Books I Read This Month - February 2011

Hey there. Anybody watch the Oscars last night? I did. Pretty sweet, eh? Anyways, here are the books I read this month!

Impact - Douglas Preston
I don't really like science fiction, but this book was pretty good. I'm not sure what else to say about it. Yup. It was good and I liked it, but I didn't like it enough to read it a second time. You know the deal.

When You Are Engulfed In Flames - David Sedaris
I wasn't quite sure what this was about at first. All there was on the back cover was quotes about how awesome it is, which bothers me because how am I going to know if I like it if I don't even know what it's about? But anyway, it turned out that I did like it. Each chapter was a kind of short story that could stand alone, but they were all told in first person by the same guy. I love it when I read a book and it reminds me of my own writing, and tons of ideas rush through my head; the downside to this is that I can't decide whether or not to keep reading since the book is so good or to stop and write the stuff that's plowing through my brain. Then I end up having some existential crisis and have to take a nap. So this book reminded me of my short story The Wayfarer that I have been thinking about turning into an entire novel. It's about this guy telling his life story. But it's way cooler than it sounds. When You Are Engulfed In Flames is about some guy telling his life story, so there. And it's funny.

Against The Day - Thomas Pynchon
I usually don't do this, but in this case, I had to stop in the middle of the book and move on to something else. First of all, the book is about a thousand pages long, and second of all, I honestly had no idea what the heck was going on. It's about some people on a boat, I think? But never mind my complete obliviousness to the plot, I kind of enjoyed the book. There were some funny parts and the writing was interesting.

Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
This is one of those classic books that everyone says you have to read. Yup, it was a good book, and I, like those other people, recommend you read it too. It was about freedom of speech and stuff like that. And well-written also.

Booky Wook 2 - Russell Brand
The second installment of Russell Brand's life. Not as funny or moving as the first, but still intriguing. It's interesting to see the parallels in his addiction, and his motivation for fame. It's lovely how his love for Katy Perry changed him so much. The book not only says a lot about how fame and sex can manipulate a person, but it also says quite a bit about how love can change a person for the better. Can't wait until he writes a third one; it will probably be about his married life and be more spiritual.

On the Road - Jack Kerouac
I had read this before two or three times, but I wanted to read it again because it is one of my favorite books. Sal Paradise (Jack Kerouac) begins his journey admiring Dean Moriarty's (Neal Cassady) zeal and lust for life. It is a spiritual journey for Sal/Jack in that he is shedding all material possessions and societal rules to become somewhat of a hobo, traveling across the country in search of the meaning of life. Over the course of his adventure, Sal/Jack changes as he sees new parts of the world and the rude and wild, unchanging nature of Dean/Neal. This book really changes my life. Literally. I'm not just saying that because it was awesome. It actually changed my outlook on life. You should read it if you haven't.

Buffalo Lockjaw - Greg Ames
This book was so depressing. The author was trying to be funny, but the situation in which the characters were was a difficult thing to make humorous. But for a debut novel, it was alright.

Time's Arrow - Martin Amis
Now this is a good book. It's told from the point of view of this entity living in this doctor's head experiencing his life backwards from death to birth. It was awesome. You should read it.

The Keep - F. Paul Wilson
My parents have been urging me to read this for a while now, since the whole Repairman Jack series starts with this book, they say. I was wary at first because I don't quite like my mother's taste in books, but I rather liked it. It was a thriller set in World War Two. I think I might read the first Repairman Jack book by F. Paul Wilson, though it kind of depends on how I like that one on whether I will read the rest of the series or not. There are seriously like twenty books in the series. I don't know if I could be that committed...

The Art of Fiction - Ayn Rand
I posted about this here, here, and here. It is a great resource for writers. Take a look at it!

Peace, Aimee

My Guilty Pleasure

Everyone has that guilty pleasure, don't they? Well the new season of my guilty pleasure just started on Wednesday night. America's Next Top Model. :)

There are good things and bad things about this show. The bad ones are somewhat obvious. The show focuses on consumerism, degrading women into objects to look at and admire for their appearance only. The modeling industry uses women's bodies in order to sell things: clothing, jewelry, and makeup. Expensive and useless things.

