The Venus Flytrap

This is a piece from a prompt called Mimosa. We were told to write a non-fiction piece by our Creative Writing teacher, and this is it. Not really much to say at the moment, I’m currently still writing the commentary, but that should be up soon. I hope you enjoy this though.


 

Venus Flytrap

They were the biggest fascination when I was a child sticking small fingers into the traps to make them close. Venus flytraps. Their discoverer likened them to the Goddess of Love, Venus. Darwin considered them ‘one of the most wonderful plants in the world’. I saw them as toys, existing only for my pleasure. Watching as the spikes closed softly around my fingers.

They are most recognisable by their fleshy petioles and hinged traps, which resembles a gaping and bloody mouth, with fangs bristling. They are most recognisable for their carnivorous propensities. The trap closes with a speed of 0.3 seconds or faster, and with a suddenness that screams of premeditation. Like how we use traps when hunting, so it is with the Venus flytrap. It is the flora equivalent to a bear trap. The snapping jaws of primal animals, which have waited centuries for the chance to bite. The pre-emptive strike. Go for it before they can.

It can be said that there exists something of a Venus flytrap in our minds. One brush of a mental trigger hair, and we’re poised, just waiting for the next time that same probingly light touch is felt. First strike. Second strike. You’re out. Instantly doors lock, but instead you’re on the outside. Any gaps left are chances for apologies and reconciliations. For the small excuses and attempts at recon to worm through. The plant has the same associations as ancient temples and forgotten cities. Enter at your peril. Abandon hope all ye who enter. A pressure plate which triggers a rolling boulder. A trip wire that closes the walls in around you. Here there be monsters. Demons within, demons without. But there’s always a chance to go for the treasure. The only reason you entered the bonelittered tunnel. Who would do anything if not for what they can gain?

It is the leading lady, the top femme fatale. Enticed in with honey and nectar and trapped, staring through bars. They are love embodied. Venus, the Goddess of Love. Dionaea, Aphrodite, Goddess of Love. Men come from Mars, and women from Venus. Venus is the second planet from our Sun, and with an atmosphere consisting largely of Carbon Dioxide and Sulphur Dioxide there is no way that Venus is the birthplace of women. Is it due to a caustic attitude thrust upon us by men and popular stereotypes? Men are from Mars. The God of War and Men. The planet has low atmospheric pressure. Venus has an atmospheric pressure 92% stronger than Earth. Doesn’t that say it all?

You talk to me. I don’t know you, you don’t know me. You don’t know what to say or what not to say. You start off badly. I’m unresponsive, monosyllabic. I’m just waiting for that brush of the trigger subject, for you to overstep boundaries that aren’t clearly identifiable. ‘Don’t you think that that she has a really balanced voice, though?’ You say about a singer I don’t know. ‘Your sister is a good singer, isn’t she?’ Strike of the trigger. Timer activated. ‘I’m really sorry. It must have been hard.’ Timer stopped. Five seconds. The trap snaps shut, and we are on other sides of a wall, a wall I imagine to be green, and with angled barbs on the top. His garbled apologies can’t make it through the cracks, and he is lost to me. I move on, and the mind trap loosens. The two barbed halves are like two hands clasped together, only to be ripped apart by time. When the trap is laid open and bare, that is when my grief and pain will disappear for the time.

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In Case You Were Wondering…

So, I was trying to be serious with this task. I really was. I did it before it was due, which in itself shows how serious I was getting about this homework. I sat down at my kitchen table, a mug of hot chocolate and a packet of biscuits by my side, and really, it got worse from there. This is the finished article. If you were unaware of how to write a book review, then possibly look elsewhere. Anyway, please enjoy!


 

 

How to write a book review

First things first:

  • First, choose your beverage. If you’re like me, and can detect the bitterness of coffee just from a spoon that had been placed in coffee before being used to stir your drink, which makes you unable to drink it, then you’ll favour hot chocolate. You’ll also recognise that you can still be British, with traditional British values, even whilst disliking tea.
  • Put plenty of sugar in your drink. You’ll need it, once the shock of what you have to do hits.
  • Find yourself a comfortable chair. It would be best if it was able to recline, so as to allow you to catch up on sleep missed whilst you are stressing over the exact wording of your review. I mean, it’s got to sound professional.
  • Log onto your Dell, with a screen of seventeen inches (not that I’m compensating), and open up Microsoft Word. If you’re using an Apple iMac then just stop. You’re obviously not man enough to write book reviews. Come back when you’re using Microsoft like the real people do.
  • By now, you should have read the book you’re about to review. If not, put down your iMac and go to sleep. You’re not ready. Mother knows best.
  • Have the book in comforting proximity to you, so that you can stroke it when the pressure gets too much. LET THE BOOK BECOME YOUR MUSE. LET THE BOOK INTO YOUR HEART.

