Unfocused

Unfocused

I can’t get the camera to focus.

All the streetlights are stretched from Heaven to Hell;
they make it impossible to see.

The sky pants to itself,
desperate, behind the yellow flowers,
starved, and crucified on the grass,
thirsty, beneath the splintered lights,
waiting for the cool yellow milk of dawn to sober it up.

The road seems brighter, stained with headlights that move like ghosts.
The underground bridge of colour,
and the dark alley of pure blackness beneath the sky,
don’t belong here, here; glorious here.

They scream to me, and tell me I’ve been pissed on every street corner.
They moan at me, and remind me I’ve fucked in half the alleyways between the bars.
They remind me that I’ve thrown men into brick walls and red doors.
They tell me I’ve stood, after wearing my feet all night,
and felt the blistering heat of the sun.

And the camera mocks my shivering hands, recording gold exchange brilliance
that sets the acid rain aflame;
the gasoline in the air, gasoline in the mist and gasoline in the fog of the industrial night
and the cold water dripping from a railway bridge hangs – suspended –
icicles of a moment; breathing –

Frost Giant eye diodes in the floor, brutal blue and lighting
up the bare legs of stumbling women hiding imperfections
in wine bottles and beer tables and vodka pedestals;
dried-out scars presented with surreptitious pride
and catches the haze of cabalistic laughter
from steroid-bitten throats,
and a taxi driver smokes as the train lines shudder,

and you,
shivering.

Shivering in your passion,
shivering as you pull the headphones from your ears,

shivering as you open the window of the 11:43 bus to infinity,
shivering as you breathe in the air of the drunks, already asleep in their seats,
shivering as you smile at the cocaine rain lines crashing across the scarred glass

and watching the lights of the river mutter
unfocused promises that they’ll never be able to keep.


If you enjoyed this, why not check out some other stuff I’ve written? For more poetry, try A Red Dress, All These Words or Bluebird. If you fancy trying something a little longer, then all my prose is available for free on Smashwords.

All These Words

All These Words

And all these words are an act of vomit,
of feeling the soul pulse in the stomach and spit;
all these words like black bile raindrops on a white porcelain page

And all memory of the moment is replaced with the aftermath,
and the harsh pleasures of endless revulsion become apologies
and concerns and damage control.

And all these words are an act of vomit,
of feeling the soul shudder in the gut and spit;
all these words fading in the fluorescent light reflected from the tarnished drain.

And all things recorded are as nothing,
and all words that make the heartbeat faster or slower are a lie;
all things are a falsity.

And the nightmares come so easily now,
and the language of my dreams changed from English to Latin
and German outcries of hate.

And all these words are an act of vomit,
of knowing the soul revolving in the bladder,
all these words getting out of the body in any way they can.

And I’ve seen you, S, in my dreams,
and walking through the streets of Liverpool and shivering from the Mersey,
and rolling your eyes in fever.

And there is no madness on the minds of my generation,
and there is nothing naked about our confessions,
and there is no honesty in our self-portraits.

And all these words are an act of vomit,
of knowing the heat and bitterness of creation;
all these words getting stuck in the throat and exploding.

And that I were who I am,
and that all these words might blossom from my skin,
and my hair would be replaced with flowerings;
my sweat with the scent of grass.

And all these words were, once, the act of vomit;
and now they’re a memory of Rorschach ink on plastic;
of knowing the act of creation for a moment, and the dullness of maintenance;
and waiting for the shivering pipes to carry the water up the first floor
and washing my art away.


Last night, Saturday the 23rd of April, 2016, I got incredibly drunk. The drunkest and most obnoxious I’ve been in a long time. I woke up this morning wretched and retching and naked to the waist on a pile of old clothes next to my bed. I feel incredibly guilty and I’m not sure why. I’d like to say the being pissed makes me a great poet, or writer of some ability, but I’m pretty sure that’s a lie. Anyway, if you want to read something that I didn’t write whilst massively hungover, why not check out some recent poetry of mine, like Coal Carthage, Bluebird or A Red Dress. You can also head on over to Smashwords, and download some of my long form writing for free.

