Blog description.

Accentuating the Liberal in Classical Liberal: Advocating Ascendency of the Individual & a Politick & Literature to Fight the Rise & Rise of the Tax Surveillance State.

Liberty and freedom are two proud words that have been executed from the political lexicon: they were frog marched and stood before a wall of blank minds, then forcibly blindfolded, and shot, with the whimpering staccato of ‘equality’ and ‘fairness’ resounding over and over. And not only did this atrocity go unreported by journalists in the mainstream media, they were in the firing squad.

The premise of this blog is simple: the Soviets thought they had equality, and welfare from cradle to grave, until the illusory free lunch of redistribution took its inevitable course, and cost them everything they had. First to go was their privacy, after that their freedom, then on being ground down to an equality of poverty only, for many of them their lives as they tried to escape a life behind the Iron Curtain. In the state-enforced common good, was found only slavery to the prison of each other's mind; instead of the caring state, they had imposed the surveillance state to keep them in line. So why are we accumulating a national debt to build the slave state again in the West? Where is the contrarian, uncomfortable literature to put the state experiment finally to rest?

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Literary Ramblings II: CK Stead, Diana Neutze, Rachel Joyce …



Mrs Hubbard and I buy our books through the same Amazon account so we can read all the books in the single account on either of our iPads; an exclusive library of our own making. You might be reading this and thinking what a good idea, although in truth it's pointless. We both like different fiction, so what it tends to mean is Mrs Hubbard reads through, at times irritatingly reads out, over a cup of tea, the one star Amazon reviews of the literary fiction I've just bought, then laughing, tells me how I've wasted our money. Which brings me to UK writer Rachel Joyce's wonderful novel, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, that one star critics found to be, apparently, depressing; showing for most of them what they were in fact reviewing, was just themselves.

Confession first: I can’t review this yet. I’ve only started reading it this morning, but I know  I’m going to love this novel. It's a great concept: retired Harold Fry after an ordinary life, receives a letter from a dying friend in a hospice and as he goes to post a letter in return, he can't, and instead keeps walking, post box to post box, the length of England to her. Already in the first chapter Joyce has in crisp, succinct words created for me two clearly drawn characters, Harold and his wife, Maureen, writ with a humour and tangibility which will see them easily through the narrative. So this novel awaits, an enjoyment of anticipation, a philosophical read. I’ve decided to make these irregular literary ramblings a regular on my blog, so a review will no doubt be forthcoming. Note I won’t trap myself inside a timetable, ramblings will be ‘happenings’, following the ebb and flow of my reading around the half-life of the day job, and another pointer is whenever you see a book or film review on this blog, I've liked it, very much. It's not that I'm undiscerning, it's because my father had the first of his open heart surgeries when he was younger than I am now, a reminder that life is short, therefore I don't intend to spend what free time I have, reviewing something I didn't enjoy. In the absence of a fee, that would be pointless.

So to a book, Mr CK Stead's Risk, I did read this month, and most unsociably in the two days Mrs Hubbard and I were away for a weekend and I was supposed to be sociable in the company of friends.  I've written on Mr Stead in my previous ramble, he’s one of my favourites, and Risk didn’t disappoint. Good story telling, clever allusions, and – spoilers coming - I have a new fictional hero: Tom Roland. If I was to stab at Tom’s gestation it would be when researching his earlier novel, My Name Was Judas, Mr Stead happened upon the Book of Job. First Tom is that combination that will guarantee a life of dissatisfaction and social proscription – poet by night, banker by day. He works his corporate half-life, while plugging away at his love of words in the early hours of the morning; unpublished for almost all his life, until he’s blown up on a bus in the London bombings, two days after finally receiving notification of his first placement of a poem in a major arts magazine. Though as if that’s not enough, turning expectation back on itself, the bomb doesn’t kill Tom; Mr Stead cruelly keeps him on a life support of words long enough to realise his dream of leaving the day job, then in a vividly written scene, kills him again with a heart attack.

