Posted in arc, arc review

Forgotten Arc Thursday

Forgotten Arc Thursday

AIl books provided by netgalley in the hope of an honest review. seem to have gotten back on a semi regular posting schedule. So, I am reinstating Throwback Thursday. However, I have given it the new name of Forgotten Arc Thursday, which makes more sense. Firstly, Modern Sudanese Poetry an Anthology Translated and edited by Adil Babikir.  This book was an interesting read and had some fairly good poems.  However, it wasn’t very memorable.  I don’t have much to say about this work.  I can say the same for Year of the Monkey by Patti Smith.  I loved Just kids  and M Train , Therefore, I was really excited when I saw that Patti Smith had another book available. The first two books were inspirational to me.  They showed me the creative life, inspiring me to be more imaginative in my life and work.   This book is very different to the other books.  The first two books have a conventional structure. They follow a life journey.  However, while this is still a memoire, this is less linear.  It takes the form of a stream of consciousness narrative, combining real life with dreamscape.  I liked this book and found it intellectually intriguing.  However, it did not have the same emotional punch of the first two books. 

The Silk Roads: A New History of the World and The New Silk Roads: The Present and Future of the World explore the cultural narratives  of this route and the nations that have; thrived, died, and recreated themselves alongside it.  As a rule, history is a story that centres on Europe and its off shoots.  These books change that focus, expanding the cultural story to embrace other countries, including; Russia, China, and the Middle East.  They show how these countries have always been at the centre of history and will be the centre of any, future, global order. 

These books were all good.  However, I didn’t have much to say about them.  Therefore, I put them here. I Hope you find something that you want to read.  Leave a comment down below if anything is calling to you.  What are you reading? ֣1��

Posted in arc, arc review

Notes to self Emily Pine

Notes to self

Considering how common illness is, how tremendous the spiritual change that it brings, how astonishing, when the lights of health go down, the undiscovered countries that are then disclosed, what wastes and deserts of the soul a slight attack of influenza brings to view, what precipices and lawns sprinkled with bright flowers a little rise of temperature reveals, what ancient and obdurate oaks are uprooted in us by the act of sickness, how we go down into the pit of death and feel the waters of annihilation close above our heads and wake thinking to find ourselves in the presence of the angels and the harpers when we have a tooth out and come to the surface in the dentist’s arm-chair and confuse his ‘Rinse the mouth—rinse the mouth’ with the greeting of the Deity stooping from the floor of Heaven to welcome us—when we think of this, as we are so frequently forced to think of it, it becomes strange indeed that illness has not taken its place with love and battle and jealousy among the prime themes of literature.

Virginia Woolf 1930 On Being ill  Hogarth house


“What if my body could tell the story? What would it say? I think it would talk about blood. Its mesmerising flow and its ebb. About ending and renewing. I think it would talk about the touch of my fingers and my hands and another’s lips. The feel of skin on skin. Wet and slow. Soft and hard. The shock of cold, the pleasure of warmth. I think it would talk about the delight of orgasm and the delight of laughter and the delight of sating hunger. About tasting sharp and spicy, soothing and creamy. I think it would talk about looking out and pulling in. I think it would talk about perfume and stink. About clean and dirty. I think it would talk about illness and recovery, about fortitude …. I think it would talk about loss and grief. About standing solo and holding together. About longevity and transformation. About satisfaction. About happiness. About joy. I think it would sound strong. I think it would sound loud. I think it would sound proud.” P. 130

Emily Pine 2019

Notes to self by Emily Pine foregrounds the embodied, every day, experiences of being an adult woman living in the 21st century.  Exploring, physicality, pain, grief and hope, these essays vividly bring the modern world to life. We are all made up of mind and body.  However, they are not two spheres.  They are two interconnected parts of one organism. Each part shaping, delineating, and limiting the other.  We are both; our mind and body. Their interconnections and interactions shape our very being.  Yet, as Virginia Woolf argues, the body, and its weaknesses, are often ignored in literature.  However modern female writers, such as Emily Pine, are writing about the body.  In this study Pine writes to, and about, the self; a self-description that acknowledges the body.  She writes of; the sick body, the caring body, the childless body, the mothering body, and the ageing body.   

The first essay, NOTES ON INTEMPERANCE, (p.3) looks at her relationship with her alcoholic father.  The story begins at her father’s sickbed. We see Pine’s experiences of caring for a sick father who is suffering from the effects of a life spent with ‘alcohol.  The essay then hovers between past and present, looking at how her father’s alcoholism affected our authors; childhood, adulthood, and her relationship with her troubled parent.  This essay moves seamlessly from: heartbreakingly moving, through the darkly funny, to a place of peace and hopefulness.  This essay, like the rest of the collection, is, at once, painfully honest and compellingly hopeful. In addition, these essays do not flinch on the physical detail. Such as the humiliation faced by her sick father when he does not receive the care he needs “By the time we find him, he has been lying in a small pool of his own shit for several hours.” (Pine 2019; p.3.]


The second essay FROM THE BABY YEARS (p. 39] explores the author’s attempts to have a child and to come to terms with her body’s inability to conceive.  The essay does not shy away from  a description of the physical ordeal suffered by Pine as she goes through the process of IVF and the ordeal of the physical, invasive exams undergone by a woman who is trying to have a child; “I pee on sticks and into sample cups. I pee on my own hand when the stream won’t obey. I open my legs wide for sex, for the doctor’s speculum. I hold my arm out for needles and blood pressure monitors and sometimes to grasp onto my partner as he sits next to me.”  (Pine 2019; p39]. She is honest about her feelings. Firstly, she is thoughtfully honest about her indecision regarding motherhood “together we talked, almost nostalgically, about our lives as people who loved quiet, and calm, and the space to read and write. On the page those may seem like little virtues, but that list represented for me, for us, a peaceful, happy, fulfilling life. A child would mean giving all that up for years. Would it be worth it?” (ibid 39-40).   Secondly, she is viscerally honest about her yearning for motherhood “I am fearful and hopeful and shameful. I worry that I am empty, or that I am full of the wrong things. I worry that I am disappearing, eroding, failing. I do not know what to do with all these feelings. I only want to be a mother. Why is that so easy for some people and so hard for others? Why is it so hard for me?” ibid

These essays foreground the embodied, every day, experiences of being an adult woman living in the 21st century.  Exploring illness, physicality, pain, grief and hope, these essays vividly bring the modern world to life.  Brutally honest, viscerally physical, and ultimately hopeful; these essays make for powerful reading. 

Posted in arc review, Uncategorized

Monster, She Wrote The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction by Lisa Kröger; Melanie R. Anderson

Source Netgalley (in the hope of an honest review)

What do you think of when you think of horror? Well, sadly, most people think of film. Moreover, if you think of books and authors, then, I am guessing that, the names Stephen King and Clive Barker come to mind. I would imagine that you don’t think of women writers. In fact, a few people reading this post are saying; ‘women don’t write horror’. ‘Monster She Wrote’ seeks to proof that women have always written horror. In fact, women were at the very start of the horror movement. They were major names within the literary movement that gave birth to horror, i.e. the Gothic.

This book looks at the lives, and works, of female authors, placing them in context with their historical era. The authors explore the history of the horror movement and the role of women within that sphere. The book begins by examining horror’s gothic routes, exploring the work of writers, such as; Anne Radcliffe and Mary Shelley. It then moves onto the spiritualist writings of, relatively unknown writers, such as Alice Askew. The authors then take us through the pulps, exploring the work of writers, such as Charlotte Riddle and Elizabeth Gaskell. Then the work examines modern day horror queens, such as Shirley Jackson, Anne Rice and Sarah Walters.

This book seeks to fill a very large hole within the history of horror, giving the work of women authors the attention it deserves. But, it does more than that; providing a useful introduction to the history of the field , introducing each of its waves, and contextualising these movements against their wider historical setting. It’s an interesting look at an interesting field of literature

Posted in Book review, Uncategorized

Our Women on the Ground Essays by Arab Women Reporting from the Arab World by Zahra Hankir

We all believe that we know the Arab world. We see it on our screens and in our newspapers. We see Arab men fighting. We see other men, generally white western men, filming those male fighters. It’s easy to believe that women don’t exist within this world. We imagine that, if they do exist, they are absent from the public life of the realm. Actually, this is far from the truth. Female journalists are very active in this part of the globe. We just don’t see or notice them. They are reporting for; the international press, local media, blogging outlets, personal blogs, and, social network platforms. They have a wealth of experience to share. But, that experience often goes unreported. This book seeks to put that right.

‘Our Women on the Ground‘ is made up of the stories of the female journalists who have experience of reporting on, and from, this region. It includes women from all, or at least many of, the countries that make up this diverse part of the world. There are the stories of journalists who are active. There are the reminiscences of those who have retired. There are essays from women who still live in the region. There are articles from those women who are now, sadly, in exile.

Each essay has a different tone and focus. Some focus on the choice, or dilemmas, involved in juggling work and family life. Others speak of being active in a world that expects women to be passive. They speak of fighting, family editors and other journalists, for the right to write. They speak of the perils of being an out-spoken journalist in a world hostile to journalists. These women talk of; hope, despair, fear, and burn out. But, most are imbued with a sense of survival and resistance. They are totally different. They are all indispensable reading.