Riveting, A Literary V-8

Edward_Lear_A_Book_of_Nonsense 115.jpg

Edward_Lear_A_Book_of_Nonsense 115.jpg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As mentioned often, I haven’t had a day off in years.  Some days contain more suckage than others.  Today, not starting off so well.  I got up and decided to make blueberry muffins for breakfast.  Flower Child choked on a piece of kale during dinner last night, freaked out, not much was eaten, therefore I wanted to be sure she would really eat this morning.  No one else was up yet, I was able to make the batter and get them in the oven.  Another often touched on point here in Fringeland, I have a teeny, tiny kitchen.  Rules out cooking or baking anything that involves needing a lot of space, and involves regular accidents, because I’ve got about 8 inches of counter space to work with.  Got the muffins in the oven without incident, washed what I used for prep, ignored the pot and dishes still in the sink from last night.  Time to get those muffins out of the oven.  First tray, balanced on top of the stove.  Second tray, on the lilliputian amount of space on the dining room table that isn’t used as Husband’s office (read, overflowing with papers, pens, and crap).  I now want to slide the rack back inside the oven, which of course, resulted in the first (full) tray flipping off of the stove and half of the muffins flying out and decorating the kitchen.  Sigh.

Historical Oven cooking depicted in a painting...

Historical Oven cooking depicted in a painting by Jean-François Millet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Flower Child is now up, curled on one end of the couch under a blanket, and waiting anxiously for the muffins not covered in dog hair and drool to cool off.  I sit on the couch with my laptop and my coffee.  After a little bit, I tell her she can take a muffin.  She throws her blanket off, and my coffee spills onto the couch, the floor, my phone, and my book.  Fuuuuuck!  For the record, she’s been standing in front of the muffins for twenty minutes now, waiting for me to tell her which muffin to take, afraid to move at all despite the fact that I told her six times to just pick one.  I don’t want to look at them anymore.  Husband woke up, looked in the kitchen, and asked if I made scrambled muffins for breakfast.

So, what to do when you need to escape life and you can’t actually have a day off? Read, and try to pretend your couch doesn’t reek of cafe con leche.  I was thinking about books and reading this morning, anyway.

What makes a novel great?  And I mean fantastic, enduring, cross genre and cross generational.  The type of book that you either can’t put down, or have to put down every so often so the perfect line of prose you just read and reread can be examined, dissected and allowed to swim through the synapses of your brain until it’s coming out of your pores like the morning after a night of drinking cheap vodka.

I think it’s when the story is so clear but so flexible you not only want to be the main character, or in that world, you can apply it to yourself in your world, your life.  Open for interpretation, if you will, allowing for projection.  Kind of weird, because many of my favorite novels involve stories and lives I wouldn’t really want, they’re tragic.  But I can feel them.  And you, opening the book with a different viewpoint, different life experiences, different locale, different socio-economic background, can see yourself in that main character, in that story, and feel them too.

I don’t want to say ambiguous, because that has negative connotations, and too often makes readers think of torturous works of literature assigned by pompous and musty professors.  You know the ones, they smell like my couch.  Personally, I’m ok with ambiguous, especially ambiguous endings, but many aren’t.  They want to know there is a happy ever after for Joe Smith, or maybe they want to see Mrs Fringe get her comeuppance.  Maybe the story, the character, needs to be pliable.  Something that has it’s own form, shape, and limits, but can be stretched through a reader’s brain to mold to individual interpretations.

I’m going to make more coffee and give Flower Child a muffin.  Tell me what you think.

English: Constellation of Literature pavilion ...

English: Constellation of Literature pavilion in the Temple of Literature, Hanoi. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


  1. I believe in the 5-second rule: pick muffins up quickly, blow off debris, arrange them attractively on a plate – voila! I have read some books where the ending has left me frustrated for a long time, it’s like I need closure! Talk about getting into a book!


    1. I’m also a big believer in the 5 second rule, aka, kiss it up to God. Unfortunately, because they were still hot they were very soft, causing half of them to be smashed apart from the impact–not to mention the dog hair sticking to them. Hungry? 😉

      If the ending “fits” the rest of the book, lack of closure won’t bother me. But I love those books–the ones that stay with you 🙂


  2. I advise Flower Child to take the third muffin from the right. 🙂

    I’ve been thinking about this too, about what makes story or novel that memorable. My initial and tentative conclusion is that such stories speak from a depth of human reality – this can be so even if the narrative is humorous. I haven’t come up with a better way to verbalize this yet; but the sense of having characters or something I can identify with is surely part of it!


    1. I’m with you, Kyla. I agree with the idea of telling flowerchild whic muffin to take and would even go further and choose one for her. 😉

      We all need more humor in our lives and narratives like this one deliver the goods.

      Never forget the 5 second rule, dust it off and then .. bake on! blog on! write on!


