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

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.

Windy in These Parts

On Christmas Eve a thud resounded out in the hallway and an expected package arrived at an unexpected time of the morning.  As an early Christmas present you can’t beat a book, and one by blog favourite Nils-Johan is always a joy to receive.

An unanticipated addition to the Wind series of children’s books, I look forward to indulging in this one, as I’ve loved every other book in the collection and have been enchanted by the qualities and themes of each story.

Whichever way the wind may blow this year, one constant is that the reading will continue across many genres, and with a return to the Philippines on the cards, a sun tan will also be a predictable outcome.  I hope your year will be a good one.

Life Goals

This time of year makes me feel old, first my birthday, two days ago means I gain a year, then the new year happens, and another year goes by (or so I am told) so I double in age. In order to get a head start on things I will have a stab – but most likely fail – at, I decided to make some resolutions now to complete by the end of 2020.

In no particular order:

  • Become passably fluent in Tagalog as its high time I was, even though I am a poor language learner.
  • Have two articles minimum published somewhere, whether that be something to do with books, or to do with football.
  • At least have a working draft of the novel finished, or start with a completely new and workable idea.
  • Volunteer somewhere, probably somewhere bookish, a library or bookshop.
  • Visit a new country. Japan, Vietnam, and India top my list now, but we are always open to suggestions. Also do some more hikes too.
  • Do something else that involves books that I don’t do now, what that would be yet, I have no idea. Any suggestions?
  • Keep up with the blogging, being more focused and writing/editing posts quicker. Visit my fellow bloggers more regularly too.
  • Master some new cookery dishes, especially Filipino food but anything new will be good. This means trying more food which makes me even happier.
  • Delve deeply into culture, so aside from travel, watch more documentaries, read different authors, discover new music, different voices, and generally be more involved.
  • Be better at keeping in touch with people, which means finding time, and there are certainly things I can cut out to free some time up.
  • Make time to read every day, at least an hour, and a regular time would help too.

Funding a Young Adult Novel for a Contemporary Audience–How You Can Help, and What You Will Get Out of It

Sharing is caring, and when it comes to books, and getting stories out there if all for that. Perhaps this will interest the intrepid reader. YA is a genre that is really popular these days so for all those with a feeling of curiosity, check out the post and link here and discover a new story waiting for its platform to be told on.

creativeshadows

For many, many people, the GoFundMe campaign site is familiar only as a site which helps collect funds for scholars, people who need operations, children who are suffering from some disease which is costly to treat, or homeless people who need shelter.  Some of the requests are even done in memoriam of some person or group of people, to help their survivors out in a time of grief and need.  All of these more than worthy causes deserve your attention and a contribution, however small it might be.  But it can also be uplifting to donate to the beginning of a creative enterprise which will bring interest, encouragement, and joy to the minds of young adults who encounter it, and to this end I am asking for your donation, however small, to the campaign organized by a friend of mine, John Rattenbury, for the novel now operating under the working…

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Friday Night at the Royal Station Hotel

Inspiration failing me of late, instead of writing anything vaguely original here is a poem from Philip Larkin, which I recently came across in his collection, High Windows.

Friday Night At The Royal Station Hotel

Light spreads darkly downwards from the high
Clusters of lights over empty chairs
That face each other, coloured differently.
Through open doors, the dining-room declares
A larger loneliness of knives and glass
And silence laid like carpet. A porter reads
An unsold evening paper. Hours pass,
And all the salesmen have gone back to Leeds,
Leaving full ashtrays in the Conference Room.

 

In shoeless corridors, the lights burn. How
Isolated, like a fort, it is –
The headed paper, made for writing home
(If home existed) letters of exile: Now
Night comes on. Waves fold behind villages.

* Image found on Pixabay

Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

As teenagers in Lagos, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are fleeing the country if they can. The self-assured Ifemelu departs for America. There she suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze had hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London.

Thirteen years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a blogger. But after so long apart and so many changes, will they find the courage to meet again, face to face?

Whenever critics praise something en masse, I automatically assume the worst, so I was pleasantly surprised when I flew through the first one hundred pages and felt engaged with the story.  I enjoyed the Nigerian section of the book, it was an insight into a culture and country that I knew little about, barring the football.

Americanah attempts to dissect many social problems, and as you would expect race is a big factor, as is class, a nod to how organised religion can fleece the flock, not to mention hair issues, which was something I didn’t expect to become interested in, although the more it was spoken about the less bothered I became.

After the first half of the book, I became increasingly disillusioned, because whilst there is plenty to think about, it’s ultimately a preachy novel and doesn’t bring much new to the table. The conclusion disappointed too, which annoyed me as it wasn’t a satisfying pay off for the grind that the latter half of the book was.

There were things I liked about the book, exploring the attitudes of Africans to each other when abroad, the struggles of fitting in versus retaining one’s own culture, the changes in attitude when returning to Africa. There were times when I considered if I had had any foot in mouth conversations, as its always good to self-examine. Continue reading “Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie”