the monk, 1796: so very many goddamned nuns

i mean that literally, by the way. there are a GREAT many damned nuns in this book

several fun facts about the monk:

-every monk/nun in this book (& trust me there are many) is required to be evil or sexy or BOTH

-it is quite unbelievably kinky

-this is my flippant way of telling you that it runs the gamut from accidentally avowing oneself to the ghost of a bleeding nun to being tortured by the spanish inquisition to crossdressing to incestuous rape in a crypt full of rotting nuns (did i mention there are nuns)

-its author was buddies with de sade, surprising no-one

-a dude gets thrown off a mountain by satan to be eaten by insects. i thought that was quite a cool death

-the dude who wrote it, matthew lewis, was an MP (lol) for a seat that before him was held by william beckford, the author of uber-gothic novel vathek (posted abt here) & whom… i am slightly obsessed with

-i realise this last fact is fun to almost nobody except me i like gothic lit let me live

 

this book is… so ridiculous. help me, reader. it is so ridiculous. it is ridiculous enough to be vastly entertaining & really rather compelling to read, & every so often the prose does something interesting, but mostly it’s a luridly coloured, hallucinatory, & distinctly mawkish lightning-strike of a book. (addendum several days of thought after writing this: it also has a rather carefully designed plot with some delightfully witty symbology.)

besides the huge quantity of nuns, bleeding & otherwise, there are bandits, faithful & poetically inclined pages, twinky monks who turn out (to my disappointment) to be cross-dressing witches, rotting babies, & of course not quite enough beautiful virginal females to go round. it is the sort of book where a woman’s reaction to anything bad happening is to enter a convent, no matter the scale of the incident. also, the characters’ names seem to have been patchworked together from various other gothic tales (isabella, matilda, lorenzo, theodore), which, when one takes keats & byron (who also used these names), certainly speaks to the palimpsest nature of gothic lit.

the genuinely unsettling moments aren’t anything to do with ghosts or ghouls, though. the genuinely unsettling moments evoke the fury of a french revolution-inspired mob as they storm the convent & reduce the prioress to an unrecognisable slab of meat, or (& this one i confess is a little ghoulish) the sensations experienced by the imprisoned agnes as she lies in a dungeon & feels things moving over her in the dark- crawling & awful- & about a sense of invasion undeniably lascivious.

which is all to say that i found it vastly entertaining, & i will no doubt spend my impending seminar alternately calling it dumb as shit & defending it from the depredations of other people also calling it dumb as shit but for different reasons.

til next time.

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the future of feminism? or, rise of the clay-people: a true story

THE SCENE:

a deep forest in the lostest part of suffolk, on a lush day in late june; a clearing in the trees. the ashes of a campfire, still gently smoking at one in the afternoon, where a huge iron pot of porridge crusts congeal in the gathering heat. a series of tents gathered round the treeline- some of them are cloth wigwams, some are bright & modern. under a wooden canopy in the distance a man sits on a battered floral sofa, covered in bonfire ash, & plays cat stevens songs on a guitar. farther off, in a yurt, the men’s council are solemnly convened, visible only through a gap in the drawn curtain over the door.

on the grass near the treeline, a window-cleaner who looks like a yogi version of santa is giving a very coconut-oily back massage to a naked woman on a picnic blanket. several feet away, Lofty Redhead and i are sprawled on the grass, Lofty Redhead ineffectually napping, me reading with angels & insects propped on his chest, both of us barefoot & distinctly unwashed.

a distant tremor starts up in the ground, transmitting up through my elbows. Lofty Redhead opens one eye. i mark my page with my thumb & look up. the tremor increases. we hear distant whooping noises. these grow louder.

Lofty Redhead & i silently get to our feet, gather up our jumpers, & scoot away from the treeline.

moments later roughly fifteen people aged around thirty to seventy-five burst out of the trees, naked, howling like coyotes, & covered from head-to-toe in clay slip. they rush the campsite, daubing mud on anyone & everyone in their path. a very nice middle-aged mechanic happens to be standing in their path; he is seized, stripped, & within moments is indistinguishable from the rest of them.

their ringleader, a seventy-year-old woman with streaming hair, barely recognisable under her warpaint, has a plan. in the yurt, men’s council continues, oblivious to the mud carnage being wreaked on their camp. the clay-people, electing to be quiet, tiptoe muddily over to the yurt & line up outside the gap in the door; one by one they tiptoe past the gap, stopping to strike poses & dancing away giggling, safe in the knowledge that men’s council had been thoroughly upheaved.

Lofty Redhead & i, having escaped with only slightly daubed cheeks, exchange glances from the trees we are hiding behind.

life, having stopped briefly in its tracks to stare, goes on.

2016-09-08 06.20.26

stuff i been reading

lots of novels! which is very usual for me- less usual is that i’m not reading any poetry/plays on the side. i want to get back into my paradise lost-in-the-morning-&-poetry-at-night routine. but in the meantime: lots of novels.

-THE CASTLE OF OTRANTO. as a gothic lit hoe it’s positively disgraceful i hadn’t read this before- the sui generis gothic tale! it’s silly & overblown & absolutely throbbing with erotic excitement over manfred’s quasi-incestuous pursuit of isabella (who is actually a pretty cool character, with just the amount of headstrong-ness required to avoid getting raped in a gothic novel). an observation: it is the men, here, who are the object of the narrator’s sexual excitement. manfred more so than theodore, who is really just a delightful stained-glass pretty boy, but theodore certainly more so than isabella, matilda & hippolita- who tend to come under the rather damning lens of ‘beautiful virgins’, sterile, doomed, & unfuckable as snow. now manfred is an awful, whingeing, corrupt adult baby of a tyrant trope- but his sexual appetites basically steam off the page. so, kinda like the caliph in vathek (the author of which was, to our modern understanding, bisexual). now i’m not making any assumptions about the proclivities of persons long-dead (& in any case, our modern classifications for sexual preference are just that- modern- & clumsy when dragged into the past, where sexuality was often regarded as something fluid).

on another note, the symbolism is a reason to read it in itself- it’s wild & outlandish & totally ridiculous. a sword that takes a hundred men to lift, a helmet so huge the hero is imprisoned under it- the trappings of medieval romance have become pressures & weights upon the heroes, a burdensome narrative inheritance, as though the Gothic genre, even here in its first conception, is already outgrowing its own tropes, decaying, getting wise to itself (curiously precursing the 1890s decadence).

also, LOOK at this folio edition i got from my university library. inconvenient in seminars, but hand-marbled & i am in LOVE.

