Tag Archives: Literature

Photo: Anna Shinoda

Book Review: Learning not to drown by Anna Shinoda


Two lessons. That’s all I had. One from Luke: learn to float. One from Peter: a basic crawl stroke.[...]Dad’s idea of teaching me was throwing me into the deep end and yelling, “Sink or swim!” Mom refused to help, using her disgust for the lake water as an excuse.

13014522With her debut novel “Learning not to drown”, Anna Shinoda tells the heartbreaking story of a young girl trying to cope with the criminal nature of her brother while her family fails to support and understand her.

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Toni Morrison Receives Presidential Medal of Freedom – Meet my Favourite Author!


Toni Morrison, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1993, is probably one of the most influential authors who deals with racism and gender issues. Her language is pure poetry and her novels give African Americans and their history a much needed voice! I think her novels really made me understand (even though I probably can never fully understand) what issues African Americans have to deal with and had to deal with during their traumatic history and in the present. Toni Morrison is my favourite author and I think everyone should read her novels! By the way, I have a very important exam tomorrow – about “Paradise” and “The Bluest Eye” written by Toni Morrison!

The Bluest Eye

Set in Lorain, Ohio, in 1941, The Bluest Eye is something of an ensemble piece. The point of view is passed like a baton from one character to the next, with Morrison’s own voice functioning as a kind of gold standard throughout. The focus, though, is on an 11-year-old black girl named Pecola Breedlove, whose entire family has been given a cosmetic cross to bear:

You looked at them and wondered why they were so ugly; you looked closely and could not find the source. Then you realized that it came from conviction, their conviction. It was as though some mysterious all-knowing master had given each one a cloak of ugliness to wear, and they had each accepted it without question…. And they took the ugliness in their hands, threw it as a mantle over them, and went about the world with it.

There are far uglier things in the world than, well, ugliness, and poor Pecola is subjected to most of them. She’s spat upon, ridiculed, and ultimately raped and impregnated by her own father. No wonder she yearns to be the very opposite of what she is–yearns, in other words, to be a white child, possessed of the blondest hair and the bluest eye.

This vein of self-hatred is exactly what keeps Morrison’s novel from devolving into a cut-and-dried scenario of victimization. She may in fact pin too much of the blame on the beauty myth: “Along with the idea of romantic love, she was introduced to another–physical beauty. Probably the most destructive ideas in the history of human thought. Both originated in envy, thrived in insecurity, and ended in disillusion.” Yet the destructive power of these ideas is essentially colorblind, which gives The Bluest Eye the sort of universal reach that Morrison’s imitators can only dream of. And that, combined with the novel’s modulated pathos and musical, fine-grained language, makes for not merely a sophisticated debut but a permanent one. –James Marcus

Paradise

“They shoot the white girl first. With the rest they can take their time. No need to hurry out here. They are 17 miles from a town which has 90 miles between it and any other. Hiding places will be plentiful in the Convent, but there is time and the day has just begun.” So begins Paradise, Toni Morrison’s first novel since winning the Nobel Prize for literature in 1993. As one would expect from the author of such brilliantly imagined novels as Song of Solomon, Beloved and Jazz, Morrison’s Paradise is ambitious, political, deeply spiritual and peopled with characters as complex as they are unforgettable. Time is fluid in the universe of this particular novel; though set in 1976, Morrison travels easily between eras, taking the reader back in time to the founding of Ruby, an all-black township in Oklahoma, at the end of World War II, then further back to the establishment of its predecessor, Haven, which parallels the story of Exodus: a band of former slaves wanders the Oklahoma territory in search of a homeland. Overlying the strong sense of character and place that imbues each page is a touch of the supernatural–ghost children skitter through the halls of an abandoned Catholic girl’s school and “unseen friends” visit lonely women by night.

Even as Morrison deftly limns the history of the town and its inhabitants, she lays the foundation for the conflict brewing in the present-day story: A new minister has come to town, bringing with him a whiff of the politics that engulfed that era–civil rights, student uprisings, rioting in the streets–activities which speak to the restlessness of the town’s youth. Meanwhile, 17 miles away at the former girls’ school nicknamed “the Convent,” a small group of unconventional women have moved in. Their stories, told in individual chapters bearing their names, are also stories of exile, exodus and eventual homecoming. For the men of Ruby, however, these women represent everything that is dangerous about the outside world and as the sanctity of Ruby’s traditions begin to crumble, nine men go on a deadly hunt.

