Silver Screen Dreams

In the last few days, it’s been announced that Cineworld is shutting down for the foreseeable future, which is really sad news.  I worked at the Nottingham cinema for a short time in what now seems the distant past, and it was a decent job, which my coworkers made really enjoyable, and I wish them all well for the future.

Where I used to spend my days and nights. Photo taken by Arran bee, found at Flickr.com

There were two aspects of the job that will always be fondly remembered, and they were both on the late shift, which I preferred doing once they got going but were always a challenge to drag oneself in for.

The first, was being marooned by myself near the entrance, which was the home of two of the least comfotable screens. This had two good things going for it, the first was a chance to write down copious notes for reviews or do a crossword thanks to it being quieter there, and the second was Funstation.

Funstation is one of those guady arcade type places, with lots of games, and a favourite haunt for teenage gatherings.  It was situated just over the other side of the walkway, and from my vantage point I could observe the everchanging colours of the neon lights flickering on and off, trying to entice people to spend their money.  This always seemed oddly attractive as a meeting place, before the inevitable, yet agreeable, melancholy of closing up for the night.  It reminded me of the meetings, departings and eventual silence of a railway station, or airport. Continue reading “Silver Screen Dreams”

The Past, Present, & Future: A Book of Poetry – Cody McCullough

Cody McCullough’s debut collection of poetry, THE PAST, PRESENT, & FUTURE, delves into the fleeting nature of life viewed through the prism of time. Separated into three main collections, the work touches on topics ranging from the essence of life, to family relationships, to the natural world. Featuring poems such as THE TALL FIRS ARE DANCING TODAY and THE COOL MORNING AIR, the entire collection includes a total of 73 poems written in free verse. Through his unique style, McCullough takes the reader on a journey from the beginning of existence, to the end of time, and everywhere in between.

It’s a great pleasure today to introduce, remind, or reacquaint, the reader with Cody McCullough’s blog, and new book of poetry.  I’ve been a fan of Cody’s writings for a while now, and always enjoy my visits over at his site.  This collection written in free verse is his usual intriguing work.

As with the title, it seems only fitting to break down each part in turn, beginning, adventurously, with the Past:

Here, we have a considered look at childhood memories, of a fleeting time which the author does well to encapsulate the feeling of time passing.  This section is an exploration of the learning experience of the formative years, and of the memories that we hold all our lives.  There is something melancholy and a feeling of the lost, or perhaps lostness.

These poems – as with the other two parts – are mixed with writings of history, of past generations and a thoughtful look at a perspective of a universal past as well as the personal. The passing of time into history, the temporary, and how that, as well as the personal, is recalled, and remembered differently. Continue reading “The Past, Present, & Future: A Book of Poetry – Cody McCullough”

Coal Black Mornings – Brett Anderson

Back in 1996 I fell in love with the pop rock album, Coming Up, by Suede, said music used to keep me company when working nights a few years ago (and also whilst writing this review).  Combining elements of bouncy pop, glam rock, and melancholy laden tracks, to give it a good balance, the album teeters between throwaway music and the poignant atmosphere of emptiness layered tunes.

Seeing this book in the shops, it was a matter of chance that I chose to idly browse through – as well as hum one of the tunes from yesteryear – whilst waiting for the missus to finish shopping for makeup. Owing to a lack of blurb, and viewing the usual positive quotes with suspicion, I was pleasantly surprised with the writing style and how Anderson conveyed his story.

Although Coal Black Mornings stops short of the those commercially popular times for the band, this is a still very much worth the read even for those who have never heard of the band.   Normally I wouldn’t pick up a book such as this but after having a brief peruse through, I was taken with the way Anderson expresses himself and his critical self-awareness.

The majority of the book is about the author’s early life which takes place in the poverty of a working-class English suburb.  The band only begins to form towards the end of the book so there is plenty of insight into Anderson’s childhood and the way his experiences would go on to inform his lyrics and musical style.

