Literature Fiend

Every book changes your literary journey.

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The Captain is out to Lunch and the Sailors have taken over the Ship by Charles Bukowski

“Well, my 71st year has been a hell of a productive year. I have probably written more words this year than in any year of my life.”

 

literature fiend The Captain is out to Lunch and the Sailors have taken over the Ship provides an interesting look  into Charles Bukowski’s personal life.

Most of Bukowski’s novels are written from the perspective of Henry Chinaski – his literary alter ego – which are undoubtedly based on real experiences.

This is a diary – recorded on Bukowski’s computer – which begins in 1991 and ends in 1993 – the year Bukowksi died of leukaemia aged 73.

It’s  great to imagine Bukowski, sitting at his desk night -after-night banging away at his keyboard with dogged determination just to “get the words down.”

Bukowski was always a prolific writer,  but this diary provides a  glimpse into his frustration with the writing process.   On the 20th October 1991, he writes:

“This is one of those nights where there is nothing. Imagine being always like this. Scooped-out. Listless. No light. No dance. Not even any disgust.” (p. 57)

However, In the same entry he writes about his productivity, showing “the block” as a rare occurrence:

“Still, I’ve had a good year. Masses of pages sit in the bookcase behind me. Written since Jan. 18. It’s like a madman was turned loose. No sane man would write that many pages. It’s a sickness.” (p. 57) 

Although most of the entries are filled with the mundane, the diary really highlights the importance of a routine.  For Bukowski is went pretty much like this:

  1. Wake up.
  2. Drive to the Horse Racing.
  3. Write at night while listening to classical music.

BukowskiThe best part of the book  was Bukowski’s  transition from typewriter to computer. The fact that there was to be “No more carbons, no more retyping,” was something Bukowski was excited about. It meant more time to create fresh content.

“This computer that I started using on Jan. 18 has had much to do with [enhanced productivity]. It’s simply easier to get the word down, it transfers more quickly from the brain (or wherever this comes from) to the fingers and from the fingers to the screen where it is immediately visible – crisp and clear” (p. 73)

This passage left me thinking about technology and how easy it is to create a document, edit that document and then print it. Something that is maybe taken for granted by  those of us born in the “computer generation.”

In retrospect, there is also a sad element to this book.  It isn’t clear whether Bukowski knew about his Leukaemia in any of the diary entries, although he is certainly thinking about his own mortality:

“The other day I was thinking about the world without me. There is the world going on doing what it does. And I’m not there. Very odd. Think of the garbage truck coming by and picking up the garbage and I’m not there. Or the newspaper sits in the drive and I’m not there to pick it up. Impossible. ” (P. 107)

The Captain is out to Lunch and the Sailors have taken over the Ship contains pretty much what you’d expect from Charles Bukowski. Lots of talk about drinking and betting and literature and classical music; all of which is delivered in a raw and honest style.

 

What did you think of the diary? As always Literature Fiend would love to hear any discussions points, or suggestions for further reading. Please contact us, or leave a comment below, it would be great to hear from you. 

 

 

 

 

 

A Visit to the Anne Frank House

Anne-Frank-DeskI’ve just returned from a excellent long weekend in Amsterdam. The place really does have something for everyone.

I – like most, I’m sure – first read Anne Frank at school. It is after all a very important historical document. I’ve also read it again in recent years and I always think the same thing. Here we have a thirteen year old girl who has an imagination and writing ability way above her years.  In her diary she writes:

“One day this terrible war will be over. The time will come when we’ll be people again and not just Jews!” (Diary, 11 April, 1944)

It was a interesting experience, in that I was surprised at how much space was hidden behind the bookcase, where the three families took refuge. When reading the diary, I imagined a much smaller space. But, I’m sure spending two years with three other families in relative darkness (as the curtains were drawn at all times) was unbearable.

Understandably, from the beginning of the tour the place had an errie feel. As we walked around, in a single file  it was silent, apart from perhaps a few whispers.

Personally, I could almost feel Anne Frank’s imagination bouncing from room to room. In the room that Anne shared with Fritz Pfeffer, there were cuttings of film stars and photos of art plastered on the wall like any normal child may have. Sadly, in Anne’s case it was an attempt to link to the outside world, a world she must’ve felt alienated from.  Her longing to be free is evident in her diary as she writes:

“I long to ride a bike, dance, whistle, look at the world, feel young and know that I’m free.” (Diary, 24th December 1943)

Next on the tour came the footage from childhood friends who all spoke about their memories of Anne. Otto Frank -Anne’s father – returned to Amsterdam after the War, not knowing that his Wife and two Daughters were now dead. On one of the TV’s he recounts little Anne writing secretively into her diary and her wish to become a published author.

imgresAnne wrote many short stories and also the first few chapters towards a novel – which are complied in a book called Anne Frank’s Tales From the Secret Annexe – before the families were captured by the SS.

