The Tin Drum


  • Author:  Gunter Grass
  • Genre:   fictional autobiography
  • Title:  The Tin Drum .
  • Publisher:  Vintage (out of  print  —  read the Kindle edition)
  • Published: 1959
  • Table of contents:  book 1 – book 2 – book 3
  • Dedication : For Anna Grass
  • Timeline: 1920 – 1950 ( mixture of fact/fantasy…going back and forth in time)
  • Themes:  memory – guilt – isolation
  • Trivia:  Herman Melville was an important influence on G. Grass’s  writing.
  • Trivia: There are NO flashbacks. Everything is  written chronologically.
  • Trivia: Gunter Grass made an extensive writing plan and timetables.
  • He started  the book in 1953, published  it in 1959.  English translation: 1961


  • Oskar Matzerath narrates both his private and public history.
  • It begins with his grandmother’s conception in a potato field in 1899.
  • It ends on Oskar’s 30th birthday in postwar Germany in 1954
  • Oskar’s mother had a Nazi husband and a Polish patriot lover.
  • The narrator at the age of three decides to stop growing.
  • He remains physically a toddler out of disgust with the adult world.
  • Oskar has supernatural abilities.
  • He is capable of screaming so loudly that he can shatter objects.
  • He also was given a tin drum, purchased from a Jewish-owned music store.
  • The store was later destroyed by the Nazis.
  • Oskar keeps  the tin drum with him all the times and constantly plays.

Narrator:   first person autobiographical – unreliable

  • Oskar is writing his memoires to reveal experiences that  changed his life.
  • It made him what he is today:  inmate in a mental institution.
  • Confusing: Oskar shifts from 1st person to third person narration without warning. 
  • “However, and here Oskar must confess to development of a sort,
  • …something did grow…and not always to my best advantage…” (pg 49)


  • The character of Oskar displays many of the obsessive and repetitive habits.
  • One would now describe as symptoms of autism,
  • Examples: his constant drumming to his screaming tantrums.
  • The repetitive language in the book reflects the  sense of 
  • …Oskar’s  repetitive behaviors and sounds.
  • Example: chapter 1 Wide Skirt: just on a few pages 7-12
  • words: brickworks (16x)potato(es) (29 x)fire (16x)smoke (11 x)

Theme:   isolation – Oskar likes to stay in the mental hospital.

  • He wants no part of the chaotic outside world.
  • ‘have the rails raised even higher to keep anyone from coming too close”. (pg 4)
  • His metal white bed, “it is my consolation” ( pg 3).
  • Visitors disrupt “the silence I’ve woven between my white metal bed bars.”(pg 3)

Theme:   Guilt: Grass was the voice of a German generation that came of age in WW II.

  • They had to  bear the burden of their parents’ guilt for the atrocities of the Nazis.
  • Grass never failed to confront Germans with what they did.

Symbol: red and white, the colors of the Polish flag

  • Grass emphasizes the rivalry between Poland and Germany.
  • Joseph Koljaiczek is an arsonist. (chapter 2 ‘Under the Raft’)
  • ” …whitewashed sawmill ablaze in red, to the greater glory of
  • an indeed partitioned but therefore even more firmly united Poland.”  (pg 15)

Oskar 268ac715-b564-45ce-a364-c6e36abae719-1020x612Symbol: Tin drum

  • Tin drum  was a means of protest  to express Oskar’s  anger.
  • He beats the drums until they break...and gets another to replace it.
  • Tin drum is the ‘tension’ throughout the book.
  • It was  painted in red and white lacquer ( colors of Polish flag).
  • A Jewish toy merchant sells Oskar  “.. white and red lacquered tin drum.
  • Oskar was a drummer by trade, and…
  • could neither live without a drum nor wished to.” (pg 186)
  • Oskar needed the drum to live in the present, yet NOT  forget the past.

Symbol:  grandmother’s  skirts = safe, peaceful place in a world of chaos

  • Simple words that evoke such a touching childlike yearning for a safe place to live…
  • It was always summer under my grandmother’s skirts.
  • …as the Christmas tree glowed, as I hunted for Easter eggs, or marked every All Saint’s Day.
  • Nowhere could I live more at peace with the calendar than under my grandmother’s skirts. (pg 113)

Best chapters:  ” Shop Windows”  and  ” No Miracle” =  creative writing at its best!

Motif:  Card game skat to help the reader to comprehend the underlying message:

  • Card game  only played by three: Jan (lover) Agnes (wife) Alfred (husband).
  • I represented a ‘house of cards’ unstable situation that can suddenly collapse.
  • Agnes is the Queen of Hearts and Jan is the lowly Seven of Spades.
  • As Jan is led away by the German police…
  • …he raises his hand with the Queen of Hearts to wave good-bye to Oskar. (pg 228)
  • Oskar finds the  Seven of Spades attached to a stick where Jan was executed. (pg 238)

Motif:  the scent of a woman ( lasting memory that will never disappear)

  • Grandmother – slightly rancid butter
  • Agnes (mother) – sardine oil
  • Marie – vanilla
  • Roswitha – cinnamon, nutmeg and crushed cloves
  • Frau Geff – decaying nightgown

 Strong point:

  • Grass starts the book with a strong  attention-grabbing first sentence:
  • “Granted: I am an inmate of a mental  hospital;  my keeper watches me,
  • scarcely lets me out of his sight, for there’s a peephole in the door,
  • and my keeper’s eye is the shade of brown that can’t see through blue-eyed types like me.”
  • This makes the reader want to find out how did he get into the mental institution?
  • What is the significance of their  eye colors?
  • Brown eyes ( non-Aryan, inferior)  vs  Blue eyes ( Aryan, superior)

What did I learn by reading The Tin Drum ?

