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Review: Starting Over

Starting Over
Starting Over by Tony Parsons

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wish I could explain my feelings for Tony Parsons in a way that would do him true justice. Whenever I read his books I feel a sort of heartbreaking hope. I know why, but not well enough to be able to express it accurately. The way Tony writes makes you feel relieved that someone is paying attention to life in such a way that they really do just get it. I think with this book especially, the way George loves Lara makes me feel hopeful. After all that time he still loved her, and not in a daft star-crossed lovers kind of way, but in a real way. It feels a relief to know that someone wrote that, because it kind of means that he feels that way, and feeling that way in itself is kind of lovely. Tony Parsons is someone that I wish everyone would read. I often wonder while I am reading his books if other people see themselves in the characters he creates. And if they do, do they learn about themselves in the process? Do they learn a little something about relationships? Are they inspired? Or does it take too much radical honesty to be able to look at yourself in this way? Maybe that kind of honesty is too rare for it to make an impact. It’s strange, I guess. Tony Parsons’ work seems so relevant to me, and yet I cannot help but think that relevance might be lost on most. Which is a real pity.

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Review: The Tin Can Tree

The Tin Can Tree
The Tin Can Tree by Anne Tyler

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have a weird relationship with Anne Tyler. I met her when I was nineteen. I was camping in Tennessee and she kept me company, and as she did so I began to discover that I really wanted to write. I have loved her since then, always, and am quick to mention that The Accidental Tourist is one of my favourite books. She is strange though. Possibly in a way that I can’t quite express. While reading her other books (I have not gotten through all of them yet – not even all of hers that I own) I find myself wondering “why did you write this?” I cannot help but be curious about her motivations. What happened? What tiny little occurrence set you running off to tell this story? With the Tin Can Tree, you slip into the aftermath of the death of a child. It is a story filled with awkward conversations. It is strange, and yet readable. Relatable even if you cannot possibly relate. Anne Tyler baffles me. I can only imagine that she might have the true powers of an empath. She seems to understand things that she could not possibly have experienced – at least not all of them, though I imagine perhaps some. Her books seem to be just this though: a series of conversations that are so real you cannot stop yourself from hearing every word that she says. You get to the end and you think, “well not much happened in that story, everyone just sat around talking….” and then you go on to wonder how on earth her method works. Because it does work. And yet you can’t imagine ever pulling it off yourself.

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An Open Letter to Lena Dunham

Dearest Ms Dunham,

I won’t lie and pretend to be your biggest fan, or gush and tell you how wonderful I think you are (though I do think you are pretty damn awesome). I will however, admit that I love how Girls is something that not everyone “gets” and it makes me feel a tiny bit superior when my husband watches an episode and gets all annoyed and confused, while I watch it with the same kind of understanding and kindredspiritness that I find within the pages of the books that I hold so dear to me. There is no question of your talent, and I feel confident in claiming that your integrity cannot be called into question either.

What I wanted to say to was simply this: This shit sucks.

I can only imagine how annoyed you are at these ridiculous accusations of abuse against your sister, which you were “stupid” enough to “confess” to. It’s all quite yawnable.

What makes me angriest though is that these kinds of false accusations (and I know without a doubt that in your particular case they are bullshit) are just so fucking damaging to the public in general. Yes, they are damaging to you. You have been hurt and I am sure you are under quite a bit of stress right now. You are undoubtedly experiencing hurt and stress and anger which you do not deserve to be experiencing, never mind all the abuse that you must be shielding on all social media fronts (because let’s face it: reasonable is not something we can always expect from our friends on the internet) – I do not in any way discount that. But this will blow over (not because you are a “white girl” as has been suggested but because you did nothing wrong) and all that will be left of this mess will be your bruised ego…and the ever-more-damaging subconscious public idea that people get falsely accused of abuse all the time.

It sucks. Here you are, a true-life honest-to-God innocent person with bile and rubbish being spewed at you. And what does the world see? The world decides that this always happens. Some attention-starved two-bit nobody decided to use you as a pawn to achieve their own fame…and in doing so they made it just a little harder for real victims to come forward with the stories of their abuse.

Because why should we believe them? People lie about abuse. All. The. Time.

I’m sorry that this happened to you, but I hope you know that there are people out there who get where you are coming from. Fans. Regular human beings. People less invested in media drama. And most importantly: your sister.

I hope your book sales are incredible!

Sending you love & luck from a part-time fan!

Nadine Rose Larter