Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Halloween! Here’s a poem by Alfred Noyes to get you in the moooood.

The Highwayman



THE wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees,
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding—
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.


He’d a French cocked-hat on his forehead, a bunch of lace at his chin,
A coat of the claret velvet, and breeches of brown doe-skin;
They fitted with never a wrinkle: his boots were up to the thigh!
And he rode with a jewelled twinkle,
His pistol butts a-twinkle,
His rapier hilt a-twinkle, under the jewelled sky.


Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard,
And he tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred;
He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord’s black-eyed daughter,
Bess, the landlord’s daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.


And dark in the dark old inn-yard a stable-wicket creaked
Where Tim the ostler listened; his face was white and peaked;
His eyes were hollows of madness, his hair like mouldy hay,
But he loved the landlord’s daughter,
The landlord’s red-lipped daughter,
Dumb as a dog he listened, and he heard the robber say—


“One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I’m after a prize to-night,
But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light;
Yet, if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day,
Then look for me by moonlight,
Watch for me by moonlight,
I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way.”


He rose upright in the stirrups; he scarce could reach her hand,
But she loosened her hair i’ the casement! His face burnt like a brand
As the black cascade of perfume came tumbling over his breast;
And he kissed its waves in the moonlight,
(Oh, sweet, black waves in the moonlight!)
Then he tugged at his rein in the moonliglt, and galloped away to the West.




He did not come in the dawning; he did not come at noon;
And out o’ the tawny sunset, before the rise o’ the moon,
When the road was a gypsy’s ribbon, looping the purple moor,
A red-coat troop came marching—
King George’s men came matching, up to the old inn-door.


They said no word to the landlord, they drank his ale instead,
But they gagged his daughter and bound her to the foot of her narrow bed;
Two of them knelt at her casement, with muskets at their side!
There was death at every window;
And hell at one dark window;
For Bess could see, through her casement, the road that he would ride.


They had tied her up to attention, with many a sniggering jest;
They had bound a musket beside her, with the barrel beneath her breast!
“Now, keep good watch!” and they kissed her.
She heard the dead man say—
Look for me by moonlight;
Watch for me by moonlight;
I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way!


She twisted her hands behind her; but all the knots held good!
She writhed her hands till her fingers were wet with sweat or blood!
They stretched and strained in the darkness, and the hours crawled by like years,
Till, now, on the stroke of midnight,
Cold, on the stroke of midnight,
The tip of one finger touched it! The trigger at least was hers!


The tip of one finger touched it; she strove no more for the rest!
Up, she stood up to attention, with the barrel beneath her breast,
She would not risk their hearing; she would not strive again;
For the road lay bare in the moonlight;
Blank and bare in the moonlight;
And the blood of her veins in the moonlight throbbed to her love’s refrain .


Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot! Had they heard it? The horse-hoofs ringing clear;
Tlot-tlot, tlot-tlot, in the distance? Were they deaf that they did not hear?
Down the ribbon of moonlight, over the brow of the hill,
The highwayman came riding,
Riding, riding!
The red-coats looked to their priming! She stood up, straight and still!


Tlot-tlot, in the frosty silence! Tlot-tlot, in the echoing night!
Nearer he came and nearer! Her face was like a light!
Her eyes grew wide for a moment; she drew one last deep breath,
Then her finger moved in the moonlight,
Her musket shattered the moonlight,
Shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him—with her death.


He turned; he spurred to the West; he did not know who stood
Bowed, with her head o’er the musket, drenched with her own red blood!
Not till the dawn he heard it, his face grew grey to hear
How Bess, the landlord’s daughter,
The landlord’s black-eyed daughter,
Had watched for her love in the moonlight, and died in the darkness there.


Back, he spurred like a madman, shrieking a curse to the sky,
With the white road smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high!
Blood-red were his spurs i’ the golden noon; wine-red was his velvet coat,
When they shot him down on the highway,
Down like a dog on the highway,
And he lay in his blood on the highway, with the bunch of lace at his throat.

*           *           *           *           *           *


And still of a winter’s night, they say, when the wind is in the trees,
When the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
When the road is a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
A highwayman comes riding—
A highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door.


