08.08.15 – Car Crash

August 20, 2015 § 1 Comment

We were driving at night

Radio blasting,

rain thumping against the window,

you were a mirage on my windshield,

grey eyes like rain clouds –

this road leads to nowhere,

this road leads to nothing –

you were a mere whisper,

a façade, a breath –

and I was a car crash.

Musings on Krik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat

August 9, 2015 § Leave a comment

When Haitians tell a story, they say “Krik?” and the eager listeners answer “Krak!” In Krik? Krak! In her second novel, Edwidge Danticat establishes herself as the latest heir to that narrative tradition with nine stories that encompass both the cruelties and the high ideals of Haitian life. They tell of women who continue loving behind prison walls and in the face of unfathomable loss; of a people who resist the brutality of their rulers through the powers of imagination. The result is a collection that outrages, saddens, and transports the reader with its sheer beauty.

I should probably start off this review by divulging the truth – Edwidge Danticat is one of my favourite authors, so some bias in this review should definitely be expected. I was first introduced to Danticat through a short story from this very book, called Nineteen Thirty-Seven and the more I’ve read of Danticat, the more I’ve appreciated and loved her work.

Krik? Krak! I think does a fantastic job of talking about issues that pervade Haiti without making it overtly political. Through Krik? Krak! you read about separated lovers due to political problems in Haiti, or the 1937 massacre at the river that borders the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Considering the political issues in the DR right now, this book is kind of fantastic in giving readers some sort of a context.

Danticat’s writing itself is poetic and beautiful. I feel any attempts at describing it would be to do a disservice to Danticat. Here is a short quote from Nineteen Thirty-Seven:

Until we moved to the city, we went to the river every year on the first of November. The women would all dress in white. My mother would hold my hand tightly as we walked toward the water. We were all daughters of that river, which had taken our mothers from us. Our mothers were the ahses and we were the light. Our mothers were the embers and we were the sparks. Our mothers were the flames and we were the blaze. We came from the bottom of that river where the blood never stops flowing, where my mother’s dive towards life – her swim among all those bodies slaughtered in flight – gave her those wings of flames. The river was the place where it had all begun.

Ultimately, Krik! Krak? is about community, with its short stories being subtly tied together. It’s about the telling of stories, it’s about the claim to freedom that many Haitians have been denied. It’s a book that I would highly recommend. If you’re interested in learning more about Haiti and the Dominican Republic, Danticat’s book The Farming of Bones tells a pretty wonderful and poignant story of the Nineteen Thirty-Seven massacre.

20.06.15

August 4, 2015 § Leave a comment

One touch ago

I was myself.

Last touch ago

I was me.

Now you are within,

embedded into this skin –

I feel you like a headrush,

I feel you like adrenaline

rushing through my veins.

Stripped bone-naked,

I am simply skin.

I scrub myself raw

and still feel your breath.

I am drowning

and you are the water

crushing my lungs.

To think – one touch ago

I was still breathing.

Musings on Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

July 28, 2015 § Leave a comment

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media–as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents–the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter–but is he really a killer? [x]

I made the grave mistake of watching the movie before reading this book. I still hold on to the belief that if I had read the book first, I would have enjoyed the book far more. But that regret aside, this book was still rather fantastic and I could barely put it down, even though I already knew the conclusion.

Let’s start with what I enjoyed the most – Flynn’s writing. Her writing style just seemed to click with me. It’s my first novel by Flynn so I’m hoping her others are consistent to this in terms of prose. Her writing is sharp and witty – perfectly fitting for the genre. And she manages to switch between the separate voices within the book excellently. The change is never drastic, but not so subtle that you don’t notice the difference.

I’ve noticed a lot of people claiming their dislike for the characters, suggesting that when you don’t have any characters that you can like, or relate to, it’s difficult to really enjoy the book. I’ll have to disagree with that. Yes, there are really no characters in this book that you can relate to (or at least I’d hope so) and none of them are what you’d call moral, but I don’t think that detracts from the novel. Despite their general unlikeability, Flynn makes the characters complex enough to keep you interested. My only real gripe with this book would have to be the ending, which seemed unsatisfactory at best. Though perhaps the immorality of the characters made the ending more bearable. In any case, the ending certainly didn’t make the rest of the novel any less enjoyable, and this is a book that I would definitely recommend!

… On a side note, I also enjoyed the movie, though I found the book to be far better (isn’t that always the case). The movie was interesting (though I don’t know if some of the actors were the best) but I think Flynn’s writing definitely gives the story a certain flair that is lacking in the movie. Still, watching the movie after having read the book is something I would recommend!

Extract from the novel I’m currently working on…

July 21, 2015 § Leave a comment

Hey guys! So in my last post, I let you know that I had started work on a sequel to one of my NaNoWrimo novels and so far it’s been going well. I’m pretty happy with it. So here’s the opening few paragraphs from it:

The first time Ishtar called me “Ana,” as we traversed between each other’s minds and I attempted to teach her the tricks that my mother had taught me once upon a time, I recalled a memory that made me a little sad. The the Causememory was nothing complicated, probably the simplest memory my mind has retained. After all, it was retained by a child’s mind, barely developed. It’s a memory of the science facility, but a surprisingly pleasant one. In it, I remember the whitewashed walls of the science facility and the dim glow of the light above me. And I remember lying on my mother’s lap as she ran her fingers through mine. I had been crying because my eyes were puffy and red, and every once in a while I would stop and sniffle. Perhaps it had been the time after my first experiment, or perhaps it was the time after I had been taken into solitary confinement for the first time. Or any other myriad of things that could have potentially upset a very young Charoite. But my mother had managed to comfort me with her near silence. Merely allowing me to lay on her lap as she stroked my hair. After a while, she whispered, “Ana, it’ll be okay, my love. I promise.”

