I just KNEW my first summer in London would mean trekking all over England and Europe, eating out all the time, reading tons of new fiction, getting ten thousand pages of my thesis written, and generally having the blastiest of blasts. And I would write about all of it here!
Yeah… it didn’t quite work out that way. BUT! I have been doing some of those things (though not at such physically impossible levels), and I’ve written about most of it. Here are some of the things I’ve left out.
What I’ve Been Putting into my Mouth
I’ve been taking note of all the really drool-making places people have been blogging about, and have even managed to visit a few of them! Clerkenwell & Social is a cocktail bar and restaurant with book/author-themed drinks and decorations…
…so you know I wasn’t about to pass that up. And Jaime’s suggestions tend to lead to pots of gold at the ends of rainbows anyway, so I figured it was a safe bet. C&S even does 2 for 1 cocktails Monday thru Friday from 5-8PM, and all day on Saturdays. You should really take advantage of this. The drinks are gewd.
The food’s not too shabby either.
Your insides will thank you.
I FINALLY tried Maitre Choux, which I’ve wanted to do for months. Sweet HeySoos, these are like works of art, and so good that I actually went back the very next week to buy more. Mmyep, they’re that good.
Éclairs for grownups.
Maitre Choux also makes these little pastries called chouquettes: delicate little puffs of pastry with pieces of sugar that look like rice coating the outside. The sugar is crunchy, and the pastry is soft and not overly sweet. When I’m old and immobile, you can find me in a La-Z-Boy in front of the TV with an open sack of chouquettes in my lap. Livin’ the dream, y’all.
Also, Frankie, Flick, Sophie and I checked out the Magic Roundabout in Shoreditch not too long ago.
Burger Bear and Prawnography blessed us with tasty eats and some wack-a-mole style fun (rubber mallets + crab parts = crab guts urrywurr). For a rundown of the night (featuring great photos and some sweet gifs), check out Frankie & Sophie’s posts.
What I’ve Been Reading
I’ve been trying to do as much reading as possible. But now that I have to read certain things for the critical part of my thesis ::grumblegrumble:: my “reading for pleasure” has fallen a bit by the wayside. But I’m still finding great things to read! The only problem is, I haven’t actually finished any of my “for pleasure” reads yet. Scratch that, I’ve finished one of them — turns out the one book I finished is the one book I wish I’d never read at all. Anyhoo, this is what I’ve been reading lately:
Let’s just get this out of the way. I was extremely disappointed by this novel. Most of the interesting questions that came up were left unanswered. The entire thing got to be repetitive and less enjoyable the further I read.
These are actually both for pleasure and for my thesis. Flannery O’Connor was certainly talented, but for me her work can be tough to read. Her views on race can never be known because she’s dead. Her stories do point to a belief in equality — though possibly only on religious grounds — but she was also known to antagonize friends who were more earnest in their belief in racial equality by telling racist jokes. Part of me thinks she just liked being a dick to her friends sometimes for the fun of it. In any case, whatever her beliefs, she knew how to craft a good story.
The only reason I haven’t finished The Little Friend yet is because I’m afraid of what’s going to happen next 😀 . Donna Tartt is masterful at building tension and capitalizing on the unease she makes you feel. This novel (her second) is more successfully executed than her first in my opinion (though I’ll always have a special spot in my heart for The Secret History); you can tell she’d really grown into her writing voice by the time she wrote The Little Friend. It’s written with incredible care, and it does a lot of the things I want my work to do. She’s become a writing role model of mine, for sure.
You guys know I dig good childrens’ books, and Jeff Kinney knows how to write ’em. This series cracks me up so much. Definitely check it out if you haven’t already.
The only other book of David Mitchell’s I’ve tried is Cloud Atlas, which wasn’t for me. I wasn’t able to find a comfortable rhythm with that story, so I gave up. I’m going to try reading it again, though, because I’m really enjoying The Bone Clocks. I’m nearly done with it, actually. I will say I’m a bit disappointed about his not sticking with the POV of the first character (each section is from a different POV and happens at a different point in time — which seems to be his favorite way to write), but the jumping around works better for me in this story than in Cloud Atlas. I also want to read Number 9 Dream.
Working in a used bookstore gives you access to some interesting stuff. I’ve been a fan of D.H. Lawrence’s poetry ever since I read Beasts by Joyce Carol Oates. This is my first time reading his prose. I picked up Apocalypse, and Fantasia of the Unconscious: Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious. Heavy stuff.
I also found this gem at the shop I work at. This is my first encounter with Stephen Fry’s writing and I looooove it. This book covers the true versions of “facts” everyone thinks they know. Intelligent and funny — my kind of guy (and book!).
What I’ve been Writing
The novel writing has come to a screeching halt (for now) in favor of getting a good chunk of my critical bit written. Researching monsters and Gothic fiction is a lot of fun, but I’m a lil rusty when it comes to academic writing, so that part hasn’t been all that great. I keep worrying that what I’m writing sounds like a grade school book report — it’s really bugging me, hahaha. But I’ll get back into the swing of things eventually.
In fun(ner) writing news, I’ve finished a couple of short stories (Hallelujah). So now it’s back to the grind of looking for someone who wants to publish them. I still have a few more I need to wind up and get out into the world, so hopefully I can make progress on those, too.
That’s pretty much it! I think you’re all caught up now 🙂