A Girl is a half-formed thing

Rating: ★★★★☆

The title does leave little for wonders. My first questions when I first saw this title were quite focused on a feminist perspective: why is she a half-formed thing? Because she is a female? Because she is not a woman yet, but a young girl? Or because she needs someone or something to be a girl? Or a female? Or a woman?

Then I started reading it. And from a half-formed thing perspective the reader is pushed into a whole difficult world. Her world. Her reality. Sometimes we are lost. We wonder with her. This girl that leaves her name outside. That takes us into her intimacy without answering the question we first ask, when we meet someone: what’s your name?

But this she does not know. She does not know how to enter the world itself. She does not know anything but her love for her brother. A love which is not always recognisable.

And even though I high rated it, I would still advice you not to read. It cracks something in us. Something I can not explain. It makes us feel unsteady, uncomfortable. With a knot in the stomach. As if we knew we should reveal her secret. We must! But we can not. We can not tell because there is no name attached. We can not feel destroyed because it is fiction. We can not… We can not help her, nor all the other half-formed things in our world. Because, we are half-formed as well. Just like this girl, we just became complete when our story ends. When we close the cycle. But it is shocking how as soon as we open it, we can not stop reading it.

London Lit Fest V

It is now week 2. It is also ten past. Brian storm is here, and so am I. As I ran the slippery stairs with my shinny shoes a man crosses my path, a duvet around his shoulders. It is windy. And cold. And for the second time in this festival, I am late.

This time the weekend pass bracelet is bright yellow, as the one I once wore at the hospital. It seems like ages ago. With the help of my fingers I realize it was ages ago. Entering this room I am getting so used to while heading to my favourite and only seat, helps to smooth my uncanny notion of time and how it flies. Also, how ironical and annoying time does not seem to fly when I’m on a plane. These are the kind of things that crush my mind in those twenty minutes of waiting until the marvellous session.

I’ve been waiting with expectancy this talk: Home is elsewhere. Perhaps, since I first saw the festival’s program. The first readings were terrific. The best so far, I dare to admit. One of the stories remind me of myself and my life in London. One of the Nordic writers was talking about how one of his friends used to drive a touristic train in Stockholm, while a recording told the tourists how beautiful the city they were seeing was. And every time he heard that voice playing over and over the same compliments he thought about kidnapping the guests, breaking the radio. ‘yeah, it is true. It is a beautiful city. But there are other streets not as polished, like the one I grew up at’. Those are the ones he wanted them to see, with or without a recording. Those streets are also part of the city. I smile, wondering how this can be perfectly applied to London. Or any other city really. But we can not explain it to others, in fact those streets are a secret we are expected to keep.

During the readings there is space for everything. Especially, fear and loneliness. We hear about a boy who have lived in Finland, since the age of two. But who is asked about his home country even though all he remembers is actually Finland. Feeling an outsider, he decides to buy a snake even though he is terrified of it. Because just like him, it is misplaced between the animals, even if they never get to bite anyone. After that, whenever he had guests they simply ran away with excuses and questions, ‘what if it hides in your toilet?’ or ‘what if it chokes you during the night?’. But his answer remained open ‘what if it doesn’t?’. ‘What if it starts using the toilet as a cat uses a box?’. Just like that, he said everything.

The last reading is about a British woman who wants to leave her home. However, at the airport she is strangely and strongly interrogated about her nationality, simply because she is muslim. Within the serious subject we laugh with each other. Especially after this particular story, we discuss how books can easily become our home, our escape from the world. Or simply feel home for retaining a reality that only we know of. Most times we become refugees of ourselves and libraries can protect us better than a single dominant definition of home.

I think about it again and again, since in libraries we do keep secrets as well. ‘You never control how people read you’, ‘belong is complicated’, ‘Literature is dangerous, books changed me. I saw the darkness in me’. And all of these small bits of information are whispered between the panel and the audience. It is a secret none of us can keep. It is scary, and with words we can cope with the reality of being ourselves. At the end, I did want to question them, but thankfully there was no time. Now I can carry on smiling, and holding the secret for it. Walking away with an advice, ‘if people try to fit you in a box or put you out of it, bring up the snake’.

 

Just Kids

 

Rating: ★★★★★

I knew before hand this book would have me, it would own me as literally as I would own it. These pages hold something that is also mine, a shared story which I could never live without. A story that sooner or later will eternally live by its own. From my hand to the world, based in a special request.

I also knew that books that have my tears on its foreword or prologue eternally stay. It became personal before it became an assessment, a challenge before a choice. It wasn’t fiction. It wasn’t a romance. But it was for sure a love story. The one I am most keen of.

When I first started the novel, the lighted word in my bedroom’s parapet shone brightness into its pages. Love was between the words both in a physical and literary sense. It was strengthening its meaning, becoming a mark in my own story.

Lost and found in her art, Patti resembles my written self. What I build through these small posts. What I admire and how I get inspiration from it. What I look for. She even compares herself to Wendy and shows her strong belief in Neverland.

