Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Book Review: Poetry Collection - In Retail by Jeremy Dixon

In Retail In Retail by Jeremy Dixon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This collection has to be read in its entitity because actually it is one poem made up of 3 clusters of a total of 36 small ones, a series of vignettes of everyday workaday life. 

It captures moments of experiences in work we all forget but which when put together are much more than the sum of its parts. Impactful. Memorable. Reflective. Decisive. The poet as camera, candid. 

Cleverly formatted to resemble till receipts, reading this collection recalled for me the poetry of Frank O'Hara as if it had been transfered from the penniless of the streets of 1950/60s New York to the zero hours contract, minimum wage part-timers of 21st century Britain.

ashramblings verdict 4* deceptively enguiling, these pull you in, leaving you unable to ever again enter a centre high street chemist without a secrect smiles on your face.

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Boor Review: Ways of Going Home by Alejandro Zambra, Translated by Megan McDowell

Ways of Going Home Ways of Going Home by Alejandro Zambra,
Translated by Megan McDowell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This short novel of 138 pages moves about - between a writer and his own life and the life of his characters in his writing , between the present time and the past - a past in Chile during and after the Pinochet years. It represents not just the voice of the post revolution generation but of todays Latin American writers from the generation post Marquez. First there is the story of the young nameless boy and Claudia, the girl he adores, and her Uncle Raul, the boys neighbour. Then there is the storyline of the nameless writer, who is writing their story and his ex Eme. Both stories coalesce off the paper as the four chapters alternate between the writer's fiction and his reality. But this is also a novel about writing, about telling a story, with initially fictional scenes being based on real ones, and real ones reutilised in the fiction. There is a melange of the real and the fictional, a doubling of everything, a redrafting of everything just as any writer would when working on his novel.

It has some memorable passages as this author's style is very natural, smooth in translation (which won the English PEN Award in 2013) the reader feeling she is listening to the man remember. For example,

"I prefer writing to having written"

"That's what we grw up believing, that the novel belonged t oour parents. We cursed them, and also took refuge in their shadows, relieved. While the adults killed or were killed, we drew pictures in the corner. While the country was falling to pieces, we were learning to talk, to walk to fold napkins in the shape of boats, of airplanes. While the novel was happening, we played hide-and-seek, we played at disappearing." Beautifuly poignant ambiguity there!

"To read is to cover one's face. And to write is to show it."

"I want a quiet, simple life. A life with walks in the park"

And finally as he ponders a quote attributed to Tim O'Brien 'What sticks to memory, often, are those odd little fragments that have no beginning and no end', he writes "We remember the sounds of images.......We ought to simply describe those sounds, those stains on memory"

ashramblings verdict 4* Thanks to who ever it was who originally recommended this writer to me

Friday, 23 August 2019

Book Review: Of Mice and Men by John Stienbeck read by Clarke Peters

Of Mice and Men Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck read by Clarke Peters
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I listened to this read by Clarke Peters not realising to begin with who this name belonged to - as soon as I heard his voice it was distinctive and recognisable. Yes, we know him from The Wire and many other movies and he has one of those voices which I love and boy does he narrate this one well. It is a well known story, one I had not reread since John Steinbeck was my chosen author to study for my Higher English exam, some 50 years ago!

ashramblings verdict 5* it is a classic story what more can be said except to give this one a 5* for narration as well. Highly recommended