Becoming nothing

This is a quote from the book She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan.

Quote by Shelley Parker-Chan, “Becoming nothing was the most terrifying thing she could think of—worse even than the fear of hunger, or pain, or any other suffering that could possibly arise from life.”

Have you read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below!

If you’re interested, you can read an excerpt from the book here.

She Who Became the Sun – Summary

In a famine-stricken village on a dusty yellow plain, two children are given two fates. A boy, greatness. A girl, nothingness…

In 1345, China lies under harsh Mongol rule. For the starving peasants of the Central Plains, greatness is something found only in stories. When the Zhu family’s eighth-born son, Zhu Chongba, is given a fate of greatness, everyone is mystified as to how it will come to pass. The fate of nothingness received by the family’s clever and capable second daughter, on the other hand, is only as expected.

When a bandit attack orphans the two children, though, it is Zhu Chongba who succumbs to despair and dies. Desperate to escape her own fated death, the girl uses her brother’s identity to enter a monastery as a young male novice. There, propelled by her burning desire to survive, Zhu learns she is capable of doing whatever it takes, no matter how callous, to stay hidden from her fate.

After her sanctuary is destroyed for supporting the rebellion against Mongol rule, Zhu uses the chance to claim another future altogether: her brother’s abandoned greatness.

Mulan meets The Song of Achilles; an accomplished, poetic debut of war and destiny, sweeping across an epic alternate China.

Copyright © 2021 by Shelley Parker-Chan.

You can find more details here on Goodreads and on StoryGraph.

Greatness / Nothing

Excerpt from She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

Photo by Matt Zhang on Unsplash

This is an excerpt from the book She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan.

They turned from the main road and saw a pinprick of light ahead, no brighter than a random flash behind one’s eyelids. It was the fortune-teller’s house. As they went inside, the girl realized why her father had cut the melon.

The first thing she saw was the candle. They were so rare in Zhongli that its radiance seemed magical. Its flame stood a hand high, swaying at the tip like an eel’s tail. Beautiful, but disturbing. In the girl’s own unlit house she had never had a sense of the dark outside. Here they were in a bubble surrounded by the dark, and the candle had stolen her ability to see what lay outside the light.

The girl had only ever seen the fortune-teller at a distance before. Now, up close, she knew at once that her father was not old. The fortune-teller was perhaps even old enough to remember the time before the barbarian emperors. A mole on his wrinkled cheek sprouted a long black hair, twice as long as the wispy white hairs on his chin. The girl stared.

“Most worthy uncle.” Her father bowed and handed the melon to the fortune-teller. “I bring you the eighth son of the Zhu family, Zhu Chongba, under the stars of his birth. Can you tell us his fate?” He pushed Chongba forwards. The boy went eagerly.

The fortune-teller took Chongba’s face between his old hands and turned it this way and that. He pressed his thumbs into the boy’s brow and cheeks, measured his eye sockets and nose, and felt the shape of his skull. Then he took the boy’s wrist and felt his pulse. His eyelids drooped and his expression became severe and internal, as if interpreting some distant message. A sweat broke out on his forehead.

The moment stretched. The candle flared and the blackness outside seemed to press closer. The girl’s skin crawled, even as her anticipation grew.

They all jumped when the fortune-teller dropped Chongba’s arm. “Tell us, esteemed uncle,” the girl’s father urged.

The fortune-teller looked up, startled. Trembling, he said, “This child has greatness in him. Oh, how clearly did I see it! His deeds will bring a hundred generations of pride to your family name.” To the girl’s astonishment he rose and hurried to kneel at her father’s feet. “To be rewarded with a son with a fate like this, you must have been virtuous indeed in your past lives. Sir, I am honored to know you.”

The girl’s father looked down at the old man, stunned. After a moment he said, “I remember the day that child was born. He was too weak to suck, so I walked all the way to Wuhuang Monastery to make an offering for his survival. A twenty-jin sack of yellow beans and three pumpkins. I even promised the monks that I would dedicate him to the monastery when he turned twelve, if he survived.” His voice cracked: desperate and joyous at the same time. “Everyone told me I was a fool.”

Greatness. It was the kind of word that didn’t belong in Zhongli. The girl had only ever heard it in her father’s stories of the past. Stories of that golden, tragic time before the barbarians came. A time of emperors and kings and generals; of war and betrayal and triumph. And now her ordinary brother, Zhu Chongba, was to be great. When she looked at Chongba, his ugly face was radiant. The wooden Buddhist amulet around his neck caught the candlelight and glowed gold, and made him a king.

