100 Days and Counting

I’ve said this before, but I truly can’t remember what my life was like before I started The Voracious Bibliophile. Today made the 100th day in a row that I’ve posted at least one new piece of content to my blog. My intention was to start a blog but it quickly turned into a brand. I’d like to give a huge thank you to everyone who has read this blog and amplified its reach. You have my love and appreciation forever.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

30 and the Beginning of a New Era

Yes, I’ve already started making edits. Don’t judge me.

We have waited so very long for new material from Adele that most of us, myself included, had just resigned ourselves to waiting indefinitely. I’m happy to say that our stint in purgatory is over.

Are we ever as emotionally raw as we are during those early teen years? I can’t imagine we are because otherwise our hearts would eventually explode out of our chests.

Yesterday Adele dropped “Easy On Me”, the lead single from her forthcoming senior album, 30. 30 is due to be released on November 19th and I’m holding my breath just like the rest of the world. Adele occupies a special place in my heart. When 21 first came out I was just shy of 15. I was figuring out who I was and my place in the world. My emotions were everywhere and every small tragedy felt like the onset of Armageddon. Are we ever as emotionally raw as we are during those early teen years? I can’t imagine we are because otherwise our hearts would eventually explode out of our chests.

On a school trip to a bigger city north of where I live, I bought 21 in a Hot Topic. Impatient and still wholly unmedicated, I opened up the packaging and made the bus driver play the CD on the way home. I honestly can’t remember my first reaction to hearing those songs for the first time but I distinctly remember uploading that CD to my iTunes account and adding the album to my 2nd-generation iPod Nano, which I still have by the way.

You could map my entire topography of feelings from the years 2011-2013 on the track listing to that record and I am so grateful to Adele for being there for me while I was trying to figure everything out.

21 became the soundtrack to my life, narrating every facet of my existence. You could map my entire topography of feelings from the years 2011-2013 on the track listing to that record and I am so grateful to Adele for being there for me while I was trying to figure everything out.

If I could tell him just one thing, it’d be this: Go easy on yourself, kid. What you’re feeling now is valid but the pain won’t last forever. Believe in yourself and everything else will fall into place. I’m rooting for you.

I suppose 30 will be the same thing for me. Like Adele, I’m in a much different place than I was a decade ago. I’ve gained and lost friends. I’d like to think that tender and fragile young man who performed impromptu concerts in the living room at fifteen is proud of the person he became. I think he would be. I suppose he is. If I could tell him just one thing, it’d be this: Go easy on yourself, kid. What you’re feeling now is valid but the pain won’t last forever. Believe in yourself and everything else will fall into place. I’m rooting for you.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Poem for the Day: October 15th, 2021

Notes from the Camoufleurs by Karen Skolfield

The light in Afghanistan
is not the light in Vietnam.
If  vegetation, describe the leaf.

If  rock, its striation. If city, its doorways
and lintels, its hosting of guests.
Its gestures of welcome and warning.

Describe the wattage of searchlights,
the color of streetlamps, the wakefulness
of men. Describe the cigarette’s blooded eye,

a crimp of smoke. Describe evening’s
lift of heat, the riming of sweat.
If olive trees, describe the olives.

How a fig feels in the hand.
Of the women to be outfitted calculate
their curvatures and needs, if they require

more or fewer pockets for pens.
Determine torso length, musculature,
what weapons may be carried; where

the ammo belt sits, if more men
dress right or left, if concertina wire
bares its teeth every three inches or four.

Study how nature tucks itself into grasses,
study the striping of zebras, the panther’s
darkness, a savannah and the jackal

folded within; how a seal’s belly blends
with the sky when viewed from below.
A ptarmigan feathering into snow.

Describe the mission: peacekeeping
or suppression. Shield or storm.
Consider that a pattern may dazzle

or disrupt. Describe the sight lines:
heat-seeking technology versus scopes.
Scopes versus the sharp-eyed.

When a friend is not always a friend.
When a back might be turned. Consider,
at times, how the jaguar wants to be seen.

© 2020 Karen Skolfield. Today’s poem was taken from the May 2020 issue of Poetry.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Quote for the Day: October 12th, 2021

Lie With Me: A Novel by Philippe Besson and Molly Ringwald (Translator)

Later I will write about this longing, the intolerable deprivation of the other. I will write about the sadness that eats away at you, making you crazy. It will become the template for my books, in spite of myself. I wonder sometimes if I have ever written of anything else. It’s as if I never recovered from it: the inaccessible other, occupying all my thoughts.

Philippe Besson and Molly Ringwald (Translator), Lie With Me: A Novel

There’s nothing in the entire world more painful than unrequited love, or love given then taken inexplicably away. It’s maddening, truly. You never forget it, and for the rest of your life the hundred thousand scenarios called forth from the interrogative haunt you like a bad dream you see every time you think of the one you lost.

The only real cure for this kind of heartache is love, and it needn’t necessarily come from a romantic relationship. It turns out you can give yourself the love you deserve. You just have to be willing to put it in the work.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Quote for the Day: October 10th, 2021

Call Me by Your Name: A Novel by André Aciman

We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster than we should that we go bankrupt by the age of thirty and have less to offer each time we start with someone new. But to feel nothing so as not to feel anything – what a waste!

André Aciman, Call Me by Your Name: A Novel

I know that if I allowed myself the space and energy to honor all of my feelings, I’d never get anything else done.

Arguably the most powerful moment in either the novel or its film adaptation, this exchange between Elio and his father provides CMBYN with its emotional and philosophical core. It also begs the question: is it possible to live authentically without eventually becoming jaded? How do we honor our feelings without suppressing them and still carry on with the daily grind of life? I know that if I allowed myself the space and energy to honor all of my feelings, I’d never get anything else done.

Life, after all, is not just one singular experience or expression of selfhood. It is so many different things, sometimes all at once.

These are naturally questions without easy answers. Perhaps there is no answer. Life, after all, is not just one singular experience or expression of selfhood. It is so many different things, sometimes all at once. The truth, it seems, must lie somewhere in the middle. What do you think?

Further Reading

The Arrival of Timothée Chalamet by Daniel Riley, in GQ March 2018 (cover below)

GQ March 2018

Super Bonus: Timmy Edit Because I Feel Like It

God, what a stylish man….anyway, see you next time!

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Quote for the Day: October 9th, 2021

Call Me by Your Name: A Novel by André Aciman

Is it better to speak or die?

Call Me by Your Name: A Novel by André Aciman

Note: Even though I took today’s quote from Aciman’s novel, most of my commentary references the film adaptation of the same name. But you know how things go here at The Voracious Bibliophile—we start off on one path together and end up taking another road entirely. Enjoy!

This is, in my opinion, one of the best quotes from CMBYN. I can’t remember exactly how the scene plays out in the novel (time for a re-read), but in the film, Elio (Timothée Chalamet) is being counseled and comforted by his parents, Samuel and Annella (Michael Stuhlbarg and Amira Casar, respectively), about his love troubles. Now, Elio never really comes out and says exactly what (who) is troubling him, but they are not fools. That aside, anyone living in the same house with Elio and Oliver (Armie Hammer), their gorgeous summer house guest, would have to be completely oblivious not to notice the mutual sexual attraction that practically crackles every time they’re in the same room together.

I mean, is there any delicate way to tell your parents not only that you like boys but that you’re both enjoying and being tortured by a once-in-a-lifetime summer love affair with their houseguest?

This scene in particular is as heartwarming as it is awkward. I mean, is there any delicate way to tell your parents not only that you like boys but that you’re both enjoying and being tortured by a once-in-a-lifetime summer love affair with their houseguest? Now, don’t misread me. The Perlmans are highly-educated and cosmopolitan. They have same-sex couple friends and wouldn’t think twice about their son becoming involved with another man. No, their concern stems from that basic parental instinct that kicks in when you know your child is in pain. Annella caresses her son’s hair while he lies in his father’s lap, and she reads from the book containing the line which provides us with today’s quote.

In that moment, you become part of the scene, and a feeling of exposure, of becoming emotionally naked, surrounds you and fills you up. Returning to reality feels not unlike leaving Eden, filled with a beautiful and terrible knowledge.

Anyone who can watch this scene and not ache with longing must have their soul stripped of all feeling. The world around you disappears and the wall that separates the performers from the spectators crumbles. In that moment, you become part of the scene, and a feeling of exposure, of becoming emotionally naked, surrounds you and fills you up. Returning to reality feels not unlike leaving Eden, filled with a beautiful and terrible knowledge.

Bonus: I found a YouTube clip of the scene where this line is spoken, and it’s just as powerful after repeat viewings.

Double Bonus: The entire soundtrack to CMBYN is sublime, but Sufjan Stevens’s “Mystery of Love” is on another plane entirely. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song as well as the Grammy Award for Best Song Written for Visual Media.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Poem for the Day: October 7th, 2021

Wild nights – Wild nights! (269) by Emily Dickinson

Wild nights - Wild nights!
Were I with thee
Wild nights should be
Our luxury!

Futile - the winds -
To a Heart in port -
Done with the Compass -
Done with the Chart!

Rowing in Eden -
Ah - the Sea!
Might I but moor - tonight -
In thee!

© 1988 President and Fellows of Harvard College. © 1951, 1955, 1979, 1983 President and Fellows of Harvard College. Today’s poem is taken from The Poems of Emily Dickinson Edited by R. W. Franklin, which was released in 1999 by Harvard University Press.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Poem for the Day: October 6th, 2021

Morning in the Burned House by Margaret Atwood

In the Secular Night by Margaret Atwood

In the secular night you wander around
alone in your house. It’s two-thirty.
Everyone has deserted you,
or this is your story;
you remember it from being sixteen,
when the others were out somewhere, having a good time,
or so you suspected,
and you had to baby-sit.
You took a large scoop of vanilla ice-cream
and filled up the glass with grapejuice
and ginger ale, and put on Glenn Miller
with his big-band sound,
and lit a cigarette and blew the smoke up the chimney,
and cried for a while because you were not dancing,
and then danced, by yourself, your mouth circled with purple.

Now, forty years later, things have changed,
and it’s baby lima beans.
It’s necessary to reserve a secret vice.
This is what comes from forgetting to eat
at the stated mealtimes. You simmer them carefully,
drain, add cream and pepper,
and amble up and down the stairs,
scooping them up with your fingers right out of the bowl,
talking to yourself out loud.
You’d be surprised if you got an answer,
but that part will come later.

There is so much silence between the words,
you say. You say, The sensed absence
of God and the sensed presence
amount to much the same thing,
only in reverse.
You say, I have too much white clothing.
You start to hum.
Several hundred years ago
this could have been mysticism
or heresy. It isn’t now.
Outside there are sirens.
Someone’s been run over.
The century grinds on.

© 1995 Margaret Atwood. “In the Secular Night” first appeared in Atwood’s collection Morning in the Burned House, which was published in 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. It is available to buy wherever books are sold.

There is also this exactitude, this precision, bound up in elegance and wit, which seems impossible to replicate. At the very least, I have never seen it outside of her work.

First and foremost, let me state here unequivocally that it is a travesty Margaret Atwood has yet to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. That’s first. Next, I’d like to say that very few writers can scare me like Atwood can. She imbues every work of hers, be it novel, poem, or otherwise, with an otherworldly terror which is simply too close to reality for comfort. There is also this exactitude, this precision, bound up in elegance and wit, which seems impossible to replicate. At the very least, I have never seen it outside of her work.

Though her oeuvre is substantial, history will remember her primarily for her dystopian novel, The Handmaid’s Tale. Published in 1985, it tells the story of Offred, a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, which has succeeded the United States’ government via violent overthrow and which treats women with viable uteruses like cattle, meant to be silent, acquiescent, and obedient in discharging their only purpose in life, which is to bare children for their Commanders. They are deprived of all agency and ruled over with an iron fist.

