The Book of Disquiet

June 12, 2012 § 2 Comments


I have so much thanks I only wish I could give to Pessoa for giving me these notes. A man extremely philosophically and lyrically gifted. I loved this for what it was and for how it was written. I loved it because it gave me a part of myself I didn’t know I had; or, rather, didn’t know it was possible to express in such a lucid way. I love this man for everything.

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The most quotable book on writing: a book every writer needs to read

October 20, 2011 § Leave a comment


Title: The Agent

Author: Martin Wagner

Publisher: Pinter & Martin Ltd

Price: UK £6.99 | US $14.95

Pages: 65

Click here to buy direct from the publisher’s website and receive 20% off your order, plus free UK delivery. 

Stephen: Can I ask you a question?

Alexander: Shoot

Stephen: Is it worth me going on? Should I just stop writing and get myself a normal job…?

Alexander: Are there any normal jobs?

Stephen: I need to know. You know, as a writer I get two kinds of responses: from friends and family, ‘Yeah you’re great and well done and why don’t those bastards publish you?’ And then there’s the rest of the world, the ones who just shit all over your work, not by reading it, you understand, but by ignoring it.

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A Book Review: Looking For Alaska (Possible Spoiler)

February 22, 2011 § Leave a comment


Author: John Green

Genre: Young Adult/Fiction

Publisher: Dutton Juvenile; First Edition, First Printing edition (March 3, 2005)

Page Count 256

Having literally just put this book down after having LITERALLY picked it up to start it about six hours ago,  despite the fact that I’ve been shying away from reviews as of late, I just COULD not leave this title reviewless.

A breath of fresh air that lingers close to the reader’s lips a little too long through fear of a far too emotional fare-well, ‘Looking For Alaska’ is most the bitter sweet of  chillingly tragic tales.  Miles Halter (aka Pudge) moves away to boarding school where he encounters the Colonel, Alaska and a small host of other friends. After forming a close bond with them both, an inexeplicably life-changing event catpults Colonel and Pudge into a hunt for why things happened the way they did, which later turns into a semi-philosophical ‘how the human civilazation deals with the world as it is’.

 

Refreshingly, full of a cast of well-developed characters, ones I could connect with and care about, ‘Looking For Alaska’ adequately and quite accurately addresses the transition stage from child to young adult, and all of the trials and tribulations that come with it. Humerous at times and unapologetically truthful at others, this title reminds us of the growth period many of us left in somewhere distant but still frighteningly close in the the past, behind us. The title is spilt into two parts, a ‘before’ and an ‘after’, which, understandly draws the reader near to the event and then takes then on a journey away from it, as the remaining characters try to understand and then forget.

It is John Greene’s conncoction of both page-turning story-telling and heart-wrenching tragedy that exploited my emotional repetoire to the lengths of firstly, progressing thorough a significant portion of the book eyes, brimming with tears ready to over flow; and then secondly, beyond, in as much as after tucking the book neatly back in it’s place on my bookshelf and settling down to type this review, premature teardrops remain stagnant in my eyes. His intertwining of fiction and philosophy, make Colonel and Pudge’s plight much more than just a heartbreaking novel, but instead, a heartbreakingly truthful reminder of what is inevitable and what cannot be escaped.

A Book Review: ‘Breaking Dawn’

January 18, 2011 § 1 Comment


Author: Stephenie Meyer

Genre: Teen Fiction/Fantasy

Publisher:  ATOM (4 Aug 2008)

Page Count: 768

The most vivid colour in the box of crayons, ‘Breaking Dawn’ is the gem of the Twilight Saga. Although all equally good in their own rights, I couldn’t help but feel that ‘Breaking Dawn’ encapsulated Drama, Fantasy and Romance, the way a good novel should.

The fourth and final title in the series, Breaking Dawn is truly a modern fairytale. The story of mortal Bella and vampire Edward’s marriage and family life. Picking up from where ‘Eclipse’ left off, Bella and Edward rush into their dream wedding and fly away for an immediate honeymoon, returning with a lot more luggage than they’d arrived with and bargained for.

Stephenie Meyer writes on and describes fantastically, a young adult’s idea of uncondtional, truly ever lasting love. One thing I loved about this book in particular, was the length of it. It gave her the time and word count to adequately encapsulate me. With her lengthy descriptions and elaborate dialogue sequences, she did an excellent job of setting the scene and drawing me in. I felt like I was watching every bit of the action first hand and front row. Every one of her scenic and character descriptions, I felt I could reach out and touch.

