Friday, 9 November 2018

Subterranean Homesick Blues by Bob Dylan - my Desert Island Discs three

When are song lyrics actually poetry?  The basic types of song lyrics, 'I will love you forever' and 'I love you but you're nasty to me,' usually bore me. Occasionally such songs can be raised by a sublime tune and rendition, such as the Righteous Brothers' 'Unchained Melody,' but mostly they aren't any more meaningful than Max Bygraves' 'You're a pink toothbrush, I'm a blue toothbrush.' Things can get far more raunchy, but are basically about one thing, sex. Poetry these are not.

Slightly more interesting song lyrics tell a story - Tom Jones 'Delilah' tells a story of jealousy and murder but with a sing-along chorus which diminishes the impact of the plot. Bobbie Gentry's 'Ode to Billy Joe' is a more obscure and possibly even darker story which leaves the listener wondering what actually happened on the Tallahassee Bridge, but this is still storytelling, it's not usually considered to be poetry.

There's has always been any amount of snooty, academic opinion which tries to dismiss anything beyond a certain highbrow canon as simply lacking the cachet to be considered proper poetry. Their dismissal naturally includes song lyrics. I always disagreed with them, I still do. Who are they to dismiss anything which doesn't fit their preconceived notion of poetry - 90% of which has been written by academic, western men? Answer, they're mostly academic, western men!

More of Me by Kathryn Evans - Book Review

My goodreads review:-

More of Me by Kathryn  Evans

's review
 ·  edit

really liked it
bookshelves: might-read-again, novels, sci-fi

I would have read this in one session but for needing a night's sleep. It's remarkably well written, I can't fault it. Anyone who's ever been a teenage girl will probably recognise the uncomfortable feeling inside their skin, even if this story is teenage angst and weirdness taken to the max and beyond. 

But am I allowed to like it? I was a teenager a very long time ago. If all so called YA fiction is this good, I will read a lot more of it. But I hate fiction being put into these boxes, YA, SF, mystery, crime, fantasy, etc. Good books are good books! I was reading adult's stories and children's stories when I was eight, I didn't differentiate then. I'm certainly not starting now. 

This is the first of my Hastings Litfest prize books which I've so far read. The others will need to be extremely good to be as immediately engaging as this is. 

Saturday, 3 November 2018

I won a Prize! No, not for my writing

Simply for turning up to Hastings very first LitFest.

I only found about the LitFest by chance, even though I now live in St Los, which is to Hastings what Hove is to Brighton, i.e. an attached twin. But I found out in time to attend a couple of the events. Hastings Lit Fest isn't famous, this was its first year, but it will become famous - I'm told that most events were very well attended and all the workshops were sold out. Already it has playwright David Hare as its patron and attracted speakers such as Patrick Gale, Sophie Hannah, Ed Boxall and Mavis Cheek to name just four of the 36 involved.

I only attended two events, but they were very worthwhile. First was in a garage behind a pub where I watched excellent performances of 2 long, Shakespeare derived, monologues written and directed by writer/performer/ producer John Knowles. I then attended his scriptwriting workshop the following day. I'd never heard of him, but the workshop was very worthwhile, I'm now engaging with three separate monologues of my own, one of which may even get performed, Mr. Knowles is staging another production and was quite keen on what I did at the workshop. I have submitted my piece, we shall see.

So how come I won a prize? My name was just pulled out of a proverbial hat which contained, so I'm told, the name of everyone known to have participated in any of the events. I went to a meeting of Litfest volunteers where I was presented with my prize, a bundle of signed books by some of the festival speakers. Can a writer own too many books? Of course not! I'll review them as I read them. 

In no particular order, here they are:-

Prague Spring by Simon Mawer
Angels of Islington by Sam Davey
More of Me by Kathryn Evans
Me and My Alien Friend by Ed Boxall - book and CD
Of Men and Angels by Michael Arditti
Dogchild by Kevin Brooks

Monday, 29 October 2018

New Header Picture again

I'm a photographer as well as a writer. I enjoy taking, and hoarding, photographs, so I may as well use more of them here as headers for the blog.

In this picture there's a family in the Amazonian rainforest, crossing a rope bridge over a small but busy stream that rushes down a gulch between cliffs, on its way to refresh, just slightly, the turbid Amazon miles downstream. Are the family in danger of falling prey to a lurking jaguar, or an undiscovered dinosaur left over from the last great extinction? Are they on their way to meet a friendly local tribe... or is one of their number doomed to become lost in the jungle, having to revert to the wild, eating fallen fruits from the massive branches above, learning to catch fish from the stream and compete with the jaguar for prey?

Or are they just at the Eden Project in Cornwall, enjoying the experience without the travel, or the potential danger.

Every picture tells a story. Writers can tell any story we like, we don't have to use all the information in the picture.

Pictures are definitely a great provider of stimulation and sometimes even inspiration for me as a writer.

Monday, 15 October 2018

Signing Petitions.

In the past month I've signed ten petitions. I've been sent a request to sign about twice that number, but I'm selective. I have to be, I can't become a petition junkie like at least one person I know.
It's the environment, it's the NHS, Brexit and the atrocities happening because of the arms trade which I try to concentrate on.

Should I feel guilty not signing petitions about the plight of individuals, whether they're murdered journalists, sick children or people imprisoned for their beliefs? I don't believe I should really, I try hard to look at bigger pictures.

I do try to take part by signing and sharing if I feel the petition may have a chance of :-

A) Reaching and being read by the person it's addressed to. Any petition addressed vaguely to a government or corporation will undoubtedly find its way to the bin/delete button without anybody senior having to bother with it.

B) Not be disregarded, because I'm not in the USA, or Saudi Arabia, or wherever the topic of the petition relates to. Foreign signatures may devalue a petition in the eyes of the people it's aimed at, particularly if it's on a local issue.

Friday, 12 October 2018

Pareidolia; I learn something new every day

Pareidolia is a psychological phenomenon in which the mind responds to a stimulus, usually an image or a sound, by perceiving a familiar pattern where none exists. Common examples are perceived images of animals, faces, or objects in cloud formations, the Man in the Moon, the Moon rabbit, hidden messages in recorded music played in reverse or at higher- or lower-than-normal speeds, and hearing indistinct voices in random noise such as humming machinery or electric fans.
Hence Surrealism I suppose, for the visual effects at any rate.

Saturday by Ian McEwan - book review

This is why Ian McEwan is one of my favourite authors, when he is good he is very very good, the writing here is completely gripping. I don't mean in the thrills a minute takes you on a roller coaster kind of gripping. I mean the kind of gripping which takes you right into the nuances of character, situation and emotion so you can't shake them off. This is why it took me a month to finish the book. I reached the climactic scene and didn't want the journey to begin to unwind, I didn't want the cast to have to react to a terrifying situation, I was afraid they would act out of character, or worse that I had misinterpreted their characters.

I stopped reading the book, I would look at it by my bed and keep thinking, I'm not ready to go back there, not yet. The story takes place during one day, it took me a month to finish reading.

I hadn't misinterpreted anything, the denouement for the main character was entirely appropriate while not being flagged up. The ending worked perfectly, the final scene mirroring the opening pages, but with the added frisson of what has gone between. 

So remind me again why McEwan won the Booker prize for 'Amsterdam', with its unremittingly dislikeable characters and silly ending, and not for 'Saturday'? 

No spoilers, I won't describe the plot. Read it for yourself and enjoy.