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A quote about love

“Part of the beauty of love was that you didn’t need to explain it to anyone else. You could refuse to explain. With love, apparently you didn’t necessarily feel the need to explain anything at all.”

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

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14 Books to Give As Valentine’s Day Gifts

Its a little late but still a fun article from Bustle. 

14 Books to Give As Valentine’s Day Gifts This Year

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A book that might just change your life… a big little life by Dean Koontz

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A big little life is a story of a dog that loved, inspired, entranced and spread joy to everyone close to her. Just as Trixie, the soulful golden retriever, changed the lives of those that loved her, this book has the power to change the lives of its readers. A big little life is so much more than a story about a dog. It’s a story about life, love, and loss.

This memoir highlights not only the wonders of loving a dog, but the wonders and magic of life itself. It opens the reader’s mind to the beautiful complexities of life and how a dog can help us enjoy the simple pleasures that are always around us. Unconditionally loving a dog and receiving that unconditional love in return can soften the heart and open the mind.

When death takes someone whom you love to the very core, whether family, a friend, or a dog, the pain reflects the joy that came before it. The more you loved that soul during their life, the more painful it will be to say goodbye but never will the pain outweigh the previous bliss. Koontz’s enforces this in the book’s dedication, “…the pain was so great because the joy before it was even greater.”

Koontz’s personality shines through in this novel. Not many books make me laugh out loud (and I am quick to laugh) but this book provided me that pleasure. I fell in love with Trixie. She made me laugh, she made me cry and though I never knew her, I love her because I cherish what she left behind; a better world.

Trixie Koontz

Some will say, “She was only a dog.”

Yes, she was dog, but not only a dog. I am a man, but not only a man. Sentiment is not sentimentality, common sense is not common ignorance, and intuition is not superstition. Living with a recognition of the spiritual dimension of the world not only ensures a happier life but also a more honest intellectual life than if we allow no room for wonder and refuse to acknowledge the mystery of existence.

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**All photos taken from DeanKoontz.com/Trixie 

Book Review. Stefan Merrill Block=My New Favorite Author

Book Review on The Storm at the Door by Stefan Merrill Block. Published by Random House.

In a time when so many novels are rewrites of old stories, The Storm at the Door is strikingly original. It’s plot as well as its writing are fresh, unique and flow with a simplicity that only day-to-day life can convey while contemplating a world that is far beyond our reach. Based on the true story of his maternal grandparents, Stefan Merrill Block has created a piece of fiction that contemplates the imbalance of love, the complexities of sanity, the limits of language and the weight of memory.

SummaryImage

Fredrick Merrill, Block’s grandfather, is placed in a mental hospital by his wife after years of insistence from her family and friends. While Frederick contemplates ways to prove his sanity, his wife, Katherine, doubts her own. She struggles to raise four young girls on a dwindling savings account while constantly doubting her decision to institutionalize her husband. The close up of the family’s daily struggles are just a window to reveal much deeper issues of humanity.

The Depth

The plot of this novel is like the surface of the ocean. It’s vast and beautiful, fluid and translucent but beneath its surface is an unimaginable depth, thousands of seahorse and sharks, plants and animals, volcanoes and valleys. Beneath its surface is life.

This novel is so much more than a struggling love story. It’s about the pain that comes with unconditional love and the fogginess of sanity. It’s about the limits of our language and the limits of our ability to understand the world around us. It’s about deception and truth. It’s about staying connected after being torn apart. The Storm at our Door is a novel that no one will walk away from unchanged but everyone will be changed in a different way.

East-of-Eden-like Narrator

Similar to Steinbeck’s famous novel, Stefen Merrill Block narrates The Storm at the Door through his own eyes. In both novels, the narrators are young boys telling the story of their ancestors from a distant place. 

If you’re not familiar with East of Eden, let me explain. The Storm at the Door (like East of Eden) is narrated in the first person by the author himself, who appears as a very minimal character in the book (he is present maybe 10 out of the 342 pages). In the book, Block is fictionalizing the real-life story of his maternal grandparents. His grandfather was actually institutionalized in a mental hospital and although Block has no firsthand knowledge of the events, he researched his book by talking to relatives, reading his grandparents letters, but mostly by using his imagination.

Characters from a Metal Hospital

ImageThe colorful array of characters in the metal hospital add a unique flavor to the book without threatening the reliability. Block creates a wide variety of believable, insane characters. One, a ex-Harvard professor, is a schizophrenic who believes he is discovering the one true language of the universe. Another character, Robert Lowell (pictured left), is based on a real poet who was institutionalized in the same hospital as Block’s grandfather, the real Frederick Merrill. Block incorporates some of Lowell’s actually poetry in this novel. As the reader sees these characters through the perspective of Frederick, they all seem fairly sane. Although we may not be able to trust the reliability of the characters, the narrator is so distant (in time and space) from the events, we are at least able to trust him.

Overall 

With this book, Block has cemented  himself as one of my favorite authors. His first novel, The Story of Forgetting is a remarkable story and The Storm at the Door stands right beside it. Not many novels touch the soul and intrigue the mind as much as Block’s. Everyone should read this book. FIVE STARS.

 

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Writing Prompt: Heartbreak

Don’t you dare write about a teenage girl who’s boyfriend cheated on her because he didn’t know how to tell her it was over. But if you do, it better be so far from the stereotype that it makes me laugh out loud, cry or scream. Stereotypes make me want to hurl. 

Write an internal dialogue of someone who has just been taken away from something they love. I encourage that something to not be a person. It could be a family heirloom, a suitcase full of money, an injured athlete who can’t play in the big game. Be creative!

As always, ping back if you complete the post. I’d love to read it!Image

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