Closing Time

I’ve written posts about new beginnings, changes in direction, and fresh starts many times on this blog. This is the first time I’ve written about an ending.

I think it’s time to close the doors on Book Heaven.

I started this blog years ago, with the simple intention of  sharing my rather obsessive love of books and stories. I posted a mixture of reviews, creative writing, and literature-based arguments. I got a pleasant surprise when I realised how many people also loved books, and built up a loyal readership, and even made friends.

When I started it, it was all about children’s fiction, and then also started encompassing teenage fiction. I still think children’s fiction is one of the most important things in the world, but unfortunately I don’t have time with school and study to read both children’s fiction and adult novels, so for the moment I’ll have to let the kids’ stuff go. Also,  I think reviewing books for people not in your own age group is a little bit patronising, and unfortunately not many people see the importance and attraction of children’s fiction, so I think that area is better left to kids.

So thanks everyone for reading, I’ll be posting book reviews over on http://thefullbookcase.wordpress.com every now and then.

For the last time, I’ll see ya round,

Maeve

Upcoming Book Reviews (Book Heaven’s Back!)

Even though I have a piano exam coming up very shortly, and am trying to get as much practise as possible, I’m set on reading and reviewing these books before the New Year:

  • Let The Great World Spin, by Colum McCann (fiction)
  • Why Mahler? by Norman Lebrecht (nonfiction, historical)
  • The Grand Design, by Stephen Hawking (nonfiction, science)
  • The Whitsun Weddings, by Phillip Larkin (poetry)

Finished Reading The Invisible Man

English: Illustration of wavefronts in the con...

English: Illustration of wavefronts in the context of Snell’s law. Sort of got to do with refraction? I don’t know, it moves, so I put it here anyway 🙂 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So I wrote a very short post on The Invisible Man a while back, when I’d just started reading it. I’ve finished, and it’s about time I gave a proper review on it, without throwing out any spoilers.

I liked the book, and liked the concept as a whole. The way the process of being made invisible was described really impressed me: something normally thought of as being in the realm of fantasy was presented in a logical, scientific way. Apparently,  the refractive index of human cells is reduced to be almost that of air. Objects with similar refractive indexes (the index tells you how much light is refracted by the object) blur together: think a cube of glass in water; it is nearly invisible as the refractive indexes of each object are very close. So anyway,  the (not yet) invisible man discovers a way of changing the index of his cells to that of air. Even though it would be impossible to do this without destroying the original functions of the cells, it is believable in the context of the book.

However, for me, the way the book was written and the subject matter clashed slightly for me. The prose is old fashioned; a flowing narrative where you’d expect dances, horse rides and general jolly fun, while the subject matter is quite dark and sinister. I think Aldous Huxely’s style  might have suited the story line somewhat better: the clinical feel she gave A Brave New World could have really brought out the terror of having a demented invisible murderer running loose around the countryside.

Anyway, as you have guessed by that above paragraph, the invisible man indeed goes a little man, and you can sort of understand his frustration (he can’t make himself visible again) however you don’t get a full insight into how he feels as it is written in a somewhat distant feeling third person. The overall result is slightly more comical than scary: the antics of the somewhat sheltered village people when they realize there is a mad man running rings around them and they cannot see him are similar to the silent films of Harold Lloyd. I’m not sure whether this was intended, but it did take away from the whole “OH MY GOD!” fear you think you will experience when you read the front cover, which announces, “Imagine a killer you could not detect, until it was too late?”. I would still encourage people to read it, it just wasn’t one of my favorites. As you can probably tell from the length of this post: if I enjoy a book, I go on for paragraphs about it!

Maeve (@maevelizzy)

Revisiting the Same Spot

Following on from my last post about setting, I was wondering, how much detail is too much detail? When I say detail, I mean ‘stolen-from-reality’ detail as in shop names as opposed to invented detail. I’m also talking about writing as opposed to reading when do you stop taking from true life and giving with your imagination? If a school is part of your story, should you invent it in your area, or should you describe one of the schools that already exists there? But then if you do this, and you need a scene that includes a maths teacher, how can you make sure it’s crystal clear that the maths teacher in your story is completely invented and not based on an actual maths teacher that teaches there (it’s harder when you’re actually still in the school, you notice their mannerisms creeping into your characters!)? You don’t want to make the gap between reality and imagination so obvious that everyone reading goes, “hold on, I believed it up until there, but what the hell?”, but instead make sure people don’t bring you to court for writing about them, because it’s clear they aren’t in your story.

 

This also applies to local events that take place… should you actually name bands that placed at a big concert, or should you throw in a few random bands, or should you completely invent them? Someone just get elected president, and you need them for your story: should you use their name or invent it? For me, as a reader, I know it would sort of ruin the realism of a story if the author put Philip J Keohane (just a random name, first I thought of) as the president of Ireland in a story set in the present or past.

 

Also, as a reader, I love the warm, “Oh! I know this place!” feeling you get when you recognise a setting in a book (the whole way through Jasper Winn’s Paddle, I was fuzzy feeling from knowing it all, even though it doesn’t really count in this discussion as it wasn’t fiction).

 

The whole, “write what you know” mantra comes to mind: if you plan on really saturating your story in the setting, you’re probably off really knowing that setting well first. Though it is a little limiting, it opens up the necessity to travel to research you book – a good excuse! Honestly though, I know how annoying it is to have someone write about a place you know well when it’s obvious they don’t know what it’s really like: the number of books that are set in Ireland that are written from what tourists experience without any notion of what life here is really like isn’t even funny. I mean, half the world now believes we still all whitewash our houses.

 

So, what’s your opinion on the depth of local detail you can include in your story?