New Year

(Another entry from the pit of my hard drive, not much point saving it until next year…)

I am not a fan of celebrating this ‘man-made’ beginning. I’ve never been a fan of the impromptu shingdig or anything like that. Quite frankly I simply treat it as a normal evening and go to bed, for preference to sleep through the inane festivities that will surround the witching hour.

Having said this, even I will admit that New Year’s Eve is my second favourite day of the year. A dichotomy perhaps, but it comes down to one simple thing. Fireworks (have you guessed what my favourite day of the year is… it’s a UK only one, if that narrows it down) only the fireworks.

It used to be that we watched ‘Scrooged’ on New Years Eve (though why one can only guess…and if they figure it out let me know? I’ve been curious for years), Mom would let us stay up in our sleeping bags on the couch, where inevitably we would get more ‘bleary-eyed’ and grouchy as the evening wore on. Yet we were determined to see this mystical adult celebration through.

‘Scrooged’ did mean the requisite bums in the air, head in the cushions photograph pose through sheer fear when Marley appears in Bill Murray’s office, and disgust when the mouse pushes the golf ball out of the back of his head.

This particulary entry is somewhat like Victoria Woods commentary on her ‘Ballad of Freda and Barry’ it’s ostensibly about her ‘deep seated interest in the act of physical love making…it’s very short’

My point being is that my interest in New Year is also remarkably short.

So saying, thank you very much and good night!

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Christmas: Mark 29

A bit late in the day perhaps, but I forgot to post this, and found it on my hardrive… apparently there is something to be said for periodically clearing it out.

I cannot truly decide if it is the fact that I am getting older or if it is ‘just me’, but this year a gift of two pairs of socks seemed to me a most fantastic thing. Now, I have recieved socks in the past, along with many unwanted pairs of underwear I always ended up with my brothers as his were unwanted also, but these were rather lovely.

One pair are of the walking, sturdy sock, variety and the other a delightfully quirky stripey pair, hand-knitted by my mother. All the more miraculous as she started them in January 2011 in order to make sure that they actually were completed for the following Christmas… for sadly she is not known to be the swiftest of knitters nor a completer of knitting projects. My purple sweater being a prime example of this sad fact.

Many moons ago I recieved simply the buttons of said jumper as I’d long since outgrown it and she was unable to make any further (viable) extensions.

Anyway, besides the point. This years socks were completed in August 2011, no doubt a record for my wonderful Mother. (I should clarify that this is by no means a criticism of her skill as a knitter, more to do with patience and availability of time, of which she has less than she would like, though make a hand-knitted gift all the more lovely and thoughtful) Time well spent and appreciated.

Perhaps then it is rather just me and my unusual appreciation of socks that made them so welcomed? How awfully Dumbledore of me I’m sure.

A hat, a scarf (thankfully nothing in the underwear department), shares in a remote controlled helicopter with my brother (we may be 28 and 27 but a good ‘toy’ is always appreciated), Elmer writing paper, coffee, a wine mulling kit and a fleecy dressing gown completes my stocking of beyond average happiness.

This year (2011) I especially like that most of my gifts were ‘useable’ ones and were therefore more… legitimate clutter. A book of jam recipes for example rom my friend is something I most certainly look forward to diving in to… as I suspect does she. The gift is based off a mutual love of a particular film.

“You wait til I make jam. It will rock your world.” Heck – Imagine me and you

Although in the ‘fun’ stakes, for really I am a big kid at heart, my housemate gave me Lego Harry Potter 5-7, which I am already in the final stages of, and my aunt gave me a double pack of toilet roll…. and a toilet roll origami book. Which was already in use throughout the house by boxing day.

As to myself and my own gift giving proclivities I admit, in a fit of sheer unsual organisation on my part, to have started looking for gifts at the beginning of November. I decided that this year I really wanted to consider what it was that I was giving to people. I wanted it to be well thought out and something that I felt they really wanted and would be fitting of the occassion.

Also, this early start meant I could do some serious bargain hunting and get more ‘bang for my buck’, meaning that I could then be more generous/thoughtful with my gift giving. For whilst I love, appreciate and am greatful for all that was given to me, I do so much prefer the giving and pleasing my family and friends. Not, I must hasten to add, for any sort of kudos or appreciation but rather just to know that they are happy.

As we all get older, I particularly like that our Christmas (familial) gets simpler and certainly not in any sort of negative way. I simply mean that it becomes more about what we actually want it to be. The four of us are all rather low key about the whole affair, particularly being non-religious, which I am very much in favour of.

