Archive for John Steinbeck

The Reading Habit

Posted in Autobiography, Stories and reviews by Kathy Da Silva, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 22, 2017 by kathydasilva



I guess, that perhaps it is only when we travel on a long journey that we now think of what to read, or when the ever playing TV manages to blow  a fuse, and that Hollywood is given a ‘rest’ for a few days, that a new book gets to being read and absorbed. I happened to be passing through a railway station, when  I noticed a little old fashioned bookcase, that normally would be inside someone’s bedroom or living space was placed in the waiting room. I was at Southampton train station, and on my way back to London. I could not resist a perusal of the rather near empty or scant collection on the shelves. A notice had been placed to advise people to use the ‘free’ donations of book, in a fashion that would mean a healthy supply always being there, but, no one obeys rules right? I also noticed a small tin with a slit in the top with the possibility of a donation being the answer, for use of books, so I donated a small amount of coin, but had no replacement for the one paperback I took to use for a reading book on board the train back to Waterloo. It was a ‘whodunit’ type book, based in the Lake District, among the fells and dales of Windermere and Peaks. New author Rebecca Tope’s The Troutbeck Testimony, starts like a book with a mystery, and rather predictably continues, with the suggestion of the drama within the first few pages, and onward. However, it still meant something to me, to read something about England. Something set in England, in a land and a place I might myself have actually traveled to. Yes a paperback, and not an e-book, though either would have been as satisfying when you are alone and a bit bored. The habit of reading being something under attack lately. I prefer it, if what I am reading catches me in some way, for its style or subject, and sometimes sheer brilliance. Every time Christmas comes round it is as if someone in a rather elevated position of employ selects a suitable family choice of films to cover the holiday period, and yet how often I notice that the same titles repeat almost too frequently, year in year out. The book market is such that the number of books already written and authors seeking new audience, are so many that a person could not run out of options. Stars that shine, however, might vary, and what is elixir for one is perhaps like sour grapes to another. Nothing beats classicism, but, a true original, the type that become of ‘cult’ status, well each year perhaps produces a few hopefuls. I crept backward through time recently to John Steinbeck and some of his titles like To a God Unknown, which to me is one of those trans-fomative story settings, taking you to a land of extremes where drought, and survival of those conditions produce a number of deliberations among the characters, and the cause of which takes them and their livestock, over the hills and into new situations, and therefore dramas, which then flow from that authors pen like oil from a new found seam. And I remember one winter, strolling the beach at Shanklin, beneath the sedimentary soft rocks of sandstone and chalk, with thoughts of the time and period when such things formed, and yet, therein drama can be found, or created. There was a very tiny bar set in among the cliff side, full of friendly people, it was Christmas. Yes there is a reason to feel helped too by seasonal change, as I always find winter the time to write and take in, and absorb.

Being back at Southampton, but, without my sister to visit, has been a bit sad, and over a lifetime of going to and fro from the town where I was born, and meeting with friends and mainly my close family, it now seems a bit empty, like an empty house, all the ‘birds’ flown. I have a brother, a brother-in-law, and a step dad, oh and a cousin or two and their families, but, nothing of the persons who I grew to an adult, with, and who knew me very much more intimately, than, anyone else. It would seem, I need to somehow, come half-way, in my own world of thoughts and needs, to satisfy, what eternally is placed in my heart, but also to allow my own soul, something of a place of restfulness. So summers, take me to places where such a thing happens often, with strolls on a beach, but, my winters too need to be, like the house set up in the mountains, with the fire ablaze in the hearth, and the lamps low lit, and that blessed little book case of things that need to be read.


A Society that Could Care

Posted in Current affairs, politics, Stories and reviews, Stories and reviews by Kathy Da Silva, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 12, 2017 by kathydasilva

I picked up on some of the headlines this morning in the newspapers, as I went for a shop in my local supermarket. I was just popping in to a Tesco near my flat, for cat food, milk and oh a paper, well, I could not ignore the spread from left to right of the ‘media’ lynching of Jeremy Corbyn. Why? Well the Tories who own most of the papers albeit via Rupert Murdoch, are resplendant in their attack, as and when they choose. You or I, will see in the next few weeks the most abusive system of communication at work that I can possibly have imagined might have come into being. And perhaps this needs some sort of legislation adjustment, and still no debate via TV live platform, for Jeremy Corbyn to answer questions alongside Theresa May. Why?

