Laura Gonzalez

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2014 reading round-up — 31 Dec 2014

2014 will be remembered as a ‘meh’ year, one where there has been bleak, bad stuff happening — difficult diagnoses, the loss of Klaus, the art school burning, the bin lorry accident, bodily-experienced misogyny and bullying — but also a year of personal challenges fulfilled and a lot to be grateful for — some of the diagnoses defeated, the strength received by witnessing that happening, a new reconfiguration of myself as someone who can do stuff I never thought possible, engagement in politics, handstands and headstands, alternative maternals, laughter and crying with Ellie, friends who move away but feel closer than ever despite being missed, broccoli trainers, all the amazing dances of 2014, Neil (in general and in particular). I have learned gratitude, forgiveness, discipline, compassion and I have been fortunate enough to be able to really test them.

I am looking forward to 2015: Rob and Samara will be closer which means merriment will be a norm. I am writing a book on my own and rather enjoying it; I have a 10 week sabbatical to concentrate on it. I am curating a show in London with artists who are a dream come true to work with because of their integrity and that of their work. The show comes with a conference where I may meet some of my heroines. I will do yoga at least twice a week, in the mornings, and I may do yoga every day in Crete for a while. I am going to learn from Kia, who I have heard so much about, and Peter and Caitlin may come to Glasgow to visit. I will see Ama again, and also look forward to catching up with Gaia, Jools and other London friends. And that only takes me till June.

Aside from life, 2014 has been a mediocre year for my reading, mainly down to the choices I have made, not those others have made for me in my reading groups. Sometimes I wonder if I know what I want, what I need, what is good for me. I used to think I was not a morning person, so could not get up early to do yoga. Now I don’t think, I just get up and go, I don’t give my brain a chance to complain and just do it for my body, for my whole integrated being. I has not failed me a single time, I have not regretted it. So I am wondering if I should go back to that kind of reading: the one that requires work but stays with you, rather than the garbage, quick gratification of whodunnits. Having said that, all my books this year have received 2* and above, which is an achievement of sorts. I also read less than I would like, but we can’t change that. Here’s the list with the awards.

[RED]: The book I would recommend (closely followed by ‘Madame Bovary’)
[GREY]: Not worth it (with ‘Tripwire’ as a close second)
[GREEN]: Book revelation of the year (‘A room with a view’ was my other choice)
[BLUE]: Most pleasurable reading experience
[*]: Read with Neil, aloud
Should have abandoned reading

  • *Pride and Prejudice by Austen, Jane
  • Gone Girl by Flynn, Gillian
  • *Collected Poems by Larkin, Philip
  • The Dead Hour (Paddy Meehan, #2) by Mina, Denise
  • Madame Bovary by Flaubert, Gustave
  • Revolt, She Said by Kristeva, Julia
  • Something Fresh (Blandings Castle, #1) by Wodehouse, P.G.
  • Tripwire (Jack Reacher, #3) by Child, Lee
  • Ghosts of My Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures by Fisher, Mark
  • La Vérité sur l’Affaire Harry Quebert by Dicker, Joël
  • Yes: The Radical Case for Scottish Independence by Foley, James and Peter Ramand
  • Nineteen Seventy Seven (Red Riding, #2) by Peace, David
  • [*Ariel by Plath, Sylvia]
  • Tears of the Giraffe (No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, #2) by Smith, Alexander McCall
  • Precarious Communism by Gilman-Opalsky, Richard
  • Lacan: In Spite Of Everything by Roudinesco, Elisabeth
  • The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (Hercule Poirot, #4) by Christie, Agatha
  • [Never Somewhere Else by Gray, Alex]
  • *The Awakening by Chopin, Kate
  • The Finishing School by Spark, Muriel
  • The Quadruple Object by Harman, Graham
  • [Unmastered: A Book on Desire, Most Difficult to Tell by Angel, Katherine]
  • Field of Blood (Paddy Meehan, #1) by Mina, Denise
  • [I Love Dick by Kraus, Chris]
  • *Loitering With Intent by Spark, Muriel
  • The Dogs of Riga (Wallander #2) by Mankell, Henning
  • *My Man Jeeves (Jeeves, #1) by Wodehouse, P.G.
  • *A Room with a View by Forster, E.M.

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Gone girl by Gillian Flynn*** — 27 Dec 2014

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Reading dates: 7 – 27 December 2014

I saw David Fincher’s film adaptation of Gone Girl in Boston earlier this year and despite my admiration for his earlier films, I really hated it. A lovely idea gone wrong, a broken promise, a lost hour, made worse by the fact that the hopes and expectations were so high. So, as you do in these situations, I read the book of a film I did not like, and it made me appreciate it more.

