100 years of Roald Dahl

I am just one of the gazillion people that were transformed into avid book readers quite early and have Roald Dahl to thank for this. I pulled my first all-nighter for Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator . I remember reading about Roald Dahl himself and thinking all I want to do in life is hibernate with a box of something I like to eat preferably other than chocolate and not resurface till I have a good enough story of my own. There are so many things about him that will make you believe in books and writing and probably even witches. In the honor of his 100th birthday I have made a list of reasons why you should read some of my favorite among his works.

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Angela’s Ashes and the holy terror of a word.

Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt is a beautiful remembrance of what seems to have been a battle won against poverty. Winner of Pultizer Prize, it is rightfully a competitor of Dickens. It reminds you even so of ‘A tree grows in Brooklyn ‘ by Betty Smith.

” ’tis a sad day for the men of Ireland when they need a bird to tell them a man is dead. “

We are narrated in an authentic Irish tone that only so much as delves in innocence. It is the story of how Frank leaves Brooklyn with his parents and siblings to return to Ireland after their sister Margaret dies, leaving his parents in a demented state, unable to put themselves back together.

” I have to make up dances and tunes to go with them the way I did a long time ago when I was young. I dance around the room with one shoe because I forgot to take it off.  I try to make up words, oh, the walls of Limerick are falling down, falling down. falling down, the walls of Limerick are falling down and the River Shannon kills us. Mr. Clohessy is laughing in the bed, oh, jaysus, I never heard likes o’ that on land or sea. “

They live in a constant state of poverty because their father has a major drinking problem and fails to keep a job for longer than a week. What he earns barely survives his trip to the pub.

When they return to Ireland, they live in unhygienic conditions. They have very little to nothing to eat and drink. Angela’s Ashes seems to be telling you the tale of the unprivileged straight from the bouts of hunger. It is a tale of how people grow into adults living off of only tea and bread. Its a tale of how many people you lose, even if you do survive. The characters are real enough that you feel the void when they are no longer.

We see undying resilience and sacrifice in Angela Sheehan, who set foot in America because she was doomed to do no better. We see in her echoes of a dancing talent that never quite lived when the damp of River Shannon set in and she lost child after child.

We see Malachy McCourt, the father from North of Ireland that the South of Ireland can tolerate less than an English. We see his drinking episodes that end in him singing nauseating songs of his time as a soldier and waking his sons in the middle of the night to make them promise that they’d give their life for Ireland. We see his incapacity to keep his family fed but this man isn’t cruel. He is unlike the abusive slobs that you expect when poverty and alcohol come together. This man has very little wrong with him besides the drink. He raises his children to be faithful, kind and educated. He encourages them to do better with their lives than he did. Malachy McCourt is his own wreck but he isn’t the worst father.

” In a large ledger she gives me the names and addresses of six customers behind in their payments. Threaten ’em, by.  Frighten the life out of ’em.

My First Letter.

Dear Mrs. O’Brien,

Inasmuch as you have not seem fit to pay me what you owe me I may be forced to resort to legal action. There’s your son Michael, parading around the world in his new suit which I paid for while I myself have barely a crust to keep my body and soul together. I am sure you don’t want to languish in the dungeons of Limerick jail far from friends and family.

I remain, your in litigious anticipation,

Mrs. Brigid  Finucane.

She tells me, That’s a powerful letter, by, better than anything you read in the Limerick Leader. That word, inasmuch, that’s a holy terror of a word. What does it mean?

I think it means this is your last chance. “

There is Frank with a terrible innocence that not Limerick, not Shannon, not any door that was slammed on him could take away. We read his memoir to find layers of fascination, curiosity and when we least expect it, gratitude. Angela’s Ashes is him reading to us a tale of how he starved, and how he lost his brothers, how he lived despite the typhoid when his family and friends died from pneumonia and the ‘galloping consumption’ and the many classes of disease that found no distinction between the evident rich and poor, Protestant or Catholic, English or Irish. Yet we find him in his books and in his dream of going to America, bringing the home the wage and becoming a man but never really blighting the way he saw his father.

” I had God glued to the roof of my mouth. I could hear the master’s voice, don’t let the Host touch your teeth for if you  bite God in two you’ll roast  in hell for eternity. I tried to get God down with my tongue but the priest hissed at me, stop clucking and get back to your seat.

God was good. He melted and I swallowed Him and now, at last, I was a member of the True Church, an official sinner. “

Angela’s Ashes will you bring you the Limerick view on The Great Depression, on how Roosevelt was probably a good man, how the great war wasn’t Ireland’s problem and the English had it coming after what they did to Ireland for 800 long years. It is the tale of how Shakespeare found himself a fan base in the slums of Limerick, the holiest city of Ireland playing from a radio to blind women.

” I did not like the jackdaws that perched on the trees and gravestones and I did not want to leave Oliver with them. I threw a rock at the jackdaw that waddled over towards Oliver’s grave. Dad said I shouldn’t throw stones at jackdaws, they might be somebody’s soul. I didn’t know what a soul was but I didn’t care. Oliver was dead and I hated jackdaws. I’d be a man someday and I’d come home back with a bag of rocks and I’d leave the graveyard littered with dead jackdaws. “

It is a tale of the angel on the seventh step that brought Frank new siblings after the ones he had were taken away. The angel who told him not to be afraid.

