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A Writer’s Notebook

One of my favourite writers is  Virginia Woolf.

Woolf on Modern Poetry from “Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown” (1924)

Grammar is violated; syntax disintegrated; as a boy staying with an aunt for the week-end rolls in the geranium bed out of sheer desperation as the solemnities of the sabbath wear on. The more adult writers do not, of course, indulge in such wanton exhibitions of spleen. Their sincerity is desperate, and their courage tremendous; it is only that they do not know which to use, a fork or their fingers. Thus, if you read Mr. Joyce and Mr. Eliot you will be struck by the indecency of the one, and the obscurity of the others. . . . Again, with the obscurity of Mr. Eliot. I think that Mr. Eliot has written some of the loveliest single lines in modern poetry. But how intolerant he is of the old usages and politenesses of society–respect for the weak, consideration for the dull! As I sun myself upon the intense and ravishing beauty of one of his lines, and reflect that I must make a dizzy and dangerous leap to the next, and so on from line to line, like an acrobat flying precariously from bar to bar, I cry out, I confess, for the old decorums, and envy the indolence of my ancestors who, instead of spinning madly through mid-air, dreamt quietly in the shade with a book. For these reasons, then, we must reconcile ourselves to a season of failure and fragments. We must reflect that where so much strength is spent on finding a way of telling the truth, the truth itself is bound to reach us in rather an exhausted and chaotic condition.


Linking words help you to connect ideas and sentences.

Giving Examples

For example, For instance, Namely

The most common way of giving examples is by using  for example or for instance, namely refers to something by name.

Adding Information

And, in addittion, as well as, also, too, furthermore, moreover, apart from, in addition to, besides.

Ideas are often linked by and. In a list, you put a comma between each item, but not before and.

I will write more about linking words in future posts.

Have a great writing week,

Elise x

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A Writer’s Notebook

I read an article recently in a writing magazine about getting so bogged down in the research for a book that the author didn’t think he would every get round to writing the actual novel.

The first place you search is your imagination for ideas for the story you intend to write. You might have heard of a real-life happening from the past or a story from your own family or a newspaper story that can be used as inspiration. You will know where your story is set so read fiction or non-fiction set in that part of the world. If you want to place a character in an enviroment you are not familiar with find a book set in a similar place. No detail is too small to overlook. I read a book once by an author from the nineteen-forties  who wrote about Australian aborigines and had obviously never read about our indigineous people because the scene she wrote came out of darkest Africa. It took much away from what was otherwise a page-turning novel.

The depth of research should be seamlessly intergrated throughout your story. I research the most important historical facts and leave the smaller facts until I am writing. If I want to know the type of hat a person would wear in a particular scene I  spend a half-hour on the internet or a relevant book from my library to find out. The reason is that small scenes are often added along the way and I might never need to know about the type of hat. It saves time.

I am not sure about visiting places that you are researching, some authors do, some don’t. If it is historical research often the place your are researching is changed beyond any recognition. It might now be a carpark or a new housing estate might have built and all the old buildings demolished.

I have visited America but never been to Northern California where one of the chapters from my completed novel is set. I researched on line, read diaries and books written in the era I am writing about, and asked two friends that I workshop with, one Canadian and one who spent many years in America, to give me their opinions on the chapter. I asked them if the writing transported them to the time and place the chapter is set in. I also asked if they noticed any jarring notes or incorrect facts. They did and after listening carefully to their comments I changed or added a few words here and there. Their constructive, helpful and thoughtful advice made this chapter all the better. But be careful who you share with as you have to be able to discern what comments or suggestions will help your work without changing it too much. It’s your story after all.

A short excerpt from my Northern California chapter:

Robert  turned left at a bend in the road and drove up a short trail bordered by tall oaks, a cascade of purple bougainvillea blossom spilling from their highest branches. He slowed and Vivien followed his gaze to a one-storied silver-grey cabin on a rise bordered on three sides by pine trees. ‘Well, this is it,’ he said. 

