“Upstream” by Mary Oliver- Book Review

upstreamI can’t read Mary Oliver’s poetry (which I have been doing a lot lately), without considering her process.  Not knowing anything else, I imagined long walks and lots of quiet pondering.  Early mornings.  But also late nights afterwards.  At a desk.  With a warm lamp. Writing, drifting, thinking.  I imagined a dog with her, maybe, on these walks or by the fire. Sometimes. Lots of quiet.  Upstream, a collection of her essays, filled in some, but not all, of the blanks. Continue reading

Blood Meridian, Chapter XXII- “Our animosities were formed and waiting before ever we two met”

angry wolf 1 dunce academy wolves blood meridianMore time passes in this chapter than in any other chapter in the book (save maybe the first, when we go from the kid’s birth to the present).  We learn some interesting things in this chapter.  For one, we learn the age of the kid.  Referred to only as “the kid” throughout the novel, we have no way of knowing how old he actually is.  Until now.  Though years and some historical events have been mentioned.  Recall the first page of the book: “Night of your birth.  Thirty-three.  The Leonids they were called.” (p. 3).  What does thirty-three mean?  1933?  1833?  Well, it’s the latter, as the “Leonids” reference would provide. Continue reading


Test Post.  Having some technical difficulties.  Again.  The main problem is with the comments.  I can still see them, and respond, but there is a problem on the display of the site itself.  Working on it.  Hang in there, if anyone is still out there.


Sitting down to dinner, I find myself staring at the side of my son’s face.  He doesn’t know I’m watching.

It’s a child’s face.  A boy’s face.  But not a baby’s face.  Not even a young child’s face.  He’s nine.  His skin is smooth.  And soft, still.  Perfect.  But it won’t always be.  For an instant, in my mind’s eye, I catch a glimpse of this face as a teenage face.  Continue reading

Time travel b*$&^ slap!

You know that moment where someone says something to you, and you immediately say something back, but then later, lying in bed, perhaps, and trying to go to sleep, the perfect “ah, that’s what I should have said” response comes to you, in a flash, and you wish for an irrational moment that time travel was possible, if only so you could go back to that exact instant and deliver that perfect and clever and zinging response, seamlessly, as if such eloquent thoughts were up there all the time, with no notice?

Me too.


Night Film- by Marisha Pessl

night filmThis book, for me, suffered from the same fatal flaw as just about every other horror book/story/movie I have ever encountered: intriguing opening premise, disappointing resolution.  This makes sense, in a way.  The only reason a horror story starts interesting is because of the mystery.  Continue reading

Technical Difficulties/Lost Posts

As you may recall, some time back, we were having technical difficulties here at Dunce Academy, and some posts mysteriously disappeared into the unforgiving black hole of cyberspace.  Well, not all, but some, have miraculously resurfaced, and if you will indulge us (or, I guess, even if you won’t), we will be reposting some periodically.  Hope you enjoy, or at least find them mostly tolerable.

House of Leaves

House_of_leavesI can’t remember the last time a book scared me like this (actually, that’s not entirely true.  Cormac McCarthy’s Child of God scared the crap out of me, as no doubt will the movie, coming soon to a theater near you, nightmares guaranteed).  But this book really, really terrified me.  I’m not entirely sure why.  It kept me up all night, several nights, both because I wanted to know what happened next, but also because there was no way I was turning off the light. Continue reading