Tagged: literature Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • seandodson 6:50 am on September 22, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , literature,   

    Things I have learnt or loved on late 

    First pictures of the stunning Church of Santa Monica in Madrid by Vicens & Ramos Architects (right) / Björk sings No Limits by 2Unlimited / Japan plans to build a space elevator: 22,000 miles into space / A whole new meaning to the office treadmill / The extraordinary heroism of Witold Pilecki, the man who deliberately got himself arrested and sent to Auschwitz (via) / Nick Cave to write the score for the movie adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. But does The Road need a score? Silence would seem a more appropriate accompanyment to the end of the world / That the Bristol Sound is back. And Mark Stewart with it / That highbrow magazines are putting on sales despite the gloom

  • seandodson 10:04 am on September 18, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , brix smith, , dave simpson, literature, mark e smith, , , the curse of the fall, , the fallen   

    The Fall are a great band, but they’re not worth losing your girlfriend over 

    Like John Peel before him, Dave Simpson, music critic with the Guardian, loves the Mancunian punk band The Fall. Two years ago, he started trying to track down all 43 former members of the band for a book. Each of them had notoriously fallen out of favour with the band’s front man Mark E Smith, a man known for his falling out with people.

    According to this article, the search cost him his car, his health and eventually his relationship of 17 years.

    “It was my turn to feel the Curse of the Fall. For months, everything went wrong. I drove my shiny new MG (purchased after my other car blew up) into a river. My beloved Leeds United were relegated …I was struck down with nasty food-poisoning. Suzanne announced she was leaving me. Her dissatisfaction apparently started when I was “finding all those people in the Fall”. For 17 years, there had been two predominant sounds in my life: the sound of the Fall, and the sound of Suzanne’s breathing as we lay side by side. And now, because of one of them, the other was gone. Inevitably, she dumped me for a trucker, a Container Driver, the title of my favourite Fall song.”

    The Fallen is published today by Canongate.

    share this

    add to del.icio.us :: Add to Blinkslist :: add to furl :: Digg it :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! :: seed the vine :: :: TailRank :: post to facebook

  • seandodson 10:49 pm on September 15, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , literature, , , ,   

    Orwell in Tribune is the Observer’s paperback of the week 

    Hats of to my mate Paul Anderson. His book, Orwell in Tribune, is paperback of the week in this Sunday’s Observer. It’s a great collection of Orwell’s writing dating from 1943-7 and originally published in the left-wing newspaper Tribune.

    From the review:

    “Many of his observations are as relevant today as they were in the Forties: the snobbishness of advertising; the prevalence of faux-scientific superstition (‘That a swan can break your leg with a blow of its wing’); the lame jokes in Punch (‘Jokes that are funny usually contain that un-English thing, an idea’); and that perennial of the political commentator, the ‘quite fantastic ugliness’ of most politicians.”

  • seandodson 7:18 pm on August 25, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , british sea power, , ernest hemingway, literature, microlit, , pidgeon detectives, review, theatre,   

    Microlit: why less is more 

    London's first micro-critic

    Devon Dudgeon: London's first micro-critic

    I will try to be succinct. Microlit is a new trend for ever shorter pieces of text. Inspired by both the the famous six-word story written by Ernest Hemingway –  For sale, baby shoes, never worn – and the microblogging of Twitter.

    The latest Time Magazine reports on the the way that US publishers are picking up on the trend with books like Not Quite what I was Planning: Six Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure. I’m not sure if less is really more, but their is something witty in the six word music reviews of Paul Ford of the Morning News. He describes British Sea Power as “Quite catchy. But likely precious live,” which is incredibly to the point and the Pidgeon Detectives as “they’re big in Britain of course”.

    The London stage, famous for its verbose reviewing, has its own micro-critic. Devon Dudgeon reviews London theatre to an even tighter wordcount of five words. Here’s what she wrote about last summer’s performance of Grand Theft Impro at the Wheatsheaf:

    “Performers’ laughter exceeded the audience’s.”
    share this

    add to del.icio.us :: Add to Blinkslist :: add to furl :: Digg it :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! :: seed the vine :: :: TailRank :: post to facebook

    • Devon Dudgeon 6:27 pm on October 16, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Hi – thanks for the mention. (Sorry if this message comes through more than once – I got an error message.)

  • seandodson 3:05 pm on August 21, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , bookseller, , e-books, ebooks, gadgets, , , literature, paperback, , ,   

    Ebooks: the “paperback moment” of the 21st Century or an anathema for readers and writers? 

    In a couple of week’s time Waterstones will start selling the Sony eBook Readers in its UK stores. Penguin Books, the company that 73 years ago invented the paperback, and so revolutionised the publishing business, are among the voices championing the e-book as the future of publishing.

    It’s worth noting the resistance to the original mass-market paperbacks is similar to that facing the ebook. George Orwell, for one, announced that the new Penguins, which sold for just sixpence, were splendid value, so much that “the other publishers hand any sense would combine against them and suppress them.”

