on the writing & reading trail

Day 45 (April 11)

A short day is planned with a long walk in the offing in the afternoon.

Editing: Stayed with the saga editing task till lunchtime and a while beyond. Still grappling, but getting clearer. Jettisoned several large chunks of text because it seemed they were light on substance even though they made some contribution to character profiles. Next sweep will determine if their absence matters.

Occasional glances out of the library window showed overcast skies and a question mark about the walk, then light rain and now sunshine. Who knows what it will be like a couple of hours from now. Hoping to get that walk. It always helps to clear my thinking.

The walk happened; the rain and clouds had gone.

Relaxation: Tonight is no-go for writing, it is Good Wife night on TV.

My reading revolves around titles requested because they’ve been recommended by friends or reviewers, or have won or been short-listed for awards, or appeal from the library shelves when I’m on my way to the bus and looking for something to read en route. A very motley lot. In the last day or so:

  • I returned Farundell to the library – a first novel by L R Fredericks. Set in the Oxfordshire countryside, an interesting patchwork of characters provide insights into English bohemian lifestyle after the First World War. Although well written, the story didn’t quite grip me although I persevered to the end. The dreams and out-of-body journeys resonated, but seemed repetitive latterly. An unusual plot device, the persistent references to The Pymander, an enigmatic book; the Mind of God, felt overly contrived for my comfort, with perhaps an undue recurrence of the sexual encounters, certainly lustful by one of the participants and questionably claiming ‘love’ for the other. The ending felt inevitable and satisfying.

In this work I recognised glitches that are apparent through the editing of my own first novel – maybe I can fix some of mine. I would certainly have a look at this author’s next novel in the planned series. And maybe I’ll find it more compelling.

A number of the reviews gave ratings of five out of five – maybe three for me. A detailed review can be found on the librarything.com website, with author details available at http://www.lrfredericks.com/books/farundell/more-about-farundell

  • I’m also reading a second novel, the last blue mile, by Kim Ponders that explores a young woman’s journey through Air Force Academy. I am three-quarters through but still not sure I will finish it. Readable, but lacking verve, it feels like a catalogue of things that happened, rather than experienced. Each time I felt a momentous change was in the offing, there was a let-down. Even the death of a trainee glider pilot felt low-key. Maybe that’s part of the culture that passed me by. I’ve read on hoping to feel part of the drama. Maybe the story would be of more interest to young people making up their minds about life in the military or air force; to understand the unappealing slog that happens before what they really hoped for, begins for them.

Even though this book hasn’t excited me, I have a notion I’ll try to have a look at Ponder’s first novel titled, The art of uncontrolled flight. I’ll check if it is in the library.

 An interesting author with an interesting history. Could be worth a look at the You Tube video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PeKBDR-0pyM, or author details at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kim_Ponders.

  • In the last week I also revisited The last darkness by Campbell Armstrong, not for the story which I found unappealing each of the times I read it before, but for his writing style which is riveting. I’ve met and worked with a few eccentric characters along the way and related to Lou Perlman the Jewish detective who both relished and despaired about his work in the harsh realities of Glasgow crime. This is one of three or four of the Glasgow stories, details at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Campbell_Armstrong.

 My favourite of all from Armstrong is the memoir All that really matters, published in 2000. It is on my ‘read again’ list.

  •  Another oddity for me is that I watch Taggart each Saturday night although I dislike Glasgow’s violence and wickedness on constant show. The characters are the attraction again, especially another eccentric in Taggart himself.

For both Armstrong and Taggart there are other forces at work that don’t fit rationally. Maybe part of the attraction is the city itself, where I lived and worked at times in the latter part of the 1900s. After the initial culture shock to a young Aussie, it found a place in my affections, and it was my father’s birthplace. Whenever I visit the UK, a few days in Glasgow feels essential, and never seems to be long enough.

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