OFF THE SHELF: LUNCH POEMS BY FRANK O’HARA

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Lunch Poems has been published for over half a decade now, but still retains it’s youth. Published in 1964 by City Lights Books, Lunch Poems remains O’Hara’s most icon collection of work.

It was written during O’Hara’s time in Manhattan, having graduated from Harvard and arrived on the scene to become a key member of the New York School, which also included the likes of John Ashbery and other painters and poets.

1964 saw America on the precipice of a new, modern age, but society had not quite tipped over the edge yet. O’Hara’s Lunch Poems represented much of what a modern America would be.

The collection is rich with contemporary vocabulary and runs like a subway from destination to destination, from one event to the next like an endless stream.

Poems such as ‘Steps,’ highlights O’Hara’s uncomplicated romantic voice:

oh god it’s wonderful
to get out of bed
and to drink too much coffee
and smoke too many cigarettes
and love you so much

Unlike more traditional poetry, O’Hara’s work delivers emotion through simplicity and and lighthearted irony, which often conveys evident loneliness and sentimentality in his poems.

Lunch Poems successfully depicts life in the city, it portrays a colourful, human urban environment, swollen with the intense juices of life. O’Hara shows appreciation for fine art, such as operas, which comes as not surprise, as he was often seen as a ‘poet among painters.’ O’Hara was a curator at the Museum of Modern Art and was surrounded by revolutionary artists. Similarly, his poetry was rich with the colours and textures of busy Manhattan.

Finally, as a reader on the 21st century, I think it’s safe to say that Lunch Poems has not aged since it’s 1964 publication, O’Hara’s modern artistic style and his interpretation of his city remains alive and relevant today. I like to keep my Pocket Poet Series of Lunch Poems with me when travelling, especially in the city. I’d like to see the center of life as Mr O’Hara did.

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OFF THE SHELF: CATCH 22

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STATUS: READ
RATING: 10/10

REVIEWS:

‘Never has a book been laughed and wept over so many times.’
GUARDIAN

‘The greatest satirical work in the English language.’
OBSERVER

‘Written with brilliance, echoes with mad laughter.’
TIME

PERSONAL REVIEW:
I’ve always been a fan of novels based in wartime. Catch 22 is a compelling and humorous read – so damn funny. It definitely makes it into my list of favourite novels, and I’m very grateful that Joseph Heller wrote such a timeless masterpiece for the world to enjoy. Catch 22 is a book everyone should read at least once in their life. Not because you ‘should’ read it, but because nobody deserves to miss out on this genius piece of literature.

OFF THE SHELF: SUMMER EDITION

Welcome to the Summer edition of OFF THE SHELF. Here I will be listing just a few of the books that have been or will be read this summer, along with a brief review. I hope you enjoy it!

THE ROSIE EFFECT – GRAEME SIMSION

STATUS: Yet to be read
PREDICTED RATING: 10/10
As mentioned in the previous OFF THE SHELF post, I recently picked up The Rosie Project. Having now finished it, I am looking forward immensely to reading the sequel. I had the most amazing time with Don and Rosie in their first adventures together and can’t wait to see them continue in New York.

GO SET A WATCHMAN – HARPER LEE

STATUS: Read
RATING: 10/10

For what was unarguably the most anticipated book of the year, GO SET A WATCHMAN did not fail to impress. The story provided invaluable insight into complex characters and changed the way I saw them. With heartbreaking twists and stunning confessions, GO SET A WATCHMAN is unforgettably striking and poignant. The residents of Maycomb, past and present, will always have a special place in my book shaped heart.

PAPER TOWNS – JOHN GREEN

STATUS: RE-READ
RATING: 9/10

As the Paper Towns movie was due to be released in mid August, I made a note to re-read the novel during the summer. Paper Towns is ranked in the NO 1 spot for my favourite John Green novels. Q and Margo’s wild midnight rendezvous seemed like so much fun that I felt tempted to take off on my by cycle at 1AM and order fries from McDonald’s – just for the heck of it, I’m young and invincible, right? Everything I want is way out there. In addition to this, Paper Towns taught me the importance of windows and doors and the fact that we can see people for who they appear to be, but that doesn’t necessary reflect their true self. We can have a good IDEA of what it’s like to be someone, but we can never truly BECOME another being.
Paper Towns is inspiring, true and important and I can’t wait to see it on the big screen with Nat Wolff and Cara Delevigne

THE ROSIE PROJECT – GRAEME SIMSION

STATUS: Read
Rating: OFF THE SCALE

Picking up The Rosie Project was probably the best decision I’ve made all year. A captivating and startling funny tale of lobster freezing, apricot ice cream and Gregory Peck style suits. Don and Rosie took me on a whirlwind adventure that included cocktails at 2AM, cup smashing and ballroom dancing.
Despite being more that twice my age, Don proved to be hilariously likeable and relatable. His perspective on life was one that I was entirely new to – and it was refreshingly beautiful.
I recommend this book to all of you, trust me on this one, and I can’t wait to see where Rosie and Don will take me in The Rosie Effect.

