The world is heavy here
sinking before the morning came to be
we wake in coffee to read outrageous news
match riddles in our minds to new killers
lose track of the sprawling progress we were making
even together, it is heavy here
Clouds cannot hide the spread of sound and lies
You were not meant to speak freedom
you were meant to breathe it and live.
Irkadura begins with a chilling opening that will destroy you if unprepared. Having read Ksenia Anske’s Rosehead several years ago, I was still impressed by the amount of immersion and experienced as I waded through this flood of a novel, showcasing Anske’s mastery of plot and pacing. Overtime, the story buoys the reader rather than drowning them, like a crocodile playing with it’s meal, with scenes that deftly unfold as we escape with Irina out of the one hell and into another. We read her thoughts and learn her tragedy, balancing our hope Irina isn’t going crazy with the fear of another failure once things look up for our traumatized anti-heroine. As new characters are introduced, we see the world of butterflies and ravens is more colorful with each inspection. Indeed, we may even dare hope for a happy ending, propelled by the inner strength that Irina, pregnant and only 16 years old, may yet uncover despite a life of abuse in a city on the edge of utter turmoil.
While difficult at first (the first few chapters were like a punch in the gut), I quickly came to love this book, the shape it took in my heart, and even the ending, which I’ll leave for readers to discover. The duality of human kindness and cruelty, of love and apathy, and the irony of in attention on even the happiest of days are intricately woven throughout this novel. Irina’s journey against backdrop of human apathy in the midst of hate is both startling and grounding in it’s place in history.
Irkadura is not just a story about the darkness in this world, but also the importance of finding your own freedom, in whatever form that may be. Perhaps the reason I favor this book so much is because of it’s truth, without limiting itself by what’s required of the genre, but being itself. Brace yourself; it’s worth the read.
Interested in this author? https://www.kseniaanske.com/
If I write you as a poem
The outline of a book
A novel, dare I hope–
Would that be enough to manifest you?
Would I better know your character, your language
Having brought you into reality in my own way.
My words do not work in prose
I have not yet learned to translate the rhythm
Of the only bloodline to words from my soul
And I wish you to be from my soul
I wish you to speak for me in a story
As so many have spoken to me
I wish to give the gift that has been given
So many times over
To help in ways that I can
If I can
If I will.
And so, I try again
In another way
In this language that is becoming
To become a language I must learn
Of story, of prose, of plot
Of an arc worthy to be read
And to be written
Through perseverance and true diligence
May I create these paths in myself, pushing further than before
May I learn, and may I write.
To make you exist.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
My rating: 3.75 of 5 stars
While I liked this book, its sweet simplicity and dear observations of the world in which it dwells, it didn’t seem to have the same magic for me as it had for others. Perhaps because I felt I have already learned many of the lessons it discusses, or maybe, as Santiago mentions in the story, I simply learn a different way.
The magic this story holds for others is more vibrant in other books, such as The Last Unicorn, where the life lessons are more subtle, but not at all lacking for its enrichment through the story itself. Perhaps The Alchemist is more accessible, and therefore more popular.
I appreciate this book for what it is, and thought the Hero’s Journey our traveler lives through was worth the read.
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I give birth to fire
Not of dragons but of the sun
Of the energy that shutters gravity
Whipping through all shades of matter
It comes from me
My being is the impetus of burning
Breathing gives flame it’s power to propel
Power that sinks in density
Until it becomes
As we all become
Birthed in this universe of universes
Fiery and dangerous
Affecting each atom of which we accumulate
We are the rub of quantum creation
Infinity becomes us.
At the heart of the door
Misspeaking at the cusp of dawn
The voice drags across lonely floor boards
Dripped with paint of old beginnings
Little does it know of past feet
Passersby by which the old house fell
Broken embers bringing hope
While the hall behind lies empty
A front step that should not have been repaired.
If I could reach back into the ages
and touch you
and place into you some amount
of the peace I have mustered
that I was armed to fight for
in a way unavailable to you then
If I could match your pulse
and through the cracks of that building wall,
bring you out of the sickness
we both know too well
–But time does not move in reverse
and I can only ask you
to stand guard with me
against this river of my own
and watch from your past vantage
that I, too, do not sink
in my swimming.
That soul of wandering, and regretting
That could not sustain space
With what he loved
So flew over deserts to learn the how
And wrote a boy whose mind was his own
Teaching his adult heart to live
No sadder soul have I ever felt more akin
Lost within the short time that he breathed
Passionate for what he knew was necessary
Even if he perished
(He would end this way)
Back to the capsule in which his mind dwelled so long
Coaxed through the heavens
To a little planet in the sky.
Ernest Hemingway on Writing by Ernest Hemingway
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Some of these lines, passages, and excerpts were annoying or passable, but real gems exist and shine out with true Hemingway vibrancy and ideology on writers and writing. Enjoyable to the end.
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Do the Work by Steven Pressfield
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Not the soul-churning swift kick-in-the-ass that was its predecessor, “The War of Art,” this book still serves purpose of propelling those stuck in the claws of Resistance somewhere in the middle of their project.
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