Debjeet Mukherjee – a new and promising writer

This is a copy of a review on Amazon and GoodReads.

Voyages      Debjeet Mukherjee

Forty poems from a new writer – with some history.

Three stars.

This is an unusual work, and I am not sure how to evaluate it. So, as always, do not let my star count override your judgement of content. More on the stars, counting, and my rating challenges later. Let me give you an insight into Mukherjee’s offering.

I could rate this book solely on the power of the poems in it; or I could also comment on the exposure the author has given you, his reader, of his growth over time. I will do a bit of each.

For a quick peek at his later work, turn to My Balloon Girl, where a subtle infatuation changes the course of at least one life. This is a demonstration of this author’s potential and power.

As we walk backward in time, to earlier work, we can see what Mukherjee grew from. If you’re interested in studying how a poet strengthens over time, this book will be of great interest.

Star counts are hard. My personal guidelines, when doing an ‘official’ KBR review, are as follows: five stars means, roughly equal to best in genre. Rarely given. Four stars means, extremely good. Three stars means, definitely recommendable. I am a tough reviewer. I try hard to be consistent. This is a young and very promising author. Three stars feels about right.

Fording the Swamp

Here you will find a Chatelaine article summarizing the damage done by our fine Provincial Premier to Ontario and Toronto.

I will content myself with two quotes. Emphasis mine.

On October 2, Doug Ford announced in the Ontario legislature that his government would be “getting rid” of Bill 148. Introduced by the Liberals, it’s an employment and labour reform bill that:

• guarantees part-time workers will be paid the same rate a full-time workers doing the same job
• orders employers to pay workers for three hours if their shift is cancelled with less than 48 hours notice
• gives workers three weeks of vacation after five years of employment, as well as 10 personal days a year—two of which must be paid

It’s also the same bill that introduced the minimum wage increase to $14/hour in 2018 (from $11.60), followed by an increase to $15/hour that was scheduled to happen on January 1, 2019. (Scrapping the $15 minimum wage was a campaign promise that provincial finance minister Laurie Scott said the PCs would keep in a September 14 opinion piece in the Financial Post.)

Ford’s justification for scrapping Bill 148? He considers it to be a “job killer” that he alleges has already cost the Ontario economy 60,000 jobs.

(IMHO there is no basis for Ford’s statement. Ontario’s employment rate improved when this bill went in.)

On August 1, Children, Community and Social Services minister Lisa MacLeod announced that the PCs would be ending the Liberal government’s pilot project looking into providing Ontarians with a no-strings-attached “basic income.” The pilot involved 4,000 people earning less than $34,000 annually who were given up to $17,000. Unlike traditional welfare, the payment was not conditional upon employment status. Couples would receive up to $24,000; those with disabilities were eligible for up to an additional $6,000. The experiment began in April 2017 and was set to last three years.

In her announcement of the pilot cancellation, MacLeod said that it was scrapped because it wasn’t working, although she was unable to provide any data to clarify what that meant. There were also no details on how the program would be wound down for those currently supported by it. This comes on the heels of another announcement on July 31, when MacLeod said the government would increase disability support rates by 1.5% instead of the 3% promised by the Liberals before the election.

(There’s more, but you can use the hotlink above to see the entire article.)

Have a nice day.

Trumping the Facts

Here you will find an Atlantic article on Donald Trump.

I will content myself with a small quote.

Ordinarily, a politician cannot be held responsible for the actions of a deranged follower. But ordinarily, politicians don’t praise supporters who have mercilessly beaten a Latino man, as “very passionate.” Ordinarily, they don’t offer to pay supporters’ legal bills if they assault protesters on the other side. They don’t praise acts of violence against the media. They don’t defend neo-Nazi rioters as “fine people.” They don’t justify sending bombs to their critics by blaming the media for airing criticism. Ordinarily, there is no historic surge in anti-Semitism, much of it targeted at Jewish critics, coinciding with a politician’s rise. And ordinarily, presidents do not blatantly exploit their authority in an effort to terrify white Americans into voting for their party. For the past few decades, most American politicians, Republican and Democrat alike, have taken care not to urge their supporters to take matters into their own hands. Trump did everything he could to fan the flames, and nothing to restrain those who might take him at his word.

Have a nice day.

Nuclear Armageddon?

Here you will find that Donald Trump, POTUS, is going to increase the USA’s nuclear stockpile of weapons of mass destruction.

Here you will find a FAS / Secrecy News copy of a report on what could make the world situation less stable.

I guess we all know that the POTUS does not take experts seriously.

A Tale of Two Picnics

The University of Toronto holds a picnic for alumni once each year. It is preceded by the Alumni Association’s general meeting, which is followed by a talk.

This post is really about two such talks. (The picnics were fine. The meetings were dull.)

The earlier talk was many years ago. The speaker was John Tory. The audience included some of his entourage, who tried to talk up the rest of us afterward. I was only mildly impressed by Mr. Tory. (I am less impressed by Mayor Tory now.)

The talk this year was by Jennifer Keesmat. I had researched her and expected quite a lot. I was not disappointed, more like overwhelmed.

Keesmat knows what a pleasant city should include, and how to get there from here. Keesmat understands how ‘oasis’ buildings ensure those who live there must drive to do anything but sleep. Keesmat understands what a decent mixed neighbourhood would include, and gave some examples, of good ones and bad ones.

Keesmat wants Tory’s job. I want her to get it. As for city politics and living reality, I can assure you that Keesmat gets it.

Edward Willett – I Tumble Through the Diamond Dust

This is a cut&past of a review that is pending on Amazon.

I Tumble Through the Diamond Dust     Edward Willett

Twenty-one poems, mostly narrative and speculative/science fiction.

five stars

Willett writes speculative fiction, so these poems are unusual. They are also a lot of fun.

Willett’s illustrator, Wendi Nordell, has added to our enjoyment of this book with an amazing full-page drawing accompanying each poem. That makes this an even more unusual work.

Now I have to come up with a star count. Is it ‘roughly equal to best’ in a genre I’m not sure I’ve seen before?  So, as always, do not let my star count override your judgement of content. More on the stars, counting, and my rating challenges later. Let’s get to the real point: Willett’s words.

The title poem will give you an instant introduction to Willett’s voice. It is an imaginary first person experience, and quite moving.

For a comment on social control, turn to The Telling, where we find this: ““Stay with me a while, and help me keep /imagination’s fire burning bright. /To worship the Creator, we create,/ and thus the Single Narrative defy.” //The telling is the telling the telling!” If you think that’s a spoiler, you’re in for a surprise when you read the entire poem.

For an amazing commentary on religion and happiness, turn to Saint Billy. For a teaser, read this: “But here’s the goddamned pardon the expression truth: …”

Willett can create a tragedy around a unicorn, as in I Remember His Eyes, where we find this: “I remember the knife. The leering king /(whose glance made clear had he more time /there’d be one fewer virgin in his realm) /pulled from his belt a jagged blade and….” Again, if you think that’s a spoiler, you will find otherwise when you read the entire piece.

For an unusual take on religions and God, turn to Emily Alison Atkinson Finds God. In this longer narrative, here are some quotes to pique your interest: “Now, looking for God was something /Emily Atkinson had done all her life. /As a child she tried on churches /like ladies’ hats, …” and this: “Anyway, Emily opened this box, /and inside was a glowing white ball, /and this voice said inside her head, /“Hi, I’m God, who are you?” … ” It is impossible for me to give you the pleasure of reading this poem in a few quotes. Buy the book and turn to this page. It is a very enjoyable narrative.

For a real personal drama in a sci-fi setting turn to I Will Ride Off the Horizon, which includes a lot of interpersonal introspection, including this: “You think I do not know, /that you somehow have kept it hidden, but /you cannot hide the two-backed beast /within the scarred and pitted walls /of some tin can containing /at the most two hundred souls.” Again, that’s not really a spoiler, as the poem works up to and well beyond this point.

I have other favourites in this collection, but the above should be enough to give you a decent idea of what Willett has created for you. Now for my star count boilerplate.

My personal guidelines, when doing an ‘official’ KBR review, are as follows: five stars means, roughly equal to best in genre. Rarely given. Four stars means, extremely good. Three stars means, definitely recommendable. I am a tough reviewer. I try hard to be consistent. I rate this work on literary merit and enjoy-ability, and I think it is five star material. Highly recommended.

