books

The Impact of a Book : by Jorge Méndez Blake

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In his work, literature becomes a tool that articulates situations, places and objects where each piece is full of theoretical meanings related to one another.

“Jorge Méndez Blake is a Mexican born artist that draws connections between literature and the visual arts through assemblage, drawing, and environmental interventions” (via).

He is also a man who would rather quote another than create something new, which I find truly intriguing.

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-N- Stuff  :  Art

Stephen King's stories exist in the same universe

I've never been a huge Stephen King fan - I've only read a small handful of his novels, but I am a huge fan of his memoir, On Writing. It might even be in my top five of all time . . . including all genres. 

Non the less, I admire him immensely. His skill, his approach and dedication to the craft, and his imagination are, in many ways, unmatched. This short video only hints at the complexity of his mind, and the vast universe he has been able to create.

 

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Stephen King  :  Maps of favorite fictional worlds

Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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I once recommended the book, The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy because it was such a powerful story and I wanted someone to help me process through it. I was told the book was too harsh, to graphic, and not a "good Christian book." I remember being so frustrated because I loved it and felt it an extremely important book. And I just couldn't figure out why.

In later years it became clear that the reason I love that book was because it showed an element of life, a side of life, I had never known, experienced, or seen portrayed. It was raw and authentic, it was real, and it captivated me. 

Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is much the same. This is my second novel by Adichie and, like her other work, Half of a Yellow Sun, I couldn't put it down. Not only are Adichie's character extremely relatable (even when they aren't), they are beautiful and flawed. They hope and dream, they're destructive, and they portray a reality that many white authors fail to capture. And I just simply love it.

One of the main components of the novel is hair. It's a powerful symbol in the book - just as it is for life as well - that embodies and highlights the differences of race. Throughout the novel, whenever the distinction of hair is raised, I thought of this documentary by Chris Rock.

When Chris Rocks daughter, Lola, came up to him crying and asked, Daddy, how come I don't have good hair? the bewildered comic committed himself to search the ends of the earth and the depths of black culture to find out who had put that question into his little girl's head!

I haven't recommended this book to anyone in my family, but I have shared and gifted it to many of my friends, telling them all that, "It is one of my favorite books of the year!" Because it is.

 

 

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Reading Log 2017  :  Reading Log 2018

Notable (and forgotten notable) Books of 2017

If you're like me - or like other people, if you don't want to be like me - there is never enough time as you'd like to read. But that doesn't stop you from scouring thrift stores and garage sales, drooling in used books stores, and buying more books than one could ever read in an entire lifetime. But you're okay with that because just buying books, rearranging them on your shelf, or knowing that if you ever did want to read them, you could. Because it's there, on the shelf, surrounded by other possible early morning companions. 

Here are a few more possibles to add to your list of must reads or sometime, someday reads:

"The NY Times whittled down their long list of 100 Notable Books to just The 10 Best Books of 2017, including The Evolution of Beauty: How Darwin’s Forgotten Theory of Mate Choice Shapes the Animal World — and Us by Richard Prum and Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (which Roxane Gay declared her favorite book of 2017)" (via).

Lee’s stunning novel, her second, chronicles four generations of an ethnic Korean family, first in Japanese-occupied Korea in the early 20th century, then in Japan itself from the years before World War II to the late 1980s. Exploring central concerns of identity, homeland and belonging, the book announces its ambitions right from the opening sentence: “History has failed us, but no matter.” Lee suggests that behind the facades of wildly different people lie countless private desires, hopes and miseries, if we have the patience and compassion to look and listen (via).

Amazon’s editors picked their top 100 books of the year and then narrowed that list down to 20. Some titles include You Don't Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir by Sherman Alexie, which I read and found not only extremely enjoyable, but deeply moving, Beartown by Fredrik Backman whom I've read before and thoroughly enjoyed, Sourdough, and Ariel Levy’s The Rules Do Not Apply, which, alongside Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Harari, might be my next Amazon book purchase - I've heard both of them recommended now by several people.

