Feminism and F. Scott Fitzgerarld’s ‘The Great Gatsby’

The Great Gatsby uses anti-feminist themes to promote ideas that are pro-feminist.

 

Scott Fitzgerald’s American classic ‘The Great Gatsby’ is a novel that has received copious amounts of both praise and criticism, particularly in regards to feminism. Fitzgerald has managed to polarise opinions, leading readers to alternate and debatable conclusions. It is argued that ‘The Great Gatsby’ is an anti-feminist novel and that Fitzgerald’s portrayal of women is seemingly misogynistic. That being said, it would be perfectly reasonable to suggest that he uses anti-feminist themes in order to make a pro-feminist statement by drawing attention to such societal misconducts. His portrayal of women could be split into three main power categories: the power men have over women; the power of women over men; and women’s power within society.

 

Throughout the novel, Fitzgerald appears to present women as being objects for men to posses and repress as they please – though, in doing so, he highlights it as being an issue which needs to be resolved.

At the very beginning of the novel during the opening chapter, Nick Carraway explains that he “drove over there to have dinner with the Tom Buchanans.” Here, the man seems to personify the entire family. The pluralisation of ‘Tom Buchanans’ gives the impression that Tom has monopolised his family and they are subsequently regarded as if they were part of his franchise. It also reflects the ignorant assumption on society’s part that worth can only be found in names and titles and could alternatively lead people to believe that it suggests shallowness on the woman’s part for marrying for prestige; however, it more so directs attention to the pressure inflicted upon women by their families and by society to marry well.

Again in Chapter One, upon Carraway’s arrival, we witness a scene which showcases the physical repression of women. Daisy Buchanan and Jordan Baker are shown to be enjoying themselves when there came “a boom as Tom Buchanan shut the rear windows and the caught wind died about the room…” the onomatopoeic noun ‘boom’ feels very masculine, as it has connotations of violence and force. The verb ‘died’ too is quite dramatic, and could have been used to hint that there was a sort of subtle war occurring within the room. Following this, “the two young women ballooned slowly to the floor.” This highlights the impact of men on the women’s state of mind; the simile ‘ballooned slowly to the floor’ especially so, with the noun ‘balloon’ having connotations of celebration, parties and fun – the kinds of things that Gatsby later comes to offer. It seems to imply that women are liberal beings who become repressed in marriage.

The fact that Tom Buchanan has ‘a woman in the city’ again objectifies women by presenting them as if they were items to be collected. When he first suggests that Carraway should meet Myrtle, Buchanan says “I want you to meet my girl”. The use of the possessive pronoun ‘my’ gives the impression that he owns her. The noun ‘girl’ suggests immaturity, as if she has a lower social footing and is lesser developed than himself. Carraway then reveals that “though I was curious to see her, I had no desire to meet her.” This implies that women should be observed but not interacted with, as if they are specimens. This ‘seen but not heard’ view again links to the idea of women having a lower social footing, as if they were children.

It is revealed that, on the day before their wedding, Tom Buchanan gifted Daisy with “a string of pearls at three hundred and fifty dollars”. Some may regard the act as romantic, or as a means of satisfying Daisy’s apparent materialistic appetite. However, it could be suggested that, by offering the pearls the day before the wedding, it is as if Tom is putting down a deposit on her life, using it as insurance in case she was to change her mind at the last minute. Using the noun ‘string’ as opposed to ‘necklace’ is interesting, as the former holds business-like connotations, again linking to this idea of franchising. It is as if by marrying her, he is making an investment and is treating her as some kind of business deal.

This objectification of women is an ongoing theme throughout the novel, and so it draws a lot of attention to itself. By doing so, Fitzgerald is – whether intentionally or not – highlighting the societal misdemeanours of his time and is therefore covertly calling for change.

 

Although seemingly oppressed, Fitzgerald’s female characters are not without their strengths, which are incorporated in order to highlight the certain powers that women have over men.

