Looking for Alaska – John Green’s Classic Coming-of-Age Novel

Looking for Alaska pic
Looking for Alaska
Image: amazon.com

Ed Gentle is a well established Birmingham, Alabama, attorney who serves as court neutral. Engaging as special master and administrator, he has facilitated several major mass tort settlements over the decades. An avid reader, Ed Gentle is currently working his way through the novels of John Green, from Paper Towns to Looking for Alaska.

Published in 2005, the latter novel cleverly bridges genres and features a protagonist Miles Halter who finds meaning in the deathbed sayings of famous figures. Leaving home to attend boarding school, Miles is in search of the Great Perhaps, a deathbed term that poet Francois Rabelais used for what might follow life. He is soon joined in this quest by Alaska Young and his roommate Takumi, as the narrative portrays the passion and anxiety of high school life, as well as its small triumphs.

Critically acclaimed upon publication, Looking for Alaska earned the American Library Association’s Michael L. Printz Award. Among the other novels that Edgar Gentle recently read was Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman.

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Three Tips for the Novice Poet

Novice Poet pic
Novice Poet
Image: writingforward.com

The director and chairman of the board of Custom Cable Services, Inc., in Fultondale, Alabama, Edgar Gentle also holds one-third of the stock in the company, which maintains annual sales of $13 million. Outside of his professional life, Edgar Gentle spends his time between two Alabama lake houses, where he enjoys writing poetry.

Like any art form, poetry can seem intimidating to the novice, resulting in fear rather than bringing feelings of joy and satisfaction. Here are three tips for budding poets to get the most out of their work while avoiding common mistakes:

1. Write About What Matters to You – Poetry can help poets recognize and process their own feelings. Andrew Motion, a former poet laureate of the United Kingdom who has been knighted for his contributions to literature, has said that his early poetry helped him deal with and express his feelings regarding his mother’s death. He advises poets to “let your subject find you.”

2. Have Clear Direction – Before writing your poem, ask yourself what the purpose of the poem is and what you want it to do. This clear vision will help you write a poem with a cohesive message and theme.

3. Revise – Your poem is not completed once you have finished the first draft. Put your poem aside for a few days before coming back to it with a fresh perspective. Another option is to ask a friend or colleague for constructive criticism. A fresh set of eyes may notice an issue you completely missed.

Pond Mountain Tales

Xlibris Press pic
Xlibris Press
Image: xlibris.com

Birmingham, Alabama, attorney Ed Gentle serves as a partner with Gentle Turner Sexton and Harbison, LLC. Outside of his legal work, Ed Gentle pursues a range of hobbies, including creative writing. He has recently published a book of his short stories and poetry with Xlibris Press entitled Pond Mountain Tales.

Containing poems, stories, and vignettes that relate to the eleven years that the author spent living on a 200-acre farm, the writing in Pond Mountain Tales deals with relationships between people and nature. For example, the piece “Rattler Truce” is about the shaky coexistence of copperhead rattlesnakes and people on the farm and the author’s ultimate decision to not bother the snakes on his property.

Fishing themes also run through Pond Mountain Tales. For instance, the short story “The Pipe I” is set at a fishing tournament the author participated in. The story is about a specific fishing incident and includes both “official” and “unofficial” accounts of what happened. The author also examines the larger philosophical issues of why fishing and fishing tournaments have such an appeal to humans.