Kazuo Ishiguro was recently awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, a very pleasing development. He’s an amazing author who you can genuinely recommend to people because he’s not too ‘wordy’. Not much really seems to happen in his books, I think because they are all written in the past tense which automatically removes the sense of drama and urgency. Still there are moments in all his books (well all the ones I’ve read) that are like being hit in the face with a brick, in an emotional way…
I read Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton back in May and enjoyed it. It effectively conveyed the harshness of the frontier, and the claustrophobia of the small mountain towns cut off from the outside world through tough winters. Wharton was extremely prolific, and won a Pulitzer prize for The Age of Innocence. Sister suggested I read it, so only a short 6 months later I finally did.
I saw Autumn on the old internets, and saw it was part of a set of seasons. I thought, ‘well maybe I should start with Spring and work my way through’ before finding out that Autumn is the first one… Continue reading “Autumn by Ali Smith- Book Review”
I saw Su Blackwell’s exhibition ages ago at the Bronte Museum. She had taken some of the Bronte’s books and created book-cut sculptures. They were site-specific and pointed to the imaginary worlds of the Bronte children. You can get commissioned work through her website for thousands of pounds.
Art Made From Books features Blackwell’s work as well as plenty of other weird and wonderful examples of books art. This is a showcase of art, rather than a do-it-yourself instructional book. But it’s beautiful, and quirky. And make me wish I knew how to do things!
Are you one of them millennials I keep hearing about? In your 20s, with unfulfilled potential, no money, and feeling generally lost? Sofia Papastergiadis feels the same way. 25, with an unfinished anthropology doctorate, and working in an artisan coffee shop in London, she hasn’t quite figured life out yet. I felt like this through most of my twenties, graduating with a history degree and then just working in retail, and generally not having a clue what I wanted to do.
What I feel most is that I am a failure but I would rather work in the Coffee House than be hired to conduct research into why customers prefer one washing machine to another.
Adventures in Letterpress
Adventures in Letterpress is one of those beautiful books that I bought a while ago and don’t ever really look at. Because it’s not instructional I don’t feel the need to pull it out from under 17 other heavy books to look through it. But it has lots of incredibly clever, artistic, and eclectic examples of letterpress printing. Many of them are political and/or rude which makes them more interesting imo.
Letterpress printing uses a printing press to press a raised surface (say protruding letters) against a continuous roll of paper. Letterpress was almost obsolete, with other easier techniques of printing available. But, according to the Adventures in Letterpress blurb, artists and designers have taken is upon themselves to rescue letter-presses from scrap yards. This kind of art has become nichely popular (if that makes sense), as an antidote to the crazy digital age we live in.
I loved the title. It’s taken from a Tennyson poem, that Faulks quotes at the start of the book. Anyway, it’s the reason I bought the book. Faulks’ more famous work is Birdsong from 1993, in which a women in the 1970’s tries to understand her grandfather’s experiences of WW1. I never read it, but picked this more contemporary effort instead. This also deals with war, although more focused on WW2 this time.
Set in the mid 1980’s our protagonist, Robert Hendricks is prompted to revisit old memories of his childhood, a lost love, and war time combat after receiving an odd letter from a man who served with his father in the First World War. The death of Robert’s father in the war has left a hole in his life, like many children growing up in the interwar period. There is a compelling moment when teenage Robert looks at his teacher, injured in WW1, and doesn’t realise he is looking at his own future. Continue reading “Sebastian Faulks- Where My Heart Used To Beat- Book Review”
A Beautiful Mess
A few weeks ago I went through the stack of craft books in my craft room, and one of them was A Beautiful Mess. It’s a blog by a few ladies who I think used to run a vintage store but now blog full time. They cover food, crafts, and clothing and style. It’s evolved in the last few years into a sleek lifestyle blog for better or worse. It’s the type of hipster lifestyle that I think I want but will never have. One where you can wander outside in a summer dress and dutch braids, where you do photo shoots against brick walls holding guitars, and where you spend autumn in pumpkin patches. Well where I live, no matter the season, it’s cold and rainy, there are no attractive faux urban backdrops to hand, and pumpkins exist for 1 week in a pile at the supermarket… I wonder how representative the photos on A Beautiful Mess are of their lives.
They sort of specialise in photography and there’s a lot of info and tips on their website. They also do sell some courses but I’ve never tried them. The book I have is a photo idea book, which has practical suggestions of what you can do with photographs such as personalised gift tags. It also has a lot of creative ways to take photographs, not so much with technical insight this is more about how make the picture interesting with backdrops and props. So if you want a nice instagram photo then this might be the book for you 🙂
Isaac Asimov is probably the daddy of sci-fi writing right? He was extremely prolific, writing or editing about 500 books. He was known for ‘hard’ science fiction, a sub-genre of sci-fi known for its scientific accuracy. He wrote some of his most famous works in the 1940’s and 50’s though, so now it’s less about detecting scientific accuracy and checking whether his view of the future has actually come true.
I read Foundation a while ago, part of his famous Foundation series, which I enjoyed. It begins with the Galactic Empire falling and a subsequent 1000 year dark age. The book moves through subsequent generations trying to rebuild the galactic empire. There are actually 7 books in the Foundation series, including some prequels added later on, but I stopped at the second book which was a little too confusing my little brain. Continue reading “The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov- Book Review”
Ah, another author whose name I can’t pronounce, Chimanada Ngozi Adichie. The Nigerian author is more famous for ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’, but that was 448 pages and ‘Purple Hibiscus’ was 336 pages so…It’s my thing to look up great books, and then see what else that author has written that is shorter!
This is the story of Kambili, a 15 year-old girl living in Nigeria who fears and reveres her father (I think the two can weirdly co-exist quite well). He’s a leader of the community, extremely wealthy and well respected for his acts of generosity, his piety, and his determination to speak out against corruption in the country. He is also a violent patriarch at home, regimenting his children’s lives and enacting extreme punishments for any indiscretion. Continue reading “Book Review- Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie”