Kit the Kat: Warning – May Contain Copious Cat Pictures

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Kit the Kat: Warning – May Contain Copious Cat Pictures

This week marks the 2 year anniversary of me accidentally adopting Kit the cat. Those of you who don’t know the story are probably thinking, oh she went to a shelter not meaning to get a cat, and got a cat. You’re wrong.

In honour of Kit’s 5th birthday (I mean it’s all guess work. We only have a rough idea of how old he is, and no idea when he was born) I thought I would regale you all with the tale of how he came into my life…and the trouble he’s got into since.

In the Beginning:

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“IT Cat” next to the IT building.

It was early 2016 when I started noticing a tabby and white cat hanging around theIT building on the University of Birmingham’s campus. Every day, twice a day, he’d trot up to say hello as I walked to and from work. Sometimes, when I went out for lunch, I’d see him being fussed by students on their way to class. One girl sat on the floor with him in her lap, and he smiled as she scratched his chin in the good spot.

I quickly started referring to this charming chap at “IT cat” and would always pause to chat for a few minutes. He was every bit the socialite. I thought maybe he was the Vice-Chancellor’s (who had a house nearby) or that someone was bringing him to work, and letting him roam. One day I noticed a dish and a cat box had been left tucked into the corner of the IT building, and someone had propped a couple of carpet tiles around it. At the time, I thought that confirmed it.

Then, on the morning of the 19th of April (thank you 2016 diary), IT cat didn’t want to come out to say hello. He sat in the carrier with a wistful look. I frowned and thought, maybe he’s just tired. That evening on the way home he was loafed under a tree, and again, he wouldn’t come and talk to me. He seemed lethargic.

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Kit still doesn’t like carriers. But his new one is a better size, so he’ll step in.

So I made a decision. I would go home and come back later, and if he was still there at 10 pm I would take him home and get him scanned for a microchip. I needed some peace of mind. I went back to my flat, dumped my stuff and went shopping. On top of my usual groceries, I bought a washing up bowl, some tuna and a bag of Sainsbury’s cheapest cat litter. I figured that if IT cat wasn’t there, I could still make use of everything (cat litter is great for melting snow to get cars out). Then I went home, had tea, and waited.

I drove back to campus and pulled up as close to the IT building as I could get, then walked the rest of the way. I sighed with relief when I couldn’t see him. And then I thought, better check properly.

I looked in the cat carrier, but he wasn’t there, and then I peered under the bushes. I couldn’t really see him to begin with. It was pretty dark, and the street lights weren’t doing a great job of penetrating the shrubbery. However, there he was, curled up in ball, fur fluffed as big as it would go. I put my hand out and he sniffed it. I gave him a fuss and he got very excited and came out for more pets.

I opened up the little tub of tuna I’d brought with me, and gave him some on the edge of my finger.

What followed was about half an hour of me trying to trick him, tempt him and wrestle him into the cat box, so I could get him in the car. He wasn’t having it. In the end, we came to a compromise. I gave up and carried him. He was happy to go along with that. I put him on the front seat, and then went back for the dish and the box. Then I drove us home. He very much enjoyed the trip around the back of the hospital. He was mesmerised by all the lights going passed the windows.

I took him up to the flat and let him have a roam. He had a walk around for a bit, and then disappeared under my bed. I sighed and guessed I’d be sharing my bunk with a furry friend. I popped an antihistamine (because yes, I am allergic).

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The furry pile of contentment.

When I got back from the bathroom there was a furry pile of contentment on my bed, purring away. I got into bed, and lay on my stomach. He immediately climbed on my back and started purring in my ear.

That night is by far the worst nights sleep I have ever had. He never stopped purring, he kept moving to get closer to my head, and at one point he got up and went to the bathroom, then leapt right into my face as I opened my eyes to check on him. After that, I vowed never again.

The Search:

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The picture from Kit’s found posters.

The next day, I cocooned IT cat in my hoodie and wedged him into the cat carrier. He was not amused. Then I drove to the nearest vets. He meowed at me all the way there, and I sang to calm him down.

The vet was happy to scan him free of charge, but found no chip. She tried through the box, and then took the lid off and tried again. No luck. Then she confirmed he was a neutered male, and sent us on our way. I took him home then went out to buy him some proper food and a little bird toy…because I guessed he might be staying a while.

