Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Book Review: March Was Made Of Yarn

March Was Made of Yarn
Edited by David James Karashima and Elmer Luke
Published by Harvill Secker, a division of Random House

March Was Made of Yarn is a powerful, hard-hitting collection of fiction, nonfiction, manga and poetry, exploring the aftermath of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear catastrophe that hit Japan in March 2011.

The writers in this collection perfectly capture the aftermath, after the media attention has died down. Many stories prefer not to directly look at the events of March 2011. Some stories are set in the past like David Peace's After the Disaster, Before the Disaster, which explores the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake. While, The Island of Eternal Life by Yoko Tawada, the first story in the collection is set in a bleak future where people from Japan are considered radioactive and have been cut off from the rest of the world. This story sets up the feeling of rootlessness through out the collection.

The themes of memory, family, place and overall hope run through each story. One of the most powerful images is in March Yarn by Mieko Kawakami. The short story explores the dreams of a pregnant woman. The world is yarn and starts to unravel, and then knits itself back together. This metaphor captures and distills the events that have happened in Japan.

March was Made of Yarn is a chilling collection but hopeful for the future. Each story shows that life goes on, but  life will never be the same.

Thank you Fiona from Random House for sending me a copy.

You can buy a copy from here or your favourite online or offline bookshops. All royalties will go to reconstruction charities in Japan.

Monday, 19 March 2012

99 Reasons Why

Today is the publication date for Caroline Smailes's new novel. But this isn't just any novel (Sorry, I'm getting on Marks and Sparks on you). Caroline's book is coming out as an ebook with 9 different endings for the reader to pick (either with questions on the Kindle version on a wheel on the iPad version). There are also another two endings. One is being handwritten by Caroline and will be auctions and the other is below:

99: the reason why I was only worth ninety-nine quid
It’s been six days since the little girl in the pink coat went missing and me Uncle Phil’s in me bedroom.
We’ve been watching the little girl in the pink coat’s mam on the news. She was appealing to the public for witnesses.
‘Didn’t realise she had a mam,’ I says, looking at me telly.
‘Everyone’s got a mam, pet,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.
‘She sold her story to The Sun,’ I says, looking at me telly.
‘Got a few quid,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.
I nod.
‘She wanted nowt to do with that bairn before all this,’ me Uncle Phil says, looking at me telly.
‘Do you know where she is?’ I asks me Uncle Phil.
‘Belle?’ me Uncle Phil asks me.
I nod.
‘She’s safe,’ me Uncle Phil says to me. ‘Your mam’s keeping an eye on her.’
‘Can I be her mam?’ I asks me Uncle Phil.
‘No, pet, you’re a filthy whore,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.
I nod.
‘Can you make Andy Douglas come back, Uncle Phil?’ I asks me Uncle Phil.
Me Uncle Phil shakes his head.
‘I love him,’ I tell me Uncle Phil.
‘Andy Douglas is your brother, pet. You didn’t seriously think Princess Di was your mam, did you?’ me Uncle Phil asks me.
I nod.
‘You’re a cradle snatcher just like your mam,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.
I nod.
‘Your mam miscarried when she found out I’d been banging Betty Douglas. Betty was expecting you,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.
I don’t speak.
‘When you was born, your mam went mad and I ended up buying you from Betty Douglas for ninety-nine quid,’ me Uncle Phil says.
‘Ninety-nine quid?’ I asks me Uncle Phil.
‘I paid a hundred but got a quid change for some chips for your mam and dad’s tea,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.
‘You bought me?’ I asks me Uncle Phil.
I’m a little bit sick in me mouth.
‘It was the right thing to do,’ me Uncle Phil says to me. ‘I got Betty Douglas pregnant straight away with Andy.’
‘I’m pregnant,’ I says to me Uncle Phil. ‘I’m pregnant with me brother’s baby,’ I says, and then I throws up on me purple carpet.
‘You’re a filthy whore,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.
‘What am I going to do?’ I asks me Uncle Phil.
‘You’re going to have the baby,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.
‘Have me brother’s baby?’ I asks me Uncle Phil.
‘Then I’m giving it to Betty Douglas to bring up,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.
‘You what?’ I says to me Uncle Phil.
‘It’s the right thing to do,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.
‘I can’t—’ I says to me Uncle Phil.
‘It’s either that or I’ll make you disappear,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.
I don’t speak.
I’m thinking, they’re all a bunch of nutters.

You can buy 99 Reasons Why either from Amazon or iTunes

Friday, 16 March 2012

Writing Regrets

Do you have writing-related regrets?

Mine was back in upper school (That’s High School for USAers) when I joined a lunchtime writing club. I remember it was run by two teachers (one modern one – noise stud and short dark hair and the classic looking one – pearls and dress suit) from the English Department and I think it met every two weeks in a maths classroom.

There were not many people there – maybe five, ten at the most. I think most people were there because it meant escaping the canteen (we could eat our packed lunch in the classroom) and we could also keep warm and not be forced out onto the playground, which was patrolled by hard-core dinner ladies.

Our aim was to produce a pamphlet of writing based on Christmas, which would then be put in the library and given out at the end of the school’s Christmas Carol service.

I told one the teachers about the stories I had written when I was younger – the ones with drawings of ponies with thin bodies and fat, chubby legs. She said she wanted to see them. So I went home, dug out all of my notepads from under the bed, and took them to school in a big brown envelope.

I handed them over.

Then we are told she was leaving. I asked for them back. She said, yes, come back later. I did. She wasn’t in her classroom office. The corridors were empty, there was no one in the staff room and the receptionist was giving strange looks. She probably wanted to know why a pupil was still hanging around after school hours.

She left before I could get back my stories.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

The Writer's Guide to Surviving the Rapture

Writers, do you know how to still be a writer when the world slides into end-of-the-world territory?

Fear not. I have written a short piece (maybe future non fiction) on how to survive. My piece is called The Writer's Guide to Surviving the Rapture.

My list story can be found in Little Fiction's ebook anthology, Listerature: Volume 1.

You can either read the anthology on your main computer or e-reader or tablet or smart phone. AND its free too.

Little Fiction are a story story digital publisher, who are creating ebooks of individual short stories. The 'digital single' sounds like a great idea for writers and also for readers.

You can download from here > Listerature: Volume 1.