ForeWord Clarion Reviews on Saint Paul Trois Châteaux:1948

The following is a professional book review from ForeWord Reviews (Foreword Clarion Reviews). I'm actually very pleased with this review, because, as the kind of writer that I am (non-mainstream and provocative), I was truly and honestly expecting a very negative review especially because Foreword Clarion Reviews is known amongst writers for being very harsh and extremely difficult to please.

I'm pleased with this review, because, despite all the complaints of the reviewer, I can see that I have successfully "pushed the buttons" that I wish to push in my readers! I always say that I want to make my readers think and feel, and this reviewer complains about that here. She obviously doesn't like to "do the math" herself, notwithstanding she is also gracious enough to point out that there are those people who may find the mobility of their own thoughts and emotions to be a stimulating experience! The reviewer also notes here that my descriptions seem to be at times "unintentionally humorous" and I'm just happy that she felt the humor throughout my writing, because, though she failed to realize that the slightly humorous voice was intentional, the fact is that she felt the humor, and therefore I feel that I succeeded at having a nonchalantly humorous voice. I maintained a nonchalant humor throughout my novella, which I was very well aware of and I can only be glad that it was felt even though the reviewer appears to think that I was making an ass of myself (smiles). I was very well aware that I needed to maintain a "backdrop humor" in this particular story, because if there was no humor carried on  throughout it, the reader will surely succumb to melancholy, and I don't want that to happen. Besides, is not life spiced with humor and if we are lucky enough, we get to spot it or convey it to others at any given moment?

She complains about bad punctuation. I am sad about this, because, I did pay a fee for copyediting services to copyedit all the punctuation, making it up to par with the punctuation writing standard of a novella, so to hear that the punctuation was bad, I really feel like I paid too much to my copyeditor; at this point that's how I feel and perhaps if I didn't have my novella copyedited, it would have better punctuation right now? I don't know?

I am  surprised that this review pleases me, as I was expecting my spirit to be crushed! HAHAHAHAHHA! I feel that the reviewer is not the kind of reader who should be reading the things that I write; the readers who should be reading the things that I write have to be those who seek to stimulate their senses, seek to be desirous, to connect, to search and to explain. But still the result of her review is far from what I expected, I am happy to have pushed all of her buttons, because, it is my style of writing to make you as a reader think, and feel! Think and feel think and feel think and feel! And all throughout this review that I have from ForeWord Clarion Reviews, I can plainly see that Mary Popham is indeed thinking (though she doesn't appreciate it much) and feeling (which seems to surprise her a little). She notes that the point of view is incorrect, but I doubt that a point of view can even be incorrect. For one to think that a point of view can be incorrect, shows that one is only willing to see things through his/her own point of view. The points of view amongst my characters (and even my presence in the book as an author) shift nearly constantly, as this book DOES move through past and present, and even future. This is the whole point of my book!

There is something I strongly disagree with in this review, and that is how she says that there is no strong evidence to point to the year 1948 in my story. That is simply not true, it is completely false, and I hate to say it but it reveals that the knowledge of the reviewer on matters referring to the year 1948 in Provence, France, are very very very limited! Because the reality of my book is that, everything from the song by Edith Piaf (La Vie En Rose) playing in the background, to the wine being drank, all of these were present and thriving in the year 1948, in France. And everything from the Synagogues to the chocolatiers to the makeup brands being used, were present and booming in the era! Even the different names of the chocolates are factual names and are actually being sold at the chocolatier, until this present day! So, I don't know what this reviewer is talking about when she says that there is nothing in my story to reference the year 1948, EVERYTHING is there to reference to this year, keeping in mind the social status, and religions, of my characters! Keeping in mind that this was just a few years after WWII ended (there is recurring reference to that fact, as well!) Apparently, this reviewer simply doesn't know too much about the year 1948 amongst the bourgeoisie. And there's nothing I can do about that. We can never change a review once it has been made. I as a writer can only speak of the review that is written, but I can never do anything to correct any misinformation written in a review.

But, as I have already said, this review actually pleases me very much in that it makes me feel as though I am successful in my style of writing and in what I want to do for my readers, how I want to succeed as a writer. The review made me smile at the end, and anything that can make me smile in the end, is just fine with me! :) :)

My favorite part of this review is the end part: the last paragraph, which to me is heartfelt and reveals my truest intentions precisely.