    Of course, the early ebooks are different from early paperbacks, with a few notable exceptions, Cory Doctorow and Paulo Coelho among them, the early ebooks cost just as much as printed books. But few experts think price parity will remain for long. I have mixed feelings about ebooks. While I would gladly consult a reference ebook, i have reservations about reading a novel in this way. Maybe I am just fussy, or a bit of a purist, or too vain a collector (I don’t even like borrowing books for fear that they will eventually be missed from my collection), but then again I once felt the same about my music collection and now happily listen to MP3s.

    Orwell was wrong about the paperback, could all of us who resist the ebook be making a similar mistake?

    Anyway, here’s a bit more of Orwell’s thoughts on the paperback (cheers Paul!)

    “In my capacity as reader I applaud the Penguin Books; in my capacity as writer I pronounce them anathema. Hutchinsons are now bringing out a very similar edition, though only of their own books, and if the other publishers follow suit, the result may be a flood of cheap reprints which will cripple the lending libraries (the novelist’s foster-mother) and check the output of new novels. This would be a fine thing for literature, but it would be a very bad thing for trade, and when you have to choose between art and money—well, finish it for yourself.”

    Share this

    add to del.icio.us :: add to furl :: Digg it :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! :: seed the vine :: :: TailRank :: post to facebook

  • seandodson 5:25 pm on August 4, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , diary, , literature, , samuel peyps, , spanish civil war,   

    George Orwell diaries: an entry a day keeps the thought police at bay 

    Looking forward to the start of the Orwell Diaries this Saturday (August 09). To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the start of them, the Orwell Prize along with the Media Standards Trust and Political Quarterly have decided to publish the entries in blog form. Each entry will be published exactly 70 years on from the day they were written.

    Taking an obvious cue from Phil Gyford’s wonderful Pepys Diary, each entry will be published as if it were a blog . In this case, exactly 70 years after it was written. I do hope that the annoation is as good as Gyford’s is.

    The diaries open while Orwell was recuperating in Morocco after fighting in the Spanish Civil War. In the next few weeks you will be able to read about his return to the UK and “his opinions on the descent of Europe into war in real time. The diaries end in 1942, three years into the conflict.”

    An introduction on the site reads:

    “What impression of Orwell will emerge? From his domestic diaries it may be a largely unknown Orwell, whose great curiosity is focused on plants, animals, woodwork, and – above all – how many eggs his chickens have laid. From his political diaries (from 7th September), it may be the Orwell whose political observations and critical thinking have enthralled and inspired generations since his death in 1950. Whether writing about the Spanish Civil War or sloe gin, geraniums or Germany, Orwell’s perceptive eye and rebellion against the ‘gramophone mind’ he so despised are obvious.”

    • thespigot 5:29 pm on August 4, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      That is the coolest Animal Farm cover I’ve ever seen.

    • seandodson 9:01 pm on August 4, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      It’s great isn’t it. The cover illustration is by Paul Hogarth, the 1967 edition I think. You can buy a copy here. Interestingly, Hogarth also fought in the Spanish Civil War for the International Brigade.

    • seandodson 11:48 am on August 5, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Er, actually Orwell fought with the POUM and not the International Brigade (thanks Will). The International Brigade were connected with Moscow.

  • seandodson 7:12 pm on July 14, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , danzig, gabriel garcia marquez, gdansk, gunter grass, literature, magic realism, mumbai, salman rushdie   

    Midnight’s Children vs The Tin Drum: Why Salman Rushdie owes a huge debt to Günter Grass 

    I was a little dismayed last week when Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children won another big prize. I have always thought it to be a rather overated work of literature, although I accept that many Booker lovers like it. My main objection, when I think about it, is that it is effectively a derivative work of Günter Grass’s The Tin Drum. I mean this in terms of style, structure, charactisation and plot.

    I believe that Rushdie is indebted to Grass for the following reasons:

    1/. Magic Realism: Both novels are said to be examples of Magic Realism. Previous to Grass, critics used the term ‘magic realism’ to describe paintings of the Neue Sachlichkeit. Grass’s novel invented a whole new genre of literary Magic Realism and so obviously Rushdie owes a debt to him for that.

    2/. Structure: Rushdie is further indebted to Grass in the way that he ‘borrow’s the main structural device: using the private lives of both protagonists to reflect public events. To be fair, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude also owes something to Grass in this respect.

    3/. Oskar is born the day the Nazis come to power. Saleem is born on the moment of Indian independence.

    4/. Both are unreliable narrators.

    5/. Both are demonic children: Oskar claims he can break glass with his voice. Saleem uses telepathy. Oskar is a dwarf (or little person) – Saleem has nasal difficulties.

    6/. Both believe that the man their mother is having an affair with is
    really his father. Oskar believes that Jan Bronski (a Pole) is his father. Saleem believes that Nadir Khan (muslim) is his father. Significant because Oskar is German and Saleem is Hindu.

    7/. In many ways The Tin Drum retells the days of Grass’s childhood in Danzig. In many ways Midnight’s Children retells the days of Rushdie’s childhood growing up in Mumbai.

    • Aaron 11:42 am on June 5, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      I don’t recall (6) in the text of Midnight’s Children. The child swapping would fit, though, as both children have the blood of two political universes, and both are raised by a parent who isn’t necessarily his birth parent. I would say the clarity of the child swapping is analogous to the ambiguity in the Grass work.

    • Tanisha 1:16 am on June 9, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Saleem is not Hindu in Midnight’s Children.

    • seandodson 1:57 pm on June 9, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Really? Are you sure If not Hindu what was he then?

    • Everyman 5:10 pm on June 29, 2009 Permalink | Reply


    • mj 7:13 pm on August 27, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Well, the problem with the british and colonial writing is that it tends to borrow, and then forget. Yes, midnight’s children owesa lot to tin drum, and rushdie, to be fair, has himself said that he learnt from tin drum. But remember, the granda of all is not Grass, but Borges, who, in a far better, meticulous, and artisitc way, produced the first actually magical realitic texts.
      The broblem with magical realism of rushdie is, that it it too easy to costruct. It need nothing, not even a lyrical prose – it is a torrent gush, untamed, and stupid at most times.

    • Alberto 12:15 pm on September 18, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Your take on this is interesting, although I don’t necessarily see the usefulness in finding out who invented magic realism and then assign to that writer the most supreme value. As mj has pointed out, Grass himself wasn’t free from the legacies of previous authors, and his fiction displays affinities with previous magic realist texts.

      I find Midnight’s Children (and Rushdie’s writing overall) to be nothing but a joyous and generous admission of the important role played by the literary legacies of previous authors. And he makes this quite blatant. Trying to ascertain the value of his work in terms of originality is in a way undermining what he is trying to do: he’s reassessing Indian colonial and postcolonial history in a way nobody had done before. The elements borrowed from previous writers (Grass, Kafka, Forster, Kipling, Marquez) are all there, but despite his willing engagement with previous texts, he’s ultimately doing his own thing.

      Perhaps the key to appreciating Rushdie is to recognise that, beyond his sources, he has many things to say about his chosen topics. In Midnight’s Children, Saleem is a Muslim, although his constantly debated parenthood links him to Hinduism and Christianity. (This is in itself a deliberate attempt at portraying the religious complexities of the country.) But Saleem self-identifies as Muslim, and is therefore part of a cultural minority in India, which is key to his character. The fact that you find the Hindu and Muslim faiths interchangeable possibly means (and I apologise in advance for making a strong point here) that you haven’t engaged that much with the content of Rushdie’s novel and have remained in the surface of form.

      • seandodson 10:42 am on September 19, 2009 Permalink | Reply

        No, it was just a long time since i read the novel. I don’t think the faiths are interchangeable. I still think he borrowed the architecture of Grass’s book.

    • moejay 1:51 am on October 23, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      god!!!! whats with the religion thing with the above commenters……
      get a life people….
      i think they did both a good job!!!! and thats that….

    • fdantia 4:35 am on November 15, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      When i first read midnight’s children back in the early 80’s I was most impressed by the structure of the novel. Later, when I read the Tin Drum, I was stunned by how much Rushdie had “borrowed” from it. The magical child, the change in the child’s power midway through the book, even details like the lover hiding under a woman’skirt, and also the seemingly brilliant black and green passage, all appear in the Gunter Grass novel. Yes, he transformed the context to the subcontinent, but that was a grafting of new flesh onto old bones. Creative, yes, (and I still love the book); but he should have been more explicit in acknowledging his debt to Grass. I’m surprised more has not been made of this. Everyone these days screams about “plagarism”at the drop of a hat, but this hat has had a pretty long ride.

    • Kara 11:49 pm on December 22, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks. Simply glanced through your post. did not have the time to scan the full thing. I subscribed to your rss feeds and trying forward to more.

    • Thumbu 12:38 am on May 2, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I think Rushdie had acknowledged his debt to Grass with subtle clues within the text – as I remember, there’s a character named Oscar who turns up fairly early, and there is some parallel between three ‘drops of blood’ in both books. Rushdie was even more explicit in his essays. Nevertheless, ‘The Tin Drum’ is just a monster of a post-war allegory – the stunted, partitioned nation takes the form of a clairvoyant, child-like narrator – and it seems to make sense to think of Midnight’s Children as a sort of South Asian adaptation of ‘Tin Drum.’ Come to think of it, Oskar could’ve shown up in so many post-war, post-colonial states. I do know ‘A Prayer for Owen Meaning’ by John Irving (one of Grass’s students) was another novel that owes a lot to ‘The Tin Drum,’ but it doesn’t seem to follow the same themes of TD or MC.

    • Nathan 1:10 am on June 1, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      First, as someone who is a third of the way through the new translation of “The Tin Drum” (having read “Midnight’s Children” multiple times in the past few years), let me say that I, too, am struck by the similarities as I read the older work.

