To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Shadowed , please sign up. Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. May 20, Joseph Rohde rated it it was amazing. An enchanting read; I couldn't help but devour it in one sitting. Definitely worth a look if you have a spare moment.
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Nov 24, Latasha rated it really liked it Shelves: kindle-lending. A very good story. It reminded me of The Yellow Wallpaper. Lozza rated it it was amazing Jan 06, Brenda Seaberg marked it as to-read Aug 25, There are no discussion topics on this book yet. About Charlotte Unsworth. Charlotte Unsworth. Books by Charlotte Unsworth. Trivia About Shadowed. Our stork is a bit ominous, as though it brings more than babies, and leaves you wondering.
The first version emphasized the book as a memoir with the beat-up photograph of the two brothers. The step-by-step layout allowed me create a grid I love a good grid , which lent itself a balanced and striking design see what I did there. And, yes, in theory, you could successfully wrap your hands following the instructions on the cover.
La Bastarda was presented to me as a coming-of-age tale set against the unique backdrop of Equatorial Guinea. The story focuses on an orphaned girl who enlists the help of village outcasts to find her father. The outcasts reside in the forest surrounding her village, and the forest itself is a point of intrigue and taboo activity. With this in mind, I tried to put myself in the shoes of Okomo, the orphaned teen. I wanted to express, through her eyes, what this forest could look like to a young, impressionable, and curious girl.
I rendered a cover from the perspective of someone looking skyward through the trees at night. The final cover design is an abstracted concept of the tone that I picked up on when I read the novel. I wanted to express a young woman coming of age and being brought into an inner circle of outcasts and finding her way.
I treated the title, La Bastarda , as a character that slowly creeps into an opening in this circle of outcasts. Also, this design is much more minimalist than the forest design, and this simplicity allows for clarity, of course, but also diverse interpretations brought by the reader. The final version pulls relevant imagery from the story and is much more fitting as a whole. The RV is a prominent reference and very much a lens through which the story is told. While this was quite a successful design, Cameron was worried its appeal would be limited to those with an interest in Italian horror and escape the wider literary community.
We both agreed it was a good idea to use nostalgic connection to draw the eye of potential readers and making the cover look like a Gameboy seemed like the perfect solution. It appealed to the right demographic and was ubiquitous enough to have a wide enough reach. The partially deflated balloons in the next layout were meant to suggest the end of a long and joyous party. The author was hoping for more tension between the title and the content. Restless Books bravely embraced the limited color pallet and straight type treatment juxtaposed against all that Brazilian frivolity.
As far as I know, most of these were well-received at the first cover meeting, but the more dense and detailed sketches were the clear favorites. However, they wanted to see a few more revisions without the skull and weapons which were making it feel a bit too violent. In the end, we settled on a winning combination.
We ultimately produced an illustration that is stark and evocative set against a midnight blue backdrop. The branch intertwining in the title leading into the torn, loose branch reveals the depth and passage of the secrets, discovery, and untold truths in the memoir, which comes with the risks, discomforts, and loss. We loved the use of the photorealistic branch and the soft changes in the background shadow that created some depth, but this cover had a self-help tone that felt limiting.
After the author had some more time to think about it, she began to question what the break in the branch might evoke about adoption. So we tried several versions and ended with one where the tendrils of the branch still make a connection with each other on either side. As a supporter of Electric Literature, you get members-only Blunt Instrument advice columns every other month. To ask the Blunt Instrument about your own writing anxieties, email blunt electricliterature. But the essays I enjoy are not just didactic, they are also evocative of some emotion and immerse me into a different world.
I once had an editor spell out for me the formulaic, three-act structure that almost all the columns he edits follow. He was somewhat apologetic about it, but I actually enjoyed working with the constraints of the formula. An old poetry teacher of mine, Bill Knott, used to do a cool exercise whereby you could turn any poem into a sonnet. First, I recommend spending plenty of time in the pre-writing stage. During this phase of the process, you should keep either a physical notebook or an electronic document for notes. I often find that after taking notes for a month or more, I already know where I want to start.
If not, I can at least see that my notes have gathered around three to five clear themes. I think of these as sub-topics or sub-essays, sections that I know I want to include in the larger essay. Then: Start with something interesting. A fascinating fact or anecdote, something that will draw the reader in.
I like to approach the writing in sections because you can always rearrange the sections later, add new sections, or cut them entirely. But I also try to save some thinking for the end, to allow some new idea to bloom. I think of essays almost as cross-sections from a more extended line of thinking. Thanks to a stranger who had decided to kiss me, I had mono.