Yes, it was a very sobering experience, but one which I think will enable me to visualise her surroundings when I read the diary again.

It’s important that her writing will continue to be read. In her writings she captures the voice of millions of innocent children who lost their lives throughout the Holocaust.

Holocaust Literature has an important message to share, and many books have been translated into English since the liberation of Auschwitz 71 years ago. Below are a few suggestions for further reading on the subject.  

Night by Elie Wiesel

Maus by Art Spiegelman

Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Limit the Different Options of Storytelling?

“Mmmm,” said another chewing on a sandwich. “Me too. I like the feel of the pages.”

Here I was feeling battered by an argument I’ve heard and read about many times before. Fair enough, I thought and continued to eat my lunch.

All I’d said was how much I loved my Kindle; I mean come on guys, it’s not like I mentioned a nationwide book burning saga.

It’s not even an “either or” question.

It’s the “either or mentality” that really puzzles me. A kindle, a physical book, or a audiobook aren’t a mutually exclusive thing.

It’s the story that matters.

The story is the juice; the story is the petrol that keeps the car rolling along at 70 mph; the story is the soul of what – we ravenous readers want after all. Does it really matter if it’s told on a piece of paper, a computer screen or through a speaker?

The Guardian recently published a article titled, Readers absorb less on Kindles than on paper, study finds. You can probably guess from the title that the study found that readers using an e-reader were worse than readers with a physical book at recalling events from a mystery story.

Great. And?

Don’t get me wrong but it’s an interesting factoid – one that may, in time be brought up in a pub quiz – but one that also doesn’t bother me in the slightest. We’ve all done it; Got to the bottom of a page… [a little pause] … and then you think, What the hell have I just read?

This happens, not just on a Kindle but with a physical book, audiobook or in fact when your partner talks to you about their day. This isn’t anything to worry about, it’s just little old life trying to impose on your “quiet time.”

So what do we do? Roll the sleeves up and go back to the top of the page (or re-wind in the case of an audiobook)

So, it’s a mystery as to why people segregate themselves into little groups. “I only read YA,” or “I only listen to Indie music,” or “Oh no, I couldn’t read a book on a kindle!”

Just embrace everything (within reason that is) All three mediums mentioned here hold great and different ways to explore literature. So here are a few benefits for each:

The Kindle

  • The majority of the classics are free to download
  • You can take a vast amount of reading material on holiday without using up your precious EasyJet carry on space.
  • It’s practical (It’s also useful when you don’t want an ‘epic’ straining your arm. I recently made this mistake when I bought Stephen King’s IT  in paperback – All 1,336 pages – meant I had to read at home)

The Physical Book

  • Adds that air of authenticity to the work
  • Is great because it’s easy to pass onto friends or family.
  • There is no better feeling for a literaturefiend than finding a book that you’ve been looking for; in either a second hand store or tucked away at the back of a dusty library shelf.
  • It also enhances the bathing experience. If the book it gets wet, who cares; just sling it on a radiator.

The Audiobook

  • Easily accessible on a smart phone, tablet or computer.
  • If you get a good narrator it can enhance the story.
  • Great for a bike ride, car journey, or just aimlessly walking the streets.

 

So yes. I do love my Kindle, and, in fact my bookcase full of physical books. Also,  I’m beginning to become fond of audiobooks too.

And, of course everyone has a preferred way of ingesting a good old story, but placing yourself in the “Kindle,” “Physical Book,” or “audiobook” camp limits the literaturefiend’s options. Surely there is a place in this world for all mediums of storytelling.

“Story” being the optimum word.

For it’s the story that gets the reader horny, sad, frightened, angry, happy and inspired.

The story is what we – the reader – want to survive, just like they did long before books were even printed. Just feel lucky that we live in a time where we can hunt that book down in a store, receive it with the click of a button or listen to it in the dark.

Did you enjoy this article? Did you hate it? How do you feel about the different mediums of storytelling? Whatever your opinion literaturefiend would like to here it.

Reading and Re-reading Stephen King in 2016

maxresdefaultIf you’re regular visitor to this blog then you’ll know how much I like Stephen King as a writer. I think he is a master storyteller who’s work will still be messing with the minds of readers way into the future. Recently, after an evening reading and watching interviews with King,  I came to realise that there are so many novel and short stories I’ve yet to read.

I’m ashamed to say that there are the ones like:  Firestarter, Christine and The Eyes of the Dragon that I’ve never heard of.

Not to mention the Dark Tower series.

I just never got around to reading it, not with the plethora of other Literature in the ethos. I think I missed these titles because King has been, and still is a prolific writer; with books splattering the high street before I was born and then consistently since (now I’m 32 by the way)

This idea prompted me to think about the more ‘well know titles.’ You know,  the ones that scared the hell out of you as a child (well, I was a child) like: Pet Sematary, The Shining, Carrie and Cujo.