Chapter Two introduces us to Myrtle Wilson, whom is treated barbarically by Tom Buchanan. During an argument, he is described as having “broke her nose with his open hand”. The act is ironic, since it is his immorality and unfaithfulness which is being addressed, yet he responds aggressively at the mention of it. The fact that Myrtle provokes him and is able to conjure such a reaction despite her own adulterous behaviour shows that she holds some power over him in this situation. Due to class divisions, she is in some ways freer than Daisy, who cannot speak so liberally within her marriage, so perhaps Tom was not used to such brash behaviour.

Jordan Barker is arguably the strongest female character in the novel. Her success is self-made and without male influence; even within her relationship with Nick Carraway, she is presented as his superior in certain aspects (E.g. the way she holds herself when they first meet). The fact that she became famous playing golf – a game stereotypically regarded as being a man’s sport – and that the name ‘Jordan’ itself is very masculine could be interpreted as meaning that she only achieved such success by possessing male attributes and that her femininity had nothing to do with it. In Chapter Three it is implied that Jordan did not obtain her fame fairly. Carroway states that “dishonesty in a woman is a thing you never blame deeply.” This seemingly patronising statement suggests that women can only achieve the same level of success as men by lying/cheating to get there. It seems incredibly belittling to suggest that the strongest female character is only such because she cheated. However, parallels can be drawn between Baker and the novel’s dominant character Gatsby, who ‘cheated’ his way to being rich by bootlegging alcohol. This symmetry puts man and woman back on equal footing within the novel.

The fact that the novel’s central plot is focused around two powerful men fighting over a woman is itself an example of the power of feminine influence. Daisy is portrayed as being attracted to wealth and materialistic things, leading the men to go to great lengths in order to make her happy; Gatsby with his extravagant parties and Buchanan with his expensive gifts. In the end she chooses to return to her life with Buchanan and is described as having “vanished into house, her rich, full life, leaving Gatsby – nothing”. The verb ‘vanished’ has fairy-tale connotations, presenting Daisy as if she were something just out of reach – a mystical creature that could not be possessed. The hyphenated ‘– nothing’ is added on as if it was an afterthought. It seems a hyperbolic choice of noun considering Gatsby’s wealth of material possessions, yet they were only ever present as a means of pleasing Daisy. She physically left Gatsby and by doing so stripped everything he owned of its worth.

Even the ‘strengths’ that the female characters possess can be considered as highly sexist, since, on the large part, they are to do with sex and physical attraction or are attributed to male characteristics. It is ironic that this should be where women found their ‘power’ given that the novel was produced at a time where women faced sexual repression. In limiting the span of feminine power over men, Fitzgerald shines a light on the drastic imbalance within heterosexual relationships.

 

Perhaps most importantly, Fitzgerald confronts the expectations of women and their role within society, particularly in regards to the upper classes.

In some instances, he does so by drawing on his own life, such as in Chapter One when Daisy talks about the birth of her daughter: “I hope she’ll be a fool – that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.” These words were in fact spoken by Zelda Fitzgerald upon the birth of their own daughter. The adjective ‘beautiful’ suggests that without a strong physical appearance, women would struggle to do well within the world, as if they were incapable of making their own accomplishments outside of marriage. The use and repetition of the noun ‘fool’ seems to emphasise the fact that blissful ignorance is the key to happiness, perhaps implying that it is better to be unaware of any wasted potential. Arguably, the entire novel was centred on the Fitzgeralds’ relationship and its ultimate demise. If Fitzgerald’s aim was to win back his wife, then surely he would not attempt to do so using blatant misogyny.

Daisy is often presented as being disagreeable, yet her conservative, materialistic nature can easily be put down to the societal conducts imposed on women of her class. In Chapter Eight, she is said to have “wanted her life shaped now, immediately – and the decision must be made by some force – of love, of money, of unquestionable practicality – that was close at hand.” The triadic list ‘love’, ‘money’ and ‘unquestionable practicality’ gets further away from what a modern audience would consider a suitable force with each entrant, but it also reflects the hierarchical pyramid of what was expected at that time. Marriage was mostly arranged on a purely practical basis, so Daisy’s decision may have been self-sacrificial rather than self-indulgent.

