Sunday, 28 February 2010

The Blossom and the Bee

Rob introduced the first chapter of his new book for the group's scrutiny at this weeks SVA meeting. In The Blossom and the Bee, we see Rob writing in a completely different style to his previous novel The Spaniard's Wife. He shows enormous versatility in his move from the Glasgow tenements to a New York suburb. The first chapter is written in a very relaxed style that is easy to read and shows great promise, although at one point i thought i was reading War and Peace when every character seemed to have more than one name. The ideas that Rob has for the book are interesting and exciting, but i don't think this first chapter does them justice. I think that starting with an 'in your face' excerpt from Cabaret would be much more striking. It would have visual and emotional impact and set the scene for German/Jewish tension. Good luck Rob.

We also talked about competitions during the meeting and the recent competition run by Chapter One Promotions. I have read some very negative feedback on various websites about them. It seems they don't always let people know when they are winners and some winners do not receive their prize money. I will personally check out any future competitions more carefully.


Saturday, 6 February 2010

Blame it on Bizet

In a departure from the fictional offerings that usually form the centrepiece of a SVA meeting, Charlotte surprised us with a journalistic debut. It turns out Charlotte is an opera enthusiast and, when asked to produce a piece for the group's scrutiny, came up with a review of a live broadcast of Richard Eyre’s production of Carmen. Now I have to confess I have never liked opera so Charlotte's review might have left me cold. I do, though, always appreciate exuberant writing and Charlotte’s bold, confident style, her obvious enjoyment of this production and her surprisingly deep knowledge of the subject bowled over the whole group

It is notoriously difficult to write about music. A strange aphorism attributed to Elvis Costello argues that “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture; it's a really stupid thing to want to do.” Charlotte, though, managed to write convincingly about the music and drama of this unusual cinematic experience of opera.

It is one thing to offer up a piece of writing for the consideration of the group and another to read it aloud in a pub. If she was anxious about this, Charlotte's strong, clear voice betrayed little self-consciousness.

Discussion ensued about the usage of 'amongst ' as compared with 'among' and Chris seemed particularly pleased with himself at spotting not only the occasional English grammatical error but a French one too. I blame Bizet.

The group were much exercised with the question of how much a delightfully youthful authorial voice should be tempered. None of us wanted to edit out that ebullience. One solution we hit upon was to put Charlotte forward for the presumably non-existent job of opera critic of the NME.