Review: The Book of Plots by Loren Niemi

January 25, 2019

I picked up this book at the library and read it to the end, which is unusual for me for a nonfiction book I borrow from the library. I decided to write a review because it seems I’m the first person to crack the book since it was purchased by the library ten years ago. And it’s a useful book for people interested in storytelling.

The Book of Plots identifies nine plot forms which the author argues encompass all stories. Some of these plot forms are unique to oral storytelling; others can be used in writing or cinema. I identified one form that has the potential to be exploited through the Internet; I may write a story for the net someday using this form.

Plot forms are illustrated through stories of the author’s life and through a re-telling of the fable “Jack and the Beanstalk.” Each form structure is conveyed clearly and I had no trouble understanding the author’s logic. The pitfalls of the various forms are laid out, as well as the benefits of consciously choosing the best form for a particular story.

The book could have done with a better copy editor. Typos, word omissions, and grammar errors of the type missed by editing programs detract from the text.

I would recommend this book to anyone, not just professional storytellers, because we all tell stories, and stories are integral to our lives. We all can benefit from learning to tell a better story.

Mary Oliver 1935 – 2019

January 18, 2019

Nature poet Mary Oliver died this week. She was known for her poems about emotional survival and the natural world.

Oliver struggled for years with cancer, but continued to produce. Her last volume of new poetry, Felicity, was about love. Her same-sex relationship with Molly Cook lasted over fifty years until Cook’s death in 2005.

Animals featured largely in Oliver’s work. In 2013 she published a book of dog poems followed the next year by another book of animal poems entitled Blue Horses.

Much of Oliver’s poetry, including her nature poetry, celebrated the resilience of the human spirit.

Wild Geese
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves. [continued]

Happy New Year!

January 4, 2019

This blog is 7 years old today.

As many of you are aware, some heavy eclipse energy this month. (Oh no, not again!) Partial solar eclipse January 5th and total lunar eclipse January 21st. Wait til after the 21st to initiate new projects. Spellwork should focus on removing obstacles and clearing energies. Paradoxically, this may be the time to make progress on goals that have been bafflingly stymied.

On a personal note, progress on my physical therapy has been gratifying. That frozen shoulder is starting to thaw. A good example of eclipse energy manifesting in a useful way!