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We Are Made Of Diamond Stuff
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Republic of Consciousness Prize > 2020 RoC longlist: We are made of Diamond Stuff

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message 1: by Paul (last edited Jan 25, 2020 12:21PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8771 comments We are made of Diamond Stuff by Isabel Waidner (Dostoyevsky Wannabe)
https://dostoyevskywannabe.com/origin...

From the judges:

This brief brilliant novel seizes the moment, reflecting and refracting life on zero hour contracts in a seaside town in Brexit Britain. Stylistically playful and innovative, it slides across the surreal surfaces of social media and contemporary culture. Isabel Waidner also becomes the joint-first writer to make it onto two Republic of Consciousness longlists, following their shortlisting for Gaudy Bauble (RofC 2018).


Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8771 comments What can I say. The fact that Isabel is the joint first person (with Faruk Šehić) to be longlisted twice for the RoC confirms what I've been saying for a while - perhaps the UK's most exciting and important novelist.


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5412 comments Seems a shame/odd at first that this was the only one of the four 2019 Goldsmith shortlist books from small presses to make the list when (based on the consensus view of this forum, for all this book’s strengths, it was the least strong of the four).

But one of the others was ineligible due to publication date I think and one (at least) we know was not entered.

And as I think Paul has assessed other than Fatherhood it seems none of this RoC list are eligible for 2020 Goldsmith.


Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8771 comments I would also rather violently (book murderer style) disagree with the consensus - by far the best of the 4 indy books on the GS prize last year and also much the most 'RoC' of them.

Whoops: I had overlooked the ineligibility of Slip of a Fish ... in the same way as some overlooked its eligibility for last year's Goldsmiths, so I guess that make us quits :-)


Neil | 1885 comments I've read this one a couple of times, partly because my experience with all of Isabel Waidner's work is that you have to read it more than once to get to grips with it, but mainly because the judges' statement at the top of this discussion sums it up and I love the "stylistically playful and innovative" approach Waidner is taking in their work.


message 6: by Ang (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ang | 1685 comments I actually prefer it to Gaudy Bauble but wish they wouldn't have used the characters jumping off of sweaters this time. I know from the Goldsmiths discussion that this could be seen as consistent with a world they created, but I don't think it was necessary.


message 7: by Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer (last edited Jan 26, 2020 07:53AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5412 comments As well as Brexit the book is an exploration of: class in Britain, hostility to immigrants, polygenderism – interestingly all themes also explored in Girl, Woman, Other.

I see this more as Person, Jumper, Other.


Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8771 comments Don’t forget they have a third book out - a short play. Also highly recommended and available from Paul’s lending library (but on a please return basis).


LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 567 comments Must say that I could not get my head around this one. I was okay with Gaudy Bauble, even with having to look up a lot of terms. But this one mostly flew over my head.


Garry Nixon (garrynixon) | 45 comments A breath of fresh air, I loved it. But I am sure a re-read will be worthwhile.


message 11: by Ella (new) - added it

Ella (ellamc) | 1018 comments Mod
I stuck this in my bag before work this morning for a reread. I certainly require one, I think, to appreciate it more than my first read allowed.


WndyJW | 4882 comments I didn’t read this when it came out, but I am determined to read it now. It’s ridiculous that I haven’t since it can be read in under two hours. I want to read it in one go.


WndyJW | 4882 comments Gumble's Yard wrote: "As well as Brexit the book is an exploration of: class in Britain, hostility to immigrants, polygenderism – interestingly all themes also explored in Girl, Woman, Other.

I see this more as Person..."


I forgot that in the UK a sweater is a jumper and thought there much be someone who jumps off a cliff or tall building in the book.


message 14: by Val (new) - rated it 5 stars

Val | 1016 comments WndyJW wrote: "I forgot that in the UK a sweater is a jumper and thought there much be someone who jumps off a cliff or tall building in the book."
The book doesn't need extra layers of surrealism, but take a look at these cliffs: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/30821...
https://www.alamy.com/the-multi-colou...
(Alum Bay, IOW)


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5412 comments I think you mean ‘in English” rather than ‘in the UK’


message 16: by Antonomasia (last edited Feb 10, 2020 11:09PM) (new)

Antonomasia | 2629 comments major American dictionary Merriam Webster:
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dicti...

this "chiefly British" definition is 8th or 10th in the list depending how you count.