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-A GLOVE SHOP IN VIENNA & OTHER STORIES. i am on a huge eva ibbotson kick at the moment. i love her adult novels. she is a deeply old-fashioned writer with a tender ironic voice. she wrote about the same tropes & themes over & over throughout her work- russia comes up over & over again, poetry, the rainforest, art… they’re hugely romantic books in many ways, sweeping fairytale romances, but they’re always grounded in the oddities & foibles of real life (as well as wonderful casts). this is a lovely short story collection- i deliberately stretched out my reading of it because i didn’t want to finish it. it has a little bit of everything i like about her work scattered through.

-THE SORROWS OF YOUNG WERTHER. i have been putting off reading this for a long time. it’s a Romantic novel, full of the ecstasy of the green world & the stars… the narrator falls passionately in love with chesnut trees, peasant villages… & of course the charming (& very engaged) lotte. but- having never read any goethe before- i was surprised at how modern, how psychological it felt. it belongs to the same race of books as the hill of dreams & a hero of our time– deeply internal novels concerned with art, ego, the male id.

-ARISTOTLE & DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE. i read most of this in the hours between eleven-thirty & one a.m a few days ago. i wish there were more young adult novels like this. i think it’s largely well-known for its major inclusivity points- i can’t say i’ve ever read a novel with queer & authentically portrayed mexican protagonists before- but there’s more to it than token teen angst, although there’s plenty of that. carefully drawn parents, two wonderful romantic leads, prose that occasionally tiptoes into the realm of the genuinely poetic… the buzz is deserved. it reminds me of jerry spinelli’s stargirl, a similarly lovely & unique y.a novel deeply concerned with the glinting loneliness of the desert.

-OOLA. now i hardly ever read recently published literature. not out of snobbery, it’s just not an area i know a whole lot about & it isn’t where my interests lie. but i picked this up in the library, looking for something different, & hoo boy did i get it.

this book is a deep deep pit of complexities to do with the thing we call romantic love, its relationship to the jealousy of one little girl for the life/body/mind of another, the pure virgin vs the seedy real girl whose life is a detrius of tampons, toenail clippings, sandwich crusts. the book’s narrator, a privileged white boy writer, has a lot of feelings about all this- & the book GOES THERE in investigating them. it isn’t afraid to get truly truly queer with it, genderbending, toying with reality, with the narrator’s (always doubtful) credibility. the prose is lush & gorgeous & (so gratifying for me) deeply evocative of the wild fleabag youth of now, of being twenty-two & sitting on a table wearing nothing but a rain poncho to eat an avocado with your fingers, of the indie scene, of the aesthetic aimlessness of a generation who feel the end of the world bearing down upon them & so why not laze in a patch of sun on the floorboards of a house that doesn’t belong to you & read about aliens?

 

anyway, in true wild fleabag youth fashion, i now have to venture out into some rather stormy weather in pursuit of free food for students at brewdog with my band of similarly scabby gay bar veterans. what have you guys been reading? anything fun? also, does anyone else have the fucking lurgy? i’ve come down with the most hideous cough/cold combination, attended of course by frequent nasal haemorrhages.

farewell!

ch ch ch ch changes

SO:

-after a few straight months of trying-to-finish-my-novel, i am back in Weird Ould Norfolk, in rather fine fettle except from having the plague (freshers’ flu finally got me, gang) & ready to try n get back into a posting routine again.

-HOWEVER. this is going to involve probably writing about anything & everything that strikes my fancy, so probably a lot of stuff about gothic literature & keats & norwich’s various dreamy/ghostly qualities interspersed with whinging about my dissertation & how poor i am. just a heads-up

-i think i’m also going to give this blog a name-change, long overdue. i am not queen of cobwebs or otherwise; i may own a lot of ageing velvet items but i’m really quite clean for all that & whenever i see a spider i practically shit a brick. also that name was from 2015 & the title of a very very long-abandoned novel

-i am thinking theunholyfool.wordpress.com but this is not a set-in-stone idea & i need to Think About It- just a heads-up (& suggestions would not come amiss)

adieu! (also I’M TWENTY NOW WHAT THE FUCK)

 

im back babey // late july blues

18.07.2019

(adele voice) hello… it’s me… da da da da da da da da da i don’t know a whole lot of that song

yes, yes, my absence has been lengthy as the mourning of a victorian spinster for her wealthy uncle, albeit a widely disliked one. second year has swept over me like a cloud of midges & left me with a financially devastating addiction to almond butter, shockingly robust mental health, & a habit of bringing up how shit capitalism is at inappropriate moments, like when on the phone to a customer services rep from the book depository. also quite a nice 40% of my english lit degree in the bank, which i ain’t mad about.

for months i’ve been trying to mentally compile one of these posts & sort of shying away. there is suddenly (not that suddenly, actually, it’s been a good six months) a certain amount of Romaunce in my life & while i am very good at romanticising, as regular readers will know, one cannot really romanticise the romantic. or you can but it’s sort of obnoxious when you’re talking about your real life.

however: in reality a great deal of Other Stuff is readily available for the keats treatment by yours truly. i have done some silly things & read some excellent books; i have done some excellent things & read some silly books. silly thing exhibit a: i cleverly decided to write my 2.5k shakespeare coursework essay on both hamlet & twelfth night. as if this wasn’t enough, i ended up writing it whilst on a lovely seaside holiday with a certain Lofty Redhead & his family, in-between barefoot trips to the rainy dunes, & ended up uploading the thing after perhaps one glass of wine too many. while i escaped with my grades intact i really need to stop doing this sort of thing. i think i get myself deliberately into these Academically Complex situations just to prove that i’m clever. wherefore art i so full of shit?

(now racking my brains for the excellent things i’ve done for the sake of narrative balance but the only thing i can come up with is my brave lone trek out into the dangerous, yet fruitful lands of brewing water kefir. yes, over this year i have become a full-blown coconut yogurt-munching, sweet potato wedge-worshipping, avocado-toast-crunching villain. it’s delicious fun. i ferment, my friends.)

meanwhile my novel ferments also. reader, it ferments in its own narrative corpulence. trying to drag myself over the finish line of something i really just do not want to write anymore is every bit as tiresome as i remember from the last time (i was twelve, the book was magic misfits at an evil school, one of them had magical hemp-growing powers). the jostling line of new & exhilarating projects i have waiting for after i finish it doesn’t exactly help.

also, i’ve been busy. since turning in my last piece of coursework (an epyllion about a lesbian underworld-nymph) i have dashed across the country & back in service of a family member’s probably-not-a-fatal-fungal-infection, done my time at hippie camp with Lofty Redhead, repainted, de-iced, de-moulded, bicarb-scoured & otherwise sterilised the filthy ruins of poor dear edric after his year of student warfare, & travelled back north for summer with a second-hand suitcase full of poetry.

as things stand, i have four days left of teenager-hood, & incidentally also four days until i start lifeguard training at the local swimming pool (where, urban legend tells, the water hasn’t been changed in thirty years). hilarious fun! the weather has been back-&-forth between grey & chilly & swelteringly bright here; thus also my mood. i’ve started to find parts of sheffield representative of my least favourite qualities: dusty, polluted & filled with other people.

but i’ve managed to get my head together & Thrive nevertheless. at three p.m i have just returned from my second trip to the forest so far today; burying myself in greenery is really helping at the moment. it’s so good to smell the trees, the mossy ground, the river, anything that isn’t car exhaust. i’ve been prioritising seeing my beloved pals. i had some quite excellent sourdough toast at the steamyard with my mummiest mum friend, who called me a cliche & made me feel a great deal better; tomorrow ibby & her sister & i are going to make banana bread & bingewatch gentleman jack. i’ve reunited with an old partner in mischief (as children we invented a game called Tampon Javelin) & soon Lofty Redhead is visiting for, presumably, a weekend of arty horror movies & midnight capers.