  • Grass wanted the reader to THINK  and not EMPATHIZE  with the  main character.
  • He felt strongly that the German middle-class did not THINK during WW II
  • It therefore  allowed Hitler’s regime to flourish.
  • Grass deflects the reader from the narrative using 3 methods:
  • Grotesque details about everyday life as told by Oskar.
  • (grotesque in the story must match the grotesque of the Hitler regime)
  • Unreliable narrator reporting events…not competent in interpreting them and confusing certain facts.
  • Parody of a Bildungsroman:
  • Oskar say at his birth…
  • “I was one of those clair-audient infants whose mental development is completed at birth..” (pg 35)
  • This remark is in contrast with the fundamental notion of a Bildungsroman:
  • character’s mental and spiritual development is supposed to be completed gradually through crucial experiences in society.


  • This book is impossible to review in a few short paragraphs.
  • Gunter Grass reveals  fifty years of German history using
  • dazzling  language skills, humor, symbolism and parody.
  • I wanted to learn something new by reading The Tin Drum.
  • I took the time to do some research before starting the book.
  • This book is an example of a reading experience as was …
  • Don Quixote (Cervantes) and 2666 (Bolano)
  • Last thoughts:
  • I could not  read this book lazily while lounging on the sofa.
  • It required me to ‘work hard’ in order to discover all it has to offer.
  • Gunter Grass is truly one of the great modern authors.
  • He deserves his Nobel Prize 1999!
  • Bravo!

Last thoughts  24 hours after finishing the book:

  • This was not an easy book to review mainly because of its scope.
  • What do you mention, what do you leave out?
  • The book kept spinning in my thoughts last night and  I had to consciously say to myself:
  • “Let it go, Nance”.
  • After having had a good nights sleep I am still exhausted.
  • This sense of exhaustion overwhelmed me by only a few books, 2666 and Don Quixote.
  • These are the books that the reader must dare read.
  • It requires a commitment.
  • It gives you back a sense of accomplishment.
  • This book was an anomaly.
  • At times I was enthralled with Grass’s writing and sense of humor (best chapters references)
  • and at other times could barely read the descriptions.
  • I don’t think I could have appreciated this book as a young student.
  • One needs some life experiences to help you digest the material.
  • I must add, you like the book or you hate it.

Score 4:  ….after more thought….

Score 5

Der Schriftsteller und Literatur-Nobelpreisträger Günter Grass spricht am 20

Author:  Gunter Grass   (1927 – 2015)

  • Günter Grass was born Danzig,  today the Polish city of Gdańsk.
  • His parents were middle-class merchants of German-Polish descent.
  • He became a willing member of the Hitler Youth. (1944 to 1945)
  • Grass was wounded in April 1945  and captured by the Americans.
  • They took him to see the Nazi concentration camp of Dachau.
  • Grass could not believe that such atrocities could have taken place, 
  • He thought it was a hoax perpetrated by the Americans.
  • When the Nüremberg trials on Nazi war crimes were held…
  • he finally realized the truth of the historical record

Page 593:   Gunter Grass   (1927 – 2015)   RIP

  • ” He’s run out of words.
  • For what was once behind my back […]  is now coming toward me:
  • Better start running, the Black Cook’s coming!
  • Ha! Ha! Ha!”

Main characters:  book 1

  • Oskar Matzerath:
  • Alfred Matzerath:
  • Bruno Munsterberg:
  • Anna Koljaiczek Bronski:
  • Joseph Koljaiczek
  • Agnes Koljaiczek
  • Jan Bronski 
  • Sigismund Markus

Main characters:  book 2

  • Maria Truczinski
  • Bebra
  • Roswitha Raguna
  • “The Dusters”

Main characters:  book 3

  • Sister Dorothea
  • Egon Munzer Klepp
  • Gottfried Vittlar



Posted by on April 24, 2015 in Uncategorized


Galactic Challenge: The Dark Between The Stars


  • Title: The Dark Between The Stars 
  • Author: K.J. Anderson
  • Genre: Sci-Fi
  • Pages: 672
  • Chapters: 139
  • Published: June 2014
  • Trivia: shortlisted Hugo Award 2015 ( category novel)
  • Trivia: Kevin J. Anderson is the author of more than 120 books
  • Trivia: 52 of these books have have appeared on  bestseller lists.


  1. I am NOT a Sci-Fi fan but still…ready to board the  MOTHERSHIP !
  2. Time to  expand my reading horizons… infinity!
  3. I will now start my   GALACTIC INCERTITUDE CHALLENGE.
  4. The Darkness Between the Stars is the second to read  for the challenge.
  5. It is nominated for Hugo Awards 2015  category  novel.


