Plum Rains on Happy House follows an American who is trying to turn an Inn into a school but is thwarted by the house’s strange creatures. What was the inspiration behind this unique story?
I live in Japan, and it’s a place I know well. The book’s dedication probably says it all:
This book is for Japan. It’s the place I call home—though it may not want me to. For over 25 years I have grappled with the dos and don’t’s of my host country, destroying the language in conversation, giving up, resuming more study, eventually resigning myself to the boundless plateaus of almost-speech.
And Japan abides. Like a patient steward, it absorbs the frolics and the ribbing, while providing a solacing habitat in which to write and teach and parent and grow.
I came over to Japan in the 80’s and I’ve lived in some pretty seedy guesthouses—what we call gaijin houses. In creating the residents of Happy House, I just mingled the characteristics of a few of the unique people I’ve met over the decades in Tokyo and in Los Angeles. In some cases, I didn’t need to exaggerate at all.
On one level Plum Rains on Happy House is a detective story. A fellow named Harry Ballse invites the protagonist, nicknamed the Ichiban, to Japan. But the residents of Happy House all deny any knowledge of this mysterious Harry Ballse.
Some readers may pick up on the references to the 1973 film The Wicker Man, about a policeman who is lured to a Scottish island to investigate the report of a missing child. It’s a game of deception. The islanders are playing with him. The paganism and the sexual activity the sanctimonious policeman finds so objectionable are simply part of the selection process—to see if he possesses the characteristics to burn in their wicker effigy so that the village will have subsequent successful harvests.
In Plum Rains on Happy House, the Ichiban must undergo his own horrific sacrifice to appease the house. My novel is in many ways a tribute to that remarkable film, and it has the same foundational plot lines, but I’ve laid down a hearty layer of satire and lots of cross-cultural lunacy.
There are some weird and fascinating things happening in this story. Was this an easy outlet for your creativity or was there some effort put into creating these things?
Nothing is easy. If women will forgive me the metaphor, creating Plum Rains on Happy House was like giving birth—it hurt a lot. There were points when I considered giving up because it was just too hard. I’m not a funny person, but I have little trouble dreaming up wacky stories and characters. The residents of Happy House had to be distinctively quirky. I didn’t know how bawdy things were going to become, or how much depravity would creep its way into the story. But once I had the characters they took charge, and I relegated myself to being, more or less, their stenographer.
Dialog was also something I paid close attention to. Of course, sharp dialog is vital in any story, but for this kind of back-and-forth humor to succeed, I felt it really had to have zip. Just like a comedian practices his delivery line, the dialog exchanges had to have real punch. As with most writing, dialog should say a lot , with very little. The communication isn’t in the words being said but in the subtext. Good dialog says it without saying it. One quick example from Chapter One has the resident of Room 3 (nicknamed The Goat) explaining to the new resident about his missing foot:
“I saw you looking at the bottom of my leg.”
The Goat scowled. “Obviously, you can see that no longer exists.”
“It’s in Cambodia.”
The Goat went into a cross-eyed fluster. “What is?”
Sometimes readers need to work a bit to understand the exchange, and I think they appreciate that. Dialog is an organic process. It’s the way characters talk in my head, and I think I know how to write them because they are all a part of me. It all works toward satisfying the element of what a good scene often comes down to: one person trying to get something from another.
Mix that in with the baffling idiosyncrasies of Japan and its language, and the vexing stages of culture shock, which frame the Ichiban’s adventure in Happy House, and readers have a lot to juggle, especially those uninitiated to living in other countries. I’m hoping this confusion is a part of the magnetism of the story. On top of that, one should remember the old guesthouse is haunted:
“Happy House is an amoeba everlasting, a floating world—capturing and sealing the self-indulgence of the red-light districts, the bordellos and the fleeting, delightful vulgarity of ancient Japan, an eternal time capsule of the flamboyant and the boorish.”
What do you find is a surprising reaction people have when they read your book?
The book has received mixed reviews. Of the five books I have up on Amazon, Plum Rains on Happy House was the first to receive a customer review of one star—perhaps rightfully so: the reader was “disgusted” by some of the more explicit scenes, and I think that was my fault; the earlier cover gave no indication of the sexual content within, and this poor woman was clearly ambushed. With the one star, I know I’m finally an author, and wear it as a badge of honor.
There are, however, cultural elements in the story that some will not understand: the usage of the various slipper customs inside a house, the daily beating of the futon, the laundry poles, the shockingly steep stairwells, the neighborhood garbage trucks that play cute tunes to let you know they’re coming, the confusion between the colors of blue and green.
The dichotomy of substance versus form also plays an important part in underscoring the tension—in the way one swings a tennis racket, or walks in a swimming pool, or plays baseball, or eats particular dishes: What should predominate—what you are doing or how you are doing it?
On another level, the story examines language acquisition and the role of structure within the learning process. The residents all have their various opinions: As teachers, should English be taught through some kind of lock-step formula, or would one be better off approaching it in a more hands off manner, rather like painting? Everyone seems to have an opinion.
The idea of structure comes to the forefront again when discussing what one character, Sensei, calls the hidden structure of the house, which, like the neighborhood (or any cityscape in Japan) appears as an amorphous sprawl. But look underneath this sprawl and one sees the organism. Sensei says that the randomness, or chaos, embraces a flexible, orderly structure, and he likens the house to an amoeba that has the ability to alter its shape. Similarly, this amoeba can be seen as a microcosm of Japan as a whole.
What are you currently working on and when will it be available?
I’ve finished the first few drafts of a story about Special Needs teens who discover time travel. But the adult teachers at the school find out what’s going on and abuse this ability to travel back into time for their own selfish needs. It turns out the ones with the Special Needs are not the teenagers—who are all somewhere on the Autism spectrum—but the supposed grownups, and it’s up to the teens to save the day. It should be out in autumn.
Thanks for having me!
The American in Room 1, however, is dead-set on turning the derelict Happy House into a burgeoning English school.
The house has other plans, and Room 1’s attempts are thwarted by a freakish creature that lives under the floorboards called “the Crat”.
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Jai the Albino Cow is a lovely children’s book that teaches kids how special it is to be different. What was your inspiration for this book?
During a holiday in Austria while hiking going uphill, I felt exhausted and lay down on a grazing pasture. A brown calf approached and licked my face. That loving gesture was indelibly printed in my mind.
Once back home in Germany, I had an idea to write a story about cows. I vividly remember that the story lead was going to be a female and her name is Gundula. The idea landed on a list I keep for children’s story topics. I wrote, “Once upon a time, there were three cows Gold Bell, Spotty and their sister Gundula. They lived with their mother and father, Mr. and Mrs. Moo, in the alpine meadows of Nocky mountains. Gold Bell always wore…”
On another occasion visiting my home country Tanzania, I observed more cows in the pastures of Usambara Mountains. Soon after, the story idea developed further with themes from my motherland. I desired to create a main character who is female, different and also have her story address the topic of human diversity.
In some African countries, people with albinism have suffered and are still suffering from discrimination and other horrendous acts including being hunted for their body parts for magic potions by witch doctors. We can help solve this problem through stories which teach love and respect from an early age, such as in this book which uses a cow as the protagonist.
The book is told in both English and Swahili. Why did you want to tell this story in both languages?
My mother tongue Swahili is spoken not only in Tanzania but also in the neighbour countries of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mozambique. The intention to have a bilingual story was with a hope that the message will have a great impact and reach many more, particularly in areas where albinos are maligned.
I loved the art in this book. It was both artful and bright. What was the art collaboration like with Nikki Ng’ombe?
Nikki is a daughter of a friend. Besides being acquainted with each other, she is very professional and delivers concrete results. We have worked together in another book project and already knew each other’s pace of work. She grasped quickly the vision I had for this book. I will certainly work with her again if not occupied by studies.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am currently proofreading a manuscript for a children’s Swahili book co-authored by Tanzanian writers. We intend to publish this year.
Can an albino cow possess abilities to be admired by other cows?
Anjait (Jai) is Ankole cow who lived with her family in Kole Hills. Jai suffers from albinism. Other cows thought she was cursed. One day, Jai shocked other cows for doing something that no other cow did before. She also surprised them with a magical skill.
What is it that Jai did as the first ever cow? Will her actions and skill help bring love and respect to albino cows?
Get your copy now to find out the answers and reveal to your children the importance of showing kindness and respect to everyone, even if they look different.
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Front Porches to Front Lines uses the story of your great grandparents to tell a larger story about a small town affected by WWI. What was the inspiration that made you want to put this story into a book?
There were actually several inspirations which motivated me to turn my great-grandparents’ story into a book. Perhaps the most basic of these is simply the fact that I love history and thoroughly enjoy doing the research and writing about it. With that being said, the best way to cover all of the inspirations behind this book can probably best be told by talking about how the book began in the first place.
