Review: In the Hope of Rising Again

Reposted from Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/141961890)

Helen Scully’s prose is lush and fluid, like the flood waters of the Mississippi. She sweeps you through three generations of the Riant family, from the golden days of the Civil War hero founder through its decline and rebirth in the midst of the Great Depression. One book jacket blurb describes this novel as “Southern Gothic,” and the prose does have a dreamy, decadent quality. At times I found the story depressing but appreciated its proto-feminist ending. One can only wonder how much was inspired by events in the lives of the author’s own family.

From page 33: “She felt a surge of power as she focused on the empty road, and its vision on this particular morning made a print in her mind. Soon she would strike out; great things awaited her, travel and love — the courageous search. Where would it take her in this life? … As she turned and stalked back through the sweet stirrings of the garden, she felt an urge to expose herself alongside the flowers, but knew she could not, not yet. Suddenly violent, she lashed with her new parasol against the elephant ears in her path. Then, sap on her shoes and in the webs of her fingers, moth wings in her hair, she returned by the same routes through the dark and chilly downstairs, sipping cold black coffee until sick and unable to sit still, waiting for the house to wake.”

From page 311: “None could guess where Imogene’s search had taken her, but by then the heat had gotten to all of their heads. No behavior seemed out of the ordinary. That was the season, hotter and hotter, the season of blueberries, plums, thunderstorms, storm drains overflowing with the smell of swamp, shutters closed against the sun.”

Paganism on Speaking of Faith

Army Guy called me from the road to tell me about a show playing right now on WBUR: an interview of an ecologist and pagan on the public radio show Speaking of Faith. It focuses on paganism, with an interview of Adrian Ivakhiv, an assistant professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Vermont and author of Claiming Sacred Ground: Pilgrims and Politics at Glastonbury and Sedona. I’m listening to it now and I’m impressed with Ivakhiv’s historically grounded view of paganism — what we know of the old folk traditions, what has survived, and what the neopagan movement is about today.

You can read about and listen to the show here:

http://www.onbeing.org/program/pagans-ancient-and-modern/transcript/1040

I’m also glad that this interview underscores the deep respect for the earth, a desire to preserve the earth’s beauty, that is central to pagan spirituality. Not all pagans are environmentalists, and not all environmentalists are pagans, but in terms of my own deeply held, spiritual values, one flows naturally from the other.

Media Recommendations: Kate Nash, Anne McCaffrey, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Ellen Kushner

Kate Nash. Like Laura Viers, she’s one of those female artists they play on WERS but utterly fail to promote. Mabye I’m a tad sensitive or maybe shit is still broken and needs fixing, but I do wish I could go a day without noticing how many more MALE artists get major promos — in music, in the visual arts, in poetry, in the mainstream book publishing world. Anyway, Kate Nash. After hearing her song “Foundations” for like the hundredth time and wishing they would tell me who the hell was singing it, it finally stuck in my head. Thank God/dess for Google solving the search problem. Wikipedia entry here, official website here. (I’m not linking to the Myspace page because Myspace hurts my designer’s eyes. It buuuuurrrns!!) I went ahead and gave Universal Music all my personal information so they can spam me incessantly and get free market demographics data. In return, I got a music download and a peek at the video for “Foundations”.When I listened to her song on the radio, I had this image of Kate Nash as a tough Londoner, possibly of color, the kind of woman who wears jeans and leather jackets and yells really loud at soccer matches and can kick ass if she needs to. Turns out she’s actually super-feminine, curvy, given to wearing girly dresses with puffy bodices in ice-cream colors. The video is extremely well-done. In very detail-oriented sort of way, it does an excellent job of evoking the general sense of wrongness that accompanies the end of a relationship.It reminded me of a moment when Army Guy and I were walking through the Pru. A woman at one of those little carts stopped me to demonstrate a little device I’d heard about that gives your nails a shine without the use of nail polish. I’m a sucker for personal care products, especially if they’re made with natural ingredients, and I’d been meaning to seek out exactly what this woman was selling. Of course, she was offering it at a tremendous markup (I got the same thing on eBay for less than $10 later). But I digress. Army Guy patiently waited because he’s a sweetie like that. When I showed him my new, shiny thumbnail, his reaction clearly showed that he didn’t see much of a difference.

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