Literary Troublemakers Who Had Stellar Sarcasm & Fibbing Ability

As someone who despite logic, still worries deeply what other people think – I find myself very drawn to characters who just don’t give a single fuck. Here are a few big beautiful loudmouths from literature who knew what they were about.

Holden Caulfield (The Catcher in the Rye, 1958)

‘it was the Saturday of the football game with Saxon Hall. The Saxon Hall was supposed to be a very big deal around Pencey. It was the last game of the year, and you were supposed to commit suicide or something if old Pencey didn’t win’

When this book first came out, a lot of critics interpreted Holden Caulfield’s character as disturbed. Maybe this says something about me, but I don’t think that’s entirely fair. Personally, I think this grey haired sixteen year old is a realistic embodiment of being young and thinking – yeah I’m pretty fucking smart and everyone else is an idiot.

Golden lines such as ‘almost every time someone gives me a present, it ends up making me sad’ or ‘I’m not too crazy about sick people anyway’; remind me for example, of my favourite comment to come out of my then 14 year old cousin’s mouth – ‘I hate having to tell old people that their food sucks’.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, in The Catcher in the Rye Holden has just found out that he is being kicked out of another school. He decides to leave early before his parents have been notified, go to New York for a few days, then head home after his parents have had ‘the opportunity to thoroughly digest the news’.

I loved this book and I really wish I had read it while I was still in High School (cause it wouldn’t have hurt me to be ever so slightly, less of a goody-goody). A few of the reasons Holden’s on this list include

  • having pride in his lying ability – ‘I’m the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life’
  • Yelling ‘sleep tight ya morons!’ through the hall of his dorm in the middle of the night, as he left
  • His overall life philosophy against ‘phonies’

Ignatius J. Reilly (A Confederacy of Dunces, 1980)

‘Talc you have been found guilty of misleading and perverting the young. I decree that you be hung by your underdeveloped testicles until dead. Zorro’

I noticed that like Holden Caulfield, Ignatius also wears a hunting cap! I’ve reached the only logical conclusion that hunting caps have eerie powers, and fashioning one increases your brain’s wise-ass cells.

Anyway, if you’re a Masters student like me, reading A Confederacy of Dunces might make you a wee bit self conscious – like, oh dear god!!!! do I ever sound like that when I choose to use a fancier word?

Ignatius J. Reilly is a highly educated yet unemployable thirty year old who lives with his mother in New Orleans, and is quite deluded regarding how important he actually is. Interestingly, he perfectly fits TLC’s definition of a scrub given he also can’t drive.

He is excessively sensitive; with his ‘heart-valve’ issue, and his refusal to let go of an incident where he got motion sickness on a bus (describing it as as one of ‘the traumas that have created my worldview’). However his sense of shame is dead.

Notable moments in the novel where I was in awe of Ignatius’ ability to not give a fuck include

  • His attempt to initiate a militant style coup the at Levy Pants factory
  • Getting into a fight while working as a hotdog vendor, in his pirate costume
  • Refusing to mark any of the student essays while he worked as a professor

Captain Yossarian (Catch 22, 1955)

[on inkblots] ‘you can save yourself the trouble doctor everything reminds me of sex’

Set during World War II; Yossarian is a pilot who has completed the set amount of missions, and doesn’t want to lose his life to the war anymore. Throughout Catch 22 Yossarian attempts to be classified as insane so that he can be sent home, this is a struggle however due to Catch 22 which specifies that ‘a concern for ones own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind.’

Yossarian’s ability to cause trouble for the higher authorities means, that for Colonel Cathcart, the ‘very sight of his name made him shudder’. Moments where he was a massive pain in the ass include

  • Falling in love at first sight with a woman he’d never spoken to, and inadvertently initiating a ‘moaning epidemic’ during a briefing.
  • Boycotting wearing his uniform after a dying man bled all over him, and accepting his heroism award naked.
  • Coming up with dynamite questions in the educational sessions such as ‘who is Spain?’ ‘why is Hitler?’

I also love when he has to share his tent with youths, how he does NOT appreciate the nickname ‘yo yo’

 

 

 

 

The Romantics

A few days ago, there was a busker in my vicinity playing the pan flute for a good two hours. There’s just something about the pan flute – you hear it, and after about 10 minutes thoughts like ‘lets grow a herb garden’ or ‘lets quit my job, join a naturalist community and live in the rainforest’ just spring to mind.

I’m mentioning this intense pan flute solo which flooded my ear-hole because after I resisted the urge to live amongst the trees, it reminded me of my favourite thing about the romanticism movement.

