Autodidact: self-taught


Vano & Niko

by V. L. Craven

Vano and Niko

Typically, this is the part of the book review where I write about the plot then I review the construction. Vano & Niko and Other Stories by Georgian author Erlom Akhvlediani (translated by Mikheil Kakabadze) doesn’t lend itself to that format.

That’s because the stories are more like poems…but not poems. I wouldn’t normally use a phrase like ‘word pictures’ but it’s difficult not to. Please don’t let that put you off. Each piece–they’re short pieces of a few pages each–paint a portrait of a relationship or a person or a way of being. They’re very true and real. I can’t say I understood every one of them but some of them were so immediate they were breath-taking. Those will be personal for each reader, but the ones that spoke to me most were so powerful I had to resist the urge to post them in there entirety. They’re the sort of thing you want to press upon everyone you meet and say, ‘Read this piece of insightful writing immediately.’

The book is short–not even 200 pages–but profound. It encompasses a trilogy. Vano and Niko, which is a collection of short pieces about the various sorts of relationships between people as demonstrated by two people named Vano and Niko. Proving that no matter the names, all humans are the same. The second set of short pieces are The Story of the Lazy Mouse, which are about animals taking on certain human characteristics and what it gets them. The third set are the most philosophical and is called The Man Who Lost Himself.

It’s the sort of book that makes a person wonder how many books are written in other languages that are waiting out there to be discovered.

In Mikheil Kakabadze’s introduction he explains:

it is well known that poetry and meaning disappear to some extent in a translation. However, I would like to ask the reader, when he or she comes across something apparently incomprehensible in these stories, instead of trying to dig too deeply for meaning, to think in images…

It’s a different way of reading, but doing so helped me immensely.

I give this one 4/5 only because it may be slightly inaccessible to some readers. If you’re willing to put in the work, though, it’s so rewarding.

[I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.]



by V. L. Craven

Parisian Pictures

CVIII A Landscape [James Huneker]
I would, when I compose my solemn verse,
Sleep near the heaven as so astrologers,
Near the high bells, and with a dreaming mind
Hear their calm hymns blown to me on the wind.

Out of my tower, with chin upon my hands,
I’ll watch the singing, babbling human bards;
And see clock-towers like spars against the sky,
And heavens that bring thoughts of eternity;

And softly, through the mist, will wach the birth
Of stars in heaven and lamplight on the earth;
The threads of smoke that rise above the town;
The moon that pours her pale enchantment down.

Seasons will pass till Autumn fades the rose;
And when comes Winter with his weary snows,
I’ll shut the doors and window-casements tight,
And build my faery palace in the night.

Then I will dream of blue horizons deep;
Of gardens where the marble fountains weep;
Of kisses, and of ever-singing birds—
A sinless Idyll built of innocent words.

And Trouble, knocking at my window-pane
And at my closet door, shall knock in vain;
I will not heed him with his stealthy tread,
Nor from my reverie uplift my head;

For I will plunge deep in the pleasure still
Of summoning the spring-time with my will,
Drawing the sun out of my heart, and there
With burning thoughts making a summer air.

CXIII The Swan [James Laver]
II] Paris is changed in everything but name;
Gone tower and palace! In my heart alone
Nothing has moved, each symbol is the same.
My memories are heavier than stone. …


Flowers of Evil


My Wars Are Laid Away in Books by Alfred Habegger

by V. L. Craven

I’m surprised I hadn’t read more about Emily Dickinson before now. She’s definitely my sort of person in many ways. She wore the same outfit all the time (as noted in my previous post, I can certainly get behind that,)she loved to read, was a heathen, had red hair, liked people far away rather than up close and didn’t leave her house for decades. Prior to reading My Wars Are Laid Away in Books: The Life of Emily Dickinson by Alfred Habegger I only knew about the reclusive part. Well now I know loads more and I finally understand a good portion of her poetry. Before, I only knew I liked its delicacy and the way it sounded aloud, but now much of it makes sense.

I particularly enjoyed/appreciated Dickinson’s struggle with religion–she never became a full member of her church even though her entire family was–and her devotion to her work of growing into being a poet. Prior to this book I had some vague notion that Dickinson was rumoured to have had affairs (platonic) with women as well as men, but now I think she overwhelmed everyone she truly cared for in the way she was most comfortable–with words–heaping them upon those she loved with such ardour that no one could completely reciprocate and many took her to be a bit touched. I have a new respect and appreciation for this woman who, though she strove to perfect her art, probably didn’t know the enormity of her impact on the world of letters.

[This post is from a previous blog. Orig. date: March 3, 2008]



by V. L. Craven

From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties and things that go bump in the night, good Lord, deliver us! –Scottish saying

 Men see that in this midnight hour, the disembodied have power to wander as it liketh them, by wizard oak and fairy stream. –William Motherwell

 Stir the fire till it lowe. How like a queen comes forth the lonely Moon from the slow opening curtains of the clouds. Walking in beauty to her midnight throne! –George Croly

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