- Copertina rigida: 244 pagine
- Editore: Doubleday (14 marzo 2017)
- Lingua: Inglese
- ISBN-10: 0385541554
- ISBN-13: 978-0385541558
- Peso di spedizione: 794 g
Bleaker House: Chasing My Novel to the End of the World (Inglese) Copertina rigida – 14 mar 2017
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“Bleaker House is so riveting and so much fun to read, I would have loved it even if it hadn’t also been innovative and brilliant. Nell Stevens is an excellent writer, as well as great company, and I can’t wait to read every book she writes.”
—Kate Christensen, author of The Great Man, winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award, and Blue Plate Special
“Fresh and spirited . . . A delightful literary debut.”
“Quirky and engaging . . . A captivating portrait of the creative life.”
“Nell Stevens takes you on a wild ramble across the landscape of the writing life, and at the end sets you down somewhere entirely new and unexpected. This is a romp of a book, a genre-defying feat of the imagination, and pure pleasure to read.”
—Alison Pick, author of Far to Go and Between Gods
“Hilarious and original, charming and engaging. I loved it.”
—Rebecca Wait, author of The Followers and The View on the Way Down
“I read Bleaker House in a gulp. It's a charming read whose first third has a laugh a page before Nell’s odyssey turns into something more serious. You can't, just by attending writing school, learn how to produce fine writing. This clever and funny book shows you may also want to get out and experience the world, and yourself.”
—Dan Boothby, author of Island of Dreams
NELL STEVENS has a degree in English and creative writing from the University of Warwick, an MFA in fiction from Boston University, and a PhD in Victorian literature from King’s College London.Visualizza tutta la Descrizione prodotto
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I loved her descriptions of the Islands, I hated her lack of knowledge of the islands. A bright person, with scholarships to her name but never dealt with the reality of life on the Falklands I find mystifying. Her lack of preparation/research for her "adventure " is amazing. Her hardships are of her own making and I thank the kind and generous Falklanders for doing what they could to help her out.
I do applaud her for bringing all this disfunctionality together and getting a book out of it. It has certainly been a rollercoaster read, between the fiction and the non fiction, All I can say is, "Try it, you might like it."
Writers, and those interested in the writing life, will likely find more in this book than nature lovers. I felt the book lived up to the “Chasing My Novel” part of its subtitle, but the “to the End of the World” part was so minor it should not be in the subheading. Yes, it did happen in the Falklands, but from what Stevens appears to gain from her surroundings, it could very well have been the much closer Scottish islands instead. But, of course, that would have spoiled the "to the end of the world" gimmick. Perhaps to those who have never spent any time away from cities this book has more to offer along the “end of the world” theme.
I found the writing jumbled. The chapters are short and shift back and forth between the novel she was working on, memories from the past, and what is going on the present. It felt rather like reading a blog. Short bits of this and that. I did not enjoy the way sex was used – it seemed that it was there more for attention than for having something worthwhile to offer. Overall, the book came across as emotional but shallow.
This book is an odd but appealing join: it’s part memoir, part travel book and part fiction, and it is inspired by Dickens’s very odd but masterly novel, Bleak House. Stevens’ book narrates her trip to the Falkland Islands, located off the southernmost tip of South America, and in particular her six-week stay on Bleaker Island (serendipitous name!), a desolate pile of rocks and dirt eight miles square, inhabited during her stay in the winter (winters aren’t nice down there), aside from Nell, by only the occasional sea lion or seal, about a thousand sheep and several cows, a colony of gentoo penguins and countless other birds, including one large aggressive raptor called the caracara (it’s characterized on the website allaboutbirds as “a tropical falcon version of a vulture”). There are no trees. The wind blows. A lot. And if lack of sunlight affects your moods, prepare for mood swings.