Let's not go back to that stuff from a couple of years ago or more where the style and amount of British anti-Americanism put a few people off the board.
(Maybe Wendy wouldn't mind, but less frequent posters/lurkers read threads too.)

ETA As this board may be read by people from all over the world, implying that only British English is English also sounds disparaging of other World Englishes.


WndyJW | 4882 comments I did mean U.K. because I've never heard a sweater called a jumper here in God's favorite nation, and had not looked up the definition of jumper so I was not aware of it's meaning a sweater. In the exceptional U.S. if someone wears a jumper they mean a one piece article of clothing, usually only worn by children, although in the last few years women have started wearing one piece jumpers. They're similar to overalls, but "overalls" usually refers to denim 'jumpers' with a bib, an article of clothing that few adults should wear.
I am hard to offend, so Anto is right, any British anti-Americanism won't register with me; however, I don't want to offend anyone by implying that British or American English is the standard for all English speakers. And of course I was being facetious when claiming American exceptionalism and that God has a favorite nation, (even though there are too Americans who believe that.)

Anyhoo, 3rd time is the charm- now that I have the rythm of Waidner's prose I am finding this book to be exactly as Garry described it, a breath of fresh air. A comfort book feels warm, this book feels like a crisp, bright Autumn day after a hot, humid summer. Waidner is brilliant and I love that they break the 4th wall, if you will, to talk directly to the reader. When I am home and can edit my rankings this will be in the top 3.


Robert | 1995 comments In Malta , which is an ex British colony, we call them pullovers


message 19: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia | 2629 comments When I was a kid, a pullover was specifically a jumper with no sleeves. (Haven't seen this written down anywhere, so maybe not a widespread usage.) In 90s fashion press these sleeveless jumpers were usually called tank tops and were a 70s retro item / joke, but now a tank top means all sorts of vest tops.


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5412 comments I agree completely Anto.


message 21: by Val (new) - rated it 5 stars

Val | 1016 comments I think what you call a jumper might be a jump-suit in the UK Wendy. A sweater here is sometimes worn by sports people (e.g. cricket sweater) but jumper or pullover is the general usage.
I love your description of the book. I need to read it again or twice more to stand a chance of understanding it, but the charm and feel are as you describe.


Garry Nixon (garrynixon) | 45 comments It’s definitely a jumper for cricket. In NE England, any wool top you pulled on over your head, with or without sleeves, was a jumper. Tank-tops were a skimpy kind of jumper in 1973-4. Anyone describing a jumper as a pullover or sweater sounded pretentious. I knew a snobbish older woman who started to call jumpers “sweater-shirts”, a ridiculous made up name.


message 23: by Val (new) - rated it 5 stars

Val | 1016 comments I have lived in Dorset, Hampshire and Berkshire; pretentiousness is as prevalent as cricket.


message 24: by Ella (new) - added it

Ella (ellamc) | 1018 comments Mod
I am perpetually confused about jumpers/sweaters/dresses also called jumpers (like school uniforms) and vests.

In my little part of the US
Pullover is a word I have used for what is typically a non-cardigan "sweater" in the US. So sounds more like Robert's Malta descrip than UK.
A Vest would be what Anto described above as a pullover - like a sweater w/o sleeves, sometimes w/ V-necks, but not always.
A tank-top here is a t-shirt w/o sleeves


message 25: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia | 2629 comments Ella wrote: "A Vest would be what Anto described above as a pullover - like a sweater w/o sleeves, sometimes w/ V-necks, but not always."

I understood vest was usually American English for what we call a waistcoat. A waistcoat opens at the front like a jacket (but is sleeveless) and usually has buttons or occasionally a zip or no fastening.

UK English has adopted a lot of US terms because of the internet but some of these names for clothing are still really separate.


message 26: by Paul (last edited Feb 12, 2020 12:43PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8771 comments Garry wrote: "It’s definitely a jumper for cricket. "

And jumpers for goalposts in football - which must mean sweaters for soccer? Isn't it (copyright Ron Manager https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-3dw...)


message 27: by Val (new) - rated it 5 stars

Val | 1016 comments Paul wrote: "sweaters for soccer"
No, no, no, don't give me yet another reason to cry about the thing which must no longer be mentioned.


WndyJW | 4882 comments I’m sure you’ve heard the vulgar American name for thin, white, ribbed tank style undershirts: wife-beaters.

