“On a day when the wind is perfect,
the sail just needs to open and
the world is full of beauty.
Today is such a day.”

- (via fuckyeahrumi)

Review: Oryx and Crake

This was, perhaps surprisingly, my first foray into Margaret Atwood’s fiction. I’d read some of her poetry previously, and generally liked it, and had also seen bits and pieces of her non-fiction prose around and thought she sounded like a pretty cool lady. I don’t entirely know why I started with Oryx and Crake, but I think I’m pleased I did; it was compelling enough to make me interested in reading more Atwood (I now also have The Handmaid’s Tale on my to-read pile), but not so overwhelmingly excellent that I couldn’t be objective about her style.

Oryx and Crake is a post-apocalyptic novel told from the point of view of Snowman, a lone survivor in a strange new world. As the narrative develops, it incorporates pre-apocalypse flashbacks to Snowman’s childhood and young adult years, and his relationships with Oryx and Crake. These were both the most and least enjoyable parts of the novel for me - anything involving Oryx I found truly dull, whilst the bits with Crake were fascinating. Frankly I found Crake the only memorable character; a true twisted genius that should have really been the main focus. I really like the idea of a periphery figure (Snowman) watching the personal development of a dictator (Crake), and the novel could have done without the dragging in of a slightly clumsy love story.

Having said that, I flew through this book; it’s compelling and easy reading and features very clever world-building (and destroying), with good descriptive elements. Not to mention the fact that at the time I was reading it I was also obsessively playing Plague Inc. on my iPad, and recognised some pretty clear links between Atwood’s apocalypse and the one I was creating and recreating almost daily. I don’t know if that’s a purposeful choice on the part of the game’s creators, but I’m sure there’s at least some inspiration at play.

Final Word: I only wish it had been Crake, not Oryx and Crake.

absolumentmoderne:

Spencer Finch
366 (EMILY DICKINSON’S MIRACULOUS YEAR)
2009
This work is based on the year 1862, Emily Dickinson’s annus mirabilis, when she wrote an amazing 366 poems in 365 days. It is a real-time memorial to that year, which burns for exactly one year. The sculpture is comprised of 366 individual candles arranged in linear sequence, each of which burns for 24 hours. The color of each candle matches a color mentioned in the corresponding poem; poems in which no color is mentioned are made out of natural paraffin.

absolumentmoderne:

Spencer Finch

366 (EMILY DICKINSON’S MIRACULOUS YEAR)

2009

This work is based on the year 1862, Emily Dickinson’s annus mirabilis, when she wrote an amazing 366 poems in 365 days. It is a real-time memorial to that year, which burns for exactly one year. The sculpture is comprised of 366 individual candles arranged in linear sequence, each of which burns for 24 hours. The color of each candle matches a color mentioned in the corresponding poem; poems in which no color is mentioned are made out of natural paraffin.

(via notrelatedtomylife)

No YOU’RE weeping about your dissertation subject.

No YOU’RE weeping about your dissertation subject.

I have a very dear friend (and housemate) whose name is Holly. She’s been mentioned quite a few times on Rosa Reads, but this time the mention has a very important PURPOSE, and that PURPOSE is to promote her incredible blog.
So here’s the hard sell:
DO YOU LIKE HOBBITS? DO YA, PUNK? DO YOU LIKE FOOD? EH? DO YOU LIKE TO PUT STUFF IN YOUR MOUTH WHICH IS DELICIOUS? DO YOU LIKE BLOGS? DO YOU LIKE NICE PHOTOS OF DELICIOUS THINGS THAT YOU PUT IN YOUR MOUTH? DO YOU LIKE KITCHENS? DO YOU LIKE PEOPLE NAMED HOLLY?
YOU SHOULD BLOODY WELL READ THE HOBBIT KITCHEN THEN, CHUMP.
And anyway, this post is sponsored by friendship and the sweet artistic talents of Jason Novak, who clearly knew that I was going to write this post and came up with a series of cartoons that pretty solidly encapsulate the cross-section between mine and Hol’s blogs.

I have a very dear friend (and housemate) whose name is Holly. She’s been mentioned quite a few times on Rosa Reads, but this time the mention has a very important PURPOSE, and that PURPOSE is to promote her incredible blog.