A Red Dress

A Red Dress

A red dress, and said “when you were a boy”;
I choked on love; I was a boy and you were the night forest – lost,
scared, alone in you, alone with the wind moans
through bracken branches making a stranger’s bed with my name engraved in the headboard,
with half-satisfied boasts in the chisel-daggers’ art.

City light; hideous against you and joy,
when eyes above smiling lips should have tasted the nightmare frost,
icy wastes of Imperial doctrine, dust-ice on frozen tomes,
disturbed by our warm bodies at the end of the universe held by a strand of hair, a chord
breathing ragged lungs as I play my part;

The part of the boy, waiting for you to acknowledge you are a girl
with the withered soul of a woman, cut liquid legs and striving arms,
pushing aside the red, the night, the sound of rain on sleeping cars
and three-hour worship to caffeine gods,
rejecting love.

I’ve cut the beating heart out of poetry because I am scared,
scared of hate and preaching hate and letting you know I hate you;
hate overpowers love in a heartbeat,
pulsating on the floor.

And there are a thousand words for love;
your name seep through them all.

You,
in your red dress by the broken glass,
made me realise that there is no word that means ‘I don’t love you’.

There is no word to proclaim your weight as a chain,
a word that reduces your dreams and longing for mediocrity to dust;
a word that makes your love for Carthage impossible to understand;
a word that dictates the fading of our affections in favour of comfort;
a word that means nothing – and nothing is our confession;
a word that says I still want to fuck you, but I don’t want to want to fuck you;
a word that echoes, and hangs, in the empty space between us;
a word that blinds me and makes me grow my beard and cut my skin.

A word that pulls aside all fallacy,
and reveals my self-loathing. A word
that tells you about hatred, beyond fear and reason,
beyond forgiveness.

I don’t always hate myself when I’m with you.

When you wear that red dress,
I dare to think I’m not ugly when I wear you.

I can believe that I am capable of love.


There’s a poem I’ve had for a year. A great declaration of love to someone I’ve only met once. I can’t seem to match it, so I’ve kept it hidden away on a document on my computer. I’ve printed it out and crossed through every line and told myself that it’s ridiculous and nonsense, and never changed it.

I don’t know that I’ll ever be happier with something that I’ve written and not forgotten about. If you like this, why not check out some of the prose that I’ve written, over on Smashwords?

Bluebird

Bluebird

Liz,

I don’t know how to start this letter.

I’ve spent hours; countless papers sprawled
across my bed and in my bin; that perfect opening line.

I wanted, in a sentence, to remind you; reflected
a thousand times against the glass walls
and above the pool table at 3:00 am beneath the ground;
in that Sodom that cut
through the drunkenness and left us sober and retching in the heat.

But I don’t want to talk about me;
I want this to be about you.

I want this scrap of ink to be nothing but a question mark for you.
I want you to tell me how you’ve been;
where you’ve been;
why I haven’t seen you in months.

I want you to tell me that you are happy.

I want you to tell me just how broken you are;
tell me about the sieve you call a heart.

Let me know that you are damaged, damaged
beyond redemption and driven by bitterness,
by hate and shame for your failures
and mine.
Tell me about the ones that fester in your stomach.
Tell me about the mistakes that can’t make their way out of your throat
and will never be confessed.
Use your fingertips to mouth your wounds and,
I swear,
I will absolve you of them.

I need to know that you are impossible
and that your hate starts in the half-wakefulness;

I need to hear about the summers
and winters that you’ve sweated and shaken through.

Tell me about the old scars,
about the dark,
about how you’ve covered yourself up with tattoos, tattoos that speak of music you’ve always had your doubts about.

I need to know that you sometimes look in the mirror
and struggle to look yourself in the eye.

I need to know that your pupils are distended and broken
and that tears slide along your skin.

I need to know that no one can make you cry like you can.

I need you to tell me that wine in my journal, stout on my sleeve and rum in the drawer beside my bed doesn’t really mean anything.

I need to know that you have found something
beyond the ghost of the girl I knew
and that there is hope for me too,
to survive who you were.

I need to know that there is something after confronting your ghost,
curling through the flagstones of foreign cities.

I need to know that every step is going somewhere;

forwards,

backwards,

left,

right,

ascending to Heaven or descending
to God and weakness;

that I am not held in place by chains like those which your spectre rattles.

Listen to me, Liz;
I need and I want and I need and I want and,
honestly,
I am desperate for dreams.

Dreams that I dare to steal,
dreams that I can pluck wildly from the dawn;
dreams that are capable of hanging heavier than your chains could ever have a hope to.

I need to be something more than this;
more than a caricature that shudders around a pen and screams out ‘No!’ above a Guinness.

And ‘No!’ is all I am, Liz,
all I know now that you’re gone.

No! to life, to holiness, to the locked door of potential;
No; to Edinburgh, to Norwich, to London and Greenwich and Paris;
no to Liverpool and Manchester;
No; the austere governments keeping us apart;
no; the zero hours that hold you;
no; the children crying in the doorway between murder and life;
no; the British missiles in Saudi hands;
no; the bald slavery of the rotten monks;
no; to Mary, sleeping rough on the streets of Wigan.

I don’t believe in marriage, Liz; you know that.
I don’t believe in marriage, but I would marry.
I would choose the chains if I were chained to the moments that we knew,
between drunkenness
and hangovers
and glasses of water from a bar that sells Trooper.

I’d marry your dreams, if I could; dreams of artistry,
dreams that go beyond stained tables
and tablecloths
and old men leering from behind their coffees
and solitude within the crowd.

Did I tell you that I saw you,
hours before we first met,
with pale skin and red hair and metal in your face?

Did I tell you I saw the ghosts of you above the pool table?

Did I ever tell you I think about you every time I bite my lip?

Once I’d seen you, I knew;
Knew that there was a bluebird inside my heart.

All the poison made sense, in a moment;
I tried to drown my bluebird in whiskey
and rotgut and whatever else I could find.

I muted incessant cries
and chirping with slurred words and glazed eyes
and lazy smiles.

And I heard its silence,
Liz,
like it was screaming.

I heard the silence one morning and tore my chest apart.

I broke bone and ruptured muscle,
split flesh and spilled blood onto the floor
and wheezed air and gagged on the smells of my own stomach –

Liz; I found my heart and it was empty.

Not even the skeleton of a beautiful creature,
just hollow.


If you liked this poem, why not check out some of the longer prose stuff I’ve written over at Smashwords? It’s all completely free, so I can hold onto some vague anti-Plutolatarian ethos. If you’re looking for more poetry, in a similar vein to this one, why not read Coal Carthage, one of my most recent pieces about my hometown?

In Which, I Died

In Which, I Died

The moment has never been enough to sustain me, to hold my attention for even the amount of time that the moment needs to become the past; this crippling disability has forced me to grow into a permanent state of dissatisfaction, only occasionally broken by the slightest sensation. I can recall, perhaps, three occasions over the past year when I have been truly happy.

One, whilst I was growing increasingly sober in a nightclub in Liverpool, saw sitting against the wall, with my feet angled out and up, and my heels digging uncomfortably into the metallic edge of the box the place used as a table. I couldn’t hear anything besides sound – I couldn’t see anything but light, but light which came in flickering diodes and blinding still-shots which twisted through the filtration of my eyelids – I could feel nothing but sensation, from the harsh surface against my buttocks and my back, to the aforementioned heels, to the vague coiling of something in my stomach which warned me, in no uncertain terms, that I had ingested the same old poison into myself; I wasn’t quite immune.

But I was thinking how fine it would have been if I had died then; if I had lived in that moment from a literal perspective, and if I was dead the rest of the time. What if my life, a mean, scrabbling, laboriously dull affair, would have been greatly improved if I learned, at the end, what it meant to be alive?

I flickered my eyes open, to draw in one last sight; I took a deep breath, to feel my lungs burst with oxygen; I curled my fingernail into the palms of my hands, that I might experience the pleasure of agony in one final moment; I pulled my lips apart, to feel the smokeless atmosphere upon my tongue and between my broken teeth; I tried to listen to the song, and heard the words displace my last thoughts.

There were three women dancing some feet ahead of me, on a ledge which led to a few steps which, in their turn, trailed down onto the main dancefloor. There were stop-motion, the lights illuminated their solitary positions for a long moment, before darkness descended and they were free to move. I saw arms raised in unheard pleas, strands of hair whipping the atmosphere in reproof, feet propelling slim, young bodies from the cruel floor and gravity and constraint. I sensed arousal skirting on the edges of myself, and I rejected it. For a moment, I longed for it to consume me.

I felt my nostrils complain as they stole every scrap of air they could, felt each follicle of hair tremble beneath the sudden onslaught, felt the air punish the back of my throat as it passed and my lungs expand within my chest; it was an eternal death rattle, a scentless inhalation.

I thought I felt dead protein burst through my skin’s veneer, felt it pierce through the flesh and into the muscle beyond. I felt the warmth of blood pulsating around them, a warmth which spread through my fingers and arms as though some dam had suddenly burst beneath my pressure; I felt knives in the dark and rejoiced in the fact that I was so feared that my own body could such a thing to me.

I tasted the air, tasted the sweat and the manufactured smoke and the sickly sweetness of foreign vomit like I never had before. I found beauty in that taste, in those ugly components, boasting their hideous countenances. I could taste the three women, knowing nothing but themselves and their audience; I could taste the barmaid, pouring out shots and nodding along with the music; I could taste the DJ himself, like a pontiff on a pedestal, bringing his people closer to their gods.

The words were alien, beyond my perception, and I was bacteria in the undergrowth of existence, studying two monkeys as they rubbed sticks together and drawing closer to the warmth. I followed the song down strange, illicit pathway, I felt it permeate my being and force my heart to beat along with it. I felt my lips move along with words I didn’t know, words I had never known and would never know, and would reject as a folly if I did, if I had, if I could.

 Had the world been kind, I would have died – I would not have bastardised my moments with trying to capture it; to live it, that I might repeat it, in my dissatisfied memory. Like a picture, like anything which has ever been recorded, the moment was a falsehood beneath the weight of the moment – the Art was meaningless beneath the paintbrush of Art – the picture was broken, out of focus, through the lens – I was dead, as I longed for death and struggled to stay alive.

But he, my friend, sat beside me with a heavy exhalation; made some crude comment about the girl on the right-hand side of the trio, and shoved a plastic glass of whiskey and coke into my hand. I felt him knock our glasses together, as though a toast over recently acquired farming tracts in Africa, and his speech vanished into the sound and the liquid as my thoughts wove themselves a noose from his company.

I was happy then.


Just a quick reminder, every eBook you see on the left of the page is completely free. The Caitiff is my first full-length eBook, in terms of a novel; Mychandra is a novella and my Broken Polemics are the more experimental forms of writing I began in university.

9 Authors I Want To Read In 2016!

9 Authors I Want To Read In 2016!

Consuming literature is one of the greatest joys in my life, from self-published, modern authors to the literary classics. Similarly, I like reading a traditional paperback as much as I enjoy more interactive fiction.

Fairly hypocritically, I’m not that big a fan of eBooks really, although I’ll definitely read them if I can’t get a hand on a physical copy. Hell, I think the first eBook I ever bought was “Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas”, and that was only because I needed it for a class later that day.

I’m often criticised by friends of mine for my reading list, and it’s rare that I’ll read something by someone who’s still alive – although if I do see an independent eBook that looks interesting, I’ll always at least read the free portion.

So, rather than just go through all the writers that I already like, and focus on learning more about their work, I thought I’d go through the list of authors that I haven’t started to read yet, but are sitting firmly on my to-do shelf.

