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Revival – Stephen King

Kingy ThingsIn a small New England town, in the early 60s, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister, Charles Jacobs. Soon they forge a deep bond, based on their fascination with simple experiments in electricity.

Decades later, Jamie is living a nomadic lifestyle of bar-band rock and roll. Now an addict, he sees Jacobs again – a showman on stage, creating dazzling ‘portraits in lightning’ – and their meeting has profound consequences for both men. Their bond becomes a pact beyond even the Devil’s devising, and Jamie discovers that revival has many meanings.

Stephen King has a knack of managing to take things I have never heard of, little details of life from an America I am not familiar with and weave such into a story that has me appreciating and – bewilderingly – feeling nostalgic for them.

This book has the central motif of music in that respect,  the artists frequently referenced I know almost nothing about, although I have at least heard of some of them.  I can normally invest in these specifics regardless but this one had me feeling that I was missing out on something, as if prior knowledge to this soundtrack would have added much more to the story, which is a feeling I hate as I almost feel compelled to stop and consume each bit of music as it is mentioned.  That said King does make the reader want to take an interest because of his obvious passion for that era of music and that is no bad thing, to appreciate human artistry whatever form it takes.

The plot follows a friendship forged and lost, a chance meeting years later and a clashing of beliefs and electricity, it’s pretty existential in its own way and it will play on the fears of a lot of people when all is said in done.  This makes it more memorable than it would have been were the narrative not backed up with something as speculative and fascinating as it is, that said the imagery of the prose is some of the most memorable I have read in a good while and more than makes up for the flaws in the rest of the story.

Plenty of issues are woven into the story as you would expect, religion and science, loss, grief, damaged people and the need for answers to those questions out of our reach.  As for the horror, it’s more a feeling of dread that simmers just under the surface in the manner of a classic monster horror of years past and King does give some heavy nods to certain authors of more traditional horror origins.  I would advise skipping the dedication page listing authors  who have influenced him, which may give some themes away. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 05/07/2015 in Horror

 

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A Thoughtful Sidetrack

I decided to add an optional soundtrack to this post so if you wish some aural accompaniment scroll down to the bottom for the marvellous Anxious Heart from the old yet fantastic Playstation game Final Fantasy VII.  The music first features (if memory serves) whilst the player negotiates a hazardous train graveyard and that is a good enough if slightly tenuous link for the post but also I think it fits so that’s alright then.

I came across this photo by accident and after marvelling at all the details it had to offer, sat wondering where such a tunnel would lead.

The obsolete railway line glimpsed briefly as I thunder by, peels off to a bygone era.  Overgrown and untended its track leads to the melancholy past.  Glimpsed through a steamed up window in cold weather, my thoughts melt into the heat of the train and the rhythmic gyrations lead me to doze and imagine the end of that forgotten line: Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 27/06/2015 in My Writings, Poetry

 

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From the U.K.

Ste J:

If you haven’t already checked out Resa’s blogs, then this is a good place to start and not only because I got myself involved by noticing what was around me (after walking past it at least 20 times).

Originally posted on Graffiti Lux and Murals:

Steve Johnson, or Ste J as his friends call him, from Book To The Future snapped these at a place called Carrington near Nottingham city centre.

photo © Steve Johnson photo © Steve Johnson

Thank you, Ste J, for these wonderful pics of street art!!

photo © Steve Johnson photo © Steve Johnson

 Pics taken by Steve Johnson – June, 2015

Nottingham, United Kingdom

View original

 
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Posted by on 25/06/2015 in Art, Blogging, Photography

 

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Found in Translation – Part 2

I started reading Émile Zola’s Germinal at the beginning of last week – somewhat coincidentally to the timing of these posts – which I am thoroughly enjoying, although if reading about the tough struggles of a mining village in 1860’s France can indeed be called enjoyable, is perhaps a debate left for another post.  I originally picked Germinal up in the local library which these days is the closest thing we have resembling a Tower of Babel, although I doubt there were no screaming kids on that building site ruining my reading whilst parents indulgently look on…but I have digressed already despite my intentions so apologies in advance for the muddled mass of musing hereon in.

Babelicious

The Tower of Babel painted marten Van Valckenborch 1534-1612

With the advent of printing presses then translations due to public thirst, through to the joys of bookshops adorning all decent streets, the book market has grown to massive proportions.   The huge plethora of tomes these days makes amassing a huge personal library something really easy and cheap to do as well as a source of pride and a hobby all itself.  Back in the day 20 books would have been regarded as a library but as universities taught reading and the power of the church waned, everybody could get involved and create as they wished, I wonder how many of you authors out there have considered getting your work translated?  Just a thought…

Technology keeps becoming ever more impressive and has helped us no end with opening beer bottles easier and negotiating those tricky TV channels but can it be programmed to know the nuances of language and to understand colloquial interpretations?  These things are pretty impenetrable for us reasoning beings quite a lot of the time but for a mere computer…at least we have the consolation of knowing that when the machines take over all our jobs and probably the world, we will still have that and plenty of strange customs steeped in the deepest tradition, that defy belief yet must be elucidated upon for us to understand them in our own social terms. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 23/06/2015 in Languages

 

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Found in Translation – Part 1

Recently I stumbled upon an English to Pirate Translator which briefly amused me, then somewhat predictably had me wasting my time searching for other novelty translation sites like the Yoda Speak Generator and so forth.It wasn’t a completely wasted half hour though, as it got me thinking about the art of translation and how the new cloud based translating systems like Smartling – for example – are helping businesses get the word out into new territories.

