Sunday, 25 April 2010

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Reading Log

I keep a reading log. I jot down quick reviews of books I have read and then, in theory, transcribe them into my reading log. The reading log is several months behind. I am glad I make a note of my reads into my diary otherwise the whole process would totally collapse. Here are the last 3 weeks worth of reviews, transcribed from my diary pages.

(The log details a quick review, a score in stars and also in percentage and the genre.)

Youth in Revolt by C. D Payne ** 46% Fiction
This started off well, but lost pace and became very samey. The character of Nick Twisp became annoying and unrealistic. I will not be reading the sequel anytime soon.

We can't all be Astronauts by Tim Clare *** 56% Non-fiction/ memoir
This was well written and sort of interesting. However, it was stressful to read and Tim Clare came across as an idiot. At first I could relate to him, but then he became too whiney. A bit of a something and nothing book.

King of the Cloud Forests by Michal Morpurgo ***** 72% Children's fiction
Really good. Nice all round. The characters were all strong and the writing was compelling and enjoyable. Lovely concept and ethics. Recommended read for all ages.

Bully by Jim Schutze ** 36% Non-fiction crime
This was very badly written and paced. I didn't find it at all compelling.

The It Girl 'created by' Cecily von Ziegesar ** 35% Young Adult fiction
(I did not intend to read this book. The library ordered me the incorrect book and I read it anyway.)
I have probably scored this higher than it deserves. It was uninteresting. There is nothing going for it. The copyright belongs not to an author, but to an entertainment/ production company. This shows, since the story is thin, the characters one dimensional. It is dull, there is no hint of a plot. I hated the characters, they were all total idiots. The only thing that made me score it so highly is that the writing was not terrible on the most part (nothing amazing, poetic or literary, but the writing flowed well, even if the plot, pacing, characters and overal concept did not.)

The French Connection by Robin Moore **** 70% Non-fiction crime
There was a lot of suspense. I was fairly hooked. It was written quite well for a true-life crime book, though nothing literary or amazing. I found it enjoyable to read, since the story was very interesting. I have scored it highly on the basis of the plot, pacing and suspense rather than its literary merits (which are slim).


In other news: I have injured myself somehow after going to gymnastics for the first time in ages. I was doing front somersaults (working up to double front somersaults, so one and a half somersaults really). This was from the trampoline onto mats, four mats piled high to be exact. My leg buckled and I think I pulled or tore my quads. This means I cannot cycle nor can I really walk far. I feel really annoyed and upset about this because I start to feel really cooped up if I cannot go for a walk or cycle at least once a day.
One of Mr Kite's chickens died yesterday because the other chickens pecked her to the point of death and she had to be put down. Chickens are really nasty! I am surprised at how fast the poor chook was incapacitated. She was walking around happily and healthily in the morning. By 11:30am when we went to check on them she was very woozy and bloody. :(
Things are not going well. I'm off to cook in the woods on Saturday, so that should cheer me up :D

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Happiness hit her

Everything is beautiful lately. I just cycled to Stourhead, a National Trust property about two miles from my house. I took no photos, but we live in an age where words are not enough so I have attached a photo I took before. I don’t like to take too many photos. Photographs steal souls. I have a first class degree in Photography, so I know.

Stourhead was glistening and spiffy. I was very excited to see some snakeshead fritillary and some marsh marigold. I suspect these have been planted, but even so, they are so beautiful. I love them. Wood anemones are also really giving me a buzz at the moment. Everything is. I’m really buzzy. Lungwort is so, so pretty. Primrose, cowslip, wild daffodil, bluebells, red campion, stitchwort, lesser celandine, ivy leaved toadflax, speedwell, dog violet, lady’s smock plus loads of others are all out at the same time. It’s great!

I am cycling the vale quite a bit lately, and also I have taken to wearing dresses much more. I used to never wear dresses or skirts. Now I can’t get enough of them. I always thought cycling wearing a skirt must be quite stressful. But it is not. It’s lovely. Of course there is more wind resistance, but this means I am getting fitter faster. I recommend wearing sports shorts under the skirt because otherwise the highway will be exposed to your underdrawers, and I suspect it is a little colder.

It is my little sister’s thirteenth birthday today. I made her a storybook. It is a copy of a Young Dracula fiction I wrote a while ago. (you can read it here: My sister loves Young Dracula. She was the person who got me into it. Here is the front cover I made for her copy.

I have a strong suspicion that she prefers her new purple mobile phone to the story I wrote. I keep getting texts from her, even though she is just downstairs and I have notoriously poor signal at home. I am glad that I am no longer 13.

Friday, 2 April 2010

The Graduate

I read the book by Charles Webb before I watched the film starring Dustin Hoffman. I think this is fair because the book was written before the film.
The film is a seminal film. The book is better than the film. I'm not saying the film is bad or inaccurate. It follows the book very closely. But there is something in the book that is not in the film. There's a deeper sense of frustration, of stagnation. It is a bleak book, indeed. Most of it is dialogue. It almost reads like a screenplay. The dialogue goes around in circles, repeating itself. The awkwardness of Benjamin is communicated almost entirely by the way in which he talks. The actual manner he adopts is generally not described. You know his manner simply from the way in which he repeats things, spins conversations into confusing repetitive webs. I love it.

I have also read The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler recently. The style is so fresh and contemporary, despite how long this book has been around. The poetry of metaphor is like nothing else I have read before now. There is nothing at all pretentious about Chandler’s writing. It’s accessible and simple to read, yet intensely inspiring and poetic.

I’m working hard on becoming a better writer. Charles Webb and Raymond Chandler are big influences on me. So much so that I get this aching in my gut. I want to be as good as these guys. I am not as good as these guys. Stress eats me. My eyes are tired. It feels like my whole life depends on becoming a good writer.

But then I inhale, close my eyes and get lost in the sounds. I wish I didn’t care. It doesn’t make any difference whether I am a good writer or a lousy writer. I wish I didn’t care.