Tender is the Night – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Set on the French Riviera in the 1920s, American Dick Diver and his wife Nicole are the epitome of chic, living a glamorous lifestyle and entertaining friends at their villa. Young film star Rosemary Hoyt arrives in France and becomes entranced by the couple. It is not long before she is attracted to the enigmatic Dick, but he and his wife hold dark secrets and as their marriage becomes more fractured, Fitzgerald laments the failure of idealism and the carefully constructed trappings of high society in the Roaring Twenties.

This somewhat autobiographical novel is an interesting read, not only for the story itself, but also for the extra examination of Fitzgerald’s dependency on alcohol and his wife’s Schizophrenia.  This, his final and favourite novel is certainly a mixed bag but well worth picking up.

The old cliché about Americans who visit other countries is reinforced here as many of the characters retain a strong American identity but seem purposefully oblivious (and superior) to the cultures that surround them.  The locals tolerating their shenanigans partly because of America’s role in the war and, inevitably, the riches brought to a shattered continent recovering from the horrors of the First World War.

There is a vacuous nature to the majority of the characters, at one point I began to wonder if I would be bothered by the fates of any of them.  In a world filled with frivolous parties and empty conversations, the carefully manufactured and cultivated superficial facades mean so much to the characters, who like actors are putting on a well rehearsed show.

“When there were enough Americans on the platform the first impression of their immaculacy and their money began to fade into a vague racial dusk that hindered and blinded both them and their observers.” Continue reading “Tender is the Night – F. Scott Fitzgerald”

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Back in Blighty!

I started a blog post back in January that had the first line, ‘Before it gets forgotten in the tumultuousness of the  new year…’. Having singularly failed to get around to chronicling our travels in England over Christmas, I can belatedly litter a few of those photos over this post.

Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire

Deleting most of my notes from the previous drafts, it is nonetheless a pleasant feeling to finish a post about England, and as it turns out – almost like it was planned –  we are now back over in the isle seemingly known as Brexit.  Ignoring the news though, it is good to be back on home ground, although I’m gutted that the football wasn’t on terrestrial(is this still a term?) television.

Nice view looking back from the entrance of the awesomely named cave, The Devil’s Arse.

Suffering the usual fourteen and a half hour flight – spent watching Creed films this time -the highlight by a cracking English breakfast just before we landed at 8:10pm.  It was good to finally touch down, especially when we were gifted fast track passes for passport control, because Crissy has friends everywhere. Continue reading “Back in Blighty!”

Duly Noted

Picking up my – then – latest read, Alberto Manguel’s A Reading Diary: A Year of Favourite Books, it soon became clear that I needed a new notebook to scrawl my thoughts in, such were the number.  Thankfully the missus had just such a book ready for me, she knows my needs.

After the mini trauma of filling my last notebook it feels good to be able to be expansive again, as opposed to clumsily noting down phrases on a phone whose keyboard is ill suited to my fat fingers.  Sadly, the joy of writing is one often marginalised in the modern technology orientated world.

Enjoying the pristine whiteness of the pages, there was just one thing I had to do first, before inking any of them.  On the inside front cover the words ‘I have a dream’ were printed, so below them I added ‘this book belongs to Martin Luther King, Jr.’.

Hilarity thus achieved I left the first page – I always allow myself this small luxury in case appropriate words come to mind to place there – and the second became the start of my copious note taking.

Ploughing through book lover Manguel’s words with a happy heart, I’ve already made  a page of notes, some of which will probably be left out of the review for another post – or several –  musing on books.  With twenty-two drafts started just this morning, words are begetting words in the best possible way.

Dissonant Silhouette

Cognisant Dissonance

~

Ways well worn

This familiar place of stone and brick

Temporal, yet not entirely material

~

Spectres of the past

Intermittently visible

Return

~

memories distant impose themselves

On the present,

An overlay of times a world away

~

Paths intersected,

Long faded,

Recovered only in reminiscences

~

The bustling city

Shorn of its socialness,

A perturbing reminder of the past

~

Often we meet in imagination

Do I dream

Or the city? 

The Secret: A Treasure Hunt – Byron Preiss

One morning, whilst waiting for my strong cup of coffee to kick in, and the laptop to boot up the latest manuscript that needs going over , I stuck on the Travel Channel in the hope of finding some adventure.  Or more importantly to avoid all the terrible reality TV that ruins the medium.

Josh Gates was on doing his Expedition Unknown, and at first my heart sank when his quest involved  a book called The Secret,  thankfully it wasn’t referring to that terrible specimen that came out some years ago.

What Josh was referring to was a book that leads to real buried treasure,  and instead of  a classic  ‘X’ marks the spot treasure maps, there are twelve fantasy images  with clues of real world landmarks cryptically embedded within. Accompanying each illustration is poetry with additional clues to entice the reader into this deceptive maze.

Published in 1982, creator Byron Preiss tapped into the The 80’s love of fantasy but he layered it with the theme of immigration, from the Old World to the New.  The fantastical creatures of Europe came over, and morphed into something else, along with those that told the tales.  It is also an encouragement to get out and travel, to appreciate nature, and enjoy a bit of lateral thinking at the same time. Continue reading “The Secret: A Treasure Hunt – Byron Preiss”

Plans and Planes

Hurley, the latest puppy to add to the menagerie.

It’s been a while since I last posted, but in the brief time taken off, lots has happened.

first off, work has been taking up most of my time.  I am now working for a second book publisher, Shadow Alley Press.  The opportunity came out of the blue, but grabbing it with both hands, it promises lots of tight deadlines and a good stream of work, which is handy as I am not averse to grabbing a coffee at 10pm to power through to the early hours, if needs be.

We are also heading back to England for a time, at the end of May, so getting a visa for Crissy was a necessary distraction.  This was by far the most frustrating waste of time and money.

VFS Global are notorious for their terrible service.  The barriers we faced were, a website that logged us out automatically (and constantly) meaning we couldn’t book an appointment with them.  This was sorted after countless attempts on their poor excuse for a website.  When the visa arrived it was the wrong one, there was no phone number for the UK, it turns out that it doesn’t have a number (but numbers for Malta, Netherlands, etc are available).  Only bots ‘answered’ our messages on their website and social media.  Randomly turning up at their offices they acknowledged their mistake, nevertheless we had to buy an envelope for them to send the passport back to the British embassy for correction.  Then we find out their policy is to not deliver the visa to our door despite the mistake being theirs. Continue reading “Plans and Planes”