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Redgrove's Wife
Redgrove's Wife
by Penelope Shuttle
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite, touching., 24 Mar. 2013
This review is from: Redgrove's Wife (Paperback)
There is no comparison between Redgrove and Penelope Shuttle- that is a good thing and a tribute to her as a poet and a person. Peter Redgrove, was, in my opinion, one of the best English poets of this and the last century and Shuttle's wrting could so easily have been eclipsed by her husband's extraordinary and synaesthetic style. Penelope Shuttle is definitely herself.
Penelope Shuttle's voice is entirely distinct.It has her own sensitive lyrical touch as she engages with grief, beauty with great refinement, passion and empathy.

My only wish is that the book had NOT borne the title 'Redgrove's Wife', if only for the reason there are so many books now with similar titles. I know it is a post-feminist irony to define a woman through her male counterpart; but it has become a rather tiresome trick and the poetry is so remarkable that it needs nothing but itself.

This book is too wonderful and elegiac and humane to be relegated as an adjunct to the work of the other even in the spirit of hommage.

She reminds of Denise Levertov with her spiky illuminating imagist touch:

'I don't ask for an outbreak of joy so major
the police are called in to quell it,
just your wren-song
drawing each no-longer-endless day to a close,
chanteuse of last light,
such modest happiness I think I can bear'

Such calm bitter-sweetness is difficult to capture, but the sharp loudness of the wren's call is the perfect clarion to loss. And:

'above all we don't know,
Zoe and I,
how beautiful and welcoming
the sunlit sands of Maenporth will be
(o come unto these yellow sands)
nor how the equinoctial blue sky
will watch over us,
like a witty person struck silent,
as I scatter your ashes into the bright waves,
and the sea, nature's perfectionist,
bears you away in triumph.'

Of course Peter's ashes must be scattered at Maenporth, the place of entropy, but Penelope's own wit shines forth like the sunlight which she reveals.

Thank the Goddess for them both; wonderful poets who bring us clearer vision, passion and transformative magic.

No Title Available

2.0 out of 5 stars If you want hedgehog lashes...., 9 Mar. 2013
I find that despite the hype, this mascara makes your lashes incredibly spiky and hard as though dipped in shellac! By the end of the day the mascara was actually tugging and pulling the lashes uncomfortably. It is easy to remove, yes, but blooming spiky.
I felt like my lashes could have just snapped off like icicles.
I would love a mascara which would leave my lashes soft and silky and glossy after application ....

The Sheltering Sky (Penguin Modern Classics)
The Sheltering Sky (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Paul Bowles
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Far from Home, 31 Jan. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Possibly one of the darkest novels I have ever read and one of the most brilliant. Bowles introduces us to some world weary Fitzgeraldesque characters. Kit and Port Moresby are laid back to the point of being at risk. Kit's wild eyed beauty and mental instability become pushed beyond endurance by Port's lack of attention, or at least, lack of the right attention. Her natural and her attractiveness which emanates from her vulnerability leads her to become easy prey to others in their group. Port's louche ennui and existential bitterness are like a death wish, and after he sleeps with a nomadic tribeswoman who is acting as a prostitute, his fate and that of Kit, is sealed.
This is a novel which is partly about sex, not enough and then the wrong kind, and men who are about as base as it is possible whilst still walking upright in a society where a women are regarded as sexual chattels.Suffering described in amazing lucid language with an almost sadistic treatment of his characters, you will need a strong stomach and heart as you feel total pity and yet are enthralled by the horrors the characters endure.
I admire this writer, and yet the book chills me to the bone.
Modern writers have nothing in this guy,the book shocks today as it would have done when first published.
It is so clever, and yet so cruel, there is no redemption for a stranger in a starnge land.

Fragile Things
Fragile Things
Price: £4.31

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Narnia- the Unexpurgated version?, 9 Jan. 2013
This review is from: Fragile Things (Kindle Edition)
I found this disparate collection disappointingly weak. Narrative structure dissolves into purple prose, and women are uniformly portrayed as temptresses and unpleasant destroyers of men.
Worst, is the Narnia ' Problem of Susan' story which involves a dream sequence of laughable bad porn content. Gaiman gets a myth, turns it this way or that way, deconstructs it and reassembles it as a satire, destroying any bond of romance or sacredness which the reader might have had toward the initial theme. Narnia with added bestiality? Oooh Vicar, C.S. must be rolling in his grave.
This is an arch, self-knowing kind of trick, and Gaiman is no true magician inasmuch as he seems not to believe in magic at all, only in a conjuror's tricks.
This is somewhat sad for the reader as we vainly search for a bit of truly believed-in faery, a hint of another higher level, but all we receive are knowing winks and an arch melding of Hunter S. Thompson and Pratchett without the muscularity of either's style.
It is all rather drab as poor Harlequin has his heart eaten by a mortician's assistant we are reminded fully of what man-eating bitches fantasy women are, and how men are prey to their fancies and lusts. Sex is usually pretty perverse and unerotic, as though Gaiman has decided that it has to be depicted as slightly shocking and emotionless, like a bad magick.
I am not even sure that Gaiman means to be stereotypically sexist, he just doesn't understand this is not the only angle you can take with demonesses, vampires, goddesses and fairyfolk.
Search if you like for a grain of true magic, and there are great ideas dotted about, you will not find a true believer in the arcane, just a rather straightforward twisting of our expectations and preconceptions.
Is this a fair trick to play? Gaiman is pretty much universally acclaimed, but I find him a little aloof and disconnected from the lover of myth and legend I think the trouble is a dichotomy between his placement as a fantasy writer ( which he surely is) and his ultimate disbelief in his subject as anything other than a series of leitmotifs.
If you create a fantasy world in which structure and character can do anything you command, the only anarchy may be to detach yourself from your reader and like the oozalumfaloozalum bird, fly up your own nether regions into a pseudo-literary stratosphere of your own making.
It is not even crazy enough to make it rock, language is normalised and unexperimental.
This book is neither truly original, or truly piecemeal, it contains excellent ideas which need fleshing out, editing and punching into shape.Neither fish nor fowl, this book is not quite suitable for your inner maiden Aunt and not quite mad enough for your secret self- the eccentric Uncle.

Dolly: A Ghost Story
Dolly: A Ghost Story
by Susan Hill
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.99

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Typos galore, poor characterisation, 2 Jan. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Dolly: A Ghost Story (Hardcover)
I am pretty shocked with my Kindle download of this book. I don't know about the print version, but this has typos galore, only 20 pages in and found 2 which made me read and reread.
On top of this, I am sorry to say that Susan Hill has not impressed me with her use of language, narrative or punctuation. Very odd, when she can write so brilliantly.
'Quixotic' is not something which can be applied to s small girl's naughtiness( impish,reckless or similar?), and a 'folk memory' is not an actual memory that a young man can experience, that is simply a memory.
Folk memory is a term sometimes used to describe stories, folklore or myths about past events that have passed orally from generation to generation.

Sentences are long winded and commas thrown in to make sense of circuitous expression which would be better served by semi-colons or another type of caesura.
I don't think we can entirely blame Henry James' influence.
Eleanor appears to be an hilarious semi psychotic incarnation of Violet Elizabeth Bott, in fact her mother (who is some sort of globetrotting uber-tart) IS called Violet.. I am quite sure if a child had a hissy fit and stabbed the dining table with a fork repeatedly, ANY person would object rather than sitting watching as the Aunt does. No explanation is made of her inaction, she doesn't even seem shocked, just reflects mildly, " she is like her mother". She is mild and unconvincing all through and then rather mean and horrid after all for no explained reason.

Edward is complete drip, which is probably the point, but originally he is described as a rather super sort of a boy who will do well in the world- this shows poor continuity and and planning.
Anyone would go back and rewrite that bit, what drip would do well in the world?
The creepy house set on the Fens is very Cold Comfort Farm, as is the rustling paper which made me snigger a bit.
The characters are cardboard cutouts and the story is dated and uninspired and rather third-rate.
The name 'Dolly' attracted me to buy the book, and initially it was presented that the Dolly in question, might be a rather interesting sounding exotic confection which would turn out to be a malevolent automaton. No such luck, the most prominent dolly is a broken-headed china Tiny Tears type doll which turns into a bit of creepy-weeper and then degenerates into a Dorian Grey type dolly.
The grotty-dolly syndrome is visited upon subsequent offspring and malcontent reigns.
This skips about as though Susan Hill was never sure about the plot and made it up as she went along- it is just not very well written. Susan Hill is an intriguing author- why is her oeuvre such a curate's egg?
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 15, 2015 6:15 PM GMT

Snow White and the Huntsman [DVD] [2012]
Snow White and the Huntsman [DVD] [2012]
Dvd ~ Kristen Stewart
Price: £3.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pleasantly engrossing, 30 Dec. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I was quite surprised that I actually loved this film. After reading some reviews which described the acting as uneven, I really cannot see what the problem is. Charlize Theron plays the evil man-hating queen, Ravenna pretty well, she is like a cross between Sharon Stone and the Statue of Liberty with her blond beauty and towering crowns. Her hissy fits are admirably psychotic and there is no hint of satire which would have ruined any performance. She is a worthy successor to Michelle Pfeiffer In the cold beauty stakes.
Kristen Stewart is the grubbiest greasiest haired Snow White, her androgynous beauty lends a Joan of Arc clarity to her role as a virtuous avenger.
I also liked the 'famous names' dwarfs- Ian McShane and Ray Winston made titchy by CGI is a great idea.
I loved the costuming which is super smashing dirty or glittery, the liquid brass Marvel entity which emanates from the magic mirror and the Dark Forest. Fairyland is a bit Bambi-esque and cutesy, I prefer a darker and less idyllic squirrel skipping incarnation of Sanctuary.
Best of all is Hemsworth as the drunken, swaggering huntsman, as rough as a bear's arse, we want him to prevail as well as Snow White.
Overall, the dark feeling of the film was quite disturbing and satisfying- a jolly good romp through a fantasy world which is mainly very believeable.
Not sure what Lily Cole was doing in there- having her youth sucked out is not a good entree to the big film industry.

Smoke and Mirrors
Smoke and Mirrors
by Neil Gaiman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Speaking in Tongues, 21 Dec. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Smoke and Mirrors (Paperback)
A curious collection of stories inasmuch as the style is so variable and unilateral only their 'gothickness'.
He references so many writers, I became rather dizzy, from Anatole France to Peter Redgrove he leaps to Moorcock and back again to his signature gumshoe style.
Some are completely brilliant or contain flashes of brilliance. Many are extremely dark and bordering on the nauseating. I was particularly grossed out by the werewolf in 'Bay Wolf' vomiting up his midnight vulpine snack of child parts and dog's paw, and the vile little Snow White sucking her father dry of blood from every part ( and I mean every) of his body. he does seem to have fixation with oral sex, masturbation and the perverse.
However, grotesquerie is par for the course on Gaiman as in other contemporary authors. There is a also strong pornographic element to some of the stories, so be warned if you are a gentle or prim soul.
I felt the influence of Angela Crater, whom Gaiman never acknowledges and yet who must be a primary influence with her dark and macabre retellings of classic fairy stories. Gaiman is more amiable than Carter and so he somehow gets away with it, Carter's florid style is cooled down in Gaiman to a more believable eloquence, he speaks in common parlance , whereas Carter spoke the uncommon.
Also Carter had a drum she banged, which was that of a particular brand of feminism, intellectual and incisive and sure as a rapier.
I find Gaiman almost the reverse, possibly slightly misogynistic, his female characters tend to be Lamia or vampires- sexualised in the extreme. This made me a bit uncomfortable.

One part I really loved was the versiform stories, which are chilling and original.

I really like Neil Gaiman, but I do wish he would stop saying things 'like my old mate Tori Amos said',. We cannot relate to him if he is forever having a power lunch with some celebrity.Also it breaks the spell and does indeed turn it to smoke!
Also, I cannot help feeling that Gaiman does not really believe in magic, only literary magic- I on the other hand, do believe in the many dimensions and facets of existence.
Maybe this accounts for the occasional niggling doubt, the feeling that Gaiman only talks the talk and he actually has no real affinity with the arcane or esoteric.
Maybe he is an unbeliever, after all.
Never mind all that, It's great reading all the same.

