Monday, 21 June 2010

Book haul

List of recent book purchases from Oxfam Books in Chorlton. Probably the best bookshop ever, pretty much every time i go in there i find something that i really, really want. Good finds include David Foster Wallace, Anais Nin, Orhan Pamuk, Anne Enright and some awesome poetry compilations. Recently these:

Thomas Mann:
Buddenbrooks, Death in Venice
Martin Amis: Heavy Water and Other Stories
David Crystal:
The English Language
Primo Levi: The Mirror Maker, If Not Now when
Angela Carter:
Wise Children
Samuel Beckett:
Waiting For Godot
Milan Kundera:
The Book of Laughter and Forgetting
Italo Calvino: The castle of crossed Destinies

Currently reading the Calvino, the book is compromised of short tales as told through tarot cards by a group of travellers who have lost the power of speech. The book is set in a strange castle in the middle of a forest. I suspect the travellers are all dead, but I'm not sure yet, I have a feeling its probably slightly more complicated than that. The Amis short stories were also pretty good, though I preferred The Information and Experience, which is actually his autobiography. Highly recommended, his prose is to die for. Wise Children I found a light and entertaining read but not a patch on her short stories, not at all. It was a beautifully written story, full of sumptuous description and the magic of the theatre, but I got two thirds of the way through and became impatient for it to end. Death in Venice dark and delicious, as expected.

The Modernist Journals Project

An actual treasure trove for those interested in modernism, like me!!! This site has collated 15 literary journals from the early 20th centuary online including the English Review and Blast. After reading about these seminal publications whilst researching the modernist movement, to be able to read them online in colour and as they would have looked is really exciting. Especially since you can see the adverts and other conventions of early 20thc printing, its interesting from an historical point of view as well as a literary one too. Its also interesting to note how, even after all these years, the artwork and design of these publications still seem modern and exciting. Note the bright pink cover of Blast!

Link here:

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Carousel muffins

I made these at work the other day in a fit of experimentalism. I started with a basic muffin mix and added Butterscotch toffee flavour coffee syrup, marshmallows and chunks of white and milk chocolate. I'm not sure where you can buy the coffee syrup, i used it because i work in a cafe which is handy, it makes the tops go all sticky and sweet and crunchy. Golden syrup could be used as a substitute. marshamallows to use either flumps cut into cubes for their colour, or the big toasting white ones which are better quality. Mix the additional ingredients in the bowl first and then add the muffin ingredients.

Muffin recipe.

3/4 cup milk
2 large eggs
1 cup granulated suger
1 cup white self raising flour
1 cup wholewheat self raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
(1/2 cup oil due to coffee syrup you can probably eliminate this as the mixture might get too wet)

mix the wet ingredients together along with the marshmallows, chocolate and syrup. Add the suger and then the flour and baking powder. Dont over mix as the mixture can get too runny. Pour into greased muffin trays. This recipe makes 4 large or 6 small muffins. bake in a preheated oven at 180' for 25 mins. When cool, dust with a bit of icing suger. Yum!!


Listening To Lady Day

And she burst into complete silence
As the needle slipped off the record
And it crackled, still turning
Her voice against my skin
And I forgot the blur of kittens by my feet
The dry rustle of the newspaper against my fingers,

That final scuffle of vinyl against needle
must have been felt when they printed the news;
The massive whir of the press as it inked the pages
And the smell of it against the paper boys hands
As he delivered the words which left her to be
Teased out of plastic grooves, black like ink.

Orhan Pamuk

Currently reading My Name Is Red which is a beautifully rich and thought provoking story set in 16th century Istanbul. The novel manages to incorporate a murder mystery with parabals about the nature of art, his prose captures the city in all its color and movement and as always is clever and engaging. Therefore i'm highly excited about this: I'd also recommend Snow which i think is wonderful and very very sad, although i think Red is probably the more accomplished.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Adventures in Salt dough.

Salt dough is one of those amazing things that you make as a child and then forget about in adulthood. Well I came across a recipe in one of my little sisters many craft books and i set about making stuff for christmas.

Mix 300g plain flour with 300g salt, add 200ml of water and a teaspoon of oil. To harden the creations bake the dough in an oven at about gas mark 4/180' for 20 mins. voila cheap decorations. I made penguins and unicorns to hang on the tree, finishing them off once cool with some acrylic paint and glitter.

Christmas plushies.

Here are some stuffed toys I made for Christmas this year.They are (left to right) gray cat, black sheep and Japanese monkey. Unfortunately I cannot lay claim to inventing them, although I did customise them slightly. I followed this book 'Cute Dolls' by Aranzi Aronzo, to be found in Magma at full price and on Amazon at about a fiver. Not only is it impossibly cute, the instructions are suitable for dummies and the projects are all basic and easy to adapt and customise. I gave the cat a gingham dress and appliqued felt heart, the monkey acquired a tuxedo and I tied bows around a couple of them. This is handy to hide the sloppy sewing that joins the head and body ah ha! The only problem is jersy fabric is IMPOSSIBLE!! I hand sewed them and this was a big mistake, its slippy and stretchy and generally tricky, best use a machine. My little sister loved her sheep so much she went to bed with it after opening it on christmas day.