haven’t read Charlie Bondhus’ masterpiece yet, you’re really missing out.

Welcome to my little corner of the blogging world!

Gimme! Books has been established as a blog that will soon be filled with book reviews that will hopefully inspire anyone who stumbles upon it to dedicate a little extra time each day between the pages of a good book. (There will also be fun tips, helpful lists, and exciting challenges scattered throughout.) Reading is an adventure for the mind, body, and soul and I think it’s a shame that so many people miss out on such an opportunity. Even if you don’t read now, all it will take is one good book and you’ll be hooked for life.

My goal for this blog is to share the joys of reading with anyone I possibly can and read countless engaging, exciting, and inspiring books along the way. I hope to spark interests and new friendships, delve deep into thought provoking conversations, and I intend to have fun throughout the entire journey. Mama always said you can’t go wrong doing what you love and it just so happens that I love to read and write.

I will soon being publishing every Tuesday and Thursday and intend to stick to that schedule with consistency.

I have several reviews of books that I have read in preparation for the launch of this site ready to go and I can’t wait to share them with you! In the meantime, you can keep up with what I’m reading for a batch of reviews in May under the My Bookshelf page.

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