Tag Archives: stories

this book will change your mind

“Empathy is hard-wired into our brains. We experience just by watching others’ experiences. We tell stories to stimulate the mirror neurons. We watch a film and become the characters, we read someone’s story and for the time we’re in it, the connections within our own brains actually reshape, beginning to mirror the connections in the chacter’s brain.

“So this book, like every story you’ve ever read, heard or watched, will alter the shape of your brain. Whatever you think, this book is guaranteed to change your mind.”

from How to Forget by Marius Brill


stories take root

“What is frail falls away; stories that take root become like things, misshapen things with an illogical core, which pass through many hands without wearing out or falling to pieces, remaining in essence the same, adjusting here and there at the edges, nothing more, as families or forests reproduce ever-changing appearances of themselves; the geology of fable. In Alexandria, eucalypts were grown in front of houses to ward off evil spirits, including fatal diseases.”

from Eucalyptus by Murray Bail

In a Dark Wood by Amanda Craig

DATE FINISHED: July 18th, 2012 

RATED: **** 

SYNOPSIS:  Benedick is miserable: recently divorced, acting career in the doldrums, at war with his father, and barely able to look after himself, let alone his two young children (who ex-wife Georgie keeps insisting spend time with him). Taking refuge in the home of Ruth, the woman who raised him as one of her own, Benedick suddenly realises he can remember almost nothing about his real mother, who committed suicide when he was six years old. Inspired by a book of fairy tales written and illustrated by Laura, he embarks upon a quest to discover more about her, whether she was mad as many of her ‘friends’ seem to claim, and what drove her beyond the brink.

THOUGHTS:  In the sheer unlikeability of lead character Benedick, Craig sets herself for a potentially huge downfall – he is irritating, whiny, hypocritical, rude, quite simply unpleasant. Those readers who force themselves beyond this, however, will be rewarded Read more of this post

a man of words

“A man of words and not of deeds
Is like a garden full of weeds,
And when the weeds begin to grow
It’s like a garden full of snow,
And when the snow begins to fly
It’s like an eagle in the sky,
And when the sky begins to roar
It’s like a lion at your door,
And when the door begins to crack
It’s like a stick across your back,
And when your back begins to smart
It’s like a whip across your heart,
And when your heart begins to fail
It’s like a ship without a sail,
And when the sail begins to sink
It’s like a bottle full of ink,
And when the ink begins to write
It makes the paper black and white.”

from In a Dark Wood by Amanda Craig

out of these fumes

“In the deepest heart of England there is a place where everything is at fault. That is to say that the land rests upon a fault; and there, ancient rocks are sent hurtling from the deep to the surface of the earth with such force that they break free like oceanic waves, or like monstrous sea-creatures coming up for air. Some say that the land still has to settle and that it continues to roil and breathe fumes, and that out of these fumes pour stories. Others are confident that the old volcanoes are long dead, and that all its tales are told.

Of course, everything depends on who is telling the story. It always does.”

from Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce

the story I make

This is my memory, my own story with pale eyes.  It is simple to tell, the story made for me, the story I make in turn to pass on. Nothing in these pages is lost in sleep, or in a bandage of pain. It is lived out in words and spaces between the lines that are like breath, a life formed as one word comes up behind the other, joins sentences that curve and change and turn back to face me on the page.

from The Keepsake by Kirsty Gunn

a story stands in

“A story stands in for everything that cannot be explained and, though there are many stories, there’s really only one and we can tell the difference because the many stories have a beginning and an end, but the one story doesn’t work like that.  Ryvold used to say that stories are really about time.  They tell us that once, in a place that existed before we were born, something occurred – and we like to hear about that, because we know already that the story is over.  We know that we are living in the happily ever after, which means that nothing will happen again – and this is the key to a happy life.  To live in the ever after of the present moment: no past, no future.”

from A Summer of Drowning by John Burnside

Girl Meets Boy by Ali Smith

DATE FINISHED: June 22nd, 2012 

RATED: ****

SYNOPSIS:  Anthea can’t find any enthusiasm for the Pure corporation for whom her increasingly thin sister Midge has found her work. She is fascinated, though, by the mysterious messages that have begun to be graffiti-d around town and the person who paints them. That the person is a girl doesn’t phase Anthea in the slightest, and she is happy to sink into a mutually joyful relationship with Robin who regales her with the story of the boy-girl/girl-boy from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Iphis. Midge is horrified, but when Pure reveals itself as less than, she is forced to re-evaluate everything.

THOUGHTS:  Released as one of the Canongate Myths series (in which established authors re-write old myths for a new audience), Smith has written a wonderful love story that captures the happiness of Ovid’s original whilst relating it to utterly contemporary themes. Read more of this post

Lighthousekeeping by Jeanette Winterson

DATE FINISHED: June 22nd, 2012 

RATED: ****

SYNOPSIS:  Orphaned Silver is apprenticed to lighthousekeeper Pew, and in the darkness of the lighthouse she finds stories hang in the air like seaspray. From Pew she learns about Babel Dark, the minister son of the man who built the lighthouse, and his own haunted tale of love and duality. And eventually Silver follows the trail to find a love of her own.

THOUGHTS:  Winterson’s musical prose weaves back and forth through time, painting vivid pictures of darkness and light, past and present but avoiding extraneous detail: a watercolour wash of dreamlike images. Read more of this post

tell me a story

Tell me a story, Pew.

What kind of story, child?  
A story with a happy ending.  
There’s no such thing in all the world.  
As a happy ending?  
As an ending.

* * *

Tell me a story, Pew.

What story, child?  
One that begins again.  
That’s the story of life.  
But is it the story of my life?  
Only if you tell it.

* * *

Tell me a story, Silver.

What story?  
The story of what happened next.  
That depends.  
On what?  
On how I tell it.

* * *

Tell me a story, Silver.

What story?  
This one.

* * *

from Lighthousekeeping by Jeanette Winterson