Top 9 Authors I Want To Read In 2016!

Now, these aren’t authors that have risen to fame at any point over the last few years, but they are authors that I want to have read before the end of the year. I’ll admit, I’ve not made much reading progress so far, (I’ve been more focused on reading back through Camus, Miller and Bukowski), but I will do!

James BaldwinJames Baldwin, Distinguished Visiting Professor

Born in 1924, Baldwin was one of the US’ leading sociological and political writers, particularly in his dealings with race and sexuality. His essays are the stuff of legend, particularly his first collection Notes Of A Native Sun.

I’m not really sure how I’m going to approach his work, but I think I’m probably going to start with the infamous Sonny’s Blues, which is a regular appearance in a range of introductory anthologies to American literature.

George Gissing

An English novelist born in 1857, Gissing was the mind behind several great works of English Literature, including New Grub Street and The Nether World. New Grub Street, in fact, was named the 28th best novel by the Guardian some years ago, and it’s been on my reading list ever since.

Gissing has never been a hugely popular Victorian writer, but he has since been applauded for his brutal look at Victorian literary life.

 

Walter ScottWalter Scott Novel Cover

One of the most famous Scottish writers of all time, Walter Scott’s diverse range of novels and poetry are still read by hundreds of thousands of people every year. Some of the most well-known include Rob Roy, The Lady Of The Lake, The Heart Of Midlothian and Waverley.

His influence can still be seen throughout Edinburgh and Scotland. Addressing both contemporary (at the time) and historical Scottish issues, much of Scott’s writing was done in a post-bankrupt haste as he tried to keep his creditors away.

James Hogg

Another Scottish poet and novelist who was actually a James Hogg Novel Coverclose friend of Walter Scott. His most well-known work is The Private Memoirs And Confessions Of A Justified Sinner but his long-form poem The Queen’s Wake was also extremely popular.

His literary work was acclaimed during his life, mostly due to his ability to overcome his humble origins and make a success of his writing without any benefits supplied by high-birth or inherited money. He was regarded as a man of great intellect, albeit he was a little brusque and often offensive.

Simone de Beauvoir

Certainly one of the most well-known names on this list, de Beauvoir was a feminist existentialist and close compatriot of the French existentialism school. She was also widely known as a result of her open relationship with the philosopher and novelist Jean-Paul Sartre.

Although I will eventually get around to reading her well known 1949 treatise on feminism, The Second Sex, I am more interested in her fictional work including The Blood Of Others.

Nicholson Baker

Widely regarded as an experimental novelist, the idea behind The Mezzanine is what draws me to this author. The entire novel takes place in an escalator ride, but every page is dedicated to addressing certain parts of the ride with maddening detail.

As someone who has previously been accused of talking about the details too much, the idea is fascinating to me.

Johnny CashJohnny Cash Novel

Yeah, the Cash. I’ve been a long-time fan of Cash’s music, but I found out a few months ago that he wrote a book called The Man In White. The title is clearly designed to reflect his own title, The Man In Black.

Although he is still widely considered one of the best musicians of the 20th century, I’m still kind of in two halves about this book. Trouble is, I’m hugely anti-religious, and The Man In White is a novel about St. Peter. I’ll still give it a try, but I’m not in too much of a rush to check it out.

Saul Bellow

Believed by many to be one of the 20th century’s greatest authors, I’m excited to start reading Bellow’s work. Some of the many themes in his work which appeal to me include modern civilisation’s ability to create a kind of materialistic madness, and how knowledge can be used to mislead people.

A friend of mine told me that Bellow’s work also contains themes of redemption, and promotes the strength of the human spirit.

Lu Xun

Although I’ve not read much Chinese literature (excepting the Romance of the Three Kingdoms) Lu Xun seems like an interesting author to me. In particular, his 1919 work ‘A Madman’s Diary’ looks particularly interesting. The entire narrative revolves around the writer’s fear of cannibalism, and how he sees it occurring around him.

