book review · books

Book Review – When Watched – Leopoldine Core

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Stories When Watched by Leopoldine Core

WARNING: this is not a particularly nice review, and for that, I’m sorry for sounding like a dick.

The art of writing a short story is difficult, in my opinion. There needs to be a purpose, there needs to be (true) motive, there needs to be a connection between the reader and the characters. All of these being unfortunate reasons why Core’s collection of short stories fall just a little too short for me.

I really wanted to like these, I did. This was a present bought for me at my own request! But Core’s writing feels and reads like that of a social justice warrior hipster who has crammed a myriad of ‘diverse’ characters into her stories in a fruitful bid to get me to like them, just one of them. I use the word diverse in quotation marks because when I picture all her characters, all I see are faceless, white, women. The majority of these stories are about women, and I assume (which you should never ever do) that Core is a (white) feminist who doesn’t understand the underlying issues in even that, to understand how her writing may fall flat to readers like me. Does Core believe she’s written relatable, edgy humans?

Don’t get me wrong. There are a few gems, a few poignant moments where you feel for characters who are lost, hopeless, angry at the world and their absent father. For characters who are in love, who ponder their relationship, sweet, enjoyable, comfortable moment. My favourite between an old couple who are travelling to a different city, where the husband has a morbid sense of humour. But then there are characters who are LGBTQ+ for the sake of being LGBTQ+, prostitutes for the sake of selling their bodies, characters who you don’t hate, don’t like, but don’t necessarily root for either.

It’s a tough bunch and it made me wonder whether I was just being a tough crowd, but somehow I just couldn’t go with the flow on this one.

FYI My toast ain’t burnt it’s Marmite, I like Marmite.

writing

One by One we Lose

We lost the sensation in our toes (first),
Roots shot up to the knees…

And itched, and glitched,
Our growth we glitched

We tried to swim a mountain
Wailed to climb a sea
But all we felt was solitude
And broke our arms to flee.

This spike and thorn against my ribs,
The bitter sting and King of Kings
Bit by bit we fell and failed
Until we lost the sensation in our toes.

Prickle

Here’s how to write a poem: rhyme glitch with glitch, works like a charm.

writing

The Difference in Today

Yesterday I disappeared
My mind light years away from certainty.

You found me lovely and said you loved me
Between cold toes and rotting fruit,
And then the matter dissolved and shrank.
Evolved into a bitter hatred

It took all but two lingering seconds.

Come Monday I’ll decide that I’m not numb for no good reason.
Cheating peace by faking happiness.
You’re no longer worth my time.
I’m no longer worth my time.

The difference in today
Is it took quicker for me to die.

Jiffy

I stopped writing for ages and sunk back into a deep depression and realised all I feel is nothing. But I kept reading your amazing poems and felt inspired.

…I still can’t write for shit.

writing

Life Olympics

Visualise defeat, hanging by its tender threads,
Dread pushed down to box proportions
Packed and sealed and ready to discard.
Guarded by the mighty brain,
We pray,
We pray,
It’s blind and deft to complex terrain.

Visualise light, bursting through a dampened flint,
Printed there in rainbow colours
Dancing fox-trot in your mischievous eyes.
Wise human,
Wise being,
You can achieve anything you want in this world.

Champion

If life were a game of Olympics I would get bronze for everything. Because mediocrity is key. I strive to be consistently average.

writing

Catholic School in Black and White

Picture this. My secondary school was single sex. Single sex and a Grammar school. Single sex and a Grammar school and Catholic.

We wore purple. For years after I never wore purple again.

We were called ‘purple-virgins’ and ‘Ribena bottles’ and girls would meet with the brother-school after the final bell rang to show off how short their skirts were rolled up (tight, so tight we all had tire belts around our stomachs). We compromised faux-muffin-tops for showing off our knees and thighs.

The only thing that wasn’t purple were these hideous black mafia coats that were compulsory to wear. I was tiny, probably the shortest in the year so my awkwardness stuck out when the black coat swathed by body. We had grey tracksuits for Physical Education and almost every piece of uniform had our school crest patched on.

Purple, dressed in shades of purple.

I hated secondary school. I hated trying to fit in, trying to change myself on a bi-weekly basis for other cooler, more popular girls, girls who could pull off the colour purple. It was a nightmare, an insecure mess of a dream turned inky violet I just wanted to escape.

Now and then I see old teachers, old now, they’re old, and the bitter bitch inside of me urges me to walk up to them and tell them that they ruined my life, it’s true, they did (because I’m bitter).

Purple

writing

Bruising in Watercolour

This one pooled over a stark shade of blue,
Spilled spitefully on top of tender reds and yellows.

Hollow shell of thistle plum, cut brittle on the midnight run.

Bruising violet, violence riotous reaching for an answer,
Cancer spreading forcibly from lavender stem to petal.
The bruise was only penny sized and dispersed like poisoned hives
Contrived and grew like orchid buds, flooding to the corners.

Purple

feel like i just need to write just to feel less hopeless about everything around me.

book review · books

I’m Currently Reading…

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

I haven’t found myself reaching for the dictionary as much as I have until this book by Marilynne Robinson.

Eloquent and lovingly expressive, Housekeeping tells the story of sisters Ruthie and Lucille, who have been passed around a succession of family members, until they end up in the care of their estranged and enigmatic aunt Sylvie.

Although slow for me to get into, the story opens itself up in wonderful and revealing ways, leaving me to want to live in the seemingly strange and bleak town of Fingerbone.

The writing is remarkable, and almost a handbook for creative writing students; I read passages of nothing but beautiful glimpses into the lives of these characters, and Robinson showers attention onto every little detail of Fingerbone. Even as the weather is slowly warming up in London, I feel the cold almost biting at the tips of my fingers, the way she describes heating up bricks on a hot stove to warm up, or skating on the lake frozen over.

Let’s be honest for a second. This story, and its plot, and the characters within it, it has all been done before, over and over, tirelessly published and bought off the shelves. And I usually steer clear from that. But I will say this – there is such a beauty in her prose that even so, it’s worth the read.