Over the cobbles he clatters and clangs in the dark inn-yard;
He taps with his whip on the shutters, but all is locked and barred;
He whistles a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord’s black-eyed daughter,
Bess, the landlord’s daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

Between the Lines Book Club: Epistolary Novels

between the lines book club logoWelcome to Between the Lines Book Club! This month we’ve been reading Gilead, a novel by Marilynne Robinson. We’ll be meeting in person at Arden Dimick Library in Sacramento, California, at 10:30AM on October 22, 2016.

Gilead is written as a series of letters form Reverend Ames to his young son. Ames had his son late in his own life and he knows he will not live to see his son grow up, so he wants to leave a communication with the child he will soon leave behind. This format is known as an “epistolary novel.” An epistolary novel is one that consists of a series of letters. It can also consist of a colleciton of documents. For instance, World War Z, by Max Brooks, is made up entirely of a collection of interviews, and Carrie by Stephen King, consists of letters, newspaper articles, and excerpts from books.

If you are interested in the idea of the episotolary format, here’s a sample to get you started!

Lady Susan, by Jane Austen

Lady Susan was finished by austen, but probably not fully edited and polished. It appears not to have been intended for publication. Despite it not being as fully developed as Austen’s published works, this short novel is hilarious and wicked, as Lady Susan, a woman with no morals whatsoever, wreaks havoc on the lives of the proper people her surround her. You can find my full review here and my review of Love and Friendship, a movie based on the book, here.

Dracula, by Bram Stoker

In this classic horror novel, the story is told through letters by Mina, Jonathon, Dr. Seward – in fact, almost every character except for Dracula. This gives the story a sense of immediacy and increases the feeling that Dracula is unknowable. We never hear his point of view – we simply sense his prescence, looming over all of the characters at every moment.

The Color Purple, by Alice Walker

This classic novel is told as a series of letters from Celie to God and later to her sister Nettie. As Celie becomes more confident, her letter become longer and more fluent. Because the novel is in Celie’s voice, the reader has a visceral sense of her struggles against racsim, sexism, and poverty, and the reader thrills at Celie’s liberation as she develops a sense of self and a place in her community.

Super Sad True Love Story, by Gary Shteyngart

This book is told in the form of diary entries and emails. In the near future, Lenn is a middle-aged man, the son of Russian immigrants, who falls madly in love with Korean-American Eunice Park. Meanwhile, America faces political and economic collapse. The story of these mismatched lovers is funny, sharp, and yes, super sad.



Four Things You Didn’t Know About Shirley Jackson

8-shirley-jackson-novelist-1916-1965I had the great pleasure of being on a panel about Shirley Jackson recently – which meant I was forced – FORCED, I SAY! To re-read The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in a Castle FOR WORK. You all have no idea how I suffer. I also read the new biography, Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin. Here’s a few things I learned that you might not have known:

  1. Her mother was intensely critical of her.

It’s not a coincidence that so many of Jackson’s stories involve tense relationships between mothers and daughters. Jackson’s own mother hoped to enjoy marriage to her husband for a while before having an attractive and ladylike blonde daughter. Instead, she gave birth nine months after the wedding to Shirley, who was big-boned, redheaded, and rebellious. Jackson’s mother pestered her about her weight and appearance all her life.

2. She was the primary money-earner in the family.

Jackson was married to the literary critic Stanley Edgar Hyman. While both were highly regarded during their lifetimes, Jackson’s work brought in much more money – so much so that her husband resented any time she spent writing letters or diary entries because they took away from her earning potential.

3. Being the breadwinner did not lessen her domestic responsibilities.

Hyman wanted Jackson to write, but not enough to pitch in with housework and with raising children. Jackson, the mother of four children, managed by being an affectionate but exceptionally hands-off mother. She made fun of her lapses as a housekeeper in her memoirs and essays, but was also self-conscious about it. Her books Life Among the Savages and Raising Demons are humorous looks at her domestic life.

