Rise Above: Leviathan reader


Researching my writing projects this year has put me onto some great novels and expanded my fiction horizons.

Novels that have changed the way I think and write in 2013 include:

Ahab’s Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

The Terror by Dan Simmons

In the Heart of the Sea by Nathanial Philbrick (a story about the Essex whaling boat)

and now the Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey.

I’m learning to write the same way that I read: on a bus, in a train, on route to somewhere and in-between everything else.

Finishing THE TERROR has been emotionally difficult. I’m in a post novel vacuum. After 936 pages in a week my imagination and dreams just weren’t ready to let go of the Arctic in 1847, and the tragic Franklin Discovery expedition to break through the North West Passage. I’ve sailed before, and have had a small taste of Nature’s powerful oceans searing cold and stinking wet…but I was wearing Sealskinz socks and a Musto drysuit. Thinking about minus fifty degrees in woollen 19th century undergarments and ‘slops’ brings a tear to my heart. The vessels were stuck in the solid ice for three years, hundreds of miles from supplies! DSC01437

I loved the book and have daydreamed of Captain Crozier, his men,  and Arctic Northern Lights all week as I watched the novel with my reader’s imagination. I have no TV but if you had asked me in the immediate afterglow of completion what any of the characters looked like, I could’ve described them, the story was so detailed and full. Sometimes it’s heartbreaking to remember that even with a distant event, all men are complicated. We are all complicated. It will be interesting to see how the adaptation of In the Heart of the Sea fares (2014 directed by Ron Howard and starring Chris Hemsworth and Tom Holland): but many books are better left in the imagination.

Like The Terror, the memory of my last lodger Henry also lingers but his more like a banana skin on the floor. More petty emails and a threat to sue me because I charged him  a nominal amount  when he didn’t clean his room. In a bid to resolve the matter without stress  I’ve offered to return the money, making it clear that it is only to get rid of him. He responded “Well done for doing the right thing. ”

As I get older I realise that the ‘right thing’ is in the eye of the beholder. You just have to go through your life knowing how not to do the wrong thing, and not enforcing your own ‘right thing’ too smugly against everyone else.

The voyage towards a new, happier lodger experience continues.

The Terror. Dan Simmons (2007)

The Terror. Dan Simmons (2007)


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