The Anatomy of Melancholy: A Selection by Robert Burton

He gives a certain structure to melancholy that reading the book will make clear to readers about the complexity of this emotion which like several other emotions is highly over powering and painful.

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Title: The Anatomy of Melancholy: A Selection

Author: Robert Burton

Publisher: Carcanet Press Ltd.

Date of Publication: 1 February 2004

Rating: 3/5

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As the very title alludes, The Anatomy of Melancholy by Robert Burton is a dissection of melancholy from every angle possible. What is interesting is how he performs this feat. He breaks down melancholy to its base elements and presents an unparalleled picture before the readers of an emotion that is oft so felt yet never easy to talk about.

Like a physician, Burton goes to the very core to deal with causes and concerns of possible solutions. None of the opinions are exactly his own. He takes a lot of material from other renowned and not so popular sources. He then builds on that by adding his thoughts. He gives a certain structure to melancholy that reading the book will make clear to readers about the complexity of this emotion which like several other emotions is highly over powering and painful. Burton understands very well how sorrow affects the heart, mind or soul and may cause complete loss of functionality. He constantly mentions philosophies of various eras. There is a lot of allusion to Greek, Roman and Latin mythological characters whose attributes are not always elaborated.

The Anatomy of Melancholy mainly comprises of short essays. Burton’s writing style is free flowing in a very classical sense. The modern reader’s mind will require a lot of effort to adapt to it. However, the essays are easier than Bacon. They are neither pithy nor terse. They provide a lot of examples but don’t always broaden them. Some lines are catchy and humorous. The humour is not grim or tedious. Despite it all, it is not an ideal book for beginners. It is definitely not a book to read on a weekend trip. It calls for a lot of attention and pre-requisite knowledge especially in European Classics. Nonetheless, it deals with pertinent issues and provides insightful views on melancholy which is an emotion everyone deals with on a daily basis. It can be easily said that Burton’s originality in assembling notions for a unique presentation and quality research is unbeatable.

Although intended as a self help manual, it will be wrong to say that it serves its purpose completely in the present times as it is extremely difficult to get through the book which is overflowing with didacticism and wisdom. It is a daring act to read the book in the original so an abridged version is suitable for a start though the book is best avoided unless one is compelled to read it as a part of coursework.

All Time Best Children’s Classics

“Fairy tales in childhood are stepping stones throughout life, leading the way through trouble and trial. The value of fairy tales lies not in a brief literary escape from reality, but in the gift of hope that goodness truly is more powerful than evil and that even the darkest reality can lead to a Happily Ever After. Do not take that gift of hope lightly. It has the power to conquer despair in the midst of sorrow, to light the darkness in the valleys of life, to whisper “One more time” in the face of failure. Hope is what gives life to dreams, making the fairy tale the reality.” —L.R. Knost

 

 

Interview with Sudha Nair

There is no feeling to describe winning the Amazon Pen to Publish contest for my debut, THE WEDDING TAMASHA. It was surreal, to say the least. I couldn’t believe it at all. I was very lucky that my debut became such a hit.

Sudha Nair is the winner of the Amazon Pen to Publish 2017 contest for her debut novel, THE WEDDING TAMASHA, a sweet tale about love, family and traditions. A techie who wrote code in her former life, she now spends her time writing stories and creating worlds where she lets her imagination run riot and has fun along with her characters. She’s a daydreamer who enjoys reading, singing, and soaking in the view of the ocean whenever possible. She is the author of two novels and several short stories, and is currently working on her next novel. She lives with her family in Bangalore, India. Visit www.sudhanair.com to find out more.
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Tee: How did you come up with the idea of a trilogy based on the lives of three sisters?
 
Sudha: I did not have a trilogy or a series in mind but I just wanted to tell the youngest daughter’s story through the THE WEDDING TAMASHA. After that, I made a natural progression to tell the older daughter’s story, which is titled, PRIYAMVADA & CO. That was how the idea of a series was born. I called it THE MENON WOMEN series. This series is about the Menon family which is headed by patriarch, Prabhakaran Menon. He has two daughters and a son.
After writing about the two daughters, I was undecided between writing about his daughter-in-law, Lekha, and his eldest granddaughter, Ria. Finally I chose to tell Ria’s story, because she was more prominent in the first two books. So the third book, coming up soon, is about Ria.
 
