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Thursday, 11 May 2017

Love Your Shelf Book Club #1: The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera


With Sarah and Lynette.

SUMMARY

A young woman in love with a man torn between his love for her and his incorrigible womanizing; one of his mistresses and her humbly faithful lover – these are the two couples whose story is told in this masterful novel. In a world in which lives are shaped by irrevocable choices and by fortuitous events, a world in which everything occurs but once, existence seems to lose its substance, its weight. Hence, we feel 'the unbearable lightness of being' not only as the consequence of our pristine actions but also in the public sphere, and the two inevitably intertwine. (Harper Perennial edition)

IMPORTANT TOPICS AND THEMES

L: Probably a massively obvious one, but the nature of love. Tomas with all his women, yet love for Tereza. Tereza's jealousy. Sabina and Franz.
S: Uh huh. And the ‘lightness’ vs. ’heaviness’ of love and sex.
L: And of life in general. Meaning in life. I thought the book verged on the nihilistic in both respects.
S: Lots of parallels. Personal freedom vs. commitment. Coincidence/chance vs. fate.
L: Yesss. The idea of motifs in life tying in with the coincidence vs. choices thing.
S: Politics, death. And interesting point about the nihilism! Think we'll pick that up again soon.
L: Communication. The complete mismatch of understandings between Franz and Sabina. I think the same could be said of Tomas and Tereza.
S: Yup, good one! The soul vs. the body.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

We need to talk about the reality of life on the UK welfare system

'That constant humiliation to survive. If you're not angry, what kind of person are you?' – Ken Loach, director 

I've tried not to dwell on my time on the welfare system, which remains one of the darkest points in my life. However, even though I've now been in full-time employment as a copyeditor for around two and a half years, the spectre of unemployment hangs over me. Working at a small but busy company that has previously let go of a coworker due to financial strain and knowing talented, hardworking individuals who have met the same fate, the prospect of being made redundant is never far from my mind. As my time after graduation has shown me, sometimes one's best efforts don't count for much.

Monday, 7 November 2016

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter (Redux) review: A very human horror adventure game



I came into this gaming experience without really knowing what to expect. Despite never having heard of the horror adventure title from indie games studio The Astronauts before, I bought it during a Steam sale without viewing much more than the description and a brief trailer. As someone who likes to research games in depth before committing to a purchase (and as a notorious 'fraidy cat), this was an unusual move for me.

Certain key phrases really sold it to me on the store page: 'immersive storytelling'; 'inspired by the weird fiction from the early twentieth century'; 'atmosphere, mood, and the essential humanity of our characters'. Sometimes, when it's right, you just know.

I wasn't disappointed.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

'But where are you REALLY from?': Mixed race, otherness and 'off-colour' remarks

Photo credit: Hiroto Hata (Mili)

I learned early on that I wasn't seen in the same way as everyone else. My friends and I had been playing a careless game of Block 123 with a street lamp as our target post when a passing neighbourhood kid pointed at me. 'Eurgh,' she sneered. 'Why are your arms brown? You look dirty.' It wasn't said with malice, exactly; we lived in a small, racially homogeneous village and she was genuinely oblivious  both to why my skin looked that way and how her words might make me feel. And, having never been confronted with the brownness of my skin before, I didn't know how to respond. Although it had nettled me, I simply pretended not to care.

Friday, 22 January 2016

'Excellent telephone manor required': How NOT to write a job advert


Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Simpsons Movie

Sometimes, the thing that got to me the most about the job hunting process wasn't the existential dread of drifting purposelessly through life, or the employers who never called when they say they would, like fickle dates. It wasn't even the the rigorous hoop-jumping I was subjected to each week to secure my paltry Jobseeker's handout. Nope. Sometimes, after a hard week's jobseeker grinding, the thing that really irked me was the desperately bad writing that pervades so many job adverts.

Friday, 11 December 2015

On Feeling Like a Fraud and the Harsh Inner Critic

I recently read an article about "imposter syndrome" and recognized myself within it.



Imposter syndrome is basically the feeling of being inadequate, in spite of evidence of high achievement; it leaves people afraid that they will be "found out" and exposed as frauds in their field. I've felt this way...

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Relearning how to fly: What revisiting my awkward first work of fiction taught me about letting go

Kiki's Delivery Service flying over the sea
'Without even thinking about it, I used to be able to fly. Now I'm trying to look inside myself and find out
how I did it.'  - Kiki, Kiki's Delivery Service

After my fellow blogger Lynette shared a climactic passage from one of her first stories, in the interest of fairness, I dug around in my own under-the-bed reserves of shame (the writer's equivalent of the dirty magazine collection, if you will). I present to you an extract from one of my earliest longer story attempts, The Lightbearers: