Sunday, 16 November 2014

Review: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

 I'm not a squeamish reader, in fact I probably cherish most works that others would ban from the literary world, and I'm drawn particularly to those that cause controversy in culture. Lolita is a novel that has been warped completely by it's cultural references, it carries around a soiled reputation. naturally when I began reading I expected something troubling and scenes that I would have to spend days getting around. What I actually found was beautifully poetic prose, drawing me into the mind of Humbert Humbert, and manipulating me into accepting the world he was presenting. This has effected me much more than any graphic scene could do because it made me understand how consent and compliance in an act that is truly wrong can be given freely.
             Lolita is told through the middle-age voice of Humbert Humbert; the murderer, who is trying to explain himself fully to his lawyer and the courts and give a detailed account of his life leading up to the point of murder. Humbert has a self-confessed obsession with nymphets, this is the first realization we have to make in the novel, as Humbert isn't attracted to children... it is in  fact out of his control that nymphets show themselves within the small prepubescent window of girls; and we do see at times the nymphet shadow linger in older girls and woman. There are erotic scenes, particularly in the opening of the novel before we see Lolita, it is here that the narrator takes hold of your perspective; numerous times I felt myself quite disturbed by the beauty of these erotic scenes to be reminded a paragraph later that we are talking about a 9 or 12 year olds. After this introduction to the mind of Humbert in which he gets married as a ruse to disguise his pedophilia, betrayed and shoved unwillingly into the care of Charlotte Haze we encounter, finally, Lolita. 
         We are dealing here with a narrator who is sexually disturbed; after a thwarted love affair in his teens with his beloved Annabel, it seems his sexual development is completely stunted, I haven't come to the conclusion that his entire emotional development is also stunted but certainly the aspects relating to sexual relationships has gone down with it. This, I am convinced, is the main reason for his numerous mental breaks throughout the novel and his ultimate demise in the final section, and can be seen in his use of language to describe such breaks. When Humbert is a confident narrator we see that reflected in his luscious prose, manipulating and conspiring, later into the novel the events become staked and transparent, at times I took this to be the work of the author but in understanding the narrator it seems to be the only mode of dialogue he can bring to the reader and convey the happenings of his life.  
    I am convinced also that Humbert is the antagonist of this novel, HIS version of Lolita being the protagonist, I would go as far as to say that Lolita and Dolores Haze are two completely different characters. I have said this many times since reading the novel to various people, who probably think I should be sectioned, but Lolita is a bastard...  She is conniving, and false, a shallow seductress and brings many situations upon herself. It is too easy as a reader to become desensitization to the abuse within the novel. This of course is the girl that Humbert wants us to see, in this he is the victim, controlled by this little girl and her wild ways, the truth unfortunately is much more disturbing, and the very fact that he believes his own lies is more problematic for both the reader and culturally.  It is only as Lolita grows up that we are given small glimpses into the true horror of her life, as Humbert says that Dolores could have done so much with her life if he had not taken over her. We are also given very small glimpses (miss able!) into his methods of controlling her; his gifts, threats to the 'family unit' and the repercussions on her if she was to reveal the truth of their life together. A handful of times we are given the most harrowing detail about Dolores, she cried herself to sleep most nights, and that broke my heart.
   There are of course many other avenues of looking at this novel, but the most worrying and interesting to me is of my own compliance in the treatment of Lolita. The ruin of Dolores Haze.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Living with Irlen pt.2

