2014 started for me in the dying months of the previous year and the promotion to the position of Community Support Organiser, with the taking on of this position I found myself with the responsibility of managing the day services for adults with learning difficulties for the city of Canterbury & the surrounding areas. In practice this meant that I suddenly found myself responsible for about 30 – 40 service users & a staff group of 20 +, it also meant that I had to complete a Chartered Managers Institute - Diploma in Leadership for Health and Social Care & Young People's services.
Although I had a year to 18 months to complete it, I wanted to get it out of the way as soon as was possible so I set myself the task of completing it in as short a timeframe as was possible (9 months). Whilst this was going on my wife’s much needed knee operation suddenly gained an arrival date & I had to juggle my annual leave & accrued lieu time & also find alternate arrangements so that my daughter & I could support her, whilst still managing to get my daughter to & from school & to add to the accumulating chaos & disorder, we also moved home in 2014, which entailed bagging, boxing & moving all of our stuff from the cottage just outside of Minster where we had lived for about 17 years to our new apartment in the nearby seaside town of Ramsgate - all of this fed into the Big Black Hole of what I came to call The reasons/Excuses why I didn’t blog in 2014.
Yet somehow in between reading Governmental white papers, local policy documents & a host of other paperwork headed “boring stuff I need to know to complete my Diploma”, I manage to fit in some reading that was just me related not me/work related. Here below is some of the ones I can recall
The Counsellor - (Screenplay) Cormac McCarthy This is the story of a lawyer, the Counsellor, a man who is so seduced by the desire to get rich, he becomes involved in a drug-smuggling venture that quickly takes him way out of his depth – being that this is McCarthy, the ending isn’t Disneyland fairy tale.
The Vulture - Gil Scott Heron A body lies on New York's West 17th Street between 9th & 10th Avenues. A crowd gathers, horrified, curious, staring at the corpse on the pavement. It is July 12, 1969, and John Lee is dead. This is the story of John Lee's murder in the words of four men who knew him. Yes it is that Gil Scott Heron
War & War – Laszlo Krasznahorkai This begins on a dark train platform Korim is on the verge of being attacked and robbed; from here, we are carried along by the insistent voice of this nervous clerk. Desperate, at times almost mad, Korim has discovered in a small Hungarian town's archives an antique manuscript of startling beauty that narrates the epic tale of brothers-in-arms struggling to return home from a disastrous war. This doesn’t do it justice at all, I love this writer & want to read anything by him, shopping lists, phone records, etc.
Wabi Sabi , The Japanese art of impermanence – Andrew Juniper Developed out of the aesthetic philosophy of cha-no-yu (the tea ceremony) in fifteenth-century Japan, wabi sabi is an aesthetic that finds beauty in things imperfect, impermanent, & incomplete.
Behold the Man – Michael Moorcock This is an existentialist tale about Karl Glogauer, a man who travels from the year 1970 in a time machine to meet the historical Jesus of Nazareth.
A Small Circus – Hans Fallada A raw, vivid account of a town rife with corruption, greed and brutality. The book was first published in 1931 and written as Weimar Germany collapsed around him.
Isle Of Dreams – Keizo Hino The island is a reclaimed land in Tokyo Bay where the city dumps its garbage . . . and yet, Shozo Saka, a middle-aged widower, does indeed find the place beautiful: gravitating more and more, since the death of his wife, toward the Island
10 Billion Days & a 100 Billion Nights - Ryu Mitsuse Ten billion days, that is how long it will take the philosopher Plato to determine the true systems of the world. One hundred billion nights--that is how far into the future he and Christ and Siddhartha will travel to witness the end of the world and also its fiery birth – Described as the greatest J-Lit Sci-Fi ever.
Ocean Of sound – David Toop Aether Talk, Ambient Sound and Imaginary Worlds begins in 1889 at the Paris Exposition when Debussy first heard Javanese music performed. A culture absorbed in perfume, light and ambient sound developed in response to the intangibility of 20th century communications. David Toop traces the evolution of this culture, through Erik Satie to the Velvet Underground; Miles Davis to Jimi Hendrix and on to the likes of Brian Eno, Autechre & the rise of electronic music.
Ubik – Phillip K Dick This follows the story of Joe Chip, a technician at Runciter Associates. When an explosion kills Joe Chip's boss, Glen Runciter, strange things begin to happen. Soon Joe realizes his boss did not die in the explosion, but he is in a state of half-life.
The Letter Killers Club - Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky A secret society of self-described “conceivers” who, to preserve the purity of their conceptions, will commit nothing to paper. (What, after all, is your run-of-the-mill scribbler of stories if not an accomplished corruptor of conceptions?).
Blue Fox – Sjon This takes place in Iceland in 1883. It opens with a priest hunting a blue fox, then jumps backward to the days following up to the hunt. An herbalist buries the recently deceased woman with Down syndrome that he rescued from a shipwreck. It details their life together before returning to the present. This Is Sjon & it is beautiful, another writer who I’d read whatever his pen touched.
Collection Of Sand – Italo Calvino claims that 'the brain begins in the eye'. The essays collected here display his fascination with the visual universe, in which the things we see tell a truth about the world. With encyclopaedic knowledge and engaging curiosity. This just engages my obsession with Italo’ s world.
We - Yevgeny Zamyatin We is set in the future. D-503 lives in the One State, an urban nation constructed almost entirely of glass, which allows the secret police/spies to inform on and supervise the public more easily. It’s been stated that Orwell, Huxley & Vonnegut have used this as a model.
Remainder – Tom McCarthy The story of an unnamed narrator traumatized by an accident which "involved something falling from the sky". Eight and a half million pounds richer due to a compensation settlement but hopelessly estranged from the world around him, he spends his time and money paying others to reconstruct and re-enact vaguely remembered scenes and situations from his past.
Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage – Haruki Murakami A young man haunted by a great loss; of dreams and nightmares that have unintended consequences for the world around us; and of a journey into the past that is necessary to mend the present. It is a story of love, friendship, and heartbreak for the ages.
Fear Of De Sade – - Bernardo Carvalho In the pitch-black cell of an asylum - possibly in 19th century France - an extended dialogue between the "baron" and a disembodied "voice" ensues. Arrested for a crime that he has no memory of, the baron swears his innocence throughout. In contemporary France a man and his wife push one another into increasingly violent and extreme situations in what is evidently a deeply twisted marriage.
I’m not sure if I’ll get around to writing about these books in more detail, although there are a couple I would like to shout about hoping that someone will give them a chance & adore, love ,nay obsess about them like I do but there are so many books that I’d love to read & then sing about that it would probably be wise to start 2015 with a clean slate.