I have been focused today, on trying to get to grips with online marketing potential for my published books which have been enabled by the company with affiliations with so far so good, the product, my books, are there online and being sold by different online agencies. However, the problems with marketing are far harder for an individual with no money set aside for advertising, than through established publishers who do offer authors pay in advance sometimes for the work they do. As I have no advance, there is very little I can do other than small scale advertising to further the knowledge of my book creations.

Alongside my efforts this day to follow up and find, where people can buy one of my books, I also started to reflect on books I had read in the last year, and books that I looked at for style, technique and skill. My mind chose to focus first on a favorite of mine from a long time ago, John Steinbeck, who had the talent to put down in words all the characteristics of an individual, no matter how common or bizarre. He is so skilled in making focus on human suffering and economic dilemmas. And he does so with warmth integrity and incredible durability of image. I still like to browse over the old texts of the novels, of his era. The most remarkable thought came to me today, with also the need to deeply reflect on the politics that do exist today in England, and the thoughts were specifically of the society we are building for future generations. Are we all so sure, that building wealth is the goal and the only goal, that a person should be about?

I have made myself read or re-read Psycho this year by Robert Bloch, with the well known character or villain Norman Bates, a vulnerable mentally ill adult, who had put up with quite a coarse upbringing. And also, having digested this classic decided to read the more up-to-date, subsequent book of our own era, American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. I managed to read Psycho cover to cover. However, when it got to trying to be as thorough in my approach to American Psycho, my stomach for the ‘detail’ or catalogue of ‘sins’, that the new psycho character of Patrick Bateman, is blamed for, well, I had to put it down for another time, when I have recovered from the dark images. I will detail that Ellis’ psycho is a modern man walking amongst us. He with the million dollar lifestyle, wears the highest costing designer cloth money could buy.  He gets away with ‘murder’. He is so violent to a homeless man, and tears at his flesh in such a fashion, having torn at the man verbally, he fulfills his angry desires, on the weakest of individuals. He is presented in the book as a cannibal. He eats and cooks to eat parts of his victims. He destroys the women he takes home to his flat,  by luring them in for sexual encounter, and then tying them up, ready for torture. Eventually he kills them, having given them, a nightmare of the worst kind. And hence, I could not really say, that I enjoyed the detail. However, the worst part, of the story is how this could happen? How, could this evil exist, move around people in society, slip in and out of normality, sit at tables in expensive restaurants, pretend such calm control?

I was looking recently at the stats of people who had been on disability in Britain, who had had their benefit or disability pension revised, by the new rules under the present day Conservative Party. Apparently, 30,000 individual souls or more, perished within weeks of being put back onto the dole queue for ‘able bodied’ persons who were ‘fit for work’, in the last year or so. Some of the ‘victims’ were people who had had major surgery, and that included double organ transplanted individuals, who died within weeks of the start of a new job, or for that matter, in the effort to fulfill and not starve, the regulations of the new government.

I am not sure what I am more shocked by, American Psycho or the politics of our era, set to reinstall the same ‘madness’, that this country has been enduring for a that last few years. I just hope that the public become more greatly informed and choose to read more independent media articles. We use to call it reading around the subject, in order to get a balanced view.

When I visited my friend Bruno in France last summer well it was nearly autumn, I became utterly amazed at the feeling of sheer, ‘freedom’, that was experienced, once in the country of France. I was there only for a short four day break, as he had offered the holiday for free. I could not have gone away without the charity of a friend. I had had an accident in the April, where my ankle had been crushed by a vehicle in Ilford. I had been in the news, but not named. The car had run over my foot too in the process.

When and if you do read American Psycho, so much of what obsesses the man, the main character is to do with position in life. The clothes people are wearing and which designer shoes are being worn by who. Where they would eat, and would it be good to be seen eating in these haute couture, stylish places. The grubby, hungry, and homeless seen as a nuissance like the rubbish strewn and ready for collection.

I photographed, the student protest a year or so back, and within the hour of the demonstration finishing, and not even making the evening news, the borough of Westminster, had the street cleaning vehicles and people to broom away the abandoned placards, out in number. Who could have told that the students had even been there.

What worries me more is if we follow suit with America in ‘all things’. We seem to have allowed the grant system to fall foul of the capitalist system, in a major way. This in turn, will also mean less equality generally. Fewer people will seek an education if it also means living with a life long debt attached to their ankles like a ball and chain.

The delight in which Tories hold the ‘fort’ of Westminster, is a worrying sign. You could almost hear the laughter, from Theresa May’s cabinet ministers, at the Corbyn, dilemma of having by accident? Run over a BBC journalists foot. He will live another day, no doubt, and the NHS will put his foot back together. I just wonder if the BBC could manage to not show bias?