Discount Treasure Hunting

As a writer it does make me sad to see the piles of half-off and similarly discounted beautiful novels lying on those tables. It’s not that the leading bookstores are being kind or generous, they simply want to get rid of those little gems. I think how I would feel (heartbroken, inconsolable) if one of those novels were ones that I had spent years of my life (and soul) working on.
Then I think about my very limited bank balance and I have to be grateful for these small mercies. However, there is one benefit to the discount cull. It leads to amazing discovers. You find a hidden treasure in the dusty stacks of forgotten lore. This is how I happened upon Kate Morton. Two novels for 10 bucks. Even if they were crap, it wasn’t a real gamble. I took the pretty pieces home and placed them on my bookcase where they were promptly forgotten in the midst of business. 

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A few months later I noticed the same book on my mother’s case. She thought they were interesting and I was reminded of my own copies. Newly intrigued, I went home and took out that first big tome and started. I couldn’t put it down. “The House at Riverton” also known as “The Shifting Fog” in some countries. I was enthralled.  I read straight on to the next one. When I was finished with them both, I was hungry for more. Since then, I buy her books as soon as they are released and at full price.

I guess the moral of the story is that the reduced price was like a taster platter, where I paid a respectable price if I wanted more.

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What in the Dickens…

Many years ago when life seemed simple (also known as the 80s), I was laying on the loungeroom floor getting sucked into a black and white film the likes of which I’d never experienced. It was my first viewing of Great Expectations. I was afraid with Pip when he entered the moors and came across an escaped criminal. I felt his rejection when Estella refused to give him the time of day. However, I was repulsed and enthralled when Miss Havisham showed Pip the moldy Wedding Breakfast, taking over the once resplendent room for what I could only imagine was decades.

This was the image I took away from my introduction to Charles Dickens. This was how he captured my attention. The hideous moment of pain in a person’s life that is usually buried where no access is granted. It was there visible in Satis House, a shrine for the life not lived and a heart turned to stone. This Havisham character was something I’d never come across in modern literature or television. She was grotesque but magnificent.

I guess my imagination is not the only one to have been capured by her untold pain. In the novel “Havisham”, written by Ronald Frame, we’re given a possible account of the life of Catherine Havisham. I’m not entirely sure I enjoyed this version of events. There didn’t really seem to be a driving force behind it. I loved the writing, it was beautiful and flowing. By its very essence, however, anyone who knows this character can get a good idea of what the outcome will be within the first few chapters.

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Although it was an interesting idea, it might be a bad choice to read the book after the personal connection I feel to the original story. The most redeeming factor comes after Pip enters the story and get to see the same events through the eyes of another.

If you enjoy reading prequels, I would suggest “Rebecca’s Tale” by Sally Beauman. The story of the elusive Rebecca from Daphne du Maurier. As far as “Havisham ” goes, it doesn’t completely work. I would have preferred to read “Rebecca’s Tale ” for the 4th time around.

The “Silo” Trilogy

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How to find the words to do justice to this amazing series? Tantalising? Mind – blowing? I think I will settle for spectacular. Wool, Shift, then Dust is a finely tuned world of life taking place in a not-too distant future. Here’s the rub – they live underground in huge silos with only a small glimpse at the world on top.

The world follows similar patterns of futuristic worlds in that there are very specific rules to follow and intense (sometimes lethal) consequences for the rebels.

It didn’t take long for me to get sucked into the story and rip through the books, one by one. It reminded me of reading John Wyndham for the first time. That feeling when you experience the previously unknown voice of a spectacular author who makes the very act of reading feel effortless.

If you’ve got some spare weekends coming and you need some truly inspired dystopia for entertainment, this series is your answer. I can’t remember feeling so strongly about a group of foctional characters. It’s a wild ride of the imagination.

The Porcelain Cat

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The cat sits on the mantle. It’s beautiful in every way, caught in an elegant pose. No one touches the porcelain cat. Who would want to break something so perfect? It watches the room with sadness. Eventually it moves from the mantle to the cupboard. Everyone forgets the cat. Dust settles on the paws and the tip of its tail.

“Where is the porcelain cat?” Mother asks one rainy day. She looks all over. The cat holds its breath. Someone wants it. Mother opens the cupboard and finds it. She dusts off the black paws and runs a finger over the tail. She throws it hard against the brick wall outside. This was the first present Father gave her. Father is now living in Spain with his butcher. Life’s a bitch.

Weird World of Writers

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Mark Twain (or Samuel Clemens) was born in a year that was visited by Halley’s Comet. He predicted that he would “go out with it” as well. True to his words, he died the day after its return at age 74.

Let’s not forget the famous “The report of my death was an exaggeration”, after newspapers claimed he was ill and had died. This false report was probably due to the fact that his cousin was seriously ill at the time.

Remembering: Jim Henson

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…………………….

On September 24, 1936, I wonder if there was a ripple in the world when James Maury Henson entered the stage? Who hasn’t spent weekends being entertained by The Muppets? Sometimes I feel like Jim Henson provided the imagination that fueled my childhood. The Dark Crystal was especially beautiful to me. I can’t tellyou how many times I watched those two gelflins find each other and save the day, along with the fluffy ball of something that passed as a cute pet.

Here was a man who created some wonderful worlds (as well as new ways of puppetry), yet no one seems to mention him. So today I want to remember the man (36-90) aged 55 at his death. I wonder how much more he could have added if he was still here…

In the Beginning

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It’s universally acknowledged that every story (especially a good story) has a beginning, middle and an end. That’s true isn’t it? If I were to stop writing at this point, some readers might roll their eyes, move on and dismiss me forever more. Some might be tantalized by what follows an incomplete thought.

This being said, how do you account for the addiction to dramas that never seem to end? Day time TV and the 6 o’clock news? Maybe a good story is the antithesis of life itself. Most lives, however good, are just not that exciting. Millions of us try to make an impact but our voices are just lost in the din.

Where am I going with this? You might well ask. I dont have a clue. It’s just a start…