slam poetry and London fiction

Earlier this week I fell in love with Carrie Rudzinski.  As it does, life had to go on in its 'normal' and relatively petty fashion, emails and teaching, parenting and washing clothes, meals followed quickly by more family hunger...  But out there are more people who also love Carrie Rudzinski, and one of them filmed her at a poetry slam and posted it on youtube.  For me and for you.  The fifth one who walked away.

I was going to post about Kate Atkinson's Life after Life.  It's a great novel, and her structural technique of the life which is lived again and again with small details making a very big difference, is brilliant.  I bet loads of authors want to copy it, but as it's so unique, it's a bit obvious to do so.  It's set in London, the Home Counties English countryside and Germany in both world wars.  I loved this kind of book from as soon as I was reading adult fiction, and then I loved the 'real' London when I lived there, and now this 'new' book which allows me to sink back into an era and setting which was my very favourite for so long.  I loved Ian McEwan's Saturday because it was a modern day setting of a London I had traipsed myself.

Life after Life made me realise that I'd always read up on the horrors of the German bombing of London without thinking that if the Germans lost the war, then their devastation must actually have been worse.  I also realised what a narrow time my experiences in London had been demographically, as I'd not known anyone elderly there in an intimate enough fashion to learn about their wartime experiences.  We made the beginnings of a friendship with Simi, our neighbour in Gants Hill, but asking an elderly Jewish man about World War Two experiences seemed far too invasive and crass, so I didn't.


Rachael said…
Sandra, it was right not to pry. I was friends with an elderly lady in Poland in the early 90s. She still had her number etched on her wrist from Auschwitz, she went on to be involved in the Nuremburg Trials (which BTW she scoffed at) - she spent many hours with me helping me learn Polish, but she did not ever want her photo taken. And she was one of the most grizzly unusually photogenic people I had ever met so I really wanted to - I had to content myself with chasing away the little ratbag kids who regularly threw stones at her window. I just wished my language skills were better and I could have talked more deeply with her.
Anonymous said…
You may like reading 'the night watch' by Sarah waters. I know a couple of people with fascinating 39-45 war stories. Not blitz ones but some evacuee ones and pow camps-in-the-village. Grandad's stories about plumbing work in trentham and dad remembering butter rationing are little local experiences. There is a great picture book about a polish child refugee coming to New Zealand that B might like.
Sandra said…
Yup Rachael. Great you got to experience the friendship you did with the lady in Poland. Joanne, I do like the sound of The Night Watch - I had a look at the Guardian review. I see there is a film as well - have you seen it? For that matter, on the subject of local experiences in the war, have you seen Gaylene Preston's film 'Home by Christmas'? She's from Greymouth... What is the name of the picture book please?
Anonymous said…
It's called 'Stefania's dancing slippers' by Jennifer Beck. No I haven't seen the film of 'The night watch' or 'Home by Christmas'.

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