  • Dark between the Stars is the first in the Saga of Shadows.
  • It is a new series that takes place 20 years after the Saga of the Seven Suns.
  • The inhabitants of the Spiral Arm are getting back to normality the Elemental War.
  • I have no idea what I am getting myself into…..
  • Time to take the plunge.

Story:    basic info

….the rest of the story is so complex, you’ll have to read it yourself!

  • The human race has colonized multiple planets in the Spiral Arm.
  • The human race is governed by  Confederation, (King Peter, Queen Estarra)
  • Their green priests communicate in the galaxy by toughing a treeling  on the planet..
  • Roamers are a clan of hard working humans from the fringes of space.
  • They are now allied with the Confederation..
  • Ildrians are extraterrestrials.
  • They are divided into castes each physically different.
  • This  difference is labeled by the suffixes on their names.
  • Ildrians are mentally connected  to each other  through the use of thism.
  • Ildrians share their ‘stardrive technology’ with the humans
  • Artificial intelligence are the compys. (DD-MO-LU-BO-OK).
  • Exxos leader of remaning Klikiss robots is also artificial intelligence

Essential references:

  • This book contains 31  major characters divided over 139 chapters.
  • Most important: Garrison Reeves, Orli Covitz, Lee Iswander and Princess Arita
  • There are countless minor characters and planets mentioned.
  • Here are two links that are essential while reading as a quick reference.
  • I could not read the book without them!
  • Characters in The Saga of the Shadows  (1st book = Darkness Between the Stars)
  • Planets in The Saga of the Seven Suns   (Anderson’s previous work)


  • The book is  are divided into 139  chapters,
  • Each one narrated in the third person limited through the eyes of a character.


  • good vs evil – Confederation, Roamers, Ildrians are threatened by  Shana Rei and Klikiss.
  • domestic issues  – parents, children, husbands, wives, loners, lovers
  • personal gain by means of unorthodox means (medical-research complex)

Strong point:

  • Anderson has added a ‘glossary’  at the end of the book
  • There are so many names and references to planets, galaxies, documents etc.
  • I strongly recommend reading this book on a Kindle.
  • There are 45 ‘sweep’  pages in the glossary.

Strong point:

  • Anderson uses believable names which helps the reading process.
  • I still  had to deal with Gale’ nh, Tamo’l, Muree’n, Osira’ h, Zan’ nh and Rod’h.

Strong point:

  • For Sci-fi aficionado’s  I ‘m sure this book will be a joy to read.
  • I have little Sci-Fi experience but did recognize  some items.
  • The link between Asimov’s  Robots and  Anderson’s compy’s
  • (competent computerized companions).
  • Also there is a compy named DD which reminded me of Starwars R2D2.

Strong point:

  • Anderson creates a sense of place in his fictional universe.
  • This is not an easy thing to do!
  • I lost count after reading about…
  • 15 planets,
  • 1 frozen moon,
  • 3 stars,
  • 6 spaceships,
  • 1 space station,
  • 1 hollowed out comet that serves as a school
  • 10 races ( human, elemental and…others).

Weak point

  • Anderson goes into too much detail about everything!
  • No wonder there are 139 chapters.

Twitter thoughts:

  • The Darkness Between the Stars”
    for Galactic Incertitiude challange.
  • Read 10 chapters, 129 to read
  • #FeelsLikeInfinity


  • After reading the table of contents and introduction
  • ….I was scared to death!
  • This book is on a completely different level than Ancillary Sword!
  • Strong point: This story has recognizable elements.
  • I felt Anderson  lifted many ‘earth’ experiences  to ‘space’  level.
  • This book was believable…more so than Ancillary Sword.
  • Weak point: Still the scope of the book was a challenge.
  • Yet once you understand who’s who…it gets easier.
  • Even War and Peace is confusing in the beginning!
  • Weak point: I had to push myself every day to read.
  • That is because I am not a Sci-Fi fan and nothing to do with the book itself.
  • Strong point: The narrative  was action packed!
  • I could not stop reading once the climax was near!
  • Last thoughts:
  • Will I read the next book in the Saga of the Shadows?
  • YES!
  • I never thought I would do this.
  • I’m giving a Sci-Fi book a score of 5!

Score 5:



Posted by on April 20, 2015 in Uncategorized


Galactic Challenge: Ancillary Sword

Alien Planet And Spaceships - Computer Artwork

Space station Athoek

  1. I am NOT a Sci-Fi fan but still…ready to board the  MOTHERSHIP !
  2. Time to  expand my reading horizons… infinity!
  3. I will now start my   GALACTIC INCERTITUDE CHALLENGE.
  4. Ancillary Sword   is the first the book I will read for the challenge.
  5. It is nominated for Hugo Awards 2015  category  novel.
  • Ancillary Sword  –   by Anne Leckie


  • Fleet commander Breq is sole the survivor of  a starship  destroyed by treachery.
  • If you want to know more then read the 1st book in this space trilogy: ‘Ancillary of Justice’.
  • For Breq and ‘Ship’ ( with artificial intelligence ) think revenge is a dish best served cold.
  • The ruler of the fictional universe Radch, Anaander Mianaai must be punished for her criminal actions.


