Tag Archives: Fictionpals

e-books vs p-books

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I have just had a print version of my book Five Lives One Day in Bahrain placed in the country’s popular bookstore Jashanmal’s. The response with friends going out and buying them has once again surprised me. Obviously there seems to still be a hankering for good old fashioned ‘paper’ books. So, I thought I’d release an old piece wherein I had thought that e-books were about to dethrone books of paper…

E-books vs P-books

There’s always that edge between the new and the old, more like a shoreline than a knife. A kind of gradual taking over of one way of doing things from another. An inexorable tide. And as anyone who’s played catch with an in-coming tide will tell you, if you stand pat the next wave could knock you off your feet.

The decision then, is yours whether to retreat, to hold onto the old ways and never leave these shores and therefore never discover a new world, or see the old one from a new perspective. The trouble with ‘the new wave’ is that it is only an incoming tide; it never recedes.

What is it about books, Paper books that we love? Some will tell you it’s holding it in your hands that makes a difference. The tactile connection between the written word and your senses. The feeling that because one touches it, there may be an osmotic transference of knowledge, a story, a thought. By touching the pages, flicking through them they enter the blood stream directly.

More, a p-book, if you’ll excuse the play on the letter, carries with it a smell. There are, I understand, a growing number of confessors to the subtle and swift act of sniffing a p-book. In fact, I believe, there’s been a study on what causes that unique, euphoric, some would say mind-expanding smell of a book. It’s caused by chemicals termed Volatile Organic Compounds or, in the case of old books a combination of “the gradual breakdown of cellulose and Lignin – in the paper – binding adhesive or glue and printing ink”. Interesting that what attracts us to the old paper books is decay. A prescient intimation that the form itself is telling us to move on.

And e-books?

More than a new wave, they represent a sea change and if we refuse to adapt and accustom ourselves to reading them then a time may come when all new information, thought, ways of expressing ourselves, will be lost to us. For those who have never been exposed to the form, sentences like: ‘d trbl w u is dat u unliked me, dat’s y m leaving’ could well be the e-book’s farewell to the p-book.

E-books offer us a myriad other options. Knowledge at our fingertips, no need for osmosis and retention in our hippocampus just Google it while you’re reading. No need to get up in search of a dictionary, some e-books have one embedded in them, easily accessible – right click and voila, it’s there.

From Gutenberg to a number of e-book inventors (including Bob Brown, Roberto Busa,Angela Ruiz Robies, Doug Engelbert and Andries van Dam and Michael S Hart) the motivation and holy grail has been the wider dissemination of knowledge. But, whether information and access to it equates to knowledge is another discussion altogether.

The other, less celebrated aim is convenience. And the e-book supplies that in spades. Increase the font, reduce or enhance the backlighting, adjust contrast, things you can’t do with a p-book. Agreed, the bookmarks aren’t as pretty.

In the end we are torn between nostalgia for yesterday and the thirst for the knowledge that tomorrow promises. Like Eve we reach out, pluck an e-book out of cyberspace and confess to downloading it. After the first time, like all sins, it becomes easier.

We find ourselves drawn away from paper, trees and roots. Anchor-less we float towards the stars and in free-fall we find that we can dance.

 

FOR MORE NEWS & VIEWS, Click Here and see what Paulo Coelho has to say on this subject.

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Squid

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A poem presented at Colours of Life 2017 – the annual poetry festival of the Bahrain Writers’ Circle.

Now I’m not vegetarian

Nor yet pescetarian

Not even a pure carnivore

I’m an eat-everything-atarian

There’s not much that I don’t adore

When it comes to the fishes

I can devour most dishes

But there is one thing I abhor

 

It’s that strange little creature

With a tentacular feature

It’s name down my throat wouldn’t slid

Although my ol’ teacher

Demanded that I just say ‘squid’

I shuddered, I quaked, I all but flaked

I felt my life, on it was staked

“Oh, please don’t make me!” I pled

 

“Why not squid, you’re so silly,” she said              

“Er…Ummm,” I so wished I were dead

“It’s so slimy, so squiggly, so terribly wriggly.”

“Oh child, it’s just all in your head.”

