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Gone GirlGone Girl by Gillian Flynn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gone Girl is an enjoyable thriller in the mould of Patricia Highsmith's fiction, and reminiscent of Lionel Shriver's "We Need To Talk About Kevin".

Nick and Amy Dunne are a New York couple with the kind of perfect relationship that annoys their Facebook friends. They are young, wealthy and good-looking, with media careers and a bit of fame (Amy's parents are the authors of a successful series of children's books.) So why has Amy disappeared on the morning of their fifth anniversary?

The disappearance unravels through Nick's account of the police investigation and the issuing media circus, and Amy's diary. But the novel is also about the breakdown of the American dream - how young couples like the Dunnes have to leave New York for the Midwest in search of work, how communities were ripped apart by the 2008 financial crash. The final twist is marmite-flavoured.

A film version is in production, with Rosamund Pike playing Amy (great casting) and Ben Affleck playing Nick (terrible decision.) To me, Nick should be played, ideally, by a young Mickey Rourke lookalike.

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Cutting for StoneCutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

They say "write what you know." So physician Abraham Verghese, born in Ethiopia from Indian parents, chose for his first novel a narrator born in Ethiopia that was raised by Indian parents and who eventually becomes a surgeon.

Cutting for Stone is an epic soap opera worthy of Sidney Sheldon's best. A nun traveling by ship from India to Ethiopia saves the life of a British doctor onboard. They later become colleagues in an Addis Ababa hospital, Missing, and silently fall in love with each other. The outcome is tragic - the nun gives birth to twins, Marion and Shiva, and dies in the process. The father, Dr Thomas Stone, is overcome with grief and abandons the babies to a pair of Indian doctors - Hema and Ghosh - to raise.

The twin boys grow under the shadows of Missing and experience some of Ethiopia's historical changes. Marion, the virginal and unremarkable twin, is the narrator. He's not as clever and seductive as his brother Shiva (who steals the girl he loves from under his nose), nor is he his adoptive mother's favourite. Fate eventually exiles him from Ethiopia, to a life in a poor hospital in New York where all doctors are foreigners, all patients are on Medicare and all corpses can expect to be organ harvested for rich Americans.

You can really see Ethiopia and its people in Verghese's novel and it is one of its few pleasures, alongside the look at the unfair healthcare system in America. But the plot - full of sentimental coincidences and love making worthy of a Bad Sex in Fiction Award - leaves a lot to be desired. Marion is an unlikeable narrator, but I don't think that was Verghese's intention. The writing only comes alive with the scenes of hospital proceedures, and although these come along quite often they are not enough to hold this long novel together.

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[livejournal.com profile] millionreasons has pointed me in the direction of this post by Rebecca Solnit in the London Review of Books that perfectly encapsulates my feelings (and possibly yours as well) about going off the grid:

In or around June 1995 human character changed again. Or rather, it began to undergo a metamorphosis that is still not complete, but is profound – and troubling, not least because it is hardly noted. When I think about, say, 1995, or whenever the last moment was before most of us were on the internet and had mobile phones, it seems like a hundred years ago. Letters came once a day, predictably, in the hands of the postal carrier. News came in three flavours – radio, television, print – and at appointed hours. Some of us even had a newspaper delivered every morning.

It's well worth a read.

There's a link also doing the rounds on Facebook that has made me think of this question about excessive internet use: Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy. From there, I ended up stumbling on 7 Ways To Be Insufferable on Facebook and I realised how much Image Crafting I've been engaged with[1].  But... aren't we all?  Is it possible not to Image Craft while online?  It feels like a conundrum.

Those two Facebook-related articles aren't explicitly about using the internet too much, but I feel you can infer from them that a lot of malady comes from it.

[1] I was doing this thing for a while where I posted online every Monday morning a photo of whichever cafe I was sitting in, doing a bit of creative writing.  Then, I went dancing with some friends and they said (in the best possible way) that those photos made them feel like shit because they always saw them when they were sitting in their offices, staring at the horrible week unfold in front of them.
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upload by olliefern
upload, a photo by olliefern on Flickr.
For 9 days, between Saturday 7th and Sunday 15th, I didn't check my emails, Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, Tumblr or the other many social networks I use regularly. I also didn't mean to use the internet but I had to break this a few times to look up info: did the Lowry Exhibition at Tate Britain come with an audio tour? Where exactly did the country walk from Hassocks to Lewes start? Were we on the right path in Richmond Park? How much money did I have left in my account? Where exactly was that store in Brighton that sold 2nd hand postcards?

