Interview with Irenosen Okojie

I’m delighted that my interview with the exceedingly talented Irenosen Okojie is now up. We managed to find a quiet spot to talk about her work. Do have a watch and listen. She has some great suggestions about getting up early and reading poetry first thing to really open your mind to the possibilities of language.

Just follow the link to the Author QH page here.

I’ll be posting up my next book review early next week.

In The Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

I loved this book. I’m excited about the way it takes memoir in new directions, directions that feel necessary to the ways in which we contextualise and envisage our own lives as part of the wider social and historical setting. This is non-fiction in its most creative and fictional sense, for every form of expressing experience requires a shape and this is something Machado is brilliantly skilled at unpicking and reweaving. Continue reading In The Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

Poverty Safari by Darren McGarvey

The full title of this book is Poverty Safari: Understanding the Anger of Britain’s Underclass. Written by a man whose own story of deprivation – growing up on the wrong side of Glasgow with an addict for a mother who abused and abandoned him and then committed suicide – he claims has gained him a voice in the established middle class media, the title alone explains the complexities, difficulties and necessity of addressing class. In order to be given a voice, Darren realises he needs to talk about his own suffering, he needs to give the middle classes their poverty safari, their grand tour through the deprived estates of Britain, because if he doesn’t no one will listen to what is an essential message – that no one is listening to the deprived lower classes and if no one listens, nothing with change apart from a growing sense of anger and disaffection.

It’s refreshing to read a political and social commentary that challenges the standard responses of left and right. It’s refreshing to read an honest, personal account that puts political opinion in a personal context.

The book is at once autobiography and a call for social justice that suggests changing poverty requires radical changes in everyone involved.

It’s not easy reading – it is sometimes depressing, sad, upsetting – but it is important. Change involves dialogue, but before we can speak, we need to learn to listen.

I don’t usually review or read much non-fiction, but my sister recommended I read this book and I’m really glad she did. It has something to say to everyone in Britain.

I’ll be reviewing In The Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado next.

I Remember by Joe Brainard

Before I start my review, I should apologise for not posting for a while. I was ill in February and it seemed to push everything out of alignment. I don’t imagine many of you missed your weekly instalments of my thoughts on books, but if you did you are in for a treat as I try and catch up with a few posts all blogged close together. In addition to I Remember by Joe Brainard, Poverty Safari by Darren McGarvey and In The Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado, I did also read another Witcher book – Time of Contempt – but I’m not going to blog about that one as you’ve already got a review of my thoughts on The Witcher by Andrezj Sapkowksi. So, here we go…

 I Remember is one of those extraordinary books that sounds boring, repetitive and gimmicky, and yet is anything but. A collection of memories, that never span more than a few paragraphs, which each begin with the words ‘I remember’, Joe Brainard uses this pattern to build up a portrait of his life in the 1950s and 60s in America, as well as the complex movement of the mind through memory.  Continue reading I Remember by Joe Brainard