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Archive for the ‘dead poets society’ Category

Will The Real Lady Chatterley Please Stand Up?

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I picked up a copy of Roxana Shirazi’s The Last Living Slut today. I don’t know what really compelled me to do so, I usually stay away from such things, preferring my titillating literature be some crappy romance rag. But I picked it up none the less. I was reading it out in the car on my lunch break, my legs sticking out the window in a vain attempt to get some colour and munching merrily on a brie and veggie sandwich. A tomato slice fell on my white skirt.

I was going to write this post a long time ago, actually when I first wrote about D.H. Lawerence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover here. This was going to be the very next one, although it wouldn’t have been quite like this. I was going to write about how the fictional Lady Chatterley was actually a real person, who actually happened to be quite an influence on the writer’s of her time, she is immortalized as a character in no less than five works of fiction, most notoriously as Lady Constance Chatterley.

But as I was sitting in my car I found my nutty little brain drawing these imaginary parallel lines between the Last Living Slut, Roxana and Lady Ottoline Morrell. Separated by nearly a century they are not so very different, call them what you will, patron, inspiration, muse, groupie, slut.

Back in the day, say around the turn of the century or so, the bad-boys of the world were the poets, the writers and the artists. If you wanted debauchery and dirty loving, that is who you hung out with. Today it’s the rock stars, the writers take a bit of a backseat to accessibility of the rock star, there’s a certain draw I suppose, the rock stars get all the dirty loving and the writers sit there suffering to make deadline, or even get published. Maybe, I don’t really know, I’m not talented.

Lawerence’s Lady Chattereley’s Lover is allegedly based on Lady Ottoline Morrell’s love affair with a stonemason named “Tiger”. It follows of course, the good lady’s romance and growth within the relationship and how she comes to learn that one cannot be all mind, nor all body, but must strike a balance which can only be found in true love. Ottoline, an incurable romantic had many love affairs and kept a circle of writers and artists around her, offering hospitality and friendship that resulted her literary immortalization.

Ottoline Morrell is an extremely interesting person to me, because she seems as though she is the type that creative individuals were drawn to, obviously she inspired and encouraged their work,  but she was also interesting and charismatic enough to become their work.

She appears in two of D.H. Lawerence’s novels, Lady Chatterley of course, but also in Women in Love, where her character strikes her lover in the head and sends him running naked through a forest after he spurns her. She is Mrs. Bidlake in Aldous Huxley’s Point Counter Point, Lady Caroline Bury in Graham Greene’s It’s a Battlefield, and Lady Syballine Quarrell in Alan Bennett’s Forty Years On. It’s quite the legacy.

I haven’t finished Roxana’s The Last Living Slut yet, but I can’t help but think about Lady Morrell when I read her book, she talks about a desire to be with people which is utterly romantic, it’s there, all hidden in her stories of female ejaculation and getting peed on by Avenged Sevenfold, it’s there. The interesting thing is, Roxana’s rock stars seem to want to be around her as much as Ottoline’s writers wanted to be around her. They are similar in their appeal, their romantic qualities and magnetic personalities.

Also, a post script here, I find it incredibly serendipitous that Roxana dedicated her book to a “Tiger”.

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Your Poems Are Like A Dark City Centre

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It occured to me after I had a conversation with a friend where it was mentioned that they have only allowed one other person to read their poetry, that writing is rather like getting naked in front of a stranger. By that token is asking someone if you can read what they have written rather like asking them to stand naked in front of you? This is like asking questions in a letter, but onwards anyway.

When I read a story or a poem that I really, really like, I do tend to get a sense of the writer themselves, which often encourages me to go in search of more information about them, which pushes me more towards reading those writers that have passed.  The reason for this is two-fold. One, there is usually more information available on an individual once they have passed, and two, the information available is usually very, very interesting.

Writing is rather like standing naked in front of a stranger, in how it is very hard to write without judging yourself, feeling vulnerable and as though every flaw is being scrutinized, and not kindly at that.

There are certain writers that stay with you, Steinbeck for example with Cannery Row and East of Eden and The Pearl. Sylvia Plath and her attempts to drown herself only to be bobbed up and out of the ocean like a cork in The Bell Jar. The Tropic of Cancer and the whole “I can shoot hot bolts into you, Tania.” bit. These are the examples that come to mind for me now, without having to refer to my notes or book shelf, however there are scads of others which makes blogging about books easy, because I can always find something to ramble on about.

There is an intimacy that develops between writer and reader, a level of trust that the writer has to have to stand for all intents naked in front of their audience, and a certain tenderness required on the part of the reader. The tenderness is required because even if you didn’t love the book, there is a desire, at least for me, to not judge too harshly, to still love the writer for the effort.

I have now completely dissolved into a puddle of literary love.

