IT’S… ALIVE!

So, I’ve finally climbed off my bum and written a blog post. “Guide to Nothing,” I hear you say, “I thought they were dead!” Not dead, dear readers (plural, because there are at least 5 of you – hi, Mum,) just very distracted. In all honesty, a more accurate description would be: sleeping, working, studying, and tumblr-ing. But, after a recent period of prolonged boredom, resulting from a hand injury,* and repeated lamentations by both Peachy and myself on the subjected of our neglected brainchild, I’ve finally roused myself from my creative torpor and had an Idea. An actual, actionable Idea. And I feel pretty good about it, if I do say so myself.

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I love to read. I love books. I love stories, I love knowledge, I love ideas, and poems, and essays, and articles… you get the gist. I also talk a lot. So, I thought, why not combine those two things and start talking (or writing) about some of the books I’ve read. I read pretty widely, and have favourites in almost every genre, so it’s not as though I’m going to run out of things to write about any time soon. The contents of my head are 80-90% stuff I’ve read, 1-2% people’s names, and 5% meals to make with beef mince and spaghetti sauce. The remainder is made up mostly of puppies, sugary food, sarcasm, and Star Trek: The Next Generation references.

One of my main aims here is to share a passion of mine in a reasonably accessible and interesting way, which isn’t always the first thing that people think of doing when they write about literature. If it helps, I think of ‘literature’ as virtually anything printed, bound, and legible. I may not personally like what you’re reading, but if you are reading, enjoying, and engaging with whatever it is, I’m not going to lecture you about how it’s not worth your eyeball time – I’m going to do an internal happy dance, because there is no reason anyone’s opinion should stop you from doing something that brings you joy. Unless it’s serial homicide or substance abuse, obviously. Don’t do that.

The other reason I want to do this is entirely selfish. I’m doing it for me. I like writing, and when I’m able to do it regularly, my brain feels less like an overfull tombola and a bit more like an overfull shelf. Hey, I’ll take what I can get. It’s also a good way for me to *pretentious artist voice* “work on my writing,” and “develop my own voice.” Translation into more palatble terms, I’ll be trying to compromise between being a perfectionist and being incredibly unmotivated. Should be fun.

I was originally going to work an introduction into my first book-y post, but my introduction ended up being 500 words of self sustained blab, and this is the internet. I know you’ve got at least four other tabs open right now, so I won’t drag this out. But fear not! The first post should be up in a couple of days, and in honour of Guide to Nothing’s glorious return to life, the first book I’ve chosen to write about (truth: started randomly thinking about while eating coco pops the other day,) is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I struggle to say I have a single favourite book, but if I could, this one would be a serious contender.

If you’ve enjoyed GTN’s previous fare, but don’t really consider yourself a book person, fear not – I’m sure I’ll get sidetracked and end up talking about chocolate unicorn donuts or something at some stage. And now I’m hungry for donuts. Awesome.

Until next time, dearest fruit-loops,

Magpie

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*a hyperextended right thumb, from having either

a) wrestled a Drop Bear (thylarctos plummetus) into submission on a family holiday to the Snowy Mountains,

b) tried too enthusiastically to give a really good movie two thumbs up,

c) slipped while climbing over rocks in a creek on a family holiday to the Snowy Mountains, OR

d) opened the tightest jar lid ever.

I’ll let you decide which you find most likely.

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An open letter to Angel Clare, on GTN’s first birthday.

Hey kids!

First point of order: HAPPY BIRTHDAY GTN! A notification happened, informing me that today is the 1st anniversary of Peachy and me typing life into our blaby (blog-baby,) and it is, if you’ll believe, a complete coincidence that we’d both planned posts for today! Peachy is in the middle of study at the moment, so it is my great pleasure to write today : )

Second thing: I’m reading Tess of the D’urbervilles at the moment- well, strictly speaking, I’m on a break from reading Tess of the D’urbervilles, because that is some emotionally exhausting shit. I’ve had to take a small break with each major plot development, waiting until I’ve calmed down some before I can get back into it. You’ll see why. A warning, for the unread- the following open letter makes details of the plot explicit.

*SPOILERS AHEAD*- though only up to just over halfway. Only after reading The Fault in Our Stars was I willing to accept that maybe I’m prone to over-investing emotionally in characters I like, and having to write nonsensical, rambling, open letters when they upset me, so I can sleep.

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To the Lighthouse

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“That was the country he liked best, over there; those sandhills dwindling away into darkness. One could walk all day without meeting a soul. There was not a house scarcely, not a single village for miles on end. One could worry things out alone. There were little sandy beaches where no one had been since the beginning of time. The seals sat up and looked at you.” p 64.

I began reading To the Lighthouse about a month ago, with the expectation that it would be a difficult read. Written in Woolf’s characteristic stream-of-consciousness style, with no real plot and a lot of introspection, it sounded like a nightmare. But I was inevitably drawn to it, for the challenge, for its praise, and for my fascination with Virginia Woolf’s prose.

I’m 19 years old. The wonderful Margaret Atwood also read To the Lighthouse for the first time when she was 19, for an English course on the “The Twentieth Century Novel”. To put it lightly, her first impression was somewhat similar to my own:

“Why go to the lighthouse at all, and why make such a fuss about going or not going? What was the book about? Why was everyone so stuck on Mrs Ramsay, who went around in floppy old hats and fooled around in her garden, and indulged her husband with spoonfuls of tactful acquiescence…Why would anyone put up with Mr Ramsay, that Tennyson-quoting tyrant, eccentric disappointed genius though he might be?…And what about Lily Briscoe, who wanted to be an artist and made much of this desire, but who didn’t seem to be able to paint very well, or not to her own satisfaction? In Woolfland, things were so tenuous. They were so elusive. They were so inconclusive. They were so deeply unfathomable.”  – Margaret Atwood 2002.

So it’s easy to see why some people begin to read To the Lighthouse, and put it down in baffled disinterest. A WTF attitude, if you will. To be honest, I read the first 40 or so pages of the book then didn’t touch it for weeks. A change came with my visit to the UK, my birthplace. It took a few weeks of time by the sea, amid hedges and rugged coastline, and fields of wildflowers, and suddenly I was in a headspace to tackle this violently vivid world Woolf had conjured. A very impractical and expensive way to get in to a novel, but I digress.
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