What comes now:

  • This is where it gets serious. And so I shall attempt to give good and serious counsel, although judging from what this is already like, I might struggle with the serious part.
  • Give a brief summary of the book. If you’re struggling, then feel free to copy out the blurb. However, the word ‘brief’ is the key here, and just keep to the most basic information presented in the book. REMEMBER: If you are going to reveal any significant parts of the plot, always make sure that people know what they’re getting into with an impossible to miss SPOILER ALERT sign. It pays to be considerate.
  • Try to classify the genre of the book, and comment on whether it stayed true to its classification, or whether it succumbed to fan service, like series which start off as science fiction, and then become some kind of erotic novel featuring people and robots. If you know of a series like that example, you’re allowed to cry a little.
  • Next, try to focus on your own reception to the book. Think about things like: did you enjoy it? How did you feel when and after reading it? Did it end how you expected it to? Is it on your list of ‘top ten things I’d take when I’m finally abducted by aliens’?
  • Now what didn’t you like? Try to explain any negative feelings and why the book made you feel like this. REMEMBER: It’s a book review, so try to keep it about the book and not about your life. Feel free to suggest what you felt could have improved the book, it’s always fun to get a second opinion as you inevitably start a comment war with someone who disagrees.
  • Try to balance your review out. REMEMBER: It’s always funnier reading reviews tearing things to pieces, so try not to be too enthusiastic about the book. However, a book review that people enjoy reading will only mean that they want you to do more reviews, so in the interests of both interest and sanity, it’s best to keep the review equal.
  • Try to focus on any literary techniques that you liked. Did you like the imagery in the book? Were the uses of simile and metaphor gripping? Did you learn more about simple, compound and complex sentences than you ever thought possible, or necessary? Give examples, so that readers of the review will be able to see where you’re coming from.
  • Mentioning the author is also useful, as their background and context can explain some things; or everything if you are a Marxist critic. A bit of context can be very interesting sometimes, and including information about things like being a raging feminist, or having truly bad breath, can really liven up a review. It also helps to add words if you’re struggling with the word count.
  • Say whether you’d recommend the book or not. Your review may mean the difference between a book being bought, and a book not being bought. It’s your call. Choose wisely. May God go with you. We’ll pray for your soul.

Final finish ups:

  • Agonise for the next twelve hours over the precise wording of your review, and another ten over whether you’ve spelt agonise right, as it looks wrong, and you’re not sure whether it’s with a z or an s because the Americans have fecked your brain up royally.
  • Go to the toilet. You’ve deserved it.
  • Check spelling, as you don’t want to look like a complete buffoon when you’re trying to go for the professional and authoritative, like when you realise that you’ve spelt authoritative wrong, twice now. What a fool!
  • Enjoy this cheap victory.
  • Swear never again.
  • REMEMBER: If your class is reading out reviews, and you don’t have yours accessible, never try to adlib. Accept defeat and retire gracefully. Any other action may result in thrown rotten fruit and the hatred of your classmates, as you realise that the misplaced confidence you had in your abilities has vanished as soon as you’re in front of them, and in fact you can’t even speak.

You have finished writing a book review! Whoop whoop. It’s been a real rollercoaster ride, hasn’t it? But you’ve braved the darkness of book reviews, politely refused the double chocolate cookies served on frosted glass plates that they tried to offer you. Now you are free. Free to visit your bed again after so long spent in that chair, which is now not as comfortable as it once was. Free to stop stroking that book whilst writing in a sense of confused delirium. Free to live your life. Burn the books, and rise anew from the ashes of Chaucer, Shakespeare and Ovid. You can close the book on this dark period in your life. Goodbye. We’ll never meet again, I pray.


 

Sometimes, when I read back over things like this, I wonder what the heck I was thinking about at the time. This is pretty funny, at least by my own abysmal standards, although a little bit weird. However, even though probably only a quarter of the actual piece is actually relevant to the brief, I’m actually impresses that I managed to keep the light-hearted tone even while attempting to be serious.

I hope you enjoyed it though, even if it had absolutely no worth as a how to guide. Or maybe it did help you…