  • Radchaai (inhabitants of Radch)  do not distinguish people by  gender.
  • Leckie  uses  only female personal pronouns for everybody!
  • Athoek Station felt like one big college sorority!
  • The only difference being…some of these  sisters  would betray each other.


  1. How do I review Sci-fi?  I am clueless.
  2. I decided to just capture my impulsive thoughts. 
  3. I can only review Sci-Fi by the ‘sponaneous’ !
  4. Here are my updates:

08 April:

  • Space ships that think. ( AI = artificial intelligence)
  • A fleet captain who hears some news from her subordinates and  tells the reader:
  • “…but I already knew that…”.
  • Space gates that need immediate repair.
  • I am convinced Sci-Fi is an acquired taste… olives.

09 April:

  • Sci-Fi has  does not appeal for me,  but after reading just 5 chapters I feel differently.
  • The strange concepts presented by Leckie make the reader really work.
  • I have to concentrate  to understand this fictional universe Radch.
  • Mistake made: subconsciously tried to to fit Leckie’s idea’s into my own world.
  • Mistake corrected:  consciously try to put myself in Leckie’s world….but it did take some effort!
    There are two strong female characters Breq (fleet commander) and  Anaander Mianaai (The Tyrant) who is  ruler of Radchaai space.
  • Clash seems inevitable: good vs evil …but I’m not that far yet!

10 April:

  • Villian Anaander Mianaai  has two sides to herself.  (Huh?)
  • The setting of Radch Space and Anaander Mianaai both have been expanding for 3000 years.
  • Due to the destruction of the Garseddai (I call them the Greeks) a crisis was triggered.
  • Anaander Mianaai decides to go to war with herself!  (Huh?)
  • But there is a small problem:  because ‘The Tyrant’ is so large….
  • it could take weeks for a thought to reach all the way across herself.
  • I wonder what is in Leckie’s  coffee while she is writing? 
  • How do you make this stuff up?

13 April:

  • I’m back in Athoek Station with Comm. Breq.
  • The crew have switched off their communication implants.
  • They are resting in the Undergarden.
  • Sounds harmless…but aliens Presger, Rrrrr and Geck are  close by!
  • Leckie wins my vote when it comes to thinking up names!
  • That is a job in itself!

14 April:

  • Issue: Breq discovers  human slave trading in Radch.
  • There social unrest brewing in Undergarden due to poor living conditions.
  • Love intrigues are heating up ’that could result into ‘power plays’ on Athoek Station.
  • Chapters 11-12-13-14 a bit slow with an unexpected death of  Dlique the Presger  translator.
  • Two week mourning period is announced.
  • There is song singing, tea drinking  and the occasional glass of arrack …
  • … I call it Beefeater London Dry Gin!

15 April:

  • If you remove the gobbledegook, gibberish, mumbo jumbo and…
  • …give characters believable names…
  • …then this book is basically a very human story.
  • The themes  are:
  • betrayed friendship
  • thirst for power
  • corruption
  • striving for equal rights for workers.


  • Climax  chapter 20:   good vs evil shoot-out 
  • …resulting in: alien down, ancillary down, ship down  and fleet commander down.
  • Slave trader is captured.
  • But who bought the slaves?
  • The third book in this space trilogy will pick up the storyline.
  • Leckie must deal with…
  • …a ‘mad warship’ on the other side of the ghost gate…
  • …one half of Anaander Minaaai  ready to attack and…
  • …the alien Presger demanding to know what happened to its translator.
  • Last thoughts:
  • As you can see from my remarks…this story was ‘ too far-fetched’!
  • It felt forced, implausible and just downright beyond the beyond.
  • Leckie is an established Sci-fi writer…perhaps I just choose the wrong book to start with.
  • But it is nominated for a Hugo Award…so we will have to await the judges report.
  • This is my last Anne Leckie book.
  • Ancillary Sword  has no  real ‘winning’ qualities in my opinion.
  • I predict… Hugo Award.

Score: 2

Ann Leckie


Posted by on April 16, 2015 in Uncategorized


Camille (Sacrifices) Verhoeven Triology


  • Author:  Pierre Lemaitre
  • Genre:  Crime fiction
  • Title: Sacrifices
  • Published: 2012
  • Table of Contents:   3 parts,    pp. 362
  • Publisher: Albin Michel 
  • Language: French
  • Dedication:   for Pascaline and  Cathy Bourdeau
  • Setting: Paris
  • Timeline:  3 chronological days
  • Trivia: #3 trilogy Verhoeven
  • Trivia: Alex  #2  in the trilogy  had a sharper  edge to it than this book.

