Thursday, 28 January 2016

Book Reviews feat. Carrie Brownstein

uk book blogs vivatramp book reviews milk and honey rupi kaur penguin essentials carrie brownstein virago

We're now well into 2016, so, me being me, I thought I'd drag us all back to the dark recesses of the end of last year in order to talk about the books that I read to combat the freezing cold afternoons. It was a mixed sort of month but I had some really interesting reading experiences - memories of which I am sure will continue to sustain me over the next few months. As always, I'd love to know what you're currently reading or have just finished in the comments below and if you do so I will pop over to your blog to discuss them further. You cannot escape my inane chat, pals. 

vivatramp book blog uk

foe by j. m. coetzee*  
FINISHED: 09/12/15 | ISBN: 0241973694 | PAGES: 160
In an act of breathtaking imagination, J. M. Coetzee radically reinvents the story of Robinson Crusoe. In the early eighteenth century, Susan Barton finds herself adrift from a mutinous ship and cast ashore on a remote desert island. There she finds shelter with its only other inhabitants: a man named Cruso and his tongueless slave, Friday. In time, she builds a life for herself as Cruso's companion and, eventually, his lover. At last they are rescued by a passing ship, but only she and Friday survive the journey back to London. Determined to have her story told, she pursues the eminent man of letters Daniel Foe in the hope that he will relate truthfully her memories to the world. But with Cruso dead, Friday incapable of speech and Foe himself intent on reshaping her narrative, Barton struggles to maintain her grip on the past, only to fall victim to the seduction of storytelling itself. 

In all honesty, there are times when books leave me as soon as I have read them and, in those cases, I have to rely on my notes in order to form anything that remotely resembles an opinion. This is one of those instances. From what I gather, I felt it was a story of two halves with the first half leaning towards the dry and exhaustive and the second half consisting of some complex passages that I deemed to be far more engaging. Coetzee goes some way to re-invent the original narrative but, to be honest, if this story were to have a subtitle it'd be: 'The One Where Friday is Still Plagued by White Noise'. I'm not sure if Coetzee's take on the characters was meant to be more or less racist than Defoe's. I'm not sure what he was trying to do, in general, if I'm even more honest. 

I wouldn't really deem this an 'Essential' but it may be something that other people enjoy, particularly if you have an interest in 18th century literature or literary re-imaginings. I don't think you necessarily have to put yourself through Robinson Crusoe in order to read this re-invention, so if you're in any way interested in this book then feel free to pick it up. This just wasn't my bag. 


RATING: 


hunger makes me a modern girl carrie brownstein book haul

HUNGER MAKES ME A MODERN GIRL BY CARRIE BROWNSTEIN  
FINISHED: 17/12/15 | ISBN: 1594486638 | PAGES: 256
This book intimately captures what it feels like to a young woman in a rock-and-roll band, from her days at the dawn of the underground feminist punk-rock movement that would define music and pop culture in the 1990s through today. 

As I said in my Christmas book haul, I read this in one sitting as soon as I unwrapped it and my god is that an afternoon I'd love to return to. 

I love love love listening to women talk about their passions, regardless of whether or not I too have an interest in the particular subject, and this memoir boasted passion and insight and love in abundance. Whilst the tone was conversational and in 
keeping with the genre, there were also times where it resembled something a lot more poetic and prosaic, much like her lyrics, and I think those tonal qualities make this all the more accessible to readers who may not be familiar with Carrie. Whilst I was already a fan of Brownstein, I knew very little about her life so I relished every little detail that she shared, especially her musings on what it is to be both a performer and a fan - from nostalgic insights into the Madonna concert she attended as a child to the concert venues that she would later sell out with her own band Sleater-Kinney. One of the things that stuck out to me with this memoir is how seemingly honest Brownstein is throughout,  particularly when she discusses the realities of balancing a personal life with a creative life. There were times where I felt as if I had been punched in the gut but there were also times when I was like holy shit my life has never been as cool as that!  All in all, I really enjoyed this memoir and would definitely recommend it. 