After thinking that this would stop at three stories, I now really want it to go on. Why not have stories about the rest of the Menon women of the family? 🙂 I want to grow the series, and show how the family is shaped through the events over the years. It looks like a pretty exciting challenge, and I’m looking forward to some cool stories for these women.
Tee: Your debut novel was a best seller. How did that feel?

Sudha: There is no feeling to describe winning the Amazon Pen to Publish contest for my debut, THE WEDDING TAMASHA. It was surreal, to say the least. I couldn’t believe it at all. I was very lucky that my debut became such a hit. Shweta’s story seemed to have struck a chord with the sentiments of many. The description of a strict patriarch bearing over his large family, was loved very much, and I’m so glad I wrote this story, even though I was terrified that it wasn’t going to turn out okay. I’m so happy to see the success of the book, and the reviews that continue to come in from all over the world. I’m thankful, and feel blessed.

Tee: How will you describe your writing style?
 
Sudha: My writing style is to plot everything down first, then start writing. I like to have targets for myself. I’m also trying to let go of my perfectionism, and just enjoy what I do, instead of fretting over every single word so much, like I used to. Though, I still have to remind myself every now and then that I should let go, and allow the words to flow freely, at least during the first draft. I try to write every day. I enjoy routines, I enjoy goals, and I enjoy being my own boss. So writing just falls into the perfect circle of things that I call my life and the way I want to live it. I have a descriptive and engaging style, as appreciated by my readers too, and I like to make every story naughty, playful, interesting, and as enjoyable as I can make it.
Tee: What are your suggestions for aspiring writers?
 
Sudha: Gosh, this is a tough one! 🙂 We all stumble, no matter which path we choose, and each path, each fall, each lesson, each comeback, is so different, that it is hard to put all aspiring writers into one box and give them a list of suggestions. But at the top of the line, if there is any such thing, is to write. WRITE. It’s easier to talk about writing, to dream about writing, to plan for writing, and all of that, but unless you actually have your butt in your chair and you’re writing, however crappy it may look like, you’re not a writer, let alone an aspiring one, if you don’t have any words to show for it.
That, and perseverance, is all. You got to do what you got to do. And if you love it as much, and you want it as much, you will do it. There’s no one else who can do it for you.
Tee: Who are the authors or which are the books that have influenced your work?
 

Sudha: The time I looked for influencers in my writing life was around the time I wanted to become a short story writer. I read the New Yorker regularly, as also, the Commonwealth prize winner stories, and tons of popular online literary magazines. I leaned quite by accident, or may be by providence,

towards this author, who was especially well-known as a short story writer. Her name was Jhumpa Lahiri. I was so excited at having discovered her, that I read all her books, collected all her works, and read everything that she had written, or had been written about her online, and elsewhere. As I soon found out, anything about her was hard to find as she spoke very little about herself. So I then turned to the writers who had influenced Lahiri, thereby, reading Alice Munro, William Trevor, etc., and was constantly hungry to discover more writers and more stories. All these influences were starkly different and varied, I don’t think anyone stuck with me as much as Lahiri.
 
My other love, that of women’s fiction and women’s adventure stories, was fueled by authors like Jojo Moyes, Emma Donoghue, Julie James, Arundhati Roy, Nisha Minhas, Amitav Ghosh, to name a few. In that sense, I have quite an eclectic taste, and I’m always searching for writers where I get lost in the story rather than the style or craft, which, by the way, is the most frustrating thing that gets in the way of an enjoyable reading experience for me now, ever since I turned into a writer and a student of writing.
Tee: When did you begin writing professionally and what are the challenges that you’ve had to overcome as a new writer?
 

