WWW Wednesdays: What Am I Reading? (4)

WWW Wednesdays: What Am I Reading? (4)

WWW Wednesdays is a weekly meme that is hosted by Taking on a World of Words. The “rules” are simple – answer the 3 questions below:


1. What are you currently reading?

I’m reading a non-fiction, Shooting History, by Jon Snow – an autobiographical account of modern history and journalism Snow was involved in. I’ve also been sent another book to read for Rosie’s Book Review Team, The Devil In The Countryside, a historical thriller by Cory Barclay. I’m also reading another free book to review – Being Simon Haines, by Tom Vaughan MacAulay.

It’s also exam-season, so as a form of revision, I’m aiming to re-read texts that will be covered in my exams. Here’s how I’ve got on so far:

2. What did you recently finish reading?

I read so much over the Easter break! I read The Seagull, a play by Anton Chekhov, as well some more Stephen King novels of course – The Shining and The Tommyknockers. I also finished the thriller Perfect People by Peter James, as well as The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy. I also received a new book, Commune: Book One, to read and review for Joshua Gayou, a new author.

3. What do you think you’ll read next?

As I really enjoyed Perfect People, I want to explore the works of Peter James, and the thriller genre as whole, further. It would also be nice to read some more classic literature as well.


What are you currently reading?

– Judith

[Guest Post] Film Review: T2 Trainspotting

[Guest Post] Film Review: T2 Trainspotting

The following blog post was written by Patrick, from The Blog from Another World, as the second part of our second collaborative series and again, the focus seems to have been on trains! You can read our previous posts, talking Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting here, and about Paula Hawkin’s The Girl On The Train, here and here.


I love Danny Boyle and I love Trainspotting. When T2 was announced, I was worried that the film would be a cash grab, a lazy retread. Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon had already disappointed me with Jason Bourne (2016), which was an ill-thought through bore. However, after watching Trainspotting again for my article with ReadandReview2016, the stakes were raised very high. Impossibly high?

No. Not at all. Danny Boyle is the finest British filmmaker in modern cinema. There is no doubt in my mind about this. T2 is fantastic. Possibly even better than the first.

Boyle performs camera moves, positions and set pieces which are truly thrilling. He and his director of photography Anthony Dodd Mantle work with light and shadow and perspective to create meaning.

He’s a director who inspires me and this might just be the biggest risk of his career. He pulls it off and shows a maturity and an evolution of film-making style which makes us understand just how much experience and persistence matters. In preparation for watching T2 I watched A Life Less Ordinary, the Boyle directed film which came after Trainspotting and before The Beach. The film is a flawed and underwhelming work despite a career best performance by Cameron Diaz.

My reason for watching A Life Less Ordinary was to remind myself of Boyle on a bad day (but even his low point is better than many director’s best).   Slumdog Millionaire and Steve Jobs are big favourites of mine but T2 takes his best work and betters it.  It’s funny, sad, euphoric, tragic and utterly brilliant.

The story of T2 follows Renton, Sick Boy (now Simon), Begbie and Spud as they deal with the modern world twenty years after the events of the first film.

This film is a wonderful look at ageing, our modern world and the responsibilities of adulthood. The characters feel deeper and emotionally richer although some plot strands don’t go anywhere and seem added in for nostalgia’s sake (the re-appearance of heroin is pointless).

The four leads are superb. Ewan McGregor is the best he’s been since the original film, Robert Carlyle has aged Begbie in the most perfect way and Ewan Bremner is the heart of the film. Only Jonny Lee Miller isn’t stretched, with Sick Boy always being a secondary character.

This film has a rollicking pace and heaps of style. It captures the spirit of the original whilst moving in an entirely new direction, away from drugs and toward some kind of recognition. For the first time, Renton is forced to face the consequences of his actions and it’s an explosive moment. I personally loved this scene (not a spoiler) which captures the hard edged but joyful tone of the original and is a perfect storm of music, action, comedy and character.

This film is the best thing I’ve seen all year. It would take a lot to top this, and I can’t wait!

***

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this article, please give it a ‘Like’. . Thanks to Patrick for writing this film review. You can find his other film reviews here:

From One Blogger To Another: Trainspotting Discussion With The Blog from Another World

From One Blogger To Another: Trainspotting Discussion With The Blog from Another World

With the release of Trainspotting 2, the long-awaited sequel to Danny Boyle’s 1996 black-comedy film, I sat down with Patrick, from The Blog from Another World to discuss Trainspotting.

