Sunday, December 31, 2006

Lines and margins

it's a funny thing, when I was younger I used to like writing on blank paper. It didn't matter too much about the colour, although when I look back at old bits of writing they often seem to be on white, lilac or yellow. I suspect, though, that it was more about what was to hand than any real preference. A lot of it is in biro as well - probably for cheapness.

Now however, I can't writing in biro, the ink doesn't flow fast or smoothly enough. I find it hard enough as it is to write down an idea quickly enough (when I have one of course!). I went through a phase of using fountain pens and gel pens but am curenetly favoring more expensive ink pens.

Nowdays I prefer the quiet containment of the lined page. I like thinnish lines, given the choice, and without margins. Margins always seem like a waste of valuable writing space. The worst kind of lined page for me is like a childs exercise book - wide lines (and few of them) and a wide margin.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

happy new year

Can't believe it has been more than a week since my last post - and not all due to christmas - I have been beavering awy like mad on my assignment which is due in in just over a week. Anyway once it is handed in normal service will be resumed.

I would like to wish all my regular readers and anyone a Happy new year!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Back to Music

Tinsel Town
Originally uploaded by pupski.
I am having a music fest this week as my noisy neighbours have gone away. Freed from their noise I suddenly felt the urge to play all my cds and that is what I have been doing. IMusic used to be what I lived for when I was younger but sometimes now I go days even weeks without listening to much. The trouble is that when you have noisy neighbours when you do get a quiet moment you want to relish it rather than fill it up with more noise.....

top tracks for the week:
1) Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me - The Smiths
2) Each Moment New - Lou Rhodes
3) The Guns of Brixton - The Clash
4) Sahara - Gerardo Nuñez
5) The Dandy Warhols Love Almost Everyone - The Dandy Warhols
6) Immigrant Song - Led Zeppelin
7) Black - Pearl Jam
8) Accidents Will Happen - Elvis Costello
9) Guess who's coming to dinner - Black Uhuru
10) All Sparks - The Editors

Friday, December 15, 2006

Brick Lane and other Literary Gems

I am still struggling somewhat with this concept of the literary novel. I tend to agree with the Provocative Cynic that it is more about style and language than actual content. I have been doing some research this week about media book clubs (like Oprah and Richard and Judy) and was slightly stunned to read what Amanda Ross had to say about Monica Ali's Brick Lane. She considers this to be a literary novel and says "There's only one book I regret choosing for the show, Brick Lane by Monica Ali. i only put it on because I thought it would make the list look broad, but have you actually read it? It makes you want to give up after 40 pages."(Hattersly, G. 'She's Choosing Your Books', Sunday Times, 13/08/06)

I can't help wondering if Miss Ross is a bit dim and why is the multi cultural book still only on her list as a token choice when there are so many great and popular books about other cultures out there? Well I have read Brick Lane, I read it last year and I thoroughly enjoyed it, it was one of those books that once I got into it I couldn't put down. Which probably explains why it was so popular, but I wouldn't necessarily have flagged it up as a literary novel - perhaps because I found it easy to read. It is easily more accessible than Nabakov's Speak, Memory or anything by Salman Rushdie.

What is does do is give a fascinating glimpse into other peoples lives - specifically that of a young bride brought to London from Bangladseh for an arranged marriage. Maybe the characters in the book are too hard for Amanda Ross to relate to but I loved this book exactly because it gave me a window into a world that I have no personal experience of. I think that is why books about other cultures are so fascinating, they allow you to become part of a different world for a short time. When I was younger I loved the work of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala for this reason and recently I have really enjoyed books like Brick Lane, The Bookseller of Khabul and The Kite Runner.

What I find slightly worrying is that according to the British Press Amanda Ross has a huge amount of sway over British publishers, influencing release dates and covers and a slot on the show can make or break a book. My question is should one person have so much influence over the nations reading habits?

"I suppose it's a bit odd for the most powerful person in publishing to admit this," she laughs, "but I really don't know anything about books at all."
"(Hattersly, G. 'She's Choosing Your Books', Sunday Times, 13/08/06)

You can read the full article here.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Winter lethargy and story tapes

I am struggling this week, with a winter cold and a lethargy that seems to have arrived with it. I just can't get motivated and there is so much to do: christmas shopping, my critical studies assignment, writing christmas cards. I think the reason I haven't done the cards is that I am beating myself up for not having made them. Every year I make my own so to have not managed to this year feels like a failure.

On a more positive note I realised today that most of the presents that I am giving (and the ones I hope to receive) are books this year. I just can't seem to get enough of reading at the moment. My mum is suffering fro the early stages of cataracts and listens to a lot of books on tape and cd so I thought that I would get her a couple for christmas. She gets most of hers from the library but they are very mainstream and left to her own devices she has more ecclectic tastes- I was lucky enough to find an unabridged Alice Hoffman on ebay, but had to order a Louise Erdrich set from the USA, through Amazon. I don't know why I didn't think of doing that before - it means I am able to broaden her listening material and make her happier - hooray for amazon!

Monday, December 11, 2006

What makes a Literary Novel

What is a literary novel - it's a term that I hear bandied about but it is ver hard to find a definition - even on the internet. I am currently reading The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan and wondered if it came into this category, it certainly is not "chick lit". I have read a wide range of books this year - poetry, fiction, factual and autobiography. I must confess though that I got rather stck reading Bob Dylan's Chronicles. I think it is because he includes very little personal detail. When I read an autobiography I like to hear about the writer's personal life, their emotions and what makes them tick. Dylan includes none of this, which is a ral shame as I suspect that it would make riveting reading, instead he tells us abou cafes he played in and how he made various musical contacts.

At present I have at least ten books in my pile waiting to be read and some of these are worthy reads (does that equal literary?) - The Kite Runner - Khaled Hossseini, Fugitive Pieces - Anne Michaels, Lost in Translation - Eva Hoffman, autobiographies - e.g. Marc Almond and more mainstream fiction - Julie Myerson and Tony Parsons.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Big Brother is Listening to You

I was alarmed to read, as I settled down with my Sunday paper, that the government is thinking of installing microphones on the streets of our towns and cities. The thinking behind it (allegedly) is that they will be able to register the change in the pitch of noise that will indicate when trouble is brewing. Considering the fact that almost everything we do in the Uk these days is caught on film - don't you think whoever is watching all those cctv cameras would see if a riot was going on. After all we're not even allowed to hang out in big groups any more - isn't it breaking the law.

I was a staunch Labour supporter in my youth. But this is going to far. It really will be big brother watching and listening to us. Everything we say in public could be recorded and listened to. Woe betide that you might make a joke, it might be misconstrued and you could end up in jail. We are already one of the most filmed nations on the planet - and we have accepted our fate with barely a spark of protest - even though when we think about it too much it does make us feel uncomfortable. What is most worrying is that this technology will be sneaked in under our very noses - no public votes, hardly a murmur of protest and before we know it we will have secret police who arrest you for saying the wrong thing. Ludicrous? Perhaps but this technology has already been installed as an "experiment" in some areas of London....

Monday, December 04, 2006

Tense and Point of View Problems

I can't believe that nearly a whole week has past since I posted on my blog! I have been busy doing my college assignments - working hard.

This term has been a challenge for me but I have so much it has been an invaluable experience. I am still having some problems editing my fiction piece though. I find that the point of view swaps and changes and often I don't even notice until someone else points it out. I also overload my work with adjectives (as I have said before) and I also seem to have difficulty sticking to one tense. I guess I will learn to overcome these obstacles eventually - or is that why novelists have editors?