A heads up by the way, you should totally have S-K on in the background as you read this - especially as Carrie delves into the (sometimes heartbreaking) context of some of their songs, such as 'Jumpers' and 'One More Hour'. 


RATING: 


uk book blog vivatramp book haul milk and honey rupi kaur

milk and honey by rupi kaur  
FINISHED: 20/12/15 | ISBN: 1502784270 | PAGES: 194
'milk and honey' is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. About the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. It is split into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose. Deals with a different pain. Heals a different heartache. 'milk and honey' takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look.

I'm currently writing what I hope will become a poetry chapbook so I wanted to pick up some more contemporary collections to see what was going on in the market. When I saw this beautifully produced book written by a young woman exploring womanhood I decided to hound my loved ones for it. Also, I bloody loved the bees on the front cover - lets be honest. 'milk and honey' covers some incredibly heavy subjects (such as sexual abuse, bodily autonomy, familial relationships and sexual consent) and yet the word choices Kaur uses to convey them are, in a way, quite simple. I found that balance to be one of the most exciting things about this collection and what made it stand out to me. I read this in one sitting but I imagine it'd be preferable to read it over a longer period of time, picking it up here and there as the mood arises.

I would definitely recommend this to young feminists, from around 16-20 something, or as a gift to young women as a way of introducing them to feminist ideas. Whilst I'm not saying 'yes this was intended to be a feminist collection', because I haven't done enough research for that, it felt very much like a collection about women and for women. 


RATING: 

secondhand book haul vivatramp

Heartease by lorna goodison  
FINISHED: 30/12/15 | ISBN: n/a 
Goodison's third poetry collection. 

As I said in my secondhand book haul, I didn't know anything about this poet prior to purchasing this collection but now, having read it, I am more than prepared to scour shelves in order to purchase more of her work. These poems had a religiosity to them that in a way transformed them from poems to hymns, with striking images of womanhood explored through empowered verse on enduring, overcoming, forgiving and, ultimately, surviving. 

These themes and images were guided by an inward light that Goodison alludes to throughout and by the end of the reading experience the title, Heartease, made perfect sense. I really enjoyed 'A Forgiveness', 'Blue Peace Incantation' and 'Because I Have Been Everything'. 

RATING: 

secondhand book haul uk book blogs

dream story by arthur schnitzler  
FINISHED: 30/12/15 | ISBN: 0141182245 | PAGES: 99
A novella that tells how through a simple sexual admission a husband and wife are drive apart into rival worlds of erotic revenge.

This novella lends itself to in depth study so, naturally,  I read it within an afternoon. This is the sort of dream story that you don't relay to your relatives over elevenses. It's dark but it's honest. The characters in this novella, for the most part, are either searching for or acting upon a truth that they may or may not yet be privy to. Driven by love, lust, desire and, quite possibly, shame, this novella will probably stick around in my head for a while. 

RATING: 
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*This book was sent to me by the publisher
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5 comments

  1. I so wish I had the time to read more books. I'm currently reading my way through a couple of chick-lit's for a bit of escapism. No deep and meaningful story lines for me in there! haha xx

    sophies-edit.blogspot.co.uk

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  2. I've never read (or heard) of any of these, but JM Coetzee has been on my TBR for so long (though I fear he'll remain there for quite a bit longer, too). You've definitely made me more intrigued than I was originally, though, despite the fact you didn't enjoy it too much. For the first time ever I read some Christmassy books and I really enjoyed them so I'll definitely be doing that again next year.

    Saoirse Sterling at XLeptodactylous

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  3. Always love your reviews! I'm lucky if I read more than one book a month - the Carrie Brownstein is on my list! x

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  4. I had to read Foe for uni once and really didn't like it. Glad it wasn't just me! I'm reading Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell at the moment and enjoying it a lot but it's so long I think I'll probably still be reading it in March!

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  5. rupi kaur's writing does sound positively magical from what i've seen of her work online (which, i'l admit, is very little) but i'm looking for some good poetry to read this year, so i'll definitely make a note to look her up!

    safah | oh, how i wander

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