Kendrick spits an intricate tale of loss, rapping in letter form from the perspective of two people whose siblings have died. The song gave me a random surge of energy. I suddenly felt ripe, charged with the same sense of longing Kendrick laid out so viscerally on the track. I got further into the song, nodding my head despite the painfully swollen glands along my neck. Kendrick delivered his verses circularly, hypnotically. They seemed to spin and spin around an elusive drain.
But then something happened. In the second verse, Kendrick took on a female persona, transforming into a prostitute who boasts about being invincible. Both lyrically and sonically, it was the best part of the song. Then all of a sudden, I heard the voice lose its speed. Second by second, it grew quieter until there was nothing but the beat left. Another verse soon started up. But it seemed the magic of the moment, of the song, was lost. Panicked, I checked my iPod. The volume was fine. I played the verse again, this time monitoring the volume. Again, at the zenith, the voice dipped into silence.
I rewound the track and played it again. He really just ended the verse. The first verse had also been cut short, by sudden gunshots, but the deliberate fade in verse two felt like a mystery. I listened to the song over and over, my ears grasping for the trailed-off lyrics, seeking to decipher the words that were lost.
Sitting on my futon, surrounded by tissues and throat nearly sealed shut, my eyes welled. Four blocks, one avenue over. The heat did not work, the fridge got cold only when it wanted to, and I had to wear shoes in the shower, which was down the hall. While displeased with my living situation, I refused to complain out loud.
My twin sister met me at JFK and we went to her place. The plan was to spend two weeks there and figure out my life. And I had a lot of figuring out to do. I had no job and no place to live. All I had was a finished manuscript, some savings, and one goal in mind: find an agent and publish my book. After working eight hours a day teaching high school English, my evenings would be spent maniacally typing stories and obsessively pouring over edits.
My plan was to score an agent before I got to New York. It felt strange to be home, but not quite home. To move from one foreign place to another felt unstable, like setting up shop inside a house of cards. When I woke up the next morning, my sister was already at work. My body felt disoriented, on the other side of the ocean.
Panic settled in. Maybe another agent had emailed me? I rolled over and checked my phone. I took a shower, grabbed my laptop, and went out the door. She said yes. Two months passed. In that time, I moved from Brooklyn to the temporary studio-dorm near the th Street station in Hamilton Heights. I spent both months hunched in front of my laptop, reading, wincing, cutting, typing. I was drained. I had nine stories to revise and make more concise.
There were thousands of words to purge. By January, I had revised all the way up to the middle of the collection. It had gone from short and sweet flash piece to epic meditation on teenage pregnancy in contemporary America, and now I was trying to whittle it down from its bloated page form into something more digestible. Between each sentence lay an unbearable indictment on my worth as a writer and as a human being.
Despite days spent trying to gather the courage to cut out a scene or a paragraph, I just could not do it. I was holding on too strongly to something. January 5th, My shoulder throbbed with the weight of the eight-pound MacBook in my bag. Mentally, I was drained, too. I panicked. Not just a writer: a full-time writer, with a book! That day my music was playing on shuffle.
On the corner of Broadway and th, that Kendrick Lamar song from came on. Still, I tended to skip it, because it always made me cry. The even, teeming drums. The soft, wistful guitar. They all stirred me, left me feeling overwhelmed. I listened without pause.
On th and Broadway, the song reached its zenith. And then the second verse, as it had once before, suddenly faded away. The impersonated female voice is begging not to be forgotten. All that is left is the ticking beat. Echoes of desperation linger as the empty track becomes cavernous, suddenly gutted. But when the song ended, I rounded the corner and reminded myself that I still loved it. It was a bold artistic declaration: just because something is done well, does it mean it needs to be overdone. I initially wanted the verse to go on forever.
But what if it did? Would I keep rewinding it just to get to the sweet spot? I realized that I could cut sentences, paragraphs, even whole pages out of the story and be okay. I could end each sentence at its highest point. The words clogged the page, blocked all attempts at cohesion. Letting go was the only way. I found the high point in each sentence and cut them short. I ended lingering scenes sooner.
I clipped dialogue, made it more true to life. Editing became a breeze. I was no longer afraid of removing the endless details and context I thought short stories needed. I no longer felt pressure to put every single thought onto the page. Each word would speak for itself. A few months passed. My money thinned. I sucked it up and got a job. Two jobs. I sent the revised manuscript to and was rejected by more agents. I moved to Bushwick, then to Crown Heights, then to Flatbush. One day in June, I checked my email. Between the months spent writing in Durban, the late nights spent pitching, the back and forth with the agent, the agonizing edits, and the spiral crossing of my fingers, I clocked a year of my life devoted to one project that had seemingly gone down the drain.