Similarly, in the same chapter, Gatsby explodes at Buchanan, stating that Daisy “only married you because I was poor and she was tired of waiting for me”. Again, this seems to portray Daisy in a negative light, even though it is supposed to be an attack on Buchanan. The verb ‘tired’ clearly implies impatience, as if Daisy could have sat around waiting for as long as she desired. However, considering the societal pressures imposed on women like Daisy during Fitzgerald’s time, it would have been highly impractical since they rarely worked and would have depended on there being a breadwinner present – not to mention how they would have been judged/perceived by their families and peers.

Due to Fitzgerald’s questionable portrayal of Daisy Buchanan, it can be difficult for the reader to see past her seemingly materialistic, self-sufficient persona and read the undertones of repression, but they are definitely present. Through this portrayal, Fitzgerald subtly draws attention to the expectations and pressures of women within society.

 

As is the case with any piece of literature, the author’s true intent can never wholly be known, but that is beside the point. By incorporating clear anti-feminist themes into his novel, Fitzgerald draws his audience’s attention to the oppressive nature of his world, therefore conjuring a strong pro-feminist response. Perhaps ‘The Great Gatsby’ is an example of a novel where the reader’s reaction defines the meaning rather than the writer’s intent. Or perhaps Fitzgerald knew exactly what he was doing all along.

 


 

Personally, I really enjoyed The Great Gatsby so naturally I feel pretty defensive of it. Do you think I have been blinded by adoration, or do you agree with my thesis? Please let me know!

I’m Published! The Wicked Young Writer Awards // London 2017

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As briefly mentioned in my mid-year review post, I was super lucky to have made it into the top twenty finalists for the 18-25 category of the Wicked Young Writer Awards 2017. Last Friday (June 23) I attended the award ceremony at the Apollo Victoria theatre in London and got to share the stage with a wealth of truly inspiring writers.

Vlogging Failure

I did attempt to vlog the day but like an idiot I used up all my space before  we even arrived at the venue. I did, however, manage to catch a couple of snaps.

 

 

Poetry Workshop

At the event, workshops were organised for the various age categories. In ours, we took the opening two lines of the Jeff Kass poem ‘Underneath’ and produced our own self-analytical pieces. Here’s what I conjured:

Under my shirt is my skin,
Under my skin is my heart,
Further still is a world torn apart.

Beneath that, an image lingers on
Like the words to a forgotten song.
Between the lines a scene forms,
One of despair and raging storms.

Like a magic eye, the image clears,
Allowing me passage through the clouds.
Patterns morph, distorted by tears –
My skin keeps it all in, tight like a shroud.

An extract from Paths

Although I did not win, I am honoured to have made it so far and had the opportunity to share in such a brilliant experience. My piece ‘Paths’ was published in the official anthology, making it my second creative writing piece to have been published in a physical book.

I smiled, but it was not returned. My old friend registered my presence, but did not really see me. Instead, she stared solemnly through me and into some internal abyss, making no attempt to stifle the heavy raindrops that tumbled over the curve of her eyelashes and down her porcelain cheeks. If she had have smiled, I thought to myself, the fragile surface would have surely crumbled.

Allowing my own smile to slip and be replaced by a look of uncomfortable concern, I offered her shelter beneath my umbrella. She thanked me, but declined the invitation, instead opting to pull back her hood, allowing the weather to corrode her further, gradually saturating her dusty blonde hair and turning it black.

Worried, I asked her if she was feeling OK. Our paths had not crossed in a long while, yet I was all too aware of the abnormality of her actions. I pointed out that she was likely to catch her death if she did not accept my refuge.

Shrugging disinterestedly, she explained that umbrellas are untrustworthy. They are liable to break, leak or get turned inside out by the wind. Then when the rain hits it is more of a shock since you have grown accustomed to staying dry. She argued that it is far more sensible to embrace that which could potentially bring us harm than to be betrayed by that which is designed to protect us.

Until next time, *clicks fingers poetically*. 

WYW

2016 Literature Review

2016 was my first year out of education, yet I honestly feel as though I’ve learned so much more this year than any other, mainly thanks to the large doses of literature I have consumed throughout the last twelve months.

In total, I’ve completed 50 books this year and have many more on the go, so it’s just not possible for me to review them all individually. Instead, I have split them into the most important categories and offered a few comments on each, as well as listing my other equally ranking favourites at the bottom.

