We owe it to each other to tell stories - Neil Gaiman

Thursday, 28 February 2013

*whoosh* that was the sound of February flying by

It is quite startling to think that today is the last day of the second month of 2013. How did we get here so quickly?

February was a rather interesting month, lots happened, and of course it started  off well with my 60 second Exclusive Books Summer Sale Dash. Things got interesting quickly in February when I discovered not only that there would be an O Tea Party in Port Elizabeth, but that I'd be relocating to Cape Town in March.

The O Tea Party was lovely, such a fantastic way to spend a Friday and thankfully the weather played along!

Sadly, things have not progressed nearly as well as far as my reading goes. I find myself in a slump. I am just too tired or stressed or panicky from all things work, life and relocation related to be able to just settle down with a book. It is awful. I feel so off kilter. I do hope that I'll get my reading groove back soon, as this is just another thing making me more stressed.

How has your February been? What are you reading at the moment? Any advice for getting out of a reading slump?

Thursday, 14 February 2013

the truth on valentines day

 I have been in love twice in my life. The first time when I was 13 and then again when I was 19. Neither of these times turned out especially well. The first time, because I didn't realise until it was too late. And the second, could be a bitter story, but let's just say he stopped loving me. And I suppose I had unrealistic expectations.

This isn't one of those angry single girls valentines day rants, it is just a realisation, a truth that I have come to realise, so I thought I'd share it on valentines day to make myself clear, and stop me from rolling my eyes at others celebrating the day.

Moulin Rouge, Must Love Dogs, Titanic, Atonement, The Notebook, Armageddon... these are among my favourite romantic movies. Love stories like those of Derek and Meredith on Grey's Anatomy, Rhett and Scarlet in Gone with the Wind, Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy, Mara and Noah, Etienne and Anna, Romeo and Juliet, Helen and Lucas, Dace and Daire... I could continue for a while. But I won't,  you know in case you all start thinking that I make lists of these things. I can tell you why it is among yours too. Movies like the mentioned, even books and series as mentioned are among your favourites especially because of the story behind the love that 2 of the people in these stories have.

I want this whole GWTW moment
Those stories, are the kind of story that you want to have one day. I know because it is the kind of story that I want to have one day. I want a Rhett Butler who will tell me that I should be kissed often. I want a Derek Shepherd who adores me, and would fall apart if anything happened to me like when Meredith nearly died from hypothermia. I want an Etienne St Claire, a Lucas Delos, a Mr Darcy, a Dace, a Christian, a Jake, a Jack - I want someone that will inspire within me what I feel when I read these books or watch these movies. There's that one moment in the movie, series or book, that just has you wanting that love so badly.

But here's the thing - most of these plot lines were written by women. Or they were written by someone who understands how to get you hooked by writing something that you want but can't have so will be coming back again and again to get what you can't have.

Relationships are better in books too
So that's the truth I want to share with you on valentines day. Love is real, real is love. Falling in love is wonderful, but our expectations will never be fulfilled because the boy/man you're in love with is not a script writer. Adjust your expectations and you'll be happy, because everything else that you see in movies and books is just fantasy. And I don't think you want the tragedy that comes with those story lines. Do you?

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Rape, the new genocide

In light of the recent rape and resulting death of a 17 year old girl in Bredasdorp, Western Cape, South Africa, I thought I would post this which I had written in 2009. I hope it helps to convey my anger at this never ending scourge that is affecting the world and womyn.

I honestly thought that after the brutal, almost fatal rape of Alison Botha in the 90s  that things would change in South Africa. But it seems that the wheels of change for important things are particularly slow. 

