The Caged Type

A home for Craig Thomas Boyle's writing and life.

Month: January 2015

Pre-Fight Jitters: The Nerves and The Fury

A Month To Go.

I’m currently one month out from an amateur four man tournament for a title belt. My life has become a mixture of emotion, effort and exercise as I float between my day job and training hard in the gym as well as cleaning up my diet. I’m already starting to daydream about my opponents at work, wondering what tools they might have or how my game plan and strategy will go. I’m starting to visualise it all positively – but I can’t stop the creeping sensation of nerves that blister across the back of my neck when I think of the day.

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Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

You can grab a copy of Station Eleven by clicking the link below. None of my reviews are prompted or endorsed, I just like to promote things I’ve enjoyed. 

Station Eleven is a dystopian, post-apocalyptic novel from Emily St. John Mandel, a Canadian author who I’d never heard of until I picked up this book on the strength of a friend’s recommendation. I’m glad that I did. The story follows a travelling band of actors, a paramedic, an ex-wife and a famous actor as it weaves its way through pre and post ‘Georgia Flu’ – a terrible virus that wipes out 99% of the Earth’s inhabitants. The flu leaves people stranded and grasping for survival, but gradually shows us them grasping for what it means to be human. The story is told through various character viewpoints that all center around an actor named Arthur Leander, who dies the night before the flu really kills off the planet. The comic book produced by his ex-wife serves as a recurring motif that ties the story together. From this focal point, we see the ambitions, dreams and losses of different characters and try to understand what makes them keep going through such a miserable existence.

“Survival is insufficient” – This is the phrase inscribed on the side of the travelling symphony’s lead caravan. It’s a quote stolen from Star Trek, but applies so perfectly to the world the characters live in that it couldn’t be any more perfect. The main character from the symphony is Kirsten, who plays Titania in Shakespeare but has two knives tattooed on her wrist to signify the people she has had to kill to get by. As with all the other characters, survival is a grim and bitter business – so it’s up to the symphony to enhance the lives of people they encounter with theatre and music. They bring life to a wasteland.

The story follows the symphony after an encounter with a maddened prophet, but traces back to Arthur Leander’s death and the story of his life. We see offshoots of other characters lives, particularly Jeevan Choudary – a paparazzi turned paramedic who tries to save Arthur but instead saves himself as the flu hits.  We also see Miranda, Arthur’s first wife and author of Station Eleven, a comic book about a Doctor who escapes Earth on a space station, but is opposed by people who live below the ocean of the station – the Undersea. This comic is basically an allegory of the plot and the themes contained within – a struggle for survival and a constant reminder of the old world.

“I stood over my damaged home and tried to forget the sweetness of life on Earth” – so says the fictional Dr. Eleven. This statement is true of almost every character in the book. Whether it’s Kirsten, Jeevan or Arthur’s friend Clark – they are all battling this new world while trying to take away the sting of losing so much.

For a book about loss, Station Eleven is a spectacularly beautiful work. There are moments served by images that really capture your attention and make you imagine the situation. There are moments of genuine terror and of happiness and relief. I’ve never read a post-apocalyptic book that has been so hewn with imagery and a sprinkling of hope.

Without giving anything away, the story leaves you with a feeling of optimism. It’s a journey through emotions and scenes, through timelines and people’s lives. It’s a fantastic read that won’t take too long at 300-ish pages and will stay with you long after you’ve finished it.

 

Buy the Hitman and the Rose for $2.99

I’d like to thank each and every one of you who has read the series. I’ll always keep it here for free, but I know how annoying/inconvenient reading chapters from a blog can be. Many of you have suggested I turned this into a book, many of you have asked if I have a ‘donation’ link. In the end, I decided I don’t have enough time to dedicate a full book to the Hitman. I can, however, compile the story into a handy kindle format so you can carry it on your way. (I will add smashwords and B&N in time.)

You can click this link to head over to the book’s amazon page and buy it there

Even if you don’t buy the book please do me a favour and leave a review. I want to thank you all for the encouragement and kind words. I hope you’ve enjoyed the series and that you continue to check back here for future writing. I’m sure we will see Daniel and Melissa again in the near future. For those who think I’m selling out, I’d like to repeat: the series you can buy remains free on my blog, always. Buying the book is just a way to help me out a little bit, which people have inboxed me asking to do.

Thanks again,

Craig

 

The Edge.

The man had always been afraid. For as long as he could remember he’d been scared of the dark. Scared of loud noises. Scared of other people. Scared of himself. Now he stood in the darkness and let it hold him in its cold embrace. He let the wind whip up under his jacket and bite through to the bone. His jaw clenched against the urge to shiver but he held it in. He wondered if in another life he’d have been less of wimp. He looked down over the street below. It ran in zig-zags like a children’s toy, with the tiny glow of car headlamps and street lights casting thin spheres of light through the night. Another gust of wind blew and he pulled back from the edge of the building. He felt himself shiver. This time he couldn’t suppress it.

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