Monday, December 24, 2007

JD Salinger's

JD Salinger is one of my favorite author's. My favorite book by him is Catcher in the Rye, which is in my list of favorite books I have read. I love Salinger's wry humor and his realistic description of the way people express themselves physically and verbally. His characters are genuine, intelligent and I find them very likable with all of their faults and problems.

Nine stories contains a collection of stories of loss and suppressed and unsuppressed rage, and the characters seem to all need psychological help on a variety of levels.

These stories include:

In the first story "A Perfect Day for Bananafish," Seymour Glass floats his beach mate Sybil on a raft and tells her about these creatures' tragic flaw. Though they seem normal, if one swims into a hole filled with bananas, it will overeat until it's too fat to escape. Meanwhile, Seymour's wife, Muriel, is back at their Florida hotel, assuring her mother not to worry--Seymour hasn't lost control. Mention of a book he sent her from Germany and several references to his psychiatrist lead the reader to believe that World War II has undone him.

The greatest piece in this collection of stories may be "The Laughing Man," which starts out as a man's recollection of the pleasures of storytelling and ends with the intersection between adult need and childish innocence. The narrator remembers how, at nine, he and his fellow Comanches would be picked up each afternoon by the Chief--a Staten Island law student paid to keep them busy. At the end of each day, the Chief winds them down with the saga of a hideously deformed, gentle, world-class criminal. With his stalwart companions, which include "a glib timber wolf" and "a lovable dwarf," the Laughing Man regularly crosses the Paris-China border in order to avoid capture by "the internationally famous detective" Marcel Dufarge and his daughter, "an exquisite girl, though something of a transvestite." The masked hero's luck comes to an end on the same day that things go awry between the Chief and his girlfriend, hardly a coincidence. "A few minutes later, when I stepped out of the Chief's bus, the first thing I chanced to see was a piece of red tissue paper flapping in the wind against the base of a lamppost. It looked like someone's poppy-petal mask. I arrived home with my teeth chattering uncontrollably and was told to go straight to bed."

"Pretty Mouth and Green Eyes" relates a phone conversation between two lawyers. One of the lawyer's evening is being interrupted by a phone call from another lawyer friend who calls and drones on about the troubles he is having with his wife. I didn't understand why lawyer #1 just didn't just make up some excuse and hang up on lawyer #2. I am still trying to analyze the meaning of that story, unless it simply means some people just can't say goodbye...or lawyer #1 is actually not all that anxious to hang up the phone to get back to his own problems with his own wife?

"Dame Daumier-Smith's Blue Period" was quite difficult to concentrate on. I kept getting distracted because it's so tedious and boring, in my opinion. This story took me longer to read than the whole rest of the book combined.

This is a book to be re-read again and again because it keeps you trying to figure out the psychology of the characters. I could not bring myself to read, "Dame Daumier", however.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Possible Side Effects
Augusten Burroughs

I liked this book even more than Running with Scissors. Burroughs true stories about his life make me sometimes wonder if he is making it all up for the sake of selling books. Then I think about my life, and my experiences and the weird things that happen in my grown childrens' lives, and know he probably is telling the truth, because most of the time, as Mark Twain once said "truth is stranger than fiction." At the end of these two sets of essays, I crave more so went out today and bought "Magical Thinking" which I cannot wait to start.

Burroughs writes about his struggles with alcoholism, a very frightening and hateful grandmother that made him sad that he wasn't sad about her death, his battle with Nicorette gum addiction, compulsive web searching (which I can relate to), the suicide of a weird friend of his mother's. He can make you laugh, and cry . . . or both at the same time in the same paragraph.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Running with Scissors

Augusten Burroughs
Running with Scissors

I wanted to read this book before seeing the movie, so I haven't seen the film adaptation of this story yet. I found myself wondering off and on while reading Burroughs' memoirs of his bizarre life if it was indeed a memoir of how his life really was, or an exaggerated child's perception. I still don't know for certain even after reading the criticisms and analysis of this book which imply that this is Burroughs' actual memoirs.

Running with Scissors starts out when Augusten is only a young boy. His mother is a psychotic poet, and his father is an abusive alcoholic. The father disappears and he is left alone with his unstable mother who can hardly take care of herself, much less her son, so she gives Augusten up for adoption to her crazy psychiatrist. The doctor's family members are all insane in greater or lesser degrees. Some critics have called the family "eccentric", and while that may be true for the doctor's daughter, Natalie, I find that the doctor's other daughter, Hope, and his wife Agnes are downright looney.