I read Trainspotting, the book on which the film is based, by Irvine Welsh last year and wrote a review of it here. Overall, the gritty Scottish social realism failed to captivate me, but I appreciated Welsh’s inclusion of Scottish slang and dialect. When I watched the film however, I felt much more engaged.

I asked Patrick if enjoyed watching Trainspotting. He said: “I think that ‘enjoy’ is a difficult term to use to describe this film. I think it’s is a British classic and a milestone for British cinema.”

He continued, “Many films have tried to emulate the anarchic and twisted style of this film (such as Jon S. Baird’s Filth in 2013 – based on another novel by Irvine Welsh) but nobody has ever really come close. I love Danny Boyle’s direction and he makes the film palatable for the audience.”

However, what I found unpalatable in Trainspotting was how every social situation was punctuated by, hard drug use aside, cigarettes and alcohol. Whilst Trainspotting is by no means the only film to feature heavy drinking and smoking, it’s something in film that irritates me every time; excessive consumption makes me feel physically sick. I also found it ironic that the characters who frequently binged on these “socially acceptable” drugs were the same characters berating Renton and his friends for their heroin addictions.

Yet the constant smoking and drinking was certainly not the most shocking part of Trainspotting. To say the film includes crude scenes is an understatement.

 “It is a tough film to watch in places, so I understand why people can’t enjoy it for that reason.” Patrick said. However, he argued that these disgusting scenes are purposeful, and contrasted with moments of beauty and perfection.

“For example, when Renton dives down the worst toilet in Scotland, he lands in clear, serene water –  brilliant juxtaposition; I really admire the sheer invention of it.”

Speaking of whom, Ewan McGregor’s Renton was my favourite character in Trainspotting: the protagonist and heroin addict, who provides a voice of relative reason and is capable of blending into “normal” society.

Renton is the central narrator of the film, which made the plot easier to follow and helped me put names to faces. It was also a nice change from the book, which frequently changed between different narrative perspectives, making for tough reading. The fact Renton’s narration helped me understand the plot better made me appreciate the voice-overs – a technique I normally dislike within film –  and I thought they matched the style of Trainspotting well.

Patrick’s favourite character was Francis Begbie, a psychopath with violent tendencies, played by Robert Carlyle.

“Carlyle gives such a ferocious and frightening portrayal of a psychopath” he said.

“I can’t help but feel that Heath Ledger’s Joker and Andrew Scott’s Moriarty share DNA with Begbie’s pint-glass-throwing-chaos. True, Renton, Spud and Sick Boy are iconic characters, but Begbie is the character who sticks in my mind.

When Begbie starts a fight at the pub, it’s horrible. His callous violent bloodlust is frightening and his whim to have a fight is portrayed excellently.”

Patrick described to me another memorable Trainspotting scene, where Renton is forced by his parents to give up his heroin use, going through withdrawal symptoms, including vivid hallucinations. “It’s a horrific and surreal scene.” Patrick said, and I have to agree. McGregor’s acting here was fantastic; his screams really emphasised the suffering he was going through, and it was conflicting to watch.

Personally, I found the scene where Allison’s baby dies unsurprising but incredibly emotional. Allison, played by Susan Vidler, had an incredibly blasé attitude to drugs and promiscuous sex, resulting in a neglected baby surrounded by drugs and filth. When baby Dawn, inevitably died from poor health and neglect, it was such a raw and emotional scene – I could really sense Allison’s pain. However, what disturbed and angered me was that although Allison was in such pain, she still turned back to drugs – highlighting the vicious and destructive cycle of drug addiction.

It is scenes such as these that give Trainspotting a much darker tone, to juxtapose with its comedic elements.

Patrick said, “I think Trainspotting’s tone is very complex. It’s a film which is hyperactive but sombre, crass but frightening. The tone works because it’s about the ‘highs and lows’ of drug addiction; the tone wildly fluctuates to expertly capture and reflect what life is like for a heroin addict.”

“Many drugs films such as Requiem For A Dream (Darren Aronofsky, 2000) show only the horrific parts of drug addiction. Trainspotting is the best portrayal of addiction since The Lost Weekend (Billy Wilder, 1945). It gives a balanced but unflinching view of addiction – it’s as euphoric as it is disgusting. It is better to understand what drugs give you, before you see what they take away.”

Trainspotting 2 was released today in the UK, and will be released in March in the USA.

***

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this article, please give it a ‘Like’.

This is part of another collaborative series with The Blog from Another World, and again, the focus seems to have been on trains! You can read our previous posts, talking about Paula Hawkin’s The Girl On The Train, here and here.

