“Melancholy Jack” and the Miracle that is Smashwords

Today, I discovered the awesomeness of Smashwords. If you don’t know, Smashwords is basically an online distributor of ebooks. Why am I excited about finding it? Its massive collection of free ebooks. No matter what stage of life you’re in, “free” will always be music to the ears, especially in a world where the prices for the smallest of things are quickly shooting through the roof. So, this Smashwords is now my latest obsession. I just finished reading a post that turned out to just be a 15 page sample for a book that is to be coming out this fall. It is titled “Melancholy Jack” and is by teacher, author, and blogger Diane Bixler. I’d never heard of her before reading this sample so I checked out her website/blog at http://www.DianeBixler.com. According to that, she only has one other book titled “Murder in D Minor” (not particularly sold on the title, but I’m kind of loving the cover art). Will I read it? We’ll have to see. Let’s get into this weirdo, Jack for now.


So, “Melancholy Jack” appears to be about, well, an oddball named Jack (the sample reveals his full name to be Johnathon Daniel Ardon). He’s introduced as a shy, highly intelligent and socially inept 6 year old by his mother, Nina. He doesn’t seem to have any friends and, for some reason, the adults in his life have a pretty big problem with this. With a mother as overbearing as Nina seems to be in her section of the sample, I probably wouldn’t want to talk to people either. But, what’s really wrong with him is not given. He just seems to be the average awkward intellectual until you get to see him from the perspectives of his best friend, Jason, and his therapist, Dr. Ellen Foster where they talk about him in later stages of his life. It’s clear that there’s something not totally “right” with Jack, which slowly bubbles up to the forefront in the therapist’s section of the sample. There’s a section of the sample that is told from the perspective of his wife Allie, but, in my opinion, it’s the least important of the four sections given. Actually, I think the curiosity that this sample builds up about this Jack character would be more strongly developed if the therapist’s section was presented first, followed by Jason’s and the mother’s, without Allie’s even being included unless it’s changed in a way that really moves the story along (like, if she were pregnant – read the sample and you’ll see why I think this would work better – not dishing any spoilers here). I, personally, think he’s got a violent streak that boils just below the surface as to go unnoticed by other people (maybe something along the lines of a Dexter kind of crazy). Either way, there’s definitely an interesting story brewing here, and despite the occasionally awkward wording in the sample, I expect that the final product (scheduled to be released this Fall) will be a pretty good read. Check out the sample for yourself and share your thoughts in the comments below!



Here’s the link to Smashwords for the reader on a budget:



Intimations of Immortality by William Wordsworth

Yesterday in my Readings in Poetry class proved to be the most interesting 3 hours that I have had so far in this class so far. We were split into groups and were asked to dissect a number of Odes (a type of poem for those who may not know). My group gave an extensive break down of William Wordsworth’s Intimations of Immortality. Personally, I have never read an Ode before so to take the time to explore one was exciting in itself. I wasn’t expecting it to be as loaded as it was. The Ode, in a nutshell, describes a person’s gradual disillusionment as he grows from an imaginative little boy into a man forced to deal with the everyday solemness of reality. Though I find this topic of disillusionment to be quite popular in literature, I think that the manner in which Wordsworth wrote about it is really unique. The process of growing from confusion to enlightenment is very heavily instilled into every aspect of this poem, including the story the explains how he wrote it in the first place and I find this really fascinating.

You can tell that old William did not (could not) write this Ode at one time. From stanza one all the way to stanza four he is “lost.” He is aware of what surrounds him but cannot ignore a nagging sense of loss that he cannot seem to explain even to himself. However, once one gets to stanza five, he suddenly has this completely formulated theory of what it is that is “missing.” When I first read this, I definitely had a “What just happened?!?” moment but began to understand what was happening after learning that it took Wordsworth two whole years to write this poem. That’s certainly a fair amount of time to have a revelation. Just like the speaker in the poem, Wordsworth was “lost,” tormented by something that he didn’t fully comprehend and it took him two years to work it out. Now there are three layers to this idea: 1. The “nagging” of an incomplete poem 2. The “nagging” of lack of depth in the content of the poem itself (maybe. I don’t know Willy personally. This is just what I think.) and 3. The “nagging” sense of loss of the actual speaker in the p0em. Now that is a lot of depth for a few short stanzas. But I love the complexity in it because it’s almost like the poem directly reflects its subject matter.

I also love the speaker of the poem’s theory that that nagging sense of loss comes from our losing the perception of the world that we have as children as well as the loss of our memories of the Heaven-like paradise in which we reside before we are physically born into the world which, to me, seems like a direct tribute to women as the “holy paradise” that Wordsworth refers to can be a metaphor for the female form (which, of course, I think is awesome!). I don’t know much about William Wordsworth, but he seems to have been a very metaphysical thinker. Or maybe I’m just a very metaphysical thinker for being seeing a connection between his focus on the loss and fight to remember our earliest memories and the loss and fight to remember past lives (YES, I believe in reincarnation. Gotta Problem???)

I will probably write more about this because there is just so much to be said. But until that time comes I’ll post think to the actual poem for whomever may want to check it out themselves and come up with their own opinions. For those who do: Please share what you think in a comment! 🙂