Unlike its predecessors, a portion of Breaking Dawn is told from the perspective of Bella’s best friend and werewolf, Jacob, as well as the default first-person of Bella, the protagonist. I found this worked incredibly well, as whilst reading the previous three titles, I’d often wondered was was running through the minds of the other main characters. Half-way through Jacob’s few chapters, however, the novelty wore off and I was keen to be replaced back with Bella, where i felt it was only right that I belonged. Assuming you’ve read the previous three in the series, Breaking Dawn is likely to destroy any preconcptions you’ve formed of each and every one of the characters. I would have liked to have seen more involvement from Bella’s old friends and some of the Cullens, who seem to remain safely from view for much of the novel.

Having thoroughly enjoyed the Twilight Saga, I was utterly heartbroken to be finally parting with the Cullens. Twilight, New, Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn will forever remain close to my heart, because thorought each and every book, in places,  I felt like I was reading a piece of my own history. A series that everyone can relate to and a cast of characters that everyone can identify  at least a portion themselves in, Breaking Dawn is that final note that ends an incredibly sweet symphony.

Buy it here on Amazon.

A Book Review: ‘Lolita’

January 16, 2011 § 2 Comments


Author: Vladimir Nabokov

Genre: Literary Fiction/ Drama

Publisher: : Penguin; Film & TV Tie-in Ed edition (30 April 1998)

Page Count: 320

‘Lolita’ is the tale of a middle-aged Humbert Humbert, who has found himself alive in the wake of quite a controversial predicament. He is attracted to little girls.

A novel about his relationship with his newly acquired twelve year-old stepdaughter, ‘Lolita’ is a bleakly depressing, somewhat shocking, however, grimly humerous account of Humbert’s journey through hiding his and his victim’s ‘incestual love affair’ from the rest of the world.

Vladimir Nabokov’s protagonist Humbert recalls his version of events in the first person, which feels much like a casual retelling of his story in front of his fire place. ‘Lolita’ is filled with dramatics, but is never really ACTUALLY dramatic. It is instead quite shallow and empty, and at times, it feels that nothing is really happening at all. It is as if Humbert is quite literally telling his shocking story, as if it’s a totally normal, everyday occurance. As if he is the sane and the reader, the insane.

Despite the protagonist’s matter-of-factness in revealing his troubled life and mind, ‘Lolita’ is filled with stunning prose. It absolutely littered with metaphors of a deeply poetic nature. Humbert often addresses the reader directly, and for someone who by decree of society should be deeply ashamed of the evil roots of one’s character, is quite confident in his own. His image of his self, both physically and spirtiually almost borders blind arrogance and as one would expect from someone of his nature, is full of excuses for his being the way he is. Humbert Humbert is a comedian, a chilling one nevertheless.

At times, Lolita felt as if it was littered with, although exasperatingly beautiful, redundant accounts of absolutely nothing. For pages and pages, Nabokov will toy with the English language whilst leaving the plot itself, out to evaporate into nothingness. In his note at the end, Nabokov explains that the first time he’d documented the inital ‘Lolita’, it were to be a short story that started much the same as Lolita did, but ended abrubtly and in a very different manner. Funnily enough, his description and length of the would-have been ‘Lolita’, sat well with me. I can’t for the life of me imagie why he’d want to elongate the damned thing into virtually obscurity.

An intriguing journey into the depth of a ‘monster’s’ mind, ‘Lolita’ is a shockingly emotional tale of the predator’s side of the story. One the reader rarely acknowledges and one so easily taken for granted.

A Book Review: ‘One Day’

January 6, 2011 § 1 Comment


Author: David Nicholls

Genre: General Fiction

Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks (4 Feb 2010)

Page Count: 448

Now, I’m trying to get this whole review thing properly formulated. Jotting down notes so as not to let them slip and disappear by the time I get to the end of the book, but doing it in a way that doesn’t make the whole process feellike GCSE coursework. I want  to enjoy this. I want to have fun.

David Nicholls’ One Day is a carefully constructed tale of two people, Emma Morley and Dexter Mahew, who meet upon graduating from University and continue their lives both together and apart. An ambitious plot that is handled fantastically well, each chapter represents and is written about the events that take place leading up to and on a single day, every 15th of July, over the course of twenty years.