The cabin to which they came, built in the late nineteenth century of straight pine logs that once must have smelt of resin, was roofed with silvered cedar shingles; it had a wide porch and a fragrant hedge of fading lilac blossoms. It was a place where a hundred generations of feet had padded across the soft brown pine needles. Vivien imagined gold-bearing rocks beside dry trails, meadows and wild bees, and the smell of wood-smoke laced with maple branches.

I have a feeling that I captured the essence of this beautiful part of the world.

Have a great writing week, keep your fingers tapping on the keyboard, or your pen (or pencil) racing across a notebook,

Elise x

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A Writer’s Notebook

I am pressing on with the research for my new story. I want to  absorb the feeling of the period I am writing about which is the latter part of the nineteenth century. The story  is steeped in mystery, women’s rights (in this case a women with no rights at all) the goldfields of Ballarat and a small country town in South Australia. I usually don’t discuss the story I am working on but a few words here and there on this blog might lead the curious reader to discover who and what I will be writing about.

A wonderful discovery recently is  The Journals of Mary O’Brien 1828-1838 edited by Audrey Saunders Miller.

The journals (to quote from the inside cover of the book) belongs immediately on the bookshelf alongside the works of Anna Jameson, Susanna Moodie, and Mrs Simcoe as a colourful and fetching portrait of life in early Ontario.

Her journals record the immensely varied life of Upper Canada – visits to Niagara Falls and the bustling town of York, Treaty Day among Indians at Lake Simcoe, household life and friendship.

Excerpts from the journals.

May 26 (Spring 1829) – The apple trees are in blossom. The wheat is six or seven inches high and very promising, and the oats which Bill sowed are quite green. Cucumbers and onions are coming up in the open ground; asparagus in perfection, early potatoes just sprouting. My mosquito bites are still numerous – six active and eight dying away.

June 11 (Spring 1829) – Pleasantly warm again. After dinner I rode with Fanny through some of the most magnificent woods. Our business was to order some butter tubs to be made by a cooper who lives there. Fanny was startled to see a pedlar with his bag of drapery and little mahogony box in so wild a scene, but I believe no inhabited spot is beyond this class of adventure.

A few lines on an excursion to Lake Simcoe, July 1829.

Now Mr O’Brien has got into our canoe and paddled out to get a water lily which is spreading its beauty to be admired by the frogs. Now we get into the lake and make way. The Indians’ canoes cast off and I, casting my eyes on the water, see the whoe verdant carpeting of its bed – every leaf and insect distinct. Now I am attracted by the Indians on the bows who are singing in a rich soft voice a common psalm tune to Indian words.

The best part of any research is to read diaries from the time and while Mary’s journal is not connected to my own research I have enjoyed reading them for the vivid word pictures they paint.

Have a wonderful writing week, Elise x

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My Writing Journey

Finally finished my WIP (work-in-progress)! I have had time away from my blog and now look forward to writing it again each Sunday morning. I have put the finished novel aside and will re-visit it in a week or so. It’s amazing what fresh eyes pick up in the manuscript. The publisher who asked to see the finished novel has resigned from her position and kindly let me know. She is not working in publishing at the moment but I have a feeling she will return to it one day. I have an idea for a new story but not sure if I will pursue it. I have a busy three weeks coming up so time to enjoy the thinking stage of writing. I’ll let you know how it all goes. Have a good writing week, Elise x

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My Writing Journey

Literary Tip

Linking words help you to connect ideas and sentences, so that people can follow your ideas.

The most common way to give examples is by using:  ‘for example’ or ‘for instance’

Adding information

And, In addition, As well as, Also, Too, Furthermore, Moreover, Apart from, In addition to, Besides

Setting the Scene

Last night, I dreamt I went to Manderley again. It seemed to me I stood by the iron gate leading to the drive, and for a while I could not enter, for the way was barred to me. There was a padlock and a chain upon the gate. I called in my dream to the lodge-keeper, and had no answer, and peering closer through the rusted spokes of the gate I saw that the lodge was uninhabited.

No smoke came from the chimney and the little lattice windows gaped forlorn . . .

The drive wound away in front of me, twisting and turning as it had always done, but as I advanced I was aware that a change had come upon it: it was narrow and unkempt, not the drive that we had known . . .

Chapter 1 of Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier.