We have fun, we play we have a delightful if remarkably filling dinner and exchange gifts, maybe we will watch a film or play Scrabble or whatever. Whatever it is is perfect for us.

We are a family of minimal traditions. We put the tree up on Christmas Eve (or the first Friday when School finishes), a communal activity BK always weasels out of, we have Mom’s chestnut and bacon stuffing as part of dinner (a must I assure you) and I think that might be it.

Lovely and low key. Again I reiterate, perfect! (for us).

Now Christmas’s with little kids are a completely different thing. I agree with Victoria Wood on this one. Little kids Christmas’ are exciting and all about them and I think that that is great. I can remember being very excited about Christmas because of all the people I would get to see.

So…hope all had a very Merry, happy Hannukah/joyous kwanza or happy solstice etc!

 

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The Kindle

The Kindle

I have… succumbed, for want of a better word. I did that little clicky thing on Amazon and ended up with a Kindle.

I say that like it was some sort of accident, but I’m not that impetuous. I can assure ‘you’ it was absolutely nothing of the sort. As with most decisions in my life (at least the bigger ones) an inordinate (not to mention potentially disproportionate) amount of thought and deliberation lay behind said purchase. I’m talking months on and off, if not over a year.  Thankfully I managed to curb my ruminations from creating pro/con lists. Just about, there were some rather close calls that I’ll willing to own up to. After all they are expensive, it’s a commitment…

Anyhoo. Crux of the matter is I am now the owner of a shiny (and already well-used) Kindle.

Love at first handle!

Not often I can make that claim I am sure. Also, having now read that sentence back it sounds rather more…iffy, than I had intended and vaguely X-rated.

Already, in fact before it actually reached my hands, I had a selection of fiction and fanfiction ready to load on there and get reading/clicking. Plenty to get me started anyway. All of which were free (either from Amazon, or Project Gutenberg or from fanfiction sites around the web), though now there are a few on there that I have paid for.

So far, I have read such a plethora of fanfiction. Ranging from: Birds of Prey, Murder in Suburbia, Hand aufs Herz and Women’s Murder Club, not to mention Lost Girl and Rizzoli and Isles. Hours of very happy reading… which reminds me, I now need to go and make a lot of comments…

In truth my ultimate decision to purchase a Kindle was down to four reasons:

  •  Storage
  • Luggage
  • Variety
  • Fanfiction on the go

Storage

Last year I read 250+ books (without counting fanfiction). If I bought/owned all the books I’ve read over the years (including the mass of library/borrowed books), I’m fairly certain that I could build an apartment of reasonable size. So the storage of what I read was a major consideration.

Luggage

I don’t drive. Now, that might seem an exceedingly bizarre thing to say in the context of luggage and reading, as I am fairly certain it is illegal to read and drive. However, in the context I am talking about it is an extremely pertinent thing to say.

It means that I have to use public transport a lot and ultimately means I don’t have the luxury of carting half a tonne of books around with me on my extended visits to family and friends. Admittedly, previous to the Kindle, this is what I did, and naturally things had to be sacrificed… like shirts or underpants…luckily I am a Bibliophile not a clotheshorse, so I never found that to be particularly upsetting. (Which is also why I am a card carrying member of 5 libraries in 4 counties.)

It’s an addiction I tell you!

Variety

When I am about to set out on my travels, I’m never sure what my reading mood will be, so the fact that I don’t have to predict this choice several books in advance so I can take the right ones with me, I can flick through as the mood strikes me.

Fanfiction

I love to read fanfiction. The Kindle means that I can save on an inordinate amount of paper or Tobi-PC time by saving them as word documents and emailing them to my Kindle.

I am now officially one of the converted.

One of the more…entertaining results of this is the amount of Librarians at work (I am a Librarian) who have come out of the “Kindle closet” and ‘confessed to owning one also. Several others have professed their interest/similar tumultuous mental debates as to whether or not to buy one. Almost like ‘Librarian’s Anonymous, as if owning something that is not a physical book could be considered shameful or sacrilegious… which as a genderqueer queer, is truly amusing and ironic.

However, whilst I do think their virtues are immense and should be lauded, they do also have their downsides.

