Caroline Bock-BEFORE MY EYES
Caroline Bock - Author of BEFORE MY EYES and LIE
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IN DISPRAISE OF POETRY: FINDING JACK GILBERT IN D.C.
EIGHT GOALS TO CHANGE THE WORLD...THE UN MILLENNIUM GOALS: A RE-READING, A REVIEW
Dear Bill Gates...ideas for your summer reading list
GIRL ON A TRAIN... THE BURIED GIANT... THE GREAT GATSBY ... AND ROBERT FROST?
SECRET WRITING: NATIONAL POETRY MONTH, BOOKS ALIVE and GRACE CAVALIERI

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BOOK CLUB READING GUIDE for BEFORE MY EYES
GOOD NEWS from Caroline Bock
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TEACHER'S GUIDE TO LIE
TEACHER'S GUIDES TO BEFORE MY EYES
YOUNG ADULT MOVIE STARS
YOUNG ADULT NOVEL WRITING TIPS
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Caroline Bock-BEFORE MY EYES

IN DISPRAISE OF POETRY: FINDING JACK GILBERT IN D.C.


When the King of Siam disliked a courtier,
He gave him a beautiful white elephant."
….” In Dispraise of Poetry by Jack Gilbert
 
I made a great find this past weekend at Capitol Books, a used bookstore in D.C., with floor-to-ceilings offerings in a row house near the Eastern Market—a copy of the poet Jack Gilbert’s Views of Jeopardy, his first book of poetry from The Yale Series of Younger Poets, published in 1962. I am not a collector of things— I’ve never felt the urge to bring anything but words into my house.
 
I believe there may be a chapbook out there. I remember he published one while I was at Syracuse University, the one year he taught at this upstate New York college, and I believe I even bought it. But it’s lost to the years and a dozen or so moves.
 
“Three days I sat
Bewildered by love.
Three nights I watched
The gradations of dark.
Of light …”
            Before Morning in Perugia by Jack Gilbert
           
What I remember most about him was that he was slight man, white haired and in his sixties by the time I was his student. He was passionate about the poetic line and about women, especially those  he found himself with in places foreign to him, a guy from Pittsburgh, and I find that these passions imbued in this early set of poems.
 
“… When I got quiet
she’d put on usually Debussy
and
leaning down to the small ribs
bite me.
Hard.”
            Portrait Number Five: Against A New York Summer by Jack Gilbert
           
I think of him so young writing these poems, and want to cry out, but instead I read on, gorging on the lines, ebullient with my find.


 
 

EIGHT GOALS TO CHANGE THE WORLD...THE UN MILLENNIUM GOALS: A RE-READING, A REVIEW

EIGHT GOALS TO CHANGE THE WORLD ... at the turn of the millennium... specifically: "At the Millennium Summit in September 2000 the largest gathering of world leaders in history adopted the UN Millennium Declaration, committing their nations to a new global partnership to reduce extreme poverty and setting out a series of time-bound targets, with a deadline of 2015, that have become known as the Millennium Development Goals. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are the world's time-bound and quantified targets for addressing extreme poverty in its many dimensions-income poverty, hunger, disease, lack of adequate shelter, and exclusion-while promoting gender equality, education, and environmental sustainability. They are also basic human rights-the rights of each person on the planet to health, education, shelter, and security." — United Nations.


Today on NPR, I heard that the United Nations is reviewing the results of its Millennium Goals...

I wrote a version of this short essay inspired by those goals for a collection of essays, Spirit of Service (Harper Collins, 2010), and I thought it timely to re-read and reflect on my original work...


Influence, Tested
 
 
“—Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested, we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back, nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future.—Barack Obama, the culmination of his inauguration address.
 
 
We often feel like others have more influence over the course of events than we do.

We especially feel this way when we are tested with such big, intractable, and really hard problems: hunger, poverty, disease, genocide and environment sustainability  to name a few.  We think that as long as these problems are not in our backyards, we do not need to stand up and take action. It’s for others, the government, to be graded on anyway.  
 