Sudha: I started writing out of a need to find creative fulfillment. My journey began about six years ago when I wrote my first short story for an online literary magazine. You must have heard me say this before, but the first rejection, propelled me to try more. Challenges were many. The foremost was understanding the craft, which I realised, as soon as my piece was rejected, that I knew nothing about. Rejections taught me to learn from the writers I considered as my idols, and literally practice and keep writing, and submitting. The only hope that kept me going was the happiness that writing down every story gave me, and the memories it brought to life. Any everyday incident became a trigger for a story and it was a lot of fun as I tried to wrestle with it, and mould it into something by putting my imagination on overdrive. The difficult part was to accept that what I thought was a wonderful story did not necessarily feel the same to the editors that I submitted to. It took a long time to slowly build up my confidence, wade through the rejection, and try not to take it personally. Somewhere within, I believed in myself, and that alone kept me going. Finding and being part of a writing community was tough. To be accepted by other successful writers as one among them, was an uphill task. But, as I’ve learned over the years, I just had to put my head down, do the work, and let the rest fall into place. And that philosophy has helped tremendously. I’m grateful for my optimism, positive attitude, and perseverance. All of these were challenges as I was growing up to be a writer.

Tee: What can readers look forward to in your upcoming book?
 

Sudha: The next book in THE MENON WOMEN series is Ria’s story. She’s a college-goer with a sweet first crush. I have tried to keep this story light, while also touching upon themes that are relevant today.It is set to be an entertainer where I plan to bring back some family members that I had to keep out of the second book. My wish is to write about all the Menon women in the family which fall under a variety of interesting age groups. I hope it will make my readers really happy. Also, I hope to keep the cast manageably small and cute. I’d like to know what you think about it when it’s out there.

Tee: What are your plans as a writer after the completion of this trilogy?
Sudha: My plan is to go on and on 🙂 and not stop at these three books. I’d like to include more of the Menon women–daughters, grand-daughters, and family of the patriarch, Prabhakaran Menon. I hope to never have to stop for any reason, except for not finding anything interesting to say about these smart, sassy, bold women. 🙂 Apart from this series, I plan to continue writing other stories, even short stories, which will have my unique spin on life and its vagaries. And I’m not likely to ever give up on my plan to continue to be a student and improve my craft, and make each book a better reading experience for my readers.
Tee: How can readers reach you?
Sudha: Readers can reach me through the contact page on my website, sudhanair.com. If you want to hang out with me, or have questions about my books, or just want to have fun, you’ll find me at my facebook page – SudhaNairAuthor. I really love interacting with readers, and would love to hear from you.

 

Read the review here

 

Finding Jesus in Israel by Buck Storm

The dialogues form an important part of the narrative and are short but well framed. It shows an ease with which he brings out the several themes and facts without getting sidelined from the original idea of presenting the magnificent sights that the Holy Land has to offer.

Title: Finding Jesus in Israel

Author: Buck Storm

Publisher: Worthy Publishing

Date of Publication: 1 May 2018

Rating: 3.5/5

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Told in a suave and easy to read style, Finding Jesus in Israel is an unconventional travel book by Storm. Though not a travel guide proper, this book takes interesting to a whole new level.  Taking the genre of travel guides by storm, Buck Storm relates his multifarious adventures in Israel as he travels along the length and breadth of the country where Jesus once strode.

As a first hand account, the book mentions Storm’s experiences in a novel like manner with the introduction of several characters that he meets along the way that go on too make the story more engaging. Israel is a rising global tourist destination that has been hosting millions of international visitors each year. It is also a country that has a strong historical and political background. Perhaps, it is its history and political affiliations or present day position that makes Israel a land of much interest to people from various professional backgrounds. However, Storm does not deal directly with any of the difficult themes but rather mentions them through the talks that he has had with the locals there. After all, the best way to know a country and its culture is through its people.

The dialogues form an important part of the narrative and are short but well framed. It shows an ease with which he brings out the several themes and facts without getting sidelined from the original idea of presenting the magnificent sights that the Holy Land has to offer. Sadly, the book is too lengthy and cannot be read on the go. It requires quite some attention and for those who do not enjoy reading detailed travelogues with be put off immediately. Not exactly a travel writing as he doesn’t mention anything about the facts like costs and hotels. Dialogues and interaction between people is interesting. Unbiased take on events. Storm mentions all the things American-Israeli ties, Middle Eastern politics and historical significance of Israel. Though its almost like an ode to Israel, yet he doesn’t over venerate Israel as a land of riches. He mentions its importance and significance which is unparalleled to that of any other country in the world. What is important to understand is that the book is descriptive of his travel that was more of a pilgrimage.

