Sunday, 13 January 2013

123/111 - The Internet is a Playground and I'll Go Home Then by David Thorne

I downloaded and read these books on my iPad after Luke told me about David Thorne. He also has a free website which has lots of materials from the books on it. The best parts are the email exchanges between David and various other people, including personal trainers, colleagues, neighbours and snowboard shop owners. The idea seems to be to piss the people off as much as possible using seemingly innocent and random facts, such as information about bee hives, and the eventual aim is to get the people to either give him what he wants to or tell him to fuck off.

Very funny.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

122/111 - Rookie Yearbook One by Tavi Gevinson

This is one of the books I got for Christmas, and it's a yearbook for an online magazine called Rookie. From what I understand it was started by this Tavi Gevinson, who is an American high school student, who is famous for starting a fashion blog when she was younger and has now evolved to this project, among others I'm sure.

I first came across Tavi in an interview in Bust magazine where she talked about the evolution of her projects and the impact of being a young woman and a feminist today, and I was really impressed by her. S I decided to ask for the Rookie yearbook for Christmas to see what the magazine was all about.

Visually it's pretty lovely, with all sorts of different photos and collage art making up the pages, and it's also got some pretty famous names associated with it in the interviews, which is cool. However the most impressive thing about the whole book is definitely its content, and although I didn't read the entire thing (it's more for dipping into) there were some great articles on body image, coming out, being young and ambitious as a woman, sanity, finding your place in the world, all sorts. There were some things that I didn't enjoy as much but that I probably would have enjoyed as a teenager, but overall I was really impressed by the thoughtful and diverse content. As someone who pretty much despises mainstream women's magazines, it's great to see this out there and I hope there's something like this around if I ever have daughters.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

121/111 - It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want To Be by Paul Arden

I bought this because I thought this might be interesting or inspiring or something. How on earth this book could claim to be a the world's best-selling (I think it's supposed to be ironic) is beyond me. It's dog shit.

That's all.

120/111 - We Need To Talk About Kevin

I started writing this post and it somehow got deleted, which is very annoying indeed. I have read this book once before, a couple of years ago, and I really enjoyed it the first time round. I decided to read it again recently after the school shooting as I remember it being so excellent.

I also tried out reading on my iPad for this book, too. I think one of the things which prevents me from embracing the iPad even more for reading is the fact that I have to pick one medium or the other. In this case, I already happened to have a copy of the book, and I also downloaded the ebook copy in order to switch between the two. I did this fairly regularly depending on what I was doing - some days I would use the iPad (like in bed, for example) and other days I used the book. I found that the first half of the book I read fairly slowly on the iPad, but then when I switched back to the paper copy, I read the second half in just a day. I think all I'm trying to say really is that I still prefer the real book. If books began to do what some DVDs are doing, then I think I would be more likely to read on my iPad. These days I am starting to see more and more DVDs with an electronic copy as well as the physical copy for one price, and it would be cool if books would do this, too.

Anyway, onto the book.

This book is set in the late 90s, and is told from the point of view of Eva, mother of Kevin, who is currently serving a sentence in prison for killing ten of his classmates. The book is told as a series of letters to Eva's husband, Franklin, which makes it so much more powerful and intimate. The voice of Eva in this is absolutely fantastic and terrifying at the same time.

Eva recounts her life as a couple with Franklin before they had children, and how they ended up having a family. Eva has never really wanted children and when Kevin is born she fails to bond with him immediately. From birth, he is a difficult and moody baby, driving away everyone around him. Eva is convinced that the baby's angriness and lack of affection is deliberate, whereas Franklin wants to think the best of the situation and pushes Eva to try harder.

It's really tough to read about how Eva struggles to cope with the presence of Kevin in her life and marriages. Her relationship with her husband begins to break down, she has to compromise her career and eventually even has to move away from the city she loves to the suburbs at the demand of Franklin.

It's also really frustrating to see the way Franklin continues to be blind to what Eva sees emerging in Kevin. It made me want to smack him and he's not even my husband. But it was also terrifying because I can see it happening so easily, it's so realistic it's almost creepy.

I think one of the most frightening things about this book isn't the fact that you imagine raising a child capable of murder, but that you could raise a child that totally goes the opposite way you want it to. I doubt very much that anyone starts a family without the intention of being happy, and yet when I look around me I see plenty of people with unhappy families - from families who don't get along to families rife with misery. It makes you wonder how people can fuck it up so badly? Or is it just the natural product of essentially bringing a stranger into your life?

So much to think about and I can't really articulate all of it. I felt a lot of empathy with Eva, and as someone who isn't sure whether or not I want to have children in future it certainly provides plenty of food for thought.

This book is spectacular.