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Brother can you spare a shiver?

It isn’t that I am bloody minded.  I am- I did, after all, just advise a friend whose husband was dropping dramatic hints that he might be starting the flu YET AGAIN to just smother him with a pillow. But that is a useful thought any time of the year, yes? And I love the original dark and violent Grimm’s fairy tales, Disney will never compare, and I love Angela Carter’s fairy tale collection The Bloody Chamber, and… and…

But no, it isn’t pain, gore, fear, Freddy, Jason, murder, mayhem, angry spirits back to exact revenge.

I love Halloween for its sense of possibility. The light is changing, the weather is changing, the dark folds its arms around us for longer and longer each night… there’s a funny energy of ‘not quite the same’ or ‘something may happen’ or perhaps even ‘not quite right’ (of course, ‘right’ isn’t always good…) Who knows what one might see or dream up and be able to create and share if one were only paying attention!

Every year Halloween sneaks up on me. This year I vow to enjoy the season,  starting the very late summer day the light began to slant and the shadows to lengthen as autumn came on, to let my imagination run wild over the emotional and visual landscape of the possible.

So many wonderful literary works are available to light up the dark corners of our imagination in the most delicious ways.

Share a shiver, would you? What are some of your favorite reads, chilling, yet full of possibility?  Here are some that for me evoke that sense of loss, longing, wonder that is particular and peculiar to a time of year set aside for pondering the thinning of the veil between the worlds.

Goblin Market, with its sense of being trapped by our own desires- try illustrating that in your mind!

The intertwining of fate, romance, and a shiver of the supernatural of  Halloween by Robert Burns, the sober observations of Poe’s Spirits of the Dead and the lovely dramatic longing and grief of his Lenore,  even the Princess books by Mac Donald – The Princess and Curdie is available free on Project Gutenberg, hurrah!!

A. Conan Doyle’s fairy books, and other Victorian era books on magic or spiritualism- Aleister Crowley, Edgar Cayce anyone?

One of the Cottingly Fairy Photos

One of the Cottingly Fairy Photos

Share a shiver, would you?



We might branch out and  move on to the tricky, angry demons and other wonderful beings of world religions and mythology, or perhaps the eerily almost-true scientific and biological landscape of the most wonderful series I have ever read, Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials  trilogy.

The possible, the possible, the possible…  don’t shy away from the darker works. They  invite us into the closet of our imagination, where we hide our creative vision and sense of wonder.

What about the doors Neil Gaiman’s books or Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits (lightweight compared to, say, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, yes, but soulful!) open in our imaginations to how these many creatures and spirits must look? What about the droll, dark Roald Dahl stories for kids? Why didn’t I read more carefully that copy of Vampires, Burial and Death I sold a few weeks ago?

Never mind.

I will re post this next year, with the same question- what, to you, is the most delicious read you can think of, related to other worlds, unknown creatures or beings, magic? Inquiring minds want to know. Today, next year, share a delicious shiver, would you?

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Happy Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine's Day

Not my photo. My photo usually, but not this time. Tenniel’s illustrations are in the public domain, and so are Rackham’s. So there you go.

Many books caught my fancy and my heart when I was small but none more than Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass with the original Tenniel illustrations… sigh. My true love… and a thousand thanks to my parents for providing me with Alice and with Grimm’s original scary gory fairy tales with lovely grim  illustrations by Walter Crane when I was just a wee bit (but a great reader, very early). They just don’t make ’em like that any more. Delicious. And Happy Valentine’s Day ❤

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February 14, 2014 · 10:20 pm

Dangit! Or, The Dynamics of Military Revolution.


dynamics military

I love change management, or organizational change, or whatever the jargon is these days, and I am actually fascinated with certain aspects of how the military, any military works, how battles are won or lost, and so on. Management and interpersonal relationships can benefit a lot by military wisdom. So I wanted to read this book.  It was late last night when I listed it, and I figured eh, nobody will buy it.

Well guess what. Haven’t sold a book in a week, and guess what sells today, less than 24 hours after I listed it?

I cannot read every single book that interests me before I list it. So I am honor bound to just ship it. Phooey!

Don’t despair. We have lots of other titles in the areas of military history, World War II, Vietnam, great leadership, and such.

But I wanted to read this one!


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A sobering note

Dedicated to the author’s mother, with a traditional Somali prayer. In spite of my own cushy American upbringing, I hope it isn’t too presumptuous to say that it reminds me of my own parents and certain family and friends:

Oh, you are a kilt which a young dandy set out to choose

Oh, you are like a costly rug for which thousands were paid

Will I ever find your like– you who have been shown to me only once?

An umbrella comes apart; you are as strong as looped iron;

Oh, you who are as the gold of Nairobi, finely molded,

You are the risen sun, and the early rays of dawn,

Will I ever find your like, you who have been shown to me only once?

How I wish I could own every book ever published by Virago Press!   Perhaps as a book dealer I can. And what a dream, to read them all! As it turns out, they are celebrating 40 years in business. What a wonderful publisher they have been.

I just listed Waris Dirie’s Desert Flower The Extraordinary Life of a Desert Nomad. It is 15 years old, but it is still a must-read for anyone who is interested in human rights. Yes, her amazing story includes something that is very difficult and painful to talk about, and yes I prefer to focus on the positive most of the time, but also yes, sometimes we need to go ahead and confront painful realities.

Women and girls all around the world still at best put up with BS and at worst suffer unspeakably just because they were born female. Some feel it is just the way it is, the way it should or must be, and harm their daughters physically or emotionally to protect them.  I would argue that it isn’t just girl children. Boy children suffer in myriad emotional and physical ways as well. Women and children are second class citizens in almost every nation, developing or advanced.

When will it end? When Jesus comes back, probably… which is another way to say, depending upon your beliefs, either never or when the world ends.

Some articles:

Rosamund Urwin: FGM is not the only barbarity women face

Female Genital Mutilation: ‘Mothers need to say no’

Betty Makoni the campaigner challenging female genital mutilation in Britain


With hope,  and love.

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