Lithub also included a list of some baffling omissions from the NY Times' 100 notable books list. Some notables include Richard Lloyd Parry'sGhosts of the Tsunami, and Svetlana Alexievich, The Unwomanly Face of War

And for those non-reader out there (you know who you are. And yes, I judge you), here is a list of the top 25 films of 2017.

 

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Other Recommended Books  :  My 2017 Reading Log

 

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100 Great Works of Dystopian Fiction: Tales About A World Gone Wrong

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We may or may not be living in a dystopian age, but we are certainly living in an age of dystopias.

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Vulture has compiled a list of 100 Great Works of Dystopian Fiction. Within the list you’ll "find the classics — your Orwells, Huxleys, and Atwoods — but you’ll also find a rising crop of new entries into the dystopian canon, from younger authors with fresher concerns about what, precisely, could spell our doom. 

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You’ll find literary fiction (like Lord of the Flies - one my all-time favorites), young-adult works, graphic novels, realist tomes, some books written long ago, and others published in just the last few years

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Dystopian literature, as described by Jenny C. Mann, is “The creation of alternate societies through the negation of despised aspects of the real world, the use of social engineering to make people ‘good,’ the difficulty of distinguishing between the civilized and the barbarous, the use of frame stories that pretend as if the document you are reading ‘really happened,’ the confusion of reality/fiction and truth/lies, the purpose of technology in a perfect society, and the question of who counts as ‘human.’” These books are all part of the same wary family and, taken as a whole, they provide a look not just at the power of a literary mode, but what we fear we are capable of."

Apparently, we capable of some pretty terrifying shit.

 

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Other Recommended Books  :  Stories that hold the Thread

 

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Not forgiveness, empathy

I've loved Sherman Alexie for several years now. His book, The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is one of my all-time favorites, and the favorite of most all of my students. Even kids who hate reading will bring it back after reading it all night and say, "If more books were like this, I'd read more."

And I agree.

Sherman Alexie is not only a brilliant writer - in the conventional sense - he is also a brilliant writer - in the emotional and humanity sense. Which, perhaps more than anything, makes him an exceptional writer that can connect with kids and adults of all ages, from all around the world.

This article, which first appeared in the June 2017 issue of BookPage, is a beautiful example. I don't know many people, if any, who do not struggle in some way with forgiveness. I know I do. And I think we can all agree that, in the midst of these difficult relationships, there is the "constant funeral" feeling Alexie describes.

We may not experience the same depth of pain and "crimes" that Sherman Alexie did, but we can for sure appreciate his response and attempt at reconciliation. Then, maybe, just maybe, we can find a similar sort of peace.

And hopefully, before it's too late.

 

Sherman Alexie doesn’t yet know if writing a fierce, wrenching memoir about his deeply troubled relationship with his beautiful and abusive mother, Lillian, has been cathartic.

“I performed the audiobook a couple of weeks ago over the course of five days, and it was hard. Hard,” Alexie, a Spokane/Coeur d’Alene Indian and award-winning author of 26 books of poetry and fiction, says during a call to his home in Seattle. He lives there with his wife, an administrator at Seattle University who was born on Turtle Mountain Reservation, and their two sons, ages 19 and 15. Usually he works out of an office he describes as “a studio apartment that looks like a bookstore exploded.” But today he is at home, anticipating the publication of You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me.

“What I’m realizing now,” he says, “is that the writing of the book was just the first half of the ceremony. Now I’m entering into the second half of the ceremony, bringing it to the public, starting to talk about my mother, and hearing the stories of other people’s mothers.”