      So a quick Googling of the two titles together led me here. I was expecting some discussion about the actual similarities and maybe some analysis.

      Instead, what I find is a post full of inaccuracies (literary and historical) and which demonstrates no evidence of fact-checking, a task which anyone who calls oneself a journalist might think about engaging in now and again (and one which this Internet thing makes exceptionally quick and easy, so there’s no excuse). I am actually not particularly convinced that you have read either book.

      Second, Rushdie has freely admitted that he, like most authors, molds structures lifted from his forbears into his own shape in his writing; furthermore, he has listed Grass as a big influence. So no one is debating that there are notable similarities. However, they are hardly the same book, are they? Both are solid literature masterfully written in their own right, and to denounce Rushdie’s work as merely a copy of The Tin Drum is doing it a severe disservice.

      Thirdly, to take on the specifics in your list:

      1. Yes. As discussed above. Fine so far.

      2. True. However, these are hardly the only two novels who tell one particular character’s point of view of historic events. Concerning structure, you might also have mentioned the fact that both works are divided into Three Books of relatively equal length (which is actually probably more specific to these two novels in particular anyway).

      3. Oskar is *not* born on “the day the Nazis come to power.” What day was that then? The rise to power was of course a gradual process and didn’t happen out of the blue on a specific day, so this is a patently absurd thing to say in the first place. Furthermore, Oskar was born in early September 1924. In 1924 the Nazis did gain seats in the government, but they were far from “in power” and Hitler was in jail; I can find nothing important that happened in September of that year. Getting back to your claim of specific days, perhaps the closest thing to a decisive *day* in the rise of the Nazis to power was the burning of the Reichstag building. That was in early 1933; Oskar would have been eight years old; his date of birth is nothing special historically. So, in this regard, the books are actually not connected at all.

      3 (Continued). Furthermore, Oskar’s tale is one of someone who *witnesses* historic events (at least to the point in the narrative I have read). Rushdie takes this idea much further—Saleem claims that, because of his fated birth at the stroke of Indian independence, he actually *causes* events of national importance or claims they are designed to affect him personally. Oskar *experiences* the events before and during World War II; Saleem claims to *be* India. Are there comparisons to be drawn between the two novels in this regard? Of course! But these two approaches are really quite different in scope.

      4. Very good—both are unreliable narrators. So is Humbert Humbert and any number of other famous protagonists. One of the earliest unreliable narrators I’ve heard referenced is in Collins’s “The Moonstone,” written in 1868. So… yes, good point in comparing the books, but, if your point is that Rushdie stole the concept from Grass, then, well, no.

      5. Sorry, does “demonic” now mean “unusual?” While Oskar mentions Satan specifically, I almost certain Saleem never does. Both have unusual abilities, okay. But we sort of covered that with the “magical realism” bit. Furthermore, Saleem is but one of more than a thousand children born with magical powers. Also, I my nose runs a lot too—should I seek spiritual counsel? I was unaware that this made me unholy.

      6. No. While you sort of have a point, you got this all completely wrong. Yes, both character’s mothers have affairs. Also, both characters are of uncertain parentage. However, Oskar admits himself that he is not sure whether Bronski or Matzerath is his father, and gives them both this title as he discusses them. Furthermore, while Mumtaz/Amina does have an affair with Nadir Khan, the man is impotent and so he is never candidate for Saleem’s father. Furthermore still, because of Alice Pereira’s bassinet-switching antics, Saleem is not Amina’s child anyway! It is true that Rushdie intimates that Saleem’s true mother did conceive with a man who was not her husband, but, again, you have gotten your details completely wrong. And while Oskar suspects he is Bronski’s child, Saleem has no such suspicion about his birth; the fact of his switched parentage is revealed outright and is a surprise to everyone.

      7. My god, a semi-autobiographical novel? Something must be done!

      Your list of seven points really boils down to two or three, and these are of a very broad facile sort.

      So, to summarize: a small, sort-of “yes” to your general point, followed by a big fat “NO,” particularly in regard to the particulars.

      I would have hoped someone who calls himself a journalist wouldn’t take even such casual allegations of plagiarism so lightly as to not do five minutes of research before presenting them. And people wonder why “journalist” is considered by so many to be a dirty word!

    • seandodson 10:36 am on June 1, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Please, if you want to comment on my blog, could you try and be nice. All I was doing was professing an opinion. It might not be the same as yours, but I would appreciate if you could express your own views in a more collegiate fashion. I take it you wouldn’t go around someone else’s house and speak like that to their face.

      • Nathan 1:22 pm on June 1, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        Of course everyone is free to express an opinion! If you said “I don’t like Midnight’s Children cuz it’s too much like The Tin Drum” and left it at that, we could have a nice little discussion. Because, as I said, there are many comparisons to be drawn; they are clear for everyone to see.

