Reading Through the Stacks: 7. Religion and Rhythm

Reading through the Oakland Public Library’s poetry collection.

Today we’re talking about James Weldon Johnson’s God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse. James Weldon Johnson (June 17, 1871 – June 26, 1938) was a writer during the Harlem Renaissance period as well as a prominent member of the NAACP. He’s most famous for writing “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” He also served in a diplomatic position under Theodore Roosevelt in Venezuela and Nicaragua, worked as a professor at NYU and Fisk University. He was also known for collecting Black oral histories and cultural records.

Which brings us to this particular book first published in 1927. In the preface for the book, Johnson discusses the sermons he remembers being delivered by African American preachers, the patterns they followed and the importance of these all Black spaces:

“The old-time preacher brought the establishment of these independent places of worship and thereby provided the first sphere in which race leadership might develop and function.”

James Weldon Johnson, preface p. 4

By giving people separate spaces for worship, preachers made it possible for people to gather and seek community, tell their stories, come together, and plan for a better future. Johnson emphasizes the intelligence of these preachers, who often memorized huge sections of the King James Bible, particularly the Old Testament but the text was a leaping off point–not the main substance of a sermon.

Johnson also emphasizes the rhythm and mastery of language that preachers called upon:

“He [the preacher] knew the secret of oratory, that at bottom it is a progression of rhythmic words more than it is anything else. Indeed, I have witnessed congregations moved to ecstasy by the rhythmic intoning of sheer incoherencies. He was a master of all the modes of eloquence. He often possessed a voice that was a marvelous instrument, a voice he could modulate from a sepulchral whisper to a crashing thunderclap.”

James Weldon Johnson, preface p. 5

Johnson discusses at length his reasons for not using dialect to try and capture African American speech patterns and emphasizes the way it has been used in American culture and literature to create pathos or humor. Neither is what the poet seeks to convey here. He is interested in capturing rhythms, ideas, and a time and place in American culture that he feels is disappearing.

Although I’m not normally a huge fan of religious poetry (as you’ll know if you read my last post), I feel differently about this work with its careful attention to rhythm, improvisational and captivating as jazz (which I’m a big fan of) and it’s detailed language–so rich and evocative. Also, although I don’t believe that Bible stories are true, there is no denying that when told well they are excellent stories. As a lover of fairy tales, folklore, and history, I was swept away by the language in this book. Here’s a sample from the section on creation, where a few lines in the Bible are expanded:

Then God reached out and took the light in his hands,
And God rolled the light around in his hands
Until he made the sun;
And the light that was left from making the sun
God gathered it up in a shining ball
And flung it against the darkness,
Spangling the night with the moon and stars.
Then down between
The darkness and the light
He hurled the world;
And God said: That’s good!

James Weldon Johnson, from “The Creation,” p. 17-18.

In Johnson’s hand religion becomes the stuff of wonder and poetry. I read through this book really quickly, spurred ahead by the language and intonation that Johnson mentions in the introduction. This is a really approachable book of religious poetry that breathes light into the stories. If your interested in works and commentary about Christianity, I would highly recommend this book.

TTT: An Ode to Jessica Hische’s Book Covers

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

The prompt for today was to talk about book covers that either were solely composed of type or used mainly typographic elements. I cannot think of many designers that design more beautiful covers than Jessica Hische.

Jessica Hische, Penguin Drop Cap Series

Hische is a letterer, author, and a Brooklyn transplant to the Bay area. I think I probably discovered her work in/around 2010 when she was working on her popular Daily Drop Cap series as a way to keep motivated and keep designing between freelance gigs. Everyday (or at least regularly), she’d publish a different letter in a different style. I think all told there were 12 complete alphabets between 2009-2011, as well as a guest illustrated series.

Buttermilk font: https://jessicahische.is/makingherfirstfont

Within months, it was being talked about all across the far reaches of the internet. I encountered her while I was just starting to dip my toe in the calligraphy waters and looking for alphabet inspiration. I found, and still find, her forms to be so beautiful. Somehow even the ones that are supposed to be kind of creepy and gothic are still approachable, full of gorgeous curves. The fonts on her site that you can buy have names like Buttermilk and Brioche, words calculated to show off her ascenders, show off the forms of the letters, but also words which covey mood and tone. Everything looked different, but still had undeniable style. And the fact that the style was fun, often bubbly, and vintage inspired makes everything she does feel like a glass of champagne–worth toasting.

“If you feel like you know Jessica Hische a bit from her output, you might not be all that off-base, and you certainly wouldn’t be alone. It’s been written that her work has “personality,” but it might be more accurate to say that her work has presence—her presence. In my experience, what you see is really what you get.”

Zachary Petit, Design Matters Media Editor-in-Chief
“After working with Dave Eggers on Hologram for the King I was pumped to be brought on board to design his new book, The Circle. It was especially fun to design this cover, as I’ve spent the last two years living in San Francisco surrounded by the tech industry (my husband works for Facebook) and the story is set in an influential social media company. I also had to design a logo for the fictitious company, The Circle, and was inspired by the interweaving connectivity of social media sites and also knots that once tight are difficult to untie.” – Hische, for Knopf https://jessicahische.is/joiningthecircle

Even though I was primarily doing calligraphy, I found a lot more of my inspiration looking to lettering artists than calligraphers in particular. Calligraphers often had absolutely spellbinding mastery of the technique and medium, but they were largely working in older, established styles, and I wanted to work in more of the tone and mood that other letterers use.

See more of her work here: https://jessicahische.is/working

Now she’s gotten much, much more recognition, such as being named in Forbes’ 30 under 30 list in design, she’s become a children’s book author in her own right, and she’s worked with some of the biggest names you can work with across a huge spectrum of industries.

Hische for Barnes & Noble

Besides doing the design work for her own books, she’s also designed the drop cap series of Penguin classics, worked on the probably familiar range of classics for Barnes & Noble, and has designed work for numerous other books.

Book covers are somewhat unique in design industries, I think, because the artist’s name actually goes on the book. While most design products don’t give their designers credit, book covers do. I’m sure that must be an attractive aspect of doing lettering work–because if someone likes the cover of a book they know exactly who to commission. And it adds an element of pressure because if you don’t capture the book, well…. your name lives on it forever. But I don’t think Hische really needs to worry about that.

Hische designed the cover and did the original embroidery for this guidebook from The Little Bookroom. https://jessicahische.is/embroideringabookcover

“reading the book I’m doing the cover for gives me more conceptual and visual inspiration than spending a day in a rare books library”

Jessica Hische, in an interview with The Everygirl
Hische for Barnes & Noble, my photograph

Taking just her cover for Oscar Wilde into consideration, we can see some of the direct inspiration for the text. Everything is beautiful, but it still has hard, even sharp edges (the little triangles on the capitals as well the serifs) while still staying true to the Victorian aesthetic the book cultivates and critiques. The paisley flourishes call to mind peacock tails (and their associations with beauty and vanity). Also, while all the covers feature some kind of border, this cover is one of the only in the series that can be said to have a frame.

Even though I haven’t touched a calligraphy pen for a while now, I still find lettering and typography to be intensely interesting. It’s just another way to make you feel something when you look at a word or a phrase and I’m fascinated by how forms and art influence our perception of words and things more generally. And seeing how lettering can bring books to life is so inspiring to me. I encourage you to seek out Jessica Hische’s work–there’s so much more than I could possibly show here and I love how they all take direct inspiration from the books themselves.

Do you have a favorite typographic cover? Let me know in the comments.

Reading Through the Stacks: 6. Religious and Rhymey

Reading through the Oakland Public Library’s poetry collection.

Let’s journey back to 1968 today with George Huitt Atwood’s Thunder in the Room.

Normally I start off these posts with a short introduction on the poet, but the only biographical information I could find on Atwood was on the inside jacket. He was born in 1919, served during WWII, and ended up living in San Francisco and working for the department of the interior. I’m pretty sure he’s the George Hewitt Atwood buried in Colma in 2010, since their birth dates/place are the same. But I could find no other information about the poet and no one really seems to have read this book as it has no Goodreads ratings and I couldn’t even import it on Story Graph.

That might seem strange except…. the book isn’t all that good.

Although the jacket flap makes great pains to link Atwood to Frost and Dickinson, I think those comparisons are largely…how do I say this nicely? Inflated. Although Atwood makes use of Dickinson’s short poem/line format, personification, and rhyme schemes he doesn’t have….any real spark or irony or insight. Dickinson’s gift lies in giving you something to chew on but not revealing the whole. These poems are obvious and quite pious. Not exactly my cup of tea.

