When the words die…

It seems so very long ago that I first tripped over a low-key article about a little known “women’s language”, called nu shu, which once existed in China, passed down from mother to daughter, totally hidden from male eyes.
The article mourned the loss of the last speaker of nu shu who had learned the language in the organic, traditional way – at her mother’s knee. With her passing, the language died too – at least as a living thing, spoken and used. From now on it would only be studied and remembered and dissected, but as a living language it was gone.
It was this story that gave me the inspiration for my highest-flying book, “The Secrets of Jin Shei“, where a similar language formed the basis for my imagined society.

Last Wichita speaker passes away

Just recently I became aware of another language vanishing into those same shadows – this time because of the death of Doris Jean Lamar-McLemore, the last fluent native speaker of Wichita (link, and story by Rhiannon Poolaw of KSWO below). Once again a language once used and shared and vibrant has withered away, and will soon only be a memory.
Bird Of Stone photoIt’s like languages were birds on the wing, soaring on the winds, diving into clouds, full of the joy of living and of existence – until, eventually, inevitably, things start turning to stone, the wings getting stiff, the hearts getting heavy, until the creature falls to the ground, only a stone image of the joyful flying thing it once was, to be picked up and picked over and examined and wondered at by those who come after, those who had never known the living thing that flew.
And with every loss of language comes an inevitable loss of culture, of memory, of things that could only be said or understood in that language.
The loss of words, any words, anybody’s words, makes me sad.
Read more about Doris Jean Lamar-McLemore, the last Wichita speaker HERE
Sometimes world creators like writers and artists don’t have to make up things. Sometimes things get made up for us that we could never have invented…like a radioactive mineral that exists nowhere else on Earth than in the grave of a nuclear disaster – something rare, and precious, and something that could kill you faster and more thoroughly than any monster in any fairy tale.
In the radioactive woods arond the place that was once known as Chernobyl, there now lives a thing called the Red Forest which crawls with mythological creatures and radioactive fungi that glow in the dark.
Chernobyl desolate sceneChernobyl was a tragedy. Its aftermath is a blend of mythology old and new and it is hypnotic in its stark and deadly beauty.
Read this astonishing essay; it’s well worth your time.
(All images featured are film stills from Stalker. Credit: Filmgrabber All quotations of Chernobyl survivors are excerpted from Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Holocaust.)
Reads the whole essay HERE

Oh, to live in a bookish town…

When we moved to the place we now call home, it was partly because of two AMAZING second hand bookstores we found in the heart of the town. It could only bode well for the spirit of the place.
But the English town, Hay on Wye, is… a special thing. It’s SPECIAL. How many spots on this planet could bear the weight of this many words congregated together?
Hay On Wye, bookstore photoHay on Wye has been known to me for many years. No, I’ve never been there. Yes, I’d love to go. What other form of paradise is there for someone who loves reading, loves the feel and smell and the promise of books – for someone who is always a little breathless with anticipation before starting a new book, and often breathless with a sense of wonder after finishing a particularly glorious one – than this…?
Read the whole story at storypick.com HERE
Other book towns in the world HERE

Archive of 6,000 Historical Children’s Books, Digitized and Free to Read Online

An astonishing treasure trove at openculture.com HERE
A review of Wolf, the second book in my Were Chronicles, by L. Bruce Diamond is the kind authors pick for their blurbs. He says, for example, that Wolf
“is simultaneously frustrating, engrossing, infuriating, and satisfying.”  
If a book can stir up that kind of reaction in a discerning reader, the author’s labors in producing it were well worth it.

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