In VOX LIT January 2018...
Alice in Brexitland.
Brussels had Alice wondering just as much as had her trip down the rabbit hole. There were a lot of people, but all of them too busy to notice her, so she wandered into a building labelled European Union Commission, and on into a room where tea and biscuits had been laid out. A tall beanpole of a man in a top hat with a ticket saying ‘Chief Negotiator’ was walking back and forward with a calendar in his hand, mumbling over and over “So much to do; so little time.”
The White Rabbit sitting at the table was asking him “Do you think she’ll come?”
“I don’t know, Jean-Claude, perhaps we should ask him,” the top hat replied, nodding in the direction of a small teapot, with the word David inscribed along the bottom.
The rabbit lifted the lid of the teapot, looked in, then carefully replaced it.
“Still asleep, as usual!”
Just at that, Queen Theresa of Hearts stormed in, screaming at the top of her voice “Brexit means Brexit.”
“Yes, your highness, we all appreciate that. But what do you mean?” the Hatter asked.
“I mean Brexit means Brexit, you stupid man. Didn’t my pet dormouse explain it to you? Where is he anyway?”
The white rabbit pointed accusingly at the teapot.
The Queen of Hearts roared.
“David, come out of there!!”
The lid of the teapot tottered, then lifted up. The head of the dormouse appeared, yawned, and went back to sleep. The Queen of Hearts grunted, and carried on with her proclamation.
“All you have to do is listen to what I say, do as I tell you, and we’ll remain friends. Is that clear enough for you?”
Then they all started talking at once.
“Brexit means Brexit,” the Queen of Hearts was declaring, over and over.
The Hatter was keeping up his chant of ““So much to do; so little time.”
The White Rabbit was sighing continuously, “Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear…..” without a pause for breath.
David the dormouse slept on, adding some background music with his snoring.
Alice crept quietly back out to the corridor, in search of some sanity, if such a thing could be found anywhere in the building.
contributed by James Gault Jan 2018
A US Christmas Carol
Ebenezer Trump Scrooge III was a chip off the old block of his great ancestor and namesake from the old country. I’m talking of course about the block which was his many times great grandfather BEFORE he had that eventful Christmas encounter with the three ghosts. The contemporary Ebenezer also couldn’t quite grasp the benefits of benevolence, especially towards the poor, who were in no position to repay his munificence by doing something for him in return. If he was in a position to do good turns, best to use this facility for the good of people like himself, who have the wherewithal to reward the benefactor appropriately.
Well, he was now in such a position, and he had a pretty cool Christmas present planned for his fellow high worth individuals.
“You’re all paying too much tax,” he would tweet and tell them, “and it’s time you paid less. I’m gonna cut your tax bill by about half. You work hard for your dough, you deserve to keep it. Or to do what you want with it, like donating to my next presidential campaign. God bless America and God bless me!”
The three ghosts of Christmas are turning in their graves.
contributed by James Gault Jan 2018
New to Voxlit
ZAHEERA SHAIK ALLI ...
is a South African poet who writes about the difficulties and tribulations of being a woman in her country.
We publish two of her poems in our Features section this month.
Click here for her facebook page Poetic Passions
Top books of 2017 - the reviewers' choices
What are you going to read this year? Don’t know where to start looking? Vox Lit has been doing some research into a cross section of book reviewers’ lists to see what they loved in 2017. Maybe you’ll find something there?
We tried to cover a variety of tastes: American and UK, professional and amateur reviewers, publishers and readers. We noted some interesting trends.
We used Goodreads as a source for the amateur reviewers’ views, and there were two things we noted about this list.
We often saw the same books on other lists but the amateur Goodreads' reviewers in the main picked a different set of titles from the professionals. Does this indicate that professional reviewers are restricting themselves to the big publishers, while on Goodreads every book has a chance of a review?
The second thing we noticed on this list was the significant proportion of fantasy novels, a genre that was virtually absent from the professionals’ lists. In fact, with the exception of the list from Esquire and the fantasy novels in Goodreads, it was hard to find a book that fitted neatly into a genre. Reviewers seem to prefer general or literary fiction, or at least novels with more than one focus of interest. Wondering whether this trend was reflected in what people actually bought, we had a look at the top twenty in Business Insider’s bestselling list for 2017, where we found 3 children’s books, 3 memoirs/biographical novels, 2 political thrillers, 9 crime thrillers, 2 general fiction and 1 romance story. Are the professional reviewers just elitist?
So what are the top books we found on the lists?
Political or Social issues seemed to dominate. ‘The Future is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia’ by Masha Gessen, which examines Vladimir Putin’s rogue mafia state, was top non-fiction choice by Esquire. The UK’s Daily Telegraph choice is a translation of ‘The Unwomanly Face of War’ by Svetlana Alexievich, an oral history of the war experience of women in the USSR. BBC Culture selected Sherman Alexie’s ‘You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me’, an account of Native Americans’ struggles when their livelihood is destroyed by modern society. Publishers Weekly picked out ‘Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India’ by Sujatha Gidla,an account of the caste system. But, perhaps unsurprisingly, the Goodreads choice was an anthology of Norse Myths: ‘Norse Mythology’ by Neil Gaiman.
Top fiction choices.
This year’s star is Jesmyn Ward with ‘Sing, Unburied, Sing’, a road trip tale of a drug addicted mother and her two kids going to collect the prisoner father on his release. This book came top in both the Esquire and BBC lists, and featured in others as well. Second place probably goes to ‘Manhattan Beach’, by Jennifer Egan: a novel that doesn’t make the top of any list but appears near the top in most. Other top choices were ‘White Tears’ by Hari Kunzru (musician seeks fictional blues singer who may be real after all), Phillip Pullman’s ‘La Belle Sauvage’ and ‘A Court of Wings and Ruin’ by Sarah J. Maas, the third volume of her A Court of Thorns and Roses series.
Although they tended to be shunned by the critics, we found these genre novels among their best choices.
Science Fiction : ‘Artemis’ by Andy Weir
Biography/autobiography: ‘Midnight Confessions’ by Stephen Colbert and the staff of the Late Show; ‘Art, Sex, Music’ by Cosey Fanni Tutti.
Thrillers: ‘Heather, The Totality’ by Matthew Weiner
Crime thrillers: ‘Magpie Murders’ by Anthony Horowitz; ‘One of Us Is Lying’ by Karen M McManus
Historical novels: ‘Grace’ by Paul Lynch
We didn’t find any romantic novels or children’s novels in the top twenty of the lists we looked at.
Maybe you’ll find something interesting in this list, but, whether you do or not, happy reading in 2018!
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE BOOK IN 2017?
Use the form below to tell us and also why you liked it.