Thursday 24 October 2013

The Transforming Power of Literature

Musing on Stoner
Howdy silent partners: I have been reading a book set in Missouri and St. Louis and now I want to go there if only verbally - more in the next paragraph. I have been absent from Blogville for a wee while, but I have an excuse note: I have been working with my husband on the paperback of "Big Men's Boots" our first imprint (gosh!) and we are also in the foundation stages of developing our own publishing business - watch this space book munchers!

How many of you belong to book clubs? All of you? Marvellous aren't they? I love mine; not only do I get to read more widely than I possibly would, I get to discuss these books with some fine ladies upon white sofas (not really) the ladies are fine, but not dandy (as in supafine, not just acceptable) as are the sofas, but they are rarely white. By far and away the best and most transporting (as previously indicated, gee!) book we have read so far is "Stoner" by John Williams: a book that I gobbled up in great, greedy chunks whenever I had an opportunity: usually while breastfeeding.

Rarely have I come across a book that points up the poignancy of the human condition with such sensitivity and intensity and in such sublimely taut, penetrating prose! William Stoner is a true hero of literature: an 'ordinary' man who is willing to sacrifice all (to protect those he loves whilst never defending himself - so Christ-like!) as he lives out the truth of his life in a powerfully humble way. I have been stunned by this deceptively 'quiet' novel and urge you to seek it out - the characters are so three dimensional too - how often do you meet those between the numbered sheets these days?

John Williams (I know he sounds like a Country and Western star) is dead, otherwise I would garland him with roses. A novel about truth, faith and love: all the good stuff. Ride the wagon folks, you won't be disappointed. Would love to hear back from you'all on books that are blowing your Barnets too - yes back to London now. I am about to start on "Spoilt Rotten," The Toxic Cult of Sentimentality, by Theodore Dalyrimple - not his real name, but isn't it spiffing!

London's Burning! Fetch the Engines! Fire! Fire! I have just burnt the pot of soya beans that have been simmering with the chickpeas (with evil intent as it turns out) on the stove. I have put them out of the window where their smoke is mingling with the fumes from the A40. My hand aches from flapping the dishcloth over the alarm system that alerts the whole building and wakes the babies and scares the mice. So much for being a health freak. I shall return to chocolate forthwith: much safer.

Monday 7 October 2013


Does my neck look long in this?
It was off to the zoo today for me and the three nippers. Given their behaviour of late it seemed the appropriate place. The two year old and the six month old launched a scream opera via buggy before we even got out the door, given the numerous delays: drinks, nappy changes, wet washing and so on all remembered at the last minute when the two boys were already in the buggy. I placated the one kid with chocolate - I know shoot me. I should have taken it as a sign, but like a woman who glances at a clear London sky and expects it to stay that way for ten minutes, I marshalled the mini troops out the door and with my four year old daughter on the buggy board, which helps us to create movement as an ensemble, but petrifies my back as I am five feet nine and the buggy board sticks out at a jaunty angle and I am forced to bend to its will - we set off, with plenty of further ado as I had forgotten something as usual and had to turn back, oftentimes these are the keys, when this happens, I turn back and head butt the wall (metaphorically speaking, I'm not a metalhead) before sheepishly calling my husband who happily usually works in the area; but this time it was a jacket, usually I would press on without a jacket and end up looking like I have just failed a wet t shirt competition or whatever but today I thought I would return to get it, but it remained a thought along with all the other stuff I remembered I had forgotten: kids - check, keys - check, we would forage for anything else - after the morning I had already had before I started forgetting things, I would make do - do-lally as is my way.

The giraffes were serene
All this hoo ha (why can't I do hoo ha like a karate expert?) meant middle nipper was late for his nap, (I figured he'd conk out in the buggy, har de har) which was fine until we were in the gorilla enclosure. The gorilla enclosure had lots of black dirt for kids to play in, which might be odd for London parents visiting the zoo (they gave us odd looks) but I grew up playing in the dirt in Zimbabwe where if you did not arrive home dirty and muddy and usually injured in some way - by yourself, by bike, before sundown - you weren't a proper kid.

Anyhoo, I fed the baby while the two year old and the four year old practised animals in the dirt. All was well in the world until I realised we were now way past nap time and I would need to inform my two year old that he would be viewing the gorillas from the Phil and Ted's - yes his very own safari Land Rover! At which point my kid went feral, he went beast, he went canvas for his own dirt artiste, he bucked, he broncoed, he turned balletically in the dirt, legs stiff with fury. And he attracted an audience: some shocked, some amused, some smug, some just staring. My four year old took herself off to ride a bronze statue of a gorilla and some Japanese tourists took pictures of her, I let this pass, unlike the mini fit and the audience, which didn't. I picked up my own little beastie and while I tried to stuff his little flailing limbs into the bottom section of the P and T, I said to the audience in a loud voice: "This is what happens when you miss nap time." He May I never forget. Gosh is it that late already?

He slept like angelically all the way home