Book reminiscing: Doll God by Luanne Castle

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I read my friend from Michigan’s book,

“Doll God,” over a period of days.

Luanne Castle heads off on some

interesting, curious, twisted paths

in numerous directions taken.

Natural, mystical and physical

worlds inexplicably melded,

in her 2015 prize-winning

book awarded by the ~

“New Mexico – Arizona

Book Awards.”

All found within a collection of

54 deeply moving, tense and

alternatively relaxing, poems.

I had wished to write with parts

of each poem originally to intrigue

and entice you with snippets

but we had to cut back

featuring several instead.

Partnering up with my mother,

past 30 year teacher of high school

English, World Literature and Spanish,

we tackled thought-provoking poems.

Floundering a bit in our lack of abstract-

thinking abilities, both more practiced

in concrete-level of comprehension.

Quick summaries may also

provide clues to what hidden

gems may lie underneath the

piles of pages, like leaves, which

hold both natural beauty and

fearsome memoir elements.

In “Prototype,” Castle explores how

dolls are loved and then later, taken

for granted. Sympathy lies with poor

headless doll, forgotten ties to past.

A natural poem, “From Both Sides,”

the mountain “falls away from itself”

with the “marrow” grasping for snow

as a parched person gasps for water.

The second set of passages center

on a stonecutter switching from man

to stone, feeling how a tool’s cut

may reach into inner self.

In “Caught” one feels emotional

attachment with a hummingbird

stuck within a garage. She wishes to

escape into sky while “stares at the

ceiling, waiting for it to part.”

The painter observing, wants to catch

her, “I’m not going to hurt you.”

But she has heard this before.

The pleasant ending is open

to interpretation of how

help is carried out.

“Vintage Doll Buggy” holds conundrum,

usage of scrap metal before 1930’s

and then totally different product

manufactured by same company.

In the poem, “Beneath the Art and

the Muse,” I spied a story of men

and women; allegory or metaphor?

The finale revelation felt like

women are firecrackers.

Memories of childhood flood

back in the form of school supplies

and other nostalgic details in,

“For the Doll Mistress.”

Home decorating samples and

add sewing basket, sprinkle

fairy magic of the doll mistress,

pink spangles and ribbons.

There are all doll varieties,

including Barbies,

their descriptive

military formation.

Polly Pockets,

chubby-leg ballerinas,

toys such as those yellow ducks.

“Hemmed In” choice words describe

seamstress as a household god,

with “needle-roughened fingers”

controlling the fabric while sewing.

“Supernova” explores explosion,

aftermaths of mudstorms,

death, bones of humans

commingled with bonobos.

Explanation of Time on Earth.

“Fishing” is a story told with

beauty, meaning and grace. It

changes time periods from a

Louvre painting of “Lisa” who

has her simple story woven along

with a baby brother and older

sister, mother and son, all whose

relationships may become apparent,

depending how open mind becomes.

Dolls facedown in mud

appear in,

“Pastoral.”

If you have ever experienced a

nightmare, “The Falling Dream”

will reach and pull out your

fears; as your pulse quickens.

“American Girl” held many truths

which resonated with me. A model

type doll’s life style convertible, heels,

complete with dream house, her

“impossible construction,” like

“Julie Newmar” of long, thin

legs, small waist, you know

and can picture this doll

with tiny, tip-toed feet with her

“blondeness” while “available in

shades of Asian and cotton candy.”

There are two poems with “Snow”

character references, with

only first name given.

“Snow Remembers an Old Tale,”

if my thoughts of mystery may

be true, a memory of someone

sneaking out into summer’s night.

Later, boy who may or may not have

connected with girl, covers her with

fallen leaves, as the seasons pass.

His knee upon her, along with

trying to unearth girl,

makes me concerned

for her beneath leaves.

“Snow’s Locked Box” has overhead

oak branches, referred to as,

“brown skeletons.”

Over the glass coffin clouds pass,

while theater references are made of,

“set, lights, sound surround the body.”

The deeper meaning behind the poem

seeps out in tone of words such as,

“her lips pressed together in a

show of force,” “decay ripens in

our nostrils,” and “not even

shadows insinuate” with

ground bare beneath

the girl (“Snow”).

Leaves “stay moist and rot”

when pushed down under.

The final poem I chose to

analyze, with help from Mom,

holds title of book and poem.

“Doll God” speaks of a boy doll, as

if he were made in writer’s image.