That night I took some pictures and posted them on as many lost cat sites as I could find. Then I printed some posters. On the way to work, I sellotaped a few along my route. On the way back, I stopped in at the IT building. They told me that they’d noticed him just after they came back from the Christmas break, and they’d been feeding him.They also said that they’d phoned the Vice Chancellor’s PA and it definitely wasn’t his. He didn’t have a cat. You cannot understand the relief that comes from knowing you hadn’t kidnapped your bosses bosses boss’s cat.

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Another photo I used online.

Someone recommended I try posting about IT cat to a bunch of Facebook pages, so I did that as well. I even put him on Gumtree. But his owner never came forward, and suddenly I had a whole bunch of choices to make.

Naming and Housing:

A lot of people I’ve spoken to have said they think Kit is a clever name, I think because they assume he’s named after KitKats? However, the name came about because I didn’t want to give him a name. I didn’t think he’d be around for long enough, and I didn’t want to confuse him for when he went back to his owners. So, like the proper Welsh bird I truly am, I started calling him “Kit”, like “pet” or “love” or “chick”. I also frequently started asking him, “What’s occurin’?” a phrase I had never before used in my life. He seemed to like it and would meow cheerily.

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Playing with his bird.

But then…he started reacting to “Kit”. And suddenly, IT cat had a name. Although, privately I now call him Christofurr Coopurr. I enjoy how it makes him sound like a PI. Plus I get to yell, “Christofurr!” when he’s doing something naughty.

The next issue was that, I wasn’t allowed pets in my building, so I knew I couldn’t keep him around for long. Particularly when he started meowing and scratching at my bedroom door at 3 am. None of my cat loving friends were in a position to take him in, and I felt like I’d be a little heart broken if I had to leave him in a shelter.

Fortunately, my mum stepped in. She said they’d have him at home in Wales, until I had a living situation that Kit would be happy in. Given that my family are mainly dog people, this was something of a miracle. I drove him down, and left him there with my family, where the cheeky monster still is. They all love him to pieces.

Present Day Kit:

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Kit’s ankle x-ray after surgery.

Kit is still a little charmer. Unless you’re a child (he really doesn’t like kids), he will come strutting over to you in the hopes that you’ll pet him. Preferably on the top of his head, but you can do his chin if you do it properly. And if you catch him on a good day, he’ll let you pick him up for a bit to give him a cuddle.

Just before Christmas, he mysteriously broke his ankle. He did time for this crime and cost me a fortune in vet bills (insure your pets folks!). But he’s been on the mend.

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Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time, Kit.

Of course, this week, he gave us all a scare. His walking suddenly went wonky and Mum rushed him to the vets. They discovered the pin had moved in his ankle. So yesterday we waited, with baited breath, to find out if he’d have to have the joint frozen with a plate.

Thankfully it looks like the body was just rejecting the pin because it wasn’t needed anymore. The vets took it out, popped a stitch in, and as of last night, Kit was walking much better…although a little drunkenly from the anaesthetic.

Fingers crossed, my mysterious Mr. Kit doesn’t do himself any further mischeif in the near future. I love him to pieces, but he is a menace.

And because I couldn’t fit all of my favourite pictures into this…here’s some bonus ones 😀

Happy Birthday, buddy.

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#Goals: Review and Reset 1

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#Goals: Review and Reset 1

Well, it turns out it’s the end of March today, which means it’s time to review my goals for this quarter, and set my next lot.

Review:

Update Atlas with edits from Writeryjig Clubamabob (WC). – Incomplete. Honestly, this is probably something I could have squeezed in somewhere, but this semester at university has been, uh, somewhat stressful. I greatly appreciated the WC for taking the time to give me feedback, but let’s just say I wasn’t in the right mind to implement their advice. I will get round to this soon.

Reach the 90k mark for Atlas. – Incomplete. I have no idea why I set this word count. I believe I was on around 75K when I set the goal. Bear in mind that, on a good week, I knock out around 1k, and I only had 13 weeks to write. I plucked a round number out of the air and didn’t do the maths until 2 weeks later. A more realistic goal would have been 80k, with all the work I was doing for uni. Happily, The End of Atlas is now at 82,327 words.

