Literary

Giveaway: Letters to Strabo

Letters to Strabo by David Smith
Letters to Strabo by David Smith

I recently reviewed David Smith’s excellent book, Letters to Strabo. David has very kindly agreed to give away a signed copy to three lucky Examining the Odd readers!

To enter, simply click here!

 

The competition will close on August 5th. I will then use the Rafflecopter random generator to choose three winners. Their details will be passed on to David and he will sign and send the books! 18+ only please.

Good luck!

Literary

Review: Letters to Strabo by David Smith

Letters to Strabo by David Smith
Letters to Strabo by David Smith

I recently reviewed David Smith’s Love in Lindfield and I’ve just finished his Letters to Strabo. Although the former was a fun read, the latter is definitely more my style and I really enjoyed the adventure.

As Finn’s mother dies, he promises that he’ll find out what really happened to his father, a man Finn has never really known. This takes him on an epic quest and he very kindly allows us to tag along.

Along the way, he’s inspired through a series of adventures by the landscapes and people he meets travelling round the Mediterranean, but especially by the Letters to Strabo, written by Eve, his long-distance pen pal whom he dreams, one day, will become his wife… Through these letters, Finn gradually learns more about himself but also about how Eve is, in turn, struggling with an emotional trauma that she won’t fully reveal… This is both a love story and coming-of-age tale, painted on the canvas of the radiant literary, cultural and physical geography of the Mediterranean. It is funny and provocative as Finn recounts, with disarming honesty, the excitement and mistakes of youthful energy, but ultimately life-affirming in the emergence of new hope from personal tragedy. – Troubador

BEHIND EVERY GREAT LOVE IS AN EPIC STORY WAITING TO BE TOLD.

“One of the best coming of age novels in years” BookViral.
“Rich and intriguing with outstanding passages of lyrical prose.” S. Robinson

Intentionally, I believe, this novel reads like a travel guide, taking us to Greece, Persia, India, Egypt, North Africa and many more exciting destinations. We’re right beside Finn for his whole trip, sharing in his adventures, friendships and love affairs.

What makes this travel experience even more interesting is that it’s set in the late seventies and not the present day. Despite geography and history both being fascinating to me, neither are anywhere near to being my intellectual strengths and I felt as though I was casually learning throughout the book.

Each chapter begins with a quote from Mark Twain, echoing Finn’s journey with his own experiences. It does occasionally seem as though there’s too much going on in this book, from the search for information about the protagonist’s father, to his many love interests, the actual travel experiences themselves, and even some surprising action scenes.

I did enjoy the style of writing though, particularly when young Finn is behaving in a laddish way, playing the loveable fool and unwittingly getting into trouble. A surprising cameo role for Peggy Guggenheim also delighted me!

David Smith has also written Searching for Amber and Death in Leamington, as well as the aforementioned Love in Lindfield.

Film

The Friday Film – The Birds

Tippi Hedren in Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds (1963). Photo: Everett Collection/Rex features
Tippi Hedren in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963). Photo: Everett Collection/Rex features

I’m pretty late to the party, but last night I finally got round to watching The Birds, the Hitchcock film based on Daphne du Maurier’s story of the same name (first published in The Apple Tree).

It stars Rod Taylor and Tippi Hedren, both intriguing but slightly unlikable, at least in these roles anyway. The film begins with sweet little lovebirds and a wealthy woman with stalker-like behaviour (Hedren) and ends with murderous crows and seabirds.

The women of the film are intriguing and at times it can be hard to judge what the bird-loving Hitchcock or Hunter were getting at with these characters. Perhaps that’s why they made Taylor’s character so bland. I must admit, it was no Vertigo, but I still really enjoyed The Birds.

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Edited by George Tomasini
Production
company
Alfred J. Hitchcock Productions
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date
  • March 28, 1963
Budget $3.3 million
Box office $11.4 million

Running time: 119 minutes.

Birds invade the Brenner house
Birds invade the Brenner house

It is one of the most disturbing sequences in cinematic history: a woman tiptoes through a house until – in three staccato shots – she discovers the bloody corpse of its occupant on the bedroom floor, his eye sockets two black holes dripping with gore. Telegraph

In this film, the female lead, Melanie Daniels is standing outside and you can see the playground behind her gradually filling up with birds.  This could be perhaps my favorite scene in movie history.  This scene is the best example of montage or Mise En Scene I could think of.  Hitchcock was extremely impressive in his dramatic techniques.  It helped to build the tension which also made this film horror and suspense. Lighting the Birds

Is The Birds about feminism? I don’t know, and I’m less convinced of this now than I was a decade ago. The Imaginative Conservative

Hitchcock initially wanted his 1950s leading lady Grace Kelly for the role of Melanie Daniels, but after she married Prince Rainier of Monaco in 1956, she retired from acting and declined all offers to return to Hollywood. He’d also sought Anne Bancroft for the role, but even with his expansive budget, he couldn’t afford her. Others on his wish list included starlets Sandra Dee, Carol Lynley, Yvette Mimieux, and Pamela Tiffin… He discovered his eventual leading lady, Hedren, a model with no acting experience, when he spotted her in a TV commercial for a diet drink during NBC’s “Today” show… The director initially wanted Joseph Stefano, his “Psycho” screenwriter, to return for “The Birds,” but Stefano wasn’t interested in the story. Movie Fone

