Monday, July 29, 2013

Seeds: One Man's Serendipitous Journey To Find The Trees That Inspired Famous American Writers. . .

Seeds: One Man's Serendipitous Journey To Find The Trees That Inspired Famous American Writers From Faulkner to Kerouac, Welty to Wharton by Richard Horan made its way into my sights thanks to Barnes and Noble placing many of their books on sale. This was one and the title caught my eye. As a lover of nature and literature alike, I was of course curious to find out what this man's ideas were, and for less than $2.99 I was willing to find out.

Horan got the crazy notion to travel around the US and collect seeds from trees that may have inspired great minds. Going to the homes of authors he found trees that had been there long enough to witness these materminds at work. So he gathered seeds about these trees and took them home to germinate them in the hopes of giving them as gifts. I have to admit, I would love to have a tree in my front yard that was the progeny of one of the trees lining the path in the woods that was less traveled (Frost). It would be a great source of inspiration when writing my own works, I believe. So  I found this tale a unique one.

This was also the first book I began reading on my vacation to California, one that was not on any reading list I had planned at the beginning of the year, and was therefore a nice break from what I was already working on. It did a great job of taking me away from the monotony of series books and classics, as well as being an interesting non-fiction. I think it was perfect for the drive nearly across country and I am so glad that I took the time tor ead it.

All that being said let me point out one thing I should mention. While the book has a very obvious story to tell, I did find it a little directionless. Yes the author had no set order or pattern by which to collect the seeds, that is not the point. It was that there was no real resolution. In the end he was finally able to find a little help with his project but even that made no real ending to this journey of seeds. So if you are one who has to have a set ending or finale to a tle, then perhaps you shouldn't read this one. But if you can overlook that one liitle thing, I think anyone can enjoy this unique tale of writing and nature.

If you were to take a trip to gather seeds from trees that have witnessed greatness, who would be on your list? Terry Brooks, Abraham Lincoln, Maggie Smith, and Alan Alda would probably be at the top of my list. Let me know who would be on yours, and if you have read the book tell me what you thought of it!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Blood Roses


I always find myself turning to Francesca Lia Block when I need something short, sweet, dark, captivating, untold, to distract me from my usual reading list. I discovered her work while I was still in middle school and never has she failed to deliver any of these traits in her books. She is a very unique voice that reaches out tot he sadder side of women and lets them know it is alright to feel this way, and there is still hope for love out there.

Blood Roses is a collection of 9 short stories (which Block does best) about women that resemble more of a leaf in a windstorm than one of Jane Austen's heroines. Another unique aspect of the tales, they are all interconnected so that with each story you still get something of previous characters you may have felt drawn to, while still discovering someone new to like. Block is gifted at this lacing together of stories and characters, the world is a small place after all.


Roses and Bones is another collection of tales by Block, this one proclaiming to be myths, tales, and secrets. Another example of the kind of work Block is known for: retellings of stories that we are used to, only she has a habit of looking to the darker elements and drawing them out for everyone else to see. I was once more drawn to the work in search of those darker elements and was not dissappointed by the beautiful stories.

I encourage anyone looking for a little more from their reading to take a look at Block. Within her work you will find characters people generally veer away from with ending that may be a bit less than happy and bright. But they are wonderful stories nonetheless. Have you read Block before? What did you think?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Last Dickens


The Last Dickens by Matthew Pearl is the story of Dickens' last novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and the events that enfolded when it was discovered that Dickens had died before completing the novel. Publisher James Osgood sails to London to discover if there had been anything to hint at how Dickens had intended to end the story in an effort to save his publishing company at a time when there was no copyright law in America. What James, and his assistant Rebecca, find is far from what he expected as he is pulled into a tangled web of secrets and opium through which Dickens himself had traveled in an effort to get a great story.

This was my pick for the book club as I had read another of Pearl's books, The Dante Club, before and had loved it! When I got my hands on this one I knew I had to read it and the book club was a great way to get others to notice the works of Pearl as well. I was not disappointed! This wonderful tale, written in much the same style as The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, is full of confusing characters, plot twists, intrigue, drugs, backstabbing, and enough historical facts to make you want to learn more about Dickens himself!

After this I look forward to not only picking up Pearl's other novel, The Poe Shadow, but also finally managing to read Dickens' work The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Have you read any of the novels mentioned? What did you think of them? Let me know and hopefully I will revisit one of these two authors again soon.