Overall, I have named twenty-three of what I believe to be the most important/best books I have read. It is imperative that you add them to your reading list for 2017.

 

Music: Everything (A Book About Manic Street Preachers) – Simon Price 

Having read five books on the Manic Street Preachers, five on Punk/Post-Punk, two on Britpop and one on Grunge (all of which were brilliant) I unsurprisingly found it difficult choosing a favourite from the pile. However, the Manics have been my biggest obsession for almost two years now. Through them, I have been introduced to a lot of the literature that I cherish now (some of the books I found through them have even made this list – see ‘Philosophy’, ‘Book of the Year’ and ‘Honourable Mentions’).

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Simon Price is, without a doubt, one of my favourite personalities in music journalism – he is one of the main inspirations behind my career aspirations – so having him tell me the story of my favourite band from his own perspective with personal experiences and encounters is pretty special. It is definitely a book I will be returning to in 2017.

Horror: ‘Salem’s Lot – Stephen King 

Horror has been the genre I have loved the longest and I’ve been a HUGE King fan for forever, so I’m ashamed to say that I only read ‘Salem’s Lot for the first time this year.

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Vampires are my favourite mythical creatures, yet the imagery is so vivid that it still managed to give me nightmares! It left me itching to pen my own vampire novel.

Philosophy: The Myth of Sisyphus – Albert Camus

Albert Camus and Søren Kierkegaard have been my two focus philosophers over the last year and, while Kierkegaard is extremely fascinating, I feel like my own philosophy is better reflected by Camus’ writings.

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I really enjoyed Camus’ novels too, but I feel that The Myth of Sisyphus is the perfect summary-of-my-own-philosophy essay.

History: The War Behind The Wire: The Life, Death and Glory of British Prisoners of War 1914-1918 – John Lewis Stempel 

To those who know me well, it will come as no surprise that the bulk of my historical readings was made up by world war one literature, with some Welsh history and Suffragette books chucked in.

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The War Behind The War is highly factual piece of writing which offers insight into a section of the war that is often overlooked. Sometimes, books that are so packed with facts can feel like a bit of a chore to read, but that wasn’t the case with this book. It was highly readable, informative and empathetic.

Politics: The Establishment: And How They Get Away With It – Owen Jones

Without a doubt, the most captivating piece of political writing I have read this year is Owen Jones’ The Establishment: And How They Get Away With It.

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I had the pleasure of listening to Jones speak with Andy Parsons at Leeds Festival this year whilst most people were nursing hangovers or drowning in mud. He constantly motivates me to do more politically and The Establishment stoked the flames that had already been ignited within me. It is a passionately critical and angrily sophisticated piece of work. Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class is up next on my reading list.

Book of the Year: Novel With Cocaine – M. Ageyev 

I read Novel With Cocaine right back at the start of the year, but it has been at the top of my mind ever since. Not only is it a deliciously obscure read, the context in which the novel was penned and the mystery surrounding the identity of the author makes it an even more tantalising story.

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It is a controversial novel, not without its criticisms. Vladimir Nabokov – rumoured author of Novel With Cocaine and writer of his own fair share of controversial novels (Lolita is on my list for 2017) – even described it as ‘decadent’ and ‘disgusting’ – though in my view, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it makes it all the more thrilling.

Honourable Mentions

  • The Temple of the Golden Pavilion – Yukio Mishima
  • Homage to Catalonia – George Orwell
  • The Metamorphosis – Franz Kafka
  • The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
  • The Stranger – Albert Camus
  • The Fall – Albert Camus
  • Fear and Trembling – Søren Kierkegaard
  • Junky – William S. Burroughs
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey
  • Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century – Greil Marcus
  • Go Set a Watchman – Harper Lee
  • Britpop!: Cool Britannia and the Spectacular Demise of English Rock – John Harris
  • Rip It Up and Start Again – Simon Reynolds
  • Anger is an Energy – John Lydon
  • Stephen Fry – The Liar
  • So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed – Jon Ronson

My Darling Mother


A little poem in honour of Remembrance Sunday,  based on a letter from Wilfred Owen to his mother. This was actually supposed to be my sister’s homework but I got a bit carried away when I was ‘helping’ her.   