& then i need a job, because, like, capitalism.

Lofty Redhead & i did have one rather excellent Caper last month but it’s so very writeable that i really think it deserves its own post. perhaps that will motivate me?

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(after decimating my kingdom)

so, yesterday i went through this blog & locked about a hundred old posts, i.e most of my old spn stuff. i’d been holding off doing it because i’m still proud of the amount of time & effort i used to put into meta essays, even the ones that were completely batshit. but when i looked through them yesterday i didn’t feel like i was reading about a t.v show; i was reading my teenage psyche, as it was at a difficult time of my life. i found them painful to look at. i also found myself cringing at the bossy knowledgeable tone i often took, as well as choice bits of implicit social commentary. i’ve grown more sensitive & well-informed since then, as one would certainly hope would happen between the ages of fifteen & nineteen.

i’m grateful for the audience that writing about supernatural gave me, & i’ve met some lovely people through this blog. i also haven’t actually stopped talking about supernatural on here, but this is not a fandom blog anymore, & if i’d known how far this page would move away from its original purpose after i started writing here again i would probably have let it be & started again somewhere else. frequently terrible writing aside, the main reason i finally took down my old VS posts was because i felt like the ghost of my fifteen-year-old self was still halfway controlling this page, almost drowning me out with that desperately self-serious academic voice of hers, & it was stopping me from writing. this is no longer a blog about only one thing.

i don’t expect anyone to be too upset, although i do expect my stats to halve, as i’m pretty sure those posts still brought in an embarrassing amount of my viewers. i’m not posting this to justify deleting a ton of four-year-old bullshit from my own page. it just made me a little bit sad, because those shitty old posts were a surprisingly clear window onto how my mind used to work, back when writing was my only real crutch, & now i’m doing the thing where you listen to ludovico einaudi & Reflect on the Past whilst ruminatively sipping tea.

also, i may not be the same person who started this blog, but i’m the admin & i can do what i want. sorry, past self, & maybe try starting that novel you’ve been thinking through, eh?

 

i’m a responsible adult human. yes

when i started writing this post i was sitting in a deli writing a blank verse epyllion whilst drinking a very blue butterfly pea latte, & since you can only say that sort of thing every so often i felt that i should take advantage of the opportunity to sound edgy & productive. however, it is now two weeks later, & i am now very hungover in my dressing-gown, annoying ANT BOILER & LCYRD by playing florence too loudly. endeavour as i may to sound like a glamourous hipster, i can only sustain the illusion for so long; i am merely a scruffy ferret who owes my friend georgia for last night’s taxi.

anyway:

a) excuses time!

the longer i put off writing a post the harder it got, bc over the past few months a LOT of stuff has changed for me. mostly for the good. also, it’s been dramatic as fuck around here lately.

b) so i guess i’ve been up to stuff?

including, but not limited to-

-i life modelled for the first time a few weeks ago! this was one of those ‘made on a whim but possibly shouldn’t have been’ life decisions (see also: chopping all my hair off, my creative writing dissertation, almost all my uni applications. also my trip to loft last night). to contextualise: uea’s life drawing sessions are run by the art society, & last year i went to a lot of the sessions to draw. the models are almost exclusively artsy, languid students with anklets & interesting hair. i was envious of the confidence i assumed it must take to laze around naked in front of a roomful of people for seventy minutes. i would have liked to be someone who could do that but it didn’t seem even remotely possible.

& it didn’t seem any more possible this year, but when an ad for models came up on my facebook i felt successively that i would like to be capable of that, & then annoyed at myself for feeling incapable, & then of course it followed that i had to do it. & once i’d actually signed up i felt pretty okay about it. i made LCYRD come along to the session for moral support, & she was very stoic & this gave me someone to tease & generally rag on to hide my burgeoning nervousness, but to be honest when we actually started the session i was far more physically uncomfortable than mentally. university carpets are fucking scratchy, man.

& i ended up agreeing to do it again (i mean, £20 per session. you can get a lot of peanut butter for £20). so… i guess i’m sort of vaguely a life model now. very weird being on this end of the pencil for a change. it’s funny because i thought that afterwards my confidence would be through the roof, & it isn’t really, but i do feel that i’m capable of bravery now. so that’s something. & while i don’t do morals, i feel that it certainly bears saying: do shit that scares you every so often. (i think my favourite thing about this, the cash aside, was that i now have some very nice pen-&-ink nudes of myself courtesy of LCYRD. artist friends come in handy, lads.)

-i can’t remember whether i’ve mentioned this before (or whether i actually chose to exercise caution on a public blog, amazing) but our housing sitch has kinda fallen the fuck apart. we are now in this absurd situation wherein one friend lives in the room above her ex-boyfriend & passive-aggressive tension is impossibly rife. another housemate has absented himself almost entirely. we haven’t seen him in months (LYCRD, fortunately, remains our rock). & while i love our house in all its long, twisty, melodramatic inconvenience, we have a 1:5 people-to-bathroom ratio. pissing in one’s garden should not be a familiar element of student life, but alas.

anyway, with a view to this i am jumping ship with my faithful LCYRD & ANT BOILER. we’ve found a house on the other side of unthank, & while aesthetically aged enough to satisfy my sensibilities this one actually seems to have functional double-glazing. (also two bathrooms! TWO!) it has a slightly cottagey feel & is much less draughty & melancholic than dear edric.

-third year is bearing down upon us, which is absolutely terrifying because second year has winked by. when it comes to university i feel that i am yet but a babe in the woods, when really i’m sort of a veteran; i’ve wandered round the lake at all times of day & night, in all shades & colours of light & mood, i’ve made more enemies than i know what to do with, i’ve survived halloween at the lcr. i’ve turned up to my shakespeare seminars  covered in hickies, performed my lucifer poem at dragon hall, had the full range of ecstatic-terrible waterfront experiences, matched on tinder with half the campus, & am able to passionately take sides in the ‘which senior academic is the hottest’ debates. still haven’t visited the catholic cathedral, tho.