Romanticism was a particular mood in the 19th century within poetry, literature and artistic expression in general. Emerging as a reaction to the Enlightenment, romanticism can be defined as a longing to revert back to a nostalgic version of the past. As an ideal, it was centered around a deep reverence for nature, beauty, imagination, the personal and the sublime.

Now my favourite thing to happen within romanticism isn’t a particular piece of literature or a poem: it’s a very first-world thing romantic poet and philosopher, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, did.

Coleridge, bless him, is pretty much what I’d be like if I was a contestant on Survivor. What happened was he had bought some land and  was persuading like-minded people to join him in creating a small utopia – where they would all work the land, share their property and rule themselves. But the idea was abandoned due to Coleridge’s unwillingness to give up his own property or live without his servants – comparable to someone impulsively ordering a tent they don’t actually want after watching Into the Wild while they’re drunk.

I mean come on Colerigde! Nobody heard Rousseau having a big girly whinge when he crossed the Alps alone on foot.

Remembering Being Not That Into Twilight

As you get older you do get slightly cooler than your teenage self – photos of  literally every haircut I fashioned in High School is testament to that. So if you were a huge Twilight fan-girl with a delightful Edward shrine I’m not going to hold it against you. And even if you stand by that decision and still love Twilight, to each is own – I respect your choice, and I promise to do the right thing and only laugh at you behind your back.

Anyway, because the target audience for Twilight has since grown up it may be hard to remember a time when it was actually very popular. Its funny thinking about it: friends from High School who I know adored those books, now make fun of the series, and I’ll just think to myself ‘Dude!!! where was that attitude back in 2008 when I needed you the most?’

I remember back in the day when we were all fifteen, and I was the weirdo for thinking Twilight looked like horseshit. My only ally was Tay – then being the complete Judas that she is, she came back to school, after a few days of being away sick, having read the entire series and completely in love with it (I do love you Taylor, but you are a bastard).

I don’t know what point I’m trying to make with this little reminiscence is, its great when your friends finally decide to hate the same things you do? I’ve never actually read the book and I’m only jumping to the conclusion that it wasn’t for me. Maybe there was a potential Twilight fan inside all along that never had a chance (not bloody likely, but maybe).

 

Brilliant future book club ideas

So I was listening to ‘Anonymous Club’ on the long drive back from Ballarat to Melbourne. When I’m left on my own too long – especially in the car, I’ll suddenly decide to have this big formal meeting between myself and my brain, and together we’ll come up with some diamond plans.

Anyway, whenever I hear this song it tends to spur a brainstorm on potential clubs I could start. Here is the fruit of my labour from this last trip: I give you my brilliant future book club ideas.

  1. If I were the leader of a book club, all the meetings would begin with me doing a heart warming interpretive dance to either Kate Bush’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ (possibly involving a ribbon) or Elvis Costello’s ‘Everyday I Write the Book’.
  2. Wookie Booky – where we all have to dress as Chewbacca and speak in shyriiwook while having a deep and meaningful about the romantic poets. (Side note, apparently all the wookie suits from the movie were made from human hair!)
  3. Books, Bikes & Bitches – a part book club, part biker gang. Where we all dress massively rebelliously, and we pick a nice place to cycle.
  4. Grapes of Wrath – Where we all discuss books and simultaneously attempt to make homemade wine in the bathtub by stomping on grapes.
  5. 1984 – Where every meeting finishes with a half an hour dance party to songs from the year 1984
  6. I’m not sure yet what this would be called, but a book club where the members attempt to make a pair of pants out of the heaviest book they own.
  7. Clockwork Orange – where if a member has forgotten to read the book, everyone gets to throw oranges at them. Or it could be darker, if they’ve forgotten to read the book they have to wear the device from Clockwork Orange which stops you from blinking and they’re forced to watch something really shit – like an hour of Escape to the Country
  8. Robert Frost Book Club – where you have to read Robert Frost’s The Road Less Travelled  as fast as you can out-loud. Every member is timed, and everyone gets to throw snowballs at whoever was the slowest.

I’ll write something again soon.

 

 

 

Books that teach you how to do a smooth stalking

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via PINTEREST

Back in olden times – before the internet was a deeply entrenched part of our culture, and we weren’t all technologically savvy – if you wanted to do a stalking you had to rely on your own wits. Our poor ancestors couldn’t just do a sneaky stalk of someones Facebook wall, they needed to put in the man-hours to gain valuable intel.

This is quite noticeable in older literature. Here are some examples from classics that are about as subtle as a brick to the face.

