Sunday, 10 November 2013

NaNoWriMo and all that

NaNoWriMo started ten days ago now, and as you can see from the word widget in the sidebar I am trailing behind rather miserably. On the plus side I did vast quantities of overtime this week and so will be pretty rich come Friday when I get paid for it all, but I have been too tired to get on with any writing when I finally got home. The other disaster of the week is Creature's computer dying .... with 15,000 words of her novel hidden somewhere on it's corrupted hard drive. Dunk has found a programme that is very torturously trawling through every file on the computer to try and identify anything that we might be able to salvage, so currently all breath is being held and all fingers firmly crossed in hope of a more positive outcome that seemed likely a couple of days ago.

I realised the other day that I was in danger of failing to complete my TBR Pile challenge so I picked up 'Kissing the Witch' by Emma Donoghue and positively whizzed through it over a couple of bedtime reading sessions. In fact the book would make a lovely week or two of bedtime stories even for children as they are a slightly feminist twist on a selection of traditional fairy tales, each linked to the next by means of the characters inviting the next to tell their story. What I really like about it is that the alterations are very subtle, a change of emphasis or perception, that turns the women in these stories from mere victims of circumstance into real protagonists. It is a book full of princesses, witches, early deaths and first bleedings. The landscape is full of light spilling from the great doors of castles, jangling harnesses on hunting horses, candlelight on creaking staircases and round bellied copper pots. So Cinderella, Snow White, Gretel, Beauty and Rapunzel exchange tales of woe and redemption, they live their stories but refuse to be bound to the outcome we have come to expect, they become characters of cunning and resilience, determined to forge a different path for themselves.

"I had barely time to wipe my mouth before the prince came to propose.
Out on the steps he led me, under the half-full moon, all very fairy-tale. His long moustaches were beginning to tremble; he seemed more like an actor on a creaking stage. As soon as the words began to leak out of his mouth, they formed a cloud in which I could see my future.
I could hardly see him. The voices were shrieking yes yes yes say yes before you loose your chance you bag of nothingness.
I opened my teeth but no sound came out. There was no harm in this man: what he proposed was white and soft, comfortable as fog. There was nothing to be afraid of. But just then the midnight bell began to toll out the long procession of years, palatial day by moonless night. And I leaped backwards down the steps, leaving one shoe behind." (p.7)

An excellent read and a very clever story collection, beautifully crafted to usurp and embellish the originals. The language and atmosphere preserves the original feel but the underlying message is utterly transformed. 
I have now moved on to 'Unless' by Carol Shields, which I realised I had started before, probably only the first few pages, but I think I am really going to identify with ... middle aged woman agonising over the intersection of parenting and societal influences on her children.

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