Film and Writing (M.A)
150K+ Reads on Vocal
Book Review: "The Stone Angel" by Margaret Laurence
Margaret Laurence really is a talented writer and honestly, there is one way her books always leave me feeling: as if I have actually read someone's very honest, true and complete story. Someone is feeling, someone is doing and someone has something to tell me. It's always important and it's always something very real. Even though, I know deep down that it's fiction - it is written in a way that makes every ounce of it feel deep, meaningful, real, true and most importantly, personal. I first encountered Margaret Laurence when I read her novel A Jest of God and then again when I read her novel The Diviners. Margaret Laurence may not have written a massive range of novels and story collections, but what she did do is write in a way that sticks around, adds to your person and changes your perspective on everything interpersonal: class, age, gender - all of it will be challenged.
Book Review: "The Italian Girl" by Iris Murdoch
Iris Murdoch is an author that I've had my ups and downs with - as I believe everyone who has read her works has as well. I really enjoyed reading The Bell, and The Sea, The Sea sits at one of my favourite Murdoch novels of all. The Book and the Brotherhood was brilliant as was The Black Prince. Unfortunately, books such as Under the Net and The Nice and the Good failed to peak my interest as much. They, I found, were thoroughly average. But, I have to say I simply thought A Word Child and The Sandcastle were boring as sin. However, this review is not about them, it's about the book The Italian Girl. Let's talk on what this book is about then and whether it is good, average or boredom.
Is Freedom of Speech Dying?
The history of freedom of speech in the west seemingly begins properly in the radical enlightenment movement in which we see a huge interest in the idea of full freedom of expression. In comparison to Voltaire and other more moderate enlightenment philosophers, the radical enlightenment focuses on ‘the entire truth of what is known to men should be expressed so as to be accessible and available to all.’ Israel, J.I. (2011). The argument is that this is a very extreme form of freedom of speech which seems to have a disregard for consequence, which is against of what freedom of speech actually stands for and J.I Israel argues in the chapter. Moderate enlightenment however, seeks to understand the rights and responsibilities on both sides of freedom of speech, but for its moderate nature is still at risk of leading towards censorship. The challenge is to meet the line between the moderate and the radical in order to respect the ideas, seek to facilitate the ideas with platform and critique those ideas without censorship. In the modern day, many have analysed how the idea of freedom of speech is moving backwards in which freedom of speech is becoming censored to the point where entire arguments have been shut down from Internet services and critical accounts on social media have been suspended with the people themselves being ‘cancelled’ in a culture which promotes this behaviour.
"Reading Lolita in Tehran" by Azar Nafisi
Out of many books which detail the oppression of a government regime, this one has to have the best extended metaphors there are. It is a book which details a nonfiction account of the author's own time in Iran from the time of the revolution all the way to her departure in 1997. Her refusal to wear the veil in 1979 got her expelled from teaching at the University of Tehran and her resignation from a further university in the 90s helped her formation of a book club which read books that considered the oppression of people held against their will by a government who did not respect their views and opinions, they also considered the problem that her own government had with women.
Book Review: "The Atrocity Exhibition" by JG Ballard
It's been a while since I've read some JG Ballard. From what I remember, I have always had a polarising experience with his books. The first book I ever read by JG Ballard was Empire of the Sun, which, as many of you, was introduced to me by the film starring the then-child Christian Bale. I was a teenager back then and it would be a couple of years until I would read another Ballard novel, this time lent to me by a friend who thought that I 'had to read this!' - it was Cocaine Nights and I was eighteen. A balancing act of dystopia and dark secrets seemed to be a big deal to Ballard when I followed that by reading High Rise, which is pretty much about the same thing. Crash when I was twenty was something I read in between university novels. With its sexualisation of car crashes, it freaked me out enough not to pick up another Ballard until now. It's been almost seven years. And imagine it, the first Ballard I picked up since then had to be The Atrocity Exhibition.
Book Review: "Seek My Face" by John Updike
When I started reading John Updike novels, I was in my teens. I read the Rabbit Series and then, into my twenties, I kind of gave him up purely because I did not want to ruin the magic that was the Rabbit Series, thinking that nothing else he wrote would live up to that. However, as of recent, I have been rekindled with the works of John Updike for a very strange reason: he was near Anne Tyler in the library and they ran out of her novels so I went for something that looked somewhere in the ballpark. I had heard of Updike before and I had read some of his stuff before too - so I was sure as I waited for more Anne Tyler that I would be entertained. One of those books was called Seek My Face.
Book Review: "The Poorhouse Fair" by John Updike
I'm still on the whole John Updike phase of my relationship with realism and honestly, I think this is one of the weirdest ones I have encountered yet. Spanning less than 130 pages, Updike's first novel The Poorhouse Fair is a difficult read to many people. First published in 1959, it often goes overlooked in Updike's collection purely because of its nature for 'going on a bit'. The random amblings of age and nature throughout the book have made it an irritable read for the 21st century reader. But I am not going to lie to you when I say that I actually really enjoyed it. Not as much as his other novels no, and certainly not as much as his shorter works either - but I still thought it was pretty good as a book. I happen to quite enjoy nothing happening in my novels and more dialogue, description, encounter. It really brings out the entire world you are going to exist in for a brief period of time.
Book Review: "Of the Farm" by John Updike
There are a number of things that John Updike is known for but writing shorter fiction is normally not one of them. The Rabbit Series is one of America's most famous pieces of literature of the 20th century and the entire aspect of Updike's fiction and the changing notion of what it means to be 'American' is explored in depth and fantastically within. Recently, I have read Updike's book Licks of Love and I was really quite surprised to see that his shorter fiction is just as good as his longer stuff. John Updike is clearly a man of range and has a strange way of making something that does not seem like a story, a complete narrative. This is what I am getting at when I talk about Of the Farm.
Book Review: "Licks of Love" by John Updike
John Updike is someone who initially I was on the fence about reading. I loved the Rabbit Series, but honestly, I could not see myself getting in to much else by him. He was really a passing subject between discussing people in the modern American literary tradition. Not overly interested, but not really shunning him out either. By my 20s, I had read a couple of books by him, here and there, none of them making a huge impact thought I enjoyed them and so, I return to reading John Updike. I return to reading and re-reading any novels that were not in that damn Rabbit Series. We all know that was good - but what about the others? Well, here is Licks of Love if you are interested. And why wouldn't you be if you've been reading your Updike novels? This book has tons of references to his earlier works in it.
Book Review: "Vinegar Girl" by Anne Tyler
As you all know, I've been binge reading Anne Tyler novels for quite some time now. I'm reading ones I have not read before and I am even going back to ones that I read some years back and re-reading them. I think I need to get more of a scope on her writing and what kind of writer she is before I start calling her the best of something to do with 20th and 21st century literature. I have so far read quite a few of her books and I still have yet to read her newest one, so nobody tell me what happens please and thank you. Vinegar Girl is one of those books in the Hogarth Shakespeare series and to be honest, I'm surprised that I've pretty much read almost all of them. My favourite still is Howard Jacobson's Shylock is My Name. The book Vinegar Girl though, is based on The Taming of the Shrew. A more modern interpretation that probably is not as good as the famed Heath Ledger classic 10 Things I Hate About You - a film from 1999 based on the same play, but is probably somewhere in the ballpark. It has its faults, which are carefully outweighed against Anne Tyler's amazing writing skill.
Book Review: "Elektra" by Jennifer Saint
Jennifer Saint is a really great author who has written some pretty awesome stuff so far. Her book Ariadne was something that I absolutely adored reading because it told us all the story that I think that we were all waiting to hear - the one that told us exactly what happened to the famed Ariadne who had incredible powers, but in the story of Theseus and the Minotaur, is side-lined in favour of the warrior who would take on a great beast of phenomenal strength. In this book, called Elektra - she tells a story that is of similar calibre. The three characters are extremely well-known: Clytemnestra, Cassandra and Elektra. The topic of discussion is the fickle, unlawful and often volatile world of men, gods, war and family. The entire story rests upon a curse that links all of these three women together in a chain of horrid events that will change the very face of the earth.
Book Review: "Postcards from the Edge" by Carrie Fisher
Carrie Fisher's name is often not synonymous with her contribution to literature but honestly, her writing is amazing. I have read her book The Princess Diarist and I have read a number of her other works. Her writing is not only excellent, but its filled with personality, passion and more than often, a certain tone that really lets you enjoy the book. It is not trying to be anything it is not and the book itself ends up becoming a widely read almost modern classic in the sense that it represents a certain age of Hollywood from the inside whilst retaining cultural value. Many of these 'tell-all' books are, as we know, pretty much full of shit - but Carrie Fisher maintains a brilliant, consistent, readable and often very witty writing style that grabs the reader from beginning to the very last page. This time, I read the book Postcards from the Edge which she later transfered into a screenplay that was made into a film starring Meryl Streep (which was also really entertaining).