This famous opening sets the scene immediately, it is disturbing, and starts to tell the story.  The reader can only wonder and turn the page. The storyline of this novel is bound up with the geographical setting of Cornwall, I can’t imagine it set in any other place. But the setting is there to serve the story. A story filled with dull people and a boring plot cannot be redeemed by an evocative setting.

Thanks for your emails, I hope to answer all of them eventually!

Good writing, Elise



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Shakespeare and Company

Shakespeare and Company

May 2014
Events at a Glance
Friday 2nd May 7pm
Philosophers in the Library: Bill Johnston Monday 5th May 7pm
Aller Retour Paris: Launch Party
Tuesday 6th May 4pm
Aller Retour Paris presents Thirza Vallois Wednesday 7th May 3pm
Aller Retour Paris presents Katy Masuga & Mary Duncan
Friday 9th May 7pm
The Art of Criticism: Brian Dillon Monday 12th May 7pm
Ned Beauman on Glow
Wednesday 14th May 3pm
Children’s Hour with Kate Stables Thursday 15th May 7pm
John Berger on Cataract
Monday 19th May 7pm
Lisa Appignanesi on Paris Requiem Thursday 22nd May 6pm
Bard-en-Seine Reading:
As You Like It
A very happy new month to you all! We’re having a very vibrant spring-time so far here in Paris, out on the bright, blossomy streets and inside our bustling rabbit warren of a bookshop. We ended April in a very festive mood with a raucous adaptation of Tom Stoppard’s 15-Minute Hamlet, performed in the bookshop (front row audience members were very much caught up in the action!) by a stellar cast of Tumbleweeds and volunteers past and present. It was the perfect way to celebrate 450 years of the bard to the very date, and really put us in the mood for our next Shakespearean extravaganza… Watch this space for details about our Bard-en-Seine festival (23rd-27th July), whose show-stopper centre-piece will be a five night run of Macbeth, directed by Cressida Brown, and performed en plein air in the beautiful little park next to the bookshop.
But that’s getting ahead…there’s lots to anticipate in May, too. Roll up, roll up, Henry Miller aficionados! For the first week of the month, The Henry Miller Library gang are in town, all the way from sunny Big Sur, California, for their Aller Retour Paris Festival. They’ll be headquartered at Shakespeare and Company and we’ll be hosting a few special Henry Miller-themed events, but they’re getting out and about all over Paris, as well, so check out the full line-up here.
We’re also very, very excited about fiction readings with Ned Beauman and Lisa Appignanesi, and thrilled beyond belief to announce an event with John Berger, one of the most internationally influential writers and thinkers of the last fifty years.
(If you do not see the image, click here to view it) Shakespeare and Company in the 60s
(If you do not see the image, click here to view it) The cast of Tom Stoppard’s 15-Minute Hamlet takes a bow
May Events

Most events take place upstairs in the library (30 seats), on the ground level (50 seats), or outside in front of the bookshop. During the events, the sound from the readings and discussions is projected around the entire store. We recommend you arrive 15-30 minutes early to try and get a seat as there is limited space.
Friday 2nd May 7pm
Philosophers in the Library presents…

The mindful translator: Toward a praxis of literary translation

Practising literary translators have long been at odds with translation theory. At best, such theory fails to capture the complexity of literary translation; at worst, it seriously misrepresents the processes and products of translation, both simplifying and distorting to the point where translators no longer recognize their part in the endeavor. Part of the problem lies in a misconception of what theory is for—there is a widespread assumption among translators and the general public that theory precedes practice, and is intended to be “applied”. Another approach, though, is possible—to theorize practice, as one finds, for example, in the work of Donald Schön and others. This talk, by an experienced practising translator, will consider the possible uses of theory for the practice of literary translation. Bill Johnston has translated about thirty books from the Polish, including both poetry and prose. He has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities; his prizes include the inaugural Found in Translation Award for Tadeusz Różewicz’s new poems (2008) and the AATSEEL Translation Prize for Magdalena Tulli’s Dreams and Stones (2004), both published by Archipelago Books. In 2012 his translation of Wiesław Myśliwski’s novel Stone Upon Stone (Archipelago Books, 2010) won the PEN Translation Prize, the Best Translated Book Award, and the AATSEEL Translation Prize. He is currently a fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, and is working on a new translation of the Polish national epic Pan Tadeusz by Adam Mickiewicz (1798 – 1855). He teaches in the Department of Comparative Literature at Indiana University.
Monday 5th May 7pm
Aller Retour—The Henry Miller Library Goes to Paris!