Rape, the new genocide

The United Nations defines genocide as:
"any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial group as such:
- killing members of the group;
- causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
- deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
- imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
-... forcibly transferring children of the group to another group"

Womyn are a national group,  and womyn are more likely to undergo physical harm during forced intercourse they are also more often than not the victims of rape. In view of the fact that 1 in 4 South African men have or will at some stage in their lives rape one or many womyn, it is shocking that with the advent of HIV/AIDS and this widely known statistic that rape has not yet been classified as a form of genocide. Looking at the United Nations (widely accepted) definition for genocide, it should be amended that in the case of a womyn being raped by an HIV positive man that it is a case of genocide, as it ascribes to four of the five above mentioned factors that qualifies an act as genocide. First of all, when a womyn is raped by an HIV positive man, should she contract HIV (and considering we live in a country where only 1 in 9 womyn report being raped this is a high probability as when they do not report rape they cannot be treated with ARVs to prevent HIV) it is in effect what is referred to in the first point. That man is in effect killing a member of the female population. Being raped in most cases causes serious bodily harm, not to mention the mental harm that it inflicts on womyn. When being raped, the womyn is forced to have intercourse against her will which more often than not results in vaginal tearing and chronic pelvic pain to mention only two of the many awful physical effects. Of course other than that, she stands the chance of becoming pregnant with the child of the rapist, which is more than anyone should ever have to handle. Pregnancy is hard enough without the psychological trouble that can arise from having a child that resulted from such a trauma.

A womyn who has been raped is not only physically harmed, but undergoes psychological damage too, the mental effects of rape include, but are not limited to anger, aggression, self blame, lack of empathy and decreased capacity to seek help - hence the saddening statistic  that only 1 in 9 South African womyn report being raped. Not to mention the risk of suicide; suicide rates are high in womyn who have been raped, for instance in Ethiopia 6% of school girls who have been raped have attempted suicide. In fact, rape is often an indicator of suicide attempts later in life. Rape also results in a sense of shame; which has many awful side effects such as isolation, anger and aggression. Shame  linked to rape can also result in eating disorders, substance abuse and depression. Young womyn who have been raped are also prone to participating in unsafe sexual activity. Perhaps loss of self respect is the greatest injustice that arises from rape. Pregnancy after rape can be considered to ascribe to the fourth condition of genocide - not very many womyn are willing to keep a child conceived through rape. Thus this leads to a decrease in births (albeit births that might not have occurred at all) but also what  if a womyn was pregnant before she got raped? If the rape resulted in her becoming HIV Positive, she might well opt to abort the baby, not wanting the foetus to be exposed to a life so short that it might not be worth living. Therefore, rape has the ability to impose measures that are able to prevent births within the target group, i.e. womyn; since In the case of very young womyn and little girls being raped, the damage inflicted on the reproductive organs can be so great that it renders the female unable to have children in future.

Womyn are unbelievably strong members of the population considering the background from which we came, we have had to fight very hard to get equal treatment, rights and opportunities. Thus factor number three of genocide will take an immensely long time to overcome womyn. The South African judicial system lets womyn down in so many ways, not really seeing that justice delayed is justice denied. When you have to wait for years without relief, seeing the perpetrator walking free on the street you start to wonder whether the rapist has more rights than you. But then when you consider the case of our current president and his history that has been tainted with rape charges, you wonder whether rape will ever be taken seriously by the South African judiciary. But then considering the factors to which we have had to become subordinate to, such as not walking around late at night or not walking around at night, not wearing clothing that can be considered to be provocative - womyn who become victimised by rape are seen to be looking for it when they break those unwritten rules for preventing rape; because heaven knows men have
no self control! And womyn are always to blame, even they are not the ones who raped but rather are the ones who were raped. This limits womyn to acting in a manner that will not tempt a man to rape her, but what about the instances where a womyn was not acting in any manner that suggested any desired sexual activity or was in any way provocative. Is the womyn still to blame then or can the man finally be blamed for being unable to control himself?

What about when a grown man rapes a child? Did that innocent child really do something so provocative that she asked to be violated? Children are too innocent to think of such things. It is scary the way adults have the ability to hurt children. The psychological effects of sexual assault on children are many. No child deserves to go through such an awful ordeal and to allow a child rapist to roam free is a terrible injustice.

