“Silent House”

I was immediately unsettled during the early pages of Orhan Pamuk's "Silent House" (translated by Robert Finn) with the consistent use of the first person - but where the 'who' that first person represents changes from chapter to chapter. It's initially very disorienting! But once you get used to it - and recognise that in … Continue reading “Silent House”

“Venus as a Bear”

This may seem a little harsh, but for me there's little of merit in Vahni Capildeo's collection "Venus as a Bear". Some of the 'poems' in here are, frankly, nonsense. For example, here's the first half of a whole piece: I.        the voice of the seed II.      you said III. … Continue reading “Venus as a Bear”

the myth of you

look for an inauspicious door left hand-width ajar and push gently do not knock gauge with that sixth sense you never knew you had the potential of the space  beyond weigh its dimensions draft the atmosphere in charcoal dark and finger-smudged sketch the tension  air-clashed by the bow-wave of your coming your intrusion replaces the unseen … Continue reading the myth of you


The Spanish names and phrases that are woven into Loretta Collins Klobah's "Ricantations" endow it with a certain charm, even for the non-Spanish speaker like me. The poems have a lilt to them, and are clearly rooted in the Puerto Rico that is laid bare and celebrated in this volume. The sense of place and … Continue reading “Ricantations”

“Men Without Women”

I'm biased, I admit it. But I just love Haruki Murakami. His collection of short stories - "Men Without Women" - are typically him: whimsical, slightly weird, about love, relationships, loneliness. They are subtle stories too. Often Murakami explores what it is like to be human - specifically to be a man - by putting … Continue reading “Men Without Women”

“A Ted Hughes Bestiary”

I don't think I have ever come across a collection of poems more suited to reading aloud then "A Ted Hughes Bestiary", edited by Alice Oswald. Because most may be perfect to be heard, many are - I found - difficult to read. Consequently I struggled with quite of few of these. I think the … Continue reading “A Ted Hughes Bestiary”

“The Sparsholt Affair”

I tried to plug on to the end of Alan Hollinghurst's "The Sparsholt Affair" to see if anything happened. It didn't. Just page after page of young men lusting after other young men, interspersed with middle-aged men disappearing stage left with other middle-aged men. You get the picture... I gave up after 180 pages. Was … Continue reading “The Sparsholt Affair”

“Nowhere Nearer”

Even if a small percentage of the poems in Alice Miller's "Nowhere Nearer" didn't quite come off (for me at least), overall I really liked this compact little volume. It has a style and voice that resonates with me. I guess that's one of the unique things about poetry; not just its ability to speak … Continue reading “Nowhere Nearer”

“House of Names”

You don't need to be familiar with Aeschylus, Sophocles or Euripides to enjoy Colm Tóibín's "House of Names" - though I suspect it might help a little to have a sense of the original story. Having recently watched the BBC's dramatisation, "Troy", I was familiar with the story of Agamemnon, Clytemnestra and Iphigenia at least. … Continue reading “House of Names”


Tricky one... The first few dozen pages - and certainly the first twenty or so - are not typical of the whole of Will Self's "Phone" (though they do set the tone). They are a bit like trying to find your face in a mirror that has been smashed on the floor. Almost impossible. I … Continue reading “Phone”