Music to Write By #7 I Believe in a Thing Called Love/Love is Only a Feeling

Recently I have started a new job as a manuscript editor so this month has been busy especially as my ARC pile is significant, with reviews coming soon.  I’ve also been concerned with reading other books for fun, as well as being inducted as a member to the Kiwanis International charity. There has been less writing and more reading this month, making the title for this post a little inaccurate but I am a maverick like that.

My usual reading soundtrack is ambient music from the game Skyrim (usually the rainy nights video) but I did have to take a few minutes out  when the next random,surprising given my last choice, YouTube video came on. Heading back in time, as I so often do, with ridiculous, rock band – although still not on a level with Steel Panther – The Darkness.  After their hit, I Believe in a Thing Called Love, came Love is Only a Feeling, underlining the band’s frivolity, if ever it were in doubt (there was also an album track called Love on the Rocks With No Ice, as well).

Memories of Monday’s in Wetherspoons aside, the video is over the top rock, with an ostentatious setting and replete with circling helicopter shots, that are usually only found in a martial arts films where people inexplicably scale such mountains to punch air.

I couldn’t resist looking at the ludicrously fun video for I Believe in a Thing Called Love as well, which pays homage to Queen, general campness, old Sci-Fi and giant Crabs which are always a favourite of this blog.

To those who wish to point out mistakes in the blog and ask why an editor missed them, I will claim all such mistakes are ironic, or that I only edit when I am getting paid, so there.

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11.22.63 – Stephen King

In 2011, Jake Epping, an English teacher from Lisbon Falls, Maine, sets out on an insane – and insanely possible – mission to prevent the Kennedy assassination.

Leaving behind a world of computers and mobile phones, he goes back in time to a time of big American cars and diners, of Lindy Hopping, the sound of Elvis and the taste of root beer,

In this haunting world Jake falls in love with Sadie, a beautiful high school librarian.  And, as the ominous date of 11.22.63 approaches, he encounters a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald.

This sizeable novel from the wordy wordsmith himself, Mr King has so much of everything in it.  The inexactness of that statement is accurate as the number of little details is vast, and as such I read this book with a huge amount of appreciation.

I avoided this book for a long time because, for me a time travel story and King just didn’t seem to gel together in my mind but once I started reading, I thought it worked really well.  The element of ‘how would I exploit the past if I could time travel’ is explored = and takes the focus off of the main plot, which itself flows logically and languidly (a good thing) according to the rules set out.

When all else fails, give up and go to the library

Jake is often just as focussed on the smaller picture as much as his larger mission, and it is fascinating to get caught up in, as does he. There is the usual whole heap of nostalgia which the author always excels at, allowing the reader to feel like they miss that time and place, despite many not having lived through it.  There is a brief cameo from some of the characters of IT, as well as a couple of Dark Tower references, which is pleasing to those knowledgeable but won’t make any difference to those not familiar with the particular works. Continue reading “11.22.63 – Stephen King”

Music to Write By #6 – This is England

How YouTube comes up with its recommendations based on what you are listening to, I cannot fathom but this week after plenty of upbeat music, I was suddenly plunged back in time to 1980’s England with this wonderfully moving piece from Ludovico Einaudi.  Then surfaced memories of first watching this film – with all its impact – and the accompanying series, including a second three series binge watch with Tom over a weekend.

I was once in a queue, three people back from the lady on the right of the gang, loaded with alcohol and one packet of plain rice, I am glad she didn’t turn round and wonder at what my night was going to be like.  Anyway, if anybody is wanting to watch some powerful drama with great characters, this is truly a film (and series) to make you laugh and hit with you some challenging story lines.

On the writing front, this week has involved doing a lot of varying things including thinking of actually trying to focus on one thing at a time, which is hard to do with a lot of books that need reviewing and more being sent every day it seems.  I, of course remain grateful but what with all the other future plans, I need to start clearing the backlog whilst pursuing my own goals.  To that end I am currently fighting the urge to binge watch The is England again…

Perhaps I will just play this music and pity myself for so much good fortune.

Music to Write By #5 – Consideration

It’s been a while since the last post and in between various things – including a fever and cough that took ages to shake – there has been little in the way of movement with my reading and writing.  This musical choice popped into my head a few hours ago, having thought about the process to which I arrived at this forgotten 1997 piece of tuneage, I think it was something to do with the woman on the news singing an Aretha Franklin song very badly.  The thought of high-pitched voices brought this straight to mind, thanks to the end of this song.  It was a welcome blast from the past, as Reef were always an underrated band, anyway normal writing service will be resumed shortly.

Book Memories #2: Ruminations on Train Travels

The second in a (very) occasional series about experiences that comes to mind about my reading past.  I honestly thought I had done more entries than this but a quick look at the 205 drafts saved, reveals a bunch of rotting posts in waiting, that need to be rewritten.

https://pixabay.com/en/gleise-seemed-train-416460/

Dashing off these notes in that zone of midday when the intersection – of which we reside on one of the corners – is devoid of people and noise thanks to the heat.  Only the whir of the heroic electric fan and the clicking of Rambo’s claws on tile as he wanders around intrude upon my silence.

As I read (the perfect pastime to aid digestion of the midday meal, and it’s not considered a meal unless it is with rice) my latest fiction book, The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver, one of those random thoughts arrived at the station of consciousness.  It was a memory of a train journey that I didn’t take.  Although the memory is hazy, I am certain it was a train journey taken by Michael Palin in one of his travel books, probably Sahara or Himalaya.

Judging by the two narrowed down titles, I am certain I would have read both in Summer, thanks to my ‘method reading’ and the reasoning that unless it is a book from a so-called cold country then Summer is undoubtedly the season to embark on book travel, as well as real.  It wasn’t the actual journey that was the focus of my thoughts though, rather the accompanying feeling to reading the words.  It’s that sense of the intrepid, a unique kind that is available only to the armchair traveller, accompanying through the words but layering it with one’s own imagination and experiences.  It’s an exhilarating call to the upcoming adventure and the unpredictability that inspires and excites creativity.

Unlike actual travelling which is on the whole less romantic, where the sense of the uncharted is undermined by all the research and planning, it is rather the sense of open-ended wonder of the unfamiliar that is placed in a comfortable framework of certainty.  This reading experience is by no means a common thing, rather it follows the reader around and creeps up from time to time, a welcome companion who greets me every so often, signalling a new part of a expedition, promising new perspectives and rituals to discover.

Music to Write By#4 – The Life of Riley

Finding an old bookmark to a playlist of Britpop music, there was plenty of good stuff to choose from this week; Pulp, Suede, Supergrass, Manic Street Preachers, Shed Seven, Blur, Oasis, The La’s, and so on, you get the picture.  Waging war with the karaoke machine down the street, I was blasting these out as any rock/indie lover would, when I was reminded of a jaunty number that would get my mood upbeat (I am writing this on a Monday so need it) and also provide a soundtrack to the football that I don’t have access to, but brings back memories of Goal of the Month on Match of the Day.

Not only will you fancy rifling a shot into the top corner from 30 yards, to cascading cheers from crowded terraces, it also gave me the important reminder that, although the weekend – spent lazily – was over we should always make time for the good stuff as I shall be doing this weekend again.  This song does sound so much better on a Friday (as I confusingly write this bit of the post) with its bouncy nature, when the week seems to be heading downhill in a good way.

Although this song has been accompanying me a lot as I sit at the computer, this has been a lot less than usual because I can once again tease some interesting future news which will be being announced as soon as the paperwork is all done and dusted, before that it must be started though!  Needless to say that it will get me out of the house and will hopefully I will be able to keep up with my already ambitious ideas for said project.  More on that in the next few weeks though.

Next week, I will once again be fighting against the avalanche of posts that I need to write and never seem to get time for.  Until then, happy writing and happy weekend.

The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro

In the summer of 1956, Stevens, the ageing butler of Darlington Hall, embarks on a leisurely holiday that will take him deep into the English countryside and into his past.

A contemporary classic, The Remains of the Day is Kazuo Ishiguro’s beautiful and haunting evocation of life between the wars in a Great English House.

For some reason I never got around to reviewing this book the first time but I loved it and reading these words again, it was just as enjoyable with all its understated, unreliable reminiscences. It’s about time Eowyn Ivey had some company (after four years) of being the only other author beginning with ‘I’ that I have thus far reviewed.

The blurb doesn’t really seem to give much away to the inquisitive peruser but it in fact describes the plot succinctly enough.  The reader is treated to a story of past times, and a present that is quickly changing in many aspects.  Class erosion, and the forebodings at the possible onset of a(nother) world war are both integral to protagonist Stevens’ life, and are explored with the personal.  Namely the degrees of relationship we allow ourselves with people we spend the most time with.

Stevens himself is an extremely engaging narrator, a measured voice of self-reflection. He is a man of introspection with an analytical mind, whilst being a totally unreliable narrator, contradicting his remembrances and; one gets the impression, avoiding the thoughts too troubling to confront.  A lot is left unsaid or, at best left ambiguous which just adds to the study of his character.

There is such a wonderful evocation of Englishness here, and of the national character, both the good and the bad.  The book works as a meditation on the identity of the personal, and of where the English fit in on a continental and world scale.  With the class structure slowly corroding, the changing of political thought and the reader’s hindsight into the future events of World War II, make this all the more poignant.  Stevens’ vulnerabilities are a neat mirroring of his country’s.

Continue reading “The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro”