Monday, July 30, 2007

haiku - compare and contrast

the trombonist
plays her first solo -
dogs howl outside.

Compare and Contrast for One Deep Breath.
I've posted another compare and contrast haiku on Crafty Green Poet here.

Saturday, July 28, 2007


As many of you will know today is the day for Blogathon, the marathon blogging effort for charity. It all starts at 0600 Pacific Time today! Its not too late to choose to sponsor one of the participants!

Abby of A G33k Tragedy is interviewing me sometime during her Blogathon. You can read my interview and any of her other interesting posts (one post every 24 hours and we're promised poetry and art as well as a variety of other blog posts!) on her Blogathon blog.

Her interview with me can be read here.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Blogging for Positive Global Change Award

Marcia of Tumbled Words and MeeAugraphie has nominated me for the Blogging for Positive Global Change Award. You can read her post about the award here. I am very honoured and I was touched by what she said about me. Congratulations also to Marcia for being nominated herself.

You can find out more on Crafty Green Poet.

Lempriere's Dictionary by Lawrence Norfolk

This is big, thick, ambitious novel about ships and conspiracies, two things I'm not generally too interested in. However, I'm all for expanding my boundaries! The book follows John Lempriere as he leaves Jersey to travel to London in connnection with the reading of his father's will, after his father was ripped apart by hunting dogs, an episode watched by the young John. Along the way he gets caught up in conspiracies and underhand dealings relating to the East India Company and is asked to write a dictionary on Greek mythology, as he is already obsessed with the subject.

There are many things I loved about this book, the descriptions of Jersey (a place I love, evocatively re-recreated in the early part of this book) the occasional hilarious scenes, such as the Pork Club party and the huge tortoises stuck on the Opera House roof, even though they're not visible to anyone, the sense of adventure and the overall quality of the writing. The characters are vivid and well drawn and atmosphere is expertly conveyed, whether in underground passages or in the foggy streets of London.

However I found it tedious that so many scenes were presented from a variety of viewpoints without this adding anything substantial to the reader's understanding of the scene. I also got lost in some of the more convoluted detailings of the conspiracies. That's my fault rather than the books. My mind just doesn't work like that!

Overall, definitely a book I'm glad to have read, but I wouldn't read it again.

Submitted for the Hidden Treasure's Review Competition. It's open until 15 August, why not enter a review yourself?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Fictional Villains

When I first thought about fictional villains, my reaction was that I don't really read books with villains. But then I thought of two very villainous characters who have featured in novels I've read recently:

Grenouille is the villain in Patrick Suskind's novel Perfume. He has no personal odour and a very well refined sense of smell. He naturally becomes a perfumier and then ventures into bottling the scents of beautiful women, murdering the women on the way. I really enjoyed the book in a creepy sort of way, I felt that Grenouille is a very well realised villain, the details make him a very distinctive character and the evil aspects of his nature are built up very effectively.

The central character in John Burnside's novel The Dumb House, is rarely referred to by name, but I think he may be called Luke? He is a nasty piece of work and his story is told in a chillingly rational style that I found so disturbing that I could barely read the book. This is effectiveness writ large but to detrimental effect for those of us of a sensitive disposition. Burnside is one of my favourite poets, he is a brilliant writer but this novel just gave me insights into a sick and twisted soul that i don't think I wanted to see.

Villains for Booking Through Thursday.

Monday, July 23, 2007

haiku - comfort

bad news
in an airmail letter -
a loving hug.


flood waters
outside the village hall -
mugs of coffee.

Comfort for One Deep Breath

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Harry Potter

Questions from Booking through Thursday
Okay, love him or loathe him, you’d have to live under a rock not to know that J.K. Rowling’s final Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, comes out on Saturday… Are you going to read it? NO. NEVER
Are you attending any of the midnight parties? NO.
If you’re not going to read it, why not?

It isn't my thing. Plus the more popular a book or film becomes the less likely I am to read /watch it, unless it is totally my thing anyway. I don't follow the crowd.
And, for the record… what do you think? Will Harry survive the series? I think he won't, otherwise there's too much pressure for JK to write more books in the series.
What are you most looking forward to? The end of the hype!