My darling mother laboured to create a man,

But from this world, an angel will depart, 

Donning a smile, with nerves in perfect order, 

Prepared to rejoice in song with the larks. 

Crimson christens the shoulder blades where wings will form, 

My earthly functions are lost to the mud, 

Shroud me with prayers; in darkness I will ascend, 

Wearing a military cross, crusted with blood. 

By Tyler Turner 

From Glamping to Trench Warfare: A Brief Summer Summary

It’s back to normality for me today after a summer of exploration, character-building experiences and very limited internet access (AKA my very valid excuse for a feeble lack of posts).

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Since its beginning in a family-friendly campsite in the Derbyshire Dales to its demise in the war-torn fields of Leeds Festival, this summer has consisted of flitting between the East Anglian coast, Mancunian record stores and a good mate’s house in Staveley. There have been weddings attended, new tattoos/piercings acquired and large doses of literature consumed.

 

Books of my summer:

  • Owen Jones, The Establishment: And How They Get Away With It.  
  • George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia. 
  • J.D. Salinger, The Catcher In The Rye.
  • Stephen Fry, The Liar.
  • Pat Barker, Noonday.
  • Jon E. Lewis, The War Behind The Wire: The Life, Death and Glory of British Prisoners of War 1914-18.
  • Gerald Giddon, VCs of the First World War: Somme 1916.  
  • Greg King and Sue Woolmans, The Assassination of the Archduke: Sarajevo 1914 and the Romance that Changed the World. 
  • Anton Rippon, How Britain Kept Calm and Carried On: On the Home Front. 
  • James Dashner, The Death Cure.

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Despite having narrowly dodged being peed and thrown up on, barely surviving the weather and leaving with a lovely little cold – I feel like I have left Leeds with some very valuable experience.

Five festival life lessons:

  • Wellies ARE essential and should be worn at all times – even when festival season is over.
  • Indiscreetly pointing at someone wins you a new friend.
  • Puddles are not suitable pillow substitutes.
  • You are not above bumbags.
  • Small tents test friendships.

 

Overall, the last six weeks have been brilliant, educational and physically and mentally exhausting, yet I feel oddly recharged. Now I’m ready to write, work and campaign furiously throughout this next year before returning to university in 2017.

Some highlights:

  • Interacting with Iain Stirling (the reason my mates and I continued watching CBBC well into our early teens) at Leeds, directly followed by:
  • Listening to Owen Jones chat with Andy Parsons and having him inspire me even further.
  • Eating Kimchi in Manchester and Turkish food in Lowestoft.
  • Spontaneous Tramlines outing.
  • (Cheesy as hell, I know, but) spending time with my family and friends, which is a big deal for an introvert y’know.
  • Getting in the bath after Leeds Fest.
  • Oh, and getting new hamsters.

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War Child

Welcome to the bomb shelter capital of the world,

Where blood spills from pushchairs and christens carpets,

And where those left behind are the same as the dead,

Where fear, death and siege is what we preach,

And where tombstones and rubble replace our beds.

Our playgrounds are shell-scarred and littered with shrapnel,

Games are limited to hide-and-seek with gunmen,

Books are charred and teddy bears are stuffed full of dust,

History, strength and power can never re-flower,

While our souls lay broken, succumbing to rust.

My mother raises one and gives another to the ground,

Her tears are never permitted the chance to dry,

Flowers stem from the soil where my brother fell,

Adult tears extinguish childhood fears,

While my father’s cry drones on, numbly as a knell.

Rockets pierced through our protective shell of youth,

In peace time, we reclaim a little of what was stolen,

We rejoice with the demons of our childhood,

Fear and hostility gives way to tranquillity,

Though our innocence is dead, drowned in blood.

By Tyler Turner

Book Club

I feel like I don’t get to talk about my favourite books enough so I decided to nick a few interesting literature related questions from the internet and answer them in a blog post. Enjoy.

Who or what sparked your love of literature?

I can’t remember a time where I didn’t love literature. I think it must have been when I first got the Philosopher’s Stone. I was too young to read it on my own but I vividly remember my mum reading me a chapter before bed every night.

My English teachers throughout school also implemented a deeper love of Literature within me by exposing me to books I mightn’t have read otherwise.

