Posts Tagged ‘Joanne Harris’

Avatar film poster (US)

Avatar film poster (US)

I’ve always meant to watch James Cameron’s Avatar, but have never been particularly enthused about the idea. It was on E4 last night,and I decided to take the plunge, as it were. The opening of the film has led to the following sentence, currently rather high up on the list of things I never thought I would write – did its creators want Avatar to be a fantasy/sci-fi Apocalypse Now? Jake Sully’s voice-over made me think that they may have been trying to create such an effect, mimicking Ben Willard’s opening monologue, and later scenes of the helicopters taking off to attack the People (the Pandora natives) were also reminiscent of Apocalypse Now‘s helicopters flight scene, set to Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries. Now I really want to apologise to the makers of Apocalypse Now. This is Avatar‘s main problem – everything about it has been done before, and done better; . I expected very little from the plot, but it was even more unoriginal than I was expecting. It’s an adventure story built around an individual’s redemption, as he recovers from his brother’s death, and replaces that brother on a journey of exploration on a new planet, which has its own people and way of life. It had potential, but every character, be they from Earth or from Pandora is a stereotype – an extreme stereotype – and it’s impossible to care about them, as they are not developed as individuals. The plot is likewise obvious from the outset; Sully may assert that the purpose of the “old-school brief [was] to put you at ease”, but I beg to differ. (more…)

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I still haven’t got round to reading everybody’s – even half of everybody’s – Teaser Tuesday posts from last week, but will nonetheless persevere. I finished Joanne M. Harris’s The Gospel of Loki – which is excellent. You can read my full (and spoiler-free!) review here on Goodreads. What I did learn from reading other Teaser Tuesday-ers’ posts is that the two sentences to be posted should be sentences that come together, not sentences from two separate places on the random page.

Ragnarok, by A. S. Byatt (Canongate, 2012) – paperback cover image from Goodreads.

This week’s Teaser Tuesday of mine is another work of fiction focusing on the Norse Gods – my adored A. S. Byatt‘s Ragnarok : the end of the gods (Canongate, 2012). Given that I haven’t yet begun reading it (it being next on the pile), I will be as cursory as possible in flicking through the pages to discover a suitable spoiler-free quote to use. And here it is:

He led her to the shoals of mackerel, shimmering and speeding, and changed himself to a spearfish, a swordfish, to join the snake in the pursuit. The rushing shoal was like an immense single creature, huge-bellied, boiling, twisting and turning, green and pink and indigo and steely.

I love tales about metamorphosis and shape-shifting, so I’m now even more excited about reading this book.

Random quotes were taken from p.65

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I’ve been following the bibliophile blog Should be Reading for a few years now, and particularly enjoy Teaser Tuesdays. The premise is as follows (copied from today’s entry):

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

But this is the first time I’ve been true to my mental not to participate. Here be my two randomly-chosen, spoiler-free, sentences:

“Tell me more,” she would say, lounging on her silken couch, eating fruit, attended by her maidens.

“The sons of Ivaldi may not have been judged the best craftsmen in the Nine Worlds – although I still dispute this – but they are undoubtedly the finest goldsmiths I’ve ever seen, as I’m sure you’d agree, if you’d seen their work.”

Intrigued? Read Joanne M. Harris’s The Gospel of Loki (London : Gollancz, 2014). I am not far into it yet, but am greatly enjoying it.

(My quotes are taken from P.77)

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Christine de Pisan, Collected Works (1407), BL, MS Harley 4431 (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

I don’t really call myself a writer – optimistically, I will add to that statement “not yet”. But I am always fascinated by the way in which writers work. Joanne Harris‘s tweets about the Shed are wonderfully entertaining, and the work that Gail Carriger puts into sustaining the Parasol Protectorate universe on a daily business is inspired. (more…)

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I have a lot of memories of playing with my Grandma’s and my Mum’s recipe books when I was a wee girl; the ingredients and pictures were fascinating. Even at my advanced age, I still read recipe books like they are story books, especially those written by Tessa Kiros. There exist recipes books within stories, as in the case of Laura Esquivel‘s Como Agua para Chocolate (Like Water for Chocolate). There exist recipe books as companions to stories, such as The French Kitchen: a cookbook, by Joanne Harris and Fran Warde, to bring to life the food eaten in the world of Vianne Rocher and her fellow characters. There exist recipe books as history, such as All the King’s Cooks: the Tudor Kitchens of King Henry VIII at Hampton Court Palace, by Peter Brear (Souvenir Press, 2011, ISBN 978-0285638969). There are pretend cookbooks that I wish so much were real – most recently Geoffrey Fule’s cookbook, an English production of the 14th century (England, mid-14th century (London, British Library, MS Additional 142012).

There is one cookbook which has been part of my life as long as I can remember – The Glasgow Cookery Book. It was first published in 1910, as the official textbook of the Glasgow and West of Scotland College of Domestic Science, known locally as the Dough School.

Sewing Class at the Dough School

Sewing Class at the Dough School (from the Glasgow Story)

Both my Grandma, before she got married, and my Mum, who trained as a Home Economics teacher, are alumnae thereof. The Dough School no longer exists as they knew it, as it is now part of Glasgow Caledonian University; I feel that it falls to me to maintain the family tradition.

My copy of the Glasgow Cookery Book (originally owned by a Great Aunt)

I do not know when Grandma got her copy, but I presume that it was when she attended courses at the Dough School. My Mum’s copy was published in 1962; she also had Grandma’s copy, Grandma being too old to cook for herself. The first edition, intended as the school’s primary textbook, was compiled by the then Principal, Ella Glaister, and her staff. It was published by the Glasgow publishing house and bookseller John Smith and Son, founded in 1751 and to this day the main University bookseller for all Glasgow-based higher education institutions. Both of these copies are written in imperial measurements, which to this day I find easier to use – we may have been taught in metric at school, but in daily life we tend to use imperial – while my own copy is one of those published after 1975, when the book was first converted into metric. But the best part of the book by far is the glimpse that it gives into cooking practices that are in some cases less than fifty years old. Chapter Four of my edition is called “Meats and Offal”; it includes recipes such as Stewed Ox-Tail, which in turn reminds me of Grandma’s total shock when she went to the local butcher not long after Mad Cow Disease made its presence felt and was told that they could no longer sell oxtails. Her indignation knew no bounds, and this lack was not good for any of us, as oxtail soup is a rich dish indeed. When I was younger, my favourite recipe in the book was undeniably Sheep’s Head Broth; to this day it fills me with glee. The first line of the recipe – “Remove brains from head and soak in cold water” – and the note at the end – “Traditionally a singed head was used” are wonderful (p.25). I will admit that I would love to try to make this, but good as my local butcher is proving to be, I suspect that he may not be able to help me out here. But I will persevere.

This post was inspired by my using The Glasgow Cookery Book to cook a large and hearty pot of lentil soup. It brought back a lot of memories, and after a cold and tiring day, that time spent in the kitchen has revived me. If you wish to buy your own copy, the Centenary Edition was published in 2010 and is available on Amazon.

Some background details about the creation of this cookery book was found at the Glasgow Caledonian University website, on the Dough School alumni page (http://bit.ly/RCf292). When talking to Mum about it, she told me that there is also an archive relating to the Dough School history, held in the Special Collections Department of the Glasgow Caledonian University Library; this archive holds material dating back to 1875, when the school was established. I have since discovered that it also forms part of the Gateway to Archives of Scottish Higher Education (GASHE). Mum and I are now planning to pay it a visit as soon as we can.

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