It would be very hard for me to go in too deep on this book because it’s very hard to define. It’s stunning though; macabre, fascinating and eery as hell.
Marina is seven and has just become an orphan, after her parents are killed in a car accident. The same accident strips the skin from her ribs and leaves her body scarred for life. Her personal mantra has become “My father died instantly, my mother in the hospital” and she wheels it out whenever she’s asked to tell her story.
In the hospital, Marina is given a small spooky doll by the doctors and it becomes her constant companion, her confidante.
One day she arrives at the orphanage and creates a ripple amongst the little girls who already live there (less a ripple more a tidal wave, honestly). The girls’ obsession and their love for Marina while pure, isn’t always kind and they torture her daily with their teasing, their silence and their tricks. They steal her doll and deliver it back to her body part by body part, and bury what’s left in the ground.
But at night, everything is different. At night they play Marina’s game.
Based on a terrifying real-life event, Such Small Hands is a poetic horror story molded from the most beautiful prose I’ve read in a long time. It’s nightmarish and pretty at the same time, like some of the most appealing things in life and I couldn’t recommend it more. I hope it leaves you as breathless and creeped out as it did me.
Such Small Hands Publisher: Portobello Books Ltd (3 Aug. 2017) ISBN-10: 1846276438 ISBN-13: 978-1846276439
Gifted hardback (new)
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Kudos to Andrés Barba for his amazing author photo. Look at it! (above).
IMDB Synopsis: Amy, a naive college graduate who believes she’s destined to be a great poet, begrudgingly accepts a job at a sex shop while she pursues a mentorship with reclusive writer Rat Billings.
Being an adult is hard, especially when everyone you love keeps telling you you have to start acting like one. This is exactly the kind of bullshit Amy is up against.
Why won’t everybody just let her live?
Thing is, nothing in this world is free, not even dreams, so wannabe poet laureate Amy is forced to find a job. Seems only the local sex shop is hiring, and girl, let me tell you I’ve been there. It’s not all bad though, as she gets to work with Evan Peters and be judgmental about the objectification of women in the movies they sell. Sweet.
Alice is a bit of a whiner, so convinced of her own brilliance that she forces herself on reluctant, and formerly brilliant poet Rat Billings, who she’s basically obsessed with. He’s a dickhead past his prime to everybody but Amy, yet she is adamant she wants to be his protegé. That she gets almost nothing from him does not deter her, sadly.
Meanwhile, Amy makes friends with the fucking fabulous Rubia (Armando Riesco), and the old couple who own the cunningly named sex shop, Adult World. Her new bohemian family. Which works out pretty well for a would-be poet yet Amy’s still not content. Every piece of writing she submits to every single place she can think of comes back rejected.
To be helpful, Alex (Peters) suggests Amy submit some erotica to one of the top shelf magazines. Amy isn’t into this idea at first, not least because she’s a secret virgin herself. On a whim however, and under the influence of Jack Daniels, one evening she sends something off and promptly forgets about it. Somewhere along the line there’s a conversation about faking certain situations in writing which inspires her.
Meanwhile, Rat is still playing hard to get and not giving Amy adequate feedback on her poems. Even when she drunkenly propositions him. Still, she is delighted when he offers to include one of her pieces in an anthology of new poets he’s currently working on.
You’re going to find this review a little light on the ground, and that’s because so is the plot around here. Amy whines, Rat lives up to his name and treats Amy to a life lesson and we all go home, basically. There’s a little light romance, which steps up its game after Amy and Alex row, and Amy finds out Alex is secretly a talented painter, and not just a sex-shop loser. She might also finally let go of her cherry.
Will Amy fulfill her poetic destiny or does the universe have other ideas for her? Will Alex and Amy find common ground in love? Will anything come of Amy’s writing dreams?
Will you honestly care about anything other than the scenes featuring Rubia?
Quite dull really. Makes light of suicide in the beginning which kind of bugged me but also lent itself to Amy’s character (AKA irritating). Emma Roberts is perfectly adequate in the role, semi-amusing a couple of times but doesn’t invoke much sympathy. I hated John Cusack too, sorry.
This could have been really great but was missing something, whatever that was. Maybe a stronger more relateable central protagonist. Perhaps I’m finally out of touch with ungrateful 22-year-olds wasting their talents?
I guess what I did like was the moral of the story: dreams are great to have, but sometimes you have to adapt them, just a little.
My Rating: 2.5/5. Meh. Instantly forgettable.