As they left, the girl lingered on the threshold of the dark. Some impulse prompted her to glance back at the old man in his pool of candlelight. Then she went creeping back and folded herself down very small before him until her head was touching the dirt and her nostrils were full of the dead chalk smell of it. “Esteemed uncle. Will you tell me my fate?”

She was afraid to look up. The impulse that had driven her here, that hot coal in her stomach, had abandoned her. Her pulse rabbited. The pulse that contained the pattern of her fate. She thought of Chongba holding that great fate within him. What did it feel like, to carry that seed of potential? For a moment she wondered if she had a seed of potential within herself too, and it was only that she had never known what to look for; she had never had a name for it.

The fortune-teller was silent. The girl felt a chill drift over her. Her body broke out in chicken-skin and she huddled lower, trying to get away from that dark touch of fear. The candle flame lashed.

Then, as if from a distance, she heard the fortune-teller say: “Nothing.”

The girl felt a dull, deep pain. That was the seed within her, her fate, and she realized she had known it all along.

Have you read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below!

She Who Became the Sun – Summary

In a famine-stricken village on a dusty yellow plain, two children are given two fates. A boy, greatness. A girl, nothingness…

In 1345, China lies under harsh Mongol rule. For the starving peasants of the Central Plains, greatness is something found only in stories. When the Zhu family’s eighth-born son, Zhu Chongba, is given a fate of greatness, everyone is mystified as to how it will come to pass. The fate of nothingness received by the family’s clever and capable second daughter, on the other hand, is only as expected.

When a bandit attack orphans the two children, though, it is Zhu Chongba who succumbs to despair and dies. Desperate to escape her own fated death, the girl uses her brother’s identity to enter a monastery as a young male novice. There, propelled by her burning desire to survive, Zhu learns she is capable of doing whatever it takes, no matter how callous, to stay hidden from her fate.

After her sanctuary is destroyed for supporting the rebellion against Mongol rule, Zhu uses the chance to claim another future altogether: her brother’s abandoned greatness.

Mulan meets The Song of Achilles; an accomplished, poetic debut of war and destiny, sweeping across an epic alternate China.

Copyright © 2021 by Shelley Parker-Chan.

You can find more details here on Goodreads and on StoryGraph.

Only through honesty

This is a quote from the book The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai.

Quote by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai, “I didn’t want to tell you about his death, but you and I have seen enough death and violence to know that there’s only one way we can talk about wars: honestly. Only through honesty can we learn about the truth.”

Have you read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below!

If you’re interested, you can read an excerpt from the book here.

The Mountains Sing – Summary

With the epic sweep of Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko or Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing and the lyrical beauty of Vaddey Ratner’s In the Shadow of the Banyan, The Mountains Sing tells an enveloping, multigenerational tale of the Trần family, set against the backdrop of the Việt Nam War. Trần Diệu Lan, who was born in 1920, was forced to flee her family farm with her six children during the Land Reform as the Communist government rose in the North. Years later in Hà Nội, her young granddaughter, Hương, comes of age as her parents and uncles head off down the Hồ Chí Minh Trail to fight in a conflict that tore apart not just her beloved country, but also her family.

Vivid, gripping, and steeped in the language and traditions of Việt Nam, The Mountains Sing brings to life the human costs of this conflict from the point of view of the Vietnamese people themselves, while showing us the true power of kindness and hope.

Copyright © 2020 by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai.

You can find more details here on Goodreads and on StoryGraph.

Your mother is back

Excerpt from The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai

Photo by Silver Ringvee on Unsplash

This is an excerpt from the book The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai.

I heard the door closing, moans, footsteps. “Hương,” Grandma called. “Your mother is back. Give us some light.”

My mother? Could this be true? I fumbled in darkness, searching for the box of matchsticks. I struck one and a fire sprang up, wobbled, and died. I tried another. It didn’t ignite. For the third time, I struck three sticks against the side of the matchbox. Holding the fire, I turned.

A woman stood, her head on Grandma’s shoulder. Her eyes were closed. Her face was red and swollen, her hair glued against her skull.

“Hương, your mother is home. She’s home!” Grandma sobbed.

The fire ate into my fingers. I dropped the matchsticks onto the floor. I didn’t feel any pain, for I’d seen the deep anguish on the woman’s face. My mother’s face.

