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review 2017-10-20 00:00
Station Eleven: A novel
Station Eleven: A novel - Emily St. John Mandel

Second time through this one, this time on audiobook. I still love it to bits. I think the underlying stories about how even at the end of everything art matters (and that art can be Shakespeare or Star Trek or graphic novels or museum exhibits or newspapers), and that what legacy you'll leave, what you'll really truly be remembered for, will be kindness in times of hardship, are very strong. I love how the stories intertwine and how we find out what happened to each character in bits, as how they all fit together and separate and reunite. It and The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf (and the rest of the Tribe trilogy) by Ambelin Kwaymullina are my favourite responses to the apocalypse.

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review 2017-10-07 19:31
Eleven - Patricia Highsmith

She is a writer who has created a world of her own – a world claustrophobic and irrational which we enter each time with a sense of personal danger, with the head half turned over the shoulder, even with a certain reluctance, for these are cruel pleasures we are going to experience, until somewhere about the third chapter the frontier is closed behind us, we cannot retreat, we are doomed to live till the story’s end with another of her long series of wanted men.

Graham Greene hit the nail on the head with his observation about Highsmith's stories. They are not comfortable, not predictable, not following the scripts of the ordinary. 


As with all collections of short stories, some works are stronger than others. It is the same with Eleven. Adding to that, the collection starts off with the remarkably weird story of The Snail Watcher, and is followed by a handful of gripping stories full of suspense and, well, weirdness. 


The second half of the collection is not quite as high on octane as the first half, but still shows Highsmith's ability to write well-plotted stories.


The Snail Watcher - 5*
The Birds Poised to Fly - 4*
The Terrapin - 5* (This one was horrific, and yet, I loved it. Stay clear if you have issues with descriptions of food preparation that involves animals.)
When the Fleet was In at Mobile - 5* (Dark, dark, but quite moving.)
The Quest for Blank Claveringi - 5* (Awesome. Gotta love the idea of man-eating snails.)
The Cries of Love - 2*
Mrs Afton, Among Thy Green Braes - 3*
The Heroine - 3.5*
Another Bridge to Cross - 3.5*
The Barbarians - 4*
The Empty Bird House - 3*


Graham Greene called Highsmith "the poet of apprehension rather than fear", and each one of these stories shows how he arrived at this conclusion. You just never know what to expect. 

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text 2017-10-06 20:20
Reading progress update: The Terrapin
Eleven - Patricia Highsmith

Victor heard the elevator door open, his mother’s quick footsteps in the hall, and he flipped his book shut. He shoved it under the sofa pillow out of sight, and winced as he heard it slip between sofa and wall to the floor with a thud. Her key was in the lock.

‘Hello, Vee-ector-r!’ she cried, raising one arm in the air. Her other arm circled a brown paper bag, her hand held a cluster of little bags.

I started reading The Terrapin this morning before going to work and got through the first, rather unremarkable, part of the story before I had to leave. Still, something just kept niggling me about the characters and the slow reveal of what seemed to be a dysfunction in the characters' relationship.

So, I did what I seldom do and finished reading this short story over lunch.



The slow build and slow reveal of the narration quickly escalated to a level of messed up that was off the scale. 


I am still traumatised.

Please send chocolate.

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text 2017-10-06 00:43
Halloween Bingo - Terrifying Women
Eleven - Patricia Highsmith

As I am closing in on my last three squares for Halloween Bingo, I feel like I saved a few good ones for last. First off, the Terrifying Women square which - for me - has to be a Highsmith.


I'll turn to her first collection of short stories for this, which starts off with one of her most famous stories: The Snail Watcher.


Highsmith had a particular fondness for gastropods. The Snail Watcher is as much an homage to the creatures as it is a freakishly creepy story of obsession.


It's one of the two stories I know in this collection. There are eleven in total (hence the title) and I have no doubt each one of them will be masterfully crafted.


As an added bonus, the introduction was written by another favourite - Graham Greene. Highsmith originally hired him to write it, but they became mutual admirers of each other's work later on.


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review 2017-08-10 00:00
Fiction-Writing Modes: Eleven essential tools for bringing your story to life
Fiction-Writing Modes: Eleven essential ... Fiction-Writing Modes: Eleven essential tools for bringing your story to life - Mike Klaassen *I received a copy from the author for review. This in no way affects my review*

Another great read that I plan to keep close by! As I start writing again, I find that there are many things to be learned, and like any art or craft, writing takes practice, but more than that, it helps to have a mentor. So I seek out books like this to help me learn, and to better understand what all goes into writing a book. This book has eleven different aspects of writing fiction that every author should know. From sensation and emotion, to action, description, and narration, to name a few. All these and more are important in all works of fiction. Seeing them broken down and laid out helped me better realized not only that they are all important, but also when and where each should be used.
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