Sounds banal to say it but when you're not busy scrolling through your mobile phone you start to notice life around you. Like the amount of homeless and drunks in the Eastend. The amount of people walking while texting. The amount of people driving while texting.

I turned off roamer on my mobile phone so I wouldn't get push notifications (temptations.) I'd catch myself during the first weekend wanting to check something, or thinking up a tweet/LJ post/Facebook update. I started sleeping for longer periods, with less interruptions. I wrote more in my journal. I read more. Ideas for short stories and novels flooded in. My decision to never do NaNoWriMo again wavered.

Bliss: no idea what was going on with my family nor with my work. Days stretched away - a week felt like two weeks. I began to dread having to check my emails again - in fact, by this last Sunday I had terrible insomnia/anxiety. Woke up exhausted and compulsively went through all my notifications, updates and emails (mostly junk.)

A lot of my physical problems can be traced back to the internet: insomnia, r.s.i, bad posture. I personally don't think we as human beings were meant to be digitally connected 24/7. A few hours a day - maybe OK. More than that? Not good. Social networks are the processed cheese of the 21st century. And Zadie Smith was right about the internet being terrible for writers. Some writers.

The internet is my alcohol and it doesn't help that I work in a distillery. But I need to keep taking these breaks, so I'm going to try Friday night to Monday morning from now on. Save the weekends for non-digital stuff. Follow Henry Miller's suggestion that you should always finish what you started.

Yesterday, I joined LinkedIn.
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Growing Stuff: An Alternative Guide to GardeningGrowing Stuff: An Alternative Guide to Gardening by Black Dog Publishing

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the perfect companion for anyone interested in gardening, especially beginners. It's divided in six sections: the basics for getting started and maintaining your garden; simple explanation for growing your fruit and veggies; how to grow some flowers and herbs (and ways of using them later, for example, for mojitos or moths); practical projects for your garden (like building homes for ladybirds or worm farms); some curiosities, like seed bombs and cacti in jam jars; and a list of resources for further reading and research.

There are some lovely ideas in here (borderline twee), like carrots grown inside old wellies, and some not so lovely, lik cress grown in toilet rolls wrapped with newspaper cartoon strips. There are also plenty of lovely photos and even a few recipes for when you finally harvest your bounty.

Can't wait to take this book back to my mom's farm in Brasil and try it out!

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Paris Review
What are some of your writing habits? Do you use a desk? Do you write on a machine?


Truman Capote
I am a completely horizontal author. I can't think unless I'm lying down, either in bed or stretched on a couch and with a cigarette and coffee handy. I've got to be puffing and sipping. As the afternoon wears on, I shift from coffee to mint tea to sherry to martinis. No, I don't use a typewriter. Not in the beginning. I write my first version in longhand (pencil). Then I do a complete revision, also in longhand. Essentially I think of myself as a stylist, and stylists can become notoriously obsessed with the placing of a comma, the weight of a semicolon. Obsessions of this sort, and the time I take over them, irritate me beyond endurance.

The Art of Fiction No.17: Truman Capote

Dead Teens

Aug. 12th, 2013 09:15 pm
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Skippy DiesSkippy Dies by Paul Murray

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This should have really been called Porky Dies because it owes much of its spirit to the 80s Canadian B-Movie "Porky's", with its gang of boys who only think of getting some action with girls, teasing each other, playing pranks and generally being obnoxious teens. Like Porky's, it even has an italian teenager who is the renowned "stud" of the group, though the novel distinguishes itself from the film by being set in an Irish Catholic boarding school rather than 1950s North America.

Skippy drops dead at the start of the novel, soon after arriving at a popular donut shop with his extremely obese and intelligent roommate, Ruprecht van Doren. The rest of the novel is a flashback of Skippy's life, loves, fears and adventures in Seabrook College. Other characters weave into this thread, like van Doren himself and his obsession with String Theory (clumsily cut-and-pasted into the novel from whatever research Murray did); the history teacher Howard "the Coward" and his midlife crisis; the drug addicted and dangerous school bully Carl; the beautiful and popular Lori from the girls-only school next door; and the old, dogmatic school priest who carries a few sex crimes on his shoulders.

I would have given up on this book at the start if this weren't my boyfriend's choice for our bookclub. I persevered through padded pages, teen humour that didn't cut a smile (though its obnoxiousness reminded me of my youth), and subplots that promised much but delivered little. Its small reward came towards the end, with Howard "the Coward" discovering Skippy's connection to the 1st World War and how he could use it to reach his bored students. It was surprisingly touching.

Looking around the internet, I'm surprised at how much people have loved this novel. I've missed something; maybe I'm too far from the teen I was once.

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Madder Rose

Aug. 5th, 2013 01:02 pm
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Troglodyte RoseTroglodyte Rose by Adam Lowe

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I recently stumbled upon this novel in Wattpad, where it's available for free as a novella. I was drawn to it because it was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award, an award that celebrates "the best lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender books of the year".

Troglodyte Rose is a sci-fi that feels like a mesh between Mad Max and Tank Girl. It's written in short, psychedelic sentences, mostly through the eyes of a young woman, Rose, who lives in an apocalyptic underworld with her lover Flid, an intersex (hermaphrodite) referred to in the text with the gender-neutral pronoun "per" (borrowed from Margaret Piercy's "Woman on the Edge of Time".)

Rose and Flid are addicted to a drug that blurs reality and fantasy, and their lives are centred on stealing this drug while also dreaming of one day escaping to the overground. They nonchalantly save four princesses from a nearby world early on and the princesses join them in their robberies. Like most dystopias, this one has its monsters that keep the population in check: the Justicars hunt down anyone perceived to have committed a crime and are terrifying creatures nearly impossible to destroy. Soon, one of them is after Rose, Flid and the princesses.

This was an enjoyable, punchy read that left me wanting more. Some of its zest reminded me of Poppy Z. Brite's early novels. I look forward to whatever Adam Lowe comes up with next.

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New York Subway by areshuan
New York Subway, a photo by areshuan on Flickr.
I just received a notification that my close and intimate friend Jacqueline Sorbet has returned to her novel A Rendezvous With Passion. She posted its 3rd chapter online today.

To be honest, I thought she'd given up on it. It had been nearly a year since I'd heard from her; I figured she'd moved on to something else.

I swear I'll never understand these creative types.
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Do any of you know if there's an easy way of searching for info in your old LJ posts?  I want to find the posts where I wrote about "The History Game" - the game where I move chronologically through history books, trying to get to modern times.

I have a new bad idea game: I'm purchasing one album per week and listening to it non-stop, with the idea of then writing a little review for them.  I suppose I want to get into the habit of reviewing music, thinking of albums as novels, feeling a little more what's been put into them.  Mostly new albums such as: the latest from Camera Obscura, Noblesse Oblige, Future Bible Heroes, Jon Hopkins and, this week, Austra.  Looking forward to checking out the new ones from Editors and White Lies.

I tried listening to Taylor Swift's "Red" the other day in the bathtub, in [livejournal.com profile] naturalbornkaos' homage, but the water went cold halfway through the album (It's got 22 songs or something - a proper double-LP).

I'm still taking that Coursera course "The Fiction of Relationship" but have decided to give it up at the halfway point.  I'll still get a Statement of Accomplishment, which is OK. (For completing the whole thing I think you get a SUPER Statement of Achievement.)  I just don't think I could deal with reading the upcoming five novels until August... I want to enjoy the sunshine while it's still here in London!

The allergies are killing me.
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A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, #3)A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Some time ago there was a television interview with a literary critic who was asked if any current authors were "our Charles Dickens". The point of the question was that Charles Dickens was a populist writer in his time and many didn't think his work would be of interest to the future. The interviewee went on to speculate if Jackie Collins or Stephen King were the new Charles Dickens - their work to survive the centuries while more lauded writers fell into obscurity. I don't know if George R.R. Martin could be our Charles Dickens, but he's certainly a better story teller than Collins or King.