The joys of globalisation indeed!  But now imagine if you will, a world where books remained in the country or language group that they were written in and were not translated or spoken about to outsiders.  Translators would not be needed or at best extremely marginalised and there would be only basic contact between groups of people.  The result would be an insular reading world without the cultural references of other places, books or eras, where new thoughts were sparse and the richness of the world with its strange traditions from far off would be virtually unknown

You could argue that there would be good and bad to such a world. Plato’s works wouldn’t have influenced the West, there would be no world religions, new ideas and technological breakthroughs would take a lot longer to occur, Tolkien wouldn’t have written The Lord of the Rings and we wouldn’t have the wholly underwhelming Hobbit films, there would have been no Renaissance and the stories of Herodotus would never have fascinated countless readers the world over.  I could go on but you get the point. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 21/06/2015 in Languages

 

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The Man Who Loved Dogs – Leonardo Padura

T' Man oo Loved DoggiesCuban writer Ivan Cardenas Maturell meets a mysterious foreigner on a Havana beach who is always in the company of two Russian wolfhounds. Ivan quickly names him ‘the man who loved dogs’. The man eventually confesses that he is actually Ramon Mercader, the man who killed Leon Trotsky in Mexico City in 1940, and that he is now living in a secret exile in Cuba after being released from jail in Mexico. Moving seamlessly between Ivan’s life in Cuba, Mercader’s early years in Spain and France, and Trotsky’s long years of exile, The Man Who Loved Dogs is Leonardo Padura’s most ambitious and brilliantly executed novel yet. It is the story of revolutions fought and betrayed, the ways in which men’s political convictions are continually tested and manipulated, and a powerful critique of the role of fear in consolidating political power.

I cannot thank Tom enough for his blog post which made it necessary for me to pick up this book.  Likened to War and Peace, this hefty tome is certainly an epic, sweeping novel including plenty of misdirection, cruelty and fear which you experience rather than read.

Stories grounded in historical fact are, for me extremely compelling and because of the foregone conclusion all the more tragic.  The path is already set and to see each decision leading to the terrible culmination of events is all the more calamitous as a result.  The fascination of the story lies not just with the paths taken by certain individuals but the repercussions those outcomes have for the masses as well.

The diffusion of the plot over three characters works well and keeps the pace of the book flowing at an agile pace, each of the three journeys are formed by the machinations of politics, the notions of the ideological which is explored movingly and with plenty of depth.  Padura spent 10 years exhaustively researching and it certainly shows in the little details that are so impressive and pull you into the story making it all the more absorbing to read.  The beauty of it is that it isn’t at all difficult to get into the book, to become invested in the thoughts and feelings of the individuals, the difficulty comes in putting it down. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 18/06/2015 in Fiction, History, Politics

 

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The Summer Book – Tove Jansson

Island BookThe Summer Book is a fresh, vivid and magical novel about seemingly endless summers of discovery. An elderly artist and her six-year-old granddaughter while away the summer together, on a tiny island in the Gulf of Finland, their solitude disturbed only by migrating birds, sudden storms and an occasional passing boat. Gradually, the two learn to adjust to each other’s fears, foibles and yearnings for independence, and a fierce yet understated love emerges – one that engulfs not only the summer inhabitants, but the very island itself. Tove Jansson writes with a special toughness, and with a quiet, dry sense of humour, about a small girl and her grandmother, who as kindred spirits share the long days together.

A while back I went on a bit of a Scandinavian literature binge and with summer finally here, this naturally seemed like the perfect book to read.  The blurb is extremely appealing and I looked forward to a sedate wallow in the lives of these characters.

Told in a series of short vignettes, each one gives us little flashes of island life, I particularly enjoyed the disjointed feeling of being set down at random times to experience the adventures of the duo as they go about quietly and peacefully puzzling out the mysteries of life.  There is a sagacity that charmingly shifts betwixt the two, which coupled with a range of emotions and lessons learned makes one wonder which of the two really has the wisdom.

The relationship between the grandmother and Sophia feels realistic and the interplay between the two is interesting and knowing fractious in that comfortable family way.  My one annoyance with the book was Sophia herself, first off she came across as precocious but then her constant outbursts became annoying and then just plain grating.  I stopped short of disliking her though because of the young ‘uns natural curiosity and her manner of always being in a rush whilst she is in the midst of so much she will later wish she had savoured. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 13/06/2015 in Fiction, Modern Classics

 

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