With a conservative-majority SCOTUS waiting like a salivating bloodhound to overturn Roe v. Wade and states like Texas rolling back reproductive rights and severely limiting abortion access, we are just a stone’s throw away from the world Atwood envisioned.

One could say Gilead is patriarchy on steroids, and they’d be right. Gilead looks too much like America in 2021 for my liking. With a conservative-majority SCOTUS waiting like a salivating bloodhound to overturn Roe v. Wade and states like Texas rolling back reproductive rights and severely limiting abortion access, we are just a stone’s throw away from the world Atwood envisioned. Let’s hope there are enough of us left in the world who stand for a woman’s right to choose.

Wow, I started off with a poem and ended up talking about The Handmaid’s Tale. You can certainly see my ADHD at work here, but what the heck? This is my blog and I’ll go off on whatever tangent I darn well please. Mazel tov, my friends.

To learn about how you can help support reproductive justice advocacy work, go to https://www.plannedparenthood.org.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Poem for the Day: October 5th, 2021

Lunch Poems by Frank O’Hara

Poem [“Lana Turner has collapsed!”] by Frank O’Hara

Lana Turner has collapsed!
I was trotting along and suddenly
it started raining and snowing
and you said it was hailing
but hailing hits you on the head
hard so it was really snowing and
raining and I was in such a hurry
to meet you but the traffic
was acting exactly like the sky
and suddenly I see a headline
lana turner has collapsed!
there is no snow in Hollywood
there is no rain in California
I have been to lots of parties
and acted perfectly disgraceful
but I never actually collapsed
oh Lana Turner we love you get up

© 1964 Frank O’Hara. Lunch Poems was originally published in 1964 by City Lights Books. You can read more about O’Hara and his work here.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Bonus Poem: Colors passing through us by Marge Piercy

Colors passing through us by Marge Piercy

Purple as tulips in May, mauve
into lush velvet, purple
as the stain blackberries leave
on the lips, on the hands,
the purple of ripe grapes
sunlit and warm as flesh.

Every day I will give you a color,
like a new flower in a bud vase
on your desk. Every day
I will paint you, as women
color each other with henna
on hands and on feet.

Red as henna, as cinnamon,
as coals after the fire is banked,
the cardinal in the feeder,
the roses tumbling on the arbor
their weight bending the wood
the red of the syrup I make from petals.

Orange as the perfumed fruit
hanging their globes on the glossy tree,
orange as pumpkins in the field,
orange as butterflyweed and the monarchs
who come to eat it, orange as my
cat running lithe through the high grass.

Yellow as a goat’s wise and wicked eyes,
yellow as a hill of daffodils,
yellow as dandelions by the highway,
yellow as butter and egg yolks,
yellow as a school bus stopping you,
yellow as a slicker in a downpour.

Here is my bouquet, here is a sing
song of all the things you make
me think of, here is oblique
praise for the height and depth
of you and the width too.
Here is my box of new crayons at your feet.

Green as mint jelly, green
as a frog on a lily pad twanging,
the green of cos lettuce upright
about to bolt into opulent towers,
green as Grand Chartreuse in a clear
glass, green as wine bottles.

Blue as cornflowers, delphiniums,
bachelors’ buttons. Blue as Roquefort,
blue as Saga. Blue as still water.
Blue as the eyes of a Siamese cat.
Blue as shadows on new snow, as a spring
azure sipping from a puddle on the blacktop.

Cobalt as the midnight sky
when day has gone without a trace
and we lie in each other’s arms
eyes shut and fingers open
and all the colors of the world
pass through our bodies like strings of fire.

© 1999, 2003 Marge Piercy and Middlemarsh, Inc.

I know I usually only share one poem a day, but I’ve had a rough week and I’m sure a lot of you can probably say the same. I believe to my core that you can never have too much poetry. I believe poetry acts as a salve when the flames of a world never not on fire manage to singe us. Love and light to all of you. Walk in power.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.