I went for the first bike ride since I was about 12 yesterday (Something about summer and being healthy... apparently). It's moments like this that I get frustrated. It was about 6 pm, the sun was just under the tree tops, I was riding up and down hills through the back streets of my village, dodging dog walkers and pot holes down country lanes. It was gorgeous; or at least the bits I could see were gorgeous. With the sun pocking it's head out of every other tree I was caught in moments of blindness or a horrendous shooting pain in my eyes.
   The debate in my head was do I close my eyes, loose my balance (I'm an awful rider) and go straight into a car OR put up with it until I get home and sit in the dark for an hour? I carried on. Mainly because I'm stubborn and partly because I didn't want to get run over on a country lane. It really is times like these that I realise how little we know about the brain. When we say Irlen people automatically assume reading, it's coupled with dyslexia, it effects our learning. It effects my life.
      The world changes colour when this happens by the way. Grey gravel turns to pitch black, green trees turn bright yellow, even the sky, famously blue can change from a deep purple to a crimson. The eternal debate about how we each see colours is answered by the way! We don't. My theory is that we give names to shades and on the whole we agree. I went to see Guardians of the Galaxy *VERY funny... a little sexist* and I'm still adamant that Bautista's character Drax is BLUE with red scarification... my boyfriend and the friends we went with tell me he's grey. How crazy is this world? In the most wonderful way.

    This is my life and I shouldn't need to put a paragraph here to justify my descriptions of it but I will. There is so little out there about Irlen from a person perspective that something like this feels necessary.

Oh! I also found a video about how Irlen looks on paper. It's very interesting and helped my family understand when I was first diagnosed. Plus grand music!

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

So We Start Again...

Do you remember when I organised the bookshelves? 

Well, since then I've moved back in with my mum... More about that saga later. (It's also the reason it's been so quiet up in here!) 

Let the organisation begin. How do you sort yours?

- yes I'm in my jammies at quarter to 4 pm. 

Thursday, 24 April 2014

People + Poetry

'People just don't read poetry'
'Poetry is hard'
'Poetry is dead'

I've been thinking about this a lot recently. About people who find poetry. People who ignore poetry. About people mainly and their interaction with poetry.

'People don't read poetry' in the last day or so I've been exploring Cardiff and Aberdare. As is necessary I've wandered into 6/7 book selling places, out of these 2 sold poetry. Mostly it was a poor effort. Mainly anthologies with names like The Nations Love Poems or The Poems You Can't Remember. A lot of effort goes into them I'm sure but I'm hardly ever given the opportunity to experience new names or even non-romantic poets! Maybe people aren't being given the means to experience poetry; particularly in small towns. Even worse, they are being put off by the archaic, 
unrelatable poetry that was rammed down their parched throats in school!

'Poetry is hard' lets go here next. Poetry IS hard. It's also easy, it's unrelenting, it's romantic and selfish and giving. Poetry is anything you want it to be; and it's all around us, all the time. Your twitter rants rammed into 140 characters or whatever is poetry and flash fiction (you know the type)! Road signs and shorthand; it's all there. I see poetry as your ability to come to terms with the language around you, and within you. So yes; poetry is hard but it's necessary and it's yours.

it's alive and kicking
straight in the lips.
ing your skin 
and your teeth
as you take a big old bite.

Doesn't the syrup just bite back?

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Hit the Ode Manchester

                                                (Pippa and I with out In-the-lift-pre-poetry-selfie!)

Last night I had an amazing time at Hit the Ode Manchester edition. I'd heard a bit about this event on Facebook in the lead up and knew a bit about Apples and Snakes previously, but thanks to not being near any of the events I hadn't been able to experience these shows before.  It was a night where I truly felt Spoken Word was on the rise. We hear a lot about how no-one likes poetry anymore and it's a dying art but last night proved that all wrong. A lot of the venue's we end up in are top rooms of pubs or small art cafe's, which are amazing and I enjoy my time there but it was really nice to see poetry on a bigger stage.

To begin with the event was so well organised. It was at Contact in Manchester, a venue I haven't been to before but one that I will be at again! The venue itself was perfect for the night, but I was sat at the front with my lovely friend Pippa!
    The compares were brilliant, really funny and engaging. These nights have been going on for quite a while, a few years in Birmingham too, so they have a few traditions that they shared with us. It made us feel part of a poetic collective which was very empowering.
    At the beginning was an open mic section with a few very organised people in the slots. These were very good poets and it really made you see how amazing some people out there are. There were also three slots for people who came on the night. Although neither myself or Pippa got to read the readers were great fun to watch.

     The next bit of the show was more established performers.

