Books

30 March 2014

Author Spotlight


I am actually featuring in the Author Spotlight on Morgen Bailey's Writing Blog - link below:
If you have a few minutes, do pop by, not only for the Author Spotlight but also to visit an amazing site that has something for everyone. 


Another water image from January 2014


28 March 2014

Tima Maria Lacoba

Something new. Each week (or every second week), I will be introducing someone else's blog. The first of these introductions is Tima Maria Lacoba. Tima, who lives on the Central Coast of NSW in Australia, is the author of Bloodgifted, a story about vampires living in Sydney. She has almost finished the second book, Bloodpledge, part of the same series, and it will be published later this year. Bloodgifted is available both as a proper book and also as an e-Book, and it is filled with much suspense, nail-biting moments, handsome vampires, and, of course, an extremely charming and lovely heroine. To read more about Bloodgifted, Bloodpledge and many other related and interesting topics, you are very welcome to visit Tima's blog. (Click on the word blog or type: http://timamarialacoba.blogspot.com.au/ into your browser).


25 March 2014

Interview with Cherie Burbach

I was recently interviewed by Cherie Burbach from Working Writers and Bloggers, and the interview  went live on the 24th March. You can visit Cherie's site, which is definitely worth a visit, and see the interview by clicking on this link.

The above image is from a photo of water I took in January 2014

21 March 2014

Room by Emma Donoghue

This is a book about a room and the two people who live in the room: Jack and his mother. Although fiction, the idea is based on a true story. It is well-written, and the first half is unbelievably gripping; in fact, I was unable to put it down. I loved the way it is written from the little boy, Jack's, perspective and how the actual situation, and the reality of the room, dawns but slowly on the reader; after all, this is the only world Jack has ever known, and his mother has made sure that it is a safe and happy world (within obvious limitations). The nail-biting tension of the first part works to a climax and is then released, so it is understandable that the second part of the book has to be different. I'm not sure that the second part is as satisfying; perhaps it is not all that necessary; perhaps we do not need things to be 'rounded off'. However, disregarding certain reservations with the second half of the book, I would definitely recommend Room.

 
 The photo of Emma Donoghue is from www.telegraph.co.uk

18 March 2014

New White Sandals: A Memoir by Toula Siakotos

Moving on from monsters to something quite different, New White Sandals is more like a painting than an actual novel. The conversational style, together with diary-like passages, does not build up to suspenseful, page-turning climaxes, nor does it challenge the reader with difficult questions about existence and/or morality. Instead, it presents a painting, which can then be appreciated by the reader on whatever level that most suits him or her. The many characters are skilfully presented but are loosely drawn, and, perhaps because of the relative shortness of the book and/or because of the number of characters introduced, none of them - with, perhaps, the exception of Toula Siakotos herself - really stand out. However, I do not feel that this is negative; in fact, given the painterly nature of the book, I feel that it actually works quite well. The book is easy to read, and it gives a lot of incidental information about what it must have been like, living in a small village in Greece during the 1940s and 1950s. Worth reading.






The photo was taken from the website: www.newwhitesandals.com

15 March 2014

More about Frankenstein


I usually post approximately every third day, but seeing as this post is intrinsically connected to the previous post, I decided to post a little sooner.

It is interesting to observe that, during the years since the publication of Shelley's Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus, it has become more and more common that the name of Frankenstein (the creator of the monster) should conjure up not the scientist but his creation. (According to Wikipedia, a person wrote in 1908, 'It is strange to note how well-nigh universally the term 'Frankenstein' is misused, even by intelligent people, as describing some hideous monster'.). This misuse of the name has occurred, not only in literature - for example: The Reef by Edith Wharton and The Bridal Ornament by David Lindsay - but also in a number of films. Nowadays, there are many people for whom the name, Frankenstein, calls up the image of a monster called Frankenstein.

In the book, when Frankenstein creates his monster, he completely rejects it to the point where he refuses to give it a name. Instead, it is referred to by expressions that not only infer a lack of identity but that also negate any of those human qualities of which the monster may have had some slight inkling. Names such as, 'it', 'daemon', 'monster', 'wretch', 'vile insect' and even 'abhorred devil' are scattered throughout the book.

