Archives for posts with tag: Ireland

Today is Friday and as usual I bring you a guest post. I was in Barcelona recently with my parents, who are very fond of TV quizzes, and there was a question asking which author had written a treatise about farts. When I saw the possible names I knew it had to be Jonathan Swift. And that made me think he should be my guest. And here he is. As usual I bring you a brief biography (below I include links to a few websites where you can find more detailed information, although of course there are more detailed biographies published), some of his quotations (like a few of my previous guests, he’s eminently quotable), and links, not only to information but also to his works (free).

The Benefits of Farting by Jonathan Swift

The Benefits of Farting by Jonathan Swift

Biography:

Jonathan Swift was born in Dublin, Ireland on 30th November 1667. His father, who was British, died two months before his birth. He was an attorney and the financial situation of the family was quite difficult after his death, especially as Swift suffered from ill healthl as a child. (He suffered from Meniere’s disease). He went to live with his uncle (his father’s brother), Godwin, who was also an attorney. He studied at Kilkenny Grammar Schools (one of the best schools in Ireland at the time). There he met William Congreve, later poet and playwright, and they remained friends.

Quote about genius by J Swift

Quote about genius by J Swift

He then studied at Trinity College in Dublin, obtaining a BA degree in 1686, and started a Masters. Due to the unrest of the Glorious Revolution of 1688 he moved to England, where he obtained a position as the secretary of English statesman, Sir William Temple, working for him as an assistant in London’s Moor Park as for 10 years. Temple trusted him and gave him important tasks. During his stay there Swift met the sister of Temple’s housekeeper, a girl called Esther Johnson (8 years old at the time). She was fifteen years younger than him, despite that they became friends (lovers?), and he acted as her tutor and mentor nicknaming her ‘Stella’. There are rumours that they married in secret in 1716 and they kept in touch until her death.

He returned to Ireland twice during those 10 years. In 1695 he became ordained a priest. He began to write.

Temple died in 1699. Swift edited and published Temple’s memoirs and was offered a post as secretary and chaplain to the Earl of Berkeley, but when he went to take up the post he was told this had been filled. He went back to Ireland and became priest of a small congregation near Dublin. He took up writing again.

In 1704 he published, anonymously, A Tale of a Tub and The Battle of the Books that was popular but disapproved by the Church of England. When the Tories came into power in 1710 they asked him to be Editor of the Examiner. He became very involved in politics and published well known political pamphlets. His inner thoughts he shared in letters to Johnson that later were published as The Journal to Stella.

When he realised that the Tories would fall from power he went back to Ireland. In 1713 he took post as Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin.  There were rumours that he engaged in relationships with Esther Vanhomrigh and Anne Long.

First Edition of Gulliver's Travels 1726

First Edition of Gulliver’s Travels 1726

In 1726 after finishing his manuscript he traveled to London where some friend helped him get it anonymously published as Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, in Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of Several Ships —also known as Gulliver’s Travels. It was an immediate success and has never been out of print since its publication. It has been studied, analysed and there are many interpretations. There is little doubt that the plot reflects historical events that took place during his lifetime.

Esther Johnson died in 1728 and shortly after two close friend also died. In 174 2 he suffered a stroke and could no longer speak. Due to concerns about his capacity to look after his financial affairs his friends declared him legally insane. On October 19th 1745 he died and is now buried inside of Dublin’s St Patrick’s Cathedral. A donation of his money went to fund a psychiatric hospital in Dublin, still in service.

Swift's quote about vision

Swift’s quote about vision

Quotes: (I’ve added a few throughout the post as I love them, but here some more):

The best doctors in the world are Doctor Diet, Doctor Quiet, and Doctor Merryman.

A tavern is a place where madness is sold by the bottle.

There is nothing constant in this world but inconsistency.

A man should never be ashamed to own that he has been in the wrong, which is but saying… that he is wiser today than yesterday.

Good manners is the art of making those people easy with whom we converse. Whoever makes the fewest people uneasy is the best bred in the room.