Written by Lindsey

June 23, 2010 at 12:57 pm

More Kick Than Grape Kool-Aid

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At my non-interesting, non-literary day job, which sometimes runs over into evenings and weekends, I work with a group of about fifteen people. On a daily basis we send various e-mails back and forth about the usual things that happen on a daily basis at any average office.

One of these emails happened to be based around a team prize, and since we all work in an office and it is a soul crushing environment, a bottle of wine was suggested as a nice prize. Let’s be honest here, for a moment, alcohol and mind-numbing office work go hand in hand. Often you will hear at the end of any working day “I can’t wait to get home and have a glass of wine.” or “There is a cold beer in the fridge with my name on it.” We all know it’s true, any real job (read, the job that you took as a stopover to pay the bills while you waited for your golden opportunity to come by and it’s now been twenty years, and your youth and dignity are all but gone) that you know you are just doing for the pay and the benefits has its own special level of self medication that’s required to 1.) help you forget at the end of the day how awful the soul sucking, crushing weight of said employment is, and 2.) chill you the fuck out so you can get on with actually forking over a third of said soul sucking earnings to the Government. Why we do this, is a mystery left to the ages. Life is suffering, apparently.

Getting back to the email, my co-worker, was very enthusiastic about the bottle of wine, because as she so eloquently wrote to the entire team she is a “wineau”. W-I-N-E-A-U. I paused for a moment when I read that, now I knew from experience, that this was not a typo, not being the … ahem, brightest bulb at times, my co-worker had obviously never seen the word “wino” in print, and thus, typed it out phonetically, and quite cleverly. Given the geographic location of our office, and being Canadian I am sure also added to the ‘eau’ part on the end, the influence of French-Canadian speech patterns on our everyday language and the like. Did you know that poutine, for example, means mess? As in “ça va faire une maudite poutine”, which translates to “It will make a damn mess.” The more you know.

I paused because, in these cases such misspellings usually cause me to glance over and then scrap the whole conversation as I die a little inside. This one actually caused a smile, and then a laugh and then a declaration of it’s very genius. Wineau, of course, it’s like pronouncing Target with a French accent “Targe-aaay”, it just classes the whole thing up. It’s less paper bag on the corner and more, paper cup at a street festival. It’s not passing out in a puddle of your own sick, it’s declaring you have a headache and putting yourself to bed. It’s GENIUS!!! and I am appropriating it for my very own!

Dead squirrels, more emo then a bucket full of drunk writers.

This squirrel is more emo than a bucket full of drunk writers.

Now what, I am sure we are all wondering, does this have to do with books, or writers, or anything remotely on topic with the rest of this blog? Well, frankly, a lot of very good writers are drunks, or rather, wineaus.

Let’s look at the some of the better known ones:

Jack London : author of Call of the Wild and White Fang, “(…) There was no time, in all my waking time, that I didn’t want a drink. I began to anticipate the completion of my daily thousand words by taking a drink when only five hundred words were written. It was not long until I prefaced the beginning of the thousand words with a drink.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald : author of the Great Gatsby “First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.”

William Faulkner : author of The Sound and The Fury, I wrote about him here, on ikstim.

Ernest Hemingway : author of The Sun Also Rises, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Old Man and The Sea, who is also tied forever in history to six-toed cats and for whom I named my perfect daiquiri. Recipe here.

Jack Kerouac : the daddy of the beat-generation, author of On the Road, The Dharma Bums and several other largely influential books, Kerouac died an early death caused by cirrhosis, after a lifetime of heavy drinking. “As I grew older I became a drunk. Why? Because I like ecstasy of the mind.”

Hunter S. Thompson : Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, do I need to write anything else? Oh here’s a quote, “I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.”

one more, Charles Bukowski : whom I love, to the nth degree, the Laureate of American lowlife, all of his stories involved heavy drinking, and even his live readings featured him getting bombed and having combative discussions with his audience.

Now that’s not to say that in order to become a great writer, you need to be on a bender all the time. Not at all, some of them take drugs.

The list above is only a short one and only mentioning a few American writers, I didn’t even get on the subject of the Russians, the French or the English. There are hundreds, thousands of writers, artists and performers that have substance abuse issues, for some it helps to quiet the deafening roar of the inner critic, to help them face the blank page, or simply to dull the pain of suffering for your craft. I am certainly not advocating abusing drugs and alcohol, in fact for many it was simply a short stop on the way to an early grave, either by disease caused by excessive drinking or at their own hands.

I can’t dispute however that some of the best literature, some of the most beautiful, heart-rending stories were written on liquor soaked pages, in a booze fueled haze of creativity. We all know the dangers of drinking, and for god’s sake, but more your own, don’t drink and drive. Stay home and read instead.

Written by Lindsey

June 14, 2010 at 8:31 pm