Happy Black Cat Day

or that day I just heard of that gives me an excuse to post cat pictures…OFFICIALLY

NBCD15_thunderclap

Twitter has been having great fun, highlighting some of the greatest fictional cats (and not afraid to challenge the colour scheme) from Crookshanks to Carbonel to Mildred Hubble’s feline friends to the talking cat Salem (the pedant in me wants to point out that Salem isn’t a cat, he’s an enchanted witch but…I shall refrain…sort of)…

So I instantly thought to highlight Cat, esteemed pal of one Holly Golightly but of course he’s all orangy…

source

So I have had to settle for…drum roll please…

the greatest fictional cat of them all…

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Sylvester James Pussycat Senior

 

*I mean it’s obviously ridiculous. As any cat will tell you…every day is caturday…

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LBC 3 Reads – Dates for 2018 – New members very welcome!

(I know. I KNOW. It’s not even Halloween yet and here I am, plotting dates for next year.)

LBC3 is our quarterly book club. We meet every three months on a Saturday morning to book club, drink lots of hot chocolate and – naturally – set the world to rights.

Originally, we started out with no fixed theme, just a desire to tackle longer reads (quickly abandoned), though in the past few years we have very tentatively stuck to a few loose threads to help us make our choices.

One year we focused on Great American Novels; another on reading minority or marginalised (or less often regarded) viewpoints; centenary reads (oooh – and LBC-er pointed out to me that Frankenstein is 200 next year!); the occasional tribute to a favourite author who recently passed away and this year we read we prioritized authors from each country within the United Kingdom.

Our most consistent feature is that we have always alternated between female and male authors.

We meet on the third Saturday, from 11am – 1pm for coffee, cake and a totally coherent, sensible and focused chat. If you’d like to join us, please feel free to pop down to our next meeting in January (or drop me a link on leedsbookclub @ gmail.com or on twitter @LeedsBookClub

20th January 2018 – One by One in the Darkness – Deirdre Madden

21st April 2018 – TBA

21st July 2018 – TBA

20th October 2018 – TBA

VENUE

Cafe 164 – City Centre

Unit 2 Munro House, 
Duke St, 
Leeds LS9 8AG  
 
Tweet: @Cafe164 
Web: Here!
 

POEM – Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

It’s been aaaaagggeeees since I’ve posted any poetry.

As I am in a whimsical mood, I have decided on ‘Kubla Khan – or A vision in a Dream; A Fragment’.*

This ‘fragment’ was first conceived by Coleridge during an opium inspired dream in 1797 and first published in 1816.

Though initially unappreciated, ‘The poem is considered one of the most famous examples of Romanticism in English poetry, and is one of the most frequently anthologized poems in the English language’ (according to wikipedia).

Kubla Khan

BY SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE
Or, a vision in a dream. A Fragment.
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
   Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round;
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e’er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail:
And mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean;
And ’mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!
   The shadow of the dome of pleasure
   Floated midway on the waves;
   Where was heard the mingled measure
   From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!
   A damsel with a dulcimer
   In a vision once I saw:
   It was an Abyssinian maid
   And on her dulcimer she played,
   Singing of Mount Abora.
   Could I revive within me
   Her symphony and song,
   To such a deep delight ’twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

 

*The decision to use this poem was in no way influenced by Benedict Cumberbatch providing the audio.

To suggest that would be a lie.

A bare faced, pants of fire kinda situation….

Incredibly relatable illustration

Spotted this while randomly googling imaginary libraries that I wish were mine (what? perfectly valid search thread) by Tom Gauld (who tweets as @TomGauld).

 

Then spent a very happy half hour checking out his comics – many have a literary theme! He does happen to have a book out – Baking with Kafka – so it seems only polite to include a link to that also – HERE!

Last one I swear but relevant to Sunday’s book club 🙂

 

Upcoming book clubs

We have our next few months choices in, taking us up to the end of the year…if you can believe it. I think I’m in denial. It’s really like…May?

Anyway, for your reading pleasure!

