People often think I’m joking when I mention World Toilet Day every 19th November. But 3.6 billion people living with inadequate sanitation is no laughing matter. Unsafe and unsanitary toilets can damage people’s health and inhibit access to education. They also pollute the environment.
The theme for World Toilet Day 2022 was making the invisible visible. Although the invisible in question is the human waste leaching into rivers, lakes and soil, it could also refer to a pet project of mine.
I started this blog in 2013 to share my reflections on reading, writing and psychology, along with my journey to become a published novelist. I soon graduated to about twenty book reviews a month and a weekly 99-word story. Ten years later, I've transferred my writing / publication updates to my new website but will continue here with occasional reviews and flash fiction pieces, and maybe the odd personal post.
Are toilets visible in fiction?
I was unsure how – or whether – I’d connect these two recent reads until I was pondering my response to this week’s flash fiction challenge. Although very different stories, both address how difficult it can be to find an escape route from repeating patterns of self-destructive behaviour. In the first, a woman approaching middle age faces up to her tendency to fall into abusive relationships. In the second, a young man admitted to a psychiatric ward wonders if his own future is written on the faces of his fellow patients, stuck in a cycle of relapse and remission. The wheels keep turning – will they manage to jump off?
I love the freedom fiction gives me to make things up, but I also enjoy the facts I discover in the course of my research. In my novella, Stolen Summers, I gave my character, Matilda, a dancing partner who attracted and intrigued her, partly because he came from a different background.
Matilda’s multiple identities
A woman lives with her husband on a farm a short distance from a small town. There’s a distance between the partners also but they’re bound by habit and circumstance. When strangers arrive on their land, convention dictates they should chase them away. Instead, a tentative friendship develops, much to their neighbours’ disapproval and it’s not too long before violence ensues.
The link is often tenuous when I pair my reviews. But, even when there’s a common theme, it’s unusual for a four-sentence summary to serve both. Heck, even the covers match! Yet, while both brilliant debuts, these are very different novels: the first a near-future cli-fi dystopia; the second a historical novel set at the end of the American Civil War. Read on to see which you’ll pick up first!
Here are two recent reads about a woman’s experience of serious illness and associated treatments and surgeries. The first is a translated novella and the second a chunky mélange of memoir, popular psychology and self-help. But, genre aside, what distinguishes them is their tone: the first, distant and matter-of-fact; the second, unashamedly emotional. See which you prefer.
I’ve shed more tears than usual in the past few months. Shall I tell you what helped me most? It wasn’t reminders of the many good things in my life. It wasn’t unfounded assurances things would turn out fine. What helped most was a straightforward acknowledgement of my feelings and that I had every right to grieve.
Swimming through Stolen Summers
Here are two novels in which issues of female disempowerment are explored within a murder narrative. The first is a modern classic, translated from Arabic, set in a culture where women have no custody over their own bodies. The second is a contemporary Irish crime novel, set in a society where men have learnt ways of controlling their partners without leaving a physical mark.
Fostered: Lily & Careless
I’ve recently read a historical novel and a contemporary YA novel featuring fostered girls. In the first, it’s idyllic, especially in contrast to the institution she’s sent to at the age of six. In the second, it’s more problematic with a foster mother who can’t put her own needs aside to support the child in her care.
Nine mini reviews
These two novels are about the consequences of untimely deaths on those left behind. The first is set during the First World War when a grieving soldier is set to work making masks to hide the horrific facial injuries of those wounded in the trenches. The second is about two orphaned sisters and an anthropologist with unconventional ideas about mourning rituals.
Meadows for butterflies
I’ve linked these two very different novels via the theme of compromised freedom, partly because that’s how I feel myself right now. In the first, an elderly widow frees herself from pity by casting a stranger as her grandson but fears being found out. In the second, women are magically freed from misogyny at a cost of losing the men and boys they love.
Apologies for absence
Micro fiction and 9 micro reviews
Allow me to introduce two novels about the marginalisation of women’s experience: the first set in sixteenth century Strasbourg where the church rules hearts and minds; the second in contemporary a South Africa grappling with its colonial past. Both include a scene of arson, but that is not the worst of the violence.
entertaining fiction about identity, mental health and social justice
Anne Goodwin's books on Goodreads
Sugar and Snails
ratings: 52 (avg rating 4.21)
ratings: 60 (avg rating 3.17)
ratings: 9 (avg rating 4.56)
GUD: Greatest Uncommon Denominator, Issue 4
ratings: 9 (avg rating 4.44)
The Best of Fiction on the Web
ratings: 3 (avg rating 4.67)
2022 Reading Challenge
Anne has read 2 books toward their goal of 100 books.
Annecdotal is where real life brushes up against the fictional.
Annecdotist is the blogging persona of Anne Goodwin:
slug-slayer, tramper of moors,
author of three fiction books.
LATEST POSTS HERE
I don't post to a schedule, but average around ten reviews a month (see here for an alphabetical list),
some linked to a weekly flash fiction, plus posts on my WIPs and published books.
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