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Celebrating the WC

Redraw Atlas timeline. – Complete. This was something I wanted to do as a number of side characters have become somewhat more important to the plot…and for those of you who don’t know…my narrative is non-chronological, which means I’m keeping 4 separate time periods ordered in my head. Now at least, I can see when certain events should happen in the early years. Wow, this paragraph is vague. This is what happens when you try to avoid spoilers.

Write a blurb for Atlas. – Complete. This has been done! Although I imagine it will change a great deal before I finally send any of this stuff off in the hopes of getting published.

Celebrate 1 full year of WC. – Complete. Very much done 😀 In case you missed it, last week’s blog was a celebratory How to Run A Writing Club, with a side of this year’s WC achievements. We also celebrated at the last meeting by singing Happy Birthday and eating cake and brownies. Much fun was had by all.

Moth Child CoverWrite a blog post at least once a week. – Complete, as of the release of this post. The experience of having to blog once a week has been interesting. Some weeks I came up with topics easily, other weeks were a struggle. I enjoyed seeing the response to Moth Childa short story that had been growing dusty on my hard drive. I also enjoyed reminiscing over the tales of Kidiot Emma (1, 2, 3) and revisiting my old work…it’s odd to think how much I’ve improved as a writer since my first year of university.

Redesign blog. – Semi-Complete. I have sketched out what I would like the blog to look like, but it took a long time for me to get adobe working on my computer (the old boy has had a hard life), at which point I was already knee deep in essay research. Hopefully, I can get this done by the end of the year.

Rebrand blog. – Complete. Gone is the Let’s Read branding of yore. I would like to change the blog URL, but I don’t want to mess with the links. And I’m hoping someday I might be able to buy my own URL, in which case I’d end up messing with them twice, so for now I’m sticking with emmort.wordpress.com.

Write 2 linguistic essay drafts before the Easter Holiday. – Completeish. I completed and submitted one essay (let’s not talk about that), but I’ve also come up with my own research question and half written my second essay, and come up with a research question, delivered a presentation and started collecting data for my third essay. If you’d like to take part in my study, you can find the questionnaire here. I’m counting everything I’ve done so far as basically the same amount of work as two whole essays, just in a different format.

Read all the required material for my classes. – Complete. It was a struggle toward the end, but I got there. I think reading all of the material for a degree, even if it’s not relevant to what you’re going to end up writing about, is important. You never know when that reference is going to come in handy further down the line.

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My hair in the middle of all this.

Try and read 1 extra article/chapter a week. – Complete. Initially, I started by reading chapters from the books on fanfiction, which I’d been bought for Christmas, to prepare for my dissertation. Then, as we got into the world of assignment deadlines, I was reading essays, bits of books, or…the whole of Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud (good read for anyone who’s interested, although he infuriated me with his use of the words “icon” and “symbol”. I struggled to get through this thing on Peirce and Saussre, but if you’re going to use the language of semiotics in an academic text, you should sure as hell know what it means.)

Write MA dissertation proposal. – Complete. The main hurdle here was not having the form to fill in. But it’s done, and it’s gone, and hopefully I’ll find out who my dissertation supervisor will be sometime soon.

Vet possible fanfiction profiles for MA dissertation data suitability. – Semi-Complete. I’ve perused, but I’ve not nailed anything down yet. Honestly, I feel like I need to have a chat with my dissertation supervisor first, before I start identifying possible sources of data.

Talk to personal tutor about ethics for MA dissertation. – Completeish. So I didn’t really talk to my personal tutor about this, but one of my module lecturers, Dr Ruth Page, specialises in online research and provided some interesting information about ethics in our final session. I need to read more, and probably discuss it with my dissertation supervisor (when I get one), but I feel a little more in the know about this now.

Keep daily question journal up-to-date. – Complete. While I haven’t been able to keep up with my real journal, answering this quick question a day book has been relatively easy to keep on top of (#notspon). I’m looking forward to re-reading my answers next year and seeing if the responses have changed much.

So, I’ve completed 11 and 2 halves (for a total of 12) out of 15 main goals. Given how busy I’ve been with university work, I’m really chuffed. And of my 5 private aims I’ve completed 4/5, which isn’t half bad.

While I’ve worked with to do lists and resolutions before, this was my first time trying to complete quarterly goals and it’s been an interesting experience. I quickly discovered that some of my goals weren’t going to be feasible with everything else I had going on, such as reaching a 90k word count for The End of Atlas. It was just never going to happen.

I’ve also been made super aware of just how short three months actually is. Janurary, February and March have flown by in a mess of car problems, essay mania and trying to destress with friends. But, going into the next quarter of 2018, I feel like I have a better grasp on what’s going to be realistic. So next up, here are my new goals.

Reset:

  1. Deliver 2 more essays for MA by 23rd of April.
  2. Identify data sample for dissertation by end of May.
  3. Get a firm grasp on ethics in relation to dissertation by mid-May.
  4. Write draft of dissertation by end of June.
  5. Reach 85k of The End of Atlas by end of June.
  6. Create new logo for blog by end of June.
  7. Write blog post at least once a week.
  8. Read at least two essays/chapters a week.
  9. Keep daily questions journal up-to-date.
  10. Keep daily routine: up at 7.30 am, bed by 11pm.

I’m going to keep it to 10 this time, mainly because I think life might get a bit chaotic and twirly once I start working on my dissertation, and that will be 15k. I also have 5 private goals again.

And with that, I guess I’ll catch y’all next week.

But, uh, I will leave you with this picture of two fire engines trying to get a bengal cat (named Ben) off the roof of a house across from my parents. I feel like everyone should know that this is a thing that happened.

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Provided by my mum.

Then vs Now: Revisiting Please Mind the Gap

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Then vs Now: Revisiting Old Work

So this last week I’ve been stressed out of mind by a car that only works when it wants to and an essay argument that even I’m not convinced by. With that in mind, I thought it would be good to look back at how far I’ve come. Back to the very first creative writing piece I submitted for my undergraduate course.

To those of you who took the course with me…that’s right. It’s the return of Please Mind the Gap.

The prompt we were given for our first piece of assessed work was “Generations”. Looking back, I realise that the intention was probably to let us have as much wiggle room as possible to write something we wanted to write, but all I could think about was the old people versus young people dynamic.

At the time, I was also fixated on the idea that I was going to write crime fiction of some form, so I had to find a way to lever in some deduction, some logic, some action. This resulted in a story about a young guy (Henry) stopping an old lady from throwing herself in front of a train…bridging the generation gap, I guess?

Now, unfortunately, I can’t find the feedback sheet for this (and believe me, after re-reading it, I tried), but I think I got 67 (a 2:1 in Britain) and I have no idea how it did so well. But anyhow, what follows is a list of my favourite lines and why they’re terrible. Forgive me for my sins.

Please Mind the Gap: A review by its baffled writer.

“He had his family of course, but family is a bubble of childhood recollections and the moment it comes into contact with the real world, it pops.”

This metaphor is rather famous amongst my writing friends as one of the worst things I’ve ever written. At the time, I refused to accept this. However, it should be noted that its original form was far worse, as it included the words “rainbow vapour”. I can only assume that I was trying to make Henry sound like a 3-year-old, high on sugar.

“The city had been a bit of a culture shock. More like a culture thunderstorm, if Henry was to be completely honest with himself. He wasn’t often. Henry liked to pretend that nothing was ever wrong in the world. It was his way. And he was set in his way. Or so he had thought.”

I’m going to give myself a little pat on the back for the culture shock, culture thunderstorm comparison. I think that’s not far off a nice bit of playful emphasis right there. But then past Emma had to go ahead and ruin it, didn’t she? What follows sounds like I’m in the middle of brainstorming who Henry actually is, only I accidentally did it in the middle of the narrative. It’s okay to have a character flipflop…but let’s not flipflop for 6 consecutive sentences.

“Her patent shoes glinted in the icy sunlight. The reflection slipped like a tear from the surface as she shifted her weight from foot to foot.”

WHY ARE HER SHOES CRYING? This is part of the description used to introduce my little old lady to the scene. Now obviously, what I was trying to say is, “this lady is sad”, but what I have actually done, with some ridiculous use of personification is say “her shoes are sad.” Why, Emma, just why?

“Everything was fine, he told himself. Everything was warm milk, and fresh blackberries and smooth, like the perfect surface of an eggshell.
“But eggshell’s are fragile,” his mother had once whispered softly in his ear, “So be careful you don’t drop it.””

Apparently, Henry’s mother is Yoda…or Obi Wan…and her seemingly irrelevant words of wisdom echo in Henry’s ears when he most needs to hear them. And let’s not go near why Henry, a university student from 2011, has a list of favourite things that sound like they were taken straight out of The Sound of Music.

No quote here. But just know that this story included a whole paragraph of heart-breaking baby chicken death…

…That I then turned into an extended metaphor. And I have no idea why. But I can only think that maybe my lecturer thought this was sophisticated and not just a horrifying use of flashback.

“Henry’s rucksack flew out to one-side and was dragged into the riptide of the speeding train. The bag of books ricocheted off a window and launched itself through the crowd, into the timetables at the back of the station.”

Where is physics? And, okay, I later suggest that Henry’s shoulders are both dislocated…but even then I’m still confused about how this bag gets ripped from his back? So I guess…where is biology, as well?

“‘That boy!’ They all thought, ‘That boy just pushed her right over! So rude! These artsy-fartsy students with their flat caps and sharp creased trousers. I hope he didn’t break her hip.’”

Apparently the people on this platform are part of some kind of hive mind. And I can’t decide whether to use single or double quotation marks, or how to format dialogue/thought. Also, the only way to describe Henry is to use the objects that I have already highlighted in the narrative. I’m sorry, Henry. You are your fashion choices.

“No-one noticed Henry’s disappearance.”

I call bull****, past Emma. A whole crowd of people just observed him shove a lady over and noticed enough detail to accurately describe his attire to the police. Somebody saw him fall down the side of the train!

“Henry had slipped down the gap. That gap between the train and the platform where all the debris of the rail is thrown. “

These people all think Henry is trash, and they should feel bad. Did I mention? DID I SAY IT LOUD ENOUGH WITH MY IMAGERY?

“The peak of his cap was turned upwards, allowing a few dark curls and a thin trail of red yolk to tease their way across his forehead.”

There’s the tail end of that chicken death metaphor, “red yolk”. ~Sigh~ Couldn’t have just called blood, blood, could you? Also, his bag got torn from his shoulders somehow…but that hat, that hat is fixed to his head with cement.

“The younger woman stared on open mouthed, dead of language.”

I bet you’re thinking there’s not much wrong with this sentence, except maybe for that flowery end. Well then, let me inform you that I’d never mentioned a young woman in this story before…so I have no idea why I’ve used the article “the”.

“People readied themselves to mourn an incidental.”

See, past Emma thinks she’s being real clever with that there use of “incidental”…but what I’ve actually done is make current me question whether or not I know the actual definition of incidental, and then try to figure out whether past Emma is trying to cram all the meanings onto it in a “look at me, I’m so poetic”. I’m dark and mysterious and broody. You can’t judge my ART!

In Conclusion

Uh, well, just so everyone knows, Henry survived this ordeal (again, WHERE IS BIOLOGY?). The final line is him getting a rude awakening as his shoulders pop back into their sockets, so I guess getting hit by a train and having apparent head trauma doesn’t mean much. It’s that bubble he lives in. When it pops the force from the train just dissipates into thin air. Possible? Right?

I hope you enjoyed this walk down memory lane with me. I know I’ve spent the past hour or so cackling at my own mistakes. It’s good to go back. It makes me feel so much better about the present. If you fancy reading something decent, check out Moth Rain if you haven’t already. See you next week!

P.S. In case you were wondering about the picture…we found a Tin Tin figurine in first year and put him on the lectern like this during a lecture. The lecturer said nothing. I collected Tin Tin after the session and he currently resides down the back of my bedside table.

#Dear Me

Dear Me
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Dear Me (Age 13),

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, CALM DOWN. I know, I know, every day you wake up angry and you don’t know why. You lash out at those you love because you can’t stop feeling this way. Well, Dear Mehere’s the thing; you’re bored. You are actually bored out of your skull. Stop watching TV, put down the trashy chick lit, and get a head start on your reading. I highly recommend anything from the turn of the 20th Century; Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Dorothy Richardson. Throw yourself into it and go crazy. Don’t be afraid to approach people and talk about it. BE ENTHUSIASTIC.

Also, stop drinking caffeine. It probably isn’t helping. Oh, and deep breathing is your friend.

There are a few choices you are going to make over the next few years, and I’m going to say it now; you’re doing the right thing. I Dear Memarvel at your ability to go with your gut. Going to sixth form college was the best thing you could have done. Your attendance rate will sky rocket from 63% to almost 100%, because it turns out when you’re not being told off for wearing the wrong colour hair tie, or trousers made out of the wrong fabric, you actually enjoy educational environments.

I know that leaving secondary school, causes a rift in certain friendships, but they weren’t worth it. You may not realise it now, Dear Mebut the one who introduced himself by gyrating in your face, turns out to be a far better friend. Even when he’s gone, you miss him a great deal. Besides that, you will make solid friendships wherever you go. Join Tumblr as soon as you can, go to ALL the Cosplay Cymru meets and NERD THE HELL OUT.

Give people time. You may not be what they expect, but once they realise you’re serious they will grow to respect that. Stick to your guns, and don’t hide who you are, even if you’re not entirely sure who that is yet. You’ll learn more about yourself by answering otherDear Me people’s questions on your sexuality, beliefs, gender etc, than you could ever learn by sitting inside your head all day.

Your skin will clear up. The redness will fade by university. Having to take a pregnancy test every time you need to refill your prescription is hilarious, particularly that tense moment where you know you’ve never had intercourse, but you’re still worried it’ll be positive.

University will be exactly what you hoped it would be, but it will also be entirely different from what you’d imagined. You will learn Dear Meto argue with students studying PhD Physics, about Physics, and you will win. You will often be wrong, but you will still win, because the central skill of an Arts degree is being able to pull connections out of nowhere. Also, you will find a sport that you actually care about!

Finally, graduating will seem like the weirdest thing, and you will spend a great deal of time faffing about, trying to figure out what to do. The answer is, go with that gut. There is only one thing that you’ve ever wanted to do, and you will find a way to do it.

dear me

Best,

Em.

P.S. While creating the main graphic for this, I realised how much we photobomb. Keep doing that.

P.P.S. For those of you wondering #DearMe is a feature currently running on Youtube, in which you write a letter to your younger self. I’m not a big vlogger, so I thought I’d get involved this way.

Review: The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

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The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

I was introduced to the character of Dirk Gently as a fresher with a serious Sherlock hangover, and only BBC iPlayer to keep me company. I fell in love with the BBC’s adaptation, partly because of my not-so-secret crush on Stephen Managhan, but also due to Gently’s infectious attitude towards life. Over the summer, I managed to read the first novel in this short series, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. I was so taken with Adams’s bizarre writing style, that most of my creative writing projects for the next athe long dark tea-time of the soulcademic year were dedicated to replicating that sound; the unequivocal, deadpan satirist, with a unequalled sense of humour. In particular, it sparked the creation of a certain giraffe scene that became semi-infamous amongst my course-mates.

Over a year later, I finally found time to read The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, and I am pleased to announce, it was well worth the wait.

While the book is technically a sequel, reading the original is not at all necessary. All you need to know is that Dirk Gently is a man who takes the interconnectedness of all things deadly seriously, to the point where he has given up conventionalthe long dark tea-time of the soul methods of navigation, and instead follows cars and people that look like they know where they’re going. No, I’m not joking. The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul sees Gently investigating the death of a client, leading him down the back streets of London, past an old people’s home and straight into the great hall of Valhalla. Oh, did I forget to mention Thor, Odin, and a fella named “Toe Rag” all have a major role to play in the novel’s events? Woops.

This is definitely a novel for those of you who love the Marvel movies, or just have a passion for Norse mythology. While Toe the long dark tea-time of the soulRag lacks the sex appeal of Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, he makes up for it in his hilarious attempts at tormenting Thor. Thor himself is rather adorably unable to think and talk at the same time, and is prone to outbursts, which have a habit of transforming lamps into kittens and so forth. For the fanfiction writer’s amongst you, it will certainly provide some headcanon fodder.

