One girl's journey to read the top 100 literature classics of all time in the space of 365 days, a quest for only the most foolhardy and brave

Archive for the tag “disturbing”

Orange is the new black…

Every book is relevant. Say what you will about the author, the character or even the topic but you can’t deny it has its place. But every now and again you pick up one which is like reading a diary. Either your own or someone you know’s, their words, thoughts and expressions in print for everyone to read.

Something so relevant you would swear it had been written for your time, right then and there. Most people feel this way about 1983 or Animal Farm. I discovered I felt this way when I first picked up A Clockwork Orange late last week.

I read it in three days. I felt I was there walking with Alex most of the way. That was my friend who was on the train that he and his gang messed with and took her money, my flatmate was the guy who had his face and library book ruined and destroyed by their gang on the way home. I was the girl who was so terrified of them robbing the house that she didn’t even open her door to them when they asked for help.

For anyone who hasn’t read it, all I can say is read it. Once read, it stays with you for days. Perhaps because I lived in London for three years and saw and heard these gangs every day on the tube and in the street, perhaps because I saw and experienced gang violence once or twice in that time or perhaps because I knew some of these kids in school, or for whatever reason I became hooked on this book.

Written in a hybrid of english teen/Russian slang it’s almost impossible to decipher when you read the first few lines. But before long you’re swimming in their gutter language and relishing this unforgiving, brutal glimpse into their lives.

It’s like watching a car crash in slow motion and there is nothing you can do to stop it. I couldn’t tear myself away from reading when Alex and his droogs ruled the streets with their brutality, or when Alex was being transformed and shaped into a model citizen by the government and or even when the final result caused more chaos then good. I. just. could. not. put. it. down.

It’s a read which is heartbreakingly real, almost tender in some parts and in others, downright stomach turning. It is about lives on the precipice and the big question is if they’ll jump or if someone else will be the ones to push them over. How the author came up with the title is a bit of a mystery to me but what is clear to me is, firstly, orange is the new black and secondly its a book for every generation.



Castaway for kids…

Think of the film Castaway only instead of Tom hanks, it’s the group of bullies out of Stephen King’s Carrie novel who are stuck on an island, they are pint sized, meaner and crazier.

That basically sums up Golding’s ‘Lord of the flies’. Of course not all of the boys are bullies but it’s what happens while watching them try to govern themselves that is what is most intriguing.

They become afraid and when fear strikes they start to become primal and more prone to manipulation by the powerful members of the group.

Golding has a flawless childlike imagination which makes you feel he is one of them and you can feel the suffocating paranoia as all semblance of civility breaks down.

The use of fear and violence in the fight for control is something that is echoed over and over again in the world today. It’s sobering to see young boys tragically play this out, acting the way adults have done for years in international and domestic conflict.

It’s a challenging read but a rewarding one. It takes a talented writer to not only tell a story but have the reader live the story at the same time. I would normally never pick up a book like this but found myself loving it and finishing it in two sittings.

This book was written more than 58 years ago and it is still relevant and long may to continue to be. It’s kind of success every author dreams of.

I can’t imagine anything more satisfying or fulfilling than having your writing be relevant and meaningful to others..

Wishful thinking…

I wish I was reading the new Jane Green book…

I wish I was reading the Hunger Games series…

Instead I’m reading…

Recipe for a classic with a twist…

Take one mixing bowl and add:

– A scrawny, guileless and gutless American soldier/optometrist, an alien abduction and World War II

– Add a sprinkle of time travel and stir until well combined

– Fold in a loveless marriage, a fatalistic attitude and a life-long nemesis and knead until a soft consistency

– Cook in an oven on medium heat for 2 hours and then leave to cool

– Season to taste and sample the final result in one sitting – Kurt Vonnegut’s, Slaughterhouse Five

I suppose I should have known when I first bought it that it was going to be an unusual read. I only had to mention the title before the shop assistant became incredibly animated. He literally jumped on the spot and rattled off a raft of sci-fi authors and other works by Vonnegut. In between his breathless enthusiasm he got out that Slaughterhouse was one of his favourites and what did I think of it? Was I re-reading it?

When I told him that I’d never read any of his work before and that I was just re-educating myself on the classics he dropped me like a hot plate. I read his face instantly. ‘She’s not one of my people.’

I practically had to force him to take my money for the book. I knew then, that this book wasn’t going to be any old classic book to tick off the list.

It was better.

Think The Time Traveller’s Wife set in WW2 with an alien abduction thrown in along the way. It’s beyond strange but completely enjoyable. The Time Traveller’s Wife simply pales in comparison.

Told from the view of a timid, often gutless and cowardly man, the book keeps coming back to the idea that life does not end with death, instead its about the living of moments. So as the plot develops it jumps back and forth, as Billy, the main character keeps reliving his time and time again.

It’s a fascinating read and I have deliberately not picked up another book since I finished it last Friday. I just wanted to savour the taste it left in my mouth. The thoughts and questions it probed at the reader really made me think about the past, present and future and all that intertwines.

How Vonnegut came up with the idea and flow of the book baffles me entirely. I’m struggling just with one linear story and plot. A jumble of experiences which flit back and forth in time would be overwhelming to try to capture and put into words.

It was one of the few books I’ve read that is written and told exactly the way life actually is. A jumble of experiences, moments and thoughts. All happening at once, with memories of the past interfering with the present and future.

It makes you think about everything that has led to the makings of who you are, small as well as dramatic moments and experiences. It made me think about what has turned me into the aspiring writer I am today and that the only thing stopping me from becoming not only an author but a successful one, is me.


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