Friday, 7 October 2016

'Being a Girl' in America

On the 25th October, an American edition of BEING A GIRL will hit the shelves in bookstores in the USA.  It’s pretty much like the British edition except that:
·        - The spelling and vocab is like... totally American.
·        - It’s full of references to some awesome women I hadn’t actually heard of until I found myself writing about them - women like Mary Edwards Walker who was a surgeon in the American Civil War and then later got arrested for wearing men’s clothes!  And Carli Lloyd who is A-MAZING at playing football.  I mean soccer.
·         It’s got a seriously lovely rhubarb n’ custard cover.  Complete with Gemma Correll's distinctive doodlings.
In fact, Gemma’s lovely doodlings are in place throughout and there’s even a couple of new American ones to sit alongside my new American words.  This is not bad going for a couple of women from Ipswich, England, don’t you think?
Anyway, to celebrate this lovely American object, I’m going to give a couple of copies away.  I’ll send one copy to someone in America and one copy to someone in the UK who fancies learning a bit more about some American sheroes.  If you want the chance to win one, you just have to email with the magic words:  Hey, H!  Your sneakers are looking fresh to def and I’m loving your shell-toes.*
And do it before midnight of October 14th.  Sorted.
Anyway, because I’ve got/gotten so rotten at writing my blog, I thought I’d seize this opportunity to list 10 of my Favourite/Favorite American Things.  Here they are in reverse order:
10.  Nirvana.
       Oh Kurt Cobain.  I STILL LOVE YOU.  If only you’d married me and not Courtney Love EVERYTHING WOULD HAVE BEEN OK.  Maybe.  Ok, perhaps I’ve over-simplified a very difficult set of circumstances.  For anyone, who has three minutes to spare, here is sad, beautiful Kurt singing About a Girl.  The grimace at the end is particularly heart-breaking.  Sob.

9.   Thelma and Louise
       Oh how I LOVE this film/movie - even though the first time I ever watched it, it was on a VHS video that had been dubbed into French and I could only understand one word in sixty.  It was still clear to me that this was a highly entertaining film.  The beginning is harrowing and necessarily so because there has to be a believable reason why Thelma and Louise go so ape-sh*t.  But really... who doesn’t want to punch the air when they blow up that dodgy trucker’s juggernaut?

8.  Coney Island
      You’d think the seaside in New York City would be all gee-whizz and flashy, wouldn’t you?  But nope – it’s like a sandier and sunnier version of Felixstowe.  There are rickety rollercoasters, ancient Big Wheels, hot dogs and candy floss and endless kiosks of tat.  I felt right at home there.

7.  Simon Rich
      You may not know him but if you like reading stuff that makes you laugh, you SHOULD know him.  This man is PROPER FUNNY.  He also contributed to the film script for Inside Out which is the only cartoon film that has ever made me cry.  Recently, I wrote 20,000 words about Simon Rich for an MA in American Literature.  In spite of this, I still like him.  If you don’t know him, a good place to start is the novel, Elliot Allagash.
This man is funny.  Also, he looks like a child.
6.  The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
    Another film set in the American West.  I’m a little bit obsessed with the American West even though guns make me scream.  But this film!  It’s epic!  And the soundtrack is epic too.  In fact, these opening titles are probably the best opening titles in the history of film.

5.  Spoonbill and Sugartown Bookstore 
  This is a fantastic little bookshop/store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  Now, everyone likes The Strand bookshop in Manhattan and they are right to do so because it is enormous and fabulous but Spoonbill and Sugartown is fabulous too!  I like it because it isn’t enormous.  It’s just a couple of rooms of very carefully chosen books.  It was in here that I first discovered Simon Rich and went on to read everything he has ever written.  I also like this shop/store because it has cats in it.  Sometimes they are sitting on the book that you want to look at and so are actually in the way.  Except that cats in bookstores are never in the way.
      This photo is by amieok.  I got took it from Spoonbill and Sugartown's tumblr thing.
4.  The Grand Canyon
     Did I mention that I have a thing about the American West?  Well, you can’t get more yee-hah than this place.  It’s nuts.  I was twenty when I visited the Grand Canyon and I’ll never forget the weird, discombobulating effect that it had on my head.  Basically, my brain couldn’t process what my eyes were seeing.  Red mountains.  In a big crack in the ground.  Weird.  Brilliant.
20-year-old me pondering the enormity of The Grand Canyon.  This photo is so old it's fading away.

3.  Red Velvet Cake
      Seriously though – do I need to explain myself?
2.  Louis Sachar
     He’s the bloke that wrote Holes.  If you know me at all, you’ll know I love this book.  It’s a work of actual genius.  There is not a single unnecessary sentence in the whole book.  And it’s set in the American West.  I really like Louis’ book The Cardturner as well.
 1.    Girls with Guitars
Ohhhhh.  For me, nothing will ever beat the American Indie bands of the 80s and 90s and the feisty girls who played in them.  I’m talking about bands like Belly and The Breeders and The Throwing Muses and Mazzy Star.  This stuff all sounds as great to me today as it did when I was nineteen.  I’ll sign off with indie pop music’s greatest ever twins.  Kim and Kelley Deal, I salute you.

*I may have stolen these words from Estelle.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

One Fine Day in Hay

I wrote a guest blog post for Kirsty at the Overflowing Library about my day with Jenny Valentine and Annabel Pitcher at the Hay Festival.  Read all about it by clicking here.