Wednesday, 5 June 2019

The Reader/Listener Reviews: Lolita

My partner and I have this thing: I read to her, she tries not to fall asleep.

Mostly we do this for fun, but also for both my partner and I to get an opportunity to have experienced many books we both may never have read.

  • Lolita (Vladimir Nabakov)

My Partner (the listener):
Even though this book did feel like Humbert's ramblings would go on for an eternity, when my partner had finished reading a chapter, it did leave me wanting to find out more - where was all this going, and where will it end up? The book had moments of great entertainment where it felt like Vladimir Nabokov was showing off his prowess over the English language by using every descriptive word imaginable, and with some French thrown in for good measure. You certainly got a feel for Humbert's extremely complex character through his obsession for Lolita, Lolita, Lo! 4/5

Me (the readerer):
Chapter 25: "This book is about Lolita..." NO Humbert Humbert - this book is all about YOU! Lolita, your object of desire, is just a 'sexy lamp' for your twisted mind and obsessive disorder, and the words you write detail every aspect of your own admitted sickness and obsession until that obsession becomes all consuming.
I tried three times over the years to read this book but couldn't stand Humbert's excessiveness and tone, but the opportunity to read out loud meant I could slow down and invest each line with much more characteristics of tonal inflections. This is what makes the novel so great - Nabakov has exploited every aspect of the English language (remember Russian is his mother tongue) to convey to the reader the psychological insights to such a tormented mind. Now whether you agree or disagree with the character, like or dislike the book, mostly is irrelevant; I found the storyline not particularly engaging, but then I don't think it's supposed to be. If, for example, the book were to be edited down for bookclub or reader digest type purposes, it's so easy to be an editor and cut swathes of rambling and sidetracking away to thin the book, but then the reader doesn't get the true insight of character, the ridiculous philosophising and inane digressions. The whole point is to see this as a character study, and in that sense every single dreary word counts! 5/5

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

The Reader/Listener Reviews: Introduction and The Slightly Alarming Tale of the Whispering Wars Review

My partner is not a "book nerd" like me. Near the end of last year I walked her into the local library and announced loudly: "And this is a library!" Several heads turned, librarian jaws dropped, a head poked out from the office... is this for real? Has this person seriously never visited a library before?

In our conversations, my partner expressed much enthusiasm towards books, especially as a part of her youth, but the case being that she wasn't one who read much, if at all. Eyesight problems also put much of an end to this. I was able to relate that I did a consistent amount of reading as a teenager but trailed off in my twenties when eyesight problems also gave me the run around. By the time I reached thirty years of age, I was down to one book a year (having averaged around thirty or so in my teens). Reading to my partner began more out of an interest in her hearing my poetry and then the two novels I have written: I am the Local Atheist and Auralye on a Harp. When we talked more about the books I loved and wanted to re-read (Dune), and the books I thought I might never get around to reading (1984), I suggested I read those to her as well. This was an idea she absolutely adored.

We begun with Animal Farm, of which I reviewed on my own. And then preceded onto three novels at once - Lolita, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, and The Slightly Alarming Tale of the Whispering Wars - taking breaks on each book as they tired us out until, often, we only had a two or three chapters left and plugged through to the end.

Reading out loud is a challenge. It demands the reader have a feel for certain traits that get vocalised, while also varying character voices. This does not mean that I suddenly have to put on a "female voice", it simple means a slightly higher tone mixed with a certain characteristic - so long as my partner remembers who that tone inflection belongs to in case the author has forgotten to tell the reader who the character is speaking, or as often happens, simply doesn't indicate through actions, or positioning within a scene. Often, in fact, I've had to look ahead to the "[character name] said" at the end of a sentence before reading the sentence, so issues like that tend to pop up in my reviews, because as both a reader and a listener, that interrupts the flow of dialogue.

The first book we finished together was The Slightly Alarming Tale of the Whispering Wars 

Mostly we do this for fun, but also for both my partner and I to get an opportunity to have experienced many books we both may never have read.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Your Room is Rent

Welcome to
that time when you
can't go home,
because home is not your home;
It is a house,
it is a room,
it belongs
to someone else.

Owned by another,
in the space they call home,
where your welcome
overstays the tension.

Your room is rent,
not a haven.
Your room is rent
judging your presence,
waiting for leverage

to kick you out.

  • 16/02/2018, Motueka/Ngatimoti

Monday, 1 January 2018

Walk Life to the End

To walk,
is to begin again,

I feel my life coming to an end.
I feel young,
but age has withered me away.

Bringing older,
Silvery tinged skin.

Was the frustration of family,
the only thing that anchored me?
With it gone,
sailing free has broken the dream.

I’d wish for a midlife crisis,
if I could afford the toys,
but the breakdown will have to suffice.
The loss of interest, question, wonder.
Sanity forsakes me.

Boredom relegates me
To less than the sum of my parts,

Roll out the carpet.

  • 01/01/2018, Ngatimoti

Sunday, 10 September 2017

The Smoking Barrel

Life is fit for opportunity:
Take the seat on your own,
Order the cappuccino,
Order the chicken tenders,
Smile and make yourself presentable
Even though you didn't have a shower this morning.
"Do you take sugar?"
I looked at the bottle of water,
The glass just poured. "Yes."
She brought me sugar.
Love the moment,
Hate the feelings,
Walk off rejection.
Your hair looks good to someone,
No matter how messy it fell.
Friends may come,
Friends may go;
Friends are not the ones who leave you alone,
Freeze you out,
Forget how much a phone call means,
How easy a phone call is to make,
Place your heart on a stake.
They will fade,
Their influence diminish;
You will start anew,
A bird with greater wingspan.
Order another coffee,
Stay up late,
Make no apologies for the past you had to live through
- that is yours and yours alone.
Some will never know,
Some won't want to know,
Some will understand,
Some play the advantage of their hand.
Fly, roll, run, walk,
This has all been said before.
Words, how they matter not,
The intent is to release the soul
From its prison of thoughts.

  • 09/09/17, Motueka

Thursday, 7 September 2017

I want to stop, I want to keep going...

A part of me does just want to continue moving, though, because there’s not a lot of point standing still when standing still is uncomfortable.