Saturday, 30 May 2015

Liebster Award: Everything about my future autobiography!

I got nominated for Liebster award by 1666 X 30 from The Mutant Stomp Friends! In her post she tells intriguing facts about herself and nominates more bloggers to continue this fun game. Liebster Award is a nice way to socialize more online and also helps us to find more interesting blogs to read! I found some new bloggers from the ones 1666 X 30 nominated and from their posts even more new blogs.

The rules:

1. Post the award on your blog.
2. Thank the blogger who presented this award and link back to their blog.
3. Write 11 random facts about yourself.
4. Nominate 11 bloggers who you feel deserve this award and who have fewer than 200 followers.
5. Answer 11 questions posted by the presenter and ask your nominees 11 questions.

The questions 1666 X 30 made are so interesting I want to start with them first! She works with books and I study literature so this is a perfect mach:

1. What is the title of your biography?
I would be tempted to use my blog's name but perhaps my biography would be "The lonely rambles of a bookworm"

2. Is it an autobiography or did you get someone else to write it? If so, whom?
I wrote it myself. It is an unnecessarily long report on all the books I read during my life and how their stories were intervened into my life. At least in my own head they did.

3. What's on the cover? If illustrated, who illustrated it?
It is a borderline paranoid collage of photos of bookshelves, libraries, bookstores and books.

4. Seems your biography has some photos in it. What are they of?
Book covers. Loads of other book covers.

5. Hey, good news! Seems like someone important is providing a blurb quote for the cover. Who is it and what do they say about the book?
"Like most autobiographies (fiction or fact), this book is an entertaining mix of fantasies, unmet grand expectations and facts no-one can verify. Simply marvelous!" - President of Tristram Shandy Society

6. What are some of the chapter names in the book?

Hobbit or not quite there and never back again: My fails with J. R. R. Tolkien's works

Dangerous Liabilities: My insufficient relationship skills and a one-sided affair with Marquise de Merteuil

Pride & Presumption: My pretentious knowledge of Gothic Novel without reading enough Jane Austen

7. Your biography has an index. What's under the letter G? 
It would have to be Grotesque. First of all I am writing my Master's thesis on the subject and I am fascinated by grotesque things! I also expect to transform into a grotesque creature at some point of my life.

8. Who is thanked in the acknowledgments?
The head of the literature department of my university.

9. What kind of a book is it? Photography monograph? A tell-all expose? Stream-of-consciousness word jazz? An academic monograph with multiple indexes, endnotes, bibliography, further reading, etc?
It is a mix of academic references and weird and forked monologues, just like House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski.

10. Your readers are shocked to know that....
In my early teens I had a disturbing incident that involved frog's legs and Richard Adams' Watership Down.

11.  For some reason your book's selling well in France. Why do you think that is?
Because of the frog's legs.

Fewer than eleven facts about me:

1. I was inspired by 1666 X 30's post and decided to stretch two of my ear piercings. Just a bit though, so I can use hollow plugs as supporting structure and use big heavy earrings.
My beginners set.
2. I had surgery last week and am recovering well. Fingers crossed it continues that way!
4. Mites and ticks disgust me. This time of year I am constantly scared I might get one on a walk. Ticks are known to transmit borrelia, so my fear is not completely foolish.

Disgusting tick sucking blood. Photo source
5. I participated in a short story competition. The results are published in the end of this summer.
6. In January I was released of two wisdom teeth. I plan to make some sort of jewelry out of them.

My lovely teeth on salt bed.

I nominate:

Lady Nancy from Retro-Electric which is about alternative fashion and amazing travel photos.
MindLess from MindLess Indulgence. She posts about sewing, art and all kinds of interesting things.
Winter from Eternal Wynter. Wonderful funny posts, for example about her grandmother's haunted doll!
Goth Gardener from Goth Gardening. Lately she has posted about nice creepy books, cemeteries and amazing products like book purses! 
Salla Salmiakki from Lepakkoluola. Here you find alternative fashion, beautiful life events and DIY. She posts in Finnish with English translations in the end!
Eni from Keep Changing Colors, who's blog I just found and am amazed by her talent of drawing and design. She too posts in Finnish with English translations.  

And that is it. The Liebster Award has been spreading like a zombie virus around all goth and alternative blogs lately and I feel like all blogs I follow have been nominated inside a month!

I am supposed to make up my questions for the nominated but I must say I really like 1666 X 30's questions. They have a theme and they let your imagination fly! I would like to distribute her questions instead of making lame questions myself. So please answer the same questions about the biography, if you want to participate to Liebster Award! 

Friday, 29 May 2015

Creepy Reads Review: My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me

May's Creepy Reads Review is of a collection of short stories. My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me presents forty new fairy tales written by contemporary writers. The name of this compelling anthology is from one of the short stories in it and I think it is a good hint for the readers about how creepy this anthology is.

This book is edited by Kate Bernheimer and the foreword is written by Gregory Maguire, the author of Wicked. The collection is dedicated to Angela Carter, one of my favorite writers. Her novels and short stories play with perverse, fairy tales, grotesque, and many other things goth readers will enjoy. Especially her collection of short stories The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories, which is a collection of retold fairy tales and it is probably the reason why My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me is dedicated to Carter. I highly recommend reading both of these collections.