Swift's quote on expectations

Swift’s quote on expectations

Links:

Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Swift

Biography.com:

http://www.biography.com/people/jonathan-swift-9500342

The literature network:

http://www.online-literature.com/swift/

The Victorian web:

http://www.victorianweb.org/previctorian/swift/bio.html

In Brainy Quotes:

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/jonathan_swift.html

Goodreads page:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1831.Jonathan_Swift

His page at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin:

http://www.stpatrickscathedral.ie/Jonathan-Swift.aspx

IMDB page:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0842605/

Swift's quote on government and slavery

Swift’s quote on government and slavery

Free Links to his Works:

Online:

A Modest Proposal:

http://art-bin.com/art/omodest.html

Jonathan Swift Archive has access to A Modest Proposal, Gulliver’s Travels and A Tale of a Tub:

http://www.jonathanswiftarchive.org.uk/index.html

Gulliver’s Travels (Free in the Gutenberg Project):

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/829

This is the link to the author in the Gutenberg Project. Apart from Gulliver’s Travels it contains poems, sermons, prose works and even audios, in many different formats:

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/author/326

Amazon page of Jonathan Swift:

http://www.amazon.com/Jonathan-Swift/e/B001HCV1RG/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1389288271&sr=1-2-ent

A Modest Proposal (in Amazon):

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0082RZYAY/

Gulliver’s Travels (in Amazon):

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0082ZJGSW/

Swift's on money

Swift’s on money

Thanks so much for reading, and you know, if  you’ve enjoyed it, remember to like, share, comment, and of course, CLICK!

And to close a wish from my guest to all of you, that I wholeheartedly share:

Swift's quote, live your life

Swift’s quote, live your life

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Spirit of Ireland. An Odyssey Home

Hace poco terminé de escuchar el audio de El espíritu de Irlanda de Alan Cooke. Había escuchado  (y leído) Desnudo en Nueva York (Naked in New York), que reseñé hace algunos meses y que vuelvo a recomendar. También he visto su película Home (Hogar/Patria) que a mi me parece una buena pieza compañera de Desnudo con la ventaja de que además de documentar el viaje personal de Cooke también incorpora las opiniones de gente de Nueva York, jóvenes y viejos, famosos y desconocidos, nativos y emigrantes. Se merece el Emmy que consiguió por el guión de la película y no llego a comprender como sigue sin distribuidora.

El autor, un actor irlandés, ahora convertido también en escritor, entrenador de voz, y creador de escenas en audio y video, volvió a Irlanda después de su visita a los Estados Unidos. El espíritu de Irlanda es su memoria/nota biográfica de su proceso de redescubierta de su país, su nación, su cultura, y a si mismo. En ciertos aspectos retoma la narración donde acabó Desnudo, pero en mi opinión va más lejos y se adentra más profundamente que lo hizo el libro anterior.

El Sr. Cooke combina episodios puramente autobiográficos (a mí sus recuerdos de escenas de su infancia me parecen particularmente emotivos) con pasajes donde describe sus expediciones tanto espirituales como reales. En sus viajes a sitios conocidos (la casa de sus padres, pueblos que solía visitar con su familia cuando era niño) él observa los cambios acaecidos, el contraste entre sus expectaciones, construidas durante años soñando sobre la patria desde lejos, y la realidad, a veces dura. También nota los cambios que tienen lugar en su interior, y como sus percepciones, lo que ve y siente, es diferente. Cuando viaja a lugares nuevos, a sitios que le atraen, a veces experimenta una comunión con los elementos, con el espíritu y el alma de Irlanda que acepta totalmente.

Sus descripciones de animales casi míticos (el caballo blanco que visita su casa y parece simbolizar el espíritu celta indómito de la isla), de los paisajes primitivos (que reflejan el poder mágico y ancestral de la tierra), de gente y caras te llegarán al alma, incluso si tú, como yo, no tienes ni una gota de sangre irlandesa en tus venas. El autor parece conectar con algo que es profundamente personal pero a la vez universal, y a través de su voz nos lleva a un lugar que es maravilloso, excitante, aterrador y puro. Un lugar donde tenemos que enfrentarnos a nosotros mismos, y si sobrevivimos, finalmente habremos alcanzado nuestra patria. Me pregunto si es eso de lo que hablaba Carl Jung cuando se escribía sobre el Inconsciente Colectivo:

El inconsciente colectivo —si alguna cosa podemos decir sobre él — parece consistir de motivos mitológicos o imágenes primordiales, y por esa razón los mitos de todas la naciones son sus verdaderos exponentes. De hecho, la totalidad de la mitología podría considerarse como un tipo de proyección del inconsciente colectivo… Por eso podemos estudiar el inconsciente colectivo de dos maneras, o en la mitología o en el análisis de los individuos. (De La estructura de la mente, cap. 8, párr. 325)

