Tuesday, 13 January 2015

The NSV Awards 2014 Category 2: Books

Hello all,
Continuing with the second category of our awards-
Steve, are you just going to pretend it hasn't been a week since the last category?
Of course, Jim. We wouldn't want to disgrace our creator.
Oh. So, we're just going to keep going as though nothing happened in the hope our creator keeps liking and using us?
Yep, that's it in a nutshell, Jim.
Oh. Why?
Because our creator has the power to both create and destroy!
Oh. While Steve and I mull on our threatening creator, we are proud to present the second awards category: books!

In regards to reading, this year has been my laziest ever. I only read 9 books, 5 of which I studied. I don’t know why but this past year I found it almost impossible to get motivated to read. Even the handful of graphic novels I read is endemic of my epic laziness. To combat this, I’ve put a rule for myself in place. In 2015, I have to read at least one novel a month. I would prefer for this not to be a uni book, but I could take it or leave it. I just need to read more, especially if I want to be a novelist. In fact, you could argue that my serious writerly doubts this year could be linked to my lack of reading. If so, I really need to step up and put in the work...

The Top 3 Novels

1. Seven Little Australians (Ethel Turner)
The most beautiful, most wonderful book I read all year was one I studied and one I found myself forced to read in a single night. The essay on this book was due in a few days time and I struggled to get started, constantly taking notes about things to talk about and not enjoying the book by its own merits. However, as I kept reading, I found myself falling in love with these characters and their stories until, by the end of the novel, I was moved to tears at 12am in the morning. I don’t cry often when reading. It’s got to be really heart breaking for it to have that sort of effect on me, but this book from the 1800s did it for me. I sobbed. It was just a lovely book about family and the importance it has on our lives. Needless to say, the essay went really well for me when I wrote it only days later and I got one of my highest marks. It’s true; you really do work better when you love your subject matter.

2. The Bloody Chamber & Other Stories (Angela Carter)
I suppose, in a way, I was positioned to love this book. The film interpretation of it, The Company Of Wolves, is one of my favourite films of all time and the thing that got me into analytical writing. After viewing the film, I wrote a 2000+ words review analysing it’s deeper meanings about the coming of age of the female protagonist. So, I suppose, I was positioned to like it. Little did I know, however, that after reading it, I would change completely. After reading this book, I became a feminist. Angela Carter’s glorious prose exposes her true themes of female oppression and manipulation in old fairytales. The Bloody Chamber And Other Stories ended up being something truly revolutionary. I ended up writing an essay on this book as well, which I did really well on, looking at the influence of the Marquis de Sade on Angela Carter. These two works, both Bloody Chamber and Seven Little Australians, worked towards a greater understanding of a complex topic, through powerful works of fiction which changed my life.

3. Cut & Run (Madeleine Urban & Abigail Roux)

Ever since reading Shattered Glass last year, I’ve really opened up to the world of independent publishing, particularly when trying to find good gay books. Cut & Run had some really good reviews and when I heard the premise, an odd couple detective duo who work on a murder mystery while trying to suppress their burgeoning feelings for one another, I was desperate to read it. I don’t regret it in the slightest. This novel was gripping, intriguing, romantic and sexy. Very, very, very sexy. Super sexy. The premise is used well, as the case is both interesting and gruesome, allowing the differences between the protagonists to be illustrated very clearly. Thankfully, there are several more in the series, so in 2015, I’m sure you’ll see at least some sexy gay detectives on this list.

Best Graphic Novels Of 2014
Favourite Returning Series

Fables (Bill Willingham)
While I only read one volume of this series this year (volume 19; Snow White), it was a particularly excellent one, bringing to a head some of the main arc plots that have been working their way into the series so far. This continues to be the benchmark graphic novel series for me and I’m devastated that it’s ending in 2015. However, on the strength of what I’ve read so far, I’m satisfied that it will be a moving and eventful climax to the series that got me into graphic novels.

Favourite New Series
The Stuff Of Legend (Mike Raicht & Brian Smith)
With a heartbreaking story and beautiful art to match, The Stuff Of Legend is a series in not only the style of Fables but also the quality. Featuring a child’s toys who go into the Dark to find him after he is kidnapped, this is a melancholy series working in heady themes of loss, desperation and redemption. In a lot of ways, it’s like an extremely dark version of Toy Story and it’s not hard to see it as a metaphor for the War. While my local library only had the first three volumes, I can’t wait to read the next volume of this stunning series.

Did you come up with a solution yet, Jim?
Not yet, Steve, not yet. Oh, look, the reader has done.
Oh, that's good.
What did you think of the chosen books? I would tell you our opinion, but cruel creator, you know how it is.
Sure do. But to appease our creator, we have not one, but two awards categories today. Isn't that exciting?!
Definitely. So, in just a few moments we will present to you the television awards.
Meanwhile, Steve and I will plan our esc-
Mid-show entertainment! Hahahaha....

David Gumball-Watson

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