4. She was a practicing witch.

Jackson was a believer in magic and well-read in folklore and mythology. She entertained friends by reading tarot cards and made charms as gifts and to protect the house. She was not Wiccan, rather, she was fond of sympathetic magic. She once joked that she was responsible for breaking an enemies leg (he broke it while skiing) but this joke backfired on her as she was constantly badgered with questions about how she did it.


Between the Lines Book Club: Gilead and Transcendentalism

between the lines book club logoOur October book club selection is Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson. If you are in the Sacramento area, please join us at Arden Dimick Library at 10:30AM on October 29, 2016.

Gilead is the story of Reverend Ames, his father, and his grandfather, and their approaches to war and civil rights. The book is profoundly influenced by transcendentalism.

Transcendentalism is a philosophical school of thought that developed in the late 1820s. It was made famous by, among other people, author Ralph Waldo Emerson. Other followers included Louisa May Alcott and her family, Margaret Fuller, Walt Whitman, and Henry David Thoreau.

Transcendentalism was a movement that was influenced by Romanticism, as well as by Indian religions. Transcendentalists believed that all people are inherently good, that nature is inherently good, and that the more self-reliant people are, the better they are. The movement was notable as being American in origin, and most of its followers were Americans. It was also notable for sparking a literary movement that mirrored its philopophical aims. Emerson’s magazine, The Dial, was a home to many new essays and stories by American writers.

In an article for The New Inquiry titled “The New Transcendentalist” Susan Salter Reynolds says,

I like to think of Robinson as a member of a merry band I call the New Transcendentalists, a group that builds on the luminous work of Emerson, Thoreau, Dickinson, Whitman, Melville, and others. The New Transcendentalists include, besides Robinson,  Wendell Berry, Thomas Merton, Mary Oliver, Rebecca Solnit, and others. I am sure that I have left names from both categories, New and Old, but the message is the same: belief in the human spirit and its capacity for community, generosity, and stewardship; in what Whitman called “radical uniqueness,” and in the vital connection to nature as a source of creativity and innovation. The effect is also the same: elevation, followed by freedom.

By tying her work, both consciously (Robinson is a big Emerson fan) and unconsciously to Transcendentalism, Robinson is able to explore the healing power of nature, the pros and cons of communities, and the role of faith in matters and large and small. She also gives her work a distinctly American feel by tying it to a rich legacy of American thought and American fiction.

Water as Muse: My Latest Gig With Sacramento Public Library

mcclatchy_library_500x323_img_0605Sacramento peeps, I will be speaking at McClatchy Library this Sunday (October 23, 2016) at 1PM on the topic of water and Californian Literature. I’m excited to be part of a series sponsored by the library: Sacramento 95H20. Here’s a full list of speakers and dates:

Sacramento 95H2O: 

A Series on Water and What it Means to Sacramentans


Water as Muse: 


Sunday, October 23 at 1:00 pm. Writer Carrie Sessarego presents “Flowing over Golden Pages: The Role of Water in California Literature.” McClatchy Library.


Water as Life:


Sunday, November 13 at 1:00 pm. Julian Fulton, PhD, Assistant Professor of Environmental Science at Sacramento State University presents “The Future of California Water: The Quest for Sustainability in an Age of Climate Change.” Central Library.


Water as Energy:


Sunday, November 20 at 1:00 pm. Environmental historian Scott Sault presents “Sacramento and Hydro-Electric Power: How the Lights went on in the River City.” Central Library.


Water as Dialogue:


Sunday, December 4 at 3:00 pm. Keith Coolidge of the Delta Stewardship Council presents “The Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta: Its History, its Problems, what’s Currently Going on and Why, and Ideas for Fixing it.” Central Library.


Water as History:


Sunday, December 11 at 1:00 at p.m. Social historian and geographer Andrew McLeod presents “Confluence: The Natural History of Where the Sacramento and American Rivers Meet.” McClatchy Library.


Between the Lines Book Club: A Short Bio of Mariynne Robinson

between the lines book club logoOur October book club selection is Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson. If you are in the Sacramento area, please join us at Arden Dimick Library at 10:30AM on October 29, 2016 for an in-person discussion of this lyrical book.