Despite all of the hardships and emotional distress Augusten must deal with in his young life (along with the struggles with his own homosexuality and stormy affair with a much older man), he manages to still have dreams, and he manages to be the most sane of all of the people of his biological, as well as his adopted family.

The story is laugh-out-loud funny at times, and horrifying at other times. Overall, Burroughs has had quite a bizarre childhood, which makes for excellent storytelling material.

Now, I can safely go rent and watch the film. I will provide a post script and let you know how I liked it in comparison with the book.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Toni Morrison
( a paper I wrote while working on my Masters)

Cultural Haunting In Toni Morrison's Beloved

In Literature of all time periods, ghosts have been used by the writer to provide readers with crucial information in a story, setting in motions a plot of revenge or atonement. These stories have brought millions of fans of supernatural literature a source of thrill and excitement. On another level, ghosts have served to bring to light hidden aspects of characters or undlerlying meanings of a story. Kathleen Brogan, author of Cultural Haunting: Ghosts and Ethnicity in Recent American Literature explains that, "The ghosts in recent African American Literature, while sharing these familiar literary functions, also serve another: they signal an attempt to recover and make use of poorly documented, partially erased cultural history" (Brogan 2). In her novel, Beloved, Toni Morrison uses cultural haunting in the form of a ghost to externalize the protagonist's (Sethe's) state of mind, to reconstruct an erased history of slavery, and to bring reconciliation between Sethe's past and present consciousness so that she may be freed to look forward to the future.

Before examining Morrison's Beloved, the phrase "cultural haunting" must be defined. As I previously stated, cultural haunting is different from the more well-known ghost story which blossomed during the nineteenth century. Brogan states that this genre of short fiction leaves us with a "thrilling fireside tale of haunted houses, graveyard revenants and Christmases past" (Brogan 5). The ghost story that evolved early in the twentieth century introduced the subtle psychological studies of Henry James and Edith Wharton. Brogan goes on to explain, "these modern ghost stories recast supernaturalism as the hallucinatory projections of the self" (Brogan 5). Brogan clarifies the difference between these psychological hauntings of the self and cultural:

The story of cultural haunting ...brings to the foreground the communal nature of its ghosts. When the ghost of Beloved speaks of her life in the grave in terms appropriate to the slaveships, she clearly becomes more than an externilization of one character's longing and guilt; her return represents the return of all dead enslaved Africans. Stories of cultural haunting differ from other twentieth-century ghost stories in exploring the hidden passageways not only of the individual psyche but also of a people's historical consciousness. Through the agency of ghosts, group histories that have in some way been threatened, erased, or fragmented are reuperated and revised.

(Brogan 5)

Linda Krumbholz, in her essay, "The Ghosts of Slavery," interprets that Morrison "constructs a parallel between he individual process of psychological recovery and a historical or national process" (Krumbholdz, ...A Casebook 107). Sethe describes the relationship between the individual and historical unconscious, an unconscious that is evoked into consciousness by the ghost of her dead child. The following exerpt from Beloved is an example of this individual and historical parallelism:

If a house burns down, it's gone, but the place -- the picture of it -- stays , and not just in my rememory, but out there, in the world. What I remember is a picture floating around our there outside my head, I mean, even if I don't think it, even if I die, the picture of what I did, or knew, or saw is still out there. Right in the place where it happened.


Can other examples of individual and historical parallelism be found in the story?

For eighteen years from the tragic event of killing her own child, Sethe has repressed her past. Remembering only causes her more pain. Whether at home or at her work, she struggles to contain her memories: "Working dough, working, working dough. Nothing better than to start the days serious work of beating back the past" (73) Eventually, she can no longer contain he past and must confront it. With the return of Paul D and the arrival of Beloved in the flesh, all of Sethe's memories of the horrors of slavery materialize in human form. When Beloved returns from the grave, the past is also exhumed, to later be rebuired properly in the novel's " narrative tomb." (Brogan 27).

How does Beloved function as an alter ego for Sethe?

