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Blogs I Follow
The author Jonas Karlsson is a Swedish actor, apparently. Generally, I’m drawn to books written by actors. Why? Put simply, nobody knows character quite as well as an actor.
The Room is about a man who lands a job for The Authority, but the job is beneath him and to escape the daily grind he retreats into a room, the problem being nobody else in the office can see it.
I did enjoy this. I felt deeply inside the narrator’s head and his thoughts became my own. I laughed, I was unsettled and it was so simply but well structured, I was in awe. I couldn’t wait to find out how it would all be resolved.
I’d love to read anything else by him.
I have written a novel, ‘Duff’. An early draft of ‘Duff’ was shortlisted for the Dundee International Book Prize 2014. It was called ‘The Dreaming’ then, and only a handful of scenes remain, having undergone an almost complete rewrite. Duff is due in October, and it will be available as a paperback and as an ebook. The Kindle version will be available at the end of September.
I say Duff is ‘due’ in October, because in many ways it’s my firstborn baby (I’m hoping there will be subsequent babies, I have two more novels in reserve).
I’m hugely excited about my debut novel, not least because writing it gave my life purpose after the terror of treatment for ovarian cancer. Many writers fall into writing, rather than being born writers. As a child I was always writing poetry. As well as being a voracious reader, I was curious about my creativity, but it took a terrible trauma for me to become serious about what I wanted to achieve in my life. I am 41 now. It’s around this age you realise time is running out, you’ve reached the top of the hill, and the only way is down. Focus. In some ways getting in tune with your childhood ambitions is the only way down that long, old slope.
Duff will be published by Patrician Press. More information here.
A boat leaves for America. On it are our protagonists, a young woman and her older, married lover. This is a tale of a love triangle, ruminating on the theme of time passing.
Taking her cue from tarot cards, Winterson’s chapters are labelled accordingly – the page of swords, the tower…if you’re familiar with these Jungian archetypes, you may find this an appealing device. I suppose the danger of knowing the tarot well, as I do, is a tendency to compare your own knowledge with Winterson’s, specifically how she transfers her knowledge of these cards into fiction; it’s a little distracting. For this reason, I’m dubious about this as a structural device.
Having said this, the theme of time passing is explored deeply, and the guiding intelligence behind the narrative is impressive. I didn’t love it to be honest, but it’s certainly a rich read.
Moses is a kind sort. For this reason, he’s the first port of call for Trinidadians hell-bent on coming to London for a shot of the good times. Of course racially-intolerant 50s London isn’t nearly so pleased to see them. And neither is fellow countryman Moses. It’s riddled with tales of hardship and broken dreams, but its comic pathos lends it genuine pockets of joy. It was groundbreaking at the time for its use of Creolian English. I loved it.
Books I have enjoyed in 2013
Life and How to Survive it – John Cleese, Robin Skynner
Brothers of the Head – Brian Aldiss
The Good of the Novel – Collected essays (Faber)
The Examined Life – Steven Grosz
Not So Perfect – Nik Perring
Sexing the Cherry – Jeanette Winterson
Time’s Arrow – Martin Amis
Herzog – Saul Bellow
Nothing if Not Critical – Robert Hughes
A Closed Book – Gilbert Adair
The Accidental Woman – Jonathan Coe
The Letters of Ted Hughes
Albert Angelo – B S Johnson
Until Further Notice, I Am Alive – Tom Lubbock
The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne – Brian Moore
Selected Prose and Drama of BS Johnson
Molloy – Samuel Beckett
Complete Plays by Samuel Beckett
Short Stories – Lydia Davis
Short Stories – Mary Lavin
The Proper Study of Mankind – Vintage Berlin
Books I have written in 2013
The Sorrowful Wife (novel)
Fenner (a novella, to be adapted as a play in 2014).
Inches around my middle gained
Away from his family, relaxing after making a bullet-proof presentation, Jon Wonderbaum sits at a bar in Manhattan. He’s seen it many times on the screen, moments like this. A salesman away from the routine of home. Making the most of his freedom.
1. He has a scotch on the rocks (always that).
2. He loosens his tie.
3. He scans.
In the US for the first time, Jon Wonderbaum begins to consider where he could find such a girl.
1. A minx he doesn’t have to pay for. Loose – (
2. A chanteuse happy to be bought a drink in return for contract-free sex.
3. A slut with a welcoming, warm cleavage to comfort his loneliness. A harlot who’ll disappear as soon as the light dusts through the hotel window.
Then, he sees such a woman. Alone, self-possessed, wiping a stray tear, she stirs her cocktail. She looks straight at Jon Wonderbaum. She looks sad. Familiar. Unsettled. Wonderbaum smiles at her. She rises from her seat and walks slowly over.
And Wonderbaum remembers: the cosmetics company in London.
1. She’d called him in to her office for failing to reach the new sales targets.
2. She’d snarled at him for letting the team down.
3. She’d fired him right there on the spot.
Tonight, he thinks, she’ll do.
Having struggled post-chemo to keep my stomach flat, I’ve decided to try a wheat free diet. The other day, when I was browsing in my local library, the Ideas Store in Bow, I happened upon this book. I was intrigued by the science behind the bloat, how wheat can cause blood sugar levels to rise and plummet at an alarming speed and subsequently cause food cravings and tummy rumblings.
Now, I’m not one for faddy diets, and on the whole I get bored before I can see one through. The longest I’ve lasted was with Slimming World (a diet I can totally recommend btw, I lost almost 2 stone over a year and never once went hungry – really!).
The Slimming World diet does get you into good habits, eating your seven a day and rediscovering the joy of lentils and mung beans for example, but I did grow bored with eating fat free foods, the demon Mueller yoghurts especially. They’re tasteless and they don’t fill you up.
So, I got to thinking, why all the fuss about fat-free foods? I don’t believe they’re good for you, they’re full of chemicals and they leave you wondering what else there is to eat. Besides, the body needs fat to burn energy, to keep the metabolism strong, and to repair cells. You need some fat.
Fatty foods can be good, not least because they can satiate you for longer, and that’s why I was so happy to stumble upon this book. It’s a light read you can dip in and out of on the bus, but informative. When this low-fat obsession started in the Eighties, this was when obesity started to rise. It’s no wonder, really, as I’ve said, low fat foods don’t fill you up.
We know about the dangers of sugar now, but how about wheat?
Wheat is everywhere, as I’ve since discovered. Trust me, trying to find wheat-free food in Sainsburys is back-breaking work. I spent hours in there. I avoided the low-fat yoghurts too, treating myself to full-fat Greek yoghurt with ginger (hello you!). But my usual choices, vege sausages, cereals, soups, just about anything actually, contains wheat. Why? It’s cheap, of course, largely American produced, but like cat treats for cats, it’s also addictive (have you noticed how cats are insatiable after eating certain brands – Whiskers, I’m looking at you).
I’ve been wheat-free for two weeks now. I can report I’m fuller for longer and my food cravings are non-existent. I do still get hungry, naturally, but I don’t crave. When I’m hungry, I eat nuts or fruit or yoghurts, but I don’t live with my nose in the fridge. Obviously, I’m also keeping sugar to a minimum too, as this causes cravings, but I can still eat dark chocolate. And I can still drink wine.
It’s important for a diet to be workable.