Lillian Alexie died at the age of 78 in 2015. For the previous 20 or so years, whenever possible, Sherman avoided visiting her at the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, Washington, where he and his witty twin sisters grew up in poverty. He believes he inherited his bipolar disorder, diagnosed in 2010, from her. She was a complicated woman—generous to many, withholding or worse to Sherman, loved or despised by family members and neighbors. She was a brilliant quilt maker who wouldn’t sleep under her own quilts (“Quilting was her philosophy,” Alexie writes)—or teach her native language to her children. In a heartrending chapter Alexie decided to include only at the last moment, he writes that he has not worn a pair of moccasins in 40 years because of her behavior at a powwow in Arlee, Montana.

“That was an incredibly traumatic experience,” Alexie says with some anguish. “I find myself wondering, what do I do as an Indian when some of our most sacred moments—like a powwow—aggravate my PTSD?”

Lillian’s death unleashed a torrent of poems. “They came first without bidding and without structure. They just came. I would just write and write and write,” he says. He thought the resulting work would be a book of poetry. “Then I realized that I had more stories to tell, stories that needed to be told in nonfiction form. I thought the structure of the book was going to be framed by the first chapter of her being diagnosed and the last chapter of her dying. I just assumed it was going to be a much more traditional structure. But as I started writing the nonfiction, it started arriving in much more improvisational fashion. And I realized that the way my mother and I lived our lives, and the way our tribal culture works, and my mother’s cosmology and our own mental illnesses, shared and separate, that the very construction of the book—this back-and-forth in time, back-and-forth in emotion—was going to match the way it felt to be her son.”

Alexie’s approach to the structure of the book results in an emotionally powerful read. His skills as a poet may go unacknowledged by some, but they are evident here.

“One of the things that I’ve always enjoyed is that the forms that use repeated lines, repeated phrases, sound tribal. They very much sound like our traditional songs and ceremonies. And in grief ceremonies in all cultures, repetition is omnipresent.”

Alexie’s improvisational approach also allows him to write meaningfully about the context of his and his mother’s lives. Reaching back into the history of his tribe, for example, he writes about the impact of the construction of the Grand Coulee Dam, which cut off his people’s access to wild salmon, an essential element of the culture. “The loss of wild salmon for us, the environmental destruction for us, directly affected our souls. Often this doesn’t get addressed.” Alexie also writes that on the reservation, loneliness is a natural cause of death, endemic to reservation life. “I think we live in a constant funeral,” he says.

And yet, You Don’t Have to Say You Loved Me and the reservation life it portrays bubble with humor. In conversation and on the page, Alexie is often quite funny, disproving the stereotypcial view of Native Americans as being closed-mouthed stoics. “I think my whole life has been based on people being shocked by my personality, what they expected to see versus who I am,” Alexie says. “To this day, people often think that I am an anomaly—the way in which I’m loud and emotional and funny and profane and dirty and unabashed. But that’s the culture I grew up in. The stoic part about Indians? That’s our armor. I always tell white folks if you’re around Indians and they’re not making fun of you, then they don’t like you. In our culture, we are incredibly verbose and funny. And constant storytellers.”

Returning to the subject of his mother, Alexie says, “I don’t know that I forgive my mother for her crimes against me. But I think I’ve come to a place where I understand them. I can’t forget what she did to me as an individual. But in terms of the lives of Native American women of her generation, I can completely understand why it happened the way it did. So if not forgiveness, I certainly have empathy. And for me to be empathetic toward my mother might be the bigger thing.

He adds, “As I say in the book, even though the book is negative, very negative about her in parts, she would have loved being the subject of this. Oh gosh, she would have sat right beside me and signed the book."  (via)

You can read this open letter about his mother which is . . . so. friggen. good. And hard. I love it.

