Category Archives: Blogs

Return to Wonderland

Return to Wonderland

Many writers have a relationship with Alice. A whole bunch of them have now written their own new stories about Wonderland and the wondrous creatures you find there. It’s Alice Day on the 4th of July, or so I’ve been told, and here’s a whole new story collection featuring your favourite characters.

In fact, I was struck by how nicely these authors played; they all seemed to have an affinity with a different character from the other authors, which seems to mean there was no fighting. They simply sat down and mused in an interesting way about the Cheshire Cat, or the Knave of Hearts, or any of the others.

To tell the truth, I only ever read the original Alice once, and don’t have a deep and meaningful relationship with any of them. I like tea parties, but prefer them to be normal. I like my head attached. And so on.

Some of these stories were great, lots of fun and interesting new takes on the old tales. I didn’t like all of them the same, but that’s understandable as the eleven authors don’t write the same way, and maybe for me some of Wonderland’s characters are more my cup of tea than others.

‘One morning, Pig woke to discover he had been turned into a real boy.’

How can you go wrong with a start like that?

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The Defence

This is one I wrote earlier. Fingers crossed I am doing what I am about to claim I am doing.

This is the day Daughter has her PhD defence, and I am in Switzerland for the express purpose of not understanding a thing she says, before serving the red wine.

It’s taken four years and several exoplanet discoveries. She has written lots of words about it, mostly in English, but as the university requires some kind of introduction in French – a language Daughter didn’t speak, at all – there is a bit of planetary stuff in French.

And in Swedish, proofread by me. It’s not easy editing words about that which you really know very little. It’s got pretty pictures, the colours of which I was allowed to have an opinion on. And I might get a mention in the acknowledgements, but you sort of expect that for having views on colours.

So, that’s me. Us, really. In the middle of the woods near the French border. I did a practice run last year.

Skål!

Some comprehension deficiency

Just a short, flippant post for you today.

I sometimes write down quotes and thoughts, intending to use them for something. Occasionally I forget what I had in mind. This was one such time. But it fits in well with how my brain is working – i.e. not really working – right now.

I am ‘experiencing comprehension deficiency.’ That sounds so much better than ‘I am stupid.’

Thank goodness for the internet and its search functions. Sitting there as I was, with my quote and not a clue, I discovered it came from Doctor Who. I know this because someone blogged about it, here.

But, yeah, my deficiency has more to do with being surrounded by intelligent and clever people. I am intelligent too, of course, but not quite like this. I’ll never help send anyone to the moon, or anything like that.

Midsummer

Midsummer

What we did on this day, many years ago. (It wasn’t always this idyllic, btw.)

Refugee reads

The other night, I was suddenly reminded of Anne Holm’s I Am David. This lovely, lovely story has always been on my ‘journey book’ list. But it is also a refugee kind of story. And worth reading again.

I won’t lie. A publisher presented me with a list of their refugee books, and many of them are excellent. But I will let my mind wander of its own here, and see what I come up with. It will probably mean I forget a really important one, but…

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, by Judith Kerr. I see from the comments that Judith wanted a cuckoo clock. It brings a whole more human scale to the refugee issue.

In the Sea There Are Crocodiles, told by Enaiatollah Akbari to Fabio Geda. Enaiatollah who’s a real refugee, but who was also refused a visa to come to the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Oh, those fears that everyone will want to come and live here illegally…

Like the poor souls we meet in Eoin Colfer’s and Andrew Donkin’s Illegal. All that suffering.

Life in refugee camps is no picnic, and The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon is a hard read. Necessary, but harrowing. Or you can read books by Elizabeth Laird and the Deborah Ellis stories from Afghanistan.

In No Ballet Shoes in Syria by Catherine Bruton the refugees have arrived, but don’t know if they will be allowed to stay. You need to adapt, but with no guarantee that it will be worth it.

A Candle in the Dark by Adèle Geras is almost happy by comparison. It’s Kristallnacht and Kindertransport territory, but when we read that book we believed we were improving year by year. Yes, it was bad back then, but no more…

Like the true story told by Eva Ibbotson, by one refugee about another. Still makes me want to cry.

Poetry and fascism

Michael Rosen poem

I found this poem by Michael Rosen on his Facebook page last week. It has appeared on his own blog several times, and been used or quoted in many other places online, so I trust Michael doesn’t mind me putting it here as well.

We need to read about this. It is both so simple and so true, and much more so than five years ago when he first published it.

Strictly speaking it might not have to do with refugees – during what’s World Refugee Week – but then again, maybe it does.

We need people like Michael Rosen. People who can put into simple words what we are facing right now.

Respect

Some time ago I read a newspaper review of a book I myself had not only read and thoroughly enjoyed, but reviewed on Bookwitch.

The reviewer, whom I respect, had also liked the book, but puzzled me by describing it, using a direct untruth. It wasn’t even the borrowing from the blurb on the back thing. It was stating something about the story that was a lie.

Had the reviewer in this case not read the book, but caught an idea from something they’d seen? Or had they read and enjoyed the book, but still managed to misunderstand the context? Or plain forgotten, by the time they came to write the review?

I’m just curious.

For anyone seeing this and deciding to give the book a go because of what was claimed, it could be a disappointment, despite the book being so marvellous. Or they’d feel they were glad they were tempted, as they had now been introduced to a lovely book.

Many years ago – 15, in fact – I read a mention of Meg Rosoff’s How I Live Now in the Guardian. I ordered the book on the strength of me understanding it was about WWI. But that was me not reading properly; nothing to do with the Guardian. It caused me to read the first chapter of HILN several times while my head tried to make sense of the lack of WWI or the early twentieth century.

But once I’d done that, I was happy to have found the best book I’ve ever read. And all because of a misunderstanding, by me.

I’m still curious regarding this other book. Did a respected reviewer in a respected newspaper forget to read?