-i’m also in a new relationship, which i find myself hesitant to write about at risk of being unwittingly obnoxious (as opposed to my default setting of semi-ironic conscious obnoxiousness). also at risk of tmi-ing on the internet, obviously. but it just happens to have sliced so that a lot of my funky tales atm are coupley & don’t really lend themselves to blogging. i’ve been trying to feel out how to write about what’s going on in my life without severely oversharing. which is difficult because boundaries are hard n shit.

-in a similar vein, i’m considering making this blog more private. at the moment it’s still connected to my (disused) twitter & my (overused) insta & my full name is on here in a few places. i did that because i wanted to own my crap somewhat, but now i’m missing the freedom of an anonymous space where you can say whatever bullshit you like. i mean, heck, my dad has this blog url. (hi, dad!)

-so, yesterday was pretty much the last day of the semester for me. one final utterly excruciating elizabethan lit seminar for which nobody had done the reading, & then i was very sensible & went home, made pea soup, & settled in for an evening of writing & vanilla chai, briefly dropping into georgia’s pres to have one g&t before coming home, reading sir edmund orme, meditating, writing out my work schedule for today, & going to bed at half-past-ten.

except, dear reader, it was not one g&t, & at four-thirty in the morning i inexplicably found myself bellowing ‘shake it out’ into a kareoke mic on the ground floor of a grimy gay club, clutching a double vodka in one hand & georgia’s ponytail in the other, as we were pretending to be a couple in order to ward off the straight guys who kept closing in like birnam wood marching on dunsinane. georgia & alice & i walked home through the bluing dawn, wincing at the morning chorus, whereupon i devoured several slices of toast & crawled into bed at just-gone six a.m.

i’m going to a house party tonight too. reader, pray for me.

-anyway. i go back to sheffield for easter on monday, so i’m going to head out into the lovely, unseasonably warm sunshine & stock up on vodka (for tonight) & vego (for the suitcase). oh, & i suppose i probably ought to pay my rent, too. whoops.

i will leave you with this photograph of me in steampunk beer goggles.

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2018: wot i read*

*disclaimer: i have drunk a LOT of hot chocolate & this post was written on, hahahaha, a massive sugar high

i haven’t posted in months! because i had some kind of unpleasant insomniac episode & screwed up a coursework submission & now my uni is coming after me, & also my housing situation has gone to s h i t, & also some weird shit is going down with my Personal personal life. also i’m writing too many things at once.

i’m in the process of getting my sleeping problems sorted out (i had an appointment with a campus doctor who pretty much just told me to google it), & i’m getting back into a routine with my running, i.e the cornerstone of my mental health. jo & lucy & i have had to find a new place for next year, because our asshole landlords didn’t tell us they’re planning to turn my bedroom (MY bedroom, as in the CUTEST bedroom, which i SLEEP in) into a bathroom this summer. but it’s okay! because we’ve found a super cosy old house with an actual fireplace & an upstairs bathroom &, wait for it, that ultimate luxury: double glazing.

also: do you guys think i should cancel my gym membership & buy a waffle iron? because i’m starting to think i should cancel my gym membership & buy a waffle iron. i don’t know, guys, it’s been a weird few months.

anyway. my favourite person in the whole wide world is visiting me soon. & i’m reading a very unknown mervyn peake novel. & i’ve got into dandelion hands. i need to wrap up this post & go to bed. basically: my reading in 2018 ran the gamut, as usual. i only included books i read cover to cover & individual short stories, so the high doses of mallarmé & t.s eliot & keats aren’t on there, nor are all the academic essays & random bits of seneca & martial & dryden that you read when you do a 17th century lit module.

i’ll be back with more bullshit soonish, depending on how far i get my life together this week!

 

  1. Vile Bodies, Evelyn Waugh

i finished 2017 on kind of a waugh kick, & read this over a pretty terrible few days in early january. it’s bitter & brilliant (generally speaking, with waugh everything funny is sad & everything sad is funny). i just wish i’d been able to appreciate it more at the time. anyway, i thought this passage was beautiful.

“Don’t you think,” said Father Rothschild gently, “that perhaps it is all in some  way historical? I don’t think people ever want to lose their faith either in religion or anything else. I know very few young people, but it seems to me that they are all possessed with an almost fatal hunger for permanence. I think all these divorces show that. People aren’t content just to muddle along nowadays… And this word “bogus” they all use … They won’t make the best of a bad job nowadays. My private schoolmaster used to say, “If a thing’s worth doing at all, it’s worth doing well.” My Church has taught that in different words for several centuries. But these young people have got hold of another end of the stick, and for all we know it may be the right one. They say, “If a thing’s not worth doing well, it’s not worth doing at all.” It makes everything very difficult for them.”

  1. Among the Bohemians, Virginia Nicholson

i enjoyed this so much. it was one of the few things i could get really interested in over those few weeks. there’s loads of fascinating stuff about the bloomsbury circle & some very juicy anecdotes. my JAM. i want to go hang out with all these guys. especially viva king, goddamn.

  1. Written on the Body, Jeanette Winterson

this one struck… close to home. her writing stops my heart.

  1. The Catcher in the Rye, J.D Salinger

a reread on the train back to norwich in the new year. not my favourite salinger (that’s prolly seymour: an introduction) but there’s nothin like this book for when you want to punch something. how figuratively do i speak? maybe i just beat the shit out of my copy every time i get mad. you don’t know me

  1. Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut

i’d never read it before & i enjoyed it so much. i love the way vonnegut invents verbs whenever he needs a new one.

  1. Pedro Paramo, Juan Rulfo

this was one of the weirdest things i read for my course this year. think mexican wuthering heights, except chronologically it goes all over the place & also you aren’t quite sure who’s dead & who isn’t, because practically everyone seems to be a ghost.

  1. Oranges are Not the Only Fruit, Jeanette Winterson

unbelievably i had never read this before. it’s very good but i like her fairy tales much more. i was amused by how much i related to this, tho.

  1. The Garden Party and Other Stories, Katherine Mansfield

read for my course. this is full of bright haunting images. in my head all her stories look like monet paintings.

  1. Reckless, Cornelia Funke

an old favourite from when i was a kid. it’s strange, though- altho it was marketed as a young adult novel i’m not sure it really is. the protag, jacob, is twenty-four- too old to be the hero of a kids’ book, really- & difficult, tough, strange. he’s a fantastic character & the book is terrifying in the way of really, really good fairy tales. i reread it while the beast from the east had us snowed into our flat & everything was white & glittering & me & lucy were making proper hot chocolate every day, the kind you make with a big bar of really good 70% dark. good days. i love cornelia funke.

