Posts Tagged ‘books’

In eighth grade, we read Bradbury. I took my copy of the book into the kitchen one evening while my mother was at work and put it in the oven. It was new. It had buttons on it instead of nobs, with arrows pointing up and down, so I set the temperature to 450 exactly (you could only go in increments of five).

I put the book on the top rack, closed the door and sat in front of the oven. I watched the thermometer rise waiting until the last possible moment, so I could save it in the nick of time and feel like a hero.

I came closer than I meant to though. I’d forgotten about the metal rack and conductivity of heat. The book took flame. I threw open the oven door and reached in. There is still a burn on the side of my thumb from this. I dropped the book on to tile of the kitchen floor, burning side down, and stopped on it a few times.

The flames went out easy enough, but the smell of fire hung in the air and my mother would be home soon. I turned the oven off, got bag of popcorn from the pantry, and microwaved it until the smoke alarm sounded. I didn’t much care for popcorn, especially burnt popcorn.

I carried the smouldering bag to the back yard. Opened it, pinching tenderly by its paper seem, and dumped the contents out behind the bushes (those prickly ones with the red berries) for the animals.

When the kids at school asked about the black sear marks on the back of my copy, I told them I’d burned it for dramatic effect. And so no one would steal my book. It worked way better that writing my name in it.


Well I better get this one up while it’s still relevant

Something has been kickin around in my head for a while now. With the movie being out and all the hubbub surrounding it, suddenly I have a reason to write about it again, so I’m gonna go ahead and jump on the having an opinion about Fifty Shades of Grey bandwagon before it completely stops being topical.

With all the noise surrounding the film/book, what I want to focus on is what is its value. How Fifty Shades of Grey has had a positive or negative impact on ‘us’ and why. To do this I want to place it in comparison to Twilight.

Normally, I don’t go in for drawing dichotomies between pieces of art (yeah, I’m calling it art). It is rarely productive.

I am making an exception for a couple reasons. First, Fifty Shades of Grey (herin referred to as 50SoG) originated as a piece of fanfiction based on the Twilight series. The direct relationship between the two means 50Sog cannot be completely separated from Twilight and the comparison is fair game.

Second, as a point of contrast. While I could have picked from probably hundreds of examples of pop culture ranging from TV to movies to magazines to GIFs being passed around on Tumbler,  the similarities between these two make Twilight a useful tool for discussion.

Before we get started, I should mention I have not read either 50Sog or Twilight nor have I seen the movies.

I don’t need to because shut up and click on this link so I can excuse myself from explaining.

I have read bits of 50Sog with the help of Pervocracy’s cliff notes, which you should read if you want to know more about 50Sog without having to do the work yourself.

I want to separate this post from their literary merit*, aside from the subjective nature of evaluating art, what people are mostly upset about is 50Sog is the influence it has or maybe at least what it is indicative of as it relates to who we are as a culture.

[*side note: There are good books and bad books. There are books that sell well and disappear from conversation and total flops that become an intrinsic part of our curriculum. I for one am not concerned with the state of literature. Great works will persevere and the bullshit will all be washed away by time.]

Let’s look at some of the criticisms laid against that poor, maligned bestselling 50Sog.

One point people won’t let go of is that it portrays BDSM in a negative light (particularly in regards to the ending).

And it does, fair enough. It gets two major things wrong. First, Kink is seen as a sickness that comes from a history of abuse and worse, something that can and should be cured (kinda like some other things for which people are sent to reparative therapy). This isn’t true and if you want to read more about it, google.

Second, what the characters are doing in this book is not BDSM which refers to a variety of activities which require the participation of freely consenting adults. What happens in 50Sog is not consensual. It is abuse. It is not BDSM (Again, plenty about this has already been written) and that much should be acknowledged. So there.

However, 50Sog is far from the first or only work to contain a “bad” portrayal of kink and it shouldn’t be held to some standard that less successful art is not. It is a work of fantasy, it’s erotica, people fantasize about inappropriate shit all the time. Teacher/student, boss/secretary (I believe there was also a popular film about something like that), rape, incest, the list goes on. Just jump on a tube site or google Kristen archives and see if there’s anything portraying an inappropriate scenario. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

You really wanna go through every bodice ripper, porn scene, and stray thoughts containing kinky fuckery and evaluate it to make sure all the fictional characters are being safe, sane, and consensual?

