Thursday, 24 March 2011

taken for a fool

It seems like the only time I ever post anymore is when I have an essay due the next day. Case in point: 2300 more words to do for tomorrow morning. Classic Emily. But I can't put this off any longer. I have to talk about The Strokes new album.
How amazing is it?! Has everyone listened to 'Angles' yet? I've been psyched for this album since the beginning of last year or whenever, when they announced that it was going to happaen. The Strokes were one of the seminal bands of my early teenage years; they were the band who really got me into indie music, and in turn I started listening to The Libertines, which really changed everything about music for me.'Angles' is kind of the most beautiful album I own. It's quite different to the traditional Strokes stuff, but it is still so obviously them. My favourite tracks are You're So Right, which has this creepy, almost ethereal feel to it that I adore; Metabolism, because it has this insane twangy bit in the middle that I can't get over, and Under Cover of Darkness, the first single from the album and probably the most Strokes-y song on there. I've been listening to the album almost non-stop since Monday and I still can't properly deal with it. Completely epic.

Speaking of epic, how stunning is the Leeds Fest line up this year? I freaked out when I saw it; it is PERFECT. I'm finally going to see Julian Casablancas in person. And Jarvis Cocker. And loads of my other faves are there, too. Literally cannot wait.

Just a cheeky bit of Julian's delicious face to finish with:

Sunday, 20 March 2011

"He's like a prancing deer."

At the moment, my time is fairly evenly divided between working, sleeping and sticking coloured marker labels in library books pertaining to what essay I am writing. As part of this final push at uni (I finish in May, woah), I have been reading and researching (but sadly, at the moment, not getting so far with the writing) in almost every spare hour I get. For example, today I spent seven hours reading and making notes on 'How experimental is the poetry and prose of the Beat Generation, in particular at Allen Ginsburg’s ‘Howl’ and Jack Kerouac’s Big Sur?' How epic.

But yesterday me and Hayley had a well-earned break from library time and went to have lunch in York's museum gardens. We sat on some of the old ruins and people-watched for a while (I say 'people-watched', but I actually mean 'laughed at everyone who walked past'), whilst enjoying a few brief moments of sunshine. It was nice just to be outside for once - I get cold really easily, and I hate being cold, so I tend to stay inside as much as possible between October and April.

We also went into York Art Gallery and had a look at David Hockney's 'Bigger Trees Near Warter' which is currently there. If you're ever about in York, do go and have a look. It is breathtakingly impressive.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness

When I was 16 or 17, I read Jack Kerouac's On The Road for the first time.

Shamefully, I have to admit that I read it entirely because it was the 'cool' thing to do. Yes, I was that kind of teenager. I read it because to be able to sit on the train to Leeds reading Kerouac's classic American novel seemed like pretty much the most excellent thing I could do with my time. Yes, I may have been wearing clear lens wayfarer glasses whilst I did it. I may or may not have owned a straw trilby that year. I was a little (read: a lot) obsessed with Pete Doherty. Can you see why I would think that reading Beatnik literature was one step closer to eternal coolness?
The thing is...I kind of fell in love.

It was Dean Moriarty's fault.
On The Road's adventure catalyst, Moriarty was everything that I wanted to be. He didn't give fuck about anything, or, it seemed, anyone. He had as much fun as he wanted, whenever he wanted to. He was the embodiment of going with the flow. He was perfect.

Realising that I had stumbled across something quite special, I started inhaling Kerouac books at the rate that Doherty was then inhaling cocaine. The Subterraneans, Desolation Angels, The Darma Bums. And they all fitted together. They were all about Kerouac. It was gorgeous.That is how I discovered the Beat Generation.I'd heard of it, of course, because I am an educated human. I had just never looked into it. Allen Ginsberg, naturally, came next. I was never as big a Ginsberg fan as I was a Kerouac fan, but then again, I was never as big a poetry fan as I am prose. I read Howl and Other Poems and loved it, but I never really focused on it the way that I did with On The Road. Until now.For my final semester at univeristy, one of the modules I chose is Post-WW2 American Literature. During our seminar last Thursday, we studied Ginsberg's Howl and Kerouac's Big Sur in depth. In preperation, I went back and really focused on Howl. It kind of blew me away. It is such an intensely painful and obviously very personal poem to Ginsberg, so it is amazing really that he had it published. It is also stunning. The imagery, the phrases that he creates, the mindset he must have been in to write something so inherently bleak (drugs, drugs, drugs). Until, of course, you get to the footnote of the poem (which shockingly they didn't actually publish in our uni anthologies, so I'm certain that half the people on my course don't even know that it exists) where the entire tone and meaning of the poem switches to something tentatively bordering on hope. It is beautiful.I understand that not everyone will have read this poem. And it wasn't really the poem that I wanted to write about. It was actually the new James Franco film that I wanted to talk about.

James Franco plays Allen Ginsberg. Have you ever seen a sentence that is so full of good things? The film Howl is four small stories rolled into one, the first being the story of how and, crucially, why Ginsberg wrote Howl. The second is Ginsberg performing the poem for the first time in front of his friends and contempories. The third is a court hearing on whether the book should be banned for being obscene, and the fourth Ginsberg being interviewed around the time of the court case.

Because I am a bonafide geek, I have watched many, many videos of Allen Ginsberg performing his poetry on youtube, so when James Franco started talking in Howl, I freaked out. He sounds EXACTLY like him. It's eerie, it really is. And also absolutely astonishing.

If you can find a cinema that is showing this film, GO AND SEE IT. If not, try and see it some other way. It's magnificent.
Aaron Tveit and James FrancoPeter Orlovsky and Allen Ginsburg.

On the subject of films, they are also currently finishing off a film adaptation of Kerouac's On The Road. That in itself is a beautiful thing, but the fact that is stars Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart and (I die a little bit with joy every time I think this) Garrett Hedlund, is an absolute dream. And Garrett Hedlund is playing Dean Moriarty. Congratulations to whoever cast him. I suspect that they snuck into my brain at some point and stole all my (slightly perverse and literature themed) dreams. I don't know when it's due to be released (possibly November?) but I can almost guarentee that it will be my new favourite film.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Brideshead Visited

Bloody hell, it was cold today. Walking from the car to work this morning I was shivering so hard that I've made my shoulders ache. It's drastically different to yesterday, when I went out with only a hoodie and jacket, not my usual 12 layers of arctic-weather clothing. Why isn't it summer yet? How inconsiderate the seasons are.

On Saturday night I watched Brideshead Revisited (the new, Matthew Goode/Ben Whishaw version) for the first time. What a sad, sad story. I mean, I loved it, but it was so sad. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it because I'm not normally one for any type of cotume drama. Then again, I do tend to be attracted to tales of heartbreak and loneliness, so that might explain it.

The film inspired my family and I to take a trip to Castle Howard, where both the old and the new version of Brideshead Revisited were filmed. I think the house is closed during winter so we just went round the grounds and gardens, but it is such a stunning place. The really epic thing though is that the Howard family actually still live there. A family actually still owns it and lives in one side of it (the private side, where the public can't go. But they do use the public areas as well when everyone leaves, or so I've read). It would be insanely cool to live in a stately home. It's a small (and of course achievable) dream of mine to one day live in a place like Castle Howard.

Another grand day out in Yorkshire with my family. And more sunshine please?

It's my brother's 20th birthday today! HAPPY BIRTHDAY REES!

Saturday, 5 March 2011

World Book Night 2011 -the recipients and the winners

So, after seemingly weeks on my part of banging on about it, tonight was World Book Night.

Myself and 19,999 other givers handed out one million books as part of the event, which was created to inspire people to turn back to books and to start reading again in a society that is focused on so many other things nowadays. My book choice was Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, which I read years ago and utterly adored.

I was helped tonight by my mum and dad, my brother and my pal Katie. Because I didn't want to just throw books to strangers at random only for them to end up in a bin or left at the bus stop (the book, not the stranger), we decided to go the York Theatre Royal and hand them out before the evening performance. The idea was that people who go to the theatre would be the sort of people who would appreciate being given an incredible book to read. It went really, really well. People tend to be quite suspicious when you try and give them something - as if they can't quite believe that you aren't trying to sell them something - but everyone who received a copy seemed to be really pleased, and if that's you, do say hello and let me know what you think of the book. I promise you it is more excellent than it might at first seem.

I took a few photos over the evening and I want to say thank you to anyone who let me take their picture. Also a big thank you to my parents, my brother and Katie, because there is no way that I could have carried 48 books into York and distributed them without their help. Finally, a HUGE thanks to World Book Night for letting me be a small, but I like to think vital, part of the event.

I also want to announce the winners of my giveaway for some of you lot to win a copy of Fingersmith. Unfortunately I am only going to be able to give two copies away (most of the people who entered live overseas and I am a poor student, thus cannot afford to be posting four books to Australia). I numbered each email and used an internet random number generator thing (properly high tech, I know) and the winners are:

Beth at
Anisha at

Incidentally, two of my favourite blogs (Ani, I think, actually has my brain in her head, and Beth writes about literature in a far more beautiful and eloquent way than I ever can). I've emailed you both, so send me your addresses and I'll get the books posted out to you asap. Congratulations!

Of course, the whole point of World Book Night wasn't just to give out free books. It was to promote writers and to promote reading and to promote the bookshop industry. I must shamefully admit to being one of the main perpetrators of the Amazon takeover, but we really must all start going to libraries and to proper book shops and start supporting the real literature industry. Hopefully World Book Night will have brought this to more people's attention. It certainly brought it to mine.

And, obviously, free stuff is always cool.

Yes. Just...yes.

Whenever I, you know, read something wonderful, I don’t wish I had written it, I’m so happy that somebody else did so I can just enjoy it.
Jesse Eisenberg

Friday, 4 March 2011

Inspire #24

All images from Tumblr.

Yesterday was the ten year anniversary of Eugene Sledge's death. Sledge was the author of With the Old Breed and one of the marines portrayed in The Pacific series. He was also, from what I have read and seen, the very best of mankind and a true legend and hero. He should be remembered.