Front Porches to Front Lines is actually the expansion of a college essay with a similar title. I had always heard from my mother that there was letter somewhere in a box which talked about what took place on Armistice Day in 1918 in the small town of Springfield, Vermont where my great-grandparents were living at the time and I’d always hoped that I would find it someday. When I re-enrolled at the University of Connecticut in 2014 to finish my B.A. in American Studies I made up my mind that I wanted the remainder of my coursework to include an independent study project which would be completed under the guidance of a faculty advisor. Fortunately I found this letter and soon after found an advisor in Dr. Walter Woodward, a professor at UConn and the State Historian of Connecticut.
During the Fall 2014 semester, I researched World War One and the subsequent Influenza Epidemic of 1918 and in turned used the letter about Armistice Day and about 300 more family letters to tell the story of my great-grandparents’ experiences at this time as a microcosm of how the war and epidemic impacted people on the local, regional, national and international levels.
While, one of my biggest inspirations to write this book was to record my family’s story, I chose to tell this story in particular because of the wealth of primary resource material available to me and also to help expand the knowledge and scholarship of a chapter in the history of the United States which in some ways has gone largely overlooked until recently.
Lastly, I chose to turn this story into a book because it simply kept me busy with something I enjoyed doing. Since finishing my degree in the spring of 2016, my job hunt has been largely unsuccessful and expanding the essay which was my “senior thesis” of sorts into a book had given me a project to focus on amidst my bad job prospects. Plus, I was also of the belief that it would make my resume stand out in the future in a way that not many recent undergraduates’ resumes do. However, these last reasons are all somewhat secondary to those mentioned above.
I enjoyed the historical information provided in the book. What kind of research did you undertake for this book?
The scope of my research for this book was very broad and in fact I learned a lot of doing research and research methods on the fly while compiling the materials for Front Porches to Front Lines. The bulk of my research, about 60% of it, involved the careful analysis of the letters between my great-grandparents as well as those written between other family members and a few of their friends as well. I feel very fortunate to have had such an archive at my disposal while writing my book because it’s those letters which make up the majority of the family story which is at the center of the book.
Aside from the analysis of the letters, I conducted a handful of interviews, one with my great aunt, who is my only living relative at this time who knew all of the family members referenced in the book; I also interviewed the couple who run the historical society in Springfield, Vermont on two occasions to get a sense of what materials the town had left from the World War One era; and lastly, I interviewed a number people who had lived in Springfield during the first half of the 20th century and had some recollections of stories their parents and relatives had told them about Springfield during the 1910s.
I spent many hours in the public library in Springfield going through the microfilm they had copies of their local newspaper going back to World War One and was an excellent source of soldier letters as well as advertisements relating to both the war effort as well as the many remedies people were trying to cure themselves of the Spanish Flu. I spent time combing the objects and other materials at the Springfield Art and Historical Society and lastly, I used any primary source material related to war that I could get hands on along with a handful of pictures and other items from my family’s records.
What were some things that you found surprising about your grandparents lives?
To be honest, the majority of the information about my great-grandparents’ lives which I included in the book was all new to me. Since the location of their letters had been somewhat unknown for such a long period of time and since my family didn’t talk about many of the aspects of their lives that were detailed in these letters, much of what I learned from them was both new and surprising. For instance many of the down to earth details about daily living during this tough chapter in our nation’s history left me both surprised and amazed, especially given the circumstances of the world in which I grew up in the 1990s and 2000s. I was repeatedly left in awe of my great-grandparents’ ability to press on from one day to the next, when under the constant threat of a potential German invasion, the rapid spread of an infectious disease or both.
One particular episode during the 1910s which I found particularly curious actually was referenced in a letter between my great-grandmother and her sister. In this letter, my great-grandmother’s sister talks about hearing former president Theodore Roosevelt speak at a rally to raise awareness of the Armenian Genocide. Given, my family’s rather apolitical stances on things, it was surprising to find out that any of them participated in any event that was about an issue which didn’t directly threaten their lives or the nation’s security.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have just begun the research for my next book, which at the moment is going to be a more comprehensive look at Armistice Day and how that day was celebrated around the world. However, since I am also in the process of getting ready to go back to graduate school, I do not have a good idea as of yet as to when that book will be completed and made available. I know that some of it will depend on my graduate school commitments as well as my ability to amass the resources I need to complete this project and do the topic justice.
