Sorry for two posts on the run about the same book, but sometimes a book grabs you and doesn’t let go.
The thing about My Name Is Mina, is that it’s sort of a confluence of the two sides of my literary life. It’s a book that I didn’t realise I needed to happen until it happened. It’s my literary Damascene moment.
I’ve spoken before about my university. It was brave, bold, terrifying, and totally changed my attitude to and on writing. Before that I had spent my school life:
1. Being told (Year 6) that my story needed a beginning, a middle and an end, and when I couldn’t deliver this, being pulled up in front of the entire class and being yelled at.
2. Being asked (Year 12/13) whether my English essays were ‘all my own work’. They were.
3. Having said English essays then unmarked because they were of a ‘University level standard’, and not of an ‘A Level Standard’.
The thing about teaching is that sometimes the bad has much more impact than the good. And I did have good English teachers. I did have people who supported my writing more than they ever may realise.
But that all changed when I hit university. My writing career at University:
1. Learning about Shirin Neshat, Barbara Kruger and Jenny Holzer
2. Learning that what I do had meaning. And value. And worth.
3. Learning that left to right, black on white, wasn’t the be all and end all of language.
4. Learning that I control the words and the words don’t control me.
That’s what David Almond does so brilliantly in his book. It’s a book that I almost want to be on the curriculum. It’s one that I want to be on the course I did. Everything you get in this book is pure solid genius and it’s an education. I’d recommend it massively (and will be doing so) to those studying Performance Writing, Semiotics, Narratology, and so much more. Basically if you’re interested in the word, and what the word can do.
And now, I’m off to go and fangirl at it some more. I just can’t get this out of my head. Can we start the whole David Almond for next children’s laureate campaign now?