“No, ‘taint.” I retorted, albeit feebly

And blanched at the thought of the squid

My face on my desk I then hid

While my breath went all wheezy’n’queasy

 

Many years soon sped by

So I thought I should try

To dine on this marine delectation

So….“I’ll have calamari,” said I

With a measure of great trepidation

Along came this dish

Of the offending fish

All battered and fried to damnation

 

But…In spite of the batter

In spite of the crunch

In spite of the fact that I’d have it for lunch

The rubbery squid, it all but did

Me in… as it stuck in my throat

I gasped, I choked, I nearly croaked

And swore once more as I had before

That I’d never again eat squid!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To view the live presentation please click here.

Excerpt from ‘An Undesirable Marriage’

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Meriel Brooke is another fellow author from Ex-L-Ence Publishing. She has written four books: The Story of Jacqueline Jackdaw, Pot of Gold, Sugar Pants and An Undesirable Marriage, here’s a little peek into the book that spans both the World Wars.

Finding cabin number nine, he knocked on the door softly. Ruth opened it immediately and, after a quick glance around, took his hand and drew him in. The cabin, was remarkably spacious and contained a single berth, a dressing table, a writing desk, a small wardrobe and a wash basin. The porthole was closed, and an overhead fan whirled gently.

“Ruth, I really…”

“It’s all right, I won’t eat you,” she interrupted. “Come and sit down. Do you know Rachmaninov’s second piano concerto?” He shook his head.

“It was written twenty years ago. Sit down and listen.” Sam sat down on the chair next to the writing desk on which there was an open gramophone which Ruth proceeded to wind. She lowered the needle onto the record, and the stirring strains of the third movement of Rachmaninov’s second piano concerto filled the cabin. For three minutes Ruth stood quietly beside him. As the needle reached the centre of the record, she leaned forward, pressing against Sam as she turned it to the other side. He did not react. She went and sat on the narrow bunk as the music started again.

When the needle reached the centre of the record once more, Sam raised the arm and gently repositioned it in its holder. He rose to his feet. “Thank you, that was wonderful. I’d like to hear the rest of it sometime.”

To buy her book click on the link above or here.

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Excerpt from ‘An Appropriate Act of Love’

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Lynda Tavakoli is the first of my author friends to share an excerpt from her book of short stories, Under a Cold White Moon.

Thanks Linda, that sent chills up my spine.

One evening my father failed to return from work. The house had been, as usual, quiet during the day, my elder siblings having by then dispersed to lead more normal lives elsewhere and I now wonder how I never noticed their leaving or indeed how long it had been since I was the only child remaining. The food was on the table; bacon, sausages, tomatoes, potato bread and two eggs – all fried as he liked it and now coagulating on my dad’s plate. Mother sat across from me at the table, hands tidily on her lap; mine stuffed in the pocket of my sweatshirt making bigger the hole already there. Where is he?

For an hour, maybe two, we sat like dead fish frozen into an icy lake and still he did not come. Beyond the window of the kitchen light was being sucked slowly out of the day and finally the grey gloom of evening started to invade the room. A fear was beginning to gnaw at me and although my mother had moved not an inch during that time I regarded the subtle change in her manner with growing panic. The eyes that for so long had scorched her resentment into my soul had taken on the look of a hibernating tortoise reluctant to accept the onset of its awakening. They were dead eyes to match the dead words that finally slunk out from in between her teeth,

“Now are you happy?”

To read her book click on the link above or visit her publisher here.

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Do you believe in ghosts? She asked…

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Yes, was my unabashed reply. I won’t go into the details of personal experiences, strange happenings and other worldly feelings that I have had over the years, but in the end, yes. I believe that there are spirits of people who have ‘gone on’ that seem to reach out and connect to those on this side of death.

The spirit doesn’t have to be a loved one. Sometimes it is, quite literally, a lost soul still searching for someone to leave a message, to make a connection, who knows. Are the spirits malevolent? In my experience, no; but, there are times when these visitations seem to carry a forewarning to those amongst us who are alive.

Opinions on the subject vary, sometimes there’s a ‘logical’ or psychological explanation for what various folk have experienced. But, there are times when neither logic, nor science, nor ‘ghost-busting’can penetrate that veil.

