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The review a writer dreams of …

By Storytelling No Comments

From The Weekend Australian, October 29th, 2016: Some novels owe their relevance to the moment in history defined by their theme and the actors who live the narrative. Others transcend time and place because of the universality of their argument, their characters and the landscape from which the narrative is drawn. Laura Bloom’s superb new novel, The Cleanskin, sits in the latter category and is destined to become a classic of its genre. Substitute the Northern Ireland sequences of this novel with any of today’s war-ravaged battlegrounds, and the secrets that haunt the protagonists could define almost any victim and perpetrator of past…

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I didn’t know I needed a Demitrius Graves

By Friendship One Comment

  GUEST POST: It sounds strange to most people I know. How do you connect with a complete stranger online? Connect in a platonic soul reaching way? With a person two decades younger, male and from a different ethnic background? The internet strips you of all those things our minds are conditioned to separate us by; sex, race, age, socioeconomic … it’s just a made-up handle typing out words to another made-up handle. Maybe you can guess something about the other by the handle they made. Most times not. People create personas that are different from who they are forced…

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Of pearls, beautiful young men and fine linen: an appreciation of Cheri.

By Storytelling 2 Comments

One of my favourite novels is Cheri, by the French author, Colette. It tells the story of a beautiful young man who is cossetted and spoiled by his mistress – in the dominating sense of that word – and lover, Léa, an older woman. The book opens in Léa’s boudoir, where she is dressing, and Chéri is lounging on her messy bed, naked except for a long string of Léa’s pearls. ‘Give them to me,’ he says, commanding, then pleading, then seductive. The pearls look beautiful on her, Léa reflects as she dresses, but they look even more beautiful on Chéri….

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The Female Face of War

By Life 2 Comments

“He’s afraid now that I will remember the wrong thing. That I will tell it not the way I’m supposed to,” says a woman in Svetlana Alexievich’s book about Soviet women’s experience of fighting in World War II, ‘War’s Unwomanly Face’. It applies to women’s experience of conflict and war everywhere, though: Once women stop being victims, and become combatants, physically, or psychologically, they are met with unease. Women are silenced on the topic of war, by men and women, and also by the traditions and genres of journalism, history and publishing. “We usually think of wars as something that men…

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Friendship, martial arts and Reality TV

By Friendship 7 Comments

 “Adults don’t want to watch other people having sex. They want to see someone getting told off in a store!” So said Ronnie from Watch What Crappens, the podcast I listen to after I’ve watched the latest episode of The Real Housewives of New York. Ben had just been theorising about why we love to watch them so: “Because they’re a big part of the population who are otherwise absent from popular culture, maybe?” He said. “Women from 40 – 60 of age with real and interesting lives?” Or, as my friend, the late, great Demetrius Graves said, women who are finally…

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