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Archive for the ‘novels’ Category

As I still haven’t got a book on the go, I decided to pick one from my ‘to read’ pile, open it at random, and share a quote.  If it makes me want to read, it’s all for the good, and if not, it’ll save me some time.

I chose Special Topics in Calamity Physics, by Marisha Pessl. Not sure if I started this once before but I definitely haven’t finished it.

So here goes:

Hannah was wearing a housedress the color of sandpaper, crudely scissored off at the hem so tiny threads hula-danced around her shins when she opened the door.  Her face was as bare as an unpainted wall, but it was obvious she hadn’t been sleeping.

There’s a lot of description and I cut off before the metaphors got too jumbled – I don’t generally appreciate work that is tightly packed with this kind of description.

However, I love, love, love the name of this book, and the synopsis blurb sounds interesting.  So I think I will give it a go.

I should be reading comedies, but for my long weekend this might be a good choice – it’ll keep me occupied anyway.

I will not be working on poetry per se during the break, although if something comes to mind obviously I will note it down – but there will be no pressure to work, only relax and have fun.

500 pages of a possibly YA novel is a start!

Happy reading,

EJ

🙂

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I warned you there was no book this week, but I still wanted to write something for you, and came up with the idea of sharing quotes from books I have read. The purpose is to give an insight into the writing style of the book and perhaps encourage people to read books they’ve never tried.

I wanted to start with a particular favourite but I couldn’t find it (the horror!) so went for a Man Booker prize winner that I read a few years ago and ought to revisit – The Inheritance of Loss, by Kiran Desai.

I opened it up at random a few times to see what floated my thought boat and I found this:

Then there was the cat, Mustafa, a sooty hirsute fellow demonstrating a perfection of containment no amount of love or science could penetrate.  He was, at this moment, starting up like a lorry on Sai’s lap, but his eyes looked blankly right into hers, warning her against mistaking this for intimacy.

I was pleased to have found this section, having been told it is International Cat Day today – sometimes the fates align for most peculiar things!

I don’t remember if I enjoyed the book or not, but I feel like I ought to give it a second chance to have a positive impact on me, so onto the list it goes!

Happy reading,

EJ

🙂

 

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As I said at the weekend, I am not reading as I am focussed on writing, so there’s nothing book- related today.

Instead, I opened a book at a random page, closed my eyes and pointed, and the sentence has to inform my next poem.

I chose Wild Swans by Jung Chang.  The sentence reads:

But all this introspection was really designed to serve no other purpose than to create a people who had no thoughts of their own.

So that’s my next challenge…  A few ideas are swimming in my head; I just need to land one!

Happy reading,

EJ

🙂

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Although my writing focus is on poetry at the moment, I continue to practice some of the writing tools I have found useful.

One of these is reading the news with an eye to an interesting or unexpected story.  As someone deeply engaged in politics I also read political blogs and websites to understand different responses to those stories.

This is proving to be a real eye opener – although I don’t agree with many responses I have a much better comprehension about why some people want to see the world structured in particular ways.

From the human, bloggers for peace, point of view, understanding is imperative to social cohesion.

From a writing point of view, it’s a great way to test out characters.

You can take any character you have written and imagine them reading a post.  What do they think? How do they react? Is the topic something they would have a strong reaction to or discuss with friends? What is their political point of view? Are they engaged with current affairs, do they watch the news or read a paper?

You might never write about anything of this nature but it doesn’t matter: the better you know your character, the more believable and consistent they will be.

So if you find yourself reading something which doesn’t reflect your view, take a chance on it, and read through the eyes of your character. It might provide the spark of engagement you need to find.

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

 

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I finally finished my book! which was Bodily Harm, by Margaret Atwood.

I am not sure how to discuss this one. It’s taken longer than expected to read, and the tone changed dramatically in the last 35 pages which took it into an entirely different direction to the one I had expected.

The majority of the story is about Rennie, a journalist whose life has been fundamentally changed by breast cancer.  Trying to escape from her post-surgery life, she seeks an assignment far away from the complications of her newly aware existence.  She leaves behind her old partner, an affair with her oncologist, and an invisible but frightening voyeur/predator/house-breaker who left a rope on her bed after breaking into her flat.

She arrives on the island of St Antoine ready to write a travel piece but before long she is unwittingly and unwillingly caught up in the politics of the island and its neighbour Ste Agathe.

This book is partially a reverie on body confidence and the sense of loving and trusting our bodies, even when faced with challenges.  As Rennie becomes more involved with the mysterious American Paul, she begins to accept her newly scarred body.

However, it is also a tale of corruption, violence and danger, and although there is an underlying menace throughout, this really takes hold of Rennie’s story in the last 50 or so pages, with the outcome being the main focus of the last 35.

I really enjoy ‘human condition’ stories, where the plot is about a character facing a difficulty.  Therefore all these sections worked for me.

However, the other side of the story wasn’t really to my taste. The sense of foreboding was ok but the extremity of the outcome and the last 35 pages was much less enjoyable – although oddly, much quicker to read!

I think in part my reaction to it is about style. Atwood writes in a way that perfectly suits personal reflection. She has a knack for revealing how an individual views their world and how they respond to stimuli. When that gives way to looking at what is happening to a character (rather than how the character is perceiving a situation) it is less powerful.

Add to that the fact that the end feels very rushed in comparison with the rest of the story, and I think these explain why this book is not my favourite Atwood.

I read this for fun but it has made me reflect on a writing truth: as writers, we need to know what type of storytelling works best with our voice. You can stray from the path, of course, but you need to know your way back.

Playing to our strengths is the best way to get our writing noticed.

Happy reading,

EJ

🙂

 

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I haven’t finished the book yet.  I am taking a really long time over it and I don’t really know why.  It’s a good read, and when I start reading I can lose myself in it, but I don’t automatically reach for it.

I think after this one I will have a little reading break!

I promise, though, that I will give you a review next week!

Happy reading,

EJ

🙂

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I didn’t know what to read next, when I was choosing my new book.  I have piles upon piles waiting for me, including some I have borrowed and need to return.  But it’s too hot to think too much, so I finally decided on another Margaret Atwood.  It’s not a dystopian future so that’s a change, at least!

What I wanted was a holiday read: a book I knew I would enjoy reading, that I could read fairly quickly but was a bit more complex than an airport book, if you know what I mean.  This is a pick for the reader me, more than the writer me.

I will let you know how it’s worked when I finish!

Happy reading,

EJ

🙂

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