When Ishtar called me Ana, let the word slip from her lips as we practised combining our energies, I had to take a step back and recall the memory in all its essence. Ishtar had told me that when she went into my mind to draw out my memories of my mother, she had seen it like a bright wisp.

“It was the brightest thing I’ve ever seen,” She had told me with a comforting smile. “That’s rare, you know. It’s really rare and really powerful.” It had done nothing to comfort me at the time but it felt like a comforting thought now. If all I had left of my mother was a small memory, I was glad that it shone bright among everything else.

“You okay?” Ishtar asked her when I stood in a daze for a moment, recalling my mother. It was a phrase that we had both become very familiar with in the past two weeks. Every once in a while, one of us would ask the other, “You okay? You alright?” because the other would stop, would breathe too heavily for a moment, would look too panicked, too confused. For me, I was plagued by thoughts of my mother that I didn’t want to share with anyone, not even Ishtar. I lay awake at night tossing and turning as I tried to remember exactly what she looked like. So far I had little more than hair that looked almost exactly like mine. I couldn’t even recall the shade of purple that her eyes had been. But I remembered her voice – how calming it was. It must have been my favourite thing about her as a child – the soft, melodic voice. It felt like the only thing I had to hold on to these days.

I hope you guys enjoyed that! Are any of you doing camp NaNoWriMo this time around? And if so, how is your writing going so far? Let me know!

A sudden bout of inspiration…

July 19, 2015 § Leave a comment

Do you ever sit listlessly in your room, trying to decide what to watch on Netflix, or scan through the myriad of unread books on your bookshelf trying to decide what book to read next, and suddenly you’re inspired, suddenly you feel the deep, desperate need to write?The One cover

A few nights ago, I was lying in bed tossing and turning so I picked up my kindle thinking maybe I’ll make a start on one of the books I’ve downloaded onto it. What I stumbled upon was my unfinished NaNoWriMo 2012 novel and I finished reading it quite quickly, excited by the prospects that existed in it that I had clearly overlooked. So inspiration struck, I opened up my word document, abandoned my reading quests, or any Netflix binge watches, and in two days, I typed out the last 10,000 words that got my novel to its much-needed conclusion.

And with the conclusion, came the idea for a sequel, which I began immediately after I finished typing out the last sentence of the first novel (which was “they killed him” for anybody who is wondering). Since it’s July, I decided to sign up for Camp NaNoWriMo to see if it helps me along with my writing goals (it usually does). But it’s been a day since I started writing my sequel and I’m about 3,000 words into it, which I’m quite happy with.

I think the most wonderful thing about sudden inspiration is that it truly gets you excited about writing. Since most of this year, I’ve been engaged in academic writing (and even as I work on my novel, I’m simultaneously working on my masters dissertation), the act of writing itself had become somewhat of a chore. I love it all the same, but I don’t seem to get excited about it as I usually do. So to come back to this novel that I had left unfinished, and be able to not only finish it, but see a future for it, makes me really quite happy, and very excited!

Have any of you been suddenly struck by inspiration like this? For a novel? Short story? Poetry? Or something else? Let me know!

What’s in a Name?

July 12, 2015 § Leave a comment

An extract from a short story I’m working on:

By now, Naseem had become pretty used to the way people reacted to her name – as if she had made it up as some sort of a joke. “Naseem?” They would ask with a raised eyebrow. “I knew a man called Naseem once…” Once or twice, there was a Naseem next door, dressed in a generic shirt and trousers, who looked even more disgruntled at her name, but pretended not to be.

“So why did your parents name you Naseem?” The question had cropped up once or twice at various events, as had the question “So what does it mean exactly?” She felt the latter to be more polite, to be a more appropriate question to ask someone they had just met. She answered both anyway – she could hardly ignore them. “When I was born, she said, I was so small that they didn’t think I was going to make it,” she would reply in the most deadpan-but-polite tone that she could muster up, “so they named me Naseem, meaning breeze, because they said I was light as a feather, and they were so afraid that I would simply be a passing breeze in their life.”

“Huh, that’s… poetic.” He was the first one to have that response. He was the first one to dwell on that for more than a moment. He said, “it’s a nice name” and it was Naseem’s turn to be taken aback.

“Thanks.” she responded to him with a hint of hesitation in her voice. She would be lying if she said this first exchange of theirs wasn’t one of the reasons that she married him in the end. She would be lying if she said that his words, “poetic,” didn’t make her feel something – though, what exactly, she hadn’t known at that time. She thought it had just been surprise and ignored the growing heat rising up her face.

“You are?” She asked him.

“Raza.” he smiled.

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