Marilynne Robinson was born in 1943 in Idaho, where she set her first novel, Housekeeping. She lives in Iowa City and is divorced with two adult sons. Robinson is a Congregationalist, and many of her works, both fiction and non-fiction, deal with issues of faith and human relationships.

In 2015, Robinson and President Obama had a conversation that was recorded by the New York Review of Books. In this conversation, which you can find at New York Review of Books, they talk about Robinson’s family, her faith, and her interest in politics.

There’s another interview with Robinson in the Paris Review. In this nterview, she discusses the relationship between science and faith, her background, and her writing process. At one point in this review, she has this to say about beauty, a major theme in her fiction:

You have to have a certain detachment in order to see beauty for yourself rather than something that has been put in quotation marks to be understood as “beauty.” Think about Dutch painting, where sunlight is falling on a basin of water and a woman is standing there in the clothes that she would wear when she wakes up in the morning—that beauty is a casual glimpse of something very ordinary. Or a painting like Rembrandt’s Carcass of Beef, where a simple piece of meat caught his eye because there was something mysterious about it. You also get that in Edward Hopper: Look at the sunlight! or Look at the human being! These are instances of genius. Cultures cherish artists because they are people who can say, Look at that. And it’s not Versailles. It’s a brick wall with a ray of sunlight falling on it.

At the same time, there has always been a basic human tendency toward a dubious notion of beauty. Think about cultures that rarify themselves into courts in which people paint themselves with lead paint and get dumber by the day, or women have ribs removed to have their waists cinched tighter. There’s no question that we have our versions of that now. The most destructive thing we can do is act as though this is some sign of cultural, spiritual decay rather than humans just acting human, which is what we’re doing most of the time.



L.T.’s Top Ten: Top Ten Mabel Sweaters

8a223e4761296e397639e65eb789ee31Today’s post comes from our young correspondent, Linden, who has a special Top Ten!

Hello everyone I have news! This is my FIRST TOP TEN LIST! YAAAAAAAAY!

Anyway my name is Linden and I’m Carrie’s 12-year-old daughter. You might have seen some of my reviews already, my most recent one being of My Immortal, the horrible book that made me want to stab my eyes out. I’ll be making a lot more Top Tens and reviews in the future but for now here are the top ten Mabel sweaters!

If you are reading this then you probably know about a show called Gravity Falls and if you don’t then you should go check it out. I’ll be mentioning it in the next LT’S Top Ten that I do. In Gravity Falls there is a certain character named Mabel who is one of the main protagonist in the show. She’s bubbly, optimistic, fun, and just plain AWESOME. That’s really the best way to describe all of Gravity Falls – it is just AWESOME! But I digress. Because of Mabel’s personality she was given a variety of colorful, fun, AWSOME sweaters and today I’m going to talk about the best of them all. All Top Ten lists will be made with #1 being the best in my opinion and number ten being still the best, but not the best of the best.



#10 MEOW WOW (from Episode One of Season One)

In the first episode of Gravity Falls, Mabel falls in love with someone named “Norman” and they go on a date. How does Mabel dress to impress? By wearing a glittery purple sweater with a glittery picture of a derpy cat next to the words MEOW WOW which; you guessed it are also covered in glitter! The best part about this is when Mable asks Norman “How do I look?” Norman just kind of stares at her before saying, “Shiny.”




#9 Llama Hair (from Episode 3 of Season One)

Mabel wears this one in a couple episodes I think, but it first showed up during the end credits of Episode 3. In the scene Mabel is in her room trying to decide if she should wear her sweater with the sequins or the Llama hair and decides on the Llama hair because Larry King’s head hops over and says, “The Llama hair, Llamas are nature’s greatest warriors.” You read me right: Larry King’s head! Not his body literally just his head! Hahahahahahah oh my god! It’s just its so funny I…I really love this show!




#8 Note (from Episode 5 of Season 1)

I just really like how this looks on Mable. It doesn’t really have anything about it that’s super special but I think that the colors are nice and Mable looks super cute in it. It’s not too busy and not too plain, it’s just a generally cute sweater and Mabel rocks it like a boss.