  1. Pére Goriot, Honoré de Balzac

this book fucked me up. some of balzac’s character analyses… whew. i got so hooked on what he’s selling that i ended up writing the most dramatic piece of coursework of my life on it. see:

Goriot’s love reduces him to an undignified asceticism- because it is real and the real makes demands, lines one’s skin, drains one’s fortune. Easier to do as most of Balzac’s Paris does: renounce it and live in comfort. ‘Our heart is a treasure chest, and if you empty it out you are ruined’.

  1. Henry IV, William Shakespeare

also studied for my course. love this play. it’s a happy place for me. falstaff! also, i find hal to be a really acute portrait of a certain sort of person- well-meaning but calculating, with a theatrical performativity that isn’t quite spontaneous, with a perfectly sincere streak of heroism & the ability to shape-shift at will. you think i’m joking?

  1. Anne of the Island, L.M Montgomery

i reread lucy maud’s books about once a year, when i get the itch. i wanted to reread this one bc it’s anne’s uni experience, as well as maybe being my favourite of the anne books (up there with house of dreams). i just… i will never be tired of these books. the emily trilogy is easily my favourite of lucy maud’s inventions, but the anne books just make everything seem brighter without ever being preachy or condescending, or seeming to skip over the really tough stuff. i owe a LOT to l.m, i really do.

  1. The Vicar of Wakefield, Anthony Goldsmith

the less said the better.

  1. Two Gentlemen of Verona, William Shakespeare

what the fuck even is this. it’s ridiculous. it also has this piece of stunning poetry dropped into the midst of a bunch of utter STUPIDITY:

For Orpheus’s lute was strung with poets’ sinews,

Whose golden touch could soften steel and stones,

Make tigers tame and huge leviathans

Forsake unsounded deeps to dance on sands.

  1. Chronicles of Avonlea, L.M Montgomery

i remember only one of the stories from this, the fucking hilarious hurrying of ludovic. i love how well-known characters just scurry in & out of the frame all through this book. also, everyone loves anne SO MUCH, & talks about her in such flattering terms, like… how does l.m pull this off? if any other author did this about any other character i would call bullshit. but because it’s anne- & because we know that anne is a wonderful whimsical sweetheart who occasionally exudes HUGE dumbass energy- it works.

  1. Further Chronicles of Avonlea, L.M Montgomery

clearly i was on a kick.

  1. The Taming of the Shrew, William Shakespeare

big yikes.

  1. Henry VI Part Two, William Shakespeare

i was super confused for a second until i remembered that i started with this one bc it’s thought to have been written before parts one & two. i remember absolutely nothing about it.

  1. À Rebours, Jean-Rhys Huysmans

oh, fuck me, this book. it’s a nightmare procession of decadent BULLSHIT. it’s all crack to me. fellow wilde disciples: this is thought to be the book that corrupted dorian gray. you know that chapter of dorian that everybody except me seems to hate? the one that’s basically just a torrent of jewels, books, flowers & half-hinted debauches? (the one that happens to actually be my favourite chapter, whoops.) this book was obviously a huge inspiration for that, because that chapter kinda reads like a riff on à rebours. except des esseintes is somehow even more horrible than dorian. & there’s lots of stuff about my boy gustave moreau. no, i don’t have a the sirens laptop sticker. no, it isn’t next to my cartoon oscar wilde & secret history quote & birth of venus stickers.

  1. Lolly Willowes, Sylvia Townsend

a lovely whimsical book about a lady who ditches conventional spinisterism to go live alone in a village & become a witch & also possibly a lesbian. what a fucking icon. also there are some sensuous metaphors, y’all.

  1. Henry VI Part Three, William Shakespeare

there are two terrifyingly brilliant soliloquies given by gloucester (i.e richard iii) in this, & i take my copy down & reread the last one when i hate everything.

  1. Bluets, Maggie Nelson

so good i can barely talk about it. pure poetry, tbh.

  1. The Price of Salt, Patricia Highsmith

the novel the movie carol was based on. it’s very good. highsmith gives me shivers. those little cogs & wheels that showed the hairpin turns of ripley’s brain are just as effective when it comes to all the terrifying twists & plunges of a love affair. read this over a weekend visit to see one of the most important people in the world to me.

  1. The Blue Castle, L.M Montgomery

i read this whenever i need to get shit STRAIGHT in my head. it always fixes me right up. some of l.m’s most gorgeous nature writing went into this. a seasonal montage chapter sounds like a terrible idea but it’s so gorgeously done here that it makes me want to ditch this century & set up camp on mistawis w/ barney & valancy & their dumb fat cats. no, but seriously: this book reminds me of what is real & important in life. it’s also deeply, deeply funny.

  1. Henry VI Part One, William Shakespeare

i remember liking a lot of stuff here, but like… there’s these big symbolic set-pieces of dialogue that read really weirdly. but it’s one of his earliest plays, so, you know, dude gets a pass.

  1. Wise Children, Angela Carter

all about the sweat & glitter & greasepaint & uh, incest of a huge showbiz family (one side well-established shakespeare actors, the other side taking whatever dancing gigs they can). it’s hilarious. i adored it.

  1. Titus Andronicus, William Shakespeare

so… that happened

  1. Hour of the Star, Clarice Lispector

this was so vivid to me that it made me terribly uncomfortable. it’s a story about a girl living in abject & miserable poverty in brazil, told in bizarrely luxurious prose, the kind of rich & textured writing that lives in weird colours & gets inside your head. i read it in the same day that i read the last act of titus andronicus & the combination made me feel like i was absolutely off my head for days.

  1. Anne of Avonlea, L.M Montgomery

this has some of my favourite characters & episodes of the series. just… miss lavendar… & davy… & the bit where they all go for a picnic in the woods… & mr harrison… incidents that are more alive to me than a lot of my own memories.

  1. Captive Prince, C.S Capat

this trilogy is NUTS. i read the first chapter, wasn’t convinced, & then went on to polish off all three books in just under two days. i was up til four, five in the morning reading. it’s a trilogy with a dumb tropey concept straight out of fanfic but it’s about sexual tension. it’s agonising & you can practically feel the whir & tick of character development beneath the whole thing. i really wasn’t expecting to like it as much as i did. there’s a lot of humour there, too, without which it would have probably sucked.

  1. Prince’s Gambit, C.S Capat

this is my favourite book of the trilogy. it’s so much fun!

  1. Richard III, William Shakespeare

terrible segue: i have a teddy bear who my friend ibby & i decided one day to name by opening my complete works of shakespeare at a random page & picking the first name we saw. he ended up being called catesby after richard iii’s evil valet.