In his inaugural address, with a heavy snow on the streets of Washington, D.C., on January 20, 1961, another President challenged this stance by declaring: “ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”  A lesser known line follows that widens this vision:   “My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.”
 
We have dithered too long over the idea that others will do what we can and must do as citizens of the world. The United Nations  has outlined eight millennium goals to raise up the people of the world. Together, we must go forward into the journey of the 21st century.

ACTION STEPS--
 
—Understand the eight specific millennium goals outlined at www.un.org (http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/)
 
— Join the hundreds of millions across the globe working to impact the UN Millennium Goal #1 – eradicating extreme poverty and hunger across the world by 2015.A focused global effort to show support for the fight against poverty and for the UN millennium development goals is being organized by Stand Up and Take Action, a global advocacy group.  Locally, use your influence to organize a teach-in about world poverty and the UN millennium goals.

Personal Post Script, June, 2015: This goal of eradicatin,  extreme poverty and hunger certainly wasn't reached. War in too many places intervened. In the United States poverty, is now eloquently termed "income inequality." But the fight must go on. In the United States: 15 dollar minimum wage is a start. What other ways to jump start this campaign on a local and global level?


--Caroline

And if you are looking for a compelling summer read consider my new young adult novel: BEFORE MY EYES (St. Martin's Press, 2014)

Dear Bill Gates...ideas for your summer reading list


Dear Bill Gates:
 
I’m concerned about your summer reading list, heavy on nonfiction titles, lacking in fiction, classics, poetry, which reflect the common core of what I believe every educated American should read (of course, I will readily admit that this is totally subjective, and I want to stress that I am happy that you are reading at all, something I stress to my own children).
 
So, I have some alternative titles to your summer reading list for you to consider:   
 
-The Complete Works of Emily Dickinson, short poems, easy to read at the beach, or choose any other poetry collection.
 
-1984 by George Orwell. I am amazed at how often George Orwell’s 1984 is quoted, especially in relations to politics and to technology. I plan to re-read this summer, and I think you should too. “He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the presents controls the past.”
 
-The “Battle Royal” section of Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison to understand the history of racism and pain in America. The entire the book is moving too, but it’s that chapter you have to read.
 
-Hilary Mantel’s Assassination of Margaret Thatcher: Stories,  or Lydia Davis’ Collected Stories, or George Pellecanos’ Martini Shot, if you’d like some terrific genre short fiction— one nice thing about short story collections is you can feel free to skip a story or two and still say you read the book. I’ve been reading a lot of short fiction lately—short fiction focuses the mind, and these stories all present character, image, conflict in the most concise way.  
 
-The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie, my son just read this in 9 grade – talks about being the ‘outsider’ and ‘other’ here in America better than any young adult novel. One other thought: Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming, winner of this year’s National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, written in verse. I have it on my TBR list and so should you.  
 
-Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, the Broadway show is a big hit, but the graphic novel is a deep and moving tale of a father and daughter— and coming out. And it’s always cool to say you read graphic novels.
 
I’m sure others would have suggestions for you that go beyond your limited nonfiction and science/tech-focused summer book reading choices— any others out there? 
 
I’d just urge you to go farther and wider and be more open and curious in your reading, and if you do, to share it with us all. 
 
Read on, Bill! Have a great Memorial Day Weekend!
 
Caroline Bock
 
*Full disclosure: I am the author of two critically acclaimed young adult novels: Before My Eyes (St. Martin’s Press, 2014) and LIE (St. Martin’s Press, 2011). You can also always read these book:)! More at www.carolinebock.com
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

GIRL ON A TRAIN... THE BURIED GIANT... THE GREAT GATSBY ... AND ROBERT FROST?

From Girl on a Train to Robert Frost...I recently wrote a few haiku reviews... a great exercise in writing. Some are reactions to what I read, others are refractions of characters (i.e. the pool cleaner in Gatsby is in my imagination, not the novel's pages). Here goes... 

For The Girl on a Train…
 
WOMAN ON A METRO
 
On a metro car:
See or hear nothing, feel less.
Days of driving rain.
 