He is pulled out of a mirror.

Home is not typical, having rats

sleeping “under the stoop.”

Referred as “God” he has

American flag on jeans’ pocket,

“baby’s sour, wrinkled skin,”

dragging one foot, as if born

with a disability. Neither of us were

sure of purpose of notepad and

“a pen that sighed as it moved.”

There is much to be said of poetry

which forces you to ponder

and ruminate over meanings.

Luanne Castle, thank you for this

original, complex poetry collection!

Kelsay Books,

Aldrich Press,

2015.

http://writersite.org
~Luanne’s blog.

http://luannecastle.com
~about Luanne’s book.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Mom’s neighbor has the pretty

pictured doll in her mint-colored

Osh Kosh jumper, handful of

lollipops and straw hat on.

Photograph by Robin O. Cochran,

Review of “Doll God,” the combined

effort of mother and daughter.

I have mentioned to Mom’s friend,

Peggy, her doll reminds me

of my old  “Little Miss Echo,”

biggest and once favorite doll.

She told us doll was bought

for only two dollars at a

country flea market.

Would you mind

sharing a doll,

toy or favorite

stuffed

animal

story

with us?

~ ~ ~ ~ * * * * ~ ~ ~ ~

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60 responses »

  1. sounds like a lovely book. my favorite stuffed animal is still in my office/studio. it is a well-worn sock monkey with a baby sock monkey safety pinned to it. mother and daughter, i love them both.

  2. My favorite stuffed animal is a little kitten that my mother gave me years ago. It’s battery operated so it purrs and wiggles just like a kitten. Aside from my Holly Hobbie and Raggedy Ann dolls, I’ve never liked the dolls. The ones that look real used to scare me when I was a child.

    • Your little kitten sounds precious and special, Jill. Thank you for telling me how it becomes “real,” too. ❀
      I like Holly Hobbie and Raggedy Ann dolls. My cousins are named Holly, Heather and Laurel and each received an American Greetings Holly Hobbie doll. The pretty blue pattern of H.H. dress is a contrast to Ann and Andy's red, white and blue colors. πŸ™‚

      Did you know Cleveland is the world headquarters for Amer. Greetings? They moved from downtown to five minutes from my Mom's, at Crocker Park town shopping center.

    • Merril, I am glad you are reading and savoring her poems, too.
      All children enjoy stuffed animals and sometimes they may be quite an unusual kind of animal. I remember your mentioning the girls liking dolls. ❀ This is a nice memory to share. Thank you!

  3. Hi, Robin, great job. My favorite stuffed toy, I wasn’t really a doll lover, was a big bum dog named Droopy Drawers. I don’t know if he came with that name or I gave it to him, but I took him everywhere!

  4. Sounds like a good read. I didn’t have favorite toys – don’t remember sleeping with a toy anyway. In the place where I grew up there was enough to play with in the woods and the lake. I learned to read very early, and always had a book around. I had a few dolls, of course, but they were pretty much neglected.

    • You are the second person who admits dolls weren’t their favorite thing to play with, Inese. I think my brothers got me to play “fort” and “treehouse” but I liked my dolls, dishes and playing tea party. It is wonderful to think of how each child is unique in their special interests.
      I think a nice quality of fellow bloggers is how much books tie us together. ❀ Many of us liked pretending and imagining, which comes out in our blogs. Thank you for sharing.

  5. How nice to be able to look at these books and decipher their meanings with your mother. Dolls are a great theme, kind of creepy but fun to be able to put your thoughts into their heads. My daughter has tons of Monster High dolls all over her room. Those are the ultimate in creepy dolls!

    • I think that the Monster High dolls are not as creepy as some dolls I have seen, Marissa. My oldest granddaughter used to have her Monster High dolls out. I am sad to know they are now in her bottom drawer and she just turned 12. 😦 Her sisters, the M & M girls, like silly and expensive dolls called Lollaloopsie, who is cute as a button and has button layered legs!
      We finally decided how to write only a few details of a few poems out of 54 poems. We were getting really “wordy” (my term) or “verbose” (Mom’s word).:)

      • Ah, verbose…a $100 word…and not just in Scrabble! Yes, I’m thinking the day my daughter puts her dolls away is coming sooner than I think although she is only 9. I think the dolls that don’t mean to be creepy are probably the creepiest ones of all!