Mẹ.” I struggled against darkness, rushing to her. My cheek was hot against her chest. My hands clung to her bony frame. “Mẹ, mẹ ơi.

My mother’s fingers trembled over my nose, mouth, eyes. “Hương. Oh, my darling. Hương . . .”

The tears that I’d buried inside of me burst. I cried for the years we’d been apart, for Uncle Thuận’s death, for the deaths of my classmates, for myself and the fact that I no longer had any real friends.

Grandma relit the lamp. She pushed the money on the phản aside. I helped my mother lie down, drying her with a towel. She shivered under my hands.

As Grandma went to get a change of clothes for my mother, I kissed her forehead. A fever seared through her skin. She moaned.

“You’ll be better soon now that you’re with us, Mama.” I ran the towel along her legs, wiping away the mud, eyeing the large bruises imprinted on her skin. “How did you get home, Mama? Where’ve you been?” I wanted to ask about my father but feared the answer.

“Hương.” My mother opened her eyes. “Your Papa . . . Did your Papa come back?”

My heart paused in its beat. The lamp stopped flickering. “Mama, you didn’t find him? You didn’t see him?”

A tear slid out of my mother’s eye. As she shook her head, I stood up. I walked to the room Grandma had reserved for my parents, putting my face against its door. My mother had led me to believe that she could find my father and bring him back to me. I had believed she could do anything she wanted to.

“I’m sorry, Hương.” Her voice was a bare whisper.

The door was hard and cold against my forehead. I wanted to break it open.

“Now the war is ending, Hoàng will be back any day. He’ll be back,” Grandma’s voice said.

“Did you ever get a letter from him?” my mother asked.

“Not yet, Daughter. Perhaps he found no way to send it.”

“How about my brothers, Mama?”

“I’m sure they’re fine, and they’ll be home soon.” I turned to see Grandma sitting my mother up, giving her a glass of water. I looked up in the direction of Uncle Thuận’s altar, feeling thankful for the darkness: it had concealed the truth from my mother, for now.

As I helped Grandma change my mother, I eyed her protruding ribs. The bruises were not just on her legs, they marked their presence on her back, chest, and thighs. What had happened to her?

Grandma brought a towel and a pail of warm water. As I cleaned my mother’s face and hands, she lay there, her eyes tightly shut, her body shuddering. I turned away. I didn’t want to look at her, nor pity her. Where had my strong and determined mother gone? She didn’t ask about Grandma and me, how we were doing and how we’d survived the bombings.

“Let her rest,” Grandma whispered, pulling a blanket to my mother’s chest. As she started cooking, I went out to our young bàng tree. The rain had died into the earth. A half-moon dangled from the sky. I closed my eyes and saw myself as a child, my mother combing my hair, her singing voice the wind in my ears.

Grandma came out. She embraced me, her arms felt as solid as tree roots, holding me up. “I’m sorry your Mama isn’t well, Hương. We must be the pillars for her to lean on.”

“She used to be my pillar, Grandma.”

“I know, but you’re a strong woman now. . . . She needs you.”

I looked up at the moon and tried to let its soft light calm me. Perhaps it was wrong of me to feel disappointed at my mother. At least she’d tried to find my father and bring him back. Grandma had said that it was an impossible task.

“Don’t tell her about your Uncle Thuận yet,” said Grandma. “When she sleeps tonight, I’ll bring Thuận’s belongings into our room.”

I nodded and buried my face into Grandma’s hair. Years later, looking back through the journeys of my life, I understood the fear Grandma must have carried, not knowing what would happen the next day to her children. Yet she had to appear strong, for only those who faced battles were entitled to trauma.

That night, after Grandma had fed her a bowl of phở, I sat guarding my mother. I thought that if I watched her closely enough, she wouldn’t disappear again. I believed that if I told her how much I’d missed her, she’d once again be the mother I knew.

But as a fifteen-year-old girl, I couldn’t imagine how the war had swallowed my mother into its stomach, churning her into someone different before spitting her out. I couldn’t understand how she could scream so loud in her sleep, about bullets, shooting, running, and death. There were words I didn’t understand. And I couldn’t understand how my father’s name could sound so sad on her lips.

In the days that followed, several neighbors came to visit my mother. To my surprise, she didn’t get out of bed or sit up. She only nodded or shook her head at their questions, her face sad and empty. She did the same with her friends and colleagues from the Bạch Mai Hospital. After a while, they all left, whispering that she was exhausted and needed to rest.