LBC 3 Reads (#LBC3Reads)

  • 21st October – Matilda by Roald Dahl
  • 20th January – TBA

LBC Horsforth (#LBCHorsforth)

  • 11th October – Lincoln in the Bardo – George Saunders
  • 8th November – Autumn – Ali Smith
  • 10th January – TBA

LBC White Swan (#LBCWSwan)

  • 12th November – The Fishermen – Chigozie Obioma
  • 14th January – TBA

Anne Lamott – 12 truths I’ve learned from life and writing

From the TedTalk website

A few days before she turned 61, writer Anne Lamott decided to write down everything she knew for sure. She dives into the nuances of being a human who lives in a confusing, beautiful, emotional world, offering her characteristic life-affirming wisdom and humor on family, writing, the meaning of God, death and more.

For any who would prefer to read than watch the video, the transcript can be found HERE

2 minute review – Jennifer Johnston - The Invisible Worm

they got my hair exactly right…

Recently, I went away for a weeks holiday. For the first time in years, I didn’t bring anything to read with me.

I’ve been in the midst of a reading funk for such a long time now, I’m starting to disbelieve that I ever read for pleasure! In the last few months, I’ve seen it as a victory if I manage to complete my book club choices (there are been some really gripping ones recently, which has made it much easier!) in time for the discussion. The thought of pulling out one of my vast collection of as yet un-read novels has made me feel vaguely anxious – a far cry from a few years ago when choosing the next read produced a sweet thrill of delight with equivalent side effects of a large lump of chocolate.

So going away without bringing a book was probably for the best, at least that was my reasoning. I’d be under no pressure, if I didn’t have one on me. (The counter side was that I also felt faintly like I was giving up; losing a hobby…nay a trait that I really liked about myself. Yes, my brain is enjoying the gymnastics currently.)

Thankfully, my mother keeps a varied and busy book shelf and within half an hour of arriving, I found – to my immense relief – that the siren song of the printed word still enticed me!!Before long, I had selected a slim (not intimidating) book by Jennifer Johnston – an Irish author I have long been aware of but never read.

She is noted for writing with a particular awareness of the Church of Ireland community within modern day Ireland (her own faith) – a perspective that isn’t often found in contemporary Irish fiction. Also, she’s been nominated for (and won loads) tons of literary prizes, so I was curious to see how I’d get on.

The Invisible Worm (BLURB from Amazon)

It starts with a funeral. The great and the good have assembled: the President has sent a representative, and dignitaries are there in force. And Laura remembers those two terrible events. But was the tragedy out at sea an accident? Was the experience in the summerhouse cause rather than effect?
With wonderful delicacy and economy, Jennifer Johnston has stripped bare the lives of a family overwhelmed by more than one of the deadly sins. The Invisible Worm contains greater power and passion than most novels three times its length.

My word – what a book!

The way the Ms Johnston writes is as once minimalist yet descriptive. There isn’t a single wasted word or redundant sentence throughout the book. With a deft hand, she can at once be whimsical and funny, while tackling some very dark themes.

This book focused on a very small group of characters and only one is ever explored in a detailed way; yet all felt fully rounded and realistic. I loved Laura. I’d never act the way that she did, but I felt like I understood her and respected her. There is a beautifully non-judgemental tone to this book that allowed me to relax into it and accept the characters and plot without getting wound up or ‘having opinions’. Reading this was really rather a soothing experience.

I so enjoyed it that I committed that irritating cardinal sin; where I started reading – context free – random lines and passages to my mum (patience of a saint, that one!). It’s an incredibly easy read – not only because it’s a snapshot of an individual and pretty short, but mostly because the language used, the words, the landscape drawn are at once so familiar and yet so foreign that you can’t help but feel connected.

And it’s the first book I’ve read for pure pleasure in fricking ages! So much so, I’ve even blogged about it and it’s been ever longer for that!!!!

Go! Read! Then let me know so that we can just praise it over and over 🙂

LBC 3 Reads – Book 15 – All Quiet on the Western Front

#LBC3Reads

Date:  16th of April 2016
Time:  11am – 1pm
Address: Unit 2
Munro House,
Duke St,
Leeds LS9 8AG

DISCUSSED – 

ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT 
ERICH MARIA REMARQUE

BLURB

One by one the boys begin to fall…

In 1914 a room full of German schoolboys, fresh-faced and idealistic, are goaded by their schoolmaster to troop off to the ‘glorious war’. With the fire and patriotism of youth they sign up. What follows is the moving story of a young ‘unknown soldier’ experiencing the horror and disillusionment of life in the trenches.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (AMAZON)

