When a new novel is published rarely does it polarise opinion as much as Kasuo Ishiguro’s “The Unconsoled”. For many it was a masterpiece, unlike anything else ever written – for others it was simply not very good and roundly vilified. There seemed to be no middle ground. My own reaction when I started to… Read More “The Unconsoled”
Having read positive reviews of Elena Ferrante’s “My Brilliant Friend’, when I saw her more recent “The Lying Life of Adults” in the bookshop I didn’t hesitate to buy it – it was, I was told, also ‘astonishing’, ‘irresistible’, ‘intense’. Well, I’m afraid the word that kept popping into my head was ‘dull’. More than… Read More “The Lying Life of Adults”
Since my original post (appended below) I have now completed 12 stages of my journey since ‘leaving’ Land’s End, cycling some 330km. In a virtual sense, I have now reached Cheddar. Nearly out of the West Country! I have decided to cycle the length of the UK – Land’s End to John o’Groats – on… Read More Sound body, sound mind – an update
I have always enjoyed reading my work aloud ever since my first experience of doing so when I was in my early twenties. Historically, being able to read to an audience usually requires an ‘event’ of some kind – such as a book festival – and then an invitation to do so. One of things… Read More Always happy to read
Yesterday evening I attended the marque event of Ripon’s fourth Poetry Festival, a reading by the Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage. Being slightly ambivalent to Armitage’s work, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. Without any introduction, Armitage started by reading “Thank you for waiting” – and immediately had the audience in fits of laughter. The… Read More Watching Simon Armitage read…
Although it was not that long ago I reflected on the challenge of having ‘too much free time’ to work on literary projects (see my ‘dreams‘ post), it has been a while since I offered any kind of update on what I’m actually writing. It’s odd how your perspective can change week-to-week; how one day… Read More A quick look in the rear-view mirror…
…and nothing to do with writing! We have just embarked on a crusade to rescue an ailing allotment. In time-honoured fashion, we are trying to keep a weekly photographic log of our progress. You can see full photos of the challenge we are faced with – and our progress – here. In places the weeds,… Read More Another new project…
Simon’s Armitage’s collection “Sandettie Light Vessel Automatic” is something of a smorgasbord in terms of theme, style, even seriousness. It could easily offer ‘something for everybody’, as the saying goes. What struck me most of all was a sense that I wasn’t reading poetry as much as reviewing ‘product’. Everything in this collection was commissioned,… Read More “Sandettie Light Vessel Automatic”
Andrew O’Hagan’s “Mayflies” is unrelenting. During the first half of the book where we see a group of Scottish lads on ‘the lash’ in Manchester, he immerses us in their over-the-top hedonistic experience of drink, drugs and music without giving us a chance to come up for air. Then, in the second half of the… Read More “Mayflies”
I’m currently reading Simon Armitage’s Sandettie Light Vessel Automatic and I came across this: each new poem never anything less than a written plea for the next. from “Émigré” This is, of course, spot on. For those of us blessed – or plagued (you choose!) – with the compulsion to write, there is always this… Read More A written plea for the next…
If you’re a parent and a driver, the chances are the title of this post will resonate. Remember those long journeys – and probably not-so-long ones – when the chant from the kids in the back at some stage invariably migrated to “Are we there yet?”… Journeys of this nature – from A to B,… Read More Are we there yet?
I have decided to cycle the length of the UK – Land’s End to John o’Groats – on my exercise bike. Over 1,500 km split across 57 ‘stages’. Okay, so there are no uphills – but there are no downhills either! It seemed like a good idea: keep fit, have a challenge to aim for,… Read More Sound body, sound mind..?
Bernadine Evaristo’s “Girl, Woman, Other” is – quite simply – a triumph. I have no idea why it has taken me so long to read it. Perhaps I was put-off by its 450 pages, or the blurb, or the cover – the last two of these suggesting that somehow it wasn’t going to be ‘my… Read More “Girl, Woman, Other”
Monday next week will be something of a landmark day. And for all sorts of reasons. Most importantly perhaps, it begins the university journey of one of my children: their first full week away from home. I am, of course, both proud and jealous! Simultaneously, our youngest has started on their journey into adulthood via… Read More Don’t fear dreams – worry about them coming true…
It seems lots of people are deserting WordPress for Substack, lured by the notion of creating ‘newsletters’ that people will pay to receive. That and knowing they’ll be rubbing virtual shoulders with famous names and literary goliaths – and the fact that Substack is currently ‘free’. So is it a good move? It’s tempting, of… Read More Substack: Nirvana or the Emperor’s New Clothes?
It was partly because I liked Richard Powers’ “The Overstory” so much that I tried as hard as I could to get through “Galatea 2.2” – but I simply couldn’t finish it, and gave up about a third of the way through. It has been a while since I last had to admit defeat like… Read More “Galatea 2.2”
It is easy to see why David Diop’s relentlessly dark “At Night All Blood Is Black” won the 2021 International Booker Prize. The novel is suitably dark and brooding, an examination of one man’s decline into madness as he and his French compatriots fight in the trenches of World War One. Alfa’s Senegalese roots permeates… Read More “At Night All Blood Is Black”
The Binding of the Sea would the tide never stop coming in inching ever higher as the months passed there were only two roads out each burdened with over-familiarity all novelty quagmire-sunk as if the peninsula had capitulated and the sea invaded the land going further afield they sought pubs in out-of-the-way locations explorers for… Read More The Binding of the Sea
I went for a run first thing this morning. Nothing too dramatic. A gentle jog to test out my aching left achilles’ tendon. Or is it the calf muscle? And I was reminded – inevitably – how my running used to be… My best ever time for 10k was a little over 46 minutes; I… Read More Holding on or letting go? The Worthwhile Life: 2
How do you know if you have lived a ‘worthwhile’ life? When you look back on how you have spent the time gifted you, how do you judge if it has been time ‘well-spent’, ‘worthy’, ‘good’, virtuous’, ‘positive’…? You pick the adjective because the supply is almost endless! Which ones you choose will depend on… Read More Has it been a worthwhile life..?