  1. Kings Rising, C.S Capat

filled, hilariously, with political machinations.

  1. The Fiery Pantheon, Nancy Lemann

i aspire to be walter. i love the weird rhythms & patterns of lemann’s writing.

  1. The Comedy of Errors

what the hell, honestly.

  1. Magic Flutes, Eva Ibbotson

the marketing of eva ibbotson’s romance novels is so stupid & patronising it makes me furious. yes, it’s a good thing they were reissued at all, but with those stupid captions i’m surprised anybody read them. they even changed the titles, for god’s sake. anyway: i love these books. they’re pretty magical: really funny, carefully-drawn modern (ish) fairytales. this one involves a huge austrian castle that is pretty much a character in its own right & a heroine who was the reason i wanted to hack all my hair off when i was eleven. this book is also everything i know about opera.

  1. A Company of Swans, Eva Ibbotson

the love with which eva ibbotson writes of brazil floors me. also, her characters are wonderful.

  1. The Prelude, William Wordsworth

i studied this for reading texts. there’s some sublime passages. it’s kind of an epic poem about the experience of reading.

  1. Howl’s Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones

read because i adore the ghibli movie. the book is even funnier, although as pure fantasy i think the film hits more of my personal sweet spots.

  1. Love’s Labours Lost, William Shakespeare

hahahaha. there’s some serious zingers in this. i think it’s suffered in comparison with much ado, but this is funny as hell in its own right. moth & armada & biron & rosalind & the princess are all brilliant characters.

  1. The Lonely Londoners, Sam Selvon

not sure there’s anything quite like this. it reads like a song. one of the best books on isolation i’ve ever read.

  1. Sarrasine, Honoré de Balzac

you wander into an empty theatre. the stage is covered in statues of apollo. on closer inspection, you realise that the statues are of young girls. there is dust on your fingers. the statues begin to sing. you notice that you are holding a trowel. what are you doing here? the girls are laughing at you now. you do not know why. perhaps your tie is knotted wrong.

  1. The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes, Neil Gaiman

i lost my mind & blew over a hundred quid on a sandman folio box set in second semester. i don’t read many comics but the sheer scope & creativity here- even in its earliest stages- blows my mind.

  1. S/Z, Roland Barthes

this was the most intellectually gruelling book i’ve read since (& possibly including) ulysses. i found it so hard to get my head around that when it actually started making sense to me it was so rewarding. it’s a very thorough deconstruction of how our minds & our narratives interact & work, & the underlying systems that hold stories together.

  1. The Sandman: The Doll’s House, Neil Gaiman

um, this one is fucked up. it’s also the first issue i ever read of sandman. i was thirteen, obsessed with neil gaiman, & had to get my mother to write me a note saying i was allowed to take it out of the library, because the sandman was prohibited for the under-16s.

  1. The Sandman: Dream Country, Neil Gaiman

so beautiful. i adore the midsummer night’s dream story.

  1. A Song For Summer, Eva Ibbotson

in general, i think this is the weakest of her romance novels, but there’s still loads of really charming stuff about it. to be honest, though, a lot of this one just gives me dragonfly pool deja vu; the concept of the Extremely Liberal School Filled With Rich Unpleasant Children And Surrounded By Palatial Countryside was done so well there that it kinda overshadows this. still: i love marek. her heroes & heroines are all very well individualised (to say that they often belong to the same trope system), but i don’t think she has another character quite like him.

  1. The Sandman: Season of Mists, Neil Gaiman

so brilliant. the artwork for hell is spectacular. i’m a huge sucker for lucifer narratives in general.

  1. The Sandman: A Game of You, Neil Gaiman

wtf. kind of a heartbreaker.

  1. Romeo & Juliet, William Shakespeare

rereading this felt like reading a whole different play to when i read it for school aged twelve, probably because my school sucked. it’s so much funnier than i remember. & i know this gets said about shakey all the time, but it really is all about the language w/ this one.

  1. The Sandman: Fables & Reflections, Neil Gaiman

‘soft places’ knocked me down.

  1. A Countess Below Stairs, Eva Ibbotson

i refuse to use the stupid new title. i’m so bitter. anna is one of my favourite ibbotson heroines. (& muriel might be one of my favourite ibbotson villains. she’s so awful it beggars belief.)

  1. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, William Shakespeare

SEXY.

  1. Richard II, William Shakespeare

one of my favourites. over the course of the play- as richard falls from political grace- he has to grapple with who he is as a human being now that he is no longer a king. & in this way his humanity blossoms, he struggles, there’s lots of narcissism & christ comparisons- & also a really silly funny scene where aumerle receives & issues so many challenges to duels that he runs out of gauntlets & has to borrow one.

  1. King John, William Shakespeare

two things MADE this play. a) the bastard of faulconbridge (he got his own post). & b) queen constance’s grief speech. listen. i had goosebumps.

Death, death: – O amiable lovely death!

Thou odiferous stench! sound rottenness!

Arise forth from the couch of lasting night,

Thou hate and terror to prosperity,

And I will kiss thy detestable bones;

And put my eyeballs in thy vaulty brows;

And ring these fingers with thy household worms;

And stop this gap of breath with fulsome dust,

And be a carrion monster like thyself:

Come, grin on me; and I will think thou smil’st,

And buss thee as thy wife! Misery’s love,

O, come to me!

  1. Notes on Cafes and Bedrooms, Rosemary Tonks

the first collection included in bedouin of the london evening, which is amazing. i studied this for a conference at the end of summer term. the conference ended with me getting ostracised by a whole bunch of people & us kicking someone out of our housing arrangement, so… whoops? people are really sensitive about books over here, you guys.

anyway, i posted the speech i gave here.

  1. The Merchant of Venice, William Shakespeare

yes anti-semitism but also: shylock is complex. the prejudice is 100% present. but shylock isn’t a stereotype, he’s a fully realised human being. portia made me gag a bit. but this has some of the most beautiful passages i’ve come across in shakespeare. (the film adaptation is bangin, too.)

  1. Iliad of Broken Sentences, Rosemary Tonks

the other part of bedouin. lots of greco-roman myth gets dragged into this one. it’s jazzy.

  1. Henry IV Part Two, William Shakespeare

oh, god, this play makes me sad. you can feel the cosy grubby world of part one crumbling away. falstaff 😦

  1. Ada or Ardor, Vladimir Nabokov

one of my favourite books i read last year. wrote about it here.

  1. Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Truman Capote

i’d never read it before. i really liked it. holly is so WEIRD.

  1. House of Flowers, Truman Capote

read a few of his short stories after tiffany’s. i barely remember anything about this one.