Although the misuse of the name is, no doubt, contrary to what Shelley had intended, I do not feel that it is to be frowned upon completely. Frankenstein, the creator, puts himself, wittingly or not, on the same level as God, and, as a creator, he has a responsibility toward the creature he creates. When he refuses to take responsibility, it is only fitting that he should meld with his creation, becoming part of it, and that his creation should, therefore, with time, assume the creator's name.

Image of Boris Karloff as Frankenstein's monster. Wikipedia.

13 March 2014

Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley

This was also a book that I had read many years ago and, in 2013, decided to reread. The edition I read includes an Introduction and a Preface, and, as far as I could tell, it is faithful to the original text written in 1818. Since Mary Shelley's book was published all those years ago, we have been inundated with images and descriptions of Frankenstein's creature and other similar creatures. Many of these images have come to us via a plethora of films based on Mary's idea, and somewhere in this entanglement of ideas and images, Mary's original story has become distorted and often even lost. The original story is well-written even if the presentation is, by today's standards, at times slightly archaic. Frankenstein may well be one of the first science fiction novels, but it is not without considerable thought and a deep understanding of human nature. That Victor Frankenstein was able to create such a creature was a wonder in itself, but, as Mary was well aware, creation without responsibility can only end in disaster, which, of course, is precisely what happened. You may well read this story as science fiction or even horror, but, in the end, it is the human element that is most disturbing: we do not need ugly, ungainly creatures to upset the equilibrium of life, we are quite adept at upsetting it ourselves.



 The photo is from: www.biography.com

10 March 2014

Alfred and Emily by Doris Lessing

This is another book from the not-so-good pile.
As a devoted fan of Doris Lessing for many, many years, I found Alfred and Emily extremely disappointing; in fact, I wonder if it had not been better for her literary image if she had never written it. It was a book that I kept putting to one side, wondering whether or not I would eventually have the energy to see it through to the end. The prose is laboured and the two parts - the real and the fictional - work against each other to cause confusion. The idea of writing two stories about her parents, both as they were and as Lessing would have liked to them to have been, did not work for me; it is possible that the book may have gained by being completely factual or completely fictional but not as a mixture of both. I also felt that Lessing used the book as a platform to expound on her own talents, which, for me, seemed very out of sync with what one would expect from Lessing. There is a point where the dancer hangs up his/her dancing shoes, and, perhaps, there should also be a point where the writer lays down his/her pen.

 
Photo from mccchurch.org

07 March 2014

We by Yevgeny Zamyatin

This was my second or third reading of We, and, as is often the case when we reread a book, new perspectives and new ideas tend to be discovered amid everything that we think we already know. We (Zamyatin), Nineteen Eighty-Four (Orwell), Brave New World (Huxley) and Darkness at Noon (Koestler) are the four most important dystopian or anti-utopian novels of the twentieth century. Although they are all very different, it is interesting to read them together because they both complement and contrast each other, creating a many-faceted picture, which is not as alien as many would like to believe. Although Zamyatin's description of a society, where people are only known as numbers and where emotions are no longer an issue, may seem ludicrous to some, it actually touches upon many truths within our own society and, together with the three other books, should act as a kind of 'wake-up' call. It is a matter of pushing into the inner realms of Zamyatin's thought processes and asking ourselves if perhaps he is right and if perhaps mankind has actually lost connection with its soul.



 Photo: Yevgeny Zamyatin, Wikipedia.

03 March 2014

E-Book Week

This is E-Book Week.
For those of you who read e-Books, you now have a once-in-a-year chance to purchase The Space in Between at a
25% discount.
The offer can only last until the 8th March.
To take advantage of this fantastic opportunity, go to Smashwords (link: above left) and, when prompted, enter the code REW25.The coupon number is AN83E.



01 March 2014

Redstone Station by Therese Creed

Therese Creed is the daughter of one of my very best friends, and it was, therefore, quite natural that I would read Therese's first book. In it, she has done a great job of painting a detailed and accurate picture of life on the land. It is obvious that she knows what she is writing about, and this gives the novel both weight and believability. The book is also very well written with a careful mix of humour, allusions (often subtle) to contemporary issues and, in parts, beautiful descriptive passages. Jeremy is definitely the outstanding character in the book, and, I feel, in many ways, he epitomizes the soul of the Australian bush. An interesting book, well worth reading. For those of you who have read the book, you may be interested in knowing that the sequel will soon be published.




Photo from The Morning Bulletin