Main characters:

  • Camille Verhoeven (inspector, widower,  50+, balding, 1 meter 50 cm)
  • Louis Mariani  – (designer suits and shoes) – Verhoeven’s  assistant
  • Le juge Pereira (Chief inspector)
  • Mme Michard – (Division commissioner)
  • Verhoeven has ‘une emmerdeuse’  (pain in the neck)
  • at home =  his cat Doudouche
  • and now  one in the office = Mme Michard
  • Le Guen (inspector) –  Verhoeven’s good friend
  • Anne Forestier – (Verhoeven’s love interest)
  • Vincent Hafner:  Verhoeven’s nemisis  ( must be hunted down…)


  • Anne Forestier witnessed a robbery in the Champs Elysees.
  • She  miraculously escaped the brutality of the robber.
  • The description of the robbery on  day 1 is very graphic!
  • Anne is destroyed and disfigured.
  • Camille Verhoeven (her lover) is determined to track down this gangster.
  • The  attacker is just as determined to eliminate Anne.
  • She could identify him as the robber.
  • Verhoeven decides to ‘sacrifice’  his principles.
  • All options are on the table….even violence.
  • Eventually…Verhoeven and the assassin will meet face to face.
  • Who is the hunter?  Who is the prey!

Strong point:   minimal dialogue

  • Lemaitre reveals  Verhoeven’s  thoughts, sarcasm, humor and honest inner voice.
  • I don’t hear everything, just enough to keep me emotionally involved.
  • This is such a different style than I found  in Fred Vargas’s  L’Homme à l’envers !

Strong point:  language

  • Lemaitre describes  elelments of the ‘criminal world’  that is pure delight to read!
  • Alibi’s in cement  –  alibi’s en beton
  • Witnesses in stainless steel – témoinages en acier trempé
  • Take the rap for only…. – il n’ écope que de…

Camille Verhoeven:

  • Verhoeven’s character  holds no real surprises this time….
  • ….because I knew  his personal backround. (1st wife Irene  kidnapped and murdered)
  • Still Lemaitre can describe Camille Verhoeven with details that linger.
  • His hand, small but masculine, veined but always very warm
  • “Sa main […] plus petite mais masculine, fortement veinée, des mains très chaudes, toujours”


  • to get some inside information –  secouer  le cocotier ( shake the coconunt tree)
  • to keep everybody happy – ménager  la chèvre et le chou ( the goat and the cabbage)
  • to be quick-temped, have a short fuse:  être soupe au lait  ( soup with milk)
  • beaten to a pulp – amoché à la pointe;  passé à tabac !
  • spare me your tall tales – epargnez-mos vos salades  (…your salad!)


  • This is my third Pierre Lemaitre book.
  • Even though the ‘template’ is similar  each book manages to entertain!
  • Alternate points of view of the victim, police and the assassin  keep the action moving.
  • I find the that the  inventive storyline and  language are its strong points.
  • The French is easy to read with some great new expressions!
  • Last thoughts:
  • The book just felt  comfortable, snug and warm.
  • Reading about Camille Verhoeven was like meeting an old friend again.
  • Camille Verhoeven is my favorite detective….
  • so human, so self-depricating, so unforgettable.
  • Lemaitre  remains   ‘the master’  of the French polar!  

Score 4

Crime Fiction Adventure



Posted by on April 14, 2015 in Uncategorized


Wendell Berry: who?

wendell Berry

  • Author:  Wendell Berry ( 1934)
  • Genre: essays
  • Title:  Our Only World
  • Published:  2015
  • Contents: 10 essays,  196 pages
  • Published by:   Counterpoint
  • Theme:  analysis of our current social, political and economic condition
  • Trivia: He has been awarded the National Humanities Medal (2010) by Barack Obama


  • Inspired by Cleo at Classical Carousel I decided to read Wendell Berry’s essays.
  • This was a bizarre experience.
  • I never imagined this  kindly gentleman could keep me awake at night!
  • Berry  is a celebrated environmental writer/poet born in Kentucky 1934.
  • He is the author of more than 50 works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.
  • He has something to say….but  is at times very confusing.

Weak point:   Berry’s style of writing was exasperating.

I was stumbling over words and phases asking myself: What does this mean?

  • fundamentalist disdain
  • credentialed disdain
  • mechanical thought
  • formal integrity
  • puritanization of thought ( is this a word?)

Distinctio: –  Berry uses this constantly in all of the essays ( detail to make a point)

…to help them to preserve their wholeness, which is to say health.
…toward the financial, which is to say toward the so-called economy of money.
…long-term health and fertility, which is to say the long-term productivity.
…removing the marked trees as quickly, which is to say as cheaply as possible.
…creature forming in their wombs as a baby, which is to say a human being.
…in our economic life, which is to say our way of living from our land.

Confusing: (example)

  • I recognize the possibility and existence of this knowledge
  • even its usefulness,
  • but I also recognize the narrowness of this usefulness and the damage it does.
  • Whew!

Confusing: (example)

  • We know by evidence or by trust in people who have examined the evidence
  • in  a way that we trust is trustworthy.
  • Whew!

Weak point: (example)

  • References at the beginning of the essay ‘Paragraphs From a Notebook’…
  • ..  did not connect to Berry’s premise at the end of the document.
  • Quotes from  Yeats, Ezra Pound, the Greek poet Sikelianos and  poet J.C. Ransom were weak.
  • They  also did not support Berry’s premise…
  • Criticism of scientific-industrial progress must be valid.”
  • I just could not see the connection!

