Reading Plan: July 2016

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Well, June was quite a month to be a Briton. Predictably, the football team crashed out of the Euros prematurely but slightly less predictably the nation also decided to sever ties with the European Union. Sadly the referendum showed British politics and its people at their worst and to compound the bitterness, division, and lies that have been a hallmark of the debate around Brexit, we now have our major political parties in turmoil. Quite honestly, it looks to me as though the nest 5-10 years have the potential to bring about radical change to the face of British politics and British society, for better or worse. Quite where we end up might be down to the political leanings of whichever voice proves the most charismatic in the medium term. The saddest thing about the vote to #Leave is probably that no one is going to get what they want. Certainly not the Remainers but nor the Leavers who brought into lines that just won’t ever come to fruition. Following our ‘Independence Day’ (a fairly obnoxious choice of slogan given Britain’s past) many of the prominent Leave voices have scuttled away from all responsibility – taking refuge in disgustingly lucrative jobs, I’m sure – and left the few to deal with the almighty mess they have left (I hope this puts an end to people saying that millennials take no responsibility for themselves!). No doubt these fleeing rats will have no problem speaking up and throwing the blame at those who negotiate Brexit after it turns out that our economy doesn’t go from strength to strength and, shock horror, we remain a nation of huge and increasing diversity. More saliently, the people of Britain, those at the sharp end of things, won’t be served by this decision but will go on being the whipping boys of the political elite propped up by media moguls like Murdoch et al. Expect continued discontent to run deep along the lines of division that are becoming increasingly pronounced at all levels of society. But do not fear, Britain will not implode. As Robert Frost suggested, life can be summed up in three words: “it goes on.” So a word to those who look at the referendum result from the continent or further afield, and to those who have already made Britain their home: you are no less my neighbour today than you were yesterday.

And with all that said, life must go on. Or at least, reading must; life, perhaps, can wait a while. The book I am most looking forward to writing about in July the most is The Confessions of a Justified Sinner (title significantly abridged) by James Hogg. Many of you will have heard of this book but I am guessing many will also have not had yet had the pleasure of reading it. It is a book that seems to slip through the cracks of literary discussions and is brought to many people’s attention through academia rather than anything else. This is a shame as it is a nineteenth century novel that is startling modern in so many ways, both in content (religious fanaticism) and technique. I will certainly tell you more about why I believe this is a book you should all read later in the month so look out for my review.




My poor brain is also trying to get to grips with how to talk about The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus. It is one of those books (essays, really) that is thought-provoking and pleasurable to read but when one tries to talk about it, one invariably finds they have completely too much to say or nothing at all. I suppose any work that takes on big ideas cannot be talked about satisfactorily in a few short paragraphs so I will have to think about exactly how I want to approach about this one. Of course, it is strongly linked with The Outsider and that, at least, gives a wider audience a good idea of the concepts that Camus throws deftly (although sometimes obscurely) about.

I am still, of course, owing my review of Frankenstein, which has been gathering metaphorical dust as I have refused to deal with the edits it needs. The list of other pieces I am planning is growing too and yet the amount of time I spend writing seems to be decreasing. It is an inverse relationship that defies all logic but which all writers are probably familiar with.

So from this dystopian future that is only just beginning, I wish you safe travels. May Brexit not make your life any less beautiful and may I pull my finger out and do some writing. Godspeed, people of this place.

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