21/06/2014 – 22/03/2014
In this glorious sunshine, I went up to Llandeilo to the Dinefwr Literature Festival. Well renowned for this yearly display of culture and my lack of festival experience, I was very eager to attend.
The festival is known for its promotion of literature from novels, to poetry, musical displays, workshops, comedy and much much more.
Food stalls were provided from local vendors that made delicious smells across the area with the use of local produce. Little shops including bookshops, tokens from the weekend and a Dylan Thomas styled book van also was a nice addition and admittedly, much of my money went on these, coming away with much reading to get started on! Between this, it was great to meet the sales persons; at times were writers themselves giving inspiration, for example a lady who felt that a poetry book wasn’t for her so made pockets of her collections and hand made them with a sewing machine and a printing kit. Myself as one who isn’t necessarily conventional, felt that this initiative was very appealing.
The variety of mediums gave a great choice throughout the weekend. The ability to also drop into these and drop out when needed gave great flexibility to the weekend. However, the programme itself didn’t give a great indication at times to how long these sessions would last and with so much going on, there were times when I missed events that I wanted to see as I was so interested in the one before that crossed over.
Workshops were also few and far between. Many seemed to only appeal to the same persons to which I lacked interest in. I didn’t manage to attend any of which I am sure they were interesting none the less, but there seemed a similarity to who they wished to appeal to and that wasn’t enough to evoke my personal interest. If more diversity in these workshops and a great deal more workshops overall were offered then I would have attended these.
Lectures and talks also seemed to follow a similar pattern. While, very interesting none the less, such as a combined talk with two novelists on their new books that looked at characters with mental health issues was very interesting, and gave a great insight to anyone at times of stress of need to talk to someone, showing that writing is an excellent medium to express this, the pattern of talking about the books, and for us the audience to watch and listen, waiting for question and answers which were limited in time, felt very routine and almost like a conference, not a festival.
Interjections of music and comedy, however, did give a little break from this. Hilarious feminist comedian Bridget Christie gave a session of work in progress, giving an insight to how comedians write material, giving a good way of audience interaction and us feeling more a part of the event. Adrian Edmondson and the Bad Shepherds ended the Saturday on a high with fantastic covers of well known songs, but with a folksy twist definitely evoking the festival goers inside everyone.
Dylan Thomas’s boat house also made an appearance, with the encouragement for poetry writing from the festival goers. Myself and my friend had a go at this, and my piece on the ‘Voyeuristic Cow’ inspired my younger self inside who used to love and write poetry to now continue this again.
The festival provided a range for all ages, S4C also made appearances for the children and comedians gave risky performances for the adults. As a festival, it was fantastic and completely revitalised my creativity in literature aspects but I wonder, with all the eagerness of participants, more could be gotten out of the weekend if extended so not to go away feeling regret at missing other possible inspiring and interesting activities.
If you haven’t read this review it contains spoilers
Lord of the Flies was built up to me as a must read. An essential to own, a classic of it’s time. Many people have put this book on the status of a classic including peers such as Kingsley Amis who calls the book ‘terrifying and haunting’. The book was written by Sir William Golding and was published in 1954 by Faber and Faber Limited. It has twice been made into a movie, once in 1963 and a reboot in 1990, there are multiple stage adaptations including the ‘Cliff Notes’ version.
Upon reading however I found that the experience of reading it was a bit of a let down. At first we are introduced to a group of boys who are stranded on an island due to a plane crash, I find it strange how all the adults are dead, but the boys are not only unscathed but are seemingly unaffected by the events preceding those in the book.
The characters we are introduced to provided a slight high point for a book that is otherwise lacking “Ralph” is a stereotyped popular 12 year old male with little to no inperfections, the other major character here is “Piggy” a shorter tubbier individual who suffers from athsma and wears glasses, a contrast in the characters which is very necessary in a novel like this. To present the characters as individual’s which provides some justification for their contrasting opinions and personalities which ultimately leads to dispute within the book.