 Rosie Garland performed first. Although I've read her work I only had the chance to see her perform at Loose Muse briefly so it was a pleasure to see her do a full set. If I'm honest this is the main reason I wanted to go! She didn't disappoint! Amazing stage presence and beautiful poetry, really a cracking combination. Garland's poetry is stuffed to the brim with gems of imagery with poems like
about (but not about) unicorns, topped with her very funny poems like being a Teenager in Devon and satirical work like Queer Thanksgiving which made me laugh and question society all at the same time!

Next was Jamine Cooray, a spoken word artist I hadn't hear before. It was refreshing to hear something different! Cooray takes vivid imagery from her childhood and disperses it throughout her work, she has a very modern style that can objectively examine itself well. I was particularly  impressed with her self-made poetry pamphlets which were adorable and a great idea.

                                   Last but definitely not least was Shane Koyczan.                                                          
I'm ashamed to say I hadn't really heard him before. I feel like I've seen his face on youtube and shared around but I hadn't taken the time to sit down and listen to his poetry. In a way I'm glad of this because the performance was so new to me I appreciated everything, the movement of his hands blended seamlessly into his poetry. I'm not ashamed to say I teared up a bit with his poem about his Grandad!

I really hope there are more of these to come! Check these amazing artists out on youtube and elsewhere!

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Misadventure by Richard Meier - Review

So, essentially I came to this book knowing nothing about it, or Richard Meier and a lot about Picador's poetry collections. 
Misadventure is a collection of characters, atmosphere's and moments on the cusp of change. The poems themselves seemed concerned only with the fleeting moment before change strikes, or in the grip of change before it is fully realized. The composition of the book struck me first, before 'Building Matilda' there is a cluster of darker poems; I preferred these. After 'Building Matilda' there is a change in tone that drew me back into reality and out of middle distance where I personally prefer poetry to inhabit. I found Meier's writing extremely accessible, it reminded me in places - particularly when Father's appeared in poems like 'Building Matilda' - of Billy Collins. 

'Winter Morning' is a glimpse of commuters readily prepared for the cold morning who are taken off guard by the emergence of spring. My favourite line of this poem was 'And not quite under the shelter on / the northbound platform, an old man, the sun'. I was mesmerized by the double imagery in this, this set me up to seek out those unique interpretations of ordinary life in the subsequent poems. 
It then moves on to the title poem 'Misadventure', I loved the way this poem turned from overly ordinary to downright bizarre! It has a very fast flow to it, and at times I had to make sure I wasn't missing any detail throughout that set up the ending. It provokes a guttural reaction, at first you can feel the water on your trouser-leg and the pressure in you mouth, if you've ever opened your mouth in the shower. 
The poems aren't just on the cusp of life changing decisions as with 'For a Bridge suicide', some are so subtle that they could be missed! 'Fabric' has this effect, again a very tangible feeling, but one that goes unnoticed in everyday life, the feeling of silk. Ending in the words 'as I reached for her.' A re-reading it reminds me of biblical imagery.
A refreshing element of this collection is the way that Meier brings inanimate objects like chair's and bird feeders to life, sometimes through the touch of a character, as in 'The Feeder'; or with its simple existence, like in 'Psychotherapy'. I'm at a loss, not wanting to term it personification but I feel that Meier delves into their own 'spirit' without attributing to many human qualities to them.
I'm excited to see what Meier comes out with next. This collection has an air about it of a writer who's compiled his life up to now into this. It's raw in places and that blends with the most polished line breaks and story development in certain poems. Meier seems like an everyman writer, like most of us first timers, waiting behind an email address; so it's nice to see that there are still a lot of chances out there for all of us.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Prelude to a Number by Geddes Loom at The Lowry, 13/02/2014 - Review

Last night, as an early Valentine's present, my lovely partner took me to The Lowry in Manchester to see an exciting, engaging new 'show' by Geddes Loom entitled 'Prelude for a Number'. I was impressed by his choice *applause* it contained Spoken Word - which I like, Maths! - that he likes, and Music - which we both like.