The way this is approached was very effective, with honesty, and a lack of manufactured drama that so many memoirs of this ilk provide.  I found it a compelling read due to its simplicity and erudite literary style.  Although it is fair to note that as this is a book written for his son to understand his father more, there is little reference to the more showbiz part of the story with all its assorted vices. Continue reading “Coal Black Mornings – Brett Anderson”

SK’s Browning DTs

Apologies in advance for the attention that this blog is paying to the Dark Tower series but it has been taking up all my reading time of late as I don’t wish to leave it unfinished when I leave the hemisphere behind again.  And there are far too many other books that I want to take back with me instead of  a half finished series.

Today’s post is not just reading for those who have journeyed – or are so doing – through these books,  Robert Browning’s, Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came, is a fantastic read on its own, but as it inspired, together with spaghetti westerns and The Lord of the Rings, King’s monumental series its worth highlighting here.

I’ve posted the first six stanzas of the thirty-five that make up this epic poem, and it seems appropriate to leave a link to the complete poem from StephenKing.com.  Pleasurable reading and pleasant nights as always dear reader.

I.
My first thought was, he lied in every word,
That hoary cripple, with malicious eye
Askance to watch the workings of his lie
On mine, and mouth scarce able to afford
Suppression of the glee, that pursed and scored
Its edge, at one more victim gained thereby. Continue reading “SK’s Browning DTs”

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

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”

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”

Journey into the Past – Stefan Zweig

An engineer from a humble background, Ludwig fell in love with his employer’s wife and she with him – before they were separated by circumstances and by war.  Now, nine years later, their unfulfilled passion is tested as the two reunite. Can the past, and their happiness, be restored – or have they been forever undone by hardship and betrayal?

I wondered how much I would enjoy another book set around the First World War after recently finishing Rebecca West’s The Return of the Soldier, I needn’t have worried as I was hooked within the first few pages and was left to revel in the literary goodness for the rest its pages.

Having previously only read Chess by the author, I was expecting another terse effort with well-rounded and strongly realised characters who carried the story and made a strong impact on my imagination.  I was not to be disappointed on any of these anticipations.

The backdrop to the story is the First World War and its aftermath.  The impact on regular people caught up in those epochal events is something so often reduced to mere statistics, but here its presented in such a gloriously human, flawed, aching and passionate way.  Zweig has managed to capture what many authors fail to do, and that is to make believable, fully human characters whom the reader truly cares about. Continue reading “Journey into the Past – Stefan Zweig”

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

Natural Literature

Norwegian poetry is not something I’ve come across much before, but through my reading of Northern Light: Norway Past and Present, A Critical Analysis, I’ve been widening my poetical horizons.  Olaf Bull’s Metope is my pick today as I really like the poem, and the author had associations with James Joyce and his writing of Finnegans Wake and Shakespeare and Company (the original one), to keep the literary theme going.

METOPE

You I would in rhythms fondly rivet tight!
You I would hold deep and lasting in the eternal
young alabaster of the poem’s flight!
You day-dreamer, moved by the sun! With your gaze
chastely turned toward evening’s pale gold, meekly
you turn a heaven towards another, as bathed
in light and tenderness and secrecy!
I would gladly forfeit verse’s every trope
were one thing in my power: to hew firm-lined
in memory’s stubborn stone a smooth metope
that could depict your shy, frail-contoured mind!

We stroll through moist and yielding ebb-tide sand! Your ear
takes in the plashing waves of the summer sea!
Devoutly we feel that the evening stillness here
ever outward shifts its sounding boundary!
A string of fading chimes that’s slowly shrinking
behind blushing groves and gold church spires again –
and softly gleaming air-waves that are sinking
like streams of sun from mountains – which remain!

The ridges all turn blue. The stars fill in the skies!
The last clouds hasten home at end of day!
The meadow is at prayer – from air’s ebb tide will rise
mighty Arcturus! Behind grey stone walls sighs
a slight breeze through rye’s fur of silver grey!
And through your gaze a warm, deep animation –
in a dark blur of blue the eye can find
a drifting droplet, honey moistly gleaming,
and quietly I ask you: ‘Friend – what’s on your mind?’ Continue reading “Natural Literature”