My December author interview is with paranormal Aussie writer L. L. Hunter
A few weeks back I asked my Facebook if they could recommend books to me which depicted protagonists with disability in genre fiction where the story wasn’t an ‘issues’ story (like Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time) or where the person with…
BRB: Be Right Back by Maree Dawes
Published 2013, Spineless Wonders
BRB is a wonderful verse novel that explores the early days of internet chat rooms and what happens when life on the net becomes more ‘real’ than the trappings of the reality of family and friends. This theme could have become generic internet distrust cliche but Dawes uses the first person to take us inside ‘Bodicea’s’ head to create a complex character with complex reasons for her new found obsession. As another reviewer has pointed out, some will see Dawes novel as an endorsement of the narrative that falling down the internet rabbit warren destroys lives. Really, BRB highlights the truth that we all deep down know- if we don’t get what we need from our everyday lives we will find it elsewhere.
From the blurb:
Partner away and home alone but for the sleeping children, our protagonist joins online chat. She and her family moved to the country and up till now she’s been bored and disconnected from her everyday world.
She battles with online language and protocol and wonders if anyone in the chat rooms will ever speak to her.
Then online life becomes more technicoloured than the real thing…
Told from the first person point of view this verse novel uses the language and shape of online chat, email, fragments and stream of consciousness to take the reader headfirst into the world of online life in the nineties. For those who were there it will recreate the moment, for those who never were it’s a chance to experience the beginnings of social networking with the humour, excitement and dilemmas it can pose.
I should admit here that I am biased. I didn’t grow up using the internet in the nineties, but rather in the late 2000s when teen angst overwhelmed and I struggled to find an outlet for my then deemed ‘freakish’ artistic obsessions. The internet has changed my life thanks to experiences in multiple different fandoms and multiple different internet mediums including livejournal, twitter, tumblr, dreamwidth and various forums. Without these internet platforms, I wouldn’t be the feminist writer I am today. Without chatting on the internet, I would be several friends poorer.
Reading BRB took me back to the heady early days of my teen internet exploration when I’d have enormous forum msn chats with people I’d never met at ungodly hours of the night, write poetry for each other in the Poetry Thread, and in one particular year, experimented on chat roulette with a bunch of other young girls. There is something intoxicating about the ‘freeness’ of the internet and Dawes captures this freedom (both sexual and artistic) through her seamless verse. Written in the awkward stop and starts of internet chats, complete with the jargon language and names and haunted by the black pitted trolls as well as too good to be true knights in shining armour too often found online, this novel struck a nostalgic chord.
BRB: 4/5 inky stars
Without further ado, I present to you the first poem in my upcoming poetry collection, My Heart’s Choir Sings. Books The open, sterilized jaws of your flat beckoned, quiet Like the yellowed pages of books That were your long time companions. Their old, musty scent,…
Title: The Reflections of Queen Snow White
Author: David Meredith
Date Published: 2013
The Reflections of Snow White re-tells the story of Snow White… yes… but also not really. The point of this short novel is not to revise a beloved Grimm fairy story so much as to use Snow’s relationship with Charming to talk about life after ever after and the process of grief. I did a bit of internet research and Meredith wrote this story originally as a short story after multiple deaths in his family. It is therefore a story very dear to his heart. He also has loads of fun playing around with the German origins of the tale and experiments with the fairy story tone.
From the blurb:
What happens when “happily ever after” has come and gone?
On the eve of her only daughter, Princess Raven’s wedding, an aging Snow White finds it impossible to share in the joyous spirit of the occasion. The ceremony itself promises to be the most glamorous social event of the decade. Snow White’s castle has been meticulously scrubbed, polished and opulently decorated for the celebration. It is already nearly bursting with jubilant guests and merry well-wishers. Prince Edel, Raven’s fiancé, is a fine man from a neighboring kingdom and Snow White’s own domain is prosperous and at peace. Things could not be better, in fact, except for one thing:
The king is dead.
The queen has been in a moribund state of hopeless depression for over a year with no end in sight. It is only when, in a fit of bitter despair, she seeks solitude in the vastness of her own sprawling castle and climbs a long disused and forgotten tower stair that she comes face to face with herself in the very same magic mirror used by her stepmother of old.
It promises her respite in its shimmering depths, but can Snow White trust a device that was so precious to a woman who sought to cause her such irreparable harm? Can she confront the demons of her own difficult past to discover a better future for herself and her family? And finally, can she release her soul-crushing grief and suffocating loneliness to once again discover what “happily ever after” really means?
Only time will tell as she wrestles with her past and is forced to confront The Reflections of Queen Snow White.
As I’ve said multiple times before on this blog, I have a ridiculous obsession with authors messing around with fairy stories. I just LOVE it. The more unexpected the direction the better. Ironically, I am halfway through my own Snow White revisionist short story so this ebook came to me at a great time! I loved the mirror reflecting memories at Snow White all with one specific purpose. At first I thought she was a bit dense to fail to notice the mirror’s aim but I guess she was in a funk and it’s hard to get out of one without a lot of external help sometimes. I liked that this ebook deals with life after happily ever after and a mature relationship. My favourite part of the story was actually older Snow White.
My main criticism of the book, (and this could be to do with the fact that Meredith expanded out from a short story), is that the flashbacks feel disjointed and rushed. I wanted to hear more about the conflict in Snow’s early life and hear more from her deepening relationship with Charming. I also found Snow to be passive for most of the story even before Charming dies, probably because there was little time to expand on early events, and she relies on others to get her out of difficult situations. There was also the suicide attempt because she can’t bear an heir. Now that really put my nose out. As a feminist, this kind of thing is a bug bear of mine. Otherwise, a solid read.
Reflections of Queen Snow White: 3/5 inky stars
This book was provided free by the author in exchange for an honest review.