Join us at Shakespeare and Company for the Aller Retour Paris opening night party, hosted by Ping-Pong, the official literary magazine of the Henry Miller Library (all the way from Big Sur, California)! Expect poetry, wine, music by Al Rose, and Henry Miller-inspired revelry all round! Speakers include New York City’s J Hope Stein, Paris-based artist Jean-Noël Chazelle, and editor Maria Garcia Teutsch.

Maria Garcia Teutsch will be reading from the new bilingual (French and English) edition of Pussy, as well as from her new manuscript, Whore-son, poems written in response to the underlined sections of Jean Genet’s The Balcony. She has been, or will be, published in: Otoliths, The South Carolina Review, Prairie Schooner, The Lullwater Review, The Cold Mountain Review, The Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, The Sierra Nevada Review, Women’s Arts Quarterly, and Whole Beast Rag.

J Hope Stein is the author of the chapbooks: Talking Doll (Dancing Girl Press), Mary (Hyacinth Girl Press), and Corner Office (H_ngm_n). Her poems are published or forthcoming in Verse, HTML Giant, Tarpaulin Sky, Everyday Genius, Ping-Pong, Talisman, and Poetry International. She is also the editor of poetrycrush.com and the author of poetry/humour site eecattings.com.

Jean-Noël Chazelle is a Paris-based painter who will read French poems published in Ping-Pong, including the works of Jean Arp and Guy Jean, as well as some of his own work.
Tuesday 6th May 4pm
Aller Retour Paris presents: Thirza Vallois

Join us for a talk in the library—followed by an optional literary stroll around the City of Lights—with Thirza Vallois, whose “Around and About” Paris books have been universally acclaimed as the best travel books ever written on the city. The talk will run from 4-5pm, followed by the walk, which should wrap up around 7.30pm.

To learn more about Thirza and her books, visit http://www.thirzavallois.com
Wednesday 7th May 3pm
Aller Retour Paris presents: How Henry Miller Can Change Your Life (Again)

We all know why we love Henry Miller (or even hate him), but do we know the real reasons why we should love him? Join us for an insightful discussion with Dr. Katy Masuga, author of The Secret Violence of Henry Miller (2011) and Henry Miller and How He Got That Way (2011), and Mary Duncan, Director of the Paris Writers Group and author of Henry Miller is Under My Bed: People and Place on the Way to Paris (2008).
Friday 9th May 7pm
For the next installment of The Art of Criticism series, we are delighted to welcome Brian Dillon, to discuss reviewing books, writing essays, eclectic interests, and tackling literary theory. We will be discussing his new collection of essays, Objects in this Mirror (Sternberg Press), of which Wayne Koestenbaum has written, “Like Roland Barthes and Virginia Woolf, Brian Dillon pays lavish attention to curious byways that usually go without saying. In sentences at once playful and majestic, he plumbs the intellectual depths of his subjects, and reveals a perverse, nearly dandyish love for odd facts and iconoclastic vistas. There is more than a touch of W. G. Sebald—the Wordsworthian wanderer, the romantic itinerant—in Dillon’s melancholy yet mood-spiked attitude toward the material objects that greet his sober, ever-evaluating eye. Reading Objects in This Mirror, we participate in Dillon’s restless perambulations, and we are delighted to be thus transported.” Brian Dillon is a writer and critic based in Canterbury. His books include Objects in This Mirror: Essays (Sternberg Press, 2014), I Am Sitting in a Room (Cabinet, 2012), Sanctuary (Sternberg Press, 2011), Ruins (MIT Press/Whitechapel Gallery, 2011), Tormented Hope: Nine Hypochondriac Lives (Penguin, 2009), and In the Dark Room (Penguin 2005). His writing appears regularly in the Guardian, the London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, Artforum, and frieze. He is UK editor of Cabinet magazine, and teaches critical writing at the Royal College of Art. Dillon is curator of Curiosity: Art and the Pleasures of Knowing — a Hayward Touring exhibition which is at De Appel, Amsterdam, 27 June -14 September 2014 — and Ruin Lust, at Tate Britain from 4 March -18 May 2014. He is working on a book about the Great Explosion at Faversham, Kent, in 1916.

