Film and Writing (M.A)
British Born Punjabi Girl.
Focus in Film: Adaptation from Literature, Horror Filmmaking Styles and Auteur Cinema
Book Review: "The Last House on Needless Street" by Catriona Ward
I love gothic novels with weird twists. In my time, I have read a lot of gothic crime novels and have managed on some occasions, to guess the twists when they come around. More often than not, I take off marks if I am able to guess the ending and so, beforehand, I always write down my predictions so that I don't change them halfway through the book. When I predicted what was going to be the twist of this book, I thought I was right when I hit about a quarter of the way through. Then I realised I was wrong and finally, by the end of the book I do not think I could have been further from the truth if I had tried. When I say I was terrified, I mean it. I did not get anything right when it came to predicting the twist - not a damn thing. And guess what? I loved it.
Book Review: "Luckenbooth" by Jenni Fagan
Normally when I see a dark fantasy book, it does one of two things. The first thing it does is it takes me back to my school days when I would read “The Vampire Chronicles” and other gothic masterpieces until my life became nothing but a walking shadow. The second thing it could do is annoy the living daylights out of me because it is written so incredibly cliché. I was quite surprised to see that this book - “Luckenbooth” by Jenni Fagan, has managed to do both at the same time and honestly, as much as I would like to say that I enjoyed every bit of it, as I moved through the book, there were definitely things that I found either problematic, jarring or rather badly written. The concept itself though, is pretty incredible and some of the language is brilliant, magical and often at times, uncomfortable. I am clearly in two minds about this book but, as I have read other reviews on it - I see that I am not alone in my inability to make up my mind over whether this book is actually any good.
Most of the second year of my undergraduate degree and on and off throughout my third year were spent eating some of the best sweet potato fries in a place called the "Marmalade". A jazz bar with neon lighting, wooden chairs and tables, great cocktails and a dim, cosy atmosphere was possibly one of the best ways to spend my time when I was out with a few friends or working on a paper, dressed in jeans and a backpack - I never felt out of place.
Book Review: "Deacon King Kong" by James McBride
The 60s were one of the most diverse decades in all of literature. With the amount of literature about everything from the Vietnam War to the Civil Rights' Movement, the death of the Kennedy Brothers all the way through to the emergence of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, the 1960s hardly ran out of cultural topics both at the time and in hindsight. Topics such as classic rock, Malcolm X, the 1968 riots and Stonewall never, ever cease to amaze me with just how much some people can recall those powerful times. In "Deacon King Kong" by James McBride, we are taken to 1969 in which we are placed somewhere unfamiliar to ourselves - a church. We are shown a religious man - a deacon. And we are given a strange storyline - a shooting and a man on the run.
Book Review: "The Dominant Animal" by Kathryn Scanlan
I have read some pretty uncomfortable books in my time, including the infamous short story collection entitled "Haunted" by Chuck Palahniuk. I've read a lot of Stephen King, Peter Straub, Paul Tremblay and Shirley Jackson. Well, if you took Virginia Woolf's writing style, mixed it with the unease of Stephen King's tension narratives and then reduced the size to a short story and blended in some body horror and psychological distress a la Daphne Du Maurier, you're going to end up with this book by Kathryn Scanlan - "The Dominant Animals". A nod to the culture of the plain uncomfortable, this book is written in the most realist and ordinary of ways. Kind of like what would happen if Hemingway and Bret Easton Ellis made some kind of collaboration (but alas, Hemingway did not live that long). Here is a professional life tip for all of you: make sure you’re not eating anything whilst reading this book. You’re going to have a hard time keeping it in afterwards.
Book Review: "Cowboy Graves" by Roberto Balaño
Roberto Balaño’s novel “2666” was written when he was sick and dying, “Cowboy Graves” is a compilation of short stories written on his deathbed. When I read “2666” I was absolutely astounded. I spent approximately two days reading it and then the next week going back and forth over the book, its structure, its story and its brilliance. A rugged mixture between Sci-Fi and realism, it takes over the mind and you, the reader, must piece together a story in which the puzzle pieces do not fit as obviously as you would like to think. Without giving too much away, if you are new to his novels then I would start with “2666” as it is a masterpiece. If you have already read it then you can check out my review of the book here.
Book Review: "The Redhead by the Side of the Road" by Anne Tyler
I used to read some Anne Tyler books back when I was studying my undergraduate degree and mainly because I wanted to learn her style of writing such well-constructed character-based pieces. The character studies I used to do on the people that populated her books came flowing back to me in this one entitled "The Redhead by the Side of the Road". It was like experiencing it all over again. The writing style is cautious in what it tells us about the character - only as much as is relevant to the time and place. The character’s decisions are always based on their character type rather than what the writer thinks that they should be doing. Let’s take a look at what it is about then.
Book Review: "The Arsonists' City" by Hala Alyan
Hala Alyan is a poet and author and since publishing her work “The Arsonists’ City” she has garnered a lot of attention as it has also been used for a ‘pick of the month’ for the Belletrist Book Club. This book has honestly gotten some incredible reviews all over the internet and the reason I decided to read it was based on many of these which gave some quotations to get me into the book itself. Whilst actually reading the book, I found the most incredible thing to be the language; the author seems to have a great understanding of the inner-workings of the human soul and uses the grand amounts of description to her advantage when speculating about the positions of her characters. An amazing and expansive story filled with moments of great contemplation by which the characters seem to stop in time.