Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘prose’

An Exquisite Essence

51YvQiYIkfLProspect Hill: A Romantic Short Story by Bibiana Krall. Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

I could write a short story about this exquisite short story, but for brevity, simply say that Prospect Hill is one of the best stories I’ve read in a long time. I’m not sure if there are enough accolades for this occasion, but here are a few. The prose is not only fitting, and well-crafted, but also languid and lyrical, with a sense of poetry in motion. Though its intention is not erotic, it feels very sensual. The words drift through space and hit the heart like a lonely spirit.

Merely is a bodiless spirit, who is imprisoned in a cask by a witch, and falls in love with a human named Nino, when she is released. Her original name was Ayanna Dovet Blackwell, who was buried alive. Here is a glimpse of Ms. Krall’s writing. I hovered like a dragonfly next to my Nino, wishing to offer comfort. Then from the shifting melancholy of my imprisonment, I was called to sing once more. Murmurs of life and light, golden moments that remain hidden away from a place like this.”

The tale moves between the seen and unseen world with ease. Everything is real, and can be sensed, or felt, by the disembodied and the bodied. Their mutual awareness makes Nino feel uneasy and scared, and Nino’s presence creates long forgotten memories, and sensations in Merely. This interaction, and of others that enter and leave, are all told brilliantly from Merely’s perspective and experience. Though she cannot be seen by those living, she herself feels liberated and renewed.

There is subtle beauty and grace in the language, thoughts and feelings that overtake Merely, and they are described with great eloquence. If you have not yet absorbed, or understood, my adulation for Ms. Krall’s Prospect Hill, the following lines will surely take you over the edge. “Essence of night Jasmine, tea rose and salt escaped from my brilliant spiral. With one last desire my hands reached across time. Caressing Nino’s cheek lovingly from the other side, my fingertips dissolved into raindrops and fell away.”

 

Advertisements

One of the Best

51yHPujzv6LVersions of the Self by Christy Birmingham
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans

I’ve been very lucky to have come across a number of poetry collections lately that are very good, and this is one of the best. Versions of the Self wonderfully combines emotion, and self-awareness, with actions, objects, and the environment. It is an inner journey revealed externally, with strong ties between both.

The Serenade

I arose from within the crisp blue sheets and
I realized –
This is but one moment, in one day, in the
Midst of a path called alive.
I chose to serenade myself in a
Dance that swung me to center state, and
I shivered with fear as much as with
Contemplation, as thoughts gathered in a
Semi-circle to discuss the way my toes would
Look as I neared the end of the field.
I realized –
This is a chosen moment and that
The grass could be watered, and
I took one step, couled with one breath, in
The midst of a life I began to call my own.

The words move with perfectly weighted verbs, adjectives, and metaphors. Reading these poems feels like dancing, and exploring life and space, toe to toe with their creator. Here is another of Ms. Birmingham’s brilliant creations.

Gliding under Water

I am diving into the calm waters after the
Hurricane of your arms pulling at my feet,
And my toes are happy to move on their own now.

I am gliding under the waters, and my vision is
Remarkably clear, while my body washes with
Liquids that contain no mixture of you.

I am touching the pool’s bottom with my hand,
Happy for the cold feel of the cement,
Reassured by its stability and the lack of critical words.

I am lacking for nothing, I am drenched with relief,
I am swimming to the surface, and
Today is a celebration of freedom for my limbs.

The verses in Versions of the Self  are perfectly separated into different areas, such as, “The Self: I”, “Take Me There”, and “Other Self Loves”. Each section holds its own, and every poem in this collection is worthy of the space within which they have their being, and before the eyes of those of us privileged to read them.

Words of Seduction

images

Catching sight of it across the room,
pushing desks and chairs aside, I circled the stacks slowly, edging closer to the object of my literary desire.

Acting as if I didn’t care, my sleeve brushed invitingly against its spine.
Not succumbing to the obvious temptation I turned,
casually trailing my fingertips across the leather bindings on the shelf below.

Dizzy with discovery I slipped and fell against the stacks.
To my delight, the prized edition I longed for fell before me,
opening to reveal its fullest form.
“Prose! Prose!” my heart pounded with renewed anticipation.

Rushing to its side I knelt possessively.
“Too soon. Too soon.” I whispered into its creamy wanton pages.
Resisting the urge to devour its succulent stories,
tenderly closing its velvet covered hardness,
I held it tightly to my trembling body.

Spying a private corner behind the ferns I made my way to darker recesses.
Drawing the magic to my lips, breathing infinite possibilities,
I slowly lifted the cover and caressed the fly page.
The table of contents undressed its willful intentions
as I fingered through the waiting pages of blissful madness.
Wetness willed its way down my aching body.
I swallowed hard as my mind prepared for an invasion of ecstasy.

Subtle framing grabbed my soft tender throat,
as the turbulent dialogue licked me speechless.
The plot thickened with fully developed characters.
Metaphor wrapped its meaning around my memory,
and the rhythm rocked me head to toe, moving in three-four time.
I tangoed with luscious adjectives as the verbs drummed a gyrating beat.

Is this the middle or the end?
Did I miss the story in the first line, is it coming now, or is it all a fake?
“Don’t lead me on.” I cried.
“Take me to the edge, take me now!”

The words smiled cunningly.
I laughed at my seduction,
and made plans to come again.

Unschakles the Mind

Review: The Last Conception by Gabriel Constans
Reviewed by Monica Arora. 23 September 2014
KITAAB (“Book” in Hindi) Singapore

LastConception-CoverThe oft-debated dichotomy between modern scientific research and wisdom of traditional values, religious beliefs and spiritual propensities have formed the basis of several discussions, debates, deliberations and continues to dog the human sensibility, constantly torn between the two. This conflict between science and spiritualism forms the basis of the engaging novel by Gabriel Constans, entitled ‘The Last Conception’.

The plot revolves around the young female protagonist Savarna Sikand, who is an embryologist engaged in working with fertility treatments in a high-tech laboratory in San Francisco, US. Meanwhile, her parents, hailing from the south-eastern part of India, but settled in the United States, and deeply rooted in some ancient religious cult, express their desire for their daughter to conceive and thereby continue their rare lineage. What follows is a gripping saga of the dilemma faced by the young scientist Savarna who fights very hard to tread the fine line between her parents’ spiritual beliefs and her own scientific wisdom.

Gabriel has come up with a taut narrative that is extremely simple and yet keeps the reader engaged with its fast pace and myriad topics conjuring doubts, dogmas and apprehensions in minds of young people all over the globe. Right from exploring alternate sexuality and its ramifications on the immediate family to the delicate issue of childlessness, all are dwelt upon with much thought and deliberation and ‘The Last Conception’ offers a rare insight into lives of seemingly ordinary men and women dealing with such quandaries on a day-to-day basis.

Moreover, there is this keen sense of urgency and uncertainty running throughout the narrative pertaining to Savarna’s attempts at conception and the traumas, both mental and physical, which have to be endured for accomplishing the same. The high point of the novel comes in the form of adoption of an Indian-origin baby by Savarna’s sister Chitra owing to her infertility and the feelings of joy, pleasure and pride experienced by the entire family thereafter. Such sensitive subjects are dealt with much bravado and wisdom by the author and offer a lot of information to readers regarding these subjects, thereby clearing several dogmas and misconceptions plaguing childless couples and misled elders, who succumb to mindless religious dictates and notions without studying their cause and effect in detail.

What really touched me was how the parents of the two girls, Mira and Mr Sikand, handle their daughters’ dilemmas as well as their old mother’s beliefs continuing from unwavering faith in a dwindling sect of ancient India. The maturity of their feelings and their ability to keep their family together under all circumstances stands as a pinnacle of hope in contemporary times mired under the garb of modern values or lack of them and hence, offering no emotional solace to lonely, weary souls in a confused society.

‘The Last Conception’ is indeed a very noble attempt by the author to choose such unusual and uncommon themes and write a piece of prose that unshackles the mind and offers rare insight into the much spoken and widely discussed matter of science vs spirituality. With immense care and caution, Gabriel has gently treaded around prickly territory and offered a well-researched and well-structured story which deserves to be read and preserved not just as a treasure-trove of information but also juxtaposing human emotions.

Read entire review and more at KITAAB.