So here’s the hard sell:

DO YOU LIKE HOBBITS? DO YA, PUNK? DO YOU LIKE FOOD? EH? DO YOU LIKE TO PUT STUFF IN YOUR MOUTH WHICH IS DELICIOUS? DO YOU LIKE BLOGS? DO YOU LIKE NICE PHOTOS OF DELICIOUS THINGS THAT YOU PUT IN YOUR MOUTH? DO YOU LIKE KITCHENS? DO YOU LIKE PEOPLE NAMED HOLLY?

YOU SHOULD BLOODY WELL READ THE HOBBIT KITCHEN THEN, CHUMP.

And anyway, this post is sponsored by friendship and the sweet artistic talents of Jason Novak, who clearly knew that I was going to write this post and came up with a series of cartoons that pretty solidly encapsulate the cross-section between mine and Hol’s blogs.

“It was awful, he cried, awful, awful! Still, the sun was hot. Still, one got over things. Still, life had a way of adding day to day.”

- Virginia Woolf- Mrs Dalloway (via fuckyeahenglishliterature)

I saw that Murakami's 1Q84 was on your list. I loved it, though everyone else I know found it too strange. I was wondering what you thought of it.

I read Books I and II a couple of summers ago, and whilst I did find them pretty strange (and a bit of a departure from the Murakami I’d loved so much in Norwegian Wood), I did still want to read Book III - which is a pretty good sign, I suppose!

I think it just depends on where your preferences lie; I’m not that into fantasy/sci-fi stuff, and found a lot of it straying into that realm, with only Murakami’s incredible prose style keeping it afloat. But if that kind of stuff is your jam then you’re much more likely to enjoy it. I realise this isn’t a particularly impressive insight, but there we go.

My review of Books I and II is here, and once III is read I promise to post a review of that, too.

“I can’t think of a case where poems changed the world, but what they do is they change people’s understanding of what’s going on in the world.”

- Seamus Heaney

(via literarylust-deactivated2013093)

Yes hello I am useless

I’m not entirely sure why blogging has so completely fallen by the wayside this semester. Maybe it’s all the Old English, maybe it’s because I’m not desperately trying to procrastinate while writing my dissertation. Maybe it’s something to do with this being my final semester at St Andrews and attempting to make the most of it (in real life, y’know?)

Maybe. Anyway, whatever the reason, it’s no excuse. So I’ll keep trying. Frequency may well remain down, though - just a warning.

PS, I accidentally started rereading Harry Potter for the thousandth time, noticing all sorts of interesting things. Perhaps a post on that will follow. Perhaps.

Took advantage of Waterstones’ 20% off weekend by buying the two heftiest books I could find (on a strict pages-per-pound budget over here). Also enjoyed their sarky signs - they know their audience.

There Is No Word

colporteur:

by Tony Hoagland

There isn’t a word for walking out of the grocery store
with a gallon jug of milk in a plastic sack
that should have been bagged in double layers

—so that before you are even out the door
you feel the weight of the jug dragging
the bag down, stretching the thin

plastic handles longer and longer
and you know it’s only a matter of time until
bottom suddenly splits.

There is no single, unimpeachable word
for that vague sensation of something
moving away from you

as it exceeds its elastic capacity 
—which is too bad, because that is the word
I would like to use to describe standing on the street

chatting with an old friend
as the awareness grows in me that he is
no longer a friend, but only an acquaintance,

a person with whom I never made the effort—
until this moment, when as we say goodbye
I think we share a feeling of relief, 

a recognition that we have reached
the end of a pretense, 
though to tell the truth

what I already am thinking about
is my gratitude for language—
how it will stretch just so much and no farther;

how there are some holes it will not cover up;
how it will move, if not inside, then
around the circumference of almost anything—

how, over the years, it has given me
back all the hours and days, all the
plodding love and faith, all the

misunderstandings and secrets
I have willingly poured into it.

I know, I disappeared for a bit - but this is why. This semester looks HEAVY, y’all. My Old English module is of especial concern; lots of translation, and partly assessed by creative writing portfolio - and I say this with full awareness that I am the President of the Creative Writing Society, but: Sod. That.
So prepare for rather more updates from the library, featuring four different versions of Beowulf and a lot of despair.

I know, I disappeared for a bit - but this is why. This semester looks HEAVY, y’all. My Old English module is of especial concern; lots of translation, and partly assessed by creative writing portfolio - and I say this with full awareness that I am the President of the Creative Writing Society, but: Sod. That.

So prepare for rather more updates from the library, featuring four different versions of Beowulf and a lot of despair.

Tomorrow morning I head back to St Andrews for my final semester, and while I’m really very happy to be going back, a part of me wants to put it off for as long as possible. I can’t quite seem to process that it’ll be the last time I do this journey up the east coast - or at least, the last time I do it because I’m heading home in this way.