You'd think that this show would make girls feel bad about their looks and make them anorexic and stuff, but I think it has the opposite effect, mostly because of Tyra Banks. She usually picks girls with personality who aren't necessarily beautiful over girls with incredible looks who have no personality or are absolute bitches. Tyra wants to give girls confidence.

I'm really not sure why I like this show. I kind of wanted to be a model for a while, and I think I could probably do it; I think I'm pretty, though I'm probably not skinny enough to be a regular model and too skinny to be a plus size model. Plus whenever the camera is on me, the pictures turn out to be crap, even if I look great in person. I don't know how it happens...

So, what is your guilty pleasure? :)

Peace, Aimee

Show and Tell

In Ayn Rand's The Art of Fiction, which I'm still reading, Rand goes on and on about how the purpose of writing a novel is to put an abstract idea into concrete terms. The reader then takes this concrete story and draws the abstract idea from it. As I read this, I interpreted it as Rand essentially saying "show, don't tell," the most common piece of advice for writers these days.

I'm having a busy week, so I apologize for the brief post. I just wanted to share this with you as another perspective of writing fiction, besides the "show, don't tell" thing. Take your abstract idea and make it concrete!

Good luck with your writing, and see you on Friday!

Peace, Aimee

What's It All About Alfie?

I am currently reading Ayn Rand's The Art of Fiction, which I checked out from the library but then purchased because it was so good. In only the first two chapters, many intriguing things were brought to my attention. Today and Friday this week are going to be devoted to a discussion of these topics, and they may even leak into next week. That's how good this book is.

Today I ask a simple question, or rather two simple questions. What is writing? What is art?

Ayn Rand says that writing is using language to convey a meaning, the theme. And she says that art is a form of communication. That pretty much puts it right out there for me. Writing is art. I am an artist. I use language to get my point across.

Now to get your point across, you actually need some vocabulary, a very unappealing and tedious topic, in my opinion. You have to know words in order to write words, duh! Words are to a writer as paint is to a painter. If you have a wide vocabulary at your fingertips, you can reach into your brain and carefully choose the perfect word to portray your idea. This is something I've been working on lately, rounding out my vocab. That's what all those seemingly pointless vocabulary quizzes in school were for.

So what do you think? Have you read Ayn Rand's The Art of Fiction?

Peace, Aimee


I was going to post today about Ayn Rand's wonderful book, The Art of Fiction, but then I remembered it was Valentine's Day, and I had to give you this message.

I encourage to not buy your loved ones chocolates or flowers or things they don't need, perpetuating the system that idolizes material success and promotes a lust for wealth and power rather than a love for humanity as a whole, but instead I encourage you to show your love to your significant other by making a nice home cooked meal or giving an extra special, attentive tumble in that room down the hall, or if you are single, as I am, do not sulk but show your love for humanity by being nice to your fellow man, holding doors open, flashing smiles, giving compliments, and helping people when they are hurt. These acts of kindness last much longer than those transient candies that melt away in your mouth or those flowers that wither and die after only a few days.

Thank you, you wonderful followers, you! Happy Valentine's Day! I love you all!

Peace, Aimee

Stream of Consciousness

I was bored one day and decided to sit down and write out the thoughts that came to my head, just like some other writers do, most prominently James Joyce.

Okay, side note. I realize that I talk about James Joyce a lot. I mean, the title of my blog is A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Woman. I'm not nearly as obsessed with Joyce as it may seem to you guys. I honestly have only ever read that one book by him. Granted it is one of my favorites, but I've only ever read it once. I mean, I tried reading Ulysses and Finnegan's Wake but could hardly get through the first chapter. And they were written in some form of stream of consciousness, so now I feel like a total hypocrite after writing this long paragraph. Oh boy. End side note.

What was I talking about? Oh yeah, that's right. Stream of consciousness.

It was fun to write. I think I might have to do it again some time.

