Bubble, by @LorrieHartshorn

Cross-posted from: Circles Under Street Lights

And she’s swimming, and she’s swimming, and be damned if she’s not trying her best to look like she’s got this covered, like she knows what she’s doing, instead of how she really is, which is exhausted after two lengths of the pool and seasick as hell. The little old guy who got in after her is slicing through the water like a speedboat to her left, and she wonders – between trying to time her breathing right and sucking her chin in and trying to look suitably, casually happy – whether there might not be someone under the water, pushing him along while he rotates his arms dutifully. There’s probably a market for that, she thinks.

Speedboat man is coming up fast again, doing the big-mouth-breathing thing and sending up a tidal wave in her direction. She flounders on top of the swell then drops into the sudden dip that follows, feeling the toast she stuffed down an hour earlier roll like oil in her stomach. God knows there’s enough water in there to set it afloat, and to sink her oversized body like a rock. ….

 

This was first published by Pithead Chapel. You can read the full piece here.

 

 

Circles Under Streetlights : Circles Under Streetlights is the personal blog of Lorrie Hartshorn who is an English literary and speculative fiction writer, whose work has appeared in The F-Word, FlashFlood, Six Sentences, 1000 Words, The Pygmy Giant, Six Words, The Literary Nest, Compose, Anthem and Vagabond. @LorrieHartshorn

 

Ways of being alive together, by @RoseAnnaStar

Cross-posted from: (I am because you are) Trying to decolonise my mind
Originally published: 09.05.17

Love MedicineLove Medicine by Louise Erdrich
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sometimes the books I enjoy most are the ones I have the least to say about. And what can I add to Toni Morrison’s comment that “the beauty of Love Medicine saves us from being completely devastated by its power”? Because reading this book is living, in sweetness and beauty and love, even when it tells terrible things.

It’s life and there are as may ways of looking at it as there are minds to see, but in so far as these folks have been and still are fighting for survival, not just of the individual bodies but ways of being alive together and the deathlessness of stories. It’s a fight fought ducking and rolling and with tricks of all styles, with ‘one paw tied behind my back’. Sometimes it’s fought by going with the flow, by listening to the heart or the spirit or the craving of flesh, and seeking what’s wanted. Sometimes it’s fought in humility or by letting go, sometimes by audacity and pride in the face of censure. There are losses and grief, but the dead travel with the living.

 


Read more Ways of being alive together, by @RoseAnnaStar

Alex’s Dream

Cross-posted from: Generation Why
Originally published: 16.10.16

2016 Friday 12th of august 15:43

Dad said this morning I wasn’t allowed to bring my diary to the church but I didn’t listen. He says my dream job writing isn’t proper whatever that means. So when dad took my diary he put it in his desk drawer that he puts everything he doesn’t want me touching in. He thinks I can’t get in because he locks it but then he just puts the key on his desk. My dad isn’t very smart; all he does is watch TV and “teach”, He supposed to be a teacher but all he does is hire this guy to pretend to be him. Everyone tells me I shouldn’t complain cause he’s rich and has a big house, but they don’t know him like I do. Only 2 people in the entire world know him like I do, my best friend and my mum. My mum is dead now but she understood me when I complained. She said he was a nice man when he met him but as he grew older his heart got smaller. It got even worse when mum was diagnosed with cancer. It was weeks and weeks of back and fourth to the hospital. Soon mum lost her hair and then she died n the 28th of july. That’s why I’m here its mum’s funeral. 


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Thistledown of History by @RoseAnnaStar

Cross-posted from: I am because you are
Originally published: 30.08.16

A Ripple from the StormA Ripple from the Storm by Doris Lessing
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The third book in Martha Quest’s story is best read after the foregoing instalments. Here there is a shift in subject matter; previously Martha’s political activities were not a dominant part of her life, and she engaged in them alongside other preoccupations. Here all the action is political activity, and the personal lives of the characters are subsumed in it rather than the reverse. The energies and characters of Martha and everyone else is enmeshed in a political epic taking place at all scales, from international to intimate.