As always, Morrison is not afraid to explore the relations between the races or the genders and she is particularly adept at creating characters who, though frequently not likable, are always sympathetic. Paradise is a book you’ll want to read more than once and each time you’ll find something new to haunt and amaze you. — Amazon.com

Short Story Contest Voting! Vote now for your favourite Story!


During the last weeks, I have posted all submissions to the Short Story Contest, and now it’s time to vote! The winner will get an 10 € Amazon gift card.

You can only vote once! The winner will be announced on May 18.

Here is an overview of all submissions. Click to read again!

Jeremie Guy – The French Quarter
ShindaHotaru – Time Will Tell
Amanda Hendrick – The Man And The Swamp
Alison Bour – Hero
Tensh_iie – I’ll Try Not To Destroy You
Ierra Miole – Time’s Up

Short Story Contest Submission: Ierra Miole – Time’s Up


This is the last submission for the Short Story Contest. VOTING IS OPEN NOW!

Time’s up!

by Ierra Miole

            It was an ordinary day for me. I woke up and cleaned my house. Every day has the same happenings and what will happen next was predictable, a daily routine. If only my father is here, at least that daily routine would change. But it has been three years of not seeing him and the last letter from my father that says he will come back, was three years ago. And until now, he is still gone.

The boredom that we always feel is like a virus that loses up our energy. Maybe that’s the reason why people always have a complaint because every day, they have the same things to do. And because I am one of them, I’m used to it. And maybe that’s the reason why I am very conscious of time.

But I didn’t imagine that this boring life would end up so soon. I am just walking in the mall when I met a man. He bumped me and my pouch fell. The guy picked it up and smile at me as he gave the pouch. Then one woman shouted from my back.

“A thief!! A thief!” she said.

“What happen?” asked the security guard.

“That guy took my wallet!” the woman replied, pointing to the direction of the guy who bumped me.
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Short Story Contest Submission: ShindaHotaru – Time Will Tell


VOTING IS OPEN NOW!

Time will tell

It was supposed to be a quiet evening, husband out with the boys and the house empty and silent for once. You wanted to relax for once, just for once, even though you wouldn’t have minded your husband’s company. But the kids wanted to watch a movie you can’t even recall the name of and he suggested to take them out, probably the only way to get your oldest son out of the house.

Things have gotten out of order the past weeks, or months or so, you can’t remember when family life has stopped being only about weekend trips, movie nights and playing hide and seek in the garden. Someday your oldest son stopped coming downstairs for a play of hanafuda, the next he took his lunch upstairs into his bedroom. Logically, a fifteen-year-old boy needs privacy, some time on his own. But you can’t find an excuse nor explanation why your son wouldn’t want to eat with you anymore. What, upstairs in his room, was more interesting than familiar company?

You shake your head, nuzzle your back more into the sofa cushion and sigh your thoughts away. This is your evening, no need to have your family problems on your mind while they are out of the house. So you lie there on the champagne couch, your gaze wandering through the living-room, a mixture of crème and brown-colored furniture, the little nostalgic lamp on, sitting in her beauty on the table on the other side of the sofa.

Now that you are home alone, you have no clue what to do with the time given. Your husband and kids only left half an hour ago and they won’t be back in the next three hours. Maybe even in four hours, when your husband comes up with the idea to treat them all with some fast food. He spoils the kids too much, you figure, he would grant them a wish when you didn’t even allow them to make one. Or perhaps he has a better idea of raising kids than you have, and after all you’re just too strict in most of the cases. And maybe that was why your oldest likes to stay up in his room instead of jamming on the guitar with you.

Maybe not? Well, you could use the time to find out, now that your son is far away, physically, and mentally even farther away. You get up, climb the marble staircase and walk over to your son’s bedroom door, determined to enter and look for any evidence. Somewhere in the depths of your mind, your husband’s voice echoes, that having trust in your children was essential, but you have no trouble to ignore your inner voice and walk into your son’s bedroom.

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Short Story Contest Submission: Tensh_iie – I’ll Try Not To Destroy You


VOTING IS OPEN NOW!

I’ll try not to destroy you“

Warm rays of sun wavered through the window, bathing the room in golden lightening. Birds were tweeting on the outside, talking and singing almost as if they wanted to greet the new day that was rising from the ground. Another warm and sunny day in Los Angeles. Another day full of chances, dreams and opportunities. Another chance to make things right.

Standing on the back porch of his house, a young man took in a deep breath, letting the fresh air rush through his body and fill his lungs with oxygen, as he stood there and greeted the new day himself. He did that every morning, no matter how the weather was outside. No matter if the sun was shining, or rain came crashing down from the sky. It didn’t matter. Every morning at six-thirty A.M. he stood in the same spot, in the same position – taking in the first deep breath of the day. It was a ritual, something that meant a lot in Jon’s world – the world he lived in.

