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Posts Tagged ‘supernatural’

There’s no real post today as writing continues, so this is just a quick update.

I have done the first draft of the spooky poem.  It’s about ghostly visitations and I am enjoying writing it.  It has a proper rhyme scheme, which I don’t normally use, but it’s fun to try.

I have started work on a poem about environmental differences which was inspired one lunchtime – I work in an industrial area which is surrounded by countryside so depending which direction I look I can see either fork lift trucks or fields. That got me thinking about the juxtaposition of the two, which led to the original draft of the poem.

I still have one more to write up before Thursday’s writing group but I am happy with progress.

I haven’t been reading but that’s ok for now.  I will pick up on a new book when I feel I can give it a bit of focus.

So that’s where I am now – I keep on keeping on!

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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I am a fan of the supernatural, when it comes to tv and films.  Not the gory side, but what might be called ‘magical realism’ in books. A vampire slayer here, a zombie detective there: things which marry everyday experiences with the trials and tribulations of a secret otherworldliness.

It’s not something I particularly look for in my reading, or in my writing – but as I prepare a few pieces for open mike night I have the urge to write something poetic about it.  Maybe a vampiric verse, or ode to the undead.  Or perhaps a more prosaic approach, talking tv.

I don’t know what, if anything, will work but it’s a challenge I quite fancy taking on.  New approaches don’t always work but they are always worth trying.

It might even create an opportunity for me to be comedic in my writing, although that could be a step too far…!

Whatever oddness ensues, it’ll be an interesting experiment.  I’ll start by watching a few a few shows for research, to get a feel for the balance between reality and the supernatural.

It’s a hard life!

Happy writing

EJ

🙂

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This week I went back to my folk-loving roots and left the novels to one side…

Book 10 – Folk Tales of the North Country, by F Grice, BA. There is no Goodreads review of this book as far as I can see, so I can’t link you to a selection of alternative reviews this time!

This is a short book, only 150 pages in total, telling 44 stories collected from Northumberland and Durham, in the North East of England. As with folk tales in general, there is a strong moral thread throughout each story, but they are full of magic – witches, goblins, fairies and so on.

I bought this book at a charity sale and it has an inscription (‘Easter Greetings 1951, Elsie’) and a cloth cover, so I was bound to fall in love with it!

One of the things I have enjoyed is the sense of a lost way of life – cottagers whittle their own sheep crooks, and cut their own peat; they take their bread to sell on the market-day; they have wash-days and coppers.  I know there are some people who choose to live a more traditional life but it’s not the norm, and not a life I’ve ever known myself – and even knowing it was a harder life than the tales suggest, I do have a strange feeling of loss that the time has passed.

It’s also set in a part of the country that holds a special place in my heart, and although I don’t know Northumberland as well as I might like, knowing some of the places mentioned in the tales works for me: they are magical places, and the book is proof!

So of course I’ll give this a thumbs up; I would do for anything of this nature.  It’s short, and the tales are of course even shorter, but that’s helpful when I’m busy anyway.  A couple of quick stories before an appointment, or before I head to work, or before bed and the book is finished in no time!

Happy reading,

EJ

🙂

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This week I managed to complete a book that wasn’t on my list at all!

Book 35 – The Bonesetter’s Daughter, by Amy Tan. This book is in three parts. The first part is in the modern day, the second is a history, the third reverts to the modern period. The modern sections involve Ruth and her mother, who is diagnosed with Alzheimers during the course of the book. They explore the relationship between the two, and how that, in turn, has affected Ruth’s relationship with others.

The historical part explores family history – of Ruth’s mother LuLing, LuLing’s own mother, and the horrors of betrayal, violence, cruelty.  It explores how these shaped LuLing’s experience of life, and make sense of her attitude towards her daughter.

I loved the history part of this book. It was full of Chinese superstitions and cultural notes, with a deep sense of the fear and horror of ghosts and wandering souls. The characters were beautifully drawn in their imperfections and inconsistencies. In fact, I didn’t really enjoy the first section much but the second section gave life to the third, and made so much difference to the characters and the possibilities for the future. There were some elements that I think were unnecessary and jarred with the narrative in the first section – such as 11-year-old Ruth’s concern about being pregnant and the after-effects of that – but in part I think the jarring, out of kilter feel of it made the second section much more powerful.

I really enjoy reading work that explores elements of Chinese culture and language so this was a brilliant book for me, and one I’d recommend for anyone interested in the idea that the past can haunt our futures.