      1. Thank you TT. Yes, I chose a muffin for her, and then another 🙂

        I’m glad you enjoy, I love when you and other readers join in, we’re building a little community here in Fringeland!


  3. I won’t post any pics of my kitchen…it’s the size of an average living room. Had a couple in CleveLand, old Victorian buildings, where the kitchen and bathroom were 22 inches wide. Servant’s quarters, and people were skinnier back then, I’m thinking.
    My fave writers are ones that do bits, kind of like comedians, so the ones I remember are ones I get good jokes out of, ones I can almost repeat from reading and re-reading, but apply to current circumstances. That really helps, doesn’t it. I tend toward idea-driven writing, which go against all advice to create memorable characters and avoid focusing on ideas. Don’t know how Vonnegut, Burroughs, Robbins, Dostoevski, and Thompson got into print. Notes From Underground, Slaughterhouse Five, Naked Lunch, Skinny Legs and All, any Dr. Hunter S. – failures all.


    1. Now I know the truth, my 1960’s building is modeled after Victorian architecture. Except for the ugliness. And the boxiness 😉

      So blogs are perfect formats for you, eh?
      When you say idea driven…expand, please. Idea as in plot, or theme?
      And another thing, stop throwing out the names of those deadbeat hacks, I’m trying to improve. 😉


      1. Ideas such as, being kind instead of right…Vonnegut, or, everything is related to some kind of control and the only way to beat it is to write your way to immortality…Burroughs, the American Dream is a mirage that died in the 1950s…Thompson, the logic of power is a circular argument that is unbeatable, but bearable if you take leave of it…Heller, the suffering below the floorboards – enough Feodor. Plots are near impossible with this vignette style, and storylines are flimsy confines to be broken up into collage bits, how informatioon comes to us in the media age…not a suggested style.


        1. You’ve got me thinking. I’m not sure there’s one style that is a favorite for me, or something I can’t love, either. There’s a magic to long, dreamy prose that allows me to follow a journey, there’s the exquisite pain/pleasure of a powerful short story that’s a slap in the face, the pure joy of a tight story that leaves you laughing, crying, and shaking your fist at the heavens.

          It’s true, I am a tramp. 😀


          1. The stamp of your Trampishity will be your literay crown we all bow before and rub our eyes from its blinding brilliance. That staking out an idea and writing flat, symbolic characters – Billy Pilgrim, the optometrist helping people to see the light – or becoming your only character – the good Dr. is a tough act, which is why well-intentioned advice is always barking a warning against taking it on.


  4. I know a writer who drives me insane some days with his cranky ideas about telling tall tales. He understands nothing about the hierarchy of the world – blueberry muffins first, except there are no blueberries here, just ants. I love Flower Child.
    On my Way…


    1. 🙂 Busted, it’s true, writers can be just a weeeee bit obsessive.

      And scattered, because now I’m thinking you should make mango coconut muffins.
      Flower Child is my ❤


      1. Mangos are impossible. They are high maintenance, taking lots of time to peel, hard to cut up, and don’t taste all that good without all the sugar and flavorings put in the juice. So many better fruits to go after here. Had a mango tree in my yard in San Jose, and I gave all of them to the Nicaraguan workers. Guayabana, cas, papaya, pina, now those would work. And the watermelon here tastes like something from another world, completely different than in U.S.
        On my Way…


        1. I love mangoes, they’re probably my favorite fruit, though guayaba is up there, too. You can keep the papaya 😉

          Now you’ve got me curious about Costa Rican watermelons.


          1. The guy we buy from has his own farm, grows organic, brings them to town in a truck the same day he picks them, and they are almost like watermelon juice containers, hardly any substance, and they’re so sweet they remind me of me 🙂
            On my Way…


          2. Bwahahaha!
            Reminds of beach parties from years ago, when someone would invariably show up with needles to inject the watermelons with vodka 😉


          3. This odd little beach town is full of 20-something surfers who seem to go for ingesting alcohol in any way, except simply drinking it. We walked by a place advertising a “Beer Pong Tournament.” Would I really have to bounce ping pong balls to drink beer? Goofy behavior for warm beer as a reward…yuch.


  5. A muffin dropped on the floor can be picked up cleaned off and fed to unsuspecting family members………..and yeah I have read books that have had some stupid ending and I have thought what the hell give me a proper ending already…………I hate books like that……………I love muffins though but not blueberry I prefer choc chip………..now I want a muffin but I don’t have any……….


  6. I have hairy hounds all around – so I know the 5-second-rule is not always practical. As for a good story – it has to draw me in and make me root for the protagonist. It has to be rich and make me forget my dirty kitchen and the dog-hair dust bunnies creeping out from under the sofa. It has to make time disappear – small order, no?


  7. sods law. sigh some days “things” and “stuff” have a real attitude problem. I also believe you eat a ton of muck before you die and give many a fallen food a good ( probably germ ridden) blow before serving.
    Nothing is worse then a lame ending, I have been left wandering rooms in angst over them.


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