Hilary Mantel reviews Tormented Hope: Nine Hypochondriac Lives in the LRB
Monday 12th May 7pm
“A singular, and almost recklessly gifted, young writer” — Time

We’re hugely excited about hearing Ned Beauman speak about his dazzling new novel, Glow.

A hostage exchange outside a police station in Pakistan. A botched defection in an airport hotel in New Jersey. A test of loyalty at an abandoned resort in the Burmese jungle. A boy and a girl locking eyes at a rave in a South London laundrette… For the first time, one of Britain’s hottest young novelists turns his attention to the present day, as a conspiracy with global repercussions converges on one small flat above a dentist’s office in Camberwell.

Ned Beauman was born in 1985 in London. His debut novel, Boxer, Beetle, was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Desmond Elliot Prize and won the Writers’ Guild Award for Best Fiction Book and the Goldberg Prize for Outstanding Debut Fiction. His second novel, The Teleportation Accident, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and won the Encore Award and a Somerset Maugham Award. He has been chosen by the Culture Show as one of the twelve best new British novelists and by Granta as one of the 20 best British novelists under 40. His work has been translated into more than ten languages. Ned was also one of the judges for the Paris Literary Prize 2013.

Ned Beauman has a cool and interesting website here.
Wednesday 14th May 3pm
Children’s Hour—music, rhythm, and stories for kids. Bring your children (2-6 year-olds, siblings welcome too) to the library at Shakespeare and Company for an hour of music, songs, and stories in English (for all nationalities, even those who don’t speak English). Led by the magic Kate Stables, mum and singer/songwriter from This is the Kit, this lovely event has become an institution. There will be instruments to play and a lot of noise to make! Four euros donation appreciated. Due to space restrictions, we ask that you try and email Kate to confirm your place, and also that each child is accompanied by only one adult where possible. Thanks, all!
Thursday 15th May 7pm
We’re thrilled to announce that the magnificent John Berger will be joining us to discuss Cataract, one of his latest titles, and resonant themes in his work as a whole.

John Berger is a storyteller, essayist, novelist, screenwriter, dramatist, and critic, whose body of work embodies his concern for, in Geoff Dyer’s words, “the enduring mystery of great art and the lived experience of the oppressed”. He is one of the most internationally influential writers of the last fifty years, who has explored the relationships between the individual and society, culture and politics, and experience and expression in a series of novels, bookworks, essays, plays, films, photographic collaborations, and performances, unmatched in their diversity, ambition, and reach. His television series and book Ways of Seeing revolutionised the way that Fine Art is read and understood, while his engagement with European peasantry and migration in the fiction trilogy Into Their Labours and A Seventh Man stand as models of empathy and insight. Central to Berger’s creative identity is the idea of collaboration, with people, places, and communities as much as with other writers and thinkers. Democratic and open exchange is embedded into his project, and among those artists with whom he has worked are some of the most imaginative in their fields—theatre director Simon McBurney of Complicite, the late artist Juan Munoz, photographer Jean Mohr, composer Gavin Bryars, and film-makers Mike Dibb, Alain Tanner, and Timothy Neat.

In Cataract, John Berger works in collaboration with acclaimed Turkish illustrator Selçuk Demirel. In this book-length essay, published by the brilliant Notting Hill Editions (and Le Temps des Cerises in France), John Berger explores what happens when cataracts rob an art critic of his sight, and reflects upon his own experience of loss of vision.

John Berger: A Life in Writing

John Berger in conversation with Michael Ondaatje
Monday 19th May 7pm
We’re delighted to announce an evening with Lisa Appignanesi, who will, appropriately, be discussing her latest novel, Paris Requiem.

