February has been a pretty tough month for the literary world with the losses of Harper Lee, Umberto Eco, and Louise Rennison; three high-profile authors who sadly passed away this month. In periods like this, one can’t help but feel the fragility of life even more keenly. For younger people the period where those in one’s present become part of the past for the first time is a strange and revelatory time. With David Bowie, Alan Rickman, and Terry Wogan passing away in 2016 too there will inevitably be a whole raft of people currently experiencing the first bombardment of loss. It is a feeling we become increasingly familiar with as time rolls on and the present slips into the past but it is painful nonetheless.

I realise that is a fairly sombre tone to open this month’s plan but the burden of loss does weigh on 2016 so far. Let us turn to more positive things, though, even with an increased sense of their lightness and transience.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee book cover
Not stepping too far from the above, I would like to write a review of To Kill a Mockingbird this month – it is something I had intended to do in February but never quite got round to it. Indeed, re-reading the book various questions and doubts were thrown up in my mind and I wanted to give these time to settle. I must confess that on re-reading the novel I was a little underwhelmed – I suppose I had retained the central message about acceptance of others and the comforting presence of Atticus while failing to remember the details of the book in a critical way. Hopefully having to revisit my thoughts for a review will help me to order them a bit better.

Oh, and I know what I meant to mention to you all. A couple of weeks ago I was up in London and swilling free drinks at the Trailblazer Awards run by the London Book Fair and Society of Young Publishers. I had been shortlisted for the Trailblazer award (which, good sense prevailing, was given to other, more deserving recipients) and had a chance to rub shoulders with some up and comers in the literary / publishing world. Despite my usual pained style of socialising and resistance to networking, I was an almost functioning human being. Remarkable, I know. It was good fun all round though and I am grateful to the organisers for having me as well as being impressed by all the bright things in attendance. You can read more about the winners here: www.londonbookfair.co.uk/news-and-media/Press-Releases/Trailblazer-Awards-Winners-Revealed-by-The-London-Book-Fair/

I am currently reading Memoirs of My Nervous Illness and The Beautiful and Damned too, both interesting reads from the early twentieth century, but for quite different reasons. Schreber’s memoir is a fascinating look at a mind unravelling into delusion but written in a disconcertingly lucid manner. I find writing that comes from a place somewhere between reality and unreality incredibly interesting and often quite thought provoking. Fitzgerald’s novel on the other hand is far more of this world. The story of two flighty young people in the 1910s who flit into marriage and live absently it is lighter but equally troubling.

So there we go, a few things on the go for March. Oh, and it’ll be my birthday and Easter so chocolate and presents all round!