When I got closer to the expected end, I knew I had to finish it somewhere special.  I asked for a Caramel Machiatto in my favourite place of the University. Charles Dickens’s words surrounding me. And I cried. Never my sweet sweet latte felt so bitter. I couldn’t help but feel in Patti’s words the painful moment of Robert’s death. I couldn’t help but feel for Patti.

As usual I tried to find a message. But page after page I would find more and more exposed messages, I knew I would not recall them all together in the end. I knew I would read it over and over again. As if it was the first time, an uncanny taste of familiarity. Right now, with tears salting the last bit of my Machiatto, these are the ones I recall. The dreams that walk hand in hand. That make us wave at each other and write prose in our lonely time. And those marvellous paths that cross and certainly will cross again… Later on, I will look for their blue star and remember them. Wishing I had known us in their time, wishing they could see themselves in ours.

 

Down and Out in Paris and London

Rating: ★★★★☆

Orwell was always one of my favourites. For his imagery, for his irony, for his effort to change the real-life-problems by writing them and giving them to read. While everyone was crazy about 1984, my life changed with the reading of Animal Farm. I was presented to politics just like that, through the animals’ voice.

This book is different, being no different. It’s different in its theme, it’s quite the same in its approach, in its goal.

Homeless are a serious matter in big cities. London is no exception. It is not a new subject of debate. It reached George Orwell’s eyes and writing, it reaches our hearts nowadays.

Orwell’s vision of poverty is from “the inside”. The real world we lived in, and those who walk slowly enough through these two cities are capable of finding most of the “characters” in our streets. Terribly real, simply told, absolutely brilliant.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time

Classificação:★★★★☆

Cinco anos e duas línguas diferentes separam as duas edições. Tenho também de separar a mesma pessoa que as leu, por mais que contem a mesma história. Hoje começo pela review em português, porque foi essa a língua em que me estreei neste mundo de Christopher Boone.

Antes de detalhar a minha opinião sobre esta obra, e como sei que foi fortemente criticada por quem vive de perto com o Síndrome de Aspergers, relembro que Mark Haddon escreve FICÇÃO. Como ele próprio sublinha numa entrevista ao The Guardian em 2004, no auge da popularidade que se perpetua até aos dias de hoje, The Curious Incident não deve ser visto como um manual. Essa nunca foi a sua intenção. O que nos leva então a perguntar: qual era a sua verdadeira intenção?

O simples facto de ser pouco usual escrever um livro “policial” na primeira pessoa, transporta-nos imediatamente para a vida do protagonista. Somos pela primeira vez obrigados a limitar a nossa visão e a maneira como pensamos, através da posição de Christopher. Mas o que eu acho absolutamente mágico, é a forma como a escrita de Haddon nos permite ser o leitor e o Christopher ao mesmo tempo. Christopher diz que um policial é um puzzle e se este for bom, o leitor consegue descobrir o verdadeiro assassino/criminoso mesmo antes deste ser revelado. Haddon transforma o que as personagens dizem na realidade do que o leitor tem nas mãos. Em vez de permanecer dentro da regra de escrita que nos obriga a mostrar em vez de simplesmente dizer, o autor adapta-a conseguindo alcançar um espectro de idades fascinante.

É um livro que nos transporta do racional ao irracional em segundos. Que acima de tudo nos faz sorrir.

Sorrir sonhadoramente perante a inocência de Christopher, sorrir de pena pela nossa limitação em percebê-la.

Falling Star

I always

believed

in bright

falling stars,

and I still

wish for them

no matter how far.

 

In the plane

or in the car

I touch

the window

lost

in my own

memoir.

From my

headphones

rises the sound of

a guitar,

it easily reaches

my lonely

scar.

 

I wonder

where you are,

if I can close

my hope

of your

existence

forever in

a glassy jar.

 

But

tonight

I will keep

waiting

for my

falling star.

 

 

 

 

The Handmaid’s Tale

Without knowing the popularity it would reach in a few weeks, Margaret Atwood’s book awaited me on the reading list for semester two. I did not like the book cover, I still don’t. (The new Vintage version is pretty though). For several days I complained about the title and the need to read something I couldn’t even understand. Then I finally sat down to start reading it. I still did not understand, but it intrigued me. And that made me keep going, until I loved it. The language is simple, the writing opens the real possibility of that scenario happening and the narrator/main character has a solid personality which every reader can relate to. For the facts mentioned above and the usual changes from paper to screen, I was very apprehensive about the series. Again, I was wrong, because now I love it too. And God, how it feels good to be wrong about this… I am usually against changes, because they might damage the narrative. But in this case, every added detail was perfectly well thought. It brought out the best of the action Atwood primarily wrote. The scenarios as well as the their connection with the lights and its lack are amazing and formidable. I hope one day I can personally congratulate everyone who was involved in this. As a reader, I felt that you respected the narrative, I felt that every change was actually on the book. And the season finale of season one is its best example.

I also understand now why it is used as a smart weapon against the US politics’ system, just as 1984, George Orwell. And every time you do not understand how powerful words either in speeches, quotes, films or novels can be remember this example. And learn that maybe if these two novels, or other important books, were widely read before the elections the impact could have been different. Never underestimate the power of words.