Month: July 2013

I Guess I Like Writing Horror Fiction.

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I’ve always found writing to be rather therapeutic. Writers often agree on this, and I strongly believe writing can take you in that hidden place inside your mind where all the twisted stuff is- the subconscious. Freud based his theory of psychoanalysis on this, arguing that the subconscious is a complex and vital part of us. So when we write, especially free write, things from our subconscious might come out and say hi.  This is really great news if you happen to write romance, fantasy, or comedy. But what about horror?

It took me quite some time to realize that the only thing I really enjoy writing is dark and horror fiction. It came to me, not so long ago, when I was putting together a portfolio for a creative writing class. This portfolio consisted of a short story, a personal essay, a couple of poems, and a multitude of writing exercises. I was proofreading everything for the last time when I realized the common denominator of all my work stopped being comma splices and misspells, but instead turned out to be blood and gore. What?! Read the rest of this entry »

The Arrival, by Shaun Tan. Teaching Children and Adults About Immigration.

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Shaun Tan is one of the most talented artists when it comes to children’s literature, and this is not merely my opinion. Winner of the most prestigious children’s literature prize, The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, Tan manages to reach out to both children and adults by bringing up contemporary and important themes wrapped in a beautiful world of fantasy. The Arrival is a wordless book, winner of many prizes such as New South Wales Premier’s Literary Award, Children’s Book Council of Australia, Western Australian Premier’s Book Award, and many others.

I am not here to list Shaun Tan’s accomplishments, but to explain how I believe The Arrival can be enjoyed by both adults and children, and used as base material for explaining important social issues.

The Arrival is a picture book containing no words. When I say ´´no words´´ I do mean it, so except the title you won’t stumble upon any other written language you can decode. This is smart for three reasons: firstly, little readers won’t have to know how to read about subjects that often have to be explained in ´´big words´´ and ´´complicated phrases´´; secondly, the readers will have to decode the illustration’s meanings themselves by looking at the pictures and letting their minds work (which is a great creative start); thirdly, the adult and the child can have much more fun making up names for the characters and places, or narrating the action themselves, which is a much more interactive way of storytelling than the classic adult reads- child listens approach. Read the rest of this entry »

Explaining Art to Hares and Defending Good Literature.

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Old Woman Reading. Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn.

I don’t understand something, so it must be wrong.

It sounds funny when you read that, doesn’t it? Imagine a world where everything you don’t understand has no value and is disregarded. You can’t figure out how your computer works? Better get that pen and paper out. You don’t have the slightest idea about plumbing and running water? Better start digging that well. I could go on and on, but I think I’ve made my point. Not everything we don’t understand is bad or wrong. Being a skeptic is a healthy attitude most of the time, but we can’t blindly go around the world saying this and that is wrong just because we can’t figure it out.  The same analogy goes for taste: just because YOU think it’s bad, doesn’t mean it really is. It only means it’s not for you. Which is fine.

I could name tens or even hundreds of authors that were promised they will never get published, or artists that were told that they will never make it, all now renowned in their chosen field. In contrast, not everything you like is of real importance to the humanity (after all, ´´guilty pleasure´´ books didn’t get their nick name from nothing). Read the rest of this entry »

The Books I Never Finished Because I am a Wuss.

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I recently had a very interesting conversation with a friend regarding books both of us abandoned for various reasons. The majority of these reasons, it comes as no surprise, were along the lines of not liking the book after all or getting bored middle way. While these sound like legitimate reasons to close a book and call it a day, I admitted in having some very peculiar examples of my own. Here are my four books that I really liked, but never finished: Read the rest of this entry »

Neil Gaiman’s Ocean at the End of the Lane.

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Ocean at the End of the Lane.

I have been waiting for this book for what can only seem to a Neil Gaiman fan such as myself an eternity. I have been talking about it to my friends, telling them how fantastic it will be, and how I couldn’t wait for it to finally be released. And then a thought crawled to my mind: what if it wasn’t going to be as good as I expected it to be? What if I was getting hyped about it only to get disappointed? The day I finally got the book I couldn’t wait to get home, so I started reading it on the train, horrified by a literary as well as a personal self-esteem catastrophe (I had been spending my days talking about the book and recommending it to virtually everyone I met). I am here to say (write) that I was wrong in thinking that this book could ever be bad or even mediocre. Oh so wrong….

