The Best of New Writing on the Web

February 13, 2008

Fourth Edition

Filed under: Editorial,Writing — litlove @ 5:40 pm

I’m way behind in getting this introductory post out because we’ve spent ages battling HTML code problems. Transferring material from sites seems to bring with it masses of random, stowaway code that changes font size, removes paragraph breaks, jams the text into narrow-spaced lines. It’s a nuisance. But anyhow, here we are at last, with a cracking fourth edition, full of more wonderful writing from the web.

First up is an inspirational poem from Tasting Rhubarb where you can find beautiful photography and elegant creative writing. The cool stillness of the poem was just what I wanted on a gloomy, foggy February day and I hope its serenity touches you, too.

Next is the first in a four-part post that explores childhood memories. Wheels on the Bus is a blog that mixes the everyday with the traumatic past as its author comes to terms with her experience of child abuse. I much admire the careful restraint, the humour and the sensitivity with which these toxic memories are recounted. Quality work.

To change the mood completely, the next post is from the most eloquent and insightful verbivore, whose site, Incurable Logophilia, has long been one of my favourite places to find truly excellent literary reviews. Helen of Troy is such an intriguing character, represented to us in so many literary and cinematic variations, but here we go back to the original Iliad, with a fantastic commentary on Homer’s most beautiful of women.

Fig Crumbs was probably my new discovery of the week. Professional sock pairer, Michael Crowe has one of the most catchy poetic voices I’ve come across of late. I was spoiled for choice as to which poem to crosspost here and I urge you to visit his site.

So Many Books is one of the sites I first found when I began blogging that really inspired me, and from those early blogging days, almost two years ago now, right up to the present, its quality has never faltered. I honestly don’t know what I’d do without a fix of Stefanie every day. Her series on Emerson’s writings has been a joy, eloquent, fascinating and always with a little fun. In the post I feature here, his relationship with the awkward and argumentative Carlyle is under analysis. Wonderful reading.

Anthropomorphic Motoring is the delightfully funny anecdote of what happens when you take a GPS system too seriously. Ombudsben’s site is the place where the everyday quirks and foibles of humanity get turned into bite-sized chunks of pure entertainment. Always keeping it more or less real, I visit this site for a taste of anecdotal ambrosia.

Returning to the genre of memoir, I loved the gentle, engaging reminiscences to be found at Quirk. The story bound together so well its elements of action and of reflection, of travel memoir and young man’s autobiography. I admired the smooth, easy voice of this writer.

And last but by no means least, the short story this edition comes from Beautiful Desolation, where you can find a wealth of quality fiction pieces. This bittersweet tale of covert family feuding at a funeral is sharply written, rich and insightful.  A fantastic way of rounding off this edition of smart and talented writers.

I hope you enjoy all the work on display here. I have to let you know that I’ll be posting here once a month from now on – so sorry, just so much on for me at the moment that I can’t really commit to doing more than that. But with so many fantastic blogs already here for your exploration, I know you won’t be left wanting for something to read.


Antidote to Overstimulation

Filed under: Poetry,Writing — litlove @ 3:55 pm

From Tasting Rhubarb

how something
so plain pleases (more…)

33 inches of therapy

Filed under: Memoir,Writing — litlove @ 3:52 pm

From Wheels on the bus

In 1990, teenaged girls from across the land began to fantasize about becoming prostitutes and then getting picked up by an absurdly sexy investment banker who would hire them for a week before falling passionately in love. If all went according to plan, our investment banker would be tall and slightly graying and would offer us a substantial sum of money to buy clothes on Rodeo Drive, where the salesladies, unable to see our hearts of gold, would refuse to serve us until a kindly hotel manager helped us out, introducing us to Bridget, who would invite us into her boutique and transform us with brown dresses covered in large white spots. (more…)

Meeting Helen of Troy

Filed under: Criticism,Writing — litlove @ 3:49 pm

From Incurable Logophilia

I find Helen of Troy one of the most compelling literary characters of all time. I don’t remember when I first became aware of her existence but it was well before I had actually experienced any real Greek mythology, definitely before I’d read The Iliad. It’s fascinating to me how literary characters become a part of our collective memory, how we can know of them before we actually meet them. She is supposed to be the most beautiful woman of all time, the face that launched a thousand ships. Why else would two countries fight for ten years? Why else would hundreds, maybe thousands, of innocent men die? Because a woman, who loved one man first, all of sudden loved another.