I read My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me while I was in the United States and I was intrigued by one thing. When I would mention I was reading these contemporary fairy tales people were always interested and they would not really know much about fairy tales or more precisely about their history. Even one woman who was a teacher did not know that the original fairy tales were not for children but for adults. The folklore from previous centuries was filled with eroticism, horror, and violence. The stories were told after a hard day of work in a situation there was no much other entertainment.

From the back of the book
People often say the stories Brothers Grimm collected were violent and there was much gore but according to research on folklore, the brothers actually toned down those stories while they were gathering them around the rural areas. All stories in this collection are not remakes of Grimms' fairy tales. Neil Gaiman has retold The Odyssey from Ancient Greece in his story Orange. Other writers were inspired by Russian folklore and others by Vietnamese, Japanese, and Mexican folklore.

Since there are forty stories I am not going to talk about all of them. I am only going to mention a couple. Though first I must say that you do not have to know the stories that the writers used as inspiration. You can just enjoy the stories as they are but of coarse knowing about folklore and fairy tales some basic things like the usual structure and narrative conventions is probably going to bring more to your reading experience of My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me. Even if you are not familiar with the traditions behind a story, in the end of every tale in this book there is afterwords by the author or in some cases a translator or the editor, and those afterwords bring more light to the choices the author made and why the story is like it is. Very handy, I must say!

Close-up: some of the writers
Some stories in this anthology I liked very much, some not so much but I could still appreciate the quality and the use of literary traditions in those stories too. The Warm Mouth by Joyelle McSweeney is a good example of the stories that bring back the violence and gore to fairy tale. The Warm Mouth also honors the importance of repetition in old stories, and so does The Swan Brothers by Shelley Jackson. Jackson's novella is divided into little fractions that have titles like "The Performance Artist Dreams" and "The Youngest Brother's Lover". The world of the story is shielded and at first it is hard to understand what actually is happening, since the characters and their actions keep changing like in a feverish dream.

My favorite stories were Baba Iaga and the Pelican Child by Joy Williams, With Hair of Hand-Spun Gold by Neil LaBute, and The Mermaid in the Tree by Katherine Vaz:

Baba Yaga is a character from Russian folklore, a cannibal witch who lives in a creepy cottage that moves around with chicken legs. In Joy Williams' story this Baba Iaga is not representing the forces of evil, as she usually does and the story has that eerie atmosphere that fairy tales usually have.

With Hair of Hand-Spun Gold is a remake of the story of Rumplestiltskin. In the original story Rumplestiltskin is this fairy creature who can spun gold from straws and has a habit of trying to get other people's firstborns. Neil LaBute's story is a "realistic" story, which means it is situated in a world that has no magic and the characters are quite normal people like us. The narrator is this story's Rumplestiltskin but instead of being a weirdo after other people's children he is actually taking a revenge on his former mistress. The anger and thirst of revenge are deliciously presented in the narration!

The Mermaid in the Tree starts with these words: "Desiree, the child bride, and her sister Miranda had gone grave robbing for a wedding gown." Need I say more? This is a twisted, creepy, and extremely well written story after H. C. Andersen's The Little Mermaid. I loved it and found it very inspiring.

These stories are perfect to read in the evening before going to sleep. I at least had some very interesting dreams after some of the tales! I bought my copy in London, Tate Modern's museum shop. This anthology was published by Penguin Books and you can get a brand new copy of your own for approximately 15 USD.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Sneak a peek of my life

I think I should stop making promises about the next post's content unless I've already written it. :D In my last post I said the next one will be a book review but I have had so much other stuff going on in my life for the past three weeks!

First of all, I've traveled back to Finland from the United States. Alas, my time abroad has ended but I must confess I am relatively happy to be back in my home country. I was in Helsinki just in time for the celebrations of May 1 and the wonderful Finnish summer that is not too humid nor too hot for a person who likes to dress all black!

For a couple of months I was quite stressed about the fact that I had no summer job when I returned to Finland. I am happy to announce this no longer stresses me and I have an interesting work opportunity for the summer. It is even related to the field I am studying at the university! I shall spend my summer in the vicinity of Helsinki and to be frank I have no idea where I'll be living when Autumn comes. It all depends on my studies, are there courses I can attend at the University of Tampere and are there so many of them that it is smart to move into the city once more.

For these short three weeks I have visited my university for the one last seminar of this spring and at the same time I met with my student friends and also friends who I have known much longer. It was actually pretty weird to be in my university city Tampere for the first time this year! I felt like a tourist.
Tourist photos from Tampere!
Last weekend was Ropecon, Finland's biggest roleplaying convention. It is also the largest independent roleplaying convention in Europe and it has international honorary guests and a lot of programs are in English. It is a family friendly convention and I was amazed how many tiny creatures (=children) in cool costumes there were! The convention lasts a whole weekend but I went to Ropecon only on Saturday, mostly to see many friends I had not seen this whole year since I went to USA in January and only returned three weeks ago.
The Unreality Choir performing songs from Skyrim and Doctor Who
The most entertaining program I saw was the Unreality choir's performance. They sang well-known tunes from games and scifi/fantasy TV-shows and it was all really nice. Also, people in Ropecon tend to be on good humor and they are really supportive to all those people who have made an effort to produce program. The atmosphere in the whole convention is great, or at least that is how I perceived it.

That's about it of my life at the moment. I am relatively certain that in two weeks I can pester myself into writing that book review I was going to post "next". ;) Thanks for reading!