I think of jumpsuits as fitted and jumpers as a baggy fit. Isn’t there also a jumpsuit type one piece called a boiler something?


message 29: by Val (new) - rated it 5 stars

Val | 1016 comments Yes there are boiler suits, but those are usually worn over normal clothes when doing dirty jobs such as repairing cars or cleaning out boilers. Jumpsuits for children and maternity wear are usually baggy, but I think the ones for adults are more likely to be fitted. (The only one I remember seeing for sale was bright pink from a charity shop, which one of my daughters wore for a 'chavs and toffs' party.)


message 30: by Paul (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8771 comments Of course in Gaudy Bauble the characters wore sweaters!

“Trailblazer Belà Gotterbarm was wearing a chequered Beirendonck skirt, worse-for-wear trainers and tennis socks. She was wearing her soft-cotton Pegasus print sweater. The Pegasus on Belà’s sweater reared and raised her wings”


message 31: by Garry (last edited Feb 13, 2020 01:15AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Garry Nixon (garrynixon) | 45 comments Available from Unicorn Heaven


message 32: by Paul (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8771 comments And if you want a lypald t-shirt (not the one in the book, but the one that inspired it):

http://www.trenchtown.ca/mens-walter-...


Garry Nixon (garrynixon) | 45 comments No wonder they were so afraid of it...


message 34: by WndyJW (last edited Feb 13, 2020 03:27PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

WndyJW | 4882 comments $46 for a T-shirt is frightening.


message 35: by WndyJW (last edited Feb 16, 2020 02:14PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

WndyJW | 4882 comments I’m done: what a trip that was. I finally decided to stop rereading every several paragraphs to figure out what was happening and just read. I found doing that made it easier to get a sense of the action. The reader is better served by rereads and definitely have the internet handy to look up all the cultural and Isle of Wight references.

I could not read a steady of diet of Waidner type books, but this a stimulating exercise that lazy readers like me should engage in every other month or so (emphasis on the “or so”) to keep my comprehension skills sharp. A good place to start for me is to reread Murmur.

I enjoyed it, but it’s still 3rd place for me at this point, having only read 3 other books-Patience, Leonard and Hungry Paul, and Love. I feel that this book should probably be #2 and Leonard and Hungry Paul #3, but I loved L&HP, so I’m voting with my heart and not my mind.

ETA: I just went back to dynamic rankings and saw that halfway through We Are Made of Diamond Stuff I ranked it #2 and L&HP #3 so I won’t second guess myself.


message 36: by Ella (new) - added it

Ella (ellamc) | 1018 comments Mod
When it comes to books, I always vote my heart over my mind. This is probably why my ratings are sometimes so very different from people who typically read the same books as me -- I feel like I should get two rating spaces, one for "I realize this is a great book" and another for "but I didn't love it."


message 37: by WndyJW (last edited Feb 16, 2020 02:35PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

WndyJW | 4882 comments 5-it hit every chord for me
4-it appealed to my head, not necessarily my heart or was very good, but didn’t feel like the author had me in mind when they were writing.
3-I liked it enough to finish it or it was a fun story with so-so writing.
2-I didn’t like it, but didn’t hate it enough to put it down. There will be scant few of these.
1-will never happen because I don’t read books I don’t want to read.

Although over the last 2-3 years I have been more liberal with 4 and 5 stars.


message 38: by Jill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill (ninjypants) | 55 comments I also just finished this and had a similar experience. I got frustrated because I was trying too hard, but when I eased up I really enjoyed it. I didn’t consciously decide to do that, it was more like “I refuse to DNF a book with 105 pages when I’m already halfway through,” also my boyfriend gave it to me for Valentine’s Day and I couldn’t bear having to tell him I didn’t finish it. It’s rare that my stubbornness works in my favor but it did here and I’m so glad! I’m really looking forward to rereading it maybe next month. I do appreciate a book that makes me work even if I complain bitterly to myself about it.


WndyJW | 4882 comments That’s how I felt before I relaxed into it, Jill. I refused to give up on a 100 pg book!


message 40: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia | 2629 comments Jill wrote: "I also just finished this and had a similar experience. I got frustrated because I was trying too hard, but when I eased up I really enjoyed it. I didn’t consciously decide to do that, it was more ..."

The title makes it a really sweet gift too :)


message 41: by Ella (new) - added it

Ella (ellamc) | 1018 comments Mod
Jill wrote: "I also just finished this and had a similar experience. I got frustrated because I was trying too hard, but when I eased up I really enjoyed it. I didn’t consciously decide to do that, it was more ..."