The Great Gatsby (Scott Fitzgerald, 1925)

I like to think that there was one Gatsby party that was so excruciatingly shit and awkward that it didn’t make it into the novel. One that wasn’t exactly off the chain, and everyone was in bed by 8.30. I’ll level with you, I only made it up to page 52 of The Great Gatsby, then I lost interest. For all I know the rest of the book could’ve just been 100 pages detailing this one crap party Jay held.

Anyway, if this novel has taught us nothing else, its that if you’re trying to win back your former lover, she’ll be nothing but massively impressed if you buy the house directly across from her and throw loud parties every single night.

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Love in the Time of Cholera (Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1985)

In this book Florentino shows his lady-love that smooth is his middle name by cracking onto her at her husbands funeral. Dude! I know you’ve been waiting a really long time for her to be back on the market but maybe pick a better time.

Of Human Bondage (W. Somerset Maugham, 1915)

Look there’s no denying that in this book Mildred is a piece of human shit, BUT in fairness she did repeatedly say to the main character Phillip that she wasn’t interested. She even made a point of telling him more than once that she didn’t like having to kiss him. This doesn’t deter Phillip though, he knows that he can’t change her mind but he still can’t let go of hope.

This is actually a pretty good book, but you do feel quite drained reading about these futile feelings Phillip holds. I just wish I could give him a hug and say please just let her go.

Perfume Story of a Murderer (Patrick Suskind, 1985)

This is a pretty odd book. I think the moral of the story was virgins smell fantastic. Anyway, I’m over-simplifying the plot here, but majority of Perfume is Jean Baptiste Grenouille lurking around French markets then secretly following around women who happen to have a nice natural scent. He’s a bit of a wrongin – there were also some un-dealt with mummy issues.

Rebecca (Daphne de Maurier, 1938)

Rebecca is about an unnamed protagonist who marries a older man, Maxim. When Maxim takes her back to his giant house (called Manderley), she is haunted by constant reminders of his deceased first wife Rebecca. Specifically, the housekeeper – Mrs Danvers, is not particularly impressed that Maxim has remarried, and throughout the book gets increasingly more passive-aggressive towards the main character. Its very much a book of its time, in that the main character could’ve just told Mrs Danvers to fuck off if she wasn’t bound by very British conventions of social etiquette.

Anyway, Mrs Danvers doesn’t teach you how to do a stalking, but she’s filled with diamond tips on how to do an obsession. She loathes Maxims new wife only because she adored Rebecca so much; and the house is kept precisely as Rebecca had it not because Maxim likes it that way, but because Mrs Danvers wants it preserved.

My Massive Crush on Lisbeth from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Avid readers usually have that one book which got them hooked on reading in the first place. For a lot of people around about my age it tends to be Harry Potter, but for me it was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series.

I was 17 at the time, and up until that point I wasn’t a big reader. The only books I read in High School were the assigned ones for English class.

I can’t remember what it was exactly that drew me to these books, and sometimes I wonder if I would still love them  just as much if I re-read them now. But at the time I adored them, and I would talk about how brilliant the main character Lisbeth was to anyone who would listen to me.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was the first time I stayed up all night reading, the first time I’d carry a book around wherever I went, and I will always love it for sparking my relationship with reading for fun.

In hindsight though I think most of its charm was due to the crush I had on Lisbeth, given I’d lose interest really fast in every part she wasn’t in. Its funny thinking about it now – I would fantasize about her, yet it still hadn’t hit me that I might be a lesbian. I just loved reading about this strong female character, who had lived through some harsh shit but refused to be a victim and if necessary could kick some ass.

Thank you Stieg Larrson, you’re pretty much responsible for my ever-expanding bookshelf.

 

 

 

 

 

Using Neruda to crack onto people

At the moment I’m hearing the song ‘Treat you Better’ all the time, and its really shitting me to tears. I hate those kinds of songs where the basis is, a persons significant other is shit and they should really consider chucking them because in my (the singer’s) humble, and completely unbiased*, opinion I’m way better to date. 

I’d love to hear a response song to ‘Treat you Better’ called ‘I still stand by my decision Shawn Mendes! I’m a grown woman who can make my own choices. Fuck off’** . 

Anyway, the reason I’m bringing this song up is because its clearly an attempt to entice this woman using the medium of song – and therefore poetry, and frankly it sucks. It instantly made me think of Pablo Neruda’s beautiful poem If you Forget Me in comparison.

If you want to win somebody’s heart with words, my advice is to seek Pablo Neruda for inspiration. In If you Forget Me, Neruda writes that he will respect her feelings if she does not love him – ‘I shall lift my arms and my roots will set off to seek another land’. However if she feels that they are destined for each other ‘ah my love, ah my own, in me all that fire is repeated’ – now that’s a man.

