Show Me Something New

A SHORT HISTORY OF TRACTOR IN UKRAINIAN     The issue of originality has been bugging me lately. The novel I’m planning follows on from Saturday Afternoon, Odessa (click and scroll down page), ten years after that point, and it seems every time I mention its vague content to people they say, ‘Oh, like such and such?’ 'A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian' has been mentioned to me a few times (I’ve never read it, but have just bought it to check) as have a few others, some of them well-known, that work along the same themes. Most of them I’ve not even read, but it’s disheartened me a bit as it seems that my idea has almost already been done. Just walking into a bookstore can also feel a bit overwhelming, as it makes you realise just how many books there already are…

     So what do we have to offer that’s new? Original, even? New sci-fi realms, perhaps? Or our take on the latest trends or issues, before anyone else? 


Book Quote Friday: Unlocking the Doors

Some worlds, through their isolation, exclusivity or general elevation from the common person on the street, are closed off to the majority of people and exist as islands, buffeted only gently by the more turbulent wider seas. That is, until someone from within chooses to write a book about them and throws the doors open for all to see. When this happens, more often than not, those inside are outraged and try to drag the doors shut, whilst the excluded crane their necks to see even the smallest glimpse of how the other half live. 'The Age of Innocence' is much like this.


Sweet Team Tolstoy

     You know sometimes you read about or find out about an idea that’s so simple and inspired that you wish to God that you’d thought of it first? I had that last week. Dove Grey Reader are running what is surely the simplest and most compelling of schemes for Tolstoy fans and other book aficionados: a group reading of the infamously long and difficult War and Peace, with monthly updates and discussion of the previous 100 pages. Such a great idea, and probably the ideal impetus to get through to the very last page of that legendarily long tome.


Lessons I Have Learnt From Gaga This Week

  • Use your wit to celebrate difference, rather than mock it or demean it. The bad guy with the icy put-downs might be memorable, but is anyone else really singing along? 



      If you were hoping to come here today and find it free of romance, I'd afraid I'm going to have to disappoint. My love of poetry has got me bad, and I ain't afraid to show it.

      So, even if no-one's sent you flowers today, or no-one's kissed you yet (or ever); even if tonight will be spent alone with some soup or giggling raucously with friends, pitying everyone else; even if you're going out tonight and are not really sure you want to be; 
read this poem and *sigh*


Book Quote Friday: Making Your Mother Blush

     If we're really thinking about it (let's do that. Yawn, stretch.), I guess one might liken fiction writing to the laying out of the contents of your mind, experience and imagination on the tablecloth, and then obscuring it from sight by applying layers of narrative, characterisation or style. 

     Ideally this adding of layers generalises it, allowing it to transcend the writer’s individual experience, making it palatable and accessible and, all being well, moving it from the realm of the confessional into the realm of art. Some writers layer thickly, others less so. The thinnest veils come inevitably with biography or memoir, when the writer themself is the story and there is no extra narrative or characterisation added as a disguise. This is known as letting it all hang out*.


Approaching the Big One

       At the end of last week I spent some time wandering through the lush jungle of blogging, writing and book blogs that exists on the internet, trying to decide which of the ones I like to add to my blog roll, and I stumbled across a short post on Block or Not about the link she’d made between time taken to edit a 640 word article, and how much time that would mean she’d need to spend editing her novel, which could feasibly end up around the 60,000 word mark. It’s scary stuff indeed: 94 hours straight, at the same rate, she worked out, although of course in reality editing throws up more writing which throws up editing which requires writing to fill in the gaps, so really, how long is a piece of string? To me, in my fragile, sapling state, it looks vaguely like enough of a challenge to stop you starting in the first place.


Tolstoy's Got A Brand New Look...

     Ta da! Isn’t it beautiful? Isn’t it airier and more eye-catching and easier to read? I hope so anyway. I’ve been very excited about re-designing this blog for a while now and it’s lovely to have it finally done. Thanks to the gorgeous new logo goes to Elaine Tang (@minirice_uk) who draws and designs beautiful things and was awesome through the whole process of me figuring out what I wanted and how exactly I wanted to represent myself and the whole Tolstoy is my Cat brand (of all the narcissistic things you thought you’d never do, Batman…). Incidentally, I think Tolstoy likes it, as he just added a whole line of ‘i’s to the text whilst I turned my back to fetch tea. Bad cat.

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