        However, you went ahead and wrote a list that purported to support your opinion containing factoids concerning the novels that were patently false, or, at best, fundamentally ill-informed.

        As far as being collegiate, if I heard a professor (or indeed a student) use the same reasons you did to suggest that Rushdie was the Andrew Lloyd-Webber of literature, well, I would come back with the same arguments. And I would be absolutely right to do so; some would say that is the whole point of an institute of higher learning, and indeed the definition of “collegiate.”

        Stating an opinion is fine; publish false statements and expect to be challenged. I don’t see how this any great revelation.

        I didn’t point fingers and say “Nyah nyah, you’re a stupid-head.” What I did was point out that the majority of your argument was based on false information and that someone in your position should perhaps be more careful when they publish something to take a few moments and see if their information is something approaching accurate. I absolutely stand by this.

        As for saying the same things in your house, well, I assure you I would still point out your inaccuracies, but I wouldn’t have let you embarrass yourself with such a long list before speaking up. I mean, conversation doesn’t work like that, does it? You’d have started the argument, I’d’ve pointed out your first inaccuracy, and you would have realized that perhaps you didn’t have enough background to speak as any sort of authority on the subject without a little further research. And we would have moved on to a different topic.

        Sadly, no one was there while you were writing your article to suggest that maybe you should do some investigation before publishing something. That should be your job.

      • Zoeb 9:49 am on January 16, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        Why are you not able to defend your views? Nathan is given a fair assessment of what he thought about the book and your opinions. And he is right in his way. He even agreed that some of your points, or at least the basic gist of the same, are agreeable. You can defend that your opinion made sense and all I can see here is that you are relying on your cult to do the talking.

    • seandodson 1:39 pm on June 1, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      If you spoke like that in my house, I’d ask you to leave. And if you don’t alter your tone, I’ll delete your comments. Finally, and this will be my last word, I’d wait until you had read more than “a third” of the Tin Drum before you start accusing people of being inaccurate.

      • Nathan 2:59 pm on June 1, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        Well, I never claimed to know anything about how The Tin Drum eventually develops; if indeed it turns out that Oskar’s birth changes to a different date, etc., then I will come back when I’ve finished the book, and rescind the appropriate comments; I have no qualms admitting I am wrong when I am wrong.

        Most of my arguments have to do more with Midnight’s Children (the work that you feel is the lesser of the two) though, and I have read that three (possibly four) times, so I think I’m pretty safe there.

        But, if you’d like, I can return when I finish the Grass.

        Until then, I only ask that this thread remains undeleted, so any interested parties (which I admit is probably very few!) can decide for themselves how nice I should have been.


    • Nathan 6:03 pm on June 22, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Having finished “The Tin Drum,” I have returned as promised.

      All of my criticism still stands; the last two thirds of Grass’s book did not refute the details that I mentioned.

      So, where are we? Well, based on the criticisms in your list, we have two novels. Both can be categorized as magical realism, both contain real-life events from history, both have unreliable deformed narrator-protagonists of uncertain parentage who recount some autobiographical details of the books’ actual authors’ childhoods.

      This is all true. But, as I’ve said, *most* books contain autobiographical instances (it’s that whole “write what you know” thing), and many many books contain fictionalized events from real history. So the list that remains seems perhaps a somewhat hollow basis for your accusation…

      But, the thing is, you are right: the books do share many similarities. You just didn’t bother to seek out any details! In addition to everything I’ve already said, here are some more points worth discussion:

      1. Structurally, I think one of the biggest similarities is the narrators’ free usage of both the first- and third-person, not uncommonly in the same sentence.

      2. Both characters use “powers” to see back into their histories so as to tell their stories and preserve their existences for posterity: Saleem sniffs out the incidents of the past and preserves them in the form of chutney (as well as writing paper); Oskar drums up his past for anyone to hear in the present (and also uses writing paper).

      3. Both narrators begin at least one chapter with a confessional that completely negates the climactic incident of the preceding chapter (in other words, this is an unreliable-narrator bit). This too may seem an over-generalized similarity, but the way this is done in “Midnight’s” really is strikingly similar to Grass’s work.

      4. Both works have characters that can sublimate feelings and emotions into food: Matzerath makes feelings into soup; Mary Pereira and the Reverend Mother can both make emotions into foods of all kinds, which is a talent Saleem inherits (his ability to chutnify his past).

      5. Trails of ants feature prominently in rather climactic death scenes in both works: Matzerath falls on an ant trail in the cellar after choking; a multitude of ants bite the dying Shaheed atop the minaret in Rushdie’s book.

      6. Both novels use a color pair repeatedly: in “The Tin Drum” it is red and white; in Rushdie’s book it is green and black (which, coincidentally or not, are the opposites of red and white). Both books feature their respective pair of hues in vividly-colored “dream sequences.”