Happy reading,

EJ

🙂

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This week I started Gulliver’s Travels but due to lots of busy time I’ve fallen behind in reading it, so I had to read something else instead – this is becoming a pattern 🙂

Book 31 – Japanese Fairy Tales by Yei Theodora Ozaki. This is as the title describes, a collection of Japanese fairy tales. The ideas and meanings behind them are very much as with all fairy tales – morality, sin, punishment, repentance and so on – but with a distinct flavour. There are sea dragons, underwater castles, magical cranes made of paper and so much more.  But equally, there are very common themes from fairy tales I heard as a child; things like evil stepmothers, fairies, magic trees and deception.

I’ve talked about fairy tales before, and I think they have a great influence on the way I viewed the world growing up – I’ve always believed there’s more to life than what we see, as though there’s a hidden world just out of the reach of our perception.  As an adult I guess that’s spirituality or fate, but as a child I think fairy tales spun their own magic in my imagination.  It’s really lovely to revisit that feeling and the sense that what was good, and right, was passed on through the storytellers (even if our morality is a little different nowadays!).

This was not like reading a novel, but I would say that the content of the stories was equivalent to the Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Anderson in tone.   I could imagine these stories being read to a child even now.  I am glad I read them – I have read folklore and fairytales from many cultures but never Japanese before so it was an interesting exercise in comparative myth and storytelling.

If you enjoy this kind of reading, or are looking for something for a child (some stories are probably less appropriate than others!) this is definitely worth a visit.

Until next time,

Happy reading,

EJ

🙂

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I am slowing down at the moment, only finishing one book a week – although that’s technically what I am due to do, it does feel a little light on the back of my earlier successes.  The problem is that some books really take a lot of attention.

Case in point…

Book 26 – The Turn of The Screw, by Henry James.  I read this one knowing it had elements within it that may be of interest as I develop my ‘ghost’ story (they won’t be: this is not at all what I had in mind at all).

The tale follows a governess as she embarks on a job caring for two orphans on behalf of their uncle; she is plagued by fear and doubts about sightings of two staff previously employed at the house – two staff who have died.  I think we should question her mental state, alongside that of the children she cares for but the set-up suggested she was an entirely reliable woman so that didn’t work for me.

I can’t help feeling that the underlying issues – the potentially inappropriate relationship of the children with the dead staff, their relationship with their new governess, the damage done to the children as a result of these relationships, to name but a few – are lost in the dense and unyielding style of James’s writing.  I thought I’d share a sentence so you can see what I mean… ‘It was a pity that, somehow, to settle this once for all, I had equally to re-enumerate the signs of subtlety that, in the afternoon, by the lake had made a miracle of my show of self-possession’.  There is very little directly stated in the book, and we are left to decipher what we can.

As a writer I completely appreciate that each of us has to write in the style we wish to follow; as a reader I found it very hard-going and I didn’t enjoy reading the book.

This novel is an odd one, really – a beloved classic with psychological undertones and truly hair-raising experiences, for some – and a hard-to-read product of its melodramatic time, for others.  I’m in the second group, sadly – but at least I know something about what I don’t want to do, and I’ve ticked another book off the list.

All in all, I think this was worth reading even if not my cup of tea!

Happy reading,

EJ

🙂

 

 

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This week I only managed one book – but what a book to have tried, I was clearly delirious when I picked it…!

Book 25 – Doctor Faustus, by Christopher Marlowe.  I have long thought that Kit Marlowe is unfairly missed from school reading lists: not only a contemporary of Shakespeare, he has the added mystique of a violent death and an arrest warrant out for him when he died, aged just 29.  He is the type of character that would be at least infamous in the public eye nowadays.

Anyway – onto the book!  This was actually a play and as such I can’t really judge it like a book.  It was in Elizabethan English which made reading it a challenge but it wasn’t as dense or complex, reading-wise, as some of the Shakespeare plays I’ve read and I was able to follow it pretty easily.

The story follows Faustus as he offers up his soul to the devil in exchange, ostensibly, for knowledge and power.  The cast involves humans, angels and devils and as such runs from good to bad and everything in between.

As a play the pacing was inevitably different from that of a book – I found the whole thing a little rushed but there were a few good examples of how far Faustus was prepared to push his own morality in the knowledge that it didn’t matter.  His sudden fear at the end of the play as to how he would cope in purgatory was rather less effective than may be hoped; he made the choice in knowledge of the outcome, benefitted from his pact for over 2 decades, and used his strength against others, so any sudden change of heart was a little late in the day!

In terms of structure, I am used to the rhyming couplets of Shakespeare which don’t appear as regularly here – there is much of the play that appears to be in genuine prose style as we would see it now.  This in a large part accounts for the ease of reading – there is no tortured sentence structure required.

All in all, I’d say read it if you want to get a wider perception of Elizabethan tastes – as well as some Philip Sidney, my next Elizabethan to try!

Happy reading

EJ

🙂

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