Strong point:   example  (Paragraphs from a Notebook)

  • The section that starts with: ” My premise is….”
  • The writing was better.
  • I could finally see the proverbial ‘ light at the end of the tunnel’.


  • There is no doubt that Wendell Berry has something to say.
  • But  I found that his writing missed a polished style of  ‘clear logic’
  • On January 28, 2015, Berry became the
  • first living writer to be ushered into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame.
  • This attests to qualities.
  • I  just lack the necessary skills to understand Berry’s message.

Score: 3 book cover our Only World  W. Berry 51mS1ltNzeL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_


Posted by on April 12, 2015 in Uncategorized


Reading Plan 2015 update April


Biographies / Memories / Letters:


Trail-of-Genghis  horse and blue lake

  • On the Trails of Geghis Khan ( Tim Cope 2013)
  • The Making of the President 1960 ( Th. H. White, 1962)
  • To The River  (Olivia Laing)
  • Their Finest Hour ( W Churchill, 1949)
  • Our Only World ( W. Berry, 2015)
  • Through  the Eye of the Needle (P. Brown, 2012)
  • Essays on Painting ( S. Schama, 2004)
  • From Gibbon to Auden, essays on classical tradition (G. Bowersock, 2009)
  • The Gulag Archipelago 1918-56 (A. Solzhenitsyn, 1973)
  • Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes (E. Hamilton, 1942)
  • Inner Workings, literary essays (J.M. Coetzee, 2008)
  • Less Than One Selected essays (J. Brodsky, 1986)
  • Hodges, A. – Alan Turing: The Enigma

Back to the Classics:

  1. Tess of d’Urbervilles  (T. Hardy)   1800-1899  published
  2. Of Human Bondage (S. Maugham) 1900-1965 published
  3. Le Débâcle – (E. Zola) very long Classic +500 pages
  4. La Révolte des Anges (A. France)  Classic novella (279 pg, Languge: French)
  5. Max Havelaar (Multatuli) Satirical  classic
  6. Their Finest Hour (W. Churchill)  Non-fiction classic

Nobel authors:

  • Inner Workings, literary essays (J.M. Coetzee, 2008)
  • Less Than One Selected essays (J. Brodsky, 1986)
  • Prague Tales (J. Neruda, 1993)
  • One Man’s Bible ( Gao Xingjian, 1999)
  • The Growth of the Soil ( K. Hamsun)
  • House for Mr. Biswas (V.S. Naipaul)
  • La Révolte des Anges (A. France) (Languge: French) –  prize 1921
  • Jenny (S. Undset)
  • Elmer Gantry  (Sinclair Lewis)
  • The Atom Station (H. Laxness)
  • Capitan Courageous (R. Kipling)
  • The Caretaker (H. Pinter)
  • Their Finest Hour (Sir. W. Churchill) – prize 1953

French books: 


Dutch books:


  • Tijdloos OuderwetsK. van Kooten – nostalgic, short, impressionistic scenes.
  • They recall life during the childhood (1950’s – 60’s) of Van Kooten.
  • Families entertained themselves with simple pastimes like….midget golf!
  • This was a hilarious story. My favorite story was ‘ Hoge Bloeddruk’  (High Bloodpressure).
  • Embarrassed during a ‘ bike test’  for his high bloodpressure
  • … the  nurse asks  Kees van Kooten  ” Can’t you bike any faster?”
  • The nurse sighs and removes the heart meter….
  • Kees feels as if she abruptly  ousted him out of the famous ” Tour de France” race!  #Loser.
  • De UitvreterNescio  (short story)
  • Intense story – 3rd person narrator Koekebakker follows the life of a ‘ moocher’ Japi ( De uitvreter).
  • Philosophical theme:  Japi tries to avoid death by stopping time. #Missionimpossible.
  • Japi decides to commit suicide.  This is not a ‘upiftig  story!
  • Symbols: sun and water represent what is and what always shall be.
  • I have to read more about the backround of this compex writer before…
  • I attempt any more of his books.

Classic list nr 2:


Crime Fiction:



  • The Secret in Their Eyes (E. Sacheri)
  • The Human Flies (Hans Olav Lahlum) Short list Petrona Prize 2015
  • The Big Sleep ( R. Chandler)
  • The Thin Man ( D. Hammett)
  • The Soft Talkers ( M. Millar)
  • Mildred Pierce (J. M. Cain)
  • A Clubbable Woman ( R. Hill)
  • The Adventures and Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes ( A.C. Doyle)
  • C. Auguste Dupin Collection of 3 stories  Edgar Allan Poe
  • Crooked House (A. Christie)
  • The Winter Queen (B. Akunin)
  • Ratking   Michael Dibdin  (Aurelio Zen series)
  • Absolution ( P. Flanery)
  • L’Homme à l’envers   (Fred Vargas)
  • Camille (P. Lemaitre)
  • Murder on the Orient Express (A. Christie) –  no review –  06 February 2015:  score 3
  • This book is my 2nd Christie mystery. It was better than Crooked House.
  • I had seen the movie so ‘ whodunnit’  was not the issue…I knew the ending.
  • I find Christie’s writing average.
  • The character of Hercule Poirot is the only redeeming element.




