If you are an LCSNA member, then you will see this review in the Winter issue of our wonderful members-only magazine, The Knight Letter. But in case you’re a lover of literature who isn’t a member yet, I wanted to share my review of a dark and fascinating new poetry book. The opinions I express herein are mine, and not necessarily those of the LCSNA as an organization.
I don’t usually offer long posts like this, but in addition to alerting you to this compelling little book, it also gives you a taste of just one aspect of our terrific twice-yearly magazine. Like the rest of the LCSNA’s features, The Knight Letter is a labor of love and entirely volunteer-created. Even if you can’t make it to our meetings in person, many members join the LCSNA simply to delve into the delights of The Knight Letter, which features meeting recaps, Carrollian articles, reviews, amusing pop culture references, collectibles information, and of course, pictures and conversations. Many years ago it started out as a humble newsletter, only two or three pages long. Over the years it has blossomed into a full-fledged literary magazine of about 50 pages per issue. I read every issue cover to cover–it’s that good. And it’s free with membership in the LCSNA. To learn more about joining the LCSNA, click me.
by Jessica Young
Turning Point Books, 2013
Paperback, 82 pages
Reviewed by Andrew Sellon
On any given day, you can find articles from anywhere in the world pointing out aspects of our society—particularly our laws and politics—that seem to mirror the topsy-turvy, nonsensical worlds created by Lewis Carroll in his two Alice books. In Alice’s Sister, a quietly powerful book of poems by Jessica Young, the comparison comes closer to home, specifically to a family of four: a little girl named Alice, her older sister Mary, and their mother and father. All four are given their chance to speak out individually, and they do so in a fascinating mélange of styles and meters. The next-door neighbor who gives the girls piano lessons also contributes a voice, as do an omniscient narrator and a surprise character or two. The resulting narrative mosaic, divided into what might well be called four dreamlike fits, charts the course of an unspeakable event within the family that tears it asunder irreparably. But while the tale is told through many voices, this is not Rashomon; there is no disagreement here about what happened, only how to live with it.
The cycle of poems is further enriched by Young’s occasional inclusion of a few phrases from Carroll’s Alice books. The elegant and remorseful ironies she earns by weaving a few of Carroll’s playful words amongst her own somber ones will resonate deeply with any lover of the original works. Young also offers her own evolving versions of “Jabberwocky” at key points in her disturbing tale, continually recalculating the cost of trust violated. There, as in the other poems, the characters find not gleeful nonsense, but a numbness or non-sense that alters every familiar detail of the physical world and makes it suddenly alien, and possibly hostile, with scant hope of the sought-after escape or release:
My fingers move, my mind does too,
I hit a C and picture tea.
Mad hatted friend, what did you brew?
There’s so much it’s a sea.
The sea begins to rise, quite fast.
The houses gone, the whole world wet.
The landscape is now deep and vast,
and everywhere—a threat.
Yet, by the end, there are a few faint glimmers of hope and healing, bringing the cycle to a believable and satisfying close. Young is careful to note at the end of the book that this is not an autobiographical story, but that she hopes to do justice to the reality of the characters she has created. She has done so, admirably. My one minor critique is about a printing choice: For reasons that become clear, Young wants to set apart the poems narrated by the father. But rendering his poems in a very faint, gray print makes them a bit more difficult to read on the page than I think advisable.
The best compliment I can pay any book is to say that it rewards repeated readings. This one does. It is not for children, and it is not “feel-good” poetry. But it is likely to make you feel many other emotions as the compelling story slowly and inexorably unfolds before you.
As noted in a previous blog post, artist David Delamare is running a Kickstarter campaign to fund the printing of his private, deluxe edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. We received the following note to remind us that today is the LAST chance to support his campaign and take advantage of supporter perks. While you can show your support at a number of levels, for a $60 pledge you can still secure a standard deluxe copy of this book chock full of David’s amazing illustrations, and have it signed by him, as well. And now they have added more incentives for book purchasers:
“The Kickstarter campaign to create a deluxe “Alice in Wonderland” book, illustrated by David Delamare is ending Sunday at midnight Pacific Standard Time. There are only a few hours left in which to take advantage of the many stretch rewards that will only be available to campaign backers.
Each book package pre-ordered during the campaign will now include (at no extra charge) four 9″x12″ artist-signed posters plus four new Carroll-inspired greeting cards and, if we reach 800 backers we’ll add a fifth poster. Finally, if we reach $75,000 in pledges, we’ll add a slip case to every book.
These will be gorgeous, clothbound, Smythsewn, artist-signed, heavily illustrated books with ribbon bookmarks. They will dramatically enhance any Alice collection. Backers (even at the one dollar level) will have access to the entire book creation process as well as first look at original artwork releases. Sign up today at <http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1954507197/alice-in-wonderland-book-illustrated-by-david-dela>.