Thank you, Mary Popham. :)

"A soft rain drizzles against the windowpanes. A young, attractive couple sits at a polished table in a bar in Saint Paul Trois Châteaux, a French market town located between Marseille and Lyons. Thibaut Desmarais and Lucy Nightingberg sip wine and talk. He plays with his cigar; she picks at a creamy slice of tiramisu. Most of the scenes in C. JoyBell C.’s novel take place during one evening in the bar, the couple’s favorite haunt, which has the makings of a great setting for the story of a woman’s insecurity and a man’s guilt.

However, to get to this emotional plot, a reader must give up expectations of correct point of view, punctuation, clear sentences, or logical construction. Like a dream or a trance, the book has vivid details, unexpected twists, unknown speakers, and time frames that switch back and forth. The chapters could have been shuffled and scenes inserted in any order. This can be either frustrating, or exciting and wildly compelling for a reader.

The text reads like verses of prose poetry with double lines between each paragraph. The various speakers tell their thoughts, memories, and fantasies; the reader gets the feeling of being in a dream. The novella is set in 1948, but there are not many supporting details of that particular year. With frequent references to physical attributes, clothing, and style, the book’s imagery very often seems unintentionally humorous. Anexample is this description of Lucy’s appearance: “When it was soft, it was soft and deep. When it was deep, it was deep and deeper. This time, it was deep and deeper.”

Lucy and Thibaut’s dialogue is about trifles, which reveal something deeper. While arguing about the difference between a whore and a bitch, and lingering on the names of four cats, the internal misery of the two young people who have never touched is palpably provocative and powerful. By many references to body parts, especially the eyes, hands, arms and elbows, and on forced smiles and quick tears, the author presents an overall feeling of melancholy. The two characters talk in circles, never really hearing what the other is saying. The repetition and disorganization of the text can be viewed as the way the mind works when trying to hide from truth, pain, or guilt. There is something valuable in Saint Paul Trois Châteaux: 1948, but the reader must be willing to dig and interpret and forgive mistakes to get at the novel’s honest and sometimes touching look at the hope and regret buried inside its wistful characters."

Mary Popham

"... I Don't Believe In Love..."

Lucy picked up the eyelash curler on the vanity and leaning forward into the mirror, proceeded to curl her lashes. Her own reflection in the mirror immediately took her back to that night. It was a balmy, humid night in Paris, she was standing exactly like she was now, leaning in on the vanity table, watching her every lash arc upwards under the bronze metal of the cosmetic contraption. His reflection that night in the mirror stared at her over her shoulder. They had just spent the entire afternoon together at a carnival in the Bois de Vincennes, which was just down the street from their hotel on Avenue Daumesnil. Tommy was a boy she had known from Synagogue back in New York, someone she spoke much to, about love and all the other things she often wrote down on paper; not just love itself, but the reasons for it, the existence of it, how to find it...Tommy had gray eyes. He reminded her of the boy in her dreams at night, and maybe, just maybe, that’s why she kept him around so often; so she could often see his reflection over her shoulder looking at her own reflection in the mirror, like what was this night. His gray eyes magnetized into her core and she put down her eyelash curler, and answered his question: “Yes, Tommy, one can find love. I spoke of love very often and of finding it and I have learned, that one can find love just as one wishes to. And I wished to find a wild love. One that would cut me loose, throw me into the wind and set me on fire, hurtling me ablaze into the sky! A love that would keep me running because everything I touch would just turn to ashes! A love like a wildfire, a crazy love, a mad love, one that makes me fear things for the first time, scream things for the first time...I did find that, Tommy. But Tommy, you see the thing is, when you look for love, you will find it, just it. But that doesn’t mean that you have found a person! You can find the love in a person without finding the person that you can belong to, someone who wants you to belong to him. You can be hurtled into the wind on a mad, mad love evolving from a person who doesn’t want you to belong to him.” Lucy’s lips trembled, “And so you have felt a good love, a really good, good love, Tommy, but not a person. So what is it that we really want? I have asked myself this, I have learned to ask myself this, what is it that we really want, is it a person that we want? A person to belong to, a person to stay with, a person who wants us to stay with them, is this what we want? Because if that’s what you want, then that’s what you have to look for, because if it’s love that you look for, you can find it, and feel it, a really good, good love, but then not belong to the person that you find it in. So Tommy... yes I have found love...but I haven’t a person. I don’t belong to anyone, and that’s my fault, because I haven’t been looking for someone to belong to, I’ve been looking for love.” Her eyelids fluttered and her shoulders stiffened, she stared into his reflection in the mirror. “So now I don’t believe in love anymore. I don’t believe in it anymore, Tommy, because it doesn’t bring you to a person, it brings you to itself.” The humidity in the room broke in pearls of sweat on her brow, “and so, I won’t believe in it anymore because if I do, it will bring me into itself, and I will never find a person, I will never belong to anyone, and I want to belong to someone, I want someone to want me. I want someone to want me to belong to him.”

