Tuesday, June 4, 2013


The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
Edmund Burke. 

I get a knot in my stomach remembering him, and the smell of bubblegum makes me a little queasy. That awkward boy with slightly greasy hair and ill-fitting clothes who had to endure indignities of life only children are cruel enough to devise. I remember looking away from his hurt so as not to draw any attention to myself. 

He’d done nothing wrong - nothing but be just that little bit different. Nothing but wear pants that were a little too short and sweaters that were a little too polyester. I can still see the unevenly chopped hair he returned to school with the next day, the day after the ‘cool boys’ had held him down, wrapped bubblegum around his head, squished it down, rubbed it through his thick hair to his scalp. Why did his mom send him back with his hastily cropped shame so evident? Had she cried cutting the gum from her boys' head?

By the end of the week he had left our school and our small town. The look in his face has haunted me since then. And, the smell of bubblegum makes me a little queasy.

Write on Edge Prompt:
Write and link up a no more than 200 word post about….


Yep. Bubblegum. I have no idea how much wine was consumed prior to that prompt being created, but the paper it was on was folded into a cootie catcher and had purple stains on it. (For the record, if I’d picked 4 instead of 3, the prompt would have been vole abuse.)

Have fun with bubblegum!

Monday, June 3, 2013

the folding star: review

When I read Alan Hollinghurst's Line of Beauty, I felt as though I was eating dark chocolate for the first time. I didn't know a book could be so balanced - to reveal so perfectly the bitter and the sweet of life. There were pages that I read and re-read, not because I wasn't retaining the story, but to savour again Hollinghurt's magical stringing together of words.I don't read much poetry anymore, but I do love prose that reads like a poem, and Hollinghurst is at his best in those lovely moments

Holinghurt's genius with words is also apparent in his earlier novel The Folding Star, but where Line of Beauty presents a world that is flawed but compelling, I had a hard time giving a fairy fart about the world he created in The Folding Star.

I shouldn't say 'the world' was the problem - a major European city, a teacher, an art historian, love, intrigue, secrets - that's all part of a world I would normally locate myself in. But, the whole time I was reading The Folding Star, which was a considerable time because I had such a hard time getting into it, I kept wondering what was off about it. Why didn't I love it the way I had adored Line of Beauty?

I actually never came up with the full answer to that, but a large portion of the blame lies with the weak characters. In Hollinghurst's later stories the characters are flawed but compelling. Here they are just unappealing. Strong characters are a must for me; human, imperfect, but compelling and balanced. The characters in this story - most markedly the main character - verge on repellent. Not Don Draper repellent either ... there's not enough charm or talent or tragic back story to forgive this protagonist for his selfish, insipid, repetitious behaviour.

If you can read a story and just savour the language, you might enjoy this book. If characters inhabiting that beautiful world are an important factor for you, read Line of Beauty instead.

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