Kindle Book Review Team member.

(Note: this reviewer received a free copy of this book for an independent review. He is not associated with the author or Amazon.)

Supreme Potential Disruption

The United States’ Supreme Court consist of nine judges. They essentially can, by a decision, overrule a law (for being unconstitutional, for example) or a previous decision by a lower court.

For a quick look at the supreme court’s members you can go here.

You may remember that the POTUS, Trump, succeeded in getting a nominee onto the supreme court. A recent 5-4 decision went against public sector unions, preventing them from collecting dues from non-members who nonetheless benefited from their union’s negotiations. You can find details here.

More alarmingly, Trump’s anti-Muslim travel ban just got upheld, again by 5-4. The argument was that Trump’s statements during the campaign did not constitute discriminatory intent. You can see this one here.

Trump will have another chance to ‘pack’ the supreme court as a retirement has been announced. You can read this here.

If you care about abortion law, just wait. Iowa wants detection of fetal heartbeat to be an option killer. This has been stayed. However, with the new supreme court makeup in just a few months, this could go much farther than just one state. You can read this one here.

Trump is rewriting the rules of international diplomacy. He is rewriting the rules of international trade.

Now he is rewriting rules that once were considered logical under the Constitution.

May God have mercy on us all.

 

 

Why I dislike Ann Coulter

Is actually too long for a blog entry. However

here

you will find one reason. Quoted below, emphasis as always, mine.

‘These child actors weeping and crying on all the other networks 24/7 right now — do not fall for it, Mr President,’ she warned Trump. ‘I get very nervous about the president getting his news from TV.’

Isn’t that amazing, commenting on a POTUS who puts his entire policy (retractions and all) on Twitter.

Review: Butterflies Lost within the Crooked Moonlight : Matt Nagin

This is a cut&paste of a review that appeared on Kindle and similarly on GoodReads.

Butterflies Lost within the Crooked Moonlight      Matt Nagin

Dystopian power in forty-five poems.

five stars

Star counts are one person’s opinion. This book’s title should prepare you for its content, but not for Nagin’s power of communication. So, as always, do not let my star count override your judgement of content. More on the stars, counting, and my rating challenges later. Let’s get to the point: Nagin’s work.

For a prose poem, turn to Immigrant Love Story, which begins thus: “Your face is my face and my future is your future and yet your face is kept behind a fence and coils of barbed wire and your face is told it needs signed documents….”

For an interesting piece of social commentary, turn to Outside Hotel Gansevoort, which ends with this: “Every man tries to look away; /seem nonchalant; fixates on /petty, obtuse concerns— uselessly. /These women run the show.” If you think that’s a spoiler, turn to this poem when you have the book.

For a fascinating relationship, turn to Wrong One, which has a surprise ending. For an even more disturbing relationship happening, turn to Night at the Waldorf.

I generally find myself annoyed about writing that’s about writing, but some authors can pull this off really well with an experience that takes you in. Nagin has done this in Report Card, which is mostly about life and other people’s expectations.

Nagin is writing experiences which will happen to you when you read. In Tinseltown Hierarchy you are caught up in a happening between various ‘actors’ and are part of this alien world. Here’s a snippet from the beginning: “The assistant spoke into the microphone /reflecting back the order from the publicist /who signaled to the grip who collaborated with….” It’s impossible for me to give you the speed of this ongoing development. Buy the book and turn to this piece.

Nagin does not live in a perfect world. For an unpleasant self-assessment, turn to Twelve Years an Adjunct Professor.

I have other favourites in this work, but the above should give you a decent feel for what’s on offer here. Now for my star count boilerplate.

My personal guidelines, when doing an ‘official’ KBR review, are as follows: five stars means, roughly equal to best in genre. Rarely given. Four stars means, extremely good. Three stars means, definitely recommendable. I am a tough reviewer. I try hard to be consistent. Nagin stands tall with the best of them, but in his own way: more personal than W.H.Auden (The Shield of Achilles,) more gut-wrenching than Robert Frost (The Lovely Shall Be Choosers,) a bit like Archibald MacLeish (What Every Lover Learns.) Five stars here feels right on; extremely recommended.

Kindle Book Review Team member.