Halloween Fright Reads: "The Rocking Chair" by Barbara Alfaro

Fright comes in many forms, not always in prose.  I'm a fan of poems that frighten, and here is one scary gem of a poem from writer, Barbara Alfaro.  Her (wonderful) collections of poetry can be found on Amazon and other booksellers.

You can follow Barbara's blog here.  


In the nursery the ghost of a boy stands
on a rocking chair, holding its back.
A miniature prisoner of wood,
he is looking through its slats.
He misses the crazy little dog
who barks at the toaster, his tomboy
sister, and toasted cheese sandwiches.

“I don’t know why you insist on keeping
that rocker,” the father said. “As far
as I’m concerned, it’s like honoring
a murder weapon.” The eyes of the boy’s
mother move slightly, her only reply.

Gentle prayers dance in the air like a child
breathing bubbles through a circle on a stem.

The boy places goodbye kisses on the faces
of his sister and mother, touches his father’s hand.

And now he is with me his First Mother…

                                    ~ Barbara Alfaro

Halloween Fright Reads, The Way Through the Woods by Rudyard Kipling

This month, I'll be featuring all things spooky-- Halloween Fright reads.  To start, let's read one of the best scary poems every written, by the great Rudyard Kipling.  We'll have another poem tomorrow.

The Way through the Woods
By Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936)

THEY shut the road through the woods
  Seventy years ago.
Weather and rain have undone it again,
  And now you would never know
There was once a path through the woods        5
  Before they planted the trees:
It is underneath the coppice and heath,
  And the thin anemones.
  Only the keeper sees
That, where the ring-dove broods        10
  And the badgers roll at ease,
There was once a road through the woods.
Yet, if you enter the woods
  Of a summer evening late,
When the night-air cools on the trout-ring’d pools        15
  Where the otter whistles his mate
(They fear not men in the woods
  Because they see so few),
You will hear the beat of a horse’s feet
  And the swish of a skirt in the dew,        20
  Steadily cantering through
The misty solitudes,
  As though they perfectly knew
The old lost road through the woods …
But there is no road through the woods.

The Plot Twist: E-Book Sales Slip, and Print Is Far From Dead - The New York Times

The saga continues, as publishers fight Amazon for higher digital prices.  The New York Times reports that digital sales are down, and print is "far from dead."  (Did anyone really think it was dying?)  The cause, of course, is higher digital prices, as demanded by major publishers.  Books are not a luxury market -- and in non-luxury consumer markets, when prices rise, market share drops.

Lo and behold, the rational consumer decided that digital is not such a fantastic deal -- especially when popular titles are pricier in digital than print.  But the bigger story here (if you probe the issue further) is that total revenues for major publishers are down.  So, yes, they are protecting the business model, but not generating future growth.  Instead of nurturing a new digital market, they're ceding it to Amazon (with its proliferation of indies and its subscription plans.)  It's no surprise that the percent of digital sales for the big publishers is flat. They designed it that way.

As I have written in this blog, I believe that a digital copy isn't worth as much as a print copy.  It's an inferior platform compared to print-- especially in nonfiction, where I may want maps or pictures.  It should be priced lower, because it offers less value.  Period.

And if, I am looking to save money, I can easily opt for a cheap used copy.  It's just a click away.

The Plot Twist: E-Book Sales Slip, and Print Is Far From Dead - The New York Times

Women Crime Writers: Recognition, finally?

For those of us who dote on film noir, it is no secret that many of the more riveting tales of suspense were penned by women. Take one of my all-time favorite movies, Laura, based on the novel by Vera Caspary.  But oddly, with the exception of Patricia Highsmith (who wrote The Talented Mr. Ripley as well as the weird Strangers on a Train,) these writers have been wiped off the literary map.  Margaret Millar was married to Ross Macdonald-- and while Macdonald's reputation had remained steady or even ascended, she has been ignored or forgotten.

So kudos to the Library of America for releasing a long-overdue volume of women crime writers.   And my thanks to the always alert critic, Terry Teachout, for his insightful review of these writers.  Rather than summarize his points, I'll direct you to his article.

The Queens of Crime - WSJ

Yawn, authors protest against Amazon's power

Another day, another complaint about Amazon's "unprecedented power over the book publishing market."  Only this time, it comes with a new twist.

Authors -- famous ones, in case you haven't guessed-- are asking the U.S. Department of Justice to begin an investigation on what (they claim) is a monopoly.  The Authors United group (you can't make this stuff up) has formally submitted their urgent request.  They even collected one thousand signatures for a letter directed at Amazon.  The U.S. Justice Department said that the agency "will review" the group's materials.

Ursula Le Guin laments:  "It does not seem wise to let one entity control such a big part of our emotional and cultural core."  Apparently, Ms. Le Guin believes that such matters are better controlled by a larger entity, namely the government.  I'd venture to guess that she discards the "emotional and cultural" contribution of the huge independent, self-publishing market which Amazon has helped spawn.   Presumably, that's not part of "our" core.
In case you missed the opening scenes to the drama:  Hachette decided that it didn't like Amazon's pricing policy, and went off in a tiff, so it could keep e-books priced as high as Hachette pleased.  Eventually, Hachette got its way.  Prices rose.

But did profits?  I doubt it.  I was on the road to adopting Kindle-style books...that is, until they got to be the same price as print.  I don't think a digital book is worth what a print book is. To me, it's a compromise.

Where did I turn?  I decided that many, if not most, of the books I wanted could be purchased through Thriftbooks and other sellers, used.  The Internet makes buying used books a snap. You can even filter by condition.  Before the web came along, I never bought used books.  Now, especially with rising digital book costs, I usually do.  On a per book basis, publishers earn less from me. Talk about boomerang.

Amazon can't control that, of course-- any more than Ms. Le Guin and her fellow authors can control technology.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...