To deny that rape is a form of genocide, especially when it results in a womyn contracting HIV/AIDS or not being able to have children in the future because of being raped is as great a human right's violation as rape itself. Not even getting into the crime of womyn being raped and then killed. The law or rather I should say the judicial system of South Africa is too lax when it comes to prosecuting rapists, it seems almost as though the victim, or rather the rape survivor is the perpetrator rather than the perpetrator as the rape survivor is denied the justice that she deserves. The rapist is not put behind bars and is free to roam the streets and rape again, which is why I will again refer to the scary statistic of 1 in 4  South African men being rapists, one cannot blame womyn for not feeling safe. Justice delayed is justice denied, so let's force a mandate to be set so that rapists can get the prosecution they deserved, because a man raping once is one rape too many. 



Monday, 4 February 2013

That's Life - The February Edition

"To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all." Oscar Wilde

Autobiographies and Memoirs are my favourite book genre. It started when I first read Boy by Roald Dahl when I was 12 years old. The tales from his childhood were just so magical, they sounded like they were made up. I thought that life could not possibly be this fun in the 20th century, it certainly had not been in the 12 years of the 20th century that I lived. I had the same thought when I read it again when I was 13 in 2001. I was enchanted by how someone else's life could have so many crazy yet fun fragments in it when my life had none of those. My favourite chapter in his book has always been The Great Mouse Plot - where he tells the tale of a dead mouse that he and his friends found under a loose floor board in their classroom where they used to hide things. They decided to sneak it into a sweet jar at the sweet shop they used to frequent where the dreadful Mrs Pratchett was the owner. They thought they would get away with it, but unfortunately, instead of getting away with it they got an awful thrashing from their principal. Of course there is none of the brilliance in my retelling, but I dare you not to be tickled when reading his rendition.

I soon came to realise that life was different for everyone and that the more memorable parts of life may not be in your childhood but at a different stage of life. My more memorable parts definitely came in university. But that is not the point of this edition. Not entirely anyway. All of us have a time in our lives that stand out above all  others for various reasons, it could be good and it could be bad. For instance Pang-Mei Chang wrote Bound Feet and Western Dress to reflect on the changes that have come about in the space of 2 generations, looking at her modern life in comparison to that of her grand aunt who had a difficult time because she didn't have her feet bound. Frank McCourt wrote Angela's Ashes to tell of his sometimes horrific childhood and the way that being poor in Ireland in the 1930s and 1940s impacted the opportunities that were available to him - even within the Catholic church.

There are very rarely happy memoirs - and it makes sense, because there is not much to learn in being happy and getting what you want all the time. Even the always smiling Goldie Hawn has some sadness in her book 'a lotus grows in the mud' and truth be told, it is the fact that we all experience these sad times that others are further endeared to us when they reveal that their lives are not all moonshine and roses.

Some memoirs share the crazy adventures that people have had - coming from being poor to being rock stars like I am Ozzy by Ozzy Osbourne and Life by Keith Richards. Some memoirs share just specific highlights from a section of the author's life like Truth be Told by Larry King. I have read many wonderful autobiographies and memoirs,  and before I get to those that I'll be reviewing for this month's edition, I am going to share a few that are my favourites and some that I think you should give a chance:

Some of my favourites...
Bono on Bono - Bono and Mischka Assayas
Life - Keith Richards
I am Ozzy - Ozzy Osbourne
Extreme - Sharon Osbourne
Boy - Roald Dahl
Geisha of Gion - Mineko Iwesaki

Most profound...
Anne Frank Remembered - Miep Gies
Night - Elie Wiesel
Unbearable Lightness - Portia de Rossi
Angela's Ashes  - Frank McCourt

Most comforting...
Tolstoy and the Purple Chair - Nina Sankovitch

Most enlightening...
Freddie Mercury his life in his own words
a lotus grows in the mud - Goldie Hawn

On my future TBR list...