Christianity lies at the background of the book and Storm’s intention is to understand its significance and the role that Jesus played while his days in the Holy Land. Some interesting chapters include Confession is Good for the Soul, Horse Trading, Paper Prayers, Same Old Sun and The Beginning is Near. Another chapter Bombs deserves special mention that deals with the growing turmoil in the region. Finding Jesus in Israel is very different from the usual factual travel books and it doesn’t provide a lot of information about the hotels available, the prices or any difficulties during the stay as a foreigner. But it is a valuable read for those who may be planning a trip or pilgrimage to Israel and it will leave readers feeling that the road less traveled is worth the effort that it takes to journey across the mixed terrain.

Interview with Francisco A Ojeda

Francisco A. Ojeda arrived in Miami, Florida, from Havana, Cuba, in 1968, and lived in South Florida until graduating from Miami Senior High School in 1985. He is a 27 year veteran with combined services of the United States Army and the Florida Army National Guard, retiring in 2011. He served as a Battalion Operations Sergeant during Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2006 to 2007 and as a civilian contractor during Operation Enduring Freedom, while stationed in Afghanistan, from 2012 to 2013. He taught Military Sciences at Broward College in Davie Florida. He has a Political Science degree from Miami Dade College, a Business Management degree and Certificate of Project Management from the University of Phoenix. He still lives in South Florida. “The Spirits of Al Faw”  is his first published novel. He has also published two collections of poetry, ‘Adore & Lament’ and ‘The Frightful Verses’.

 

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Tee: How will you define your professional career as a soldier?
Ojeda: Overall, it was very satisfying. Besides the benefits of earning college funding and personal savings, travel throughout the world, receive specific education and training, and many other quantifiable rewards, there was also the cooperation and camaraderie of working with others, developing professional and personal relationships, and involvement in cultural experiences I would not have otherwise go through at home. It started out simply as the means to go to school. It later became apparent that the military was a route towards greater opportunities. In the beginning, basic training taught me more than just how to be a soldier but that I was really capable of doing what I wanted if I applied myself. I became much more grateful for the opportunity to serve my country. Even though there were many setbacks and challenges, I was able to work through them with determination, and at times with the assistance of others. I was able to travel to Europe, Asia, Central America, and throughout the United States, meeting many different people of various ethnic backgrounds and cultures. I learned many technical, tactical and strategic skills, the ability to work with others and to be led by experienced and proficient experts, and how to lead others to complete tasks and mission but also support soldiers in their careers. My career was very fulfilling in ways that go further than can be described.

Tee: Being a writer is a completely different field. When did you decide you wanted to write professionally?

Ojeda: I had been writing as a means to express myself since early in high school. I used writing as a simple way of recording events, people I met and things I experienced. It was a way to be imaginative in a tactile way. It also allowed me to revisit my experiences in detail. I felt that I was collecting a historical composite of my life. It eventually grew into expanding my thoughts into a much more entertaining aspect. Unfortunately, I was uncomfortable sharing my thoughts and writings with others. I did not have the confidence early on to allow others to see my efforts. As I gained confidence as an adult, particularly through the military, I was able to write comfortably professional. Over time, I was able to develop my abilities to write but in a more technical fashion. It was when I arrived in Iraq for my tour of duty, that I began to record my experiences again as I did when I was younger. After a few months and reviewing what I had written, the plot seemed to develop on its own. Being in a combat zone, like in Iraq, one experience the unique, the strange, and the absurd that I could only really be expressed in a fictional story like my novel.

 

Tee: What difficulties did you encounter in your writing process?

Ojeda: When it came to writing my novel, I had no real experience in writing fiction much less a thriller. I had already written short stories as classwork but those were simply to meet a curriculum requirement. Most of my experience in writing was in essays in accordance with established and acceptable writing styles. After reviewing my notes, I quickly realized that I needed a system to further build upon my ideas for a book. It was then that while I continued compiling notes that I studied plot development, styles of dialogue, and other required aspects of writing. Luckily, I had always enjoyed reading. Since my favorite genres of literature were mysteries, horror, and thrillers, ideas came to me regularly. Furthermore, due to some personal experiences I had with mental illness, emotional and physical disabilities, and the stressors that came with not only dealing with combat but conducting one’s duties and responsibilities at the highest level of professionalism and expertise, it suspected that a thriller with psychological and paranormal perspectives was in order. I further researched for literature that combined the elements that I wanted to include in my story. I discovered some but not much of military fiction that included the other elements I mentioned. Subsequently, with further research and much trial and error, it took nine years to complete my story.