I embarked with Doubt one day
Upon a troubled sea,
But that companion quickly proved
Unworthy company

Atwood, from “Life” section, No. 24

Atwood, to his credit, definitely can make a line scan but you’d hope by 1968 he’d be looking around at the more interesting things fellow poets were doing and maybe not scan quite so nicely. Dickinson certainly doesn’t, and that adds emphasis and brightness to her poems.

I just got tired very quickly of these odes to virtue, filled with platitudes, pithy endings and succinct morals.

Also, he uses the word “comprehendeth.” In 1968??! What is this book?

Someone in the Oakland Public Library obviously took a lot of care in choosing local authors to add to the collection, but I’m not really sure what this one is adding. The best thing about this book is undoubtedly the cover.

Reading Through the Stacks: 5. A Profound Mental Health Journey

Reading through the Oakland Public Library’s poetry collection.

We’re talking about another new volume of poetry today, published in 2021: You Better Be Lightning by Andrea Gibson..

Andrea Gibson (August 13, 1975-) is a queer poet, whose work focuses on LGBTQ+, health, and social justice themes. They are a well known spoken word performer as well. Luckily, if you enjoy this book as I did, there are many more to read.

There is joy and pain in this book. Gibson is so good at articulating how love and hurt feel and at reminding us that we are humans. As the title implies, there are sparks, jolts and fire in this collection. What I felt most reading this book was profound insight coming through twisting popular phrases or juxtaposing them. This is a really accessible collection–it’s easy to read. I ended up devouring it in a single sitting but thinking about it for days and weeks afterwards. The best kind of poetry.

Watch Gibson perform one of their poems (as a heads up, there is discussion of chronic illness, some profanity, and loving sexual content):

TTT: My Fall To Read List

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Anyone else absurdly motivated by arbitrary reading challenges other people have set?

I started subscribing to Book of the Month when I bought a 6 month subscription for my friend for Christmas. It’s now her annual gift. We don’t coordinate our choices–sometimes we choose the same book sometimes we choose different ones and share our thoughts. It’s a lot of fun, but I have to admit that this year I have fallen quite behind on my reading.

In order to finish this year’s badges (and unlock the super hidden secret one that I really, really want to unlock for reasons that remain mysterious), I need to finish 9 more books, but since there are 10 on my bookshelf (stashed around our new condo), I thought I could talk about them today and possibly conjecture as to why it’s taken me so long to read through them! Some of these I had to fish out of their boxes. Although we’re mostly unpacked, my new bookshelves won’t arrive for a while, so the book boxes are the last boxes.

I wish that Book of the Month chose poetry books too–that would make it way easier to read through my list.

Here they are, in order of how long I’ve had them:

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

I’m actually listening to this one as an audiobook, having given away my copy of the hardcover to another friend. I think she’ll really enjoy it. I’m about 1/3 of the way into the book so far and while I’m not a huge fan of books told in first person from multiple perspectives–it’s way easier to switch between perspectives while listening because the voice acting is well done. It bounces between an apothecary in the 1790s who helps women….dispense of the men in their lives and the woman in the modern era who is beginning to research the apothecary based on a bottle she found while mudlarking. The story is interesting enough for me to look past the sort of blah writing style.

Beautiful Country by Qian Julie Wang

I think this memoir is going to be one of those ones that takes your heart and rips it out. But whether it’ll be the kind that gives it back for you to hold onto or the kind that throws it to the ground is anyone’s guess. It seems sad so I’ve been avoiding it. I haven’t really been in the mood for a really emotional book for a while. But I’m sure the mood will strike at some point. Fall is kind of the season for that.

A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw

So I have a feeling this book is going to be good, but pretty dang dark. It’s a fairy tale type book, but the darker, twisted, creepier side of fairy tales (which I freely admit to loving). This is probably a book I’ll read while it’s light out. And probably it won’t be as creepy as I think. Hopefully.

Cartographers by Peng Shepherd

The only excuse I have for not reading this one is that it’s been buried in a box for months. My friend told me that it’s really interesting and that she really enjoyed it so I need to get cracking on it.

