Tag Archives: dundeeuni

Three Moments of an Explosion

Making inroads into my Bespoke reading list, I’ve started reading Three Moments of an Explosion by China Mieville.

Being a fan of Clive Barker and Neil Gaiman, Mieville has been on my radar for a while now, but I’d not managed to pick up anything yet – Three moments is a collection of short stories and feels like an easier place to start than a full-length novel, or diving right into his Bas-lag trilogy. Accessibility is important here because the fiction is, in a precise sense, weird.

I don’t mean weird as in surreal or structurally experimental, although the writing style is plenty fresh so far, nor do I mean fantastic or escapist in setting or genre, but weird as in uncanny or just a little bit unsettling. For example, one story is told from the perspective of a professional poker player who uncovers a phenomenon of ‘hidden’ suits that will appear in game, if the circumstances are just right. One might be dealt, mid-round, the Four of Chimneys, or the Two of Scissors, or even (giving the story its title), the Dowager of Bees. There are special rules which appear and vanish from the rulebooks as needed, as do the cards themselves. Like I said, weird.

I’m enjoying the collection so far. I was pleased to see Mark Bould, who was a lecturer during my degree, named in the acknowledgements. Moreso, I think this’ll have an effect on my writing. Look out for things getting Weird.

New Beginnings

Tracy Gow portrait
Tracy Gow M.Litt Writing Practice & Study 2017/18

Coming back to university after, ermm… a very long time, has been quite a ride. A roller coaster ride to be exact. The sensation of hurtling through space with whitened knuckles and a smile stretched like an Aardman character will give you an approximate idea of how it feels right now. Even this blog post has been thrust upon us at a moment’s notice. “You’re writers… go write!” is the recurring theme of these first few weeks. Whatever we’re doing, we’re slowly getting used to hearing, “You’ve got five minutes to write….” What about polishing the craft, choosing careful words? Well, I suppose writing at speed is good practice for writing professionally, which is, after all, why we’re all here.

I’m an aspiring fiction writer, but have been challenged with canonical reading, poetry analysis, literary review and now, an impromptu blog post. It’s demanding, challenging and incredibly frightening, but we’re at the cliff face, doing what we love, so it should be fun. “Fun” is a word we hear regularly. It’s more than an adjective – it’s a clarion call. A challenge. We should be having fun. As the roller coaster hurls us through another 360 degrees and keeps looping, we’re repeating that mantra, even as we’re trying not to reach for the paper bag.