It didn't dawn on me until this third book in his "A Song of Ice and Fire" series how Shakespearean he is. Perhaps not in poetic terms, but definitely in his themes and in the exploration of his characters' motivations and inner worlds. Sansa has something of Ophelia, Tyrian could be Falstaff if he was a little taller, Cersei channels Lady Macbeth very well, and so on. Unlike most fantasy worlds, including J. R. R. Tolkien's, Martin has reinforced in this novel that he's not afraid to kill off characters we hold dearly, or to offer redemption for those we'd written off as evil and immoral. But Martin is no James Joyce, though he's as wordy: his novels are long, classic page turners that stick to the tried-and-trusted structure of suspense through escalating conflicts and reversal of fortunes, culminating in climaxes that leave you itching for the next book in the series.

Like Dickens, his twisted and deformed characters are well thought out creations that rise above the narrative and stay with you, sometimes in mind-troubling ways. It's impressive what a giant cast he has created and expanded here, spread out across many continents, and how he moves them without giving away his larger vision for the series. His world is more magical here than in the previous two books, explained before as a result of the appearance of three hatched dragons and, potentially, a red comet in the sky. It's also gorier.

As with the two preceding books, there are certain twists to the novel that take the reader by surprise and throw into doubt where exactly Martin is taking the whole narrative. The twist that recently got everyone upset with the TV series caused in me insomnia and a bad night of sleep (that will teach me not to read his novels before bed time.) I do wonder what the future will make of his work. Are they popular because they say something about our world today? Do we crave something more explicit and gory in our entertainment, like the Romans before us? Are we allowing ourselves to explore more taboos in fiction? Do we see our world as chaotic as the one these characters live in, and their struggle to make sense reflects somehow our own struggles? Is that where the pleasure in reading these books comes from?

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A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for LoversA Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Z, a young woman from a small village in China, is offered a trip to England by her parents so she can learn English and improve her prospects in life. She arrives in London during a typical grim winter in the mid-noughties, oblivious as to how to behave and comprehend this Western capital. Her hostel is dire and the students in her English course label her a pariah because of her inability to behave in a "Western" way.

Z spends most of her time trying to decode this new world with a Chinese-English dictionary - and the novel itself is also divided this way, with each chapter starting with a word and its dictionary definition (relevant to the chapter in question) that sheds light onto Z's uncovering of this world. Often, Z's misunderstandings are meant to be humorous, but because Z is such a nutter - and a slightly unsympathetic one - the humour is a misfire.

One evening, she strikes conversation with a much older man in a cinema and very soon she's his lover. He's a van driver and part-time artist based in Hackney. They fall madly in love, things get kinky, summer arrives, she travels across Europe under his suggestion (to improve her understanding of the West)... then things get complicated.

The novel is based on Xiaolu Guo's own experience of moving to London in 2002 and keeping a journal. There are some pleasures to be found in its description of Hackney, and an interesting twist relating to the older lover. The cover is deceptively chick lit - this novel is anything but.

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Baby swim by Eythor
Baby swim, a photo by Eythor on Flickr.
I went swimming today and it was just as good as last week. 1pm on Sundays are the ideal time: lessons are finished and extra lanes are opened for free swimming; however, most people are either hung over or sleeping in, so the lanes tend to be empty!

I was spoiled when I learned to swim in Brasil. I was taught in an Olympic pool that was pristine and well-tended, with round-the-clock coaches happy to give you exercises and tips. You always had a lane to yourself.

Here in the UK, on the other hand, you have to share lanes usually with about 4 other people (optimistic outlook.) And at least 2 of them are in the wrong lane (should be in a slower one.) Plus, the pools are quite grim (just ask [livejournal.com profile] steer about the one we use in Bethnal Green) and the pool staff couldn't care less. I actually think most can't even swim - would hate to put my life in their hands if I suddenly had a cramp and sunk to the bottom...

But whatever... I have this hour on Sundays and I will try to stick to it. Feels good to let my thoughts wander and just go and go and go.

My boyfriend is currently in the kitchen, making cookies. In 11 minutes I'm going to embark on an hour-long writing session.
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I've been thinking today if blogging and livejournaling is dead. Dead in the sense that most people who used them before have gone on to acquire many more social networks, and because of the increase in their personal admin (checking Facebook, checking Twitter, checking Instagram, etc) they no longer can tolerate long pieces of writing.

Twitter, to me, seems of the time. Tiny digestible nuggets that can lead you to longer articles if you so desire, but there's no pressure to read - you can easily just move/scroll on.  Before, with blogs and livejournals, there was the online social pressure to at least skim read.  Make some noise that you were paying attention. Now, they lie unread, uncommented, unnoticed. Or saved for "later" reading.