Although it is all only paranoia, it seems like a fascinating idea to explore, particularly when considered in terms of society and capitalism.

Any Writers You Think I Should Reading?

I’m always on the lookout for new authors and poets to read, so if you’ve got any suggestions, please don’t hesitate to let me know! I’d especially like to know about any self-published authors that are pushing more experimental forms of literature, particularly any self-reflective, personal kind of writing.

5 Books I’m Glad I Read Before I Turned 23

5 Books I’m Glad I Read Before I Turned 23

So, in a very short period of time I’ll be 23. 23. 23 years old. Jesus Christ; even the idea of being that old makes me feel tired. Anyway, as I’m now a man of a certain age, it’s time for me to stop looking forward to the next five or six years I’ve got left on this earth and, instead, start to look back at my formative years.

It’s also time when I stop trying to be creative and potentially experimental and, instead, really knuckle down and create these kind of vacuous lists that tend to perform so well online.

I read; I read a lot – admittedly, not as much as I used to but that’s not the point. Over these past few years, I’ve read hundreds of books. Most of them have been crap, some have been okay, but some have stood a head and shoulders above the rest. So, without further ado, here are:

5 Books I’m Glad I Read Before I Turned 23!

Henry Miller’s Tropic Of Cancer

I can’t remember what first attracted me to Henry Miller. Maybe it all came down to the fact that, for a time, his writing was banned in the United States. I’ve learned to use US controversial writing as a marker for quality. Tropic Of Cancer Book Cover

Written over the course of 4 years – between 1930 and 34 – Miller used his bohemian, mad life in Paris as the backdrop for this novel, blending autobiography and fiction to the point that I’ve no idea what really happened and what didn’t.

Aside from all the sex, madness and degradation that occurs within the novel, it is fairly simple to see that many of the characters are highly caricatured versions of real people. Occassionally talking directly to me, the reader, Miller’s writing really left an impact on me – especially as I read it alongside his companion novel, Tropic Of Capricorn.

My Favourite Line:To sing, you must first open your mouth. You must have a pair of lungs, and a little knowledge of music. It is not necessary to have an accordion, or a guitar. The essential thing is to want to sing. This, then, is a song. I am singing.”

Of course, the entire book is packed with fantastic lines that kind of sear themselves onto your forebrain; in a way, Miller has a fairly poetic form of writing in these novels, and a kind of weary, miserable cynicism that is reflective of the novel as a whole.

Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, Kaddish And Other Poems

Sticking with the theme of American literature that caused a stir, we can’t help but turn to my favourite poet (and probably one of the most well known internationally) Ginsberg. Of course, before I’d read this, I’d heard of Howl, I’d heard of America (the poem, not the nation) and I knew that Ginsberg used to hand around with Bob Dylan. Immediately, that got me interested. Ginsberg Poetry Book Cover

After surviving obscenity trials in 1957, that many have suggested made the poem much more widely known than it would otherwise have been, Howl itself has gone on to become one of the most incredible poetic achievements from the last few hundred years. There was even a film made about the poem, starring James Franco as a younger Allen Ginsberg.

This collection features a range of other poems, including the equally fantastic Kaddish, Death To Van Gogh’s Ear (one of my personal favourites) and America.

My Favourite Line (From The Poem Howl, Of Course):They broke they backs lifting Moloch to Heaven! Pavements, trees, radios, tons! lifting the city to Heaven which exists and is everywhere about us!

Taking a single line from Howl seems almost like cheating, but if you are interested, and you haven’t read or heard it before, I’d definitely recommend it! Ginsberg is probably the poet who, more than anyone else, showed me that poetry can be beautiful, can be artistic and isn’t simply a waste of time for rich people with nothing better to do.

Alain Robbe-Grillet’s In The Labyrinth

In The Labyrinth is a masterclass on disconcerting and confusing the reader, often to the point where I really had to reread several pages over again just to make sure I’d kept hold of what was going on. Some scenes are so incredibly similar that I genuinely thought I must have accidently lost a few pages and gone back to where I was before. Book Cover Of In The Labyrinth By Grillet

This entire novel seems to have been written with an almost general dislike of the reader. At times, it can be a hugely torturous process getting through it, but it has definitely been one of the books I’d most enjoyed reading over the past couple of years.