#7 Scouts Honor (from Episode Ten of Season 1)

Is it wrong for me to desperately want this sweater? Because I think it is, but I don’t care! I can’t really justify why I love this sweater so much, I guess it’s because I think it’s really clever and funny and it would come in handy in a lot of situations. Yeah you probably shouldn’t trust me too much heh heh. Oh come on you know you want it too!




#6 Horse (from Episode 4 of Season 1)

I watched this episode twice once by myself and once with my mom. The first time I watched it I liked Mabel’s sweater but I wouldn’t think to put it in a list with my favorites of all time. However the second time I watched it with my mom and she said, quote, *gasp* “Oh my god I LOVE THAT SWEATER!” and you know what? I also love that sweater, because the mane of the horse is in 3D. Also it’s just an awesome sweater.




#5 Mabel and Waddles (from Episode 18 of Season 1)

Okay okay, I know that technically this is two sweaters, but you know what too bad! They are going to be listed together because they are a set. Mable has an adorable pig named Waddles (she calls him that because he WADDLES!) and she really really loves Waddles, so she made them matching sweaters. They are only shown side by side in the matching sweaters once but I think its super cute and says a lot about Mabel’s character.



#4 Dog (from Episode 7 of Season 2)

I love this sweater because it’s a scratch and sniff! It’s a scratch and sniff! I just love that so much! It’s not just me right? The colors look great on Mabel as well. I also think it might be a nod to one of Princess Bubblegum’s shirts from one of my other favorite shows, Adventure Time.




#3 Light Bulb (from Episode 2 of Season 2)

“Isn’t that a fire hazard?” “No it’s a fun hazard.” I just love this sweater because it gives off a lot of light; witch is not only useful but also fun! It looks cute in the day time and is a night light during night time. I love how it looks on Mabel in the dark and in the sun ,and I think a light up sweater with a picture of a happy light bulb on it is a super clever and fun idea.


#2 Boom Box (from episode 1 of season 1)

I don’t know if you can tell but this sweater is a boom box that is a real boom box! No really if you press the right button, it lights up and PLAYS RAVE MUSIC! NEED I SAY MORE? No, no I don’t.


#1 (drum roll please…) RAINBOW STAR (from almost all the episodes)

Now at first this might seem like a regular unassuming sweater but this sweater is actually incredibly special and awesome. Why? Because this is MABEL’S SIGNATURE SWEATER. It’s  iconic. She wears it more then any of her other sweaters. In one episode she gets trapped in a bubble like thing… I’m not sure what its called exactly but the important part is that the design on this sweater is on it. Why? Because this is MABEL’S SIGNATURE SWEATER! But don’t take it from me, take it from these screen shots. Cue the cheesy music! (I can’t get it to play actual music so just use your imagination!)



So what did you think? Do you love one of Mabel’s sweaters that I didn’t mention? Maybe you just thought the order should have been different. Is there another list you want me to do? Let me know in the comments! BYE!!!













Between the Lines Book club: Gilead

between the lines book club logoTime to announce our October book club selection, Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson. If you are in the Sacramento area, please join us at Arden Dimick Library at 10:30AM on October 29, 2016 for an in-person discussion of this lyrical book.

Gilead, which was published in 2004, is Robinson’s second book. It won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for best fiction. Her first novel, Housekeeping, told the stories of three women. In Gilead, the story focuses on men – Reverend John Ames, his father, and hid grandfather. Ames is writing a series of letters to his son about the history of his family. The story deals with faith, conscience, mortality, and forgiveness.

Gilead is the first in what is known as “The Gilead Trilogy” although all three books in the trilogy work as stand-alone novels. It is followed by Home, which follows the struggles of Ames’ neighbors, and Lila, which tells the story of Ames’ wife. All three books pay tribute to the philosophies and writing styles of transcendental writers such as Emerson, Thoreau, and Emily Dickenson by using simple yet lyrical language to describe not only the dramatic events of life but the beauty of simple, everyday moments.


We hope you enjoy this selection! You can participate in book club in person or by leaving comments here.