While Lessing sometimes seems to ridicule the machinations and dogma of political groups or criticise them scathingly, she effectively demonstrates that every level of existence has a political dimension, which is often overlooked by the particular ideological framings at work among the participants. Greek activist Athen’s attempts to communicate the all-embracing political framework of Marxism to ingenue Maisie, whose sympathethic indolence might be meant to represent an easily influenced reader, involve humanising politics, softening ideology into an integrated (even living) body of varyingly flexible ethical positions. This humanistic approach is the opposite of ideologue Anton’s rigid and dogmatic intellectualism. I remembered reading about dry stone walls and why they are stronger than bricks and mortar: the stones flex with the moving earth, and each tiny shift wedges them more tightly together. Anton’s Marxism is accordingly much more robust than Anton’s. 
Read more Thistledown of History by @RoseAnnaStar

When words fail by @Durre_Shahwar

Cross-posted from: Her Story
Originally published: 25.01.16

Growing up, it was always a close call between art or literature. I even looked up joint degrees that allowed you to study art AND literature at university, before deciding on literature in the end, knowing that it would be better to get to the core of one which might be ‘better in the long run’. Still, art and literature are not two completely opposite crafts, but very interlinked (William Blake, anyone?) but I guess that’s common knowledge. So since then, a part of me always wanted to set aside time and materials to paint, to draw, to create. To return to the raw smell of paint, the way it layers, moulds, hardens and leaves its marks and scent for days after. To me, colours are fascinating. Even digital art is; playing with textures and brushes on photoshop, manipulating images to make them completely unrecognisable. Yet I prefer the former; the physical, ‘traditional’ form of art. The watercolours, the pencils, the brushes. In a technological world, it feels good to return to something that you know came from the earth, the plants. It feels good to switch off.
Read more When words fail by @Durre_Shahwar

Women & writing: A celebration of true greatness by @AliyaMughal1

Cross-posted from: Aliya Mughal

“It’s not so easy writing about nothing.” 

So starts Patti Smith’s glorious homage to the temperamental nature of the creative life.  M Train is one of those books that not only lives up to the unanimous praise of reviewers, it exceeds it. It’s a book that envelops you in an absorbing journey through the “the twisting track of the mind’s convolutions”, as inimitably described by Smith herself.  Unrestrained in the rawness of her reflections, Smith is a writer so incisive that you read her words with a sense of wonder and envy.

M Train is the latest book to join my beloved collection of works by women through the ages.  As with all writers I admire, there’s the vain hope that through some mysterious process of literary osmosis, I might emulate a speck of their talent and output.  A grandiose delusion indeed but in the words of another talented storyteller I’ve recently been binge-reading, Brene Brown, “it’s like walking toward a star in the sky.  We never really arrive but we certainly know that we’re heading in the right direction”.
Read more Women & writing: A celebration of true greatness by @AliyaMughal1

The Inri Letters – Part 1: Mother’s lament at She means well

Cross-posted from: She means well ...
Originally published: 15.10.15

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 08.21.31Dear Sarah,

Well, I suppose you’ve heard the news.

My boy’s been arrested, and he’s not talking to anyone. Not even me. His mother, for heaven’s sake.

I can imagine the gossip in the village market this week. I bet they’re lapping it up, aren’t they? Especially that bitch Katy from the bakers. She must be having a field day. She’s always been jealous.

Our boys were born on the same day, in the same hospital. Did you know that? And, if you wanted proof that there’s absolutely nothing to all the rubbish about star signs and horoscopes, it was those two lads. They grew up just a few blocks from each another, too. Matt was a loud, annoying child as soon as he was old enough to kick a ball around in the back streets. Always making a racket with the other lads after school when my boy was trying to read his books.

Not that it’s surprising. My son had my undivided love and attention, while Katy had five other brats to take care of. No wonder that Matt went feral. Even now, he’s nothing more than a glorified barrow boy, for all his millions and that awful, extravagant house he’s built just outside town.

