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Learning How to Decipher Elvish Does Not Actually Take an Entishly Long Time!

17 Oct

Picture courtesy of superstevied.

Gi suilon! Êl síla erin lû e-govaned vîn.

Did you know that the languages were the first thing that Tolkien created for his mythical universe? According to the author, his stories grew out of his languages as he creates races to speak the tongues he had constructed. Quenya (high-elven) was the first, and most complete, of these languages, the other being Sindarin (grey-elven).

Elvish is strongly influenced by Finnish and Welsh, but is surprisingly easy to learn how to use! It also looks particularly nice in a gift card with a dozen freshly baked loaves of Lembas Bread.

Using the examples of ‘Robert’ and ‘Lynne’, Star Chamber gives us a step-by-step instruction on learning the language of elves — and writing with it — in under ten minutes. They also provide a handy alphabet key  if, like me, you want to cheat your way through this linguistics course. Continue reading

Abandonment Issues

15 Oct
My Eldest Daughter, Suzanne with Milk and Book by Carl Larsson, 1904.

My Eldest Daughter, Suzanne with Milk and Book by Carl Larsson, 1904.

What are your thoughts on leaving a novel unfinished? Some of you, I’m sure, will persevere through the most plot-holed purple prose imaginable. Others will have hard and fast rules — preferring to stop after the first page, or abandoning a book on the third chapter if they’re not really feeling it.

Apparently the rule for what page to abandon a book is 100 minus your age. For me, this means calling it quits on page 77. But I feel like the reasoning behind this rule is a bit morbid. Does it mean that as you get older, your days are numbered and you have less time to waste on bad books?!

The Copybot has a little tip for knowing when to call it quits:

You probably didn’t know this, but there’s an instinct to abandoning a book. Sort of like foraging for food. Except you are foraging for information. You are following a scent. An information scent.

And if while reading a book you lose that scent, you should stop and move onto something else.

Goodreads has a great infographic on the psychology of abandonment and it’s pretty interesting reading.

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What is it about a book that makes you put it down? These readers give reasons like “slow, boring”, “weak writing” and “when an author is committed to doing something I hate”. All valid points. However, I would never quit reading a book because I thought it was “immoral”, or “I didn’t like the main character”! ‘Lolita’, anyone?

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I’m actually guilty of abandoning 3/5 of the most begun-but-not-finished classics… and that’s only because I returned to ‘Lord of the Rings’ after the movies came out. However, there’s still time for me to go back and finish the rest!

I have read some truly awful books in my life. And I have started some truly amazing ones, never to finish them.

Sometimes, driven by the thrill of the conquest, I’ll feel like I’ve invested too much time to give up. And what if I miss something important?! There are potentially life-changing words in every abandoned book. Other times, I’ll just lose interest and put the book aside.

There isn’t really a consensus for what makes me read on to the final page!

What about you?

Five of the Best Literary Dogs in Fiction

11 Sep

Meg Rosoff has just written her list of the best literary dogs in fiction for The Telegraph — but it is in no way definitive so obviously I had to make my own. Here it is.

1. Friend — ‘FRIEND’S BEST MAN’ by Jonathan Carroll

Friend is from Carroll’s story ‘FRIEND’S BEST MAN’, winner of a World Fantasy Award. It’s about a man who saves his beloved dog from being run over by a train, but in doing so loses one of his legs. In hospital he meets a dying girl who can read his dog’s mind.

This apocalyptic tale of friendship found in ‘The Panic Hand‘, Jonathan Carroll’s superb collection of short stories.

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2. Chiquitito-Brown — ‘A Dog So Small‘ by Philippa Pearce

This is one of those books that you read as a child and it stays with you for the rest of your life. Ben Blewitt really, really wants a dog. His grandfather promises him one for his birthday, and Ben “had picked and chosen the biggest and best from the dog books in the Public Library”, but when his birthday rolls around he finds out that it is to be a woollen cross-stitch of a dog instead.

The woolwork chihuahua in the picture becomes Chiquitito-Brown, “a dog so small you can only see it with your eyes shut.” Pop-eyed, pinky-fawn with pointy ears, this imaginary companion is bold, resolute and brave in the world of Ben’s imagination.

