Tag: book

Proust: Swann’s Way

A thought-provoking, powerful and immersive read. 

Descent

There is a fluidity in descending into this book. As Proust describes falling asleep, you fall gently into his narrative, his words cushioning you. On the other hand, we’re moving through great junctures of time and space. One moment Proust is a man reading a book, his thoughts still cycling on the words of the page, the next he’s a child, dreaming of his childish terrors about his uncle pulling his curls. We dip in and out of these passages of time with him. As he states:

“When a man is asleep, he has a circle round him the chain of the hours, the sequence of the years, the order of the heavenly bodies. Instinctively he consults them when he awakes, and in an instant reads off his own position on the earth’s surface and the time that has elapsed during his slumbers; but this procession is apt to grow confused, and to break ranks.”

And we continue to travel time and distance through the cyclical nature of the narrator’s thoughts. I loved journeying on, his senses bridging one thought to the next, no matter the distance or time between each.

Saying this, there are times when you stumble over the long sentences and archaic language but if you’re ready for it, prepared to give yourself over to it, it’s brilliant.

Depth

There are so many parts to love in this book. I’m going to pick a few of my favourite quotes.

During his Combray days Legrandin says to Proust:

“Always try to keep a patch of sky above your life…You have a soul in you of rare quality, an artist’s nature; never let it starve for lack of what it needs.”

I loved the way Proust reflects on his boyhood and the way he tries to identify when and where a certain thought or feeling stemmed from. Here are some snippets:

“…our attempts to translate our innermost feelings do no more than believe us of them by drawing them out in a blurred form which does not help us identify them…”

“Meseglise way and the Guermantes way remain for me linked with many of the little incidents of…life…The flowers which played then among the grass, the water that rippled past in the sunshine…all these my exaltation of mind has borne along with it and kept alive through the succession of the years…Sometimes the fragment of landscape thus transported into the present will detach itself in such isolation from all associations that it floats uncertainly in my mind…”

“For often in one we find a day that has strayed from another, that makes us live in the other, evokes at once and makes us long for its particular pleasure, and interrupts the dreams that we were in the process of weaving by inserting out of its turn, too early or too late, this leaf torn from another chapter in the interpolated calendar of Happiness.”

Ascent

I did become very much immersed in Proust’s world – his boyhood, later his narrations of Swann’s life, his relationship with Odette and the society they moved in. There was precision and so much insight to perceive in all the characters interactions and so much to reflect on about human nature. Just take a scene – an afternoon’s music reception that Swann attends. We go from Swanns’s observation of the servants:

“Then he passed it to one of his satellites, a timid novice…” then to observing the attendees.”

Madame Cambremer among them listens to the music and we are told:

“She had learned in her girlhood to fondle and cherish these long sinuous phrases…But nowadays the old-fashioned beauty of this music seemed to have become a trifle stale…Mme de Cymbremer cast a furtive glance behind her.”

Throughout there is a vast array of cast and the interactions are examined minutely. All of it was fascinating, but when I did finish, I definitely needed to surface for some air!

Wolf of the Tesseract

 

My leanings tend to be more Fantasy than Sci-fi, and Wolf of the Tesseract by Christopher D. Schmitz is firmly entrenched in the Sci-Fi camp. It has intergalactic travel, the characters have multiple-selves throughout the dimensions and the MCs’ nemesis is an alien warlock. That said, I’m thoroughly pleased I have broadened my reading range!

The story starts off with a fast-paced battle scene, with an introduction to one of the MCs, Zabe. I was really drawn into the world with the pace and vividness with which it was described – the writing is concise but descriptive.

The next chapter transports us from this world to Earth. The pace might be in danger of languishing here after the high-action scene, but I was instantly intrigued by what occurred and the plot thickens.

By chapter three, we meet the other MC, Claire and the book becomes firmly rooted in the real world too. The way the story swings between Earth and the other realm was brilliant. I think without the foundation in the real world, I would have struggled to be drawn into the story as much, but the balance is done perfectly.

Not to mention that the multiple dimensions also serve for some wonderfully comic moments. Some of the best quotes come from the play between the two worlds. One of my favourite lines was: “What’s in Wiltshire?” “Our exit to another world.”

In the book there is a vast array of characters and yet the story never becomes confusing, and even more impressively, all the characters are fleshed-out. Even the secondary character’s, for example Claire’s friend, Jackie are well- drawn and ended up being some of my favourites.