Also, it kind of reminds me of the themes of Jack Kerouac a lot. I mean, besides mentioning the word beatnik, anyway. Maybe you've read On the Road? Enjoy my circular logic, as well. :)

Alright. Here it is. My mind spilled out on the internet page.

the dog wags its tag and makes a sound like a hound but that's what it is what it is all about and I doubt the sun won't shine on the day the earth twirls without an axis swirls and spins for no reason at all and just goes and goes and doesn't care and I don't care nothing really matters to me bohemian beatnik don't you love love and love and laughter ha ha ha shine the sun and moon goes down behind a cloud of torn up tissue paper achoo moo cow dairy milk soy joy ah aha ha bring up the jazz and dance and go go go go go so fun to go and dance and sing but not too loud because my voice ain't good like those in the hood down under in the shadows where the children can't play let their voices shine out from the dirt and the grime like sun shining through the cracks in a deck wooden deck stomp my feet watch the crumbs fall down down down to the ground underground there's no light but the void don't care bout light or dark or shadow or blindness deafness hiccupness openness open your eyes to the nothing don't close them to the everything not the same never think they're the same silly thing don't you know the meaning of the words he sang in the rain on the day of the plangity prangity plangprang hang up the phone dumbass it's the senator not the god not the old ball and chain and I'm ain't in chains maybe you don't mind being conned but I got the power got the power over you no not over but in between the lines I'm inclined to line up the mines and bomb bomb don't dumb bomb dombdilly bad sad mad no fad's good enough for me I got the power of the shower cleanse the dirt from your soul silly thing darling I got the down down pull of the gravity of the world universe void man dude got the reality pality smality smell skunk silly little thing got the world on the string mean ring ping pong ding dong got the got the got the got the power of the dog makes a sound like a hound

Peace, Aimee

In The Moment

I get this great feeling of antici...

...pation and excitement when I write a blog post ahead of time and have to wait for two days or a week to post it. It makes me anxious. It makes me want to post every day. But then the indefinite dry spell will crop up, and I will have nothing to say for two weeks. The last month's worth of posts had been written well ahead of time, and the next week's posts are already written. I suppose I get these sudden bursts of creativity and eagerness to say what I need to say before I die or something. It's like 'oh, I hope I don't crash my car today as I wrote that insightful blog post that I would like to share with the internet tomorrow,' or 'I wonder how many wonderful blog posts I can share with the world before Armageddon.'

Just wanted to share that with you.

Peace, Aimee

Music To My Ears

I am lucky to have a father who instilled in me as a child a deep appreciation of the arts. My dad is the reason why I am a writer and a musician. I swear that every single day of my life, my dad has been reading a new book and suggesting some to me, and there has been music playing in my house 24/7.

In this blog I talk a lot about writing, but I would like to today discuss something that is almost if not as important to me. Music. Instead of going on a big long rant, which I am bound to do, I would like to share with you the five most underrated bands in my opinion. Maybe, hopefully, you've heard of them, and if not, then you're welcome!

By the way, there is no way that YouTube does this music justice.

Flim and the BBs
A jazz band from the 70s, 80s, and 90s, these guys know just how to get your attention. Genius use of crescendo and staccato if I’ve ever heard it. And then they give you just enough of each verse and each instrument to leave you satisfied yet begging for more. I really don’t know how else to describe it. Just listen. If you have good speakers, turn it up loud and close your eyes. Seriously good stuff.

The Doors
Who cares about all that heroin he did and all the times he was arrested. Jim Morrison’s voice is like a silky sound wave ribbon of sex flowing through your ears. He was a genius poet. And the band was awesome too.

Stevie Ray Vaughan
He was just as good as Hendrix. Guitar God.

Bela Fleck and the Flecktones
Ever heard a jazz band with a banjo, steel drums, and a drum guitar? Well now you have.

Here's a new one for you. Ludo is a rock band signed just in 2007. On the surface, they seem like just another rock band, but if you dig deep and listen to their lyrics, they are geniuses of humor and emotion, and if you listen to their entire discography, you'll see that they experiment in many genres, including reggae, jazz, and blues. They even do some Sinatra. Well rounded and hilarious, Ludo is awesome.

Peace, Aimee