Saturday, November 30, 2013
      ( 11/30/2013 09:40:00 AM ) HN  
2013 reading list, Continued
28. Sir Edward Orme & The Jolly Corner, James
29. A Woman's Power, Alcott
30. In One Person, Irving
31. Girls to the Front, Marcus - NF
32. collection of James Thurber essays
33. Julia and the Bazooka, Kavan
34. Child of the Mountains, Shank - YA/MG
35. The Incurable Wound, Roueche - NF
36. In the Heart of the Sea (the Essex), Philbrick -  NF
37. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down  - NF
38. Trent's Last Case / The Leavenworth Case, Bentley, Green (in progress)
39. Cat's Table (in progress), Ondaatje


Saturday, August 17, 2013
      ( 8/17/2013 08:16:00 AM ) DN  
2013 Books, to Date
I don't even know where I got that list from March, but here is my official refrigerator list so far.
1. Flight Behavior, Kingsolver
2. Haunting of Hill House, Jackson
3. Ellen Foster, Gibbons
4. Maniac Megee, Spinelli
5. The Wooden Sea, Carroll
6. Feed, Anderson
7. The Peculiar Sadness of Lemon Cake, Bender
8. The Music of Chance, Auster
9. Republic of Love, Shields
1000 Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, Mitchell cannot get into this though I loved Cloud Atlas and others
10. Gone Girl, Flynn
11. Summerland, Chabon
12. Fault Lines, Huston
13. Goodnight Nobody, Weiner
14. Independence Day, Ford
15. Gone Baby Gone, Lehane
16. How Fiction Works, Wood
17. The Doctor's Wife, Braddon
18. The Art of Detection, King
19. How Not to Write a Novel, Mittlemark, Newman
20. Absolute Fear, Jackson
21. Grace Paley Collected Stories
22. Lady Audley's Secret, Braddon
23. Gun Machine, Ellis
24. A Grave Talent, King
25. Bird By Bird, Lamott
26. How to Write Killer Fiction, Wheat
27. Careless in Red, George
A bit light on history & science (as in NONE) but I did read Plato and a Platypus and I've got Made to Stick on my reading table. Also, Reinventing Eve, Shrub, and the autobiography of Damien Echols (sp?) of the West Memphis 3. That's four more for 31 to date. I'm not sure I'm going to make it to 50 this year either.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013
      ( 5/07/2013 06:00:00 PM ) DN  
I'm having a blast reading and posting my work!

Scribophile, the online writing group for serious writers

May Book List
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet
some other stuff

Finished: Summerland, Gone Girl


Sunday, March 31, 2013
      ( 3/31/2013 08:26:00 AM ) DN  
In the past couple months: Haunting of Hill House
End of Your Life Book Club
The Peculiar Sadness of Lemon Cake
Reinventing Eve
Plato and a Platypus (reading)

Books I've bought & not yet read: Republic of Love
Anna and the Bazooka
Coming up in my book club: Gone Girl


Saturday, January 26, 2013
      ( 1/26/2013 07:40:00 AM ) DN  
About my Manuscript
Queasy Pinck: The Wretched Year
I’d love to have a better title. Maybe something along the lines of one of her word games: Things You Can’t Lose. Things You Can Touch. Things That are Both Good and Bad.

Queasy, real name Penelope, is a 16 year old girl living in a large West Coast city (ok, it's L.A.), slogging through an awful year of high school. Queasy suffers a great deal of existential distress, which hasn’t reached crisis level yet but she does expect it to momentarily. Her distress takes the form of nausea, of course, as well as general anxiety, occasional panic attacks, backstabbing by her clothing. She also keeps her eye on suspiciously unstable inanimate objects and gets occasional nasty advice from a homunculus on a bicycle who lives in her head.

Although a misfit, Queasy is not always sarcastic: the most common response to her pronouncements, questions and jokes is mild horror. She loves wordplay. Poetry (senryu), composing movie and magazine blurbs, playing word category games.