I think this is an amazing children’s story. Not just because of the extremely effecting relationship between Ben and Chiquitito, but because it’s so rare to have a cast full of flawed, human characters in Middle School fiction.

Someone’s scanned the whole book and you can read it here.

Special mention in the chihuahua category goes to Sebastian in ‘A Little Dog Like You‘.

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3. Checkers — ‘Checkers‘ by John Marsden

This is some bleeeeak YA fiction by Australian author John Marsden. The title character is a loveable black-and-white dog that shares a special bond with its owner, a nameless teenage girl who narrates the story as a voluntary inpatient of a mental ward. Through the use of diary fiction and flash-back, we find out what happened to the girl — and what happened to Checkers.

Special mention in the surprise! dead-dog category goes to ‘The Gathering‘.

4. Snitter — ‘The Plague Dogs‘ by Richard Adams

For those of you not in the know, ‘The Plague Dogs’ is about two dogs, Rowf and Snitter, who escape an animal testing facility. They wander the English Lake District and with the help of a fox with a heavy accent, try to live like wild things. Oh, and they’re guilty of manslaughter and possibly carrying the bubonic plague.

Snitter had a human owner once, which colours his experiences. Both canines are victims of medical testing, but Snitter’s interpretation of the world is slightly more skewed than Rowf’s due to a lobotomy. The open wound from the terrier’s surgery has been covered with a dressing, leaving him with something resembling a jaunty cap.

Unlike ‘Watership Down‘, ‘Plague Dogs’ is neither marvellous nor charming. But Adams’ gift for storytelling means that this isn’t a totally depressing read (see: ‘Checkers’, above) and there are plenty of moments of beauty, insight and humour. And the ending is different to the cartoon version!

sirius

5. Sirius Black — ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban‘ by JK Rowling

Yeah, I’m mentioning Harry Potter again. Don’t you get it by now? “ALWAYS.”

10 Published Fanfiction Books That Aren’t Terrible

31 Aug

fanfiction

If you didn’t know, fanfiction refers to works by fans of television shows, movies, books etc. that use the source material’s storylines, characters or world to create a new work of fiction. It’s a generally overlooked sub-genre in literature – and perhaps rightly so. According to The Guardian:

Fanfic is seen as the lowest point we’ve reached in the history of culture – it’s crass, sycophantic, celebrity-obsessed, naive, badly written, derivative, consumerist, unoriginal – anti-original.

Fanfiction comprises one third of all content about books online. But you might not know that many, many works of fanfiction have actually become published novels or even entire series in their own right. I’m not talking about books like ‘The Hours’, or ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’, or even ‘Ulysses’. These are derivative works but not really fanfic. Books like ‘Sense and Sensibility and Seamonsters’ or ‘Android Karenina’ don’t really fit the bill either, as they contain most of the original source text.

Good fanfic should take an author’s fictional universe and tell us something completely different. Here are 10 examples that you should definitely check out before dismissing fanfiction entirely. Continue reading

A to Z Bookish Survey

29 Aug

I found this A to Z Bookish Survey on theprettybooks and thought I’d give it a try.

Author you’ve read the most books from
According to Goodreads it’s a tie between Louis Lowry (on account of her Anastasia Krupnik series and the brilliant dystopian masterpiece of YA fiction that is ‘The Giver’; C S Lewis, because of the Narnia chronicles and an unfulfilling reading of ‘Mere Christianity’; and Anne Rice, because I gorged myself on her vampire stories in high school. J K Rowling coming in closely behind these three, though! Having just ordered her secret new detective fiction into the bookshop, she might catch up pretty soon.

Best Sequel Ever
Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy has to be one of the best offerings to an already established fictional universe. Other than that, ‘The Vampire Lestat’ was a billion times better than ‘Interview With a Vampire’.

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Currently Reading
‘Fairytales for Wilde Girls’, ‘The Descent of Woman’, ‘On Writing’, ‘Ain’t I a Woman’ (not pictured), ‘Acorn’, ‘Family Likeness’, and the collected tales of Winnie-the-Pooh (not pictured).