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Chris Paul forgives the men who killed his grandfather  :  Pablo Escobar's son is building peace

 

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Books Recommended by TED 2017 Speakers

ParrotRead has compiled a list of books recommended on Twitter by the speakers at the recently concluded TED 2017 conference in Vancouver. Some highlights:
Success Through Stillness: Meditation Made Simple by Def Jam cofounder Russell Simmons. “Simmons shares the most fundamental key to success — meditation — and guides readers to use stillness as a powerful tool to access their potential.” Recommended by Serena Williams, who also recommended Eat Yourself Sexy.
A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel. Recommended by Atul Gawande.
The Machine Stops by E.M. Forster. Classic sci-fi about humans living underground with all their needs being met by machines. Recommended by Elon Musk, who kinda wants to do that for realsies?
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. Lacks’ cells were taken without her knowledge and used to develop medical breakthroughs worth billions of dollars. Now an HBO movie starring Oprah Winfrey. Recommended by Lisa Genova.
SuperBetter: The Power of Living Gamefully by Jane McGonigal. “She explains how we can cultivate new powers of recovery and resilience in everyday life simply by adopting a more ‘gameful’ mind-set.” Recommended by Tim Ferriss (via).

 

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  TED Talks  :  Book Recommendations

 

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What is Literature for?

Kottke wrote this, and I like it better than what I was thinking:

"The School of Life on four uses of literature. I especially liked this bit:

We’re weirder than we’re allowed to admit. We often can’t say what’s really on our minds, but in books, we find descriptions of who we genuinely are and what events are actually like described with an honesty quite different from what ordinary conversation allows for. In the best books, it’s as if the writer knows us better than we know ourselves. They find the words to describe the fragile and weird special experiences of our inner lives: the light on a summer morning, the anxiety we felt at a gathering, the sensations of a first kiss, the envy when a friend told us of their new business, the longing we experienced on the train looking at the profile of another passenger we never dare to speak to. Writers open our hearts and minds and give us maps to our own selves, so that we can travel in them more reliably and with less of a feeling of paranoia and persecution. As the writer Emerson remarked, “In the works of great writers, we find our own neglected thoughts.”

I would argue these points also apply, in one degree or another, to not just literature but to any artful endeavor: film, TV, comics, theater, painting, etc" (via).

 

But I'll add this, "Literature is a tool that will help us live and die with a little bit more goodness, wisdom, and sanity."

 

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  On Stories  :  Books

PLAYLIST FOR A CLASSIC NOVEL: TO THE LIGHTHOUSE

10 SONGS FOR VIRGINIA WOOLF'S CLASSIC (THE FIRST IN A SERIES)

By Emily Temple

“I think of all my books as music before I write them,” Virginia Woolf once said. It shows—her work isn’t necessarily what I’d call musical, but it is rhythmic, both formally and thematically, indicative of an internal melody. Woolf was an avid music fan, of course, and I won’t venture to guess what she was actually listening to—in her head in her room—when she was writing her masterpiece To the Lighthouse. But below, I have given my impressions of the novel in musical, or rather playlist, form—a sort of reverse-engineering of Woolf’s own process.

The thing I always say about To the Lighthouse to those who haven’t read it is that it’s the closest a novel has ever come to feeling like direct experience for me. That is, it feels like a reflection of consciousness as opposed to something external to it, which also seems to me to be a quality of (good) music. E.M. Forster called To the Lighthouse “a novel in sonata form”—as it is split up into three sections—movements, as it were—so shall this playlist be.

The Window

In the first section of To the Lighthouse, Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay and their various friends have gathered at the Ramsays’ summer home, and embark on various amorous, artistic, and philosophical pursuits. Thematically, this is the happiest part of the novel, abuzz with the busy loudness of life, the push and pull, the will we go to the lighthouse tomorrow, the dinner, the boeuf-en-daube, the society of others—all of this conflicted but essentially joyous.

1. “Summertime Clothes,” Animal Collective
In the novel, Woolf moves in and out of her characters’ minds indiscriminately, sometimes changing perspectives in the middle of a sentence. Animal Collective’s fuzzy, messy music always puts me in mind of this er, collective manner of representation—and this song in particular is evocative of the frantic energy and frazzled joy of a summer vacation.

