Saturday 30 June 2012

Cities of the Plain (Second Post)

Cities of the Plain (Sodom and Gomorrah) Second Post 

I am building up a backlog of 'draft posts' at the moment and need to clear them away. They sort of nag at me and interfere with my concentration. Do other bloggers have the same issue?

As I mentioned in my first post on Cities of the Plain, I marked enough quotes to produce a novella length post. I'll try to be judicious and excavate a couple of themes that struck me while reading and have stayed with me for the month since.

Friday 22 June 2012

Harriet Said

Harriet Said - Beryl Bainbridge

This is my contribution to Beryl Bainbridge Reading Week which is being hosted at Gaskella. There are already (at least) two reviews of Harriet Said posted here and here. I look forward to reading them after posting my own thoughts here.

As mentioned in an earlier post this book was initially turned down for publication in the late fifties and was eventually published a decade later after Bainbridge had published two other books. It is a loose riff on the murder case that formed the basis for Peter Jackson's film Heavenly Creatures.

This reminded me in many ways of In Cold Blood. It is clear that Bainbridge was imaginatively fascinated with the girls in the murder case and there is almost sense of glee at the way they defied perceived wisdom and a fascination with their motivations. How could two young girls commit such a horrible crime? It's not a 'sugar and spice' act. More "slugs and snails" methinks. The two girls are Harriet (13) and the unnamed narrator (14). Their main dance partner (for the whole book seems like a dance) is Peter Biggs a.k.a. The Tsar, a tired, unhappily married middle aged man.

Tuesday 19 June 2012

I'm Not Scared

I'm Not Scared - Niccolò Ammaniti

Right from the start of this book we are immersed in the world of children, a world of innocence, cruelty, fear and half understood elements of the adult world around them. The world is partly the world of fable, in as much as witches and monsters form part of the child narrator's understanding of the world. I will try to keep the plot out of this post as it is driven by a simple yet involving plot which I don't want to spoil for anyone.

This is in part a horror story, in part a rite of passage story showing how a child's understanding of the world grow and the horizons of his vision expand. The way something can suddenly APPEAR in the world of a child, despite having been there all along, is beautifully illustrated early on when the children go to explore the farm on which some legendarily vicious pigs live. They intend throwing a hen in to the pigs to "see how they tear it apart."

"'But papa will kill me if we take one of his hens,' Remo wailed.
It was no use, the idea was a really good one." Ideas, if powerful enough, give birth to their actuality.

Friday 15 June 2012

Punk Britannia, Episode II

Punk Britannia, Episode II - FRAGMENTS

Before episode three of BBC's documentary series celebrating the 35th 'Jubilee' of punk I thought I'd try to stitch together some fragments I jotted down into something resembling a blog post. I have already posted on episode one here.

For your listening pleasure (and some pain!) I have put together a playlist of the songs used in this episode.

Monday 11 June 2012

Carpenter's Gothic

My battered and much read copy of Carpenter's Gothic
Carpenter's Gothic - William Gaddis

"I cannot really work unless I set a problem for myself to solve. In Carpenter’s Gothic the problems were largely of style and technique and form. I wanted to write a shorter book, one that observes the unities of time and place to the point that everything, even though it expands into the world, takes place in one house, and a country house at that, with a small number of characters, in a short span of time. It became really largely an exercise in style and technique. And also, I wanted to take all these clichés of fiction to bring them to life and make them work. So we have the older man and the younger woman, the marriage breaking up, the obligatory adultery, the locked room, the mysterious stranger, and so forth." William Gaddis, The Paris Review

Whenever I return to a favorite book, or writer, after a gap of some years there is an element of fear. I'm afraid that what I once saw will have disappeared or no longer mean as much. I suppose I distrust my younger self or feel that I may no longer be prepared to work as hard at a book as he was.

But I need not have had any worries here. If anything, Carpenter's Gothic improves with age. From a dingy house on the banks of the Hudson we hear reports, half truths and rumours from across America and Africa. Greed, money, religion, politics, all human life is here in a more concentrated form than the two large novels that preceded it. The main action takes place out of our vision and the main carriers of the news are totally unreliable, but from these scraps we can build our own edifice.

Tuesday 5 June 2012

Punk Britannia - Pre Punk 1972-1976

Punk Britannia - Pre Punk 1972-1976
Some loose thoughts and Youtube surfing inspired by watching the first episode of BBC4's Punk Britannia. This is more a string of impressions and opinions than a review.

(Q!uotes are approXXXimate, OPinions are my own!! even if they are others also!!! RIGHT!!!!)

"People would ask me what does it mean? is it a love song? The best answer I have is that New Rose is about the punk scene.." - Brian James, The Damned

Saturday 2 June 2012

Cities of the Plain (Sodom and Gomorrah) First Post

Cities of the Plain (Sodom and Gomorrah)

I expected to be well finished my journey with Proust by this time but the year is proving a slow reading one. Some of this may be down to the fact that Proust demands to be read slowly, with great attention, but it is more that I am finding it difficult to find TIME to read. And then even more difficult to find time to blog.