Beloved's ghost is introduced in the first two sentences of the novel, "124 WAS SPITEFUL. Full of a baby's venom" (3) The story begins with the baby ghost, nagging at Sethe's conscience in annoying ways. Sethe tries to ignore the fact that the baby ghost is making her a slave to the past, as well as affecting her family and community. The only characters living at 124 who are afraid of the ghost are Sethe's two sons, Bulgar and Howard, who survived their mother's attempt to kill them when she took the life of her "crawling already" baby. Eventually, they both run away from 124, in fear:

...the sons, Howard and Bulgar, had run away by the time they were thirteen years old -- as soon as merely looking in a mirror shattered it (that was the sign for Bulgar); as soon as two tiny handprints appeared in the cake (that was it for Howard). Neither boy waited to see more; another kettleful of chick peas smoking in a heap on the floor; soda crackers crumbled and strewn in a line nest to the door-sill. Nor did they wait for one of the relief periods; the weeks, months even, when nothing was distrubed.


Why are they afraid and the others not? Why do they flee when Sethe, Denver and Baby Suggs remain? Is it the ghost they are aftaid of or something else? It is my opinion that Sethe's unstable mental condition is signified in the commotion of the ghost of her murderd baby. The inner turmoil that she is trying to suppress is exhibited physically in the actions of the ghost and in turn forces her two sons to flee 124.

Trudier Harris's essay, "Beloved: Woman Thy Name is Demon," raises certain questions concerning the demonic aspect of the haunting that Sethe is experiencing in the story. It is quite an emotional dilemma for the reader. "Does the guilt deserve the punishment of the demonic? Is infanticide so huge a crime that only other-world punishment is appropriate for it?" (Harris Memory and...134) In spite of what other opinions might be, Sethe comes to believe that she deserves punishment and allows herself to become Beloved's victim, relinquishing her own will to survive. Apparently, Morrison does not believe Sethe deserves such a fate as to be consumed by her own guilt and pain, personified in Beloved. Therefore, can we say this a punishment that Sethe inflicts upon herself for killing her child?

While looking at Sethe's individual experiences and history, we must consider the "Sixty million and more" to which Morrison dedicated her book. It is not only Sethe and her family who are haunted by the past, but an entire race of people who were taken from their homeland and enslaved. It is through Beloved's ressurection and reappearance in Sethe's life tht an erased past is brought into view for the characters, and for the reader as well. Re-creating a history that has been "ghosted" or erased by the selective amnesia of America's nation building is what Morrison does so well through the fictional narrative of Beloved; making the invisible history visible by incorporating elements of African folklore and culture. In the Autobiography of Leroi Jones, Amiri Baraka gives us his explanation as to why so much is missing from the slave history of the world: "In the US and the Western world generally, white supremacy can warp and muffle the full recognition of a black person of this history, especially an "intellectual" trained by a system of white supremacy"(Baraka 46). Can we say that is the only explanation? Does the responsibility of this missing history rest solely on the white race?

Through the characters of Beloved, Morrison brings to light a quashed history which exposes the shame, pain and powerlessness for the victims of slavery. Morrison expresses these feelings on an individual level as well as communal. Beloved, the ghost, initiates and "stimulates the formation of a family unit of love and support in which family members can provide for each other in ways that slavery has denied them" (Krumbholz 115). In addition to each individual characters' ghost and the fictional community's ghost, Beloved also becomes the reader's ghost, forcing us to face the historical past as a living and vindictive presence. Beloved arouses the repressed memories of slavery for both the characters in the story and the readers of the story. Beloved, the ghost, calls forth to Sethe's memories as the novel Beloved catalyzes reader's knowlegde of historical atrocities to be brought to the surface. Can we say that readers who wish to deny--or not fully understand the history and atrocities of slavery, have a more difficult time understanding this story as a neo-slave narrative?

In her essay, "Unspeakable Things Unspoken," Morrison uses the analogy of the reader being "snatched, yanked, thrown into an environment completely foreign...snatched just as the slaves were from one place to another, without preparation and without defense" (Morrison, Within the Circle 396) Through the ghost of Beloved, the reader is pulled into another time and place while being forced to confront the past evils of slavery along with Sethe. Beloved brings the reader back to the beginning of slavery through the character of Denver when she questions Beloved: "What was it like over there, where you were before Can you tell me?"(75) It is here that Beloved relates a long ago past that her spirit remembers: " I'm small in that place...Hot. Nothing to breathe down there and no room to move in...A lot of people is down there. Some is dead." Through Beloved's recollection, a history of a slaveship is related to provide a connection between past and present.

