Sunday, 16 April 2017

Back to work again...

Unconventional writers desk, i.e. the kitchen table
I had actually intended to have the whole four days of the Easter Bank Holiday weekend off from writing, and have a mental health weekend, but instead I elected to dive headlong into a literary voyage and start reading all of the books on the reading list of Between Two Books, The Florence + The Machine book club. 

This is odd for me because I'm normally very wary of book clubs. I think it's because of having done an English degree and, while I always really enjoyed the socio-cultural discussions around the literature we were reading for the course, didn't actually enjoy many of the texts themselves much. The most profound, as in earth shattering, connection I had with a literary text that I was studying occurred right at the end of third year when we did Sarah Kane's 4.48 Psychosis. Which, of all the texts to latch on to, is probably the most troubling one, and probably something I should be really, really worried about. It didn't worry me though: Not in the same way that identifying with Prozac Nation years later did anyway, but I digress...

What attracted me to Between Two Books was the list of books that they had already read: Since 2012, they have read books by, amongst others, Gwendoline Riley, Emma Forrest, and Jeffrey Eugenides. As someone who has previously been obsessed with (at different times) Sick Notes (third year of degree, pre Sarah Kane) and The Virgin Suicides (at 6th Form college: I found it in the library one day and devoured it instead of going to Media Studies, then forgot about it until the film came out, read it again, and became obsessed by it all over again) and who has a particularly vivid memory of reading Namedropper aged 15 when it had just come out, liking it, and playing the 'spot who the real indie/pop star is' with it, it seemed almost unnerving to discover that someone else, especially someone whose work has become an integral part of my life, has been reading the same authors as me, albeit different works and at different times.

What with having finally finished my punk women and fanzines chapter for MUP, and having hit something of a wall with the current stage of my punk women book, a dive into a literary hinterland, particularly over a four day weekend, felt irresistible.

And so it has proved!

I started Gwendoline Riley's Opposed Positions mid week, finished it on Friday, and almost immediately started Kirsten Reed's The Ice Age, which has been my favourite so far. I'm currently about half way through Emma Forrest's Your Voice In My Head, which I'm also enjoying, to my surprise, as I haven't really got into any of her other books, post Namedropper.

But, today, I resurfaced from my literature drenched hinterland/cave to listen to the punk ladies on Radio 4's The Reunion, inadvertently breakfasting to the tail end of The Archers omnibus in the meantime. The punk ladies taking part were: Gaye Black of The Adverts, Gina Birch of The Raincoats, Toyah Wilcox, Tessa Politt from The Slits, and Vivien Goldman. I don't think I gleaned anything new from the programme (as opposed to the one on French punk, which was a revelation), but it was interesting, and I'm glad Radio 4 did it.

Afterwards, I somewhat guiltily thought 'I should get back to sorting out those literary agent submissions for the punk women book'. I've managed to get some work done this morning, so it was worth pushing myself.

As with the punk women and fanzines chapter with MUP, especially at the re-drafting/checking stage, you end up doing a lot of niggly work that isn't massively interesting and is, frequently, quite depressing. I was telling Paul about this one Saturday on the bus home from work, namely about how I was spending my time trawling through books looking for examples of sexism in the 1960s counterculture and, specifically, in underground comix of the period. It was really easy to find examples too: Not to mention incredibly depressing.

My current depressing task is to locate examples of songs from the late 1960s/early 1970s that were big hits while being incredibly sexist. I don't think it'll be hard... I already have one in mind that I know is on a sixties Sunshine Pop compilation my mum has, and which always makes my skin crawl when I hear it. The rest of the CD is fine, just that song...

So that will be a task for today, and I can cheer myself up afterwards with the Emma Forrest book, or dance around the living room to let off steam again. Whichever...

I'm going to continue with Between Two Books I think, but only in the reading sense, not the discussion sense as I tend to find I get bossy in discussions and, besides, it requires a Facebook account, and I don't do Facebook or, indeed, Social Media. I don't think blogging counts as social media anymore...

If you want to find out more about Between To Books, you can find them on Twitter, on Facebook, and you can read an interview with Leah Moloney, one of the girls who runs it, over on The Guardian. There's also an interview with Florence Welch about Between Two Books, and literature more generally, on W Magazine's website as well.

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