I will just add that I admire JK Rowling for the way she approached the Harry Potter series, her own story is truly inspiring.

Edited also to add: I think Harry Potter has been great for getting children and young people interested in reading again and can bring families together over books that appeal to all family members.

Lost Wor(l)ds

Ghosts speak dead languages –
the air shimmers with their lost wor(l)ds
full of unlearnt wisdom
that we waft away like smoke.

While we struggle to understanding
speaking in our second language -
untranslatable fears
haunting the table.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Haiku - Bodies of Water

mostly water -
I still ebb and flow
with the tides.

Bodies of Water for One Deep Breath

More Bodies of Water on Crafty Green Poet here and here.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


Questions this week from Booking through Thursday:

1. In your opinion, what is the best translation of a book to a movie?

Shawshank Redemption and La Moustache.

2. The worst?

I usually think that the film is inferior to the book. If I love the book, I'll probably not go to see the film adaptation. There are some disappointing films that I've seen, that I know were made from films, but if I've not read the book I can't say whether it was a bad adaptation or just plain bad.

3. Had you read the book before seeing the movie, and did that make a difference?

I generally don't go to see films made from books I've already read. If I'm going to experience both, I'd rather see the film first. I always feel that the film paints the story with broader brushstrokes and then the book allows me to delve deeper. With both Shawshank Redemption and La Moustache, I saw the film before reading the book. Having seen La Moustache before reading it helped me a lot with getting through the book (I read it in French).

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Discovery of Chocolate - James Runcie

This is a wonderful book! The tale of Diego de Godoy, who sets sail with Cortes and his conquistadors, discovers chocolate and then drinks an elixir that gives him (and his dog, who licked the dregs!) life for 500 years. Five hundred years of following the chocolate trade across the world, meeting famous people from Fry, the Quaker chocolate baron to the Marquis of Sade and searching for lost love and the meaning of life. The pages are stuffed full of descriptions of wonderful chocolate dishes (though sadly no actual recipes!).

For fullest enjoyment, read while drinking Green and Black's fairtrade, organic Maya Gold hot chocolate.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood is my favourite poet and for me her novels never reach the heights that her poetry achieves. The Handmaid's Tale is a disturbing glimpse into a possible future America where women have become purely breeding machines to re-populate a world devastated by the effects of nuclear fall-out and too many 'unnatural' women having decided to not have children. A world where women are banned from reading and where Scrabble is the equivalent of an illicit drug. The novel explores life under an oppressive regime and throws up a lot of interesting questions about how much the oppressed collude in their own oppression. However, I found myself constantly distracted by what seemed to me an unlikely timeline, I think if she'd taken out references to the actual 1970s and 1980s the reader may have been able to suspend more disbelief and work out timelines to their own satisfaction. My partner says this problem just proves I don't read enough Science Fiction and Fantasy, but I pointed out that although this book is described as Science Fiction and is actually Futuristic Fantasy it's marketed as Fiction and most readers will be coming with a background in Atwood's previous books rather than in genre SF/Fantasy novels.

It's an interesting novel to read, but in future I'll stick to her poetry!

Giveaway - update

I have put the names in the hat and the winner is Bookcrossing member Kobie03. Congratulations, once I've got your address, I will put Jay Black's book In Love's Shadow into the post for you, along with a copy of my own very small haiku collection. To see who won the first ever Crafty Green Poet giveaway, see here!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Struggling with Italian

I'm currently trying to read Silvia Ballestra's la giovinezza della signorina N.N in the original Italian and really struggling with it. I don't know why. Admittedly if I read novels by Italo Calvino or Alessandro Baricco in Italian I've read them first in English, but I read Andrea Pinketts Il Vizio del'Agnello pretty quickly and didn't feel lost at all, well not more than anyone would feel lost in such a wonderfully bizarre book! Plus I read Italian magazines quite a lot. So what's with this book? I'm enjoying the bits I do understand so I don't want to give up, plus I'm now treating it as language learning rather than reading for pure enjoyment and am reading other books at the same time. If anyone reading this blog has read this book (long shot I know!!) maybe you can let me know if you found it difficult too or give me advice about what's difficult about it? Thanks!