About this [blank] garden

“I am younger each year at the first snow.”
– Anne Sexton, in a letter to W. D. Snodgrass, in 1958.
A Self-portrait in Letters, Mariner Books (2004)

This is my blank space. A white page, as good as a garden covered in snow, not yet cultivated, but with some strong Spring hidden within; something simple, clean, yet to be stained; a seed with some flower all curled up inside, first waiting, then slowly unraveling.

About my scarlet letters

My reading life is a conversation made in silence with writers I most probably will never meet. I see the books I read (and the posts I write about them) as a letter exchange.  You are invited to open these letters I send to the void. Cor ad cor loquitur.

About me?

I live in Germany but write in English, a language that took hold of my mouth like a kind of parasite that latches into the tongue of a fish and eats it, replacing it with its own body – something grotesque and gorgeous I have to live with.

About books

This is my reading journal and commonplace book. I am a passionate reader and my posts are mostly efforts of affection: writing about books is my personal way of learning how to read them; my way of lingering with them.

You will hardly ever find entirely negative reviews on my blog, because I don’t finish books that completely fail to engage me. And I prefer to bring grace and intuition to a book, rather than bile –

“The only sensible procedure for a critic is to keep silent about works which he believes to be bad, while at the same time vigorously campaigning for those which he believes to be good, especially if they are being neglected or underestimated by the public. (…) Attacking bad books is not only a waste of time but also bad for character. If I find a book really bad, the only interest I can derive from writing about it has to come from myself, from such display of intelligence, wit and malice as I can contrive. One cannot review a bad book without showing off.” – W. H. Auden, The Dyer’s Hand and Other Essays (1968)

I am an amateur –

“I am and wish to remain a reader, an amateur, and a fan, unburdened by the weight of ceaseless evaluation. Sometimes the book itself is my main subject; at other times it’s just a pretext for spinning out various loose associations. Anyone who calls these pieces sketches will be correct. Anyone insisting on ‘reviews’ will incur my displeasure.” Wisława Szymborska, Nonrequired Reading (2002), tr. Clare Cavanagh (Lektury nadobowiazkowe, 1973)

– and I subscribe to “The Reader’s Bill of Rights”:

“The Reader’s Bill of Rights
1. The right to not read
2. The right to skip pages
3. The right to not finish
4. The right to reread
5. The right to read anything
6. The right to escapism
7. The right to read anywhere
8. The right to browse
9. The right to read out loud
10. The right to not defend your tastes”

— Daniel Pennac, Better Than Life, tr. David Homel (1994)

I own my words. Even if I occasionally have to eat them.

Join the conversation

You can tweet or PM me, comment on this blog, comment or message me over on Goodreads, LibraryThingInstagram, or Youtube. I also host Clássicxs Sem Classe (‘Classics without Class’), a literary podcast in Portuguese, where I explore classics written by women and classic queer fiction in general.

** If you are a publisher, literary agent or author, please read my review policy & my guidelines, before contacting me. Please bear in mind that I do not review self-published work, I do not accept unsolicited books for review, I do not accept money in exchange for a review or a post, I do not finish books I don’t like, I do not guarantee a positive review, and I do not participate in blog tours. Thank you for your understanding.

*** A note to the readers: please bear in mind that, when I review a book, I’m not giving shopping advice: I’m trying to explain how I think the book works or not, and what is interesting or not about it. In the same vein, when I read a review, I’m not looking for endless recommendations, but for a good discussion. ‘Like/don’t like’ are not the only criterion at use when reviewing a book – in fact, “like” and “enjoy” are not even the two most important words when talking, writing, or thinking about literature.

**** A special note to students: if you quote from this blog, please cite it properly. Judging by traffic statistics, your teachers are not stupid. 😉

Support the [blank] garden

If you enjoy my [blank] garden, please consider supporting what I do! Head on to this page to know how. Any donations will mean a lot to me, but please do not feel obligated to do it! Thank you in advance for supporting my blog, whether it is through a donation or by reading, commenting and sharing what I write.  ❤

Thank you for your visit! 🙂

Joan Linder. "Black Weed". 2010.

Joan Linder. “Black Weed”. 2010.