What did Jill think of Adult World? Was it her Plath or would she happily confine it to the bin? Find out here, obvs.
This weekend, share with us a poem that you love (by someone who isn’t you, please). Via Writing 201: Poetry Potluck (21st February 2015)
This may not be the most surprising choice from me but this is without question my favourite poem.
It works on every level and is essentially perfect.
Does my sassiness upset you? Why are you beset with gloom? ‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns, With the certainty of tides, Just like hopes springing high, Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken? Bowed head and lowered eyes? Shoulders falling down like teardrops. Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you? Don’t you take it awful hard ‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines Diggin’ in my own back yard.
You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you? Does it come as a surprise That I dance like I’ve got diamonds At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame I rise Up from a past that’s rooted in pain I rise I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide, Welling and swelling I bear in the tide. Leaving behind nights of terror and fear I rise Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear I rise Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise I rise I rise.
Today’s word is trust: write a poem in which you address, reflect on, or tell a story about the feeling of trusting or being trusted by another (person, animal, object, potted plant…). Or about distrusting them (or not being trusted yourself). Via Writing 201: Trust (17th February 2015)
Today’s form: acrostic
This was a hard but satisfying style to try and crack. I’m quite sure you could argue that I didn’t quite hit the mark but I did what was asked and that is enough for me.
Today’s word prompt is journey. Write a poem about anything that word evokes for you, from the excitement of a trip you’re about to embark on, the mental progress you witnessed someone make, or the struggles, pleasures, and extreme emotions that travel can bring about. Via Writing 201: Journey (16th February 2015)
Today’s form: limerick
I decided to base my limerick today on the journey of self love. It was fun to do and I think, quite effective.
Today, let’s write a poem about water. And/or a haiku. And/or use a simile. Via Writing 201: Water (15th February 2015)
For some reason I thought it would be a nice challenge to do the Writing 201: Poetry course via The Daily Post this time around. I was looking for Writing 201, the normal edition but couldn’t find it, so might make that my next port of call.
When the first poetry assignment popped into my inbox, I was a little deflated – write a poem, preferably a haiku! A haiku! I have done one, it’s not very good but then it is my first one, by the last prompt, I’m sure I’ll be a regular John Keats. Maybe.
I will not lie. I bought this book for its cover. Somebody mentioned it on Twitter and I went looking for it on Amazon where I fell in love with the cover for the very first time – well, what can I say? Sometimes I can be a very shallow girl.
I regret nothing.
From the get go this book is charged with longing. It feels almost voyeuristic to be party to such overwhelming emotion that doesn’t belong to you. Nevertheless, it’s gorgeous and honest; and it feels (a lot) like those days as a young ‘un when you wanted someone so badly but couldn’t do anything about it. I’ve been there, you’ve probably been there.
So it’s with that in mind that I plow through this breathtaking book. It’s not an easy read by any measure. The prose-poetry format is hard going and sometimes distracts you from the plot, which if you really think about it, is flimsy to say the least. All you really need to fathom though, from Smart’s beautiful words are the love she feels. And the despair, the regret; she feels it all (thank you Feist for this reference).
A bit about the history of this book. BGCSISDAW was first published in 1945 and is generally considered a literary classic. It details (but not much) Canadian author, Elizabeth Smart’s romance with the poet George Barker, whose small book of poetry she is alleged to have one day discovered on the shelf of a bookstore.
When I first started to think about this review I got to thinking a lot about the nature of the love story. Of the ‘Meet Cute’ and the exact circumstances/moment in which a person ‘just knows’.
This is an unusual and tumultuous love story that deserves it’s place on the page, but is it as extraordinary as it’s legend has you believe? Probably. How can one woman spout such unbelievable prose about something that doesn’t? I am awed by the writing.
My pondering also led me to this thought: how many great romantic tales are there out there that nobody will ever know about? There should be a law that if you have an incredible story you have to legally submit it for public record.
I digress, of course. The book begins when Smart flies both Barker and his wife to the USA from Japan to join her. Well, I didn’t say this was going to be easy.
I don’t want to say much more other than it’s worth a read. The writing will blow you away if you love language as much as I do and I honestly think it’s an experience you should have as a book lover. In some ways, I wish all books were like this because it’s very pretty. I definitely wish all book covers looked like this.
You can currently score a copy on Amazon for around £2.81 (used) if you don’t mind waiting for it to be shipped from the US.