Carl-Jung-mod

Carl-Jung-mod (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Al haber visitado un poquito del Oeste de Irlanda hace unos meses reconocí algunas de las descripciones (me encantaron las islas de Aran y adoro el CD número 4). También me identifiqué con algunas de sus vivencias (recuerdo lo que pensaba cuando hice la Primera Comunión). Le acompañé gustosa en sus visitas y me encantaría poder conocer a muchos de los personajes a los que conoce, que siempre tienen historias que contar y le ayudan a crear un mosaico de experiencias y voces que ilustran la naturaleza del lugar y de su gente. El autor, un anecdotista, y trovador, es narrador, protagonista, intérprete, y actor. Él ha dicho en entrevistas que por encima de todo él es un actor y que es capaz de conectar y comunicarse con una audiencia en vivo de una forma que no cree que sea posible solamente a través de su escritura. A mi me parece que es demasiado modesto, aunque debo reconocer que la combinación de sus palabras,  su voz y su lectura crean un conjunto irresistible. (Y aprovecho esta oportunidad para recomendar sus otros audios [Cuento de Navidad, De Profundis, Cuentos de Oscar Wilde…]. El único peligro es que puede que no quieras escuchar a ningún otro narrador, pero…)

El género de la memoria o narración autobiográfica está muy explotado. A veces le da a uno la impresión de que todo el mundo quiere escribir una o ya lo ha hecho. Pero no os preocupéis. Esto no es vuestra memoria autobiográfica típica. Aunque el autor comparte experiencias muy personales e incluso íntimas (la imagen de la reacción de su madre cuando descubre que su propia madre, la abuela del autor, ha muerto atropellada por un camión, no me abandonará nunca), jamás se convierte en un ejercicio auto-indulgente. Él es la conciencia de ese espíritu, y no encontraréis chismorreos ni detalles de la vida diaria en el Burren. Os dejo un enlace a un artículo que me pareció interesante (en inglés) sobre memorias en la Universidad de Berkeley. Si estudiamos los siete argumentos básicos de todas las historias (de acuerdo con la clasificación de Christopher Booker),  El espíritu de Irlanda probablemente encaja en los argumentos de ‘búsqueda’ (Odisea es un término muy adecuado), ‘viaje y regreso’ y ‘renacer’. Y si estudiamos el artículo de William Grimes: ‘Todos tenemos una vida. ¿Tenemos que escribir sobre ella todos?’ (‘We All Have A Life. Must We All Write About It?’) estaría entre ‘la memoria del viaje espiritual’ y ‘la memoria del espíritu del lugar’. Es todo eso y más. Si queréis ir a lugares donde no habéis estado, poneros en contacto con vuestra espiritualidad, y conectar con los mitos colectivos, mientras escucháis una bella y absorbente voz, os recomiendo el audio de El espíritu de Irlanda.

El Sr. Cooke vende todas sus obras a través de su página de web (de momento solo en inglés):

http://wildirishpoet.com/

Allí también podéis encontrar enlaces a sus páginas en Facebook y otros medios sociales (y seguir sus posts, incluyendo muestras de nuevos trabajos, hermosas fotografías, etc.), su dirección de correo electrónico si os queréis poner en contacto con él, y podéis informaros de todas sus novedades.

Gracias por leer, y si os ha gustado, acordaos de darle al me gusta, comentar, compartir y hacer CLIC! 

Este es el enlace al artículo sobre memorias literarias/autobiografías:

http://ist-socrates.berkeley.edu/~kihlstrm/memoir.htm

Spirit of Ireland. An Odyssey Home

I recently finished listening to the audio of The Spirit of Ireland by Alan Cooke. I had listened (and read) Naked in New York where the author explores his adventures and experiences in New York, that I’ve reviewed in the past and again recommend. I’ve also watched his movie Home that I feel is a good companion piece of Naked and has the advantage of documenting Cooke’s personal journey whilst incorporating the views of New Yorkers old and young, famous and unknown, native and immigrants. He well deserves the Emmy for his writing in the film and I am at a loss to account for the lack of distribution for it.

The author, an Irish actor, now turned writer, voice coach, and creator of audio and video sketches, returned to Ireland after his visit to the US. The Spirit of Ireland is his memoir of the process of rediscovering his country, his nation, his culture, and himself. In some ways it picks up from where Naked left, but in my opinion it goes further and deeper than the previous book.