Or the ones with the unforgettable characters: Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile and Stand by Me.

As I was thinking this over, it dawned on me that it was the films that I remembered from my childhood and not the King novels. I mean, I read some of them but the novel slash film blurs into one (FYI, it was called Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption and Stand by Me was adapted from a short story called: The Body.)

To add insult to injury I read an interview where King said that out of all his novels, Liseys Story was the one he enjoyed most.

Well, this one must’ve slipped my radar too.

Right. This is no good I thought to myself; I’m going to read, or re-read a selection of King novels, as I don’t really know him as a writer. The film adaptations are the ones etched into my memory. Many of which according to King completely ignore the message of his novels.

Being born in 1982, means that I was -6 when Carrie was published. This was the novella that granted King the freedom to write full time. He certainly did that alright:  releasing 54 novels to date, hundreds of short stories and two books on the craft of writing.

So, I’ve been to the second hand bookshops.  I came back with: The Stand, Misery, Liseys Story and IT. 

That’s the story; for the first half of 2016, I’m going to get Kingafied.

 

If you have any suggestions or discussion points then get in touch, I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Magic Twenty Five

The last review on Sharp Objects was the 25th book I’ve read this year, rrreeeeeeyyyyy!

That was my main reading goal for this year as I knew I’d be busy with work, don’t listen to audiobooks and wanted to take part in NaNoWriMo (which I won by the way)

Looking forward to 2016,  I’d be happy if I read or exceeded the ‘magic 25’ but really want to focus on getting a review for every book I read on this blog; this year I’ve been a bit rubbish om that front.

I’m going to read focus on Stephen King novels I’ve yet to read in the first half of 2016; especially the ones I only know through film; which can be quite lengthy at the best of times.

Other than that, I’m going to focus on promoting LiteratureFiend  and building a presence on BookTube.

So, I hope you enjoyed reading the reviews and look forward your comments and suggestions in the New Year.

 

Here is a list of books read in 2015 (READ, not listened to!)

  1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  2. The Red Pony by John Steinbeck
  3. The Girl who Played with Fire by Steig Larsson
  4. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  5. Nine Stories by J.D Salinger
  6. Mr Mercedes by Stephen King
  7. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  8. The Copywriters Handbook by Robert W Bly
  9. The Impact Code by Nigel Risner
  10. The Martian by Andy Weir
  11. The Pleasures of the Damned by Charles Bukowski
  12. Finders Keepers by Stephen King
  13. Ask the Dust by John Fante
  14. Wait Until Spring Bandini by John Fante
  15. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  16. Revival by Stephen King
  17. Mud, Sweat and Tears by Bear Grylls
  18. Willing Slaves: How the Overwork Culture is Ruling Our Lives by Madeleine Bunting
  19. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  20. The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King.
  21. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
  22. Hot Water Music by Charles Bukowski
  23. The Grown Up by Gillian Flynn
  24. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
  25. Hawaii 501: Life as a darts pro by Wayne Mardle

 

Books Read In 2015 So Far!

I began this blog late in the year, so here is a list of the books I’ve read so far (that I can remember, that is.)

 

  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  • The Red Pony by John Steinbeck
  • The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  • Mr Mercedes by Stephen King
  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  • The Copywriters Handbook by Robert W Bly
  • The Impact Code by Nigel Risner
  • The Martian by Andy Weir
  • The Pleasures of the Damned by Charles Bukowski
  • Finders Keepers by Stephen King
  • Ask the Dust by John Fante
  • Wait Until Spring Bandini by John Fante
  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  • Revival by Stephen King
  • Mud, Sweat and Tears by Bear Grylls

 

As you can see I’m up to 15 and today is the 28th October 2015, so I’m really up against it. The only thing going for me is that I have between 5-7 books either half finished or nearly finished – that’s right I’m a real sucker for buying books instantly if I read or listen to a review or in fact just walk into a book store – so if I concentrate my efforts on finishing these I think I could easily make the 20-25 mark.

I’m also going to review some of the above that I haven’t already so watch this space.

Too Many Books, so Little Time.

 

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Okay, so one of my resolutions this year was to read 25+ books. And to help motivate this, I thought I’d set up a book review blog.

Well here it is: Literature Fiend, only seven months late!

As I’m sure you’re all well aware, a thing called life sometimes gets in the way, but alas,  from now on the online journey begins.

I’ve been keeping track of what I’ve read in 2015; so far a total of 11 books. Not great but I’m determined to step it up and review the best on here.

I’ll also be posting articles and all thing relating to Literature and Creative Writing on here, as well as setting up various social media channels (Watch this space)

It’s always interesting to hear opinions on books that you’ve read, or what content you’d like on this site – so get in contact, I’d love to hear from you.

Just finished: Finders Keepers by Stephen King

Currently Reading: Ask the Dust by John Fante

 

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