In an extended hour we were all transported through three narratives through the pattern of The Golden Ratio. I say all because it was clear in the eyes of the collective Geddes Loom that their words still transported them with the audience. It might have just been me, but I felt a vindication that these artists were allowed to blend and fuse the genre's of poetry, narrative, music, lighting, staging and acting without the limitations that come when you work in one specific genre.
 In fractured borders we were presented with snap shots in the life of each character -  Tessa, Leon and Matt. These narratives crossed over at points when The Golden Ratio returned to their story. Each narrative was equally engaging, feeding from the tension created in the last narrative. Between them was a river of music that made a bridge between the spoken sections. 
The music was repetitive, surging like a tide, building upon itself with live audio looping that made you feel very much a part of the creation of the production - I was reminded at points of Karl Jenkins' Cantilena. The vocals of LĂ©onie Higgins and Ben Mellor highlighted the diversity of voice. Breaking up long sections of narrative with more voice may seem counterproductive, but the subtle's of change were accentuated, with the backing of Dan Steele. A word about Dan Steele, the multi-instrumentalist, the very presence of so many instruments (including Higgins Cello) pushed the point that we were in the presence of artist / creatives. 
                      The performance itself was on a very understated set, filled with mathematical blackboard scribbles, which gives the impression of you sitting within a work in progress, someone finding the point that Fibonacci's sequence, the Golden Ratio or  Golden Pyramids intersected to create moments of beauty. This accentuated one of the closing ideas - that anything is there if you look hard enough. For example, were we seeing those points in the narratives because we were looking for them? Do we see them in the objects around us because we were looking for them? and if they aren't actually there is an object still as beautiful? A very powerful and different line of investigation. 

There are moments of multi-media projection that work brilliantly. Both Higgins and Mellor interchange between the characters, from the mains like Tessa to fleeting characters like Matt's parents. The projection gives the audience a nudge into the particular narrative strand being played out at that time. 

There is a lot to be said for the grey area between genre's and this is where the piece shines.
The theme of The Golden Ratio and the Fibonacci sequence was a perfect link between the genre's. Numbers are a major factor in music and the rhythm of the spoken word, the music mixed with the lighting and the lighting with the stage design. *sigh* I could go on for hours decoding and deconstructing the piece, but it really is in the accumulation of all of those elements that the show comes into it's own. 

To get more of a feel for the show watch this!

If you didn't catch it yesterday the show is on again at The Lowry tonight!   
You can find the Geddes Loom on facebook!
They are currently running a fundraiser for an album of the music on Indiegogo.

Monday, 3 February 2014

A mini book haul

This is why we aren't allowed to town often! A little haul from Ixfam and the Book Clearance. The Oxfam in Preston is one of my favourite little book shops.

Tasha's books:

Perfume by Patrick Suskind
Sidereal by Rachel Boast
Misadventure by Richard Meier
Fierce by Jackie Kay

Luke's books: 

Exit Kingdom by Alden Bell
The Cold Commands by Richard Morgan
Railsea by China Mielville

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk - Review

Someone told me that you always remember your first Palahniuk. After reading Lullaby I can see why. 
     Following Carl Streator is definitely 5 giant steps away from the Donna Tart I had just finished, or the Neil Gaiman I'm about to start. I wouldn't go as far as saying that he's one of a kind, but whatever he's doing, he's a master of it. 
      I feel very priviledged to think that we live in possibly the most diverse literary age there as ever been, considering those are a handful of the more mainstream contemporary authors. The diversity available to the modern reader is astounding. (You go, 2K14). 

