Ethel’s Song — Review

Thought for the Day:

“Writing is an extreme privilege but it’s also a gift. It’s a gift to yourself and it’s a gift of giving a story to someone.”
~ Amy Tan ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:

Becca Puglisi has a GREAT post HERE on Writers Helping Writers that will help you with How to Reveal a Character’s Internal Conflict.

Sometimes it is worth getting through a sales pitch to get some good information. HERE is a really useful article from Self-Publishing School on Character Development: 12 Steps, Arcs, & Guides (Worksheet).

We all get burned out sometimes. Not-So-Modern Girl has a great post HERE entitled My Experience of Burn-Out + 6 Top Tips.

I am having severe computer problems at my house. My laptop has had an intermittent problem with certain keys not working right, and so it is in the shop. It’s really hard for me to get my post up this week. Have I ever mentioned my degree is in advertising and that I worked in that field for ten years before becoming a teacher? I did. So today, since I’m so busy tearing my hair out, I am going to share some great advertising failures rather than writing about the world. Enjoy.

The American Dairy Association was so successful with its “Got Milk?” campaign, that it was decided to extend the ads to Mexico. Unfortunately, the Spanish translation was “Are you lactating?”
Electrolux, a Scandinavian vacuum manufacturer, used this ad in the U.S.: “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.”
Coors put its slogan, “Turn it loose,” into Spanish, where it was read as “Suffer from diarrhea.”
Bacardi concocted a fruity drink with the name “Pavian” to suggest French chic…but “pavian” means “baboon” in German.
Hair products company, Clairol, introduced the “Mist Stick”, a curling iron, into Germany only to find out that mist is slang for manure. Not too many people had use for the manure stick.
When Kentucky Fried Chicken entered the Chinese market, to their horror they discovered that their slogan “finger lickin’ good” came out as “eat your fingers off.”
When Pepsi started marketing its products in China a few years back, they translated their slogan, “Pepsi Brings You Back to Life” pretty literally. The slogan in Chinese really meant, “Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Grave.”
In Italy, a campaign for “Schweppes Tonic Water” translated the name into the much less thirst quenching “Schweppes Toilet Water.”
Chinese translation proved difficult for Coke, which took two tries to get it right. They first tried Ke-kou-ke-la because when pronounced it sounded roughly like Coca-Cola. It wasn’t until after thousands of signs had been printed that they discovered that the phrase means “bite the wax tadpole” or “female horse stuffed with wax,” depending on the dialect. Second time around things worked out much better. After researching 40,000 Chinese characters, Coke came up with “ko-kou-ko-le” which translates roughly to the much more appropriate “happiness in the mouth.”
The Chevy Nova never sold well in Spanish speaking countries. “No va” means “it doesn’t go” in Spanish.
When Gerber first started selling baby food in Africa, they used the same packaging as here in the USA – with the cute baby on the label. Later, they found out that in Africa companies routinely put pictures on the label of what’s inside since most people can’t read.

Last week, I offered a gently-read ARC of Always, Clementine by Carlie Sorosiak to one of you. This week’s winner is Greg Pattridge. Congratulations, Greg! And thanks for doing the heavy lifting for MMGM every week. The link to Greg’s wonderful blog is at the bottom of this post. Greg, I will get your book out to you this week.

Several years ago, I attended some Highlights Founders Workshops and retreats. One of the people I got to know there was Barbara Krasner. What a gift it has been to know her through the years. She teaches writing at colleges and on-line and is an exceptional writer. If you click on her name, it will take you to her site, and you can learn more about her and her on-line classes. Her most recent work is a fascinating read: Ethel’s Song: Ethel Rosenberg’s Life in Poems.

Ethel Rosenberg and her husband Julius were executed for being spies. It was purported they passed nuclear bomb secrets to the Soviets in the 1950s. That was a time when the McCarthy hearings were going on, and many, many people had their lives ruined by any connection they might have had, no matter how tangential, to the communist party. This is when many in Hollywood were blacklisted and had their careers completely derailed, but the execution of the Rosenbergs was certainly the most egregious. This wonderful book in verse goes back to Ethel’s childhood and carries readers through her life as she finds her own voice and falls in love with Julius Rosenberg. Like many young women in love, she is easily swayed by his political thinking, and she signs petitions and helps him in his community organizing and labor union work. She becomes estranged from much of her family and believes everything Julius tells her to be true.

Barbara Krasner

Barbara Krasner has chosen to tell this story in verse. As I have often said here, sometimes I think books in verse are just creative use of white space, but this is not that. Barbara is a true poet. Most of the poems in this book are free verse, but there are some structured poems, such a some villanelles, that are simply breathtaking. The writing is simply spectacular. But through it all, the story is there, building toward Ethel’s inevitable end. Barbara’s research shines through in every page and the back-matter is so worth reading through. This is a very timely book, one that should spark a lot of discussions. Please find a copy and read this book.

No giveaway this week. I am keeping my copy as I intend to read it more than one time. Please don’t forget to check for other Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts at Greg Pattridge’s blog HERE.

17 thoughts on “Ethel’s Song — Review”

  1. Thanks for the writing links, Rosi, and I love your advertising stories! This author sounds very talented, can’t be easy to write someone’s biography in verse! Thanks for sharing! Hope your IT problems get sorted soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for picking my name in the drawing! I”m looking forward to reading Always. Clementine.
    I appreciate the time you spend putting together the links. The one on burnout came at the perfect time!
    I don’t read many novels in verse but your review has me anxious to read this one. The time period especially is intriguing. Happy MMGM!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Have always been intrigued with the Rosenberg’s story and the many injustices that occurred during that time period of McCarthy’s witch hunt. Nice to know the book is in verse as it sounds so personal and beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

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