Mr Cooke combines purely autobiographical episodes (I find his remembrances of childhood scenes particularly touching) with passages where he sets his spiritual/real travels. In his trips to places known (his parents’ house, villages they used to visit when he was a child) he notes the changes experienced, the contrast between his expectations, built through years of dreaming about “home” from afar, and the sometimes stark reality. He also observes the changes inside, and  how he sees and feels differently now.

In his travels to new places, places that call to him, he feels at times a communion with the elements, with the spirit and soul of Ireland that he embraces fully.

His descriptions of quasi-mythical animals (the horse that visits his house and seems to symbolise the untamed Celtic s spirit of the island), of primeval landscapes (that reflect the magical and ancestral power of the land), of people and faces will touch you, even if you, like me, have not a drop of Irish blood running through your veins. The author seems to tap into something that is at the same time profoundly personal but also universal, and through his voice he takes us to a place that is wondrous, exhilarating, frightening and raw. A place where we have to confront ourselves, and if we survive, we’ll finally be Home. I wonder if this is what Carl Jung was talking about when he referred to the Collective Unconscious.

The collective unconscious – so far as we can say anything about it at all  – appears to consist of mythological motifs or primordial images, for which reason the myths of all nations are its real exponents. In fact, the whole of mythology could be taken as a sort of projection of the collective unconscious… We can therefore study the collective unconscious in two ways, either in mythology or in the analysis of the individual. (From The Structure of the Psyche, CW 8, par. 325.)

Carl-Jung-mod

Carl-Jung-mod (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Having visited a tiny bit of West Ireland a few months ago I recognised some of the descriptions (loved the Isles of Aran and adored CD 4). I could also identify with some of the experiences (I remember my thoughts during my First Communion too). I gladly accompanied him on his visits and would love to meet the many characters he comes across, that always have stories to tell and help create a quilt of experiences and voices to illustrate the nature of the place and its people. The author, a bard and raconteur, is narrator, protagonist, interpreter, and performer. He has said in interviews that above all he is a performer and he can connect and communicate with people live in ways he feels is not possible by writing on the page. I feel he is too modest, although I must admit that the combination of the words with his voice and reading makes it irresistible. (And I take the opportunity to recommend some of his other audios too [A Christmas Carol, De Profundis, Oscar Wilde’s Fairy Tales…]. You might not want to listen to anybody else’s work after that but…).

The memoir genre has become oversubscribed. Sometimes it feels as if everybody wants to write one or has written one. Don’t worry, though. This is not your standard memoir. Although the author shares very personal and even intimate experiences (the image of his mother’s reaction when she heard of the death of her own mother, the author’s grandmother, run over by a lorry will stay with me forever), it never becomes an exercise in self-indulgence. He is the consciousness of that spirit, and you won’t get any gossip or know the everyday details of life in the Burren. I leave you a link to an interesting article posted at BerkeleyUniversity on memoirs. According to Christopher Booker’s seven basic plots, The Spirit of Ireland probably falls within the plots of ‘quest’ (Odyssey being a very apt word), ‘voyage and return’ and ‘rebirth’. And if we look at William Grimes’s article: ‘We All Have A Life. Must We All Write About It?’ it would probably fall somewhere between ‘the spiritual-journey memoir’ and ‘the spirit of place memoir’. It is all of that and more. If you want to go to places you haven’t been, get in touch with your own spirituality, and connect with collective myths, whilst listening to a beautiful and engrossing voice, I recommend you the audio of The Spirit of Ireland.

Mr Cooke sells all his work through his own website, here:

http://wildirishpoet.com/

There you will also find links to his Facebook pages (where you can follow his posts, including samples of new work, photographs, etc.), his e-mail address if you want to contact him, and you can also access updates on his projects.

Thank you for reading and as if you’ve enjoyed it, remember to like, comment, share and of course CLICK!

This is the link to the article on memoirs:

http://ist-socrates.berkeley.edu/~kihlstrm/memoir.htm

Boeing 757-200 N741PA titled Air Peru takes of...

