Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Proof, no pudding AKA Free Books For You

Hello eleven readers plus stragglers,

There was a time when I didn't think this was a problem. A surplus of books? Jeepers, cry me a river, Oxbridge. I was a bibliophile and the people who scanned my many bookshelves, blinked and said 'Have you really read all of these?' just Didn't Get It. The point wasn't that I'd read them all but that I would eventually, once the perfect mood, the perfect infinitesimal requirements of readership fell into place. The point was that my library was there, always waiting for me.

I'm ashamed to say I find the sight of this actually physically comforting.

Internet, this is bullshit. I work in the Book Industry. I can't tell you where because I'll get sacked (seriously, there was a whole meeting about it and everything) but the upshot is that over my nearly two years of employment, I have brought home hundreds of books to add to the hundreds of books I already owned.

I'm drowning.

I think a lot of people who love books live this way, this lovely aesthetic-based lie. The spines on the books we acculmulate tell the story of what we deem to be our best selves. It rarely mirrors our actual reading, which while voracious, is much more fly-by-night, spontaneous and pleasure-based. I've seen this a lot with people (like me) who come from non-reading families and are the first person in the entire family tree to go to university. We construct this insane collegiate persona where all reading is good reading and our fancy intellectual intentions count for as much as the act of reading itself.

Enough is enough. I am prepared to stop pretending I'm fucking Harold Bloom.
And you can punctuate that sentence any way you wish.

The problem is that Ebay isn't really the place for bibliophiles, or at least bibliophiles who want to make significant coin - I've blogged a little about the few books I've put up for sale and the truth is none of them, except for the signed Jackie Collins have sold. It's a little depressing. Added to this, I have stacks, mounds, mountains of proof copies that I can't (on aforementioned pain of job loss) sell on for profit. I have so many books that I liked the look of, or wanted desperately to be the kind of person that *would* read that kind of book, that I could construct a fairly decent and watertight fort.

I could take the proofs back to work - but I know they'd get instantly pulped and I know charity shops don't like to take them on account of your garden variety proof copy being a homely beast and non-too-sturdy, all of which makes them difficult to shift from a retail perspective. Tell me about it, Oxfam.

To that end, I have decided to offer them up to the teeny portion of the internet that reads this thing - Twitter too. I'm going to start small and offer a clean thirteen copies of various novels and non-fiction titles in proof copy form that I've either read, or frankly, am never going to read.

Here's a selection of what I'm offering, with links to Amazon for fuller plot synopses:

Midsummer Nights - Editor: Jeanette Winterson. Short stories based on opera plots from ace people like Jackie Kay, Andrew O'Hagan and Ali Smith - UNREAD. I love these authors but really? Opera plots? Really? The least interesting thing about opera? That's your book?

Generation A by Douglas Coupland - Limited edition numbered proof, as if that means anything close to jack - READ. Well curate's egg-y. Will review.

Love & Obstacles by Aleksandar Hemon. Novel from polyglot wunderkind of ilk that makes everyone sick with envy. UNREAD. BASTARD.

Newspeak in the 21st Century - Non Fiction. Essays on media culture. UNREAD. Because part of me stubbornly refuses to find the time to be informed.

Fordlandia - Non Fiction. Chosen primarily and shamefully for its exquisite cover, rendered super small on the front, which speaks of a beatific small-town tranquility that pushes all my David Lynch-y (and secretly unironic) cheese buttons. Have since acquired actual book and, of course, it remains UNREAD

Ablutions by Patrick Dewitt - Novel. UNREAD. Drunks. Despair. Lyricism. Cheap cheap paper.

Alien Hearts by Guy de Maupaussant - The kind of novel that I want to read in a park looking sexy, pseud-y and utterly unattainable but never will. I am also utterly attainable.

The Thoughtful Dresser by Linda Grant - READ and LOVED in parts. I obtained an actual published copy. This proof is battered like an old pro from surfing around in my handbag for weeks.

The Complete Cosmocomics by Italo Calvino. UNREAD. See also: 'Alien Hearts'. Calvino and I have never seen eye to eye, no matter how many rabbits he pulls.

Making An Elephant by Graham Swift. Essay. Mostly UNREAD. Books on the writer's craft are the procrastinator's porn. Still, Swift and I don't get on, so on it goes.

