Book Quote Friday: Firework

     And so we find ourselves at our first 'Book Quote Friday', which I talked about in the 'An Update' post of a few weeks ago. Twice a month now, when I'm not serialising a short story, I will be posting literary quotes that inspire and entertain and maybe point you towards some really great literature that you've not thought of before. This is gonna be fun.


A Preface to November's Short Story

     I'm going to use this post today to preface next month's short story, which is called 'Saturday Afternoon, Odessa'. I don't want to give too much away about it at this stage, but I thought the article listed below gives an excellent preface to some of the themes and attitudes that appear in my story:


Marina – the Burger Queen tour

     Ah, ideas. How I love thee. How I love people who love thee.  *sigh* 


A Tonic: 'Get Better'

     A tonic for any apathy that might be lurking within you on this Monday afternoon. Also, some really good advice; for anybody, really. I love this.


An Update

     Apologies for the relative silence this week but I have been beavering away behind the scenes, planning posts for the next few weeks/months and tinkering with some features of this blog. So, some news:


Tolstoy is my Cat?

Quite an assertion, I know, but not one that I've made lightly. It's rare that I say 'Tolstoy is my Cat' and someone doesn't bat an eyelid or ask what on earth it means, so I thought maybe the time had come to explain why my blog has this phenomenal yet slightly nonsensical name. 

Anna Karenina (Oprah's Book Club)First of all, I love him. Tolstoy, that is, although my cat comes a very close second. In the simplest of terms, to me Tolstoy is the greatest of writers and Anna Karenina is my favourite all time book. There is no equal for its breadth, scope, accurate portrayal of human behaviour and its influences and, most importantly, pure, simple wasted heartbreak, which branded itself into my conscientiousness from the first read. It's a triumph, and if I'm going to associate my work with anyone's, why not his? (There's a joke in there somewhere). In any case, at the most basic blogger level, I hoped the mention of Tolstoy might help the reader anticipate literary fiction and the odd short story, which is hopefully what this blog provides. 

War and Peace (Vintage Classics)Also, Tolstoy, to me, is a challenge. I am a ferocious and maniacal reader, with the appetite to devour books in a few sittings if they pique my interest. I once read one of my mum's trashy holiday novels in a day to show her that it was flimsy throw-away trash (sorry Mum). There are, to date, only two books that have ever defeated me and kept me, wilfully or not, from their end: Herman Melville's Moby Dick and Tolstoy's War and Peace. At every attempt Moby Dick has aggressively bores me to tears with descriptions of sailing, the sea and 135 threateningly epic chapter heads that stretch out before you like a sentence, meaning that I have never got passed the first chapter even though I've had a copy since I was about 15. Also, I hated the one Melville story I ever managed to get through (Bartleby) and I can't help but feel (snobbish, I know) his credibility has been slightly undermined, through no fault of his own, by the now eternal association of Moby Dick with Starbucks. 'Nuff said. War and Peace, on the other hand, is meaty and substantial and arrogant enough to be 537 pages long and actually consist of 15 books and 2 epilogues, with a few extra notes, just in case we were still wondering, from Tolstoy at the end. When I picked it up that first time Tolstoy threw down the gauntlet and by the time I die I will have finished it, even if it is the act that actually kills me. Suffice to say, I've only got to page 459, the start of Book 5, thus far in my multiple readings. I guess if I was superstitious, finishing it wouldn't be something I'd want to hurry... Anyway, by reminding myself of Tolstoy every time I open my own blog, it reminds me that grandiose arrogance and timeless stories can live forever (a great incitement to labour) and also that, if an old man can sit for years at a time, freezing to death with a pencil and gaslight in 19th Century Russia, then I should really be able to conjure something up, sat at a computer in a nice warm room in 21st Century England.  

Also, as a completion of this theme, check out Literary Traveler for a complete run-down of Tolstoy's life and works, as also the chance to see an oh-so-relevant extract from War and Peace where Tolstoy compares someone to a cat.  
Moab Is My Washpot
The second reason for naming my blog 'Tolstoy is my Cat' is that, to me, it immediately brings to mind 'Moab is my Washpot', which is the name of the first autobiography by Stephen Fry. This pleased me greatly, as it would any Stephen Fry fan (if you're not, get out:), so it remains here as a nice little pun for the initiated. I also like the Old Testament nod, although that's very much the secondary reference. I've also just, as I type this, realised that 'Moab' is much like 'Moby', which brings this blog entry full-circle. Hurrah.  

The third and final reason is simple. My cat is indeed called Tolstoy, and seeing as I feed him and cuddle him and generally enable him, he's probably the closest thing I have right now to a biggest fan. Roll on the rest. :)



     After the slow drip intensity of serialising Cassius' plight in 'The Spirits', I thought it might be time for something lovely and instantly gratifying like this video from Andrea Dorfman and Tanya Davis, who made the 'How to Be Alone' video that I posted earlier in my blog. So many people seemed to connect with that video (quite right too; it's beautiful) that I thought posting another one might be the perfect way to say a huge thank you for getting me to almost 1000 hits in just over 7 weeks.


Short Story Serial: The Spirits – Part Twelve

     The music was heavier, more intoxicating than before, and shimmered across the water like a heat haze. Come to us, this time we are yours they said, wordlessly, and he entered the water without pause. The sunshine beamed off them, through them, even, and Cassius was blinded as their beauty intensified to the celestial, filling the air with light. It shone through the darkness to the bottom of the lake, illuminating Cassius' last breath as it floated, unwanted, from his lips.

      His elegant mother only noticed his absence when he was unavailable to confirm an anecdote at a party.

      The nymphs wait for the next.



Short Story Serial: The Spirits – Part Eleven

      "I thought he'd been with you, darling," said his mother to his father on finding Cassius swaying in the hallway. "What have you been doing all this time Cassius? Nothing productive, I presume. Have you been taking your pills?"  

      Cassius neglected to answer. At the next possible opportunity he was outside, following the now ever present siren call. To the woods, we will be there. Cassius was powerless to resist and lacked any draw to stay. This time they lead him to the estate's western edge, through thickets and thorns, until the trees separated and the deep, glistening lake appeared. There they were, on the island, sweet and seductive as ice tea on a hot day. He tasted the danger on the back of his throat, and swallowed it. The girls were naked now, concealed only by long, long braids and flowering lilies that could be smelled across the lake. Their eyes met his, and he obeyed. Off came his clothes, and shaking hands undid his shoes.

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