Obviously I’ve had a lot of throse dreaded questions whilst I’ve been back in Leeds: So, what are your plans for after you graduate? What are you going to do with your life? What does the future look like? Do you have a PLAN, ROSA? And I suppose I’m lucky, because I sort of do have a plan. It’s just a little…contingent on other factors (y’know, things like whether I’m good/smart enough, whether my referees like me enough, whether the photo I took for my application is attractive enough).

But having a plan doesn’t seem to be quite enough - in fact in some ways it’s this plan-having business that is the very reason I’m not totally ready to get on that 7:10 to Leuchars. Because working towards that plan, and panicking about that plan, and having existential crises about that plan have served as a distraction from the thing that used to be my plan and is now my life. The future has obliterated the present, and I don’t want that to be the case. I don’t want to spend my final ever semester as an undergraduate - my final ever semester in my lovely home with my lovely friends in my lovely auld grey toon - planning. I want to soak it up and live it and be there and god, this is all so obvious and unprofound but I sort of needed to remind myself.

Anyway, the point is that I’m off to St A tomorrow. The modules I’m taking this semester are American Fiction: Self and Nation, and Old English Afterlives: Literary Anglo-Saxonism, and on the train up I will be listening to a lot of Hozier (and you should too).

[PS; I think my dissertation results are released tomorrow. Audre Lorde help me.]

About a month ago, it was my 23rd birthday, and because I am blessed with wonderful friends and a relatively well-defined range of interests (Can I read it? Can I eat it? No? Not interested), I got lucky with my gifts. Yes, this is a book haul post. Deal with it.

So, from left to right:Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke
Faber and Faber Poetry Diary
A comicbook version of Les Mis, which my dear friend Morgan gave to me without realising that it’s in French, at which I am mediocre at bestNew Selected Poems, Carol Ann DuffyDown and Out in Paris and London, George Orwell
A notebook that my lovely Hollybear brought back from TurkeyThe Secret History, Donna Tartt (which had already been devoured by the time this picture was taken)Mr Norris Changes Trains, Christopher IsherwoodA Letter to a Young Poet (hello, theme), Virginia WoolfA Single Man, Christopher Isherwood

So that’s all jolly nice and excellent. In three unrelated pieces of news: postgrad applications are ruining me, my mother thinks I own too many pairs of black trousers (they’re practical and flattering, mother), and brushing my hair today took almost forty minutes.

About a month ago, it was my 23rd birthday, and because I am blessed with wonderful friends and a relatively well-defined range of interests (Can I read it? Can I eat it? No? Not interested), I got lucky with my gifts. Yes, this is a book haul post. Deal with it.

So, from left to right:
Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke
Faber and Faber Poetry Diary
A comicbook version of Les Mis, which my dear friend Morgan gave to me without realising that it’s in French, at which I am mediocre at best
New Selected Poems, Carol Ann Duffy
Down and Out in Paris and London, George Orwell
A notebook that my lovely Hollybear brought back from Turkey
The Secret History, Donna Tartt (which had already been devoured by the time this picture was taken)
Mr Norris Changes Trains, Christopher Isherwood
A Letter to a Young Poet (hello, theme), Virginia Woolf
A Single Man, Christopher Isherwood

So that’s all jolly nice and excellent. In three unrelated pieces of news: postgrad applications are ruining me, my mother thinks I own too many pairs of black trousers (they’re practical and flattering, mother), and brushing my hair today took almost forty minutes.


An edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein laid out using characters and glyphs from PDF documents obtained through internet searches. The incomplete fonts found in the PDFs were reassembled into the text of Frankenstein based on their frequency of use. The most common characters are employed at the beginning of the book, and the text devolves into less common, more grotesque shapes and forms toward the end. (via The Frankenfont project reconstructs Mary Shelley’s classic Frankenstein using parts of incomplete fonts found in PDFs from the internet. | Fathom)
An edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein laid out using characters and glyphs from PDF documents obtained through internet searches. The incomplete fonts found in the PDFs were reassembled into the text of Frankenstein based on their frequency of use. The most common characters are employed at the beginning of the book, and the text devolves into less common, more grotesque shapes and forms toward the end. (via The Frankenfont project reconstructs Mary Shelley’s classic Frankenstein using parts of incomplete fonts found in PDFs from the internet. | Fathom)

(Source: jenarcherwood, via mgloki)

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