  • As yet in the UK they are (Kindle specific, not e-readers in general) incompatible with borrowing e-books from public libraries. However this problem was recently addressed in the USA (please correct me if my information is faulty) and thus rectified. SO I suspect it is probably only a matter of time before a similar agreement is reached between Amazon and UK libraries. At least I sure hope so.
  •  With a Kindle (specifically) you are tied inextricably to Amazon unless some kind soul converts e-books to .mobi, further ensuring their conglomerate hold over the book buying public.
  •  E-books are by no means guaranteed to be more cost effective. Which means book trading (and its associates) could eventually become defunct. However, I am talking a long way down the line. This isn’t going to happen overnight for certain.
  • A book purchased for one Kindle cannot (that I can tell) be passed onto another. My friends and I share a lot of books. We are all readers and couldn’t possibly own all that that entails, partly because we have similar reading tastes so that would mean a shed load of duplicate bookshelves, but also means we trade a lot of recommendations between us. With e-books, you negate that sense of community and that aspect of reading.

(ETA: I believe that I am wrong in the sharing of e-books. If you open your Kindle on your PC as if it were a USB stick, you can drag and drop and thus exchange. I have not experimented with this to great extent as yet, but I believe that it is feasible.)

However, whilst there are negatives, I am finding thus far into my Kindle relationship, that all is pretty much fabulous. I’m just hoping this isn’t ‘our’ honeymoon period… but it’s been two and a half months, so I think ‘we’re’ going to be alright in the long run.

Ultimately I highly recommend e-readers. However, not necessarily a Kindle for they are expensive and there are others on the market that are also excellent but kinder on your wallet. I would suggest looking at comparison charts to see which one would work best for you, because after all it is the individuals choice that matters.

 

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Tomboy: Review (May well include spoilers… look away now if you don’t wish to be spoiled!

Limited theatrical release (playing at the DCA, Dundee, Hyde Park Picture House, Leeds and Corner House Manchester until the 29th September) but released on DVD and Blueray in February 2012, currently listed on Amazon.co.uk at £10.93 and £12.93 respectively. Peccadillo Pictures.

Trailer:

Pecadillo Pictures: http://www.peccapics.com/View/id,244

IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1847731/

Times Observer review: http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/sep/17/tomboy-review

Incredibly well acted by the young lead, (but equally so by the other members of the cast, resulting in a very realistic view of children and their immediate interactions with each other). Her trepidation and indecision was palpable as was her elation when she was consistently accepted in the role she had set out to achieve for herself. It was only when her play started to fall through did any sort of disbelief arise, and then only because the idea had been planted within the group. It was never due to implicit discovery of her otherness or lack of maleness by the group she was a part of.

A very short and concise film though I do feel that it would have been interesting to see how the reveal played out further, perhaps in the new school setting, where she’d know some children and not know others. Whether the information that she had deceived the boys would percolate throughout the rest of her year group.

I love that this film was about the innocence of the group and of the deception, there was no maliciousness in Laure’s actions and certainly no initial thought of consequences. Equally the film itself played on the innocence of the pre-teen cast/ characters with no voyeurism intended or discomfort or inappropriateness where it could very easily and quickly have been made to be seen that way. I really liked the lack of manipulation or attempt to take away that innocence, which made it all the more possible to genuinely view the film from the viewpoint of Laure/Mikael which was (I believe, at least I certainly perceived it as such) the intention.

I liked that it was mostly about the children and their reactions with only nominal parental intervention and that only near the end of the film. The adults are the ones who make the children aware of the reality of Laure and generally interfere with both positive and negative results and reasons for intervention.

I found this film far sadder than I could possibly have anticipated, though not sad, just… you felt for her during her reveal, that that was really not what she wanted, but she had got to a point with school around the corner it was going to become an issue whether she wanted it to or not.

Actually, seeing the way Laure reacted to being ‘mistaken’ and then revealed as herself made me think more about myself and my identity, to that end I found the film a little close to the bone as it were. Some of it felt uncomfortable because of my feelings towards my self in similar, but older situations.

Definately worth watching and I am certainly putting the DVD on my wishlist for when it comes out.

 

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Letter to Ms Flagg

Dear Ms Flagg,

I am writing to you because, well, because I think if a person enjoys something or is affected by something that someone else has put a lot of hard work in to creating, then it is nice to have that recognised.

Other than “Little Women”, “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café” is the book I have read the most over the years. The spine of my copy is now so creased I would even consider replacing it in the future. I would like to point out that most of my books that were new when I got them have kept their spines intact, almost un-creased at all in fact, despite re-reading. However, I have re-read this particular book so often, once a year minimum since I was 13/14, that spine creasing was seemingly inevitable. (I am now 28, for the sake of clarity).

