Books that Matter: Over to You by Roald Dahl

Books that Matter

It wouldn’t be a book list of mine without something by Roald Dahl. The difficulty was choosing which of his books to highlight, as I enjoy so many of them.

One kept sneaking back into my mind–Over to You, his collection of RAF inspired tales. Not the first of Mr Dahl’s books that I read, but the one that I have read most frequently.

This book is a collection of some of his earliest work. There’s an elegance to it, a lyricism that delivers a punch straight to the gut. There’s humor in some of the stories, such as ‘Madame Rosette,’ but there is a poignancy to  others that stays, such as “They Shall Never Grow Old.”

I discovered this book shortly after developing my interest in the RAF and the Second World War. It was a fitting match, stories that captured camaraderie and sorrow.

I’ve read most of Dahl’s other adult stories, but these are the ones that stick with me the most.

Edit: Holmes has asked me to clarify something: it was she who reintroduced Mr Dahl into my life, NOT the RAF. However, I stand by my “I chose this book over the others” because of the RAF.

Footnotes!

General Geekiness

I adore footnotes. Honestly. While doing research (or just reading history books for fun), few things delight me more than those little gobbets hidden in the lower margin. Even when reading about a topic that interests me greatly, a digression proves too inviting to resist.

Let’s look at the book I’m currently reading, a history of the Battle of Britain called With Wings Like Eagles by Michael Korda. Now, apart from being a well written, engaging book with an ample bibliography, Korda makes use of footnotes. Enjoy this snippet (digression taken while discussing the difference between Luftwaffe and RAF bases):

“Our quarters at a former Luftwaffe base near Hamburg…not only had indoor baths and showers but featured a mysterious-looking porcelain basin set in the wall which was too small, too high up, and too elaborately decorated to be a urinal, and which turned out to be a flushing vomitorium for those who had drunk too much beer” (64).

Will that ever feature into my works? Probably not. Will that ever be something I’ll need to know? Again, probably not, but I’ll bet it will make for interesting conversation fodder.

Oh, what a year!

The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

This month for the AW Blog Chain, we’re taking stock of our accomplishments over the year. This has me shivering in my very boots.

I started out the year with bold ideas and plans. I thought that I would complete another novel first draft this year. Maybe two–an alt reality sci-fi story and my currently-stashed-away RAF tale (research is daunting, and alas, so is course work). I also thought that I would write more short stories this year. I think the count is three. I’m disappointed, but I can amend this next year.

I did get some things done.

I created this blog. Originally a course requirement from the Spring 2009 semester, I had fun and continue blogging. I don’t post as frequently or with the same consistent quality as I would like, but things to work on.

I wrote. Every day, at least a page. Over the summer, I required two handwritten pages. Now that school is winding down, I’ll be back up to my preferred level. I hope to carry this into the next year. Mostly I write fiction, but sometimes my mind moves to the real world or philosophical discussions.

I indulged my geekier side. Following the suggestion of one of my professors, I picked up Dune. That set the pace for (some of) my summer reading, which also included the first Riverworld book and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? For television viewing, I started Star Trek, and watched the entirety of The Prisoner (which I’ve determined needs multiple viewings and I’m only too happy to comply with).

And my, how the year flew by. 2010 looks like a promising one, filled with action and adventure (cue Danger Man theme).

Here are my fellow blog chainers!