Emma and Dexter are opposites. Two extremes and they seem to be progressing through life, starting at polar opposites, different ends of the spectrum, advancing towards each other and then slowly creeping past each other to progress, again, in opposite directions as the book itself progresses. It feels like everything that could possibly happen to a man and everything that could possibly happen over the course of the life of a woman is squished into this one book. At times where their lives are heading in a direction that seems almost surreal, David Nicholls slams his foot on the brakes and Emma and Dexter crash back down into reality. An ironic slap in the face, an ‘i-told you so’ in the form of fiction, One Day never lets itself lose sight of what’s real, what everybody fears, yet inevitably falls victim to -life.

I found that One Day got off to a somewhat slow start, nothing out the ordinary and nothing too original, but it was a read that I slowly, but surely warmed to. A read that became increasingly complusive. As I read on, I began to get the idea that David Nicholls is quite fond of the word ‘ostenatious’ but, it’s perfectly okay, because I am too.

One Day, stalks you, chases you, corners you and keeps you there, putting on a show I found it hard to tire of, no matter how much I initially thought I would. Littered with sub-plots that appeared, at first, average and predicatble, David Nicholls has a way of turning these upside-down at the very last minute, just as pace picks up and hairs start to raise, and darting in a compltetely unanticipated direction, leaving you jolted and exasperated.

A heart warming, somewhat nostaligic title, this was an excellent read that I wouldn’t mind picking up to warm to and be in the company of Emma and Dexter all over again; One Day.

Buy it here on Amazon

A Book Review: ‘Singling Out The Couples’

January 1, 2011 § Leave a comment


Author: Stella Duffy

Genre: General Fiction

Publisher: Virago Press Ltd; New edition edition (2 Nov 2006)

Page Count: 256


For me, Singling Out the Couples was a book I hastily gave the once over and swiftly pocketed in passing, from a section of the bookstore I probably wouldn’t usually venture to. Evidently not general fiction, more so fiction of a specialised nature Stella Duffy’s ‘Singling Out The Couples’ is a modern fable with heterosexual, gay, lesbian and eventually, weirdly incestual undertones.

What starts out as what is described to be a tale of the ‘perfect princess’ (metaphoric I’d initially thought) arriving to London to break up couples in love, quickly turns into something strangely and somewhat refreshingly more than that.

Quite literally a modern fairytale, one in which ‘Cushla’, a bitter, coniving  young princess with an impressive sense of humour, who has been denied a life with heart and compassion  by the ‘compassion fairy’, sets out across London in a bid to end romances. Each and every one of the romances starts out stunningly perfect, a perfection that Stella Duffy describes thoroughly, by implementing and utilising the highest forms of imagery, and also exceptionally metaphorically. Quite Daringly, she pushes the boundaries of taboo and political correctness with a brush of charm that left me feeling like I had far too much in common with her cast of should-be, alien characters. Taking common struggles and applying them to the not-so common, albeit hidden-from-view, reality couplings, Stella successfully highlights the inevitablities every relationship faces. She pushes character struggles and heartache in a way that one can only surrender to and adopt as their own problems.

Singling out the couples is cleverly written both in the first-person present and third-person present omniscient, and although a little confusing at times, worked well in enabling me to feed off of Cushla’s enormous ego. In some instances I was Cushla, I felt everything Cushla felt, and in others I was merely a spectator, privy to her cunning assignments. Rich in stunning, extended metaphors and near-saturated with luxurious imagery, Stella provides detail in places one would not wish to be handed it, but cleverly implements it in a unique way that does not render her book too laborious to read. Although at times, my attention did waver.

Stella Duffy constantly contrasts and switches between fairlytale fantasy and harsh reality, quite sharply and somewhat confusingly throughought Singling Out The Couples. While this techinique is interesting, fresh and works in favour of the overall story, I did find it hard to follow at times and in some places, I found the fantasy parts did upset the general flow of the book. This is needless to say that it was an intersting stance to take and I wholeheartedly applaud her efforts. Singling out the Couples was an intriguinging, refreshing and whole-heartedly enjoyable read. Cushla is one incredibly likeable bitch. The kind that we can all see a tiny bit of ourselves in. Read it.

Buy it here on Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Singling-Out-Couples-Stella-Duffy/dp/1844083330/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1294002496&sr=8-2

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