      7. Both novels feature a shadowy pseudo-mythic character who looms in the background lending a sense of impending doom, and in both cases the character is female: The Black Cook (or “witch, black as pitch” in the old translation) in Grass, and The Widow in “Midnight’s”. The Widow turns out to be someone very specific, where the Black Cook is deliberately vague, but you can’t deny they are basically the same sort of idea.

      So, as you can see, I don’t disagree that your general point is worth investigating! There are lots of comparisons to be drawn, and I have undoubtedly missed some. (I have little doubt that there have been any number of college Literature papers written on the subject!)

      I personally feel that as a piece of work “Midnight’s” far exceeds any accusation of being “derivative,” but that’s not the point; armed with the details, it is a discussion worth arguing over! I just wanted to show how flippant your original piece came off, and point out that perhaps a writer like yourself should take a few moments to reflect on what he’s saying, and treat accusations of plagiarism (intellectual or otherwise) with a bit more reverence. (In other words, before you go calling someone else’s magnum opus “derivative,” maybe you should re-familiarize yourself with the work and make sure you’ve got your details right.) Publishing such an ill-considered list rather undermines any point you are trying to make, you know?

      I regret if my tone has seemed unnecessarily harsh, but it is a serious subject and a serious accusation, and I (seriously) stand by my point.

      That is all. I appreciate the opportunity to share my feelings on the matter. Thank you.

    • celine box bag 8:10 am on July 2, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      I would like to thnkx for the efforts you have put in writing this site. I am hoping the same high-grade blog post from you in the upcoming also. Actually your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my own website now. Actually the blogging is spreading its wings quickly. Your write up is a good example of it.

    • Burpsie 1:29 pm on October 31, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      The owner of this blog, Sean Dodson, is right in his comparison, and Nathan is weird. If he can’t see that both Tin Drum and Midnight’s Children are semi-autobiographical, then he may want to review Grass’s Peeling the Onion, and Rushdie’s own preface to the 2006 edition of Midnight’s Children where Rushdie admits it is heavily autobiographical.
      The Widow vs. The black witch…. I mean, come on. It’s a bleeding rip-off of Grass, let’s just call a spade a spade. And while we are at it, let’s admit that there are only two reasons Rushdie didn’t get called on it. One, Tin Drum was inaccessible to English readers in the 1980s, or two (the more plausible), no body wanted to criticize Midnight’s Children in the post-colonial milieu. It was too touchy an issue. And you all know it. And if you don’t know it, that just stems from ignorance…

      • Burpsie 1:36 pm on October 31, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Although, Sean Dodson did get some details wrong admittedly, like thinking Saleem is a Hindu, when his being Muslim is central to the plot (moving to Pakistan, for instance).

        It is in the structure that we see it is most obvious that Rushdie lifted Grass’s entire plot.
        1. First he’s in a bed telling his story, same as Oskar.
        2. Tells how grandpa met grandma, same as Oskar.
        3. Tells about how his parents met, and then a big tale about his own birth, just like Oskar. In fairness they both ripped off Laurence Sterne in this regard.
        4. Has an accident that starts his magic powers, which doesn’t make sense because the other midnight’s children don’t have accidents to get their powers. But hey, Oskar had an accident so why not just copy him?
        5. He joins a troop of performers for the army, just like Oskar. Meets his mentor among them just like Oskar. Sigh…
        6. At the end, Saleem talks about the future coming ahead, and he’s 30/31 with a dark future ahead and uh oh, there’s the black witch, I mean Widow, coming for him with black hair and…. oh come on Rushdie! You’re seriously going to steal his freaking ending too???
        But it’s post-colonial literature from a post-colonial author so don’t you dare criticize it or you’re a racist.

  • seandodson 9:14 am on July 14, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , literature, ,   

    Kurt Vonnegut: How to Write with Style 

    The late, great Kurt Vonnegut’s short essay on how to write with style. Priceless advice (via). Here’s the summary:

    1. Find a subject you care about
    2. Do not ramble, though
    3. Keep it simple
    4. Have guts to cut
    5. Sound like yourself
    6. Say what you mean
    7. Pity the readers

    • One Penny Profiles 9:39 am on July 14, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Ahhhh… refreshing to hear. We all need to be reminded of this stuff now and again.

    • One Penny Profiles 9:40 am on July 14, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Ahhhh… refreshing to hear. We all need to be reminded of this stuff now and again.


  • seandodson 5:33 pm on June 1, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , chapman brothers, , , , Hitler, , literature, little people, , , slinkachu, street art, will self   

    Thimble-sized sculptures installed on the streets of London 

    I quite like the work of the Little People aka the Tiny Street Art Project, which further describes itself as “little handpainted people left in London to fend for themselves”. It reminds me of a much nicer form of contemporary art than the Chapman Brothers (who are currently busily retouching the paintings of Hitler). Anyway, the artist behind the little people, Slinkachu, has a new project, entitled the inner-city snail (the bottom two images, above) and a book out in September. Interestingly enough, the forward is to be by Will Self, who once wrote the slightly sinister short story, Scale, about a man who has lost all sense of it and ends up thinking he is living inside a model village. Slinkachu’s work is too cutesy to get under the skin in the same way. I think I just like them for their wit and the way they soften your view of London.

