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Love, Thompson, the Gaza: Choosing Reading Material

Updated on May 9, 2017

I always have the hardest time finding a book to read; and I mean, starting from the top: am I going to read something project-related and purposeful? Or, am I going to read something purely for simple enjoyment?

One easy strategy is going with an author that you know you like. I once told a friend of mine that going with an author you’ve already read before is like choosing to sleep with an ex-lover instead of someone you’ve never met, or at least never slept with. That person might be attractive, enticing, but unless you have an unrelenting desire to be with them, it might be better to just sleep with your ex. You know what you’re getting. You know you at least won’t be disappointed, and that’s the goal really: finding someone you’ll enjoy your time with; especially if you have a quirk or two, like hating monologues and unnecessary drama. So, you do what you’ve done before, drama and monologue-free, and although she might not be a page-burner, there’s always other opportunities. Plenty of books in the sea.

I had never read any of the authors in my Google Plus collection, but it’s very refreshing (to say the least) to get out there again. I’ve been on first-time authors lately, just to change the pace. I think it’s the 2nd or 3rd when an author really finds their rhythm.

If I’m not mistaken, though, I believe The Rum Diary was Hunter Thompson’s first. It was published posthumously, but yes, if I remember correctly, he was 22 years old when he wrote it. Excellent book. It was so much more poised than his later successes, but still carried the same confidence. Many first books, cautious or daring, are without real confidence and conviction. I’m not sure you would call The Rum Diary convicted, but there were many quotable passages, comical scenes, and many of the elements of a story that only Thompson could write, which, when it comes to finding an author, or a partner, is ultimately what brings me to my decision: personality, depth, and ambition.

Hunter S. Thompson
Hunter S. Thompson

I’m plot motivated. A small, but healthy portion of my reading diet comes from paperback thrillers. As far as introspective work, I walk a fine line. I’m shut off when introspect becomes self-indulgence, but I’ve enjoyed books like An Unquiet Mind, which was a memoir by Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison about her experiences with manic-depressive disorder. Her own experiences transcended with a much broader context of manic-depressive disorder. It’s an incredibly powerful book that’s helped a lot of very troubled people, and it is one piece of Dr. Jamison’s historic career in psychology.

I know what you’re thinking, but no; I wasn’t in the mood for one of Jamison’s when I first started the collection, and I’m not quite feeling it now. To be honest, I’m probably going to subscribe to a new literary journal on my Kindle. I’ve been meaning to find a good journal for a while. There’s something else though.

One of the poems in the collection is called “Running Orders” by Lena Khalaf Tuffaha.

Lena Tuffaha is a Palestinian-American who wrote the poem about a woman on the Gaza that was given a “courtesy” phone call that she had less than one minute to get her and her children out of her house before there would be no house.

The poem was first published on Lena’s own Facebook page and spread like wildfire around the globe.

Tuffaha has been published in The Seattle Times, Al-Ahram Weekly, and the Kenyan Review Online. She’s been all over the Arab world, and many of her poems are about crossing the cultural and political borders of the Middle East.

From what I’ve read of her career, she’s come onto the literary scene by storm since 2014, and she has a large following in her current home state of Washington, USA and all across Canada.

Gaza tent camp
Gaza tent camp

“Bring it home.”

I’ve said this to myself many times: at the library.

After spending an hour at the bookstore looking for just the right touch as if I only had a dollar and a brothel.

Online. Even though there’s a world to choose from, it’s generally less time consuming for me to choose because there’s only a handful of choices on a webpage directly in front of me; when I’m at Barnes and Noble or a good used book store it’s a different story.

Concluding a story of my own.

There’s only one place to go from here.

I’ve gone as far to say I want to read something purely for simply enjoyment, and that I’m going to continue trying to find a literary journal with just the perfect mix of animosity, zeal, severed limbs, drug induced and forgotten dreams, sweet redemption, and renegade crime prevention; and love.

That’s the side-note: I’m going to buy a physical copy of Lena Tuffaha’s in the next couple of weeks, after a paycheck or two. That’s who I really want, and if it’s not Toronto that I dream about, I just hope it’s not the woman who was given less than one minute.

I’m very disappointed in myself.

I’ve done what I was supposed to tonight, including this article, but I haven’t practiced a single word of Arabic. Tomorrow night for sure.

Tomorrow will be just as productive as today has been, and it will end, hopefully, with another addition to the collection. They have to be just right.

I’m not a perfectionist.

When it comes to the collection it’s more like I’m a scientist because I’m looking for one specific element out of grit, grime, muddy boots churning and bodies rising from their belly or from their back, but they have to rise. That’s the sign that I can move forward and follow them. Or else we’d just be surrounding them.

Toronto sounds great. I’ve been to Portland, and I strongly suggest that any artist, writer, musician, photographer, painter, potter, or archer, go somewhere like Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, wherever, you get the point. Places like those nurture, cultivate, nurture, encourage, and nurture artists.

Put your stuff online.

I’m not discriminating between the young and old.

I’m just looking for the new and emerging, whether they’re 22 or 62.

Whether you’re a poet, novelist, journalist, or essayist.

I’ve not been predetermined to share any one form or genre because the element I’ve read thousands of pages to find transcends genres.

And I’ve been finding it, more than just “here and there.”

There’s a lot of untapped talent out there.

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