?

Log in

nineveh_uk
21 September 2016 @ 08:25 am
(1) I can't suggest that prompt! What if I want to write it one day?

(2) Obviously I should be writing and posting that fic now, but obviously I can't in case I should do it for Yuletide, when it could get more readers. /procrastinates

This entry was originally posted at http://nineveh-uk.dreamwidth.org/205315.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
 
 
nineveh_uk
An impulse purchase, I picked this up in the bookshop on account of the cover, and bought it on account of the blurb and a look at the prose, which convinced me that I was definitely going to enjoy it. This is a more impressive feat than it sounds as I heartily disliked the only other Tremain I've read, Music and Silence.* The book's focus is the eponymous Gustav Perle and his friendship with Anton, a Jewish boy of his own age. It is set in a small and boring town in an undistinguished bit of Switzerland, but it is not in any way a novel about Switzerland. Switzerland is there to be a metaphor, a job it does very well, though I don't imagine that it would say a lot in that respect to a Swiss reader. It is a terrific novel, absolutely beautifully written in the sort of prose that, while not mannered or dramatic, is simply impossible to read without noticing how very, very good it is in its quietness. It is the sort of prose that makes me thing, 'if I could write something like that, I should be well satisfied.'

The blurb is as follows:

What is the difference between friendship and love? Or between neutrality and commitment? Gustav Perle grows up in a small town in 'neutral' Switzerland, where the horrors of the Second World War seem a distant echo. But Gustav's father has mysteriously died, and his adored mother Emilie is strangely cold and indifferent to him. Gustav's childhood is spent in lonely isolation, his only toy a tin train with painted passengers staring blankly from the carriage windows.

As time goes on, an intense friendship with a boy of his own age, Anton Zwiebel, begins to define Gustav's life. Jewish and mercurial, a talented pianist tortured by nerves when he has to play in public, Anton fails to understand how deeply and irrevocably his life and Gustav's are entwined.

Fierce, astringent, profoundly tender, Rose Tremain’s beautifully orchestrated novel asks the question, what does it do to a person, or to a country, to pursue an eternal quest for neutrality, and self-mastery, while all life's hopes and passions continually press upon the borders and beat upon the gate.


Got that? It is a very accurate description of the book.

There are going to be sort-of spoilers below (though not for the end). I do not imagine that they will come as a big shock to anyone in fandom, and they didn't to me on account of how I'd read the blurb, but they seems to have surprised the reviewers a lot.

Read more...Collapse )

This entry was originally posted at http://nineveh-uk.dreamwidth.org/204836.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
Tags:
 
 
nineveh_uk
11 September 2016 @ 03:24 pm
I appear to have committed Yuletide nominations. I'm not entirely certain that I'm going to sign up, but there's a couple of weeks yet to decide. If I do then I'm taking a different approach this year and instead of signing up for things that I really care about, will go for some new fandoms and try to take a more casual approach to it. Yes, I want to write a good fic, but I've never really loved any of the fics I've written for e.g. Wimsey fandom for Yuletide because they've never been for prompts that deeply inspired me. I suspect that I might find it easier and more fun to lower the stakes a bit.

On the other hand, one of the fandoms I'm considering writing for is Deutschland 83, which hardly represents an easier option, so possibly I'm just coming up with a new way to create stress for myself and RUIN YULETIDE.

Anyone else thinking of signing up this year?

This entry was originally posted at http://nineveh-uk.dreamwidth.org/204673.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
 
 
nineveh_uk
10 September 2016 @ 02:20 pm
En route to the supermarket, I drew up the car at the exit to my little cul-de-sac, where due to the configuration of the roads and where people park it is always wise to pause to make sure that nothing is coming. So I looked right and left etc. and was slightly surprised at what I saw on the grass verge a few yards away:

Me: What the fuck is a penguin doing there?

Penguin: Moves, reveals self to be cat.

In my defence, it was raining and the cat was black and white and standing at such an angle that it really did look as if a penguin were craning its beak up. And I looked twice before it moved! If I hadn't had my eyes tested last month I would definitely be thinking I needed new glasses. As it is, I think I'm a bit tired.

This entry was originally posted at http://nineveh-uk.dreamwidth.org/204510.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
Tags:
 
 
nineveh_uk
28 August 2016 @ 09:50 am
I am in Berlin. It is very hot. It is so hot that today I am joining the ranks of people who wear shorts in a city. Since this appears to be 50% of people I've been seeing, I shouldn't feel too conspicuous in my sartorial crime, and it is a small price to pay for hot weather.

Berlin is great. I can't remember much, and absolutely nothing has looked as I remember, which isn't surprising on any front since I was last here in 1993. There is far more history that is reasonable for one place, I knew I was only going to scratch the surface, but now I feel I won't even so much scratch as gently tickle, but there are worse fates than to have to come back. My feet hate me.

Tanz der Vampire was amazing. My decision to base a holiday around seeing a cheesy musical is one million percent vindicated. I'm going again tonight. I even stage-doored The shame! The shame!, which is probably the most nerdish thing I have ever done in my entire life. I have also found several prospective entrants to the Galactic Cape-Twirling Championships. So far the hot favourite is the dancer who twirled his cape while simultaneously twirling a woman above his head, but there were also strong entries in the dramatic and moody categories.

Naturally the fic I bought to write remains entirely unwritten, as indeed does my diary. Never mind, no doubt I will catch up during tomorrow's 8 1/2 hour train journey.

This entry was originally posted at http://nineveh-uk.dreamwidth.org/203381.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
 
 
nineveh_uk
22 August 2016 @ 08:17 pm
Not just a cuddly face...