I admit to seeing the film first, which I think might also have been my first ‘gay’ film (as loosely as that definition may be applied to FGT), I was 10/11 or so, and it was the first film I saw where I realised that just maybe there were people in films that might reflect how I felt, people who might not spend the entire hour and a half waiting for some Prince or whatever chap to rescue them, spend their lives together etc.

This film became my ‘guilty’ pleasure. At the age of 10/11 I wasn’t sure if other people saw in it what I saw or whether they simply saw Idgie and Ruth as just ‘friends’ and I was the one projecting my feelings onto it. Regardless, I didn’t actually want to find out as either way had the potential of spoiling that which I enjoyed so immensely.

Given that this was quite a time before the advent of Google and the likes… at least in my house for sure, it was quite some time before I realised that there was a novel version of the film I liked so much… in fact I truly cannot recall as to how I ever found out about it. So, I ordered the book in much anticipation and excitement for if it was even half as enjoyable as I found the film then it was money and expectation well ‘spent’. (I can assure you in advance it most certainly was) I had to wait for two weeks for it to turn up in my local WH Smith… which at the time seemed interminable given my eagerness to read it.

When it finally, or so it seemed, turned up it was swiftly, as was (is) my wont, devoured.

Wow!

I’m fairly certain that nothing else at the time covered my feelings, though eloquent it certainly wasn’t. For a start I felt that I was proved to be correct in my feelings that there was far more going on between Ruth and Idgie than the film might have lead some to believe, and that it wasn’t all a figment of my head in desperation of seeing something I desired where it might not actually be.

This novel, or rather Ruth and Idgie’s story was, whilst not the first time something I read resonated with me and certainly not the last, the first time a story affected me so specifically. That I found something that finally related to myself with a deeper meaning. Which, is probably, why I have read it so many times.

If I tell you that my normal reading matter ranges through Young Adult, LGBTQ, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Greco-Roman (i.e. Homer, Sophocles) and Crime oeuvres (obviously there are equally many exceptions to this generalisation but they are the genres I repeatedly come back to) it might perhaps illustrate the extent to which this book means to me. Which I am sure many many people have laid claimed to such a statement, or at least their wives have.

Regardless of how many times I read/watch FGT, it has never ceased to be a favourite and I frequently find new things of interest in it whenever I do. I even like the non-linear style of writing, which normally I would probably find somewhat vexing, but works so well in this instance. I particularly like this non-linear, separate storylines approach because then if the mood does so strike me; I can pick up the book and read through any one particular storyline I wish to at the time. Admittedly it is Ruth and Idgie’s storyline that I return to with most frequency, possibly because I am not a middle-aged, straight housewife like Evelyn, so I find less to come back to in her discoveries of self, not that I don’t appreciate and enjoy her characters storyline for it’s own merits.

I find that I am somewhat driven to pass this book on to as many people as I can persuade to read it, young and old alike, though it has always been women rather than men I have recommended it to, though perhaps that is rather unsurprising. I have passed it on to several colleagues (We work for one of the University of Leeds, UK libraries), one of whom then went on to read more of your novels as she could find them, and indeed buying several blind rather than borrowing them from the library first, such was her faith.

There are two main reasons why I try to pass it on:

a)      I loved it so; I’d like to give others the potential opportunity to feel the same or similar about it, for Southern North American books such as your own, obviously don’t have the same availability or widespread readership perhaps here in the UK as they more naturally would in the USA. A sad fact for sure.

b)      I like that the love between Idgie and Ruth, whilst blatant as to it’s nature, is also reasonably subtle and that FGT isn’t a ‘lesbian novel’ per se, as some authors and publishers specifically release i.e. Bella Books, Naiad Press etc. So I like using it to open other peoples eyes a little by passing on a story that they might well shy away from or indeed simply never come across if they thought they knew what it was about. Such is the prejudice of some and I feel that any little help in the widening of peoples experiences and knowledge in that matter can only be a good thing.

I’ve always found it somewhat strange that everyone I have discussed this book with always fell fell for or loved Idgie’s character, and felt that she was the more interesting of the two women. Now whilst I can understand that from the point of view that Idgie’s character is so unabashedly herself in every sense of the word and is ‘loud’ and blatant and that people are often drawn to the wild child as it is often a desire of that which they would like to be perhaps, personally, I fell completely for Ruth and found her the more fascinating of the two. Granted they all liked Ruth as well, I mean only someone utterly heartless could not do so I feel, but it was really Idgie that they read/watched it for.

