8 Ill-advised Reasons for Getting Married, 1792

The History of Love

What would you say makes the most solid foundation for a marriage? Trust? Financial security? The sort of profound and death-defying passion that would make Jack & Rose weep with envy? [let’s face it, they are the modern-day Romeo & Juliet, and I’m only moderately ashamed to admit it.]

It was in the latter half of the eighteenth century that the concept of marrying for love began to gain currency in the English popular mindset, and the younger generation expected a bit more say in who their partner might be. Inevitably, centuries of parental tyranny in these matters meant that alliances negotiated in terms of acreage and titles continued to sweep many reluctant couples to the altar.

Here, however, we have a brilliant print suggesting that many people cannot be trusted with such a momentous decision, giving a range of slightly less conventional – but still remarkably unwise – reasons for marriage. Take…

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The Hero of Blind Pig Island

The Hero Of Blind Pig Island

Jimmy Olsen


A good story has the ability to evoke in a reader’s mind a totally different world to their own – one that transcends time, culture and distance. Jimmy Olsen has achieved this in his collection of short stories. 

Each of his tales carried me off on a wild adventure right alongside his characters. As a result I have learnt a great deal about the pleasures and perils of scuba diving and all the intricacies of island life.


I particularly enjoyed Mr Olsen’s use of rich descriptive language with which he peppers each of his stories.

For example, “Chubby gray clouds stampeded before the wind under bellies ripped away.”

As a writer myself, I found myself asking the question – why didn’t I think of that?


Of the twelve stories, my favourite has got to be Denise – which explores the relationship between a novice diver and her instructor. Again Mr Olsen demonstrates that rare talent of completely submerging a reader in the subject. I felt as if I was actually along for the dive. He brings his experience of scuba diving to this piece of writing.

Shot through with pathos, this tale touched me greatly as it tells the story of a teacher who unleashes his pupil’s dreams only to regret it later. Mr Olsen explores the desire to inspire.


His personification of the sea is wonderfully evocative – “The sea is enemy and friend, responding to nothing but its own moods, granting ecstasy or terror with capricious indifference.”


The Hero of Blind Pig Island is the story that lends it’s title to the collection and is apt as it explores aspects of human weakness and foibles.

It draws a stark contrast in the appalling divide between the rich and the poor describing how one man learns to control his anger whilst out fishing with his grand son, channelling it into something worthwhile and thereby gains the moral upper hand. He sets out to disable the enemy’s vessel and then offers him a way out if the  em passé by being the better man. The message is loud and clear – take away the trappings of wealth and get down to the basics of human compassion and the pleasurable pursuit of fishing and you have the remedy to any argument!


I can honestly say that I was impressed by his style of writing as it became apparent to me that Mr Olsen is a writer of some calibre. His background in teaching could account for his elegance of style.

I immediately came to the conclusion that this piece of literature possessed a timeless quality to it.

It is this style that transcends the genre spectre. Some tales are shot through with humour whilst other explore deeper themes.


If you appreciate beautifully crafted writing then I would not hesitate recommending this collection. I feel its purpose is to entertain, teach and inspire and that surely is the hallmark of good story telling.


Cyndi Barker



Don’t go starring at the sun!

These late eclipses in the sun and moon portend

no good to us: though the wisdom of nature can

reason it thus and thus, yet nature finds itself

scourged by the sequent effects: love cools,

friendship falls off, brothers divide: in

cities, mutinies; in countries, discord; in

palaces, treason; and the bond cracked ‘twixt son

and father. This villain of mine comes under the

prediction; there’s son against father: the king

falls from bias of nature; there’s father against

child. We have seen the best of our time:

machinations, hollowness, treachery, and all

ruinous disorders, follow us disquietly to our

graves. Find out this villain, Edmund; it shall

lose thee nothing; do it carefully. And the

noble and true-hearted Kent banished! his

offence, honesty! ‘Tis strange.

William Shakespeare, King Lear

Love, Despite

Tell It Slant Mama

 Before I married my husband, I told him to make sure that he was marrying me for who I was that day, and not for any future changes he hoped to have wrought in me through the “transforming” power of marriage. Though we were both young, I had seen enough unhappy marriages to make me wary of the institution, and who wants to be institutionalized, really?  I had no question that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him, but I wanted us to start off with as little illusion as possible.  I wanted to know that he saw me, and not some airbrushed version of a girl to be placed on a pedestal.  It is easy to fall in love if you believe all the fairy tales and movies.  Beautiful women with flowing hair and flawless skin meet muscled men with pure hearts and chivalrous intentions and they ride off to his manor with servants aplenty…

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A Good Man Is Hard To Find, Jefferson’s Very Small Batch Bourbon, And Grits.

Empires, Cannibals, and Magic Fish Bones

It’s late, cold and I’m drinking Jefferson’s Kentucky Bourbon Very Small Batch.  Much spice and vanilla on the nose with citrus notes everywhere–green apples and rum in there as well.  Taste?  Very clean, refreshing, slightly sour with red-hot candy, anise, a bit of lemon, bit of grass, and cookie dough.


A roll of nectar in the mouth, head tilts back, eyes close and the mind wanders to the past.  In this case, Flannery O’Connor’s insightful diagnosis of memory in her classic short story A Good Man Is Hard To Find.  Over the years, I’ve read and re-read this story, assigned it in various classes, and discussed with students its many aspects of the absurd, grotesque and violent.  The story also contemplates our relationship to memories and what might happen when the past shapes the present.  The following scene occurs halfway through the tale, and marks a turning point…

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Selma, mighty Selma (2014)

Tananarive Due Writes

“People are trapped in history, and history is trapped in them.”  –James Baldwin

la_ca_1021_selma David Oyelowo as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma.

I was raised by two civil rights activists – attorney John Due and the late Patricia Stephens Due—so stories of Martin Luther King, Jr. were common in my house. My mother first met Dr. King at a CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) workshop in Miami in 1959. My aunt, Priscilla Stephens Kruize, who attended with her, is an activist. Our godparents were activists, black and white.

Even without an official holiday, my sisters and I got to skip school every January 15 for annual birthday celebrations that brought neighbors, activists and politicians to our home to reflect on Dr. King and the legacy of The Movement. We held hands, listened to Dr. King’s speeches, and sang “We Shall Overcome.” As an adult, I co-authored a civil rights…

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Why Have Hobbies?

Aunt Beulah

In a recent Peanuts cartoon, when Lucy told Charlie Brown she was thinking of starting some new hobbies, Charlie said, “That’s a good idea, Lucy. The people who get most out of life are those who really try to accomplish something.”

Looking appalled, Lucy replied: “ACCOMPLISH something? I thought we were just supposed to keep busy.”

In the past, I thought like Lucy. Viewing hobbies as busy work to fill my idle moments, I pursued decoupage, macramé, origami, tatting, and yodeling. Each endeavor enjoyed the same success as my wish to be 5’6”.Wreath

My search for a busy-work hobby peaked when I scoured fields and ponds for nuts, pinecones, grasses, and twigs, which I used to make Christmas wreaths. I gave these creations to loved ones, who exclaimed happily and hung them in their snug homes.

I had used liberal amounts of a smelly liquid adhesive to attach my found…

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