Posted by: Kirsty | April 27, 2009

On the Road Again

I know I only changed my blog URL a few months ago, but I was offered the chance to have my blog hosted by Catherine (aka Victorian Geek) and I just couldn’t say no.

So, and I promise this is the last time I’ll make you do this, please update your links, bookmarks, and RSS feeds to my new URL:


Thanks all.

Kirsty x

Posted by: Kirsty | April 24, 2009


This just really amused me. It’s been one of those days.

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more lolcats

More erudite posting next week. Perhaps

Posted by: Kirsty | April 24, 2009

Link Love

Jump on over to OUPblog, where I have been choosing my favourite links of the week.


Posted by: Kirsty | April 22, 2009

Quote of the Day

At the end of last year, the good people of Faber and Faber sent me a beautiful 2009 diary, which I have been using religiously ever since. I would be lost without it.

Throughout the diary are lots of pictures of original book covers, poems, and quotations from Faber books. This week’s quotation is from Alan Bennett’s collection Untold Stories. I just had to share:

2 January. I am sent a complimentary copy of Waterstone’s Literary Diary which records the birthdays of  various contemporary figures from the world of letters. Here is Dennis Potter on 17 May, Michael Frayn on 8 September, Edna O’Brien on 15 December, and so naturally I turn to my own birthday. May 9 is blank except for the note: ‘The first British self-service laundrette is opened on Queensway, London 1949.’

Posted by: Kirsty | April 21, 2009

The Orange Prize Shortlist 2009

You wait for a week for a post, then two come along at once. Behold! It’s the Orange Prize Shortlist!

Scottsboro by Ellen Feldman
The Wilderness by Samantha Harvey
The Invention of Everything Else by Samantha Hunt
Molly Fox’s Birthday by Deirdre Madden
Home by Marilynne Robinson
Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie

‘Choosing just six was far harder than I had imagined, but we all left the judging room proud of the list we have chosen.’ Fi Glover – chair of judges

The winner will be announced on 3 June.

Posted by: Kirsty | April 21, 2009

Susan Boyle and the Pressure of Beauty

My blogging has been shamefully lax recently, for which I apologise. In my defence, I had an essay to hand in yesterday and it was a bit ‘all-hands-on-deck’ for the last week there. Still, it’s done, and I’m happy with it, and it’s handed in. Other than the small point of now having a 15,000 word dissertation to get going on, of course.

Still, it’s meant that I’ve not had a huge amount of time to read for pleasure. I have just started Angela Carter’s novel Wise Children, though, and it’s already shaping up to be brilliant. Thoughts on it to come in due course.

So today, you’ll get my rant du jour. I’m sure you’ll all know who Susan Boyle is by now. She is, apparently, getting more YouTube hits than President Obama’s inauguration speech. For the three people who have been living under a rock, she is a 47-year-old Scottish woman who appeared on Britain’s Got Talent. She’s did a cracking rendition of I Dreamed a Dream from Les Mis. She also had the audacity not to be conventionally attractive, which, combined with the fact that she came across as a bit batty, meant that everyone was expecting the worst when she stepped on-stage – including me, I am horribly ashamed to say. Worry not, I feel suitably guilty, and have had a bloody good talk to myself.

However, one particular British daily newspaper has taken to referring to Ms Boyle as ‘the Hairy Angel’. It’s the Daily Express (of course). I’m sorry, but how offensive is that? It’s cruel, and it just reiterates our obsession with physical perfection. It’s really made me very angry. It’s just… unnecessary. Really, really unnecessary. So the woman doesn’t pluck her eyebrows – is this a crime now? Aggggghhhhh!

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the programme gave her a ‘make-over’. I’m not sure how to feel about that if they do. If it’s what she wants, then fair enough. But if she’s made to feel like it’s the only way she’ll be successful – like the fuss made over previous BGT winner Paul Pott’s wonky teeth – then that’s another matter entirely. I have a horrible feeling that she’s going to be taken advantage of in some way, and I hope that if she feels pressured into anything, then she’ll be brave enough to speak up.

