About Silences [07.08.2017]

Apologies for not posting in a while!

I could claim many a culprit guilty for my absence on here- I have been travelling, caught up with family, reading too much, writing… alright, so the last excuse is most certainly a lie-

(I am trying very hard to work on that however. No, seriously)

– but honestly, I don’t feel like offering excuses. I suppose all I can say is that I haven’t felt like it.

I’ve always been taught that it isn’t such a good thing to say in defence of not doing something. I haven’t felt like it. Whether at school, at home, or at work, it is the worst resistence you can offer against a demand to do something, complete something. Goodness, I can hear my most odious teacher now, berating it.I take on that voice and the first person in my head is spiteful and spitting: So I don’t FEEL like it, huh? Well, what good am I for anything else? Can’t lift my lazy fingers and brain to put some words together, what else am I good for? Do you think the great people of the past put off doing their great deeds because at the back of their great minds, a tiny, great voice reminded them that really, they didn’t FEEL like doing something great on a particular day?

How easy it is to blow things out of proportion. But that’s what I’m King at. I know it’s not important as to whether I write a post or not. It’s my blog, I do what I want. But I suppose to me, it’s currently important that I face up to why I don’t do something. Being in recovery and desperately trying to get back in touch my both myself and the world, after years spent trying to reject feelings, is at last beginning to teach me things. One of those being that I sometimes can’t do things because, in one sense or another, at any one particular moment,

I don’t feel like it.

But what’s important is knowing that it doesn’t mean I’m always going to be this way.

So, I’ll be keeping at the monthly reading round-up where I can, and hopefully write about books at some point. I’ve made a change to not put them in ‘reviews’ anymore, rather, I’ll just put them down as my thoughts. I have a lot to learn about reading, about writing on reading, and I feel like I don’t have the confidence to make judgements on books. Perhaps that is strange, but I feel more comfortable that way.

Wishing you a pleasant day!

HD.

Monthly Reading Round Up: May 2017

In Order:

  • Daphne Du Maurier ‘Jamaica Inn’
  • R.K Narayan ‘Swami and Friends’
  • R.K Narayan ‘The Bachelor of Arts’
  • R.K Narayan ‘The English Teacher’

Not only is this May Reading Round Up Post really late, it’s also going to be rather pitiful in terms of content. Suppose that’s what I get for starting off so well in April- a high climb makes for a steep fall, and so my reading dwindles.

I do have my excuses, however! Firstly, I spent most of the month getting frazzled over preparing elaborate cosplay outfits for London MCM Comic Con (…where I then didn’t even wear half of the outfits… or wear them for long… but we won’t discuss that)- not to mention actually trying to get organised so I was ready to go and enjoy a weekend in the city. My second, rather much more pathetic excuse is that I had to put two books on the DNF (did not finish) list- The Age of Revolution: 1789-1848 by Eric Hobshawn, and The Celts by Alice Roberts. It probably says a lot about how scattered my mind was during this month, given how I couldn’t concentrate on history books concerning themselves with some of my favourite historical eras. Neither Hobshawn nor Roberts were bad or boring, it was just my brain refused to take in their narratives or their facts.

Yet what reading I did get done this month, I enjoyed immensely. I had the greatest of fun in rediscovering Daphne Du Maurier with her gothic-slash-thriller Jamaica Inn. It even inspired me to write a review on it, it caught my attention so much. Another brilliant find was in the writings of R.K Narayan in a collection called The Malgudi Omnibus- featuring three of his more central works that are set in his fictional town of Malgudi. While in each story, the characters and situations differ, it is the town of Malgudi that remains the same. In short, I simply fell in love hard and fast for Narayan’s style and wit. There’s a simplicity to his narrative that I appreciate so so much, because as a failed practitioner of the craft, I know how incredibly difficult it is to achieve. It makes for vivid reading, and an easy connection with his characters, who stretch and sparkle and reach out to the reader with their thoughts and struggles.

I probably have more to say- but this month has been difficult for me for a lot of reasons, and therefore it has been pretty difficult to write about. I know that I plan to return to Narayan in future, so here’s hoping that next time, I’ll have better words to use and better organisation of my thoughts.

May June be more fruitful for reading!

London Comic Con, 26-28/05/2017

So I went to London MCM Comic Con at the ExCel Centre just over a week ago. And since then, I’ve agonized over how I was going to write about it. Originally, I had a much longer post planned, which was personal in nature. It was going to not only describe how it was at MCM, but I was also going to go into great detail on how much of a struggle it was. How my anxiety flared up big time in light of this big weekend, which colluded with how exposed I felt wearing proper cosplay for the first time, as well as inadequate.

However, after days of thinking about it, I scrapped the piece. Not only on reading it back, does it feel horribly disjointed, it also just feels too… open, for me at the moment. I’ve realised more and more these days that I’m not 100% able and ready to write about what plagues me from day to day, how it mixes and churns about and poisons my movements, my thoughts. I feel as if it will be soon- where I can talk about it. And I obviously need to keep perusing this, even if it means scrapping more posts/writings.