The White Magic Book: Fortune Telling at Your Fingertips
The White Magic Book: Fortune Telling at Your Fingertips
Price: £10.19

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing little book- live by it., 6 Dec. 2012
Whoever wrote the review which said that a child was using this book, should be admonished, for this book is not at all for children's party games and should be treated with respect.
You would not treat the tarot with disrespect, after all.
Laid out with a series of standard question,s some of which are seemingly archaic and almost funny, one should be aware that nothing on this book is to be taken lightly. If you choose with too much scepticism, callowness or lack of respect you will be led to be taunted by the answers.
So be warned: don't ask what the man you love really thinks about you, for instance, the book will play with you and deceive you.
Choose your question wisely and with a genuine desire for guidance and you will be led.
Used rightly the book can allay fears and quieten negative thinking, paranoia.
I recommend this book for sensitive people who have a true interest in what is around them and what may lie ahead.
You choose a question, use a table of beautifully drawn symbols ( astrological) and then use a logarithm type series of tables to find the answer page.
It takes little time and can make you feel a whole lot better- 9 times out of 10.

American Gods
American Gods
by Neil Gaiman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

4.0 out of 5 stars A novel is a long work in prose with something wrong with it.., 27 Oct. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: American Gods (Paperback)
Neil Gaiman says that in the preface.
I won't talk about the plot but rather the construction.
This is a huge rambling Moby Dick of a book. Whereas, Melville digresses into whale territory, Gaiman punctuates with anecdotal pseudo-historical/ fantastic mini-stories which are intended to add to, rather than break the narrative thrust of the novel.
I am not always sure this works, but it is highly entertaining. What no one seems able to mention is the scatological content of the book; there is quite a lot of funny smut, some fairly disgusting gothic details, and strange seamy interchanges between the dead and the living.
This gives the feel of a William Burroughs or Hunter S. Thompson taking an excursion into magic realism. I cannot help but feel that laconic sharp-mouthed Wednesday ( Odin) is in fact old Bill B.
This just added to my amusement quota, to be honest, the talk of cold Republican semen running down Lady Liberty's leg is anarchic Junky territory and would not be out of place in a Gonzo type publication.
I also would classify the book as magic realism and has Angela Carterish( Magic Toyshop?), Marquez- like and Allende overtones, so in a sense it is remarkably catholic in influence and content.
Gothic, funny, rambling and having a lot wrong with it, it is a good and rather mindblowing read, the by-product of a writer who has fully immersed himself in South American literature, which is no bad thing to do.

The Woman in Black [DVD]
The Woman in Black [DVD]
Dvd ~ Daniel Radcliffe
Price: £3.00

2 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Pop up Ghosts?I have known Scarier Toasters, 29 July 2012
This review is from: The Woman in Black [DVD] (DVD)
I was much looking forward to this film, as I do love Susan Hill's 1980's spine chiller of a book, although I am not a fan of all her stories.Unfortunately, it was so cliche ridden, I laughed out loud on 5 occasions.
The filmic story is also so removed from the original, that I had trouble following the plotline. The original centres round the idea that Kipps has a wife and child at home, whereas this film introduces a dead wife who has died in labour and a grieving hero who has a penchant for exploring a mediumistic link back to her.
This is sufficient to annihilate the ghastly ending of Hill's book which is a really spine chilling denouement.
The remaining salient fact which I found unclear is that Jennet ( The Woman in Black) actually witnessed the death of her son on the causeway through the marsh and was living anonymously at Eel Marsh House, as a mother unknown to her child.
This insufferable condition borne is upon her by her sister and coupled with the appalling vision of her child's death lead her to madness and suicide. None of this is very clear in the film.
Spectres pop up with such regularity, the effect is that of a seaside ghost train than any suspenseful waiting. The goriest bit is the usual vomiting child ( Sixth Sense, in this case, blood.
I did not expect any gore at all, just a sense of impending doom which was clearly lacking.
Daniel Radcliffe's peculiarly wooden acting coupled with his rather Estuary English delivery led him to be an unbelievable Victorian. At no point did he look anything more than dyspepsic even when confronted with hollow eyed pop up ghosts.
In fact the ghosts make up was quite scary inasmuch as it was so low-budget with its Am Dram white Panstik and black eyeshadow.
Even, Ciaran Hinds failed to deliver, but he did manage to produce several double chins to add weight to his part.
Overall, I was reminded of the mildly supernatural Jeremy Brett's Sherlock Holmes series with its cardboardy sets. At least that has Jeremy Brett's high camp to recommend it.

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