What seems to really bother people about 50Sog is not that it is a bad portrayal of kink, but that it seems to claim within the work that this is what BDSM is. Grey doesn’t just abuse Anastasia, he does it by justifying it with jargon many self-proclaimed kinksters use in their daily lives and explains it to her as if what he’s saying is the obvious truth.

But this is like any mainstream film which attempts to simplify or alter a subculture in order to facilitate the plot. The best response to this I’ve heard was adult film actress, Nina Hartley, who made an apt analogy, saying 50Sog is to kink what James Bond is to Covert Intelligence. No one expects spies to use Sean Connery and Daniel Craig as mentors & I don’t see the CIA or MI6 or FSB protesting the latest Bond flick.

So those are its flaws.


But what I want to look at are the effects of the work.

It has dragged kink into the main stream. Which has allowed some people to be more open about their sexuality and those that are feel less demonized or weird or fearful.

All points in favor of sex-positivity.

As a result, there has been an uptick in people going to educational events or sex positive stores, or becoming part of the kink/sex-positive community where they can learn & explore in a safer environment, than say, trolling craigslist.

I’m not saying there won’t be anyone who reads/sees 50Sog & does something stupid, but how many kids saw Jackass and ended up in the hospital trying to replicate stunts or read Fight Club and started unregulated sparring under the bleachers or in bathrooms at school? (Also I should point out, that one of those was ‘real’ and one was complete fiction, the ‘credibility’ of the work had no bearing on whether people mimicked them)

However, in all likelihood you’re not going to end up the sex slave of a child billionaire.

So what about the source material, Twilight? All the abuse people cited in 50Sog, still right there. I’d say it’s even worse. Anything wrong with Grey that you might try to excuse as complex flaws, he’s young, he’s ignorant, he’s psychologically damaged, is compounded in Twilight by the fact that the love interest there is three hundred fuckin years old! He should know better by now! No excuses. And talk about an inappropriate age gap. He’s ten times the predator Grey is. Of all the women though all the decades, he thinks, hey you know who I should hook up with? An immature, vulnerable, impressionable, teenager! That’s the kind of gal for me!

The other key difference is that in Twilight, the kind of jealous, controlling, manipulative, shit the vampire pulls is portrayed as what love should look like & most importantly is marketed to children.

Which, for me, is what this comparison all comes down to.

They may call it “YA”, but let’s get real, they mean children. I don’t know what a Young Adult is supposed to be, but the youngest adults are seventeen at most, while these books are actually aimed at middle schoolers, people who, in all likelihood, have little to no experience with romantic relationships (Actual young adults are just that, adults and they’ve already started reading “adult” books.).

Kids see this & it becomes their model for conduct. The stories are absorbed into their archetypes for loving relationships. Also, despite, being heavily sexual in theme throughout the series, Twilight is overshadowed by the sex-negative Mormon worldview of the author. In the book, sex will literally kill you. Twilight takes advantage of kids many of whom can’t then go to a responsible community member and ask for help.

And now it seems I’m in a weird position of defending fan fiction. 50Sog is aimed at grown-ups. That’s why the public started jokingly referred to it as ‘mommy porn’, erotica for bored Midwestern housewives. People who see 50Sog and get all hot ‘n bothered, know it’s fantasy. If it really gets them going, they seek out help, they explore, and they learn. And with all the media hype and writing and discussion that has taken place as a result of its commercial success, it makes it all that much more likely people will become more educated and safe as a result of this film/book.


Twilight has had a negative and pernicious effect overall. While, All in all, 50Sog is a net positive,

Then again, no Twilight no 50Sog…

Oh well.

Life is some bizzaro fuck of a treadmill lately, the more ground I gain the more the horizon seems to creeps steadily away. Mostly I’m just ornery cause the book aint done yet. Ain’t close to done. and the more progress I make, well, I already made that metaphor. So much for me getting shit together around here. Everything has been shoved a bit into the background while I piece together the grab bag of Akea pieces that is the Madness project. That’s the biggest reason why there hasn’t been much up here lately, nor have I launched the other projects I keep mentioning, though plans keep being made.