  1. The Diamond Guitar, Truman Capote

on the other hand i have a super vivid memory of this one. read it while my mother was driving me back from uni with a carful of luggage at the end of june. it’s a #nohomo story about a prison romance, basically, complete with wrenching betrayal & heartbreak.

  1. A Christmas Memory, Truman Capote

nope, the memory’s gone.

  1. Vathek, William Beckford

another favourite. wrote about it here. i really want to read beckford’s travel diaries.

  1. The Merry Wives of Windsor, William Shakespeare

falstaff gets the shit kicked out of him by a bunch of irritated, fabulous ladies.

  1. Much Ado About Nothing, William Shakespeare

i was laughing so hard reading this that my mother knocked on the door to ask if something was wrong. such bliss, my brothers.

  1. Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel

i have no idea where to start. everyone else knows this already, because everyone else read this in like 2007, but the hype is real with this one.

  1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K Rowling

i started rereading the books in the summer & had a great time. i honestly don’t care what stupid shit j.k’s said on twitter this week. these books gave me so much joy (& scared the shit out of me so delightfully) when i was a kid & the magic’s still there for me.

  1. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, J.K Rowling

rereading the books for the first time in ages reminded me just how weird & funny they are. a lot of that seems to have got lost in the transfer in the past few years.

  1. The Folding Star, Alan Hollinghurst

god, this was such a find. i didn’t really like the swimming-pool library, so i was surprised to find how much i loved this. it’s full of dust & shadows & prose so gorgeously (over)wrought that it physically hurts. reading it took it outta me but in a weird way i couldn’t put it down. i think i finished it in about three days, despite how dense it is.

  1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J.K Rowling

i just love this one.

  1. Eugene Onegin, Alexander Pushkin

read for my 19th-century russian lit module. it’s very, very funny. pushkin is razor-sharp when it comes to absolutely trashing onegin. he does not spare his characters. his rendering of tatiana is a perfect balance of tragic & hilarious.

  1. A Hero of Our Time, Mikhail Lermontov

maybe my favourite discovery of the year. it’s a fierce, unsparing look at the psyche of one very weird character- a guy who is privileged, charismatic, ruthless, creates scenarios & manipulates people into feeling for him & then keeps on falling into his own play-acting. is he a sociopath? he’s capable of great feeling. it’s one of the most tragic & passionate & desperate things i’ve read all year. it’s about what it’s like to feel like a patch of darkness, wanting there to be something good in you.

  1. Sejanus His Fall, Ben Johnson

brilliant terrifying play about rome as a totalitarian police state. stunningly reminiscent of stalinist russia in a lot of ways, particularly the chinese whispers aspect of everyone telling tales on their neighbour.

  1. Dentaphilia, Julia Slavin

i was assigned this as reading for a cw class. it’s brilliant. horrifying. the narrator is an awful human being, as far as i’m concerned.

  1. A Real Doll, A.M Homes

more cw reading. when i read this i started laughing out of sheer disgust. i say that as someone who has been known to give dramatic campfire readings of thomas the tank engine pornography. it’s about a teenage boy & his little sister’s barbie doll. i think it’s kind of great but huuuuuuuuge yikes.

  1. Dead Souls, Nikolai Gogol

oh my god, this book is OUT there. i love nabokov’s analysis of it.

  1. Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned, Wells Tower

i read the short story (again, for cw). some of the prose is extraordinary. i dreamed of some of the images in it- the field of heather like the fleece of a giant animal tossing in its sleep, for instance.

  1. Fathers & Sons, Ivan Turgenev

the last page killed me. i was on a silent study floor of the library at the time & i was crying so hard i think i disturbed several history students who were trying to work.

  1. Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Nikolai Leskov

chilling. this feels incredibly modern (something that comes up again & again in nineteenth-century russian lit). i love his flat deadened tone. really scary.

  1. Crime & Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky

gah. what do i even say. this book is, for me, a reference point for so much stuff in my life.

  1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky

i’d read it when i was twelve or so but i connected with it more this time, which prolly doesn’t say great things about the progress of my maturation. i relate to patrick a whole lot.

  1. Special Topics in Calamity Physics, Marisha Pessl

this book is so ridiculous & kind of irritating but it also really got to me. the ending is genuinely devastating.

  1. Sexing the Cherry, Jeanette Winterson

love jeanette winterson. loved this book. the dog-woman is marvellous. the twelve dancing princesses section… whew.

  1. Dangerous Liasons, Choderlos de Laclos

this was one of the books that i read this christmas holiday, when i was still reeling because i could finally read for pleasure after the crush of coursework. i enjoyed it so much. it also contained what is easily the hottest line of anything i’ve read this year, possibly ever, which is Very well: war.

  1. The Box of Delights, John Masefield

my dad showed me the old bbc series every christmas when i was a really little kid, & i kept remembering it & getting super nostalgic, so i read the book. i’m glad i finished the year on this. his prose is poetic & dreamy & kind of perfect. there’s a very interesting thread of paganism running through the book in its myths & history, as well, & masefield doesn’t seem to fear that; it becomes part of the narrative, even the central narrative of the thousand-year-old cathedral.

*

so there you have it. i’m gonna post a list of the stuff i intend to get read this year, i think. in the meantime i’d love to hear what you guys thought of any of the stuff i’ve banged on about here.

happy new year ❤

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this is from that one time i got to feel up some old-ass books & it was great

smoky days/identity theft/operation jo march

hello & welcome to your latest episode of Isabel Cannot Time-Manage For Shit

here is a picture of me trying to eat my glasses

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my last post was in september. or october? anyway, since then i’ve done a bunch of dumb impulsive shit, most of which won’t make it to a public blog, & we’ve had a good deal of personal drama. also, uni’s been nuts. now i adore 19th-century russian lit, 17thc lit is fascinating, & creative writing is my OXYGEN, but it’s all sorta come down on me like a ton of bricks & i’ve been scrambling to make my deadlines whilst doing things like, you know, sleeping 5+ hours a night & eating things that aren’t hummus on toast. not that there’s anything wrong with that.

it’s a smoky day. it was even before i crawled out of the rolling stack at five p.m to find it was already all dark. there’s a grain to the air like we’re being shot on 35mm, & the trees are all bare & black & wavery, & everything still smells a bit like leaf-mulch & wet earth, & possibly you can tell i really, really love autumn. especially bonfire night. i slay at apple-bobbing, obviously.

i’ve fallen asleep watching fireworks out of my window for a couple nights running now, because our dumb asses kept forgetting to go to an actual bonfire & now none of us can be bothered to get out of bed (we’re coming down from a waffle house trip). there’s something about norwich on days like this- the arabesques & spires & winged gargoyles, the swaying catkins on the fir trees on the uea broad, the still-leafy lamp-orange tunnel of the avenues in the dark, the grim romance of it all- that makes fireworks seem extra-beautiful. like thrown handfuls of vanishing stars, sliding down the cathedral roofs.

anyway, a catch-up.

