Book Review: Kolyma Tales by Varlam Shalamov

From Amazon.com:

It is estimated that some three million people died in the Soviet forced-labour camps of Kolyma, in the northeastern area of Siberia. Shalamov himself spent seventeen years there, and in these stories he vividly captures the lives of ordinary people caught up in terrible circumstances, whose hopes and plans extended to further than a few hours.

Feeling depressed? Feeling as if life’s unfair? Hard? People are mean? Read Kolyma Tales. That should make you feel better.

Don’t believe me?

“The men were not shown the thermometer, but that wasn’t necessary since they had to work in any weather. Besides, longtime residents of Kolyma could determine the weather precisely even without a thermometer: if there was frosty fog, that meant the temperature outside was forty degrees below zero; if you exhaled easily but in a rasping fashion, it was fifty degrees below zero; if there was a rasping and it was difficult to breathe, it was sixty degrees below; after sixty degrees below zero, spit froze in mid-air. Spit had been freezing in mid-air for two weeks.”

Continue reading Book Review: Kolyma Tales by Varlam Shalamov

How to Write a First Draft

Forgive me, for I am here to destroy your insecurities. Your excuses. That thing you do when you tell yourself that your first draft must be perfect. The illusion that great writing is born in a single moment of inspiration.

I want to destroy those things so you can get down to the business of writing. And that begins with first drafts.

First drafts tend to scare the hell out of most writers. Even the greats. Kurt Vonnegut said, “When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.”

So when a writer of his caliber makes a statement like that … do you think you will be any different? Continue reading How to Write a First Draft

Book Review: Ancient Book of Sex and Science

In this second volume in the critically acclaimed Ancient Book series, indulge yourself as you explore the strange frontiers of sex and science. From instruments of innovation and the Atomic Age to analysis of the mind, body, and seduction of the human form. Featuring broad color, shapely design, supple lines, and evocative commentary, The Ancient Book of Sex and Science is a fine art hardcover collection of images produced by some of the most highly sophisticated animation designers and low-brow artists in the industry.

This is a phenomenal book for all art aficionados. A must-have.  Continue reading Book Review: Ancient Book of Sex and Science

The Most Beautiful Lines…

“The apartment below mine had the only balcony of the house. I saw a girl standing on it, completely submerged in the pool of autumn twilight. She wasn’t doing a thing that I could see, except standing there leaning on the balcony railing, holding the universe together.”J.D. Salinger

I have always considered these words to be some of the most beautiful I have ever read. The most breathtaking description. Simple, yet so effective in the way it makes you imagine someone with almost godlike characteristics into existence.

The World’s Most Beautiful Bookstores

While the e-book is slowly becoming the preferred medium when it comes to reading, some people still enjoy browsing for books in stores. Maybe because it’s nostalgic, maybe it’s because you never know what you might find. A room filled with books has a certain undeniable charm. Continue reading The World’s Most Beautiful Bookstores

Famously Banned Books

Censorship. Probably the most hated word by creative individuals. Books have always been used by the oppressed as a means to fight the oppressor. Also, books have always been the weapon of choice for those who had an opinion different than that shared by the vast majority. But all this also meant that lot of books have been banned throughout history.

Here’s a list of famously banned books. Continue reading Famously Banned Books

TMM: Writing is Rewriting

When I was young I used to loathe having to rewrite my stories. So much so that sometimes I didn’t even want to read them. Because you see, I wrote during the moments of intense inspiration, when everything seemed perfect. And when I’d read over the stories, there were many mistakes, many things to change. Somehow, the magic was gone.

Continue reading TMM: Writing is Rewriting