She is vaguely not a white girl: father mixed race (1/2 Hawaiian, 1/2 white), mother mixed race (1/2 Mexican hispanic, 1/2 white). Her best friend is half-hispanic (Mexican), would-be boyfriend is of Middle-Eastern heritage (Armenian). Race if of little concern to her; socioeconomic class is, but largely unexamined. She is barely 16, after all.

Written in a minimalist style, with careful word choices and mostly ordinary language, Queasy’s story is realistic, while implicitly acknowledging that every human is totally weird and different from all other humans.

Some of my personal style influences are Raymond Carver--for simplicity, Grace Paley--for humor, Carol Shields--for accuracy, and Nabokov--purely aspirational.

I am in favor of all show, no tell. Despite this, I like description. A Saturday afternoon in November was approaching the time of twilight.... I hate writing exercises that begin something like: write a paragraph from the POV of a character whose mother has just died. Do not mention the mother, or death. Despite this, I try to think like this while writing.

I wanted to tell the story of someone behaving badly and how they lived with it. QP, the main character, is being bullied; what is soon apparent is that she uses a bully's tactics herself. Although she doesn't cause physical harm to her tormenter, we can't know whether she caused psychological harm, harm of the same kind that she herself experiences.

The message will have to be extracted by the reader. Things I believe: a person's goodness or badness does not relate to their fate or their happiness. Everyone is a mixed bag (of bones). Love is super-tricky. The human need for contact is both terrible and wonderful. People live through many things and one needs to know the past to understand the present.

Also, too. A good novel doesn't have to be about one thing. It might contain multitudes. Writing a hook or logline is just one reductive, though clever, thing. QP is about an unhappy girl whose head and heart are sending mixed signals. QP is about rules of behavior and trust among people. QP is about the awful things people do to each other. QP is about accidents and chance. QP is about parents and children.


      ( 1/26/2013 06:21:00 AM ) DN  
2013 in books
Books I haven't read but will this year:

Shirley Jackson's novel, a complete short-story collection, Sanora Babb's Dust Bowl book, the rest of Raymond Carver's short-stories, Nancy Huston's Fault Lines (because I own it), Kingsolver's newest (for the book club).


      ( 1/26/2013 06:11:00 AM ) DN  
2012 in books
Katie, Tom and I took the 50 book challenge in 2012.

I think she made it to 50 and I know Tom did--he was unemployed most of the year. I made it to 42 or so, which is pretty good.

I am a re-reader, always. I can't believe it when people claim they never reread a book. What that says to me is they don't read really good books often enough. Or can't distinguish between them? Or read purely for information or for story (plot)?

Confession: I have read Jane Eyre probably 10-15 times so far, and once, with 2 dictionaries and a cheat sheet of "little words" or le colle francais, in French.

Rereading a really good book is like going back to your favorite art museum or rehearing a piece of music you love.

1. A Super Sad True Love Story
2. The Medical Detectives - NF
3. Pocketful of Cinders - MEM
4. A Plague of Doves
5. The Vesuvius Club
6. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
7. A Visit from the Goon Squad
8. Noah's Compass
9. The Fault in our Stars - YA
10.Handle With Care
11.American Gods
12.Breakfast of Champions
13.On the Origin of Species - NF (not really finished)
14.At Home - NF
15.Pride & Prejudice
16.In the Kitchen
17.Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Enlightenment - MEM
18.The Trial
19.Children of Men
20.The Paris Wife
21.Northanger Abbey
22.Wintergirls - YA
23.Dangerous Visions II
24.The Lacuna
27.Amo, Amas, Amat
29.Enormous Changes at the Last Minute
30.Swann's Way (not really finished but I'd already read once)
31.Leviathan - YA
32.Scott Pilgrim book 1 - YA
33.River of Doubt - NF
34.Land of Laughs
35.Speak,Memory - MEM
36.Misadventures in the 213 - TRASHY
37.Basket Case
38.The Marriage Plot
39.Let the Great World Spin
40.Language of Flowers
41.The Game of Words - NF
42.Steering the Craft - NF
44.Where I'm Calling From

Things I reread: #12, #15, #19, #21, #29, #30, #41, #44

Tobias Wolfe's memoir
probably Michael Kohlhaus


Wednesday, May 19, 2010
      ( 5/19/2010 11:37:00 AM ) Tom Norman  
Just so everybody knows, the last post was actually done by me (Tom). I was unknowingly logged in under Dawn's account when I did it, so it came up with the initials DN. That didn't work out too well.