I just finished reading Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail of 72. In fact when I sat down to write this post, the intention was to do another of those ‘vocab’ pieces, but playing catch up turned into that little spiral of self pity at the top of the page. Anyhow, I should just get on with it.

If you weren’t conscious of the goings on in American politics during the Nixon era, you may have to slog through this one. In fact, I don’t suggest a straight read of this five hundred page drug addled ode to inside baseball. I love doctor Thompson’s, but most people aren’t enough of a political junkie to keep up with this amount of detail in their own decade. However, if you are a friend of mine and you’re reading this, what I suggest is that you borrow my copy and only read the parts I’ve notated. that much would be worth it. If you aren’t, you’ll probably be fine just reading this. Good luck is that at least a third of the book is Thompson bitching about deadlines and putting garbage in his mojo wire (fax machine) to confuse his editors at Rolling Stone.


careful, this is a long one


[due to him missing deadlines Rolling Stone] showed up at my door, with no warning, and loaded about forty pounds of supplies into the room: two cases of Mexican beer, four quarts of gin, a dozen grapefruits, an enough speed to alter the outcome of six super bowls.

When Professional antagonists become after-hours drinking buddies, they are not likely to turn each other in… but unlike other correspondents, I could afford to burn all my bridges behind me….[I’m here] to write about it-as close to the bone as I could get, and to hell with the consequences.

without some extremely powerful speed there might not be any final chapter. about four fingers on king-hell Crank would do the trick, but I am not optimistic. There is a definite scarcity of genuine, high voltage Crank on the market these days.

cord  – unit of measurement for wood measuring 4 ft. x 4 ft. x 8 ft. (a volume of 128 cubic feet. )

when a man gives up drugs he wants big fires in his life.

[on racism] I have noticed the fear syndrome clouding even my own mind: I find myself ignoring black hitchhikers, and every time I do I wonder, “why the fuck did you do that?” and I tell myself, “well, I’ll pick up the next one I see.” and sometimes I do, but not always

Charley Starkweather – an American teenaged spree killer who murdered eleven people in the states of Nebraska and Wyoming in a two-month murder spree committed between December 1957 and January 1958.

nothing like a big hit of red corpuscles to give a man the right lift for a rush into politics

[on ‘good’ politicians] you might as well go looking for cherries in a Baltimore Whorehouse.

discoteques – this is what night clubs were referred to in the 70’s

George McGovern, the only candidate in either party worth voting for, is hung in a frustrated limbo created mainly by the gross cynicism of the Washington Press Corp…but it is hard to recall any candidate in recent history who failed to move what is now called “The McGovern Vote” to the polls if they actually represented it.

What Nixon and Mitchell have done in three years-is reduce the US supreme court to the level of a piss-poor bowling team in Memphis

live steady. Don’t fuck around. Give anything weird a wide berth – including people. It’s not worth it. I learned this the hard way, through brutal overindulgence.

…back to Chicago; it’s never dull out there. you never know exactly what kind of terrible shit is going to come down on you in that town, but you can always count on something. Every time I go to Chicago, I come away with scars.

These kids are turned off by politics, they say. Most of ’em don’t even want to hear about it. All they want to do these days is lie around on waterbeds and smoke that goddamn marrywanna.

[on objectivity] the only thing I ever saw that came close to objectivity was a close-circut TV setup that watched shoplifters in the General store at Woody Creek, Colorado…with the possible exception of things like box scores… there is no such thing as objective journalism. The phrase itself is a pompous contradiction in terms.

how many more of these goddamn elections are we going to have to write off as lame but “regrettable necessary” holding actions? And how many more of these stinking double-downer sideshows will we have to go thought before we can get ourselves  straight enough… to give 20 million people a chance to vote for something, instead of always being faced with that old familiar choice between the lesser of two evils…it has been 12 years since I could look at a ballot and see a name I wanted to vote for… in ’68 I spent half a morning in the county courthouse getting an absentee ballot so I could vote out of spite, for Dick Gregory.