Copyright © 2011 C. JoyBell C. All rights reserved.

" You Talk In Your Sleep..."

“You talk in your sleep.” He looked at her with dilated, concerned eyes, as if he thought she might be crazy. His eyes were of gray and blue.

“Oh! Yes! It’s called dreaming!” She replied cheerfully, pointing towards her head.

They were in France and he hardly spoke English, and she didn’t speak French.

He thought the gesture of her pointing towards her head meant she was actually admitting that she was crazy! And she understood what he was thinking by the feeling she got looking into his eyes. “No I mean dreaming! Dreaming, like when you dream at night, when you are asleep!”

“Yes, but you talk in your sleep!” He still looked genuinely concerned.

“What did I say?” She still sounded cheerful.

“I couldn’t understand it, it was in English, but this is very strange!”

“Strange? Why? Everyone talks in their sleep! In fact, I like to listen when someone talks in their sleep, to find out what they are dreaming!” Her eyes danced with delight. Her eyes were the color of chocolate truffles.

They both were sitting on the edge of the bed.

“This is so strange to me, I have never seen this before,” and in that moment he felt cold and distant to her, like a driftwood on a winter lake.

“This is a normal thing!” She could not contain her irritation at him actually thinking she was crazy for talking in her sleep. “Don’t you like to listen to what the person is saying to find out what they are dreaming? Everyone in my family talks in their sleep, I used to gather around with my cousins during nap time and we would wait for who would fall asleep first and then we would listen to them laugh or talk or watch them smile in their sleep, my son always laughs in his sleep and I love to listen to it, why is this strange? This is normal!”

“Because...I have never seen this before...”

“Well then you come from a world where people do nothing in their sleep and I come from a world where people are alive even in their sleep and laugh and smile in their sleep.”

She was irritated. He looked like he didn’t understand.

“Look at your photos! They are all in black and white! Look at my photos! They are all in full color! Many beautiful colors! You think everything is strange! You think I’m strange! But you’re the one who’s strange! But I don’t think you’re strange because I like you!”

But I don’t think he understood all of that, anyway, because he didn’t really understand English.

They were from different worlds; but they both felt like they had known each other for forever.

Copyright © 2011 C. JoyBell C. All rights reserved.

Photos of Paris

The Slut Who Was Golightly

I think that when people meet me, they think they know what kind of stuff I write.

If you have read my first book, or have been reading my poetry, you will have come to expect a comforting, soft, tender voice who can often also express anger and pain effectively. A poignant tenderness is what you’ve come to expect from me. Comfort and a soft voice. But then others say they have come to expect from me a human rawness, and I think that is a more accurate description (not to say that your personal description of me is wrong) but if I were to describe my poetry, I would describe it as being “raw” and “human.”

I’m not only a poet anymore now, though (in case you haven’t noticed) now I have a novella out, so I am now a novelist as well, and if you are expecting the same voice in my novella as in my book of poetry, you are in for a shock (especially if you read my poetry to feel soothed and sweetened.) My novella is not a soothing, sweetened book. It is raw and human- yes. But if you didn’t know that it was the same person who wrote both books, you would probably not guess that I wrote both books.