True Biz by Sara Novic

I think I talked a little about this book in a previous TTT post because of the hand on the cover (entirely appropriate to a book about sign language). One of the reasons I love reading is because it allows me a way of understanding and empathizing with someone else’s perspective and experience even, and perhaps especially, when it’s so far from my own.

Darling Girl by Liz Michalski

Retellings and adaptations of fairy tales are some of my favorite things, so I cannot wait to read this adaption of Peter Pan. Holly is Wendy’s granddaughter who has to save her daughter from Pan’s clutches.

The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah

I’m a sucker for a fantasy novel not set in western Europe, but I have to admit, I’m going to have to push myself a little to get through this book, despite the presence of jinn and ancient magics. I’ve only read a chapter or two, but the writing is a little disappointing.

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

I loved Zevin’s The Storied Life of A.J. Fiskry so I was eagerly looking forward to her new book, and when it was one of the choices for Book of the Month, I chose it with no hesitation. It’s about video game designers and the story of two friends and the way their lives converge and diverge over time. I’m about 30 pages in and already it’s very good. Other books–namely poetry and library books–have just taken precedent.

The Many Daughters of Afong Moy by Jamie Ford

I’m very excited to read this book–a multi-generational family saga and the protagonist is a poet?! Sign me up!

Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood

This one just arrived last week! So I don’t feel as bad for not getting to it yet, except for the fact that it’s just adding to this pile of books…. this is a romance of the enemies to lovers variety (one of my favorite tropes).

Have you read any of these books? Do any interest you? How do you feel about your reading challenges this year? Let me know in the comments.

Theater in the Trees: Cal Shakes Lear

learn more at: https://calshakes.org/lear/

On Saturday night, we drove up past Berkeley and Oakland and into the Orinda hills for the California Shakespeare festival’s (Cal Shakes) production of Lear. After parking in the gravel lot, we wound our way up the lighted path, through picnic benches (lots of people come early to enjoy a meal before the show), café lights strung overhead.

We grabbed a glass of wine from the concession stand and headed to our seats in the outdoor amphitheater. The theater itself feels intimate despite being able to seat over 500 people–I don’t think there’s a bad seat in the house.

We were advised to bring layers and blankets because even in the summer, it gets chilly. And they aren’t kidding. We weren’t freezing by any means, but we both had on sweatshirts, a jacket/coat, and a blanket for our laps. So dress warmly if you go. At intermission we grabbed hot drinks from the concession stand, and that helped a lot too.

The play itself was billed as an adaptation and interpretation of King Lear by Marcus Gardley–and what an interpretation! Set in the late 1960s with a mostly Black cast, this version of King Lear is deeply layered with more modern history, humor, and power struggles including the Black Panther movement and police violence. The altered lines are so well done, they not only offer deeper context, but there’s so much attention to the original structure. The new lines are in verse, often rhyming and sometimes making use of Shakespeare’s iconic iambic structure. Intermingled with the new lines is the great use of Jazz blues to illuminate a local (set in the Bay area) rendition of the play’s themes. I cannot say enough great things about the writing!

And the performances live up to the material. James A. Williams makes an absolutely devastating Lear–magnificent and tragic. Most of the players have multiple parts throughout the play, which makes the whole thing so dynamic. The women in the play are powerful and commanding as queens. Many of the characters change gender either through disguising their identity (as Cathleen Ridley does as the Countess of Kent), or by playing two characters (as Sam Jackson does as Cordelia and the updated fool, the Stand-up Comic).

The performance makes dynamic use of the set as well as the wings and brings the audience into the action directly.

Truly I cannot say enough wonderful things about this experience! If you’re in the Bay area and you’re able to catch the performance before Oct 2nd, I urge you to go.

Tickets starting at $35 available at: https://tickets.calshakes.org/Online/mapSelect.asp

They still check vaccination/negative test status, so bring your paperwork/pictures with you. Don’t skimp on warm clothes!

Reading Through the Stacks: 4. A Comparatively Hefty Tome Full of Beautiful, Spare Poems

Reading through the Oakland Public Library’s Poetry collection.

Taking a break from the 20th century, let’s spring ahead to something published this year.