The whole project felt terribly futile. I thought about the act of listening and the act of rapping. The act of receiving art and the act of making it. And I struggled to reconcile my art with its nonexistent audience. This raises the question: what happens when art exists outside the realm of validation?
What of an unread novel? What is art unattached to a contract or an auction? Does the lack of validation make them meaningless? Aside from the obvious lack of substance, it seemed my manuscript failed because it was so rooted in the desire for external validation. What began as an earnest literary pursuit in South Africa turned into a sloppily assembled plan to earn a living in New York. I wanted to do whatever it took for my work to be seen. I thought about the act of receiving art and the act of making it.
July came. Then August. The experience that started with grand plans to publish a book at 23, and had ended with an empty bank account, crushing rejection, and a series of failed job interviews. In Milwaukee, totally unrecognized, I found the courage to keep writing, even though I lacked an audience.
And I loved it. There was no one reading, no obsessive email checking. It was then that I realized that visibility, recognition is not essential to being a writer. The writing was the most important part of being a writer. The writing: mining through memory, through fragments of conversation, through sights, and emerging with semblances of beauty and reason. Each time we mine, we improve. We emerge with more precious material. We writers often struggle to reconcile our need for feedback and our need for validation.
The line between craving validation and desiring visibility is pitifully thin. Too often our art is forcibly confined to ourselves; to empty rooms, solitary laptop screens and private notebooks. Writing is one of the only art forms that is more hidden than visible. Paintings are on walls; passing strangers see them.
Music is played. But writers have to work to be seen. We want our work to be seen. We want to be seen. We want our solitary efforts to be recognized. To this day, I toe the line. But I do find solace in believing that the writings unseen are not valueless. But I do find redemption in my new belief that my failed book had not been a waste of time. I believe our greatest efforts can remain exactly that, ours. I think these projects are sitting there, yes. And I do believe they are festering, folding in on themselves. Feldman achieved notoriety after her first book, Unorthodox , was published in the U.
In it, she describes the repressive nature of her life within the Satmar Hasidim community in Williamsburg, her arranged marriage at 17, and her subsequent decision to take her son and leave the community. For Feldman, history is a kaleidoscope where the past can morph if observed from different angles. As a descendant of Holocaust survivors, she asks fundamental and tough philosophical questions.
Had she been a Nazi, would she, in all certainty, have refused to carry out acts of violence and annihilation? I spoke to Deborah about her books in Brussels, and later continued our conversation through email. Mauricio Ruiz : In Unorthodox , you explore the themes of motherhood and fertility. These days, some women have the choice to decide whether they want to have children or not, and when; others still do not have that choice.
How do women who do not want to have children cope with this reality in Hasidic communities? The greatest social misfortune in this community is infertility. It is grounds for divorce. Women who cannot produce children are relegated to the lowest possible position in society, they are seen as completely useless, purposeless, valueless.
In Unorthodox I describe how I was treated in the first year of my marriage in which I failed to become pregnant: I was threatened with divorce, homelessness, complete abandonment, I was subject to abusive criticism of my basic worth as a human being, I was made to understand that my ability to have a child was my only value and that if I failed to fulfill this expectation I would be treated like waste.
MR: Could you talk a little about your mother? What were your thoughts and reflections about her while you were growing up? DF: I think my feelings could be described as a mixture of fear and curiosity. Could you elaborate a little bit more on that? DF: I think to understand this you have to research how the Israeli government works. There is this awkward coalition between the secular and orthodox parties in which exceedingly questionable political deals are made that have very little to do with democracy, but are a result of what happens when a democracy includes a sizable anti-democratic element.
You have an agreed-upon segregation of Israeli society, in which members of orthodox communities are subject to biblical law and religious dictates, while secular members have access to a whole different set of laws and rights. A problem occurs when a member of the orthodox world wants to cross over.
DF : I really do not know. I think my realization came about because I had this curiosity about another world, another perspective, and I sought contact with it. So I was able to develop alternate modes of thinking. But what do you do with people who are to afraid to nurture this curiosity. How was that reshaped after the Holocaust? DF: These are the Three Oaths, and they are known to all Jews all over the world, and may be interpreted differently depending on the community, but they are part of a common diaspora heritage. The Rabbis claimed that this was not only rendering the promised eternal redemption impossible but also bringing on a kind of apocalyptic temper tantrum from a God who had proven, with the Holocaust, to no longer be able to contain his rage and frustration with this forgetful children.