 
For The Buried Giant…
 
FOREVER TODAY
 
No past, no future—
misted memories, but all
connect, remember?
 
 
For The Great Gatsby…
 
THE POOL CLEANER
 
I cleaned the swim pool—
after cops fished Gatsby out—
more work, no more pay.
 
 
For The Collected Poems of Robert Frost…
 
A LOST WRITER
 
I don’t know these woods—
what crossroad to travel now—
lead me there, poet.
 
Have you ever tried a haiku review?
 
—Caroline Bock is the author of the critically acclaimed young adult novels: BEFORE MY EYES (St. Martin’s Press, 2014) and LIE (St. Martin’s Press, 2011).

SECRET WRITING: NATIONAL POETRY MONTH, BOOKS ALIVE and GRACE CAVALIERI

I write primarily fiction; however, I love poetry and since these are the final days of National Poetry Month, I am going to share with you notes from a fabulous writer's conference I attended, BOOKS ALIVE, sponsored by the Washington Independent Review of Books, an incisive online writing and book review community. This weekend, they honored poet and poetry advocate extraordinaire Grace Cavalieri with their first Lifetime Achievement Award. Upon accepting the award, she gave her top four reasons why poetry still matters (and I may be paraphrasing her, as I quickly took these notes):

-Poetry slows down time. You read slowly and you write slowly

-Poetry preserves the beloved

-Poetry makes us notice the world more

-We are more fully alive when we read and write poetry

This makes me want to write poetry, my secret writing, and to me that is the world.

Does poetry matter to you?


   

SPRING! WRITING TIPS and MORE!

Three quick ideas for spring cleaning—for your writing.

Experiment with point of view.
Ideas:
1) change up a first person story to a third person
2) write a story from a minor character’s point view
3) look at a picture sideways (see above) and describe what you see.  
 
Two wise quotes on the current state of young adult fiction from the April 10, 2015 New York Times article with tastemaker editor Julie Strauss-Gabel :

1) “You go through vampires, you go through dystopian, you go through contemporary, you go through fantasy,” Ms. Strauss-Gabel said. “The last thing you want is an author saying, ‘That’s what’s selling right now, so that’s what I’m going to write.’ That’s the point at which a trend gets icky.” 

2) “We’re in an era where the definition of a young adult book is completely up for grabs, and people are willing to reinvent it,” she said. “There’s no one saying, ‘You can’t do this in a book for children.’ ”


Signs of Winter and Spock...Illogical and Logical Ends

Signs of Winter and Spock...
Signs of Winter and Spock blog entry by Caroline Bock author of Before My Eyes-We have run out of official school snow days. We are now onto adding days to summer vacation. The snow/ice/freezing temperatures must, therefore, logically end. This is, of course,  an illogical argument.
 
-Logic, the realm of Mr. Spock, is dead. We live in an irrational world. I’m trying to connect this to winter, and perhaps this is a way: he was a character who lived on in our imaginations, and certainly, in the Star Trek sagas, brought back to life over and again to reassert that logic can survive our human frailties.

For one brief moment, we believe winter will never end, and then, with wind and rains and warmth, the earth is restored. Spring will rise, even if we refuse to believe it amid the threatening snow and ice, even if we are illogical, irrational creatures.
 
Rest in peace, Leonard Nimoy.
 
Live long and prosper.
 
Spring is soon.  --Caroline
 
 

BEFORE MY EYES Now available as a trade paperback!

BEFORE MY EYES trade paperback now available from St. Martin's PressSharing good news... today the trade paperback version of my latest YA novelBEFORE MY EYES is available from St. Martin's Press. Why does this matter? It's cheaper than the hardcover version. It's easy to bring to the beach (if it ever stops snowing in New England, this is will be a plus). It's set at the end of a long hot summer (So even if it is freezing right now, you can read about summer). But is it a so-called summer read??  Well, it's a serious summer read—— about paranoid schizophrenia, gun violence, and the teen loneliness and romance at the end of a long hot summer. Lastly, it's been called a"powerful read," by reviewers and by many readers. Thank you for considering BEFORE MY EYES, which is now available in hardcover, trade paperback, and ebook formats, everywhere books are sold.