  1. I am NOT a Sci-Fi fan but still…ready to board the  MOTHERSHIP !
  2. Time to  expand my reading horizons… infinity!
  3. I will now start my   GALACTIC INCERTITUDE CHALLENGE.
  4. Here are the books nominated for Hugo Awards 2015  category  novel:
  • The Dark Between the Stars, Kevin J. Anderson
  • The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison
  • Lines of Departure, Marko Kloos (47North)
  • Skin Game, Jim Butcher

Ann Leckie is a  well known writer in  the world beyond the stars.

  • Deadline:  22 August 2015 ( prize will be announced)
  • Books:  Kindle  ( I don’t need sci-fi on my bookshelves,  thank you very much)
  • Goal:  I hope to enjoy these books….more than Game of Thornes.

Posted by on April 10, 2015 in Uncategorized


Classic Poe: The Imp of the Perverse

130_edgar allan poe IMP

  • Author:  Edgar Allan Poe
  • Genre: short story in the horror genre
  • Title:  The Imp of  the Perverse
  • Published:  July 1845  in Graham’s Magazine
  • Length of story:  4 pages [16 paragraphs]
  • Published by  Penguin Books
  • Setting: 1830-1840’s in prison cell, narrator tells his story…how he got on death row
  • Theme:  an impulse forcing people to act irrationally


  • The Imp of  the Perverse is a  short story that begins as an essay.
  • It discusses the  narrator’s self-destructive impulses, embodied as  The Imp of  the Perverse.
  • Poe wrote it to justify his own actions of self-torment and self-destruction.
  • Many of Poe’s characters display a failure to resist The Imp of  the Perverse.
  • Murder in The Black Cat
  • Narrator in Tell Tale Heart
  • The opposite  is displayed in the character  C. Auguste Dupin.
  • He exhibits reason and deep analysis.


  • Part 1 Is written in essay style mentioning subjects
  • in philosophical terms (primum mobile, à posteriori) ), logic (phrenology) and mysticism (Kabbala)
  • Poe cleverly reveals the ‘narrator’s own ‘imp’ by being so wordy!
  • The narrator admits he has always wanted to anger the listener (reader) with confusing language.
  • “The impulse increases to a wish, the wish to a desire, the desire to an uncontrollable longing….”
  • I am one of the many uncounted victims of the Imp of the Perverse.” (pg 281)
  • Part 2 contains the narrators story….
  • He inherits an estate after murdering its owner.
  • He ends up on death row after a perverse impulse causes him to confess the murder.


  • The Narrator: An apparently demented man who appears intelligent and well educated.
  • The Listener:  Unnamed person listening to the narrator’s story.
  • Madame Pilau: Woman who died after inhaling the smoke from an accidentally poisoned candle.
  • The Murder Victim: Unnamed person whose property passed to the narrator.
  • Pedestrians:  People who witness the narrator’s confession.

Style:  first person point-of-view with an unreliable narrator

  • Had I not been thus prolix, you might either have
  • misunderstood me altogether or […] fancied me mad. (pg 283)

Symbols:   Imp

  • This is a spirit that tempts a person to do things….they would normally not do.
  • Poe explains that the  ‘imp’  is an impulse in each person’s mind.


  • Alliteration:  laconic and luminous language (pg 281)
  • Climax: Poe uses a climax words that are arranged  to increase their importance.
  • “The impulse increases to a wish, the wish to a desire, the desire to an uncontrollable longing, and the longing ( to the deep regret and mortification of the speaker and in defiance of all consequences) in indulged.” (pg 282)

Voice of Poe:

  • Poe states we use the word ‘perverse’ without really knowing what is means.
  • Perverse = headstrong, obstinate, contradictory
  • Poe is a master when it comes to entering human thoughts.
  • He describes how we ‘put off until tomorrow that we could do today’ because we are perverse.
  • With each passing day the anxiety grows.
  • I do exactly what Poe describes…
  • when I have to make an appointment for the dentist!
  • “The clock strikes, and is the knell of our welfare.” (pg 282)

Voice of Poe:

  • In  paragraph 6  we read one of the famous lines:
  • We stand upon the brink of a precipice.
  • Poe describes the uncontrollable urge to jump.
  • I could only think of the Austrian, Felix Baumgartner.
  • In 2012 he stood who on the ‘precipice’ of space before making his famous skydive from the stratosphere!
  • Goosebumps!

Felix nr 2 2012 Baumgartner 78cc04542dcd5135c7342adc7a7fe7f2_large

Felix Baumgartner _63486478_63486477



  • This is one of Poe’s  lesser known works.
  • I expected great writing and got loopy sentences going on and on about nothing!
  • After further reading I realized this was Poe’s intention….to irritate the reader!
  • The story just kept getting better and better.
  • Weak point:  the first 4 paragraphs are difficult to get through.
  • This almost deterred and discouraged me…but I did not stop!
  • Strong point: the story in itself is ‘perverse’ .
  • Poe deliberately  uses confusing writing and structure to irritate the reader.
  • A writer usually wants to please the reader!
  • Poe preforms this “perverse” act that defies logic and reason.