2. “Bloom,” Chymes
Speaking of Woolf’s fluid perspectives, the lyrics to the chorus of this moodier track are pretty apt:  “I’ve wrapped you around my mind/All your words, they flow into mine.” Tonally, it’s a good reflection of some of Mrs. Ramsay’s quieter moments—or perhaps Lily’s, looking at her.

3. “The Hissing of Summer Lawns,” Joni Mitchell
I’ve always found this song to be weird, but also perfectly evocative of summer evenings. I feel like Lily would totally jam out to this while working on her painting.

4. “It’s Only Life,” The Shins
All of the messy confusion of the first section culminates in a dinner party (enter the boeuf-en-daube). Things seem to fall into place, but even this only serves to remind Mrs. Ramsay of the transience of life. The easy melody and uplifting message—but ultimate melancholy—of this song seems to me to suit, rather.

Time Passes

Ten years, in fact. The house that once held so much life stands empty, and decays. So do some of the people we’ve met, including Mrs. Ramsay, who departs this life between parentheses. The narrator is now time, perhaps, or the house, perhaps, or something else:

So loveliness reigned and stillness, and together made the shape of loveliness itself, a form from which life had parted; solitary like a pool at evening, far distant, seen from a train window, vanishing so quickly that the pool, pale in the evening, is scarcely robbed of its solitude, though once seen. Loveliness and stillness clasped hands in the bedroom, and among the shrouded jugs and sheeted chairs even the prying of the wind, and the soft nose of the clammy sea airs, rubbing, snuffling, iterating, and reiterating their questions—“Will you fade? Will you perish?”—scarcely disturbed the peace, the indifference, the air of pure integrity, as if the question they asked scarcely needed that they should answer: we remain.

By the end of this short section, however, all this lament and dissolution is interrupted: the cottage comes to life again, as Mrs. McNab begins to prepare it, as best she can, for the return of Mr. Ramsay and his guests.

5. “The Moonlight Sonata,” Beethoven
No pop music for Time Passes, sorry. Only the best for this devastating section—and I can’t really think of a better soundtrack to a house on the beach going forgotten.

6. “Path 19 (yet frailest),” Max Richter
Another sad one, and almost minimalist. I actually discovered Max Richter through his album Three Worlds: Music from Woolf Works (the works in question are Mrs. DallowayOrlando, and The Waves, which really doesn’t help me for this particular project, Max), so perhaps there’s some cross-pollination going on here. But I still think this song is an empty dream, perfect for this section.

The Lighthouse

Well, in The Lighthouse they go to the lighthouse—at long last. Not, of course, without almost everything of import having changed, though several of the living characters are back, filling roles and spaces that may fit them yet, or may do so oddly. The loss of Mrs. Ramsay is deeply felt by all. There’s a sense of a journey being completed in this section, but the joy to be found is only a pale reflection of the previous joy. Much has been lost, not only Mrs. Ramsay, and not all of it comprehensible to those that once held it.

7. “Unravel,” Björk
I hear Lily’s longing for Mrs. Ramsay in this song. I also have a sneaking suspicion that Virginia Woolf would have been best friends with Björk.

8. “8 (circle),” Bon Iver
The cacophony of melancholy at the end of this watery, midnight song clinches it.

9. “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano,” Sampha
The piano in Mrs. Ramsay’s house plays a significant metaphorical role in this novel—on Mr. Ramsay: “It was a splendid mind. For if thought is like the keyboard of a piano, divided into so many notes, or like the alphabet is ranged in twenty-six letters all in order, then his splendid mind had no sort of difficulty in running over those letters one by one, firmly and accurately, until it had reached, say, the letter Q.”—and the lyrics to this melancholy-yet-hopeful song make me think of James at the end—missing his mother, on a boat with his father and sister, finally going to the lighthouse, profoundly lonely but perhaps in a position to reconnect to what family he has left.

10. “Swim Good,” Frank Ocean
Okay, so the details aren’t exactly right, but there’s something about this song—and the (problematic) idea of the ocean as a place of redemption and renewal that reminds me of James, and even Mr. Ramsay.