Do you have an ‘odd’ book habit? (page sniffing/never leaving the house with a book)

I do both of those ‘odd’ habits. It’s gotten to the extent where if I feel awkward at a social gathering, I will whip a book out of my bag and start reading.

Do you have a book that you think has changed your life? How?

More than I can name and for different reasons. The first that come to mind are Trainspotting and Fight Club, both of which have a similar philosophy and affected the formation of my own, also the works of Camus for the same reason. Then there are music textbooks by the likes of Greil Marcus, Jon Savage and Simon Price which have opened me up to more music, and helped me build the foundations of my career.

Which book have you reread most frequently?

Having been an English student, there are a lot of books that I was required to reread to the point where I could recite large chunks off by heart, not that it was a problem for me. I also reread books leisurely if I find my reading list to be quite thin. An overlap between education and leisure occurred when it came to Regeneration by Pat Barker, meaning that that is probably the book I have reread the most.

You can meet any author and ask one question. What author would you chose and what question would you ask

M. Ageyev – who are you?

Best book of this year so far?

Novel with Cocaine is by far the most interesting book I’ve read so far this year and it is my current literary obsession. As for newer books, the best I have read so far this year is Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman.

Imagine you’ve started a book and don’t like it. Do you see the experience through to the bitter end, or are you able to walk away from it mid story?

I see it through to the bitter end and then think about giving it a shoddy review.

Favourite place to read?

I’d say just in a nicely lit room where music is playing. I like to combine my reading with my discovering of new music.

If you buy books, do you lend them out? Ever had a bad experience?

Not anymore. I tend not to get them returned to me for a very long time.

What fictional character do you ship yourself with?

Is it cliché to say Mr Darcy? I’ll spice it up though and say the Mr Darcy from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies since he wins points for being a total badass.   

I’m going to be greedy and say Tyler Durden too because we have the same name and people have told me I remind them of him…

When I was younger I would have said Matt Freeman from the Power of Five books, Jared from The Spiderwick Chronicles and Klaus from A Series of Unfortunate Events, but all those characters are quite a bit younger than me now.

Weirdest thing you’ve used as a bookmark

My foot.

Favourite quality/qualities in a protagonist and antagonist

I’m really into nihilism. Give me a pessimist any day. I also like emotional turmoil/conflict; I hate to see straight out good guys and bad guys, I prefer the line to be blurred so that it isn’t quite as black and white.

Favourite genre and favourite book from that genre

I would probably have to say horror, though I do love politically fuelled dystopian novels too.

From the former I‘d say maybe ‘Salem’s Lot or Pet Sematary (I’m a massive King fan) and from the latter I’d say Orwell’s 1984. In fact, I’d even go as far as to list 1984 as my favourite novel of all time.

Best/worst movie adaptation in your eyes

You can guarantee that, on the most part, if there is a King book that has been made into a film, I will adore it. The Shawshank Redemption, The Shining and Pet Sematary are some of my favourites.

I do also really love the film adaptation on 1984 and A Clockwork Orange too is brilliant.

As for worst, I don’t think I have ever seen an adaptation of Wuthering Heights that I have particularly enjoyed.

Do you prefer reading your own books, or library books?

I love library books because I feel like they tell their own separate story away from the words, and I love visiting the library in general anyway. Despite this, I do often buy my own books more so because the library doesn’t always have copies of books that I want to read. I also like to jot notes in my books as I read them, which I don’t think the librarian would appreciate!

How do you choose your next book to read?

I look at what books my idols are reading, or have noted as having influenced them. Being a fan of the Manic Street Preachers has provided me with a wealth of reading material to plough through!

Your favourite word

There isn’t a word that I find particularly pleasing, though there is no word I despise more than ‘lunch’.

Most underrated book you’ve read

Novel with Cocaine. I feel like not enough people discuss this.

What is the first book that catches your eye when you look at your bookshelf?

Andy Warhol’s A, A Novel because it’s bright yellow.

Which book from your childhood has had the most impact on you?

Harry Potter, without a doubt. It’s kind of like a gateway novel that opens you up to so much more.

When reading, what do you value most: writing style, characters, plot, world building, pacing, etc?

