Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The meme thingy

Crime fic reader has pinged (or zapped … or tagged … or something) me …. And cos I trust her and I love her blog, I’m going for it. Even though I have no idea what a meme is … Maybe it’s as in, ‘Me! Me! This is all about Me!

Anyway, the idea is I answer these questions about books. Only you no doubt already know that. I had been feeling really flattered to be involved until I read the following on Roger’s Plog:
'I think this meme is near the end of its life and almost everyone I know has already done it!'
At which point I went into paranoia overdrive wondering why I’d been the last to be asked … (It’s ok – I jest.)

So ...

One book that changed your life.

This is the point you’re all going to feel you were right not to have included me earlier, but if I’m going to be honest, there’s only one possible answer to this one. So, at the risk of being derided for shameless self-publicising, it’s got to be my own first book, Nirvana Bites.

Allow me to justify the choice:

• I never set out or intended to write a book and certainly didn’t know I was capable of it. Even if it hadn’t been published, creating something from nothing has to be a life-changing event, doesn’t it?
• And then – by an almost magical series of events – the thing gets published!
• Having been written in longhand and typed up in chunks on borrowed laptops, the advance enabled me to buy my own pooter.
• The advance, spread over 4 years, may not have been enough to radically change our living situation, but it certainly made life a little easier during that time.
• I still find it very hard to believe that I wrote a book (even though I’ve written 3 more since) and that I’m a gen-u-ine published author.

So … forgive me? How could a book be more life-changing than that?

One book that you have read more than once.

This has to be The Bridge of Beyond by Simone Schwarz-Bart, set in Guadeloupe. There’s something about that book that works beyond the words on the page. The first time I read it, I was not in a good space. The book uplifted me in the most amazing way. After that, I read it a second time – once again when I was in a painful phase of life. This time, as I read it, I was aware that terrible things happen within the story. Yet in spite of the brutality of some of the passages and events, I was once again uplifted and strengthened by the end.

I’ve probably read it at least four times (always when I’ve felt in need of healing) and it works the same spell each time. Not only that, but I’ve even loaned it to other people and with only one exception, each has said they felt similarly moved.

What a powerful thing is a book!

One book you would want on a desert island.

Now I can hear you all gasp in amazement. My answer (if it could only be one book) would have to be the Bible.

• It’s BIG.
• It’s got some great characters and wonderful stories.
• You can dip in and out of it or read it cover to cover.
• You can skip the boring bits (assuming you don’t feel it’s ALL boring) without losing the thread.
• It operates on many different levels.
• You could while away many moons searching for codes.
• You wouldn’t ruin the plot if you tore out the pages about measurements and stuff to light the campfire.

One book that made you cry.

Philip Pullman’s The Amber Spyglass – the last in the His Dark Materials trilogy – the ending is devastating. In this 3rd book, he moves from the apocalyptic/universal to the deeply intimate/personal and is an absolute master of both. An author who is a committed atheist yet writes in the most spiritual way possible.

Also just about anything by Primo Levi.

One book that made you laugh.

I love people like Laurence Shames and Christopher Brookmyre, whose humour is silly and completely over the top, but who also often make serious points.

One book you wish had been written.

‘How to house, feed and clothe your family using old newspapers and grass cuttings.’

One book you wish had never been written.

I’m not going to name it, cos I don’t like putting out negative stuff, but there’s a well-known comedienne I really like who had a novel published at the same time as Trading Tatiana came out.

I’ve always had loads of respect and admiration for her. She lives locally and I’ve seen her occasionally in the park and desperately wanted to talk to her but never dared (even though I know people who have approached her and said she’s really lovely and easy going). Anyway, I got hold of her book. I was so looking forward to reading it and also thought that it would give me a reason to go up to her next time I saw her. (Though I probably still wouldn’t have had the guts …)

Anyway, talk about disappointed! The characters were paper-thin; the relationship between them simply didn’t work; the plot was unbelievable; and … it wasn’t funny. I felt so deflated – I’d wanted so much to like it. The awful truth is that I really don’t think it would have stood a chance of being published if the author wasn’t already an established ‘name’.

One book you are currently reading.

I’ve finally got round to reading Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City. I’ve been meaning to for ages …

One book you have been meaning to read.

Oh me oh my … the world is FULL of books I mean to read. Every short list … every long list … all the ones that never reach a list …

I’m supposed to tag 5 people now but I don’t dare do it for fear that the replies will come back in the shape of, ‘Oh that! I did that years ago, darling. Did you only just receive it now???’

9 comments:

crimeficreader said...

The meme may be old but the answers are not; they're always original, especially yours Debi!

Thanks for giving it all that thought - good to see back on excellent form.

I think I know who that comedienne is, but my mouth is tied shut, publically...

Minx said...

The old ones are the best! This mememe wotsit has been around for ages but as CFR said, the answers are always really interesting. Yeah done it btw, and I don't do them normally!

Oh come on, don't be spoilsport, 'out' the unfunny funnywoman and give us all a laugh!

clare said...

I really shouldn't read these memes. It just makes me want to go straight to Amazon and buy more books. But now I have daughter and granddaughter bookpiles beside the great mother bookpile so I mustn't.

And yes, I want to know too - I'll swap round first letters so it is cunningly disguised. Bo Prand?

Debi said...

Look, stop it all of you! I'm not saying who she is, right? I LIKE the woman and it's not her fault her book was published when it wouldn't have been if it had been written by anyone else. Anyway, it's all subjective and others may have loved it ...

And why has no one yet told me what a meme is???

Debi said...

And why is blogger saying there are no comments? Is this all a feverish dream??? Do I really exist? Do you? Are you really reading this?

Sharon J said...

The bible!! I would never have thought of that. Excellent choice for all of the reasons you gave.

I didn't know you'd written four books. I've only heard about Nirvana Bites and Trading Tatiana. What are the other two?

Debi said...

Look everyone! It's SHARON!!!!!!

Other two not published, babe. Or at least - not yet! Details on books bit of my website ... www.debialper.co.uk

Love ya!

Maxine said...

Hi Debi

Just trying to emerge after my holiday and a hideous backlog at work. Thanks for your (as ever!) lovely comments on Petrona and hope you enjoyed your summer.

Writing a book (and getting it published) definitely counts as life-changing, I think.

I think that the word "meme" was coined by Richard Dawkins, author of The Selfish Gene and other books. I think he devised the concept of an "automatically replicating idea" and called it a "meme" as it sounds like "gene" but isn't. He first showed this I think via little animated cartoons on a computer screen (long pre-Internet) that "evolved" becuase of various parameters the programmer had set in. I think the word has been borrowed by Internet users to mean replication in the sense of "variants on a set of questions"

However, don't trust my memory, try a google search, that would be more reliable by a long way ;-)

BTW I think I was the person who passed this meme over to Crimefic. I got it from Kimbofo. My choice of people to pass it to was heavily coloured by whether I knew they were about at the time rather than on holiday.

Debi said...

Thanks, Maxine. Knew I could rely on you to come up with the goods. Though I still prefer the 'It's ME!' definition ...