The age of people keeping blogs to document their lives as policemen / ambulance drivers / sex workers is also dead. Again, I think personal admin has got in the way and that type of cultural product is resigned to the noughties much like a lot of reality shows.

For myself, I sat in an old cemetery for lunch today and read some Walt Whitman.  I now know that Livejournal will never be the same, but I'm Ok with continuing to write here, for myself and for the few that still read this.  I've also started writing letters to friends who refuse to use social networks, and on Monday mornings I find a cafe before work and do a bit of fiction writing.
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Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of PsychoAlfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho by Stephen Rebello

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

On one level, this book is about the making of "Psycho" - from the story based on Ed Gein's killings that germinated the novel of the same name to the massive cultural phenomenon it became upon release, almost turning into a success Hitchcock could never escape from. On another level, this book was to me a great example of how storytelling should work; how to craft a narrative, how to create characters, setting, plot and suspense - all through observing how Hitchcock handled his material.

Film buffs will love the way Rebello shows what happened behind the scenes: the shooting of the famous shower scene, Hitchcock's relationships with the studio execs and stars, and the techniques he used to achieve certain camera shots.

I thought the marketing campaign around Psycho was particularly interesting. Hitchcock filmed a featurette at the house and Bates Motel, giving the viewer a tour of a place "now for sale" after the "terrible events that took place there." It's nicely macabre and tongue-in-cheek. He also did something unheard of at the time: he asked/insisted that film goers watch the film from the beginning, instead of just wandering in halfway through (as was bizarrely the custom at the time.) People were outraged that they had to wait in line until the start of the film, instead of popping in whenever they wanted, but their curiosity won over as the word-of-mouth grew stronger, and a new filmgoing habit was born.

I'd recommend watching Psycho before reading this book, even if you've seen it before.

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Trout Fishing In AmericaTrout Fishing In America by Richard Brautigan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Enjoyable quick, stream of consciousness writing, with chapters loosely connected to each other by a character/notion called Trout Fishing in America. I hear that a fan of this book actually changed his name to Trout Fishing in America and now teaches English in Japan. I hear that Brautigan has many fans and many followers, like the Beat Poets he slots so nicely alongside.

Like Burroughs' novels, it feels like you can read this in any order you like. Trout Fishing in America is equal parts hobo, traveling memories and acute poetical observations of the American North West. A lot of it seems to be inspired on Brautigan's personal life (he sadly took his own life years later.) It definitely needs more than one reading to give away its full power, but it has the potential of alienating some.

A book to be read by rivers.

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Books by nnnnox
Books, a photo by nnnnox on Flickr.
We've started a Short Story Club with a couple of friends who live near us. They invited us over yesterday for an Easter roast, followed by some wine, coffee and stories by George Saunders read out loud. We also did a bit of creative writing inspired by Lynda Barry's exercises. (The one where you pick a random noun and have to explore a memory attached to it.)

These friends live in a beautiful loft in Hackney, north of Victoria Park. Wooden floors, books everywhere, vintage furniture, and now a piano in the living room. My boyfriend played with it for a bit before requesting we hum 80s synth pop melodies so he could try to pick them up on the piano. I hummed this one-hit-wonder.

Halfway through the afternoon, they asked me if I'd like a free one-year subscription to the London Review of Books. They had just renewed their own subscription and won the chance to nominate a friend for the prize. They also gave me a copy of Granta's The Best of Young Brazilian Novelists as they already had a copy. It was Christmas come early on Easter!

I've had a cold this whole Easter break (I only get sick on holidays and long weekend breaks) so it was nice to leave the flat and be a bit sociable. We had to read George Saunders' "Jon" before our meeting - a story about young people raised in a compound for the sole purpose of testing product advertising. When a couple in love decide to leave the compound, the outside world's reality peeks in.

I remember first encountering George Saunders years ago, at the Hay-on-Wye Festival with my boyfriend, [livejournal.com profile] naturalbornkaos and [livejournal.com profile] kixie. We'd bought tickets to see Zadie Smith interview him (drawn to her celebrity at the time) and we were all converted by his warmth, intelligence and humour. He mostly writes short stories which tend to be funny pokes at modern life. He's a sort of Kurt Vonnegut, actually.

