All posts filed under: literature

Searching For Catharsis

I just finished Leslie Jamison’s collection of confessional essays, The Empathy Exams. It took me a while to get through the dense, informed, and emotionally exhausting essays but once I did I was glad i took the time to go through them slowly. I have a few clear favourites, and some I skipped because they didn’t grab me, but on the whole I thought The Empathy Exams was a well written and thoughtful collection that every girl and woman should read. One of the things I loved most about Jamison’s writing is its present tense narration. That definitely grabs you – it’s something that many a creative writing professor has discouraged my M.A. peers and I from using, but I found it brought the reader very close to the moments Jamison was recounting. It is this closeness she both evokes and writes about. In her final essay, undoubtedly the strongest and most meaningful, she discusses feminine pain at great length, but never once (in my recollection) talks about catharsis. I see catharsis as a mirror of empathy, a selfish …

Girl Crush: Emma Morley – Black Heart Magazine

While meandering through Spitalfields market one afternoon, I saw a copy of David Nicholls’One Day sat on a table full of £3 novels. Its cover caught my eye, but instead I purchased a copy of Dorian Grey. All the way home my boyfriend insisted I read One Day, and reminded me that he had in fact leant me the book several weeks ago. A week later I cracked open the cover; in two days I had devoured the whole thing. And I had fallen in love with Emma Morley. Read more… Originally published at Black Heart Magazine  

A Fine Beginning: Falling in Love with Samuel Benett from Adventures in the Skin Trade

There is something undeniably enticing about the narrator (“call him Samuel Bennet”) of Dylan Thomas’ unfinished novel Adventures in the Skin Trade. Published as part of a collection in 1953, the eponymous piece of prose details Bennet’s migration from his home in Wales (Thomas’ own home) to London. What the young Samuel Bennet encounters, however, is far from his expectations. It is the shattering of this dream, and Bennet’s own strangely artistic nihilism, that makes him so enthralling. Read more…

Bernard from Still Life With Woodpecker Made Love Stay

The brilliance of Tom Robbins’ sensuality lies in his innate ability to make you fall in love with everyone. In Still Life With Woodpecker, there is no clear cut villain, nor hero, despite the fact that, at the outset, Bernard is preparing to blow shit up like the true anarchist he is. Yet Bernard slowly unravels throughout the novel to be quite more than just a self-proclaimed outlaw. He is, in fact, a romantic. It is the deep romanticism – and idealism – that lives in each character that makes you fall deeply in love with them. As a twenty-something heterosexual female, however, Bernard stands above the rest in making my heart go pitter-patter. Read more…

Childhood Love Never Dies: Milo of The Phantom Tollbooth

The introduction to my brooding young crush is as follows: “There once was a boy named Milo who didn’t know what to do with himself. Not just sometimes, but always.” From two sentences, my 11-year-old self (jaded and indifferent beyond my years) was in love. Thirteen years later, my childhood heart is still captive to the formerly-apathetic star of Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth. Now, I know what you’re thinking: isn’t that kind of creepy? Yes. And no. Milo, probably a preteen himself, is the perfect blend of melancholy and brooding that any girl would fall for. He starts off the novel with the kind of detachment from the world that makes girls give long sighs and stare dreamily at the back of his head during World History class. He is, perhaps, the only child who looks at a surprise gift and declares “[m]ost probably I won’t like it anyway”.  Spoiler alert: He ends up liking it. The surprise package, whose messenger remains unknown even by the end of the novel, is for all intents and …