She went there on a grant, her hope that the enforced solitude and straitened regimen would force her to be the novelist she aspired to be. All told, she had bought herself three months of being on her own: during that time, she must write 90,000 words (rough draft –she’d revise later- only 2500 words a day). She had to carry her food with her for the entire stay: money and freight weight limits meant that she’d live on 1,000 some calories a day. In seemingly disjointed order, this memoir tells what happened to her there and what it taught her –about herself and about writing. It spins out –tumbles out at points—in chapters on her life on the island, her life before arriving there, about an old boyfriend she finally left and what that incident said about her ability to connect, the advice of her writing teacher at Boston U. (the great Leslie Epstein) and scattered chapters from the novel she never finished, which paralleled some of the tropes of Victorian fiction but set on Bleaker Island.
The result is a book that will not appeal to everyone but that I enjoyed quite a bit. I have been trying myself to find ways to write my experience not sequentially but with tangential connections, and that’s what she does here. If you’re looking for a travel book, this isn’t it. If you’re looking for a finished novel, no again. But if you want to follow along as a young writer, with a strong vein of whimsy included in her makeup, find herself, this may be your cup of tea.
Nell decides on the Falkland Islands and in particular, Bleaker island, where she will have complete silence to concentrate on her book. It is wintertime in the Falklands when she goes so, there are no tourist and has the only place for guest on the island to herself. She bring food with her as there is no where to get anything there, the only way in or out is by a small plane.
Her company are birds and three species of penguins, some sheep and a few cattle owned by a couple that visit occasionally. The weather cold and unpredictable add another challenge.
Once there and after having set up her writing space, she assigns herself a certain amount of words needed to be written each day to finish her novel. She gives us pointers on writing, and the way she organizes her book, but then the hard part start, trying to make the story happen.
This is a really interesting memoir, which like most will take us back to friends, family, school etc, but this also includes some of her fiction writing besides what we hear of the novel she is trying to write.
The book goes back and forth from her life, to the characters she is developing, and other stories, which could be a bit confusing, if you are not conscious of chapter names etc., but I kind of liked the back and forth of her thought patterns.
This was definitely a refreshing read, thank you Doubleday and Goodreads Giveaway.
After completing an MFA degree at Boston University, Nell Stevens is offered a fellowship that allows her to live, all expenses paid, anywhere in the world while she writes her first book. Others may choose Paris or a retreat, but Stevens decides to go to Bleaker Island in the Falklands, located on the southern tip of South America in the Antarctic waters of the South Atlantic - during the winter months. She chose this because she felt like it would be the perfect way to eliminate distractions and help her focus on writing her novel.
After staying for several weeks in Stanley , the capital (which has little to offer, but does have seven pubs) she learns about the residents great mistrust of Argentinians and journalists, and the careful records kept of family trees due to the limited population. Stevens then proceeds on to Bleaker Island where she is the only guest in a guest house. The island is either population 1 (Stevens) or three when the owners are on the island.
"Why do you do it to yourself?" wonders her mother. A novelist friend helps answer the question, "That's the thing about being a writer. Every bad experience you have is good material."
The only way for Stevens to get to Bleaker is by air, which means that Stevens has to pack in all her provisions for her stay and there is a weight limit. She has carefully packed enough food for 1,085 calories a day, which requires counting out her daily ration of raisins and almonds. On the island she tries to write her novel surrounded by sheep, penguins, caracara birds, and cattle on the stormy, snow and sleet covered wind swept island. And she does start a novel - a terribly bad novel.
I found Bleaker House entertaining and engaging. In it Stevens creates a mosaic of her writing life. She has compiled pieces of ideas together among the stories of her travels, observations, and experiences on Bleaker that include snippets from other fictional writing she's done, life experiences and stories, writing while at a job, and parts of the novel she wrote on Bleaker. While she doesn't come away with a good novel, she did leave the island with a book. It is a wonderfully insightful and honest look at the creative struggles behind writing a novel that includes wry humor, writing advice she's received, personal anecdotes, and how you can't escape yourself even when you are the only one on a remote island.
Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Knopf Doubleday.