The problem is in the book, in the story. A wonderful beginning, a great premise, becomes an ordinary story, the same story told all over again without taking advantage of the form, of what words and scenes can do. Superb beginning but mediocre in execution; too middlebrow, my most despised kind of book. The only thing I ask of my reading, as with most things in life, is that it delivers on its promises. Gone girl does not, and for those of you falling out of love with Murakami, you know exactly what I am talking about.

The book has left me in a funny position about what to chose next. I long for Madame Bovary but I am not sure I can bear the hard work. I also want to read more Denise Mina but want to be really enthralled. Any ideas? Can you give me a reading list for 2015?

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Collected Poems by Philip Larkin*** — 15 Dec 2014

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Reading dates: 27 July – 13 December 2014

Neil and I read this book together, aloud and to each other, before our daily Pride and Prejudice chapter. No, no, no. This order did not work as Larkin, for all his sins, sent us to a particular universe of bleakness, social observations, impossible loves and thoughts of death. How could I take Darcy and Elizabeth seriously after that? The result of this experiment is that, after we finish Austen’s novel, we will only read poetry to each other, and novels by ourselves.

I love Larkin’s work, but it had such a profound effect in me, I am not sure I can muster a higher rating. He gave me nightmares, made me want to cry, made me feel those ripples in the skin I get when I try to imagine what it is like to be dead. All this in precise language and interesting punctuation. I think he taught me how to read poetry aloud, how to dance the words in my mouth. Ah, dance … there are lots of poems about dance in this book … like the one below, aptly unfinished … I love dancing but Larkin is right, it is an awkward thing.

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Trance Art — 12 Dec 2014

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A paper I wrote with the wonderful Christopher Danowski has been published in issue 0 of ELSE, an international art, literature, theory and creative media journal. The image on the cover is also a hybrid, like the writing: Chris’ head and my décolletage. Thank god there is a fair amount of Lacan in our paper to analyse that. Have a look at this smart publication here (free but needing registration) and consider submitting. The deadline for the issue on contemplation is 1 January 2015.

http://www.transart.org/else-art-journal/

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The Dead Hour by Denise Mina**** — 7 Dec 2014

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Reading dates: 14 November – 06 December 2014

Denise Mina’s crime novel characters are like no other. There is a clarity to Paddy Meehan and to Maureen O’Donnell that Jo Nesbø (with his Harry Hole), and Lee Child (with Jack Reacher) only aspire to. It is perhaps due to the fact that she works in trilogies so the character does not have time to contradict herself in ways that annoy the reader. Then, there is the heroine’s background. Both Reacher and Hole are somewhat stereotypical, aspirational, but I know Paddy Meehan, I have met parts of her. I might be biased because I also know another of the characters in Mina’s novels: Glasgow; and she, too, is accurately, vividly portrayed. Glasgow is surprising, interesting, dark, dangerous, cold, gritty, cool. Yes, that is the city I live in.

So having declared my bias, I will mention two other things that are, perhaps, more objective: she knows how to craft stories and, importantly, to write them. Most crime writers are let down by the quality of their prose, but there were sections in The Dead Hour I went back to because they were insightful, nicely put. This only happens to me with one other crime writer, David Peace. Him and Mina are proof that a more literary version of the usual trashy crime fiction is possible and innovation can happen in this highly codified genre.

If you have recently been to the cinema to watch Nightcrawler and enjoyed it, read this book. Young Paddy Meehan will accompany you in the small (and dead) hours of the night, with her tiredness, desire for sleep, cloudy judgement, insightfulness and fad diets. I liked Nighcrawler, but I would have preferred a film adaptation of The Dead Hour.

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About Me

I am an artist and writer. My recent practice performance, film, dance, photography and text, and my work has been performed, exhibited and published in many venues in Europe and the US. I have spoken at numerous conferences and events, including the Museum for the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, the Medical Museum in Copenhagen, College Arts Association and the Association for the Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society. When I am not following Freud, Lacan and Marx’s footsteps with my camera or creating performance works as part of my Athenaeum Research Fellowship at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, I teach postgraduate students at Transart Institute.

I am currently immersed in an interdisciplinary project exploring knowledge and the body of the hysteric. In 2013, together with Child and Adolescent Mental Health practitioner Frances Davies, I co-edited the book ‘Madness, Women and the Power of Art’, to which I contributed a work authored with Eleanor Bowen. My book ‘Make Me Yours: How Art Seduces’ was published by Cambridge Scholars in 2016. In this text, investigates psychoanalytic approaches to making and understanding objects of seduction, including an examination of parallels between artistic and analytic practices, a study of Manolo Blahnik’s shoes as objects of desire, a disturbing encounter with Marcel Duchamp’s last work, and the creation of a psychoanalytically inspired Discourse of the Artefact, a framework enabling the circulation of questions and answers through a relational approach to artworks.