Why is it, in your opinion, forbidden for women to read the Talmud? DF: The tradition of reading and discussing the canon of Jewish texts has always been masculine in the orthodox community. On the other hand women are reading these texts in reform Jewish communities. The ideology of Orthodoxy will not allow for women to do so within their own world.
This is just how religion works. I think it is not very realistic or productive to discuss ways in which radical patriarchies can make adjustments or allowances for women, since to do so would require a crumbling of their very foundations. Perhaps we need to learn to accept that the two poles are irreconcilable, and it is not our obligation to find ways in which to render such communities more acceptable to us. I would appreciate it if Jewish secular liberals had more confidence in their own value system and were able to criticize instead of chalking it all up to cultural differences.
MR : You read a beautiful passage from Unorthodox where you, for the first time, decided to break an imposed rule. I really liked that, the idea of questioning the rules that govern our lives.
MR: In Unorthodox you recount the anecdote where one day you forgot to put on one of your garments the rule being: knitted on top of woven fabrics to avoid revealing too much of the female figure and later being sent back home to change. Do mothers, grandmothers enforce those rules given that they know what it means to feel that themselves?
DF: Yes, women do enforce this, because they are taught that they will be rewarded for this with approval, even power. O n the 14th of February , a heavily armed former student in Parkland, Florida opened fire at the students and staff members of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, leaving seventeen dead. The Parkland shooting has unleashed a renewed wave of protest against gun violence with the survivors championing the Never Again moment. In a country that is constantly mourning the victims of one mass shootings after another but has failed to pass any meaningful gun control, the subject of gun violence could not be more timely.
The real perpetrator is found, and the police clears Anna of any wrongdoing, but she is still regarded with suspicion in a town that quickly descends into paranoia. Consumed with guilt, she finds herself at the heart of a contentious public scandal that threatens to destroy everything she has. Tom McAllister: Elise, the first question that people have asked me a lot too is when did you start working on this book about a shooting? What prompted you to? Elise Juska: This book has been a strange journey. I actually started working on it ten years ago after [the] Virginia Tech [shooting].
There was an interview with a creative writing teacher, she had taught the shooter. This creative writing teacher was working with him one-on-one but then they had seen all this disturbing dark stuff in his creative writing and she was interviewed about it after the shooting. That interview haunted me and stuck with me as a teacher. TM: My understanding of the Virginia Tech [shooting], just from mass media was that… they start to blame people, scapegoat people. EJ: In fact, yeah she told the police, she told the administration.
There was this interview on the New York Times daily podcast with the person who owned the gun shop that sold the gun to the shooter. Have you had students in your fiction classes who were doing things that worry you? Cause students write weird stuff in fiction classes. Have you had any problems? When I first started teaching, I had just graduated from college. I was 22 teaching freshman [composition], [I got] all kinds of incredibly serious personal issues showing up and I was so ill-equipped to deal with these things. Cause so many stories usually from young men have so much bloodshed.
Not so much now, but years ago you get a lot of people doing American Psycho stuff or Chuck Palahniuk stuff. EJ: Same. EJ: Sometimes so hard to know if I should intervene in this case. TM: Yeah, I of course did not know him very well.
The Ambivalent Bellatrist by Charlotte Unsworth
TM: After Sandy Hook. So we both had five years after. In my book, the teacher is blamed at first. In the frenzy after [the shooting], they see her name and she ends up on TV. I was really thinking about the Boston Marathon bombing, there was this social media frenzy afterwards. All these people on Reddit who were studying pictures trying to determine who it could have been, drawing circles and arrows on people. That started the idea of the school shooting… and [the media frenzy] gave me some catalyst to move forward after the shooting.
EJ: I finished it about a year ago and I had been working on it four years prior to that. So have you been struggling with that too? With not being too self-promotional? TM: Absolutely. There have been times after Parkland… where some people were tweeting out screenshots from my book that [they] felt kind of commented on [the shooting]. That this is an ongoing condition. Going back to why I wrote it, the story to me was about the teacher: what it feels like to be that teacher [knowing] that there is this thing that you missed and how do you wrestle those feelings of responsibility.
TM: [The shooting in] mine is an eight page prologue and then the rest is all aftermath. EJ: So the opening scene, the teacher is just hearing the news and then realizing [the shooter] was her student. Shortly after, the classmate posts something on Facebook that goes viral. Something about what he remembers about this kid writing in class and then she goes digging in her class and she finds the papers.
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Is yours the actual scene of the shooting? EJ: I guess in some ways that depends on the intention of the novel. What about you? It feels so angry and emotional and hyped up all the way through. I was afraid I was too didactic with the book and that it would be propaganda then.