In the evening, after our Easter roast, we walked up the road to the Hackney Picturehouse and watched Cloud Atlas, which I was surprised didn't suck. For the complexity of the novel it is based on, I think the Wachowski siblings and Tom Tykwer did a good job. I was particularly impressed with Halle Berry, the best actor out of the whole lot. And, of course, my neighbour Ben Whishaw! I do wonder though how comprehensible the story was for anyone who'd not read the book. Did it do well in America? I'd be surprised!

Today, I'm having breakfast with a friend at the Pavillion then meeting Silky Bonadutchi this afternoon. Excessive lemsip has done its job and I don't feel so clogged up today. Sadly, this lovely long weekend has gone by too fast...
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The HelpThe Help by Kathryn Stockett

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was expecting The Help to be a slightly insulting chicklit novel but before I knew it I was hooked. The novel is told through the point of view of three women living in a small town in Mississippi in the early 60s: two black women, Minny and Aibileen, who work as maids, and one young white woman, Skeeter, who dreams of becoming a published writer and exposing the hard life of black women.

Skeeter, indignant with the way her society treats black women, puts together a book of anonymous interviews of the town's maids, exposing the underbelly of 60's southern America. The gathering of these stories sets in motion incidents that put Minny and Aibileen's jobs in danger, maybe even their lives.

Full of good intentions, Stockett's novel is unintentionally campy, reminiscent at times of pulpy trash like The Valley of the Dolls. There's something drag queenish about Skeeter herself. Another character, the mantrap hillbilly Celia, who is shunned by small town society because she's too voluptuous, seems to have been created with an eye on a Marilyn Monroe postcard.

A lot of Stockett’s material was apparently taken from her own upbringing (from what she observed and understood later as a white woman from the American South). Characters are either good or bad, though, with no subtlety in between. More often than not the white ones are ignorant and evil while the black ones are good, kind and hardworking. A lot of emotion comes through as sentimentality, as if written with an eye for the Hallmark Channel’s movies. It’s a novel that portrays the 60s as we imagine it rather than what it was really like.

It's an enjoyable read nevertheless. Stockett conjures a fascist world that reminds me of the claustrophobia and horror of Atwood's Handmaid's Tale. It's a world we haven't completely left behind.

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TWIN PEAKS by WMHART
TWIN PEAKS, a photo by WMHART on Flickr.
It's a Sunday for spending indoors, cooking lunch with friends (brasilian feijoada) and watching Twin Peaks. It's a Sunday where I've finished Madame Bovary for the 2nd time while getting through my 2nd cup of coffee and now have a skype date with my family in Brasil for 8pm tonight (but my mom says my nephew may not be there as he's afraid of computers.)

It's a Sunday of two fried eggs on top of toast for breakfast. It's a Sunday where my boyfriend and I had initially planned to go for a 5K run in Victoria Park but now we are aiming for an hour-long walk to our friends' apartment in Clapton (where said Twin Peaks marathon will take place.) It's a Sunday for further inroads into A Storm of Swords (Game of Thrones #3).

Grey, uninspiring Sunday. Like the radioactive dust that falls on your hands and on your face... on your face... on your faaaaace.

Hungry Sunday.

Monday never comes too late. And for the 6th week running I'll find a coffee shop in the neighbourhood, around 8.30am, and do a bit of creative writing before heading into work.

Just Eat It

Mar. 4th, 2013 07:44 am
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Real Food: What to Eat and WhyReal Food: What to Eat and Why by Nina Planck

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If I had to categorise the nutrition fad Planck falls under, I'd place her with the people who believe we should go back to a Paleolithic diet. (It's the belief that our ancestors back in the Stone Age got it right - loads of fat and protein and hardly any carbs.)

Planck's theory is that we must go back to the earth, get our food directly from the original source (as best as possible). The more processed, the worse for you. Some of her theories are hard to buy because they go against current common sense: saturated fats are good (including lard) and full-fat milk directly from the cow, unpasteurised, will do wonders for you.

She isn't completely dismissive of vegetarians but you can sort of see the sneer as she lays her theories as to why meat is better. (And lets not mention vegans...) But her vision is utopian: it's just not possible that everyone in the planet can switch from processed to organic, directly sourced food.

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