I feel the fear coming on, and the only cure for that is to chew up a fat black wad of blood opium about the size of a young meatball…peel back the brain… and get locked into some serious pornography.

whatever might be said about Nixon-and there is still a serious doubt in my mind that he could pass for human-he is a goddamn stone fanatic on every facet of pro football.

there are only two ways to make it big time in politics today: One is to come out like a mean dinosaur… the other is to tap the…disillusioned electorate that has long since given up on the idea that we all have a duty to vote…Robinson calls it the “sleeping giant vote” Dellums… called it “the nigger vote” but he wasn’t talking about skin pigment
“it’s time for somebody to lead all of America’s Niggers, by this I mean the Young, the Black, the Brown, the Women and the Poor- all the people who feel left out of the political process. If we can put the Nigger Vote together, we can bring about some real change in this country”

The thing  the political bosses want most is for young people to drop out… because they know young people can change the system, and the bosses don’t want change… no wonder that McGoverns Manchester headquarters is full of people who talk like nervous PoliSci Students on job leave.

60,000 Americans have died for that mistake, along with several million Vietnamese… the United States Air Force will rank as the mist efficient gang of murderers in the history of man.

presidential candidate George Romney…tried to ignore it. He knew the TV cameras were rolling so he curled up his mouth in a hideous smile and kept waving at the crowd as they continued to chant “Romney eat shit! Romney eat shit!”

The nut of the problem is that covering this presidential campaign is so fucking dull that it’s just barely tolerable… the only thing worse…is having to come back to Washington and write about it.

wont – in the habit of doing something, accustomed to

the main problem in any democracy is that crowd-pleasers are generally brainless swine who can go out on stage & whup their supporters into an orgiastic frenzy – then go back to the office & sell every one of those poor bastards down the tube for a nickel apiece.

ken – ones own knowledge or sight

bastinado – eating the soles of a person’s feet as a form of corporal punishment.

ibogaine – a naturally occurring psychoactive substance found in plants in the Apocynaceae family such as Tabernanthe iboga, Voacanga africana and Tabernaemontana undulata. A psychedelic with dissociative properties,

one of the most frustrating realities of this goddamn twisted business is the situation where somebody says “I’ll only answer your question if you promise not to print it”

Dick Tuck  – to my surprise is not a made up person. He was a political consultant, campaign strategist, advance man, and political prankster for the Democratic National Committee

if you’re a safe happy nice young republican, you  probably don’t want to read about things like dope, rock music, and politics anyway.

Cazart – made up word by Dr. Thompson. something equivalent to AHA! holy shitsnacks! I should have known!

File cards are handy for canvassing and for people who want to get heavy into the Dewy Decimal System, but they are not much good for cataloging things like Lust, Ambition, or Madness.

as the demonstrators approached… they found themselves walking a gauntlet of riot equipped police on one side and martini sipping GOP delegates on the other

the demonstrators  were a useless mob of ignorant chicken shit ego junkies who… embarrassed the whole tradition of public protest

am I turning into a politics junkie? It is not a happy thought – particularly when I see what it’s done to all the others.

This may just be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves…we are really just a nation of 220 million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns, and no qualms about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable…
McGovern made some mistakes, but in context they seem almost frivolous compared to the things Richard Nixon  does eery day of his life, on purpose, as a matter of policy and a perfect expression of everything he stands for.
Jesus! Where will it end? How low do you have to stoop in this country to be President?

Some of you older followers may know that my first post of the year is sometimes a list of books I plan on reading. We’re a little over a month into 2015 so I thought I’d put up this year’s version which puts me four months ahead of last year and I’m only about three weeks behind on doing the actual reading.

For the selection process this year I did something a little different. In the past I’ve just sat down and scrawled out a list of books that came to me off the top of my head. I have a tendency to forget what they were and instead read a bunch of other random shit and by then end of the year I’m writing a nearly identical list as the one previous (I’m not going to post the link, but if you want to dig through the archives you can compare the last few years of them, please don’t).

The first year I put 52 of them on the list thinking one book per week made sense. Since then I’ve culled that number and tried different ways of figuring out what is a reasonable reading goal for a year. This go round I have something a little less abstract in mind.
One shelf

[Trigger warning: I’m about to talk about the arranging of books for a few paragraphs, you may want to skip ahead]

I thought of it after I got a crate of books out of storage in Texas and had to rearrange my bookshelves (also a new addition to my office).  When you move an average of three times a year, throwing stuff out or giving it away or just leaving it behind becomes more and more appealing. Bookshelves are out of the question and heavy as fuck boxes of books are not the easiest thing to schlep about. For an avid reader like myself, this separation brings about a special Sophie’s Choice style of agony. I limited myself to one box of books. the ones that made the cut fell into the following categories: Reference (things I read bits of often for whatever reason, like Grimm’s Fairy Tales or The Bible), A-list Favorites (those things you can reread at anytime in any mood; you can quote them extensively; start them at any point, and they’ll make you happy. For me these are things like, All the Pretty Horses, Ender’s Game, American Gods, and Cat’s Cradle), and Aspirations (things you own and absolutely, positively, will read very soon, even if you don’t. Those for me were, The Master and the Margarita, A Farewell to Arms, and Grapes of Wrath).
When I moved into The Blanket Fort (my new place), I cleared out a family members attic for furniture and ended up with three bookshelves, shelves that were mostly empty when after my first few weeks. I went to Texas for Christmas and pulled a bunch of the books out of storage and asked my mother to send what she could to me later. Since then every month or so I get a small box full of books to fill my shelves.
The problem with the shelves though is that the heights are irregular. They’re fixed and I don’t feel too much like boring out new settings to readjust the height (not now at least, though every time I rearrange them I think I might have to do that sometime this summer)they’re three levels apiece and the top of each is arched so larger books will fit dead center but not much farther off. So setting them up by category didn’t really work (this shelf is all plays except for the five volumes that are collections of plays those are across the room). Then a friend of mine who was over drinking and watching me spend 4 hours arranging and rearranging, told me her books were divided into books she’s read and books she en’t.

which got me thinking.

I look back on books I’ve read like a journal. what I’ve underlined or notes scrawled in the margins. Not just the stories but the objects themselves tell a story, one only I understand because it’s one written in the black spaces between lines and at heading of each chapter.
I remember exactly when I read  House of Leaves because I had a tiny room with a desk and sat on the twin bed built into the wall and shut off all the lights except the clip on lamp that shone directly on the pages and the whole world outside those twisted coloured words disappeared. I read On The Road while on a train from Amsterdam to Antwerp then finished it on the way to Florence and was out of reading material and had to ask my friend whom I was visiting to borrow something for the trip back to Cork. He gave me Soul Music my first Discworld novel.
My copy of Ender’s Game has an inscription in the front cover, it was from someone who felt I needed it at the time and I was getting my ass kicked in the locker rooms at school on a weekly basis. It was the first book that made me reread it immediately after  I finished it and I don’t know how I would have survived middle school without it.
Sophie, my girlfriend at the time, gave away part of The Sun Also Rises which very much tinted my reading of it. Spring, senior year, and we broke up by prom so that narrows it down.
I read Grendel with a south African accent in my head because it was given to me by a teacher after I turned in a story that reminded him of it. I went straight outside and lay down on the grass and started in on it until dinner.

After sorting them this way, I found the stack of ‘books I haven’t but have strong desire to read’ filled just about one shelf.
One shelf of books, I like the sound of that. It’s a solid amount. now my books will be sorted with a system called my life. The card catalog will be my memory


Anyhoo, here’s this year’s list:

[note: I didn’t feel like typing anymore, so I’m in my office, dictating the contents of the shelf to the computer, I trust you’ll enjoy the interpretations]

Fear and loathing on the campaign trail of 72 – Hunter S Thompson
The Ginger Man – JP Donlevy
Trigger Warning – Neil Gaiman*
The grapes of wrath – John Steinbeck
Dracula – Brahms Stoker
Grendel – John Gardner
As ever – Allen Ginsberg and Neil Cassidy
Rum diary – Hunter S Thompson
Peter Pan – J and Barry
Stranger in a strange land – Robert a Heinlein
Pulp – Charles B Caskey
Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
Iron weed – Will yam Kennedy
The stranger – come out
Sudden fiction – various
Beloved – Toni Morrison
Jailbird – Kurt Vonnegut
Bell cantor – and Pratchett
Wizard of yurt see – Ursula K Le Guin
Blind Willow sleeping woman – Harkey Murakami
God bless you Mr. Rosewater-  Kurt Vonnegut
The handmaidens tell – Margaret Atwood
Joan of arc – mark Twain
Sometimes a great notion – 10 Cassie
The Master and Margarita – Macayo Boga cough
A clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
Strange wine – Harlan Ellison
The Dharma bums – Jack Karabakh
Travels with Charlie – John Stein back
White noise – Don Julio
A farewell to arms – Ernest Hemingway
Such a – Cormac McCarthy
Trainspotting – Irvine welsh
One flew over the cuckoo’s nest – can Cassey
seize the day – Saul Bello


*Trigger Warning is not actually on the shelf. apparently I preordered last year. I got particularly drunk with my flatmate who brought home a growler full of Manhattans. I don’t remember much, I’m told I spent most of the night singing “Black Velvet Band” over and over. But in the morning it was morning, there were two hundred dollar Amazon gift cards in the trash and for the next few months I received irregular surprises from the fairies of the interwebs the latest of which was Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman & the latest edition of Saga.

** I want to throw American Splendor on the list as well for reasons I’ll mention next post, but it doesn’t fit on the shelf due to it’s size & as a result doesn’t have a place in the order, but it will be in the first third I think due to temporal issues.


Post Script, If I end up in Grad school, this list gets shot to hell

I wrote this after the fist night I stayed with someone.



It was All I could Think to do
waking in anopen French Baclonied flat. the sounds of tree lined traffic for company
All I could think to do was
With infinite access what to take. What to take…?

I’d start with the little things.the things That I wouldn’t have to carry.

an egg; a half of a muffin; a cuppa; no. i,ll leave the bannana .

I moved on, bigger things, things I8d have to carry in my head.
reading a book from the loo; photographs from the Coffee table;drawings on the wall; lines from a poem, scattered on the floor

The Heavier things I stole were a little harder to find; a broken dream of you behind the wheel as we skidd off a snowy mountain road; a fantasy of you while I masturbated in your bed; the seeds of a story Idrew from your householdd kitsch.

I steal because it is in my nature. I am stealing time, stealing breath, thieving faces and words in clips and phrases , so don’t be alarmed when you see your thoughts and your heart decorating my world like stuffed heads in a hunter’s lodge.

I do steal other things. Little things. (slutty girls shouldn’t leave their knickers laying about on the floor)

But my favorite things

Those lofty gems of the crown hidden behind wired glass and lazer fields and armed guards

was a sheaf of heavy paper and some spare typewriter ribbon.

and like my childhood heroes, Robin Hood or Jesse James, I am handing those precious Things over to someone else.

With Alchemy and Fingertips i havestolen something that wasn’t even there before. What a master I must be!

I have filled it with rapturous frenzy and spelling errors.

and now I will leaved it with you,

Mo Chroi,




I had a lovely evening



Posted: 25 October, 2014 in Other
Tags: , , , ,

Last week I reached my favorite part of unpacking. Putting my books on my bookshelves.

I’ve discovered I have three copies of farewell to arms. THREE. no idea how that has happened. I haven’t even read Farewell to Arms. It is a proud member of my bookshelf of shame.  I’ve done, Sun also Rises, Snows of killamanjaro, in our time, and a bunch of his other short stories. I think I keep meaning to read it and my copy is hiding so I buy another and then don’t read it.

There are also multiple Fahrenheit 451′s. These I’ve read, but again, no clue why the dupes.

I’ve never had so much space before, so most of my books are in storage. Over time I’ve continued to whittle them down by giving them away, selling to half price, or just leaving them in the houses of various family members.