A Literary Seduction

A LITERARY SEDUCTION

Catching sight of it across the room,
pushing desks and chairs aside, I circled the stacks slowly, edging closer to the object of my literary desire.

Acting as if I didn’t care, my sleeve brushed invitingly against its spine.
Not succumbing to the obvious temptation I turned,
casually trailing my fingertips across the leather bindings on the shelf below.

Dizzy with discovery I slipped and fell against the stacks.
To my delight, the prized edition I longed for fell before me,
opening to reveal its fullest form.
“Prose! Prose!” my heart pounded with renewed anticipation.

Rushing to its side I knelt possessively.
“Too soon. Too soon.” I whispered into its creamy wanton pages.
Resisting the urge to devour its succulent stories,
tenderly closing its velvet covered hardness,
I held it tightly to my trembling body.

Spying a private corner behind the ferns I made my way to darker recesses.
Drawing the magic to my lips, breathing infinite possibilities,
I slowly lifted the cover and caressed the fly page.
The table of contents undressed its willful intentions
as I fingered through the waiting pages of blissful madness.
Wetness willed its way down my aching body.
I swallowed hard as my mind prepared for an invasion of ecstasy.

Subtle framing grabbed my soft tender throat,
as the turbulent dialogue licked me speechless.
The plot thickened with fully developed characters.
Metaphor wrapped its meaning around my memory,
and the rhythm rocked me head to toe, moving in three-four time.
I tangoed with luscious adjectives as the verbs drummed a gyrating beat.

Is this the middle or the end?
Did I miss the story in the first line, is it coming now, or is it all a fake?
“Don’t lead me on.” I cried.
“Take me to the edge, take me now!”

The words smiled cunningly.
I laughed at my seduction,
and made plans to come again.

She-Rain

She-Rain: A Story of Hope by Michael Cogdill (Morgan James Publishing, 2010)

Reviewed by Gabriel Constans

She-Rain is like a gem that’s been pulled out of a pigsty. It contains some of the most eloquent prose and language since Shakespeare. Some will see elements of Pat Conroy’s writing that takes place in the Carolinas and Rick Bragg’s memoir of growing up in Alabama, though Mr. Cogdill’s character’s are more inclined to speak with a natural rhythm and cadence, which invites readers to be privileged to Frankie Locke’s heart and mind, as he grows up with his abusive addicted father and eventually finds solace, understanding and new ways to live from Mary Lizabeth and Sophia, who become his loves, friends and guardian angels.

There is no need to keep all of the author’s words wrapped tightly in secret between the book’s pages, though there are many secrets that come to light as the story unfolds. Here are a few lines that catch your breath and lavish you with voice, metaphor and nuance.

“Creases of his face flowed with streams of it like slug trail, easing off his chin.”

“In the throes of a drunk, or even the craving of one, his manners seldom rose above a steers’.”

“In the squeal of mosquitoes and flies drawn to sweat, I took in one final look at the vista from Granny’s pocket.”

“The day came so cold the air felt breakable.”

When Mary asks Frankie to dance, she says, “My dearest Mr. Locke, reckon I can borrow your frame for this struggle?”

Concerning feelings of shame for past deeds, Sophia tells Frankie, “I don’t see a solitary cause for disgrace. What shames you, from now on, will be up to you.”

The subtitle of She-Rain is A Story of Hope. It is really a story of redemption and courage to step into the unknown and break expectations and taboos. It is also about grief and loss and what we do with its tailings. The people involved in She-Rain seem so honest and real; they are almost palpable. In the acknowledgments section, the author states that some of the characters in the book are based on people he has known, loved and appreciated throughout his life. It would not be surprising to learn one day that the entire story and the incidents and experiences portrayed, were all based on actual events that took place in real time.

As you get to know Frankie, Mary Lizabeth, Sophia and their families and circumstances, you take a liking to them and find your self hoping, against all odds, for the best. Thus, are the abilities of Mr. Cogdill to shine a light on humanities worst and best traits with words so delicious you’ll want to have them for every meal. The last portion of the book found this reader sitting on their old torn up coach, cat underhand, with tears of sadness and joy streaming down his cheeks like a babe who’d been lost for dead in the woods and just been returned to loving arms.

Tag Cloud