For now, I just post some pictures of me in the cosplay I did manage to wear on Saturday. Evie Frye from Assassin’s Creed Syndicate in her Bloofer Lady Outfit, anyone? 😉

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Monthly Reading Round Up: April 2017

In Order:

  • Virginia Woolf, ‘Orlando’ [Re-Read]
  • Carol Joyce Oates, ‘The Tattooed Girl’
  • Judith Flanders, ‘The Victorian City’
  • Toni Morrison, ‘The Bluest Eye’ [Re-Read]
  • Leo Tolstoy, ‘Anna Karenina’

In an effort to fix my god awful habits, I’ve made it a point to start to tracking what I read, and when I finish books. Reading was once such a core part in my life, lost through hardship, and recently I realised how much it depressed me not to have it anymore. Keeping up a regular bookstagram account has done much to kickstart reading regularly. There’s quite a lot of guilt to be found in posting pretty pictures of books you haven’t read!

I thought it was good to start with re-reading a few books here and there too. Going back to pieces of wonderful writing that used to dazzle me, inspire me, make me take considerations beyond my limits. I made a trip back home at the beginning of the month, stopping over in Swansea for a few nights, and Virginia Woolf’s Orlando was the perfect companion. I had read the book during my a-level days, desperate to prove myself a ‘proper’ literature student who clearly read ‘proper’ books. Post-grad me really doesn’t give as much of a toss about that kind of pretence now (that and I have no energy to), and also didn’t remember much about Orlando spare the amazing, out-there plot, and some academic articles I read about the novel that my brain didn’t understand although it pretended to in front of my teacher. Re-reading it was nothing short of a joy.

Orlando steams ahead with its purpose in a singular direction without a care. The narrator drawing us in to a private world of the biography where they assume we are alike, curious and frustrated while walking path to document the choices and being of another. Orlando’s talent of immortality and gender-switching is a detail as both irrelevant and important as other parts of their life, like their relationships and troubles. A determination by Orlando to reject a pertinent suitor in the female part of her life is just as exhilarating as the revelation of her gender change upon her awakening after a deep, week-long slumber. Whether depicting the ordinary or the nonsensicle, Orlando reminded me how Woolf makes magic no matter what: not waiting for your attention- but just taking it. Toni Morrison is much the same, and again, much like with Orlando, re-reading The Bluest Eye was another exercise in paying more attention where it’s due, on dragging that a-level student out of the hole she crawled into and make her re-evaluate the books she read years ago. Here I learnt to appreciate Morrison’s power. Where her words can render you breathless. Making you put down the book as you consider how is it possible to carry so much weight in so little words- how is such a slim book so capable of holding everything in one punch? Morrison makes language bend to her, playing the conscious and range of human emotion as she describes the unthinkable and the horrible. Racism and white privilege are brought out directly, and as a white reader, it’s on me to listen well, to note what builds the obsession with blue eyes in the face of indescribable pain and violation. I may read The Bluest Eye again sometime soon, I feel like I’ve missed so much even on a re-read.

As for ‘new’ books, I discovered Carol Joyce Oates with The Tattooed Girl. As my first foray into Oates’ world, I kick myself for not having started earlier. As I described to a friend, I feel as if Oates ‘gives without giving a fuck’. Her writing is unapologetic and stark, and she is deft at describing the tension in a scene, picking at the treads that connect her characters together and showing us how they fray. I ate that book, so to speak, in that I can’t remember reading something so quickly since I was a teenager (who was hungry for a fantasy series), enjoying the rush as I fell to sympathy for characters I knew I shouldn’t and while being made aware that’s exactly what Oates wanted me to do. However, The Tattooed Girl is unique for this month, in that my other two books, The Victorian City and Anna Karenina, were books that were started months back, and required a great effort and a deployment of ‘plodding along’ in terms of reading. The Victorian City took so long to finish in its entirety because of its ease of access as a nonfiction book. Judith Flanders planned her study of Victorian London with great care and mastery, fully aware that readers would be both researchers and a mix of the curious. Each topic is dealt with in singularity, meaning that the chapter before or after doesn’t need to be consulted, and initally, I only read two or three parts for a writing project. As a whole book though, it weaves together an essence of the era that British public consciousness still aspires to study and capture today.

As for Anna Karenina, it’s been one hell of a journey. I started that book months ago in October/November of last year, and it had become almost a permanent fixture on my desk until now. It had started out as one of those ‘must-read’ kind of books- the marathon classic you brag about finish reading. But genuinely, I enjoyed it. Tolstoy has a light touch to his words that lift you even through the swathes of politics that could pull you down into boredom, tinting the high society that his character’s flit through in the same shades. I’ll admit, I cared little for the centre-staged romance of Anna and Vronsky until the end, where Anna’s misery infected my fear and drew me to her. It embarrasses me to say that almost all of my sympathies ended up calling arms to Levin. There was something about his constant nervousness of and for life (of which I can relate in feeling) that became endearing, even where his temper and pretentious considerations for peasants were distasteful. His peace at the end is a fitting lock on a book whose title and central love story lock horns with stability and solidarity of marriage and family, the latter which is everything Levin aspires to represent.

But aside from what I think of Tolstoy’s epic, what’s become important to me is how there’s a sense that I’ll miss that book now I’ve finished it at long last. When something sticks with you for long enough, it’s inevitable. I dipped into that book sporadically over the months, but remained faithful to reading it. My memories include of where I read the book, as well as the book itself: hunched over the bathtub rim at four the morning in the middle of an insomnia-ridden episode, beside the old heater whilst waiting for my current sewing project to dry, or even on the floor of my bedroom after being bored by cleaning. Slowly turning pages, and feeling the weight of the book slowly shift from the left hand to the right. That sense of connection has become infectious to me, and now I think as I embark seriously on learning how to read and love books again, it might have to be a thing of mine to always have a big book on the go in the background- ready to take me back into its world whenever I need it.

Anyway- onward to next month’s reading!