But I knew it was more than that. Sometimes when I was alone with her, her shoulders trembled. She must have been crying, but still, no sounds emerged. They only came during the night, when she slept, her body shaking with nightmares.

Fearing my mother would hurt herself in her sleep, I moved into her room. She didn’t want me to be on the same bed, so I unrolled a straw mat onto the floor. I’d been a good sleeper, but no longer.

Have you read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below!

The Mountains Sing – Summary

With the epic sweep of Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko or Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing and the lyrical beauty of Vaddey Ratner’s In the Shadow of the Banyan, The Mountains Sing tells an enveloping, multigenerational tale of the Trần family, set against the backdrop of the Việt Nam War. Trần Diệu Lan, who was born in 1920, was forced to flee her family farm with her six children during the Land Reform as the Communist government rose in the North. Years later in Hà Nội, her young granddaughter, Hương, comes of age as her parents and uncles head off down the Hồ Chí Minh Trail to fight in a conflict that tore apart not just her beloved country, but also her family.

Vivid, gripping, and steeped in the language and traditions of Việt Nam, The Mountains Sing brings to life the human costs of this conflict from the point of view of the Vietnamese people themselves, while showing us the true power of kindness and hope.

Copyright © 2020 by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai.

You can find more details here on Goodreads and on StoryGraph.

War doesn’t determine…

This is a quote from the book The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang.

Quote by R.F. Kuang, “War doesn’t determine who’s right. War determines who remains.”

Have you read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below!

If you’re interested, you can read an excerpt from the book here.

The Poppy War – Summary

An epic historical military fantasy, inspired by the bloody history of China’s twentieth century and filled with treachery and magic.

When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good.

Copyright © 2018 by R.F. Kuang.

You can find more details here on Goodreads and on StoryGraph.

…because she had chosen it for herself

Excerpt from The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

Photo by Texco Kwok on Unsplash

This is an excerpt from the book The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang.

She threw herself into her studies. Classes became like warfare, each interaction a battle. With every raised hand and every homework assignment, she competed against Nezha and Venka and every other Sinegardian. She had to prove that she deserved to be kept on, that she merited further training.

She had needed failure to remind her that she wasn’t like the Sinegardians—she hadn’t grown up speaking casual Hesperian, wasn’t familiar with the command structure of the Imperial Militia, didn’t know the political relationships between the Twelve Warlords like the back of her hand. The Sinegardians had this knowledge ingrained from childhood. She would have to develop it.

Every waking hour that she didn’t spend in class, she spent in the archives. She read the assigned texts out loud to herself; wrapping her tongue around the unfamiliar Sinegardian dialect until she had eradicated all hints of her southern drawl.

She began to burn herself again. She found release in the pain; it was comforting, familiar. It was a trade-off she was well used to. Success required sacrifice. Sacrifice meant pain. Pain meant success.

She stopped sleeping. She sat in the front row so that there was no way she could doze off. Her head ached constantly. She always wanted to vomit. She stopped eating.

She made herself miserable. But then, all of her options led to misery. She could run away. She could get on a boat and escape to another city. She could run drugs for another opium smuggler. She could, if it came down to it, return to Tikany, marry, and hope no one found out that she couldn’t have children until it was too late.

But the misery she felt now was a good misery. This misery she reveled in, because she had chosen it for herself.

One month later, Rin tested at the top of one of Jima’s frequent Linguistics exams. She beat Nezha’s score by two points. When Jima announced the top five scores, Rin jerked upright, happily shocked.

She had spent the entire night cramming Hesperian verb tenses, which were infinitely confusing. Modern Hesperian was a language that followed neither rhyme nor reason. Its rules were close to pure randomness, its pronunciation guides haphazard and riddled with exceptions.

She couldn’t reason through Hesperian, so she memorized it, the way she memorized everything she didn’t understand.

“Good,” Jima said crisply when she handed Rin’s exam scroll back to her.

Rin was startled at how good “good” made her feel.

She found that she was fueled by praise from her masters. Praise meant that she had finally, finally received validation that she was not nothing. She could be brilliant, could be worth someone’s attention. She adored praise—craved it, needed it, and realized she found relief only when she finally had it.

She realized, too, that she felt about praise the way that addicts felt about opium. Each time she received a fresh infusion of flattery, she could think only about how to get more of it. Achievement was a high. Failure was worse than withdrawal. Good test scores brought only momentary relief and temporary pride—she basked in her grace period of several hours before she began to panic about her next test.