I have often thought that Ruth is more the focus of their particular storyline, even if Ninny is purportedly telling tales of Idgie’s youth and wild ways. It’s just that Ruth’s life was so much more subtle and thus perhaps overlooked much like the nature of the lady herself in fact.

In a way I feel that Ruth is rather like Hector in Homer’s Iliad (Bear with me, I can explain this somewhat unconventional way of thinking). In the Iliad everyone always seems to think that Achilles is the hero of the saga, indeed they take Homer’s opening line; “The wrath of Achilles is my theme” to mean as such, when truly it is just that, a tale of one Greek’s vexation. However, I have always thought Hector was the true hero.  He wasn’t fighting for the glory or the prizes like much of the Greek forces, he wasn’t even fighting in a war he believed in or wanted to be part of. That man fought simply for his kith and kin, because it was his responsibility to protect Troy with everything he had and thus had so much more to lose in doing so, much how Ruth did if she had chosen to defy her family and societal convention by staying with Idgie from the very beginning. She, like Hector, had to make the harder decisions than anyone else and should be considered far braver because of it. Hector fought, pretty much, because his spoilt little brother Paris seemed capable of only thinking with his penis (sorry, I did try to think of another way of phrasing it, but in truth that is probably the most apt and to the point (no pun intended) way of expressing that particular issue) and took of with another man’s wife.

I often felt that I was Idgie, or rather I indentified with many of her personality traits, (though there were many I did and indeed do not, adhere to, such as the fact that I neither drink nor smoke) amongst which was the fact that I, like Idgie and most of Whistle Stop, Alabama fell for Ruth Jamison. Sweet, beautiful, brace and strong Ruth. For she was so much stronger and braver than Idgie could ever hope to be and had so much more to lose in pursuing both that which she felt she ought to (such as marrying Frank Bennett) and later that which she actually desired for herself, Idgie Threadgoode.

On the one hand, the idea that Ruth (like many undeserving people in the world) had to endure such intense abuse both angers and saddens me (yes, I understand that in this instance these characters are exactly that, characters… fictional). However, I equally realised that without that aspect of her life, she would never have been strong enough to stay where she felt she ought, or later to turn away from convention and societies expectations to be with Idgie. That she would never have had the opportunity to know what a truly strong and brave human being she was.

I could (and indeed have done previously) write extensively about my opinions and responses to this novel but I feel that this is not truly the forum for such obsessions and dissections. Especially as I originally only ever intended to pen a paragraph or two, not create this monster of ‘War and Peace’. That said if you have made it this far through my ramblings, first of I thank your patience and secondly I sincerely applaud your perseverance.

Incidentally and for wholly different reasons I also loved “Can’t wait to get to Heaven”, it had me laughing out loud on many occasions (sadly for my own sense of self preservation, often in public) not least at the name Elna Shimfizzle, she sure seems a fascinating character.

So, in conclusion, I am forever grateful that you decided to write one of my all time favourite novels; FGT and that you continue to write such funny, interesting and engaging fiction.

Thank you.

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Children’s fiction

Children’s fiction from 8 up to about 14 simply because then you are trailing into teenage/young adult fiction and that’s a whole different animal. Also anything younger than that and a) it’s not really my range and b) it becomes a whole different category

When recommending things to read to my cousins (13, 9 and 9) I find I am often in a slightly difficult position, not because there is a lack of books to draw from when proffering my opinions on what is available, and indeed the breadth of genres also, but because I have to wrap my head around the generation gap. Now might be the time to point out that this isn’t because it is that long since I read a children’s book, far from it, merely that what I liked at their age might not be current reading material now.

When I was a child there wasn’t such a treasure trove available for my reading pleasure, especially for someone like me who had (has) a voracious appetite for the written word. The books I read and those that I enjoyed and returned back to over and over again were predominantly old fashioned then, never mind up to 20 years later.

My favourites at the ages of my cousins were; Enid Blyton’s school stories and fantasy adventures, I was particularly partial to the Malory Towers series and the Faraway Tree series of books; I never fell for her crime series’. Indeed I still read the Malory Towers series on occasion. Susan Coolidge’s What Katy did trilogy (which I recently found out are actually part of a five part series), the Heidi trilogy, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series and my all time favourites; Louisa M. Alcott’s March family quartet. I also had more than a passing acquaintance with the works of; Judy Blume, Anne Fine and Cynthia Voigt.

Sadly, I don’t believe that Judy Blume’s novels made the turn over from the 80/90’s to the present day with any great alacrity. They are unfortunately dated now, though they are a fantastic set of books dealing with real issues that are pertinent to children and that many authors shy away from, possibly due to embarrassment, so it is a real shame that there popularity has waned over the years since they were first printed.

So now, when I am recommending books to them I find I am having to draw more from my recent reading endeavours as opposed to the books I read when I was their ages. This isn’t actually as difficult as it might sound since I read a lot of children’s books, though predominantly I tend to read Young adult fiction and older fiction (as in that from bygone eras) for preference, I do delve into the younger end of the modern reading pool on occasion, more so in recent years than I ever used to.

So on a recommendations front, it depends on the genres the child in question likes, I’m basing my suggestions on nothing more arduous than what I like, and on the opinions of my cousins whose reading habits I am rather well acquainted with…at least to an extent sufficient for the purposes of this exercise. Though there are old fashioned ones that I would recommend, I’m going to leave those off for the time being, barring one.

  • The Spook’s Apprentice series – Joseph Delaney (for those in the 10+ range who like to be a little bit scared when they read. This has that delicious sort of scare that is almost enjoyable in its delivery). At the moment this is a septology, though with at least one more yet to come… if not more. Plus there are a couple of surrounding books and back up ‘factual’ books, such as the Spook’s Bestiary, for those who really like to submerse themselves into what they are reading.
  • Waiting for Anya, Friend of Foe, The long way home, – Michael Morpurgo (Private Peaceful for the older reader is a fantastically heartbreaking story of the futility of War)
  • Goodnight Mister Tom – Michelle Magorian
  • Ottoline and the Yellow Cat – Chris Ridell (or any of the other two… especially …at sea!)
  • The Fairytale Detectives – Michael Buckley. Again this is currently at eight books, not a bad thing by any account.
  • The Edge Chronicles – Chris Riddell and Paul Stewart
  • Harry Potter (I would recommend them on plot capability alone. They are not the most amazing pieces of literature, the writing style isn’t especially good, but for plot and character development they are the shit.)
  • Paddington – Michael Bond. Quite frankly you are NEVER too old to read Paddington, for he is the funniest bear around and his quirky adventures will appeal to most children, also they are a good read aloud series.
  • The Bromeliad – Terry Pratchett. A great introduction to Pratchett’s quirky fantasy for the younger readers.
  • The Last Dragon Slayer – Jasper Fforde. Just because a reader might be too young for his Thursday Next series, or NCD series doesn’t mean that they should be deprived of Fforde, for that would be an abomination.
  • Skulduggery Pleasant – Derek Landy (for the older end of this age range)

In all honesty I could probably write a list as long as the hills, but in doing so I fear that that would be dull in the extreme. However, I am always happy to add to the list, of either recommendations or onto my own reading list if people have either suggestions to give, or wish for further ones.

I’m a Librarian, it’s what I do.

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My most excellent year: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins, and Fenway Park – Steve Kluger

GLBT 2011 challenge book read.

This was a most excellent book. I thoroughly enjoyed it and found it an engrossing page turner… always a good, if sometimes rare, thing.

It is a story about three friends; Alejandra (Ale), T.C and Augie, told in alternating points of view between the three characters, in the overall guise of an english assignment; “My Most excellent Year”.

The idea is that they are writing about their most excellent year, not that they are necessarily living through it at that moment, as is seen at the end, all three of them are writing retrospectively about the same year.

In this instance I actually really enjoyed the slightly jumpy format of differeing points of view it worked very well and the author seemed quite adept at making the three main characters voices distinctive enough that it was never confusing… it was also very clear when a voice changed, which kept things clear for the audience without detracting from the overall smooth running of the plot.

All three characters were of differing home lives and backgrounds, which whilst PC-ly diverse, not necessarily realistic, though that would naturally depend very much upon where you lived as to whether that was the sort of environment you experienced or not. that is not a gripe, merely an observation, I appreciated the diversity because it felt relatively realsitic and unforced.

Due to the nature of the novel being based around the events of one year, there isn’t exactly a clearly defined ending for the characters, their year, and their assignement come to their natural conclusions. However, there is a sort of ‘flash forward’ part at the end which serves the purpose of updating the reader as to the main events in the three characters lives and where they are going from there. I thought that was a nice touch, tantalising the reader into curiosity about how they had changed but conclusive enough not to leave the reader hanging uncomfortablyin curiosity.

It was gripping page turner and I was constantly wanting to move forward and see how the stories were going to unfold and what conclusions would be drawn by the end of the novel. Because it

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