Author Links: Facebook
World War One and the 1918 Influenza Epidemic. Two events which will alwaysdefine the 1910s, a decade which saw great political and social change; a long list ofdisasters and a realignment of the global stage, something which would help define manyof the subsequent events of the twentieth century. When the United States declared war onGermany on April 2, 1917, it was just the first of two major calamities which would in someway impact just about every American man, woman and child during the latter half of the1910s.The second of these wars, the Spanish Influenza of 1918, came right on the heels of theGreat War’s conclusion on November 11, 1918 as many of the returning soldiers camehome with the influenza virus, having caught it either in Europe or sometime during thejourney home from France. Front Porches to Front Lines tells the story of how the citizensof one small New England town, came together to confront these two wars and in doing sobecame one of the most generous towns when it came to contributing to the war effort inthe form of Liberty Loans, war gardens and war supplies as well as dozens of soldiers, RedCross nurses and civilian workers, such as machinists.
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When Dark Ships invade the skies over the “Nown” World, the invaders bring with them horrendous terrors for which no one is prepared to face. As entire villages begin to disappear, the world enters a new Dark Age. King Jatel and Queen Karen join forces once again with their friends and awaken ancient magic, giving them their only chance at freedom. Amid war, vampires, dragons, and widespread genocide, the “Nown” World welcomes the glorious return of the most valiant warrior it’s ever known!
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Lexa Tantaros sure can stir things up. To some, she is a thief. To herself and possibly Agent Max Finley, she is a woman on a worthy cause. A cause to let the world see the treasures contained within. The story follows the wanted archaeologist as she searches for the treasure of El Dorado. It will take blood, sweat and tears to get there and gather all the necessary clues. Governments are after her, but she’s not fazed. Will she be successful in her mission? Can El Dorado be found or is it merely fable?
James McPike has created an action thriller that takes off quickly and does not slow down. He takes the reader on a journey across Peru, keeping you on the edge of your seat. One minute you think they’ll definitely be smoked out. The next minute has them hurtling down an abyss. The story has so much character, and the plot is encased in excellent prose, with just the right amount of drama.
The character development is ingenious. Lexa is a woman who can charm anyone. She’s not fazed by much even when bullets are flying. She only seems to be a little frazzled in the last moments before she is placed on the ledge where she is to plunge to her death. I always enjoy a strong female protagonist that emotionally develops throughout the story. Max is torn between his service to country and his instinct about Lexa. I enjoyed watching these characters interact.
While the history between Max and Lexa is obviously of consequence, it seems like Max gives in to Lexa too easily. It feels like there should be some sort of struggle before he trusts her so blindly. With Max being a self-proclaimed best, right? He leaves her unattended on the very first night he finds her. This is quickly forgotten though as the reader is taken on the adventure through Peru. Also it seems like the end may justify those initial actions.
This is a short but engaging read. You can feel the palpable chemistry between the characters. There is a sort of James Bond-ish ending which is absolutely delightful.
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Amika is a senior in high school, looking forward to graduating and being done with high school. She is the run of the mill kid, not in with the cool kids, not the kid that gets picked on. Everything is status quo, till the Welkins family arrive. Soon Amika, and her friends Nikki and Andrew, become friends with Rhayne, Quade, Damien and Trinity, as well as their “aunt” Suzanne. But Amika finds out that the family is not as it seems, they’re actually vampires. Dating and falling in love with Rhayne introduces Amika to the fact there are multiple worlds that coexist on different planes. From these worlds different creatures like demons can enter the human world and cause trouble. How can Amika and Rhayne develop a relationship being so different? Can Amika understand the unique situation that Rhayne and his family are in?
When I started reading this novel, my first thought was oh, another vampire book. Oh, look this family shows up out of nowhere and they are amazingly attractive. However, after this introduction to the Wilkins family, the similarities to other teen romance vampire novels ends. I was pleasantly surprised to find unique character makeups, a completely different plot structure than I usually see with teen romance or vampire stories. Celeste Eismann has developed a world where vampires and other paranormal figures exists but the twists, she puts into it with Forgotten by the Sun makes her novel unique. This is also the first in a series, so I’m interested to see where the next book takes readers.
The is a relationship between Nikki, Andrew, and Amika is similar to what you would find in close knit friends. Nikki and Andrew are always at each other and Amika is the peacemaker. This sets up the story for how Amika ends up interacting with characters later in the novel. Amika wants to help, she wants to fix things. It is in her nature to go out and ignore her own well-being. Amika is a very complex character and the foreshadowing in the novel indicates she is going to do important things in later books.