She craved praise so deeply that she felt it in her bones. And just like an addict, she did whatever she could to get it.

Have you read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below!

The Poppy War – Summary

An epic historical military fantasy, inspired by the bloody history of China’s twentieth century and filled with treachery and magic.

When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good.

Copyright © 2018 by R.F. Kuang.

You can find more details here on Goodreads and on StoryGraph.

But we loved

This is a quote from a poem by Edgar Allan Poe.

Quote by Edgar Allan Poe, ”

Have you read any of Poe’s poetry? I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below!

If you’re interested, you can read a few of Edgar Allan Poe’s poems here.

The Raven and Other Favorite Poems – Summary

The quote is from one of the poems in this book of poems. Here is the book summary:

“With me poetry has been not a purpose, but a passion.”-Edgar Allan Poe.

Containing such famous works as “The Raven”, “Lenore”, “Annabel Lee”, and “To Helen”, this complete collection of poetry by Edgar Allan Poe encapsulates the career of one of the best-known and most read American writers. Laden with tones of loneliness, melancholy and despair, the poetry contained in this volume exerted great influence on the American Romantic and the French Symbolist Movements of the nineteenth century. Today, Poe’s poetry is appreciated for its literary genius, not only because of his command of language, rhythms and dramatic imagery, but also because of its emotional insight into a beautiful and tormented mind. His propensity towards the mysterious and the macabre, as well as an ardent preoccupation with death, has led centuries of scholars and readers to enjoy these poems of love, death, and loneliness.

Copyright © 1845 by Edgar Allan Poe.

You can find more details here on Goodreads and on StoryGraph.

I saw thee once

Two poems by Edgar Allan Poe

Photo by Clark Young on Unsplash

As it’s Poetry Month, here are a few poems by Edgar Allan Poe.

Annabel Lee

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of ANNABEL LEE;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea:
But we loved with a love that was more than love—
I and my ANNABEL LEE;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful ANNABEL LEE;
So that her high-born kinsman came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
Went envying her and me—
Yes! —that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my ANNABEL LEE.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we—
Of many far wiser than we
And neither the angels in heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful ANNABEL LEE,

For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful ANNABEL LEE;
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful ANNABEL LEE;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride,
In the sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.

To Helen*

*(Sarah Helen Whitman, a poet loved by Poe.]

I saw thee once—once only—years ago:
I must not say how many—but not many.
It was a July midnight; and from out
A full-orbed moon, that, like thine own soul, soaring,
Sought a precipitate pathway up through heaven,
There fell a silvery-silken veil of light,
With quietude and sultriness and slumber,
Upon the upturn’d faces of a thousand
Roses that grew in an enchanted garden,
Where no wind dared to stir, unless on tiptoe—
Fell on the upturn’d faces of these roses
That gave out, in return for the love-light,
Their odorous souls in an ecstatic death—
Fell on the upturn’d faces of these roses
That smiled and died in this parterre, enchanted
By thee, and by the poetry of thy presence.

Clad all in white, upon a violet bank
I saw thee half reclining; while the moon
Fell on the upturn’d faces of the roses,
And on thine own, upturn’d—alas, in sorrow!
Was it not Fate, that, on this July midnight—
Was it not Fate, (whose name is also Sorrow),
That bade me pause before that garden-gate,
To breathe the incense of those slumbering roses?
No footstep stirred: the hated world all slept,
Save only thee and me. (Oh, heaven!—oh, God!
How my heart beats in coupling those two words!)
Save only thee and me. I paused—I looked—
And in an instant all things disappeared.
(Ah, bear in mind this garden was enchanted!)
The pearly lustre of the moon went out:
The mossy banks and the meandering paths,
The happy flowers and the repining trees,
Were seen no more: the very roses’ odors
Died in the arms of the adoring airs.
All—all expired save thee—save less than thou:
Save only the divine light in thine eyes—
Save but the soul in thine uplifted eyes.
I saw but them—they were the world to me.
I saw but them—saw only them for hours—
Saw only them until the moon went down.
What wild heart-histories seemed to lie enwritten
Upon those crystalline, celestial spheres!
How dark a wo! yet how sublime a hope!
How silently serene a sea of pride!
How daring an ambition! yet how deep—
How fathomless a capacity for love!