I was surprised that with so many characters, the quick pace and the narration being from multiple viewpoints that the story still possessed real depth. Early on, the MC Claire grapples with whether her feelings for her fiance are strong enough to marry him, there is a discussion between the characters about whether unexplained phenomena isn’t just Science that we don’t yet understand. In short, the world and characters are made real and the extraordinary only serves to enhance it.

A wonderful read – I will definitely be reading more by the author.

 

Image from https://pixabay.com/en/users/TheHilaryClark-1068778/

Back from the Dead…

Okay, it’s been a while, but I do feel like I’ve been temporarily departed from this world for the last couple of months. That’s because I’ve been redrafting and self-editing another version of Arete: Descendants. It’s finally done and after lots and lots of reading up on freelance editing companies, it’s been sent off to Bubblecow.

I’ve heard some really good things about them from other independent authors. Here is a very insightful review and a sample of the service in case you’re shopping around by Aidan.J.Reid, a thriller author. I found this one really thorough and it helped me decide which editing company to choose. I’m sure it’s going to be a very rewarding process too and look forward to learning how to improve the story when I get back the edited manuscript and editor’s report.

The other thing I’m looking forward to doing this month is getting on with developing an idea I started back on a writing course earlier in the year. I’ve signed up for my first Nanowrimo and aim to get the first draft of ‘Extension’, a Young Adult, Dystopian novel done by the end of the month. With book baby number one being taken care of over the next month by an editor, it seems the perfect time to get onto developing the next one. Let me know if you’re taking part. If you’re in London, especially North East, I may even be able to meet you in the real world and leave my hermitage for a write-in, where we can get back to the imaginary world, of course, that we writers inhabit best.

(Image from Shutterstock)

 

Crow Moon by Anna McKerrow: Book Review

Crow Moon is a wonderful invention of a world and story where the shortage of fuel has divided the world. We start off in the Green World, in Dorset and Cornwall where they have formed their own community, which is self-sufficient, living simply off the land…and has witches to protect the villages from the threat of the outside world; the Red World.

Any laughing we might want to do about this witch business is taken care of, in the disinterested and slightly derisive voice of our protagonist, teenage boy, Danny. We learn about the witchcraft and protective wards on the villages and what’s at stake gradually as our unwilling hero is swept up into this world.

This unapologetically cheeky and flirty YA novel is full of intrigue, action and adventure and magic. A lovely world full of the ancient mystery of standing-stones, cruel cliff-tops and savage seas. A world where visualisations, curses and conjuring can happen at the drop of a hat, but which our reluctant hero will not be able to come back from unchanged.

(My image of Stonehenge, Wiltshire, 2013)

The Door: Book Review

Another gem by Magda Szabo! It’s described by the Glasgow Herald as: “This melting pot of a novel hangs from a solid tripod of Greek myth, Biblical scripture and Slavic Fairy-tale…” It’s a good description and not over the top. It’s like a sumptuous dish – I’m thinking a bowl of Goulash with the rich flavours  of beef, red-wine and paprika wafting from the steam.

The imagery throughout adds depth to the story and you can’t help lingering over it. Some little tasters:

“When I thought about it the pair of them at the table weren’t at all like a mistress giving her good little dog his reward, they were more like figures from a Greek myth, taking part in some horrific celebration. The roast meat the animal had snatched was only a semblance. It was more than food, it was a meal not for human witness, a tangle of viscera, a species of human sacrifice – as if Emerence were feeding the actual person to the dog, along with all her fond memories and feelings.”

Right from the beginning we’re told that the relationship between the narrator and Emerence is ill-fated and doomed: “Thus far I have lived my life with courage, and I hope to die that way, bravely and without lies. But for that to be, I must speak out. I killed Emerence. The fact that I was trying to save her rather than destroy her changes nothing.”

After this, we journey along, with these two women, prepared for the heart-ache to come. With the poignant, delicate writing and the hard-hitting imagery, even with the beginning statement issued, you find yourself still unprepared for how the journey will affect you. And over and over the narrator reminds us about the dangers of loving, her narration sounding like an oracle as old as time, issuing her warning again and again:

“…it was from this moment that Emerence truly loved me, loved me without reservation, gravely almost, like someone deeply conscious of the obligations of love, who knows it to be a dangerous passion fraught with risk…” And “In my student days I detested Schopenhauer only later did I come to acknowledge the force of his idea that every relationship involving personal feeling laid one open to attack and the more people I allowed to become close to me, the greater number of ways in which I was vulnerable.”

A beautiful read – and if I doubted it with just having read Iza’s Ballad, establishes her as one of my favourite writers.

(Medea kills her children)

© 2017 Rae Else

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