IMAGINING: ACTORS for BEFORE MY EYES

Cold. Ice-Rain. High Winds approaching. Stay Indoors! We're all hearing the warnings up and down the Northeast of the United States today.So I'm daydreaming of actors to play the key teens roles in BEFORE MY EYES——just daydreaming—but if you've read BEFORE MY EYES, you'll know it's set at end of a long, hot summer.

If you've read BEFORE MY EYES (and of course, you must, it's available everywhere books and ebooks are... here's an easy link:), you'll know that these are complicated, layered Long Island suburban teens at a breaking point in their lives, and we'll need the absolutely right mix of stars.  

Even more particularly, if you've read, BEFORE MY EYES, you'll know that there are three main teen characters: 

Barkley - 21, an undiagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, having his first psychotic break, hearing a voice in his head, with a gun in his desk drawer, is breaking apart at the end of the summer as he tries to hold it together at the Snack Shack and at home  

Claire   -17 dreamy, poetic, Claire,  takes care of her younger sister after her mother suffers a stroke, and is at her breaking point at the end of the summer

Max      -17, soccer star, son of state senator, spending his summer working at the local beach's Snack Shack, popping "borrowed" prescription pain pills, and at his own breaking point

and two minor teen characters:
Trish    -17, funny, caring mother-hen of the Snack Shack
Peter   -17, developmentally-challenged, sweetheart-of-a-guy also at the Snack Shack, unexpected hero along with Trish.

If you've read BEFORE MY EYES, which young actors should play these characters?

And drum roll, the envelope, please, two thoughts on casting from the author of BEFORE MY EYES :

for the role of MAX: LOGAN MILLER.
Just named one of the 11 Potential Breakthrough Actors at this year's Sundance Film Festival by Indiewire

for the role of TRISH: ASHLEY FINK.
known for her role in "Glee" 

Other thoughts? — If you've read the novel, of course! 

Stay warm!

 


 


 
 
 
 
 


 







     



















End of 2014 thoughts and looking forward to 2015

Best of 2014 and Looking Forward to 2015...
View Outside My Writing Window - Best Thing Ever


 
Best new place: Pittsburgh, one night visit included the Carnegie Science Center and the Duquesne Incline. Looking forward to second Pittsburgh trip in 2015.
 
Best New Thing About My Writing: Having BEFORE MY EYES published in February by St. Martin’s Press… and returning to writing scripts for television and film. Looking forward to diving into flash fiction, a new novel and scriptwriting in 2015!
Before My Eyes Young Adult Novel  
Best favorite new bookstore: Politics and Prose in D.C. (best 1-day class taken there with Leslie Pietrzyk)
 
Most unexpectedly best political movie of 2015 streamed on Google Play: The Interview; going beyond the sophomoric bits of sex and drugs and comic book action, this movie had a lot to say about the inherent evils of dictatorial regimes (mass starvation, concentration camps) and how the media in their countries and around the world props up the lies of these regimes.
 
Best new version of classic musical, which my nine- year old daughter also loved: Annie.
 
Best book on writing read: Still Writing by Dani Shapiro.
 
Best movies about the inescapable human condition: Theory of Everything, The Imitation Game, and Boyhood.
  
Best New Exercise: Rookie Yoga.
 
Best TV Show: House of Cards, best new TV series: Madame Secretary, and for summer watching with above nine-year old:  The Strain. Looking ahead: TV series I can’t wait for new season for in January  (and no spoilers please from the Brits in the crowd!!) Downton Abbey.
 
Most unusual thing I did in 2014, and one of the best: Late-night party at burlesque bar in DC to celebrate friend’s birthday!
 
Best, best new thing… that all my family is healthy! Looking ahead in 2015 to a new year of inspiration, writing, books, movies, and friends and family.--Caroline
 
 
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