October is here, which means many people will soon be gearing up for Halloween night at the end of the month here and are looking for spooky activities and other things to occupy the time until then. One of the ways I like to get into a bit of the spirit is picking up some spooky books by some of my favorite authors, and I’ve definitely read some good ones.
One author in particular I enjoy reading, and have since my high school days, is Edgar Allan Poe. I’ve been fascinated by his life story and his fiction stories since that particular unit in Mrs. Martin’s English class my junior year and his stories are the perfect way to get into that spooky spirit. So I thought for this week, I’d talk about some of my favorites in Poe’s bibliography.
This poem centers on a lonely widower whose life gets upended one night when a large raven suddenly enters his chambers and perches there for the night and rather tortures the narrator. This was one of the first Poe works we read in English and I absolutely loved it because not only do you see inside the narrator’s mind as he descends into madness but the symbolism and other supernatural elements make this the perfect poem to read in the dark with maybe only a candle or two lit. There are several great dramatic readings of the poem on YouTube, as well as the adaptation done by “The Simpsons” in one of the show’s early “Treehouse of Horror” specials.
Last Friday I made a stop at the library before going home for the night after work for some entertainment that would suffice for me during the weekend. Among the books I checked out was one I’ve been seeing on the bestselling books list on this page for quite some time now – Delia Owens’ “Where the Crawdads Sing.”
It seems like every other visit to the library, this particular book was checked out, so I hadn’t yet gotten the chance to read it. When I finally saw it on the shelves Friday night, I said to myself “OK, I’ve been seeing this book title on my page for the past several weeks now, let’s see what the talk is all about.”
And ultimately, I’m very glad I picked it up.
The novel follows two separate yet intertwined stories – the first timeline describes the life of Kya, who has been dubbed “The Marsh Girl” by the citizens of nearby Barkley Cove, as she grows up isolated in the marsh of North Carolina after being abandoned by her family. The second timeline follows the murder investigation (during which Kya becomes the prime suspect and eventually goes on trial for) of Chase Andrews, a prominent citizen of Barkley Cove.
The first thing I have to commend about this book is Kya’s character, because she is written VERY well. Abandoned by her family at a far too young age and dubbed an outcast by the members of the nearby community, Owens could have gone for the cliché of having Kya become embittered at the world and cast aside all human connection, but she doesn’t. Instead, Kya is a strong, educated woman who actually does make a few true connections in her life – ultimately, her attitude is one akin to the “Do what you gotta do” saying, and I really liked that. After her trial for Chase’s murder, Kya even makes it a point to tell her brother, Jodie (who she reunites with later in the novel) something along the lines of even though she was the one who was laughed at and ostracized and had to deal with everything in her life on her own, she never felt hatred toward anyone in the community or even toward her family members for leaving. It’s very refreshing for that type of characterization to happen and I’m really glad that’s how Owens wrote the character.
A few days ago I was looking for some music on YouTube to help me concentrate as I was working on some other stories and much to my surprise, one of the options in the “Suggestions” tab on the site was the newest album “Artemis” from violinist Lindsey Stirling, who I’ve been a fan of for a long time. So I clicked on the playlist to see if this album would be as good as the other ones I’ve heard and ultimately, I ended up not being disappointed.
“Artemis”is a soundtrack of sorts for an overarching story of a fight against dark forces and the emergence to the other side and into the light, which is meant to represent some hardships Stirling has faced in her life, most recently the loss of her father and best friend. The album’s songs are a way to show how even when things seem to be at their darkest, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
The first thing I have to give praise to is Stirling herself, because her violin skills are crazy amazing and she is incredibly talented. One of the things I liked about this album so much is how she was able to make each song have its own story, so to speak, and each song was able to put a picture in my head. I would say my favorite song on the album was “Masquerade” – the violin playing
is absolutely amazing and combined with a Tango-esque vibe, I felt I was actually at a masquerade party seeing many others dancing around a ballroom. Every other song on the album is just as good and very creative. Another thing that’s rather hard to not notice is how many different sounds Stirling can produce from just one violin – there are times she leans toward softer and more classical playing and there are times where she brings forth harsher and more rock-like tones, all of which she does with what seems like absolute ease. Another song I particularly liked from the album was “Foreverglow,” and we actually get to hear Stirling sing (which she doesn’t do much of on her past albums), and she has a very nice tone, very soft and sweet but also somewhat dark and full of soul – it fits the overall song perfectly.