Rae Armantrout (1947-) is a Pulitzer winning poet (2010 for Versed). She has published something like 10+ collections, which seems amazingly prolific to me. She was born and did her undergrad and graduate degrees in California. She’s associated with the Language poets, a movement that emerged in the 70s as a response to modernism. The goal is to really include the reader in the meaning of the poem, often by playing with the meaning/sounds of words (think Gertrude Stein) and trying to encourage more active reading. This movement is ongoing and has featured a large proportion of women writers. Armantrout in particular is known for her short lines and more lyrical approach.

Her newest book is hefty–it feels weighty and at 174 pages is fairly long for a poetry collection, but the lines are short and the book moves fairly quickly because of that, despite or maybe because of the line spacing. Most of her stanzas feel only hazily connected–you as the reader have to do a lot of the association work yourself. But this is really rewarding because everything you read becomes profound–you bring the deeper meaning.

In physics, every moment
lasts forever,

if seen from
increasing distance.

In none does
my mother
meet her grandchildren.

Rae Armantrout from “Meeting” (p. 170)

What I love about this collection is you can open to any page and find something that just connects–hits home. The book feels deftly woven. It circles, meanders, overlaps, and you are able to unpick the threads yourself. This is a collection that’ll be finding its place in my own library, and I can’t wait to read more of Armantrout’s work. There is something that reminds me of Emily Dickinson in Armantrout’s work–in the spare, deceptively simple lines there is so much richness.

Reading Through the Stacks: How Poetry is Classified in Libraries

Reading through the Oakland Public Library main branch’s poetry collection, book by book.

The way poetry is organized in a library is quite different from fiction. Fiction is often just organized by author’s last name. Some libraries separate (either physically with shelving or using a sticker or some other indicator) different genres, but most of the time you can find the book you’re looking for by looking up the author’s last name (unless it’s considered literature or is a new book….).

Poetry is different. It’s classified under literature and therefore falls under the purview of the Dewey Decimal system.

DDC (the c for classification) has several different areas for poetry:

  • 808.1 reading/writing poetry (also known as poetics) I’m reading books out of this section, but not writing about them individually. I can do a round up or best of at some point
  • 808.81 poetry anthologies
  • 811 American poetry
  • 811.6 American poetry in the 21st century
  • 821 British poetry
  • 831 German poetry
  • 841 French poetry
  • 851 Italian poetry
  • 861 Spanish poetry
  • 871 Latin poetry
  • 881 Classical Greek poetry
  • 890 – Every other world literature is stuffed into these ten numbers so…. browse carefully for poetry

Some of the Dewey Decimal Classification systems problems are easy to see from this list–by giving American and European literature so much space, the western and colonial viewpoint is pretty clear. There is not so much more poetry in these languages than any other–this is about giving space to the literature that was considered literature and was being actively collected and prioritized in the 1800s by white people.

The problem for me is pretty clear–poetry is everywhere! I started with 811, and I’m quickly working through towards the much larger 811.6 category. But this is clearly going to take a lot longer to comb through than I initially thought. And it’s going to get a lot less contemporary at some point. I’m tempted to stick to 20th and 21st century collections for the sake of this blog even though I’m interested in older poetry and have read quite a bit of it. Let me know what you think in the comments if you have an opinion.

But the next book I’m talking about doesn’t use any of these classifications (well it does, technically it’s 811.6). We’re talking about the books in the “NEW” section. This is one of my favorite places to browse.

Poetry doesn’t normally have the same waiting list/hold problem as new books. So you can often keep new books for more than one checkout period. And this is a great place to find contemporary poetry that’s been recently chosen to add to the collection, which means more diverse authors in more diverse styles. If you’re new to reading poetry, it’s a much smaller and easier section to browse and do some sample reading than going up against 811.6 to find something you like.

But I encourage browsing all around the nonfiction stacks. You never know what’ll jump out at you!

Do you have opinions on DDC? Have a favorite call number? How do you think libraries should be organized? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

TTT: 10 Fantasy Books with Titles that Map the World(s)

This week’s prompt was books with geographical terms in the title, and while I was looking through my read books (thank you, Story Graph), I noticed a trend. All of the geographic terms I was encountering were through fantasy books. So I leaned into that trend. Some of these may be a stretch…but so are fictional maps.