You can listen to them all here.

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-N- Stuff  :  Music  :  Books

Dr. Seuss' Stories - N - Stuff

Theodor Seuss Geisel's works include several of the most popular children's books of all time, selling over 600 million copies and being translated into more than 20 languages by the time of his death (via). He's perhaps one of the most recognized authors of all time. Here are a few, possible, unknowns of Mr. Theodor Geisel:

 

1. The pen name “Dr. Seuss” began as a way to escape punishment in college.

In 1925, in the midst of the Prohibition Era, Seuss and his friends were caught drinking gin in his Dartmouth dormitory dorm, Nel said. As punishment, Seuss was stripped of his editorship at the college’s humor magazine, Jack-O-Lantern. However, he continued to publish work under a variety of pseudonyms, including “T. Seuss.” Several other varying monikers, such as “Dr. Theophrastus Seuss,” appeared over the years, which he eventually shortened to “Dr. Seuss” as his go-to professional pen name.

In 1961, with his book “Ten Apples Up on Top!,” Seuss began collaborating with illustrators for books he wrote. For these, he used the pseudonym “Theo. LeSieg,” which is “Geisel” spelled backward. He also published one book, 1975’s “Because a Little Bug Went Ka-Choo!!”, under the pen name “Rosetta Stone.” And although there’s no known evidence to support the claim, Nel said that Seuss meant to save his real name for the Great American Novel that he would one day write.

Instead, Seuss debuted the Cat and the Grinch the same year in 1957, two of his most famous characters. The Cat and the Grinch were also facets of the man, Nel said. The rule-breaking, mischievous Cat spoke to the author’s sense of play, while the Grinch represented the cantankerous part of Seuss’ personality.

He had a vanity license plate that read, “GRINCH,” Nel said (via).

 

2. He joined the war effort.

Beginning in 1941, Seuss produced political cartoons for the left-wing newspaper PM in New York. In those pages, he criticized the U.S. policy of isolationism, urging the country to enter World War II. He also lambasted anti-Semitism and racism, although his depictions of Japanese people with exaggerated racial features proved problematic (via).

By 1942, Seuss was keen on joining the navy, but was instead asked to make war propaganda films with Oscar-winning director Frank Capra. Joined by P.D. Eastman of “Go, Dog. Go!” fame, Mel Blanc and Chuck Jones among others, Seuss co-created Private Snafu (“Situation Normal, All Fouled Up”), a cartoon dolt in a military uniform meant to teach new recruits how to be a good soldier.

The black-and-white cartoon series was also off-color — and a hit with soldiers.

“It’s so cold, it would freeze the nuts off a jeep,” one cartoon begins.

 

3. His all-time best-selling book was created on a bet.

Dr. Seuss’ editor Bennett Cerf bet him he couldn’t write a book using 50 or fewer words. The result is 1960’s “Green Eggs and Ham.” Although the Cat and the Grinch are among Seuss’ most iconic characters, the story of Sam-I-Am trying to convince an unknown character to eat green eggs and ham has sold more than eight million copies since publication, according to a 2011 Publishers Weekly list.

Can you craft a best-seller with these 50 words?

a, am, and, anywhere, are, be, boat, box, car, could, dark, do, eat, eggs, fox, goat, good, green, ham, here, house, I, if, in, let, like, may, me, mouse, not, on, or, rain, Sam, say, see, so, thank, that, the, them, there, they, train, tree, try, will, with, would, you

 

4. He battled Shakespeare

 

One of my favorite stories is Sneetches. Because it's timeless.

 

THE SNEETCHES

by Theodor Geisel (1961)

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Now, the Star-Belly Sneetches Had bellies with stars.
The Plain-Belly Sneetches Had none upon thars.

Those stars weren't so big. They were really so small
You might think such a thing wouldn't matter at all.
But, because they had stars, all the Star-Belly Sneetches Would brag, "We're the best kind of Sneetch on the beaches." With their snoots in the air, they would sniff and they'd snort “We'll have nothing to do with the Plain-Belly sort!"