Heh Jill & Wendy - that's how I read it the first time, and I've been beating myself up for not taking more care in reading. Perhaps it's good that I just read it while eating dinner one night.

I do feel like I *must* read it again, though, and I'm not sure why, but I probably will.

Also, I'd feel like I had to finish a book if it was a gift called "We are made of diamond stuff" from a boyfriend too. So I'm glad you did, Jill.


message 42: by Jill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill (ninjypants) | 55 comments Ha! I hadn’t even thought about how sweet the title sounds! I still have no idea how he knew I wanted to read it as I just discovered it through this group via the RoC thread. He’s a good egg, if a sneaky one :)


message 43: by Ella (new) - added it

Ella (ellamc) | 1018 comments Mod
Jill wrote: "Ha! I hadn’t even thought about how sweet the title sounds! I still have no idea how he knew I wanted to read it as I just discovered it through this group via the RoC thread. He’s a good egg, if a..."

That's kind of interesting that you didn't ask for it or anything. I wonder if he reads similar books to you? How on earth did he find it? Inquiring minds....


message 44: by Paul (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8771 comments Yes I am fascinated as well. NB the diamond reference comes more from 'diamond geezer' type London slang.

(I love this BBC linguist explaining it is his best English)

http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/worldservi...


message 45: by Ella (new) - added it

Ella (ellamc) | 1018 comments Mod
Paul wrote: "Yes I am fascinated as well. NB the diamond reference comes more from 'diamond geezer' type London slang.

(I love this BBC linguist explaining it is his best English)

http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/w..."


ROFL! This is hilarious!!!!


message 46: by Jill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill (ninjypants) | 55 comments Turns out it was simple and he was just being coy. It was the most recently added book on my amazon wishlist. He, like me, is a midlife career changer and he’s too new to lawyering for his brain to allow him to read for pleasure. Very sad. I was in this bookless purgatory for around five years myself. Don’t go to law school, kids. :)

Most importantly, I am extremely excited to start calling people here in Texas diamond geezers—I’m going to sow so much chaos! mwahahaha


message 47: by Ella (new) - added it

Ella (ellamc) | 1018 comments Mod
First of all, he sounds like a keeper! I have been hankering to go back to school and become a very very poor attorney for years, but you have just nailed the #1 reason I don't. (Also I like my job, and my roof and food etc.)

But:

Jill wrote: "Most importantly, I am extremely excited to start calling people here in Texas diamond geezers—I’m going to sow so much chaos! mwahahaha."

Great minds! I spent the whole day waiting for someone to be awesome in a way that could offer me the chance of using this new lingo. Finally, I just had to go with a less-than-perfect case because I was dying to call someone a diamond geezer, complete with my awful pretend accent. I'm going to continue to look for opportunities!


LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 567 comments I will now be on the lookout for a diamond geezer occurrence. I know a couple of men and perhaps a woman (all 60 or older to get close to my image of a geezer) who are likely to quickly provide the opportunity to use it!


message 49: by Paul (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8771 comments Couple of articles:

One by John Self on Penguin UK website about Brexit novels that concludes that so far Brexit novels haven't been that creative vs the explosion in innovative literature in Ireland post crisis but:

As Brexit becomes the new normal, and with a right-of-centre government in power for the next five years, we might expect to see a similar outflow of creativity in the British novel. Perhaps it has already begun, with zestful books showing different sides of modern Britain published recently like Isabel Waidner’s We Are Made of Diamond Stuff, Guy Gunaratne’s In Our Mad and Furious City and Candice Carty-Williams’ Queenie.

https://www.penguin.co.uk/articles/20...

And one on the publisher:

Isabel has been smart enough to do more to promote their books with us than we have although, in truth, we’ve made a good team and the two books (three including their anthology Liberating the Canon) have sold ridiculously well by any independent book sales standards and they don’t really stop selling either somehow. Isabel will basically always have a place with Dostoyevsky Wannabe but we have been gently suggesting to them, perhaps since Gaudy Bauble, that they go to a press who can afford them better distribution than the limitations of our print on demand setup because we want their writing to get to as wide an audience as possible and there are other larger publishing presses (small press and otherwise) who could do that.

https://spamzine.co.uk/post/610924993...


message 50: by Paul (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8771 comments Exciting news - new Isabel Waidner novel coming in 2021:

https://twitter.com/isabelwaidner/sta...


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