Tag Archives: story

Support a new documentary about an untold story of the Syrian refugee crisis

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My friend (and experienced journalist) Richard Nield is in the process of making a documentary about the impact of the Syrian refugee crisis in Jordan. It’s a story that might not seem relevant in the West but is critical for the region – and it remains untold. This doc has over 50 backers already but needs more help to get completed – please take a look and support it and/or spread the word…

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1142339130/the-second-crisis-the-impact-of-syrian-refugees-in

Thanks.

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Little Pig’s Book of Why

This is a kind of companion piece to Responsibility that a I wrote a few months ago. It’s still a work-in-progress but I thought I’d share.

Little Pig,
Wanted to know,
Why the sun makes us hot,
And the cold makes it snow.

Little Pig,
Wanted to know,
Why we start off small,
But then grow.

Little Pig,
Was full of questions,
About the world around her.

Little Pig,
Staring in to space,
And that’s how her brother found her.

“Little Pig,”
He oinked at her,
“Why do you spend so much time alone.”

Little Pig,
Barely noticed,
She was wondering why they called this place home.

Her brother,
Was infuriated,
To him it was clear to see,

That things,
Were just the way they were,
And that’s how they’re meant to be.

Her brother,
Knew that the snow came,
When the pig angel blew his nose.

Her brother,
Knew that piglet babies were found,
In knapsacks brought by the crows.

Little Pig,
Couldn’t take any more,
There had to be a way out.

Little Pig,
Wanted to roar,
Instead of squealing from her snout.

Little Pig,
Watched the angry farmer,
And his sweet and cuddly wife.

Little Pig,
Began to question,
How this could help to improve her life.

The more,
She nuzzled up to the wife,
The more she was stroked and held.

The more,
Her brother rolled around in the mud,
The more the wife was repelled.

One day,
A truck came to the farm,
To take the piggies away.

But the farmer’s wife,
Was having none of that,
She wanted Little Pig to stay.

One day,
Is all it takes,
To find your new beginning,

To be as happy,
As a pig in shit,
Or served with apple sauce and all the trimmings.

How does memory work? (Another excerpt from my 1st draft)

This is a bit of a strange one but I thought I’d share it anyway. To (very) briefly explain –  at the heart of my story are questions about memory, and how our memories of life experiences affect who we are and how we behave. With that in mind…

 

It’s believed that our long-term memory comes in three flavours:
Episodic, Procedural and Semantic.

Your first kiss,
The best meal you’ve ever eaten,
Attending your daughter’s graduation,
Episodic memory covers the massive accumulation,
Of life experiences that are unique to you,
Things that have happened at a specific time,
At a specific venue.

Procedural memory comprises those skills,
That have been learnt,
But that we perform so effortlessly that it appears we weren’t,
Conscious of learning them in the first place,
Like riding a bike or tying a shoe lace.

And semantic memory is all about remembering factual information,
Such as capital cities or multiplication,
Often the sort of stuff you learn at school,
Right down to the most basic cognition:
That a cat is an animal and a hammer is a tool.

Morning after/Night before (another excerpt from my first draft)

Cold, dry air,
On hot, damp skin,
Mingled smells,
Of cigarettes and gin,
Clothes fighting,
Against being removed,
Two bodies,
Writhing and pressed,
And drunk and unrepressed,
Eros unmoved.
The morning after,
No romance,
Stilted conversation,
Awkward glance,
Hurried dressing,
Dried sweat smell,
Sheepish goodbyes,
Just as well.

Book review: Canada by Richard Ford

canada

I’ve never written a review before but I just finished reading this brilliant, masterful book on the train home and wanted to share some of the love.

The novel is narrated by Dell Parsons, who looks back at the experiences of his 15 year old self in a small town in Montana in 1960. The bare bones of the storyline can be summed up in the opening passage:

“First, I’ll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later. The robbery is the more important part, since it served to set my and my sister’s lives on the courses they eventually followed. Nothing would make complete sense without that being told first.”

I’m a big fan of Richard Ford but the plot of this novel is probably the strongest he’s written in terms of page-turning. However, if you’re looking for a thriller then you’ve come to the wrong place – as engrossing as the plot is, it’s less important than the writing itself.

This was the book that inspired my series of posts about authors who look like their writing: at the time, I called Ford’s style elegant, languid and wise. Sometimes, writing this beautiful can give the illusion of being wise and full of insight – but there’s no illusion here… every page is full of a rich voice that feels as if it may be teaching you something new about the world and the people who live in it. That’s not to say that you need a dictionary to get through the book. It’s that Ford uses language so simply to do such complex things that is his genius and, for me, his only equal in this regard is Cormac McCarthy.

Canada is a novel about the strange turns that normal people’s lives can take, it believes in looking forwards and seeing what’s in front of you instead of always looking for hidden meaning in what’s already gone, and it understands above all about human fragility. As you can tell, I would absolutely recommend it. I find it impossible to read a book like this and not be inspired… well, partly inspired and partly accepting that I’ll never be able to write quite that well.

Authors who look like their writing: #4 Tom Wolfe

Tom Wolfe

“My entire career, in fiction or nonfiction, I have reported and written about people who are not like me.”

–       Tom Wolfe 

Considering that the above quote is from the man himself, it may seem strange that I’ve chosen Wolfe for a post in which he’s supposed to look like his writing. But that’s who he is: an outsider looking in. An observer. He’s always one step, very clearly removed from the action he reports – and keeping his distance is one of the things that makes his writing so insightful and true. It’s also what can make it so cutting or full of awe. He’s never been a writer to deliver the most subtle of messages but he’s massively entertaining… brash, fun, exuberant… his writing is zapped with fiendish humour.

Bonfire of the Vanities and The Right Stuff are two of my favourite books. I like to think of him standing in front of a fireplace with a glass of champagne (or probably a fine scotch) in his hand, regaling a room full of people with tales from those books. Hmm, maybe I need to stop imagining all of these fantastical meetings with authors and get a move on with my own book…

About temptation… (another excerpt from my 1st draft)

The apple on the tree,
The serpent from the sea,
The beautiful Eve,
And me.

Listening to the hissing,
Kissing,
Tempted to cheat,
Consumed in a mouthful,
An obsession needing to be fed.

But the fruit’s bittersweet,
Not good to eat,
Our slippery friend,
One step ahead.

To have avoided this fate,
Though now it’s too late,
What we should have done,
Was kill the fucking snake.