I think it’s a first for me, to be reading the book simulaneously as I watched the mini-series of Picnic at Hanging Rock, written by Joan Lindsay. I saw the trailer for the mini-series first, then a review of the book from author Claire Fuller. When I shortly after noticed the book at my local library, I decided to read the book while waiting for the next eposide of the series.
I really liked the story of four young women that disappear during a picnic. There are many little unexplained mysteries lying under the surface concerning the college that is having the picnic, Mrs Appleyard who runs the college and the disappearance of the women. Without spoiling too much, I also really like that most of these mysteries are left untangled by the end of the story.
Now, the book and the mini-series are quite different. The mini-series does a very good job of building up tension and mystery where nothing really happens. There was especially one scene when a young man spends the night at the Hanging Rock trying the find the girls. I was on edge watching but realized when the scene changed that nothing had actually happening. A good example how you can play with the audiences’ imagination. The mini-series also gave back-stories to some of the characters where the book hasn’t done that.
The book on the other hand is a bit old fashioned in the way it’s written. If you’re not used to reading classical literature with that way of telling stories it could potentially put you off reading. If you on the other hand accept that this is how the story is written there is a very creepy atmosphere and nature is weaved in to the story to become part of the mystery. The Hanging Rock becomes one of the characters. All these various people are in different ways affected by the disappearance of the young women. A fatal decision to let them explore the picnic grounds on their own has ripple effects long after that day of the picnic.
To conclude the TV version of the story is better than the book – for once.
It’s not often that I choose to read short-story collections but I do enjoy well-written stories, no matter what their length, and I have read a short-story collection by Joanne Harris before, Jigs & Reels.
One thing that confused me with A Cat, a Hat and a Piece of String was that some of characters reappeared in different stories. I wasn’t so keen on this because I wanted to relate these stories with each other and was struggling to understand where, time-wise, the characters were is relation to the other stories. With the exception of Faith and Hope, it just didn’t work for me.
For the most part I did enjoy reading this book. The different characters and stories were interesting and well written. I especially liked the first story, River Song, and the last, Road Song. Both of these take place in Africa and the landscape, the atmosphere and the setting were evocative.
However most of the stories felt too open ended. As much as I enjoyed the characters and the events described, the end felt unsatisfactory. As with The Muse — who were these people really, even the main character? At the end of the story I wasn’t sure I had enough context to understand the point of the story. In some stories the ambiguity was forgiven, like The Game. It was sort of the point of the story, that you didn’t know, and neither did the characters, but with other stories I felt I needed more of a conclusion.
I like Joanne Harris and always keep an eye out for her books but the books about Vianne Rocher and Anouk are still the strongest I’ve read, even if I have yet to get around to actually reading Chocolate.
As I suspected, the relaunch of Let me tell you a story… is taking longer than I hoped. I have been rewriting quite of lot and I decided to try to make the new book cover myself. It will be good Photoshop practise if I can only get on to the screen the idea I have in my head.
From Our Own Perspective is moving forward as well. I have had two sessions so far with my friends to compile the texts in Indesign and, while we wait for the last pieces of text, we are proofreading. It was great to get new eyes involved as I have become too used to the texts and read what ought to be there instead of what’s actually written. My journalism teacher from years ago would say I read too quickly.
I have finally started working on Finn, the Farmer’s Son again. It’s amazing to think how many twists and turns this little story has taken since I started it back in 2009. Last weekend I managed to get far enough with the editing that I will soon start submitting extracts to my writers group for feedback. By October I hope to do a round of agent and indie-publisher submissions.
This past Sunday I launched another novelty on my Instagram (author_liv_johannesson). Every other Sunday I’ll be posting one of my poems under the hashtag #poetrysunday and #instapoetry. Go in and read Let Me Sleep which was the first poem to be posted.
I recently decided to reread Tracy Chevalier’s second book The Virgin Blue. Chevalier is one of my favourite authors and one who’s books I always buy as soon as I find out a new book has been released. Much of this is due to early books like The Virgin Blue.
I love this book and I think it’s one of Chevalier’s best. Rereading a book, however, makes you more observant of how the book is told. For me the historical main character Isabelle and her fate is the stronger story. The modern story surrounding Ella is not at all as interesting nor is Ella as likeable as Isabelle. At the same time, I think the framework that the modern story-line provides needs to be there.
I remember that the first time I read the book, some of the last few chapters were so intense that I read them too quickly, not absorbing everything. I was surprised to find that I had actually forgotten entire chapters from the book, the end being much longer than I thought. The climax of the story I think is a bit weak, but the strength of the overall story makes me forgive the weak climax.
My main problem with The Virgin Blue is stylistic. There are, for obvious reasons, quite of few sentences and words in French. I don’t have a problems with that in itself but if I buy a book in a certain language it should not be assumed that I can understand any other language. In this case, I’ve read the book in English so any French should, one way or another, have been translated for the readers’ ease of reading even if the French is kept within the main text.
Obviously I recommend that you read it. How can I not!
Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta was a book that has been on my reading list for a while. So long actually that I don’t remember how I heard about it or why I wanted to read it. The blurb on the back introduced the main character and the setting for the story but gave no hint of one of the major themes in the book, which caught me by surprise.
Here is the spoiler, as stories in general goes, this is a LGBT story. I didn’t know that as I started reading and it didn’t bother me either. It was just another layer of circumstances surrounding main character Ijeoma. The characters were interesting and so were the situations they ended up in. I know very little about Africa as a continent and Nigeria specifically and was intrigued by the descriptions of the land, the people and their every day life.
As I was reading I had a growing sense that this story could in no way get to any kind of satisfactory ending. When the main character is basically fighting society with its traditions and prejudices how can they “win” for lack of a better word. Okparanta manages to pull the story to some sort of conclusion, much more so than I anticipated as I neared the end of the book, but still the end didn’t feel full circle. The epilogue helped but it feels like I was cheated out of a large part of the story. Ijeoma makes her big decision but how does she reconciliate that afterwards?
I still really enjoyed reading it, if not for any other reason than that it was a world that was relatively new to me and I liked exploring and learning about this for me new world.
I continue to write articles for the mental health magazine Equilibrium. Below is a link to my latest published article about how a diet high on sugar can increase your risk of experiencing depressions and also of depressions reoccurring. My article is on page 28-31 but please read the other articles as well.
It’s a little over a year ago since I self-published my short-story Let Me Tell You a Story While You Sleep on Smashwords and later on Amazon. I have decided to do a relaunch of the e-book. This weekend I hope to edit the text again, work on a new book cover and by the end of next week I plan to relaunch the book. Yes, it’s a bit optimistic so perhaps it will actually be a week or two later. I read through the story yesterday. The first time in a very long time that I revisited and I found quite a lot that I wanted to change. It won’t change the story itself but will expand on the main character’s experience of being an expat.
The next writing project on my list is Global Fusions’ anthology – From Our Own Perspective. With help of a few friends I will set the text for print, and although we are sadly behind schedule, the idea is to print and publish the book in time for Global Fusions’ autumn start up in September. This will be a physical pocket book and I have three shorter pieces included in it.
I’m also sadly overdue with editing my poetry-novella Finn, the Farmer’s Son which I hope to either find a publisher for or to self-publish in time for Christmas. I’d really like to make an audio-book with Finn since so many friends have said that it would lend itself well to being read out loud. But first, I need to find the time for a final edit and research which agents or publishers that might be worth my time sending it to.
Stay tuned for updates.