The Mermaid the Witch and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

I just finished this lovely queer fantasy with plenty of romance. There are pirates, the aforementioned witches and mermaids, spies, political intrigue, well-developed characters, and the sea itself features as a character in her own right. Need I say more?

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

This one is on my to-read list. But I’m a sucker for anything written by Gaiman. Especially something dark and surrealist. Anyone read this one? I’d love to know your thoughts.

The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

I love when concepts become anthropomorphized. One of my favorite fantasy series of all time is Piers Anthony’s Incarnations of Immortality where Death, Time, Earth, and Fate (among others) are personified. So when I came to this book about the city of New York made corporal, I was hooked. The writing is fantastic. Urban fantasy at its finest.

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

So you need a detective/urban fantasy book to read now? Like right now? Not to worry–read Aaronvitch’s book about holding the magical and nonmagical elements of London in balance. More personified elements!

A River Enchanted by Rebecca Ross

Loosely inspired by Celtic mythology, I really enjoyed Ross’s book about magic and the effects it can take on its users. Our protagonist is a bard, straight from his teaching post, going back home to the magical land of his birth, his clan, and the clan rivalry.

The Library of Legends by Janie Chang

So I included this one because of map legends (although that’s not the use of the word Chang was presumably going for)…it’s a stretch, but I was running out of map ideas. I wish this book had moved a little faster and that there were more fantasy elements in it (what there was was great, but I wanted more), but the worldbuilding is really interesting.

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

It’s been quite a while since I’ve read this book, and I never finished the series, but I’m excited to go back to this world. I also wanted to watch the HBO series after I finished the books. So I should get on that.

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

To be fair, this one is science fiction, but the name was just too perfect not to include. And who doesn’t love some time travel? This one is on my to-read list. Actually, I’ve never read anything by Mitchell. But I’m looking forward to The Bone Clocks as well.

Locke and Key series written by Joe Hill, illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez

So the show kind of creeped me out and it didn’t feel like there was a lot of character development, but I’m a little intrigued to read the comics and see if I’d like to come back to the show. This follows some siblings in a creepy house and then there are keys that unlock all kinds of doors.

The Black Coast by Mike Brooks

War dragons. I’m not sure if a book needs anything besides dragons to intrigue me enough to read further. I hadn’t heard of this book before looking through fantasy release lists for geographic titles, but I may have to add it to my list. Because dragons and Vikings–or Viking-like raiders.

Have you read any of the books on this list? What is the fantasy land you’d most like to visit? Let me know in the comments.

Reading Through the Stacks: 3. Well Baked Narcissism Layered with Misogyny and Scented with Sea Breezes

Reading through the Oakland Public Library main branch’s poetry collection, book by book.

What is there to say about Man-Fate by William Everson?

Honestly, the less said about it the better. But I read it–I want it to go back to the library. I’m sick of looking at it on my desk waiting to be inspired to discuss it. So we’ll try to make this one brief.

William Everson (1912-1994) was a former monk, a poet, and a printer. He mostly lived in California, which is probably why his book was acquired (and kept) by the Oakland Public Library. That and he was pretty well known, publishing several books of poetry. He’s cataloged under his Dominican monk name, Brother Antoninus, although he’s no longer a monk by the time this book was published in 1973.

Essentially Man-Fate is about one man’s struggle to come to terms with his choices regarding the woman he leaves the monastery for and the implications of his faith. But this guy….thinks a lot of himself and not much of women and it was hard for me to get through.

There is a lot of language about women’s bodies, which mostly turns on how sexual (read: deviant) and for men’s use and enjoyment they are:

“The fate of man/ Turns on the body of a woman”

Everson, p. 23

Women (mostly one woman, his partner) in these poems lose agency. Everson even presumes to speak on behalf of his partner, which just infuriated me to no end. There is a lot of very graphic depictions of sex, which doesn’t normally bother me, but I didn’t like the violence and possessiveness of the language.

Everson is obviously struggling with his decision, trying to reconcile his decision to marry this woman he’s passionately in lust with with his religious beliefs. And I just….don’t care? I don’t think he’s saying anything particularly interesting or new in this book. Most of it reads as pretty narcissistic to me. There’s a lot of self-justification and contemplation without a lot of revelation, introspection, connection, or humility. The rhymes are okay, the metaphors are nothing special. It scans well at least, and that’s the most I can say for it.