Friday, November 24, 2006

Dangerous Reality. Malorie Blackman

Malorie Blackman

I’ve just finished Dangerous Reality, my first Malorie Blackman novel. If you’re looking for a novel for a twelve or thirteen year old this Christmas, then look no further than this for a stocking filler. (Though I’m tempted to buy some of these books for adults as I enjoy more of the ‘kids’ lit’ I read than the adult fiction).

There’s not a word wasted in this SF thriller. The Amazon review gives a sound precis:

Dominic has always been proud of his famous, scientist mother, and when she unveils her latest masterpiece--the Virtual Interactive Mobile System (VIMS)--he glows with pride. But there is a saboteur on the loose who seems set on destroying VIMS and anyone who stands in his way.

As the fast-paced tale of industrial espionage at its highest level unfolds, so too does a haunting story of love and betrayal as Dangerous Reality gradually and intelligently blends the depth of human emotion with a futuristic conspiracy that is at once as breathtaking in its technical detail as it is touching, as the past begins to haunt the future.

There’s a few interesting twists in the plot and an understated grittiness to the real world that’s lacking in a good deal of adult SF. The British Arts Council's entry for Blackman lists her staggering bibliography—this is a hardworking writer. I'm looking forward to reading her Noughts & Crosses trilogy sometime soon. Image from Marjorie Blackman's site.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Blacmail Press: New poems online

Check out the new issue of blackmail press 17 which includes my poems 'Gemini spacewalk', 'learning the t' and 'script kiddy'.

Blackmail press 17 features

Karlo Mila

Penny Ashton
Ben Kemp
Michelle Arathimos
Andrew Fiu
Renee Liang
Kalim Stewart
Mary Creswell
Vincent Poole
Rae Pater
Nicholas Messenger
Keith Nunes
Lora Mountjoy
Alison Withers
Lesley Crimmins
Bernard V Kyle
Harvey Molloy
Jessica Gulliver
Trevor Landers
Mark Nicholas Jamieson

International poets
Jayne Fenton Keane
Arlene Ang
Larry Jaffe
Aamir Aziz
Dave Lordan
Ramesh Dohan
Maurice Oliver
Christopher Mulrooney

Special Features:
Poems from “An Absolute Rush” Poetry workshop held by Karlo Mila and Renee Liang.
New Poets Feature

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Wolves. Emily Gravett

I read today in the September issue of Locus that Thomas Pynchon has handed in a new historical novel Against the Day to Penguin. Fishing on the net I found more information on the book at the Pynchon News site. The novel will be published in just three days tmes, yes, you heard here it first, citizens...unless you read Locus in August!

Rabbit takes out Wolves by Emily Grrabitt from the library. Suddenly wolves are everywhere—in every tree, behind every step, waiting for her to make a wrong move. Rabbit shrinks in size as the wolf in the book’s she reading grows in her imagination. (And what’s a book or a blog without a reader?). The book has two endings; in one rabbit and the book are consumed by the wolf (all literature addresses the monster of mortality); in the other the first ending is nothing more than an author’s trick. In both versions the book has somehow managed to come alive. What really kills the text and ends the writing is no-one reading, remembering, or imagining what has been written. That’s when it’s time to close the cover, switch off, return the book to the library and find other pursuits.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Fluid. Karen Peterson Butterworth

Last night I attended a function for English teachers at Unity Books and ended up buying two books: NZ Best Fiction Volume 3 to be given as a present) and Fluid by Karen Peterson Butterworth which is yet another Earl of Seacliffe minibook. Looking at the poetry counter towards the front of the shop I noticed that quite a few of these minibooks had been sold since my last visit.

I’m glad that Blackmail Press have decided to publish three of my poems online in their next issue. I’ll let you know when ‘Gemini spacewalk’, ‘learning the t’ and ‘script kiddy’ come online.

As you know, I'm an admirer of Sue Wootton's poetry (one of our most underappreciated poets!) and she has a fantastic poem in the womens' issue of BMP called retail therapy that begins with the killer line: "In Wellington you discovered your inner bitch." This is not included in her excellent first volume Hourglass.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Kid. Simon Armitage

Simon Armitage

I certainly hear north-western English in Armitage’s verse (he’s from
Huddersfield, he is). The first half of the book reminded me of Heaney and Larkin; as if Armitage is adopting their personae—he’s kidding with us, kidding around, and acting as ‘our kid’, the younger brother of the two elder poets of the north from whose shadow he must escape. The poem ‘Kid’—told by a Robin who has given Batman the push—is one of the more successful poems in the collection and contributes to the sense of mask-wearing and literary capers that fills Kid. All the poems are technically proficient but some tickle my fancy more than others. At times the technical constraints of the poems weight them down. Any watcher of Coronation Street knows that we sound somewhat unreal, hysterical (especially the men) and prone to kidding, mimicry (a northern pastime as much as ale, cricket, soccer and ciggies) and self-parody. Ted Hughes avoids the problem of the northern voice by never allowing himself to be daft. Kid avoids the excesses of a camp northern brogue but doesn’t feel quite at home with its parade of voices. Still, this is a thoroughly enjoyable and intriguing work.

There are some fine notes for teachers on the book at universal teacher.
The winners of the Ben Gully National Schools Poetry Award are now online at the International Institute for Modern Letters. Congratulations to Alisha Vara and all the other winners. This is a great contest to promote creative writing in schools.

And I've been enjoying reading the latest BMP16 over at Blackmail Press. Start with Owen Bullock and then work your way through the issue ...

Image from sheer poetry.