    • andipagallery 5:59 pm on December 7, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      We publish the artwork for Slinkachu and welcome you to view his work in the gallery anytime. His work, including new releases “Glory” and “Spilt Milk”, can be viewed at http://www.andipa.com. Enjoy.

  • seandodson 1:43 am on May 20, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bob stanley, chapel market, , , etienne, , Geoffrey fletcher, geoffrey snowcroft fletcher, , , james mason, literature, , nostalgia, , the london that nobody knows, Walter Sickert   

    Discovering the London that nobody knows 

    Thanks once again to the wondrous Things Magazine for pointing me towards The London that Nobody Knows, a wonderful documentary from 1967 narrated by James Mason (a fellow lad of Huddersfield). The film is a favourite of Bob Stanley of St Etienne, who describes the film as “No horseguards, no palaces, but Islington’s Chapel Market, pie shops, and Spitalfields tenements … Carnaby chicks and chaps, the 1967 we have been led to remember, [is] shockingly juxtaposed with feral meths drinkers, filthy shoeless kids, squalid Victoriana. Camden Town still resembles the world of Walter Sickert. There is romance and adventure, but mostly there is malnourishment.”

    Although I wouldn’t agree with him that “London looks like a shithole,” even the fluttering washing above a tenament in the East End looks beautiful when arranged above a courtyard of excited children playing in the midday sun. The London that Nobody Knows is based on a book by Geoffrey Snowcroft Fletcher of, funnily enough, The Daily Telegraph. Stanley calls Fletcher “the great forgotten London writer” and the book was first published in 1962.

    • paulmcdonald 1:39 pm on May 24, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      I love that film, I only became aware of it recently but it totally blew me away…just a shame it is’nt longer as theres so few films showing the ‘real’ London of that time.

  • seandodson 2:41 pm on April 16, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Fujiya & Miyagi, Jens Lekman, literature, , Surfjan stevens, The arcade fire,   

    Musical stories sound the right tune 

    Very short story by David Best of Fujiya & Miyagi

    Write Me Stories is an unusual blog I stumbled across on Metafilter. It’s from a London-based music fan called “Paulo” who simply asks musicians to write him a very short story on a file-index or post card. The stories are very short, very rambling and usually quite funny. The one above is from David Best of Fujiya & Miyagi, but there are other ones from the likes of the Arcade Fire, Jens Lekman, Surfjan Stevens and many more.

  • seandodson 6:55 pm on April 11, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , book, , , literature, , Stefanie Posavec, , travel writing   

    Mapping on the road with Jack 

    Just over 60 year’s ago, Jack Kerouac made his momentus journey across America. While googling around looking for hotels where other famous writers wrote classic books (any tips most gratefully recieved), I came across this map, apparently from one of Kerouac’s own diaries, which shows the itinerary of that fateful journey across America between July to October 1947, much of which would later serve as the backdrop for On the Road. I’ve always loved the early writings of Jack Kerouac, indeed I would go so far as to say that reading On the Road when I was seventeen probably changed my life.

    The most beautiful map connected with Kerouac is this one by artist Stefanie Posavec who has drawn a most beautiful representation of the opening chapters of On The Road. Her maps explore the patterns of the text in a literary space. According to NOTCOT, “the maps visually represent the rhythm and structure of Kerouac’s literary space, creating works that are not only gorgeous from the point of view of graphic design, but also exhibit scientific rigor and precision in their formulation: meticulous scouring the surface of the text, highlighting and noting sentence length, prosody and themes, Posavec’s approach to the text is not unlike that of a surveyor.”

  • seandodson 11:58 am on April 1, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bookshops, bookstore, british columbia, , , literature, munro's, neo-clasical, shopping, shops, , victoria   

    More most beautiful bookshops in store for you all 


    My search for the definitive list of the world’s most beautiful bookshops continues (previous posts here and here) and I’ve now started a Flickr group to help collate images from across the world. Canada particularly appears well stocked with beautiful bookshops. British Columbia’s Munro’s in Victoria situated on the site of the Royal Bank of Canada, built in 1909 by Thomas Hooper, in a neo-classical style, whose ceiling is modelled on he great library of Ephesus.

    Thanks to the Blurbarati Blog, I came across Elliot Bay Books in Seattle, which one devotee describes as an “authentic bookstore with a community feeling and a wonderful hand-selected collection of books.” So good indeed that, “You realise instantly how much the chain stores suck.”

