February 23, 2015

A Total Paper Book Lover

Vanessa's bookshelvesI choose bringing extra books instead of extra shoes when I go on holiday.  My husband, however, is more modern.  He simply takes his e-reader filled with a dozen books, giving him ample choice while sitting by the swimming pool.

I know all the advantages of an e-reader: lightweight, adaptable font size, etc.  I even know that they are technologically well created, your eyes won’t tire as they do when reading on a regular screen.  And yet, I can’t give up my paper books.  There’s something special about curling up on the couch with a paper book: the smell, the heft, the feel.  It’s more than just nostalgia speaking!  A heavy book lets you feel the weight of a long story.  I love being able to see and feel the thickness of the book, as it gives me a better idea of where I am in a story.  When it’s exciting and I still have half a book to go, it reads differently than when I still have ten pages to go.  On an e-reader, all these tangible feelings are lost.


Paperless Living Room?


I also love a room with a completely filled bookcase.  It feels like home and like a promise of grand adventures all rolled into one.  What would the living room look like of someone who only reads eBooks?  A paperless bookcase or perhaps even worse, a bookcase filled with books for show, their creaseless spines shining with loneliness of not having been read.

I can’t imagine reading to my sons with an e-reader in my hands.  My youngest still eats them or tears out the pages, but I can already read to my oldest.  He wants to turn the pages, run his fingers over the images.  Sometimes he holds one side and I the other.  The book, as well as the story, binds us.  I want to keep this amazing experience.

So, to everyone their own, but for me it’s still paper books, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.




February 21, 2015

Curiosity Kills

Whether it’s Christmas gifts or birthday presents, the hunt to find them has always been a lot of fun.  But then the fun instantly stopped the moment the gifts were discovered (or at least I was convinced I had), the excitement replaced by a sense of guilt (I wasn’t supposed to find them) and disappointment (the new hunt wouldn’t be for another year).

©Action Press/ Rex Features

These days I’m no longer hunting, instead I fish by asking questions about the possible gift.  In return, I receive only cryptic answers that really could be about anything.  The vagueness keeps me going, nurturing the hope that I might figure it out, and at the same the desire that I don’t.

It’s a bit contradicting.

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February 14, 2015

Getting the Hang of My Own Culture

(Courtesy of koenincanada.com)

(Courtesy of koenincanada.com)

Although I’m not an expat, I enjoy reading the blogs written by expats about the Netherlands.  It’s insightful to know about their experiences, especially when it comes down to Dutch habits like directness, or birthday well-wishing.

Rude, direct of efficient?

The most re-occurring experience is the rude attitude we have.  (See for example Netherlands by Numbers.  They dedicated an entire blog to this topic.)  We prefer to call this directness, but I suppose it all depends on the point of view.  Yet whether it’s rudeness, directness or maybe just efficiency, it all comes down to how it’s experienced by someone unfamiliar to it.

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February 10, 2015

What I Want to Read

Courtesy of itsfunny.net

Courtesy of itsfunny.net

It’s funny how I ended up a student of literature and an editor because of my love of reading, only to realise that being at the position I’m now in, I seldom have time to read for pleasure anymore.  What with all the study texts, required reading, journals and literary criticism for research and essay writing; not to mention the ever present slush pile to go through and to work on several drafts of the ones that make the cut, my to-read shelf grows faster than I can ever hope to tackle.

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February 7, 2015

Eliot’s: Prufrock & Other Observations (Part 1)

T.S. EliotPrufrock & Other Observations is a thin volume of T.S. Eliot’s first poetry collection, which is perfect in is own way because what it lacks in quantity it more than makes up in quality.  The poems are difficult to understand and they require close reading, contextual information is certainly helpful, too.  The difficulty is not necessarily pretentious – depending on your definition of what constitutes pretentious literature – but a result of several influences on Eliot.  This early collection is influenced by the French Symbolists, particularly the poetry of Jules Laforgue, whom Eliot borrows heavily from in terms of technique and subject matter.  But the influences go further, the philosophy of Henri Bergson on space and time, as well as by Ezra Pound’s and F. S. Flint’s Imagism.

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February 3, 2015

Katherine Heiny’s ‘Single, Carefree, Mellow’ Is Out Today

Katherine Heiny, personal friend of Cecile’s Writers, has her new and much anticipated short story collection Single, Carefree, Mellow released today by publisher Knopf.  We are thrilled for her success and happy to be included in the acknowledgments.  She also has a short and wonderful interview in The New York Times here.

Single Carefree MellowI find Heiny’s writing to be crisp and always hits the nail on the head.  Most memorable of all is the quirky humour and sometimes incredible situations her characters are in.  Reviewers so far are mixed in their opinions, yet all are positive.  The most discernible criticism I encountered so far from others is that the brevity of the stories result in a touch-and-go feeling with the characters, readers then complain that the characters don’t remain with them once they finish reading.  I would, however, interject and say that is the brilliance of situational stories, that the circumstances (and humour) are paramount, resulting in scene after scene of action.  If this means the characters stop at the end of the story, it’s because the stories are readable again and again.

timthumbAlthough not a part of her debut collection, Heiny did publish the short story The Absolute Truth Machine with us in our first edition.  You can read it and have a taste of Heiny’s flawless writing.

Samir Rawas Sarayji

January 31, 2015

Snippets from Tolkien to Charlie Hebdo to Favourite Opening Lines

A bit of a different blog post today, with links and snippets:

Courtesy biographyonline.net

Courtesy biographyonline.net

1. Tolkien’s scholarly translation of Beowulf is finally published, this very short article is for any fan of Tolkien or Beowulf, now you can be of both!  Read on… 






Courtesy theguardian.com

Courtesy theguardian.com

2. I remember when reading Michelle Houellebecq’s Whatever that this was a writer whose oeuvre I wanted to go through.  Since I read about his latest book released in French: Submission, I’ve been  looking forward to the English translation.

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January 29, 2015

Cecile’s Writers as Reviewed by Zara Adcock

It’s always amazing to know how others perceive your publication. The Review Review is a site with dedicated editors and writers that offers readers all kinds of information regarding literary magazines. Their always on top of the most current events and the latest news: the newcomers, those that go bust, vacancies for editors, interviews with founding editors and, also, reviews of literary magazines, like ours!

Although the second issue of Cecile’s Writers is short – featuring just three stories – I was pleasantly surprised with the enjoyment I found in it. Issue 2 of Cecile’s Writers is like buying a miniature sampler pack of chocolates rather than splurging for a whole block – I was left feeling like I could eat more and at the same time, was already fully satisfied. Of course, Cecile’s Writers is cheaper than chocolates being a free online literary magazine to read and/or subscribe to. Read on…

Samir Rawas Sarayji

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