Even fairly simple techniques, like introducing the character as The Solider and then on the next page saying that A Soldier is leaning against a lamppost is surprisingly disconcerting. You’re constantly bombarded with this sense of tension, to the point that I’m sure I started to feel stressed out when I was reading it.

My Favourite Line:Below the engraving, in the white border, a caption is inscribed in an Italian hand; The Defeat At Reichenfels

Picking any one line from this novel is hugely difficult when it seems like ever paragraph has been written like any other author would create a single line. However, this line, written about a particular picture, sums up the entire character of the novel for me – the solider is looking at a picture of a scene he is actually looking at, engraved with a caption that he is currently living. If that isn’t confusing, then I really can’t think what is.

Albert Camus’ The Fall

Any long time readers will know I’m a big fan of Camus; pretty much his entire body of work has passed through my hands at some point. The Fall, in my eyes, stands out simply because of the strange polemic style it adopts. Albert Camus' The Fall Book Cover

The entire novel is a one-sided conversation, a confession, if you will. It features a loss of innocence and self-loathing – two things which I happen to understand perfectly well. Seriously, if you’re looking for a unique read, then The Fall is a great option for you.

My Favourite Line:So, tell me, please, what happened to you one evenings on the banks of the Seine and how you never managed to risk your life. Say the words that for years have not ceased to echo through my nights and that I shall finally speak through your mouth: ‘Young woman! Throw yourself into the water again that I might have once more the opportunity to save us both!’ A second time – huh! That would be rash! Just imagine, dear colleague, if someone were to take us at our word. You’d have to do it. Brrr… The water’s so cold! But don’t worry. It’s too late now, it will always be too late. Thank goodness!”

Okay, so it’s a little long, and it needs some context, but the last paragraph has always stuck with me. It says so much, about regret and about the folly of regret and the joy that a character can feel as they regret. I could open this book at any page, and you would be able to see incredibly imagery and fantastic writing, along with sentences that hint at deeper meanings and promised of things that never came.

Perhaps, The Fall has had more of an effect on me than I’ve given it credit for. Still; it remains one of my favourite books, and one that I read every few months.

Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged

Okay, so this might be a bit of a controversial one! I know why people dislike Ayn Rand, not just for her politics, but for her dense and often unforgiving writing style. Still, sitting down over a few days to read Atlas Shrugged was one of the best decisions I ever made. It made me question a lot of vaguely socialist (not really), extremely liberal beliefs that I kind of took for granted. Atlas Shrugged Book Cover

Plus, there really are some fantastic examples of writing in this novel. Aside from the badass sounding quote about Atlas balancing the world on his shoulders, there are pages and pages dedicated to John Galt’s speech over the radio towards the end of the novel.
Wherever you lie on the political spectrum, you cannot afford not to read Atlas Shrugged, if only to learn what you are fighting against.

My Favourite Line:I started my life with a single absolute: that the world was mine to shape in the image of my highest values and never to be given up to a lesser standard, no matter how long or hard the struggle

Literature Has Helped Me Turn Into The Person I Am Today

It might sound corny, but I wouldn’t be who I am without the literature I’ve read – that might not necessarily be a good thing, but it is certainly true. Anyway, now that my 23rd’s approaching, I’m on the lookout for even more great literature to consume, so that I can look back in a year’s time and wonder how the hell I got this far without having read (insert title here) by (insert name here).

If you’ve got any suggestions for novels or poets I should try out next, I’d love to hear them! I am, it has to be said, undergoing something of a dry spell in terms of literature.

By the way, if you look on over to the left, you’ll notice a load of links to longer things that I’ve written – if you’re a little strapped for something to read, why not give them a try? After all, free eBooks aren’t to be sniffed at!