  6. Robin, thank you so very very much for this sweet and wonderful review of Doll God! I am so happy that you and your mother enjoyed it. The doll pictured above looks like a Patti Playpal by Ideal but is most likely a look alike. There were several companies, including Uneeda, that made them in the 60s as they were very popular. http://www.dollinfo.com/PlayPalType.htm My poem “YouTube Interview of the Life-Sized Toddler Doll” is about a doll exactly like your mom’s neighbor’s!!!
    I was a blanket girl. It was white and the satin edge was mostly worn off. When I was four, my mother threw it away as she had read it wasn’t healthy to allow me to keep it. Maybe that’s why I began to focus on my dolls. I didn’t want to make that mistake of throwing away with my kids. My son had a favorite stuffed seal and daughter had a favorite stuffed zebra. He is going to be 32 and (shhhh) still has it. She lost hers the summer before college and the sight of a stuffed zebra still makes her sad. Thank you so much for this beautifully persona review, Robin. I’m sharing it all over the place!

    • Luanne, so happy this is like your toddler sized doll in the YouTube interview poem! We read that several times, decided to spend less time the farther we got in your wonderful book!
      I am pleased we seemed to manage to create a cohesive summary.

      Thank you for sharing about your blanket, with silk edging. My son used to stroke my silk nightgown with nursing folds. Once I was trying to wean him from breastfeeding, I started giving him a bottle with an aqua blanket with silk edging. He would suck his thumb with a corner of the blanket. When I tried to lessen his attachment to “blanky,” I had to cut it into quadrants, washing one and giving 1/4 to him at a time. Makes me laugh because I was so determined not to traumatize him, I probably lost some of my youth!
      I was sorry to hear of your daughter losing her giraffe! 😦
      The giraffe which Kohl’s cares has on sale for $5 and money goes to local charities is really cute. I bought two for Hendrix since Trista likes his room to be a zoo theme.
      Your son’s seal sounds so nice, too. Thank you for sharing about your grow children’s toys, Luanne.
      Thank you for your gift to me, since truly my donation was such a small one for all the joy your book brought to my Mom and me. ❀

      • I’m so thrilled you both enjoyed it!!! That is so funny about cutting your son’s blanket, but look how much effort you put into keeping it. That is so caring and smart. I love the idea of a zoo themed bedroom! Very happy and colorful.

  7. Reblogged this on Writer Site and commented:
    To celebrate this charming and personal review of Doll God by Robin at https://witlessdatingafterfifty.wordpress.com, I am offering for one last time a donation event to receive a free copy.
    For one lil ole donation of a minimum of $10 to Home Fur Good no-kill animal shelter in Phoenix, you will receive a signed copy of my book and a cat or elephant charm with free shipping (and tax write-off from the shelter).
    My book is valued at $14 and the charm at $5, plus I am picking up the shipping myself. All I am asking is that you donate a minimum of $10 (for shipping to US address!!! (For international, please email me to discuss shipping costs). Feel free to donate more if you can, but only one package deal per person, please.
    CLICK HERE TO DONATE: http://homefurgood.org/donate/one-time-donation/

  8. Thanks to Stephen King, dolls remain forever creepy and evil in my consciousness. But I will seek this book out if only to change, or to reaffirm, this opinion.

    • Jay, the book tackles a lot in the poetry. I was astounded by the diverse, serious topics taken on. Thanks for reading my review. I can tell by your wonderful response! πŸ™‚

  9. “Doll God” is an intriguing name.

    As for stories, Choppy is a destroyer of toys. Except for some rather large stuffed animals, who she loves dearly and who have never been unstuffed or otherwise torn apart. Unfortunately, sometimes that love is expressed by some inappropriate actions toward said stuffed animals.

    • Choppy must really love those toys, Sarah! πŸ˜‰ I am happy she doesn’t unstuff all of them. I think she is usually on good behavior so I would just look away and ignore her expressing too much love on said “rather large stuffed animals!”
      The book has some very intense poems which are about more than dolls. So glad you read this and commented on the toys your girl likes! πŸ™‚

    • Your compliments are very meaningful to me, Maniparna. I appreciate how you added your favorite stuffed toy, too. I like stuffed monkeys since they have such cute faces! πŸ™‚