Lost Wanderer – http://www.lostwanderer5.blogspot.com
Claire Crossdale – http://theromanticqueryletter.blogspot.com/
coryleslie – http://corrinejackson.wordpress.com/
bsolah – http://benjaminsolah.com/blog
DavidZahir – http://zahirblue.blogspot.com/
RavenCorinnCarluk – http://ravencorinncarluk.blogspot.com
Ralph Pines – http://ralfast.wordpress.com/
shethinkstoomuch – http://shethinkstoomuch.wordpress.com (that’s me!)
Lady Cathttp://www.randomwriterlythoughts.blogspot.com
truelyana – http://expressiveworld.com
misaditas – http://misaditas-novels.blogspot.com/
collectonian – http://collectonian.livejournal.com
laharrison – http://lesleyharrison.wordpress.com/
beawhiz – http://beawrites.wordpress.com
razibahmed – http://www.blogging37.com
FreshHell – http://freshhell.wordpress.com
AlissaC – http://alissacarleton.blogspot.com
Aimee – http://writing.aimeelaine.com

Awesome Adorableness

General Geekiness

My birthday was over the weekend.

One of my roommates, knowing of my interest in the RAF and dedication to Roald Dahl, gave me this book:

Yes! It’s a story book for the planned but never made Disney movie Dahl was involved with. The book tells the story of these Gremlins harrassing a squadron of pilots during the Battle of Britain.

These aren’t your Gizmo-type Gremlins. These little guys are tiny, bald green men with bulbous noses. And they wear suction boots so they won’t fly off of airplanes while they take them apart in midair.

Sorry the post isn’t longer! It seems that homework has caught up with me.

An Afternoon Well Spent

General Geekiness

With a heavy load of papers and projects in the offing, a friend and I did the only thing two self-respecting college students can do on a rainy Saturday. We hopped on the train and wandered into every used book store we could find.

One was Mecca. While it didn’t have any Roald Dahl collections, it was two floors of awesome. The size of a small box book store, everything was neat, clean, and organized. Fiction, music, art, military history, civilian history…ah! Nearly anything one could want to read! Giddy, we strolled through the stacks, picking up anything that caught our eyes. Agatha Christie, Conan Doyle, Dumas…the fiction section alone was enough to send any reader into fits of delight.

We ventured upstairs, picking through books of art, biographies (no luck on the Ogilvy memoir I’ve been keeping an eye out for) and military history.

I nearly hugged the bookcase labelled “aviation” and tore through the WWII shelves. What should I find hidden among the books on the European theatre land battles but a book about Spitfire pilots? Though this book (The Few by Alex Kershaw) is about American pilots in the RAF, research is research. So much of my story is up in the air (no pun intended), and dependent on my discoveries, I figured any little bit can help.

How I’m going about writing the WIP, or, how not to

The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

Well, at the request of Sputnitsa, I’m going to write about how I’m writing the WIP.

Procrastination. Sort of. Since my library has a very tiny selection of books that even pertain to Britain in general during WWII, I’m doing what research I can. If I find something interesting, I write it down in my handy-dandy notebook (I’m so thankful I took a few notes during my reading of the Time Life book on The Resistance).

But I’m being semi-productive and reading WWII history books, like Band of Brothers. I did find a couple of things that may be useful.

I’ve thrown myself into my research (ha, really just dipped a toe in to see how the water is). I’m hoping that with more background information, the story will get fleshed out. This’ll be a lot easier when I return to school; I’ll have JSTOR and other sites available to me.

My plot, alas, is bare bones. I know what I want to happen. I wrote the basic skeleton down, it’s literally a paragraph. I’m hoping that once my research really turns up some gems, I’ll have a better idea.

Characters are, at the moment, few and far between. There’s Jim, the MC, who is rather…bland. I know a few details about him, but he really hasn’t been given a chance to show his true colors.

And through it all, I’m writing little scenes to get in the swing of things. I’ve determined a few details that might help me research along the way, for example, Jim pilots a Spitfire. Now, I just need to find various squadrons that flew Spitfires, what their missions were, etc. From there, I’ll be able to determine more of the specifics, such as where he gets gunned down.

So there you go. A brief explanation of where I am, WIP wise. I’ll probably be mired in research for a few more months; I’m hoping to have enough basic information to get a first draft banged out during National Novel Writing Month. Except this time, I might take my time.

Of course, I love research very very much, so I may just get carried away. Which is always a problem.