Sunday, 26 September 2010

Thoughts on: Dr No (Ian Fleming)

I would like to introduce you to some friends of mine. Not close personal ones or anything, but people that I've spent some time getting to know over the last week or so. You're probably going to say "That's Sean Connery and Ursula Andress." Well, actually you'd be wrong. Because I'm not talking about the actors. I'm talking about James Bond and Honey Rider. Or if you read the books rather than just watch movie versions, Honeychile to be perfectly accurate.

I'm not exactly a Bond fan. But I've watched a lot of the films. Dad and I went through a phase of watching them when they were on foxtel. I may have been in year 12 at the time but it could have even been last year. My memory isn't the most reliable, and therefore it won't surprise you if I say I don't remember much of the movies. I can tell you that the first one I saw was one with Connery in it, and there was a shark, and it may have been... no I was going to say Never say never again, or Die another day, and I think those are both Pierce Brosnan. I've never seen any of the Pierce Brosnan ones I don't think. I've seen the Roger Moores, the Sean Connery's, the George Lazenby (which is fun to turn the sound off on and redub over with friends, if you're looking for a party game. Alternatively, 10 points to anyone who invents a Bond drinking game. Perhaps every time he says a cheesy line...)

I'm a little off track. So for class I read Dr. No. And in the middle of reading Dr. No, I watched Dr. No. And is it just me or is the movie villain a) up to a lot more bad stuff than the book one and b) a lot more sadistic. Also, I wouldn't thought this possible, but the book is overtly... kind of romantic, aside from the whole fact of him moving on to a new girlfriend in the next book. In the movie, Bond has... 3 women that he uh... hooks up with... and in the book there is only Honey. And the way he thinks about her is as more than an exploit, which was nice.

I can't say it was the best book I've ever read because the language was a bit over done and sensationalist, but hey, it passed the time.

And oh my god, I love Ursula Andress in that film. I love the way she talks. It makes no sense at all.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Shall I Map My Influences? I Think I Shall.

This was done at the request of the lovely L.

There are many things which are not on that list; to name a few, One Tree Hill, Gilmore Girls, The Young Ones, Phillipa Gregory Novels, John Hughes Movies...

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

And If You Edit When You're Angry, You Only Wake Up Sad...

My year ten teacher used to say that in writing it is necessary to kill your babies, which I can only assume is an approximation of the well known phrase kill your darlings. What she meant was that you can't let your own feelings about a piece of prose stop you from editing it for the better.

I can see the merit in that.

Well, tonight I am in a bad mood. I won't make excuses. I am just in a bad mood. I came home from uni today wanting to write and I spent about half an hour writing something and then deleted it all because it wasn't going anywhere. Then I did some laundry etc, came back and tried to write something else. And I started off really well. But that sort of faded when I realised I have NO IDEA how it feels to be someone's step father. Plus the story had a bit of a Lolita vibe going on.

And I sent it to a friend, so if I do get grumpy and delete-button-happy, it won't be gone for good.

What really frustrates me is that I haven't had anything published except in Metior for maybe more than a year. And that makes me almost want to pack it in and get a real job. (See? Bad mood.)

But because you can't do anything about that at 10 34 pm, I did something else instead. I took a story I've been sitting on for ages and deleted a huge part of it.

And it really does feel like committing a murder.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Thoughts on: All the Pretty Horses (Cormac McCarthy)

That's right... I finally finished it. And this edition of Thoughts on contains SPOILERS.

Those of you who know me, know that I was struggling to get into this one. I carried it around a lot, but often I would read only 3 or 4 pages every few days because it was driving me crazy. McCarthy kind of has an aversion to using the same punctuation as normal people, but I guess that's his style. I can respect that. Everyone has their own style when they write and I'm sure I manipulate the rules of English in ways that annoy everyone. For example, I use way too many commas. My motto when it comes to grammar is "Commas are a Priviledge, not a Right."

This book really didn't make sense much in the first section. I couldn't work out who was being talked about sometimes; was it John Grady Cole or his father (the places where I wasn't sure, it was usually his Dad), and Lacey Rawlins was a character which I expected to be female. Oops. The fact that there are no quotation marks when people speak is difficult to get used to (but hey it happens in Cloudstreet too) and when Spanish is used, it is not translated. I could guess at some of it, but most of it I just had to pick up the tone. It was that or have a Spanish dictionary with me and even working out each individual word wasn't guaranteed to give me the meaning of each sentence. On the plus side, I think I have learned that Caballo is Spanish for horse.

I'd read reviews of this book on Shelfari, and people were saying things like "if you just get through 50 pages, it gets interesting". Because more than one person said it, I wanted to think it was true. Generally, with reading, there is a 50 page rule anyway; if you don't like something after 50 pages, stop bothering. Being a uni text, that rule alters slightly and becomes if you don't like it after 50 pages, suck it up Princess. So I kept reading, even though page 51 came and went and I still wasn't sucked into the world of the book. I would say I really started to love the story in the middle of section 3. And that's more that 150 pages in. These last two days I have been reading it voraciously. I don't know whether the text got better or my attitude did, but it was nice to be really into a book like that again, even if it was preceded by a big gap in reading caused by the same book.

What I liked about it most was the depth of characterisation. And what he did with tying up the loose ends of the romance. He did what I do, he wrote an anti-romance. I like that. I like non endings. They make me feel more in the world. Escapist literature is good for on planes and in the holidays and stuff but if a book has "One of the greatest American novels of this or any time- Guardian" written on the front of it, I don't want it ending all "and John and Alejandra got married anyway and had lots of really attractive children, and Lacey met someone too, and they got to keep Blevins's horse, plus it turned out he wasn't dead anyway and neither were John's father or grandfather, and the prison thing was part of a reality TV show."

That would really annoy me.

But a lot of things about modern writing do.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Competitions update

Today is a lovely sunny day, and I am in a good mood. I just took a drive down to my local Australia Post to buy stamps and an envelope so that I could send in my entry for this year's Katharine Susannah Prichard Short Fiction competition. I'm so glad I'm not over 20 yet because I can still enter for free. Hooray. Cheap thrills. (Although the envelope and stamps cost me about $8.70....) It would be really nice to place this year... last year I didn't (and rightly so, I wrote something in about two hours and just sent it off... and it included an intertextual link which was really important but to a book I haven't even read) and the year before I came second.

I didn't end up entering the Wet Ink competition but I did enter the John Marsden Short Story Prize, so I'm still waiting to hear on that... in the meantime I think I will go and sit on the lollabout chairs in the backyard and read some Cormac McCarthy for class...

Thursday, 9 September 2010

"It just doesn't feel like a night out with no one sizing you up."

I've had a song stuck in my head for days.

More specifically, a few lines of Panic! at the Disco's (before they dropped their exclamation point and two of their members... so the first album)song "There's a good reason these tables are numbered Honey, you just haven't thought of it yet". For the record, I haven't thought of it either. And I've always suspected that the long abstract title thing was an attempt to be like Fall Out Boy. But who knows who's copying who anymore?

The lines in my head goes as follows "I'm the new cancer, never looked better, you can't stand it, or so you say so under your breath, you're reading lips, when did he get so confident?"

There are other bits (The title of this post for example...). I'm listening to it now. And I'm trying to work out why it's in my head. It's not on my iPod. It hasn't been on the radio. No one I know was talking about me. And it's so bizarre that it probably didn't come up as a result of someone talking about something else that was vaguely related.


This is definitely not getting my novel written.

(But to clarify, I did work on two short stories last night.)

Oh and Happy Birthday STC, you are now officially old.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Thoughts on: On Chesil Beach (Ian McEwan)

You might recall that some many moons ago, I said that Ian McEwan was one of the writers I aspire to be like. Well. The man has been nominated for the Booker prize umpteen times, plus his stuff is very entertaining, so can you really blame me? I've read Atonement (finished it within minutes of having to go and meet friends at the cinema to see the film), Amsterdam and as of a few hours ago, I've also read On Chesil Beach.

Let me tell you the best thing, in my opinion, about Mr McEwan's books; He makes the little nothings of life seem like everything.

I find myself always able to relate to his characters, even when they are so far removed from my own situation that without his help, I would not be putting myself in their shoes. I am Briony Tallis; I amFlorence Ponting. I am even a little bit of Edward. It makes me wonder if I am little bit like McEwan myself. Does he wonder about the same trivial things that I do? Does he search for significance in every thing he does?

I find myself amused also by this quote: "There were rumours that in the English department, and along the road at SOAS and down Kingsway at the LSE, men and women in tight black jeans and black polo neck sweaters had constant easy sex, without having to meet each other's parents. There was even talk of reefers. Edward sometimes took an experimental stroll from the History to the English department, hoping to find evidence of paradise on earth, but the corridors, the notice boards, and even the women looked no different" (McEwan, 2007, 40).

I guess that just tickled my fancy, being both an English and a History major. I don't know how much truth there is in it, even in my own time and location, let alone London 1962.

The other theme that always strikes me about McEwan's work is that of communication and understanding. His characters can often misunderstand each other and take years to truly come to grips with what was meant. I recognise that in daily life too. Old events take on new significance in time. I respect McEwan's ability to recognise that.

He remains on my list of those I aspire to be like. Others will not be so fortunate, I fear.