Paris, 1899. Capital of the crime passionel. Paris is electric with excitement. Everywhere preparations are underway for the universal exhibition and the new century—an age of speed and modernity. But the sensuous spectacle of the belle époque is shadowed by racial and social tensions. Street demos are rampant. Anti-Semites vie with the defenders of justice and the rights of man. Scientists propose hereditary explanations for the rise and rise of murder, madness, and nervous disorders. The police force is embattled, exposed in a scandal-mongering press. In the midst of all this, the body of a beautiful woman is found in the Seine. She is the performer Olympe Fabre. She is also Rachel Arnhem, a young Jewish woman, whom gossip, back in Boston, has linked to one of its favourite prodigals, Rafael Norton. James Norton, his elder brother, is charged with the task of bringing Raf and their high-spirited, though ailing, sister, Ellie, home from the hotbed of vice and murderous entanglements. It is a mission he confronts reluctantly. He and Paris have a history—not altogether unlinked to the turbulent present that now confronts him.

Lisa Appignanesi OBE is a prize-winning writer, novelist, broadcaster, and cultural commentator. She is past president of English PEN, served as deputy director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts, and is chair of the Freud Museum. She appears regularly on Radio 3’s Night Waves and Radio 4’s Saturday Review. Her many books include Trials of Passion, Losing the Dead, Mad, Bad and Sad, All About Love, and The Memory Man. She lives in North London.

Discover Lisa Appignanesi’s top ten books about Paris
Thursday 22nd May 6pm
The Bard-en-Seine Readings

Throughout 2014, in honour of the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth, we’re hosting the Bard-en-Seine Readings. The goal is simple: to revisit and celebrate some of Shakespeare’s most loved plays. So, once a month, we will be hosting informal read-throughs in the library, which will be recorded and sent out as podcasts in this very newsletter.

For May, the play will be As You Like It and the reading will take place on Thursday 22nd at 6pm, in the library.

If you’d like to take part, please email Milly Unwin, and tell her whether you’d prefer a larger or a smaller role. Parts will be allocated on a first-come first-served basis, and we’ll let you know a week in advance of the reading whether you have a role. No preparation necessary, and we’ll provide the scripts. Please note that, due to space restrictions, the Bard-en-Seine Readings will only be open to those taking part.

The allocated plays for each remaining month of 2014 are as follows:

June – Henry IV (Part 1)
July – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
August – Othello
September – The Merchant of Venice
October – Hamlet
November – Twelfth Night
December – Anthony and Cleopatra

Please check the newsletter and website each month for dates and times, and details of how to apply.
Special Recommendation if You Live in Paris
Le Panier d’Alexandre