Boeing 757-200 N741PA titled Air Peru takes off from Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport (FLL) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been having a few interesting days at work (and more to come) and I felt like letting off some steam. I hope you don’t mind. I know you’ve heard me (or rather fortunately, read me) rant before, about book promotions, the value of art…

Today it’s something fairly common…The lack of consistency. I was on holiday recently, with my parents. We flew to Ireland from the UK. (The holiday was lovely, thank you for asking. I recommend Ireland to anybody and everybody.) My parents had come from Barcelona, Spain, landing at Liverpool. We flew from East Midlands airport. I’d never been there before. We were chatting on the way (there was an incident in the M1…yes, that’s a rant for another day, 3 highways agency cars blocking a lane with nothing to be seen. Maybe they were just having a cup of tea and biscuits and needed some space) and my father was wondering if he’d have to take his shoes off or not (with his arthritis that’s becoming a bit difficult) and noted that even wearing the same shoes, sometimes he had to take them off and sometimes not.

This time, no. My mother, on the other hand, had to take her sandals off, although she didn’t when she flew into the UK. And mystery of mysteries. Both my mother and I had our Kindles with us. I had also a notebook computer. They paid no attention to the notebook, but for some unknown reason took the Kindles away, passed a strange thing over them and put them through the X-ray machine again. What were they looking for? Anybody knows? I know books can be dangerous, but it seemed ridiculous. (And I had taken my Kindle to Paris recently flying from Liverpool and they didn’t check. That trip is all another story…)

I won’t talk about airlines as they are a law onto themselves (only 1 bag, two bags, 15 kg, 20kg, 24kg…) and that’s somewhat reasonable, but shouldn’t all airports have the same procedures? Well, that’s not the case even in the same country, as I’d never seen this Kindle thing before and I’d travelled only a couple of months ago with mine.

Of course in Ireland they didn’t check the Kindles, or the computer, and we didn’t have to take the shoes off. But they didn’t check our passport either when we came back…Hey!

I remember once in the US I was flying from Fort Lauderdale in Florida. I only had cabin luggage as I’d been to a conference for 4 days. They checked inside of my bag as I went in. Then I walked down the corridor by the shops to the gate. And there, they checked my bag again. Exactly what could I have bought that would have been that dangerous? Yes, I know American snacks can be killers, but really…Even the woman who was checking the bag looked at me and asked me: ‘Haven’t I checked this bag before?’ Yes, she had. Every time they had checked my bag. So when we stopped at Logan Airport in Boston for a connecting flight I was telling a fellow traveller: ‘They’ll check my bag. They’ve checked it every time.’ But no, Boston liked me better and they didn’t check. On the way in they’d checked it in New York but I guess…

English: Boston's Logan Airport (KBOS) aerial ...

English: Boston’s Logan Airport (KBOS) aerial view. Part of NOAA’s aeronautical survey program. Runway 14-32 was built after this photograph was taken. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Maybe it’s me, but it is confusing (oh, and the body scanners! And the metal detector that will randomly beep or not irrespective of what you have or wear!), not useful, stressful (sometimes eventually funny, but not at the time), and I don’t think it does much for the security of anybody. Can’t they get their act together?

Sorry, I just had to have a rant. Thanks for reading. If you have any great insights, please share, and if you’ve enjoyed it or felt like joining in, please comment and share!

English: Photo by Nick Juhasz.

English: Photo by Nick Juhasz. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Llevo unos días bastante interesantes en el trabajo (y los que quedan) y decidí que necesitaba desahogarme un poco. Espero que no os importe. Ya sé que me habéis oído (o leído, por suerte) quejarme antes, sobre promociones y marketing de libros, el valor del arte….

Hoy es algo bastante corriente…Falta de consistencia y lógica. Estuve de vacaciones con mis padres recientemente. Volamos a Irlanda desde el Reino Unido. (Las vacaciones fueron maravillosas, gracias por preguntar. Le recomiendo Irlanda a todo el mundo. De verdad.) Mis padres habían venido desde Barcelona, y aterrizaron en Liverpool. Para ir a Irlanda volamos desde el aeropuerto de East Midlands. Nunca había volado desde allí. De camino estábamos hablando (había un incidente en la autopista M1…sí, eso lo dejo para otro día, 3 coches del servicio de autopistas bloqueando uno de los carriles sin motivo visible alguno. Quizás decidieron que era la hora del té y las galletas y necesitaban un poco de espacio) y mi padre se preguntaba si se tendría que quitar los zapatos (que con la artritis se está poniendo complicado) y comentaba que incluso llevando los mismos zapatos, a veces se los hacían quitar y otras no.