Me - Ricky Martin 
True Compass - Ted Kennedy
Straight from the Heart - Lara Bush
Wat's Nuus - Riaan Cruywagen
Ronnie - Ronnie Wood
According to the Rolling Stones
Happy Accidents - Jane Lynch
The Art of Good Living - Edith Venter
Transformation - Chaz Bono
Does the noise in my head bother you? - Steven Tyler

My future acquisition list aka those on my radar: (you know in case anyone wants to buy for me *wink, wink nudge, nudge*)

Funny Peculiar - Will Young
Lessons in Becoming Myself - Ellen Burstyn
Vyftig, Vurig + Fabulous - Brumilda van Rensberg
Then Again - Diane Keaton
Lessons from my Father - Barack Obama
From this Moment On - Shania Twain
Bossypants - Tina Fey
All that is Bitter and Sweet - Ashley Judd
If you ask me: (and of course you won't) - Betty White
I'm over all that - Shirley MacLaine
My First Five Husbands... and the ones who got away - Rue McClanahan

And now for some reviews...

Truth be Told - Larry King

For years I have admired Larry King and his ability to cut to the quick in an interview - getting to the heart of the matter with a professional grace that no one else possesses. When I heard about his book Truth be Told - I just had to have this book. True,  I did wait to get the paper back issue as opposed to the hard cover, but I am just happy to own the book.

There has been a fair amount of criticisms of this book, people believing that it the book does not deliver. I absolutely disagree with these criticisms. It was like looking through a photo album with the one and only King of Talk, except instead of stories he retells some of his best stories. Larry King who came from humble beginnings and made it in the big time. He recalls his start in radio and his breakfasts, and all the people he has spoken to. His recollection of some of his greatest interviews, his friendships with Al Pacino and Frank Sinatra - the changes he has noticed in people and politics over the years. Larry King's keen observations have opened my eyes to so many things, and I wish there were more people with his skill, so that there can be more opportunities for the questions that matter to be asked and answered.

Stories I Only Tell My Friends - Rob Lowe

Rob Lowe first came onto my radar in the mid 2000's, when I saw him on Brothers and Sisters, and then again when I started watching Parks and Recreation. I was quite thrilled when he was on Oprah and mentioned his book Stories I Only Tell My Friends. I finally got a copy in 2012, and whilst it took me a few months before I actually started reading it, once I started, I was so enthralled by Rob's amazing voice and truly captivating story of his life that I finished it in 3 sittings.

Stories I Only Tell My Friends is a phenomenal book spanning much of Rob Lowe's life, and the moments preceding and leading up to his big break as an actor. From the day he decided he wanted to become an actor and the steps he took getting there. The big moments in life he experienced, the big people he met, and the rising stars that he grew up with. The fact that Rob Lowe has managed to changed his public persona from pretty party boy to devoted father and husband and talented actor with staying power shows how truly remarkable Rob Low is. The insight he shares on his changing childhood family, to his chosen family of friends including the Sheens as well as the moments he got to share with stars before he was one is written so succinctly, that if acting did not work out for him, Rob could easily have been a writer.

I have to say that I admire Rob so much more now, looking at how his introspection helped him to get further in life, as opposed to becoming a victim of his circumstances, particularly the ever changing father figure in his childhood, the divorce of his parents, and the afflictions that plagued his mother.  And I am not just saying this because his birthday is a day after mine... Rob has certainly become wiser with everything that has happened in his life, and this book absolutely shows for it.

Reading Stories I only Tell my Friends helped me to comprehend something that had been on the periphery of my thoughts but just needed some more stimulus to become something comprehensive, and I think it is something that everyone should realise. There is the story as it is experienced by the person living the story, or the person who should be the narrator. And then there is the story as perceived by everyone on the outside. And the ones who perceive the story from the outside and turn it into sensation are the paparazzi and the gossip blogs and magazines. The sensation of course having the sole purpose of making more money for those who see the events unfolding from the outside and then distort them to create sensationalism that will boost sales. It does make me worry though, what does it say about the human race and how far we have fallen that so many consume this sensationalism as though it is the air that they need to live? Reading a book like this where Rob Lowe's life was under media scrutiny for so long with things blown out of proportion and then seeing his perspective and how he minimises it, not making it the same fodder that gossip rags do, certainly paints a whole new picture. I think we should all wait for the autobiographies or memoirs to come out before we start judging.

