What I Am Reading?
I entered some short story/flash fiction competitions and this drew me to read a book of short stories. Reading them is like dipping into a tin of Christmas chocolates – sometimes you are compelled to keep on eating, but once you’ve left you aren’t desperate to return to them. There is a real mixture of wildly different stories in ‘With one eye on the cows’ – Bath Flash Fiction volume four.
In contrast I was drawn into a novel called ‘Wind Against A Rock’ by Nancy Kim. It is emotionally real, providing an insight into the balancing act of being the daughter of a Korean immigrant family in America. Alice can’t speak Korean. She asks an elderly colleague to translate her father’s journal and in doing this, she learns about her own family and the effect of culture on her mother’s life. The writing is rich yet spare, and all of the characters are well rounded.
On the theme of culture clash, I also read ‘Darkness turns to Dawn turns to Daylight’ by Golam Maula. It was a fascinating insight into the thoughts of an Asian man who, at the beginning of the book, works in the sex industry. He is in the process of divorce and, in an effort to build a new life, he tries America before returning to Northern England. His attitude to the various women in his life was illuminating.
A further insight into life as seen by a man was ‘An Ordinary Life’ by Edmund J Gubbins. It is set in the 1960s and 1970s. The protagonist balances his attention between a respectable career, extra marital affairs and the influence of the local ‘Mr Big.’ Its firmly rooted in the way of life and attitudes of that era.
So as a completely different look at the 1970s I read ‘Labrys Reunion’ by Terry Wolverton. Taking place in an apartment in America it begins with a reunion of a group of militant feminists. I felt I knew all of the characters personally. Some had settled down, some were still searching for something. I had heard references to Greenham Common and of the start of Virago press, but this was the first novel that I had read on the era. It charts the changes in attitude to feminism but as members of the group act out their feelings it is action packed.
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