Rhayne and his family are interesting, and we get some of their back stories of how they became vampires and where they’re from. They also have their own quarks, especially Quade. I suspect some of the internal conflicts that are eluded to will take center stage in later novels. Overall this novel felt like an introduction to a bigger series that is yet to come. You meet all the key players and get some background, but the novel ends just as the real excitement begins.
Pages: 1543955282 | ISBN: 1543955282
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Chasing the Red Queen opens with the recently turned 18-year-old Donja, a self-proclaimed goth who is uprooted from the normalcy of teenage life. Her mother remarries, giving Donja a new home, a new father and a new stepsister. What starts out as an angsty teens tribulations quickly shifts to darker elements as violent murders begin to hit close to home. New characters emerge, friendships are made, and lovers unite exposing a history of supernatural elements and family secrets Donja never expected.
Karen Glista offers an urban fantasy with a dash of crime, horror and steamy romance all set to the backdrop of vampire lore. A perfect weekend read for those favoring the genre. The author also provides new components to these otherwise over told stories with well researched historical content and fleshed out explanations for the mystical aspects. The mix of first nation cultural and detailed locational history give a fresh twist to this vampire romance which kept me intrigued to the very end.
I found Donja to be likable as the main character. Although the constant reminder of her gothic reputation is repeated one too many times, otherwise her emotional response and reactions are believable throughout the story. I adored the character development between Donja and her stepsister Makayla, from beginning to end they share a bond that unites them through a roller-coaster of emotional events.
Unlike Donja, where she shines in the first half of the book, her counterpart Torin unfolds as the main player towards the end of the book. Once Torin takes center stage I found myself more invested in his story and the account of his mysterious past as well as that of his kind.
I felt that the timeline was a little vague; how much time did everything take, was it days, hours, weeks? I also felt that their were quick leaps in character changes (ie. Frankie, I didn’t know what was happening to him until it was already over). These are the only minor things holding the book back.
However, the story surprised me with well thought out action scenes and gritty dialog. While some secondary characters faded into the background a few shown through and had my full attention. Chasing the Red Queen is a quick read with an equally fast-paced plot, yet will still give the reader enough time to establish a connection to the story, characters and paranormal features.
Pages: 277 | ASIN: B079KJFJW8
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Osteoporosis & Osteopenia: Vitamin Therapy for Stronger Bones, by Bryant Lusk, is a comprehensive guide to bone health. The author discusses the link between lifestyle choices, age, gender, and eating habits (largely vitamin intake), and bone health.
Interestingly for a book of this subject matter, Lusk seems to have gone the ‘choose your own adventure’ route for his writing technique. Readers can choose between intensive study modes and brief overviews to ‘get the main idea’, and there are ways to achieve a hybrid approach that sits somewhere between the two extremes. It is a fantastic idea on the writer’s part to include that kind of flexibility for his readers, and it is a tool that will likely help this work reach more people than most other books on the subject.
The driving principal behind this work is, of course, to educate. To that end, the author goes to great length to discuss each topic as fully as necessary. The book is laid our in bite-sized chunks, each one focusing on a particular aspect of the overall topic. For example, there is a chapter on zinc, one on vitamin D3, another on liver and kidney health, and many more. Included in each section, there is information related to standard vs vegetarian diets, guidelines for how much and how often various vitamins should be taken, information on inhibitors that adversely affect the given vitamin or mineral, and then personal advice from the author.
An example of the type of background information provided for each of the mineral and vitamins can be found at the start of each chapter. You’ll see the vitamin or mineral’s impact on the human body in list form. Not only for bone-related issues but for all others as well.
One of the most useful parts of each chapter is the ‘how much and how often’ section. Here, the author goes into the recommended daily dosages of the various supplements, all the time adjusting for different types of people living different types of lives. Then, a convenient table is provided to show what types of foods contain said vitamin or mineral and how much would need to be consumed in order to absorb enough. Then, another table showing differences between common supplements, along with which are best and which to avoid. A short discussion about how to inhibit and enhance absorption is then held before advice from the author and finally moving on the next chapter.
This book is certainly important and is full of wisdom that is not always easy to find in such a digestible package. In fact, in all the years I have researched the effectiveness of supplements, I’ve only come across a handful of texts as well balanced as Osteoporosis & Osteopenia: Vitamin Therapy for Stronger Bones. This book is going to go into my collection as a reference book that I will frequently visit.
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Dom is a computer engineering genius in her own right. Rose’s instincts when it comes to human behavior are fine-tuned. Layla has the gift of an incredible memory. All three women are true forces with which to be reckoned and phenomenally good at their jobs. When Dom, a virtual recluse, is approached for help in solving a violent death, the lives of the three women quickly become entangled. Dom, Rose, and Layla reiterate that we are all one quick internet search away from an interaction we may or may not want.
