Monthly Archives: May 2012

Bedtime Poems #1

I recently realised that my blog wasn’t paying enough attention to poetry and to offset this I started commenting more about poetry on twitter. I started posting a quote from a poem that I had been enjoying, and as it is usually before bedtime that I’ll browse through one of my poetry books, I gave my tweets a #bedtimepoem hashtag. It’s refreshing to get short espresso hits of verse before bedtime. Decaff espresso though, of course.

Here are my #bedtimepoem picks so far:

14th of May – ‘The Wild Geese’ by Violet Jacob.

“And far abune the Angus straths I saw the wild geese flee,
A lang, lang skein o’ beatin’ wings wi’ their heids towards the sea”

I love the image that Violet Jacob creates in ‘The Wild Geese’, when I read it I can really visualise what she is describing. And the language is lovely too!

Read the full poem here.

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Erratic Reads

The past few weeks have been very quiet on the blog front. I have been reading but I have been a bit all over the place, dipping in and out of poetry, short stories and a couple of novels. I thought I’d do a little summary of my reading in the past few weeks as I haven’t done a review for a little while.

BOOKS

To begin with, I spent a couple of weeks reading The Group by Mary McCarthy. It’s my first book club read so I’m waiting to discuss it with my fellow bookclubbers before commenting on it on my blog. What I will say though is that I enjoyed it, and was surprised by its frankness on certain women’s subjects, which even by today’s standards aren’t that easy to come across in popular fiction. More on that in a couple of weeks…

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Book Review: Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan

Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan

Publisher: Serpent’s Tail
Selected edition: Paperback
ISBN: 9781846687761
Published: 02.02.2012
No of pages: 352
Price: £7.99
SHORTLISTED FOR THE ORANGE PRIZE FOR FICTION 2012
SHORTLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2011

Esi Edugyan’s Half Blood Blues brings to life the jazz scene of the late 30s and early 40s in Berlin. I have been wanting to read the Orange Prize shortlisted (and Man Booker shortlisted in 2011) novel for a while, not just because of the great reviews it has received, but also out of curiosity, to see if I felt the book lived up to such acclaim.

The concept was one that I hadn’t met before: in Nazi-occupied Paris, a young, black, German trumpet player named Hieronymus Falk is arrested and disappears, leaving the jazz world mourning the loss of a talent equal to Louis Armstrong. In the 1990s, two of his former band mates (Americans from Baltimore) make their way back to Berlin for the Hieronymus Falk Festival, with protagonist Sid Griffiths reflecting on the past and the guilt and secrets that surround their time in Berlin and Paris, and the arrest of Hieronymus.

It took me a while to get into Half Blood Blues. The novel begins in Paris, 1940, when Hieronymus (or Hiero as he is called by Sid) is arrested, and I found it a bit confusing, trying to work out who the characters were, their relationships, which one was “the kid” and how they had come to be in Paris at the time. The voice of Sid Griffiths (whose name kept reminding me of the rather different Sid Vicious!) is evocative, clear and it took me a bit of time to fall into step with it. When I did though, I found the characters to be vivid and gripping, each one interesting in a different way. There is a lively dynamic between the band mates, and although at times their banter can be cruel, the care they have for each other is touchingly apparent.

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Book Club – First Meeting

The Group by Mary McCarthy

I’ve started up a book club with a few of my friends (all female). Our first meeting took a while to organise – turns out we all have quite hectic schedules! When we finally managed to get together there wasn’t really that much book chat. We focussed more on catching up on gossip and drinking tea but we did however decide on our first novel – Mary McCarthy’s The Group.

I was given the task of picking the first novel as I was playing hostess and since this had been on my reading list for a while (and I already had it sitting on my shelf) it seemed like a natural choice. It follows a group of young female graduates, trying to start up their careers and find love in 1930s New York and I’d say that my friends and I are at a similar stage, having graduated within the past couple of years. Perhaps the central belt of Scotland in 2012 is not quite as glamorous as the Big Apple but I hope we will all get something out of it. We’ll find out next month if it was a good choice! Looking forward to getting started and meeting up next month to discuss it. Will update after our second meeting!

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