Erich Maria Remarque was a German author and veteran of the First World War. He was born 1898 in Osnabrück, Germany. At the age of 18 he was conscripted into the German army. During his service he was wounded by shrapnel in the left leg, right arm and neck. Following the war he worked as a primary school teacher, and later as a librarian, a journalist and a technical writer.
Among Remarque’s published novels were All Quiet on the Western Front, The Road Back, Three Comrades and Arch of Triumph. His works were publicly burned by the Nazi German government, and in 1947 he and his first wife became naturalised citizens of the United States. Four years earlier, his sister had been executed at the behest of Hitler’s ‘People’s Court’.
Remarque adapted the book Ten Days to Die, about Hitler’s final days, as a screenplay, and he also wrote for the stage. His last novel was The Night in Lisbon, published in 1962. During his lifetime Remarque married twice and had love affairs with the actresses Hedy Lamarr, Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo.

 

Thanks very much to the wonderful Karoline for hosting and writing up this book club – find her here @KarolineAKemp!

It was good to welcome two new faces to our discussion, Jane and Katy who also come to White Swan.

We had a discussion about the translation, some of the group had a more recent translation from the mid 1990’s and it was generally felt to be much more accessible than the earlier one.  We also discussed the translation of the title, the note on the new translation states that a direct translation from the German is ‘Nothing New on the Western Front’

The book was fairly easy to read in the modern translation and it was noted that that the tense changed from the singular to the plural during the scenes at the front. It was noted that nowadays we expect to have strong characterisation and narrative drive from contemporary fiction but that there is no narrative drive in War.  As the book went on it became more and more detached as Paul became more detached from his own life.

AQOTWF is written from the point of view of a German private Paul. It was felt that the language used  was chosen to emphasise the commonality and gruelling of experience of trench warfare regardless of side. Emphasised particularly in the scene in the shell hole with the solider that he killed.  It is also something that has been brought out recently by historians of the First World War (see the History Hit podcast with @gerarmyresearch).

It was felt that the language used effectively conveyed vivid  imagery of the experiences of being in the front line as well as the banality of being behind the lines when comic interludes such as Kat getting the food were used to good effect. The emphasis on the food (or lack) of it conveyed its importance to the troops, most effectively that when they suddenly get good food they realise that it means they are heading to the front line.

We felt that the characterisation was kept deliberately vague, the concentration was on passages dealing with Paul’s interior life such as when he was on leave and felt totally alienated from his previous life, We felt that Paul represented the everyman, he grew but never lost his humanity.

We felt that the strong bond between the school friends was shown well.  We all felt the horror of the scenes with the rats and felt that the scenes in the mists where very lyrical which intensified the horror.

The book also pointed out how much harder it was going to be for the younger men who had become soldiers straight from school to readjust and/or keep going as they didn’t have families/jobs to go back to.  It was also very scathing about the generation who were too old to fight themselves but where very vocal at making the younger generations go.

We decided that we  would have preferred the end to have been left more open than it was and felt that it packed a lot into quite a slim book.

 

Trailer for the 1979 film

[youtube https://youtu.be/DX1PW2n8POg]

 

SCORE –

8/10

Find fellow members on twitter by searching for #LBC3Reads.
Follow @Cafe164 for details on the deliciousables!
Let me know your thoughts by either tweeting me @LeedsBookClub, commenting below or emailing me at leedsbookclub@gmail.com

BOOK CLUB MEET UP PAGE

August and September Book Choices!

We have our next few months choices in!

LBC 3 Reads (#LBC3Reads)

  • NOTE – moved to August – venue TBA
  • High Rising – Angela Thirkell

LBC Horsforth (#LBCHorsforth)

  • 9 August – The Good Immigrant – Nikesh Shukla
  • 13 September – The Lemon Table – Julian Barnes

LBC White Swan (#LBCWSwan)

  • 13 August – The last condo board of the Apocalypse – Nina Post
  • 10 September – Pirate Cinema – Cory Doctorow

Oscar Wilde – on priorities

I’m not actually entirely convinces that it *was* Oscar Wilde who said this – I’ve been caught before by google’s propensity to link all quotable phrases as his or Churchill!

 

Still, love the sentiment!!

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