SO: if you want any of these books,you can and FOR FREE. All I ask is that if you're outside Norwich that you pay for postage so I don't go insanely broke.

Just e-mail me at rebecca_wigmore at the hotmail with the dot com. First come, first served. Points for reviews, witty conversation and general human interaction.

I await you,

Monday, 14 June 2010

Cromer key

Hello everyone,

I have become one of those people who isn't happy unless they have seventy eight projects on he go at all time. I think it's because I had of of those particularly instructive debilitating illness throughout my early to mid twenties where the most strenuous thing I cold do each day was snake my way down the stairs and fall into a pathetic pile on the sofa.

Like this, less hair, asphalt.

The fallout of this and the long recovery period that followed means that I want to DO EVERYTHING. Household mess reminds me of illness and must be irradicated, long leisurely downtime is tantamount to WASTING MY TIME. I wanted to be an artist who can support themselves - how was watching 6 hours of TV a day(as I had always done) going to do that? And lastly, and because, throughout my whole life, I've had a monstrous sweet tooth which was married to a drastically reduced amount of movement, I really got quite chubby - a good 20 pounds overweight. Once I became well enough to hold down a job and a boyfriend, my God, with the fire of a thousand suns, THE FLAB HAD TO GO.

Have you noticed the language creeping up to the apocalyptic? Yeah, it was getting to that level of intensity. I tried the classic, Qwick-Fix No-Carb diet, lost about a stone, came off it and immediately became enormous again. I also became the sugar-crazed diet bore that I had always despised. Good show, Wigmore. That's some primo mental health behaviour. I'm sure my boyfriend and friends enjoyed this delightful excursion into this most ubiquitous of sitcom lady cliches. I'm sure I was quite the delight.

Anyway, and boringly, I got quite a bit saner, lost 2 stone through slightly saner methods (diet and exercise underpinned by an intense pseudo-lesbian crush on Jillian Michaels) and I felt like the time had come to reward myself. I purchased these amazing Stella McCartney jeans for £6 on ebay. The seller was the victim of a classic mid-day listing which meant nobody could impulse snap them up and I got them for a song.

These were to be my fancy pants. The skinny jeans that announced my arrival as a slim, trim SUCCESS MACHINE. Plus, they had little metal tassels on the zips, like a classy stripper! Size 30 waist? Please. I could fit in that and with room to spare. Bring them to me, McCartney. I will shimmy in the manner of Beyonce.

This is why you always list hip measurements, blogosphere. They arrived in the post, I squealed with joy and ran downstairs to my basement bedroom to slip into them. You'll notice they're fully lined with cotton, in the pure white luxuriant thickness of a strait jacket:

This proved to be a startingly apt metaphor. The slopey white mounds of flesh poured from the jeans, as I leapt round the room like the hospital's latest inmate, clawing pulling at the zip that would go no further, screeching at housemate and boyfriend: waist 30! waist 30! They. Will. Do. Up.

Of course they wouldn't - hips don't lie. Shakira is entirely correct on this, those less so about that She-Wolf thing. The hips were 34" and in no way, in my wildest weight-loss/obsessive high achiever dreams, would I shrink to that size. After months of trying, I had failed, blogosphere.

Except not. Actually. That is mental high-achiever obsessive logic. And although I am still 44% mental, I think it's as well to reduce that shit down along with the personal possession thing. I'm not going to slim down to fit the trousers. I'm reselling them to some other person who's as in need of awesome stripper tassels as I was. I'm doing okay. I'm doing my art thing. I made a Jimmy Stewart robot in my image. I'm getting gigs. I'm getting there.

Jimmy Stewart stripped down in his undies

The thing is, blogosphere, you can't do everything. Even if Jillian Michaels' beautiful hazel eyes and foul sailor's mouth say otherwise. I'm using the proceeds of this month's ebay bonanza to fund a holiday to Cromer with my boyfriend at the end of this month. It's just 4 days and Cromer is only a thirty minute drive from home, but it's by the seaside and, dammit - it's where the poppies grow:

Sometimes, relaxing - just a little, just a mite - is not a waste of my time. UNCLENCH.

Your pal,

Wanna buy my fancy pants? Click here