Friday, June 25, 2010

Tuned in

Get those critical receptors tuned folks, here's the Transmission guide you've been waiting for.

Actually, I typed the review last night and then in a bolt from the electronic divine my pc crashed and destroyed all traces of it. So here is a more succinct rendering.

It was a less ambitious book than The Impressionist and it seemed as if Kunzru had more confidence for it or perhaps his confidence came across more enjoyably and less like arrogance with regards to the subject matter. Anyhow, the point is, it is a contemporary set novel about a computer geek (I can say that, I'm married to one) who rolls like a ball of liquid lead solder around the circuit board of the novel's plot which takes the reader through the intricacies of computer viruses to Bollywood in an unlikely yet plausibly connected way.

It is funny in places, very funny in some, especially if you know a pc geek (or are married to one) and you recognise the similarities, but all too often it feels like a scene from UK TVs Goodness Gracious Me. I'd be really interested to know what any Indian readers make of this book - let me know guys. Anyway, it's not trying to wow you with its knowledge of neat references to all things Empire and it's a crisper and more acerbic book for it but, yes, there's always one, I wish Kunzru would know when to stop. Time and time again he has a great line or observation but then goes on about it as if to say, did you get that, did you notice it, there, I said that and wasn't it good, no, really, read it again. It's as if he's afraid to be subtle.

If I had read this book first I might have had more sympathy for The Impressionist. Here you recognise the same narrative voice in your ear only it's set to the right tone for the subject matter in Transmission, whereas in The Impressionist it was woefully off key. An enjoyable if not stellar read which hits the right note in the din of geek fiction; literary fiction this aint, but at least Transmission isn't pretending to be (even if the jacket designers try to convince you to the contrary). 

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Plotted pants

Yet to realise I had been stood up, I recently found myself in the adult fiction department of an unfamiliar library with a very disgruntled toddler who was somewhat traumatised by the music and rhyme going on in the children's department. As my eyes sought escape I thought I had found it in the covers of Hari Kunzru's The Impressionist and Transmission.

The Impressionist was Kunzru's debut. I had been meaning to read his fiction for a long time - always on the list but never quite pressing enough to lure me to buy it - thank you library, you saved me from a fate worse than waste. I began reading deliciously ignorant as a ripe virgin only to feel like snatching back my cherry on page 24. Yes, shock horror, I got that far! Having avoided any reviews and deliberately skipping the blurb I threw myself blindly over the precipice that is to absorb oneself in fiction and cried "I believe"....but this book is no smooth Disney production and the fates always know when you're lying and I landed in a pile of plot. I did read on substantially further - only because I wanted to put off starting the second book as long as possible - but my impatience got the better of me. I played guess the plot then read the blurb on the inside cover and, guess what, I won. Erm, what? Well, nothing. Oh, but that's not true, I won some time back! Always an upside!

What I felt was that there was a very good book in there which had been completely ruined for the sake of sensationalism and cramming in as much plot as possible. It began slowly - very enjoyably - well written and thoughtful and, most importantly, it made me think. However, it was as if the whole novel changed tact at the very early first sex scene and then it was little more than continuous tumbling from there on in. It was the same feeling I got when I read The Kite Runner which was so moving until it turned into an anti-Taliban action yarn and destroyed, for me, every subtle strength it had carefully built up to. What I did think, though, was what a ripping film it would make - ha! But it did make me see where my own fiction may be wandering astray and it's given me lots to get my teeth into this weekend.

Alas, undeterred (that bit's not true) I wanged it aside (neither is that bit - it is a library book - I placed it carefully and considerately back in the fabric library bought "save the planet" bag...that's also a lie...I put it in a carrier bag by the front door, lest I should forget to take it back! Far, far away from my bookshelves to prevent anyone mistaking it for one of my chosen ones!) and so began the reading of Transmission.

Which I'll tell you all about next time!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Backing the pack

"A wise [wo]man knows [s]he knows nothing" - who said that?

Well, I've been reading The Perfect Screenplay by Katherine Atwell Herbert and it's brilliant. Much of the advice applies to novel writing either directly or by omittance and it is so quick to read. And even if you aren't interested in writing a screenplay, it's great to read how all those big films you've seen started out - their taglines and what viewers, and readers for that matter, find a real turn off in a film/novel.

After a long break and masses of re-writes I've begun submitting stuff again - that novel I wrote this time last year - is out there - be kind to it, it's gone through a lot.

And I've entered a couple of comps and am thinking of entering another couple: Teresa Stenson's got a few mentioned on her blog this week which are worth checking out.

And I'm reading - heaps and stacks of books and loving every stolen moment of it! Even the ones I've thrown back in the pack after losing the will at page three have been valuable! - more on what I'm reading/have read coming soon.

So to all of you ploughing on with novels, short stories, screenplays or just general life - keep on keeping on! Best of luck to you all.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Beg in

Paula Phillips is calling out for writers to pitch in and help with a really great cause but I'll let her tell you all what it's about in her own words:


With the rise of Bullying in Teens, Ive come up with a book idea - A bit like an Anthology of messages of hope, stories, poems to reach out and show teens and vicitms that there is somebody that cares. It only takes one, and if we think about it doesn't take long to jot something down. If you are interested in writing a piece and being included in this idea send me an email at: paulazone [at] live [dot]com and place in the subject line - Stop Bullying :) . Please, as the saying goes, it only takes one person to save another, imagine what we can do if we all get together - We could help save the next generation :) Please pass on to friends, families, groups you belong to, anyone you can as I already have a publisher interested in the concept.

I've submitted my story, who else is up for it?