If you’re already a campaign backer, please share this link so that we can reach those final goals! Thanks so much for your support! —Wendy Ice (Publisher) & David Delamare (Illustrator)”
We recently posted about Daniel Hales and the Frost Heaves, and their new Contrariwise album, which includes a musical setting of the poem “Jabberwocky.” We have just received a link to another musical setting of the famous poem, this time for piano and voice:
“Listen to JABBERWOCKY, a musical setting by New Mexico composer Joanne Forman, with bass-baritone Christopher Wyndham and pianist Martha Grossman.
For further information about the music of Joanne Forman, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
With special thanks to Cultural Energy, a non-profit organization in Taos, New Mexico, creating media voices, with over 3000 audio archives.”
To listen to Ms. Forman’s version of “Jabberwocky,” click me.
If you would enjoy seeing an online collection of vintage book covers for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland from all over the world, then you’ll enjoy this Pinterest page spotted by one of our mimsy minions. The page owner already has a nice start on an enjoyable collection of images.
To see the Wonderland book cover images on Pinterest, click me.
Here is another publishing item from one of our mimsy minions:
“Günther Flemming’s German translation of the Alice books (including Under Ground and the Nursery), the Snark, plus a plethora of prefaces, poems, riddles, biographical sketches, and the article “Alice on the Stage,” along with a “kaleidoscope” of annotations and commentary — a task begun in 1967 — has been published in three hardcover volumes. The total cost is €209 ($284) plus postage.
To buy, go to the print-on-demand site http://www.epubli.de and put “Günther Flemming” in the Search (Suchen) box, or buy it from Amazon.de:
This just in from one of our mimsiest minions:
“Famed Russian translator of Wonderland and Looking Glass, Nina Mikhailovna Demurova, has been awarded Russia’s highest prize in children’s literature, the 2013 Korney Chukovskii Award, given for “outstanding creative achievements.”
As the “Moscow Evening” newspaper reports, “‘No one has done more for our literature, than Demurova’, said Grigorii Kruzhkov, a well-known poet and translator of The Hunting of the Snark. ‘Thanks to Nina Mikhailovna’s work, I learned about nonsense poetry, the existence of limericks, Edward Lear, and in the end, “The Hunting of the Snark” a recognized model of absurdity.’
Nina Demurova has spoken to the LCSNA three times, in 1990, 1998, and 2001, and most recently wrote the introduction to our 2013 member premium, Sonja in the Kingdom of Wonder.”
Congratulations, Nina! This recognition is well-deserved, indeed.
One of our mimsy minions has alerted us to a new book by Richard Wolfrik Galland entitled Lewis Carroll’s Puzzles in Wonderland. And here is what our minion had to say:
“Lewis Carroll’s Puzzles in Wonderland (Carlton/Metro 2013) is a bit of a misnomer. There are a few of Carroll’s original puzzles in the text, but most of them are “inspired by” (i.e., adapted to fit) the Wonderland environs, and nicely illustrated with the colored Tenniel drawings. R. W. Gallard has provided an intriguing collection of puzzles, conundrums, riddles, and brain-teasers categorized as “Easy,” “Curious,” and “Harder.””
If you have a Carrollian puzzle-lover on your holiday gift list, this might be a book to consider!
If you are a fan of Lewis Carroll and reader of this blog, then you have probably seen our prior posts about artist David Delamare. He has been working on paintings and illustrations for his own edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for five years now. One of our mimsy minions has just alerted us that Mr. Delamare has a Kickstarter campaign going on only for a few more weeks. If he reaches his goal, he will be publishing a private, limited edition deluxe version of his book before creating a trade edition.
So, if you are a fan of Alice, you might want to check out the rewards remaining for pledging your support for Mr. Delamare’s limited edition. If you’re also a fan of monkeys, crocodiles, and chinoiserie, then you really should check out his campaign. If he does not reach his fundraising goal by 3am on January 6th, 2014, the deluxe edition will not be created.
To visit the Kickstarter campaign, click me.
If you are a fan of the Looking Glass Wars novels, author Frank Beddor has written to let us know he has a Kickstarter campaign running for ONLY another nine days to fund the next new title, Looking Glass Wars: Millinery Academy. As is customary with Kickstarter campaigns, there are a host of tempting rewards (all must have prizes, you know!) including signed special editions, posters, and more, for various pledge amounts.
Some of the funding will also go to a new graphic novel. So whether you’re into only prose, graphic novels, or both, you might want to explore the campaign and its perks. But this campaign runs for only another nine days; if the goal is not reached, the books and rewards will not be produced.
To view the Kickstarter campaign, click me.
Author Tim Manley has written a witty new book that reimagines Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and other popular fairy tales for today’s social media-obsessed world. Manley’s take on the tales and their characters tends to be brief, with tongue firmly in cheek.
If the concept tickles your funny bone, click me to find out more.
Also: we often include book links to Amazon because it’s such a popular book-buying site; we aren’t subliminally trying to endorse one book site over another. But if you do shop on Amazon, you might want to check out their new Amazon Smile program, in which Amazon makes a tiny donation to a charitable cause of your choosing for each eligible item you buy. And yes, if you’re a Prime user, Prime privileges still apply. If you shop on Amazon, why not check out this painless way to donate to a good cause at the same time?
You can check out the smile.amazon.com site to learn more.