-so on friday i melodramatically hacked off my hair. £5 scissors from superdrug & jo scuttling around holding up a smeary mirror so i could get the back. i figured i’d probably regret it- my contingency plan for if it looked terrible was to shave it all off- & i thought i’d at least miss my pretty luna lovegood curls. but i don’t regret it at all. i’m too busy raking my hands through it & buying pretentious hair gel. ever since i was eleven or twelve there’s been a part of me that’s wanted to do this, just grab scissors & get hacking, or at least go to a hairdressers’ to get my hair cut short, but- excepting an appalling dorito-esque haircut when i was eleven & wanted to look like leslie from bridge to terabithia (it didn’t work), & an uncharacteristically sleek bob when i was fourteen- i never did. i’d always kinda wanted a really messy androgynous haircut, but when my hair got long & wavy again i worried about regretting it. i thought it would be a waste to get rid of it because it was pretty, & everyone else seemed to agree. anyway, somewhere around thursday midnight i went to the bathroom & out of nowhere got completely sick of my hair, & even sicker of feeling like i had to keep my hair, so the next day i bought the aforesaid scissors, asked several friends whether they thought i should do it (‘um, no’ being the general response) & after fortifying myself by eating quite a lot of pasta went ahead & did it anyway. (people ask why i didn’t go to a hairdresser. the truth is that a) i had a physical urge that had to be excised & b) i had no idea how to express to a hairdresser that i wanted sebastian-flyte-meets-blue-is-the-warmest-colour hair. i may also still be suffering with post-traumatic stress following the whole dorito incident eight years ago.) i have a long coiled-up ponytail in my drawer next to my unopened gianduja bombe truffles. is that weird? i kind of want to do a nick cave & pin it above my bed.

oh, uh, also i love my new hair.

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-the night before halloween, which was freezing, by the way, i caught myself dancing around on my bed to spooky scary skeletons, at which point i decided that this had gone far enough & messaged angus to ask if i could use him to gatecrash the predrinks he was gatecrashing through someone else & bop along to the lcr with him later. an hour later (which was mostly me whining about not knowing which of my six black chokers to wear) we were heading off through a glittering frosty night, marvellously underdressed (angus had rolled up in a green t-shirt & announced he was going as shaggy from scooby-doo; i, velvet-jacketed & demon-winged, was going as myself) to the aforesaid predrinks. about a third of the way into the bottle of shitty white wine i’d brought my memory started going flaky & from then on my recollections devolve into snapshots. angus & i jamming wildly to there she goes, my beautiful world in someone else’s ribbon-strung living room; somehow negotiating myself, through a drunk-typing haze, an lcr ticket from a girl on facebook, which i managed to acquire fifteen minutes before we got there; dancing for hours under a haze of shifting neons, in that kind of nightclub double consciousness where you’re completely beside yourself from the strange lights & the alcohol & time isn’t a thing anymore & yet your blood is pumping & you can feel the music pounding in your sternum & something at the root of your brain feels acutely aware & alive. flailing arms to come on eileen on the steps of the pit, which was a moving sea of sweaty people stained in fake blood & red spangles, & every inch of the floor was crammed with empty vk bottles. scrubbing someone else’s black facepaint off my chin with damp loo roll in the lower bathroom, bullying angus into borrowing my jacket on the walk back when i turned up my street. i was wearing six-inch chunky platform boots & looking up at the stars i felt like they were the only thing rooting me to the ground.

apparently i woke lucy up by clumping in around four a.m, which is actually kind of an early record for me. of course the upshot of this was that i spent oct 31st as grinning, woozy, nauseous trash, swilling ibuprofen with my coffee.

-also, jo & i dressed up as each other for halloween. we bought wigs- the jo wig was called femme fatale on the packaging, the me wig (of course i hadn’t cut my hair then) was gothic temptress, & as jo is really quite terrifying & i’m a massive flirt this was rather uncannily accurate. i wore one of jo’s many floral dresses, plus petticoat, dainty red shoes, pearls (that, incidentally, i gave to her in the summer) & even her little silver watch. she donned my purple trousers, velvet jacket & choker, oscar wilde graphic t-shirt, demon wings, & william blake docs (which gave her ankle scars). the effect was unsettling. we discovered several fundamental truths about ourselves. it’d probably be a great short story idea. i looked sort of like a drag queen, not helped by the fact that i kept manspreading, & jo looked sort of like she’d just stepped out of twin peaks (season two). jo & i occupy very different places on the butch-femme scale. i think we gave several lecturers the heebie-jeebies.

-in re: literary pursuits, i’ve mostly been trying to get my 19th century russian lit module by the throat. at its most intense this involved three sleep-deprived days during which i basically camped out on floor 2 of the library to get through all five hundred-plus pages of dead souls in time to give a presentation on it for my wednesday seminar. there was also the rainy train journey to leicester when i listened to glass animals & read lady macbeth of mtsensk in one sitting. the morning i read the last page of fathers & sons- sitting on a silent study floor of the library- & started uncontrollably weeping, probably confusing/annoying/concerning the people in the booths next to mine. the scribbled, crisscrossed essay i wrote (in a breathless two hours) on pechorin’s androgyny, sitting scrunched up in the russian literature bit of the rolling stack with my boots off. but what, then, is the inapprehensible mysterious force that draws one to thee? why is thy plaintive song heard, why does it resound, unremitting, in the ears, as it carries through all thy length and breadth, from sea to sea? what is in it, this song? what calls, and sobs, and clutches at the heart?

-the other thing i’ve been flipping OUT over is thomas browne’s religio medici, which i read last week for 17th century lit. it’s idiosyncratic & personal & there’s the odd moment of sublimity- like a passage where he talks about metempsychosis which gives me the fucking chills- & it also reads in places as a love letter to ambiguity, to paradox, to the dark spaces in faith that let imagination run wild.

-also: it took me two years but i’m finally catching up on spn. i blazed thru s12 & am one episode into s13. i have, hoo, a lot to say.

-oh, yeah, & jo & i watched the grand budapest hotel last night. i loved it i loved it i loved it. i don’t even want to sort thru my feelings about it yet. but it was dreamy & eccentric & silly & lovely- & yet at the end  there’s a moment where a curtain lifts & all this bitterness & compassion comes through- i thought it was wonderful. ‘monsieur gustave was also the most liberally perfumed man i have ever met.’ ENCHANTING.

anyway, this is the part where… i go the fuck to bed.

goodnight.

00:33, nov. 6 2018

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