Neil Gaiman’s Ocean at the End of the Lane is everything I was looking forward to and much more. What I was expecting was a high level of craft. Gaiman’s writing leaves me hypnotized, drawing me into a fantasy world that is so delicately created it almost sounds plausible. As a literature student I always enjoyed paying special attention not only to what he writes, but HOW he writes it. There is that special feeling, that ‘’magical’’ something in the air as you read the book. Read the rest of this entry »

Why I love the Humble Bundle.

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The Humble Bundle

Humble Bundle is, as the title suggests, a collection of games, books, music albums, etc that are available for purchase at a price determined by the customer. The bundles vary in content (from my own experience they are likely to be games of different kinds), and they are available for purchase for only a couple of weeks and only online. Furthermore, the money goes to charity. Yeah, I know, good stuff.

The first Humble Bundle I bought was called Humble eBook Bundle I, and contained some authors I knew and some I didn’t, so it was a great way to discover great books. Since then I have bought many more bundles, most containing games I enjoyed on my tablet/phone/PC. I have been waiting for a new eBook bundle and here it is! Yay! Read the rest of this entry »

The Magic of Old Books.

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Old book bindingsSaying that old books are like old friends has turned a bit cliché over the last years, so I’m not going to go there. I don’t even think I ever thought of books in general as friends, but more as complex little worlds I could disappear into for hours at times. What could be better than a book? Well, an old book.
Growing up, I used to browse the shelves of my parent’s library that never really seized to amaze me. Adult books, a genre standing on its own, that looked as exotic as their titles. I was still at the young age when, although not admitting it, was still judging a book by its cover. When not even the covers of the neatly aligned books satisfied my wishes, I would try and pick up the oldest I could find. Thinking about it now, I believe there was always something that seduced me in the old, dusty, and forgotten. Some call it mystery, and perhaps old books have a dose of that, but I believe that for me it was something else, something beyond that. Read the rest of this entry »

I’m back!

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It’s been a while, I know. Many things happened since my last post, and I just could not find the courage to sit down at my computer and write anything that would be worth reading. I had so many ideas, but every time I sat down in front of the monitor I would almost get scared and I would give up on it. Some sort of writer’s block, except the other way around. Perhaps it was the stress in the last couple of months, combined with my wish to finish my second year in university with good grades (which I did), and the creative flow I have been experiencing that never seemed to include my blog.

Like I said, I now finished my second year in university; and that means exams, deadlines, and lots of stress. Now it’s all over and I am enjoying my summer vacation. Next semester I will study at Newcastle University, England, where I was accepted as an Erasmus exchange student, something that I am very proud of and very much looking forward to. It’s a bit scary going in a faraway place, where I haven’t been before and have no friends, but I am sure it will be fine anyway. I am fixing accommodation now, something that is a pain, and it’s somehow stressing me a bit, so that takes a lot of my time too. I will probably be writing on a second blog as soon as I get there, something dedicated to my experience as an exchange student, which would be interesting to people who are planning to do the same thing. As soon as I know the details, I will offer a link here.

Otherwise, I have been playing a bit with my camera, especially in my vacation in Romania, where I took lots and lots of shoots, some of them hopefully good. I made a Flickr account, so go ahead and check the very few ones I have posted so far (more to come). I’m still at the point where I am experimenting the things I can do with my camera. I take walks and look at stuff, and I take some shots, and it’s relaxing. So nothing fancy. I have developed a weird obsession for lamp posts, and I am on a constant hunt for nice ones that could make an interesting picture. Yes, I know. It’s weird.

Lots and lots on my reading list, so there will be some posts on books pretty soon. The next one will probably be about Neil Gaiman’s last book, The Ocean at the end of the Lane, which I am reading now, scared it will eventually end. 🙂 Yes, I like Neil Gaiman that much.

Soooo…I am back on track, will post more (pinky swear), be more active online, etc. I have so many ideas I need to start writing them else I’m afraid I’ll lose them. And what better place than here, right?

P.S: Flickr account: http://www.flickr.com/photos/98239804@N02/