Continue reading

The Hairstyles of Game of Thrones

23 Aug

dany

If you’ve watched the HBO show Game of Thrones, you’ll know that braids transcend gender and class, most notably sported by fearsome Dothraki warriors who only cut their braids when they lose a battle. Everyone wears them — from the wildlings north of the wall to the ladies of the court in King’s Landing. Continue reading

Gliterature is Born!

11 Aug

It’s time to say farewell to thesolipsisticsocialite.wordpress.com, the URL which once was my entry into the world’s competition for things that don’t translate well and are also hard to type after a couple gin and tonics.

So hello Gliterature.com, I promise to feed you and walk you twice a day.

Let me know if you have any ideas for the site! I’m also taking guest submissions.

Six Word Stories

1 Jul

Hello readers! I don’t know if I’m mentioned this before (I have), but I work in the coolest bookshop ever. As this week is Independent Booksellers Week, I thought it might be a good time to remind you all.

This was a customer testing our pens.

A couple of weeks ago, my colleague and I were discussing the concept of the six word story. For example, Ernest Hemingway is (incorrectly) believed to have once said that his best work was a story he wrote in just six words:

‘For sale: baby shoes, never worn.’

And yeah, it’s pretty spooky. But we thought we could do better, so we took to Twitter to rally some would-be writers. Here are my six favourite responses.

Continue reading

Friday Night Playlist: Literary Songs

21 Jun

If you don’t have Spotify you can listen to the playlist on Last.fm here.

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About ‘The Great Gatsby’

2 Jun

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s seminal novella is regarded as one of the greatest stories of the twentieth century. It has been translated into forty-two languages and touched countless lives.

There’s a lot of hype surrounding the story right now, what with the new film out and all, and last month I was lucky enough to attend a screening of the 1974 version, hosted by Oona Chaplin and The Gathering Goddess, at The May Fair Hotel. It was amazing! Tonks from Harry Potter was there, as were Cassie from Skins and Talisa from Game of Thrones. I was fangirling like there was no tomorrow.

Here are ten things you may not have known about the original text, which I’ve blatantly plagiarised from my own list over at the Vintage Screenings website. If you want to know more about the 1974 adaptation, or other Gatsby adaptations in general, I’ve written about those too!

  1. The great American novel has been adapted into several films, stage productions and ballets as well as a graphic novel, three video games and an opera.
  2. The Great Gatsby may have inspired Breakfast at Tiffany’s (both the novel and the film), and was at the forefront of Hunter S. Thompson’s mind when he wrote ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas‘.
  3. Francis Cugat was commissioned to create a cover for the book before Fitzgerald had finished writing it. The author liked the design so much that he wrote it into the novel.
  4. David Lynch directed a 30-second commercial for Calvin Klein’s Obsession fragrance which was titled ‘The Great Gatsby’ and which featured Heather Graham.
  5. The author tried to change the name of the book several times, his final preference being for ‘Trimalchio’ or ‘Gold-Hatted Gatsby’.
  6. There are several conspiratorial readings of the text, particularly by scholars. Some argue that the narrator is in love with Jay Gatsby and therefore unreliable, others write papers outlining the reasons why Gatsby should actually be read as a black man.
  7. The author and his wife Zelda walked out of the 1926 silent film adaptation of the novel.
  8. Some people have said that the entire text is a lipogram devoid of the letter ‘e’. This is not the case – it’s in the title, for instance, and it appears sixteen times in the first sentence alone. Readers may be confusing ‘The Great Gatsby’ with ‘Gadsby: A Story of Over 50,000 Words Without Using the Letter E‘ by Ernest Vincent Wright.
  9. Screenwriter Francis Ford Copolla went on to write Apocalypse Now, based on Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness‘, but Fitzgerald was also indebted to Conrad’s text and drew inspiration from it during the composition of his own novel.
  10. The poem which appears as an epigraph is credited to one of Fitzgerald’s characters from his first novel ‘This Side of Paradise‘.