Last thoughts:

  • I thought I would just breeze through 4 pages of The Imp of the Perverse.
  • How wrong I was.
  • I have read each and every word in this story…twice!!
  • That is an accomplishment in itself.
  • Below is a summation of each paragraph.
  • Read it ….or read the story first ……your choice.
  • I was surprised by the style, structure and  plot.
  • Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe are works of art….
  • …and deserve a high score.

Score : 5

130_edgar allan poe

Paragraph 1:

  • Poe refers to this ‘unknown‘ entity 5 x in  this paragraph: 
  • propensity – natural inclination – impulse – ‘it’
  • primum mobile’  (= entity that produces an effect or is responsible for results).
  • Poe explains that  the phrenologists ( = who study of the shape of the skull) and the
  • Spurzheimites (= the followers of Johann Kaspar Spurzheim (1776-1832).
  • They have both  overlooked this…
  • propensity, this  moral sentiment, this faculty of the pure intellect.
  • N.B.  Poe goes off at a tangent on a different line of thought about phrenology.
  • This  added very little to the paragraph.
  • The reader still does not know  what  ‘IT’  is!

Paragraph 2:

  • It would have been wiser  to classify what man occasionally did instead of what God intended him to do.
  • The paragraph consists of 2 philosophical questions about how to understand God’s works.
  • Blah, blah.

Paragraph 3:

  • Induction (= presentation of facts and evidence)  would have brought phrenology to admit perverseness as an innate principle of human action.
  • It is a motive that is not motivated.
  • We do things that we would normally not do.
  • Unreasonable acts are strong and becomes irresistible.
  • The unconquerable force impels us to carry out an action.
  • Phrenology…blah, blah.

Paragraph 4:

  • Listen to your heart rather than your head.
  • It  (the impulse)  has a special quality yet is difficult to grasp.
  • Poe admits he has followed this  ‘impulse’  to torment the readers of this story!

Wonderful long sentence…thing of beauty:

  • “The speaker is aware that he displeases;
  • he has every intention to please;
  • he is usually curt, precise, and clear;
  • the most laconic (= terse, concise) and luminous (= lucid, clear) language
  • is struggling for utterance upon his tongue;
  • it is only with difficulty that he restrains himself from giving it flow;
  • he dreads and deprecates ( = to express disapproval of )  the anger of him whom he addresses ;
  • yet the thought strikes him, that by certain involutions (= expressions) and
  • parentheses this anger may be engendered.”   (= created)” (pg 281
  • Poe wants to write clearly and concisely but restrains himself.
  • Alliteration: laconic and luminous  language…
  • The impulse increases to a wish, the wish to a desire, the desire to an uncontrollable longing, and the longing ( to the deep regret and mortification of the speaker and in defiance of all consequences) in indulged.
  • Climax: Poe uses a climax words that are arranged  to increase their importance.
  • Poe also uses a ‘parentheses’  as he mentioned  to anger the reader!

Paragraph 5:

  • Poe states we use the word ‘perverse’ without really knowing what is means.
  • Perverse = headstrong, obstinate, contradictory
  • Poe is a master when it comes to entering human thoughts.
  • He describes how we ‘put off until tomorrow that we could do today’ because we are perverse.
  • With each passing day the anxiety grows.
  • I do exactly what Poe describes…
  • when I have to make an appointment for the dentist!
  • “The clock strikes, and is the knell of our welfare.” (pg 282)

Paragraph 6:

  • In this paragraph 6  we read one of the famous lines:
  • We stand upon the brink of a precipice.
  • Poe describes the uncontrollable urge to jump.
  • The only image I could think of was that of the Austrian, Felix Baumgartner.
  • In 2012 he stood who on the ‘ precipice’ of space before making his famous skydive from the stratosphere!
  • Goosebumps!

Paragraph 7:

  • Poe explains that we carry out similar actions (jumping from a precipice) only because we feel we should not.
  • This is perverse. (= head strong, obstinate, unreasonable)

Paragraph 8:

  • The narrator (Poe)  is now going to explain to the listener why he is chained in  a cell of the condemned.
  • He was the victim of the Imp of the Perverse.

Paragraph 9:

  • The narrator describes the murder.

Paragraph 10:

  • The narrator revels in the sentiment that there is no shadow of a clue which can convict him of the murder.
  • Yet the thought “ I am safe”  harassed him because it haunted.

Paragraph 11:

  •  The narrator starts murmuring  aloud…I am safe.

Paragraph 12:

  • The narrator feels  an icy chill creep into his heart.

Paragraph 13:

  • The narrator tries  to shake off this nightmare of the soul.

Paragraph 14:

  •  The narrator speaks with marked emphasis that would send him to the hangman and hell.

Paragraph 15:

  • The narrator falls prostrate in a swoon.

Paragraph 16:

  • The narrator  explains…..
  • “…today I am here in chains, tomorrow I shall be fetterless! — but where? ” ( pg 284)







Posted by on April 9, 2015 in Uncategorized


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