THR ART OF FIELDING – CHAD HARBACH

STATUS: Re-read
RATING: 8/10

Being a person who knows absolutely nothing about baseball, I was surprised when The Art of Fielding was relatable to me. The story follows several lives at Wetish College and sees the characters through tumultuous phases and times. The Art of Fielding is full of rich characters that stay with you after the final page. Recommended for all those who feel out of touch with their future or are having trouble honing their art.

FORGIVE ME, LEONARD PEACOCK – MATTHEW QUICK

STATUS: Re-read
RATING: 9/10

Makes me cry every time. Since obtaining this book last Christmas, there has not been a time where I’ve read the entire thing without crying. Leonard Peacock may be strange and disturbed, but the kid just can’t seem to catch a break. FMLP is raw, smart and enlightening. It handles mental health and issues such as sexual assault and family relations with both sensitivity and searing truth.

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK – MATHEW QUICK

STATUS: Yet to be read
PREDICTED RATING: 8/10

Having read and loved FMLP, it only seemed appropriate to venture further into Quick’s works. The Silver Linings Playbook is one of Quick’s most renowned novels and I am excited to see how is compares to FMLP.

THE SPECTACULAR NOW – TIM THARP

STATUS: Re-read
RATING: 7/10

The Spectacular Now makes for a light and mesmerising read. Good old Sutter never fails to entertain with is party tricks and playful nature. This story is all about growing up, finding and losing people and cherishing those moments that make like remarkable.

That’s just a small segment of what was on my summer reading list, if you would like to see the full thing, request it in the comment area. Similarly if you would like a full review on any of the books mentioned above, just let me know.

Also, I would love hear any book suggestions that you guys have for me- leave them in the comments with a quick note about what the book means to you.

Thanks
Viv 😉
ALL THE IMAGES USED IN THIS POST ARE MY OWN, PLEASE ASK AND CREDIT IF YOU INTEND TO USE THEM, THANKS!

ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES BOOK REVIEW 

On a normal day, I introduce myself to new people with a bog standard: ‘it’s nice to meet you, I’m Vivien.’ If we both happen to be physically absent, a simple text message would suffice. Theodore Finch and Violet Markey, however, take the art of meeting new acquaintances to a whole new level – to approximately the height of a standard Indiana bell tower. Following their unorthodox encounter in the opening of Niven’s debut YA novel, Finch and Markey’s relationship mainly blossoms, not in the hallways of their high school, but in the natural wonders of rural Indiana.
Despite being based on the themes of mental health, grief and bullying, the novel is in most ways a charming, uplifting and eloquently written story with poignant characters that reach into the very depths of you to extract emotions that are yet unnamed. 12th grader, Theodore Finch, is bound to capture the attention and concern of countless readers in a way he was unable to with his own family. As a guitar playing, Dr Seuss quoting, hopelessly romantic young man with an unusually inconsistent wardrobe, Finch welcomes a tentative Violet Markey into his own spectacular world, where there are natural highs to be ridden, mountains to climb and things to be left behind.

Despite being unsuccessful in trying to repair his own, Finch mend’s Violet Markey’s cracked world and sees her through the barriers she has built around herself and helps her to overcome her fear of driving, following her sister’s untimely death in a fatal car accident. In addition to this, a Geography assignment sees this unlikely couple from the heights of Hoosier Hill to the depths of the Blue Hole, and of course star gazing at the Purina Tower.

Being an accomplished author in both adult fiction and non fiction, All The Bright Places is Niven’s first venture into the world of YA fiction. The novel has be compared to the words of John Green and Rainbow Rowell – both of which have found great success in the genre, and with another YA novel on the way, it is easy to picture Niven amongst them.

 All in all, All The Bright Places is definitely not a tale of death, it is a story about and life and all those who make it lovely.