Neruda is my favourite poet, and he is hands down the smoothest mother-fucker in poetry! When he wrote about romantic love he wrote with a burning passion. He described his subjects in intrinsic detail, and as though the whole universe conspired for them to be together. In  Your Feethe writes ‘I love your feet only because they walked upon the earth and upon the wind and upon the waters, until they found me.’

When Neruda described their beauty or their body, he would do so with nature metaphors and in way that suggested complete adoration -‘Body of my woman, I will persist in your grace. My thirst, my boundless desire, my shifting road’.

So I guess my point is if you’re planning on writing a song and/or poem to a love interest that details how much you fancy them and outlines what a fabulous catch you are, read some Neruda. Here’s a few more quotes to get you started:

‘I have gone marking the atlas of your body with crosses of fire’ – I Have Gone Marking 

‘In you the rivers sing and my soul flees in them’ – Ah Vastness of Pines

‘Naked, you are simple as a hand, minimal, supple, earthy, transparent, round. The lunar markings, the pathway through the apple, are yours; naked, you are slender as the wheat.’  – Morning

‘I waken and widen my eyes, and you plant in my flesh the darkening stars that rise in my soul’ – Girl Gardening

‘I want to do to you what spring does with the cherry trees’ – Everyday you Play

How could one not love her great still eyes’ – Tonight I can Write 

 

 

(*its just such a shit song! of course you think she’s in ‘the wrong situation’ if you’re also trying to tap in)

(** also while we’re on the topic, in Taylor Swift’s song ‘You Belong With Me’ I really would love to know the joke Taylor refers to at the start that she found amusing but this boy’s girlfriend didn’t. Was the joke concerning the girlfriends physical appearance? Did he give her an unflattering nickname like Chewbacca?)

 

Kafka’s Letter to His Father

One of my most treasured memories from an abroad history unit I took a few years ago, was when the group was in Franz Kafka’s birthplace Prague, and my gorgeous friend Mitch asked me ‘why does everyone have such a hard-on for Kafka anyway?’ (he’s since claimed that he doesn’t remember saying that, but he definitely did, its tattooed in my memory).

Anyway because Fathers Day is coming up I thought I’d discuss Kafka’s unsent letter to his father. It’s often published alongside his short stories, and it was written in 1919 as a response to his father, Hermann, who had asked him ‘..why I claim to be afraid of you’. 

Regardless of whether you’re familiar with Kafka’s novels, this letter is deeply poignant, and transcends historical barriers. It details the roots of his fraught relationship with his father, their inherent differences, and evaluates whether things could have been different, and to what extent Hermann was to blame for the lingering sense of isolation Kafka felt throughout his life.

Kafka wrote that his purpose in exploring their relationship in such detail was in hope that some ‘peace of mind‘ could be reached which would ‘make living and dying easier‘. Yet whether he ever intended to send this letter is unknown.

I love this letter because it’s just so personal and raw; and its length is testament to how much of an underlying influence his father held over him even into adulthood – ‘this overpowering sense I often have of being a nobody…stems largely from your influence’. 

In a way its beautiful because it reads as though it could’ve been written today. Its an example of how human nature to a certain point stays the same. You could’ve lived at any point in history and you’d still have regrets, and your parents would’ve still made mistakes and fucked you up in their own personal way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copies of Mills and Boon I’ve found at the Salvos part 2.

I didn’t think I could possibly find another treasure chest of pure gold. But on my most recent trip to the Salvos, the gods were smiling on me. So prepare yourself to once again, feel a mixture of concern and intrigue

(Not just the tip for the All-the-way Man)

(The defender looks pretty Bear Grylls to me. I mean he’s even sacrificed his shirt in what I assume was a bear attack)

Booker

This is probably one of those things that everybody was already aware of, but it blew my mind finding out that the UK’s lucrative literary award, the Man Booker prize (formerly the Booker prize), was named after the Sugar Company that founded it – Booker McConnell, and later The Man Group which became the new sponsors in 2002. I just thought Man Booker was a clever name; this is like finding out that after writing some stellar philosophy Plato went on to invent the plate.

The Booker McConnell company, founded in 1835 by George and Richard Booker, owned Caribbean sugar plantations, and only started investing in books when their headquarters were moved to London following the independence of Guyana in the 1960s. Their  additional branch was called Booker Books, and its purpose was to buy the copyrights of popular authors such as Agatha Christie and Ian Fleming.

Anyway, it’s still two months away before the 2016 winner is announced; and what would really warm my heart is for the winner to accept their award in a literary themed way by pulling a Yossarian (Catch 22) and rocking up to the award ceremony naked.