And whenever they met some, when they were out walking, They'd hike right on past them without even talking.

When the Star-Belly children went out to play ball, Could a Plain-Belly get in the game...? Not at all. You could only play if your bellies had stars
And the Plain-Belly children had none upon thars.

When the Star-Belly Sneetches had frankfurter roasts Or picnics or parties or marshmallow toasts,
They never invited the Plain-Belly Sneetches.
They left them out cold, in the dark of the beaches. They kept them away. Never let them come near. And that's how they treated them year after year.

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Then ONE day, it seems...while the Plain-Belly Sneetches Were moping and doping alone on the beaches,
Just sitting there wishing their bellies had stars...
A stranger zipped up in the strangest of cars!

"My friends," he announced in a voice clear and keen,
"My name is Sylvester McMonkey McBean.
And I've heard of your troubles. I've heard you're unhappy. But I can fix that. I'm the Fix-it-Up Chappie.

I've come here to help you. I have what you need. And my prices are low. And I work at great speed. And my work is one hundred per cent guaranteed!"

Then, quickly, Sylvester McMonkey McBean
Put together a very peculiar machine.
And he said, "You want stars like a Star-Belly Sneetch...? My friends, you can have them for three dollars each!”

“Just pay me your money and hop right aboard!"
So they clambered inside. Then the big machine roared
And it clonked. And it bonked. And it jerked. And it berked And it bopped them about. But the thing really worked! When the Plain-Belly Sneetches popped out, they had stars! They actually did. They had stars upon thars!

Then they yelled at the ones who had stars from the start, "We're exactly like you! You can't tell us apart.
We're all just the same, now, you snooty old smarties! And now we can go to your frankfurter parties."

"Good grief!" groaned the ones who had stars at the first. "We're still the best Sneetches and they are the worst. But, now, how in the world will we know," they all frowned, "If which kind is what, or the other way round?"

Then up came McBean with a very sly wink
And he said, "Things are not quite as bad as you think. So you don't know who's who. That’s perfectly true. But come with me, friends. Do you know what I'll do? I'll make you, again, the best Sneetches on beaches And all it will cost you is ten dollars eaches.”

Belly stars are no longer in style," said McBean.
"What you need is a trip through my Star-Off machine.
This wondrous contraption will take off your stars
So you won't look like Sneetches who have them on thars." And that handy machine
Working very precisely
Removed all the stars from their tummies quite nicely.

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Then, with snoots in the air, they paraded about
And they opened their beaks and they let out a shout, "We know who is who! Now there isn't a doubt.
The best kind of Sneetches are Sneetches without!"

Then, of course, those with stars all got frightfully mad. To be wearing a star now was frightfully bad.
Then, of course, old Sylvester McMonkey McBean Invited them into his Star-Off Machine.

Then, of course from then on, as you probably guess, Things really got into a horrible mess.

All the rest of that day, on those wild screaming beaches, The Fix-it-Up Chappie kept fixing up Sneetches.
Off again! On again!

In again! Out again!
Through the machines they raced round and about again, Changing their stars every minute or two.
They kept paying money. They kept running through
Until neither the Plain nor the Star-Bellies knew
Whether this one was that one...or that one was this one Or which one was what one...or what one was who.

Then, when every last cent
Of their money was spent,
The Fix-it-Up Chappie packed up And he went.

And he laughed as he drove
In his car up the beach,
"They never will learn.
No. You can't teach a Sneetch!"

But McBean was quite wrong. I'm quite happy to say The Sneetches got really quite smart on that day, The day they decided that Sneetches are Sneetches And no kind of Sneetch is the best on the beaches. That day, all the Sneetches forgot about stars

And whether they had one, or not, upon thars. The end. 

 

The Butter Battle Books is another of my favorites, and equally timely.