    The Indigo chain of bookshops, however, might not all be so beautiful but its Eaton Centre branch in Toronto gets top marks for its bold staircase. Another flagship store worth mentioning is the branch of Eslite in the Chung-yo department store in Taipei. While after my inclusion of El Ateneo in Buenos Aires in the original list, one reader told me that Librería de Ávila is a much better-stocked shop. Closer to home, my attention has been drawn towards Daunt Books, a travel specialist in Marylebone High Steet, West London. Please let me know if you know of another beautiful bookshop. The search continues

  • seandodson 3:45 pm on March 24, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: brooklyn, community, , , dublin, , , literacy, literature, microphilantropy politics, , pirate, , , , time travel   

    David Eggers’ heart-warming school of staggering genius 

    David Eggers, the best-selling author of a Heart-breaking work of Staggering Genius, gives this impassioned speech at Ted Conference (Technology Entertainment Design) on grassroots community tutoring.

    Back in 2000, Eggers helped form a non-profit organisation helping local kids develop literacy skills. 826 Valencia in San Francisco is no ordinary after-school drop-in centre, mind. It was actually a space in the front of McSweeny’s, the literary magazine started by Eggers. What he helped coordinate was a network of volunteers, mostly writers, who could offer local kids one-on-one tutoring. It has had a massive impact in the neighbourhood and has served as an exemplar for a network of similar projects.

    This being David Eggers, there is a very colourful side story to the project. To get through local planning laws, the centre had to behave as is it was a retail space. The writers decided to nominally create a pirate-supply stores (planks-by-the-yard, peg legs, hooks and bottles fit for messages etc…), this was meant to be a joke. But it has subsequently helped 826 Valencia to turn a profit. A similar project in Brooklyn masquerades as the Superhero Supply Company, one in LA “sells” gear for time travellers. This month the movement (see more here) crosses the Atlantic with the opening of Fighting Words, with the help of Booker winning author Roddy Doyle.

    Why does this matter? Well apart from improving child literacy, Eggers sounds this note of optimism in the middle of the speech: “A bunch of happy families in a neighborhood is a happy community. A bunch of happy communities tied together is a happy city and a happy world, right?”

  • seandodson 12:20 pm on March 7, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: canary wharf, , , Felini, , gated community, , literature, Ronald Regan, , web2.0,   

    JG Ballard: The Oracle of Shepperton 

    JG Ballard

    Originally uploaded by jadc01

    He has been credited with foreseeing the Regan administration, the arrival of gated communities, the architecture of Canary Wharf and widespread ecological disaster, but has the most prescient science fiction writer of the last three decades, also anticipated something else? Did JG Ballard also anticipate YouTube?

    As far back as 1984, the Oracle of Shepperton was quoted in an interview as saying, “I’d like to organize a Festival of Home Movies! It could be wonderful — thousands of the things… You might find an odd genius, a Fellini or Godard of the home movie, living in some suburb. I’m sure it’s coming…” Indeed it was. In 1984 Ballard’s obsession with home movies might have seemed a little perverse and yet today watching them on YouTube is as routine as switching on the telly.

    Ballard foresaw his festival as, “using modern electronics, home movie cameras and the like” and now a group of his devotees have instigated The 1st Ballardian Festival of home movies, a kind of belated realisation of the legendary author’s vision using nothing more than a video-enabled mobile phone. You can watch the entire collection at Ballardotube (“the net’s only dedicated Ballard channel”).Ballard has always revelled in the mundane underside of contemporary culture, once remarking that the Los Angeles Yellow Pages was “richer in human incident than all the novels of Balzac”.

    The festival organisers admit that they have yet to find the Fellini of the very small screen, but its early days for the nascent festival. “Next year, who knows?”, reads a statement on the festival website. “Perhaps we’ll get entrants to simulate the filmed ratissages in Super-Cannes, or Bobby Crawford’s home porno movies in Cocaine Nights.”

    *Please feel free to comment on a subsequent version of this article, over at the Guardian Arts Blog

    • seandodson 12:24 pm on March 7, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Ballard might be the most precient author of th 21st century, but not everything he foresees is yet to make as much impact as YouTube, which shows at least 100m videos a day. His excellent collection of stories Vermillion Sands features singing plants, mood-sensitive houses and automated poetry machines, all of which seem less plausible. Although with his record, would you rule anything out?.

  • seandodson 2:09 pm on February 24, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Akira, , , , , , hollywood, , literature,   

    Live action Akira to be relocated outside post-Apocalyptic Tokyo 

    Akira piece

    Originally uploaded by Fake51

    Variety is reporting that Warner Bros is reported to be developing two live action adaptations of Akira, a masterpiece of manga written and drawn by the legendary Katsuhiro Otomo. The remake will be produced by Leonardo DiCaprio and set outside Japan, instead being set in a New Manhattan, a city rebuilt by Japanese money after being destroyed 31 years ago. Typical Hollywood, re-setting Akira outside Japan is like relocating Quadrophenia outside Brighton. In my opinion it  just doesn’t make sense. 

    Even so, the live-action Akira will be set outside Japan, former ad-director Ruairi Robinson should ensure the film has a strong visual style and the budget will sufficiently blockbuster.

Compose new post
Next post/Next comment
Previous post/Previous comment
Show/Hide comments
Go to top
Go to login
Show/Hide help
shift + esc