We love getting our weekly fruit and vegetables directly from the source: Alexandre. Alexandre grows his produces in the Oise region and delivers weekly to Paris — usually on his bicycle. He delivers to your door and it costs 20 euros for a full bag of delicious home-grown goodies which you can be sure haven’t been drowned in pesticides! For more information, check out his website.
Podcasts from Last Month’s Events
John Baxter on Paris at the End of the World The Art of Criticism: Lila Azam Zanganeh
The Original of Lolita: Celebrating Nabokov’s Birthday in Paris The Best Translated Book Award 2014: Announcement and Celebration (feat. Amélie Nothomb)
450 Years of Shakespeare: A Celebration
Staff and Tumbleweed Picks
The Temporary Gentleman by Sebastian Barry
This is an extraordinary, heart-breaking novel. Beautifully written, it is the perfect companion to On Canaan’s Side. Barry’s prose has a cadence that quietly gathers until it becomes visceral. His project is of retrieval; for him, novels are the true afterlife and The Temporary Gentleman is a work of magic. — Sarah
The Black Count by Tom Reiss
Superman, Batman, Thor… These guys would have been no match for General Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, whose military and life achievements certainly surpass all his contemporaries. Son of a Haitian slave and a renegade French nobleman, the father of Alexandre Dumas was the inspiration for the Count of Monte Cristo. Indeed, much as Edmond Dantès was betrayed by his friends, Thomas-Alexandre was sent to exile by a jealous Napoleon Bonaparte who could not stand to ride in the shadow of his formidable black General. Written in the style of Dumas, this hectic biography is also a clever and well-documented description of France at the end of the 18th century. No wonder it won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography. — Alex G
A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride
Sit up, read this, and be surprised. This novel throws you into the mind of a young woman and her relationship with her family. It is outstanding. The energy, the detail, and the originality of the prose are unforgettable. I haven’t felt this affected by a novel for a long time. — Sylvia
Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell
I’ve always been drawn to the dirty side of Paris… Here Orwell writes about the bedbugs so we can enjoy the history without enduring the bites! — Octavia
Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
A haunting book about Ruthie and her family before her. Sentence for sentence, beauty can be found. This is a short, sweet novel about growing up in the wonderfully depicted town of Fingerbone. It is a novel full of light (or lack thereof) and a whole bunch of weather that twists and turns like a bad night’s sleep. If you want to know how to write a perfectly crafted little book, well, then you can’t go wrong with Housekeeping. — Thos
Antiquarian Picks
Naked Lunch by William Burroughs
First US edition / first hardback edition
New York: Grove Press, 1962
First published in paperback by Olympia Press in Paris in 1959 as The Naked Lunch, William Burroughs’s stupefying satire on addiction, what he described as the “algebra of need”, was banned from US publication by obscenity laws. The book was finally published by Grove Press in 1962, retitled Naked Lunch to match Burroughs’s original intentions, and with substantial changes that brought the text closer to a 1958 manuscript held by Allen Ginsberg. Fine in near fine dust jacket, this first US edition appears unread. A stunning copy.
The Journals of Anaïs Nin
First editions of volumes 1-3 sold as a set
Inscribed by the author
London: Peter Owen, 1966-1970
In her legendary journals, published in seven volumes, Anaïs Nin excavates her own mind to create an intensely candid journey through the years 1931 to 1974. They are where she deciphers or perhaps dreams all those things that make up her complicated myth: sexual freedom, bigamy, psychoanalysis, colossal lies, erotica, feminism, her relationship with Henry Miller in Paris. These first three volumes, taking us from 1931-1934, 1934-1939, and 1939-1944, are inscribed by Nin to the editor Beatrice Musgrave at her publishing house Peter Owen. An extremely special set in very good condition, signed “with friendship”.
Further Literary Tidbits
Thomas Piketty and Millennial Marxists on the Scourge of Inequality Matt Haig on Reading and Writing Against Depression
The Wizard of Oz Re-Imagined by Lisbeth Zwerger Paris People on Their Favourite Books about Paris (including tips from our own Sylvia Whitman)
New York Times obituary for Gabriel García Márquez ‘Having a Coke With You’ Illustrated by Nathan Gelgud
Seven Shakespearean Phrases and Concepts that Changed Western Culture On the Re-launch of Pelican Books
Charles Simic on The Great Poets’ Brawl of ‘68 The Art of Independent Publishing
The Last Words
“Thou seest we are not all alone unhappy:
This wide and universal theatre
Presents more woeful pageants than the scene
Wherein we play in.”
— As You Like It
“People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.”
– Iris Murdoch

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My Writing Journey

This week I sorted out something in my novel that I always felt wasn’t quite right. The earlier drafts were fine but I feel this draft is much better for the changel! It now contains small elements of a fairytale which is not at all what my novel is about but adds something of enchantment: a forgotten story about WW2, a remarkable journey and the wonderful fact that the last part this story from the past was filmed at the time! I believe such serendipity is a gift! I am not going to discuss the details here as I have a rule not to discuss my WIP (work-in-progress) other than in general terms.  This research helped me edit two chapters to the last draft (which will be edited again before being sent to the publisher who has asked to see the completed manuscript). I have given myself three months from last week to have the final draft edited. Nothing like a deadline to get my fingers typing! I read somewhere that writing a novel (and I guess also a short story) is like pushing a pea up a hill with your nose . . . I agree. It’s wonderful when it all starts to come together. I write on a computer but could happily write on paper with a quill. I am researching Gothic literature and when the novel is finished I will  write Gothic short stories set in Australia. Australian Gothic has a long rich history which continues to the 21st century with writers like Elizabeth Jolley. Enjoy your writing week, Elise

