Death Is No Parenthesis: 3 Medical Mysteries In Literature (

We all come to favor certain authors for a myriad of divergent reasons. However, a common denominator among readers is a touch of intrigue surrounding an author, questions unanswered or unanswerable which draw us in.

To this end, Leslie D. Michelson recently wrote on her fascination with medicine and medical mysteries in literature. A woman concerned with “the health of the authors and characters of my favorite books,” Michelson highlighted in particular three literary medical mysteries which still confound scholars today […]

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Monday Musings, #30, 2016


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There are very clear moments in life when one sits back and contemplates the sanity of others.  It’s a given that we live in a crazy world, but oftentimes this knowledge is locked away, filed deep in our grey matter where we don’t have to look at it.  And yet, when something like the following occurs, that file is retrieved from those mental archives to add another document of (reluctant) memory.

My reaction to the following news item is: What on earth..?!  This absurd event has more than a touch of horror:

Indeed, this is one of those things I wish I could unsee, and unknow, to be honest.  What a world…

[Words by N R Nolan]

10 Books That Have Been On My TBR Shelf Forever (Which I Still Haven’t Gotten Around To Reading) []

If, like me, you are a serious booklover, then you don’t need any prompting to spend hours in a bookstore (indeed, friends and loved ones probably beg you not to enter that sacred space in the first place). If reading were a competitive sport, people like us would be Olympians, and yet we all harbor a dirty little secret: one (or more) of our shelves is full of books we still haven’t gotten around to reading.

This hasn’t stopped us buying more books, however. Nor has it stopped us accepting books as gifts. Indeed, that TBR shelf has become so laden down with reading matter that it’s transformed into an experiment to find the maximum load quantity of the wood. Nevertheless, the TBR shelf is also an interesting study of the multiple genres that take our fancy, an insight into what makes our brains tick, and what lights up our synapses.

Here are 10 books that can be found on mine […]

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Sunday Sustenance (Poetry For The Soul), #20, 2016


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Cloud-puffball, torn tufts, tossed pillows | flaunt forth,

then chevy on an air –

built thoroughfare: heaven-roysterers, in gay-gangs|

they throng; they glitter in marches.

Down roughcast, down dazzling whitewash, | wherever

an elm arches,

Shivelights and shadowtackle in long | lashes lace,

lance, and pair.

Delightfully the bright wind boisterous | ropes,

wrestles, beats earth bare

Of yestertempest’s creases; | in pool and rutpeel parches

Squandering ooze to squeezed | dough, crust, dust;

stanches, starches

Squadroned masks and manmarks | treadmire toil there

Footfretted in it.  Million-fuelèd, | nature’s bonfire

burns on.

But quench her bonniest, dearest | to her, her clearest-

selvèd spark

Man, how fast his firedint, | his mark on mind, is gone!

Both are in an unfathomable, all is in an enormous dark

Drowned.  O pity and indig | nation!  Manshape, that


Sheer off, disseveral, a star, | death blots black out; nor mark

Is any of him at all so stark

But vastness blurs and time | beats level.  Enough! the


A heart’s-clarion!  Away grief’s gasping, | joyless

days, dejection.

Across my foundering deck shone

A beacon, an eternal beam.  | Flesh fade, and mortal trash

Fall to the residuary worm; | world’s wildfire, leave but ash:

In a flash, at a trumpet crash,

I am all at once what Christ is, | since he was what I am am, and

This Jack, joke, poor potsherd, | patch, matchwood,

immortal diamond,

Is immortal diamond.

by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Quite something, isn’t it?  Written in 1888, this is a sonnet with sprung rhythm and three codas, concerned with the joy Hopkins felt in nature.  The allusion to the resurrection is not so much specifically concerned with Jesus, but rather the resurrection of all Christians from the dead (Corinthians 15:51-3).  And the diamond, of course, in its indestructibility, suggests at immortality.


[Words by N R Nolan]

Saturday Sipping – On Wine, #19, 2016


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“Here’s a random factoid: I like cats. And here’s another: I like red wine.”

-Shannon Celebi

Replace “cats” with “dogs” and that factoid rings utterly true here!

Wines Tried

  • Finca Lorosco, 2015 Reserve Merlot, Chile, 13.5%.

Partaken over a recent lunchtime excursion, this was an enjoyable, highly palatable Merlot that went down far too fast with company.  A cert as a suggestion for future imbibing, what with its clean taste of autumnal fruits and vanilla.  Yum, indeed.


Image Author’s Own

[Words by N R Nolan]

Friday Feast – On Food, #27, 2016


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“A book reads the better which is our own, and has been so long known to us, that we know the topography of its blots, and dog’s ears, and can trace the dirt in it to having read it at tea with buttered muffins.”

-Charles Lamb, Essays of Elia

Of course, the muffins described above have nothing to do with their American, blueberry filled or poppyseeded counterparts.  English muffins are a much less sugary affair.

They must be served toasted and accompanied, as is tradition, with butter, which melts scrumptiously into the surface of the two halves (a horizontal slice, bagel-style).  Honey can replace the butter for a sweet alternative (something I’m quite fond of myself), but savoury toppings are the norm.  They even make for breakfast sandwiches (think bacon, think egg).

Personally, there is nothing more romantically homely than when the power goes out and you light candles and a log fire (we’re a rustic kind of household), stick a halved muffin on a toasting fork and crisp it in the flames, then remove the toasted product and slather on some butter, while nestled with your loved ones on a couch to munch and chat and stare into the fire.  Mmm, bliss.

Obviously, you don’t have to wait for a power outage, but somehow it wouldn’t be the same if the above was purposefully created.  It has to do with a need, I think, a reverting back to basics, that makes such a scenario all the more special.  Crumpets, also, are an acceptable alternative if you prefer your baked goods to have a really indulgent quality.

And add a favourite book of poetry to the mix on such evenings…  Uh, yes, I probably was born in the wrong era…

[Words by N R Nolan]

A Thursday Quote For Thought,#32, 2016


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“Everything in the universe has a rhythm, everything dances.”

-Maya Angelou

So true.  From the flower blooming from a bud, swaying in the breeze, in partnership to a music unheard with the grasses surrounding; to the bend of tree branches as they bow beneath weight of their leaves, lifted aloft once more by the wind, again and again; to the rhythm of feet – animal and human – pounding a progressive beat of the march of the living: all contain a unique music.

Go further, observe the sky at night and watch the stars, the occasional flying, balletic leap of the falling few, slashing across the black sky, maneuvering through their brethren.

Breathe, exhale, and watch the condensation cloud out to dissipation as beyond that view, the stars shimmer, a pulse of inexplicable rhythm.

Everything dances; everything has a beauty, not all of which can necessarily be put into words.

Just listen.

[Words by N R Nolan]

Wednesday Wisdom – Thinking Words, #29, 2016


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“If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:

-Kurt Vonnegut

Ooh, I like this.  For who can deny that sense of a soul uplifted (turned and raised perhaps to that “great unknown”) when music – true, breathtaking music – really speaks to us?  Interesting.

[Words by N R Nolan]

The 10 Types Of Readers That Make For The Perfect Book Club (

There comes a time in every bibliophile’s life when we need must find a book club.

When we have left the world of academia behind us – the long years of high school and then the sustenance, the spiritual nourishment that was our college English course – there develops a feeling that something is missing. Sure, we can select from a shelf whatever book we wish to read after work every day, or most days, but what is lacking is the ability to engage in meaningful discourse on what we read. We hunger for a specifically scheduled hour, or more, of intense literary critique with like-minded people (fueled by a glass of wine or two) […]

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Monday Musings, #29, 2016


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An early autumn morning, not quite frost season, where the light post-dawn but pre-madness of full sprung day has that unique quality which imbues a sense of peace in the beholder.  Dogs walking, breath almost condensing on an air practicing for the chillier mornings to come, and they return indoors, paws almost muddy from earth softened by dew, carpet drool-anointed as the canines wait for treats.  This owner’s treat comes in liquid form: a steaming mug of coffee finished in percolation while she did the routine walk she always does upon waking (quite literally, but a staircase to separate the roll out of bed to stumble into wellingtons and then unlock the door).  Now, the coffee topped with dash of skimmest milk, she sips with relish and breathes deeply.  Every morning has the potential to be just like this – before intrusion by the world.

[Words by N R Nolan]