Esta vez, no. Pero a mi madre, que llevaba sandalias y a la que no se las habían quitar cuando volaron a Inglaterra, allí sí. Y misterio misterioso. Mi madre y yo llevábamos nuestras Kindle. Yo también llevaba un ordenador, notebook. No le hicieron ni caso a mi ordenador, pero por motivos desconocidos se llevaron las dos Kindle, pasaron un extraño aparato por encima y las pasaron otra vez por la máquina de rayos X. ¿Qué estarían buscando? ¿Alguien tiene alguna idea? Sé que los libros pueden ser peligrosos, pero me pareció ridículo.

No hablaré sobre las compañías de vuelo ya que esas cada una tiene su ley (solo una bolsa dos bolsas, 15kg, 20kg, 24kg…) y eso es algo más comprensible ya que son compañías distintas, pero, ¿no deberían tener todos los aeropuertos los mismos procedimientos? Eso no es el caso ni siquiera en un mismo país, ya que yo no he visto nunca esto del Kindle y viajé hace solo un par de meses con la mía a Francia (eso fue toda una historia.)

Por supuesto cuando volamos de vuelta desde Irlanda no comprobaron ni Kindle ni ordenador, y no nos tuvimos que sacar los zapatos. Pero tampoco comprobaron los pasaportes cuando volvimos… ¡A ver, quién lo entiende!

Recuerdo una vez en los Estados Unidos, yo volvía a Inglaterra desde Fort Lauderdale en Florida. Solo tenía equipaje de mano ya que había estado asistiendo a una conferencia 4 días. Miraron dentro de mi bolsa cuando entré. Caminé por el corredor donde estaban las tiendas y fui a la puerta de embarque. Y allí, me volvieron a mirar dentro de la bolsa. ¿Qué podría haber comprado tan peligroso? Sí, ya sé que los snacks Americanos pueden ser letales, pero de verdad…Incluso la mujer que me estaba registrando la bolsa me miró y me preguntó: ‘¿No he registrado esta bolsa ya antes?’ Sí. Habían registrado mi bolsa en todos los aeropuertos. Así que cuando paramos en el aeropuerto Logan, en Boston, le comentaba a otro viajero esperando subir al mismo avión: ‘Ya verás como me registrarán, porque me han registrado cada vez.’ Pero no, por lo visto a Boston le gusté más  y no me registraron. Cuando volé de entrada en Nueva York sí que me registraron. Quizás tienen motivos para ser más desconfiados.

Quizás sea yo, pero lo encuentro confuso (¡ah, y los scanners de cuerpo! ¡Y los detectores de metales que pitan cuando les da la gana lleves lo que lleves!), inútil, estresante (a veces divertido, pero solo cuando ha pasado algo de tiempo, no en caliente), y no creo que aumente la seguridad de nadie. ¿Por qué no se pueden poner todos de acuerdo?

Perdón, tenía que quejarme. Gracias por leer. Si tenéis alguna pista, por favor compartir, se agradecerá. ¡Y si os ha gustado o os queréis apuntar y quejaros de otras cosas, por favor, compartid!

English: Boston's Logan Airport (KBOS) aerial ...

English: Boston’s Logan Airport (KBOS) aerial view. Part of NOAA’s aeronautical survey program. Runway 14-32 was built after this photograph was taken. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As you know I usually tend to write about…well, writing, on Tuesdays’ posts. I had an ‘interesting’ week last week (I got stranded in Charles de Gaulle airport due to the snow and ended up spending most of two days there. I didn’t sleep there thanks to my friend Iman and her family, and the RER [train line], but otherwise…). The change of plans gave me time to finish reading some books I had pending and I’ve done a number of reviews. I thought I’d post them here too, all together, for your enjoyment. I’ve also included the translation of the review of a book in Spanish ‘La llave del éxito’. They are all five star reviews, but very different books. I’ve also included links and hope you feel interested enough to have a look at them. And on Friday I have a guest author: Nicole Fergusson…Really looking forward to her post.

Don’t forget to click!

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Nic Taylor’s A Plague of Dissent

‘Be Scared, Be Very Scared’

Don’t let the title of my review put you off. No, Nic Taylor’s A Plague of Dissent is not a horror book (although I love horror books). At least not a horror genre book. What the title refers to is the slow realisation – whilst reading the novel – that it is not only topical and the socio/historical events described very close to the bone, but the fictional elements are more than plausible. Although one might have a different opinion as to some of the premises (who organises the terrorist attacks and their reasons, for example), the actual details and planning of it sound incredibly convincing and the more horrifying for it.