Looking up from the ground, he watched a pair of blackbirds jumping over the green grass of the back yard. They were probably searching for some worms or seeds, which they could fill their growling stomachs with. Or maybe they were on the hunt for little branches they could use to build a nest somewhere. Who knew – Jon most certainly did not and yet he enjoyed watching them.

Smiling gently he finished the cup of coffee he was holding, another ritual that he fullfilled every morning, and turned around to step back inside the house, closing the sliding door behind himself. Every morning started the same; a routine that never got old.

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Short Story Contest Submission: Alison Bour – Hero


VOTING IS OPEN NOW!

Hero

By Alison Bour

 

Honestly I wasn’t all that scared until the bigger dude told us to hit the floor face down and put our arms out to the side. I felt like I was hanging on a cross that fell forward.

I initially didn’t remember feeling that way. It’s interesting what surfaces now that I’ve moved on.

A few people started to panic. Someone yelled, “My husband’s sick; I have to get home, please!” One woman started to whimper, and a man next to me sounded like he was hyperventilating.

“Shut the hell up, everyone!” The guy’s voice roared like he was announcing a bullfight. Everyone got quiet, but I could sense fear building in the room like the moment just before a pot boils over.

There was a smaller guy, too. Both were dressed in black and wore ski masks with slits for the eyes and mouth. I noticed that before I went down on command. I wanted to sneak another peek but it wasn’t worth it. Not with my wife, Jenna and little Nathan at home.

“You,” the big dude said to someone behind the teller windows. “Fill this! Do it now!” I heard the sound of something hitting the counter. The guy next to me started to say, “Oh, God. Oh, God.” I clenched my mouth like a ventriloquist and told him to stop.

At first I thought the robbery wouldn’t last long—they just wanted in and out with their cash—and we’d be OK. But for some reason the hyperventilator seemed like an omen. I thought maybe he would draw attention to himself and the robbers might snap.

Someone behind me—there were about 14 of us in all—started reciting the Lord’s Prayer. I was afraid if I told her to lower her voice they would hear, so I silently joined in and hoped for the best. I’m not very religious so you might think praying during a crisis is hypocritical.

I never know how people will judge the things I did that day. I’ve learned to forget all that, and let the chips fall where they will. That’s one of the biggest lessons I can pass on. Continue reading

Short Story Contest Submission: Amanda Hendrick – The Man And The Swamp


VOTING IS OPEN NOW!

Her is the second submission for the Short Story Contest. You can vote for your favourite story after all submissions were posted. More to come!

The Man and the Swamp

By Amanda Hendrick

We all know how arguments begin; they start very small with a word or a phrase, not meant to bite the way it does. And then a few words later you are both drowning, unable to tell up from down, in an argument neither one of you wanted to be in. People as with most other things, often come in sets, sets of two. The beginning of this story is no different. And these two people were currently drowning.

They pillaged and plundered and screamed and yelled, until what they were saying no longer sounded like words. The man hissed and the woman returned his fire. The man yelled out insults, but this time the woman spoke louder and words emerged, “You should leave, just leave. Come back in a week, or don’t come back at all. 7 days- no more no less or I will be gone. And you will never see me again.”

The man in a huff stormed from their home. His anger propelled him forward for three days. He would never go back. He spent those three days stomping and slamming doors everywhere he went. He spent three days with his fists clenched and his jaw tight. He spent three days bellowing instead of speaking. He spent three days scaring off any one kind or nice with one look from his dark anger filled eyes.

Then on the fourth day, he sat down and like a puff of smoke the anger left him. The next three days he spent in sorrow and self-doubt. Was he good enough? Should he go back? Would they work out? Was it even worth it to keep trying? He spent three days with his hand rubbing his forehead. He spent three days with tears just almost forming in his eyes. He spent three days slightly hunched over as if the weight of the world had just been placed there. He spent three days forming a new furrow in-between his brow. Should he go back?

On the seventh day he awoke with a start and instead of sorrow he felt something warm growing in his chest. Of course it had always been there, but the heat of his anger had disguised its warmth, and then the cooling off of his sorrow had made the warmth seem natural. Of course he would go home. This warm feeling that he felt deep inside himself was love. He spent the day filled with the passion of love and the contentment one can only feel when they recognize a soul mate. He spent this day moving with sure-footedness and dedication. Nothing would hold him back from his love. He would return today, beg for forgiveness and enjoy every fight and laugh with this woman he loved.

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