I think that when people meet me in real life, they expect me to be a writer of teenage romance, vampire and werewolf dramas, or some other sort of a nonsense. And that insults me.  If I were a best-selling author of a vampire-werewolf-teenage-love-triangle series, I would be so ashamed of myself! Not to say that the authors of such material should be ashamed of themselves, and I have goodwill towards all the many best-selling vampire-werewolf-teenage-love-traingle series authors that are out there! But I’m just saying, that I would be ashamed of myself. That is not the kind of writer that I am, and that’s not the kind of writer that I wish to be. I don’t write to entertain, I don’t write whatever is selling like hotcakes at the moment. I write because I am a writer, because I want to write something, because I MUST write it, because I want to bring souls to life (both the souls of the characters and the souls of the readers).

When people meet me or come to know about me on the internet through my writings, I think that they get a better grasp of the material that I write, but still, I somehow fall under the stereotype of someone who is about to write something very ticklish. But I don’t want anybody to think that, because that is not what you are going to get when you read my novella! I don't want anyone to expect to be blown away or taken on a wild ride, when they pick up my book. I'm not a blockbuster kind of an author, I'm an Oscar kind of an author. I focus on characters and the depth of their minds and where they come from, I focus on conversations, I focus on the connection between movements and emotions; it's very important for me to prepare a feast of the senses in my stories; sights, sound, smell, touch, taste! My stories are highly stimulating for the reader's EQ and IQ. The reader has to think, to feel, to taste, to touch, to smell, along with the words that I have written. My aim is not to entertain, my aim is to give life, to bring to life, to create life, and to take one into the depths of the characters. To read my novella with comprehension, you must be prepared for all of this. Don't expect me to entertain you. Expect to think, expect to feel.

Now, my novella is a far cry from my first book in which are written words that everyone can understand; if you expect the same thing with my second book, you will be disappointed, not everyone will be able to understand the worldliness, the rough tone along with conflicting, disparate characters. Don't expect something easy to swallow, don't expect something sweet, don't expect everybody to be nice and uncomplicated. Do not dare think that my story is a "sweet" one. I would be insulted if anyone took to it as a sweet book! I expect more people to feel somewhat offended, have conflicting stirring emotions, I expect people to lay in bed at night and not be able to go to sleep because they are thinking about the characters of my book. Not that it is at all frightening, but that it is stirring. I don't expect anyone to be tickled pink.

As a matter of fact, someone did compare the tone of my story to that of Wuthering Heights, which is a story with characters that some people find emotionally overwhelming and very hard to swallow...and I must admit, my own characters in my novella did keep me up all night to watch the sun rise in the horizon... they are anything but temperate and easy to swallow. I just want all my readers to know what they ought to expect, when purchasing my book, because if you want to read it, you must read it with comprehension and understanding of what it is.

Yes, I enjoy being entertained at the movies by sagas like “Twilight” and blockbusters like ...whatever blockbusters are showing right now... but I would never buy a book of those, and I’m not saying that you shouldn’t, I’m just saying that I wouldn’t read Twilight. The last book I read was Leaves Of Grass by Walt Whitman! A book considered as an outcast in it's day which was written by a humanist who was rumored to be gay, some hundred years ago! THIS is the kind of stuff I read! And when I talk about Truman Capote’s Breakfast At Tiffany’s, I talk about the story SANS Audrey Hepburn (not that I don’t like Audrey Hepburn, but the book that was written was not about Audrey Hepburn, it was about Holly Golightly)! Holly Golightly was a frightened, lost, insecure, social climbing SLUT who had deeply engaging, keenly stimulating conversations with her neighbors and flatmates...!

Don't judge a book by what you want it to be, or by what you think the author is like. Judge a book by what it plainly is, and what it is trying to be. 


The Thing About Mortal Men...

