Blame by Paul Read
The sudden death of his father forces a reformed addict to come to terms with long-held resentment.
It’s worth mentioning that the subject matter is not one that holds my attention – in some ways, perhaps, it’s too close to the bone, and perhaps the flood of misery memoirs in recent years has deadened the market for otherwise well-written books like Blame. Yet the subject matter is important and an integreal part of life: a brilliant research chemist makes his own drugs (Breaking Bad), reforms and builds a life away from family (Street Cat) whilst dealing with a problematic mother and father (Curious Incident). And there’s a childhood diary, a possible love triangle, misundertanding of betrayal…
The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister
[This is the UK release of an award winning and soon-to-be-filmed US best-seller.]
When does an illusion become more than an illusion? When does a story, our personal history, become more than a story we tell ourselves and become the truth that defines who we are? Is it, perhaps, only the unlikely nature of the tale that makes the onlooker think that they are being told a lie?
But what if it is all true, or mostly true bar one, little lie…
Song of the Stork by Stephan Collishaw
War is not a grand narrative, but the accumulation of grief on individuals and, here, a specific individual. I was unsure of its exact location, though there is a renowned Selo in Poland and numerous villages of Selo in Russia. Frankly, the exact location of the village doesn’t matter as the The Song of the Stork by Stephan Collishaw follows the life of a Jewish teenage girl during WWII, firstly after the Nazis come through and kill her friends and family, and then as she tries to survive the constant threat.
And the soul-crushing impact of the atrocities of war on an ordinary individual is what The Song portrays.
Dare to Remember by Susanna Beard
It’s rare that you pick up a book and find it resonates with your own experience, especially experience that is intensely personal. Just like the protagonist here, I once had an accident in which I very nearly died. Like her, my memory of the event has gone and I have no recollection of what happened: it’s a blank. I’ve also been closely involved with death and bereavement. Understandably, then, I was curious to see how other writers treat such an emotive combination. My experience has frequently resulted in disappointment as both are often treated too lightly or with little real insight.
A week with no blog entry? Forgive me. I’ve been adjusting to my medication and, whilst it has stepped up slowly to the maximum dose, I have effectively doubled it in a week and, at times, I am as high as a kite.
That said, though, I have had a few pain-free hours. Completely. No “But there is a little bit…” or anything else, but pain free.
There were some curiously intense pains later but the few hours of relief were wonderful. Control is still a big issue, and I seem to be more clumsy than normal, but to not have that pain and then have to worry just about the normal aches and pains of lack of muscle use is brilliant. If I could drink, I’d celebrate with champagne.
Over the past few months I’ve been setting things up so I can work properly on books, scripts, articles and such. A major issue with scriptwriting is the very strict formatting, whether writing for radio or screen. Course advice was extremely strong: use screenwriting software to ensure formatting compliance. I’ve had a look at a number of tools recommended by the BCU screenwriting lecturer, Andy Conway, but the major issue was compatibility with Dragon’s NaturallySpeaking (Dragon). It’s not that there was a problem with Dragon, just that change of formatting options were all in special mouse-operated pop-ups that it was impossible to control with normal voice commands. The only way to rectify it is via Dragon macros that were unsupported in my SFE-standard version of Dragon (SFE:Student Finance England through which I receive my Disabled Student Allowance (DSA)) (too many brackets!).
We’ll come back to that later.