I have no idea why such a character would resonate with me :)

Writing the above I’m growing conscious of a theme unwinding in this post. There’s a lot of death in Risk, from the Trade Towers falling, to the friends and acquaintances protagonist Sam Nola loses along the way, one of whom he gets back at the end, leaving the reader in medias res pondering the unknown possibilities of an emotional ménage à trois. And I won’t spoil it for the reader more than that, but will say it’s not insignificant that the protagonist didn’t make mention in this ramble until now: if there’s two characters Stead didn’t quite get right for me it was the new-found French daughter, Letty, who didn’t breath palpably somehow, and I felt always at an emotional distance from Sam, in a manner I’m still confused by. My thinking continues on that count, as on the resurrected character of the ending: what was the meaning of that temporary defeat, or cheat, of death? There's a motif running here: an old girlfriend thought dead coming back to Sam, an unknown daughter finding her way back to him, and Tom bridging the themes of coming back from death, then dying again.

Death. Given Dad’s brushes with death, I’m pleased to report after two heart surgeries, angioplasty, and an assortment of medical procedures, he’s still going, into his eighties, a happy fact he puts down to garlic, liquefied, taken daily. Though Mum and Dad, they're going about the business of 'preparation' for that event we spend so much of our lives not thinking about; their old dog died last week, and for the first time, ever, they're not going to replace her: 'it would be unfair' mum poignantly said in her email, 'to have a dog that will outlive us'. Oh, there’s that word again, fair (at least Mum knows how to use it correctly). While on the matter of poignant musings on that final process, the absence born of endings, I’ll say it loud, dying, thanks to a tweet – it’s an Internet thing Mum - by Rachel McAlpine, I happened upon possibly the most sadly joyous, beautiful blog I've read. Author Diana Neutze, in a manner few of us have had to confront, has been confronting mortality for forty years of living with multiple sclerosis, as well as her son’s death, and she is putting into poetry her thoughts, fear and quiet raging into the night of her loss, and love of life, ‘surrounded by trees and birdsong,’ on her blog. You need to read it, because after redrafting and redrafting this piece, I can’t find a combination of words that doesn’t confine it to something much less than it is. I’ll be making a regular visit to an exquisitely human mind that reaches out from Diana's words and touches her reader; including this crusty Libertarian, and Mrs Hubbard: Diana’s blog is here – Living with Multiple Sclerosis.

Rambling on, I started with the Mr Stead’s cruelly treated unpublished poet, so will end with an unpublished novelist. My two favourite lines spun in the early hours of several mornings this week have been (and they’re still keepers, I think):


… The weather in South Canterbury had been miserable all week, and there was a low hung grey sky embalming the farm in shadow.


And:


The tyres scrabbling across the gravel scared a murmuration of starlings from the macrocarpa hedge, their shiny bodies erupting and whirling toward the dairy shed.


In the first I can’t decide whether to go with ‘low hung’, or ‘low slung’ (feel free to leave a preference in comments) - and I’m aware I’ve now moved on from death to embalming. The second sentence occurred, I suspect, for no other reason than we all surely have a duty to put ‘murmuration’ down on paper, virtual or otherwise, somehow in our lives. It’s too good a word not to.

Finally, albeit my book buying budget is seriously distressed, I can at least temporarily avoid the scrutiny of Mrs Hubbard’s critical eye by making my next book purchases outside of Amazon: at some stage over the next month or two I hope to purchase:

Helen Heath’s poetry collection: Graft.

Ashleigh Young’s debut book: Magnificent Moon.

And, with great expectations, John Sinclair’s debut novel: The Phoenix Song, once this novel goes to ebook format on mebooks. (Stop press; looking up mebooks url for the previous link, I note the novel is already available in ebook format – I shall be picking that up after I’ve finished The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.)

All the while, I still continue to read Hitch-22, in the background, though I’m still not over that non-fiction pickle I’m in. I have no idea when the next ramble will be, unfortunately between now and March there’s so much to do in the day job, it will steal my nights also; I'll kill off that little pleasure centre of Language and Literature for the interim, as the half-life becomes the whole-life, and I live with the bit that died in the umpteenth iteration of the Income Tax Act, 2007. If you’re interested in following my rambles, which means the politics and philosophy in here may well be anathema to you, just look down the right hand menu for heading ‘Book Reviews and Bookish Posts’.


Related Posts:


Posts in which the inimitable Mrs Hubbard has appeared: Kindle Versus the Femme Fatale iPad.

Posts in which the Dad Guy has appeared: A Voluntary Dog Ownership Guide for the Clueless.

1 comment:

  1. Cheers to Graham Beattie, Beattie's Book Blog, the best book & publishing blog in New Zealand for featuring this post.

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