Book Review: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde


Genre: Fiction
Ages: 15 and Up
Rating: 9/10

     I picked up a copy of this book without knowing what it was about. I genuinely had no idea what to expect at the outset of the novel, but by the end I found myself fascinated by the complex set of events in the story. A darkly poetic novel, Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, presents a compelling message regarding sin and redemption. Riddled with paradoxes, satire, allusions, and social commentary, this book has something for all of us to relate to, or learn from, despite the fact that it was written over 100 years ago.
     Unlike my other book reviews, I will refrain from sharing what this novel is about. Personally, I feel as though not knowing any information about this book prior to reading it helped enrich my understanding of the story, while increasing my appreciation of Wilde's writing overall. I hope you all go and pick up a copy of this entrancing and powerful read, as it is a timeless literary classic that I believe we all should be acquainted with.

- The Soup Chef 

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Poem: Aristocrats: "I Think I Am Becoming A God" by Keith Douglas


Dear Readers,

In September of last year, I came across this poem while browsing the internet. I decided to save it, with the intention of sharing it on Reading Soup later on. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the author of this piece, Keith Douglas was an English poet who fought in the Western Desert campaign during World War II. Although he died during the infamous invasion of Normandy, Douglas was still well known for his war-related poetry and memoirs. This noted, Douglas' experiences in the war largely play into this piece. I hope you all appreciate this poem, and please feel free to share your thoughts. Stay healthy, and keep on reading!

- The Soup Chef

Aristocrats: "I Think I Am Becoming A God"
By Keith Douglas

The noble horse with courage in his eye,
clean in the bone, looks up at a shellburst:
away fly the images of the shires
but he puts the pipe back in his mouth.
Peter was unfortunately killed by an 88;
it took his leg away, he died in the ambulance.
I saw him crawling on the sand, he said
It's most unfair, they've shot my foot off.

How can I live among this gentle
obsolescent breed of heroes, and not weep?
Unicorns, almost,
for they are fading into two legends
in which their stupidity and chivalry
are celebrated. Each, fool and hero, will be an immortal.
These plains were their cricket pitch
and in the mountains the tremendous drop fences
brought down some of the runners. Here then
under the stones and earth they dispose themselves,
I think with their famous unconcern. 
It is not gunfire I hear, but a hunting horn.
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The Border: A Double Sonnet by Alberto Rios


Dear Readers,

This summer I was at a U2 concert. Before the show began, this poem along with several others was displayed on the main screen on stage. I thought it was quite powerful, and have finally got around to sharing it here. Please feel free to contribute your opinions on it, or tell us of any other poems that have stood out to you. Stay warm,

- The Soup Chef

The Border: A Double Sonnet 
By Alberto Rios

The border is a line that birds cannot see.
The border is a beautiful piece of paper folded carelessly in half.
The border is where flint first met steel, starting a century of fires.
The border is a belt that is too tight, holding things up but making it hard to breathe.
The border is a rusted hinge that does not bend. 
The border is the blood clot in the river's veins.
The border says stop to the wind, but the wind speaks another language, and keeps going. 
The border is a brand, the "Double-X" of barbed wire scarred into the skin of so many. 
The border has always been a welcome stopping place but is now a stop sign, always red. 
The border is a jump rope still there even after the game is finished. 
The border is a real crack in an imaginary dam.
The border used to be an actual place, but now, it is the act of a thousand imaginations.
The border, the word border, sounds like order, but in this place they do not rhyme.
The border is a handshake that becomes a squeezing contest. 

The border smells like cars at noon and wood smoke in the evening.
The border is the place between the two pages in a book where the spine is bent too far. 
The border is two men in love with the same woman. 
The border is an equation in search of an equals sign.
The border is the location of the factory where lightning and thunder are made. 
The border is "NoNo" The Clown, who can't make anyone laugh.
The border is a locked door that has been promoted.
The border is a moat but without a castle on either side. 
The border has become Checkpoint Chale.
The border is a place of plans constantly broken and repaired and broken.
The border is mighty, but even the parting of the seas created a path, not a barrier.
The border is a big, neat, clean, clear black line on a map that does not exist. 
The border is the line in new bifocals: below, small things get bigger; above, nothing changes.
The border is a skunk with a white line down its back. 