The Thing About Mortal Men

The only problem with her is that she is too perfect. She is bad in a way that entices, and good in a way that comforts. She is mischief but then she is the warmth of home. The dreams of the wild and dangerous but the memories of childhood and gladness. She is perfection. And when given something perfect, it is the nature of man to dedicate his mind to finding something wrong with it and then when he is able to find something wrong with it, he rejoices in his find, and sees only the flaw, becoming blind to everything else! And this is why man is never given anything that is perfect, because when given the imperfect and the ugly, man will dedicate his mind to finding what is good with the imperfect and upon finding one thing good with the extremely flawed, he will only see the one thing good, and no longer see everything that is ugly. And complains to God for having less than what he wants... but this is the only thing that man can handle. Man cannot handle what is perfect. It is the nature of the mortal to rejoice over the one thing that he can proudly say that he found on his own, with no help from another, whether it be a shadow in a perfect diamond, or a faint beautiful reflection in an extremely dull mirror.

Copyright © 2011 C. JoyBell C. All rights reserved.

In The Flat Along Old Street

He said to me, “Every time I see you, I have the same childish reaction. I’m always, like, hmmm who is this girl, and what’s going on here?”

We were born in the same month, same year, and pretty much grew up together if you overlook the years that went by in between us seeing each other again. We were sitting in his London flat along Old Street, just above Old Street Station and there was still Easter chocolate on the coffee table in between us.

“I know, right? Every time you saw me again, you would be standing there, trying to figure out everything, trying to figure out who I am, and why I was there! I remember when we were kids and I saw you again after a few years, you asked your dad ‘who is that girl?’”

He’s my cousin, he’s brilliant in every way, a pianist, a cook, a trader for Citigroup, a triathlete, a world traveler, and he has a great flat in London!

“I don’t know, you know, it’s like,  I get that SAME childish reaction, you know? It’s always the same! I’m always, like, who IS this girl and why is she here? You know? I mean, I always see you again in the most random circumstances, and you always look different, you’re always doing your own thing, you know? I’m always trying to figure out WHAT is going on here?”

We were laughing together as we both lay there on the couches. He was so right about everything he was saying. I would see him again at different points in my life, that were always so off from the mainstream of what everybody else in our age group was doing, and Jeremy is always the kind of person with deep insight who thrives on analyzing things, and everytime I would see him again, I was this big puzzle he needed to put together! He needed to figure me out!

“Like you showing up at my apartment this weekend,” he laughed as he said to me “I was like WHAT why are you here? You’re just so random, running around with all these different currencies in your wallet, you know, what is going ON here! The first thing I asked you....the first thing I asked you was ‘DOES YOUR MOM KNOW YOU ARE HERE?’ What kind of a question is that, right?”

“Well you were right, my mother DOESN’T know I’m here! Jeremy, I’m not a kid, why would my mother need to know that I’m in London?”

“I don’t know, it’s just like, why would you be here? So randomly? It’s like, what is going on, you know?”

Personally, at my age, I really don’t believe that it’s necessary for my mother to know if I am in London, or if I am carrying 4 different currencies in my wallet. But my cousin had a point, he was going somewhere with all this talk, and it was helping me see myself better. I always say that the world should be a mirror that we reflect upon, and this conversation was going somewhere in the light that it was helping me figure my own self out.

“Jeremy, I think that it’s because at every single time in my life that you see me again, since we were kids, I’m always so out of the mainstream loop, like, everybody else our age is doing the same thing in life, and I’m just way out there doing my own thing, so there’s just a shock that comes with that, and its hard to digest it at first, I think.”

“Well it’s not that people are doing the same thing, but its more like people are doing their own things, but their lives usually follow this general pattern, you know, everybody’s life is generally going in a certain direction, this pattern, and you, you’re like this!” (And he looped his arm around in big circles, going in all directions!)

I thought about that for a few seconds. He was right.

“Yeah, you know, I think that’s because I’ve always done exactly what I want to do. I am always doing exactly what I want to do, when I want to do it, and that’s exactly what you see, when you see me again. How many people in this world do exactly what they want to do, when they want to do it? Nobody, because all people know is being a part of a heard. Following a pattern, being in the same place as everybody else. I don’t care for that, you know. I am going to do what I want to do, when I want to do it.”

“Yeah...I mean, like take my friend for example, ten years ago he was working for his dad in their business, now, ten years later, he’s working pretty much for himself, but he’s still in his dad’s business. You can generally find people in the same place, or nearly the same place, ten years later. But you- you just do everything at your own time, own pace.”

