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A revelation of sorts

"Hold still, now, aaaaaand... Zap!"
Today, in writing a review of the completely brilliant Breece D'J Pancake's only published collection of stories, I had a minor revelation. Not only am I getting older, with less hair and so it would seem less brain matter (the punishment for youthful excess - and occasional middle-aged excess), but I am also accruing excuses, reasons why not today but maybe tomorrow. I can't look for a new job, I'm too tired to play football, I'll just have that last biscuit and work it off tomorrow, I'll write when I have something to write about. 

The last one has been bothering me for a while. I am not one of those compulsive writers that must write or expire from the pent up frustration. I am not one of those seized by genius and with a desire to show the world something new and amazing. I am one of those who writes because he is a little lonesome, a little bored, and is lacking in self-belief and needs the affirmation of strangers. Yeah, that cock. 

But what, I pondered, if I could let all of that go, and simply tell a story? 
What story? I countered. 
Shut the hell up, me.

What if I did just forget about me and write freed of fear that I would be met with ridicule? That would surely be liberating. What if, instead of simply writing regardless of the fear, I actively embraced it? Writing in full view of the public? Will Self did it (or at least I believe he did, writing onto an acetate slide projected on the wall of an art gallery - I thought the Tate but can't seem to find the evidence). How could that not be an excellent challenge to take on? How to facilitate this?

The answer, as you will have guessed, is always in front of you. 

@WorkingTitled is my new project which you can follow over on the right there, or on my Live Journal account, where every entry is being logged. Writing in 140 character bursts, live and on the web, to anyone who will listen, completely open and honest. No deletions, no back-tracking on my promise to myself, no bullshit. Damn it but this is terrifying. 



So there you have it. No other activity will cease to make way, I will just be writing, 140 characters of new novel, hopefully every day, or at least as often as possible. They say when you've hit around 6000 tweets you already sufficient words for a novella. Let's see if it's true.

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How's about that then?

A Bright Moon For Fools by Jasper Gibson

Ah, what would be a review penned by yours truly without some sort of grovelling apology at the outset? A better review no doubt, but that aside I can't help but continue the tiresome tradition with an apology. Sorry to my regular robotic readers (hi bots!) but I have been very neglectful of the blog of late, having been tied up with my pursuit of a broader spectrum of dilettantism; I've been taking part in a number of MOOCs offered by various HEIs on the FutureLearn platform. Worth checking out if you ask me.

(Subtle enough plug, you think?)
Anyway, the break afforded by a foray into further education has proved something of a test for Jasper Gibson and his fiction. In truth, it took me a little while to remember what exactly the novel was about, who was in it, and how I felt about the whole thing. Instant alarm bells. Of course, having had a break, I'd had a good crack at filling my head with a whole bunch of other things worth remembering, so maybe it all just got squeeze…

A Death In The Family: My Struggle Volume 1 by Karl Ove Knausgaard

I sit here, wearing my limited edition Knausgaard t-shirt, immensely grateful to the kind people at Vintage Books for their surprising gift of the first four novels (and aforementioned t-shirt) simply as a result of being able to post a comment on their YouTube Vlog. There may have been a hidden agenda, considering I'm a book blogger (What, interrobang, a book blogger, interrobang and so on...) but I prefer to believe they picked me at random. Because I'm ace. 
Nonetheless, I had no idea what to expect of these books. I did do a little reading, and found lots of very interesting articles about Karl Ove Knausgaard, including this entertaining one in the Wall Street Journal. But in all honesty, nothing prepared me for reading them, and I can see why they cause controversy and consternation wherever they are translated (which is pretty much everywhere).
First off, being intelligent and perspicacious readers as I trust you all to be, you will no doubt have spotted the whole Godwin&#…

Open Door by Iosi Havilio

*Shame Klaxon*
I am ashamed to admit it but I know next to nothing about Borges. I know the names of his books. I know he crops up almost without fail when conversations include literature from South America. I know his words book-end so many novels that I have that habitual proving-my-bold-assertion-mind-blankness which means my brain knows it to be true and won't humour your scepticism with an example*. And I know it's likely the biggest single lacuna in my entire reading history**.
So you may imagine my lack of surprise, on finishing this novel and reading the afterword by Oscar Guardiola-Rivera, lecturer at Birkbeck College, London, and author of works on the history and politics of Latin America, that Borges pops up, within three lines of text. Three lines! He wastes no time does Oscar. Of course, my shame bristled and I was ready to adopt the usual casual hostility to something of which I was ignorant. But straight away, I understood what he was saying. I have often consid…

UnAmerican Activities by James Miller

I don't think I was asked to honour the old convention that a freebie necessitates an honest if gently favourable review (at least I can find no written proof). I will however, name-check the generous (and possibly over-optimistic) @TheWorkshyFop, editorial director of the independent British publisher, Dodo Ink, from whose proof boxes of new November lead titles this one arrived. Thank you, sir!
I recall James Miller, specifically Lost Boys, from the dim and distant past. It may have been a commission for Waterstones Books Quarterly, or perhaps I was doing a solid for the Little, Brown sales rep. Regardless, I remember nothing about the book except being underwhelmed. From reading old reviews, it seems it had the coat-tails of the contemporaneous zeitgeist in its teeth, but one slightly savage Guardian review* points out it was pretty badly done. This might explain why I remember very little, perhaps proving Auden's assertion that, "some books are undeservedly forgotten; …