Sunday, August 23, 2009

Church, edits and books

Here's today's meditation:

Meditation 205

In the middle
of battle, victory

and a bargained marriage
she knows

what is needed
and for this one time

she asks
what she wants

and gets it:
the upper

and lower water.
Caleb, Othniel, Achsah.

Keeping on a religious theme, Lord H and I graced the church with our presence today, but were utterly confused by the hymns. I think it's part of the Anglican August conspiracy that vicars choose hymns nobody knows to tunes that nobody understands. Perhaps they think it keeps us on our toes? We had a charming one by Wesley - called Author of Life Divine - but it's only two verses long so the congregation barely had time to get to grips with the tune. After all, the Church Hymn Rule for unknown tunes is the first verse is the one where you're working it through, the second verse is the one where you're practising it and the third verse and beyond is the one where you can really belt it out with gusto. Today we didn't get that chance. Ah well. We were also muddled by the fact that the last two lines of said verses are apparently sung slower and twice. Hmm, nobody told us ...

Still, at least we're back to shaking hands during the Peace and allowed to take wine at communion, so the spectre of the swine flu plague has obviously lost some of its grip. I also managed to give out a few postcards for Disasters and Miracles that Bridge House Publishing had kindly sent out. Nice to see that Disasters and Miracles at Amazon appears to be doing well. At one point late last week, its sales ranking actually only had four figures. Well, gosh, I've never been in those dizzy heights before.

This afternoon, I have fiddled around a little with the edits for the start of Hallsfoot's Battle and am pleased with my minimal efforts so far. More drastic cuts and slashes are ahead however! Time to gird one's loins for the kill.

Keeping to the subject of books, may I say that Sasha Wagstaff's Changing Grooms is the worst novel I've had the horror of reading in a long long time. What I was hoping for was light but intelligent women's fiction. What I actually got was dull, cliched, clunky and very very badly written. And the characters were so shallow it was laughable. A serious disappointment. It's an astonishment Headline actually published it - what on earth could they have been thinking?? Point of view changes happened every few paragraphs so it was very difficult to work out where you were at any one time, the conversations were completely unrealistic - how many British men do you know who sit down and discuss their emotions and the meaning of love at great length with each other?? - the plot was very sloppy, and character development (where it existed at all) was only shown through what clothes they were wearing. This kind of book is an insult to any reader, and certainly an insult to the genre. Shameful stuff. The only slightly positive angle I can spin on it is that if crap such as this is published by a mainstream imprint, then there is surely hope for us all. It also puts the nail finally and absolutely in the coffin of the ridiculously misinformed brigade who insist that "if you write something of quality, then of course it will be published ..." Um, not if this is the kind of book the so-called "quality press" are publishing, say I. Lord preserve us indeed.

Thank goodness then for an extremely high quality poetry collection from Peter Abbs. His Viva la Vida (though I do so hate that pretentious foreign title ...) is top class poetry that manages to be human, spiritual, religious and accessible, all at the same time. Which is surely a feat in itself. I have an absolute raft of favourites from the book, but I do have to mention "Falling Like Gulls" (about memory), "Grandmother Reading at Myrtle Cottage" (a strong and poignant portrait of a woman), "Moving Statues" (about faith and expectation), "Other Gifts" (a poem about emotional inheritances), "A Raw Planting" (visiting the graves of his parents), "The Genius of Turner" (how art happens) and "Small Love Poem". Amongst many many others. I shall definitely be looking out for more of Abbs' work.

Finally, here's this week's haiku:

Each raindrop glistens
with the clarity of light
and the world is still.

Today's nice things:

1. Poetry
2. Church
3. Disasters and Miracles' Amazon rating
4. Beginning the Hallsfoot edit
5. Viva la Vida
6. Haikus.

Anne Brooke - puzzling over hymns
Disasters and Miracles: ideal Sunday reading

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