Woman attacked by wombat thought she was going to die.

Should Sir Z- R- have any enemies, perhaps he could invoke its aid.

This entry was originally posted at http://nineveh-uk.dreamwidth.org/203147.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
 
 
nineveh_uk
19 August 2016 @ 09:56 pm
I am delighted to be able to confirm that pickled onions count as one of one's 5-a-day.

This entry was originally posted at http://nineveh-uk.dreamwidth.org/202836.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
 
 
nineveh_uk
15 August 2016 @ 08:45 pm
I have spent much of the weekend watching the Olympics and sewing a top. I haven't finished the top*, but I've seen quite a bit of sport. Some time ago [personal profile] frankie_ecap asked me (in a nicer way than this is about to sound!) what the interest is in skiing in watching a bunch of people go down the same course one after the other. Which is a fair point, even if your favourite sort of skiing is the one where people go along the same course one after the other. Sometimes for 50km.**

It is the Olympics. I like the Olympics. I mostly like the athletics, but in a dull moment I will watch pretty much anything. In the Winter Olympics I endeavour to watch absolutely everything bar curling and short-track speed skating.

You see, the thing about sport is that while it adds extra interest to have a technical understanding of what is going on, it isn't actually necessary. It's fairly easy in a lot of events (not sailing) to tell who is doing better, even if you can't really tell why. Tennis idiots like me could see this year that though the Wimbledon final was going with serve, Murray was winning his games more easily and so was going to win. It's like ballet: I'm sure that it adds to the experience of watching Swan Lake to grasp the technical finesse with which the prima ballerina executes those jumps, whatever they are, but personally I just enjoy the music and the spectacle. I can tell that that series of jumps was incredibly difficult and visually spectacular and harder than the jumps the chorus did. That suffices, as long as there's a plot. And the great thing about sport is there is always a plot. It may be a plot I don't give a damn about (most football*** and golf), but there's usually a plot, and it's a plot that you can follow.

Sometimes the plot is a simple one: how far can I throw this discus? But within even that simple plot there is strategy and risk and human outcome**** and a narrative that can be gripping. Take last night's men's 10,000m. There's an argument that with Mo Farah as favourite to win and retain his 2012 title, plus two World Championships in between, this would be a dull race, but that would be to mistake the outcome for the sole interest. For as well as the outcome what matters is how the race was won. In this case, the question of how the rest of the field can attempt to beat the unbeatable. What must they do? Knowing what they must do, can they do it? Often no, when the slim chance of victory comes with the high risk of sacrifice.

As a fan of cross-country skiing, how to beat the unbeatable is great. You get to see the superb performer perform. You get to see the competition trying to win, and sometimes even succeeding, albeit not at the moment against Farah. They can only win by going early, but to go early risks all. How much do you need to understand the theory and tactics of distance running to appreciate the magnificence when Farah unleashes those spindleshank legs with such power? And that's only the plot of one race, within a season, within a decade, within the history of the sport, within a life, and each of those has a narrative - and that's before you get to the human interest element.****** I have to admit that when it comes down to it what I like about sport is the atavistic element of the hunt, the person ahead who is mercilessly hunted down. 100m is exciting, but it's short. 5000m, or multiple rounds, and you can chase and pursue and destroy. Absolutely it's fascinating and courageous when Etenesh Diro in the steeplechase heats runs the second half without a shoe, but the really exciting bit to me is someone who has got behind and has only one shoe and then has to run to overtake as many people as possible. The hunt is on again.

I can't throw, I can't jump, though once I could run a little, but I really like watching other people doing it.

*The free Sorbetto pattern. It would have been quick had I not decided to add sleeves (additional pattern on the internet), and then chosen to add cuffs to the sleeves. With the hem, neck, and setting-in one sleeve to go I decided that I would like to do a few other things this weekend. It will look good eventually.

**You can get an amazing amount of ironing done to a 50km time trial. There's a reason I haven't had an empty ironing basket since April.

***Even so I can acknowledge the epic quality of Leicester City's Premier League victory this year, with bonus 'second time farce' Gary Linekar's pants story.

****I never thought I gave a damn about the discus until I was watching yesterday, when it was won by surprisingly dapper German Christoph Harting, whose brother won in 2012, as the penultimate competitor in the final round. And then the silver medalist (Piotr Małachowski, a man who looks like a proper old-fashioned discus thrower), who must surely have thought he'd won, gave an impressive display of dealing with unexpectedly not winning with great dignity.*****

*****Unlike the US women's football goalie, whose comments on losing to Sweden were hilarious.

******For a supreme example of this, Jörgen Brink's infamous collapse in the 2003 cross-country skiing world championships men's relay. Vindicated a decade later when it turned out that he had a heart condition.

This entry was originally posted at http://nineveh-uk.dreamwidth.org/202677.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
 
 
nineveh_uk
13 August 2016 @ 12:12 pm
In Kidlington to get my hair cut, and most disappointed to reflect that the newish baby cafe is not the equivalent of a cat cafe, and isn't aimed at people who would like to socialise with random babies for half an hour.

This entry was originally posted at http://nineveh-uk.dreamwidth.org/201989.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
Tags:
 
 
nineveh_uk
09 August 2016 @ 07:12 pm
Kir violette at lunchtime is an excellent thing. Alas, I am now at Lille Europe railway station awaiting my train and am back at work tomorrow, but I have some souvenir chocolate to tide me over until the weekend.

This entry was originally posted at http://nineveh-uk.dreamwidth.org/201892.html. Please comment there using OpenID.