The author is well versed in British current affairs and he uses them to create a multilayered background to his fictional (? we hope) story. Recent big news items (phone hacking scandal and enquiry, riots, allegations of child pornography, coalition government…) are not only part of the setting of the novel but become an integral part of the plot, and they are seamlessly woven together to create a complex and realistic tapestry. I live in the UK and must say some of the incidents and situations made me chuckle.

The novel is extremely well plotted and even minor incidents that at first sight might appear insignificant are eventually relevant and their significance revealed. A woman accidentally ran over by a car, a man caught up in the riots and injured, a rugby training session…everything falls into place like a well-oiled machine.

We get to know the main characters gradually, and they reveal themselves to be not only likeable, but also true heroes. Adam is a fantastic protagonist, who goes from being maligned by the media; in an attempt at revenge by a jealous husband, to risking his life to save…well, everybody. His brother, Dan, Ron, his friend and special agent, Isobel, his love interest, the few honest detectives and policemen, are all real people you can relate to but make a larger than life cast who can take on any situation. You would want them by your side in a moment of crisis.

‘A Plague’ is cinematic in its style, moving with ease from sweeping takes that quickly provide a general view of the national and international situation and the consequences of the events narrated, to minute takes of details such as weaponry, computer files and medication. The pace accelerates and you become gripped by the events, at once thrilled and worried as to what would happen if it were real. Would there be enough honest members of the police, and concerned citizens (like Adam and friends) to halt such a terrorist ploy?

I don’t want to give away too many of the details of the novel as not to spoil the many surprises, but I won’t hesitate in recommending it to anybody who enjoys well plotted thrillers, conspiracy theory based stories, current affairs (not only British but international), spy novels…In summary, anybody who loves a good book. I was pleased to read that Nic Taylor is planning to follow ‘A Plague’ with at least two more novels. I for one can’t wait.

Here is the link to the book in Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/A-Plague-Of-Dissent-ebook/dp/B00BRI7YMQ/

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A Year of Book Marketing Part 1. Marketing Your Book One Day At A Time by Heather Hart.

I was familiar with Mrs. Hart’s work from some of the publications she has co-authored like ‘Book Marketing 101: Marketing Your Book on a Shoestring’ and the writers’ group of same name in LinkedIn. I asked for a copy of her book when I read her reply to another author who was after novel ways of marketing his book, and a bit tired of ‘same-old, same-old’. She kindly offered me a free copy in exchange for a review and I’m pleased to be able to respond in kind.

The idea behind the book is that it can be used (after reading the first three chapters that contain general advice on marketing, particularly useful to the novice writer) as a daily prompt/calendar, that instead of only having quotations for the day, contains an idea or marketing prompt for each day. The idea is explored in some detail and follows a quotation. Some of the quotations were familiar already (not less useful because of that), some less so, but all were at once reflective and encouraging. The clear message (if it can be simplified into one) is: work hard, consistently, focus on what works for you and you enjoy, but don’t be afraid to try new things. And Rome wasn’t built in a day.

I’m fairly new to self-publishing and marketing, although I have been trying my hand at it for a few months. I found reading Ms. Hart’s book that I’d tried some of the ideas suggested, some would not be workable for me at the moment (I’ve only published e-books so far and some of the ideas require a physical book), and some…Well, I should try. I’ve left notes to myself, and even before I read the whole book I checked the appendix and started listing my book on some of the free sites I hadn’t tried yet.

Ms. Hart’s style is easy to follow, engaging, and I particularly liked her sharing her own experiences and insights, including things she did not feel comfortable doing, and her less than successful efforts. I also liked the pace of the book, the encouragement it offers, and its emphasis on having a long-term plan, checking what one is doing and trying to maximise that, rather than frantically trying everything at once.

I read the whole book at once, rather than using it as it is intended (and that’s a limitation of my review), but will definitely be taking her advice at heart and trying some of the ideas I hadn’t considered (and some I’ve been thinking about but haven’t quite got around to…).

In conclusion I would recommend it to anybody who is into the publishing business, no matter the genre, and who feels they could benefit from encouragement and not heavy-handed expertise. And I will be looking forward to part 2.