This is also the first post in my new series, From One Blogger To Another, where I will interview a different blogger / writer each month. I wanted to write some longer pieces for my blog that are more journalistic in style, and hopefully this series will allow me to do that.

That’s all for now!

– Judith and Patrick

Ringing In The New Year Book Tag

Ringing In The New Year Book Tag

New year, new book tag. I found this on tinyobsessions.wordpress.com and I thought it was appropriate, given it’s January. I’ve chosen my favourite questions to answer.

1. What was the best book or series you read in 2016?

I’d say my favourite book was something by Gillian Flynn. Despite really enjoying Gone Girl, I read Sharp Objects more times – at least two or three times last year.

2. What authors have you recently found and would like to read more of in 2017?

I’ve got 3 authors to choose from: Stephen King, Agatha Christie, and C.S. Lewis. I read some of their books the first time this year and I really enjoyed them. If you have a favourite book by this author, please leave a comment with it below and I can add your recommendations to my TBR!

3. What is your most anticipated book-to-film adaptation?

I don’t really know what is coming out this year, apart from Trainspotting 2. I think I’d like to see some more good period dramas on the BBC. They really help me read and understand classics better.

4. What are the top 5 books on your 2017 TBR?

I have far too many books on my TBR to pick a top 5! I’d say Finders Keepers and End of Watch, the sequels to Mr Mercedes by Stephen King. I also want to read some more Dystopian books, so I’d like to read The Man In The High Castle by Philip K. Dick.

5. How many books do you hope to read in 2017? 

I worked out that in 2016, I read about 70 books which is absolutely crazy. I’d like to hit the same number again this year, or maybe beat it – perhaps I’ll aim to read 80 books?

6. Do you have any book or blogging themed resolutions?

A blogging resolution would be that I’ve considered doing some more creative writing. I’d also like to be able to read more for leisure, or at least get the balance right between reading for my studies and reading for myself.

Happy New Year! (Is it too late to still be saying that?)

Please ‘Like’ if you enjoyed this little book tag; what would your answers to these questions be?

– Judith

ReadandReview Guest Post @ Reading Ahead

ReadandReview Guest Post @ Reading Ahead

Happy Friday!

Today is not my usual upload day, but if you have been following ReadandReview for a little while, you’ll know I like reading and writing book reviews. As I have said on my About page, I was inspired to start this blog after taking apart in the Six Book Challenge (now known as the Reading Ahead programme) organised by the Reading Agency.

I was asked to contribute to the Reading Ahead Blog about my experience and to talk a little bit about each of my six reads.

That’s all I have to say really, other than head on over to my guest post at: readingahead.org.uk/blog/judith-webster-shares-her-six-reads

I’ll pop a list of my six reads here for you – one of these reads was also my first ever blog post, and other posts have also been inspired by these reads!

  1. The Hunter, by L.J. Smith
  2. The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories, by Angela Carter
  3. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
  4. Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens
  5. Trainspotting, by Irvine Welsh
  6. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, by Arthur Conan Doyle

That’s all for now!

– Judith

Read and Review: Trainspotting

Read and Review: Trainspotting
  • Title: Trainspotting
  • Author: Irvine Welsh
  • First Published: 1993

Trainspotting is a novel about a group of friends who are addicted to drugs, alcohol or have a tendency to indulge in criminal activity. The book is set in poverty-stricken Scotland in the late 1980s.

Unfortunately, Trainspotting wasn’t my cup of tea. Structurally, the point of narration shifts from a third person narrator to a first person narrator, to a different first person narrator and so on. It became incredibly difficult, incredibly quickly, to follow the plot and learn about the characters.

I also didn’t like Welsh’s use of explicit sexual language and swearing.

The Scottish dialect in the narration and dialogue was somewhat confusing too, albeit interesting. Regional accents and dialects are important in conveying realism, which is necessary for a book which places itself in the social realist genre.

I am sure other readers have had similar reactions to books with a regional basis, such as Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte, 1847) or The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett, 1911) which are set in the depths of Yorkshire and the dialogue reflects this. Being a ‘Yorkshire lass’ myself, this form of dialect doesn’t bother me. I suppose Trainspotting is Welsh’s modern take on this.

However, despite not enjoying the book, Trainspotting was still fascinating, from an analytical perspective. The characters exist, rather than live. There is a focus on survival, rather than quality of life. The stagnation of action is reflective of their stagnant drug and alcohol addictions, and this is quite sad.

Although this kind of modern social realism wasn’t for me, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy Trainspotting for yourself.

-Judith