I like character development. I like to feel like I know the characters. I find that a story becomes hard to follow sometimes when you aren’t attached to the characters. If you are presented with a good set of characters, you are left emotionally vulnerable at the hands of the author who then has the power to make you feel however they want you to.

Which fictional character would you want as a sidekick?

My favourite characters tend to be leaders not sidekicks, though I’d probably go for Richard from The Power of Five series since he was so loyal to Matt throughout, and he’s a journalist like I hope to be!

You’re stuck on an island with a suitcase big enough to hold five books. What books are they?

George Orwell – 1984

Pat Barker – The Regeneration trilogy

Chuck Palahniuk – Fight Club

Sylvia Plath – The Bell Jar

M. Ageyev – Novel with Cocaine

If you had to go out to dinner with any character who would it be and why? What would you talk about?

Randle McMurphy because I find him deeply interesting. I think I would just listen to him talk.

Is there a book you have such a hatred for that you would throw it off of the highest tower knowing that the last copy of it will be destroyed so that not another living soul can read it or would you rather keep it and give it to someone else who might actually enjoy it?

I don’t think I’ve ever disliked a book so intensely that I’ve felt the need to exert myself to such an extent. I didn’t like New Moon or The Lovely Bones. I gave the former to a charity shop and returned the latter to the library.

Do you believe books make nice decor as well as portals to another world? Or do you prefer kindles/ipads/etc.

Kindles can be useful, I’ll admit that (as demonstrated by my friend during our A-Levels) but they just don’t compare to a physical book. Also kindles take away the social aspect of going to the library or bookshop and I believe it somewhat affects the reading experience.

Do you sleep with books under your pillow?

I have done but it’s not a constant habit. I have loads under my bed though.

If you could choose one book in which you could live for one day, which book would you choose?

As bizarre as it sounds, I’d choose something like ‘Salem’s Lot despite the horror, since I love vampires, and there’s also a morbid sense of adventure in a novel like that.

Although they say “the movie is always better,” can you think of a movie that is better than the book it was based on?

The Maze Runner. I thought the film was amazing so I immediately went out and brought the books expecting to be equally as amazed, but I just wasn’t. Sorry.

What do you think about writing and highlighting in books?

I do this all the time and I see nothing wrong with it as long as you actually own the book, though I do find it really cool reading second hand books and finding little notes made by the previous owner.

Which book would you recommend to a stranger?

Dennis Skinner’s Sailing Close to the Wind: Reminiscences so that my politics are made perfectly clear.

What’s your favourite book quote (at the moment)?

‘I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.’

The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath.

 

What book is on top of your to-read list?

My reading list is currently huge and isn’t assembled in any order but the last thing I added to it was Vera Brittain’s Testament of Youth.

Which book are you currently reading, and what do you think of it?

I have a lot of books on the go at the minute, mainly music and politics based ones. My main focus at the moment though is Britpop!: Cool Britannia and the Spectacular Demise of English Rock by John Harris. I think it is extremely well-crafted and the detail is great, I am thoroughly enjoying it so far.  

What was your favourite book that you read in school?

Regeneration by Pat Barker – now one of my all-time favourite trilogies and author.

Library or book store? Why?

Library.

‘Libraries gave us power.’

And they’re free and you can sit reading in them without being pressured to buy anything.

Ben Myers ‘Richard: A Novel’ – BOOK REVIEW

It took a while, but at the very start of the year, I finally got around to reading Ben Myers’ somewhat controversial novel ‘Richard: A Novel’ for myself. It took a while longer still, but I have now finally gotten round to sharing my opinion on it. I decided that, with it being a novel that holds such a reputation within a fan base that I myself am a part of, the best way to tackle it would be to disregard all opinions and reviews I had previously read on the piece and approach it with a neutral palette.

The piece is split into two narratives – one depicting the known biographical storyline of Edwards, and the other a fictional account of what might have occurred over the days following his disappearance. The former is written in the second person and the latter in first, highlighting the apparent conflict between the two personas present: Richard Edwards and Richey Manic. This method of structuring gives the novel a very schizophrenic feel, which is further amplified when the personas clash full on. An example of this occurs in chapter two (Classified Machine)  which shows the speaker wrestling with the internal voice that tortures him with accusations of being ‘selfish’ and a ‘self-obsessed narcissist whinging weak-willed cock-sucker imbecile’. Myers really didn’t hold back on the themes and lexical choices, but since whatever he wrote and no matter how sensitively he could have put it, he was always going to end up offending or displeasing someone, so hats off to him for gritting his teeth and getting on with it.