The paradox of Beloved is that in order for Sethe to obtain freedom from the ghost of her past, she must submit to it and accept it. "Beloved evolves into a ghost story of healing," says Gurleen Grewal, "because Sethe and the other charachters move from being possessed by the past to possessing the past and themselves" (Grewal 160). The more Sethe gives in to the ghost's desires, the more of herself is lost. Beloved devours Sethe's life and "swelled up with it." (250).

After Sethe gives all her substance to Beloved, she cannot satisfy the ghost. Beloved has an insatiable hunger and thirst. Appeasement of physical hunger is interchanged with the aural intake of story and song, oral forms of communication characteristic to African culture. "After the joy of discovering each other, Beloved's recriminations begin and Sethe cannot apologize enough," explains Grewal. (Grewal 160) There is no filling the void, and the damage done to Beloved is irreparable. The deep guilt that haunts Sethe cannot be obviated or consoled. It seems as if Sethe will succumb to her past and her guilt. She surrenders control, her job, and her sanity--"broke down, finally, from trying to take care of and make up for" (243). The demonic past threatens to engulf the haunted present. If Beloved is allowed to continue to exist, Sethe will be destroyed. The demon, the represented past, must be exorcised.

At the end of the story there is movement from possession to exorcism plotted by Morrison's novel. Brogan tells us, "Through ritual reeanactment, an individual or group may reconstruct the past in order to come to terms with their cultural identity and the history surrounding it" (Brogan 27). By taking possession of that past, it can be confronted and accepted, however, should never be forgotten. The "demon" of that past must be exorcised in order to obtain cultural renewal, but if forgotten, history will repeat itself.

As the story nears its denoument, a near reenactment of what happened at Beloved's death takes place. When Denver's white employer arrives in the midst of the exorcism ritual, Sethe, confused, believes him to be schoolteacher, coming to take her and her children back into slavery. She relives the horrible event all over again when she sees him "coming into her yard...coming for her best thing...she flies..." (262). The significant difference this time is that Sethe attacks the white man instead of her children. Another important consideration is that this time, thirty neighborhood women gather at 124 to provide the community support denied Sethe at the time of the murder. The community has taken responsibility for the act of neglecting one of their own, and come forward to rectify it. They accept Sethe back into the community that had expelled her. Their cries of "Yes yes, yes, oh yes" (258) reverse the "No. No. Nono, Nonono" that enters Sethe's mind just before the slaying of her infant daughter. (163) Krumbholz summarizes the exorcism of Beloved:

As a freed woman with a group of peers surrounding her, Sethe can act on her motherlove as she would have chosen to originally. Instead of turning on her children to save them from slavery, she turns on the white man who threatens them. The reconstruction of the scene of trama completes the psychological cleansing of the ritual, and exorcises Beloved from Sethe's life.

(Krumbholz 119)

Her directing the ice pick at Bodwin represents a symbolic "pointing the finger" that names white guilt for slavery. (Brogan 84) Sethe can finally " lay down the sword and shield" that she needed to keep her memories at bay. (86)

At the end of the story, we are uncertain as to what becomes of Beloved. We are left with the impression that her spirit could still be haunting the woods near the water as the following passage states:

Down by the stream in back of 124 her footprints come and go come and go. They are so familiar. Should a child, an adult place his feet in them, they will fit. Take them our and they disappear again as though nobody ever walked there.


What does this ending mean to you? Is there an ending at all?

Works Cited

Baraka, Amiri. "The Autobiography of Leroi Jones." Major Modern Black American Writers. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House, 1995.

Brogan, Kathleen. Cultural Haunting: Ghosts and Ethnicity in Recent American Literature. Charlottsville: University of Virginia Press, 1998.

Grewall, Gurleen. "Memory and the Matrix of History." Memory and Cultural Politics. Eds., Amiritjit Singh, Robert E. Hogan, and Joseph T. Skerrett, Jr. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1996.

Harris, Trudier. "Beloved; Woman Thy Name is Demon." Memory and Cultural Politics. Eds., Amiritjit Singh, Robert E. Hogan, and Joseph T. Skerrett, Jr. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1996.

Krumbholz, Linda. "The Ghosts of Slavery." Toni Morrison's Beloved, A Casebook. Eds. William L. Andrews and Nellie Y. McKay. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Morrison, Toni. Beloved. New York: Penguin Group,

Thursday, June 07, 2007

August Wilson

Wilson' s play is about the escalating racial tensions in the U.S. beginning in 1957, between the Korean and Vietnam wars, and ends in 1965. The themes of the play centers around the pre-civil-rights-movement, pre-Vietnam-war-era influence.

The central focus of Fences is the Maxson family. The main character of Fences is former baseball player-turned Pittsburgh garbage man Troy Maxson who is used to illustrate the African-American struggle against racism. Racism is what has defied Troy Maxson at every turn in his life, and the color of his skin stood in the way of obtaining the American dream for him and his family. Racism creates the conflict, which causes Troy to feel that he has been "fenced" in by a society filled with discrimination and bigotry. These tensions cannot help but make their way into the Maxson home, and causes conflict between Troy and his wife, Rose, and Troy and his son Cory.

Though just a short read, Wilson's play says more than a thousand-page book. It's not a very "feel-good" story, but it is very powerful and provides an excellent depiction of African-American life and challenges they fought to overcome during a very difficult period of American history.

Dorothy Parker
What Fresh Hell is This?

A Biography by Marion Meade

If I could choose one person to go back in time to have a chat with, it would be Dorothy Parker. She was a woman of many writing talents and her works include screenplays, short stories, critical reviews and clever verse. The author's often one-liner wise-cracks about life and men were absolutely hilarious and even when one is in the darkest of moods, she could make you at least break out a wry smile.

Parker's life wasn't an easy one. She was divorced twice, had a string of painful affairs, a lifelong struggle with alcoholism, and several suicide attempts. Her "funniness" and sarcasm was merely a cover-up for the pain she was holding inside.

In this lively, absorbing biography, Marion Meade illuminates both the dark side of Parker and her days of wicked wittiness at the Algonquin Round Table with the likes of Robert Benchley, George Kaufman, and Harold Ross, and in Hollywood with S.J. Perelman, William Faulkner, and Lilian Hellman. At the dazzling center of it all, Meade gives us the flamboyant, self-destructive, and brilliant Dorothy Parker.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Voodoo Dreams
Jewell Parker Rhodes

This book combines fact and fiction. Before reading, it is helpful to read some of the biographical information about the main character, Marie Leveau.

Biographical Information by David Arbury.

Leveau is a complicated and fascinating figure in New Orleans history. Though she is famous even today as one of the most powerful Voodoo priestesses who ever lived, few hard facts are known about her life. Close scrutiny reveals many contradictions and fantastic legends about Marie Leveau, but even tales which a skeptic might find difficult to accept pale next to the proven facts of this remarkable and powerful woman's life.
Born in the 1790's, details of her exact parentage and origin are uncertain. She moved to New Orleans in her youth and was raised a devout Catholic - later becoming friends with Pere Antoine, the chaplain at St. Louis Cathedral. At the age of twenty-five, Marie joined a local freeman Jacques Paris in what was by all accounts a happy marriage. Later after his disappearance and presumed death, she lived with Cristophe Glapion. Between the two men, Marie bore fifteen children including her daughter Marie who bore a striking resemblance to her mother and eventually became a Voodoo priestess as well.
Marie Leveau's best documented exploit involved the murder trial of a young Creole gentleman, a trial which was almost certain to end in a guilty verdict for the young man. His powerful (and skeptical) father approached Marie and promised her anything if she could rescue his son. Marie agreed, asking for the man's New Orleans house in return. He agreed, and Marie secretly placed several charms throughout the courtroom. When his son was declared not guilty, the gentleman gave her his house as promised, and Marie Leveau gained the instant attention of the city's elite.
Later in life, in another well-documented event, Marie is known to have helped the wounded during the Battle of New Orleans and was so noted for her efforts that she was invited to the state funeral of General Jean Humbert, a hero from that battle.
It is certain that Marie Leveau was a feared and respected figure. Though apparantly adept with charms and potions of all kinds, Marie's real power came from her extensive network of spies and informants. The New Orleans elite had the habit of carelessly detailing their most confidential affairs to their slaves and servants who then reported to Marie out of respect and fear. As a result, Marie had an almost magical knowledge of the workings of political and social power in New Orleans. When her daughter, with her uncanny resemblance to Marie, became a priestess, legends of Marie Leveau's power only grew. Now she was ageless and could appear in more than one place at a time.
However, Marie was no charlatan deceiving her followers with tricks and intimidation. She clearly had a great passion and devotion for Voodoo. Her most famous religious mark was probably the rituals on the banks of Bayou St. John held every June 23, St. John's Eve. Voodoo rituals were also held occasionally on the shore of nearby Lake Pontchartrain at Marie's cottage, Maison Blanche. It was said that sometimes Marie Laveau herself would dance with her large snake, Zombi, wrapped around her. Voodoo worshipers believed that even the snake possessed great powers.
Marie's Voodoo was about power but it bore no resemblance to Voodoo as fictionalized by the films of Hollywood. To her, and many of her followers, Voodoo's beliefs were not incompatible with Catholicism and Christian charity. Indeed, Marie frequently visited the sick in New Orleans' prisons, and she was called upon by the city's elite to help combat the Yellow Fever epidemic of the 1850's. Finally late in life as her power began to wane, she stopped practicing Voodoo and once again became Catholic solely.
Marie Leveau is a figure shrouded in mystery. She was a Voodoo priestess and a devoted Catholic. She weaved spells and charms but wielded even more influence through her earthly network of spies and informants. She ruthlessly wielded her power yet went to great pains to help the injured, sick, and downtrodden. In the final analysis, we will never know her true character, but it seems a mistake to try to choose between these disparate sides of Marie Leveau: this fascinating and complex woman was all of these things and more.