Coming later this month...

Absolutely - Joanna Lumley

 I adore Joanna Lumley, she is just the perfect person to have been chosen to play Patsy Stone. I cannot ever imagine her as anyone else. Later this month I'll be sharing my thoughts on Joanna and her book Absolutely.

Rod: The Autobiography - Rod Stewart

When I think back, to who Rod Stewart was to me, I see a man in a shiny outfit with a coif that I have always thought was pretty cool. When I think of Rod Stewart now, I still think of his hair, but now I know that he is a lot more than his gorgeous hair and gravelly voice. Want to know what else I think, look out for my review later this month.

Moranthology - Caitlin Moran

From the woman who penned the iconic book 'How to be a Woman' I started reading her recollection of meeting Keith Richards, thoroughly entertained, I shall attempt to regale you in a similar fashion later this month with my thoughts on Moranthology.

What's your favourite autobiography or memoir? Or do these non-fiction books just not do it for you? I'd love to know what you think, and of course get some more recommendations!

Saturday, 2 February 2013

The Exclusive Books Red Trolley Dash

 I entered in 2012 for the Winter Sale Trolley Dash, but that was not meant to be. I have always dreamt of having a shopping dash, it goes back to my days of watching K.TV (when it was still awesome and played the original power rangers) and they had the Reggie's Rush.

I entered for the Summer Sale Trolley Dash last week, and had very high hopes. Sadly, it was not meant to be either. And then on Wednesday Exclusive Books decided to have one more Red Trolley Dash competition for the Summer Sale. I have to tell you, I was leery. I was jaded. I wasn't going to enter. But boy, am I glad I did! Because Friday morning my name was there amongst the other lucky winners.

I was thrilled! I was excited! Finally this dream of mine would be coming true! But then the anxiety started creeping in... 60 seconds is not a very long time. How am I going to make the logistics of grabbing and packing work for me in 60 seconds? I did a practice run at home, and it was not that bad. I figured, hey I can do this! I slept rather soundly Thursday night, thinking up strategies to get the most of those precious 60 seconds!

Friday morning arrived rather quickly, and I was super excited on my journey to Port Elizabeth. I think the 2 hour drive helped me to stay sane. Pulling up at Walmer Park I started to get all jittery, the adrenaline started pumping, and I started shaking with excitement! The Manager was at lunch, so I used the time I waited to browse and come up with strategies to grab multiples of certain items. I was advised by a very friendly employee, Lumka, on how the process works, and was cheered on by her to grab more than the previous week's winner did.

Finally the time came for me to grab, and grab I did. Multiples of many items, big token items, books that I have wanted for a long time, and some other randoms. You see, this was a great gift in the year of the Dragon that was timed perfectly. Whilst I took books for gifts, I also took books to sell, since I have to relocate to Cape Town and set up shop there, but more on that some other time. I cannot tell you the relief when I didn't have to bag them after grabbing them, but handed them over to an assistant from Exclusive books instead.

Those seconds flew by so quickly, but I managed to grab over R8600's books! They filled 5 boxes. The trolley that the staff put them into was overflowing! Definitely the best Friday ever, and a fantastic start to February.

 Here are photos of my haul...

The trolley that was filled by my grabbing!
The boxes my haul filled
Biographies I have wanted for a while
The most expensive item
A section of my haul, several stacks with multiples
Some kiddies books
Some random and purposeful grabs
Goldie says "I has book love too"
Great finds esp. Julia Child Mastering the Art of French Cooking!
Some more purposeful and accidental grabs
I do love Beatrix Potter!
There you have it folks, quite a haul even if I say so myself. 103 items grabbed. Have you ever won a dash? What was it like for you?