If you are like me, reading a relevant poem, short story or novel gets you into the holiday spirit, no matter which holiday is. That is why I decided to do a holiday series this year and get everyone inspired to read (hopefully). Today, after some effort, I came up with a list of New Year's stories and poems that should do the trick. If you think of any I do not have listed here, please feel free to leave the suggestion in the comments section!
"A New Year's Eve Adventure" by E.T.A. Hoffmann
While he may be wrong with this assessment, "You must surely know that on this season, Christmas and New Year's, even though it's so fine and pleasant for all of you, I am always driven out of my peaceful cell onto a raging, lashing sea.", at least the idea that it is pleasant for many, E.T.A. Hoffmann weaves an eerie and unusual New Year's Eve tale with this classic that gets overshadowed by his more famous works.
The story starts with hints of an impending sorrow wrought by the Devil juxtaposed with the hint of a promise of a rekindling of passionate love. Quickly, you get the sense that there is a wild joke being played on the narrator, perhaps a very sinister one. The situation is averted when he leaves in a hurry, but it is only to meet a few more strange characters and to immerse himself in the small pleasures of a beer cellar that are expressed as positively sinful, though quite run of the mill today.
During his escape, he seems to find to horridly kindred spirits. One small man with a hatred of mirrors and one tall and sad man who seems to have lost his shadow, but what do the misfortunes of these three men mean? Well, apart from a holiday nightmare, very little to do with New Year's, but the story is great and has enough to do with the holiday to feature on this list.
"New Year's Eve" by Lord Alfred Tennyson (Poem)
I'll keep this description brief, as this is a poem rather than a short story. It will suffice to say that it is a wonderful poem, as the name of the author may attest if you know much of poetry. It is both sad and uplifting. In a way, it is the story of the end of a happy story, if that makes any sense.
"New Year's Night" by Henry Lawson
"New Year's Night" is the story of a holiday and an anniversary set in a hot farmhouse in Australia's farming country. A simpler story is not on this list and it takes a certain appreciation for the little things in family life to understand the magic in this tale. It is certainly not my favorite story of a New Year's Eve or Day, but it has the spirit of love and family between its few pages.
"A New Year's Gift" by Guy de Maupassant
This story begins with the narrator in a place many of us probably hope to be on New Year's Day -- reviewing the previous year and maturely taking stock of experiences. In the case of our storyteller, the thing of most import is the state of his romantic relationship with a woman named Irene. Very soon the woman unexpectedly joins him, but she is no good mood. Because the mystery is so quickly introduced and so clear of other distractions, it builds a natural curiosity that spurs the reader on to finish the brief tale. It is not long before the torrid secrets of their relationship and her life come spilling out.
This story ends with a bit of a shock and, to the modern reader, perhaps with a loss of respect for one of the two characters. Nonetheless, it is a New Year's Eve gift that is sought and it is received.
Happy Reading and Happy New Year,
Book Giveaway! and Spotlight on Marie Drake's "Three Rules:" A Suspense Thriller With all the Right Ingredients
|"Three Rules" cover|
Copyright Marie Drake 2013
" I want to spit on his grave, but I won't. That would cause the surrounding people to be offended and confused, all these people who didn't truly know him but honor him at this service. I hold my frame as stiff as a board beneath the dark, rumbling sky full of churning clouds – the perfect weather to send him off. I twist my buttons trying to make sure they all point in the same direction. It's a trivial thing to be focused on at a grave site, but my obsessiveness won't allow me to stop until I fix them all.
I guess most people would be sad attending two family members' funerals so close together. I'm not. We buried Grandfather Leonard not long ago. I didn't cry. I didn't know him. I didn't know what I was missing by not knowing him. I don't have any grandparents on my mother's side either. I wasn't his real grandchild anyway – and he never fussed over his own children – so why would he fuss over their children? I'm wearing the same black dress. My black hat covers my long blonde hair, fashioned into a bun. A veil conceals my face. I'm not crying for the loss of this man either, but no one can tell. Another rumble of thunder sounds and lightning crackles through the clouds. It seems appropriate that the sky swell up and spit on him for me. The pearly gates will not open to welcome him. No, he will not spend a single moment of eternity in a peaceful state.
There is no open casket, no public viewing. The authorities recovered his boat with evidence of some blood, a few strands of hair, and empty alcohol bottles. It was a logical conclusion that he fell, bumped his head, and went into the water. They did not recover his body. Too bad, I may find some morbid sense of satisfaction seeing him laying there in a coffin dead.
This ceremony over an empty grave seems very strange. Among all these tearful people mourning and sharing embraces, I separate myself. I look at them. I can see the fear in some of their faces. He died very young. They're afraid of death.
I scan the cemetery. So many headstones, so many graves, they all contain secrets – even the empty ones. I stand alone, twisting these buttons, counting the reasons I'm glad he's dead."
This excerpt coupled with the following quote from Hope Wellman, “I have learned three rules in my life: 1.) The most dangerous people in the world are not always strangers. 2.) The scariest things imaginable are not those that can kill you, but those you can live through. And probably the most prominent: 3.) The most horrible possibility is not what could happen to you, but what you could become – I became a killer.” have sucked me in. I just could not wait to find out what happened to Hope and what is going to happen to her as the pages turn.
"Three Rules" is already available for purchase at Amazon!