Homer brings Helen to life for the reader for the first time in Book Three of The Iliad. She is not at all what I remembered, nor what I was expecting. She is so incredibly present. So angry and sad. So much more than just a pretty face. When we see her for the first time she is alone in her rooms, weaving a dark red robe out of the fury and tragedy of the battle that has been raging. (more…)

Whatever Title You Think Works

Filed under: Poetry,Writing — litlove @ 3:45 pm

From Fig Crumbs

I haven’t much time so this is a bit of a rough draft.
A lot of the detail I’ll just have to leave to your imagination.
Don’t worry, it’s easy.
The only thing I know for sure is that I want thirty characters involved.
They don’t need names, you can think some up if you want to.
Whatever names you like, I don’t mind.
You could call them all the same name.
Bert. (more…)

Emerson on Carlyle

Filed under: Essay,Writing — litlove @ 3:41 pm

From So Many Books 

I wonder what it was in Emerson that allowed him to have good friendships with people that were difficult? He must have found such relationships stimulating. Perhaps they were an opportunity to test his own mind and ideas against those of another who wouldn’t balk at telling Emerson he was full of it. And maybe that’s why he managed to be friends with Thomas Carlyle even toward the end of Carlyle’s life when he and Emerson seemed to hold divergent views on most things. Still, Emerson was Carlyle’s American agent, taking it upon himself to find publishers for his work.

I am not certain of the context in which Emerson wrote his biographical sketch, Carlyle. It doesn’t have the tone of a eulogy, so perhaps it was a speech Emerson gave to get people interested in Carlyle and his work which would explain why the only negative thing Emerson says about Carlyle is that he had “errors of opinion,” whatever that means. So what comes out most in this essay is Carlyle’s sense of humor and his cantankerousness which Emerson manages to make seem charming. (more…)

Anthropomorphic Motoring

Filed under: Essay,Writing — litlove @ 3:38 pm

From Ombudsben

I have a coworker who gets lost easily; I’ll call her A. About four of us were hired at the same time, working between two buildings, a lovely old well-ornamented Beaux Arts building and a modern concrete and glass box, connected by various corridors and passageways. We have passcards to beam us into the places we are permitted to tread, which keep us out of the rest.At first A managed to get lost occasionally, losing her way on stairwells and such, and would find herself in other departments’ reception desks or elevator lobbies, relying on the kindness of strangers to find her way back to us. People tried to give her maps, but she claimed not to speak map. “Maps for me are art, and belong on the wall,” she half-joked. (more…)

On The Road Via Green Tortoise

Filed under: Memoir,Writing — litlove @ 3:33 pm

From Quirk (originally posted in two parts)

I decided it was time to leave New York City not long after I was attacked in the subway.

It was the late 1970s. I lived up on West 92nd Street in Manhattan, sharing an apartment with a tai chi teacher and friend and various other guys enthused about kung fu and karate and music and even God. (One young fellow from the South who stayed with us for a short time was a lay preacher struggling with what he really believed. I still remember his bearded face, his plain, articulate manner, and his genuineness.) (more…)


Filed under: Short stories,Writing — litlove @ 3:24 pm

From Beautiful Desolation 

After the service and interment, we drove back to the church for the reception. Stood in a receiving line, mourners shaking our hands and mumbling words of sympathy while we did our best to look suitably solemn. The church basement was airless, musty and full of old bones. Not unlike mother’s coffin, I thought, and had to cough to cover an unseemly smile. I endured the well-wishers for as long as I could; it was a geriatric crowd, composed of brittle, dew-lapped dowagers, most of whom I’d known all my life. Some of them looked inclined to tousle my hair or chuck my chin. At one point I caught Edward’s eye and nodded toward the exit. He took the cue and soon we made our escape, adjourning to a nearby bar to compare notes. (more…)

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