This novel of historical fiction takes readers into the dark and mysterious life of Marie Laveau. The third in a line of Maries, she continues a legacy of spirituality and voodoo. Raised by her grandmother, Marie has no memory of her real mother and longs to find out what happened to her. But grandmother forbids it, and wants to protect her from the evils of the past. They move from their home in the bayou, and Marie meets a handsome sailor named Jacques who claims to fall in love with her. Her grandmother encourages the relationship, and the two marry. Despite her grandmother's efforts to protect her, Marie cannot escape her fate, and in an act of rebellion, Marie deserts both her new husband and her grandmother to fall into the arms of the charismatic, yet abusive and controlling John, who longs to help Marie fulfill her "destiny" as a Voodoo Queen. A self-proclaimed king in his African homeland, John is greedy, vicious and cruel. And in a surprising twist, Marie discovers that he was also her mother's lover! However, John appears to be mysteriously young. Gradually, Marie discovers within herself that voodoo does indeed live. She also recognizes John for what he really is -- jealous and insane, and a very dangerous person.
Richard Dawkin
The God Delusion

Many people judge Richard Dawkins just on the title of his book alone without even reading a word. If people would actually read what they criticize, and try to really understand what is being expressed, there would be more understanding in the world instead of immediate hatred.

I saw Dawkins on Bookspan and the man is actually a softspoken and seemingly kind person who has a very strong stance that religion is the cause of much of the evil in the world. Religious extremists aren't satisified to believe and worship as they choose, they want to force everyone on the bandwagon, whether by physical force, or by psychological and emotional manipulation. If there weren't so many people like this in the world, people like Dawkins could focus on working on scientific advances to make our lives better, make the world a better place in which to live. The God Delusion is written in protest against those who stand in the way of scientific advancement and knowledge, and progress.

The God Delusion provides a very good perspective from the scientific and atheist/agnostic community. Humans are the only ones who can make a difference. If we sat still looking up into the cosmos waiting for divine intervention, nothing at all happens. This is the point that Dawkins, Harris and other atheists who are finally coming out of the closet are saying. Helping hands and thinking brains get things done in this world. While even scientists don't agree amongst themselves on many things, they all agree that they must try to work together to solve life's challenges, find cures for illnesses, figure out how to divert dangerous asteroids, figure out how to solve the problems that we can do something about, exchanging ideas and finding solutions. It's a coming together of human intelligence.
Yukio Mishima's
Spring Snow

In "Spring Snow," Yukio Mishima is as gentle and as beautiful as fresh-fallen snow.

The story of a young and handsome aristocrat, Kiyoaki Matsugae, and the beautiful and mysterious Ayakura Satoko is set just after the Russo-Japanese War in the early 20th century, the novel offers intriguing insights into a Japanese culture that is at once in transition while also clinging to traditions of the past.

Mishima strength is description of nature. His writing allows the reader to fully sense the wonders of Japan and he is equally adept at describing the contours of his young lovers' bodies. In addition to the sensual and sensuous wonders, the inner psychology of passion-plagued minds of the young lovers who are at the center of his story is also genius. Mishima avoids sentimentalism while walking the thin line between hatred and love, between passion and pain.

Spring Snow is composed using symbolism, description, psychology, and a gentle narrative pace. Readers looking for a fast-paced plot might find it difficult to get started, but keep reading beyond the first dozen or so pages and you will get drawn in and not be able to put it down.