As that famous line from Hamlet goes:

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy…

In the spirit of that, and with no pun intended, today I was mesmerised by these tales, purported to be true:

49 Real Nurses Share The Terrifying Hospital Ghost Stories That Scared Them To Death

Loser. Baby. Mend. Wet. Only

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Five words to create a story. Sometimes just one word will do. These five words were a prompt at one of the Creative Writers’ Workshops held by our Bahrain Writers’ Circle. We had to use all five words in no particular order. What story would you create given these five words and fifteen minutes?

If you’re inclined, send your story to me and I’ll publish it here.

Note: The words are in bold letters.

Only Anita knew how she felt. As far as the rest of the world was concerned, she was happy. Her smile was the biggest, brightest thing that greeted anyone no matter what, no matter when. In the rain, when it’s pouring buckets of the stuff, you’re so wet even your high spirits are damp. On days you felt that nothing could possibly bring a smile to your face, there she was: Anita, with her big, cheerful smile.

Everyone thought she was such a happy person. Why shouldn’t she be? She’d just had that lovely baby and he was all of six months old. He had a thick mop of hair that curled and flopped around his face. He was a happy baby with a gurgling laugh and he rarely cried.

All that was for the world to see.

Only Anita knew the pain and betrayal, the lies and the secrets behind the baby’s birth. In the darkest, quietest moments of the day, she knew the truth. A truth she pushed down into the deepest recesses of her mind. “How could I have done that with such a loser?” She thought. Her eyes clouded over with tears at the memory, her stomach churning with disgust. “How can I ever mend the damage I have done to my marriage? This will have to be my secret, one that I must take to my grave. Poor Jay, he must never know. It will kill him. It’s killing me. Every day I look at this beautiful child, I pray that he’ll look more like me as the years go by.”

 

 

 

Corporate Dance

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It happens in every office. You notice it especially when the first half of the year draws closer to its end. The little dance. The schmooze sessions. The “let’s do lunch!”

These little scenes prompted a poem called Corporate Dance in my collection Corpoetry. See how the ‘chaps’ fall in step with the boss. Watch the ladies sashay along. They’re so in sync that it’s like a choreographed performance. Not Bollywood dancing. This is more subtle. Like a tango. The challenge. The turn your face the other way, but exchange a look. It has all the verve of old-fashioned ballroom dancing and a lot of very clever footwork – both literal and metaphorical.

Putting together the collection of poems that grew into  Corpoetry was so much fun. Once the poems began to flow I couldn’t turn a corner in the offices that I worked in when I didn’t find yet another situation that prompted a poem. Sometimes reading the news – especially during that financial crisis – brought on a poem like Big Cheeses which prompted Bob Cubitt’s wonderful review. I still keep thinking that if you, as a reader, have a situation, do please send it to me and I’ll create a poem for you. Who knows, we might end up with Corpoetry Two!

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Black by Oak

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Looking back through my folder and in an attempt to clear it of its clutter I came across this little gem from our philosopher poet Omar Ahmed Alkhulaqi, aka Oak/ OAK. He is now creating his own style of Instagram Verse, if there is such a thing, the appellation is mine.

The following came into existence as part of an exercise at one of the BWC’s (Bahrain Writers’ Circle) Creative Writers’ Workshops. We were all asked to express the word: Black, and this was what our poet created.

“It is the absence of all colour, the abode of secrets in the night. It is the domain and perpetuator of mystery, rooted from the ages by man’s fear of the unknown. Its ambiance resonates from its ambiguity. A frequency of doom that sets in motion the strings of terror, while the mind expands and the senses retaliate, the strings shudder and vibrate. A resonance grinding to sweep away the dusty soul and awaken the inanimate and the forgotten. An instigator of curiosity that leads to questioning, a descent of light into nothigness and the defeaning of sound into silence. It removes security and familiarity and induces a pulse of danger and vulnerability. Like a veil it blinds the eyes unbiased and unmerciful , the senses arise to fight for their survival, the terror smitten rationality struggles with irrationality. All that is grave and evil lies waiting, offering a freedom away from the light of day either to better understanding or tribulation. A menacing darkness that pervades the spirit, announcing its menace with banners of an insulting army whose motto is ‘Woe to the conquered!’.