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Book Review: The Carnivorous Carnival by Lemony Snicket


Ages: 8+
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 8/10

          This episode of the Baudelaire's story was one of my favorites so far. A new layer of mystery was added to the orphan's tragic story, and it was interesting to watch the three children grow as they continued to make choices outside of their comfort zone. Lemony Snicket's comically satirical writing never fails to humor me, and I am anxious to read the next book in the Series of Unfortunate Events.

          After surviving yet another tragic encounter with Count Olaf, the Baudelaire children have made their way to a mysterious and run down carnival on the outskirts of the infamous Hinterlands. But danger continues to lurk at every turn, and the three orphans find themselves being forced to make decisions that they never would have agreed to before.

          Have you read A Series of Unfortunate Events before, or another book similar to it? If so, tell us what you thought about it right here at Reading Soup! It's always a pleasure to hear your literary thoughts and opinions. Have a great day, stay warm, and keep on reading!

- The Soup Chef 
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Poem: Blues-ing on the Brown Vibe by Esther Belin


Dear Readers,

Lately I've been intrigued by the poetry of Native American writers. Their stories often go untold, but carry powerful messages nevertheless. About two months ago, while browsing through the Poetry Foundation's website, I came across this poem written by Navajo artist and writer Esther Belin. It is my hope that you all appreciate the meaning behind this piece just as much as I did upon first reading it. If you know of any other Native American poets or writers, please feel free to share their works right here at Reading Soup.

-The Soup Chef

Blues-ing on the Brown Vibe
By Esther Belin

And Coyote struts down East 14th.
looking good
feeling the brown
melting into the brown that loiters
rapping with the brown in front of the Native American Health Center
talking that talk
of relocation from tribal nation
of recent immigration to the place some call the United States
home to many dislocated funky brown

ironic immigration

more accurate tribal nation to tribal nation

and Coyote sprinkles corn pollen in the four directions
to thank the tribal people
          indigenous to what some call the state of California
          the city of Oakland
for allowing use of their land.

And Coyote travels by greyhound from Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA thru
to Oakland, California, USA
Interstate 40 is cluttered with RVs from far away as Maine
traveling and traveling
to perpetuate the myth
Coyote kicks back for most of the ride
amused by the constant herd of tourists
amazed by the mythic Indian they create

at a pit stop in Winslow
Coyote trades a worn beaded cigarette lighter for roasted corn
from a middle-aged Navajo woman squatting
in front of a store

and Coyote squats alongside the woman
talking that talk
of bordertown blues
of reservation discrimination

blues-ing on the brown vibe
a bilagaana snaps a photo
the Navajo woman stands 
holding out her hand
requesting some of her soul back
she replaces her soul with a worn picture of George Washington on a dollar bill

and Coyote starts on another ear of corn
climbing onto the Greyhound
the woman
still squatting
tired of learning not to want
waits there for the return of all her pieces.

And Coyote wanders
right into a Ponca sitting at the Fruitvale Bart station
next to the Ponca is a Seminole
Coyote struts up to the two
"Where ya'all from?"

And Ponca replies
the Seminole silent watches a rush of people climb in and out of the train
headed for Fremont
the Seminole stretches his arms up and back stiff from the wooden benches
he pushes his lips out toward the Ponca slowly gesturing that he too is from Oklahoma
Coyote wanders
"where 'bouts?"

the Ponca replies
"Ponnca City"
the Seminole replies

Coyote gestures to the Ponca
"You Ponca?"
the Ponca nods his head in affirmation
Coyote nods his head in content
to the Seminole
Coyote asks
"You Seminole?"
the Seminole now watching some kids eating frozen fruit bars
nods his head

and Coyote shares his smokes with the two
and ten minutes later
they travel together on the Richmond train
headed for Wednesday night dinner at the Intertribal Friendship House.

And Coyote blues-ing on the urban brown funk vibe
in and out of existence
tasting the brown
rusty at times
worn bitter from relocation.
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