  10. I actually have James’ (yes boys in the 30’s had dolls) original Shirley Temple doll. She was in pieces when his mom gave her to us. And I have since take her to a doll hospital where they did a great job of restoring her. She had to have new hair but they put on the same kind that she had had, we did have all her parts that had to be strung together. And we had her original dress that they restored. They did have to find replacement shoes but they look just like the originals too. I love her and she sit atop a chifarobe in my daughters room. I also have my originial Madame Alexander doll. She had to have new hair too and we found no clothes so I had to buy some for her. She sits on a shelf in my bedroom. I love both of these dolls and wouldn’t trade them for the world. Love, N

    • Thank you, Natalie for taking the time to describe your husband’s Shirley Temple doll. By explaining her condition and adding the doll hospital you may motivate someone to repair their mother’s or father’s favorite toy.
      I understand your enjoying having those special restored dolls and glad you display them. Dolls need to be loved! Your Madame Alexander doll is much bigger than mine, I imagine.
      I have a set of little six inch Madame Alexander dolls from My Little Women, still in their blue exterior, pink interior boxes. I received them for six Christmases in a row. Funny, when I was trying to sell everything a woman offered me a thousand dollars only if they were all made in the same year! To get one a year, they were from 1961 through 1967 or 68.
      Did you ever like the Tammy movies with Sandra Dee? I love those movies where she lived with her father on a houseboat. Tammy and the Doctor is one. . . I have a Tammy doll (Hasbro) but no box nor original country dress. I have a dress my Mom made her. πŸ™‚

      • No I don’t recall those movies. I may have see if I can build a blog post around my two dolls and include photos of them. Love you missy❣😘

  11. Beautiful and interesting reading Robin, the story of Dolls can be found in all Countries and in every little girls Heart, the statement Sympathy lies with poor headless doll, forgotten ties to past, reminds me a lot of the lonely Teddy Bear with one eye missing.
    I will share my Doll with you on my update on My Porcelain Doll.
    Slainte.

    • I love your living granddaughter who is a beautiful porcelain doll with such a sweet face, Ian. ❀
      So sad when stuffed animals lose their button eye, their nose or ear. 😦
      Thank you so much for your lovely additions on this post!

      • Thank you for your beautiful comment Robin, I fell in love with her when I first held her.
        I think stuffed animals, broken Dolls and other toys that are damaged become more precious to children for some reason.

  12. Such a beautiful doll! The book sounds really interesting, Robin. All my childhood dolls and stuffed animals are long gone, but I do remember my beautiful little Rosebud doll bought for me by my Great Aunt Mary and a bunny rabbit who ended up with one ear and blue buttons for eyes. πŸ™‚

    • Sylvia, your Rosebud doll sounds precious. Have you ever tried going to antique stores to replace her? By the way, my Great Aunt was called Mary all her life by her siblings but she told me she wanted to be “Great Aunt Marie!” She was extra special and fun! I am glad you shared about her gift to you.
      The Bunny rabbit reminds me of the Velveteen Rabbit (book) who was a much loved, but tattered bunny.

      • I remember when she took me to choose a doll. Mom wanted me to have a bigger one which I could dress and play with, but I was adamant that I wanted to Rosebud doll, which was much smaller and really just for looking at, rather than playing with.

    • Your comment was lovely! ❀ I wasn't sure if I should wait to see if Luanne stopped by to comment. . . So glad you enjoyed my review but you have read Doll God, too. Which was your favorite poem, Marie?

  13. I love the book title. Who hasn’t loved a doll? A stuffed bear, actually three bears and a bunny have salvaged my marriage during turbulent times, their antics bringing my husband and I to gales of laughter after days of speaking through the dolls’ antics. Manny is my favorite. He travels and writes his own blog. Enjoyed your topic, and your unique way of sharing it. πŸ™‚

    • Marsha, I was checking belatedly my blog approval comments. I really appreciate your sharing the interesting and fun antics you share with your husband. Way to keep your marriage interesting! Thank you and please know I get super busy in the summer. I work at an auto parts warehouse, so of course we have our most active season now. I am much better at staying in touch when summer ends.
      Thanks again, Marsha. Smiles, Robin

      • Thanks for the nice comment. No worries. It’s hard to keep up with blogging and life, and we all struggle with it! πŸ™‚

    • Thank you, Sheila. ❀ I am glad you also enjoyed her book. I had filled out a library requisition slip last year and it did not show up. Then Luanne offered if we ordered it, thru $10 donation to a no-kill animal shelter,a signed copy of book and a dangler with either a cat or elephant. I broke my "No more books" rule for my one bedroom apt. πŸ™‚

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