Fact and fiction entwine nicely throughout the novel, but the story-telling comes across as a little dry in places. The fictional account blends together the fragments of known information and alleged sightings with the author’s own imagination to piece together a possible scenario. What Myers came up with could be seen as being dull and tedious, or even somewhat farfetched in places. Though to be fair, as pointed out by Rob Jovanovic in his investigative piece ‘A Version of Reason: The Search for Richey Edwards’ in reference to John Darwin the ‘Canoe Man’ (an example of pseudocide gone wrong), ‘life truly is stranger than fiction’. So perhaps it wouldn’t be entirely fair to pick fault with that.

As for the more biographically based account, Myers glazes over the solid facts with fiction in a way that is unavoidable when you weren’t there to witness the events first hand. Unfortunately though, for the most part, it feels as though you are simply re-reading a watered down version of Simon Price’s ‘Everything (A Book about Manic Street Preachers)’. Clearly though, when it comes to working with the details of a life as well-documented and thoroughly dissected as Edwards’, it is difficult to retell the story without repeating some of the words of those before you, especially since Myers is most likely to have read these works when conducting his research for the novel.

Myers strips the man of the iconography and attempts to explore him as human being. In some places, it gets a little too human. The description of the ‘pathetically runny shit’ that ‘splatters off the white porcelain bowl’ in chapter two (Classified Machine) is uncomfortably grim, but gets the job done. It’s safe to say that Myers did a good job of making sure the glamour was well and truly stripped.  It is undoubtedly uncomfortable to read, but that can only be expected when the writer’s aim is to transport you inside the walls of a seemingly unhinged mind. Whether or not it is done tastefully or entertainingly is down to the individual to decide, but this reader thought that it could have been tackled without patronising Edwards as intensely as it does, especially when the author did not know him personally.

It could be argued that in attempting to uncover the man behind the myth, Myers has created a new one by turning him into a fictional character. That being said, one must keep in mind that that’s exactly what it is, a fictional account with fictional characters based on real people, so try not to get too offended.

(Review based on the revised and corrected edition published in 2011 by Picador)

 

Throwback Thursday Thrillers- Weeping Angels

themausoleumscriptures

The Mausoleum Scriptures’ Throwback Thursday special, written by a tiny ten year old Tyler Turner. Inspired by the weeping angels of Doctor Who and unedited (bar from the odd spelling correction) since it was written circa 2007. 

(Below – the original, unedited framed print with terrible spelling mistakes and misused words.)

12584170_555388204625233_33955982_nWretched souls trapped in bloodless stone.

Empty as a cold, lifeless room.

Emotionless eyes, stiff and still.

Paralysed by none blinking eyes.

Immortal since the dawn of time.

Noticed from every angle.

Gruesome things their powers do.

Absorbing people to the past.

Noiseless, but are heard loud and clear.

Grimy teeth, jagged and fierce.

Elegant, but deadly and scornful.

Lanky robes upon the colour-drained stone.

Sinister as your nightmare creatures.

By Tyler Turner

(Featured image taken from tardis.wikia.com)

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Pray-Ground

themausoleumscriptures

Originally written for an English Language AS Level piece, this is the most recently updated version of Tyler Turner’s original short story ‘Pray-Ground‘.

Shane, shrouded in trepidation, drank in the scene around him with reluctant awe. A sea of pews stretched out before his eyes, supporting masses of hollowed out human corpses all praying to a God that could no longer save them.

***

Proceeding the dawning of the apocalypse, the world had morphed into one titanic battle ground. Humans, now in their minority, had resorted to primitive methods of survival. Men who were once valued by society now scavenged the streets like rodents, and children were mothered by squalor and disease. For many, crime was the new deity; something they turned to in times of doubt and despair.

People were disappearing in their dozens. The authorities didn’t act on the reports as they saw it as fewer…

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