Posted by: Kirsty | April 12, 2009

The Literary Note Meme

Thanks to Ruth for this one… I do like a good meme.

1) What author do you own the most books by?

Oh gosh, I’m not sure. I own every novel by Charles Dickens, except one, so he’s a possibility. I have a lot of Virginia Woolf too.

2) What book do you own the most copies of?

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. A Penguin Classics, an Oxford Classics, an illustrated edition, a 1912 edition, and the graphic novel version.

3) Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?

Actually no. It should have, probably.

4) What fictional character are you secretly in love with?

Heathcliff. A very un-feminist guilty pleasure.

5) What book have you read the most times in your life (excluding picture books read to children)?

It’s probably pretty equal rankings between Jane Eyre and Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf.

6) What was your favourite book when you were ten years old?

Matilda by Roald Dahl. It’s still my favourite kid’s book.

7) What is the worst book you’ve read in the past year?

Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith. Really quite depressingly awful. Before that, it was another Booker nominated novel from a couple of years ago, Be Near Me by Andrew O’Hagan.

8 ) What is the best book you’ve read in the past year?

That’s a toughie. I’ll have to have several. The Victorians by A.N. Wilson; Rachel Ray by Anthony Trollope; The Yellow Wallpaper and Selected Writings by Charlotte Perkins Gilman; The Nether World by George Gissing.

9) If you could force everyone you tagged to read one book, what would it be?

Only one? Jane Eyre because it’s always even better than you remember it. Failing that, I think more people should read Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

10) Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for Literature?

I agree with Ruth that Margaret Atwood must be in the running. I’m not sure that they’ll ever top Doris Lessing in terms of writers still living.

11) What book would you most like to see made into a movie?

I have a morbid fear of books-as-movies. Also, I don’t like going to the cinema very much, so do you mind if I pass?

12) What book would you least like to see made into a movie?

All of ’em. See above.

13) Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.

Hmm. I’m not sure that I’ve ever had one. How odd.

14) What is the most lowbrow book you’ve read as an adult?

I suppose it depends on your definition of lowbrow. I do love a bit of crime fiction now and then, so it was probably Ian Rankin or something.

15) What is the most difficult book you’ve ever read?

Again, difficult to whom? I’ve read Ulysses (more than once!), which was a bit of a slog the first time at least. I’m sure I still don’t get the vast majority of it.

16) What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you’ve seen?

I haven’t *seen* any obscure ones, though I’ve read quite a few of them thanks to the Shakespeare module during my undergrad.

17) Do you prefer the French or the Russians?

Hmm. I love Zola. But then, I’ve very much enjoyed the two Dostoyevsky novels I’ve read. I think Scandanavian literature is underrated.

18 ) Roth or Updike?

Neither, particularly.

19) David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?

Sedaris, at a push.

20) Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?


21) Austen or Eliot?

Eliot, any day of the week.

22) What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?

Never having finished Vanity Fair, given that I’m nearing the end of an MA in Victorian Studies.

23) What is your favorite novel?

Joint top: Jane Eyre and Mrs Dalloway.

24) Play?

A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennesse Williams; The Tempest by Shakespeare; I Am My Own Wife by Doug Wright.

25) Poem?

Mirror by Sylvia Plath; Raisin Pumpernickel by Marge Piercy; Christabel by Coleridge; Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold; more or less anything by Carol Ann Duffy.

26) Essay?

Of course, it has to be A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf.

27) Short story?

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

28 ) Work of nonfiction?

The Victorians by A.N. Wilson

29) Who is your favourite writer?

I have lots. Woolf; the Brontes; Sarah Waters; Ali Smith; Jonathan Coe; Emile Zola; George Eliot; Haruki Murakami; David Mitchell…

30) Who is the most overrated writer alive today?

That bloody Twilight woman.

31) What is your desert island book?

I’d like to wrangle one-volume edition of The Complete Work of Dickens. That would keep me going. How huge would that be? If not, then War and Peace, as Ruth suggests. Would be an ideal opportunity to read it.

32) And… what are you reading right now?

I’ve been reading lots of chapters and articles and essays for my uni work. Other than that, Wise Children by Angela Carter.

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