Tee: How do you think your book will be able to influence readers into understanding the lives of those in the military?

Ojeda: In the development of the story, I set certain rules to allow me to continue writing but also to be effective in building the story. One particular rule was to write for both military personnel and civilians. I wanted the story to share aspects of what veterans can relate to while not alienating civilians who do may not have a background or understanding of military experiences and jargon. In addition, I did not want to take away from the rich and at times the ironic and seemingly illogical reasoning of both combat and the military as a whole. Thus, I needed to find the proper balance of representing the military, yet write the psychological and paranormal aspects in terms non-military can appreciate. There was also the consideration of not “dumbing down” the story to both military and civilians. This was a particular problem concerning I was attempting to find that balance I mentioned early. It was also a consideration of describing a combat zone solely from my perspective to others who experienced it in a much different way. Ultimately, the strategy of the story was for it to be written with a “storytelling” delivery that would be understood when the reader reaches the end of the novel.

 

Tee: How did you come up with the idea of a supernatural element in the plot?

Ojeda: While I was stationed in Iraq from 2006 to 2007, which was during the height of military operations, the environment was very stressed, volatile, and surely weird. Military combat is unpredictable no matter how much planning, training, and rehearsals are involved. I can admit that my lack of understanding allowed for imaginative perspectives and possible explanations.  An example is while reviewing my notes, there were times which no logical explanation for why something had happened. Many experiences were random, sudden, eerie and unexpected. Even established rules for safety and security created an atmosphere of uncertainty. Light and noise discipline, which are best described as the mandated requirements to reduce the opportunity of the enemy identifying friendly targets created an environment of mystery, confusion, and ambiguity. Even the daily work discussions and personal conversations gave credence to opportunities for examining supernatural elements, like superstitions and religious beliefs.  There were also personal feelings, such as loneliness, fear, and paranoia led to the opportunity to use paranormal and supernatural themes to give some explanations for the unknown. The story explores examples of what is hidden in darkness or under the surface, and the circumstances of when one does not have all the information for what may be happening.

 

Tee: Were you whimsical about anything in your debut work?

Ojeda: I attempted to address some of the strange aspects of military life in a combat zone with some humor. Some were purposeful at times, lighting up the atmosphere and other times to promote a sense of absurdity. The characters would observe events that did not contain fearsome elements but still had illogical considerations that one may only laugh at. In other cases, I examined the occasional clumsiness in carrying a weapon, wear of the uniform, and even traversing the landscape. There were situations depicted which one reacts in an exaggerated fashion and not relative to the situation. Those were to point out how the uncertainty of what is actually happening and required protocol can come in conflict. As a new author, I was cautious not to promote any overt sense of humor when it came to the possibility of psychological trauma. I tried to keep any wit away from describing or otherwise connecting to the possibility of mental issues. Otherwise, I tried to maintain the tone of mystery that went along with the possibility of the paranormal.

Tee: What are the other writing projects that are lined up for you in the future?

Ojeda: Six months prior to publishing the novel, I published my first work of literature. It was a collection of love and sadness poems titled “Adore & Lament”. While publishing the novel, I also completed various frightful poems and published them into a titled collection called “The Frightful Verses”. These two poetry books have motivated me to explore additional areas of literature such as non-technical essays, plays, letters, and even more poetry. During Hurricane Irma, my son Daniel and I wrote a screenplay for an action-comedy. The work has been registered through the West Coast Writers Guild. In July 2018, a collection of sensual and sultry poems will be published under the title “Our Sensual World”. The novel and poetry collections were all self-published through XLibris. In addition, I have begun several stories in themes of science fiction and the paranormal. One in particular addresses the current political environment and how it would react to an all-powerful mysterious entity. Another project discusses how the modern military and geo-economic consideration may come in conflict with religion, mysticism and the supernatural. I am very motivated to write a story without paranormal or supernatural elements that may include a love story. I would also like to create a collection of humorous poetry, which has been a challenge for me.

 

Tee: How can readers reach you?

Ojeda: Messages may be sent to me at francisco.a.ojeda@gmail.com or to post on www.franciscoaojedabooks.com. In addition, I may also be contact through XLibris.

 

Read the review of The Spirits of Al Faw Here