Wednesday, October 27, 2010

An all-consuming black hole

If you haven't already, please download my zine 'Splinters'. I'd really appreciate it. And thanks to those who have already downloaded it and read through it, and even exchanged a few words with me about it.

Right now, it seems there's an endless black hole of a 'to-do' list hovering over me at the moment:

Tomorrow I'm performing in the WA heats of the Australian poetry slam, link here.

At uni I have a 20 minute stage play to write (which is coming along fantastically, I must admit, of the 4-5 pages I have written), 2 essays and 2 other little reflection/report things.

After that I'll get right onto wrapping my head around writing a 20 minute film script to eventually produce with a friend.

And of course, the start of next week is the start of November is the start of NaNoWriMo, in which I'll be trying to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

So that's what I'm busy with at the moment. But it should be a lot better in about two week's time where my goals list will be about half the size. I would, however, like to focus in on a couple of things on that list.

NaNoWriMo, there's always 1001 things I can say about it. But I take sympathy on you and will try to keep things brief. This year I'm going postmodern lit fic. Takes place over two weeks, with one chapter for each day (reality) and night (dream) of my protagonist/anti-hero's tragic little life. So it's basically a chapter a day, which I'll probably write in Stream-of-consciousness to make it easier to slip into the 'anything goes' mindset of NaNoWriMo, but also to really sink into the character and be strange/postmodern.

I'm doing a couple of things to warm up, to get ready for NaNoWriMo this year. I've started doing a flash-a-day thing, where I'll basically write a flash fiction piece, usually a sentence or two that hints towards something that needs context to mean something. That's something I'll be looking to maintain over November and beyond. And the other thing I'm doing is typing up Fight Club into my computer. I figure, taking the time to write the words up will give me time to absorb what they're doing, and how it's all set up. I don't know yet if I'll just do a chapter or two and move on to another book or something, but I'm thinking, come November, I might use it to warm my fingers up before I start working on my own novel.

And another thing I'd like to talk about is the books I've read recently. I've been meaning to talk about them, but just never got around to it. You can see on the side there, a list of "currently reading" and "recently read" books. Strangely enough, those lists correspond to books I am currently reading and books I have recently read, respectively.

"Haunted" - by Chuck Palahniuk
Where to start this one is to say that it's not for the faint-hearted. If you get grossed out easily, you probably won't see the appeal in this book. I, for one, loved it. It's dark, it's brutal, it's cringingly funny, I found that while I was reading it I was thinking, 'is this guy for real'? It's a strange and uncomfortable journey, and while there is some doubt whether it's just some elaborate hoax put out by Palahniuk purely to revolt his readers, there is an interesting theme that underlies the narrative, and that is how people transform at the prospect of fame.

The novel (I guess you could call it a novel) consists of a series of short stories and poems brought together by an overarching narrative. Basically, a group of people respond to an ad regarding a writer's retreat. They find themselves locked in an abandoned theatre and the situation turns into a sort of reality tv type scenario, where the writers turn against each other in search of the story that will bring them more fame and glory than the person before them. I highly recommend it if you're not easily grossed out or offended.

"Wild Surmise" by Dorothy Porter
I read this, as I did 'The Monkey's Mask' within a very short time frame. It's the second verse novel of hers that I've read, and it follows a scientist (a biological astrologist? something like that) as she searches for signs of life on Jupiter's moon, Europa. Of course, that's juxtaposed with her domestic life, and the sexual conflicts with her partner and her lesbian colleagues. It's a good read, and she really is a master of metaphor, but I felt that it didn't quite have the edge that 'The Monkey's Mask' did.

"Fahrenheit 451" - by Ray Bradbury
It took me a long while to get into this book, especially considering how short it is. And I'm not sure if I finished it so quickly because I was truly fascinated by it or whether I just wanted to reach the end. It's a dystopian novel about book burning, and the censorship of ideas. The content was really good, but I can't help but feel that the execution was lacking something. It wasn't as richly involving as I'd have liked, it was very narrowly focused on the main character and it ended quite abrubtly. It's a good dystopian novel, I feel I should really get on to reading 1984 and Brave New World so that I've got more to compare it to. At the moment I can only really compare it to 'A Clockwork Orange', which I have to say, there really is no competition. A good book? Yes, definitely. But it's certainly no masterpiece.

"If on a Winter's Night A Traveller" - Italo Calvino
I was really excited to read this book. It didn't take me too long to read this one, and, like with 'Fahrenheit 451' I finished it in much of a fluster. However, I finished this one so fast because I was compelled to read on, I was fascinated by this book.

It's told in the second person, which, I know, will immediately put some people off. However, Calvino has tackled it from a really fascinating perspective, and as the book progresses the "I" character who is posing as the author distinguishes the "you" as a character known as "the Reader", as opposed to the "you" that is actually reading the book. As such, he plays around with the narrative style, and calls to question a number of writing techniques he uses throughout the novel. It's a very clever story, and it's very playful in the way it goes about telling the story. I'd imagine even if you're not a fan of the second person point of view, you'd be able to see the charm Calvino's invested into the character.

The narrative itself follows the Reader as he tries to read the book 'If on a Winter's Night A Traveller', only to find a printing error, which leads him on to the rest of the book. So it's made up of 12 chapters referring to the character trying to find his books, and 10 chapters of the starts of the books he finds but can not finish. It's very clever and very entertaining, and sometimes utterly perplexing, but if you like reading books that make you think then it's most definitely worth the read.

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