I can’t help wondering what I did wrong. How I failed my boy. He had everything he ever wanted growing up – not that he ever asked for much. He was clever too, too clever for those idiots they called teachers at the village school. How else could he have possibly have been ‘just’ an average student?

So how we did end up here, with him sitting in prison and refusing see anyone? I wish I knew.

Personally, I blame that lecturer at college. Filled his head with all sorts of ideas. Introduced him to unsavoury sorts who filled my nice, clean house with smoke, loud music and long conversations late into the night. Eating my food without even a “thank you”as if I was some kind of skivvy serving at the table of their ‘higher cause’. They sat around talking about equality and fraternity – but who did the washing up when they’d all passed out on the living room floor? Yes, you guessed it.

And then there was that strumpet, always hanging on his arm. Stroking his hair like he was her special pet. Like he was her property. Not even she had the common decency to offer a helping hand when I fetched and carried as they plotted late into the night. Playing the Lady – like I didn’t know where she’d come from, or what she really was.

But did I ever complain, or leave them wanting? No. Not once.

Let’s face it, they were the first group who ever really befriended him, the first friends he’d ever had over for a meal. I could hardly turn them away, could I?

The only one who showed the slightest decency towards to me was that Jude. A strange lad. Always so intense, so much in earnest. A little bit too eager. A little bit too fey (not that he stood a chance with my boy). But to give credit where it’s due, Jude was the only one to speak to me like I mattered. His praise of me as “the woman that made the man who leads” us was almost embarrassing at times. Almost.

I wonder what’s become of him  now?

Sarah, I want you to do me a favour. When they ask you what you know about the whole thing (and let’s face it, they will, everyone knows you’re my favourite cousin) just tell them that he’s a victim of wrongful arrest. That it’s all been a huge mistake, it’s a conspiracy, and that he’ll be out soon. That one day, they’ll be proud to tell the world that he came from THEIR village.

And if my mother asks you, just tell her that her grandson has gone abroad to study for a few years.

Please write back soon, and let me know what that fishwife Katy has been saying. I wouldn’t wish ill on anyone, you know that, but so far as I’m concerned she can go drown in all those fancy cushions her loud-mouthed son has swamped her with from the leftover stock from his import-export business.

And just one more thing? Can you drop this cheque in the collection box when you go to church on Sunday? Just make sure you leave it open so everyone can see who it’s from.

Meanwhile, I’ll give my boy your love when he finally agrees to see me. And I’ll let him know that you’ll have a plate of your famous almond pastries waiting for him when he gets comes home.

Because he will, of course, be coming home.

Won’t he?

With love,

Your cousin, Mary.

 

She Means Well I’m a feminist, loud and proud, but I’m also married and have a son. I demand to be treated equally based on my qualities and abilities, not the ‘equipment’ I was born with – but I am a firm believer that humour is one of life’s essential and that, yes, silliness DOES save lives. My blog covers a wide range of subjects, mostly in a mildly humourous way, including life as a transplanted Brit living in Greece, the imagined thoughts of my cat in The Kitty Letter Chronicles, things that make me go “Hmmmm” and things that make me go “Aaaaagh!”

Who’s afraid of the dark by Abigail Rieley

Cross-posted from: Abigail Rieley

Glasnevinhttp://www.aroomofourown.org/wp-admin/post-new.phpI’ve always loved reading ghost stories at this time of year. Nothing else seems to hit quite the same spot the wind is roaring like a lost soul outside and the rain is battering against the windows in truly biblical fashion. As the nights draw in there’s always that primeval part of us that draws closer to the fire but is mindful of the fury outside. This is something that writers have always understood and those writing before homes were lit with the flick of a switch understood it by far the best. My favourite ghost stories always seem to date from the mid-19th to early 20th century, when the gothic imagination was at its height. I grew up reading M.R. James and E.F. Benson, first discovered in the volumes that made up part of my dad’s Everyman Library – hundreds of uniform cloth covered books with matching paper jackets that lived in special glass fronted bookcases in the dining room.


Read more Who’s afraid of the dark by Abigail Rieley