Editing through Twitter and Lent

photo (1)[Image Mine]

It is the season of Lent. For Lent, I decided to give up Twitter and with a few human moments of fallibility, I have, so far, achieved my goal. Without the distraction of Twitter, which I am ashamed to admit seems to have taken up literally hours of my day, I have gone back to editing my novel. I have edited pages and pages and feel accomplished – a feeling I never had staring mindlessly at the ideas, thoughts and over shares of some of the accounts I follow. Who knows, perhaps I will even finish the draft I’m working on by Easter, ready for a final read through before the grand reveal!

The prompt for this post, however, is not directly related to the season nor the editing. It is about the meaning of the words “fake” and “symbiosis”.

: attested in London criminal slang as adj. (1775),verb (1812), and noun(1827), but probably older. Likely source is feague “to spruce up by artificial means,”from Ger. fegen “polish, sweep,” also “to clear out, plunder” in colloquial use.

:1877,
 as a biological term, “mutually beneficial association otwo different organisms,” Given a wider (non-biological)sense by 1921.

The relationship I had formed with Twitter, I realise now, was a fake symbiosis. I wrongly believed that Twitter was as reliant on me for its self actualisation and in return that I needed Twitter to be a valid person. After nine days of being free within my own head, after nine days of creating my own world without the constraints of what my 400+ followers might think has been liberating.

I am not so naive as to say here that I will never look at or use Twitter again. Such a statement is as invalid as a politician swearing never to tell another lie so I won’t go so far. What I need to remember in the future is the clarity of my mind and how rescued I feel.

[Review] The Supernatural Enhancements written by Edgar Cantero

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Title: The Supernatural Enhancements
Author: Edgar Cantero
Publisher: Random House UK Ebury Publishing
Date of Publication: 14 August 2014
Number of Pages: 368

Rating: 4 stars

Disclaimer: Copy provided free by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Summary: What begins as a clever, gothic ghost story soon evolves into a wickedly twisted treasure hunt in The Supernatural Enhancements, Edgar Cantero’s wholly original, modern-day adventure.

When twenty something A., the unexpected European relative of the Wells family, and his companion, Niamh, a mute teenage girl with shockingly dyed hair, inherit the beautiful but eerie estate of Axton House, deep in the woods of Point Bless, Virginia, it comes as a surprise to everyone—including A. himself. After all, he never even knew he had a “second cousin, twice removed” in America, much less that the eccentric gentleman had recently committed suicide by jumping out of the third floor bedroom window—at the same age and in the same way as his father had before him . . .

Together, A. and Niamh quickly come to feel as if they have inherited much more than just a rambling home and a cushy lifestyle. Axton House is haunted, they know it, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the secrets they slowly but surely uncover. Why all the suicides? What became of the Axton House butler who fled shortly after his master died? What lurks in the garden maze and what does the basement vault keep? And what of the rumors in town about a mysterious gathering at Axton House on the night of the winter solstice? [Goodreads]

Review: What a trip this novel turned into! Initially, I found it difficult to engage with the characters and the form of storytelling used by Cantero. Part of this is baggage from The Hundred-Year House but part of it was the unexpected. The unexpected then continued for the entire book.

I enjoyed the way the story evolved via journal entries, dream journal entries, EVP recordings and video transcripts. Some reviews have criticised the way this story is told, referencing Dracula and The Moonstone, and to a point, I agree. Some of the bibliographic additions are heavy handed and at times are cumbersome to the flow of the overall narrative without adding much of relevance. There are also quite a few plot holes, which though not immediately apparent, become obvious once you drag yourself back into the real world and are reflecting on what has passed. I won’t give an example here because I detest people who post spoilers. If you’re desperate to see them, follow the Goodreads link above.

I don’t really feel I can say a substantial amount about this book without taking away from the reading. If, like me, you only read reviews after you’ve finished a book, you either agree with my points or you don’t. That my friends, is the beauty of our own unique ability to read. As for speculation on a sequel, I can’t see it working but I won’t be watching for a release date.

GUEST POST [Review] In The Unlikeliest Places written by Annette Libeskind Berkovits

IN THE UNLIKLIEST OF PLACES : How Nachman Libeskind Survived the Nazis, Gulags, and Soviet Communism

By Annette Libeskind Berkovits
Disclaimer: Copy provided free by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
1 Star

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I feel very guilty about writing a negative review of this work as its pedigree is excellent – apparently.

“I was born in 1909 in Lodz, but my passport says Przedborz …” He stopped suddenly and searched for a button.

“Ach, I forgot to explain this,” he said utterly frustrated, then pushed the wrong button and erased what he had just recorded. “Shayze!” An uncharacteristic curse escaped his lips. He took off his glasses and said, “I think it’s time to prepare lunch.”