           As I said before, Lullaby follows Carl Streator across various locations in America as he simultaneously tracks down first the culling song and then the grimoire it came from. It reads like a futuristic version of Dennis Wheatley. An intoxicating cocktail of old school occultism, post-modernism and B-movie horror.  
    Whilst reading - I was reading it on my kindle app which effected my pace - I found myself able to stop a lot, at times forced to, to decode and analyse what Palahniuk was pointing out to me. This book takes a lot of concentration from the reader, which is both exhilerating and hard going.  
     When I got to the end though I was miffed! I really could have kept reading a 100 more pages. Lullaby felt a lot like an extended short story, a metaphorically rich gif, rather than a snapshot of life. The running themes, or "horses" as Palahniuk calls them, carry this novel in a round, the repetition is both contemplative and progressive in that respect. The narrative voice is stead, mimicking the sound of Helen Hoover Boyle or Nash as they read the culling song. 
      The highlight of this novel for me is the imagery, I revelled inthe oozing sores of Streator's blisters and the diamond encrusted bloody gums of Ms. Boyle. Thos is where I likened it to a B-movie horror, if anyone has watched Horror in the Attic, it is quite similar. 
    I'd heard a lot about Palahniuk before starting Lullaby, mostly about Fight Club, my tutor advised me not to run off though and try some other work by him before readjng that. 
     I feel ready to read Kurt Vennegut finally now, but I've no idea why they are linked in my head.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Tumblr. II

If you want to see what goes on inside the wendyhouse look on my tumblr it's where I store all of the nice things -  and not so nice but interesting things -  I find on the interent. It's a bit chaotic and mainly a reference point for myself but I like it and you might too.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

A Rejection

A few mornings ago I went to my door, there was fancy post (i.e. doesn't immediately look like bills, which usually ends up being bills). Looking at it for a moment, there was something familiar, I recognize my own handwriting.. come to think of it that's also my home bargains envelope. Within it was the collection of poetry I had sent out to a poetry journal I love, with a typed letter of comments in general about the turning points of the journal. However, scrawled in the corner was a small sentence.. in the pen of the editor. I was ecstatic.
      Nothing is being published but I'm still very excited about the whole experience. I've finally received my first rejection, because it is my first submission. The cycle has begun. At job interviews I always say it's just nice to have heard back, to know that your time hasn't gone to nothing and even a rejection is news. Now, I can go off and submit to whoever and whatever I like because I've already felt rejection. And who knows, maybe one day it'll be acceptance, or more feedback, and for those I will be equally enthusiastic. It'll at least spur me to write another blog post.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

2013 - 2014

I enjoy Monday's. I like the possibilities, that even though the last week may have been awful or at least not what you expected Monday will always come around again and breathe fresh air into the week. So, you can imagine my excitement at the new year! Initially I was upset, a vast majority of my time working (read: Facebooking) I read continual status' about the negativity towards resolution's, the anger infused by people expressing their opinions about 2013 and their aspirations for 2014 and I think to myself, why? I read more  status' slamming these status' then the status' under fire. So, to combat all of these status' I have a blog post of resolution, promise and aspirations to spark your 2014.

(On a side note: I think it's very important for writers to have resolutions. Writing, I think, is all about personal exploration, of trying out scenario's and living them in the eyes of the characters for both the writer and the reader. A new year then is another chance to start again and be the person you want to be. My hope is that when I look back I will have been many people, but most of all myself.)

- I plan to write more coherently, rather than working on scraps. Something to hold and have formed by 2015.

- I want to submit more (See my other blog post about my first submission and rejection) I spend a lot of time hunting out magazine's to submit to that sit in my bookmarks until I have 'the perfect piece' but it never really exists, I should just go for it.

- Working less is not on the cards, I'm a bit of a workaholic, but the time I have off I plan to spend more wisely. Incorporated into this is going to see more plays and see my friend more which I have, unfortunately, neglected for work.

Those really are my resolutions, in there somewhere is the usual loose weight, eat better, go to the gym, buy more nice things, read more, but those carry year to year.

I'd also like to send 2013 off in the best way by acknowledging the things that have been great:

- I graduated with a 2:1 in English Literature and Creative Writing
- I made it 'official' with my very supportive boyfriend Luke Davies (Wales Strongest Man under 90kg)
- I have 2 new jobs at a comedy club and a football ground
- I have started my Masters in Creative Writing, and have made good progress I hope.
- I moved house and made Preston my official home.
-There are great people in my life and more to discover.

Have a great 2014 guys, there will be lots more here to see.