But now, at length, dear Dian sank from sight,
Into a western couch of thunder-cloud;
And thou, a ghost, amid the entombing trees
Didst glide away. Only thine eyes remained.
They would not go—they never yet have gone.
Lighting my lonely pathway home that night,
They have not left me (as my hopes have) since.
They follow me—they lead me through the years
They are my ministers—yet I their slave.
Their office is to illumine and enkindle—
My duty, to be saved by their bright light,
And purified in their electric fire,
And sanctified in their elysian fire.

They fill my soul with Beauty (which is Hope),
And are far up in Heaven—the stars I kneel to
In the sad, silent watches of my night;
While even in the meridian glare of day
I see them still—two sweetly scintillant
Venuses, unextinguished by the sun!

Have you read these poems or others by Edgar Allan Poe?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below!

The Raven and Other Favorite Poems – Summary

I found these poems in this book of poems. Here is the book summary:

“With me poetry has been not a purpose, but a passion.”-Edgar Allan Poe.

Containing such famous works as “The Raven”, “Lenore”, “Annabel Lee”, and “To Helen”, this complete collection of poetry by Edgar Allan Poe encapsulates the career of one of the best-known and most read American writers. Laden with tones of loneliness, melancholy and despair, the poetry contained in this volume exerted great influence on the American Romantic and the French Symbolist Movements of the nineteenth century. Today, Poe’s poetry is appreciated for its literary genius, not only because of his command of language, rhythms and dramatic imagery, but also because of its emotional insight into a beautiful and tormented mind. His propensity towards the mysterious and the macabre, as well as an ardent preoccupation with death, has led centuries of scholars and readers to enjoy these poems of love, death, and loneliness.

Copyright © 1845 by Edgar Allan Poe.

You can find more details here on Goodreads and on StoryGraph.

A new name

This is a quote from the book The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros.

Quote by Sandra Cisneros, “I would like to baptize myself under a new name, a name more like the real me, the one nobody sees.”

Have you read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below!

If you’re interested, you can read an excerpt from the book here.

The House on Mango Street – Summary

Acclaimed by critics, beloved by readers of all ages, taught everywhere from inner-city grade schools to universities across the country, and translated all over the world, The House on Mango Street is the remarkable story of Esperanza Cordero.

Told in a series of vignettes – sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous–it is the story of a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Few other books in our time have touched so many readers.

Copyright © 1984 by Sandra Cisneros.

You can find more details here on Goodreads and on StoryGraph.

A wild horse of a woman

Excerpt from The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

Photo by Annika Treial on Unsplash

This is an excerpt from the book The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros.

In English my name means hope. In Spanish it means too many letters. It means sadness, it means waiting. It is like the number nine. A muddy color. It is the Mexican records my father plays on Sunday mornings when he is shaving, songs like sobbing.

It was my great-grandmother’s name and now it is mine. She was a horse woman too, born like me in the Chinese year of the horse—which is supposed to be bad luck if you’re born female—but I think this is a Chinese lie because the Chinese, like the Mexicans don’t like their women strong.

My great-grandmother. I would’ve liked to have known her, a wild horse of a woman, so wild she wouldn’t marry. Until my great-grandfather threw a sack over her head and carried her off. Just like that as if she were a fancy chandelier. That’s the way he did it.

And the story goes she never forgave him. She looked out the window her whole life, the way so many women sit their sadness on an elbow. I wonder if she made the best with what she got or was she sorry because she couldn’t be all the things she wanted to be. Esperanza. I have inherited her name, but I don’t want to inherit her place by the window.

At school they say my name funny as if the syllables were made out of tin and hurt the roof of your mouth. But in Spanish my name is made out of a softer something, like silver, not quite as thick as sister’s name—Magdalena—which is uglier than mine. Magdalena who at least can come home and become Nenny. But I am always Esperanza.

I would like to baptize myself under a new name, a name more like the real me, the one nobody sees. Esperanza as Lisandra or Maritza or Zeze the X. Yes. Something like Zeze the X will do.

Have you read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below!

The House on Mango Street – Summary

Acclaimed by critics, beloved by readers of all ages, taught everywhere from inner-city grade schools to universities across the country, and translated all over the world, The House on Mango Street is the remarkable story of Esperanza Cordero.

Told in a series of vignettes – sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous–it is the story of a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Few other books in our time have touched so many readers.

Copyright © 1984 by Sandra Cisneros.

You can find more details here on Goodreads and on StoryGraph.