Well, it seems quite some time since I visited my own blog. I've been busy, but with other social networking things. Facebook has taken up most of my time, and that's mainly because I get many people visiting and commenting - lots of fascinating comments too. Also I visit Goodreads and add books I'm interested in; posting my reviews on books I've read and would highly recommend, and looking at other writer's reviews.
Visionary Fiction, too is a favourite drop-in spot of mine. I was invited by Jodine Turner, one of its founding members, to come up with a guest post a week ago on the themes of 'Who influenced you to write Visionary Fiction?' and 'Is Spirituality an important theme for V.F?' The piece I wrote seemed to fit both of these.
(Victor Smith, whose review see below, is also a member.)
WHAT, I WONDER, WILL PEOPLE MAKE OF THIS REVIEW BY FELLOW VISIONARY FICTION WRITER, VICTOR E SMITH?
But first,Victor, let me give my comments on your review of me. (The actual review is in larger type below.)
I so like, ney admire, your style of writing. It flows with strength and intelligence. However, before I comment on the review itself I'd like to pick up on one comment, quote; your patently masculine mind. It's a subject that's been on my 'mind' lately. Even on BBC radio news this a.m. there was an item; Why, when girls do better in school, getting higher grades than boys, do they come off worse in achieving top jobs? And the answer it seems is, they are not disruptive enough. Asked what on earth that meant, the report said: They don't take risks or dare to challenge enough.
I brought the subject up with Eleni (of the VFA) re her writing from the male point of view in her Jessie's Song. In my last Visionary Fiction book, This Strange and Precious Thing, I write, or made the attempt in my writing, to inhabit the worlds of my 2 main characters, one male and one female. It would never have occurred to me if you hadn't put it in parenthesis, that your questioning of my Kuthumi quotes, e.g. and if they were made up, as particularly masculine or feminine. Does this imply that female writers don't question themselves? Isn't it an author's duty to be in both camps? And indeed, isn't that what my chapter, In a Nutshell, in the aforesaid book, demonstrating? But the answer to your question re Kuthumi is; No, I didn't make then up. They were channelled by Marisa Calvi, and she didn't make them up either.
Hope this doesn't sound like I'm criticising. On the contrary, I just find the subject fascinating.
So, here is my comment on your actual review, (followed by the review itself.)
I smiled at your discomfort, Victor -- if it was discomfort - of having to arbitrarily decide between, was it reality or fantasy, objective or subjective, non-fiction or fiction, and that's because I'd had such a hard time myself finding something to say on the back cover; defining for myself what kind of book this was. I settled on calling it a miscellany, but I love your potpourri as an alternative. What serendipitous flash of insight led you to that? Though what would the general book-buying public have made of that word? On the other hand, what do they make of VF itself?
It's said that people buying books have a quick look at the picture on the front, then turn to the back, and if the blurb catches them - intrigues them sufficiently, they might just buy it! (Maybe I should commission you to write me a good blurb!)
On your question is it reality or made up fantasy, the simple truth is: It's all real. I made nothing up. I dreamed the dreams exactly as I wrote them. But that begs the question; what is a dream? Is it fiction, fantasy or an incomprehensible rambling story? Or is it something revealed to us, carrying within it deeper truths than our conscious minds are capable of seeing? I guess you can guess my answer to that.
Now to Victor's actual review -- and thank you for the 'Highly Recommended' accolade!
Esme Ellis’s Dreaming Worlds Awake is a “potpourri” in several of the word’s meanings. As announced in the subtitle, “Stories, Synchronicities, Dreams and Correspondence, with a scatter of poems,” it is a miscellany of literary extracts exploring: “New consciousness, New energy, New writing.” The book is true to its description.
But there were times while reading that my (patently masculine) mind went, “Hunh, why is this in here?” or “Are these actual quotes from a disembodied entity named Kuthumi or something the author made up?” In which case the book struck me as a potpourri in the sense of “any mixture, especially of unrelated objects, subjects, etc.” Perhaps intentionally, some of the tidbits tossed out left me hungry. I bless the Internet when it came to the sections on Jacob Epstein’s work—my education in sculpture is shamefully limited. It took the images there (e.g., The Rock Drill) to add substance to the author’s enthusiasm over art objects I’d never seen. But I don’t complain: I like a book that makes me look further to learn something new. What a gift to have come to know Jacob and the Angel and its powerful message, as Esme explained it: “Aspects of the human being which are normally, in some parts of the Christian world at any rate, seen as separate, the Divine and the born-in-sin, fallible human, here they’re in a process of attaining a Wholeness which embraces both Light and Dark.” I experienced, perhaps for the first time, a stone statue whirling with dynamic energy.
“Potpourri” has a third meaning that perhaps best, if metaphorically, applies to Esme’s delicately woven web: “a mixture of dried petals of roses or other flowers with spices, kept in a jar for their fragrance.” It was not a book I could toss aside upon completion, facilely assigning it five stars or one. Its impression lingers, evoking “I wonder if…” at unexpected moments. The bloody line between reality and fantasy, between the objective and subjective, between non-fiction and fiction, which I’m supposed to be able to count on when all else fails, has again been blurred and I’m left in that excruciating but oh-so-present “space between” where it is all up to me to decide, arbitrary as it may seem, what is and what isn’t.