It is prominent tale of hunger and how the how where you least expect it people share the last cigarette, the last slice of bread and sometimes even a sherry. It is the story of people who steal lemonade for their sick mother and bring home sick dogs that they give their supper to even if its the only one they’ve had in a while. It is the story of a kid who took Gulliver’s Travels to read to someone in the asylum and if I can’t sell it to you with that, you’re stupid.

” The worst thing in the world is to sleeping in your dead grandmother’s bed wearing her black dress when your uncle The Abbot falls of his arse outside the South’s pub after a night of drinking pints and people who can’t mind their own business rush to Aunt Aggie’s house to tell her so that she gets Uncle Pa Keating to help her carry The Abbot home and upstairs to where you are sleeping and she barks at you, What are you doin’ in this house, in that bed? Get up and put on the kettle for tea for your poor uncle Pat that fell down, and when you don’t move she pulls the blankets and falls backwards like one seeing a ghost and yelling Mother o’ God what are you doin’ in me dead mother’s dress? “

Angela’s Ashes broke the scale and I am forever grateful that this gem exists.

 

Momina Arif.



 

 

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Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom- Review.

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom will make you look at life from the very perspective that its natural to die and unnatural to not live while you’re still alive. We read in turns from when the main characters Mitch and Morrie knew each other as college student and professor and when they got to meet each other again after not having stayed in touch for over 16 years. In the latter stage of the story we find out that either way much has changed. Mitch has gone from having big dreams of leading a spiritually fulfilling life and having a career in music to becoming a sports journalist and burying himself under work. Morrie on the other hand has fallen from health suffering from A.L.S. (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), an incurable neurological disease.

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10 times the Harry Potter fandom was too funny.

I honestly don’t think J.K. Rowling had planned for Harry Potter to have achieved such domination in the realm of humour. I don’t think she had planned ahead of giving Harry enough sass to burn a house down. But among the many things Harry Potter has given the world, there’s an in exhaustive source of puns and memes that make up 70% of the good things in this world. The rest belong to the masterpieces of the fandoms of Tumblr. When they’re not depressing you with fan theories they’re making you worry why a joke this cruel is so funny. So here’s a post to bring to you some the ‘funniest’ from the world of Harry Potter. And to seriously make you wonder if Humour was just a cherry for the top.

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10 strange facts about my favourite writers

Well I was wondering about how strange all of my favourite writers are. So I made a list of 10 of the strangest facts I’ve ever read about them. And as it so happens, the list got pretty strange as soon as I started writing.

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The god of small things by Arundhati Roy- Book Review.

Remember when in Harry Potter, Snape mocks Harry for saying muggle shit like reading minds and then further explains that there is no such thing as reading minds plain and easy like they’re books because a person’s mind is layers of thoughts and memories with no sequence, without a defined before or after. Reading the god of small things was just that except for it was one mind, two people.

*BIG TIME SPOILER ALERT*

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The only writing playlist you’ll ever need

Right here is a playlist that will put you out of your misery. Because you should never underestimate the role of music in the writing process. Here is a particularly long list of what I call good music but it’s not nearly long enough. It’s not fun making a list of 100 from a list that generally goes way over two thousand. I really hope you enjoy this one and if anything this should put you in the mood to write.

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The Good and Bad of Penny Dreadful.

The story line:

Vanessa Ives is an unusual woman. She has an aura about her which draws danger to her and not because she is vulnerable but because all the twisted things feel at home with her. She lives with Sir Malcolm, a seemingly old but incredibly powerful man. They both approach Ethan Chandler, a mysterious American, because of his skill with guns. They set off on a mission to find out where Sir Malcolm’s daughter is and to kill the vampires who’ve taken her. They ask for Dr. Frankenstein for help who agrees because of his obsession with death and resurrection. Meanwhile he has to come face to face with an old experiment of his that wasn’t as much a failure as he would have hoped.

The Good:

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The kids that your parents warned you about- Skins

Here is what you need to know about Skins. It was originally a short story written by Jamie Brittian when he was 15. Sid and his father are characters based upon Jamie and his dad. The first and foremost character to have been created was Tony Stonem. Luke Pasqualino who plays Freddie in the second generation originally auditioned for the role of Tony and was cast as an extra in the second trailer. The part then went to Nicholas Hoult. The most prominent character of Effy Stonem, played by Kaya Scoldelario appears in all seasons except for season 5 and 6. The only other character to have made it to more than two seasons is character of Pandora played by Lisa Blackwell. The Skins cast all consisted of people who had no previous experience with acting. Skins was a breakthrough for all of the people involved. The writers for Skins throughout were an average of 21 years of age.

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Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, your new favourite.

Max Delany isn’t a usual kid. He doesn’t like change, or people, or wearing more than a number of things. Although the book Memoirs of an imaginary friend never confirms it Max does show signs of suffering from Autism Spectrum Disorder. His parents worry about him constantly. They do everything they can to make him normal except for treat him like he is ‘normal’. Yet this story isn’t about Max Delany. This story is about his imaginary friend, Budo who isn’t imaginary.

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