Thursday, May 23Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

Tag: literature

Bag Salad and Box Office
Culture & Literature, Literature, Theatre & Performance

Bag Salad and Box Office

By Daniel Pepin Do you like contemporary fiction? The kind of fiction that makes you squirm? Boundary pushing, unsettling, compulsive, a little bit sexy? Then chances are you have read or at least heard of Boy Parts by Eliza Clark – if you have not then please do so, for the above reasons. Clark’s debut novel was an instant cult classic, epitomising the manic and obsessive world of the internet era – criticising and dissecting modern gender conflict, classism, and performative art. The razor blade sharp book follows Irina, a Northern fetish photographer as she humiliates and captures explicit photos of young men and boys while surviving off a heady mix of coke, ket, Tesco bag salad, and La Mer. The playbook opens with ‘this is the story as Irina tells it. She is an artist, a monster, a...
How do you answer a question without questioning your answer?
Creative Writing, Lifestyle, Literature

How do you answer a question without questioning your answer?

By Anna Diedrichsen How do you write a love poem without confessing too much?  Do you only write down half of what you think?  Do you write like instead of love hoping they’ll understand either way? Do you dial down on the pink  and instead use a dark grey? How do you speak without sharing too much? Do you ask questions, trying not to care? Do you let your sight wander, avoiding their eyes? Do you wait until someone asks you to share and then only tell them quiet white lies? How do you live without wanting to move on up?  Do you stare out the same window every day  waiting for the view to change?  Do you long for salt but wish your...
It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over
Culture & Literature, Opinion

It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over

By Olivia Taylor We are led to believe that everything that starts eventually has to end. Last year as a part of my compulsory ‘Thinking as a Critic’ English module we briefly discussed teleology, specifically looking at its relation to literature. In a philosophical sense, teleology essentially describes the purpose of something by its finality rather than how it came to be, and so when this theory is applied to literature, often it becomes apparent that continuity cannot always be as rewarding as closure may be. The state of closure brings about a sense of completeness, it yields satisfaction. When it got to the point of writing our final assignment for this particular module, I was drawn back to our previous studies of closure with a question titled, ‘For what reason, if any, is clo...
Has Political Correctness Gone Too Far?
Culture & Literature, Literature

Has Political Correctness Gone Too Far?

Political correctness, by definition, is a term that is used to describe the avoidance of language, expressions or actions that can offend, marginalise or exclude targeted groups of people who are intentionally discriminated against. But how does this relate to literature? Surprisingly to some, political correctness is shaping literature as we know it.  In Royal Holloway’s English department, the content has changed considerably in the last few years. For example, student feedback over struggles with essay writing has prompted the need for the second year module ‘Writing as a Critic’. Staff changes can also lead to certain areas of specialism being given as options to students, with a significant increase in 20th and 21st Century specialists, indicating a greater focus on how mode...
My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh: Twenty-Four and Tired
Culture & Literature, Literature

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh: Twenty-Four and Tired

There is something to be said about the authors who aren’t afraid to make their characters unlikeable. Often, we read fiction to fall in love with the characters, but this is not the case for Ottessa Moshfegh’s third novel, My Year of Rest and Relaxation. Set in New York during 2000-2001, Moshfegh introduces her readers to a self-absorbed bitch - the novel’s unnamed narrator. Early on she describes herself as, ‘tall and thin and blonde and pretty and young.’ She is all of those things, as well as insanely privileged, living in an apartment on the Upper East Side paid for with the money she inherited from her parents. She dislikes most people, including her best friend Reva who she reminds not to call her if she was ‘under the influence,’. But there is a sadness to this protagonist’s story...
Conversations on Love with writer Chloé Williams
Culture & Literature, Literature

Conversations on Love with writer Chloé Williams

By Olivia Taylor Natasha Lunn’s book Conversations on Love first appeared on my radar a couple of months ago via an Instagram story of book recommendations on New York-based writer Chloé Williams’ account (IG: @chloeinletters). With the rise of ‘BookTok’ and various other social media platforms allowing us to connect with other readers, reviews and recommendations have a newfound significance, especially when they come from respected writers like Williams. Conversations on Love joins Lunn’s own intimate essays with confessional interviews that give readers a beautiful insight into the heart. There is much to be said about relationships, regardless of whether they fall under the form of romantic, familial, or platonic, and Lunn teaches us that everything we feel is in some way universal...
My Body by Emily Ratajkowski: The Cost of Celebrating Sexuality and the Female Body
Culture & Literature, Literature

My Body by Emily Ratajkowski: The Cost of Celebrating Sexuality and the Female Body

Sat under pink spotlights in Westminster’s Emmanuel Centre, listening to speakers play a predominantly female playlist, I wondered whether this interview as part of Emily Ratajkowski’s book tour could be any more honest than the book itself. The conversation, led by journalist Pandora Sykes, did not fail to surprise; it was both insightful and thought provoking, and allowed the audience to acknowledge issues of control, fame, and a woman’s power.  It is hard not to take one look at model and actress – although now more recently recognised as both mother and writer – Emily Ratajkowski and see her through the eyes of a camera lens. She confesses this herself in her new debut book of essays, My Body, a beautifully intimate narrative that investigates the reality of the female experie...
Convenience Store Woman Review: The Perils of Sexpectation
Culture & Literature, Literature

Convenience Store Woman Review: The Perils of Sexpectation

Asexuality – what is it? Simply put, someone who is asexual experiences little to no sexual attraction. In Sayaka Murata’s book, she captures the minds of her readers through the unapologetic and quirky character of Keiko, a convenience store worker in Japan. Keiko, thirty-six and unmarried, is asexual. Few novels approach asexuality from such a unique perspective, and they are rarely this successful in doing so. When Keiko got her first job at a local store at age eighteen, her family were happy to see her find a job; now, nearly two decades later, her family – as well as her friends and co-workers – all have something to say about the ‘dead-end job’ she has not moved on from. But for Keiko, change just isn't on the menu in any aspect of her life, including romantically. She has ne...
The Third Policeman Review: An Insoluble Pancake
Culture & Literature, Literature

The Third Policeman Review: An Insoluble Pancake

You know when a little kid tries to explain something scientific even though they have no clue what they’re talking about so they start spouting absolute bullshit? ‘The Third Policeman’ is that conversation on steroids. The novel, published posthumously by Flann O’Brien, is stocked full of complete and utter nonsense. That being said, it is one of the most fantastical novels I’ve ever read and I cannot recommend it enough.  ‘The Third Policeman’ is, by its own definition, “nearly an insoluble pancake, a conundrum of inscrutable potentialities, a snorter”. The storyline, which is semi-impossible to understand, follows O’Brien’s unnamed protagonist (but who for convenience names his own soul ‘Joe’) through a cyclic hell following his death. The novel is stocked full with eccentric c...
A Christmas Carol review: Does Christmas Actually Come from Books?
Culture & Literature, Literature

A Christmas Carol review: Does Christmas Actually Come from Books?

Every year, we belt it out to Mariah Carey and count down the days until we can justifiably put the tree up (November 1st, of course). But do we ever stop to consider when or how Christmas became Christmas? Of course, the holiday was originally a celebration of the birth of Christ, but Christmas as we know and love it has far more recent origins. You’ve most likely heard of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol – maybe you studied the book at school, maybe you’ve watched The Muppet Christmas Carol so many times that you know the script by heart – but did you know that its publication in 1843 established a whole new literary genre: the Christmas book? Dickens’ fame and the advance in mass printing during the Industrial Revolution made the book a fast hit. Its cultural impact is still being...