Click on the link to buy it in Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Year-Book-Marketing-Part-ebook/dp/B00AVGUSVO/

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Naked in New York. A Memoir by Emmy Winning Writer Alan Cooke

Naked in New York is one of those books that we might never have come across unless circumstances conspired to bring them to our attention, but once they do we feel fortunate because they enrich our lives.

Although I love poetry (or some poetry at least) I don’t regularly read it. I came across the author’s YouTube video where he reads an excerpt of this book (that at that point was not yet published) in Facebook. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VoVOnxcdJjg

Alan Cooke is an actor, writer (poet), filmmaker, and hearing him read ‘Naked in New York’ is an experience that I can recommend wholeheartedly. It’s mesmerising, emotional and ravishing. (His audiobook is available in his website).

The memoir describes the five years the author spent in New York, shortly after the 9/11 attack. He is not only an observer but also a participant that immerses himself in the city, its people, and its atmosphere that had been hardly shaken by the incident, an open wound that has left an indelible scar. His is not a story of the American Dream come true (at times quite the opposite), but even if it was just a necessary condition to get to write this book, it would have been more than worth it.

I have had the advantage of listening to a copy of the audiobook read by the author. It has made me stop on my tracks more than once, left me speechless because of the beauty of a sentence or a moment, made me sad at times (like when he reflects upon 9/11 or on the fate of the less fortunate inhabitants of the city), made me smile (a small gesture noted, a deep shared moment with a stranger, the bird having a bath and smiling), and made me reflect and think back to moments and experiences I could identify with. I might have thought it, but he says it much better.

Naked in New York is beautiful, heartfelt, insightful, self-reflective, personal and universal at the same time. It is truly human. I can’t think of anybody who would not like this book, and I would be worried about anybody who does not. Please read it and tell others about it. There isn’t enough beauty around. We must promote it.

Click on the link to buy the book it on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Naked-In-New-York-ebook/dp/B00BMCWR88/

Click on the webpage to buy the audiobook:

http://www.wildirishpoet.com

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The Key to Success. Be noticed in Amazon: Marketing for writers by Armando Rodera

I am a writer and started to publish e-books a few months ago. From that moment on (although now I know I should have started well before that, but we can always learn something new) I’ve been reading a fair amount about book marketing. I have watched podcasts, I have read how to guides, books, YouTube videos, I have taken part in groups and discussions…What I mean is this is not the first book I read about it.

What makes Armando Rodera’s book different to all the others? (Because I can assure you it’s very different). Although the majority of these book have personal examples to share about what worked or did not work for the person writing the book in their efforts at marketing, The Key to Success is something other than just a marketing book, it is the story (or as we’ve heard so often these days the ‘journey’) of the path that Mr Rodera has followed since he discovered his vocation and love for writing up to now when he’s a world renown author.

The author offers advice, but it’s based on personal experience, rather than on strategies, plans and boring formulae that might or might not apply to the personal circumstances and taste of each reader. It is a publishing business’s (independent publishing mostly) guide , but one of this annotated guides, where one pauses to read about the typical dishes of the area, the customs and habits of the people, and the folklore of the region. It’s a guide for the traveller of discerning taste and good palate.

Another thing that makes the book exceptional (in my opinion the most important one) is the sheer quality of the writing. The majority of the marketing books I’ve read are written in a fairly simple and practical way, and that’s it. The Key to Success is different. When I was reading it there came a moment when I was no longer focused on the advice and I just concentrated on the pleasure of reading the book. I can assure you that any person who reads the book and has not read any of the author’s novels will feel compelled to read them.

Read The Key to Success. Use the good advice, but most of all, enjoy the prose and style of Armando Rodera. I believe this is the real key to his success.

Click to buy it (in Spanish) here:

http://www.amazon.com/LLAVE-%C3%89XITO-Spanish-Edition-ebook/dp/B00ARJUSFQ/

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to CLICK. I’m checking!

Living in the Gap

“Ruffled feathers and endless squawking over a minor difficulty is typical of a crow’s life. I lean back on the counter and realize that could be my line….”

Opinión y actualidad

Opinión sobre noticias y asuntos de actualidad

Los escritos de Héctor Browne

Blog (algo literario y algo viejo) de un Licenciado en Letras, diplomado en edición, y Profesor de Lenguaje.

Priscilla Bettis, Author

The making of a horror novelist.

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