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Posts Tagged ‘F. Scott Fitzgerald’

This week I’ve hardly had any time for reading but I finished the book from last week and snuck in a short story!

Book 22 – I, Robot by Isaac Asimov.  I wanted to read this having watched the film a few years ago; I like the idea of exploring morality in science fiction and although I’ve never read any Asimov before, I have heard many good things.  It bears little resemblance to the film I remember but the idea at the core was the same so I didn’t mind that at all.

It’s actually a series of short stories, tied together by characters and chronology.  I didn’t much like the first one but as the robots got more advanced, and the morality got more questionable, it became much more exciting to see what would happen next.  There’s a point at which you wonder who is the human, and whether the machines have a more humane view of life than the humans themselves, which is very powerful.

I enjoyed the constant attempts to understand how the Three Laws were met, and the hoops gone through to prove they were even when that seemed so unlikely; it showed the flaw in the system that challenged the logic.

I think this book, although the start was a little hard work, grew along with the technology.

Book 23 – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F Scott Fitzgerald.  For anyone who only knows this as a (2.5 hour long) film, it’s actually a short story.  The idea of someone being born fully grown, able to walk and talk, is disturbing, so to watch Benjamin go through life enjoying a brief spell when his age and his appearance allow him what he wants – a wife, a career, a role in the army – to have those things taken away as his physical age regresses seems to be a lesson in understanding that older people and younger people suffer the same fate: they are not quite acceptable.

The book is very male-focussed: we don’t hear Mrs Button’s feelings on giving birth to a seventy year old baby; we don’t know much about Benjamin’s wife except as she ages he stops loving her and she feels dissatisfied with him.  We also view Benjamin very sympathetically, with his son an ungrateful and selfish character, his father desperate to change him.

For something so short, there was a lot to it and it was a far more enjoyable read than Gatsby.  It helped that I liked the main character!

Both the books this week challenged reality, in different ways; both touched on the nature of humanity and existence.  In an odd way they were very compatible!

Until next time,

Happy reading

EJ

🙂

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This week I spent some time doing research in an old church.  Its origins are 12th century and you can feel the age of it in the cool air.  I read a plaque dating back to 1419; the history of an entire family written on monument stones; ran my fingers over misericords carved by experts in the 15th century.

I could, and have, happily written scenes in and around churches.  They are a useful way to tie different time periods together and to follow links between one generation and the next, especially where they have stood for such long periods of time.

But heritage is not just in monuments of religion, but also in emblems of our changing culture. For example this scene, taken when the British weather was rather kinder than it has been recently:

History and Heritage

Levant Mine, Cornwall

This is part of a World Heritage Site, remnant of an industry that shaped the land and the community.  It’s hard to imagine this place was once bustling with people; we went when the buildings were closed and all you could hear were the waves, and the birds.

There are nearly 300 years of mining tales to tell based on this one site alone.  There is tragedy, and sorrow, and change in those stories.   There is a lot of scope for someone who wants to write social commentaries or reflect on life for normal people in difficult times.

Any ruin, no matter what the building once was, can feed your writing imagination.  There are secrets hidden in standing stones, messages carved into windows, graffiti scratched onto bricks.  Even buildings such as the Tower of London have words and images left in the walls.

They are a record of life – the life of the building as well as the life of the person.  I’d never suggest someone wrote from the viewpoint of a wall, but if walls could speak, they’d be able to give us a lot of juicy items to include in our stories.

History and heritage can fuel our writing so explore your area and see what secrets you can find in the ruins.

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Book challenge update time – this week I managed to complete 2 books:

Book 11 – The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  I haven’t read any earlier Holmes, but I watched the BBC show ‘Sherlock’ and the CBS show ‘Elementary’ so took a gamble that I would be able to follow everything – it worked out, luckily! I enjoyed this book and enjoyed working out the mysteries.  It was easy-going, and the multiple story approach suited me.  I’m not sure I’d want to read a single story in novel length though; I found some of the hints and clues a little too serendipitous!

Book 12 – The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  I was expecting a lot of this book, having heard it described as a classic, a must-read, a stand-out in American Literature etc – and I was a little disappointed.  It was fine, not really gripping to start but from about half way through it was more engaging. I thought the female characters were archetypes and not real women, and most of the characters were vain, greedy and selfish, which makes it hard to care about them.  Gatsby’s father stood out as a touchstone of reality.   It seemed decidedly one-sided for a real love story, and I felt frustrated by the ending and the lack of punishment for Daisy and Tom – and can only think that their continued unhappy relationship was the punishment.  For me, it was not enough.

I’m reading a children’s book next, just so I get some sense of justice!

Until next time,

Happy writing

EJ

🙂

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