      ( 5/19/2010 11:35:00 AM ) DN  
Work. In my copy of Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, there are 53 definitions. But I'm sure we all agree we know what it is, and we probably think that everyone else means the same thing we do when we use the word. But do we? Let's save that question for later. Maybe much later.

What interests me is that we have removed the concept of work from the context of life. As if there were living, and then there's a thing called "work" that some of us have to do. I saw a documentary once about a tribe in the Amazon. They had no word for work. If they were chopping down a tree, it was called chopping. If they were hoeing the ground to plant something, it was called hoeing. The concept of "work" as a thing in itself, separate from the everyday activities of life, didn't exist. It seems to me that today, for too many of us, a goal of life is to live without working. As if that were possible. Work gives whatever we gain in this life its meaning.

Perhaps our problem lies in a common assumption: that "work" implies having a job. But isn't it work when you make your bed? (If you actually do such an arcane and outlandish activity.) Or wash the dishes? Or go to the store to buy your food---wait a minute, I don't think that is work. Well, at least most of the time it's not. But you see what I mean. There is always something that has to be done, and that's what is considered work. And there is no such thing as living without "working" by that definition. So why distinguish it at all with its own separate definition and concept?

Then there's the whole question of the value of work. We generally think of the value of our work in terms of money. I get paid so much per hour, and therefore can afford to buy so many things. But what about time? Or energy? For many of us who have jobs that we would give up in a heartbeat if we only could, the time spent to buy something means time doing something we would rather not do, which is the same as wasted. Are we really okay with giving 30 years of our life for a house? And if you decide that's okay, since you'd really rather not sleep in the rain or freeze to death in the winter, how about how much time and life-force is spent in order to have a car? A stereo? A TV? An I-Pod? Thinking of it in this way gives you a whole new perspective.

And of course, there's the whole concept of an internal value to work. The old Yankee tradition of hard work being good for the soul is one aspect of this. But really what do we learn or gain within ourselves from work? I'm sure there is value in it other than monetary, but I'm still pondering all the implications, and it would take a discussion longer than a blog post to work it out to my satisfaction.

Well, enough talk. I've gotta get back to work.

Monday, May 10, 2010
      ( 5/10/2010 03:35:00 PM ) Tom Norman  
I guess I'm taking over this blog now. Aaargh! I've leapt aboard and raised the Jolly Roger! Well, some sort of flag, anyway. I'm not sure yet what this blog's going to be about. We'll find out as we go along. I will be talking about poetry, however, since I have a book coming out soon that mixes prose and poetry. I also have a website with my most recent poems. If anyone is interested, it's at
This was originally my wife's blog, but she hasn't been using it much, and asked me if I wanted to try it. I said yes, so here I am.
It's weird...this feels like talking to myself. Or rather, throwing words out into the void. If that's the case, I guess it doesn't matter what I say, does it? So...
I'll post some more when I have some more to say.

reading list:

news & politics:
Mainstream news at WaPo
The Guardian
LA Weekly
NYT Books
A&L Daily
I Blame the Patriarchy
Bitch PhD
The Onion
Huntington alterna-news
Charleston Daily Mail

about west virginia:
Fifth Column
Buzzardbilly: Appalachian Being
Lincoln Walks at Midnight
A Century of West Virginia Authors
Post about Jesse Johnson of the WV Mountain Party
West Virginia’s Mountain Party website
Local Colors, my photo weblog (never mind - hasn't been updated in a looong time
Hillbilly Sophisticate

about the mountains:
WV Citizen Action Group
Coal River Mountain Watch

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