B.J. Cyprian, author of Shadow Resistance, has created a world effortlessly blends fantasy and realistic fiction. With the elements of advanced artificial intelligence looming large in Dom’s storyline, readers are treated to science fiction laced with humor and heavily layered with relevant current events. While I’m not a fan of most historical fiction novels, I more than appreciate the references Cyprian includes in her characters’ story lines. Especially effective is the way in which the author works in the black and white doll experiment into Rose’s subplot. Cyprian knows how to hit readers where it matters. This is just one of the aspects of her writing that helps make her book so worthy of praise.
The entire scenario involving SARA is quite amazing. I don’t want to call SARA a character as it were, but I would feel remiss if I didn’t mention how incredibly fascinating her contribution to the book actually is. At times, Dom almost plays second string to the artificial intelligence she herself created. The back-and-forth between the two is entertaining to say the least and simultaneously frightening. To think that SARA is Dom’s only connection with the outside world is, in many ways, sad. In introducing Dom as somewhat of a hermit, Cyprian has given a certain richness to Dom’s story line and made her views of injustice all the more fiery.
Cyprian does a beautiful job of weaving history into every aspect of her plot. Page after page, she seamlessly meshes mentions of countless historical figures into the dialogue between characters. From impromptu history lessons given by Rose to the background revealed by Rose and Robert’s visit to Larry’s apartment, the book feels less like a lesson in history than a conversation on the front stoop of an elderly neighbor.
This unique work of fiction is a must read for anyone seeking technologically-based crime dramas. In addition, Cyprian’s work holds a special appeal for those who appreciate historical accuracies and current events woven throughout their fiction. The more I read, the more I found Shadow Resistance qualifies as a mystery. It’s impossible to fit Cyprian’s work into one slot–and I’m not sure I want to. It deserves a category of its own. Kudos to Cyprian on an outstanding first novel.
PagesL 648 | ASIN: B07NQKYGVP
Tags: alibris, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, bj cyprian, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, crime, crime fantasy, crime fiction, ebook, fantasy, fiction, fun, funny, goodreads, hacker, historical, history, humor, ilovebooks, indiebooks, kindle, kobo, literature, murder, mystery, nook, novel, political, publishing, read, reader, reading, satire, science fiction, scifi, shadow resistance, shelfari, smashwords, story, suspense, thriller, womens fiction, writer, writer community, writing
One thing that makes this book unique is the arrangement of the words. I sometimes had the feeling I have when reading poetry. Jose De Koster is an easy writer. I can’t describe the arrangement in the book as entire prose, or partly poetic, what I know is that the author told his story in a distinct way, making his work exceptional on all levels. I first fell in love with the pictures in the book. The self-portraits, oil on hardboard images and oil on canvas were all beautiful pieces of art. My favorite was the painting of ‘The Lonely Artist’. A picture is truly worth a thousand words. It did not stop there – Jose De Kroser also added pictures of his family in between his writing. I know I spent a good part of my time just looking at the pictures.
The author first introduces us to his life through his mother’s words. The mother encouraged him to keep writing as she had hoped he would become a journalist. Jose De Koster fell in love with words at a very tender age. Through this book, one gets to know that he felt art and literature on a spiritual level. I feel a little connected to the author when he mentioned four of his favorite authors. Pablo Neruda, Marina Tsvetaeva, Osip Mandelstam, and Anna Akhmatova are the four literary icons the author mentioned. I love that he mentioned the first two as I too adore their works. The author’s narration confirms what a gifted writer he was. I enjoyed reading through as he talked about living in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales.
Jose De Koster narrated his story wonderfully. The authored adored his mother and treated her as the most special being. He equally loved his father and brother Ed, but the love he had for his mother was something else. I enjoyed reading on the bit where he discussed faith. It did not come to me as a surprise when the author wrote how he grew up as a Roman Catholic; his mother’s faith, not following his father who was Lutheran. Religion was an important aspect in their lives back then. I loved the memories he shared in regard to the Catholic faith he followed when young.
Fragments of A Journey… A Fistful of Life is a lovely memoir. The author’s recollection of his childhood complete with pictures attached is beautiful. The best thing about Jose’s life was the love they had in the family. His life was simple yet he was able to live to the fullest. His writing is matchless and admirable. The book is both short and interesting that one can complete in one sitting.
ISBN 13: 978-0-646-98150-5
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