Mister Flamingo (who has already called dibs on at least one copy of the Hemingway) has told me my bookshelf looks like it is trying to show off something, but it is how we read people. It’s the first thing I do when I get to someone’s house. Especially someone who I’m hoping to sleep with. and in this case I feel it shows a certain sense of priorities. What I’m willing to cart around. Many of the books I haven’t read, because why would I hold on to books I’ve read and don’t think I’ll need to reread or reference in the next year or so?

It’s time for another vocab lesson with the Dirty Old Man! This time we’re doing Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Like last time, I’m not going to review the thing (gods know there are more than enough people doing that these days). I’m just gonna run through words that stood out to me.



This is the quote that opens the book:

Maurice Sendak to Art Spiegelman in the New Yorker – I remember my own child hood vividly I knew terrible things, but I knew I mustn’t let adults know I knew them. It would scare them.


Catkins –  Sometimes, even if I know what something is, especially a plant or animal, but I don’t see it often, I’ll look up a picture so’s I can keep up with the author.


Dowsing –  a type of divination employed in attempts to locate ground water, buried metals or ores, gemstones, oil, gravesites,[1] and many other objects and materials without the use of scientific apparatus. [I’ve always heard this called water witching.


Trestle – a framework consisting of a horizontal beam supported by two pairs of sloping legs, used in pairs to support a flat surface such as a tabletop.

Poulter – Poltergeist


Shuck – a person or thing regarded as worthless or contemptible.


Girls and Boys come out to play – an old Nursery rhyme 


In those dreams I spoke that language too, the first language, and I had dominion over the nature of all that was real. It is the most basic building brick of everything in my dreams I kept a perfect little bed and breakfast by the seaside, and to everyone who came to stay with me I would say in that tongue, “Be whole” and they would become whole, not be broken people, not any longer, because I had spoken the language of shaping.


That’s the trouble with things. Don’t last very long, Kittens one day, old cats the next. And then just memories. And the memories fade and blend and smudge together…


I do not know why I did not ask an adult about it. I do not remember asking adults about anything, except as a last resort. That was the year I dug a wart from my knee with a penknife, discovering how deeply I could cut before it hurt, and what the roots of a wart look like.


Small children believe themselves to be gods, or some of them do, and they can only be satisfied when the rest of the world goes along with their way of seeing things.


I liked myths. They weren’t adult stories and they weren’t children’s stories. They were better than that. They just were.


When he got angry enough to shout at me he would occasionally remind me that he did not hit me, as if to make me grateful. In the school stories I read, misbehaviour often resulted in a caning, or the slipper, and then was forgiven and done, and I would sometimes envy those fictional children for the cleanness of their lives.


Narcissi  – Daffodils


Counterpane – a bedspread.


Why do I find the hardest thing for me to believe, looking back, is that a girl of five and a boy of seven had a gas fire in their bedroom?


Mangle (object) – Called a Wringer in the United States. a mechanical laundry aid consisting of two rollers in a sturdy frame, connected by cogs and, in its home version, powered by a hand crank or electrically. While the appliance was originally used to wring water from wet laundry, today mangles are used to press or flatten sheets, tablecloths, kitchen towels, or clothing and other laundry.


Oh, Monsters are scared… That’s why they’re monsters.


Grown-ups don’t look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they’re big and thoughtless and they always know what they’re doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. The truth is, there aren’t any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world.


Knucklebones – Jacks (the ones you catch while bouncing a ball, not the men’s toilet)


The second things I thought was that I knew everything Lettie Hempstock’s Ocean flowed inside me, and it filled the entire universe, from egg to rose. I knew that. I knew what Egg was —Where the universe be can, to the sound of uncreated voices singing in the void—and I knew where rose was—the peculiar crinkling of space on space into dimensions that fold like origami and blossom like strange orchids, and which would mark the last good time before the eventual end of everything and the next big bang, which would be, I knew now, nothing of the kind.


Skeins –  a length of thread or yarn, loosely coiled and knotted; tangled or complicated arrangement, state, or situation


Spotted dick – a pudding popular in Britain, containing dried fruit (usually currants or raisins) commonly served with custard.