Annette Libeskind Berkovits thought her attempt to have her father record his life’s story failed. But in 2004, three years after her father’s death, she was going through his things and found a box of tapes—several years’ worth—with his spectacular life, triumphs, and tragedies told one last time in his baritone voice.” (Goodreads)

The true life story of a remarkable man, Nachman Libeskind – someone who was to suffer imprisonment in a Nazi concentration camp and escape only to face further punishment in the Soviet gulag. The fact of his survival is astonishing.

Nachman Libeskind’s remarkable story is an odyssey through crucial events of the twentieth century. With an unshakable will and a few drops of luck, he survives a pre-war Polish prison; witnesses the 1939 Nazi invasion of Lodz and narrowly escapes; is imprisoned in a brutal Soviet gulag where he helps his fellow inmates survive, and upon regaining his freedom treks to the foothills of the Himalayas, where he finds and nearly loses the love of his life. Later, the crushing communist regime and a lingering postwar anti-Semitism in Poland drive Nachman and his young family to Israel, where he faces a new form of discrimination. Then, defiantly, Nachman turns a pocketful of change into a new life in New York City, where a heartbreaking promise leads to his unlikely success as a modernist painter that inspires others to pursue their dreams.

This inspiring man is the father of the world famous architect Daniel Libeskind – responsible for the Jewish Museum in Berlin. The book is written by his daughter a distinguished person in her own field, wildlife conservation. How does such a clichéd, laboured and often toe curling narrative come to be published? On investigation this is via a specialist operation called Life Writing (Wilfrid Laurier University Press). As Ms Berkovits own life is a fascinating journey it’s understandable that the combination of her own life story plus that of her father enabled it to be published.

I was very moved by Nachman Libeskind’s life story – his struggle to survive the major traumas of the 20th century is inspiring and humbling. He can bear witness both to Man’s cruelties and atrocities and yet provs Man’s indomitable will to survive. For me he is an individual on a par with Primo Levi surviving Auschwitz.

Whereas I can appreciate the narrative is recounted by his daughter who sees him first and foremost as her ‘dad’ I felt he was diminished by the homely folksy style she affects. I suppose she sought to present him as Everyman but instead has reduced his essence to that of a leprechaun.

Published September 10th 2014 by Wilfrid Laurier University Press
276 pages

In Praise Of: Reading Outside Your Comfort Zone

These Little Words

To me, at least, the psychology of reading for pleasure is interesting – why do we do it? What do we get out of it? Why is pleasurable? Why do we like what we like? Different people will have different answers to these questions.

Generally I know what I like, and I can judge relatively easily whether or not I will like a book before I read it. This mean that I look out for – and avoid – certain things. I’ve never thought of myself as a reader committed to a genre, but I know that I like certain types of books, and I dislike others. There are some types of books I know I’ll never read (chick lit, romance, YA, Martin Amis) and some that I’ve never read but I’m not sure why not (I literally can’t think of any examples except Anna Karenina). And there are…

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[Review] The Dark Meadow writing by Andrea Maria Schenkel

Title: The Dark Meadow
Author: Andrea Maria Schenkel
Publisher: Quercus Books
Date of Publication: 7 August 2014
Number of Pages:

Rating: 5 stars

Disclaimer: Copy provided free by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Summary: Bavaria, Germany, 1947 – At the end of the war, Afra Zauner returns to her parents’ cottage on the edge of Mauther Forest. Unmarried, and pregnant. As she struggles to raise her child, her father’s shame, her mother’s fury and the loud whispers of the neighbours begin to weigh upon her. She doesn’t believe in her sin. But everyone else does.
And someone brings judgement down upon her.

Many years later, Hermann Müller is throwing a drunk out of his tavern. A traveller, who won’t stop ranting about a murder left unsolved, about police who never investigated. Out of curiosity, the file is reopened. And in the cold light of hindsight, a chilling realisation creeps upon the community.

No-one ever atoned for Afra’s death. But her story is waiting to be told. (Goodreads)

Review: I consider myself lucky to have been given, by Quercus Books, both The Dark Meadow and The Murder Farm by Andrea Maria Schenkel to review in the last twelve months. At a time where so many authors are described as unique in their writing, Schenkel truly is everything this word means. I am reading the English translations of her work so credit must also be given to Anthea Bell for aiding the storytelling.

In my review of The Murder Farm I wrote “a reader…must approach this book in a different fashion to most crime novels – it is unconventional and therein lies its cleverness. The story is linear but fragments around multiple narrators, each unique voice telling their part and how they connect with the murder victims” and in The Dark Meadow this statement holds. From the outset, Schenkel sets up a timeline where different characters interact and overlap. While it is quite clear the characters know each other to varying degrees and will be present at the conclusion, the state of anticipation is ever present.

The misinterpretations of evidence, the misunderstanding of actions and comments all paint a painfully real picture which could be from a front page headline. A murdered mother and child, an elderly father suffering with what is recognisably dementia or alzheimer’s, a young policeman who wanted to be a butcher and a lawyer prosecuting his first case.

Within all of the emotions in this book, warm, cruel, heartless and grieving, the most striking is the nothingness of the last sentence. Trust me. You want the last sentence but do not cheat. You will regret it.