The concept of the book is simple and promising but does not deliver. The concept of the novel is to show how without order everything would descend into chaos. This however does not feel a gradual process and seems to be rushed , one moment they wouldn’t kill a pig the next they are massacring groups of pigs, one moment a group wants to be rescued the next they want to remain on the island forever. The novel is supposed to take place over a number of weeks but instead it feels like it is taking place over a few days. This was due to the sudden changes in morale and objectives within the boys leading to a feeling that these boys have just descended into madness overnight.
The Introduction of the Lord of the Flies, is a moment that could be highlighted as one of the best, yet pointless parts of the novel, It shows a descent into madness within the island. But there is a grey area with the death of Simon, was he murdered or did he just die, either way the death of Simon feels meaningless and seems like an excuse to kill someone in the book and not explain why, or why the others seem so oblivious to his death.
On the subject of death, the two deaths in this novel Simon and Piggy, could be a chance to showcase the madness the boys have descended into, however Ralph seems to react calmly despite being portrayed as the only sane one remaining and in a way this cheapens the use of death within this Novel, it gives an attitude of this happens everyday to the deaths, which had potential to show real turning points within the boys, especially the leader of the savage gang Jack Merridew.
There is also the theme of madness which reoccurs throughout the book, it takes on the form of the beast. I am afraid that this was also a prospect for the book that started well, the beast started as a nightmare that the younger boys believed was real but the older boys did not, over time the older boys become convinced by the idea of the beast, and go searching for it, that is where the good part ends as they actually find the beast (albeit a figment of their madness) which in a way destroys the idea of the beast being a threat as when they find it, that is the last we hear about the beast as they choose to leave it alone.
Finally there was the ending, after a long and quite frankly superhuman effort to evade the savage tribe from Ralph, who somehow managed to evade what I counted as anywhere from 8-10 members of the savage gang, a ship turns up to save the boys and an officer saves the boys who realise what has happened and go home as if Ralph wasn’t being hunted a matter of moments before. A clichéd lacklustre 4/10 finish which once again could have been phenomenal.
Overall, the book is one of the best in terms of it’s potential but the delivery is lacklustre, and therefore not deserving of its status of a classic of it’s time 5/10 at the most is what I would give this book.
Review, To Kill a Mockingbird by Gethin Llewellyn
“You can shoot all the blue jays you want but it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird”. A metaphor that you won’t understand unless you read To Kill a Mockingbird. The author of this novel is Harper Lee who was born on the 28th of April 1926. This is the only novel she ever wrote among a few fictional tales. No one ever truly understood why Harper Lee never wrote another novel. In this tale of 1930s America in the county of Alabama a father and his two children.Aticuss being the father Jem being the eldest child and Scout (Jems little sister).This tale may sound like a relaxing one but it will have you on the edge of your seat following the antics of the children on their quest to make “Boo Radley”come out. Experience what it was like growing up in these dark times through the eyes of a child. She thought it was a good idea to show what it was like growing up in a period of racism and segregation.
When Atticus is forced to defend a black man in court everything slowly starts to fall apart for him and his children.
The book has definitely faced the test of time it was released in 1960 and is still being sold all around the world in that time over 30,000,000 copies have been sold. In 1960 To Kill a Mockingbird was on the bestseller list for 88 weeks and then Harper Lee won the Pulitzer Prize. As the book looks at an extremely sensitive subject the fun of life still shows because it is being seen through the eyes of a child. In my opinion the book is extremely enjoyable because there are two sides to it.Because in the first part it shows the antics of the children and the games they play. I think these scenes are really uplifting considering the events that are going on around them. Though as every book does it has a dark side. At certain points I felt really frustrated about the level of racism shown in the book which is proven through some of the characters.
When you pick up this book you will not be able to put it down and when you’ve finished it you will be wanting more. As all points have been covered I give this magnificent book an 8/10.Amazing plot, characters you will fall in love with but in my opinion I think they should have tried to reach for a wider audience. I understand it may be difficult to try and reach for a younger age using such a sensitive subject (racism).I understand it may be difficult for them to understand but let’s face it their starting them younger and younger today, So in my opinion I think they should teach children about this book earlier than they do because they are missing out. (So is anyone else who hasn’t read this book).That’s my opinion and you know what they say whether it’s a book film or play nothings perfect. And no matter how good it is there’s always room for improvement.