It is a dream that finds purpose in its existence because of absence in things, taking the shape of unanswered questions and stalked by their immortal King– Death. A dream writhing to and fro, in and about and exciting the senses to the mystique. Black is of danger, freedom, courage, contemplation, vulnerability, sorrow, pain… It is bitter when denounced and sweet when marvelled. It is shadowed by darkness, and there all forsakes you, even your own shadow. For it is a colour that excites many things and is as deep as our peaceful sleep, and above all–indispensable.”

Note: You may find more of this delightful poet’s work on Facebook here:

https://www.facebook.com/omar.kuladi?fref=tl_fr_box&pnref=lhc.friends

And on Instagram follow the handle @b.t.oaktree and check out more here:

https://instagram.com/b.t.oaktree/

 

The Sandwich Thief

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Yesterday I read a post on Facebook (someone else’s post) that I then placed on my FB page here: https://www.facebook.com/RohiniSunderamAuthor

The post is an amusing account of two colleagues and a spat they have over a turkey & rye sandwich. I mentioned that it reminded me of some of the poems in Corpoetry, like The Water Cooler. One friend said she’d like to see what I’d make of that situation in a poem.

And so, here it is!

‘Twas in an office, I heard tell

Of a prankster ne’er do well

He stole, it seems, a colleague’s lunch

And the outcome was a bunch

Of laughs for folk like me and you

But from the posts, it seems ‘twas true

And this is how it went:

 

“Oh sandwich thief, I know you keep

Stealing my sandwiches, why oh why?

The latest one’s turkey on rye.

Grow up you thief, you sandwich thief!”

 

The thief replied, “dear Turkey ’n’ Rye

I have it here, I do not lie,

Ten bucks is all that it will take

To get it back upon a plate.”

 

The victim lashed back with a threat:

“Return my sandwich, thief, or else!

To HR I shall take my ‘plaint

And then let’s see how you will faint!”

 

The Sandwich Thief, did threaten back

“Alas, my dear, alas, alack!

For every hour that you delay

Bite by bite, I’ll eat it away.”

 

Threats then turned to psycho chat

“Why oh why are you doing this?”

The sandwich ‘napper, not remiss

“Tick-Tock” he sent a photo back.

 

But in an office, as we know

Don’t push your luck for it can go

As in this case, to HR’s top

And HR weighed in with a ‘Stop!

 

“Cease! Desist! Return the food

And we’ll not take this any further”

But sandwich ‘napper he’s a boob

Demands a pizza, silly joker.

 

Next he adds an insult in

Threatens not to eat but chew

And then in little mouthfuls spew

The sandwich in a bin!

 

“You’re the worst” our Victim sighs

“I’m not” Our Sandwich Thief replies

And in eloquent prose outlines

The corporation’s ills and its demise.

 

Now, thanks to IT and what not

HR tracked down the wicked sot

“Francis!” they name and shame the chap

“Come and see us, now ASAP!”

 

Now Sandwich Thief, he ain’t so bold

(In fact it almost makes one sicken)

“Please don’t fire me,” he folds!

The turkey made him chicken.

 

 

More from Aman

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What do you say

To the needle that pricks you

While you sew?

There’s no one to blame,

There is only you!

 

T’was destiny that put you there,

And from here on

Who knows how we’ll fare.

 

Rocky and even

And up and down

There sits the king

For him I’m a clown.

 

What do you say to the

Needle that pricks you?

To some quite a lot,

And to a lot just a few.

 

Shush now! They say,

‘Tis just a pin prick they say

But,

That was my last drop,

If only they knew.

 

#2

So smile now,

And look on,

On the horror of things unfold.

These are made of your nightmares,

Look on,

As the warm wind turns cold.

 

So smile now,

Even though you shake and shiver.

At heart you know there’s no hope,

Nay, nary a sliver.

 

So smile now.

There’s no room for fear,

The beast can smell it,

Don’t let him get near.

 

So smile now.

‘Tis only the beginning.

The nightmares unfold,

As you feel

Yourself

Sinking.