My cousin was right. I’m unpredictable, I never know where I’m going until I get there, I’m so random, I’m always growing, learning, changing, I’m never the same person twice. But one thing you can always be sure of about me is; I will always do exactly what I want to do. And when I want to do it.


On The Way To Knightsbridge

On the tubes in London (underground trains) that zoom through the city, is where you will be able to sit beside people that you would otherwise never even dream of going near! I feel that the fastest way to experience life is to get on the tube (preferably in London, the truly global city of the world) where you will, in no time, expose yourself to a massive variety of languages that you would have otherwise never heard in person, expose yourself to an insanely overwhelming variety of people, hairstyles, shoes, clothing, weird makeup, and foul language of every tongue! 

One day in particular, I was on my way to Knightsbridge, I walked into the tube and sat opposite of your typical, classic 100% English countryside-bred British lady; she had a grey head, a blue scarf, grey shoes to match her newly- trimmed hair, and was reading the newspaper with a grin on her face. Now, it’s very rare to see anyone in London with a grin on their face! No one will ever smile at you in London, unless they are insane. And I am not sure which is worse: to never be smiled at, or to be smiled at by an insane British person!

And so the classic, typical lady with a blue scarf and grey shoes to match her grey hair sat there with her insane grin on her face, reading her grey paper (which also matched her hair). The tube came to a brief halt and in strolled a rockstar! And this guy was the closest thing to a rockstar that I am ever going to see in my life (I think). He instantly added a sparkle to the air and charmed me as he strode in and sat down right beside the typical elderly English countryside lady! His hair was strikingly blonde, and shot out in all directions, reaching about 12 inches from their point of growth in his head! The hair was blonde in a different way, it was distinctively yellow, sunny-yellow, which actually did make him look like the sun itself! He wore tight, torn, blue jeans, and a black leather jacket. Black leather spiked with metal teeth adorned his wrists and two or three silver rings wrapped his delicately pink, soft, washed fingers with manicured fingernails! This boy, to me, was two persons in one! He wrapped himself in something that was not himself, and his soft, feminine, pretty facial features fought the torn, rugged screams of his clothing and his wild hair. I looked at his face while he was looking down at the pages of the book he was reading. His face was so angelic, I felt compelled to reach out and touch it (of course, I didn’t do as I imagined I was doing, that would be a different story) and I had never seen such clear, smooth skin, in all of London! This boy looked as though he had been protected from the world, as if he was only now born, and yet, he presented himself to be an advocate of Satan!

He looked down, reading his book. I think he felt me watching him, and this made him shrink in his seat, as if he’d never been observed by a woman before, as if he’d never even been given notice by a woman before! Had he ever made love to a woman before...? I think I wanted to find out... this man intrigued me so! I wonder how old he was; nineteen/ twenty? Twenty-two perhaps? Or maybe he just looked very young.

The tube made its stop at Piccadilly Circus, a few stations away from where I would be getting off. In came a very severe businessman in a suit and tie which made him look stuffy and harassed. His hair was brown, very short, and his ears were very clean! In fact, I think his ears were too clean, they were so clean that they had turned a sore red! His features were pitiful in the sense that he appeared to be an underdog in his workplace, the kind picked on by all his colleagues and bullied back in high school. I felt sorry for the man, and felt as though I wanted to pat him on the back and tell him “It’s going to be okay.”

The businessman sat there, his knees buckled together, and he held his expensive briefcase with both of his hands, with all his ten fingers, dangling the thing on his knees. I looked at him, and he looked at me. I think he was used to looking at people, and he didn’t look shy, but he still looked pitiful. I looked down for a while, and then I looked back up at him. I looked at all three of the characters sitting in front of me.

The businessman in the pink tie was stealing words from the paper in the rockstar’s book; he was reading the rocker’s book, from sideward glances.

The rocker was still hiding under his hair, afraid to look into my eyes, clinging onto his weathered book as if it was a shield and the lady with grey hair and grey shoes still had the same grin on her face, and had flipped through a few pages of her paper. She had a basket beside her.

I wanted to smile at the lady, I wanted the rocker to follow me out of the train and come home with me, and I wanted to wring the businessman’s ears to see how much redder they could get!

These are a few of my moments, on the London tube. 

Copyright © 2011 C. JoyBell C. All rights reserved.

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