The Birds
The Birds

Hunter began working on the screenplay in September 1961. He and Hitchcock developed the story, suggesting foundations such as the townspeople having a guilty secret to hide, and the birds an instrument of punishment. He suggested that the film begin using some elements borrowed from the screwball comedy genre then have it evolve into “stark terror”. This appealed to Hitchcock, according to the writer, because it conformed to his love of suspense: the title and the publicity would have already informed the audience that birds attack, but they do not know when. The initial humor followed by horror would turn the suspense into shock… Hitchcock at later stages consulted with his friends Hume Cronyn (whose wife Jessica Tandy was playing Lydia) and V.S. Pritchett, who both offered lengthy reflections on the work… The director commissioned Sala and Remi Gassmann to design an electronic soundtrack. They are credited with “electronic sound production and composition”, and Hitchcock’s previous musical collaborator Bernard Herrmann is credited as “sound consultant”… Source music includes the first of Claude Debussy‘s Deux arabesques, which Tippi Hedren’s character plays on piano, and “Risseldy Rosseldy”, an Americanized version of the Scottish folk songWee Cooper O’Fife“, which is sung by the schoolchildren. Good old Wikipedia

Uncategorized

Nothing is Strange – Mike Russell

Jade's Bookshelf

NOTHINGISSTRANGE Cover design: Mike Russell

Published December 31st 2014 by StrangeBooks
Format: eBook
Author: Mike Russell
Genre: Short stories, fiction
Pages: 146
Star rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Opening line:

“Mr Spencer’s scones are legendary.”

Goodreads synopsis:

20 mind-expanding short stories.
Inspiring, liberating, otherworldly, magical, surreal, bizarre, funny, disturbing, unique… all of these words have been used to describe the stories of Mike Russell so put on your top hat, open your third eye and enjoy: Nothing Is Strange

When I began reading this collection I was more than addicted to Mike Russell’s strange fiction. The title Nothing is Strange caught my attention more than anything because it seemed to contradict everything I had encountered so far since delving into this odd world of peculiar characters.

I thought ‘will these stories be somehow…less strange?‘ and I wasn’t sure what to expect. But I shouldn’t…

View original post 652 more words

Music

The Thursday Album – Antichrist Superstar – Marilyn Manson

This week’s album is Marilyn Manson’s Antichrist Superstar. I hope you enjoy the memory jolt!

Antichrist Superstar is the second studio album by American rock band Marilyn Manson, released on October 8, 1996 by Nothing and Interscope Records.

Producers: Sean Beavan, Marilyn Manson, Dave OgilvieTrent Reznor

Marilyn Manson
Marilyn Manson

Manson’s new album Heaven Upside Down is expected later this year.

I’m a little over-anxious to release it, so it was done very quickly, but it’s by far the most thematic and over-complicated thing that I’ve done. In a way, it’s deceptively delightful to strangers. It’s like the old saying that the devil’s greatest secret is that people don’t believe he exists. – Marilyn Manson

Literary

Light Dawning by Ty Arthur

Following his sci-fi novella “Empty” from 2016, Ty Arthur returns with new full-length horror novel “Light Dawning.” Pivoting away from the emptiness of space, the book dives headlong into the waters of fantasy, but with a seriously grimdark twist. This next foray into the bleaker corners of human existence drops this week on Kindle and paperback.

LightDawningCovWebVersion

Like its predecessor, the creation of “Light Dawning” was driven forward by the power of music, with special thanks in particular  due to U.K. avant-garde black metal group Code, Norwegian musical enigma Ihsahn, and Chilean prog rock group Bauda. To get an advance preview of the themes and tone of the novel, a music playlist matching several scenes can be heard via Spotify.

Once known as the City on the Hill and revered far and wide for its independence and boundless opportunity, Cestia has become home only to the damned. Surviving under the brutal occupation of a southern empire for three long years, the oppressed populace has lost hope of liberation, turning instead towards an increasingly desperate rebellion willing to commit any atrocity for a chance at freedom.

Brushstroke Picture Frame: https://www.tuxpi.com/photo-effects/brushstroke-photo-frame

As total war approaches, four lost souls trapped behind Cestia’s walls are on a collision course with fate, destined to either save the city or see it utterly destroyed while calling on forces beyond mankind’s comprehension. For good or ill, the light of a new day is about to dawn.

Brushstroke Picture Frame: https://www.tuxpi.com/photo-effects/brushstroke-photo-frame

“As with all my work, this story is inspired by a real life experience translated into a fictional setting, and completing this book took a lot out of me,” Arthur said of the upcoming release. “Its set in an unquestionably fantasy universe, but you won’t find any elves or farm boy chosen ones saving the world. My take on the genre draws more from cosmic dread and the horror of war than anything with unlikely heroes or lovable rogues. Don’t expect any happy endings.”

For a taste of what to expect from the novel, the full first chapter can be read here.

AUTHOR BIO

TyArthurPhoto

Ty Arthur gets to meld his passions with his work while freelancing for the likes of Metalunderground and GameSkinny. His debut sci-fi / horror novella “Empty” was released in early 2016, with many more dark tales still to come. Arthur writes to exorcise his demons and lives in the cold, dark north with his amazing wife Megan and infant son Gannicus Picard.

Brushstroke Picture Frame: https://www.tuxpi.com/photo-effects/brushstroke-photo-frame