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Filed under What Elise Wrote

My Writing Journey

A good writing week, this is because I have sorted out a few problems with the plot and now have an arrow to the end of the story. It means more work and war scenes which are not the easy to write but I will approach them from a different angle and see how they turn out. Not a lot to tell you about the writing process this week as it seemed to fall into place without too much difficult. I wouldn’t say the writing sings but I am enjoying it. The number of chapters of my WIP (work-in-progress) that I had last week have been thrown out the window and I am writing the novel (as per my new outline) in eight parts and any number of chapters…the rigid format of trying to fit everything in to a strict format of chapters just didn’t work for my novel. I am also working on my collection of short stories of which I will write more in the coming weeks.

Have a good writing week, best Elise

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Rosa Praed (1851-1935) 19th Century Literature

Our Australian landscape is filled with Gothic imagination.

 Rosa Caroline Praed. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 118008

Rosa Caroline Praed –  John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

Women trapped in marriages with unkind and sometimes violent husbands is a theme that Rosa Praed returns to repeatedly. She was one of early Queensland’s most important writers. A member of the squattocracy, she came from a socially prominent family with interests in both literature and politics. Her unhappy experience of marriage is reflected in her work.

While not strictly Gothic novels, the three novels  Rosa set on Curtis Island, An Australian HeroineThe Romance of a Station and Sister Sorrow, are pervaded by the oppressive isolation of the bush and trapped women.

More than half of her 45 to 50 novels are set in Australia, but most of her life was actually spent in England where she developed a writing career and achieved celebrity  in literary and political circles.

She also had an interest in spiritualism.  It emerged in the unhappy early days of her marriage on Curtis Island and it increased in her later life. Her novel Nyria had its genesis in seances and Rosa believed that Nyria, a Roman slave, was reincarnated in her companion Nancy Haward.

Rosa Praed’s novels portray much of her own life.  It is impossible to read, for instance, descriptive passages in any of the three novels set on Curtis Island, An Australian HeroineThe Romance of a Station and Sister Sorrow, without feeling the oppressive isolation of the bush that she experienced there. Anyone looking down today, from the bare hill on which Monte Christo homestead stands, or approaching Curtis Island across the Narrows in a small boat would see the same desolate scenes as Rosa Praed, and the same endless mangroves ahead. Similarly it is impossible to read her novels portraying unhappy marriages without reflecting on the sadness within her own marriage.

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My Writing Journey

I have had a good writing week. I now have twelve chapters and it feels right. The writing is good in some chapters in other chapters I need to make them sing. I had advice from a writer I met recently and it has helped to make the story flow.
Needless to say I worked hard for most days.
Last night I went to the city of Melbourne with a new friend, she is an art curator and
explained  the history of White Night. It started in Paris, which is my
favourite city, and France of course is which is a country I love, well perhaps Egypt comes first! We parked near The Willows a restaurant in St Kilda Road and caught a tram to the city. We saw
wonderful light shows and our beautiful buildings were lit up and magical.
There were about half a million people and the going was tough to get through the crowds.
But the feeling and togetherness of the crowds of people made up for this. I spoke to my
daughter this morning, told her I didn’t get home until after three this morning, and
she too had been at White Night with her family, although I didn’t know they had
decided to go. Her comments were exactly how I felt about a wonderful community event.
I was very lucky to be with someone who knows so much about art and is an artist
and sculptor and a teacher and curator of art. A good night but I’m sorry,
because of the crowds (well-behaved and friendly) we didn’t get to see as many
of the art exhibits as we wished.
My son is off to Paris in June, to Spain and other climes! My small granddaughter’s
favourite place (although she has never visited) is Paris, she tells me she feels a connection.
Perhaps her uncle will bring her home a gift from Paris, and also something
for her brothers. My oldest grandchild is now taller than his mother, a handsome
and engaging young man, and his brother is the light of everyone’s life! How blessed
we are with family and good friends. Remember, today tell someone you love them,
and friends of the heart are family too!
Enjoy your writing week, best, Elise.

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