Gloaming Thoughts

The family snooze away in bed, and I write late into the night.  A beer on the go, and a nocturnal cool settles subtly on my bare arms.

Books are, of course, my chosen subject to write about, a topic that has so many facets, often hidden in plain sight, and so much scope.

Yet as I catch up with the notes on my recent reads, the memories of books long given away take over.

In this late and gently expiring hour, the recollections come thick and fast.  The night always makes one introspective, especially for the past.

On this particular night my eye – and hand – run down the imaginary bookshelf of recall, mixed with different eras of my collecting, the covers vivid and smooth.

An old Famous Five cover from a nearly complete set purchased years ago, the variously tactile cover of the hardback edition of Endymion Spring…

An exploration of architecture in Egyptian temples, and the stark bleakness of outer space, adventuring astronauts lost to everything but themselves.

It’s these times I value.  The unique wanderings in a labyrinthine world of words, reminding me of literary corridors I will, perhaps, walk down again…

Whether in contemplation or purposely.

Reminders of books moved on, in necessity or wrongly thought of as outgrown, treasures lost to me in haste.

Always these ghosts come at night, I like it that way, I am forever grounded in their literary shadow.  Elusive yet bound to my heart.

 

*Image found at Pixabay

Catching the Wind – Nils-Johan Jørgensen

Thomas is aboard no ordinary boat in ‘Catching the Wind’. After hoisting the Spinnaker, a flying parachute, and running before the strongest of the four winds, the magic sail lifts the boat towards the sky and moves it to a different time and place. Thomas is hurtled through the sky, past a magnificent array of colours. He must start a new adventure in the North Pole…

‘Laura’ loved her school. Her teacher introduced her to an ancient Greek writer known by the name of Homer. He lived far away from her midnight land and Laura wondered if he had heard stories about her land, dominated by summer light and winter darkness…

It is sixty-five meters long and half a metre wide. It is an embroidery of woollen thread, red, yellow, two shades of green and three shades of blue, on a grey linen backing. ‘A Living Tapestry’ follows Pani’s escapades to the Tapestry Museum in Bordeaux, Normandy. Standing in front of a very old masterpiece, Pani considers the history behind the design…

These three beautifully crafted but very different stories will delight imaginative children everywhere.

An unexpected but most welcome addition to the Wind series,  once again Jørgensen has crafted an excellent and imaginative selection of stories which are satisfying, inspiring, and gently instructive for those with an adventurous spirit.

In this latest collection the reader is heartily welcomed to the delights and magic of the aurora borealis, introduced to Homer’s The Odyssey, through the eyes of a child, and a study of the details of the bayeux tapestry.  These jaunts into history and culture are fantastic jump off points for the excavation of the human journey. Continue reading “Catching the Wind – Nils-Johan Jørgensen”

The Joy of Books

Books alone teach us to judge of truth and good in the abstract: without a knowledge of things at a distance from us, we judge like savages or animals from our senses and appetites alone; but by the aid of books and of an intercourse with the world of ideas, we are purified, raised, ennobled from savages into intellectual and rational beings. – William Hazlitt

High Windows – Philip Larkin

When Philip Larkin’s High Windows first appeared, Kingsley Amis spoke for a large and loyal readership when he wrote: ‘Larkin’s admirers need only be told that he is as good as ever here, if not slightly better’.

Like Betjeman and Hardy, Larkin is a poet who can move a large audience – to laughter and tears – without betraying the highest artistic standards.

When reading Philip Larkin’s poems during my A-levels I never properly appreciated his poems, which is perhaps to be expected at such an age.   Now approaching his work with more life – and reading – experience there is something about his writing that makes it both highly pleasurable and challenging to read.

High Windows deals in some strong stuff; death, failure, and aging are constant (and looming) motifs threaded throughout the book.  It’s a sobering composition but utterly compelling which drove me on to read and reread each poem multiple times.

There is a lot of pleasant imagery also, to contrast with the uncomfortable themes which at the same time amplifies them. A real feeling of nostalgia bursts forth, the heart-warming and traditional (villages, seaside memories etc.), this is shot through with jarring images of decay and threats of hell. Larkin does enough to keep the reader off balance whilst examining the reality of life. Continue reading “High Windows – Philip Larkin”

Taal Volcano

With yesterday’s eruption, now seems as good a time as any to dust off the volcanic ash on the Taal volcano draft and finish writing it.

Located in Tagaytay, and in view of many fine eating establishments, this is usually a go to area for us, both for the beautiful view and the constant need to feed, inherent in all Filipinos.

With the Filipino branch of my family situated about 18 miles from the volcano its been a worrying time, what with power and water outages, as well as the ash cloud which has reached as far north as Baguio which is 145 miles away.  On top of all this, one of our dogs recently gave birth to seven puppies so we are excited to see them when we return, although worried for their little lungs in the meantime.

Taal is the second most active volcano in the Philippines and the world’s smallest active volcano, the photo I took, below, is from  a typical day, a view from, unsurprisingly, a restaurant in calmer times. Continue reading “Taal Volcano”

Renaissance Books

Wandering around the websites of various publishers, I was delighted and a little surprised to find one of my reviews was featured on the website of Renaissance Books, hereRenaissance Books are academic publishers offering a new, robust and independent platform for peer-reviewed scholarship on Asia Pacific, in particular East Asian Studies – principally in the Humanities and Social Sciences

From the website:

Renaissance Books was established in 1996 to promote gifted, aspiring authors and books of general interest. Later, its focus moved to East-West themes relating to people, culture and way of life.

In 2015, the imprint was re-launched in order to concentrate on scholarly reference in the Humanities and Social Sciences, publishing especially in the field of East Asian Studies, notably Japan and Korea, as well as Central Asian Studies. To this end, we have launched a new peer-reviewed Renaissance Books Asia Pacific Series drawing on recognized authorities from within the region and beyond, offering a platform for comparative and interdisciplinary works on historical and cultural themes as well as those relating to contemporary issues, especially in Politics & Economics, Conflict Resolution, Globalization, NGOs, Security, Human Rights and Media Studies.

As someone interested in learning, especially in light of the proximity to the subject area in my adopted home of the Philippines (where I look forward to being later in the year again), it is a publisher that deserves a lot more attention for the body of work that they are putting out.

Márquez Covered

On the particular day I took this photo – as with most days in Britain – it was bleak outside, overcast, an intense cutting wind blowing as background noise.  I needed something to brighten up the day and an idea for a post as well to keep the blog ticking over.

Casting about the house I came across these colourful beauties and it took me down memory lane, remembering the jaunts in Márquez’s creations, his flair for the dramatic, and the stifling days in which so many of those memories take place.  Although whether it was the days in the book or in real life is sometimes hard to separate.

For those yet to discover the wonderful Gabriel García Márquez, I can only encourage you with some old reviews found elsewhere on this site, and with a wholehearted shove to that particular shelf in your local bookshop.  You won’t be disappointed wherever you start. Continue reading “Márquez Covered”