In the middle of all this absurdity, it one of the best written female characters I’ve read in a while; Kate Schechtor. Unlike the usual floosies of your common noir, Kate is a curious, level-headed, the long dark tea-time of the souldriven woman, who has as much trouble comprehending bath salts, oils and bombs as I do. She is not your common dame, she is brave enough and smart enough to make her own path through the story, and is all about the practicalities, “Kate sighed. “Will I need a coat in Asgard?“. For a detective novel from the 1980’s, she’s a real treat, and you’ve got to love Adams for that.

My only complaint was the lack of MacDuff, the previous book’s secondary protagonist, and Gently’s onscreen sidekick. This is purely because, MacDuff acts as a Watson the long dark tea-time of the soulfigure, giving background information on Gently’s character from their university days together. For this reason, I personally recommend reading the first book, simply to get a fuller sense of Gently’s character, although the order in which you read them is up to you.

The Dirk Gently novels are certainly some of my favourites. As a student, they were a breath of fresh air in a pile of dense literature. As a graduate, they provide a wonderfully warm gulp of humour to fill the hours I spend in coffee shops. But most importantly, as a writer, I recognise that they are something entirely different, and that is what makes Adams one of my literary heroes.

the long dark tea-time of the soul

Finally, for those of you who find yourself hooked, there are further chapters available in The Salmon of Doubt, the third, but rather unfortunately incomplete, novel in the series. RIP Adams, you beautiful man, you.

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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I admit, I was sceptical to begin with. The synopsis gave me the impression that this was going to be a book about a girl who outgrows fanfiction and finds real love in the real world, and that was not a storyline I was interested in. I put the book down, I walked away. And then a friend told me that they’d enjoyed it, and I was in the market for some light-reading, and figured, “Why not?” I have never been more pleasantly surprised.

Rowell’s voice is fluid, and her characterisation is generally good. While many of the characters are detestable as people, they are also brilliantly well-rounded. There is just enough of Laura (the twins’ mother) present to allow us to understand the motivation behind her actions, without the words ever being said. There is just enough of Nick, to give us a sense of his teetering ego. And there is enough of Wren to make us hate her, before we love her all over again.

What is lacking is a full sense of Levi. We know his physical appearance, we know his background, but we don’t know any of his real flaws. From 460 pages, I can tell you a 100 things that Cath loves about Levi, but not one that she hates. Even his reading difficulties are turned into an opportunity for romance, rather than an individual fault. Levi is the kind of character that sweeps you off your feet, but you can never quite ground him in reality. Perhaps I shouldn’t grumble, after all it is a young adult romance, and therefore feet sweeping is to be expected. But the perfection of Levi left me with a bad taste in my mouth, like the message had been corrupted. It’s fine to support the idea that you should be yourself and do the things you love, but adding in the perfect guy who will hunt you down no matter where you hide was just a little to ‘happily ever after’. Maybe a greater discussion of the looming summer apart would have helped. I just needed something to shake the fairy glitter of this otherwise amazing tale.

However, what is lacking from Levi, is made up for in other ways. Rowell may not have grown up as part of the ‘fandom’ generation, but she gets it, and she gets fanfiction. Cath’s obsession with the world of Simon Snow (Rowell’s creation with in a creation) was spot on.  Rowell understands the need to explore, play, and finish stories differently. She even understands that sometimes, the fanfiction is better than the fiction.

I grew particularly fond of the Simon Snow interludes, and Cather’s fakefiction. As someone who never really enjoyed Harry Potter, as others seemed to, I found Snow to be very interesting. In my opinion, Rowell explored more engaging concepts and story paths in a few extracts than Rowling did in 7 books. Specifically, I loved the spells that relied on the power of words, such as ‘please’ and ‘up, up and away’, as well as The Humdrum, who managed to be both a surprising and sinister villain, something that Voldemort never quite achieved.

Ultimately, this was just the book I needed. It was emotionally rich, but still playful. I hope Rowell will someday bring us more of these guys, and until then I’ll be browsing fanfiction.net to keep me going. For a romantic, looking for a light read with a kick, this is definitely the book I would recommend.